“American health care now focuses on patient satisfaction as a marker of quality care. Numerous studies have shown this practice to be unfounded, yet it continues. It continues because it is easier and cheaper to provide pedicures, gourmet food, and valet parking than increase the number of FTEs. Numerous studies (like this one spearheaded by Dr. Linda Aiken) and articles (like this one by Alexandra Robbins) have shown the increased morbidity and mortality in hospitals and wards where nurses are required to care for an excessive number of patients.
Chinese medicine is based largely on scholarship and a literary tradition, with the requirement to study essential classical texts, quote and debate them. The foundations of Chinese medicine are based on principles (yin yang, five phase, six channels) that require a philosophical and philological approach to the body of knowledge. Traditionally, a physician-in-training needed to study such texts as the Su Wen/Simple Questions, Ling Shu/Divine Pivot, and Nan Jing/Classic of Difficulties to understand channel/connecting vessel theory, the Shang Han Za Bing Lun/Treatise on Cold Damage and Miscellaneous Diseases to diagnose progressions of disease parts and practice internal medicine.
A combined philosophical and scientific perspective has fueled and informed the types of questions we ask, as well as the types of approaches we take in areas that transcend any given field, where existing models and tools are not adequate.
We need to foster and protect academic environments in which a broad, integrated, yet still deep education can flourish. They are our national treasure and a strategic asset, whether some politicians would recognize that, or not — and philosophy is foundational, whether my old dentist would appreciate it or not.
Dr. Armour introduced the idea of functional “heart brain.” His research revealed that the heart has a complex intrinsic nervous system that is sufficiently refined to qualify as a “little brain” in its own right, due to its independent existence.
The heart’s nervous system contains around 40,000 neurons, called sensory neurites. The heart’s brain is an intricate network of several types of neurons, neurotransmitters, proteins and support cells similar to those found in the brain proper. Its elaborate circuitry enables it to act independently of the cranial brain to learn, remember, and even feel and sense.
Playing music has been found to increase the volume and activity in the brain’s corpus callosum — the bridge between the two hemispheres — allowing messages to get across the brain faster and through more diverse routes. This may allow musicians to solve problems more effectively and creatively, in both academic and social settings.
A University of California, Berkeley, study, published in the journal Emotion in January, suggests that the feeling of awe we may experience during encounters with art, nature and spirituality has an anti-inflammatory effect, protecting the body from chronic disease.
The researchers found a correlation between feelings of awe and lower levels of cytokines, markers that put the immune system on high alert by triggering a defensive reaction known as inflammation. While inflammation is essential to fighting infection and disease when the body is presented with a specific threat, chronically high levels of cytokines have been linked to a number of health problems, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression and autoimmune conditions.
With its long-established, systematic approach toward modulating the biochemical environment, Chinese medicine assists the body mechanic in returning to a state of efficiency and homeostasis. Though the treatment length can be longer than that of pharmaceutical intervention, the therapy invoked is that of actual, lasting change.