I was baffled. I mean, these well-intentioned folks drank their daily green juice, ate a vegan diet, worked out with personal trainers, slept eight hours a night, took their vitamins, saw the best doctors at Stanford and UCSF, maxed out what Western medicine had to offer—and they were still ill.
Compare this to when I worked in a clinic where many of my patients were from the inner city of Chicago. I understood why they were sick. They ate poorly, rarely exercised, smoked, drank, didn’t listen to the doctor, and got sick. That made sense to me.
But my patients in Marin didn’t make any sense. From everything I had learned in medical school, these people should have been in perfect health. Yet, they suffered. Many of my patients felt tired, they weren’t sleeping well, their skin had lost its luster, their libido went down the tubes, their bodies ached, their bowels acted up, they felt weak, they gained weight—they lost their mojo, really.
The Frustrating Quest For A Diagnosis
As a physician, it’s my natural inclination to help “fix” my patients. So although many of them had already seen the best doctors, in addition to a variety of alternative health care providers, I tried to do something—anything - to be of service. I’d start by running a battery of tests—some of them common, some of them specialized.
And, yes, with my functional medicine approach, I’d sometimes pick up something surprising that, when treated, would rid my patient of all his or her symptoms. (Hallelujah!)
But more often than not, I’d either find nothing earth-shattering and wind up shrugging my shoulders—or I’d find something and treat it, but the patient wouldn’t get better. Way too often, the patient and I came away from an expensive diagnostic process empty-handed. We’d both wind up frustrated. Surely, something was wrong, the patient would assure me. And yes, clearly something was wrong. But I finally concluded that it might not be something I could treat with a pill or a vitamin or an injection.
It was clear that there was still a big, missing piece of the health puzzle. I just couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
A Radical New Intake Form
Desperate to help my suffering patients, the first thing I did was change my patient intake form. In addition to the typical health questions, I started asking all sorts of personal questions—and I want you to ask yourself these same questions.
- If you could break any rule without
consequences, what rule would you break?
- Are you in a relationship, and if so, are you
happy? If not, do you wish you were?
- Do you feel like you’re in touch with your life
- Are you stressed about money?
- Do you feel like you’re fully expressing your
- Are you in touch with your spiritual side?
The Two Big Doozy Questions
And these two questions turned out to be the mother lode questions.
- If your health condition had a message to
deliver to you, what would it say?
- What does your body need in order to heal?
When I first started asking What does your body need in order to heal? I thought my patients would give me treatment intuitions, like "I think I'll skip that drug and try this supplement instead." But that's not what they said.
They said things like:
- I need to leave my toxic relationship
- I need to quit my job
- I need to forgive my father
- I need to finally write my novel
- I need to move to Santa Fe
So I said, "Well, you just wrote your own prescription. Go do it!”
And most of them would say, “Well, I can't do that. That would be crazy.”
The Courage To Heal
So I started asking them whether they’d be willing to stay sick in order to avoid doing what they had just prescribed. And some of them didn’t like me so well after that.
But a few of my patients got really brave, and they started doing exactly what they had prescribed for themselves, and they started experiencing unexpected remissions. All of a sudden their health conditions were going away without medical treatment.
What I finally realized is that no amount of kale could counteract the toxic effects of chronic, repetitive stress responses on the body—and the overload of cortisol and epinephrine that accompany these physiological “fight-or-flight” responses. When my patients made whatever life changes were necessary in order to shut off these physical stress responses, the natural self-repair mechanisms of their bodies were able to go about the business of doing what they do best - heal the body.
Might you be one of those patients suffering from physical symptoms as the result of too many stress responses? Test yourself by reading 10 Signs You Have WAY Too Much Cortisol. If you test positive, read 10 Fun Ways To Reduce Your Cortisol Levels.
Making Your Own Diagnosis & Writing Your Own Prescription
This life-altering realization led me to research and write Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself, which includes all the diagnostic exercises I used with patients who had maxed out what Western medicine had to offer in order to help them identify the root causes of their health conditions so they could write The Prescription for themselves and activate their natural self-repair mechanisms.
So I ask you now - are you at the top of your health game? Even if you're not sick, what does your body need in order to be optimally healthy? Making your own Diagnosis and writing your own Prescription isn’t just for sick people. It’s for healthy people who want to thrive until they’re 100.
What will it take for you to be at the top of your health game? What Prescription will you write?
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