Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Chinese year of the horse 2014

Escape Fire is a weird and intriguing name for a wonderful documentary that I recently saw via Netflix.  The quickly explained title has to do with a forest fire-fighting technique that can save lives.  The metaphor is used to discuss the state of the U.S. health care system.  More importantly, Escape Fire significantly adds to any conversation about our collective wellness and I highly recommend it.  It’s music to the ears of anyone who believes in Traditional Chinese Medicine’s emphasis on lifestyle factors and belief in the innate healing power within each person.

The first section of Escape Fire is rather grim as it details weaknesses of the current system.  We live in a medical system that doesn’t address root problems and over-medicates with pharmaceutical drugs.  Expensive technological approaches are extremely important when there is a medical crisis, e.g., a broken leg, but often don’t provide long-term solutions to a health issue.  This is illustrated with cardiovascular stents that typically take away pain in the moment but will not lengthen one’s lifespan or protect from a heart attack.

The second half of Escape Fire inspires with present-day examples of low-tech, cost-effective strategies and methods for preventive health care as well as treatment of existing conditions.  There’s a long section about the U.S. military’s effective use of acupuncture for pain management.  

Physician proponents of integrated medicine such as Andrew Weil, Dean Ornish and others are extensively interviewed.  Key to anyone’s health is diet, exercise, stress management, and a regular support system.   Lifestyle changes even affect gene expression; for anyone concerned about serious diseases like cancer, this is important.

Imagine a health care system that promotes healthy behavior.  It is much more cost-effective, as Escape Fire documents.  Obesity, smoking, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure all decreased when one company implemented such a program.

Currently, where can a patient go to get something more than a short visit by a busy physician who is locked into the existing system?  As always, one can typically rely upon a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine to get valuable lifestyle information that is tailored to the individual.  Acupuncture and an herbal prescription are just a piece of the package.  

Happy Chinese Lunar New Year to you and best wishes for your Year of the Horse!

Janet Lee Cook
Licensed Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Prescriptions