Bad Research or Media Lies? The Problem with Conflicting Health Information

We don’t know why, but poor health information surrounds us everywhere. Some of it is just down right lies. And the general public has no way of knowing if what they hear, read or see is authentic or bogus.

Is it the media sensationalizing information for a “compelling story?” Is it government agencies in cahoots with some industry looking to quash the competition? What if it’s the companies themselves misrepresenting their goods? Then again, it could be simple ignorance.

I’d like to share an item with you that recently came to my attention. A patient of mine told me about an article on acupuncture she had read in a major newspaper. She said that the article was positive toward acupuncture and mentioned that it is very effective for certain diseases. It also noted that acupuncture was being taken seriously by physicians of Western medicine—and many were now studying it. So far, so good.

But the article went on to say that given the trials conducted by these M.D.s, the only thing important to acupuncture was the insertion of the needles—anywhere on the body! So according to their reports, patients got better by mere virtue of a needle or needles being inserted into their bodies at random locations.

Ridiculous!

This is not the first time I have heard such claims made by physicians trying to dismiss 3,000 years of Chinese medical history, case studies and theory. It’s their way of saying Chinese medicine is not only childlike but its efficacy is based solely on the placebo effect.  This was the understanding I walked away with years ago after seeing a documentary on the subject hosted by Alan Alda.

In this documentary, a physician treated a patient with an illness using a single acupuncture point. The patient felt better. The next week the same patient was treated using a different acupuncture point. Again, the patient felt better. And I remember thinking, “Of course the patient feels better. Both points selected are indicated for her problem.” But the show’s message was: acupuncture must work on the placebo principle since both points worked.

The theory of Chinese medicine is based on relationships in the body between organs, fluids, oxygen, thoughts, etc. And since there are many causes for any given disease and many associated signs and symptoms, to be truly effective the acupuncturist must select acu-points that address not only the main problem, but also the symptoms and secondary problems.

Thus, one could use the “horary” acu-point for that time—the point in the body holding the most qi (energy) for the current time period. Or, they could select the “master point” for the particular problem. Or a combination of points on different meridian channels to make an energetic current in the body. And so on.

So we practitioners say, “Of course many points work for any given illness. They are supposed to! But to get rid of the problem or alleviate the pain for the long term, the correct points must be selected and sequenced. Otherwise, acupuncture becomes a symptom-chasing method of masking problems in the short term. And this is not its domain.

Furthermore, the idea that a needle inserted into the body at any location and at any depth will heal the body is ludicrous. And here’s why.

Acupuncture is a science based on understanding etiology and pathogenesis of disease and the flow of qi (vital energy) in meridians (pathways) and specific location of points on those meridians. Proper depth of needle insertion must also be mastered as well as precise location of insertion. If the needle misses the exact location of an acu-point, the patient will not experience the “arrival of qi.” With no arrival of qi, there is no curative effect. If you miss the point but stay on the actual meridian channel, you will still receive an effect, but not as strongly as if you were to hit the point and channel concurrently. If you insert the needle too far you can puncture an organ or artery. If too shallow, you miss the channel and fail to activate the energy.

This theory and energy anatomy is so important that students of Chinese medicine spend years memorizing and training to locate point accurately, to needle them precisely. Moreover, acupuncturists become intimately familiar with several hundred different points, their effective uses en solo and in combination with others, and their contraindications. If these practices are not adhered to, patients would either fail to get better or they could get much worse.

And so the idea of inserting needles into the body at random to cure any illness or disease is pure fantasy. I’ve had patients tell me they went to another practitioner for their sinus problems, but felt no different after a dozen treatments. After one of my treatments, their sinuses were already draining. They ask me how this is possible when the same points were used by both of us. The answer: the former practitioner missed the points, even by a fraction in any direction, or by incorrect depth of needle insertion.

Acupuncture points are each named and numbered and indicated for specific problems. This is based on thousands of years of clinical experience and millions of case studies. And any acupuncturist will tell you that using points for stomachache will not help neuropathy; that points for acne will not help knee pain.

Thus, inserting needles at random locations to cure anything and everything becomes a non-issue. It is simply a false statement. If it was true, and I wish it were, then everyone who ever went to an acupuncturist would already be cured of all of their health problems. And each time you got a splinter, your body would suddenly be free of disease. For every bee sting, you would have one less arthritic joint.

So we are left with the problem of the media presenting to the public information on health that is bogus, misinformed and potentially hazardous. But is it the fault of the media to sensationalize a story by making it bipartisan? Or is the establishment offering the information and queering it for their benefit?

While the public has no real way of knowing, it is probably safe to assume both parties are at fault. In the end we can only take responsibility for our own health decisions. So if you are considering trying something for your health that is out of the mainstream, do as much research as you can, visit centers, talk to other patients, interview practitioners. Don’t rely on reports by opposing organizations or sensationalized media presentations. They’re only looking to push an agenda or make ratings.

Dr. Mark Wiley

Ancient Fighter of Rheumatoid Arthritis!

Each year, more than 2 million Americans suffer excruciating pain from inflamed and swollen joints, crippled hands that can’t hold a glass and even complete loss of some of their joints. The cause: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). And within five years, 7 percent of these RA sufferers will be seriously disabled­­—and those are the ones who are currently on doctor-prescribed prescription drug therapy.

RA is a “systemic” disease. Simply put, it affects the whole body. Besides the tissues around the joints, RA also affects the glands of the eyes and mouth, the lining of the lungs and the pericardium (the protective area around the heart). It can reduce both red and white blood cell count, which lowers a person’s immune response to viruses and infections. Rheumatoid nodules (hard lumps) can appear around the elbows and fingers, frequently becoming infected. And the most serious complication is blood vessel inflammation, or vasculitis­­—impairment of the blood supply to the tissues, which leads to tissue death.

The traditional course of treatment has been a mixture of rest, exercise and a two-pronged drug therapy attack. While no one would dispute the benefits of relaxation and exercise, the drugs used to treat RA have serious side affects—possibly even death. And the sad fact is they do not even cure the disease! At best, the drugs can mask an RA victim’s pain or slow the disease’s progress. And even at that, they are not 100 percent effective.

Worldwide research toward finding the cause and cure for RA is very active. And at last the hard work appears to be paying off. Scientists at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) carried out two impressive studies. The first shows that a cup of tea—specifically green tea—not only reduces the severity of RA but also, in some cases, prevents it all together! The second study offers even more promising hope as to the healing power of green tea for RA sufferers.

RA is non-discriminating as to whom it affects. Yet research is finding ethnic background and race do play a part in progression and outcome. It is likely, however, that this is due to societal factors rather than biological ones. RA is more prevalent in women than in men. Approximately three times as many women will suffer from this life-robbing disease than men. Any age group can be affected, but onset is usually around 40 to 60 years of age. There is a form of RA called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis which usually affects children under the age of 16.

The truly sinister aspect of this disease is the extreme difficulty in diagnosing it. There isn’t one test that doctors can use to determine if someone has RA. Nor do all cases display the same set of symptoms. There are cases (approximately 10 percent) where the patient has an immediate initial flare up. Usually, though, the progress of RA is slow and insidious. So when the person is finally diagnosed, she can have already suffered irreparable damage.

With the findings now coming out of CWRU, this agony may soon be a thing of the past. What has already been proven to combat cancer is now showing it can do the same for RA. Next to water, tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world. And if that tea is green, it might possibly save your life, which is a far cry better than damaging your body with synthetic drugs.

Toxicity of Bio-Med Treatments

The usual prescription for a patient diagnosed with RA is bed rest and a regulated exercise program. But the mainstay of treatment is a two-tiered drug therapy. The first tier consists of what is known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These range from common over-the-counter analgesics—pain medications like aspirin and Bufferin®—to similar prescribed drugs which do nothing but lower the level of pain. Meanwhile, the person’s body is still slowly crumbling away.

Once the cornerstone of RA therapy, NSAID usage is declining because these drugs have been found to be more toxic than once believed. A recent study from the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center found that some of the new NSAIDs just recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) might increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other harmful cardiovascular problems! Additionally, almost all NSAIDs can cause serious gastrointestinal side effects—including ulceration, bleeding and perforation—at any time and without warning.

Second-line drugs are called disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). These drugs actually address some of the causes of arthritic pain, such as inflammation and swelling. The belief is that their use may help prevent any further damage to the joints. But the price RA victims pay for this “cure” can be very high.

Among the least harmful side effects of the more commonly prescribed drug, Methodtrexate®, are headaches, upset stomach, loss of appetite and mouth sores. More dangerous is the drug’s potential to reduce the patient’s white and red blood cell counts and even to cause kidney damage! Cytoxan®, another commonly used DMARD, can increase the risk of developing leukemia and bladder cancer and can cause temporary or permanent sterility in both men and women!

From the work being conducted at CWRU and other laboratories, scientists are now learning that they don’t have to use a sledgehammer to knock out RA and that something as gentle and soothing as a cup of green tea can do the job nicely.

Nature’s Healing Bush

It’s old news that green tea has natural medicinal qualities. In 1211 A.D., the Buddhist monk Eisai wrote about the healing wonder of green tea in his book, Maintaining Health by Drinking Tea. Green tea, like all true tea, comes from the leaves of the camellia sinensis tree. And 90 percent of the world’s supply of tea is still produced in China.

What makes green tea so powerful is a chemical compound called polyphenol, which occurs naturally in plants and works as an antioxidant. Polyphenols work to protect the body from the oxidative stress that causes diseases. Specifically, the polyphenol epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is an extremely powerful antioxidant. In fact, EGCG antioxidant activity is more powerful than the antioxidants found in vitamins C and E.

After 15 years of working with green tea in his cancer research, Dr. Hasan Mukhtar started looking at the possible benefits this drink could have for people with RA. Realizing that both disorders were inflammatory in nature, his team began testing to see if green tea would have the same healing affect on RA as it does on cancer and cardiovascular disease.

His first paper, Prevention of Collagen-Induced Arthritis in Mice by a Polyphenolic Fraction of Green Tea, was presented to the National Academy of Sciences in April 2005. The results were astounding. Out of the 18 mice that were given green tea extract, 10 never developed any arthritic symptoms and symptoms in the remaining eight were a much milder form of arthritis. The amount of green tea given was the equivalent of drinking four cups a day. Lead author of the paper, Dr. Tariq M. Haqqi said, “Taken together, our studies suggest that a polyphenolic fraction from green tea that is rich in antioxidants may be useful in the prevention and onset and severity of arthritis.”

Three independent and controlled experiments were conducted. Using a widely accepted animal model that is very similar to RA, the mice were injected with collagen to induce arthritis. Two groups were studied for 40 days, while a third was examined for 85 days to verify that the green tea did not simply delay the onset of the disease.

Green tea, unlike the more widely used black version, is not fermented. Instead of crushing the tea leaves, thereby removing the polyphenols, green tea is first dried, and then heated. One teaspoon steeped in hot (not boiling) water contains anywhere from 100 to 200mg of EGCG. Milk should not be added, as it negates the tea’s beneficial properties. According to this study and others that were done for other diseases, two to four cups a day is usually recommended.

In a second study, researchers found further evidence that green tea is a powerful tool in the fight against RA. They discovered that the polyphenol ECGC could protect human articular chondrocytes from being destroyed in what is known as apoptosis, or cell suicide. These chondrocytes are cells that are responsible for releasing cartilage, the very thing that RA attacks. Dr. Haqqi said this exciting discovery, coupled with their earlier study, offers RA patients new hope. Though the existing damage RA may have caused will not be repaired, it seems green tea will aid in halting any further progress. And by sipping several cups of green tea every day, those who are genetically predisposed to RA may never have to suffer from its disastrous effects.

Human trials are currently being developed. In the meantime, however, Mukhtar and Haqqi both strongly encourage people to start drinking green tea. Nobody has shown any form of toxicity associated with tea, and with the tremendous amount of data showing its many beneficial qualities, it is a wise and wholesome preventive measure.

Yours in self-directed wellness,

—Dr. Mark Wiley

Is Non-Compliance Keeping You Sick?

It’s an all too common story. People suffer from long-term pain and illness, so they go see a doctor or healer for help and then expect the problem to somehow magically disappear without substantial effort on their part.

The problem is most health issues—especially chronic ones—almost always demand time and patient effort to correct. Some of you may disagree, as one of my patients did (let’s call her Laura).

Laura was excited about the migraine program I put her on and was garnering results for the first two weeks. Then she started to slip back to her old symptoms. I asked her if she was doing what I asked of her, every day. She said that no, her schedule did not permit her to do everything I asked. I told her we are partners in her health. I am the director and she is the doer. She disagreed. Here’s how part of the conversation went.

“As a healer, Laura, it is my job to educate you about your health concerns. It is my job to instruct you as to how lifestyle modifications including diet, exercise, sleep, thoughts and work habits can affect your health for better or worse. It is my job to do whatever I can manually to your body and energy to assist in the healing process.

“However, it is your job to help yourself. Eighty percent of this corrective effort and healing process is in your hands. You are responsible on a daily basis for doing what needs to be done to change your cycle of pain into a cycle of wellness.”

Her reply: “I disagree with you, Dr. Wiley! How can you expect a patient who is in pain to be able to do what you ask? We come to you for help, and we expect you to make us better. It is your job, not ours.”

Wow! Her last comment leads me to the point of this article. Non-compliance is not only a big issue, for some it is also a symptom.

When you are dealing with powerful pharma drugs, generally your pain or ill health symptom will go away as long as you take the meds. The pain or rash or high blood pressure may return, but if you take another pill, it again will disappear. And since it shows faster results, you would think that patient compliance with Western medicine should be better than that of alternative therapies. The opposite is true. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that billions of dollars per year are lost in the health industry due to patients not filling their prescriptions.

They couldn’t even make a trip to the pharmacy! No wonder they don’t exercise, meditate or attend all of their acupuncture or chiropractic visits. Yet for those individuals seeking alternative therapies for their health concerns, compliance plays an even more central role.

For starters, remember that the money you spend may be your own. Most alternative practitioners do not (or cannot) accept insurance. So patient compliance involves hard-earned out-of-pocket cash being spent on treatment, herbs, supplements, gym memberships, personal trainers, life coaches and so on.

What’s more, most alternative practices view the body as a whole system and, as such, bringing the body back to wellness, back to wholeness, requires a synergistic approach. And this approach includes hands-on treatments—be they massage, acupuncture or Rolfing®—and also modifications of daily lifestyle and activities, as well as diet and herbal or supplemental requirements, and the carrying out of mind and/or body exercises.

One would think the person choosing natural methods of correcting imbalances in the body is ready and willing to do whatever they need to carry out the wellness protocol. But unfortunately, this is not always the case. 

I can’t tell you how many hundreds of times patients have said to me, “I’ve tried everything, and no one can help me. I did acupuncture a few times, and it didn’t work. I changed my diet, and that didn’t work…” etc. Yet after questioning, I find that they only attended three acupuncture treatments when the course of treatment was a minimum of 10. And that they “watched” their diet and decided they could just eat what they wanted “within reason,” when in fact the dietitian was clear that specific foods must be avoided and others should be added.

If you are not willing or able to carry out the directed healing approach, then how can you expect to get better from that approach?

If a patient requires a strengthening of their core muscles (abdomen, hips, low back) and are also told that they absolutely must refrain from drinking caffeine and consuming dairy products, they must do it. There is nothing in the world any healer can do to make this happen for them.

When chronic back pain is due to weak muscles or a muscle imbalance, it is only the patient who can strengthen those muscles. If too much caffeine in the diet causes headaches, it is the patient alone who must remove that substance from her diet. It is not ok to have just "that one cup" in the morning and to skip the gym when you don’t feel up to it. It’s causing your pain and making you sick!

It couldn’t possibly be more obvious. Many health problems are partly (and often mostly) self-induced. This means that people cause their own problems, or at least aggravate them or do things to prevent them from being corrected. 

So I’m afraid I found it difficult to sympathize with Laura. She refused to do what was asked of her for her own benefit, yet complained she was not seeing the results she expected, despite the fact, for the first few weeks, she did most of what was asked of her and had experienced definite relief.

With this in mind, I have learned to ask patients a new question when I conduct their initial examination: “Will you do what is asked of you to help yourself correct your problem?” If not, then non-compliance becomes one of the symptoms I try to correct—mostly through patient education.

In closing, let me offer this advice to people seeking alternative therapies. If you are willing to try something different, then be just as willing to take personal responsibility for your own health and wellness to carry it out. When you are instructed to do certain things, please do them. If you don’t take the advice of the wellness practitioner how can you expect your health to improve? If you don’t feel better, and you have not done what is asked of you, don’t blame the practitioner or the modality. You can only hold yourself responsible for letting yourself down. 

Nobody cares about your health and well-being more than you do. You are the one who must live with your health issues every day. Therefore, it is only you who can “fix” them. The acupuncturist, chiropractor, massage therapist, personal trainer and dietitian are simply offering assessment and guidance. It falls on your shoulders to put that knowledge and those programs into practice to make a difference in your life.

Come on, you can do it!

Yours in self-directed wellness,

Dr. Mark Wiley

Chinese Herbs for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects more than 37 million Americans today. That’s approximately 18 percent of U.S. citizens, most of them in their 20s and 30s. IBS presents either as diarrhea or constipation and there are both mental-emotional components and food components to the syndrome.

The theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) hold that there are several “patterns of imbalance” that can cause IBS. These patterns are differentiated by sets of symptoms and are thus treated with different patent herbal formulas.

In terms of the mental-emotional causes of IBS, TCM distinguishes several syndromes. “Liver qi stagnation” is among the most common cause wherein the stress or emotional upset “stagnates” the liver energy, slowing the release of blood and overheating the spleen and stomach.

This imbalance is made worse with emotions and stress, and its symptoms include alternating diarrhea and constipation, irritability, depression, mood swings, tension and spasm in the neck and upper back, epigastric pain, abdominal pain and/or bloating, hypochondriac pain, cold fingers and toes.

An effective Chinese patent herbal formula for this type of problem is Chai Hu Shu Gan Wan (Bupleurum Soothe Liver Teapills).

Another syndrome is known as “liver qi invading the spleen.” With this syndrome there is a marked emotional component that worsens with stress and emotional upset.

Symptoms include abdominal pain and cramping, irritability, anger, moodiness, depression and recurrent, explosive diarrhea. The diarrhea here is a physiological response of the body to prolonged, repeated or severe emotional and psychological stress. After the diarrhea episode the person usually feels better, if only temporarily.

A strong herbal formula for this is known as Tong Xie Yao Feng Wan (Calm Wind Teapills).

Another form of IBS—predominate diarrhea type—is known as “liver qi stagnation with food or damp stagnation in the intestines.” This syndrome presents with indigestion, flatulence, belching, acid reflux, abdominal distension and pain, tendency to constipation, sluggish bowels or alternating bowel habits.

This type of IBS is typical among office workers who are habitually stressed, overworked and sedentary, leading to a slowing down of peristalsis due to hyper tonicity in the gastrointestinal system. Chinese herbs, such as Mu Xiang Shun Qi Wan (Saussurea Qi Promoting Pills), help this syndrome.

The dietary side of IBS is two-fold, concerning both what you do and do not eat. A diet that is high in sugar, alcohol, caffeine, dairy and fatty foods and low in water, fiber and alkaline foods will cause constipation by drying and food and damp stagnation in the stomach and intestines.

Thirty grams of dietary fiber, 2 quarts of water and plenty of green leafy vegetables every day should re-balance the problem. But you must also slow down on and ideally discontinue the intake of foods and beverages that dehydrate and also cause dampness (phlegm-rheum) in the body.

If you have access to a TCM practitioner or acupuncturist, a proper diagnosis can be made and the proper syndrome-specific herbs can be advised. If not, then consider IBS as a syndrome composed of a set of symptoms and see which from the above you fit best into. Then search herbal formulas on the Internet to read more about their actions and any possible side effects.

Whether you choose the Chinese herbal approach or not, dietary changes are a must. IBS is a concern that is intimately connected to the foods we eat and forget to eat. And a little change can go a long way!

—Dr. Mark Wiley

Trying Alternative Medicine Is A Waste Of Time!

It must have been 27 years ago that I had my first experience with so-called “alternative medicine.” I was 13 and had been suffering chronic daily headaches and mid-back pain for half-a-dozen years. I was already seeing Philadelphia’s best mainstream medical professionals, taking a plethora of prescription meds, being put through dozens of tests, scans, protocols…. to no avail.

My father (who is an osteopath) then took me to see a chiropractor, and do you know what happened? Within minutes my back and neck felt so much looser! My restricted movement was returned within normal ranges. And I also started taking natural supplements. Over all, it was an amazing feeling…

I went back several times that week for adjustments and, at home, attempted the exercises I was instructed to do. But the pain, and my suffering, returned and continued on. This is not surprising. In fact, it is a common occurrence when people try alternative therapies.

Why This Happens
The problem is that many people turn to alternative therapies as a last resort. They have had little success with mainstream medicine, have become desperate and now are expecting a miracle cure or at least a fast turnaround of their signs and symptoms.

While I served as director of the Integrated Energy Medicine healing center in Philadelphia, I did thousands of examinations, consultations and treatments using alternative therapies and herbal medicines. I would have been delighted to offer patients both a miracle cure and fast results… if such were possible. And many times I was successful in “curing” someone in short order. But with other cases, the sheer depth, difficulty and timeline of the problem made that task impossible.

Let me explain why some patients experience great success while others simply have little to no change in their signs and symptoms and find alternative therapies to be a waste of time.

A Different Model
In general there is a vast philosophical and procedural difference in the approaches of mainstream medicine and alternative therapies. Mainstream bio-medicine uses a disease-based model of health. That is, patients see their primary care physician when they are ill, the doctor diagnoses the illness (disease) and then prescribes a protocol of curing that disease. Often there is no cure… but pain and other signs and symptoms are “managed” by prescription medication and/or surgery.

Alternative therapies, on the other hand, work from a wellness model. That is, the focus is on returning the body to homeostasis (balance) and maintaining that balance to ensure good health and long life. They proactively accomplish this through diet, exercise, mind/body techniques, herbs and supplements, massage and so on. All are methods of alleviating pain, illness and disease by restoring balance to the body. If you have back pain and take a supplement, the pain will probably remain… for a while. But if you follow a protocol of regular supplementation with safe stretches and perhaps acupuncture or chiropractic care… the body will rebalance and the issues will resolve. But this takes time.

Generally speaking, many alternative therapies aim at rebalancing the body to restore health. Chinese medicine uses herbs to balance blood, energy, body fluids and organ function. Acupuncture uses needles to open meridian lines and correct energy imbalances. Chiropractic uses manual adjustments to realign the spine to allow correct functioning of the nervous system.

Don’t Try… Do!
So why does the title of this article claim that alternative therapies are a waste of time? Well, actually, they are not. But the “trying” of alternative therapies most certainly IS. You see, there is a difference between “trying” and “doing.” Trying means “you didn’t do” something. Let’s examine some common statements I’ve heard in my practice, and what they really mean.

Statement: I tried to call you and cancel my appointment. Translation: I did not call you.

Statement: I tried acupuncture, but it didn’t help. Translation: After a few visits I was not cured and so decided not to continue and follow the protocol to the end.

Statement: I’ve been really trying to eat right and do my exercises. Translation: I eat right once in a while, and I exercise when I remember to do it.

Trying means not doing. And if you are not fully engaged in the doing of alternative therapies… seeing them through to the end… following the protocol… doing what you have been instructed to do… then they will not “work.” Not because they failed you, but because YOU failed you.

You see, the therapies themselves are not the problem (unless you have chosen to follow the wrong therapy for your health issue). They are also not time-consuming. Rather, it is the body that takes time “to allow" the method to take hold and effect change and reestablish balance. But this takes time because the body likes to stay where it is, as it requires little effort to do so. After repeated treatments, or a period of time spent doing exercises or taking herbal supplements, the body finally realizes that it is actually easier to be in a state of homeostasis (balance) than to exist in a state of imbalance. It then “lets go” of its old unhealthy holding pattern. Now it can fully embrace a healthy pattern, and positive change can take effect.

Think of it like working out at the gym. If you are out of shape and lift weights you will be sore. But little by little you will be less sore after the exercise. If you only lift weights once in a while, your muscle size, shape and density will not visibly change.  But if you stick with it (“do” it), you will notice your body changing in positive ways.

Internally this is what is happening with alternative treatments. Each day, each treatment, each bottle of supplements, each breathing exercise and dietary change brings you one day closer to the body allowing them to take hold and the body stepping out of its own way to effect a cure.

They’re No Last Resort
The worst part is, people still look to alternative therapies as a last resort, and mainstream pharma drugs and surgery as a first choice. This is perverse. Using the big guns for the beginning of a problem (depending on severity) is ridiculous. My feeling on maintaining a balance between mainstream and alternative medicine is this: Everyone needs to get a physical each year, including blood and urine tests. If a problem is found they should seek alternative, non-toxic, non-invasive methods to balance the body. After a period of time they should have more tests run to see if the problem is better or worse. If better, continue with alternative medicine. If worse, and in the red zone of health, then turn to mainstream medicine for help. Not the other way around.

As it stands, alternative practitioners tend to get chronic cases, and after years or decades of toxic drugs and surgeries have truly damaged their patients’ body. And they are left to balance these bodies, in short time, at low costs and with high hopes.

It’s time people reframe their minds on this issue. So the next time you feel un-well, seek out alternative therapies first. But you must DO it and not simply TRY it. It takes time, effort, discipline, but in the end being balanced means being healthy.

And taking personal responsibility to do what needs doing—and not depending on a doctor to do it for you—is the greatest gift you could ever give to yourself.

—Dr. Mark Wiley

Seven Ways to Prevent Chronic Headaches

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there are two headache types and 13 headache classifications. If you have been seeing a doctor for treatment or have been doing some research then you’ve probably come across a number of terms, like migraine headache, cluster headache, tension-type headache, allergy headache, sinus headache and so on.

Despite the advances in medical science, an astonishing 25 million Americans suffer from migraines! And a whopping nine out of 10 suffer from other headaches as part of their daily lives! The headaches are accepted as inevitable parts of life and sufferers swallow prescription drugs as a matter of habit, just as they brush their teeth without giving the action a second thought.

The problem is chronic headaches and migraines take their toll, not only on the body’s ability to maintain a state of homeostasis or wellness, but on the ability to think logically, see clearly and to feel and act appropriately. The impact all of this has on one’s quality of life is shattering: jobs lost, relationships ruined, motivation diminished and happiness disintegrated.

Not all headaches are the same. Not everyone experiences headaches and their symptoms the same way. The same trigger does not always trigger the same type of headache. What’s more, headaches encompass physical, physiological and emotional dimensions. In short, headaches are complex conditions that need a comprehensive approach to achieve their banishment.

Despite what you may have been told, the particular label you place on a headache is less important than taking a multi-pronged approach to returning your body to its natural, balanced state in which headaches are less likely to occur.

After personally suffering from painful migraines for nearly 30 years, I devised an “integrated mind/body approach” to prevent headaches of all kinds from taking hold in the body. Indeed, the key to ending headache pain is proactive avoidance of its causes rather than reactive treatment of its symptoms.
 
Major headache triggers include chemicals in food and beverages and even toxins in the body and air, as well as harboring stress and missing sleep. In order to reestablish cellular balance, one must remove the toxins and stressors that tax the body or learn to deal with them in new ways. For most people, this means a major lifestyle change. Here are seven ways to start:

Be Mindful of Dietary Choices
Eat more fresh items and fewer processed foods. Also, try eliminating suspected food triggers one by one from your diet for two to three weeks and monitor what happens with your headaches. Common culprits include cheeses (such as Brie, feta and Gorgonzola), pickles, chocolate, dairy products (goat as well as cow), alcohol (beware the notorious red wine headache), processed meats (bologna, pepperoni, salami, hot dogs, etc.), raw onions, peanuts, raisins and products that contain MSG.

Stay Hydrated with Plenty of Water
When we become dehydrated, the digestive system, lungs, liver and kidneys can no longer do their jobs as effectively, and this can lead to headaches.

Drink plenty of water every day to help your body expel hazardous chemical residues and toxic build-up. Water cleanses the colon, flushes the liver and kidneys and empties the bowels. I recommend two quarts of bottled or filtered water daily. Please note: caffeinated coffees and teas, carbonated sodas and sugar-filled fruit drinks don’t count toward that total!

Break the Patterns of Stress
Stress, in its many forms, is a leading cause of headaches. So to control headaches, you must break the pattern of stress. Fortunately, there are many ways to go about doing this.

To reduce tension and tightness in the shoulders, neck and back, which can lead to headaches, see a massage therapist or do daily gentle stretches. A chiropractor can work with misalignments that can occur as a result of constantly tensed muscles. I also recommend meditation and deep breathing to quiet the mind and relax the body’s nervous system. Many people benefit from tai chi, yoga, qigong or other gentle exercises that stretch the body and soothe the soul. Find whatever stress relievers work for you—it could be walking, biking, ice skating or whatever.

Taking a multiple B vitamin at least twice daily also helps fight the stress reflex. For many, a magnesium supplement may be useful as well.

Take Deep Breaths
In addition to stress relief, deep breathing ensures a continuous flow of fresh oxygen into the body. Many people’s breathing is too shallow, which means they don’t take in enough oxygen. To get more oxygen into your system I recommend progressive relaxation.

Lie down comfortably with your arms at your sides, and inhale as you tense your toes. Hold for a moment and then exhale as you consciously relax them. Gradually and slowly continue up the rest of the body, mindfully tensing and relaxing the feet, calves, thighs, etc., as you inhale and exhale.

Get Sufficient Sleep
Everyone knows we get cranky and headachy when we don’t get enough sleep. To prevent headaches it’s essential to establish deep and constant sleep patterns.

If you must drink caffeine, avoid it six hours before bed. Also avoid overly stimulating activities such as intense exercise. Stop working at the computer at least an hour or so before bed. Instead, establish a regular, soothing routine, such as taking a warm bath and reading a good book before retiring.

Engage in Regular Exercise
Exercise reduces stress, releases endorphins and dopamine, improves blood flow, works through muscle tension and keeps the body firm and supple. Engaging in simple, regular activities such as brisk walks and simple stretches will go a long way toward preventing headaches, as well as improving health overall.

Exercise at the same time every day, buddy up with a friend or group for accountability and support, and consider a trainer (if only for a few sessions) to help you establish a safe, personalized program. Even very easy, do-it-yourself stretches are beneficial for headache prevention. For example, try the chin-to-chest exercise. To stretch and release tension in the shoulders and upper back, use your hands to gently push the back of the head forward until your chin touches your chest. Repeat several times daily.

Know Your Number
Most chronic headache sufferers can’t seem to find definitive relief from their pain by simply adhering to the above-mentioned suggestions. Unfortunately, the problem is more complex and what I tell patients is that the problem is compounded by multiple trigger combinations.

For me, my trigger number is four within a 24-hour period. I can have coffee, milk and sweetener with no problem, but if I get stressed: Bang! I can eat a hotdog on a white bun, drink a beer and I am fine. But get up with less than eight hours sleep and a headache will show itself. So, when living a lifestyle based on prevention it is important that you know your number… that magic digit that indicates how many triggers you can have in a day or week before the headache returns. And with that knowledge and the right amount of discipline you can keep the pain away forever.

With the above lifestyle changes you can reduce the frequency and severity of your headaches. The time to make the change is now. I wish you the best in this life-changing endeavor.

Yours in self-directed wellness,

—Dr. Mark Wiley

Change Your Vibration, Relieve Your Pain!

Everything in the universe is made up of energy and is vibrating at specific frequencies. There is dense energy, loose energy, erratic energy, calm energy, high frequencies and low frequencies. The human body, too, is nothing if not a physical body constructed of energetic vibrations.

All aspects of health and well-being—especially pain—are tied to energetic frequencies. The problem is, most of us who suffer chronic pain only get the “pain channel” and keep ourselves “tuned in” to it 24/7. Thus the “pain frequency” is maintained and our suffering is prolonged. Needlessly.

If you tune in to an opera channel on your radio, you will get opera, not country music. If you dial your mother on the cell phone, you won’t get cousin Betty. If you say bad things about people, you will lose friends. "You reap what you sow," is a good example of the power of attraction, the power of like energy meeting like energy.

If your mental energy is vibrating at a low frequency you will have trouble studying, thinking or remembering names, places or events. If your physical energy is blocked or sluggish you will experience aches and pains such as sciatica, headache, fibromyalgia and others. In short: low frequency = low function and poor health; high frequency = high functioning and good health.

You must change your energetic frequency to feel better and live better.

The Energy Body
Traditional cultures around the world built their healing models on correcting energetic imbalances in the body. Indeed, the role of Shamans in Siberia, Alaska and Southeast Asia was to eradicate “bad spirits” (i.e., negative energy) from the body to restore physical or mental health in those suffering. The entire pantheon of Chinese and Indian healing practices was built on the premise of energy systems and pathways in the body that, when blocked, cause pain and disease. Clearing these channels or centers of blocked energy (e.g., toxins, spasms) is what restores health to the ill and offers relief to the pain sufferer.

Perhaps the most common term used to talk about human energy is aura. This is a general term used to describe the color, mood or quality of five overlapping energy layers. These layers of energy (or "energy bodies") refer to the spiritual, mental, emotional, etheric and physical energies that make up all human beings.

Energy is developed, stored and moved in the body through the adrenals, the organs, chakra centers and meridian pathways. There is a saying in traditional Chinese medicine that tells why we experience pain: "Where there is energy blockage, there is pain. Where energy moves freely, there is no pain."

The key to pain relief and lasting health, then, is to open the energy channels, raise your vibrational frequency and keep your energy moving at all times. There are a number of alternative therapies whose primary function is focused on just that. Let’s look at a few here.

Qigong
Qigong is an ancient Chinese system of energy cultivation. Also called “breath work.” Qigong exercises balance energy in the body through coordination of thought, breath and movement in specific sequences.

The nucleus of qigong is the exercise of consciousness and vital energy. The goal being to circulate, build and balance qi (vital life-force energy) throughout the body to promote physical and mental health.

Regular practice of qigong exercises aid in regulating the functions of the central nervous system. Along with exercising and controlling one’s mind and body, qigong influences one’s physical states and pathological conditions.

There are both practitioner-applied and individual self-regulating qigong methods. If you are in serious pain and can find a reputable local practitioner, make an appointment. If not, there are good instructional programs available. Look into them.

Reiki
Similar to qigong, reiki is a Japanese energy technique for reducing stress and inducing relaxation to help promote the free-flow of energy in the body. Unlike qigong, reiki requires the "laying on of hands" of a practitioner in order for its benefits to be gained.

Reiki practitioners lay their hands on patients in various configurations that are modeled on ancient Tibetan and Chinese powerful healing symbols. It is believed that re-creating these symbols on the body will allow "God’s energy" to flow from the universe, through the practitioner and into the patient. This energy, which is vibrating at a high frequency, will lift the low energy of the sufferer to relieve pain and illness.

Reiki has become a popular healing modality among nurses in hospitals. The patient does not have to be awake for them to administer a few minutes of healing touch.

Acupressure and Acupuncture
All Chinese body-healing practices are based on the idea that energy flows through the body in channels called meridians. These transport energy and life essence from organ to organ. Again, where there is slow energy or blockage, there is felt pain and soon disease.

Acupressure is the non-invasive and non-needle offspring of acupuncture. Both work on the same theory, but acupressure does not require needles to affect a change in the patient. In both cases, the practitioner will either “needle” or apply finger pressure to specific points on the body. These points are numbered and named and have specific indications for application.

Using a correct “prescription” of points, the practitioner can, in effect, change the energy in a patient, open their channels and help their energy move more freely. Again, when energy moves freely… there is no pain or disease.

Acupuncture and acupressure are both widely practiced today and worth looking into. They have been around 5,000 years… not too shabby!

Conclusion
The above-mentioned alternative therapies are just a handful of those which are able to bring relief from pain and illness by correcting energetic imbalances in the body. They are based on thousands of years of trial-and-error application and have an amazing track record of success.

If you have tried just about everything and are still in pain, then you might want to ditch the mainstream idea of health. Instead, open your mind to these traditional ideas of the body being composed of energy, and that energy vibrating at various frequencies, positively and negatively affecting the mind, body, spirit and organs.

Pain is caused when there is a blockage of this energy. These practices unblock your inherent life energies. Give them a try… pain relief may be just around the corner!

—Dr. Mark Wiley

Foods for Pain and Inflammation

Pain comes in many forms and from many sources. There are sprains, strains, tears, breaks, fractures, pulls, spasms… you name it. And the sources range from imbalanced activities in daily living, stress, poor posture, muscle imbalances, physical trauma, falls, allergies, mental anguish and… FOOD! One of the secrets to pain-free living is found in a diet based in prevention and reduction of self-induced pain.

Before we delve into the food aspect of pain, let’s first understand the mechanism of inflammation.

The Inflammation Story
Pain is generally felt as a reaction to swelling or inflammation in the body. This efferent signal is the body’s way of telling you something is wrong and in need of change. Inflammation, then, is both a sign and a symptom of pain.

The term "inflammation” generally evokes thoughts of painful joints and muscles, swelling and loss of mobility. While these are the obvious markers of inflammation, research also shows that chronic inflammation, if left untreated, can actually lead to serious diseases including diabetes, heart disease, some cancers and Alzheimer’s!

The amount of inflammation in your body varies and depends on a number of factorsincluding your activity level, the amount of sleep you get, the degree of stress in your life, and yes… even the food you eat. What you have to realize is that these factors are cumulative; they build up over time. And the more that any or all of these factors become out of control your risk for disease increases.

If you have pain due to inflammation, you may choose to take the traditional medical path, which includes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), steroids and even go so far as to have joint-replacement surgery. But none of these “big guns” may be necessary. You should especially avoid long-term use of prescription and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory painkillers. These have been proven to cause liver dysfunction, kidney failure, stomach bleeding and ulcers… all causes of additional inflammation.

Sure, inflammation is a necessary part of the healing process. It brings fluid, nutrients, blood, oxygen and healing biochemicals to the injured area. However, if left to linger, inflammation poses greater threat to your health, arrests the healing process and can turn your pain from acute to chronic.

Foods That Cause Inflammation
Food is a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to controlling inflammation. There are dozens of foods that create inflammation in our bodies, and there are dozens of foods that reduce and/or prevent inflammation in our bodies. Consuming the right mix of these throughout the day, weeks and months is essential toward living pain free. And in times of injury or pain suffering, the foods you consume may be what keep the inflammation active well past its usefulness, and send your pain into chronic territory. This is unacceptable.

The typical American diet consists of too much fat, tons of sugar, loads of red meat and a frightening amount of processed foods. Each and every one of these items is shown to increase inflammation and contribute to obesity, which is simply massive inflammation of adipose tissue. By switching to an anti-inflammatory diet consisting of healthy whole foods you can actually decrease inflammation and ease the pain and discomfort associated with it.

Before we dive into the good food list, let’s take a look at the bad food list. Each of these nine categories of bad foods should be avoided if you suffer pain or have inflammation.

Animal Milk Products: Milk, cream, ice cream, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt.

Hydrogenated Oils: Non-dairy creamer, crackers, cookies, chips, snack bars.

Nitrates: Hot dogs, cold cuts, pepperoni, sausage, bacon, liverwurst.

Processed Sugars: Candy, soda, bread, bottled fruit juice, cookies, snack bars.

Night Shade Vegetables: Potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant.

Fast Foods: French fries, onion rings, loaded baked potatoes, fatty burgers, Mexican food, pizza, calzones, strambolis.

Caffeine: Coffee, black tea, soda, chocolate.

Saturated Fats: Marbleized beef, chuck ground beef, deep fried foods, chicken skin.

Processed White Foods: Flour, bread, pasta, sugar, artificial sweeteners.

Surprised? As you can see, most of the items on this list are actually the staple American diet! Is it any wonder Americans are among the most obese and pain suffering peoples in the world? If you look closely at this list and pay attention, you will notice these ingredients are found in just about every snack, frozen dinner, bread and even so-called ‘healthy’ foods. Whatever you do, don’t believe the marketing. Read the labels instead!

Do yourself an easy, no-cost favor: Stop eating foods from the above list if you are in pain!

Merely eliminating these items from your diet will help stop the inflammation cycle when its natural course has been run. By eating these foods you are increasing the longevity of the inflammation, and thus self-inducing your own chronic pain.

Foods That Reduce Inflammation
Now that you know which foods actually cause inflammation or make it worse, let’s look at those foods that can help reduce and even prevent inflammation.

To begin, it is essential to any healthful dietespecially a pain free dietthat you consume as much fresh, organic, whole foods as possible. Eating foods in or as close to their original state is one of the keys to being healthy, preventing self-induced diet-based inflammation and reducing the inflammation you are experiencing as a result of an external problem (posture, physical stress, trauma).

Here is a list of the best foods known to prevent and help reduce inflammation, and thus reduce pain. These should be eaten throughout the day as part of balanced wholesome meals.

Inflammation-Reducing Foods: Wild Atlantic salmon, fresh whole fruits, bright-colored vegetables (except night shades), green or white tea, purified or distilled water, olive oil, lean poultry (skinless), lean beef (filets), nuts, legumes and seeds, dark green leafy vegetables, organic oatmeal (regular, not instant), aromatic spices (turmeric, ginger, cloves, garlic, onion, coriander, ground mustard seed, cayenne pepper).

As you can see, a diet high in fiber and whole foods, low in preservatives and fat and infused with blood-invigorating aromatic spices is the key to diet-based pain relief. But specifically, the above-mentioned foods actually work to reduce pain and inflammation.

—Dr. Mark Wiley

The Arthritis Obstruction Patterns: Differentiation of Syndrome is the Key to Relief

Did you know that arthritis is believed to be the oldest discovered ailment? Scientists have found this disease in the joints of some dinosaurs and even mummies!

It’s no wonder that the Arthritis Foundation estimates that some 59 million Americans will have arthritis by the year 2020. That’s nearly 20 percent of the population!

As a term, arthritis means “joint inflammation.” While there are many forms of arthritis, the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis, the most common form, is a degenerative condition that is caused when the joint cartilage begins to break down, either from prolonged wear-and-tear, traumatic injury or infection, thus leading to a bony enlargement.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease of the autoimmune system that causes inflammation of the synovial membrane (joint lining) and destruction and deformity of bone, cartilage, ligament and muscle tissue.

Regardless of type, common arthritic symptoms include pain in the joints, redness and swelling of the joints and loss of joint function. The pain of osteoarthritis gradually worsens with use over the course of the day, whereas the pain of rheumatoid arthritis tends to be worse on waking and improves as the day progresses.

Ancient Approach to Ancient Disease
Mainstream medicine has no cure for arthritis. In fact, physicians have no real way of knowing if someone is getting arthritis until its symptoms begin. At that point, doctors advise rest, exercise and a two-pronged drug therapy approach.

Given that arthritis is the oldest disease known to man, it only makes sense that the Chinese have been diagnosing and treating it for thousands of years. Yet doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) do not look at it as a disease. Rather, they see it as an “obstruction pattern” which can be differentiated, depending on signs and symptoms. Once the obstruction pattern is identified the pattern of imbalance can be corrected.

According to the theories of TCM, one can contract an obstruction pattern when wind, cold, dampness and/or heat enter the body and lodge in the meridian channels and network vessels. These are the energy channels of acupuncture and spaces between joints, muscles and organs. This leads to impairment of blood and body fluids which then causes such signs and symptoms as achy pain, impaired joint movement, numbness, tingling and/or heaviness of the limbs.

There are two main obstruction patterns in TCM. They are Wind-Cold-Damp and Wind-Damp-Heat. Identifying which pattern you have gives you clues to its treatment. Let’s take a look at the patterns now.

The Wind-Cold-Damp pattern is caused by wind, cold and/or dampness invading the body when immunity is low. Think of when you have been tired and worn out and suddenly caught a cold or started experiencing back pain or headaches. This is the same thing. Your immune system is low and is therefore unable to “defend” against the cold and dampness, which then congregate around the joints, thereby restricting movement and causing pain.

Wind-Cold-Damp obstruction pattern is further differentiated as Moving Obstruction, Painful Obstruction and Fixed Obstruction.

Moving (Wind) Obstruction finds the pain in the joints tends to move or wander from location—like the movement of wind. Symptoms include impaired movement of the joints that changes location and an aversion to wind. It may be accompanied by fever and chills, a tongue with yellow fur-like build-up and a rapid pulse.

Painful (Cold) Obstruction finds severe pain in one location. Symptoms include impaired movement of specific joints, pain that is worse when exposed to cold and is alleviated when exposed to warmth, thin, white fur-like build-up on the tongue and a pulse that is generally considered tight and wiry.

Fixed (Damp) Obstruction finds the pain to be fixed or in its location. Symptoms include numbness and swelling of the skin and heaviness of the limbs with worsening conditions in weather that is cool, cold or damp. The tongue will have a coating that is greasy and the pulse will be moderate.

The Wind-Damp-Heat pattern is caused when wind, dampness and/or heat lodges in the body. This can easily happen when immunity is low during the long hot/humid/damp summer days.

Symptoms include hot skin, swelling and red color of painful areas that increases with contact. Since it is a heat condition, there is often dehydration causing dry mouth, dark concentrated urine, constipation, a tongue with greasy, yellow fur-like build-up and a rapid pulse.

How to Prevent and Alleviate Arthritis

Since TCM differentiates between the syndromes of obstruction, it does not treat each pattern of arthritis in the same way. Various acupuncture points would be needled and herbal medicines would be used to do any number of the following: eliminate wind and/or dampness, dissipate cold, warm the channels, free the network vessels, resolve heat toxin and stop pain.

If you live in an area where there are acupuncturists or Chinese herbalists, I recommend consulting them for treatment. Additionally, there are five simple things that you can do yourself to help prevent or alleviate the symptoms of arthritis:

  1. Be mindful of wear-and-tear on the joints through repetitive stresses or strained activities, such as running, lifting, machine work, dancing, martial arts, etc. Try to take a break or change position (or activity) often to decrease chances of breakdown. Be sure to warm up the muscles and joints properly before engaging in such activities.
  1. Inactivity can also lead to joint problems, since lack of exercise or movement in general can weaken the joint-supporting musculature and decrease mobility. A joint, like a muscle, that is not used enough will atrophy, becoming weak, stiff, dysfunctional and prone to injury. So get up and move around, clean the house or exercise as often as possible. Movement is the key here.
  1. Studies have shown that obese individuals are at risk for developing arthritis because of the constant load placed on the joints, especially the knees and hips. Changing your diet and exercise habits will help prevent this from happening!
  1. If you have Wind-Cold-Damp obstruction pattern “arthritis,” you can wear gloves and dress warmly in winter, avoid cold beverages, eat warm food and beverages and use heat as therapy on painful days.
  1. If you have Wind-Damp-Heat obstruction pattern “arthritis,” you can refrain from too many spicy foods and diuretic beverages such as coffee, tea, alcohol and those high in sugar. On painful days you can use ice as therapy.

In another article I will share with you the results of a study on arthritis and a certain drink. Until then, if you are suffering, please see which of the above “obstruction patterns” you most closely fall into and then incorporate the above-mentioned tips as appropriate.

Yours in self-directed wellness,

—Dr. Mark Wiley

Optimal Health is Your Birth Right

You don’t have to live in pain. You don’t have to suffer a chronic health condition that is non-life-threatening. You don’t ever need to be sick. The various pains, illnesses and diseases you “deal with” every day are not permanent fixtures in your life.

Yet, from early on, most of us are taught “to manage” or “to mask the symptoms of” and then later “to live with” our poor health conditions. This is perverse and goes against our homeostatic (self-balancing) nature. What’s more, despite lackluster results, too many people keep following the practices of a healthcare system that simply has not delivered on its promises.

Are we doing this because we don’t realize it’s not working?

What if I told you there was in place at this very moment a healthcare model to lose weight, be emotionally strong and illness free? Would you be interested in it? One would think so. But if I then explained that this same model allows 16.2 million adults to suffer from chronic asthma; that 16 percent of the followers have high cholesterol; that 25.1 million live with heart disease and 32 percent suffer hypertension; that one in every six followers of this program develop arthritis; and that a whopping 67 percent of the entire population on this program are clinically obese… would you still be interested?

I would think the fast answer is, “No.” Yet even with freedom of choice and an information superhighway available at our fingertips 24/7, we are still participating in this failed model of wellness called Western allopathic medicine. Are we insane?

Not sure that your ill health is not only not getting better with mainstream medicine but is actually getting worse? Then consider the sickening statistics.

Way back in 1996 only 77 million Americans were suffering in chronic pain. Today, that number is more than 150 million. That’s a 100 percent increase in a symptom in just over a dozen years of medical progress. Now that’s what I call Super Sizing!

Here are some of the current medical statistics from the United States, a nation that spends more resources per capita on healthcare than any other in the world.

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans, killing nearly 27 percent of the population.
  • Twenty-three and a half million Americans over age 20 develop Type 2 Diabetes.
  • More than 26 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 64 experience frequent back pain.
  • More than 25 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches. And nine out of 10 Americans have other kinds of headaches each year.
  • Thirty-three percent of adult Americans lose more than 20 hours of sleep each month due to pain.
  • Each day 10 percent of adult Americans suffer from acid reflux.
  • Financially, pain accounts for 25 percent of all sick days taken by full-time workers, costing the economy $50 billion in lost work days and $3 billion in lost wages.

Each and every one of the above-mentioned “conditions” is rampant among adults, despite medical “progress.” Why? Because the medical system responsible for that progress is based on a flawed model of health.

Simply put, mainstream medicine fails to eradicate people’s everyday pains, illnesses and diseases. It fails because it is passive and reactionary and thus is unable to prevent you from experiencing chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, stress, anxiety, depression, headache, back pain, tendonitis, colitis, metabolic syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, Raynaud’s syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease and hundreds of others.

And this model will always fall short because it uses “disease” as its basis of finding health. That is, you see your primary care physician when you are ill, the doctor diagnosis your illness, labels the disease, then prescribes a protocol for treating that disease. Your personal health issues are “managed” by prescription medication, various therapy and surgery. Such a model can never hope to cure your daily non-terminal health problems, yet these are the important issues you face and that steadily undermine your quality of life.

So, who am I and why should you believe in what I say?

I am Dr. Mark Wiley and I know how you feel. I suffered from severe chronic headaches and musculoskeletal pain my entire life. Like you, as I went from doctor to doctor, desperately hoping for relief, no one could help me. Every day was a soul-destroying battle with neck and shoulder pain, mid-back pain, hip pain and head pain. Pain, pain, pain.

Unlike some chronic pain sufferers, I was fortunate enough to have support. My parents are both healthcare professionals. Unfortunately, even with their love, direction and referral to experts in various specialty fields, the suffering was constant, unbearable and unrelenting. I was forever putting myself in front of medical doctors, osteopaths, naturopaths, chiropractors, physical therapists, psychologists, allergists, body workers, hypnotists and dieticians. No treatment or surgery had lasting results.

I became proactive in college. In addition to studying medical anthropology, I was in close contact with dozens of mind/body health practitioners around the country. I became a research assistant at Harvard Medical School, looking into how to combine various mind/body methods for pain relief and even using martial art drills as vehicles to create altered states of consciousness. Yet despite all this, the net results were underwhelming. I was finally forced to face the fact that conventional Western medicine and many of the so-called “complementary medicines” were unable to heal me. So I became the Marco Polo of pain.

I began traveling, tracking down rumors of cures for pain and suffering to be found in far away places with strange-sounding names. Reiki and qigong in Japan, tui na in Taiwan, acupuncture and traditional herbs in Singapore, faith healing and bone-setting in the Philippines, spiritualists and medicine men in Malaysia. Been there, done that, designed the tee shirt. Yes, as with Western doctoring there was some short-term relief, but the pain always returned. Always. Then one day, I had had enough and decided to make a final desperate change in my life’s direction.

What did I do?

I became a doctor of Oriental and alternative medicine to cure myself. And over the past 10 years of treating patients and lecturing worldwide, I have developed a proactive self-directed, self-cure model of optimal health and pain-free living. And I will share it with you here every Tuesday.

I know the information will change your life, as it did mine. And please, if you have a specific health concern you would like me to address, let me know and I will do so as soon as possible. Until next week…

Yours in self-directed wellness,

Dr. Mark Wiley