Our Environment and Health

Posted on March 28, 2013. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Depression, Healing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

~by Dr. Greg Steiner

What surrounds us affects how we feel, and how we feel affects our health.  When push comes to shove; environmental health is a subset of stress management. Environmental health, in its most common usage, concerns itself with toxicities which ‘poison’ the body, and ergonomics, which is the study of how  our bodies do what they do at work when sitting at desks, operating machines, or making the motions required of work.

One of the first things any doctor or nurse learns is the basics of how the body regulates itself towards health.  The fancy word for this is homeostasis. One example is how our bodies regulate our temperature to 98.6 degrees no matter what happens to it. However, it’s more accurate to say that our bodies attempt to regulate our temperature to 98.6 depending on whether its infected, its hormones are working as a team, its properly hydrated, and whether its dressed appropriate to the environment outside.

Eastern medicine and naturopathic Western medicine both put a great emphasis on how the person interacts with their environment. Western medicine does emphasize this to some degree, all depending on the exact discipline and the practitioner himself.  But Western medicine can also look at a person like an experimental variable, more like a statistical or laboratory problem than a living, changing, ‘inexact’ being constantly influenced by an ever-changing environment.

Both approaches have their uses and abuses – for promoting good, general health the naturalistic way is hard to beat- good food, rest, exercise, ‘natural’ remedies if needed,  which are usually easy on the body and have few side effects. The downside is that sometimes, whatever is wrong with a person is just too much for that person’s own repair system to fix without substantial help.  In this situation, naturalistic remedies may just not be strong enough. For the most part, good health practices help healing overall, even when a stronger intervention is required.

Modern medicine can and does provide those stronger remedies, but at times the weakness is that some doctors see the patient as a ‘lab rat’ in a laboratory setting, as though the patient were a specimen living in a fully predictable and fully controlled environment, or perhaps as an engineering problem needing correction. In orthopedic surgery this approach is largely true – if a knee is worn out,  it needs to be replaced, but the story doesn’t end there. Even with a new knee, the ‘person’ needs to recover, strengthen, feel good internally, and do everything possible to help their overall body heal itself.

The real key though, is how a person feels about their environment. However, in this context we’re not speaking of everyday ‘feeling’, but a deep interpretation and gut-level love-hate, like-dislike of their physical and social environment.  I speak of that  place deep inside where we know the unvarnished truth about ourselves and what we really like, fear, hate, and love. This ‘place’ is a combination of thought, interpretation of events, self-judgment, and habitual feelings whether good and bad.

The point is this – it’s in that place, largely dependent on our overall environment and our reactions to it that creates the hormones that create health, or destroy it.

Eastern medicine continues to put a strong emphasis on the person-environment interaction; if that dynamic is out of balance, it acts to restore it with acupuncture, herbs, and good health practices.

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