You are your best medicine

The most profound observation I’ve made practicing primary care medicine over the last several years is that individuals know more about their own health and healing than any healthcare professional does. Most of us have grown up in a culture where we are taught to seek professional help the moment we feel ill. Some of us even think it’s dangerous or irresponsible not to. We believe that the role of the doctor or healer is to “fix us” and rarely consider the necessity of our role in that process. This paradigm is disempowering and problematic. The doctor is not the healer- the individual is.

I practice integrative medicine in a large primary care organization. This means that I incorporate a lot of non-pharmacologic treatments, such as nutrition, nutrient supplementation, herbal medicine, meditation and energy work into my practice. People are usually referred to me for a second opinion on management of medical conditions that we lack safe and effective conventional treatments for. Prior to our first meeting, they have already seen multiple doctors, specialists and alternative medicine practitioners, and have stacks of medical records, conflicting diagnostic opinions, a list of treatments that have not been effective and they’re quite frustrated.

I am frequently amazed that despite this vast medical confusion these individuals almost always have an intuition about what the problem is and why they are unwell. They may not have a medical diagnostic term to describe it but they know what they are experiencing better than anyone and often have a hunch how to change it. Their instincts are usually right. In my opinion, this intuition is as important as any diagnostic test and the supporting data. The more we ignore our inner knowing and rely solely on extrinsic information about our health, the farther we become from well. This is why intuition cultivation is a fundamental component of the Seven Senses program.

The human body has the innate ability to heal. As cells naturally regenerate we can heal effortlessly. Though it may require professional guidance and self-care, trusting this capacity is essential to wellbeing. The pace of healing declines with age, which can be frustrating in the digital age, where we are used to seeing immediate results of our actions. Healing and repair is a slow process, resulting in periods of discomfort, but this has benefits. Times of discomfort are opportunities for growth. This is when we learn what is truly important for us and our lives pivot around that. Under these conditions we are forced to cultivate patience, self-awareness, and trust, which are foundational for optimal health.

The next time you fell unwell, pause before looking outside of yourself for guidance. Pausing allows you to fully feel and listen to yourself before you seek professional support. The pause enables you to better describe the experience in your body and access your intuition about what you need to heal. Bringing this awareness to a healthcare professional is so much more valuable than a list of possible diagnoses extracted from Google. It allows for a collaborative and empowering therapeutic relationship. You will likely walk away from that experience with a deeper understanding of yourself, your needs, and a sense of mastery of your health. This is the most profound medicine.