What You Can Do for Yourself!

Homeopathy is a method of powerfully stimulating the body to heal itself, which is often crucial in curing chronic disease. It has one drawback, however. It renders the patient dependent on the prescriber. For this reason, people often ask about lifestyle changes they can institute to help themselves heal.

If we were to judge by topics in self-help books, magazines in health food stores, and conversations overheard in public, nutrition would be the first subject to master. Indeed, people often tend to “play chemistry set” with their bodies by manipulating supplement dosages, juggling omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, tracking fat, and drinking 6 to 8 glasses of liquids a day.

After 32 years of clinical practice focused primarily on chronic diseases and monitoring scientific research in that regard, I have come to the conclusion that our priorities are completely reversed.

According to available research, sleep is the most important factor shaping outcomes in chronic disease of virtually all types, from heart conditions to cancer. Energy levels, mental comprehension, anxiety, reflexes, appetite, motivation — all are impacted swiftly and deeply by even brief sleep deprivation. Moreover, sleep debt is cumulative over consecutive nights, weeks, months, and years. Studies have shown that the average adult need for sleep is 8 1/4 hours per night, with narrow variation from individual to individual. They also show that the average amount of sleep actually acquired is less than 7 hours per night — a deficit of one hour for every night!

Observing people as they correct their sleep deficits during treatment, I have the distinct clinical impression that sleep represents about 50% of the impact lifestyle can have for health.

Next most important, representing perhaps 30%, is exercise. Vast amounts of research have been done on the value of exercise in virtually all disease, as well as in aging itself. Regular activity enhances mental alertness into old age, flexibility, and reduces rates of cancer, heart disease, arthritis, hypertension, menopause, osteoporosis, complications of diabetes, all forms of mental illness, and virtually all other diseases. So much research has been done, in fact, that parameters of heart rate, duration of exercise, number of repetitions, rest periods, types of activity, and many other parameters have been worked out with impressive precision for various goals.

Least important, to the tune of perhaps 10-15% in my estimation, is diet. Focus on nutrition makes a certain amount of common sense, especially when consumption reaches toxic levels and obesity results. However, malnutrition is not really an issue in American society, even in terms of various imbalances touted by marketers. The homeopathic approach emphasizes “moderation” as the basic principle, encouraging people to follow their cravings — in moderation (with the exception of sugar/refined flour, which inherently stimulate cravings). In practice, though diets may have noticeable effects for two to six months, they rarely last in the face of chronic illness.

Another factor to consider is stress-management. This cannot be quantified but is clearly a predominant factor in chronic disease. What is stressful to one person is not to another, and each person copes in individual ways. This is the basis of homeopathy, of course. Lifestyle changes such as balancing work and relaxation, taking vacations, pursuing hobbies, etc., are part of the process.

For many, meditation and mindfulness are essential components. Pursuit of meaning and spirituality are essential to attaining highest levels of health…. Unquantifiable, to be sure, but attitudinally crucial.