By Punya Srivatsava
The future of health care lies in the fusion of allopathy with alternative therapies, giving rise to a system that will treat each patient holistically and uniquely, says Punya Srivastava
Dr Rajiv Parti was the chief of anaesthesiology at Bakersfield Heart Hospital in Bakersfield, California, when his life was turned upside down by a cancer that led to multiple surgeries. During the last surgery in December 2010, Dr Parti had a near death experience. Twenty minutes into the surgery, his consciousness left his body as he saw himself floating in the surgery room above his physical body. He recalls his vivid experience of enduring the torments of hell for some moments, because he had neglected the emotional needs of his patients and family. He cried for help, and the soul who came forward to guide him was his late father. His father guided him through a tunnel, where he witnessed two past lives that provided him with the answers to his current life problems of addiction and sense of entitlement. He was greeted by his guardian angels, who imparted divine knowledge and led him to a Light Being brighter than a thousand suns. Before the Light Being, he was given a new direction in life, which was to help people fight diseases that plagued the soul. After getting a second chance at life, Dr Parti gave up his practice and began serving people as a healer.
“I was given my life back specifically so that I could help others suffering from chronic pain, addiction and depression. The insights have propelled me to offer coaching on spiritual wellness based on the underlying core message of forgiveness, love and healing. It is my firm conviction that one cannot achieve total wellness or sustained health without understanding that there is a dimension to wellness that comes from beyond the physical care of the body. It is only by leading an integrated life, in which the body and Being are both cared for, that the essence of wellness is achieved. As a physician, I offer the known scientific and medical benefits of ancient traditions like ayurveda, yoga and deep meditation to open the gateway to spiritual transformation. As a teacher, I offer a vital message to my human family about the concept of seva and its potential for individual and collective transformation in the time and age we live in. As a physician, I say it is time we opened our eyes,” he shares.
It is only by leading an integrated life, in which the body and Being are both cared for, that the essence of wellness is achieved. Dr Rajiv Parthi
Today, Dr Parti runs a highly successful healing practice in California. Based on his book, The Soul of Wellness, he started a 12-week customised programme integrating the best aspects of modern health care and non-conventional, evidence-based therapies. This programmme allows the patient to rest and relax back into total wellness as it covers medical analysis of the body, recommended meditation, yoga and ayurvedic practices, nutritional assessment, recommended mantra healing and colour therapy with the support of world class doctors and healers.
Similar is the story of Goa-based Dr Aruna Viswanathan, M.B.B.S., M.S. (E.N.T.), F.A.G.E, an internationally renowned surgeon and holistic health expert treating patients from all over the world. Around two decades back, while tending to her patients in Coimbatore, Dr Viswanathan came down with a severe bout of jaundice that rendered her completely bed-ridden. From a successful young practising doctor she went to being a bed-ridden patient. “The biggest blow was that despite being a practising doctor, I couldn’t cure myself,” she laments. A liver transplant was recommended but Dr Viswanathan decided against it, and reconciled herself to death. The shift happened when one of her patients came to her rescue with ayurvedic herbs that healed her in no time. “That presented a whole new dimension of faith to me. The way I recuperated and healed completely was not less than a miracle,” shares Dr Viswanathan. Since then, she has been practising holistic healing in varying capacities. She is sought after as a medical expert for treating patients with integrative options and offering new science beyond commercial mainstream medicine where it can save a life. She offers a perfect combination of advanced cutting edge medicine and ancient ayurveda and natural medicine. Currently the head of Organic India’s medicinal board, she has been using ayurveda and meditation as part of her treatment protocol for several years, and has a huge clientele of patients worldwide. “I think of myself as a vehicle of consciousness born on this planet to serve others through love and healing. I discovered that all of us are more than just this physical body, and we need to care about our body-mind-spirit altogether,” says Dr Viswanathan, who s also the HOD of ENT and Integrative Medicine, Vrundavan Shalby Hospitals. Similar are the stories of Deepak Chopra, Andrew Weil, Dean Ornish and Lissa Rankin – all renowned names in the field of integrated and holistic healing. Deepak Chopra completed his medical degree in India, migrated to America where he specialised and practised as an endocrinologist, before founding the Chopra Wellness Centre. It is based on the principles of integrative medicine, combining the medical model of conventional Western medicine with alternative therapies such as yoga, mindfulness, meditation, and ayurveda. Today, he is a poster boy of the integrated healing approach.
According to spiritual texts, the human being is made up of panchamaya kosha or five sheaths, with the physical body (annamayakosha or food sheath), as the most immediate and grossest sheath. The others in a scale of ascending subtlety include the pranamayakosha (the life force sheath), the manomayakosha (the mind sheath), the vijnanamayokosha (wisdom sheath), and finally the anandamayokosha (bliss sheath). Before an ailment or disorder affects our physical body, it first affects the more subtle bodies. For complete wellness, we need to heal all these sheaths beginning with the most subtle one. In other words, we need to heal the body, mind and spirit. Operating from this awareness is what distinguishes the integrated healing model. “The older I grow, the more I experience ‘love’ as the most powerful healer of the suffering soul,” said Dr Mia Leijssen, Professor of Physiotherapy and Counselling, University of Leuven, Belgium. She was speaking in the International Conference on ‘Spirituality in Healthcare’, 2009, organised by the department of counselling, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Whitefield, Bangalore. She observed that if the spiritual dimension were to be included in mainstream healthcare, its character would be deepened and enriched, even transformed. “A healing process includes the physical, social, and psychological dimensions over time, while the ultimate healing seems to come from an opening up to the spiritual dimension, a resource beyond that of our own will, a self-transcendent source,” she had said. While modern medicine has countered several diseases that were once fatal, through the essentially violent method of destroying the viruses and bacteria causing the ailments, it has ignored the cause of the ailment, often to be found in the mental or spiritual sheaths. More and more research is now proving that as much as 80 per cent of disorders are psychosomatic in nature. In its focus on curing, modern medicine also ignores the far more important aspect of prevention. It is unsurprising that over time, allopathic ‘cures’ eventually end up as chronic conditions unresponsive to allopathic treatment. There is no cure for conditions like BP, heart problems, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, or for that matter, cancer. Its other disadvantages such as intolerable side-effects and skyrocketing costs are causing an ever increasing exodus.
Treating the whole
The most significant aspect of the integrative approach is that it treats the patient as a whole person, instead of looking at him as just a damaged liver or a bunch of malignant cells. As Dr Rachel Remen, author of the wonderful book, Kitchen Table Wisdom, said, “Helping, fixing and serving represent three different ways of seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak. When you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. Fixing and helping might be the work of the ego, and service the work of the soul.” Carl Rogers, renowned American psychologist, had something similar on his mind when he said, “I feel at times when I am really being helpful to a client of mine, there is something approximating an ‘I-thou’ relationship between us; then I feel as though I am somehow in tune with the forces of the universe or that forces are operating through me in regard to this helping relationship.” Holistic healing provides more time and attention, and a broader approach to healing which is not based solely on Western medicine but also draws from indigenous culture. According to Dr Mitch Krucoff, Professor of Medicine and Cardiology, Dukes University, Durham, indigenous modalities in India coaxed him to ask how much better our finest technology might perform if in addition we paid more systematic attention to the rest of the human being – meaning the body-mind-spirit spectrum. Dr Ajay Sankhe, Senior doctor and Director at Bhakti Vedanta Hospital and Research Institute, Mumbai, shares a case where homeopathy along with spiritual counselling rescued the innocence of childhood. “Being a paediatrician, I came across a child with stubborn constipation. All of his investigation reports were normal, hence consequently, a possibility of short segment of Hirschsprung’s disease was considered. Hirschsprung’s disease is a disorder of the abdomen that occurs when part or all of the large intestine have no ganglion cells and therefore cannot function. At this juncture, we involved homeopathy, and the conclusion was that the child was pathologically depressed due to parental conflict. Within a week of the homeopathy treatment, he became normal. Later, a spiritual care counselling was performed which involved his parents too, which changed this family’s way of life. Today, it’s a happy family,” he shares.
Modern medicine has its strength in the diagnostics and emergency medicine. It is lifesaving in conditions like cancer, ischaemia and renal failure to name a few. But the medications and techniques used cause a lot of trauma to the body and mind. Holistic treatments help detoxification of the system at various levels, and aids rejuvenation. The process of recovery is hastened. The general health and well-being is regained to a large extent. “During the course of practice, I always wondered how various patients responded to the same treatment differently. I discovered that allopathic medicine, however scientific, had its limits and could treat but not heal completely. Moreover, there were many who seemed to respond to alternative therapy,” says Dr Saroj Dubey, super-specialist gastroenterologist and a consultant in Kailash Hospital, Noida and Max Hospital, Delhi. He practises ayurveda in his personal life, and has always been intrigued by spiritual and other forms of healing. “I often encourage my patients to try all forms of alternative medicine as long as they continue the allopathic medicines advised. I am more inclined to ayurveda. Quite a few patients react positively when I encourage them to try alternative medicine as they feel that mostly super-specialists look down upon them,” he adds. “The conventional medicines are very useful in acute conditions. For example, a heart attack patient benefits immediately from the medicines and procedures. However, the root cause, which is wrong diet and lifestyle, is still not tackled. Once diet and lifestyle are brought back on track, the negative impact of all the previous discrepancies can be reversed. Getting a person on the natural path drastically reduces and/or eliminates the need for modern medicine,” says Dr Pramod Tripathi, MBBS from B.J. Medical College, Pune. Anjali Ratnaker, a painter and home-maker from Lucknow, echoes his thoughts. Suffering from acute depression, she had been on medication for three years. Eventually, she developed spondilytis, migraine and arthritis. “I was a walking model of lifestyle disorder. What carried me through the days and months was my reliable rescue team of painkillers. However, I had to switch to increasingly heavier doses. It was only when I started including meditation and suryanamaskars in my routine that the problem started to get under control. I was also on ayurvedic prescription by an ayurveda doctor belonging to the Art of Living organisation. Two tablets of brahmi along with a few other herbs for three months were enough to bring me back to life,” she shares. According to Darryl D’Souza, natural health therapist and author of a number of books on natural diet-based healing, most indigenous healing modalities are natural, ancient, and tried and tested. They are in tune with nature and our ecosystem and the true needs of the human body. “I would actually turn the question around and ask, ‘What is that part of modern medicine that is safe, natural, organic, and truly investigative and curative in nature that can complement ancient tried and tested healing systems? A lot of modern medicine is not truly curative and that is why the human gene-set is deteriorating with every passing generation. A million medicines and yet a million illnesses still around? There is something drastically wrong with that equation!” he points out. Indigenous and traditional cultural medicine and practices are, and should be, the foundation of long lasting healing for any health and disease condition. In Africa and Asia, 80 per cent of the population still uses traditional medicines for primary health care. In India, we have the best natural systems of healing which should be the core of every household. However, when a condition is acute, then modern medicine plays a complementary part. Both can be used side by side to heal the acute conditions. When the patient gains back her natural immunity and the condition shows improvement in medical reports as well, then modern medicine may not be required; though the switch should be done after discussing with your doctors.
Healing chronic diseases
Dr Yugandhar GR is a Hyderabad-based general surgeon. A practitioner of integrated healing in his medicinal practice, he has been a seeker since the age of eight. As a young boy, he had many out-of-body experiences, past-life regressions and astral travel, but in his ignorance, he dismissed them as day dreaming. Thanks to his deep faith in Mahavtar Baba, Dr Yugandhar jumped into the world of transformational medicine. “In 1998, Babaji narrated to me my immediate past life as a kriya yogi, and in 2004, he ordered me to work on the concept of ‘The World United’ to interact with all the enlightened and transformed beings of the world,” he shares. TWU is a global platform to bring together eminent spiritual personalities.
According to Dr Yugandhar, acute emotional problems like anger, hatred, and fear, stemming from imbalanced emotional health, give rise to a faulty system which in turn paves the path for chronic ailments like diabetes, hypertension, and migraine. “Problems like these occur because of our wrong psychological software. In my years of practice, I have observed that patients have a victim psychology because of their attitudes. If we want to be really healthy, we must work on our psychological software,” he says. Dr Yugandhar prescribes meditation and yoga to those of his patients who are open to spiritual healing, in order to cleanse their mind and spirit, and recuperate their body.
“I have observed that patients have a victim psychology. If we want to be really healthy, we must work on our psychological software.” – Dr Yugandhar GR
Diseases turn chronic because the underlying cause is not addressed. For example, suppressed anger might be behind gall stone problems and other digestion-related disorders because the element of fire is imbalanced at the physical and emotional level. For the problem to be terminated completely from the being, one needs therapies that work at all the levels – physical, mental and emotional – to heal the suppressed emotion. Once the root cause is removed, the symptoms disappear. In his book, Become Healthy or Extinct, Darryl explains that autoimmune and chronic illnesses are rightful responses to deeper abuse and imbalances caused by wrong foods, wrong substances, and unhealthy energy getting into the human body. “These are wrongly labelled as diseases, for which unnecessary remedies and medicines are formulated. Most of the chronic disease reversal programmes I conduct use no medicines. They mostly focus on just reversing wrong choices and it works. Most alternative therapies are natural and organic, and they enable the faster healing of autoimmune and chronic illnesses,” says he. “I have seen chronic cases of diabetes, thyroid, digestive disorders, and even certain kinds of cancer reverse. However, saying that the success rate is 100 per cent can be tricky as medically, in reports, there will be 100 per cent recovery but in integrated medicine we look at health as beyond freedom from physical disease. A deeper strength, balance and mind-body wellness must be achieved along with physical reversal of certain disease conditions,” says Tarika Ahuja, a Gurgaon-based international Wellness Coach with over 10 years of deep experience in Natural Wellness Medicine and Macrobiotics. If the patient is willing to give time and make an integrated shift, then there are more chances of reversal of chronic conditions. However, the degree of damage also plays a role here. “Often people accept pain and do not aspire for a higher wellness goal. Just feeling a little or much better than before is sometimes enough for them,” she adds. Dr Pramod Tripathi successfully reverses diabetes through his diet programmes. Dr Tripathi runs his own ‘freedom from diabetes’ programme that has freed around 64 per cent patients from the use of insulin and diabetic medicines, while 31 per cent are on less than half the dosage of diabetic medications. His programme is three-dimensional, consisting of a scientific natural plant-based diet, customised exercise regimens, and inner transformation practices through NLP and energy healing.
“I was always interested in alternative healing modalities, as conventional medicine is all about disease management rather than enhancing health.” -Dr Pramod Tripathi
“I was always interested in alternative healing modalities, perhaps because I was a healer in my past lives,” he says, adding, “Going through MBBS made the desire even stronger, as conventional medicine is all about disease management rather than enhancing health.” Even before he got into MBBS, somewhere deep down he knew that practising routine allopathy was not his fate. During his MBBS days, reading Dr Deepak Chopra, Paramahansa Yogananda, Dr Brain Weiss, and Dr Bernie Siegel, opened up a whole new world for him, and he started aspiring to become a stress management guru. Today, he claims to have held holistic health and stress management programmes for 140 corporates in 10 countries working on over 35,000 people. Fifty four-year-old consultant Subramanian R Sharma, is a beneficiary of Dr Tripathi’s programme. “On day one of the diet, one of my insulin doses was reduced by half, five units out of a total of 52. On day two my fasting blood level dropped by 90 points! Slowly, I dropped to around 15 units in total. When it dropped by six units for three days straight, I panicked and actually asked him if he was sure this was a right step,” says Subramanian. Dr Tripathi simply said, “A miracle remains a miracle only till you haven’t experienced it and then when you do, it becomes technology that can be used predictably to create more so-called miracles. Enjoy the sensation, say goodbye to your insulin.” Today Mr. Sharma follows the prescribed diet even when travelling. “I carry a few flasks of green smoothies, a stack of besan chilas and salad dressing,” he says, adding, “I cannot describe the freedom this has given me. No insulin now! 29 kg of weight lost in the last seven months steadily,” he exults. National Health Interview survey conducted in the year 2007 in the USA showed that in the year 2002, 36 per cent of the adult population was using some form of complementary medicine, which increased to 38 per cent in 2007. Out of all the complementary and alternative medicines, natural products, deep breathing and meditation are the top three favourites. “I have been tending to patients, most of whom are Europeans and Americans, in my practice in Goa as well as over Skype. They also respond positively to these indigenous practices because the results are for everyone to see,” says Dr Aruna Viswanathan.
Future of integrated medicine
Complementary therapies should be focussed on the preventive aspect of health rather than its therapeutic aspects,” comments Dr Yugandhar. According to him, in India, about 95 per cent of the health budget is set aside for therapeutic methods and only five per cent for preventive. “What if we reverse the ratio?” he asks. With an increase in lifestyle disorder, there is a worldwide interest in holistic systems of health care, particularly with respect to the prevention and management of chronic, non-communicable and systemic diseases. “It is understood that no single health care system can provide satisfactory answers to all the health needs of modern society. Evidently, there is a need for a new inclusive and integrated health care that should guide health policies and programmes in future. Medical pluralism is here to stay, ” says Dr N Balaji, MD, Director, Indian Systems of Medicine and Homeopathy. The World United Doctors’ and Healers’ Association (TWUDHA), India, is a platform where well known doctors and healers from across the globe gather to give shape to the idea of Integrated Healing. According to Darryl, TWUDHA is in the process of establishing its operations in Hyderabad, Mumbai and Goa right now, and other cities will soon follow. With an inspired association like this, India surely has a good future in this field. “One of the keys to the success of integrated healing is its acceptability by the public. We have found that this can only happen when the public is well informed about the capabilities of Integrated Healing. This is why creating public awareness is part of the mission statement in TWUDHA,” he states.
That the movement is gathering force is undeniable. Society is increasingly turning to holistic methodologies. Systems too are shifting. “Government and leading private hospitals should set up centres for integrated medicine. Educating doctors about integrative medicine is also important. Research on the efficacy of the integrated approach as opposed to the single system practice should be carried out,” says Dr Issac Mathai, MD, and specialist holistic physician. Since his graduation, he has been incorporating yoga therapy and ayurveda in his practice. “By combining yoga with alternative therapy, I could see there were more benefits for the patients. Working in London doing homeopathy, naturopathy, yoga therapy, and hydrotherapy, I could see patients getting huge benefits. Knowing India to have the largest number of alternative systems of medicine, we can combine different systems of medicine and provide better healthcare,” he adds. Gurgaon-based Medanta Multi Specialty Medical Institute has a separate Department of Integrative Medicine and Holistic Therapies headed by Dr G Geetha Krishnan. The department is using science and technology to integrate evidence-based medicine such as ayurveda into the practice of modern medicine. “Our approach towards healing is quite integrative. For instance, whenever a patient is referred to our department, we carry out his unique prakruti analysis, co-relate the information with his genetic make-up, and then offer preventive interventions,” says Dr Krishnan. The department integrates ayurvedic medicines, detoxifying practices like panchakarma, yoga and diet to manage multiple diseases, and disorders. The integrative approach, is highly recommended for cancer patients reeling under the toxic side-effects of chemo and radiation therapy. Bhakti Vedanta Hospital and Research Institute in Mira Road, Mumbai, also integrates allopathy with other specialities like ayurveda, homeopathy, acupuncture, yoga therapy and spiritual care. Bhakti Vedanta might be the only hospital in India which has a full-fledged department for spiritual care with 22 staff members.
“Our aim is to make integrated medical care accessible to one and all by setting up such centres in all the government health centres.” -Dr Issac Mathai
SOUKYA, founded by Dr Mathai in Bangaluru, is an exclusive holistic health centre, reaching out to practice integrated healing in its true sense. Dr. Mathai has started SAHAYA which works exactly on the same grounds, but caters to the under privileged as well. SOUKYA has joined hands with the Department of AYUSH, under the ministry of health and family welfare, Government of India and the Government of Karnataka to set up a rural centre, DMRC, under the Ayushgrama project. “Through this centre we are reaching out integrated medical care to seven villages with a population of 5,100 people. Our aim is to make integrated medical care accessible to one and all by setting up such centres in all the government health centres,” says Dr Mathai. “The inclusion of alternative therapies will help us reduce unnecessary heavy medications and thereby its side-effects. It is the need of this century,” says Dr Sankhe. So finally, in the field of healthcare, two opposing ideologies are coming together, and forming a higher synthesis. Gradually as this system takes firmer root, and practitioners become more skilled in combining the therapies, we will see the day when patients will be treated with loving care to a customised protocol that heals them at the highest level. As patients also decide to join hands with their healers in taking responsibility for their health, the focus will shift to prevention rather than intervention.
Perhaps in time, we will actually see the end of medicine and all therapies as health becomes the norm, and not the exception.
So be it.