Mind-Body Medicine

Mind-body medicine.  This is often a term used for any form of treatment that isn’t pharmaceutical or nutritional in nature.  It’s also a term that really rubs me the wrong way, especially when it’s applied to acupuncture.

The thing about ‘Mind-Body Medicine’ that gets me is the idea that somehow the mind and the body are seperate entities, co-existing within a microcosm that interacts with the outside world through the senses and whatnot.  One dependant on and affecting the other, but still somehow separate, and thus treatable separately.  Psychologists treat the mind, while medical doctors and surgeons treat the body, and never the twain shall meet.

Tell me this then:  where is the mind?  Is it in the cranium, contained within the neurons of the brain?  Is it in the heart, as poets would have you believe? Is it the endocrine system? I’ll tell you where I think it is:

It’s in the big toe.  Also it’s in the back, the stomach, the heart, the brain and any other anatomical structure you care to point to.  It is, simply, inseparable from the body.  They are one and the same.  Don’t tell me that what you ate this morning for breakfast doesn’t have an effect on your mental clarity, your mood and how you interact with the people around you.  Or how the throbbing pain from stubbing your toe doesn’t make you grumpier.  Or that how the sun was shining as you walked to work didn’t lift your mood and make you forget about the argument you had with your spouse last night.

It’s clear to me that your ‘mind’ is quite the same as your body, and vice-versa.  Treat one and the other is affected.  Abuse one and the other shall also share in the pain.

This is the secret to acupuncture.  Chinese medicine would never call itself ‘mind-body medicine’ because we as practitioners don’t see the separation between the two.  We see only holism.  Treat the heart and one’s sleep improves.  Reduce the fight-or-flight response and the IBS symptoms you’ve been suffering with for years eases.  Aid the lower back to become pain-free and the anxiety and irritability you’ve been experience will lift.

One and the same.