Wellness Bloggers and the Gaps in the Health System

I was approached by an ECU Daily journalist a couple of weeks ago in regards to the Popularity of controversial Wellness bloggers like Belle Gibson is a side-effect of major gaps in health system.

See below some insights I shared with Danielle Austin of ECU Daily:

How should Consumers approach Wellness Information on the internet?

  • Consumers should exercise a degree of care when looking for wellness information online. Whilst this is the predominant method of research for the vast majority of people these days, it is much harder to make a distinction on ‘what’s right for them’.

Where should people seek their medical information and how can they be sure that health information they read on the internet is not fraudulent?

  • Depends on the type of health information they are looking for. If due to a medical illness, they should consult their doctor or qualified health professional
  • Do research online to see if the website is supported by such institutions or purely commercial interests.
  • A good example of a credible site would be the Betterhealthchannel.vic.gov.au, which was created by the Victorian government. However, the user-friendliness of design and content could be improved significantly, and this is where a lot of credible sites are managing poorly. Consumers then take to other more ‘attractive’ sites by celebrities and big brands.

How should consumers approach celebrity endorsed diets/ health claims (e.g. Pete Evans Paleo for babies)?

  • Celebrities are entitled to their opinion on what products and services they wish to recommend. However, consumers should do a check that the health results are verified by independent scientific bodies, which determines the validity of those claims. Every person is an individual with individual needs in terms of diet, exercise, mental, social and environmental needs. They should consult qualified health professionals if they have specific health needs. They should also listen to their bodies in terms of any concerning symptoms, and consult a health professional.

How can cancer patients, and patients of other illnesses, find wellness programs to support them without giving them false medical information?

  • Patients with severe illness should ask their doctor, hospital or qualified health professional about wellness programs that are right for them. Some hospitals such as the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse (affiliated with RPA) and Olivia Newton John Cancer Wellness centre in Melbourne (Austin Health), all are affiliated with hospitals.
  • In Perth there is the Solaris Care Centre which has provided good quality wellness care. They all have a good track record or providing care, support ongoing research and are affiliated with medical professionals in some way.

Read the full ECU Daily article here

How about you, what are your thoughts on this topic? Do share your comments and suggestions with me and the Energesse wellness community. I look forward to hearing from you.

Popularity of controversial Wellness bloggers like Belle Gibson is a side-effect of major gaps in health system

The recent revelation of wellness blogger Belle Gibson is a disappointment to her large following of cancer patients. However, it is a sign of a deeper failing in the health system such that patients are looking to online personalities for health information that they should be receiving from the health system. The health system is in need of a major overhaul to cater to the wellness needs of society. Patient engagement programs for illness like cancer may be non-existent or largely disconnected and unemotional. Health promotion efforts should have stories of real patients and be back up by credible doctors with a mixture of factual medical evidence and appealing personalities.

Click here to read article from The Australian

Can Modern Medicine Integrate with Alternative Health?

Avi Ratnanesan:          Hello and kia ora, as they say in New Zealand.  I’m Dr. Avi and today I’m here to answer a very, very important question and that is, can modern medicine and the alternative health system as well as the wellness industry all work together to deliver better global health and well-being for you?

I’m very happy to say that the answer is yes, because in December of 2013 we brought together about 25 of the top health and wellness leaders from across Australia and New Zealand with international connections.  We work together to brainstorm how we can bring together modern medicine, the alternative health industry as well as the wellness industry, which includes fitness instructors, physical training, et cetera to develop the best health and wellness outcomes for the broader population.

What was really amazing, we found more in common than we found different amongst all of us.  What was really true from those workshops, which included CEOs of major research foundations, doctors from modern medicine, alternative health practitioners, people who run wellness organizations, it was a really broad spectrum of health and wellness leaders.  What was really amazing was that we actually came up with some very, very concrete objectives or concrete initiatives in order to drive this forward.

The workshops that we have really revealed some other top health and wellness challenges that are currently happening in the industry for people, but very, very fortunately in this workshop we also manage to come up with some of the best solutions in order to tackle this problem at a major level.  5 major initiatives came out from these series of workshops and I’d like to share them with you right now.

The first couple was around the fact that in order to develop a better healthcare system and in order to develop better integration between the alternative health, modern medicine and the wellness industry, which we’re calling integrated health, in order develop better integrated health, we really need to do a couple of things and one of those things is we need to focus on how we communicate with governments.  It was really interesting because governments obviously provide the reimbursement.  Governments obviously support initiatives that deliver better health outcomes and it was really important for all of us to coordinate how we actually communicate with government.

The second initiative that came out of that was around developing a global network.  There’s a lot of practitioners, a lot of specialists around the world that are currently working in the space of integrated medicine and they do it very well.  They realize that the best health and wellness comes from delivering health and wellness from the level of mind, body, and soul.  They’re actually currently delivering in their own organizations and this is happening all over the world, but there really isn’t a global network for this.

In terms of communicating with government and also bringing together a global network, particularly in the space of Austral-Asia.  I would like to very much thank, Genevieve Gilmore, who is now the CEO of the Australian Integrative Medicine Association for leading these initiatives in our region.  Genevieve is now a real powerhouse CEO who is now leading the Australian Integrative Medicine Association and she is actually taking on board some of these initiatives as part of her job description which is absolutely fantastic.

That’s the first couple of initiatives that came out of this global collaboration in health and wellness.  The second couple of initiatives came around the ideas that we really need to share and aggregate a lot of resources in an online platform in the space of integrated health and medicine.  We also found that we need to better collaborate in terms of the events and conferences that we’re currently producing in the integrated health space.

I’m very glad to say that Leslie Embersits, who is the CEO of the MINDD Foundation has decided to take on board these initiatives because they’re very much part of MINDD’s agenda and they’re already doing it at a very, very great level.  Leslie is coordinating all the collaborators that want to work in the space of aggregating online and aggregating conferences in the space of integrated health and medicine.  Congratulations Leslie for taking on board and responsibility.

The third initiative that’s really come out of these discussions is really the Health Leaders Mastermind.  The Health Leaders Mastermind is something that I’m coordinating under the banner of Energesse.  The Health Leaders Mastermind is really helping the economic and business side of integrated health practitioners that is doctors, allied health, alternative health as well as the wellness industry practice in order to grow themselves economically, so grow the organization from business level.

When they grow at a business level, they also can serve a broader number of people.  It was really interesting with the groups or the attendees that came to these workshops.  We had CEOs of health food, CEOs of the fitness industry, where there are great diaspora of the health and wellness industry and allow them realize that in order for us to bring our work and to share with broader people we also need to grow as our business is.  So the Health Leaders Mastermind is very much focused on that side of developing the health and wellness industry.

Those were the three major objectives or initiatives that came out when the 3 main leaders are taking on board these initiatives.  As I said, a lot more people were involved and we’re looking for more and more collaborators as well.

If you are interested in any of these initiatives, feel free to contact me in my website at www.energesse.com and I’ll answer to you in person.  Additionally, we can also feel free to subscribe to my blogs as we will keep you updated on an ongoing basis on where these initiatives are going, what projects are being developed and where we are doing our next few activities.

Thank you very much for listening.  Hope to hear from you soon and all the best from me.  I’m Dr. Avi, bye for now.

A Tapping sequence to help with addictions such as smoking


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There are many types of addictions, such as for junk food, alcohol or smoking. In Australia alone which has a population of 22 million people, obesity, alcohol and smoking related problems cost the government over $67 billion dollars.

The impact on the individual however, is far greater. When I worked at Pfizer in Australia, I helped get a smoking cessation drug called Champix registered in the country. It did work for many people, but in some instances it also had significant side-effects, as do all medications.

That’s why I’d like to help you as much as I can if you have an addiction, by offering you an additional option.

This tapping sequence is designed to help with reducing cravings for cigarettes and may help with quitting smoking altogether if repeated regularly. It also costs you nothing, can be done anywhere and may be used in combination with other therapies.

Do this every time you have a craving for cigarettes. Start with a few deep breaths. Think about your craving or addiction.

1.       First, tap the fleshy part of either hand, beneath your pinky finger (karate chop point). This helps unlock your old patterns to start with. For each point, tap at least seven times.

2.       Using the fingertips of your index finger and middle finger start by tapping on your forehead, an inch above and between eyebrows. While you are tapping, repeat to yourself out loud or in your mind, “Although I feel the urge to smoke, I choose to love and accept myself”

3.       Next, tap on the outside corners of each eye with both hands. Keep repeating the words, “Even though I am feeling this desire to have a cigarette, I deeply love and accept myself.”

4.       Tap just under the eyes

5.       Then tap just under the nose, repeating the above.

6.       Tap just under your lower lip, repeat, “Even though I am desperate for a cigarette, I choose to love and accept myself.”

7.       Tap one inch below your collarbone corners, just below your neck

8.       Next, tap under your arms, about four inches below your armpits and repeat, “I am free of cigarettes.”

9.       Finally, tap the karate chop point again.

You may repeat the seven-step cycle with affirmations such as “I choose to be free of smoking; I choose to take a walk instead; I choose to have a glass of water instead; I choose to have a piece of fruit instead; it’s safe to be without cigarettes; I have quit smoking; even though I have adopted the bad habit of smoking, I deeply love and accept myself.”

When you have finished, take 3 deep breaths again.  Repeat this cycle 4 times. Perform this sequence 4 times a day.

(Note that if there are more serious underlying emotional issues attached to your smoking, this rountine may not be effective for long term quitting. Certainly to consult your healthcare professional to help you quit as soon as possible. Tapping can always be used as a safe, non-chemical combination with other therapies.

Have you tried any other methods to quit smoking? What was your experience like?

What has Star Wars got to do with your health?

It sounds like something from the Star Wars movies, yet it is interesting how “the Force” described by Obi Wan Kenobi as permeating every object in that science fiction film is analogous to real ‘energy’ in our own universe.

Dr. Jim Oschman, a leader in the field of energy medicine and author of Energy Medicine in Therapeutics and Human Performance, explains that modern science is beginning to reveal the role of natural “energy forces” within the human body that were previously thought to be inexplicable.

“Energy medicine is medicine based on the appreciation that living systems have energy fields inside of them and around them and that these fields play important roles in physiology, regulatory biology and processes that are going on inside the organism”. It is essentially the use of energy to optimise wellness and healing.

Indeed, across the globe there has been thousands of years of research and knowledge documented in the field of human energy, much of which has been passed down through generations. Nonetheless, energy medicine has seen a resurgence in the last two decades, with many related scientific developments discovered through western scientific methods, an encouraging sign.

In fact, Dr Oschman states that all medicine is energy medicine – because everything we do in medicine ultimately involves energy.

In the US, energy techniques such as Acupuncture, Ayurvedic Medicine, Tapping and Reiki fall under the category of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). This is a group of diverse medical practices that are generally not considered part of conventional medicine.

Some people refer to them as wholistic/holistic therapies as they relate to treating a person as a whole rather than specifically treating one part of a person, such as how a dermatologist would only focus on a skin condition or an ophthalmologist would focus on the eyes.

I remember in the early 90’s as a medical student that it was only then as such holistic practices were starting to be recognised by western practitioners, mainly due to their popularity with patients.

In my own personal journey, I began to discover a new world of well accepted energy modalities which use energy as a primary mode for achieving emotional, mental and physical wellbeing as well as diagnosing health conditions.

I call this a ‘new world of whole’ as these therapies review at every part of you as an interconnected whole person, when making diagnoses. While this is also true in western medicine, there is a greater focus to be referred to a specialist as you become more ill, which is appropriate by that medical paradigm.

However, one can occasionally lose focus on the treatment of your whole self. I have tried my best to summarise the various modalities categorised here.

These various energy-based modalities can be classed in several ways:

  1. Hands-on: Treatment is conveyed to another person involving contact with a practitioner’s hands e.g. Reiki, Energy Healing, Kinesiology, Healing Touch, Quantum Touch, Acupuncture, Thai massage etc.
  1. Hands-off:  Treatment involves no physical contact with practitioner, such as tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique or Thought Field Therapy), Qi Gong & Tai Chi.
  1. Whole Medical systems: Traditional Chinese Medicine (China) and Ayurvedic Medicine (India) are whole integrated systems of healthcare that use energy as a major pillar of therapy.

Have you tried any of these modalities? Which is your favourite?

Did you know the latest treatment for heart disease is NOT a drug?

I recently attended the Australian Integrative Medicine Association (AIMA) conference at the Marriot Hotel in the Gold Coast this past weekend https://www.aima.net.au/. It was an extraordinary conference.

It has been a while since I attended any medical conference as my last escapades in this area was when I was working for the ‘big dog’ Pfizer Australia, the largest company in the industry. As one of their Medical Directors, I was always in a position of high regards amongst the attendees, including the top professors and clinicians.

I found the AIMA conference to be quite different as there was a lot less ego than any previous conference I had attended. I am not saying that all doctors in the mainstream are egotistical as that would be incorrect; I am merely stating that at the AIMA conference, there was a great sense of openness, congeniality and camaraderie.

The doctors were also the first to admit how much they didn’t know; rather than hold a position that they were the foremost expert in specific area and it was either ‘their way or the high way’.

This conference was also unique in that it combined conventional Western medical practitioners with integrative, holistic and alternative health practitioners such as acupuncturists, energy healers, Ayurveda experts, naturopaths, herbal medicines and many other diverse areas of expertise.

It was clear that there was an emphasis on doing what’s best for the patient, irrespective of what therapeutic modality or drug is being used. There was also an emphasis on non-drug approaches, in the interest of reducing potential side effects to patients.

Among the highlights was listening and connecting with Dr Robert Schneider (on the far right in photo), a world leading cardiologist from the Maharishi University in Iowa, USA who demonstrated that one of the approved treatments for heart disease is meditation.

This is a phenomenal step as scientific research now demonstrates that meditation can make a significant difference in preventing heart attacks. It has even led to the American Heart Association adding meditation to the official clinical guidelines for the treatment of heart disease.

Dr Schneider also explained how specifically ‘Transcendental Meditation’ has gained a significant following worldwide with various other studies that prove its benefits in increasing creativity, focus and concentration as well as reducing stress.

This issue is particularly close to my heart (pardon the pun) as only 2 weeks ago, my father had his first heart attack. Naturally, my family and I were quite devastated and I flew back from Sydney to be with him in Kuala Lumpur. I had to take a flight back as soon as I heard, I am sure any family member would do the same if they could.

Whilst he was being plugged away with complicated medication regimes and even more complicated set of diagnosis, I felt grateful that I could be there to help my family understand the consequences of the predicament and the varying opinions from all the experts.

I have to say that I was very grateful to the doctors and nurses who were calm and I was also impressed at how they all emphasized the need for positive mindset and energy, rather than stressing on the drug treatments. As a result, I thought my father some meditations techniques and we did them together.

As a former clinician, I felt this to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. The Buddhists and Hindus have known for thousands of years that meditation has tremendous benefits for all aspect of our physical health, not just cardiac disease.  I am sure that over time, western medicine will catch up , as it is doing now.

Dr Schneider has authored the book ‘Total Heart Health’, which combines modern cardiology with the Maharishi Vedic approach to Health. Based on his outstanding lecture at the conference, I would recommend this book to anyone with heart disease or even anyone concerned about their health and energy.

The basis of ‘Dosha type’ is very powerful, and understanding your dosha i.e. factors that influence your mind-body connection can make a dramatic difference to the foods you eat, how to treat stress and how to regain balance in your life.

If you have a bit time, I strongly recommend you go online and find out what your Dosha type is….whether it is Vata, Pitta or Kapha mind-body type and you may find answers to health problems you may have been experiencing for years.

Have you had any experience with alternative treatments like Ayurveda?

The Basics of Energy Medicine

Up until mid 2012, I was a sceptic of any form of alternative therapy. My background as a medical doctor made me think that if I had not learned it in medical school, then it can’t work to help people get better. My entire perspective changed, when a friend of mine help my symptoms of stress and burnout, simply by changing the energy of my body, through a method called tapping.

So what is tapping and how does it fit into this growing paradigm of energy medicine? Well, tapping refers to a process of using your fingers to tap on certain energy points of your body, the same ones used in acupuncture. This process helps shifts your energy can alleviate the symptoms of stress as well as other forms of illnesses. It is but one of the methods used in the broader context of energy medicine.

On a basic level, energy medicine is based on the underlying principle that our physical and mental states, and life as we know it, are based on flows of energy. In essence, disruptions in the subtle energy flow in humans can cause or contribute to illness and disease processes. Principles of energy medicine are grounded in thousands of years of history and acknowledged in over 97 cultures.

In Chinese medicine, bioenergy is referred to as ‘Qi’, in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, it is referred to as ‘Prana’.  Many different energy therapies such as acupuncture, kinesiology, Reiki, Qigong, are based on similar principles and increasingly substantiated and practiced by Western medical and scientific communities. In Australia, therapies like these are included in the context of alternative medicine and are even being taught as a subject in some medical schools.

In the Western world, energy medicine techniques have been referred to as bioenergy therapy, biofield therapy, contact healing, distant healing, therapeutic touch, emotional freedom technique or thought field therapy, tapping or quantum techniques.

Traditional religious faith is not a prerequiste for practising or receiving energy therapy (thereby different to ‘faith healing’). The science behind bioenergy is growing everyday, with many experts such as Deepak Chopra and Dr John Demartini speaking on these topics to packed audiences around the world.

Aside from the theory, the skill of healing the body’s energy system is very practitioner dependent and therefore it is important to understand the credentials or experience of the practitioner. The therapy can complement existing medical treatment in the treatment of certain illnesses, particularly those with mental and emotional components.

Energy-based techniques can also enable a lighter and more attuned mental state, which aids personal development, career aspirations and interpersonal relationships. These widespread benefits are one of the reasons for their popularity, and why they are sought after outside of the western medical system.

Energy medicine is an exciting space that is moving rapidly, and transforming lives for the better all over the world. The future is sure to see more integration with mainstream therapies and undoubtedly some significant breakthroughs in healing the mind, body and soul.

Have you ever experienced an energy medicine technique for yourself?

What are complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) and where does energy medicine fit?

Several years ago, as a UK medical practitioner and also a senior figure in the pharmaceutical industry in Australia, I was relatively naïve about complementary and alternative medicines. As a matter of fact, I felt that anyone that sought help from a complementary or alternative medicine practitioner was wasting their time and money and it actually made me quite frustrated.

Over the years, my viewpoint has matured significantly, mainly due to my growing understanding of these therapies, the science behind how they work and most importantly, the actual benefit that I have experienced and seen others experience first-hand, particularly when working with the body’s energy system.

As such, it has become my personal mission (and that of my organisation, Energesse) to educate people everywhere on the role of such therapies and how they can heal and transform everyday lives.
Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM) are a group of diverse medical and health care systems, methods, and treatments that are generally considered separate from mainstream Western medicine. Complementary therapy is used in combination with mainstream Western medicine, whilst alternative medicine is used instead of conventional medicine.

Energy medicine falls into the category of CAM, and it includes a whole gamut of therapies that work on the body’s energy system – one of the main methods is Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The increasingly used term ‘Integrative medicine’ combines mainstream western medicine and CAM therapies where there is significant evidence of safety and effectiveness.

The World Health Organization estimates that between 65% to 80% of the world’s population (about 3 billion people) rely on CAM as their primary form of health care (Reference 1). Scientific evidence exists regarding some CAM therapies, for many there is a need for more scientific trials.

Organisations such as the National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicines in the US, the Royal London Hospital for Integrative Medicine in the UK and many others around the world are researching these practices using rigorous scientific methods and building an evidence base for them. It is important work as in the United States alone, approximately 38% of adults (about 4 in 10) and approximately 12% of children (about 1 in 9) are using some form of CAM. (Reference 2)

Most people don’t realise how methods of Complementary and Alternative Medicines there are:

  • Acupuncture
  • Ayurveda
  • Biofeedback
  • Chelation therapy
  • Chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Diet-based therapies e.g. Atkins diet, Vegetarian diet
  • Energy healing therapy/Reiki
  • Guided imagery
  • Homeopathic treatment
  • Hypnosis
  • Massage
  • Meditation
  • Movement therapies – Alexander technique, Pilates
  • Natural products (nonvitamin and nonmineral e.g. herbs, enzymes)
  • Naturopathy
  • Progressive relaxation
  • Qi gong
  • Tai chi
  • Traditional healers – Botanica, Native American healer/Medicine man, Shaman
  • Yoga

In the past decade we have seen methods like acupuncture, osteopathy and homeopathy move more into mainstream Western medicine and become part of the Integrative Medicine movement. It will be interesting to see how many more complementary practices become absorbed into the Western mainstream in the next decade. This will be an exciting and progressive change.

Have you ever tried a form of Complementary or Alternative medicine? What was your experience like?

References

  1. Alternative Medicine Online http://library.thinkquest.org/24206/facts-stats.html
  2. National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine – for the National Institutes of Health http://nccam.nih.gov/news/camstats/2007/camsurvey_fs1.htm

How do you know you need an ‘Energy Makeover’?

By Martine Negro and Dr Avnesh Ratnanesan

One of the interesting and challenging aspect of understanding your own energy field is that most of us cannot ‘see’ it. In fact most of us cannot taste, hear or smell it.

Most of time however, we can ‘feel’ it or ‘sense’ a problem, though in many cases, we don’t realise that the root cause of the problem is related to our Energy field.

This is common in Western societies as the concept of human energy fields is not widely taught. In Eastern societies however, the concept of a body’s energy as the cause of health problems is pervasive.

I recently spoke to Martine Negro, our Energy Practitioner at the Divinity Wellness Institute with over 30 years experience in diagnosing and treating energy fields, using modalities such as Acupuncture, Reiki and Emotional Freedom Technique.

Here’s what she had to say about “How to Know if you need an Energy Makeover

Q: Martine, how can you tell if there is a problem with your Energy?

A: There are several ways, for example:

  • You have physical symptoms or illnesses that are not responding to conventional treatments or the treatment is taking too long to work. Perhaps you have been taking medication, herbs or supplements for months with little noticeable change or the symptoms return as soon as you stop the treatment.
  • Occasionally, no physical reason can found for your illness, despite extensive tests and medical consultations.
  • You have bouts of feeling physically tired or mentally exhausted for no obvious reason.
  • You become moody, anxious, angry or depressed very easily.
  • You have a history of trauma (physical or psycho-emotional), either a major one (e.g. accident, death of a loved one, miscarriage, abortion, divorce, betrayal, etc.) or multiple minor stresses (long term irritation, financial or relationship frustrations, etc).
  • You are aware that something is not quite right about yourself but you are not sure what is happening
  • You have difficulty moving through a difficult issue, despite your best efforts and counselling from family, friends and professionals.
  • You dislike a habit or phobia and cannot change it
  • You have a destructive addictive pattern that you are unable to control

Q: Is there a way to test yourself to see if your energy is being affected?

A: Sure, focus on the issue or problem that you currently have – can you sense how your body responds? Do you feel any tension or negative change in your emotional state?

Nothing is “trivial”, energetically speaking. Over time, small prolonged stresses can cause as much damage as a major one that happened once!

Our society and “disease care” system rarely encourages people to be aware and listen to the body’s messages. The Western medicine approach is often geared to be more “re-active” rather than “pro-active”.

In order to to be proactive, you need to pay attention to your Mind-Body system.

 

Q: What typically happens at an ‘Energy Makeover’ consultation with you Martine, or in fact with other similar energy practitioners?

A: During an energetic session, you are invited to tune in into your body and start connecting to your innate inner wisdom which knows exactly the core issue behind the symptom.

As you connect, you will be guided to activate the energy flow through various energetic tools (acupressure, hands on, imagery, deep breathing and so on)

Quantum physics research demonstrates that when you observe something for a period of time…it changes! Observation is a major component of the energetic experience, a highly unique, organic and flowing process simultaneously involving mind, body and energy. As the energy block gets untangled, the brain gets “rewired” in such a way that after one or several sessions, you feel different. You may gain new insights, new perceptions of the situation and also have great new tools to engage yourself actively in your treatment.

So an energetic session is very much a “team-working” exercise between you, the ultimate expert on your body and the practitioner’s expertise in energetics.  We explore and work together to allow the energy to naturally get back into balance, ultimately inviting you to trust your amazing Mind-Body system which is designed to heal.