“Summer’s here and the time is right…” – Mickey Stevenson & Marvin Gaye 1964
Welcome back to the time of year where one thinks of relaxing a bit and enjoying the things that longer daylight hours offer us. Something salubrious, a break from the regular day to day activities. It can be a time to explore, learn something new, or open our minds to a new book. Whatever you like.
Revisiting Great Concepts
Recently, a topic of great medical, and general health, interest has come back to study. This is the topic of Mind Body Medicine, or biopsychosocial medicine. Much research had been done on this concept between the 1930’s and the 1970’s, but had been left to file with the advent of the renaissance of modern pharmacology. There has been a historical advance in the science of the treatment and prevention of disease over the last forty years. As a result, a myriad of medical advances have been successful in the ability to keep us staying well and extending quality longevity.
With these great advances we are given the opportunity to reflect on basic concepts of well being. We have the opportunity to reflect, and pose three questions, “What makes us sick?”, “What makes us well?” and “What can we do about it?”. These are the basic principles of Mind Body Medicine.
Our nervous system is made up of balanced systems. The voluntary system, which we use for conscious movement, and the involuntary, or autonomic system. The autonomic system is balanced within itself by the sympathetic(fight or flight) and the parasympathetic(rest and digest) systems. The interactions between these systems in our nervous system and its’ effect on our glands and immunity can be the difference between illness and health.
The involuntary, autonomic system can be thought of, as similar to, the Chinese concept of good health being a balance between two systems of energy. The Yin (passive, ie the parasympathetic) and the Yang (active, ie the sympathetic) forces are felt to balance each other in all vital processes. When one is under stress the sympathetic system dictates the emotional reaction. Through the gentle act of taking a slow deep breath across the nasal passages and exhaling slowly by mouth, one can engage the parasympathetic nervous system. This physiological force allows the innate mechanisms of the human body to react in a bit of therapeutic balance. Try it sometime, you’ll find it in the Owner’s Manual to the Human Body.
And Some Seasonal Tips to Free Up Your Day
Summer is a time for being outdoors. Using sunscreen reduces our risks of all skin cancers. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Remember to:
- use products with “Broad Spectrum Protection” as they protect against both harmful UVB and UVA rays.
- use creams, not sprays, as they provide a greater coating and thereby better protection.
And…as the subtropics heat up, so does the weather. Keep track of the tropics www.nhc.noaa.gov and your local weather www.radar.weather.gov so that you may plan ahead and Have a Great Summer!
Dr. Rick Levine