Genetics and Your Health
My patients report back to me that they are becoming increasingly aware of the effectiveness of my own approach to health and healing in my holistic medical practice. It’s not at all unusual for a patient to ask me why a “traditionally” trained physician such as myself has become so immersed in and committed to holistic and alternative modalities. And the answer is quite simple: I had great personal motivation-the desire to overcome a serious genetic malady, severe migraine headaches.
My father, his mother, my aunt, and a first cousin all suffered from the same kind of debilitating headaches. My headaches started when I was 13 years old. For 23 years- to the age of 36-I never felt normal and healthy. I had good reason to worry that if I stayed up too late, or ate the wrong foods (and at the time, it was hard for me to figure out what was “wrong” for me), or became too stressed I would quickly find myself in bed suffering with a migraine.
Over that same span of years, it seems my migraines were leading me down a path of additional health problems. Many of them had strong genetic links. I was obese, had hypertension, high cholesterol, PMS, thyroid and “female troubles”-all conditions that were common within my family. In addition, I began to have hip pain. This was especially disturbing because my mother and her two sisters either had, or should have had, hip replacements. All of us have a genetic malformation of the hip joint that causes abnormal pressure to be placed on the joint, leading to early arthritis.
I was frightened by the growing belief that I would need hip replacement surgery before the age of 50. Traditional medical doctors offered me only one piece of preventative advice: “lose weight.”
CHANGING THE PATH
I am willing to share this personal information with my patients because many of them are dealing with the same kinds of health problems that beset me for so long- which I finally overcame. To deal with my headaches, I made dramatic changes in lifestyle, especially in what I ate, how I cared for my body, what I chose to think about, and how I focused my energy.
As the headaches became less frequent, I gave my new path to good health the ultimate test: I chose to devote my professional energies to emergency medicine, and eventually became board-certified in that specialty, after earlier earning board certification in family practice medicine. I assure you, there are few more stressful jobs in the world than that of an emergency room physician. Amazing to me was the fact that I could do this tremendously stressful work, enjoy it and find it satisfying, and not worry that the every-day traumatic events around me would lead to a headache.
So I come to this stage in my life and reflect on the fact that all of the serious health problems of the past have simply melted away. Through the use of alternative medicine practices, the use of natural hormones, as well as supplements and a special diet, I have moved to a place of excellent health.
The “female problems” have resolved. I have lost weight. I have normal cholesterol, blood pressure, freedom from headaches-and no hip pain!
Many women believe they carry a genetic curse with them. Because their mother had a hysterectomy, for example, they are convinced they will need one also. But in my practice, I find that most maladies that lead to hysterectomies can be prevented and, when present, treated effectively. Many of my patients and I derive great pleasure and satisfaction from avoiding unnecessary hysterectomies.
Other patients tell me they are convinced they have inherited the heart disease that took one or both of their parents at a too-early age. And I tell them that clogging of the arteries can be prevented-and it can also be reversed!
I can share this kind of good news with my patients from a place of true conviction, because I have learned, over these years, that we can beat the genetic hand we have been dealt-and I’m living proof that it can be done successfully.