And they will respect you and listen with greater interest once they hear this from you.
Okay. On to step #4 . . .
Step #4: Pathophysiology Of Stress According To Biomedical Lingo
Here is where you need some practice and study about how to describe and explain some simple concepts in biomedicine.
Absolutely no holistic lingo here! It is essential that you get reasonably competent at speaking about simple biomedical mechanisms in a medically accurate way.
The example you should use is to relate a simple explanation of the stress response and then expand on how acupuncture affects this mechanism in the next step.
Now I'm going to give you some of the exact phrases and words you can and should use.
But . . .
Remember that - just like before - they already know all of this. They just need to know that you know it and that:
1. You have gone to the trouble to learn it and can explain it accurately
2. You are not a new age knucklehead with a chip on his shoulder who is there to cram a lot of ancient Asian mumbo jumbo down their throats
So don't even hint at Asian ideas, concepts or lingo here.
Now, if you don't know how to walk someone through the basics of the stress response in biomedical lingo, I am going to model one approach for you. Here is a transcription of my basic delivery of this key step.
“Okay doctors, stop and consider the simple patho-mechanisms of stress and the consequences this one mechanism has on almost all chronic disease and chronic functional conditions.
We all know this, but let’s just review together what happens when a patient experiences sympathetic up-regulation - i.e. the stress response?
What happens to heart rate? It goes up right. What happens to blood pressure? It goes up - because portions of the circulatory system constrict and contract and speed up blood flow.
What happens to blood flow to the abdomen and abdominal organs and specifically to the digestive and reproductive systems?
Right. Smooth muscle tissue is affected and blood flow to the digestive and reproductive organs gets diverted away, shunted away from the internal organs as the body redirects that blood to nourish, the big muscles of the legs and thighs. That of course is the flight part of the fight or flight response.
The arms and chest - in men especially - get a big dose of nourishing blood, which is the fight part of fight or flight.
And men and women both get a big hit of blood to the heart and brain so the heart can work extra hard and so your brain and senses are super-alert and can help get you out of danger.”
Okay, so without even once mentioning any Asian idea or concept and definitely without any whiff of qi or liver depression qi stagnation or any other abstruse or mysterious word or concept, here we have completely demonstrated an ability to speak their lingo.
Okay no big deal. Maybe some of you already know this. But my experience is that most acupuncturists have no idea how to accurately describe ANS dysregulation in biomedical lingo.
So that is one half of this portion of your presentation.
Now we get the move on to step #5 . . .
Step #5: Explain How Acupuncture Down-Regulates The ANS
Here is where you get to flex your brains and really make it clear - from an intellectual point of view - how acupuncture’s effects:
1. Can be understood according to biomedical lingo and concepts
2. That acupuncture is valuable in helping all kinds of chronic functional conditions and especially the big 4 comorbidities of pain, stress, anxiety and depression.
So here's another short clip of how I typically language this step:
“So when I insert acupuncture needles at certain points, we not only get local effects on blood flow and systemic endorphin release, but also, the needles trigger a systemic response that - in some ways is even more significant than the simple local effects." Why? Because it down regulates sympathetic nervous system up-regulation and up-regulates parasympathetic response which we all know as the rest and digest mechanism.
I'm going to this demonstrate how this works because - unless you have actually been treated by a high-quality acupuncturist and unless you actually experience the sensation and effects of high-quality acupuncture for yourself, you simply cannot have any clear idea how effective this simple therapy is and you will forever be confused about what professional-quality acupuncture actually feels like.
To be clear once again, this systemic response and reaction - among other things - re-regulates the autonomic nervous system by down regulating sympathetic hyperactivity and up-regulating parasympathetic response.
Now, for most patients dealing with chronic functional conditions and serious chronic disease, some improvement in the patient's symptoms and even in the course of their actual disease process will occur if they simply rest and digest better.
And this is the real value of acupuncture to mainstream medicine and 21st century patients. It is very simple, extremely safe and demonstrably effective treatment that simply helps patients recover by resting and digesting better.
I don't want to over-simplify this and I'm going to give a quick review of some of the latest findings of acupuncture’s effects on brain chemistry after I demonstrate on some of you.
But in the simplest possible terms:
1. The body repairs itself by resting and digesting. This is how we recover from illness, physical insults and the degenerative effects of aging and stress.
2. Acupuncture aids in the re-regulation of the ANS and so - in addition to local effects on pain from poor circulation - it helps with multiple different chronic functional conditions and even serious chronic diseases simply because it allows patients to rest and digest better and thus promotes the self-healing response latent within the body. Got it? Questions?
"Okay, who wants to actually feel this effect from acupuncture?”
I have done several things there that go beyond giving mere information. I have positioned myself as a high-quality practitioner who not only knows their lingo, but who can also be counted on to represent them well because there is no inherent contradiction between my explanation of what acupuncture does to get its effects and their medical school training about how the nervous system functions to help patients heal.
OK. On to step 6 and now - with all this build-up - you had better be able to deliver . . .
Step #6: Demonstrate Like You MEAN IT!
Here is where you can do more good - or more harm - to your professional reputation then with all the rest of your presentation combined.
Let's face it . . .
1. There's a lot of bad acupuncturists and a lot of very poor-quality acupuncture going on in North America, and
2. You had better be one of the high-quality professionals if you are going to win them over
3. If you consider number one above and you know you are a great needler then it is your duty to demonstrate what non new age acupuncture feels like so that Physicians are clear about the difference.
Here is where I really have fun and I encourage you to shine as well.
Obviously if you are either not confident about your needle-skills or even not sure about what I mean when I say, “the difference between Hospital quality and New Age style acupuncture,” then do yourself a big favor and get back to school on how to needle. And I do not mean to actually go back to your school. Most schools do a poor job of clarifying and emphasizing this key ingredient in their curriculum and yet it is without a doubt the one thing that cannot be faked - or missing.
If you fear you don’t yet know how to be a killer needler who gets needle response each and every time you insert a needle and who knows the difference between bad technique and good-quality, strong stimulation then look for one of my Boot Camps because I travel the US and Canada - and elsewhere if you want to come to a cool little place in Central America for a few days - to teach hospital quality needle skills like you have probably never seen, felt or been exposed to and more people tell me that this is the most valuable thing I do for them than from any other skill I teach except communication skills. So don’t overlook this key skill and get great at it.
IF you cannot make it to my own Boot Camp, then find a mentor if you can and practice until you produce good needle response at each point you needle with no nastiness or sharp sensation and so that you can perform this way so easily and consistently that you actually find it hard to remember getting it wrong.
I confess that I like to be extra . . . shall we say . . . firm, (I hesitate to use the term brutal) when I demonstrate on doctors. The reason is obvious:
If you fail to get a needle response and to show total competence and confidence in your actions as a clinician, then all your efforts at correct language are really wasted.
But if you really make it your task to deliver a killer-strong treatment, then that volunteer will know for all time and beyond any debate that:
1. It is definitely different than anything they have ever felt and there is nothing new age about it, and
2. Even though placebo expectation is a factor in almost all clinical medicine, acupuncture is certainly not just a placebo expectation response and effect, and - most importantly of all -
3. You and your skills are simply beyond questioning.
Plus, let's face it, being the first to introduce a physician to real-deal needle response is fun!
Your stock goes through the roof when they witness and/or experience your ability to trigger a physical response that they have likely never felt and - in fact - do not even know existed.
You do not need to do many points on your volunteers. Keep it brief. Even 2-4 points are more than enough. But I do recommend you ask for several volunteers so that you will have multiple mouthpieces talking about you when you leave.
It is important that you treat a few - maybe 3 or 4 people - if you have time; and you should make time as this is in many ways the most convincing part of your pitch.
Okay, if you have done a good job with step #6, then step #7 should be a breeze.
Step #7: Position Yourself Against The New Age . . . At Every Opportunity
So here is the second important concept that makes your presentation more than just an informational talk.
This may be the most important Marketing Concept for you to grasp when you communicate with and present to physicians and mainstream medical administrators.
It goes without saying that - from a marketing and sales point of view - any product or service with a unique position or angle that makes it rare or in some way extra-special and more valuable than the common run-of-the-mill, status quo - then that product or service will be more sought-after and thus can command a higher price or fee.
When dealing with Physicians, there are two ‘tells’ that indicate you are new age joker. A ‘tell’ is a term used in gambling and it refers to a habit or quirk-of-character that “tips your hand” as in a game of poker.
The two biggest tells in presenting to a room-full of physicians are:
1. Lack of any evidence of a logical methodology.
2. Cheese whiz, Voodoo-quality, New Age needle skills that produce no discernible reaction or change in the physiological state of the patient.
It is not possible to do justice to holistic methodology, pattern discrimination, tongue pulse and questioning, etc. - in a short talk about acupuncture and that should not be your goal here anyway.
As we all hopefully know already, pattern discrimination is generally not essential to good-quality acupuncture anyway even though it is clearly essential to high-quality herbal practice in the Chinese medical model.
None the less, if you can deliver a no bullshit legitimate needle response, then it is okay merely to mention that you are only needling for demonstration purposes but that there is a sophisticated criteria and methodology that goes into a treatment plan for acupuncture patients.
It is not necessary to explain more and you should politely decline any requests to elaborate for both time constraint reasons and so that you do not dilute your main focus which is to demystify the biomedical mechanisms of acupuncture’s effects in a language that your physician colleagues understand and respect.
In other words, it is important that they know that professional-quality holism DOES HAVE a logical methodology, but it is not necessary for you to explain how this does or does not pertain to acupuncture diagnosis and treatment. If you try to tie all of these ends together, you will inevitably make more confusion than clarity in a one hour time slot. So - my advice is - don’t even try to clarify it all. Mention it, but do not elaborate.
If you did a good job with your demonstration and several of them have felt good needle response, then you have covered their major concern about what acupuncture feels like and whether or not it is all simply Hocus Pocus.
To position yourself against the new age means you are instantly more valuable and more trustworthy, not to say less likely to embarrass them if and when they send you patient referrals.
So, at every opportunity I throw the new age under the bus by ridiculing the whole energy medicine, intuitive diagnosis (and god help you if they even suspect you of this) and every form of lousy needle technique including shallow, Japanese-style needling with no needle response.
Understand please that it makes no difference to me how you actually practice in-clinic. But for the purposes of your presentation you must needle to get a response or you risk blowing the entire effort. If you prefer to needle shallow and believe that your patients benefit from this, I have my own personal opinion about that but it does not necessarily mean that you cannot be successful in gaining physician referrals.
So my own opinion about the type of needling that you perform in-clinic and in your private practice is of little concerned here. But if you do ask for volunteers and wish to demonstrate effectively, you damn well better get some needle response or else they will be laughing up their sleeves as they walk out and you will never hear from them again.
Believe me when I tell you that I know what I'm talking about with this. If I had time I would cover a funny anecdote about the physicians I treated at Cleveland Clinic. So, word to the wise, take the needle response thing very seriously and get good at it if you're still struggling.
For whatever reason, there are so few acupuncturists who are competent and confident enough to impress physicians that just positioning yourself against the new age is enough to increase your value and the likelihood of getting referrals from any physician you talk to.
Use this marketing concept and always position yourself as different. Define the new age and clearly define what makes you a professional versus a neo shamanic energy healer idiot.
New age jokers are the worst nightmare of Physicians and mainstream administrators and so it is not difficult position yourself as different from them. But it is crucial and I strongly urge you to use this tactic to your benefit.
Step # 8: Show Deference to Their Status and Expertise
In my opinion, it is good for you to strut a little when you treat your volunteers during the demo step of your presentation. You should ooze confidence and professional competence.
But once you have done this and once you have made it clear that you despise all the new age non-professionals who give acupuncture a bad or at least a questionable name, then I have also found tremendous value in acknowledging the serious training and professionalism of your conventional medical colleagues.
There's nothing wrong with showing genuine deference to your audience at some point in your talk. This can be done strategically as I will demonstrate.
Understand that (confidentially) MDs are a curious crowd. But one thing they all believe - rightly as it seems to me - is that the successful completion of medical school is a badge of honor they feel proud and yes even sometimes superior for having earned.
Use this to your advantage and do not bristle about it. I sometimes hear people in the acupuncture world speak with real resentment that Dr.’s are all arrogant a-holes. Not true in my experience and it is much better to simply acknowledge why they might feel that way instead of railing against it.
Bottom line: medical school is no joke and - hate to break it to anyone who is in denial about this - it is MUCH harder than getting a diploma from a Chinese medical college. So relax and use this to your advantage.
Again, the exact steps in your presentation can sometimes change order and this step may naturally occur or spontaneously be interjected in your presentation, especially during impromptu interaction and dialogue. So it is not necessarily to do it exactly in this order. But it is an important element to a successful presentation and so you should consider engineering it into some portion of your talk.
In other words, don't just gloss over this step. I include this step with good reason so do not overlook it.
Here is how I would use this particular element of a successful presentation as a prelude to the next step of talking about brain chemistry and research:
“Now, obviously Doctors, I am not an expert on the topic of brain chemistry, but it is an essential part of acupuncture’s somewhat unique value in treating 21st century patients with certain comorbidities. So, even though you all have far greater and deeper knowledge and understanding of my next talking point, I am going to do my best to relate to you this important piece of the modern understanding of acupuncture’s effects on brain chemistry and hope that you can follow along and even add your own interpretation as I go.”
What this really says to them is that you know that they are important and that you are really someone who is there to help and to add value by clarifying their understanding and their clinical outcomes with difficult-to-treat, frustrating patients.
That you care enough to even mention and will attempt to convey this information really will set you apart. That you should care to show deference to their training means - in their thinking - that you are one of the good guys and someone who will reflect well on them when they send you a referral patient.
Now, also understand that pure ass-kissing is never a good idea because you can pay for it later if it does not get you labeled out right as an ass-kisser and thus dismissed. But done strategically, showing genuine and authentic deference to their expertise goes a long way toward ingratiating you as somebody they can call upon.
Step #9: Brain Chemistry
This is by far the heaviest topic but please don't panic. Tell yourself, “this is easy and I can do this.”
No obviously I cannot go into gruesome detail about brain chemistry as it pertains to pain, stress and the other major comorbidities in this webinar. It is far too big and detailed and complex a topic and we simply don't have time.
I will tell you later how you can get excellent information about the latest research in a reliable manner and how you can even learn quickly to speak intelligently about this topic in front of any audience simply by modeling an approach that already works.
Make no mistake: you must have this info at your fingertips so please pay attention till the end and I will tell you how you can get the best and most easily understandable material on this topic that I know of anywhere.
Let me overview what you should know and be ready to include in your presentation and then I will tell you at the end how you can get all the expertise you will ever need on this subject and I advise you to read it because there is enormous value to your career in understanding this material. If you choose to research this topic on your own, you will need to study the following:
1. Pathophysiology and biochemical explanations of chronic pain - specifically why is chronic pain a different animal than acute pain and what happens to various neural circuits when the body and brain have a steady and constant chronic pain signal present.
2. Pathology of major comorbidities like anxiety and depression so that you understand which parts of the brain are affected and the neurotransmitters that are implicated in these
2 ubiquitous modern maladies.
3. Basic understanding of major neural networks - what they are, how they function and what kinds of conditions in the modern patient population are related to imbalances within the neural networks.
4. Acupuncture's effects on aiding patients with brain chemistry imbalance.
5. And a few more items that I will not go into here.
Now, I know all of that can sound pretty overwhelming. And it is. But not if you have somebody walk you through it.
As I said, I have not one but two sources you can get your hands on and refer to regarding these sub-topics of brain chemistry.
Look, I am not an MD nor a scientist in any sense. I figured this out by asking questions. Lucky for all of you, you do not need to go dig this stuff up on your own. My colleague has done a great job of making the details of this important step easy to grasp and discuss with others.
But even if you do not get any other material on this topic - as I strongly suggest - I'm still going to tell you the final conclusion that makes acupuncture of such enormous interest and value to modern physicians.
If you use this without reading about brain chemistry you will likely be challenged and may look foolish. But I will give it to you anyway and you can do as you wish. The important ‘how-bout-it’ with regard to acupuncture’s effects on brain chemistry comes down to this:
“So, Doctors, what all this adds up to is that - according to some of the latest research from the NIH - regular acupuncture can help to reestablish top-down control of the neural networks and thus aids patients suffering from the most common, most costly comorbidities in all of modern medicine making your ability to help these patients a simple matter of incorporating professional quality acupuncture in your practice when you are confronted with patients with a recalcitrant condition that is not responding to conventional care.”
That phraseology is significant so make sure you get it - and stick around until the end of this so that you can find out how to get the two references I'm have co-created and will make available to you at a significant discount so that you can learn to speak intelligently because you really cannot do a competent presentation without this material.
Step #10: The Research
The bottom line about research is that you had better know it and you would be foolish not to use it.
If you are going to put yourself up in front of mainstream MD physicians you simply do not have the option to dodge this issue. They only respect statements that are backed by a significant body of research and you had better be prepared to tell them what that research says and also what sources you have looked at.
But - here is something that still astonishes me because so few people actually take advantage of this fact - if you know the latest research about acupuncture; it is overwhelmingly in your favor right now.
The modern research is also very recent. Remember that you want material that is both modern in terms of its methodology and understanding of neural networks and neuroplasticity, etc. and also recent and that it is also from a major journal or organization.
Again, my colleague Dr. Raford has done this for us. The level of expertise you can get simply by accessing what he has done is far more firepower than you will ever need and much more than any physician or group of MD’s will be expecting.
So unless you enjoy the challenge of researching difficult topics on your own, my suggestion is that you read and study what he has done and I will tell you in a few more minutes how you can get all of his excellent work.
Now, if you want to go it alone, then make sure to quote stuff from organizations like the NIH for North American doctors.
You want to be cautious mentioning research from China where political motivations cast a skeptical pall over much of what you are likely to find.
When you talk to Physicians, you literally could not say, “according to the latest research,” too many times. If you said that phrase 100 times - and it was relevant and accurate - it would still have an impact.
So make the research your friend because it is very much in your favor and it once again shows that you understand and respect their need for it and the point of view that says professional medicine must be research-based.
Step 11: Functional Medicine
So, this is another of the 12 steps that can be done in another place and does not necessarily need to be considered part of a linear sequence. This is another of the essential topics that you must address in order to be legitimate, convincing, persuasive and thorough but that does not need to be done in sequence in order to help with your sales psychology and structure. So Step #11 should be addressed - if you feel competent to do it, and if it does not detract from the underlying sales psychology of your presentation. But it does not need to be done after #10 and before #12.
In fact, I usually do not bring up the word qi at all. I will usually wait for one of them to do it. And if nobody brings it up, I may skip it entirely depending on time constraints.
However, you absolutely must have a cogent an answer if this issue comes up.
There is one right way to talk about this that gets you a ton of respect. And there are a number of very loose-headed New Age ways that will cost you all of your credibility. So you better learn how to deal with this issue because you are almost certainly going to have to discuss it at some point in your career and you did not want to blow it when you do.
When I explain about qi, I make sure to do a thorough job of - you guessed It - throwing the new age explanation under the bus.
Because as Westerners, the most likely explanation and definition they have ever heard with respect to qi is that it is bioenergy, bioelectricity, prana, your aura or some other version of new age nonsense - all of which are equally ambiguous and useless in professional medicine.
When you clarify this point, you again make yourself a source of immense value to them. Here again, a simple, concise definition with a simple example or two is sufficient. Here is how I explain this when I present to Physicians:
“Doctors, no end of confusion has come from the word and concept of qi. So let me give you a little insight into what the Chinese are actually referring to at a conceptual level so you can really grasp this in a non New Age way - because once somebody explains this to you in a proper manner, it really does demystify a lot of the holistic system from China at the professional level.
First of all, in the last 2400 years of literate history of Chinese medicine, no one ever wrote about - so far as I've been able to discover - the word or concept of energy. The whole 5 Element thing - if you are familiar or have somehow heard of this popular mnemonic model - is a Western creation by a guy named Worsley who essentially grafted homeopathic theory on top of a Chinese theory.
Qi as energy is a remnant of vitalism and that is about as new age as you can get. At the professional level, what the Chinese actually mean when they say qi is more or less best translated as function.
Qi is a reference to a functional aspect of health or - illness (as in dysfunction.) So ultimately, professional-quality holism is functional medicine and it is the concept of qi that makes it so.
Let me illustrate the basic logic here: The function of the heart is the pump the blood out to the body. If it patient is said to be diagnosed and labeled as suffering from heart qi vacuity, then you would expect to see some signs and symptoms such as, general lassitude, spontaneous sweating, shortness of breath upon minor exertion and even cyanosis and bluish facial tinge.
All of these functional signs and symptoms indicate a lack of function or - in the Chinese conceptual nomenclature - heart qi vacuity or insufficiency, which is a technical label that denotes the presence of the specific signs and symptoms that I mentioned. No functional signs or symptoms, no pattern diagnosis. Is this clear? Because the Chinese logic is anything but new age and arbitrary. It is deeply and elegantly logical based on objectively verifiable evidence. This is the big news for most physicians who have simply never been exposed to anything but new age vitalism and who thus incorrectly associate professional-quality Chinese medicine with all the other new age holistic nonsense out there. It is definitely NOT that.”
“Now there is another level to this. The holistic system - based as it is on observation of functional aspects of health and illness and because it fundamentally and axiomatically based on mind-body inseparability - assigns a somewhat different function to the organs then does biomedicine."
A good example of this is the spleen. Recall that the ancient and pre-modern Chinese medical professionals and establishment never had any great interest in dissection and/or biochemistry.
The functions assigned to a healthy spleen are not a one-for-one correspondence to what we believe and consider them to be in biomedicine.
But the system of professional-quality holism from China is self-consistent within its own logical boundaries. The axiomatic and dogmatic beliefs are consistent according to the Chinese logic of functional physiology.
So there is no real contradiction unless you try to make one system’s set of beliefs about how the body works somehow fit in with the logic and dogma of another system’s logical parameters.
Fortunately, such a thing is not necessary and there are certainly far more similarities and differences between the two dominant systems of modern conventional medicine and professional-quality holism.”
Here I have just walked them through a simple and logical explanation that - it is almost 100% certain - no one has ever mentioned or explained to them before. This again aids enormously in giving you credibility as a real authority and as someone they can trust.
Why? Because at no point did I resort to new age nonsense or in any way degrade or criticize modern medicine in order to make my point. This is the huge and terrible error that almost everyone wants to make over and over again when speaking to physicians.
I never once mention any concept of energy medicine or any ideas that purport ancient theory to be superior to modern science and so I also said nothing that particularly offends or confront their training and basic view of how the body functions.
I simply clarified that the medical systems are consistent within their own parameters. The ability to speak about qi has an aspect the function goes a long way toward bridging the chasm between the understanding that doctors have about what we do and will help them suspend their disbelief and avoid any general impression they have of holism - and of you - as a "new age nut.”
I have done many talks where I never once said the word qi. If they don't bring it up, I don't either.
But if it does get brought up, you had better not start stuttering and blinking and mumbling and then spout a load of new age crap about energy medicine and 5 elements, etc. because you will lose them. To not have an answer for this when it comes up is a disaster. To have the wrong answer is just as damaging. So learn how to handle it well before you get asked.
Learn to define and give examples of qi as a reference to function. Go read up on functional medicine - which is a hot topic still for many young conventional medical professionals - and you will see the many important parallels between what is now called functional medicine in the West and what we know and understand as professional-quality holistic Chinese medicine with his concept of qi and the logic of pattern discrimination.
Okay. One last important point to really clarify: Holism as a professional medical system.
Step #12: Defining Professional-Quality Holism
Define professional-quality holism and make it clear that it is different in a way that matters because it can help treat the difficult patients that are not responding well to conventional medical approaches.
I have been shocked by just how many people have no real concept of what is meant by holism. I suggest that you prepare yourself to define this term and to show the significance of its relevance in treating and managing patients with chronic conditions.
Just like the term and concept of qi, you cannot afford to get blindsided on this important topic. You need to know what holism is and why it is different and also how the majority of people have a completely wrong headed and New Age understanding of it so that you clearly differentiate what it is that you do from what the mob of new age practitioners don't understand.
The obvious reason is that failure to speak intelligently about this can completely destroy your credibility as a non new age ally of modern scientific conventional medicine and this crushes all your other efforts and good work in the rest of your presentation.
But there is a less obvious reason which is that, this is an important part of your sales formula and sales psychology and if what you do and sell really is legitimate and it is different in a significant and essential and valuable way, and if it is more rare and more unique then you are going to be in great shape when it comes to actually getting compensated.
After all, isn't it better to sell something that is rare, valuable and difficult to get than something that is commonplace and not particularly valuable? The answer is obvious.
When you finish your presentation you are going to ask them for their referrals and that means you want to stand out from the crowd - i.e. as different from what else is out there. So, when you give a logical and rational definition of holism - and I will again and give you mine including the important phraseology of how to say it - you not only add to the legitimacy of what you do and represent, you also (here is this word again) position yourself as different from others in the marketplace of practitioners. So here we go:
“Who here has a good definition of holism?”
I highlight this step because it harks back to our opening move of finding out who is in the room and what kind of thinking they might already have on this subject. It is a wonderful tactic wherein you teach by asking questions.
You will likely hear all kinds of strange and poorly thought-out answers and this allows you to point out the weakness of each one before giving your own correct reply. Do not be shocked when you here outlandish answers. The most outlandish reply I ever received on this was actually by the Doctors at Cleveland Clinic. No kidding.
“Okay, so as we can see, there is a lot of ambiguity over this simple question. Let me give you the correct answer at the professional level and then explain to you just why this professional model matters right not. But first, let me just ask all of you, can thinking negative and self-defeating thoughts make you sick?”
When I ask this, I always get a 100% affirmative response.
“Okay, so we all agree that the mind or psyche influences physical health and illness yes?
What about the other way around? If you are ill or seriously injured and in poor health, will such a physical state affect your psyche?”
Again in my experience, agreement is universal.
“Good. So we agree? Okay. That's professional-quality holism. Professional-quality holism is not any of the new age, “oh, just think positive,” routine. But it does take for granted that your mind influences your physical reality and thus the reality of health and Illness. But there is also something else to the professional understanding of holism that almost everyone in the West overlooks. I will explain in a moment.”
Here again I love to goof on all the new age jokers because - again - it positions you different from that useless and dangerous point of view.
“The new ager believe that, ‘Oh If I just think positive, happy thoughts of success and abundance, all will be well in the universe.’ It is a return to the Asian idea of the primacy of consciousness point of view and quite frankly, there is no end of proof that such a point of view has been overshadowed by Western objectivism.
So, whereas modern medicine has made incredible advances by thinking of and treating the body as a machine, the professional-quality holistic model has certain other advantages that really come in handy when diagnosing and treating conditions of long-standing and stubborn, chronic functional complaints with multiple etiologies.
The important point here is that - just like modern conventional medicine has a sweet-spot where it is clearly superior to anything else - so too the professional holistic system has a real sweet-spot where it is incredibly useful in helping patients who are not responding to conventional medicine.
If you look at who these patients are and what they are suffering from, you will see many of the worst and most frustrating and difficult-to-treat kinds of conditions and co-morbidities in all of medicine. And to put an even finer point on this comparative view, the strength of modern medicine is the exact limitation of holistic Chinese medicine and vice versa. The Chinese know this and it is why they have done so much to integrate western medicine with their own cultural model of medicine health and illness treatment and prevention.
Most people in the Chinese medical world wrongly conclude that the communist party took out all the good spiritual stuff from the Chinese medical system. But this is simply not the case if you are student of the history of Chinese medicine as I am.
What we call modern Chinese medicine - or Traditional Chinese Medicine here in the West (or just TCM) - was standardized during the cultural revolution by Mao who threw all the best Doctors in China together and said, ‘you standardize this system or else.’ In other words, the Chinese themselves did away with the new age view - at the professional level - many years ago. In fact, the belief that illness is caused by ghosts and unhappy ancestors - i.e. magical and mysterious, new age causes - was differentiated from a logical and naturalist approach that says illness can come about by external and environmental factors or by internal psychological states as long ago as about the 4 century B.C.E. or about the time of ancient Athens.
Unfortunately, most people who learn Chinese medicine in the West only get the new age version of ancient Asian mysticism.
The new age point of view - which is not new at all - is totally divorced from at least half (and in my opinion) the more important half of reality - i.e. objective reality. The sun is coming up in the East tomorrow no matter what anyone thinks about it and so there is an important aspect of understanding and accepting the physical laws of existence irrespective of mental theater.
It's true that mental theater matters. You all raised your hands in agreement when I asked if certain kinds of thoughts can make you ill. But such a dynamic ignores the fact that action influences thoughts and so the fallacy of the new age is a falsehood simply because we all know that thoughts cannot matter more than actions in the realm of physical existence. You can be depressed and still act empowered. You can feel tired or sad and still get up and get going. Action in conformity with the objective reality of things as they are trumps thoughts and feelings every day.
Holistic logic is based on the presupposition that your mind and body are in a bidirectional relationship wherein each influences the other and is influenced by the other and that such influence can be reliably predicted within certain functional parameters.
This axiomatic mind-body connection has profound implications in understanding and treating certain 21st century patients with certain costly comorbidities - the very patients who are recalcitrant to the conventional medical approaches for these conditions.
In other words, the logic of the holistic system - at the professional level - is set up this way and mental emotional symptoms are paired with and indicative of various other physical signs of dysfunction. Mental-emotional symptoms will have corresponding and - within certain parameters, predictable and easily recognizable - physical signs which accompany them.
Because the mind and body are actually a single unit and indivisible whole (according to holistic dogma) and because the mind and body influence one another in a bidirectional relationship, if I want to affect someone’s psyche (as in cases like anxiety and depression) there must be (and in fact are) functional factors that are physical and objective and verifiable and that can be influenced to produce a corresponding change in a patient’s psyche. In my experience, this is a valuable thing to clarify. But it does not really imply that acupuncture gets its effects because it is Chinese and because you have to think like the Chinese in order to get these effects.
Acupuncture, which is the important topic for today, gets its effects with or without any real comprehension of holistic mind-body inseparability or even any high-level appreciation of pattern discrimination.
The methodology of professional quality holistic medicine is called pattern discrimination, and - to the extent it is practiced correctly - it IS based on objective signs and subjectively verifiable and universal symptoms. Everyone knows what it feels like to be tired or sad or anxious. These may be subjective sensations, but they are not personally subjective. This is not so different from conventional medical psychiatric practice.
Pattern discrimination is based on the recognition of what in the west would be referred to as syndromes - i.e. groupings of signs and symptoms that tend to appear together. The patient’s treatment is based primarily on their presenting patterns of signs and symptoms and not on the name of their disease.
What makes holism at the professional level so useful right now is that it is based on a cognitive model that holds a somewhat wider, gestalt picture of the causes and mechanisms of ‘dis-ease’ and that - once again - this is especially well suited to patients with chronic, functional and degenerative conditions because these conditions tend to brought about by a multiplicity of complex and interacting factors that requires a system that can make sense of them and then selectively counteract those factors.
There is no real magic to this and the Chinese model is not somehow better because it is ancient, or natural or because it is Asian. It simply arises from a different cognitive model that emphasizes aspects of health and illness that tend to involve and result in chronic, lifestyle driven conditions and it is geared to treat these exact conditions through acupuncture - which is extremely safe - and through herbs. But it is not acupuncture or herbs that matter. It is a way of thinking and of processing information that makes their medical system the real jewel of their very old culture - and by the way, the Chinese know this.
Pattern discrimination is oriented to cognize (i.e. to diagnose and plan for the treatment of) illness that results from a multiplicity of factors . . . and chronic, functional, degenerative conditions brought about by lifestyle and even just from aging are overwhelmingly attributable to a multiplicity of interrelated things.
Just to give you an example of this statement and process, let’s take a clinical complaint of headache. In professional-quality holistic pattern discrimination, there are 13 patterns of signs and symptoms that relate to a clinical complaint of headache. Each pattern is caused by a different pathomechanism. Therefore - since not every headache is caused by one single mechanism - not every headache should be treated the same way.
Likewise, not everyone who has Type 2 diabetes has the same signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes. There are 12 patterns of signs and symptoms related to type 2 diabetes and professional quality holistic medicine differentiates the diagnosis and treatment of any given patient with type 2 diabetes according to these 12 patterns. The corollary to this is that - in professional holistic medicine - treatment is primarily based on the patient’s particular patterns and not merely on the named Western disease. This has useful and profound implications in long-term treatment of chronic diseases arising from complex etiologies and non-specific chronic functional illness.
Returning once more to the epidemiology of 21st century patients and the costly and enormous prevalence of the big 4 comorbidities of pain, stress, anxiety and depression, people with anxiety and depression do have certain physical signs. Even though their primary diagnosis may have to do with mental emotional complaints, they will almost always have fairly easily recognizable physical signs to go along with their mental and emotional symptoms of worry and sadness, hopelessness, etc. . . .
This is where holistic medical pattern discrimination performs so well. Obviously not everyone with depression has the exact same signs and symptoms of depression. Different patterns of depression may need to be and - in the holistic model - should and must be treated differently.
So, this is the correct explanation of why professional holism is so valuable right now. Pattern discrimination recognizes different presentations of the same named Western disease. And since treatment is based on the patient’s presenting patterns of signs and symptoms and not merely on their named Western disease condition, you end up getting a level of specificity that greatly aids conventional medical treatment because it is tailored to each specific patient’s specific and unique presentation.
Now, obviously Dr.’s we are on a time schedule here and I cannot do full justice to this topic in a short lecture. But I have more to say on it and would be glad to discuss it further or answer any questions you might have at another time.
But suffice for this presentation to simply understand that:
Pattern discrimination is really based on the diagnosis and treatment of syndromes of signs and symptoms that tend to clump and group together.
Whereas modern, conventional medicine has delivered astonishing advances in surgery and biochemical interventions that have come from treating the body as a machine, so too the holistic system has a built in bias. In professional-quality holism the mind and body are fundamentally inseparable. The upshot of this limitation is that holism offers a model of functional medicine that has some pretty useful advantages when it comes to treating and managing chronic conditions.”
Okay. So I went overboard as usual and gave away the store here. You will not likely need all of this verbiage, but you will have it if you do need it or if you just want to flex your brains in front of them. Again these are 12 key switches that have to be thrown in the minds of any physician or mainstream medical professionals that you talk to. Armed with this kind of ability, you simply cannot fail right now.