This issue of Myeloma Today is sponsored in part by an unrestricted educational grant from Novartis Pharmaceuticals.
Over the last few months, the IMF Hotline has experienced an increase in the number of questions about complementary approaches to cancer therapy. In response, the IMF Los Angeles Patient & Family Interactive Seminar© has featured a talk by Lewis Mehl-Madrona, M.D., author of Coyote Medicine, and Myeloma Today has conducted an interview with L.A.-based practitioner Shlomit Michaely, Ph.D., L.Ac..
Myeloma Today: Please tell us about yourself.
Dr. Shlomit: I was born in Jerusalem, and have traveled the world for the last 20 years studying, practicing, and teaching different aspects of the ancient sciences — acupuncture, nutrition, yoga, relaxation, and meditation, to name but a few. I am a graduate of Samra University of Oriental Medicine, licensed by the State of California Acupuncture Committee, and certified as a Diplomat in Acupuncture by the U.S. National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncturists. I hold a Ph.D. in Holistic Nutrition and am the founder of East West Medicine Center. While maintaining two practices in Los Angeles — one with a surgeon at St. Joseph’s Medical Center and the other at Y.M.I. Yoga and Wellness Center — I make the time to teach healing yoga, relaxation, and meditation to patients, colleagues, and doctors alike. I also write articles and books and speak at health and well-being conferences.
MT: What is Integrative Medicine?
Dr. Shlomit: Human beings have always suffered from various kinds of disease. Heavy environmental pollution, mental stress, and the increased need for different chemical treatments are but a few of the factors that have given rise to today’s heightened awareness and pursuit of integrative medicine.
Simply, Integrative Medicine is a combination of several rich and living healing traditions from both Western medicine and Eastern medicine systems of knowledge and practice. Integrative Medicine can transform our view of ourselves into a powerful union of body, mind, and spirit. It has given all kinds of people of all ages and with different conditions — especially chronic ones — new possibilities, choices, and hope for living better, living stronger, and living longer.
MT: How can Integrative Medicine benefit myeloma patients?
Dr. Shlomit: My experience with patients with different kinds of cancer, and other ailments and conditions, has shown me the tremendous benefits of combining the most ancient medicine with the most progressive Western medical treatments available today. As an Eastern- and Western-educated holistic healthcare provider, I bring a combination of complementary philosophies and medicines to my work with myeloma patients undergoing procedures such as chemotherapy, radiation, transplantation, and dialysis. This, combined with my work with a variety of Western medical specialists, has brought about a wider understanding of the specific needs of myeloma patients and the significant improvements they receive from Traditional Chinese Medicine, nutrition, yoga, relaxation, and meditation. This, in turn, has brought about my involvement with IMF.
MT: What about acupuncture?
Dr. Shlomit: What is popularly known today as acupuncture and herbal medicine is, in fact, part of the 5,000-year-old complete medical system called Traditional Chinese Medicine, also known as TCM. It emphasizes an integral approach that treats the person as a whole, recognizes patterns of disharmony, and addresses the cause of a disease as well as the symptoms. TCM includes acupuncture, herbs, nutrition, and a variety of ancient energy and physical techniques and exercises.
The acupuncture aspect of TCM is the practice of inserting thin, sterile, disposable needles into the body at specific acupoints. These points are located in a system called the meridians. Mapped by the Chinese over a period of 2,000 years, the meridians are pathways through which the energy of the human body circulates.
According to the traditional theory, in the human body there exists a system of meridians that integrate all of the body’s separate parts and functions into a unified organism. As long as the energy flows freely through the meridians, good health is maintained. When the flow of energy is blocked for any reason, there is disruption of health resulting in pain and illness. By stimulating appropriate acupuncture points along the meridians, the energy is released, stimulating internal organs, nerves, bones, blood, and body fluids. Another great advantage of acupuncture is the absence of side effects.
MT: What about the role of nutrition?
Dr. Shlomit: Dietary therapy, specially designed for patients and their constitutions and conditions, provides the basis for maintaining health and treating disease. This fulfills the basic nutritional needs for cell regeneration and production.
MT: Is Yoga another component of Integrative Medicine?
Dr. Shlomit: Yes. Yoga, which means union, is an ancient Indian healing tradition which teaches us how we can enrich, enhance, and extend our lives despite disruption from illness or aging. This long-lived body of knowledge consists of proper exercise, proper breathing, proper diet, proper relaxation, positive thinking, and meditation. According to yoga philosophy, health is not the absence of disease, but a state of balance using mind over matter.
MT: Which myeloma-related conditions can be treated by acupuncture and TCM?
Dr. Shlomit: Acupuncture and TCM can offer benefits in a number of areas:
- Neurological — headache, migraine, neuralgia, neuropathy, post-operation pain, and facial pain.
- Respiratory — common cold, sinusitis, bronchitis, allergies, asthma, and pneumonia.
- Digestive — abdominal pain, intestinal pain, indigestion, hyperacidity, ulcers, diarrhea, and constipation.
- Musculoskeletal — pain and weakness, muscle-cramping, joint pain, disc problems, sciatica, broken bones, and bone weakness.
- Emotional — insomnia, depression, anxiety, nervousness, and grief.
- Other benefits — weight control, stress reduction, strengthening and stabilization of the immune system, side effects of chemotherapy, fatigue, heart problems, gynecological disorders, skin disorders, infections, anemia, and kidney dysfunction.
With all aspects of Integrative Medicine, it is essential to keep in mind the very particular needs of myeloma patients. With every treatment and practice, the emphasis remains on freedom from pain, the strengthening of bodily functions, and increased energy in the body through personalized treatments and practices.
Dr. Shlomit can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about complementary medicine, please call the IMF Hotline at (800) 452-CURE.