Ommani Center Blog

Healers or Heroes? You Decide

Two months into the COVID pandemic, physicians on the front lines were referred to as ‘Heroes’. Are physicians actually heroes? I have a perspective on this that is different from popular culture.

Most physicians are born with an instinct to heal. We run into danger, without concern for our own safety, to save lives. Our intense and arduous training to become a physician has an alchemical effect on our instinct to heal. It in fact, amplifies and hones it. We train under conditions of intense pressure, diagnosing and treating patients with contagious diseases, unimaginable traumas, and a myriad of illnesses that range from mild to devastating. We show up every day to take care of whoever walks in our door with whatever ailment and range of suffering, from superficial to life-altering. In fact, this instinct feeds our life-force and keeps us returning day after day, to help heal the wounded and sick. This is the instinct of a Healer, NOT a Hero.

For a majority of physicians, this instinct awakens at some point in their lives and propels them to endure more than a decade of rigorous training after college, to equip them with the expertise to offer safety and healing to all whose paths they cross.

As a physician, not only is this my sacred work and vocation, it is also woven into the very fabric of my being. Regardless of what I have endured in life, my instinct to heal has never grown dim. It is who I am and will always be, interwoven with the essence of Medicine itself.

In addition to my training in medicine, I have also received ‘training’ as an abuse survivor. My abuse journey began in childhood and followed me through my medical training and beyond. My marriage of nearly 20 years embodied two decades of emotional abuse and degradation until I finally had enough. After decades of immersion in this form of toxicity, recognizing abusive behavior has also woven itself into the fabric of my very being. It is present alongside my instinct to heal and serves to keep me aware when that instinct is threatened.

When I was 36, nearly 22 years ago, I left Corporate Health care forever, never to look back. My experience within it was no different than my years of abuse. I was told that I was dispensable, that in fact, all physicians were. I was told that my role was to admit patients to the hospital, where most profit was generated. Healing my patients was a conflict of interest for Corporate Health Care, and any personal intention to practice would not be tolerated if I did not comply with the corporation’s financial mission. In short, practicing medicine from integrity would not be tolerated. These words were like acid to my soul. They came out of the mouths of administrators in the last corporate system I worked for, the third health care system I sought employment from after they promised to allow me to practice ‘patient-centered care’ from a place of integrity. What they actually wanted me to be was a prop for advertising them in the name of wellness to increase patient volume. I was unable to practice medicine this way, despite my inflated salary and benefit package. However, when I left Corporate medicine over two decades ago, I was still a ‘boiling frog,’ unable to discern patriarchal behavior in my personal life, as abuse in the form of gaslighting and degradation was the norm in my marriage. When betrayal was added to this mix, bearing this form of treatment became intolerable despite how adapted I had become.

It has now been fourteen years since my divorce and nearly 22 years since I left the patriarchal system of Corporate Health Care. When one individuates from a longstanding pattern, it leaves an imprint, a memory, like an antibody in one’s psyche that develops over time, and has the ability to recognize and stave off behavior that is degrading, abusive and erosive to one’s instinct. I can now sense abuse from a distance. With the benefit of time and decades of separation from Corporate Health Care, I can see clearly, how physicians are treated by that system — used, abused, degraded, and in fact, incarcerated with ‘golden handcuffs’ — the promise of affluence for the price of their souls. Over time, this causes significant damage to their instinct to heal, resulting in the health care system we have today.

The patriarchal pattern will continue to operate as it always has. It has not changed in 5000 years. It has consumed health care with its insatiable appetite for money and profit, using health providers as minions to meet bigger and bigger profit margins, a different bottom-line than what nourishes a healer’s instinct, a different matrix altogether. In fact, the Patriarch often camouflages its abuse, using slogans, symbols, and sentimental words to hide its true agenda. With COVID, we can see this more than ever before, the abuse patterns embedded in the matrix of what is now normalized. The dynamics of abuse are hiding in plain sight. It is hard for one to see them when physicians and health providers are called ‘Heroes’ yet placed in needless danger in unsafe working environments. Calling a Healer a Hero is actually a kind of code, a sentimental projection that is designed to throw off the scent. Words and titles often act as deflectors to get workers to perform according to the mission of the corporate agenda during a time of crisis. Of course, physicians will run towards danger, given their instinct to heal, but placing physicians and health providers in unnecessary danger and putting them and their families at risk, is unconscionable, and not what they signed up for.

Why a Hero? A Hero is a mythic archetype, one that people look up to, an image of hope, during a time of crisis, unknown outcomes, and amplified suffering. But when archetypes are used to camouflage, not only do they perpetuate the illusion, they cover up truth and hide the shadow. If the collective is caught up in Hero worship, they are less likely to see how Healers are being abused behind the curtain. This is a common tactic used by Patriarchy over millennia, no different today than in times gone by.

Furthermore, calling physicians Heroes places inordinate pressure on them to continue on, under duress, in suboptimal and unsafe environments. Archetypal projections are powerful and can elevate as well as harm the people or group they are projected onto. Physicians and health providers have been placed in an untenable situation with COVID, where they must choose between their patients and families. Unhooking a collective projection to keep their families safe, triggers a crisis of conscience. This choice is not a part of the healer’s instinct or the Hippocratic oath. In fact, working without safety is not even a part of their employment contract.

The condition that physicians are suffering from is learned helplessness. When financial incentives are coupled with production line performance, physicians get used to this treatment and consider it the ‘norm’. Their commitment to healing regardless of how they are treated places them at risk for being used and exploited for corporate profit. It was no different from what I experienced in my marriage. My incentive to stay was my commitment to my marriage, regardless of how I was treated. I had been trained to bear abuse for nearly a lifetime. It felt ‘normal’ to me. The physician’s employment contract is their commitment. Once signed, physicians are expected to justify their salaries and signing bonuses and patients become metrics. They are delivered a series of shocks when they place their integrity as a Healer over profit and are discouraged to voice their truth, let alone, practice from it. Their Healer’s instinct suffers grave damage, and this form of classical conditioning leads to learned helplessness. The lack of meaning in their work is in fact, the primary cause for physician suicide, depression, anxiety and drug abuse, epidemic in corporate health care today.

So, I propose we stop calling physicians and health providers Heroes. They are Healers. Let us pull back the mythic curtain of illusion and open our eyes to see how physicians are actually being treated in Corporate Health Care. This has been underway for nearly three decades. In order to transform dysfunction, we must first become conscious of the truth. Without truth, we remain trapped in illusion, entranced by sentimentality, and add to needless personal and collective suffering. Becoming conscious is a personal choice and a powerful and necessary one.

The shadow of health care has been operating in plain sight. COVID has now brought it to the fore. Now more than ever, we must awaken to it, call it out, and transform it into one that is aligned with the essence of Medicine. Let us liberate the instinct to heal in our physicians so they can offer it freely in the practice of medicine. And most of all, let us begin demanding integrity from a system that touts to offer both health and care — and provides neither.

©June 2020Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI. www.ommanicenter.com Author of 2nd Edition – Becoming Real: ReclaimingYour Health in Midlife 2014, Medial Press. She is currently accepting new patients-call 262.695.5311 for an appointment. During this time of COVID19 pandemic, she is offering both telephonic or in-person appointments for those people free of symptoms.

The COVID Pandemic as a Call to Transform

There are times when we must sink to the bottom of our misery to understand truth, just as we must descend to the bottom of a well to see the stars in broad daylight.

~ Vaclav Havel 

 

The COVID19 Pandemic could never be created by human design.  It is much larger than any of us.  It has placed our world in a collective pause.  Life as we knew it stopped and transformed into one we would have never voluntarily chosen.  How and why can an invisible virus paralyze us at so many levels?

At some point over the past few months, we have all asked this question.  Each one of us may have our own version of an answer, as there is no one answer to this question.  This pandemic pause is affecting all of us in unique yet precise ways.  But for us to use this time for transformation is imperative, both collectively and personally.  Understanding its grand design will require deep insight.

COVID has affected each one of us personally.  It has plummeted each one of us into massive change and a confrontation with death, death of an old way of being, or the death of a loved one or a relationship.  From a mythic perspective, after death, new life always emerges.  We experience this as the season’s turn as generations die and are born, and also when we become ill or go through a trauma or crisis. Birth is followed by death which is followed by birth. Death and birth are part of the cycle of transformation.  

The COVID pandemic is a clarion call for us to transform.  Sheltering in place, has required us to withdraw from our familiar routines, alter our lives, spend more time with our families and ourselves more than ever before.  In a time like this, it is important for us to go deep within, to reflect on how this has personally impacted us, to take inventory of what in our life is no longer serving us, what parts do we need to leave behind, and what we will bring into the future.  I believe we are being asked to bring a clearer, more conscious, more authentic version of ourselves to the fore.  We compromise this in favor of our imprinted adaptive ways of behaving in order to fit in with the collective.  This is too great a compromise to make for the pursuit of societal values, which begin to lack meaning over time.  

 

I see this pandemic as a time for both a collective and individual initiation.  In tribal cultures, an initiation is required for a person to undergo transformation from one phase of life into another.  Initiations are consciously performed in a way that follows the mythic path.  This path has been embedded within our deep unconscious as it is a universal context for growth, yet in the West, we have forgotten this.  Going through an initiation with awareness is necessary for us to transform in order to live a meaningful life.  Since we do not go through formal initiations, we are initiated by illness, death, divorce, loss, or any crisis.  The larger intent for these is for us to connect with our authenticity, grow in wisdom, and learn to love better.  Anyone who has undergone these experiences consciously emerges stronger, wiser, and transformed. Joseph Campbell called this the Hero’s Journey. 

There are 6 stages involved in the transformational process:

  1. Initiation through shock, trauma or loss
  2. Descent into the underworld
  3. Confrontation with the shadow
  4. Connection with the Authentic self
  5. Integration of our lessons
  6. Return to the community transformed 

Every initiation is designed to take the initiate through a process where the death of the old self or an old way of being is experienced.  It often begins with a shock or trauma, an altercation in our life.  Then begins the descent into the Underworld, where we wrestle with the ‘demons’ of our shadow for a period of time.  This is a time when we deeply feel loss, despair, struggle, and suffering.  As we confront these shadow aspects and struggle with them, we earn humility, open-heartedness, and compassion as gifts from the deeper Self.  These are qualities that we may not be living from in our adapted or conditioned life, our familiar way of being before being initiated.  Remaining in the underworld until our time is done at this stage requires great courage and patience. 

In the next stage, we experience connection with our inner spirit and parts of our authentic self that have been buried, neglected, or forgotten in favor of what family and society have expected from us.  These parts contain the ‘best of us,’ our authenticity or True Nature, which we often ignore while adapting to the ‘herd or collective consciousness.’  Their awakening marks the end of the descent, after which we must integrate these into our behavior, before returning back to our community with renewed clarity and consciousness.  This is not an easy process, in fact, it is extremely difficult, but necessary and required for us to grow and gain higher consciousness.

This process of growth, requiring struggle and suffering is hard for people in our society to endure. Since we don’t have a context for initiation and transformation, we shirk from struggle and suffering.  As soon as we are touched by anything that does not ‘feel good’ we are conditioned to numb it with pharmaceuticals or addictive substances.  In fact, our medical system normalizes medicating this phase of transformation. An additional way we cope is also through denying our feelings or dissociating from them.  We are not comfortable expressing them in our society.  This is seen as a sign of weakness and we are shamed when we do.  Sadly, this interrupts our process of transformation at its earliest stages and stunts our growth and wisdom. 

In many cultures, these authentic parts are considered expressions of the Feminine Principle, also called the Self.  When Patriarchy became the ruling principle 5000 years ago, the Feminine Principle was pushed underground and this way of being was normalized over time. We began to behave in disconnected ways, disconnecting from ourselves, one another, and even nature. Fear is at the heart of Patriarchy.  We have been conditioned to undermine and devalue the Feminine Principle and still do, 5000 years later.  We treat ourselves with little to no compassion and compromise even our health in order to fit in.  Much of how we behave towards ourselves is abusive.  Many of my patients tell me they would never treat their worst enemy in ways in which they treat themselves. These behaviors make us ill in mind and body.  We treat our bodies like garbage dumps and when we get sick, we say that “our body has betrayed us.”  This kind of thinking has never worked. It turns us against ourselves and creates further separation from who we really are and how we must treat ourselves.  Transforming our relationship with ourselves to one that is aligned with our True Nature is urgent. In fact, I believe the COVID pandemic may be urging this level of healing that we need.

The Feminine Principle eventually rises up by creating a ‘destructive’ process to restore balance. Eastern cultures understand this to be a natural cycle of restoration of balance.  This is the way it has been throughout history. Our way of life prior to COVID has caught up with us.  Our materialistic values are no longer working.  We have consumed without limits. We have tipped the balance in Nature, and she is settling the score to restore balance.  

It is incredible to see how quickly Nature has healed.  Around the world, we see pictures of blue skies. Smog has virtually vanished in places where it was thick and hard to breathe.  Canals and rivers are crystal clear, teeming with life and animals in the wild have come out of hiding.  It is with remarkable rapidity that within a few months of decreased human activity, Nature is rebalancing.

Since we too are a part of Nature, we too can be restored and renewed and made healthy and whole again.  Since we are no longer living in harmony with nature, our way of life cannot be sustained.  Like nature, the body’s biochemistry changes within ten days of adopting a healthy lifestyle.  My hope is that in addition to gaining insight and transforming our consciousness we will choose to use this time to detoxify our bodies and emerge in better health.  

The COVID pandemic has taught us many things.  It has taught us the importance of health, relationships, consciousness, and meaning.   It has also stripped us from collective values that are shallow and unhealthy, values that place materialism above relationship.  

Our initiation is not yet complete.  The pain we are experiencing during this time is worthwhile and necessary for positive change.  Who we become after this will entirely be up to us.  This is both an individual and collective process and we must stay conscious during every phase of this Hero’s journey.  Our authenticity is waiting to be embodied, and each one of us who transforms, will add consciousness to the world. 

 

I hope this prayer brings you solace and peace as you navigate through this initiation:

 

May I transform into a higher consciousness.

May I honor those who are suffering during this time of collective change.

May I honor my own suffering and begin to treat myself with the compassion I deserve.

May I live from my Soul more than my Ego.

May I find the courage to live Authentically.

May I transform into who I was born to be.

Amen

©May 2020Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI. www.ommanicenter.com Author of 2nd Edition – Becoming Real: ReclaimingYour Health in Midlife 2014, Medial Press. She is currently accepting new patients-call 262.695.5311 for an appointment.  During this time of COVID19 pandemic, she is offering telephonic or in-person appointments for those people free of symptoms. 

Your Lifestyle Can Make a Difference Between Life or Death with COVID-19

Our world is no longer the same since the beginning of 2020. The wave of affected people around the world with COVID-19, a novel Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, whose first cases were revealed in December 2019 in Wuhan China, has created an unprecedented shake-up of every aspect of our reality. COVID-19 is highly infectious, contagious and transmissible. It lives on surfaces for days and can be transmitted through the oral and fecal-oral route. In addition, if you carry the virus, even in the absence of symptoms, you can transmit it to another person. If you cough or sneeze, you can transmit it through droplets of saliva sprayed into your mouth or nasal passages if you are in close proximity to a carrier. Coronavirus can also be transmitted through the fecal-oral route if your child is a carrier, as the virus is spread through fecal shedding.

How does the COVID-19 virus cause the damage it does? The virus itself, which is round with spike-like projections docks on ACE2 cell receptors present in the lower lungs and small intestines. Once it has docked, its membrane merges with the cell membrane and it enters the cell. Once inside, the virus needs an acidic environment to engage the cell’s DNA to manufacture its RNA and replicate itself. The liver produces ‘antigen-presenting’ cells to illuminate the virus so the immune system can attack it. At this initial stage, you may experience mild symptoms of cough, fever, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, loss of smell or taste or diarrhea or loose stools, as the immune system attacks the locations the virus has docked. Early on in the infection, this reaction can reduce the replication of the virus as the immune system attacks it. If your liver is compromised, the immune system does not attack the virus during the early stage of infection. In addition, if the immune system is weak or compromised as is commonly present in the elderly or immunosuppressed patients, and the virus is also not killed off early, which allows it to multiply rapidly. This increases the viral load in the body. When the immune system attacks this high viral load, its response is amplified causing severe tissue damage. This response is known as a ‘cytokine storm’. This is the reaction that causes shortness of breath due to damaged lung tissue often requiring hospitalization and ventilator support. This carries a much higher risk of morbidity and mortality.

There has not been much published about the importance of lifestyle to potentially prevent and reduce the intensity of COVID-19 infection, likely due to the current focus on crisis management of infected patients. Lifestyle choices are of critical importance since there is so much you can do in a relatively short time to maximize your ability to fight this virus and mitigate serious damage to your body.

  • Remember, COVID-19 needs an acidic environment to replicate. The best way to alkalize your body and increase its pH is by eating a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet. The standard American diet is high in animal protein and dairy, both acidify the system creating a lower pH. This creates optimal conditions for viral replication.
  • If your liver is compromised due to alcohol consumption or fatty liver, it will be slow to assist the immune system in reducing viral load early in the infection process. The best way to assist the liver in its immune support function is to discontinue alcohol and eat lots of greens, which cleanses the liver and optimizes its function. A Whole Food Plant-Based Diet combined with daily aerobic exercise will reduce abdominal fat and begin reversing fatty liver and also assist a liver that is sluggish from alcohol use. The liver is highly regenerative so once you begin making lifestyle changes, it will respond rapidly, which will optimize its immune support function.
  • The COVID-19 virus favors a cool and dry environment that air passages provide, and does not fare well in moist heat conditions. Inhaling steam with a steam tent or a home sauna or hot shower and using a warm mist humidifier while sleeping is highly beneficial for moisturizing and warming the nasal passages to create an unfavorable environment for the virus.
  • Aerobic exercise is extremely important to reboot the liver’s ability to provide support to the immune system and optimize detoxification and antioxidant production. 20 minutes of aerobic exercise per day is the minimum amount that should be done (of course, after clearance from your physician).
  • Reduce inflammation. This is best accomplished with a Whole Food Plant-Based Whole Food Plant-Based Diet. If your inflammatory platform is healthy and your body is not inflamed, the damage to your tissues from an amplified inflammatory response to COVID-19 can be reduced.
  • Seven to eight hours of sleep at night is highly important to increase regeneration and reduce inflammation. Deep sleep relaxes the body and neutralizes stress hormones which are inflammatory and immunosuppressive.
  • Supplements to boost and support your immunity may be helpful. There have been no studies thus far on the beneficial effects of supplements for preventing COVID-19 but using what we have learned are the beneficial effects of specific supplements may assist in recovery if you are infected. They should by no means provide a (false)sense of security or act as a substitute for advice you need to seek from your physician in case you have symptoms of COVID-19.

Supplements cannot prevent you from getting infected by the Coronavirus, but the supplements listed below have been shown to support the body in viral defense:

  • Zinc 20 mg per day has been shown to reduce viral replication  in vitro studies. Although has no evidence for COVID-19, it may hypothetically assist in reducing viral replication and is safe to take in small doses.
  • Vitamin C 2000 mg per day (if you have kidney stones, check with your doctor before taking this) is a potent anti-oxidant which assists the body in anti-viral activity.
  • Vitamin D3 2000 to 5000 IU per day has been shown to assist in immune support (be sure and get your blood level checked before taking more than 2000 IU per day in case you have a normal 25 OH-Vitamin D level. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and can be toxic if taken unmonitored in high doses.)
  • A broad-spectrum probiotic is key in keeping the gut microbiome and immune system healthy and the general immune system from being chronically activated. An effective probiotic should have 5 strains of Lactobacillus and 5 of Bifidum to populate both the small and large intestine. Since one of the docking sites of the virus is the ACE2 receptors in the small intestine, fortifying the small intestinal microbiome can be of assistance. To ensure that your probiotic is temperature stable, it is better to get one that does not need refrigeration.
  • An immune support supplement shown to modulate immune response and assist in glutathione activation may also be helpful. In my practice, I have observed this assist hundreds of my patients in reducing inflammatory flares of their rheumatologic diseases.

While on a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet, make sure you eat a variety of deeply colored fruits and vegetables. The color indicates the antioxidants present in the food which supports many different body functions including cancer-fighting properties. Add lentils and beans if you can tolerate them (best cooked from scratch rather than from a can). These increase Nitric Oxide in the body which increases blood flow and oxygenation to the tissues. This creates an unfavorable environment for viral replication.

A note about Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin:

Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malarial pharmaceutical agent as well as a commonly prescribed drug for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, and Porphyria Cunea Tarda. For rheumatologic conditions, it is prescribed at much lower doses for chronic conditions than it would be in an acute setting. An article was published in France touting the benefits of using HCQ and Azithromycin for severe cases of COVID-19 but this study was anecdotal and did not meet the criteria for a clinical trial. Moreover, the side effects of HCQ range from dizziness, nausea, vomiting and retinal damage causing blindness and this medication should not be taken unless proven to be safe and effective for COVID-19.

The combination of HCQ and Azithromycin can cause a fatal arrhythmia called Torsade the Pointe at any age, but especially in people with cardiac rhythm issues and underlying heart disease.

There have been no large clinical trials to prove the safety or efficacy of these medications for COVID-19 yet physicians are prescribing them prophylactically and pharmacists are promoting them as well. This is very dangerous in light of public panic and fear regarding COVID-19.

The public should be aware that taking pharmaceuticals that have only anecdotal evidence can lead to a tsunami of unknown harm. In fact, we do not even know what doses, if any, are effective for prophylaxis or treatment of COVID-19 infection. We must wait for the results of clinical trials. The scientific method has always had the responsibility to keep the public safe from harm by studying the effects of pharmaceutical agents through the rigor of clinical trials. The combination of HCQ and azithromycin is advised for compassionate use at this time in serious cases.

Because of the potential for assistance by HCQ, the public requests for it of their physicians have generated a shortage for patients who need them for their ongoing rheumatologic conditions.

My advice is to steer clear until we have more definitive data on the efficacy and safety of any medication to treat Coronavirus infection.

Of interest are two of the mechanisms of action of Hydroxychloroquine. It increases the pH of the cell while reducing inflammation. Why not begin doing this yourself with a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet and all the evidence-based lifestyle suggestions listed above. You may have neglected to start this before now, but now is a great time to start given the COVID-19 pandemic. You will notice a difference in about a week as your body responds quickly to positive changes you make in case you contract COVID-19, you will increase your chances of having only a mild case of it.

If you feel you have any sinus or respiratory symptoms, please contact your primary care physician first and begin your triage there. Please do not self-medicate without first speaking to your PCP while we are in this Pandemic. Do not go to your Emergency Room or Urgent Care Center if you have these symptoms as you could inadvertently transmit the virus to others or become infected by others.

If you feel you have any sinus, respiratory or digestive symptoms, such as:

  • fever greater than 100.4
  • sore throat
  • runny nose
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • Diarrhea or loose stools

Please contact your Primary care physician for further advice.

The best preventive measures so far are to wash your hands frequently and engage in social distancing and abide by the shelter-in-place orders from your state. Our goal is to ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19 to arrest transmission and to reduce the spread of this virus.

For CDC guidelines and updates, please visit the CDC website . For Dr. Kumar’s videos on COVID-19, please visit Youtube.

For The Ommani Center’s COVID-19 protocol, please visit www.ommanicenter.com

Are We A Bigger Soul or a Smaller Person Because of COVID-19

Twenty-one years ago, when I left corporate health care my inner guidance spoke these words, “THIS IS THE TITANIC, IT WILL SINK. GO BUILD A LIFE RAFT.” “THERE WILL BE A WAVE OF LOSS THAT YOU NEED TO PREPARE FOR.”

At the time, my now ex-husband did not want me to leave corporate medicine. I was making six figures and supporting my family, and that was that. “I would rather live in a trailer home than go back there”, I said to him. And I began selling anything I could from my home to create a buffer of financial support as I knew I would not return to practice in the corporate setting.

Since I was a child, I knew I wanted to be a doctor. It was a deeply sacred spiritual calling that resonated with the essence of Medicine. I knew without any doubt that this healing path was what I was born to take, and I was willing to make whatever sacrifices I needed to accomplish this. After my Internal Medicine residency in 1990, I worked for three different corporate health care systems going from one to the other, thinking that I would find an environment to support Medicine’s sacred essence. I never did. After experiencing its business model that expected me to compromise my soul in favor of profit, I knew I had to leave and create a model that was rooted in integrity as well as a sustainable business. In fact, I was told by hospital administrators that my practice in their system was a conflict of interest, as it was not generating hospital dollars because I was keeping my patients healthy! This is when I heard the words from my inner guidance, mentioned above. I created The Ommani Center. This vision came straight out of my heart. It was a place where I could practice the best of medicine with love and integrity.

A few years later, I was betrayed in my marriage and business by my husband and business partner in the most heinous manner, and experienced gaslighting from all around me who I trusted. I had to move through the rubble of my old and shattered reality. I was left alone and afraid, in massive debt, The Ommani Center damaged and shaken, with my unprocessed and undiscovered Self. Something inside me refused to let this destroy me. That voice that told me to leave corporate medicine said, “YOU NEED TO PROVE YOURSELF WORTHY TO CARRY THE VISION OF OMMANI.”

It was an excruciating time when I was tested at all levels. I engaged many therapists and healers to guide me through and out of this death. I refused to take pharmaceuticals, as my inner directive wanted me to feel my suffering down to my bones, to awaken authentic empathy towards people I would be seeing in my practice from that moment forward.

THIS WAS A SPIRITUAL TEST OF A LIFETIME.

After unspeakable losses that continued for over a decade, I somehow (with the love and confidence of my patients, when I barely had any in myself), kept putting one foot in front of the other. I survived and transformed. The Ommani Center also survived and transformed, and is still here, a guiding lighthouse in the darkness for many, the ‘life raft’ I was instructed to create.

After death comes rebirth, and we must believe and know this as a Universal truth. All spiritual traditions teach this, but it is only after we experience this magnitude ourselves, can we know its sublime truth.

COVID-19 has triggered a death of the world we once knew, the death of what we thought was our reality. This reality was consuming us at all levels, our cell-tissue, our life force, and also, our natural resources, before now.

I see this process as a collective time to reset, to pause. A death of this magnitude can only be Divine. When the ‘ego’ doesn’t listen, the soul steps in, just like mine did 14 years ago. This time our collective Soul, the Soul of the world, has stepped in to reset us! During this time, we are being forced to go inside, amidst many fears, personal, relational, financial among so many more. Most of all, we have to confront our fear of the unknown. In the midst of this chaos, we must remember, “We are in this together.”

Many, whose self-worth is externally derived are being ‘forced’ to go within. They will have to confront their shadow, their fears and emerge with a greater sense of self.

Marriages will be tested, and either transform and heal or come apart. So will relationships of all kinds. Children will need to pause and be with parents, parents will need to get to know their children. It will be hard and stressful but sorely needed for deeper healing.

We are being forced to live on budgets, reframe our relationship with money, experience its impermanence and evaluate true worth. We must find what is of real value, when money disappears and prestige is of no use. More than ever, all we have are relationships, despite social distancing. We are relying on connection, revisiting what community means. This time is unprecedented, and calling us to rise from our essence, towards what matters most, what lasts longest and holds truest value.

We cannot let this opportunity go to waste. This is our clarion call as a country, society, community, and world. It is asking us to engage our forgotten wisdom. During this time of collective stress, we must remember, without struggle, we cannot transform, in fact we never do.

Speaking for myself, I learned so much from that time in my life of intense suffering, when I didn’t think I could survive when I prayed for death and prayed for my suffering to end. As a Sensitive, I didn’t think I could bear one more day of it, but I did and got through it only when I surrendered to the power of transformation. I learned that scar tissue is strong and can bear incredible stress especially when all feels lost.

Those of us who have lived long enough, through many deaths and rebirths, can now help carry our world with the process that’s underway. We know the territory of the unknown, it does not frighten us, we can use what we know to help others transform. Please reach out to us, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

We do not know what health care will look like at the end of the COVID-19. As a business, corporate medicine is unsustainable. It lacks the essence of Medicine as it lacks its sacred intent. Physicians everywhere attempt to carry this but are unable to in a system that demands profit in exchange. Health care must go back to its original intent to heal and to serve. It must also strike a balance to thrive as a business based on integrity. It can no longer sacrifice one for the other and expect to survive.

As physicians, it is our sacred work to guide patients back to health so they can grow in wisdom and learn to live better. We are now seeing the power of this love, this essence, as physicians and nurses are putting their lives on the line to save patients in need.

I pray that:

Physicians and nurses on the front lines are protected from harm,

They feel the essence of Medicine guiding them day and night,

They feel whole in their willingness to help and to heal,

They feel the love of the community and world around them.”

Amen

We have so much to transform during this time. I humbly request you to believe in the possibility of transformation and trust in this process, even when you are afraid.

This quote from Michal Meade offers guidance in this collective crisis:

“In every crisis the issue becomes whether we become a bigger soul or a smaller person”.

Let’s become a bigger soul together.

At the end of the day, it is our relationships with one another that help us through life.

Let us lean up against them and transform them into authentic and loving ones.

How To Maximize Your Safety From The CORONAVIRUS/COVID-19

THE HISTORY OF CORONAVIRUS 

The Coronavirus is an RNA virus, first identified in the 1960s, which has been divided into 4 genera, two of which infect humans.  Remember SARS? Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome occurred in the early 2000s carrying a 10% death rate. The initial transmission was from animal to humans via live game markets, then human to human through aerosol spread – coughing, sneezing and hospital procedures on the respiratory tract, which caused nosocomial spread. This taught us that animal CoVs could jump the species barrier, expanding the perception of pandemic threats.  

In 2012, a beta-CoV made the species jump as the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome was identified in the sputum of a Saudi man who died from respiratory failure.  This virus was contained and smoldered. As of 2019, MERS -C0V has caused 2494 cases and 858 deaths, the majority in Saudi Arabia. The reservoir for this is presumed to be bats, but the human transmission events have been through the dromedary camel.  

The most recent Corona Virus, COVID-19 was first identified in Wuhan China again in a live animal market.  The initial transmission of the virus was from animal to human, classifying it as zoonotic transmission. The action of the WHO which placed SARS and MERS-CoV on its Priority Pathogen list was responsible for Chinese authorities reporting the cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan China on December 31, 2019.   So far, the fatality rate of COVID-2019 is lower than both SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. 

As of 8 March, the outbreak has affected more than 89,000 people globally, with a total death toll in excess of 3,000. In mainland China, of the 80,734 confirmed cases, over 53,638 people have recovered, and 3,045 (or 3.6%) have died. Over 148 deaths have occurred outside of China.

MODE OF TRANSMISSION

Person to person transmission is still considered the primary mode of spread of this virus.  Standing less than 6 feet from a coughing and/or sneezing person who is infected carries the greatest risk for transmission.  

COVID-19 presents with symptoms similar to a bad cold, and mild to moderate respiratory problems such as a runny nose and sore throat.  The spread of this virus has been greater than SARS and MERS, infecting over 89,000 documented cases, but with a death rate of only 2%. People vulnerable to mortality from this virus are the frail elderly and people with co-morbidities such as diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases with compromised immune systems.  

The trajectory of this virus is unknown so the best measures we can take are to strengthen and fortify our immune systems to prevent infection, or to fight it early so it dissipates.  

CDC PRECAUTIONS 

The CDC recommends the following precautions to prevent infection from the virus:

  1. Avoid non-essential travel to China, Italy, Iran, South Korea and travel to  Japan with precautions
  2. Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces by wiping them down with a household cleaning spray or wipe.  COVID-19 can live for up to 9 days on surfaces. 
  3. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  4. Stay home when you are sick.
  5. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  6. Follow CDC recommendations for using a face mask.  The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from COVID-19.  They should be used by health workers with exposure to patients with upper respiratory symptoms. 
  7. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, sneezing or coughing. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains 60% alcohol.
  8. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

A DOSE OF PREVENTION TO KEEP YOURSELF HEALTHY

I would like to offer some solace and tips for minimizing your risk for Coronavirus infection. While attempts to contain COVID-19 are underway, we are still more at risk with the influenza virus than Coronavirus, but the newness of this virus among humans, its lack of symptoms early after infection, and person to person contact has created justified concern.  

Our lifestyle has the most profound impact on our immune system and some simple measures to reset our lifestyles can help prevent and contain this virus are as follows: 

  1. Eat a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet.
  2. Exercise daily for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Utilize stress reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga and abdominal breathing – holding stress in the body negatively impacts the immune system.  
  4. Try to get at least 6 to 7 hours of sleep per night .
  5.  Drink plenty of water, a minimum of 4, 8oz glasses per day
  6.  Take a broad spectrum probiotic daily that contains at least 5 Lactobacillius and 5 Bifidum strains.
  7.  Stop smoking.
  8.  Minimize to eliminate alcohol.  Alcohol disrupts the gut flora by inducing leaky gut and making the immune system vulnerable.  It also reduces the production of vital proteins by the liver that assist in    foreign bacteria/virus recognition by the immune system. It also reduces the production of natural antioxidants and reduces the liver’s detoxifying functions.  A healthy liver assists the immune system in fighting bacterial and viral infections.

So although we are in the process of containing COVID-19, we need not panic, but take the necessary precautions listed above.  The most important steps you can take to prevent getting sick, are the same evidence-based steps listed above for decades that detail lifestyle methods providing maximal prevention and recovery from illness.

With concerns for a potential pandemic with Coronavirus, why not begin taking these steps now and building resilience and strength to fortify your body’s inner pharmacy so you can stay healthy?

After all, prevention is the best medicine.

We at The Ommani Center are taking the necessary precautions to minimize viral transmission and to keep our patients and health providers safe.  We do not see a large number of patients for typical symptoms seen in Urgent Care and Emergency Department settings, so our patients and health workers are at a lower risk for Flu/Coronavirus transmission.

However, we are following the guidelines outlined by the World Health Organization to take the necessary precautions to prevent COVID-19 transmission.

©March2020 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI. www.ommanicenter.com Author of 2nd Edition – Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife 2014, Medial Press.

Feelings are the Medicine that Do the Healing

What do feelings have to do with the practice of Medicine? What is the importance of feelings in the healing process? Many of you may have heard the saying, “You can’t heal what you can’t feel.” There is great truth to this statement. But how is one to feel in a culture where authentic feeling is not valued? How can we feel safe with one another when we are conditioned to substitute sentimentality for true feeling?

We all know what sentimental statements sound like. When a person is hurting or grieving a loss, we are conditioned to say, “I’m sorry,” even without thinking or feeling into what they must be feeling. When we project what we think the other person is feeling, based on what we think we would feel if the tables were turned, we are not coming from our heart or empathy, but projection. Projection lacks true feeling. It is a perception or a mental construct created by the ego that has less to do with empathy and more to do with the story we tell ourselves about what we are conditioned to say in the face of suffering. But there is no way to know what another is feeling, unless we connect through our heart and our feeling function. When seen through the lens of projection, sentimental statements don’t truly help the other during a difficult time, they don’t connect with what they are feeling, and this doesn’t really help them heal.

Over the past 30 years of medical practice, I have seen tens of thousands of patients, many whom have suffered greatly and have apologized for crying in my presence or for feeling intense emotional pain. I am always amazed at the apology and it saddens me to feel that they feel alone in their suffering. It makes me wonder why we are ashamed of feeling deeply.

One answer to this question is that we live in a society where feelings are seen as a weakness. When we dig a bit deeper into the roots of this, we can follow the thread to the foundational roots of our society. Here, the Feminine Principle is not valued. Feelings are at the heart of the Feminine Principle and rejecting, pathologizing or shaming ourselves for feeling is a symptom of our collective and personal rejection of the feminine qualities we all carry. Feelings make us genuine, real, trustworthy, and validated. If we feel grief, fear or sadness, we must honor our vulnerability as sign of strength rather than weakness. Feelings remind us of our humanity. Our Emotional Body is a conduit to the deeper wisdom that lies within us and connects us to our intuition and instinct. This is our inner guidance system that keeps us safe. Without it, we lose our discernment and cannot navigate safely through life.

When men and women enter their fourth decade of life, the biological shift that occurs from hormonal changes brings forth a greater intensity of feelings. It is as if forty years of conditioned repression of the feeling function begins to break down to assist in the alignment with the authentic, unconditioned, uncontaminated Self. This is our True Nature, the Self that is beneath our conditioning and adaptations, undistorted by family imprints or shame. This organic process of reorientation can cause anxiety and fear as it does not comply with familial or societal ‘rules’. The Authentic Self rises up at this time of life through feeling function and wants us to experience meaning and add value to our life. This process has been written about for thousands of years as sacred yet it is discounted by our society.

In order to align with our authenticity, we must accept our feeling function as a ‘normal’ and sacred part of who we are. Often, when hormones are imbalanced at this stage of life, it can be confusing to navigate through this reorientation process. Our biology effects our emotions and neuropeptides are the molecules of emotion which are impacted by hormonal changes. Hormone balancing can greatly assist in this process of individuation. Hormone balance assists in bringing clarity to the process. I have witnessed this time and time again.

I have seen thousands of patients replace sentimentality with True feeling in midlife and for all of them, this results in a deeper experience of meaning and more authentic relationships.

I am always in awe of the human body, its precision and the delicate web within that connects us to empathy, intuition, inner wisdom and, of course, to one another. I see the body as a responder to the thoughts we think, the food we eat, the intentions we live from, and the feelings we express. When we live from our truth, our body feels aligned and healing is supported. This is indeed a spiritual practice, as we have to reorient ourselves to live this way in contrast to how we were conditioned to live, by family of origin and society.

We are all witnessing a world that is hurting with a level of suffering that is unprecedented. It is difficult to feel deeply in the midst of it, but we must. We must muster the courage to keep our hearts open, and stay true to the authentic way of being. It is the only way we can add true value to our lives, our community and the world at large.

©Feb2020 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI. www.ommanicenter.com Author of 2nd Edition – Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife 2014, Medial Press. Dr. Kumar is happy to accept new patients; call 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.

Keto Versus Plant Based – The Illusion of Health Versus True Health

Those of us in midlife cannot afford to follow fad diets. At this stage of life, the body does not have the resilience for the yo-yo stress that weight loss and weight gain causes. Fads like the Keto diet are not natural, not healthy and not based on scientific evidence. In fact, their consequences make us sicker over the long haul. 

An example of the latest fad is the Keto diet. This is a modification of the Atkins diet which so many followed nearly 25 years ago. Then there is Paleo, and now Keto. People claim these result in rapid weight loss and an increase in energy in the short run, but over the long haul, they cause rebound weight gain and significantly increase the risk of cancer, heart disease, dementia and chronic kidney disease.

People defend the Keto diet with such vehemence that sometimes I wonder what this extremist fuss is all about. I wonder if it is because many of the general public’s choices are heavily influenced by social media, which are public opinion rather than science. Public opinion has inertia. People who promote health care solutions on social media often gain television notoriety because of their ‘following’ not their scientific background. Even when what they are promoting is unhealthy and may even be harmful, what they promote becomes the latest fad due to fast results that the public wants.  We must be weary of quick-fix fads because public opinion is not the same as scientific evidence. We must be careful to not get entranced by these popular pundits especially when what they preach affects our health. After many decades of medical practice, I can confidently say that what is publicly normalized is not the same as what is healthy. 

After nearly 100,000 patient encounters in my career, I can say with a great degree of certainty that we must rely on scientific evidence to make healthy choices. In a similar manner as prescription drugs, fad diets come and go.  Their impact is mainly palliative but they leave an unhealthy imprint in our bodies. Unlike prescription drugs that can sometimes be lifesaving, fad diets are not. They may work in the short term, but diets like paleo and keto significantly increase all cause mortality. There is no drug or diet that has ever cured what we have eaten ourselves into, and no fad diet has had a lasting positive impact on our health. In fact, diets have been shown to have a failure rate of 95%.

So what does a Board certified, preventative, integrative, lifestyle and evidence based physician recommend?  A plant based, diet (lifestyle) combined with daily aerobic exercise, intermittent fasting and a good night’s sleep. That’s it! That is the secret of the success of the vast majority of my patients.

You may wonder what the difference is between a plant based diet and a keto diet. Let me explain.

The first thing we must understand is what ketosis is.  It is a state where the body burns fat over glucose for fuel. Ketones are the breakdown products of fat and are a great energy source for the brain and the body. This is why early during an Atkins, keto or paleo diet, people have a lot of energy and lose weight. The keto diet accomplishes this by carbohydrate starvation and a high intake of animal fat and protein. But over time, the body needs complex carbohydrates for energy, an important macronutrient missing in keto and paleo diets. For example, people with diabetes who go on a keto diet may initially see better control of their blood sugar, but then develop worsening insulin resistance.

A plant based diet accomplishes this is by eating a diet high in vegetables, and fatty foods like nuts and seeds, avocados, and coconut milk, and allows complex carbohydrates such as lentils, grains and low glycemic fruit in moderation. These foods should be prepared in your kitchen if possible and with fresh, organic ingredients. This matters, as we need to put body to pure, preservative-free and food grown in harmony with nature in our bodies. It is the best way to support  healthy cell structure and our microbiome. After all, the food we eat is what fuels our body and creates our cell structure. This is our foundational platform for health or disease. 

Six key principles that are most successful for restoring health in my Medical practice are:

  1. An organic plant-based diet. Evidence has shown that eating organic does matter. Not only is it less toxic for the body than conventional food, the majority of which is genetically modified in the U.S., it is laced with pesticides which are hormone disruptors in addition to disrupting the biome of the soil  in which they are grown, which results in reducing the nutrient content of the food and negatively affecting biodiversity and the ecosystem. After all, healthy soil is synonymous with a healthy body. 
  2. Portion control: Eat from a medium not large sized plate, slightly bigger than a tapas plate (If your diet includes healthy plant based fat, you will feel satisfied with smaller portions and not feel the need for seconds or supersized portions).
  3. Intermittent fasting: Fast for at least 12 hour to 16 hours after your last meal of the day, at least 5 nights per week. For example, if your last meal of the day is at 6 pm, don’t eat solid food till 8 to 10 AM the next morning. Intermittent fasting has been shown to break down fat to ketones, which are excellent for brain health and promote autophagy, where cells renew and regenerate.
  4. Get at least 20 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 6 days per week. If you are not committed to this practice, start by just walking briskly at least 20 min per day. This will become a habit in a few weeks and your body will begin to crave more exercise.
  5. Drop the alcohol. Alcohol is pure sugar and highjacks the liver’s ability to repair DNA damage. It has now been shown that aside from being a neurotoxin and a depressant, alcohol also causes 8 types of cancer.
  6. Get at least 7 hours of sleep per night . Turn off your electronics at least an hour prior to bedtime. Your body regenerates when you sleep. Electronic light has been shown to decrease melatonin production in the pineal gland, a hormone that is essential for health and immunity.

If you can accomplish these six principles, at any time of your life, your liver, your metabolism and your body will be rebooted and recalibrated.  Fat will melt away and your tissues will be more efficiently oxygenated and energized. 

This is the best health platform you can establish for any time in your life, especially during the second half when it becomes critical and almost urgent to create a healthy platform from which to live for the rest of your life. 

The body begins to manifest half a lifetime of dietary habits that build incrementally over time and reach a tipping point when hormones begin to shift during the midlife transition around age 38 to 50. The profound shifts in the psyche and emotional body that accompany the changes in the physical body make it necessary, indeed imperative, to learn healthy skills for self-nourishment. This requires us to follow a different set of rules to care take our very vulnerable bodies during this nearly 15 year transition.  What we practice now will accompany us into our elder years as either health or disease, depending upon how we choose our nourishment.

With the rate of chronic diseases on the rise in the U.S, and dementia projected to affect 1 in 2 Americans in 30 years who are now in their fifth decade, learning how to restore and reclaim health needs to be our top priority. 

A plant based, diet has ample evidence to support its legitimacy, safety and efficacy not just through hard science over the past 4 decades, but also historically,  over hundreds of years of observational data in the ‘Blue Zones’, where people live to be centenarians with an extremely low incidence of chronic illness. 

Do you want to age this way?

I most certainly do.

So join me as you explore and experiment with a plant based lifestyle.  Every patient of mine who has begun this journey has enjoyed disease reversal, increased energy, vitality, and improvement in mental clarity and memory.  And there are no negative long term side effects. What could be better than that?

©Jan2020 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI. www.ommanicenter.com Author of 2nd Edition – Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife 2014, Medial Press.Dr. Kumar is happy to accept new patients; call 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.

The Power of Kindness

“Namaskar”, said the 6-foot Sikh man standing outside the front door of our hotel. He was wearing traditional Indian clothes and a turban, as he bowed his head with his hands folded in a prayer position. He was greeting me, a total stranger this way, because “Guest is god”. The sincere kindness that permeated from his heart into mine was palpable and brought tears to my eyes. He was a well built, very masculine man, yet what I felt from him in that moment was a purity of kindness and respect, as if from a mother. It was a sort of kindness that I rarely feel from people in the West, and deeply miss. My two weeks in India last month were infused with this level of kindness, which was not just isolated to me, I also observed this among people with each other. Being kind is a way of life there. It permeates relationships. In the East, love, kindness, reciprocity, community, and relatedness are valued simply as a way of life.

In contrast, in the West, ‘acts of kindness’ are a special way to behave towards another. In fact, the book, “Random Acts of Kindness’ was most popular in the ‘90s. Its success ‘not only inspired many individuals but also led Congress to declare a National Random Acts of Kindness Week  in February 1995’. It was deemed, ‘good for our health. It is difficult to comprehend that kindness is an act that needs to be learned or, is viewed as a prescription for good health, or that it can actually be learned from a book. Is this because being kind is not the norm? In our society, I feel it is seen as something we ‘do’ rather than ‘are’. In fact, lack of kindness is normalized in our society. We see this amplified in corporations, in how they treat employees, and sadly also in health care, most commonly now, practiced within a corporate framework, where being kind to patients is seen as a weakness, time-consuming, and ‘touchy-feely’.

In the East, being kind to one another is synonymous with living from Atma or Soul. Jung termed the Soul or the Self,  the deeper, wiser, more divine aspect of who we are that does not have the needs of the Ego. It is our essence, our True Nature. Living from the Self in the East  is termed, living from ‘dharma’. Dharma implies we live from Soul, always behaving towards others with empathy and kindness.

When we live without relatedness, we cannot access empathy. In the East, relationships are a way to access our Soul. It is a way of realizing our True Nature, also called, Self-realization. If we do not value relatedness, we cannot align with our True Nature. This leads to ‘adharma’, the opposite of dharma and results in living from a way where ‘might is right’ or ‘survival of the fittest’, which shuts down our empathy for each other. What is normalized in Western society (and corporations) would be termed adharma in the East, because of how much relatedness is valued there and how deficient it is here.

When we live from a place of dharma, we live from Soul, from empathy and kindness. Our cultural collective is deficient in these qualities because of what we have normalized. Could it be that our foundational platform with each other has not yet evolved to value relatedness and relationship? Could it be that we have valued materialism in favor of relationships and have disconnected ourselves from each other in the process? Or could it be that we consider technology, such as email and texting as a convenient substitute for real interaction? We must know by now that this is merely a cosmetic substitute for experiencing the essence of relationships. It is impossible to be in each other’s presence or fully present with each other through text and email.

We must become aware of the unintended consequence of how we use technology as there can be no substitute for human to human interaction.

Our True Nature cannot be shared unless we are authentically present with each other. We need to return to our humanity, to empathy and kindness. To experience this, we need to reorient ourselves back to Self and have more authentic relationships. This is one way we can live from kindness rather than to merely do ‘kind things’.

So next time you are in another’s presence, (even a stranger’s), align with your heart and treat them with kindness like the Sikh man did with me in India. Offer them a ’Namaskar’ if only in your mind. It means, ‘I honor your True Nature with my True Nature’. Notice how sacred this feels. I promise you it will be healing for both you and the recipient of your kindness.

Since we are in the season of reflection and gifting, it may be worth reflecting on what it would mean to live a dharmic life, to live from Atma, or Soul or Self. Gifting another with our True Nature is ultimately the greatest gift of all.

©Dec2019 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI. www.ommanicenter.com Author of 2nd Edition – Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife 2014, Medial Press. Dr. Kumar is happy to accept new patients; call 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.

Protect Your Brain – Encore

 

Did you know that one in two Americans who live to be 85 will get Alzheimer’s disease or some form of dementia?  That is correct, 1 in 2. After decades of research and errors in medical judgement about the causes of Alzheimer’s and pharmaceutical treatments which actually worsen dementia when stopped due to intolerable side effects, there is finally hope for preventing and reversing Alzheimer’s (dementia).  

We have been arriving at the answers slowly and questioning our theories about the causes of dementia.  Twenty years ago when I began seeing increasing numbers of patients with memory loss, I intuitively felt that inflammation was the likely cause.  I took inventory on patient’s lifestyle – their level of stress, exercise, and considered their food choices to learn if what they were eating could be causing inflammation.  Inflammation is not just localized to one part of the body. When present, it pervades the entire body and brain. What if a person was to change their diet, get more exercise, and learn relaxation techniques?  Could this help memory loss? Without any research evidence, merely from a medical intuitive sense, I began making these recommendations to my patients. Not only did it help their memory, it helped their overall health as well.  Now there is a compelling study with specific suggestions based on scientific research, many of which align with the recommendations I have made to my patients for nearly two decades. 

This study  has revolutionized how we view dementia, and what’s more, it has shown memory improvement in patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), but also Alzheimer’s disease.

If this is the case, why not use these recommendations to prevent dementia.  How many of us have noticed memory impairment in midlife, when we begin forgetting names of people, grocery lists, where we last placed our keys, or even words while in a conversation?  These are all signs of our changing brain and it feels scary to think we are headed down a degenerative path. These changes are actually normal for most people in midlife. As hormones shift and decrease, brain wiring also changes.  Neurotransmission is affected and recall is impaired. But for some (nearly 50%), this is just the beginning of what may be a progressive loss of memory. The longer a person has followed a lifestyle that is contrary to the one listed below, the more the blood brain barrier is impaired and neural cell death is underway.  Our lifestyle in the first half of our life does catch up with us in midlife and beyond. It is absolutely worth creating the lifestyle changes needed to protect our brain and prevent and reverse any progression of memory loss that may be underway. Some are predisposed to dementia through genetics, but research has shown that genetic expression  can remain switched-off or even be turned-off with positive lifestyle changes which heal the environment of our body. 

An increase in beta-amyloid in the synapse was found to be present in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.  Beta-amyloid was thought to be the cause of Alzheimer’s and is still considered to be an important contributor, but now we know that amyloid also plays a positive role in the body.  It protects the body from infections, repairs leaks in the blood-brain barrier, promotes recovery from injury, and regulates synaptic function.  It is only when beta-amyloid production increases that it interferes with neuronal transmission as well as causes an important protein in the brain called tau protein, to become toxic.  Toxic tau protein creates neurofibrillary tangles  in the brain, a pathognomonic finding in Alzheimer’s disease.  This affects neuronal function by interfering with neurotransmission. A leaky gut, inflammatory foods, insulin resistance, viral infections, toxins like copper and iron, and other heavy metals increase beta-amyloid concentrations abnormally.  The following will increase beta-amyloid abnormally in the brain:

  1. Inflammation
  2. Hormone imbalance
  3. Insulin resistance 
  4. Toxins  (increased copper to zinc ratio – reduced zinc is found prominently in patients who use Proton pump inhibitors like omeprazole (Prilosec, Protonix, Prevacid, Nexium)

Insulin resistance is the single most important contributor to Alzheimer’s disease and progression. 

Apo E  is a gene that we all carry.  Two alleles form the Apo E gene. One is inherited from our mother and one from our father.  There are three types of Apo E genes, Apo E2, E3 and E4.  

  1. E2, reduces risk of Alzheimer’s but increases risk of cardiovascular disease and cholesterol problems.  
  2.   E3 confers no increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.  
  3.   E4 confers an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease especially if you inherit two E4 alleles,  one from each parent. 

Not to worry too much, though.  If you have one or two Apo E alleles, you may never get Alzheimer’s disease as long as you create an environment in your body that keeps the genes switched off as mentioned above.  This is called epigenetic regulation. The environment you create in your body has an impact on which genes are turned on or off.

Dr. Dale Bredesen in his landmark study  mentioned above, has created a protocol after trying it on patients with MCI and Alzheimer’s dementia, called Recode .  What he found is that patients with the Apo E4 gene can alter their amyloid load by making specific changes in their lifestyle.  

Biomarkers which have been shown to be correlated with dementia are:

  1. Elevated hs-CRP due to sugar, processed carbohydrates, animal protein and increased levels of stress.  Keep level less than 1.0 mg/L 
  2. Elevated homocysteine (due to folate and b12 deficiency): The higher the level, the more rapidly the hippocampus and gray matter declines.  Keep level less than 7 mm/L
  3. Elevated insulin levels due to high intake of sugar and processed carbohydrates, and lack of exercise contributing to insulin resistance. Insulin Degradation Enzyme (IDE) degrades insulin as well as beta-amyloid. When insulin levels are elevated, IDE favors insulin degradation over amyloid degradation thereby elevating levels of beta-amyloid.  Keep level less than 5 ulU/ml
  • A1C level.  Increases with elevated blood glucose from diet and lack of exercise.  Keep level less than 5.6%
  • Low Vitamin D.  Keep level between 50 to 80 ng/ml
  • Low B12 level.  Keep level greater than 500 
  • High Copper to Zinc ratio: Keep ratio 1:1

 

  1. Hormonal imbalance: Optimal thyroid panel with TSH <2 and estrogen and progesterone balance in women and testosterone balance in men, including normal DHEA levels in both

Lifestyle changes that improve cognitive function, prevent dementia, and reverse Alzheimer’s:

  1. Eat a plant-based/rich diet rich in color (antioxidants).
  2. Heal your leaky gut with the correct probiotics .
  3. Decrease to eliminate animal protein.
  4. Keep biomarkers optimal and add supplementation based on blood levels. 
  5. Stimulate ketosis (Do not eat any food for 12 hours after your last meal of the day to increase ketones  in the body and brain, which improves brain function and cognition).
  6. Exercise at least 20 min per day.  Start slow and increase your exercise tolerance till you are able to exercise daily.
  7. Reduce the fat load in your body.  Adipose tissue is highly inflammatory and is a risk factor for cognitive decline. 
  8. Add Omega 3 fish oil or DHA.  This has been shown to support brain health, memory issues, and mood.  In fact, it reverses cortisol  induced brain changes due to stress.  
  9. Reduce toxin exposure, keep your liver healthy and reboot it.  It is the most important detoxifier in your body. Eat foods like green leafy vegetables that chelate metals and reduce or eliminate your consumption of alcohol. Do detoxification cleanses, periodically.
  10. Increase Vitamin E rich foods – nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables.
  11. Manage your stress with assistance from professionals, meditation, and self-care.  

Knowing what we now know about the rising epidemic of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and how preventable it is, we must engage our consciousness and our knowledge base to create a healthy environment to protect our brain.  It is never too late to start, but we must.

It is imperative for our health and the health of our families and communities.  

 

©Nov,June 2019 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI. www.ommanicenter.com Author of 2nd Edition – Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife 2014, Medial Press. Dr. Kumar is happy to accept new patients; call 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.