Medical Challenges

3 June 2010

Modern medicine has made great strides in the successful management of many problems – ranging from acute physical trauma to tumours and organ failure. The one area that continues to confound us is that of chronic inflammatory problems. These include arthritis of multiple joints (including the spine), bowel disease and in fact any organ afflicted with an inflammatory process.

The standard intervention has been anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone preparations, anti-cancer medication and more recently, the use of anti-depressants (SSRI's). In the context of psychoneuro-immunology (PNI) inflammatory problems are noted to be mediated by a group of neuro-peptides, called pro-inflammatory cytokines. These chemicals have been shown to be secreted in response to stressed or depressed mind states (chronic hopeless-helpless). The chemicals themselves also feed back on to the mind-brain where they perpetuate these negative mind-states.

It becomes clear that the successful management of chronic inflammatory problems requires that we address life situations that give rise to negative emotional states which in turn perpetuate the inflammatory problem, in addition to the conventional management. The implication of this approach will necessarily require that the patient assumes a far greater responsibility for the management of these problems. The management of the inflammation as a problem in isolation is unsatisfactory and cannot be a lasting solution. Ultimately the management of mind-states reflecting life situations would need to become an extension of preventative health measures. In effect this would herald a new era in medical management, one in which the patient would necessarily need to assume a far greater degree of responsibility for their own well being.

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