AHHA SELF-HELP ARTICLES COLLECTION
   


Gladys T. McGarey, M.D., M.D.(H) is internationally known for her pioneering work in holistic medicine, natural birthing and the physician-patient partnership. A family physician, she has practiced medicine since 1949 and has advocated a holistic approach to patient care through her world-wide lectures and writing. In 1992 she was selected as one of 100 physicians and researchers appointed to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) newly created office of Alternative Medicine. Dr. McGarey has retired from her medical practice, but is available for consultations. She can be reached at (480) 483-2374.


The American Holistic Health Association has compiled a collection of self-help articles to support your efforts to enhance your own health and well-being.

This article is part of the
article category
HOLISTIC PERSPECTIVE FOR DEALING WITH AN ILLNESS
and the sub-category
MIND/BODY CONNECTION

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A year or so ago, I treated a young woman patient suffering from terrible, recurring migraine headaches. What made this case different from the norm for most physicians was the patient's partnership in the healing process.

During the first few visits we worked with the young woman's diet and different forms of manipulation. No success. Then we decided to try biofeedback. Still, the migraines persisted. One day she arrived in my office very intrigued about a dream she had had the night before. It involved her migraines and both of us were prominent characters. I asked her to share it with me.

In the dream she was sitting in my office and having one of her headaches. While waiting for me she decided to take a couple of pills. So, she reached into her purse and began to pull them out. Just then I walked into the room and said, "Don't take those!" Very slowly we looked down into her hand and saw she was holding two M & M's. Then the dream ended.

Obviously my patient's body knew what was causing the migraines. Each symbol in the dream represented part of the problem or the solution. We just had to understand what that message was. After some discussion we concluded that in the dream I represented the "physician within" telling her to stop eating chocolate, especially her favorite M & M's. She decided to try it. When she stopped eating chocolate her headaches disappeared. Fortunately for her, she was eventually able to return to eating chocolate in moderate amounts. If a headache were to come on, she knew both what was happening and what treatment to take.

The 12 month cure

Of course, not all cures are immediate. But I have found that even a prolonged cure can be just as satisfying. I recall one case where 12 months of treatment were required before any "cure" was experienced.

A physician colleague of mine had suffered from a fungus infection of his large toenails for 35 years. As a doctor he had had access to all the latest in treatments and therapies. But, through the years, nothing proved successful. One afternoon we started talking about the use of castor oil. Both of us are firm believers in the power of natural medicines. Nature has always had the ability to nurture its own. So my colleague decided to try it. Each evening he applied castor oil to his toenails and wrapped them with bandaids. He continued this ritual night after night for eight months before he saw any change at all. But within a year his toenails were completely healed. This was not an isolated case. I have successfully treated toenail fungus with castor oil repeatedly for many years.

An expanded definition of health

In the past, interpreting dreams and prescribing castor oil would have been beyond the pale of proper medical practice. But that was under a narrow definition of health. Today, we operate under an expanded definition of health. It is not doctors who are ultimately responsible for patients' health, but the individuals themselves. Other people can't make them well. A partnership is necessary. The physician exists to present all the available options to the patient, and then help implement their choices. This is why I strive to remain current on both conventional and natural therapies. The best medical solutions are always the ones that work!