Dr. Andrew Weil Keynotes in Dubai

I know I promised a post on the 1st and 15th of the month from now on, so I want to apologize for the delay in posting this – however I had a very good reason, I promise :)

It’s because I wanted to talk about this amazing conference that was held @DHCC on the 17th of May on Advances in Evidence Based Integrative Medicine. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, as its name indicates the focus of Integrative Medicine is to integrate both acute (or conventional medicine) and preventative (the main focus of complementary medicine) health care in a way that meets the needs of the individual at the centre of that care.

Even though the idea of integrative medicine has been around since the 1950’s, getting conventional medicine practitioners to embrace Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) as a viable and at times better avenue for treatment for their patients is still a challenge. That’s because a lot of the times the scientific research that clearly shows the efficacy of these treatments is not there.

The aim of the Integrative Medicine Conference was to allow practitioners to share case studies that took an integrated approach to treat common ailments and the outcomes of these treatments.

Known as the father of Integrative Medicine, we were lucky to have Dr. Andrew Weil start the discussion at this conference by talking about the future of Integrative Medicine.

Dr Weil also shared some of his personal case studies with us, a couple of which absolutely stood out for me.

The first was of a middle aged mom who developed a skin condition soon after her kids left the “nest” for which the only cure that conventional medicine could offer was to indefinitely take steroids. Considering that this treatment was only somewhat effective at best, not to mention the number of side effects that come with continuos steroid use, this woman and her husband were looking for a better solution. Surprisingly they found their answer in hypnotherapy and her condition has improved significantly since.

The second was of an extremely well in-tuned healthy man who had developed a very treatable form of cancer but chose to manage his condition with CAM only. Although, as Dr. Weil pointed out, this is not something that would be advised, this particular individual was adamant about not taking conventional medicine and actually beat his cancer using only CAM.

Dr. Weil remarked that in both of these cases the simple act of believing that treatment is possible, whether that’s from within or from the reassurance of your physician, can be the most powerful medicine.

Another Expert I was looking forward to hearing from was Dr. Heather Eade, a Dubai based Canadian ND who is a regular on the Dubai Eye.

Heather focused her presentation on the effective treatment of digestive issues like IBS and GERD, which were of particular interest to me because of the fact that digestive issues are so common these days, and more importantly poor digestion usually has an effect on a person’s overall nourishment and by default overall health.

Some other case studies that really stood out were shared by Dr. Vengalis Zafeiriou, a Greek Psychologist. Dr. Zafeiriou was able to better treat patients suffering from Autism, depression and alcoholism with homeopathy. The thing that struck me the most about his findings were how quickly he was able to effectively manage these conditions in such a short time frame. For e.g. the alcoholic patient, a middle-aged woman whose profession was to make wine and had been an alcoholic for over 8 years no longer felt the need to even taste her products just 1 1/2 months after receiving homeopathic treatment. The interesting thing that Dr. Zafeiriou mentioned is the fact that prescription medications made to address psychological issues can only suppress the symptoms of the condition they are meant to treat, which means that these medications need to be used indefinitely or symptoms will return. This is the biggest difference between homeopathic treatment and conventional treatment he felt because homeopathy actually treats the cause.

The only thing that I found a bit disappointing was the fact that even though pretty much every practitioner (including Dr Weil) placed an emphasis on good nutrition as a core component of treatment, I still find that both CAM and conventional practitioners often overlook dietitians as providers of this type of counseling.

As experts in the field who have at the least completed 4 yrs of undergrad study along with 1.5 years of internship in order to be licensed to practice, in my opinion dietitians are some of the best trained specialists when it comes to offering advice on how to improve your health through nutrition.

Other than that, overall I’d say the conference was a success!

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