Mind-Body Medicine and Endocrinology – Part II

Mind-Body Medicine and Endocrinology – Part II

<< Read Part I 

In the previous article, we met you with endocrinologists from around the world who spoke about the unique connecting point between psychology and hormones. Keep reading to find out more on the topic!

6. How does traditional Maori health care help in mind body medicine and endocrinology?

Manish Khanolkar, Gina Berghan, New Zealand

Traditional Māori healing is guided by the accumulated knowledge from tipuna Maōri (ancestors) and anchors its roots on the interconnectedness of body, mind, emotion, energy, society, culture and environment. Thus, it predates the supposedly ‘modern’ concept of mind-body medicine. It also understands the influence of lifestyle and environment on human health, and thus may help in improving outcomes of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, and minimizing the detrimental influence of environmental toxins and endocrine disruptor chemicals.

The Māori wellbeing relies on harmonizing with the environment and the essential elements of:

  1. Mauri (life principle)
  2. Whakapapa (one’s ancestors)
  3. Wairua (soul)
  4. Wai (water)
  5. Whenua (land)

Unlike the traditional western medical practice that relies on diagnosis, the traditional Māori practice combines the healing tradition with environment and mātauranga (knowledge of everything visible and invisible) that has been passed on by ancestors.  Healing practices may thus include culturally determined responses such as rongoā rākau (plant remedies), mirimiri (gentle touch) and karakia (prayers). These serve as important adjunctive therapy in chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension. They help improve acceptance of the health care system, and adherence to suggested endocrine therapy.

7. What is Ubuntu, and how can it be applied to endocrine care?

Sundeep Ruder, South Africa

Ubuntu is an eternal African philosophy of ‘Oneness’ – this oneness is an understanding of the interconnectedness of all life. It is often translated as “I am because we are”.

In endocrinology, the deep understanding of interconnectedness of physiological and hormonal pathways and their link to our worldly behaviour patterns can lead to better understanding of health and disease and thus better care of our patients. Embracing the idea of the human as a ‘knowledge seeking organism’ rather than a ‘survival mechanism’ will thus lead to more holistic care.

8. How do we practice mind body medicine in settings beset by violence?

Md Wali Naseri, Afghanistan

Working in a post-conflict country, we encounter a high prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder and stress-related vasculo metabolic disease such as diabetes and hypertension.

My approach to mind-body therapy is individualized. With patients who are religious and believe in predestiny, I use religion to de-stress and motivate them.  I convey that they should believe in the Almighty, and never give up: they will be rewarded for their efforts at self-care.

We utilize the services of imams (religious leaders) in mind-body medicine. As they are trusted by the populace, we request them to issue fatwas (declaration) regarding self-care in diabetes, especially during Ramadan and Hajj. They counsel patients regarding stress management and prevention of endocrine disease as well. In this regard, we are inspired by the activities of our colleagues in Bangladesh.

9. Could you share some South Asian practices which promote mind body health in endocrinology?

Ameya Joshi, India

India has been a pioneer in mind-body health. The practices of yoga, meditation, prayer and fasting have been used since time immemorial, to promote good health. Building upon this tradition of wisdom, modern evidence-based medicine tries to prevent endocrine/metabolic disease, and promote good health. Mindfulness meditation is an example of the interplay between India experience and current evidence. Our national recommendations on psychosocial management of diabetes, published in 2013, predate most similar documents, and retain their relevance today. The concept of euthymic euglycemia, glycaemic happiness, has originated from India.  Mind-body medicine (MBM) in endocrinology has been the focus of an international conference held at Pune in 2020. Spiritual audio therapy and counseling is a core area of research at the Bhakti Vedanta Hospital, Mumbai. Our educational conferences include discussion on various aspects of MBM, using a variety of pedagogic methods such as role-play, duologues, demonstrations and panchayats (panel discussion).

One of our vision is to make MBM interventions a part of mainstream endocrinology, so that evidence-based science is able to percolate to all endocrine care providers, who in turn can help their patients manage their endocrine/metabolic dysfunction in a holistic manner.

10. How can we bring Mind-Body methods like Yoga into the mainstream of medical practice?

Rienhard Boegle, Germany

Though there is large body of research on Yoga and Mind-Body-Medicine with proper medical foundation and evidence, there is not enough translation yet into practice. This is attributable to lack of awareness and dearth of suitable training to health professionals. There is also an absence of protocols which are flexible and accommodative so as to help personalize the intervention and make it accessible to more patients.

Our effort at Munich, Germany, is to address these limitations and to create a network of professionals interested in health promotion. Many endocrinologists who have personally had positive experiences with Yoga and Mind-Body Medicine have the opportunity to lead this endeavour.