Category Archives: Wayne B Jonas, MD

Let’s Start the New Year Right

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When one year comes to a close and another one begins, it is only natural to take time to reflect and plan for the future. The year 2014 was one of great accomplishments for Samueli Institute. I am proud that several items from the important work our researchers have done with the goal of health and health creation for all was featured in a recent article for the Huffington Post by John Weeks.

As the health care industry is slowly shifting toward patient-centered care, I am encouraged by the changes that I see occurring across multiple platforms. In my travels over the last year, I have met many people who are champions of integrative health. These include physicians and their patients who are experiencing firsthand that alternative medical practices such as yoga, meditation and acupuncture can have profound effects on our ability to heal; corporate leaders who are enhancing the wellbeing and productivity of their employees and military and community members who now have safer, simpler, low cost ways to heal.

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Dietary Supplements in the Military

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Check out the new article on how dietary supplements in the military are being used in more proactive ways:

Nutritional Armor: Dietary Supplements in the Military

By Wayne B. Jonas, MD, President & CEO, Samueli Institute 
17-Dec-2014

A recent special issue to in the medical journal Military Medicine marks a shift in attitude and approach to dietary supplements by the U.S. military.

What Are The Conditions For Health Care Change?

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We are swimming in a soup of healing potential.
But we have to make it visible.

We have to bring it forward. We have to measure and value it. We have to invest time and resources into it, and give it time to manifest. You can all be leaders and stewards in making this happen.

When creating system change, the same components are necessary if you’re changing an entire country, your local community, or yourself. Read more

Think BIG for Social Wellbeing

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Metrics are essential to reduce health care costs and disease rates while improving care and wellbeing. Progress can only be achieved by knowing:
  • the return on investment of wellness behaviors and programs
  • the success rates of traditional health interventions like medications and surgeries and how they compare with alternative treatments
  • statistics on common health problems and diseases
What if we could take a step beyond that and develop an actual currency to create incentives and encourage positive decision-making in individuals, businesses and organizational leaders.
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What Creates Human Flourishing?

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Fifty years ago Abraham Maslow talked about the core processes and elements of human flourishing. He put them in a hierarchy, and at the bottom he said there are basic needs for food, water, shelter, rest, and security. After you have those, then you can pay attention to things like belongingness, love, and social needs. Ultimately, the hierarchy peaks at meaningful activity, which he called self-actualization. 

There’s no question that if you don’t have the basic needs of food and water and shelter, it’s very difficult to think about self-actualization. But we now know that it’s not really quite a hierarchy, because the very things that drive wellness can be done almost anywhere and anytime and don’t necessarily need to go through a hierarchy.

It’s really more of a network.

At the center of that network is the answer to the questions: Why? Why are you here? What is your purpose? What is meaningful in your life?

Here’s how most people answer that question:

  • Altruistically— “I’m here to help others. I’m here to take care of my family”
  • In religious terms—“I’m here to give back to God or to praise God.”
  • In social terms— “I’m here to help myself at the expense others”
  • Or personally—“I’m here to make money or gain fame or get power.”

Usually those latter items don’t last very long in the hierarchy of happiness. Once the questions about meaning and purpose are answered, one can then look at other components of the hierarchy that enhance human flourishing.

These are things like psychological resilience, social bonding and cohesion, intimacy, sleep and exercise, optimum nutrition, and substance use. Without knowing the “why,” it is hard to get to the “how.” Or if you’re just told to do the “how,” the data shows that very few people do that for very long.

Surrounding these behaviors is the environment that either allows us to flourish or interferes with our ability to do engage in healthy behaviors.

These “environments” include the physical environment; the social environment, where many of the social determinants of health are; the health care environment, which contributes only about 15% to human flourishing; and the leadership environment of those who hold the power and resources of stewardship in their hands.

What are we passing on to our children?

A recent report published in Nature Medicine showed that fear induced in male rats could be genetically transmitted through two generations. This means that the experience of fear actually showed up in the genes of the grandchildren. These “molecules of emotion” are somehow grafted into our genes beyond our lifespans.

If we can pass on fear, we can also pass on happiness.

The French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744–1829) was right. What is embedded in our genes can be formulated through experiences. Evolution isn’t just passive selection; the environment actively shapes it. Think of the profound impact that we could have if every parent and child got a positive experience deeply embedded in their genes before they had children.

Fortunately, children are extremely good at recovering from negative experiences – if they’re given the opportunity. There was a study of children aged seven to nine with chronic abdominal pain, which is a frequent manifestation of stress. Abdominal pain accounts for about 25 percent of the pediatric visits during that particular age. A relaxation technique that the child learned through imagery markedly improved those symptoms. Once learned, the effects of the technique are permanent.

The children can relearn how to control their own stress – managing their own “molecules of emotion.”  

The mind has an extremely powerful and ubiquitous influence on our health, and yet its use is often ignored because it’s invisible. Mind-body practices can not only alter our genes, they can influence our decision making, and they can enhance our wellbeing and productivity. They’re the foundation for behavioral change. They can be used to treat many conditions: depression, anxiety, pain, insomnia, high blood pressure, etc., at very low cost.

How can you use mind-body practices in your life?

If you’re interested in learning to optimize your self-healing, download Your Healing Journey.

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