Let’s Start the New Year Right


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.

In the recent article for the
Huffington Post, Weeks, the blogger at The Integrator, called attention to the organizations and individuals who have worked to learn more about the science of healing. Samueli Institute was one of several organizations to be recognized for work in complementary and integrative healing practices as well as its national work on policy and in helping our military and veterans.  

“Finally we begin to distinguish what is merely a medical industry from what is sick care and then to reserve the idea of a ‘health care system’ for what is actually a system of health creation,” writes Weeks. 

The concept of salutogenesis – the process of health creation – was also examined at Grantmakers in Health conference where I addressed the audience on the idea of whole-person healing.

“A whole person is one integrated in mind, body and spirit,” I said at the annual health funders meeting. “It is not the same as one without disease. That is key. Healing may or may not result in cure. You can see healing occur and sometimes witness the most profound wholeness at the end of life, when individuals are not going to be cured but are reconciling not only with themselves and the challenges that they have had personally, but also reconciling with their families and their communities. They do not only personally heal, they become part of the fabric of social and spiritual healing as well.”

In an article published in JAMA Internal Medicine, research examined the use of opioids among members of the military potentially doing more harm than good. In one Army brigade, 45 percent of service members reported that they suffer from chronic pain and of those 15 percent regularly used opioids. LTG (Ret) Eric Schoomaker, MD, PhD, and I provided commentary on this study and asserted the need to provide more self-care, integrative healthcare practices that have been proven in alleviating the symptoms and consequences of chronic pain and so reduce the need for drugs.

“The nation’s defense rests upon comprehensive fitness of its service members – mind, body and spirit,” the article said. “Chronic pain and use of opioids carries with it the risk of functional impairment of America’s fighting force.”  

As alternative medical practices such as acupuncture and healthy eating become much more common, individuals are finding that they hold the key to their own health. And while this time of year is a time when people typically reflect on themselves, it may also be a time to start healthier habits that influence both the mind and body for a long and healthy life.

Here at Samueli Institute, we wish all our readers and their families and friends a happy and healthy 2015.