Barefoot Doctor's Journal

Take control of your health with this guide to natural health and healing. Get expert advice to help you alleviate pain and live healthy naturally. Access to tools, information and opportunities.

Take control of your health

For 5000 years Traditional Chinese Medicine has help people to relieve pain and achieve a healthy longevity naturally.

A comprehensive guide to natural health and healing, the Barefoot Doctor’s Journal seeks to empower it's readers to take control of their own health, find their own inspiration, help create healthier communities and share the adventure with whoever is interested. Internationally recognized experts in the fields of healthy aging and Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Living Younger Longer Institute has helped hundreds of people each year to live healthy naturally.

News You Can Use!

Providing members with the latest scientific research on the ancient healing secrets of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Get information, access to tools, and enjoyable opportunities for a lifetime of active adventure!

May 1, 2022
Joe Brady

Music and Health

According to a growing body of research, listening to or making music affects the brain in ways that may help promote health and manage disease symptoms. 

Performing or listening to music activates a variety of structures in the brain that are involved in thinking, sensation, movement, and emotion. These brain effects may have physical and psychological benefits. 

Increasing evidence suggests that music-based interventions may be helpful for health conditions that occur during childhood, adulthood, or aging. However, because much of the research on music-based interventions is preliminary, few definite conclusions about their effects have been reached. The preliminary research that has been done so far suggests that music-based interventions may be helpful for anxiety, depressive symptoms, and pain associated with a variety of health conditions, as well as for some other symptoms associated with dementia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and other conditions. 

Six things you need to know about music and health:

  1. Preliminary research suggests that music-based interventions may be helpful for anxiety, depressive symptoms, and pain associated with a variety of health conditions. 
  2. Music-based interventions may reduce depressive symptoms and improve emotional well-being and quality of life in people with cognitive impairment or various types of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease. However, it’s unclear whether music can improve cognitive function.
  3. Several types of music-based interventions may be helpful for people with Parkinson’s disease. For example, an intervention that involves synchronizing movement to a rhythmic sound may help people with Parkinson’s disease walk better, and singing may help them improve their speech.
  4. Several studies suggest that various types of music-based interventions may be beneficial for coordination, balance, some aspects of gait and walking, emotional status, and pain in people with multiple sclerosis.
  5. Although music has shown promise for many health-related uses, not all findings on music-based interventions are positive. For example, studies of music-based interventions for sleep problems and for symptoms of autism spectrum disorder have had mixed results. 
  6. People may think of music as safe, but that isn’t always true. For example, listening to music at too high a volume can contribute to noise-induced hearing loss.

What Does the Research Show? Read More about Music and Pain Relief as well as many other health problems

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April 24, 2022
Joe Brady

World Tai Chi & Qigong Day 2022

Tai Chi and Qigong are health exercises that evolved over centuries in China to allow people to defend themselves against frailty, disability, and disease as well as barbarians. This Saturday, April 29th is World Tai Chi & Qigong Day. This event has been officially proclaimed, recognized, or supported by 22 US Governors; Senates of Puerto Rico, California, New York; the Brazilian National Congress; consulates, and embassies from Italy to the U.S., China to India, and by government ministries and bodies in countries worldwide. Events have been held at the United Nations Building and the Nobel Peace Center.

Ukraine has been a regular participant in World Tai Chi and Qigong day in years past and many schools around the world are using the event this year to raise money to support the humanitarian efforts to help Ukraine. https://www.worldtaichiday.org/Event_Gallery/ukraine.html

Here are a few examples of how Tai Chi can be used to improve your own health.

  • Tai Chi Improves Aerobic Capacity
  • Improves Balance and Reduces Falls
  • Relieves low-back pain
  • Relieves fibromyalgia
  • Relieves knee osteoarthritis
  • Improves COPD,
  • Relieves Parkinson’s
  • Controls Diabetes
  • Lowers Blood Pressure

Read more about the scientific studies that support these results

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April 18, 2022
Joe Brady

Nurture Your Resilience

Bouncing Back From Difficult Times

Everyone goes through tough times in life. But many things can help you survive—and even thrive—during stressful periods. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Learning healthy ways to cope and how to draw from resources in your community can help you build resilience.

“Resilience is the extent to which we can bounce back from adverse events, cope with stress, or succeed in the face of adversity,” says Dr. Cindy Bergeman, a psychology professor at the University of Notre Dame.

You’re not born with resilience. “It’s not something you either have or don’t have,” says Dr. Alexandra Burt, a child development expert at Michigan State University.

“Resilience is a process in which many factors—including family, community, and cultural practices—interact. It boosts wellness and protects you from risks to your well-being. For many people, these risks are compounded by hardship and discrimination,” adds Dr. Lisa Wexler, who studies suicide prevention at the University of Michigan.

Researchers are studying what helps people become more resilient. Creating healthy habits and taking care of yourself can help. And so can family, friends, and your connection to community and culture.

Finding Your Strengths

Stress can cause wear and tear on the body and brain. Chronic stress has been linked to an increased risk of many health conditions. These include heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety.

Many stressful situations can’t easily be changed by one person. And some—such as parenting or a challenging job—can be things you want to do, even if they’re taxing.

But resilience isn’t just about eliminating stress. It’s also about tapping into your strengths. Researchers call these protective factors. “They can buffer stress or directly promote well-being—and sometimes even do both,” Wexler says.

Your strengths include those of your neighborhood and community. Different cultures have developed different ways to help people cope. The ceremonies, teachings, and cultural practices that are meaningful to you can help, Wexler says.

Other protective factors involve nurturing your body. “Being able to manage your stress is key to what underlies resilience. And a healthy body is going to deal with stress much better,” says Bergeman.

Other tools are emotional, like expressing your feelings rather than bottling them up, she explains. Looking at problems from different angles can help, too.

“Can you see a difficulty in a more positive way?” Bergeman asks. “For example, you can look at a stressful situation as a growth opportunity instead of thinking of it as a threat. Ask yourself: What can I learn from this situation?”

Meeting your own needs also makes a difference. “We’re often so busy trying to take care of other people that we don’t do good self-care. I encourage people to do something that they enjoy every single day. Many people feel guilty about that. But it really helps us replenish our emotional reserves, just like a meal fills our physical reserves,” says Bergeman.

In times of stress, self-care can be the opposite of selfish. Adults who take time for themselves can better help nurture resilience in children, says Burt. “One of the best things any parent can do for their child is to be well and healthy themselves. That makes it a lot easier for you to provide the support your child needs.”

Tapping Into Resources

Another part of resilience is about using the resources available to you. More and more, researchers are understanding that resilience doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

“The presence of resilience in a person is related to the supports around them,” Burt says. For example, she and her team found that growing up in a very impoverished neighborhood can change the way a child’s brain develops. But when adults in the community work together to support and monitor neighborhood children, it helps protect the children’s brains despite their circumstances. “A child can be resilient because they have these resilience-promoting things around them,” Burt explains.

Supportive adults don’t have to be a parent or relative, Burt says, though they often are. Some kids don’t have supportive families.

“That supportive person can also be a teacher or someone else who’s important to them. Just one person who they really feel has their back,” she says.

Wexler is part of the NIH-funded Alaska Native Collaborative Hub for Research on Resilience (ANCHRR). This is a group of researchers working with local community leaders. They are studying which cultural strengths help protect Alaska Native young people from suicide.

Many protective factors for these young adults come from their community’s culture. “Access to cultural resources combined with the ability to use them is what helps lower suicide risk,” says Dr. James Allen from the University of Minnesota.

ANCHRR is also looking at how the cultural and spiritual practices that Alaska Native communities harness work to protect youth against the suicide and other risks they face.

Choosing Your Tools

The tools that best help you offset stress can differ from situation to situation, says Bergeman.

“Sometimes you have a stressor where you need to take action and solve the problem. But for other types of stressors, maybe you need emotional support,” she says. “A way to think about resilience may be: How do you match what you need with the kinds of tools that you have?”

In a way, practice makes perfect, Bergeman says. Keep tabs on what felt helpful to you during stressful times. Ask yourself: How did you deal with it? Did you choose a healthy strategy? How might other people have helped you deal with it?

“That can prepare you for the next experience that may be more difficult,” Bergeman says.

Send us your comments(link sends e-mail)

Wise Choices

Building Resilience

Nurturing your body, brain, and social connections can help you bounce back from stress.

  • Develop healthy physical habits. Healthy eating, physical activity, and regular sleep can improve your physical and mental health.
  • Take time for yourself. Make taking care of yourself part of your daily routine. Take time to notice the good moments or do something that you enjoy, like reading a book or listening to music.
  • Look at problems from different angles. Think of challenging situations as growth opportunities. Try to see the positive side of things. Learn from your mistakes and don’t dwell on them.
  • Practice gratitude. Take time to note things to be thankful for each day.
  • Explore your beliefs about the meaning and purpose of life. Think about how to guide your life by the principles that are important to you.
  • Tap into your social connections and community. Surround yourself with positive, healthy people. Ask friends, family, or trusted members of your community for information or assistance when you need it. Look for cultural practices that you feel help in times of stress.
  • Get help for mental health and substance use disorders. Talk with a health care professional if you’re having trouble coping. Or call SAMHSA’s free national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP. If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. You can also text “HOME” to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

Links

References

Neighborhood poverty predicts altered neural and behavioral response inhibition.Tomlinson RC, Burt SA, Waller R, Jonides J, Miller AL, Gearhardt AN, Peltier SJ, Klump KL, Lumeng JC, Hyde LW. Neuroimage. 2020 Apr 1;209:116536. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.116536. Epub 2020 Jan 11. PMID: 31935521.

Protective factors as a unifying framework for strength-based intervention and culturally responsive American Indian and Alaska Native suicide prevention. Allen J, Wexler L, Rasmus S. Prev Sci. 2022 Jan;23(1):59-72. doi: 10.1007/s11121-021-01265-0. Epub 2021 Jun 24. PMID: 34169406.

Aging and the HPA axis: Stress and resilience in older adults. Gaffey AE, Bergeman CS, Clark LA, Wirth MM. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2016 Sep;68:928-945. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.05.036. Epub 2016 Jul 1. PMID: 27377692.

The impact of neighborhood disadvantage on amygdala reactivity: Pathways through neighborhood social processes. Suarez GL, Burt SA, Gard AM, Burton J, Clark DA, Klump KL, Hyde LW. Dev Cogn Neurosci. 2022 Jan 12;54:101061. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2022.101061. Online ahead of print. PMID: 35042163.

April 3, 2022
Joe Brady

Neurospirituality Research at Harvard Medical School

INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE GRAND ROUNDS and The Passing of a Legend

Sad to report the passing of Dr. Herbert Benson on Feb 3, one of the pioneers in the field of integrative medicine. Without the pioneering work on the relaxation response of Dr. Benson the fields of mind/body and integrative medicine might well not exist. Read the tribute by Peter Wayne the director of Harvard medical Schools Osher Center for Integrative medicine. 

https://oshercenter.org/2022/03/30/the-loss-of-a-pioneer-in-mind-body-medicine-herbert-benson-md/

Watch the Grand Rounds Video Neurospirituality: Science, Circuit, Soul

Presenter: Michael Ferguson, PhD,

Neurospirituality Research Director, Center for Brain Circuit Therapeutics, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Description: It is commonly assumed that medicine and spirituality are non-overlapping domains, but this segregation is a modern construction. For our March 1st Grand Rounds, using advanced brain circuit mapping techniques developed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dr. Michael Ferguson demonstrated how neuroscience and spirituality are successfully being applied to study one another. He further identified ways that “neurospirituality” may translate into clinical opportunities for spiritual therapeutics.

Dr. Michael Ferguson is an Instructor in Neurology at Harvard Medical School, a Lecturer on Neurospirituality at Harvard Divinity School, and a course co-instructor on the Cognitive Neuroscience of Meditation at Harvard College. He earned his PhD in bioengineering at the University of Utah where he studied religious experience using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Dr. Ferguson completed postdoctoral fellowships in Cognitive Neuroscience at Cornell University and in Cognitive Neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center before joining the Neurology faculty at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Of historical note, he and his husband were the first same-sex couple legally married in the state of Utah. Additionally, Dr. Ferguson was the named plaintiff in Ferguson v. JONAH

which was the first and (to date) the only lawsuit in the United States to shut down a gay conversion therapy provider. Dr. Ferguson is thrilled to be at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and is especially grateful for the tremendous encouragement he has received at the Brigham for integrating diverse methods from brain imaging and spirituality studies.

Watch the Video 

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March 27, 2022
Joe Brady

Physical Activity, Tai Chi and Successful Aging

Recent research has shown an independent and positive association between total physical activity. Using a multidimensional concept of successful aging and considering the effects of physical activity upon multiple physiological systems it seems that physical activity may be the major determinant of successful aging. Scientists followed up on 1584 people and found that older adults who engaged in higher levels of total physical activity at baseline were 2-fold more likely to be disease-free and fully functional, that is, having aged successfully, up to 10 years later.

Scientists have known for a long time that exercise is good for you and are hoping that finding a direct causal relationship between successful aging and physical activity will produce greater levels of compliance. A great deal of existing data shows that physical activity is an important parameter in enabling people to age successfully.

In addition to physical activity regular participation in, social, and cultural activities are also associated with successful aging. Well known for its benefits for balance and preventing falls Tai Chi is also beneficial in a variety of additional ways. In an editorial for the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, Dr. Steven Blair, Ph.D. with the CDC funded National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity & the Aerobics Institute in Dallas, stated that “[There is] a growing body of evidence regarding the efficacy of T’ai Chi interventions in improving  and maintaining function …  T’ai Chi appears to favorably influence balance, strength and … aerobic power.”

In addition, Tai Chi not only consists of a good dose of physical activity but also the sociocultural, meditative components are believed to contribute to overall greater levels of well-being, and these additional layers seem to produce greater levels of compliance.

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