Establishing the Mind-Body Connection in the Treatment of Auto-Immune Illness
When I was 23 years old, exactly one year before I began my studies at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in 1996, I was diagnosed with the rare auto-immune disease known as myasthenia gravis. I had severe paralysis in my triceps, abdominal and calf muscles, as well as constant diplopia. I was told by the diagnosing neurologist that the disease was incurable, progressive, and potentially fatal. I did the math. It didn’t look good. I was suggested treatments. Radical thymectomy. Prednisone for life. Imuran. Cellcept. All very unpleasant, toxic, invasive, even carcinogenic forms of treatment. Thank goodness I had already known about alternative forms of healing and I just didn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe. And because of that, I discovered principles of healing that I have used on myself and my patients to help them, and myself, live happy, drug-free and even symptom-free lives.
It turned out that I was just discovering principles that have already been established in the philosophy of the medicine in which I received my degree. The wisdom inherent in the healing power of Nature (The Vis) directly taught me to recognize how I was being extremely hard on myself and how unhealthy that was for me. I came to realize that I was emotionally attacking myself for any error, any flaw in the harsh model of perfectionism I had. One day, I had a counselling session with a great practitioner, and I came to see how I had always thought I needed to be perfect, having grown up in an environment where that seemed such a natural fact, such a given. But in the dialogue, I was asked, “What makes you think you need to be perfect?” That question hit me so hard and the resultant answer was like mental thunder, stampeding away the idea that I had taken for granted, carved in stone. When I released the idea that I needed to be perfect (Address the fundamental Cause of Disease), I had a spontaneous healing of my body. Circulation, warmth, and strength flowed back into my paralyzed muscles. My arms were strong, my vision was clear. All the heaps of unhappy feelings of judgment towards myself for not being perfect sloughed off.
At that moment, I knew the power that the mind had over the body, in illness and in health. And it occurred to me, again, not really as anything new, per se, but a discovery of some of what is, was, and will always be, that the mind and body are one. And then the next piece of the puzzle I slotted into place was the last step I needed to connect the dots of the philosophy of naturopathic medicine for a successful holistic practice. It is what I have followed in the many cases I have helped in this “progressive, incurable” disease. It is The Mind-Body Connection (Treat the Whole Person). I realized that an auto-immune disease is, simply put, the body’s system of defence turned against itself, and attacking itself. And what had I been doing? Attacking myself! So my body was merely reflecting what was occurring in my mind! There was nothing wrong with my immune system. I didn’t need to supplement with immune suppressants or even more natural forms of immune system therapy. I certainly didn’t need to have my thymus gland cut out. All I needed to do was to stop telling myself that I was bad (attacking myself) because I wasn’t perfect. I needed to correct my personal belief system (Treat Each Person as an Individual) that was not in harmony with my true Nature and with Nature itself. As soon as I did so, the illness was over.
I learned so much through this process and the disease had been my teacher. Now, when I work in my practice specializing in people with myasthenia gravis, I help them recognize the underlying cause of their illness and the effect their mental and emotional spheres have on the body and how it is simply reflecting what is going on in the mind (Doctor as Teacher. One might also say, Illness as Teacher)
The ‘Aha Moment’ happens in almost every case I have had – an understanding that the body is simply reflecting the mind. Like a faithful puppy dog responding to its master’s commands, the body will lay and play dead if the mind is demanding it.
As soon as the mind-body connection is established and the person is aware of it for their illness, they have learned an invaluable lesson and the Vis begins doing Its work. Some people heal quickly after this point. Some take longer to shed the underlying cause even after recognizing it, as the mental constructs and “delusions” that lead to illness can seem so real, especially when they’ve been held for so long and have many additional appendages attached to them before they will be released for good. Those who take an active part and take responsibility for their health improve faster. Those who are still staring blankly into the lie that the doctor is responsible for the patient’s health take longer, and sometimes altogether reject the healing because they still cling to the desire to do nothing for themselves or to the idea that they are powerless to heal from within.
The treatments that my patients receive by their conventional medical doctors continue to be the biggest obstacle to cure in my practice. I don’t have anything against medical doctors and in fact, I recognize how and where they have helped me and others in the past and will continue to do so in severe forms of acute illness, trauma, emergency, and finding innovative methods for surgery when it is necessary. Yet, while I am helping people heal holistically in mind and body, their doctors are providing toxic drugs, invasive therapies, and misleading suggestions that simply support the idea that they are not responsible for their health and that there is something wrong with their body. Patients become dependent on their doctors, rushing to their offices without the slightest thought of what their bodies could be reflecting in their minds.
Conventional medicine and holistically aligned naturopathic medicine work in opposite directions. In chronic illness where the situation allows for the time to work holistically, the mind-body connection and individualized approach is the better approach, because not only will the body heal through the gentle power of the Vis without any dependency on drugs, but the patient will also improve their overall relationship with themselves, the people and the world around them and recognize a very valuable truth about themselves. In my book, ‘The Revolution of Naturopathic Medicine – Remaining True to our Philosophy’, one of the only books ever published on the philosophy of naturopathy, I really stress the vital importance for naturopathic doctors, students, and teachers to stick to the roots of our philosophy and to stop trying to gain credibility by emulating conventional medicine. The world does not need more allopathic practitioners. The world needs doctors as teachers and healers working with the true principles of holistic medicine to heal not only the individuals we work with, but also the insidious illness inherent in medicine itself that has corrupted our world. If we are not careful, our profession will be completely funded by the neutraceutical industry and we will just be a little less toxic version of the pharmaceutical owned and funded conventional medical system.
In my first week of naturopathic college, I heard an anonymous quote that I have never forgotten. “The goal of the Naturopath is to become obsolete.” And that is so true, that in some cases, when we apply one of the staples of our philosophy and act as teachers, or more accurately, “revealers” to our patients, they never need to come back. Some will return because they need some help to see, or to be inspired. Some like us because we listen. And that is fine too.
One of my favourite cured cases of myasthenia gravis (mg) involved an elderly woman and absolutely no remedy, medicine, supplement, or vitamin. All that was needed to bring about the cure was the awareness that dawned on her during our initial consultation, where I used a dialogue / counselling process for excavating and exposing the underlying cause of illness, or as we may say, a person’s problem. She was 81 years old and had recently been diagnosed with mg. She had diplopia, drooping eyelids, and generalized weakness. She had recently lost her husband and at first, I made a quick and incorrect assumption that she was grieving over the loss of her husband and was sick as a result of it. It was not even close to the truth. The truth, as it was revealed through our dialogue, was that after her husband passed on, she realized that she had never loved him, and she was very angry with herself that she had never had the courage to move on with her life. She also felt guilty for these feelings and both of these energies, anger and guilt, turned on herself, eating her up inside, were enough to instruct her obedient immune cells to assemble a full-frontal assault on her acetyl-choline receptors in her neuro-muscular junction. When I helped her see that connection, and how attacking herself was causing the symptoms, she took a little time and decided, by herself, right in the chair of our first consult, that she was not going to do that anymore. She felt sad and cried about the aspect of life she felt she lost, but quickly forgave herself, decided to begin living her life as she wanted right then and stopped attacking herself. Her symptoms were completely gone in three days, never to return. When I called her a few days later to support her healing with a homeopathic remedy I selected, she said she didn’t need any and was fine. I became obsolete in her life.
Another case illustrated the connection between the mind and body in a very potent fashion. It was a young woman of 26 years old who had mg for less than six months. I had worked with her for a few months without any change. One day, we had an appointment scheduled on the phone and when I called, she sounded out of breath, her breathing was very laboured (that is one of the ways that mg kills – by paralyzing the diaphragm), and told me she was late to take her medication (mestinon) and to hold on, while she went to take it. I recognized it as an opportunity to see the fullness of her illness, and hoped it may lead to a breakthrough in a case that was not advancing. So I asked her to wait. We began to dialogue, and within a short amount of time, after some questioning about how she felt (sad), and how that felt (angry with herself), and how she felt about that (guilty), she told me something she had never disclosed during the previous appointments together. She told me that she had been dating a young man who was in a gang. She told him it was unacceptable to her and he should leave the gang. He would not. So she left him. The next week he was shot and killed. She blamed herself, believing that if she had stayed with him that would never have happened. She broke down and cried, very deeply, as she had not revealed these feelings to anyone, choosing to carry this burden stoically while she blamed herself and developed mg. After some time discussing it and weeping, letting go of a lot of that burden, I asked her how her breathing was and she said, with surprise and amazement, “it is fine.” At that moment, her life changed forever, because she came to see, firsthand, with no ambiguity, the power of addressing the underlying cause, and the healing power of Nature where the mind-body connection is established between cause in the mind and reflection in the body. I became obsolete to her too.
Neither of these cases improved because of any remedy. But in most cases I do also offer homeopathic remedies, which remain, in my experience and opinion, the best medicine to complement this mind-body connection for this and other forms of auto-immune illness. Some cases need the help of the mirror in Nature (homeopathy) to move old and very tough energies when the awareness was simply not enough. Even if it is not revealed in the first few consultations, some kind of attacking the self, in a unique individualized fashion, can be found in close to every single auto-immune case as an underlying cause.
This article is titled to reflect Nature cure and the mind-body connection philosophy for healing auto-immune illness, and it has served very well to help me heal and even cure people with the “incurable” illness of myasthenia gravis We can apply this method of practice for all other forms of chronic disease, while just clarifying that the cause of illness will be different for every case of any given disease, and non-auto-immune illnesses will have many different causes in the mind, where the body is still reflecting the beliefs that are out of harmony with a person’s true Nature.
Moshe Daniel Block, ND, HMC is the author of The Revolution of Naturopathic Medicine: Remaining True to Our Philosophy, a book about the philosophy and practice of naturopathic medicine, and Holistic Counseling – Introducing the Vis Dialogue, a book about a breakthrough healing method uniting the worlds of Mind-Body Medicine & Psychology. He graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (Toronto, Ontario) in 2000. Dr Block then went on to complete the Homeopathic Master Clinician course with Louis Klein, FSHom, in 2003. He specializes in autoimmune illness and myasthenia gravis, a disease he was personally diagnosed as having and from which he has healed himself. He teaches the very wisdom and knowledge that helped him heal himself and others in his Holistic Counseling course for NDs (holistic-counseling.ca). Some of the other projects Dr. Block has worked on can be found at his private practice website (myasthenia-gravis-cure.com), his books website (nddoctor.net), Holistic Counseling (http://www.holistic-counseling.ca) and his global website (david-house-productions.com).