Monday, March 26, 2007

How would you prioritize the reintroduction of the American Bison?

I appreciated the articles on this cooperative movement. The initiative seems much bigger than boosting up the Bison population in the U.S.---it's about the ecological healing of the land, the spiritual revitalization of the tribes, and the restoring of human rights to American Indians. I would say that all of these should be considered priorities of the U.S. government. I think that our government needs to bring its focus back to domestic issues instead of invading other countries and trying to install democracies. We need to make sure that the health and rights of our own citizens are being upheld. I want my tax dollars to go towards supporting groups such as the InterTribal Bison Cooperative instead of the Iraq war. Thanks again for presenting us with materials on the movement and I intend to look into it further.

How would you assess the "New pill promises to reduce breast cancer risk?"

I can't even think about assessing the new pill because I'm so angered that these crazy drugs are being created that seriously mess with women's bodies. "It (the new pill) also stops women having periods altogether-suggesting it could offer relief for the hundreds of thousands suffering from PMT." Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!! As if that would be a good thing?!! Oral contraceptives throw off women's biochemistry and have horrible side-effects. I speak from my own experience of taking the birth control pill. There are many alternatives to taking oral contraceptives and I think that more research and education need to go into making these alternatives available to women. I currently advocate the Fertility Awareness Method and I encourage all women to read, Taking Charge of your Fertility. It explains the Fertility Awareness Method and provides a thorough education on natural birth control practices.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Can you assess the end goals of social ecology?

I get the sense that social ecology operates like a think tank that systematically applies its theories. The end goals seem to be simple: save the planet and elevate human consciousness (just a small task, really---not!). By deconstructing and challenging the socio-political institutions that harm the environment, social ecology seeks to end the global ecology crisis and ensure a human and planetary future.

Can you explain why ecosystems are both strong and fragile?

The ecosystems of our planet have undergone countless changes and adaptations since the beginning of life. They have prevailed and thereby give the impression that they are 'strong,' or maybe better said, 'resilient.' But even though ecosystems have a tremendous capacity to recover, they are not infallible. Clearly with global warming we are seeing that our ecosystems are, indeed, fragile and if we don't start acting out of the long-term health for our planet, we will cause irreparable damage.
I'm optimistic and very concerned at the same time. In my parents' home there is a picture of my dad on the Matterhorn (in Switzerland) in 1973 and one of my brother on the same mountain in 2006. Both pictures were taken during the summertime. The one of my dad shows substantial snow and greenery all over the mountain. There is nothing of the kind in my brother's picture; just a big, brown hill. In just over thirty years, the change of that ecosystem is dramatic. Sure, it's surviving, but clearly fragile. We need to get all of our energy behind saving the environment, or else my children won't have mountains to climb!

What do you think about the 8 point deep ecology platform?

I think these principles are right on. It felt to me as if Mother Earth were speaking them herself. It reminded me of the saying, "we belong to the earth; the earth does not belong to us." We treat the planet as if it's here to serve our purposes and as if its resources are inexhaustible. Non-human life deserves the same respect as human life, and our social, political, and economic policies must reflect this.
I love the 8th principle--that those who subscribe to the platform have an obligation to implement the necessary changes. I think we all struggle with being in integrity with our beliefs, and I'm glad to see that this movement is calling us to 'walk our talk.' I wasn't familiar with the deep ecology movement before reading the articles for this week. I think I'll check them out. Seems like the people involved are modern-day planet savers. . . .

Monday, March 12, 2007

What do you think of the "deal that saved the whale"?

I was very impressed by this so-called "deal" and the preventative, progressive approach Mexico is taking to protect its land and wildlife. The plan that the groups have put together is creative and cooperative. It seems as though all parties are winning and getting their needs met. I love that the deal encourages people not to sell their land and that these groups want to set a precedent for regional conservation. I am a big fan of communal property and living. It's also wonderful that a country like Mexico that is plagued with major sociopolitical and economic problems is putting energy into sustainability and protecting the environment. It's all very smart and hopeful. . . . .

Can TCM strengthen our immune systems?

Absolutely! Astragalus, for example, is an herb that boosts immunity. The acupuncture point ST 36 seems to go straight to the immune system and improve its functioning. Tui na stimulates the immune system and there are many great Qi Kung exercises that address immunity. For me, eating in accordance with TCM dietary therapy keeps my immune system strong. TCM has a very strong grasp on disease prevention and has established the major role of our immune systems/wei qi in doing so. I am living proof that TCM can strengthen immunity. Before I came to TCM, I was constantly battling illnesses. But over the past three years since I've been getting regular acupuncture treatments, eating well, taking herbs, and doing qi kung, I've been sick once (!!!!). I would recommend TCM to anyone who has depressed immunity.

How do you feel about WM approaches to HIV/AIDS?

As I experienced in our recent discussion of cancer, Western Medicine has an advanced cellular and mechanical understanding of HIV/AIDS. It's amazing how much has been discovered about the disease in the past two decades. I greatly appreciate how hard WM researchers have been working to acquire knowledge of and treatments for the AIDS epidemic. At the same time, I think much more energy and money need to go towards developing psycho-social approaches to the disease. Prevention, particularly education, is key with eradicating AIDS. We need to get our efforts behind providing resources to the severely afflicted countries (i.e. Africa). No one should be denied treatment because of money. And I think more emotional and financial support should be given to those suffering with AIDS. I read recently that children are becoming orphans at a staggering rate, namely in Africa, because parents are dying so quickly of AIDS. This global social issue cannot be ignored! I would like to see WM and TCM come together and target AIDS. With both systems providing support for one another, the potential is limitless.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

How sophisticated is our understanding of cancer?

I was blown away by the article on cancer from this week's readings. I had no idea that Western medicine's understanding of cancer was so advanced. I had to read the article several times to comprehend the dense, complex information. It seems that WM has a solid grasp on what exactly cancer is on a cellular level. The opening paragraph talked about cancer as "rebel" cells that break the rules of normal cell function. The sections on the causes and prevention of cancer seemed too simplistic and that more research needs to go into these areas. I was impressed with the new WM treatment options. I didn't know that there were effective WM alternatives to chemo available. One section that really stuck out for me was the involvement of the immune system in the cause of cancer. It is my belief that the failure of the immune system/Wei qi underlies all disease, and thus I plan to focus on strengthening this system in all of my patients once I have a private practice.

The highest level of understanding a disease is in its cure. I think it's simply a matter of time before we crack the codes of cancer. There is so much money and brain power going into the investigation. I'm an optimist in the sense that I believe humanity can do anything (i.e. catch cancer) if our intentions are good and pure. We'll get you, cancer!!!!

How does a TCM approach to cancer differ?

It is my understanding that TCM focuses on cancer prevention, thereby keeping Qi and Blood flowing within the body so that disease cannot manifest. However, we're just starting to discuss in our Diagnosis and Herbs classes some of the treatments for cancer. Our Herbs teacher recently told us that cancer is often viewed as a heat pathogen that has become toxic. We learned an entire category of herbs that clear heat-toxins from the body. I'm also aware of quite a few acupuncture points that clear heat (i.e. LI 11). I also believe that TCM dietary prescriptions, tui na, and qi kung can prevent and rid cancer from the body. The beauty of our medicine is that it operates off of the inherent trust in the body to heal itself, whereas Western medicine virtually destroys the body for cancer treatment.

Are our genes still shaped by natural selection?

I believe that our genes always have been shaped by natural selection and will continue to do so until we become extinct. I've recently been thinking about the need for our genes to adapt to living in a warmer climate. With the global warming/weirding phenomenon, temperatures across the planet are increasing, and thus our bodies will have to learn how to survive in more extreme weather conditions. Also, our genes will need to evolve with the evolution of food. New foods are produced every day, many of which are too complicated for our digestive systems to break down. Just as the Europeans developed a lactose-digesting gene, our current genes must be undergoing rapid change to keep up with our modern-day diet. I wonder if a McDonald's-digesting gene will be discovered......yuck!

I am entirely confident that humans will become more and more fabulous through the brilliance of natural selection.