Top Down Medicine

“The body is a puppet of the mind,” says an old Chinese medicine proverb.  I think that they got it right when they came up with this little ditty a couple thousand years ago.    To great degree, being healthy, or being sick is dependent on the choices that we make in our daily lives.   Yes, there are people who are “born behind the eight ball.  There are also people that we know who just have bad karma.  I had a patient recently who was driving along a tree feel on his car. Luckily he survived the accident with the help of some amazing first responders, doctors, nurses, and an amazing loving family.

However, for most of us our health status boils down to issues such as what we choose to put in our mouths; the degree to which we exercise; the emphasis that we place on sleep; stress reduction; and attention to relationships with friends and family.  All of these are conscious decisions that add up to “lifestyle medicine.”  It may seem low tech and old fashioned to talk about these things in this day and age of high-tech medicine.  However, there is no pill on earth that can match the healing power of mindful attention to the fundamentals of wellness.


Wellness and Optimization

The answer to most chronic health problems is usually not found in another pill.  The answer is achieved by attending to the fundamentals of wellness such as proper nutrition, gut health, stress reduction, regular exercise, weight management, detoxification, and restorative sleep.

The human body is a miraculous creation.  If we love it, respect it, support it, and nurture it, then it has an amazing ability to stay healthy and to heal itself.  On the other hand, if we feed it junk food, deprive it of quality sleep and exercise, keep it stressed, expose it to a barrage of allergens and toxins, and allow it to get obese then we open the door for problems of all sorts.

Good health is the greatest of all blessings.  If you are not where you want to be with your health, then  embark on a journey to wellness and optimization:

  • Mindfulness- be constantly aware of how you are nurturing your body. Are you attending to the fundamentals of health?
  • Intention- Make a declaration to yourself that you will do everything that you can to optimize your health.
  • Plan- work with your provider to develop a personalized plan.
  • Monitoring- Measure your progress.
  • Accountability- be accountable to yourself or to your provider.

Good luck on your journey to Wellness and Optimization.


Connecting the Dots

Back in the horse and buggy days doctors carried a little black bag, and made house calls.   With no high tech diagnostic tools at their disposal they used their clinical skills to diagnose and treat just about anything that comes down the pike, from delivering a baby, to amputating a limb.

Now I am not longing for a return of the “good ol’ days” when it comes to the science and art of medicine.  We have come a long way since then. Especially with the advent of the high tech revolution and genetics the pace of medical discovery just about makes my head spin these days.

With the ever more hair-splitting specialization of medicine, we now have super-duper sub-specialists.  We don’t just go to an orthopedic doctor; we now even have a shoulder specialist, hand specialist, and hip specialist, etc.  Each of our specialists is looking at the patient through their own set of glasses.  “To a hammer, all the world is a nail.”

While there are many advantages to having doctors with super specialized point of view, there is also a big disadvantage.  Sometimes in modern medicine we miss the big picture, because nobody is “connecting the dots.”  As it turns out, we are not a collection of individual organs, housed in a single body.  We are whole people. Everything is connected.  The hipbone really is connected to the thighbone, just as the gut is connected to the brain, and the skin, and the heart, and the bones, and on and on.  On top of this we then have the issue of the mind connected to the body, connected to the emotions.

For many of my patients with chronic health problems, the key to getting better is to look at the patient as a whole person.  To build the patient back up from the ground up,with the fundamentals of health.  In most of these cases, the answer is not to just take another pill, or two, or three. It is about taking the time to see the big picture; by connecting the dots in this interwoven matrix we call the human mind-body.



My Favorite Patient- The Woman with “Total Body Funk”

I generally don’t like to play favorites. However, over the years my favorite patient has become the exact same patient that other doctors hate to see. It’s the lady with profound fatigue, brain fog, low mood, can’t sleep, hot flashes, night sweats, aches all over, and no libido.  This common condition, that afflicts so may women, has a profound impact on a woman’s life. She cannot be the person she wants to be, the wife she longs to be, or the mother that she needs to be. My eyes light up when these women come into my office, because I know that I can fix them.  I look forward to the day when they come back in and everything is better. The transformation is life altering. They commonly say “thank you for giving me my life back,” and their husbands say “Thank you for giving me my wife back.” The solution is not simple.  It has to be customized to each patient, and then the patient has to do her part by following the recipe.  However, at the end of the day, nine times out of ten it works.  As a provider it brings me great joy to see her transformation into her new, energetic, life-loving, vibrant, joyous, sexy self again.


What is the Best Diet for Wellness and Weight Loss? 

It depends who you ask, and more importantly, it depends who you are. We have the paleo diet, the autoimmune paleo diet, the Mediterranean diet, the Pritikin diet, the low fat diet, the low carb diet, the South Beach diet, etc. the list goes on and on.  Each of these diets has its ardent supporters.However, the latest science reveals that there is not a “one size fits all” diet that will work for everybody.  The concept of biochemical individuality applies to many aspects of health and wellness, including what we put in our bodies.  The science of personalized medicine is rapidly evolving.  At McMinn Clinic we can now perform genetic testing which will determine the exact diet which is perfect for your particular unique genome.  However, short of genetic testing what can these different diet camps agree on.  Here are some basic principles that are fairly universally accepted:

Minimize added sugar – Minimize processed foods, and eat more whole foods – Eat more vegetables.

I think that if we were to just follow these simple principles we would find that most of us would be healthier in the long run.


Mindfulness in Medicine

Times have changed when it comes to the doctor-patient relationship. Nowadays when I go to see my doctor she seems to be more focused on checking the right boxes on the computer than on listening to what I’m saying.  As a patient I am left to wonder if she ever really heard my concerns.   As a physician I can knowingly say that doctors don’t like the current situation any more than patients.  Unfortunately the coders, billers, bean counters and insurance companies have taken over health care.   Frustration with the electronic medical record is one of the top reasons for the epidemic of physician burnout.

At McMinn Clinic, we embrace technology, but we also realize that mindful listening is the most powerful tool in medicine.  As a healer, when I enter a room with a patient, I am fully present in the moment.  I am not distracted by a trying to navigate around a computer while the patient is telling me her heart-wrenching story. I am not thinking about anything else except “how can I help this patient achieve her goals of optimal wellness.

The bottom line is outcomes. I have found that bringing mindfulness to medicine through focused listening is the most important tool in helping people get better.


Energy- It’s the Key to Life

I’ve had a bad day now and then when I’ve felt zapped.  Sometimes it was after an all-night shift in the ER, or perhaps when I had “the crud.”  However, I see patients just about every day who come in with “no energy” for many years. These folks (often women) feel wiped out from the moment they wake up, until they crash at night.  This total body fatigue often has many friends:  insomnia, brain fog, gut problems, stress, irritability, low mood, aching all over, and low libido just to mention a few.  When you have no energy it affects every aspect of your life. You can’t be the person that you want to be, the mom that you want to be, or the wife that you want to be, because you’re so dog gone tired.

In medical school they teach us little to nothing about how to treat fatigue, yet it is one of the most common complaints that a doctor will hear in his or her career.  At McMinn Clinic we’ve to put together a comprehensive program to help you get your energy back.  Fatigue is hardly ever caused by one big thing. It’s all the little things which must be addressed to help you get your mojo back, and be the person that you know you can be. Come see us at McMinn Clinic and get “optimized.”


“Good Health Starts in the Gut.”

It seems like in life and in medical practice, things sometimes come in bunches.  Lately I have been seeing a number of patients with varied chief complaint, but with a single common root cause…poor gut health.   The presenting complaint may be ADD, depression, “brain fog,” skin rash, fatigue, poor immune system, osteoporosis, yeast overgrowth, inflammation, or autoimmune disease. However, the root cause may be exactly the same for all of these conditions- GUT DYSFUNTION.  The patient may or may not have frank gut symptoms, such as diarrhea, IBS, or bloating.

Bottom line, there is a gut- brain connection, gut-skin connection, gut-bone connection, gut- everything connection.  Gut health always needs to be on the radar screen, especially if you have multiple problems and you have not responded to regular medical therapy.

Get your gut healthy and you’ll be healthy.