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Some Initial Thoughts on Applying Levels to Herbalism
10 March 2012
8:45 pm
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Mark Jack
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I have copied this across from my original comment on Owen’s post at http://integralherbalism.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/institute-of-functional-medici…..ight-tree/ about Functional Medicine. From my initial impressions it seems that Functional Medicine is taking Orthodox Medicine to a whole new level, and this triggered some thoughts in me about how herbal medicine could benefit from the work they are doing, and raised some questions about how we could apply the notion of levels to what we are doing. We can continue the discussion here.

 

It looks like really valuable work they are doing and like it is going in the right direction. I would certainly like to get their textbook too; I think a more holistic, systems approach to physiology and medicine would be a great next step and that it could benefit herbal medicine if we used that kind of textbook rather than just the normal medical texts and physiology books.

In ‘Conscious and Healing: Integral Approaches to Mind-Body Medicine’ (which has a superb forward by Ken Wilber on the integral vision of healing, which you can read here http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/misc/integral-med-1.cfm under a different book name, and is otherwise an awesome book) there is an interesting article by David Michael Levin titled ‘Meaning and the History of the Body: Towards a Postmodern Medicine’ that looks at the history of interpretations and models of the body. According to Levin the movements in medicine over the centuries has been from abstraction to concreteness, from exteriority to interiority, from qualities to causalities, from states to processes, from analysis to holism, and from mechanical isolation to systemic integration. The historical progression of models of the body has been from the rational body, to the anatomical body, to the physiological body, to the biochemical body of cells and molecules, to the psychosomatic body, to the body of psychoneuroimmunology, to the body of experienced meaning. Functional medicine seems fairly high up on that developmental chain, and it is good to see an example of that.

The questions this raises for me are what levels in all this does herbal medicine draw from, how could having better clarity over the levels we are drawing from contribute to the clarity and effectiveness of the models we use in herbal medicine, how could this assist in the better integration of different models within herbal medicine, and how could we work more from higher levels or models?

15 March 2012
1:05 pm
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owenokie
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The Institute of Functional Medicine, if you subscribe to the free membership I believe, will send you two free chapters of their textbook. They also will give you occasional links to free webinars…I just watched one by Dr Rountree on Environmental Toxins from a Functional Medicine perspective.

 

Regarding levels..it seems to me that what you describe from the book seems to be mostly the UR. Concepts such as synergy, complexity, chaos theory, hormesis, along with models like allostasis (which examines the effects of social structures on stress/allostatic load and the consequent effects on metabolism/physiology which at though sub-clinical eventually result in “pathology” will help fill in the LR in particular and link it to the UR. Correlating to the LH quadrants may be more challenging (or at least controversial) as it will more reliant on “subjective” experience and is more fully developed in the East than it it in the West.

I’ve downloaded the article you linked to and will give it a read before jumping in any further.

 

Owen

15 March 2012
1:52 pm
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Mark Jack
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Thanks, I have download the free chapters and will have a read.

The progression in the book is an interesting one, and yes it does seem to be mainly in the UR. However it starts of in a time when the physical and mental / emotional probably weren’t very differentiated, then moves more into the UR, then at the end starts to broaden into the LR too, and finally ‘the body of experienced meaning’ seems to me to cover the LH quadrants as well as leaving space for the right.

It is interesting how even with mind-body research the UL quadrant can still be somewhat left out. In the same book there is an article by Harris Dienstfrey titled Mind and Mindlessness in Mind-Body Research where he discusses how the research doesn’t actually include the mind much. Essentially subjects in such a study are placed into a social situation, such as a stressful one or one where there is social support, and then physical things are measured, without the participants minds really coming into it at all!

15 March 2012
2:26 pm
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owenokie
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There is s tendency for certain paths of discovery to come full circle when taken far enough…just as quantum physics has started to do regarding consciousness and ideas such as the holographic universe. This is also seen in spiritual paths…say the three faces of God (which correlate with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd person)..which tend, at a certain point of experience flip over into one another.

Yes, I think most research is still starting from the UR even when exploring the other quadrants…as opposed to the integral approach which is standing in the center and exploring the world through each quadrant…what you describe is standing in the UR and peering at the other quadrants…acknowledging their existence is certainly an important starting point! (Tools, such as surveys and interviews, for getting pictures of the UL are still partial and I think probably not fully accepted by mainstream science or psychology-though there is widespread use of tools for evaluating subjective depression and anxiety and so on). Part of this may come from being trained in a given way of thinking, and forgetting that that way of thinking is a tool and not an absolute…(say aristotelian logic)…I’m not an expert on the subject but I’ll link an article you might find interesting. (Note a friend with much more training in philosophy pointed out that it had some weaknesses but I still think its valuable as a way of stimulating thinking and opening up our ability to see the world through other perspectives). Rolf Sattler has some interesting ideas on perspective/ways of thinking and how they apply to healing (both individual and collective). I think it could be valuable in complimenting the use of AQAL (he speak of taoist or yin/yang perspectives and so on) as we are trying to integrate sources of wisdom that are not founded in the analytical approach we have both grown up and been educated in (as have generations of our ancestors!) and which we will tend to favor.

http://beyondwilber.ca/bookpre/healing/healing_thinking_and_being.html

 

He also has a 2nd book on AQAL (Wilber’s AQAL Map and Beyond) that I have not yet read available on his website. We might consider inviting him to take a look at our forum?

18 March 2012
12:02 pm
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owenokie
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Just read the forward by Wilber on Integral Medicine. I think there are some important points and pointers for us in this article as Integral Herbalism is really not much different than Integral Medicine (just a different tool kit). Our advantage is that we start with a broader and more holistic context and a much larger tool box than doctors. I may try to read the book. I think that such work that has already been done in Integral Medicine and Integral Psychology (another book I need to read!) will help us in applying the integral framework to herbalism without completely reinventing the wheel.

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