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Managing Stress With Meditation

In the early 1970s, when Dr. Herbert Benson was defining and testing the techniques he presented to the world in his revolutionary book, The Relaxation Response, I was a hippie teenager learning transcendental meditation (TM). Flash forward about 40 years and I’m sitting in an amphitheater packed with a few hundred medical students, faculty, and staffers from Harvard Medical School listening to the iconic director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute explain the myriad benefits of the relaxation response.

The relaxation response is a self-induced quieting of brain activity. It leads to a body-wide slowdown and a feeling of well-being that have measurably positive effects on disorders caused by stress or made worse by it, including high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, and many digestive disorders. As Dr. Benson describes in Stress Management, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Harvard Health Blog*

Steps To Lower An Artificially High Blood Pressure

A recent study confirmed that the doctor’s office may be one of the worst places to determine if your blood pressure is under control. The automatic rise in tension many people experience when they are being scrutinized contributes to artificially high blood pressure readings. Although many times the only way improve one’s blood pressure is through treatment (such as medication, a low salt diet, and weight loss), other times I’ve seen a simple 10 second relaxation routine drop a patient’s blood pressure reading by up to 20 systolic points. The following may help you obtain a better, more accurate reading the next time you have your pressure checked in the harried office.

1) Insist on being seated for at least 3 minutes before your pressure is taken. Even walking from the waiting room back into an examining room will briefly increase your blood pressure.

2) Take several deep, relaxed breaths in and out before the doctor begins to check your blood pressure.

3) Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Examining Room of Dr. Charles*

Modern Meditation: Buddhism Meets Punk Rock

Dharma Punx in New York City mixes the tradition of Buddhism with the ideology of punk rock. Dr. Jon LaPook talks with teacher Josh Korda about how the seemingly different connect with the help of meditation.


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Dosage Disclosure Denied For Sleep Remedy’s “Perfect Blend”

A new product, Dream Water, is designed to help one relax, fall asleep and improve the quality of sleep using the “perfect blend” of all-natural ingredients melatonin, GABA and 5-HTP (tryptophan).

A single-dose 2.5-ounce bottle retails for $2.99. They also offer a more dilute formulation in an 8-ounce bottle. They suggest drinking half a bottle, keeping it at your bedside, and drinking more if you wake up during the night.

What dosage will you get from half a bottle? From a whole bottle? There’s no way to know. They offer a money-back guarantee, free shipping, free samples, and lots of testimonials. But they refuse to disclose how much of what is in their product. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

Saved By Dance: One Doctor’s Story Of Burnout And Recovery

By Susan Biali, M.D.

Ten years ago, I was an emergency medicine resident and wanted to die. Today, I’m a general practitioner in part-time practice and in love with life. What made the difference? I signed up for a dance class.

Reports on physician burnout list the personality traits that set us up for trouble: we’re excessively conscientious, feel overly responsible, want to please everyone, and function on an extremely high level –- even if we’re overloaded, exhausted, or our personal life is falling apart. We burn out because we bend over backwards to help others, until something (like our minds or our health or our marriages) finally snaps. Now imagine this: what if we took some of that deep caring and hyper-responsibility, and turned it on ourselves?

When my depression hit bottom and I became a serious risk to myself and my patients, my chief resident asked me to take a stress leave. On impulse I went on a solo tropical vacation and one night at the resort, as I watched an exuberant group of salsa dancers burning up the stage, my eyes filled with tears. I suddenly remembered that when I was a little girl, I practiced incessantly in the basement to my ABBA records, preparing myself for the moment that I would live my dream and finally become a “Solid Gold Dancer.” That night, in that darkened tropical theater, I knew how I would save my life. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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