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The right balance for good health

I realize that my last post has probably left you wondering what on earth bulldozers and ballerinas have to do with medicine.  Well, let me lead you down my little mental garden path here and explain.

The dancing event took place right next to the National Academy of Sciences, where the Institute of Medicine (IOM) holds its regular meetings.  It was all the more humorous to see these bulldozers (with rose petal-filled buckets) participating in this awkward dance – right in front of the hallowed halls of medicine’s most prestigious scientific body.  As I thought about what the IOM stands for – the pursuit of truth through objective scientific analysis – and what these ballerinas were up to (reveling in the whimsy of life) it struck me that good medicine might actually combine the two.

Clearly, there are aspects of a healthy life that cannot be well defined by science.  Love, peace, and joyfulness are all nourishing to the mind and body – but quantifying them is rather difficult.  The things that grandma taught us – get your beauty rest, be kind to others, get lots of fresh air, marry a loving man (or woman) – are great medicine, and should be the foundation for a life in balance.

However, the science of medicine is also critically important.  The media thrives on exaggeration and controversy.  If there were a mountain of sand in front of us, and we had the choice to move it with a bulldozer or a teaspoon – the media would have us convinced that the spoon was equally effective.  And this is why we are constantly misled about treatments – we hear about efficacy, but we don’t hear about the relative effectiveness compared to other therapies.  So cinnamon, for example, is touted as a great new treatment for diabetes, when in fact it is only a teaspoon compared to the bulldozer of insulin.

And so I guess I would summarize my musings this way: good health is a dance near the IOM, with bulldozers instead of teaspoons.This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

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