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← The shocking truth about your health | Lissa Rankin | TEDxFiDiWomen

Lissa Rankin talks about medicine from a more spiritual side. She introduces her cairn model of wellbeing and health.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx

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Showing Revision 7 created 07/13/2016 by Ivana Korom.

  1. What's the most important part
    of your health?
  2. What do you think?
  3. Is it eating a balanced,
    mostly plant-based diet,
  4. balancing your hormones, daily exercise,
    getting enough sleep -
  5. What do you guys think?
  6. Taking your vitamins,
    seeing your doctor for regular check ups?
  7. (Laughter)
  8. These things might all seem
    like important, even critical, factors
  9. to living a healthy life,
    but what if I told you
  10. that caring for your body was
    the least important part of your health?
  11. What do you think?
  12. I'm a physician,
    so if you'd told me that five years ago,
  13. that would have been total sacrilege.
  14. I mean, I spent 12 years training,
  15. because the body is supposed to be
    the foundation for everything in life.
  16. But what if I told you that the medical
    profession had it all backwards,
  17. if the body doesn't shape
    how we live our lives?
  18. What if the body is actually
    a mirror of how we live our lives?
  19. Think about it for a minute.
    Think about a time in your life
  20. where you weren't living the life
    you were supposed to be living.
  21. Maybe you were in the wrong relationship;
  22. or you were in
    some hostile work environment
  23. doing what you thought you should do;
  24. or you were creatively thwarted,
    you felt spiritually disconnected.
  25. And what if you started getting
    little inklings from the body,
  26. little physical symptoms?
  27. You know, the body's trying to tell you
    something and you ignore it,
  28. because you're supposed to do
    what you're doing.
  29. And then the body totally decompensates.
  30. Can you think about a time in your life
    where something like that has happened?
  31. Yeah, I see a lot of noddings.
  32. Yeah, me too.
    Same thing happened to me.
  33. So this is what the body does,
    the body is brilliant this way,
  34. the body speaks to us in whispers.
  35. And if we ignore the whispers of the body,
    the body starts to yell.
  36. Millions of people in this country
    are ignoring the whispers of the body.
  37. We are suffering from an epidemic
  38. that modern medicine
    has no idea what to do with.
  39. People suffering from
    this epidemic are fatigued,
  40. they're anxious and depressed,
    they toss and turn at night,
  41. they've lost their libido.
  42. They suffer from
    a whole variety of aches and pains,
  43. so they go to the doctor,
    'cause something is wrong.
  44. And the doctor
    runs a whole battery of tests,
  45. and the tests all come back normal,
    so the patient gets diagnosed as "well".
  46. Only the patient does not feel well.
  47. So she goes to another doctor and
    she starts the whole process over again,
  48. because something is clearly wrong.
  49. And it is wrong,
    it's just not what she thinks.
  50. I used to work in
    a really busy managed care practice,
  51. I was seeing 40 patients a day.
  52. And I would get so freaking frustrated
    with these patients.
  53. They would come in and it was so obvious
    they were really suffering.
  54. And I'd run the tests,
    everything would come back normal,
  55. I'd diagnose them well,
    and they'd look at me like:
  56. No, I'm not well, something's wrong.
  57. And I felt so frustrated because
    I couldn't come up with a diagnosis.
  58. And they just wanted, please God,
    give me a pill.
  59. And there was no pill,
    there's no pill to treat it,
  60. there's no lab test
    to diagnose this epidemic,
  61. there's no vaccine to prevent it,
    no surgery to cut it out.
  62. It wasn't until years later
    that I realized I was suffering
  63. from the same epidemic
    my patients were.
  64. By the time I was 33 years old,
  65. I was your typical physician.
  66. I had succeeded in everything I ever
    wanted to achieve in my life, I thought.
  67. I had all the trappings of success,
    the ocean front house in San Diego,
  68. the vacation home, the boat,
    the big fat retirement account,
  69. so I could be happy
    one day in the future.
  70. I was twice divorced by that point.
  71. I had been diagnosed
    with high blood pressure.
  72. I was taking three medications
    that failed to control my blood pressure
  73. and I had just been diagnosed
  74. with precancerous cells
    of my cervix that needed surgery.
  75. Even more importantly I was so
    disconnected from who I was,
  76. so totally disillusioned with my job,
    so completely spiritually tapped out,
  77. that I didn't even know
    who I was any more.
  78. I'd covered myself up
    with a whole series of masks.
  79. I had the doctor mask, like when you
    put on the white coat,
  80. stand up on a pedestal,
    pretend you got it all together,
  81. you know it all.
  82. And I am also a professional artist,
    so I had the artist mask,
  83. where you've got to be, you know,
    dark and brooding,
  84. mysterious - starving,
    that wasn't me either.
  85. And then I had gotten married
    a third time,
  86. you know, third time is a charm.
  87. So now I've got this dutiful wife mask
    I've gotta wear,
  88. where I've got to get dinner on the table
  89. and make sure
    that I've got the right sexy lingerie on.
  90. And then I got pregnant and all of sudden
  91. there's this huge mummy mask
    you're supposed to wear, right?
  92. You guys know the mummy mask.
  93. You're supposed to instantly
    inherit the gene
  94. that makes you capable of baking the
    perfect cupcake.
  95. That's where I was,
    wearing all those masks,
  96. when my perfect storm hit.
  97. And at this point in my life,
    it was January 2006,
  98. and I gave birth to my daughter
    by C-section,
  99. my sixteen-year-old dog died,
  100. my healthy young brother wound up
    in full-blown liver failure
  101. from the antibiotic Zithromax,
  102. and my beloved father passed away
    from a brain tumor, all in two weeks.
  103. I had just started to take a breath,
    when my husband,
  104. who was the stay home for my newborn,
  105. cut two fingers off his left hand
    with the table saw.
  106. Yeah -
  107. They say when your life falls apart,
    you either grow, or you grow a tumor.
  108. Fortunately for me I decided to grow,
    there was something in me.
  109. SARK called it my "Inner Wise Self",
    which I call your Inner Pilot Light.
  110. It said, "It's time to take the masks off.
    It's time to stop the madness.
  111. It's time to stop doing what you should,
    and start doing what you feel."
  112. And in that moment I knew
    I had to quit my job.
  113. Now, this was a huge deal, right?
    I spent 12 years training to be a doctor
  114. and hundreds of thousands of dollars
  115. and we had all the trappings, you know,
    the house, the mortgage,
  116. all the doctor stuff, right?
  117. My husband was not employed
    and I had a newborn.
  118. I also had to pay a malpractice tail
    to buy my freedom,
  119. a six-figure malpractice tail,
    in case I ever got sued in the future.
  120. So I decided to do it, and God bless
    my husband, who said let's jump together.
  121. And I quit my job
    and I had to sell my house
  122. and liquidate my retirement account
    and move to the country;
  123. and I spent a few months painting
    and writing and licking my wounds.
  124. (Laughter)
    (Applause)
  125. It wasn't until about nine months later,
    everybody was like - nine months!
  126. I'm an OB/GYN!
  127. Nine months later I realized you can quit
    your job but you can't quit your calling.
  128. And I had been called at a very young age,
    I was seven years old,
  129. to the service, the practice,
    the spiritual practice of medicine;
  130. and that calling hadn't gone away.
  131. I had gotten so wounded by the system
    that I didn't even notice it anymore;
  132. but it came back after I had rested
    and healed after a little while.
  133. But I knew I couldn't go back,
    I couldn't be seeing 40 patients a day,
  134. 7,5 minutes with my patients,
    that wasn't why I went to medical school.
  135. So it began this quest, that turned into
    an almost five-year quest now,
  136. to rediscover
    what I loved about medicine.
  137. So that also meant I had to figure out
    what I hated about medicine.
  138. So I started by blaming everybody:
  139. it was the ambulance chasing
    malpractice attorneys;
  140. it's big pharma;
    it's managed care medicine;
  141. it's the insurance company's fault.
  142. Then I thought, oh no,
    it's the reductionist medical system,
  143. we're so, so sub-specialized,
    you know?
  144. I'm an OB/GYN, so I was seeing
    these patients that had pelvic problems.
  145. But I knew that there was something
    bigger than the pelvis
  146. that was causing their issues.
  147. But I hadn't been trained
    to really look at that.
  148. So I thought that's the problem,
    like you go to your doctor,
  149. your pinky finger hurts and he says,
    "I'm sorry, I'm a thumb doctor."
  150. (Laughter)
  151. Nobody's looking at the whole picture.
  152. So I thought integrative medicine
    was the answer.
  153. And so I joined
    an integrative medicine practice,
  154. and it was so much better; I got
    a whole hour with my patients.
  155. I really got to listen to my patients,
  156. we didn't accept
    managed care medical insurance,
  157. so it was really so much better.
  158. And then I still kept bumping up
    against something though,
  159. because now if you came in
    and you were depressed
  160. we were giving you herbs and amino acids
    instead of Prozac.
  161. If you had other physical symptoms -
  162. but it was still this allopathic model,
  163. where the answer was outside of you,
  164. and I had to give you
    something that you could take.
  165. So I thought maybe that's not the problem,
    maybe I need to look outside of that
  166. and find new tools
    for my healing toolbox.
  167. So I started working
    with all these complementary
  168. and alternative health care providers,
  169. whom I love, acupuncturists,
    naturopaths and nutritionists.
  170. And I started treating my patients
    with needles in their energy meridians
  171. and raw foods, and that was great.
  172. But I kept bumping up
    against the same thing:
  173. patients would get better from one symptom
  174. and if we didn't treat the root cause
  175. of why they had
    that physical symptom in first place,
  176. they just wound up getting a new symptom.
  177. So at this point I was both
    really frustrated and really curious,
  178. and I started down this path
    of trying to figure out
  179. what really makes a body healthy,
  180. and what really makes us sick.
  181. And I dug into the medical literature
    and spent a year researching
  182. all of the randomized controlled
    clinical trials out there.
  183. And I decided this is it,
    I'm going to figure it out,
  184. I'm going to find the answer.
  185. And I spent hours in the library,
    researching, reading, studying.
  186. What I found blew my frigging mind,
  187. stuff nobody ever taught me
    in medical school.
  188. All the things we think of as health,
    all the things we think matter, they do.
  189. It matters that you exercise,
    it matters that you eat well,
  190. it matters that you see the doctor.
  191. But nobody taught me that what
    really matters is healthy relationships,
  192. having a healthy professional life,
  193. expressing yourself creatively,
  194. being spiritually connected,
  195. having a healthy sex life,
  196. being healthy financially,
  197. living in a healthy environment,
  198. being mentally healthy,
  199. and of course all the things
    we traditionally associate with health,
  200. also matter,
    all the things that nurture the body.
  201. The data on this is unbelievable.
  202. Lots of it is not in
    the traditional journals that you read,
  203. that doctors read, a lot of it's
    in the psychological literature,
  204. the sociological literature.
  205. But if you look deep, this is in
    The New England Journal of Medicine,
  206. it's in The Journal of the
    American Medical Association,
  207. it's coming out of Harvard and Yale
    and Johns Hopkins.
  208. This is real data proving
    that these things are just as important,
  209. if not more.
  210. I had this patient, she's a raw vegan,
  211. she runs marathons,
    she takes 20 supplements a day,
  212. she sleeps eight hours a night,
    she does everything her doctor tells her,
  213. she's got a chart this fat, and
    she's still got multiple health problems.
  214. So she had heard about my philosophy,
    I had started practicing with my patients,
  215. and I had an intake form
    that's about 20 pages long
  216. and it asks about all those things,
    relationships, work life, spiritual life,
  217. creative life, sex life,
    all of these things that make you whole.
  218. So she came and she filled out her form
    and she said,
  219. "Doctor, what's my diagnosis?"
  220. And I said, "Honey, your diagnosis
    is you're in a freaking abusive marriage.
  221. You hate your job,
    you feel creatively thwarted,
  222. you're spiritually disconnected,
  223. and you haven't let go of that resentment
    you have against your father
  224. who molested you as a child.
  225. Your body is never gonna get well
    until you heal that."
  226. So if taking care of the body isn't
    the most important part of being healthy,
  227. what is?
  228. It's caring for the mind,
    caring for the heart,
  229. caring for the soul,
  230. tapping into what I call
    your Inner Pilot Light.
  231. Now your pilot light is that part of you,
    that essence,
  232. that authentic, deep, true part of you,
    that spiritual, divine spark
  233. that always knows what's right for you.
  234. You're born with it,
    it goes with you when you die,
  235. and it always knows
    the truth about you and your body.
  236. It comes to you in whispers;
    it's your intuition;
  237. it's that beautiful part of you
    that is your biggest fan;
  238. the part that writes you love letters.
  239. And that is the biggest healer
    you can tap into,
  240. better than any medicine,
    better than any doctor.
  241. So based on everything that I learned,
    I developed a new wellness model.
  242. And it was based,
    not on the pie charts and pyramids
  243. that many of the wellness models
    I had studied were based on.
  244. I based it on the cairn.
  245. Have you guys seen these things
    around San Francisco?
  246. These stacks of balanced stones,
    I love them, I've always loved them.
  247. I'm an artist,
    so it appeals to me visually.
  248. But I love the interdependence.
    Every stone is dependent on the other;
  249. you can't just pull one stone out
    without the whole thing crumbling.
  250. And the stone that's most precarious
    is the one on top.
  251. That's the body,
    that's where I think of the body.
  252. The body is the stone on top.
  253. When any of the facets of
    what makes you whole get out of balance,
  254. the body is the first to start whispering,
  255. and the foundation stone
    is your Inner Pilot Light,
  256. that true essence of you,
    that vulnerable, transparent part of you.
  257. So based on that, I created this model,
    that I call the Whole Health Cairn.
  258. And this is what my next book is about.
  259. An it's taking all of the facets
    of what makes you whole;
  260. it's about self-healing from the core,
    and once you recognize this,
  261. then you have all the tools you need
    to start your own healing journey.
  262. So all of the facets of
    what makes you whole are surrounded
  263. by what I call the healing bubble.
  264. This is love and gratitude and pleasure.
  265. And science proves
    that all of those things
  266. are good for your health as well; they are
    the glue that hold everything together.
  267. So I challenge you.
    If you have any physical symptom,
  268. if you're suffering from the epidemic
    that plagues the developed world,
  269. I want you to ask yourself,
    "What's the real reason I'm sick
  270. or suffering, what's out of balance
    in my whole health cairn?"
  271. What's the real diagnosis
    and what can you do about it?
  272. How can you be more transparent?
  273. How can you open yourself up
    to more possibility?
  274. How can you be more honest with yourself
    about what you need and who you are?
  275. If any of you were lucky enough to see
    Brene Brown's awesome TEDTalk
  276. about the power of vulnerability -
  277. I see a lot of nodding heads, I love it -
  278. it's so fabulous, but it talks about
    the science behind being true,
  279. being vulnerable, being transparent.
  280. It generates love and intimacy
    which increases oxytocin and endorphins,
  281. and reduces harmful stress hormones
    like cortisol and adrenaline.
  282. When we let our true self be seen,
    when we let our Inner Pilot Light radiate,
  283. we heal from the inside out
  284. and it's more powerful than anything
    medicine can give you from the outside.
  285. So I challenge you to write
    the prescription for yourself.
  286. No doctor can do this for you.
    We can give you drugs,
  287. we can give you surgery,
    and sometimes you need that,
  288. that's the jump-start
    of the self-healing process.
  289. But to heal to the core, so that
    you don't develop new symptoms,
  290. so you don't need another surgery --
    you gotta write your own prescription.
  291. So I ask you, "What is it that you need,
    what does your body need to get healthy?
  292. What is it that you need to change,
    What needs to be tweaked in your life?"
  293. If you knew
    that stripping off all of your masks
  294. and letting us see
    that beautiful light within you,
  295. was the solution to your health problems,
    would you be willing to do it?
  296. I dare you.
  297. It just might make
    your body ripe for miracles.
  298. Thank you.
  299. (Applause)