The Center for Mind-Body Medicine

Announcements

Dear friends,

I wanted to make a few short announcements:

1. I hope you’ve had the chance to see my PBS special, “Unstuck with Dr. James S. Gordon.” We’ve had a good response so far, and I appreciate those of you who have written to tell me how much you’ve enjoyed it. Check your local station for any remaining listings (we’re coming to the end of its scheduled season) and if you haven’t been able to view it, because it’s a pledge show, it is available as a pledge gift (the proceeds of which go to support both PBS and The Center for Mind-Body Medicine) online at local stations’ websites or pledge call centers, or else we are hoping/planning for it to be aired again and on more stations in March 2010.

2. I wanted to let you know that my piece, “Care for the Caregivers: Preventing Future Fort Hoods” on the importance of supporting military caregivers as they care for troops pre- and post-deployment, is now featured in the Huffington Post living section–here’s an excerpt:

As we prepare to send a “surge” of 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, we must look urgently and squarely at the mental health as well as the military and political consequences of our deployment. This means preparing American men and women to deal as effectively as they can with the fear and confusion that battle will bring and with the sometimes ambiguous life-and-death decisions . . .

Check out the whole post here! I’d love to know what you think.

3. Some of you may know I’m traveling to the Middle East this week to see the Israeli Training Center for Mind-Body Skills and to support our Gaza team as they oversee the second phase of training for 150  more clinicians, who will offer our healing model to traumatized children and adults in the Gaza strip and great expand our efforts in the region (which have already helped more than 20,000 people!).

I’m going to be blogging as often as I can during this experience, so look out for more posts this week to keep up with my travels!

All my best,

Jim

New PBS Dates!

I’m pleased to announce that my PBS special based on Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression has been picked up on so many stations, that we had to make a new calendar available! (I announced in my last post that the dates were in my web calendar here.)

I’m so excited for you to see the great show the crew at PBS put together, and for you to learn the basic biology of stress and its effect on your body and mind, and I hope you get some wonderful relief (which you and/or your family probably need, right now) through the simple mind-body techniques which I will teach you on the air.

SO–please note, the list of my PBS “Unstuck” Special dates on the calendar here is not complete.  Find a more complete list here in PDF form, and now there’s also a partial list available at the KPBS website.

More dates are being announced every day, so check your local listings for the most up-to-date information, and support your local PBS station this year for all their great programming!

Prison Transformations Letter and PBS Unstuck!

Hello Friends,

Here’s a letter to the editor published in the New York Times:

NYT logo

LETTER

Prison Transformations

To the Editor:

Re “Fellow Inmates Ease Pain of Dying in Jail, and Glimpse New Life” (“Months to Live” series, front page, Oct. 18):

What a tender, important story. Prisoners who commit generous acts toward dying fellow inmates awaken to their own capacity for love and, in the process, come to feel regret and compassion for those they have harmed.

I have seen this again and again in groups my colleagues and I lead overseas for war-traumatized children and adults and here at home for American troops who have been maimed and bereaved by combat. Fantasies of revenge dissolve, knots of resentment loosen.

These inmates’ stories tell us that we must make such opportunities for change available to prisoners whom we have abandoned as irredeemable. The lessons these transformations teach us are priceless.

James S. Gordon
Washington, Oct. 20, 2009

The writer is a psychiatrist and the founder and director of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine.

Also, don’t forget that my PBS fundraising special based on Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression will be airing nationally at the end of the month!PBS UnstuckSpecial

Take a look at my calendar (right column) to see if your local station will be carrying it. More dates & stations will be added. We’ll get you more information soon! (If you’re on our mailing lists, it will be delivered to your inbox–signup box is also in the right column.)

In the meantime, here’s the website, and here’s a short trailer via Youtube.

We hope you’ll tune in and support your local Public Broadcasting Station and all their wonderful programming by calling in and pledging during your local run.

Jim

My Everyday Foods

Dear Friends,

Each year at our Food As Medicine conference—it’s coming up November 19-22nd in Miami, is fabulous, and you can find out more here and register by clicking here—our faculty gives a sample daily menu. I thought you might be interested in checking out mine.

Jim

My Everyday Foods

Breakfast: my father, who was a surgeon, used to say (much to the amusement of us kids) that breakfast was the most important meal of the day.   He usually ate his well before 7 so that he could be at the hospital early to operate.  To my surprise, I now keep the same hours (though I don’t do surgery) and have come to value breakfast, which I once rushed through in haste to move on to the day, as a singular pleasure.  I wake very hungry,

stretch for a while (yoga and sometimes Tai Chi), and then prepare a smoothie:

Jim's Breakfast

significant quantities of berries, especially blueberries and raspberries, sweet cherries (generally, all these are frozen and organic) together with fresh fruits that are easily available-bananas, pears, peaches, apples. I use soy or hemp milk (I’ve eliminated cow’s milk and gluten from my diet) and add a couple of scoops of Metagenics UltraInflam which contains some herbs (e.g., turmeric and rosemary) as well as other nutrients that help to reduce inflammation (I’ve got sore knees).

Also, I drink a cup of black tea (decaf).

Lunch: Peanut butter is a lunch staple–usually on rice crackers. I also have raw carrots and hummus. I go out to lunch sometimes at local Asian restaurants and may have some sushi. (I try to remember to bring my wheat-less soy sauce.)

Dinner: If I’m cooking for myself, it’s usually pretty rudimentary–corn, potatoes, tomatoes sautéed with onions and garlic, coriander, chili peppers, sometimes with beans.

Occasionally, I’ll have turkey sausage with it. If I go out, which I do a fair amount of the time, I’ll start with a salad, have the fish dish which most appeals to me at that moment, and then maybe some sherbet for dessert.

salad & fish

For treats, I like the Purely Decadent coconut milk “Ice Creams”-especially Chocolate Obsession, Pomegranate Chip and Passionate Mango (the names add a certain something as well).

Jim's treats

That is, of course, if my wonderful and over-worked assistants haven’t eaten them in a frenzy of stress reduction.

Again, that web page to check out our Food As Medicine Training is here—and check out the fantastic new Food As medicine blog, with recipes, tips, and directions for healthy cooking and eating, here!

good eats

Advances in Cancer Care You Can Count On

Gina Kolata’s April 24, 2009 front page New York Times story (“Advances Elusive in the Drive to Cure Cancer“) on the significant failure of our near-forty-year “war on cancer” provided a sobering and necessary corrective to inflated claims about cures already arrived or just around the corner. Kolata rightly chides those in the pharmaceutical, medical, and health food industries who claim that their approach promises a cure and notes our national failure to fund and launch truly innovative studies. She appropriately takes to task clinicians who use deceptive prognostic terminology: “progression free survival” does not, to the dismay of people who are so labeled, mean longer survival. On the other hand, Kolata’s actual or implied dismissal of the potent preventive and therapeutic power of diet and exercise, and of the role that attitude, mood, and social support can play in enhancing quality of life and perhaps prolonging survival, is ill-informed and potentially dangerous.

Though there is indeed some disagreement about the value of “high-fiber or low-fat” [my underlining] diets woman flexes armin preventing cancers of various kinds, there is a general consensus, shared by the National Cancer Institute, that diet plays a significant role in at least 35-40% of all cancers. In recent years it has become abundantly clear, for example, that obesity has an important role in making us vulnerable to cancer and to its recurrence. And there is considerable evidence that certain kinds of diet can have significant anti-cancer properties and effects: epidemiological studies show that populations with diets high in the omega-3 fats that are present in fish oil have a lower incidence of several cancers; one study published in the Journal of The National Cancer Institute in 2006 shows that reducing dietary fat may increase survival time for women with breast cancer. And then there is the data on specific foods: cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.) have significant, repeatedly observed anticancer effects; tomatoes may help prevent prostate cancer; and soy may be useful for the prevention of breast cancer in premenopausal women.

Kolata does not, curiously, discuss exercise, but appears to marginalize it along with nutrition, as she presents the case of a fit vegetarian woman, Phyllis Kutt, whose breast cancer has recurred. Exercise is not of course a panacea, but it does appear to be a powerful tool in both preventing cancer and forestalling its recurrence. One important study, published in 2005 in The Journal of The American Medical Association , showed that 3-5 hours of walking per week significantly reduced the rate of breast cancer recurrence.

Stress, which Kolata also chooses to ignore, appears to be another important and perhaps remediable factor in hastening recurrence. Though the evidence is still weak that stress causes cancer (the exception may be overwhelming stress, as in bereavement, divorce, or massive trauma), studies are accumulating which show that chronic stress may speed up recurrences. In particular, it appears that high levels of hormones like cortisol that stress produces can inhibit enzymes that would otherwise help protect us against cancer.

Finally, group support, which has also been shown to be so helpful in improving quality of life, though not necessarily (here the data is mixed) extending life, is also given short shrift. Kolata tells a horror story of a support group whose members, apparently unable to deal with their own fears, rejected Kutt and forced her out of the group after her cancer had recurred.

For more than ten years my colleagues and I at The Center for Mind-Body Medicine have accepted the challenge of exploring and clarifying the limitations, as well as the benefits, of conventional cancer care and of bringing an open-minded but critical perspective to therapies that are said to complement or be alternatives to them. We have been training what we call CancerGuides(R)–health and mental health professionals and patient advocates who can provide informed and compassionate guidance to people with cancer and their families as they navigate among the bewildering array of therapeutic options and professional opinions. Our CancerGuides learn to cut through the hype about conventional care as well as complementary and alternative approaches. They work collaboratively with people with cancer and their families to create comprehensive programs of care which include evidence-based nutritional and herbal approaches, exercise, massage, acupuncture, and stress-reducing mind-body techniques as well as appropriate conventional therapies. They learn to help people with cancer put all therapeutic and preventive studies on a “level playing field” in which evidence for every approach, whether called “conventional” or “alternative,” is looked at with the same thoughtful, critical gaze.

The oncology professionals and patient advocates we train (sometimes nonprofessionals who have themselves faced the challenges of cancer and its treatment can be the most discriminating and skillful of guides) help those they are guiding to ask the right, and often hard, questions of their oncologists. We also help these CancerGuides to develop the sensitivity that is necessary to encourage and support each person with cancer to make choices that are appropriate to his or her unique situation.

We teach our trainees mind-body approaches (guided imagery, meditation, biofeedback, yoga, etc.) and expressive therapies (written exercises, drawings, and movement) that are so helpful in reducing chronic stress (and levels of stress hormones) and in dealing with the difficult choices and challenges that cancer and its treatment presents. Finally, over time, we train these CancerGuides to lead groups that are genuinely supportive, groups that help people with cancer come to terms with their fears rather than (like Ms. Kutt’s group members) shun those who provoke them, groups where true compassion trumps emotional convenience.

We as a nation have certainly not won the war on cancer. But we have learned over the last forty years that there are things each of us can do to reduce the risk of cancer and, in some instances, slow or forestall its recurrence. We have learned also that acting on our own behalf to create programs in which self-care is integral is, itself, stress-reducing and therapeutic, helping people with cancer to overcome the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that so often debilitate them. And we have found too, as so many people with cancer would testify, that such efforts often become an opening to remarkable self-discovery and psychological and spiritual growth.

There is no silver bullet for most cancers, or sure cure for those whose cancers have advanced. But creating a comprehensive program that includes diet, exercise, stress management, and genuine support, a full array of options critically examined, may offer a measure of scientifically grounded common-sense help from which all of us can take heart.

James S. Gordon, M.D., a psychiatrist, is creator of the CancerGuides(R) training program and Founder and Director of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine. He is the author, with Sharon Curtin, of Comprehensive Cancer Care: The Integrating Alternative, Complementary, and Conventional Therapies and of Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression.

Read more about the upcoming CancerGuides training, June 11-14th in Washington DC

New York Times Article by Kolata
2006 NCI Report on Dietary Fat & Cancer
2005 JAMA study on Exercise and Cancer
2008 Study, Stress Hormones Inhibit Tumor Suppression

As appeared on The Huffington Post

CancerGuides Training in DC in June

Dear Friends,

Our exciting training program, CancerGuides® II will be offered June 11-14, here in DC (along with Food As Medicine). You can help us as we offer our groundbreaking, integrative trainings by telling everyone you know about the programs, posting the fliers in your offices and clinics, handing them out on the street, etc. etc. Download a flier here.

CancerGuidesA quick note: CancerGuides II is absolutely appropriate and accessible for cancer survivors and their families, not only for professionals. Everyone will have the opportunity to meet leaders in the field of integrative care, and to get the most up-to-date practical information–about nutrition, yoga, massage, Chinese medicine, and cutting-edge alternative therapies among many other topics. We would love to see you there, and there are generous partial scholarships available. Check out the website (see above) to learn more.

I hope you understand that you all – staff and faculty, along with our Board, and all those who support and participate in our programs – are the foundation for all we do, the juice that keeps nourishing our work, nourishing me, and helping us to grow. I’m so eager to hear from you and to see you soon, or to meet you for the first time at one of our exciting upcoming trainings.

With love,
Jim

Interview on "Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression", on The Broad Perspective

James S. Gordon, M.D. Interview on “Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression”, on The Broad Perspective with Vivian Komori
Location: Internet Radio, Friday April 10, 2009

This week on The Broad Perspective™:
We have  Dr. James S. Gordon, MD,  Psychiatrist and author of “Unstuck, Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression”

 “Depression is not a disease”. With this simple but revolutionary assertion, James S. Gordon, M.D., a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and a pioneer in integrative medicine, challenges the perceived wisdom on how depression is viewed and treated.  He goes on to explain that depression “is a sign that our lives are out of balance, that we’re stuck.  It’s a wake-up call and the start of a journey that can help us become whole and happy, a journey that can change and transform our lives.”  During our program Dr Gordon will discuss and powerfully illustrate how to heal depression without the use of antidepressants and outlines the practical steps we can take to exert control over our own lives. 

Radio show airs each Friday at 11:00 AM PST (2:00 PM EST) on 1380AM (based in Palmdale CA)

If you are unable to tune in on your radio, you can stream it live on your computer and tune in. 

1.  Go to http://www.highdesertbroadcasting.com/

2.  Click on “News Talk 1380 Radio”

3.  Click on “Listen Live” Banner

Hey, too busy to listen during the day? Now listen anytime you want, day or night. Just click on over to www.thebroadperspective.com  This is where you will find all of the show archives from our earliest broadcast to our most recent ones.

Lecture at Urban Zen Focus on Nutrition: Nutrition in Hospitals

Title: Lecture at Urban Zen Focus on Nutrition: Nutrition in Hospitals
Location: Stephan Weiss Studio, 705 Greenwich St. NYC 10014

Description: This discussion will focus on the nutritional standards of food provided to patients in hospitals. Sadly, these standards have been notoriously weak. Malnutrition among patients has been identified in numerous studies and hospital food is frequently cited as insufficiently nourishing. This presentation will address what can be done to improve hospital food: nutrition to aid healing and improve health outcomes.
With Roberta Lee, MD.

For more info, see www.urbanzen.org/news/

Start Time: 10:45 AM EST
Date: April 17, 2009
End Time: 11:45 AM ESt

Healing in Israel

March 2, 2009

I’m returning to the Middle East after 9 months away, in the wake of the War in Gaza and the ongoing shelling of the south of Israel by Hamas. Read about our mission here.

Our team is in Israel for 4 days: Amy, who runs our program of clinical supervision for our Israeli and Palestinian faculty. Dan and Lee-Ann, who coordinate both programs on the US side and Afrim and Jusuf, psychiatrists from Kosovo, whom I first met when they we’re refugees in Macedonia during the 1999 NATO bombing of Kosovo. Amy and I have worked together for 10 years. Afrim and Jusuf are like brothers. It seems that Dan and I have been everywhere together, and Lee-Ann, our newest member, has done a fabulous job with logistics for the trip.

We hit the ground running, heading to Sderot, which has been shelled from Gaza for 8 years, as soon as we wake up on the first morning after our arrival. Naftali, our Israel program director, (we’ve trained some 300 health and mental health professionals in Israel over the last 5 years), is doing the driving, and will be introducing us to colleagues who are dealing with the ongoing trauma in Israel’s south.

First stop: the SCIENCE AND RELIGIOUS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, a meeting with the principal, Dina Chouri as well as Miri Asoulin, a teacher who has come through part of our training program and heads up the “Havens of Calm” program. “Havens of Calm” is a room apart from the school with bean bag chairs, crayons, games, a place for kids to come express their feelings and simply hang out when they need to. Miri is exactly the kind of teacher you wish your children had-or wish you might have had yourself. She has the kind of smile that erases all the doubts you have about your own worthiness, that makes you feel that everything you do is not just alright, but really really interesting.

Over the last 7 years, while shells fell in and around Sderot, perhaps 60 percent of the kids used the “Havens of Calm” room. During the recent war, and in its aftermath, everyone does.”

“For a long time,” Miri tells us, “the children have been nervous and angry; they have trouble sleeping and are wetting their beds. Now, from the time the war began, there are new symptoms. Now the children tend to find scapegoats. One class had an election for what classmate they wanted to most to be dead. They cannot fight against the rockets, so the anger has to go somewhere,” she says.

“In the beginning,” a psychologist who consults with the school, added, “the children were crying and anxious. Now, sometimes, they go into a total freeze when the red alert (the signal that a Qassam rocket is about to fall). One eight year old girl’s body was like a stone. She couldn’t move her hands or feet for four hours.”

Miri and a number of the other teachers and counselors in this and other Sderot schools find the techniques they learned from The Center for Mind-Body Medicine to be enormously helpful for themselves-for they too work, and often live, amidst the falling rockets-and for the kids. She shows us pictures that the children have done of huge rockets falling on their town and of Gaza burning.

The children seem more hopeful, but their parents are not. In Sderot, and in nearby Shaar Ha Negev, we hear voices of distress and disillusionment. “The people felt strong during the war,” one psychologist tells us. “They thought the rocket attacks from Gaza would be over. But now the war is finished, and still we have Qassams almost every day. What was the point?”

More to come.

Teleclass: "An Introduction to Mind-Body Health"

Title: Teleclass: “An Introduction to Mind-Body Health”
Location: http://www.mblwellness.com/about-Best-of-Stress-Management/teleclass.htm
Description: This introductory teleclass is perfect for beginners who want to learn about mind-body health and how simple relaxation exercises can improve their health. Participants will receive a free “Mind-Body Mini Kit,” which includes a downloadable audio meditation, a video on stress, and written materials. Participants can also listen to the class on the internet.
Start Time: 08:30:00pm EST
Date: 2008-11-12

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