Tuesday, December 23, 2008
A friend of mine I will call Tigger has a hard time with high and low moods, and with sleep. Over the years he has been tried on all sorts of "cocktails," mixes of medications. I remember recommending melatonin taken when you're ready for bed and propped up with a calming book; it works for me as long as I turn the light out on the second yawn (it's possible to override it). But it didn't work for him. Nothing did. He slept intermittently at best, and almost always woke up with a headache.
Recently, a doctor noted how low his blood pressure runs, 90/60, and recommended he increase his salt intake. I know from experience that BP that low makes you feel tired; when I had that, I got dizzy standing up, or just rolling over in bed. Tigger is trying this treatment, and reports that his headaches are diminished. He thinks it makes sense that the brain needs adequate blood flow to dream and refresh during the night.
Increasing salt is not for everyone, not for me, for instance, with kidney disease, and no one should do it without knowing how their BP runs, and monitoring the results. I'm not writing to recommend this treatment, but to point out how very individual we are, with our own unique set of sensitivities and needs.
And slso to note that "holistic health" is not just a catchphrase. We are intimately connected with ourselves, you might say. Every part of us affects every other part. The way to stay healthy is to know ourselves, our personal needs, and how we are affected by other people, weather, foods, exercise - everything. And it is true that no one else can know you as intimately as you can know yourself. That's why no one else can heal you, though there are many ways to provide comfort, nourishment, and encouragement.
There are various ways to study the self, including medical tests and keeping a daily health log (which Andrew Weil recommends). And there's meditation, the kind we call zazen, in which we simply sit with and enjoy our breathing, our sensations, and thoughts, paying attention to ourselves like loving parents. This has led me to the best treatment for my own headaches, since a kidney patient can safely take very few drugs - patience. This too will pass. I have learned that my headaches often (not always) just step in for a short visit, and then, like so many of our demons, move on.