Yesterday I had the delight of a day trip to the New York Botanical Gardens and I was fortunate to be able to hear a lecture by Andrew Weil, M.D. Dr. Weil opened the New York Botanical Garden’s Wild Medicine Exhibition and was honored with the first Henry Hurd Rusby Award for Excellence in Ethnobotany.
I have followed Dr. Weil’s work since the 90s and always find his points of view in line with my thinking. Today’s lecture was no different. Even though the Wild Medicine Exhibit is partly sponsored by Pfizer, a major pharmaceutical company, that did not stop Dr. Weil from having his say about how today’s medicine and pharma rely on singular compounds produced in laboratories as opposed to utilizing healing plants from around the world that have long proven effective.
His lecture was well-balanced yet clearly he speaks from his integrative approach to medicine and his work at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona. He is the founder and director and trains physicians in integrative medicine. He sees the benefit of modern medicine, particularly for acute conditions but he says that our reliance on this medicine does not allow our bodies to find homeostasis again.
He gave the example of the class of anti-depressants known as serotonin re-uptake inhibitors explaining that indeed these anti-depressants increase serotonin and decrease depression but in the long term, the body loses it’s ability to produce serotonin properly creating a dependence on the drug. This is not news. We have been reading about this for years. But it doesn’t stop the pharmaceutical companies from producing the drug and selling it, and it doesn’t stop physicians from over-prescribing . He gave other examples but as a mental health practitioner, the anti-depressant example particularly resonated.
Getting back to our medicinal roots
In essence, Dr. Weil illustrated that we need to get back to our medicinal roots and treat our bodies from a multi-dimensional perspective, using all the tools we have available, both old and new.
Following the lecture, we visited the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory and took a tour of healing plants from around the world. The pictures to the right are just a sampling of the spectacular flora and fauna I saw!