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JOANNE PIZZINO, MD
PRACTICAL YUM

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JOANNE PIZZINO, MD, MPH

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Joanne Pizzino, MD, MPH, Health&Healing Medical Editor, is board-certified in Preventive Medicine and diplomate-certified in Integrative Medicine. After her own self-empowered healing epiphany in 1997, she has empowered people to live healthier through both Eastern and Western medicine, ancient and ultra-high-tech healing.

What Is Self-Empowered Healing?

By Joanne Pizzino, MD, MPH
Medical Editor of Health&Healing

Nearly every health care system, from the ancient to the most high-tech, is built on a basic assumption held by almost every human: “I need something outside of me to fix me.” Whether it is a pill (medication or vitamin), procedure (acupuncture or surgery), or provider (chiropractor or energy healer)—we all tend to rely on something outside of ourselves when we sense something wrong inside of ourselves.

Dr. Pizzino

And, often, we do need help on our healing journey. Nonetheless, the only real healing comes from the inside. Simply stated, self-empowered healing is defined as those actions over which we have at least as measure of personal control. Despite our desires to control many things outside of ourselves, these fall into only three general areas: what we consume (food, water, medications, supplements, recreational drugs, alcohol, etc.); what we do with our bodies (exercise, dance, sports, where we live, sex, etc.); and what we do with our minds (thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, etc.) Self-Empowered Healing contains the many scientifically researched methods each of us can use to take charge of these three areas of personal control. 

Homeostasis

Our bodies are designed with an awesome, elegant system of checks and balances that constitute the innate (or “self”) healing mechanism. Technically, this is called homeostasis. Without it, no healing actually happens. In fact, symptoms are merely the alarm bells going off that something has disrupted the entirely subconscious mechanisms of homeostasis.

We don’t need to think about most of the things our bodies do, from beating our hearts to digesting our food to processing toxins, therefore, they are below the level of consciousness. And every health remedy or procedure is merely designed to help take advantage of innate healing systems to get the body back into balance. If the fundamentals of homeostasis are not there, the most heroic intensive care treatments will not restore what is lacking. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us this so clearly, with its most severely affected victims being those who entered the pandemic with poor health. Many of these pre-existing conditions have roots in things we can control, that is, things of which we can empower ourselves to take charge.

Self-Empowered Healing

Although all this innate healing is going on below the level of our conscious minds, we actually can tap into influencing that internal process. Self-Empowered Healing includes the enormous body of research on what lifestyle choices can change within our bodies. It is well-documented that improving nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress management can heal serious diseases from heart disease to cancer to dementia, as well as improve mental health, aid longevity and more. While there is a mind-boggling array of information about control areas 1 and 2 above, you rarely hear about the science of how to control your mind to affect your physical health (number 3 above.)

Despite nearly every aspect of the body’s innate healing mechanisms being subconscious, we can still measure many different parameters to let us know how they are doing. And, amazingly, those measurements help us see how we can actually control these things with our minds. These are the tools of biofeedback, which also includes brainwave control, or neurofeedback. For instance, these “vital signs” tell us what is going on with the autonomic nervous system (ANS) (sympathetic and parasympathetic), and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) pathways. We can measure heart rate variability, which is very correlated with health measures by decades of research. 

For over a quarter of a century, I have been studying these methods of how our brains work and the various methods that apply this science to healing our bodies. In addition, I have learned and applied myriad ways to influence our bodies through lifestyle choices. Often, it turns out what we are doing with our minds very much influences whether we are successful in making the lifestyle changes. With this knowledge, I now guide people in Self-Empowered Healing, helping them choose and utilize various techniques to harness every aspect of personal control over health conditions which often feel as if we have no control.