As close collaborator and Scientific Advisor to Dr. Andrew Weil, Tieraona Log Dog, MD has played a key role in the development of Dr. Andrew Weil’s Seasonal Therapeutics™, an innovative new program for clinicians which teaches seasonally appropriate integrative strategies
As close collaborator and Scientific Advisor to Dr. Andrew Weil, Tieraona Log Dog, MD has played a key role in the development of Dr. Andrew Weil’s Seasonal Therapeutics™, an innovative new program for clinicians which teaches seasonally appropriate integrative strategies using a science-based, nature oriented approach. We recently caught up with Dr. Low Dog and had the opportunity to learn more about this program and her upcoming workshop on treating the liver and gastrointestinal issues with this truly integrative approach. Here is what she had to say:
Dr. Low Dog, at what point in your life did you begin to view health and wellness holistically? How did you recognize this calling?
When I was a young girl, maybe 6 or 7, my grandmother told me that when we are born, we are set upon a path and that path is our medicine road. That everything we do in our lives – the food we eat, the thoughts we think, the words we say, the way we treat other people – is medicine. It is the manner in which we walk upon our path that determines the quality of our lives. I’m not sure I’ve ever thought about life, or health, any other way. I was deeply drawn to the plants beginning in my teens, a passion that still remains. I worked in health food stores and food-coops, founded an herb company and ran a two-year training program for herbalists. I studied midwifery, massage and martial arts in my twenties and went to medical school in my thirties. Each of these ancient arts fed my hunger and curiosity to more fully understand what it means to be healed and whole. Today I serve as the Fellowship Director for the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine where I am able to assist physicians and nurse practitioners as they explore these same questions.
Who has inspired you the most in regards to your work in the healing arts?
That’s impossible to answer. I am able to offer what I do because of the generous sharing, mentoring, and encouragement that were freely given to me by friends, family, colleagues, and teachers. From the martial artists who helped me train my body and discipline my mind, to the midwives, herbalists, physicians and patients who showed me the wonder and magic of birth, plants, medicine and compassion – my life has been richly blessed. But my true inspiration came from Nature herself. It was within her deserts and mountains that I was able to hear my calling and the love of my family that gave me the strength and courage to follow it.
The topic for the upcoming August event you are presenting, Dr. Andrew Weil’s Seasonal Therapeutics™ –Autumn: The Season of Harvest, is referred to as a science based, nature-oriented approach to health. Can you tell us about what you’re hoping to share with practitioners at this event?
Seasonal Therapeutics is an innovate program that blends integrative medicine with chronobiology, the science and study of biological rhythms. We have honored the importance of nature’s rhythms for thousands of years. We planted our crops according to the seasons and the phases of the moon. We ate and slept with the rising and setting of the sun. Our physiology is impacted by hot and cold, damp and dry, dark and light. In times past, our lives were intimately intertwined with nature. As we gratefully emerged from the dark and cold of winter, the bitter herbs of spring acted as a natural form of detoxification. The long warm days of summer brought with them an abundance of fresh food and game, as well as vitamin D. Autumn ushered in the harvest. A time of fasting and reflection, as people prepared for the coming of winter. From the fall equinox until the winter solstice, the days will become shorter, the nights longer, the weather cool and dry, and we will spend more time inside. Our skin becomes drier, digestion more sluggish, we are more vulnerable to respiratory infection and our body craves more sleep. To prepare for the challenge of winter, one must cleanse, fortify and strengthen the gastrointestinal system. The GI system is responsible for a number of critical metabolic, nutritional and detoxification processes. Approximately 70-80% of the body’s immune cells are located in and around the gut. The gut-immune-brain connection is well established but often overlooked by clinicians. This daylong intensive will update practitioners on the most current research on how food, dietary supplements, botanical medicines, and mind-body strategies can restore and enhance GI function and learn how they can be easily integrated into practice.
How are seasonally appropriate integrative strategies different from the mainstream, and how do patients benefit?
Modern life, for all its conveniences, has put a tremendous strain on our ancient biology. We use artificial lights to work late into the night and then down caffeine to compensate for lack of sleep. We eat the same foods, or what passes for food, year-round in ever increasing quantities, losing the natural cycles of fasting, purification and restoration. Modern medicine has paid very little attention to the seasonality of disease, though a growing body of research certainly supports its existence. We know that sleep apnea is worse during the winter, irrespective of gender, age, neck circumference and body mass index. Studies have repeatedly shown that gestational hypertension, preeclampsia/eclampsia are most prevalent during the winter months in non-tropical regions and during wet or humid periods in tropical climates. Seasonal affective disorder is most common during autumn and winter. Heart attack mortality is lowest in summer and highest in winter. Campylobacteriosis and salmonellosis have a very distinct summer peak, while respiratory syncytial virus is dominant during autumn and early winter in the U.S. These are just a few examples. Understanding how season and geographical regions impact health would enable clinicians to tailor their prevention and health promotion strategies to help their patients live more closely in sync with their biology and their environment.
What is on the horizon for you? What are you working on now?
My new book National Geographic’s Life is Your Best Medicine is coming out September 2nd, so we’re gearing up for that. I’m still busy teaching, writing and working with the Fellows at the Arizona Center. My husband just finished building a beautiful log and timber schoolhouse on our Medicine Lodge Ranch outside Santa Fe, New Mexico so I can hold classes for those who want to dive deeper into the field of herbal medicine. I don’t spend much time looking too far into the future, there is plenty to do right here and now!
Dr. Low Dog will be presenting the first of Dr. Andrew Weil’s Seasonal Therapeutics™ seminars on Saturday, August 25th in Boston, Massachusetts.
View Dr. Low speaking about Dr. Andrew Weil’s Seasonal Therapeutics™: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Grms7-a0MU