Treating eye conditions with integrative medicine

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Every person should have a care team with multiple practitioners, said Marc Grossman, OD, LAc at the 2022 Integrative Healthcare Symposium in New York City.

Grossman, a holistic eye doctor and acupuncturist who maintains Natural Eye Care, a private practice in New Paltz, New York, talked about integrated approaches to vision care.

Grossman has been in practice for 41 years and said, if you don’t have a philosophy of health, a philosophy of vision, then you don’t have a foundation.  

All disease in the body and eyes, deal with relationships, Grossman said. When you have an imbalance in relationships, that’s when you have the disease, with the eyes, in particular, he said. The eyes are tools for the mind.

He said there is an eyesight epidemic and by 2050, half the people in the world will be nearsighted. Vision is where we hold so much tension, Grossman said.

He pointed to modern technology that can take pictures underneath the retina and optic nerve. Glaucoma or macular degeneration can be detected now five years before they exist.

The ocular microbiome was also discussed. For many eye conditions, Grossman said he always tell patients the gut has to be checked. Macular degeneration is a nutritional responsive condition and Grossman referred to another optometrist who called it starvation of the retina. Focusing on the microbiome and gut can influence your eyes.

He also talked about nutrition. While kale is the number one food for the eyes, it must be organic to avoid pesticides, according to Grossman. Orange peppers have the highest degree of zeaxanthin for macular generation and cataracts. Dark berries are most important for the eyes as they are high in phytonutrients. They build up the integrity of the eye’s blood vessel walls. In addition, avocados significantly increase beta-carotene absorption 6.6 times.

Hydration is also important because it keeps eyes from becoming dehydrated. Grossman recommends drinking four ounces of water every 30 minutes. Sleep is also critical. Sleep deprivation can cause adrenal fatigue.

Myopia can be slowed down by going outside. Grossman said to stand in dirt, go to the ocean, and breathe in more oxygen. The average child spends just over four hours a week outside, while they spend 11 hours a day on digital devices. “If that’s not an imbalance, nothing is,” Grossman said.

Grossman said he’s been working on vibrational medicine in the past year. When you raise people’s vibrational level, disease can’t get in, he said. Increasing vibration in the body can include tuning forks, sound therapy, essential oils, flower essences, and nutrition.

Phase angle is a way of checking the integrity of the cell membrane. The higher the phase angle, the less disease can get in, Grossman said.

Guided imagery helps patients before any surgeries because he said recovery will improve.

The fish pose in yoga helps to counter balance the slumping working on a computer or laptop.

Grossman shared a story about conducting EMDR with a patient. The patient began to get flashbacks.  Trauma is held in cellular memory and EMDR can help get it out. Trauma can have an effect on the eyes and increases risk for autoimmune and chronic diseases.

The most important thing, Grossman said, are hugs. It increases oxytocin levels which in response, boosts the immune response. He recommends hugging for 20 seconds, even in the age of the pandemic.

“Get your hugs as much as you can,” he said.