Healing Connections

Glen Monks
Written by Glen Monks

Exploring the Interplay of Functional Medicine & Community Wellness

Thank you for allowing me to share my interest in Mind-Body Matters. I hope some of the content empowers you to practice self-care and compassion for the sake of yourself, your community, and the planet.

Before we begin, I suggest you do not take this work as a ‘to-do list’ that adds to your daily load.

Instead, see it as an invitation to breathe life into the parts that resonate with your current state of play.

But who am I to share this commentary with you?

Well, I’m a functional medicine practitioner interested in stress-related illness and its many nuances. Let’s just say I’ve been through my fair share of challenges. Knowing that the intention I’ve set before you is one of trust, healthy validation, and authenticity means you are in safe hands.

Through Functional Medicine, we have the tools to heal multiple communities. For this to happen, we must first address the fragmentation of modern sick care and become open to a multi-system approach to healthcare.

Health Preservation Over Sick-care

The new model for community wellness begins with education around self-care, compassion fatigue, and treating the cause of an individual’s suffering, not just their symptoms.

We now know that mental health means more than just managing anxiety and depression. To fully understand a person’s mental state requires a deep dive into their psychopathology – their mental history. And, because we are social creatures, this often means unravelling interpersonal relationships.

We cannot escape the fact that humans thrive when we connect with one another and nature.

On the other hand, relational entanglement is the most debilitating feeling humans ever experience.

Due to lifestyle and dietary changes, the liberal use of recreational drugs, pharmaceuticals, and modern-day stressors, millennials have higher rates of long-term illness than previous generations.

Chronic health conditions pose a substantial threat to work productivity and our care system. When things go wrong, the consensus is to go to the Doctor for a quick fix. However, the prescription of pharmaceuticals over lifestyle medicine feeds the problem. As current healthcare barely meets demands, we must educate our population to seek radical self-care over disease management. This is more than a message about eating ‘5 a day.’ It is a movement driven by logic.

From Distress to Eustress

Stress is the root of all biological and neurological imbalances that lead to disease. The travesty of modern ‘so-called efficient’ living is that we are losing our instincts to the cost of stress-related illness.

Connected throughout the body-mind, our nervous system runs the show. The problem is that the modern vagus nerve, the part of your nervous system that impacts digestion, blood pressure, heart rate variability, and many other survival functions, is being over-primed.

When constantly threatened, the vagus nerve becomes hyper-responsive to signs of danger, causing it to lose tone and become dysfunctional. In the short term, this valuable safety mechanism is a lifesaver, but it can damage our health through the pounding of time.

In addition, medical anthropologists have discovered that modern man is considerably more loaded with environmental toxins than our ancestors. Allopathic medications and vaccines aside, the toxins in our homes and the food we consume mean our brains and immune signalling patterns are stuck in overdrive. Couple this with unhealthy relationship bonding and insecure attachments, and there’s no wonder why many humans are on the brink of self-destruction.

We are Never the Finished Article

So, stress impacts us on many levels, from the food we eat to how we behave and move. No matter what we do, stress or the desire to move away from stress has become our fundamental driver. Our job, therefore, is to learn to transition from distress to eustress as efficiently as possible; this will increase our longevity as a species.

Reorienting the life lessons society imposes on us is to liberate ourselves and reinvigorate our primal instincts. This God-given, naturally balanced state requires only one teacher. Mother Nature gives our cells the power to grow, divide, and die optimally. Through food, movement, rest, and play, we can prevent the epidemic of autoimmunity and neurodegeneration our population faces. However, human longevity is a qualitative process, not a quantitative one. There’s no sense in living longer unless we are fulfilled by life.

A mantra I like to remember is: ‘We are never the finished article.’

So, how do we get back to our intercultural roots & out of this modern bandwidth?

We are complex creatures living in a complex modern structure. We are multiple shades of being with many needs, desires, and expectations. We live in a sea of noise, where the vibration of nature is drowned out by our inner critical voices, aches, pains, and frustrations, which often reflect what others project onto us. Yet, we long to get back to our roots.

Ancient peoples knew of the vibrational healing power of Mother Nature long before language became our common denominator. This may explain why we sometimes use the world vibe to describe our connection to others.

Since the COVID pandemic, we humans have lost the ability to vibe with one another. The wave of trauma that spread across the globe triggered the psychopathology of mankind. For the first time ever, we experienced the ripples of globalised fear throughout our communities.

Treating Trauma & Addiction Differently

While modern pharmacology treats trauma on an individual basis with stimulants or blocking agents, it rarely addresses the root of how trauma came into being. From a systems-based approach, trauma occurs as a result of an emotional, physical, or psychological insult. When the external stimulus presents as too much, too fast, or too soon, specific pathways in the brain shut down to protect us.

Importantly, trauma is not something that exists in the event itself. A single event is not inherently traumatic or not. Trauma emerges due to how our body and nervous system respond to the overwhelm of an event. Consequently, trauma creates a sense of experiential fragmentation. Thus, our internal sense of collective coherence is disrupted. Compound this with time, span it across a community, and you have a crisis.

Functional Medicine is a system-based approach that seeks to restore a patient’s experience to wholeness, one felt sense at a time. The process requires compassion and understanding, and due to the complexity of life, there is no single blueprint.

Photo by Rémi Walle on Unsplash

Future healthcare protocols will prove that the root of today’s crisis is our push to become more efficient as a species without recognising that each person has a unique pathophysiology that requires individual care and support. There is no single solution pill or protocol for healing our communities.

Education is the only lasting medicine we can provide.

Main – Photo by Matt Nelson on Unsplash