Patients use prayer as part of healing process

Alternative Medicine, General Health
The Chicago Tribune reports, "The relationship between prayer and physical healing has long been the subject of conflicting studies. Some indicate prayer can help, but at least one study concluded that in some cases it can be harmful." Researchers "found that coronary bypass patients who were told strangers were praying for them did worse than those who got no prayers." But, "increasingly ... prayers are being offered by chaplains, doctors, nurses, and social workers. They are recited in hospitals before and after surgery, during treatments, upon admission and discharge, and on the anniversary of a diagnosis." Despite this one negative study, there are not "some" studies showing prayer can help, but hundreds of studies showing a positive association between a wide variety of spiritual interventions (spiritual assessment, prayer, spiritual counseling, etc.) and…
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Yoga: Should Christians Be Concerned?

Alternative Medicine, Mental Health
Yoga is an alternative therapy that raises difficult questions for Christians. The physical and breathing exercises taught in yoga classes may improve general well-being. However, as a deeply religious practice with the goal of union with the divine, it is antitheti- cal to biblical Christianity. In spite of its reputation as a simple calisthen- ics program, reports of physical and spiritual harm continue to surface. A debate between Christian practitioners and opponents of yoga was triggered by Holly Robaina’s 2005 article in Today’s Christian Woman. The author interviewed a woman who was introduced to destructive beliefs through yoga. Ro- baina noted that terms commonly used in “secu- lar” yoga have religious meanings. The “salute to the sun” posture used to begin many classes pays homage to the Hindu sun god,…
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Taking a Spiritual Inventory of Your Healthcare Professional

Bioethics
Take a Spiritual Inventory Finding a doctor and other health care team members who share your spiritual foundation and practices may be crucial for you—and thankfully it’s fairly simple. You can use a spiritual inventory. Doctors are increasingly using spiritual inventories in their care of patients. In fact, when I make presentations at medical centers, medical schools, and professional meetings, the question I most often hear is, How can doctors take useful spiritual inventories of their patients? In the same way a doctor can inquire about a patient’s spiritual beliefs, a patient should feel free to ask about how a doctor’s spiritual beliefs and prac- tices relate to his or her medical care. A winning health care provider should be perfectly willing to let you know where he or she…
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Belief in God Relieves Depression

Bioethics, Mental Health
I wanted you to read an excerpted from, "Belief in God Relieves Depression," an interesting article in the The Washington Times by Jennifer Harper: The "Big Man Upstairs" is getting accolades from mental health specialists who say they are finding that a belief in God plays a positive role in the treatment of anxiety and depression. University of Toronto psychologists reported last year that "believing in God can help block anxiety and minimize stress," their research showcasing "distinct brain differences" between believers and nonbelievers. In patients diagnosed with clinical depression, "belief in a concerned God can improve response to medical treatment," said the new research, which has been published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology. The operative term here is "caring," the researchers said. "The study found that those with…
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Bedside Economics and Healthcare Reform – A Christian Doctor’s Response

Bioethics, Medical Economics
My dear friend, Al Weir, MD, is an oncologist in Memphis, TN. He has served in Africa as a missionary and served with the Christian Medical Association. He's just written a wonderful devotional called, "Bedside Economics" It is based upon Psalm 106:3, "Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right." Al's writings alway provoke me to deep contemplation. None moreso than this one: It has provoked me to deep contemplation. He was an oncologist transplanted from the Caribbean to Canada where he worked in a small British Columbia city. We sat beside each other at a medical meeting and began to discuss the economics of healthcare in both his country and mine. In discussing a given treatment regimen, both effective and approved for use, he made…
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Increased spiritual support may be linked to higher quality of life in cancer patients

Bioethics, Cancer
This headline is likely not news to most of the readers of this blog -- or likely to most people. We all seem to know intuitively that terminal diagnoses cause people to begin to think about spiritaul and eternal issues. HealthDay reports, "Addressing the spiritual needs of someone with advanced cancer could be just as important as taking care of their medical needs." This is based upon a study appearing in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The study of 670 patients showed that 60 percent "said that their spiritual needs either hadn't been met or were minimally supported," even though patients ranked "pain control and being at peace with God" as the two most important factors "at the end of their lives." Patients who received "greater spiritual support from their…
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Dr. Walt’s Testimony Before Congress on Faith-based Perspectives on the Provision of Community Services

Bioethics, General Health, Medical Economics
Back in 2004, while serving as Vice President of Medical Outreach at Focus on the Family, I was asked to testify before the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources on the topic of “Faith-based Perspectives on the Provision of Community Services.” Recently someone asked me to post my comments, so here they are. You can also read them in the Congressional Record here. Mr. Chairman, I am Walter L. Larimore. Prior to joining Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colorado in February 2001 to become Vice-President of Medical Outreach, I practiced family medicine for over 20 years in small rural towns in North Carolina and Florida. In both practices, I was actively involved in teaching medical students and residents. I was also involved in medical research and writing…
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“Christmas Firsts” – A Christmas story from “Bryson City Seasons”

General Health
My most popular books, at least based upon sales and letters, are the Bryson City series, made up of: Bryson City Tales: Stories of a Doctor's First Year of Practice in the Smoky Mountains (read a chapter here) Bryson City Seasons: More Tales of a Doctors Practice in the Smoky Mountains (read a chapter here) Bryson City Secrets: Even More Tales of a Small-Town Doctor in the Smoky Mountains (read a chapter here) In the second book in this series, Bryson City Seasons, I published an account of caring for my first patient with HIV/AIDS (even before that horrible disease was named). It was in December 1982 and occurred in Bryson City, North Carolina. I've excerpted the story for you and hope it will be a Christmas blessing for you and…
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How to Keep Normal Labor Normal – Part 12 – Prayer

Woman's Health
This blog series is designed to help women who are developing a birth plan join together with like-minded birthing professionals so as to have a shorter and safer labor and birth. Although written primarily for professional birth attendants, I hope information will be helpful to lay women planning their birth. Today we’ll look at the tenth “P” of my 10 “P’s” of keeping labor shorter and birth safer — prayer. Although labor and delivery has been considered a “spiritual event” by midwives at least since the publication of Spiritual Midwifery(82) in the 1960’s, there is some recent literature that looks at the influence of spiritual beliefs on labor and delivery outcomes. One study which examined whether family physicians were aware or not of their patient’s spiritual belief systems stated, “these results…
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Faith-Based Health and Healing – Part 5 – What Causes Sickness?

Alternative Medicine, Children's Health, General Health, Marriage and Family Health, Men's Health, Mental Health, Parenting, Woman's Health
Theologians tell us that, in one sense, from a Biblical perspective, all sickness has its ultimate origin in sin because human suffering stems from the fall and the sin of Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:15 – 17; Romans 1:28 – 32). But that’s not the way many people think of sin causing sickness. It’s very common for me to see patients who believe that their sickness or disease is caused by a specific sin or wrong decision. There are others who believe that all illness is due to specific sin. Is this true or false? More Information: (more…)
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Faith-Based Health and Healing – Part 12 – Biblical Principles on Which to Base Medical Decisions and The Power of Faith

Alternative Medicine
This is the last entry in this series -- which has been one of the most popular I've written. I hope it’s been helpful for you and hope you recommend this blog series to your friends as the Bible gives clear principles on which we can rely when making decisions about alternative therapies with spiritual roots. Some have noted that most of the passages condemning occult practices come from the Old Testament. Most theologians teach that Christians are not bound by many of the Old Testament laws, such as those related to worshiping in God’s temple. Does that mean that prohibitions of divination and magic no longer apply to Christians? More Information: (more…)
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Faith-Based Health and Healing – Part 10 – Biblical Characters Condemned for Pursuing Certain Forms of Healing

Alternative Medicine, Bioethics
The Bible recognizes the great temptation inherent in healing by evil spirits and illicit healers. The Old Testament describes an intense conflict between legitimate and illegitimate approaches to healing and spirituality. An incident involving King Ahaziah, the eighth king of Israel, clearly demonstrates this: More Information: (more…)
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Faith-Based Health and Healing – Part 9 – Life Energy and Medical Magic

Alternative Medicine, Cancer, Men's Health, Woman's Health
Alternative therapies based on “life energy” use principles just like those generally attributed to magic. Although “magic” is difficult to define concisely, magical practices do have common features. Magic involves specific techniques or rituals by which people attempt to manipulate supernatural powers to meet their immediate needs. How should Christians respond? More Information: (more…)
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Faith-Based Health and Healing – Part 8 – Illegitimate Spiritual Practices.

Alternative Medicine, Children's Health, General Health, Marriage and Family Health, Men's Health, Mental Health, Woman's Health
Alternative medicine as a whole is not rooted in any particular religious tradition, but some therapies are. A number of healing rituals and traditions are part of the Wiccan religion (also called “white witchcraft”). Eastern religions often view healing as dependent on the movement of “life energy” through nonphysical channels that coincide with the physical body. Native-American religion uses herbs as part of its healing rituals. In a number of nature religions, shamans contact spirit beings or guides to get advice on how to treat and heal those under their care. Should Christians be concerned about these practices? More Information: (more…)
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Faith-Based Health and Healing – Part 7 – Not All Healing is From God

Alternative Medicine, Cancer, Children's Health, General Health, Heart Health, Men's Health, Mental Health, Parenting, Woman's Health
How we pursue health and healing is very important. Our concern, as Christians, is that there are wrong ways (even evil ways) people can pursue and receive healing. We wish to make the case that healing achieved by inappropriate means is healing that is not good and, in our view, is healing that is not from God. More Information: (more…)
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Faith-Based Health and Healing – Part 6 – Why God’s Response to Prayer Isn’t Always to Heal

Alternative Medicine, Children's Health, General Health, Heart Health, Marriage and Family Health, Men's Health, Mental Health, Parenting, Woman's Health
Despite what many television preachers tell us, the Bible does not teach that God’s response to a prayer to cure illness is an immediate physical healing. The overall teaching of the Bible is that sickness can have different origins. Therefore, claims that all illnesses can always be cured by “believing prayer” or “casting out demons” are simply not biblical. Let me explain why. More Information: (more…)
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Faith-Based Health and Healing – Part 4 – Can Faith be Unhealthy?

Alternative Medicine, Children's Health, General Health, Marriage and Family Health, Men's Health, Mental Health, Parenting, Woman's Health
While faith can have positive effects on health, it can also have negative effects. Although religious beliefs are a source of comfort and support for many people, for others they are a source of stress and emotional turmoil. More Information: (more…)
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Faith-Based Health and Healing – Part 3 – Devout Faith Helps but Does Not Guarantee Good Health

Alternative Medicine, Children's Health, General Health, Marriage and Family Health, Men's Health, Mental Health, Woman's Health
Interest in the connection between faith and health has led to a relatively large number of studies investigating the link. Some religious groups, including some actively involved in alternative medicine, claim to offer complete health to their adherents. Evaluating the health of believers in those religions would provide important evidence about the truth or falsity of those religions (as has been done for the First Church of Christ, Scientist, or Christian Scientists). For this reason, it is important to answer the question as to whether the Bible teaches that God promises to heal Christians. Does it? More Information: (more…)
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Faith-Based Health and Healing – Part 2 – What Value Should We Place on Our Health?

Alternative Medicine, General Health, Men's Health, Mental Health, Woman's Health
Good Health Can Become an Idol Many of the more recent controversial developments in conventional medicine (cloning, assisted suicide, embryo research) have arisen because some believe that the purpose of life is to promote life itself — and not just any life, but life that is judged by human standards to be valuable or of good quality. Good health can become the most important thing in a person’s life. Sometimes this is good. Other times it may be harmful. More Information: (more…)
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If religious faith is important to you, how should you take a spiritual history of your doctor?

Bioethics, General Health, Men's Health, Mental Health, Woman's Health
The better your spiritual health, the more likely you are to experience improved physical, mental, emotional, and relational health outcomes. Therefore, finding a healthcare professional that shares your spiritual foundation and practice can be critical. But, how can you do this?  My Take? (more…)
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If religious faith is important to you, how should you talk to your doctor about your beliefs in God?

Bioethics, General Health, Health Headlines, Men's Health, Mental Health, Woman's Health
A recent study found that many Americans believe in divine intervention in a medical crisis. Other research shows that religious faith is important to a majority of Americans. So, if religious faith is important to you, is it okay to ask for a doctor with similar convictions? Or, if you believe in miracles, should you make sure your health providers know it? My Take? (more…)
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More Medical Schools Teaching Spirituality in Medicine

General Health
A story in AMA News tells how more medical schools are teaching spirituality to medical students. Here are some very appropriate comments on this news, as well as the topic of spirituality in medicine, by my good friend, Al Weir, MD: Patients want and need spiritual support in their illnesses, and doctors should be providing that support as a part of competent, whole person medicine. We should be teaching this to our students in our medical and dental schools. This is all good science. (more…)
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