What Is Slow Medicine?
Can you tell me anything about slow medicine? I’ve heard the term mentioned, but I really don’t understand what it means. Does it fit in with integrative medicine or is it different?
Andrew Weil, M.D. | February 17, 2015
Slow Medicine is the title of a book by Michael Finkelstein, M.D., a physician who completed a Fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. His concept of slow medicine definitely encompasses integrative medicine. I view Dr. Finkelstein’s book as a valuable addition to the literature of integrative wellness, and I wrote a personal endorsement for it. The publication is subtitled "Hope and Healing for Chronic Illness" and emphasizes the interdependence of physical problems, emotions, environment, relationships and mindsets.
Dr. Finkelstein approaches his subject through 77 questions probing the connections between physical complaints, beliefs, relationships, diet, exercise, emotions, your overall outlook on life – all of the many variables that can impact our physical, emotional and spiritual well being. This approach, Dr. Finkelstein explains, is the flip side of "quick- fix" medicine that tries to relieve symptoms with a pill or a procedure but doesn’t get to the root of what’s wrong.
Dr. Finkelstein writes that he asks new patients a question that always surprises them: "What will you do with your life once your health is restored?" He notes that people do not expect a medical doctor to inquire about such matters, and that most people have given little if any thought to the answer. However, he views the response as "the lynchpin for our ability to get and stay healthy."
The book describes a dialogue between doctor and patient stemming from those 77 questions that seeks to identify not only the physical roots of health problems but the various contributing factors, which he views as the keys to good health. Dr. Finkelstein writes that "Everything is interdependent- muscles and nerves, bodies and minds, people and planet- and each connecting thread has a domino effect on the other.
For example, toxins (in our environment or diet) might cause liver damage, leading to chronic illness that makes us unable to get out of the house or work – leaving us isolated, broke, and as a result, severely depressed. In this scenario, the quick fix of antidepressants will overlook the root of, and therefore solution for, our depression."
Slow Medicine provides a roadmap out of that kind of destructive spiral. Dr. Finkelstein’s approach is aimed at achieving a state of wellness. "When we slow down," he writes, "and cultivate harmonious relationships with those who are important to us, and otherwise live our lives from the heart – with passion, meaning, and purpose – we bring ourselves into greater alignment on every level: heart, soul, body, and mind."
Slow Medicine is an important book. It’s an enjoyable read and potentially life-changing.
Andrew Weil, M.D.
Learn more at Dr. Finkelstein’s website.
Michael Finkelstein, “Slow Medicine: Hope and Healing for Chronic Illness”, Harper Collins, February 2015