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If you've read any of the history of HPL Consortium, you know that this organization's focus came from the health issues experienced by our founder, CJ Rhoads.

Before her car accident, Rhoads was like every other American; a bit overweight, exercising infrequently, eating a standard American diet (hot dogs, hamburgers, & pizza), working at a computer many hours every day. After her accident, in severe chronic back pain and with mild traumatic brain injury problems, she discovered the limitations of modern medical science.

Current "standard of medical care" can be wonderful for acute treatment of disease symptoms and broken bone injuries, but "standard of medical care" practices in the United States are often useless when dealing with chronic health problems. If drugs or surgery can't help, doctors are taught that there's not a whole lot they can do. Helping patients make long-term incremental progress toward eliminating chronic health issues that impact their daily life is not typically part of their training.

Rhoads was told by several doctors that after two years, she had gotten "as good as she was gonna get" - which was completely unacceptable because she still couldn't work or stay awake for more than a few hours at a time. Additionally, after Rhoads had developed several auto-immune disorders, she was told by her doctors that neither environmental factors nor stress had anything to do with it, and that changing her diet or eliminating volatile organic chemicals would not help either her pain or her other health issues.

Luckily, Rhoads did find doctors who were much more cognizant of the role of lifestyle and mind-body practices in recovering from long term injuries and illnesses. Her own experience demonstrated how important exercise, nutrition, environment, cognitive behavioral therapy, and stress management are in recovery. These aspects are essential for putting chronic diseases into remission and drastically reducing pain levels from injuries and internal damage.

If you had told her, prior to experiencing it herself, that her health problems were a result of her lifestyle, she would have laughed in your face, or accused you of blaming the victim. What did the food she ate have to do with the pain in her back from an automobile accident? She was born with Reynaud's Disease and Graves Disease, wasn't she? There was nothing she could do about either, she thought.

But, indeed, changing her diet lowered her pain. Exercising improved her memory. Stress management activities decreased her overactive thyroid. Eliminating toxic chemicals from her environment increased the circulation in her hands and feet. She became an expert, through experimentation, on what worked and what didn't. She was able to decrease her pain levels and improve her metabolism, putting her autoimmune diseases in "remission" and eliminating their symptoms. Her "recovery" required her to change her entire life, but it worked. What she wanted to know was; would it work for others too?

Beyond A Case Study

As Rhoads delved more deeply into the research, she discovered that many other chronic health issues could be completely mitigated through proper exercise, nutrition, environment, and stress management. Based on her experience, it seemed very strange that doctors did not emphasize how important good nutrition, exercise, and stress management is to health since they seemed so powerful in curing disease and injury. When she shared her experiences in putting some of her chronic health problems into remission through these practices, some physicians did not believe it. They couldn't seem to tell the difference between legitimate mind-body practices that improved health and airy-fairy woo-woo practices that didn't really make a difference but were promoted by people trying to make a buck.

After several years of associating with the integrative health world, Rhoads has now met many people who have clients and patients who benefited from integrative health practices, but she has also had to wade through many quacks to find them. She believes that it is incumbant on the current medical community to help their patients tell the difference between helpful therapies (like tai chi, qigong, yoga, meditation massage therapy, etc.) and therapies that are mostly a waste of time. Furthermore, even those terms are not regulated or standardized, so it is difficult to know if the activity truly conforms to the "health" oriented principles that improve health. Additionally, there are many difficulties in identifying how much; i.e. is 2 minutes a day enough, or do we have to practice 3 hours a day to get the benefit? There is much research to be done in order to determine exactly what makes these mind-body practices work so well, in what combination, and how physicians and health practitioners can best prescribe them. Basically, people want to know the minimum lifestyle change needed in order to have a therapeutic benefit on different chronic health problems.

If you are interested in finding out more about integrative health and what HPL Institute and HPL Consortium is doing to improve the system, get on our list so that you can stay in the loop.