Your Spirituality Can Affect Your Health. Here’s How

Source: Huffington Post

Tara Narula, MD O, The Oprah Magazine

In modern medicine, doctors don’t usually talk about life’s deeper meaning; that’s a job for the person in the white collar, not the white coat. However, there’s a growing appreciation of the link between healthcare and spirituality: The number of medical schools that offer courses on the subject increased from 13 percent in 1994 to around 90 percent in 2010. I’ve seen for myself how a patient’s beliefs can play a role in her treatment. One case involved 63-year-old S., who was sent to me for cardiac evaluation after a breast cancer diagnosis. She’d initially declined aggressive intervention, but then chose to have a mastectomy, chemo, and radiation. When I noticed the cross around her neck, I asked whether faith had influenced her decision. S. pointed upward. “I am not alone on this journey,” she said. Her trust in a higher power helped her endure treatment—and six months later, she was cancer-free.

Sometimes faith leads a patient down a different path. When R., an energetic 72-year-old, was diagnosed with heart failure, I explained to her that we typically implant a defibrillator, which can detect an arrhythmia and shock the heart back into a normal rhythm. But R. thought her faith should decide “when it’s my time to go” and didn’t want a doctor or a device to interfere.

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