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My Integrative Health Experience



In 2012 I delivered my daughter Keira naturally into the world at a birthing centre near Seattle, USA. At 35 weeks pregnant, I had decided not to continue on with my Gynaecologist at the Bellevue Medical Centre and sought alternative options. At two weeks overdue on the 6th January (my birthday!), I had one last day for things to start moving before I would have to be medically induced back in a hospital setting… thereby increasing the chances of further medical intervention exponentially. Thankfully, my mid-wife was also a homeopath and provided two drops of an eon old remedy under my tongue to stimulate labour. The ‘natural’ oxytocin she informed me. I had reached this decision after watching ‘The Business of Being Born’ and preparing myself and Keira’s Dad through natural child birth classes. A few hours after the homeopathic tincture, contractions started although manageable for most of the afternoon, things did intensify later that evening! Had it not been for working with my Doula, (experienced birthing partner), I would likely have been off back to hospital due to dehydration and pain. Instead, with some reflexology tricks, I went to sleep for a few hours. In the early hours of the next morning, it was definitely time to head off to the birthing centre and check in with my mid-wife. The birthing centre was more like a luxurious hotel room than a hospital bed in a cold and confronting clinical hospital setting. Equipped with a comfortable hot tub, I settled on down into the comforting warm water for a couple of hours. Keira was born at 530am on the 7th January with the help of an amazing mid-wife, my Doula, and Keira’s Dad. I needed a few stitches but thankfully no other interventions or pain relief. The whole experience was truly empowering and enlightening. I knew her name was Keira when I saw her wee face, and I surely recognised her also. Keira has always told me her name means ‘sun-light’ although we weren’t actually sure of the meaning. Sure enough, the word ‘Kyrie’ derives from Lord or light and ‘Ra’, the Egyptian sun God, insights I had no clue of in 2011/12! There’s a lot to learn from a name, I’ve since discovered.


Fast forward a couple of years, I was back at work in a high-powered Director role, in relationship turmoil and totally stressed out. I started experiencing stress related anxiety, extreme episodes of feeling crap which could be labelled depression, eczema, recurring throat and wisdom teeth infections and horrible cold sores around and inside my mouth, what on earth was happening to me, I had certainly bitten off more than I could chew. Disenchanted with my professional career, lacking fulfilment and creative satisfaction and projecting all of this negativity into a relationship, I embarked upon my yoga teacher training course. My practice was sporadic at this point due to all other commitments, however as I started practising yoga more regularly, the eczema and health issues gradually dissipated. It wasn’t until 2016, when I reassessed my work/life routine and took a 3-month break followed by a fully home-based role that my health began to get somewhat back to normal. However emotionally, I still wasn’t fully firing on all cylinders. More drastic measures were required! Some close family members and friends have been prescribed anti-depressants in the past, but it was a route I really didn’t consider at all, I knew there was more to it and the answers for me didn’t lie in taking a magic pill. And hence, as I’ve written about previously I embarked upon training with a Reiki Master and Coach. I attribute the balance I found emotionally mostly to my daily meditation and pranayama practice, Kapalbhati and now Bhramari.


BUT, I was still experiencing almost monthly flare-ups of wisdom teeth hell. Thankfully I was put in touch with medical herbalist, Pamela Spence. Every dentist I’ve ever been to see in the US and UK over the course of about 6 years, advised me that I needed all four wisdom teeth removed whilst prescribing course after course of antibiotics. X-rays showed that two of my teeth were very close to key nerves within my jaw but this was still the recommended course of action. Umm, I wasn’t so keen. One quick consultation with Pamela, I was prescribed a tincture of plant medicine which included myrrh! Wise men indeed. One week later, not only had my infection healed up but the medicine I took, helped reset my immune functionality and I have not had any further recurrence. Plant medicine works in synergy with our own natural systems.


Most recently, I’ve taken up Qi Gong, within just a few weeks of adding some simple movements to my morning and evening routines, I feel lighter, more energised and am needing less and less sleep. My Qi Gong teacher lent me a book ‘Miracle Healing from China’ written by Qigong Master Effie Poy Yew Chow, Ph.D. Dr. Chow has dedicated her life to the integration of Western and Eastern medical practices in the USA and her book is truly inspiring. As part of her ‘treatment’ Effie prescribes her patients 8 hugs and 2 belly laughs per day. The book (and many others) documents cases of severe illnesses such as cerebral palsy, cancer and respiratory conditions being reversed and healed purely using techniques taught in Qigong and I have heard of similar reports from local practitioners.


Obviously, the ailments I was suffering from, although most certainly affecting my life: I was inherently ‘out of balance’, were comparatively minor. However, this holistic approach to medicine is so necessary. A recent study documented within the Journal of Oncology (https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jo/2018/1236787/) links improved cancer outcomes with higher vagal nerve functionality. The Vagus nerve being switched on through practises such yoga, qigong, exercise, meditation, laughter, compassion. In all my years working within the pharmaceutical industry predominantly on cancer studies, not one study focused on and championed the benefits of utilizing a holistic health approach to treatment alongside the medications that were being tested and compared. I whole-heartedly hope this is changing within the research industry and will support any efforts to do so through engaging with groups such as Caritas Clinical.


I recently saw the obituary to Peter Fisher, Doctor to the Queen and expert on homeopathy. A key opinion leader in homeopathic research, he was run over cycling in London by a lorry, aged 67 (!). He first was introduced to ‘alternative’ medicine in the 1970s while a student in China, he witnessed abdominal surgery where the pain relief provided was only three acupuncture needles in the left ear, certainly something he hadn’t been taught at Cambridge University! He commented ‘there is huge prejudice and persecution which seems to have originated in the UK for various psycho-social-geopolitical reasons’ but remarked we were currently in the early stages of a scientific revolution threatening the established order’.


My niece is currently studying biomedical sciences as I did 17 years ago. In flicking through her textbooks, I still didn’t find one mention of acupuncture, meridians or any other reference to energetic medicine, surely this is fundamentally wrong, this integration and education is vital. Fundamentally, when training in Western education systems, likely due to psycho-social-geopolitical reasons, we have not been provided access to the full picture regarding health. This is something I also wish to dedicate the rest of my life to, raising awareness on and teaching simple methods people can use on their journey back to full physical and emotional health, beyond what we previously had considered possible.


What are your thoughts…?


If anyone out there is suffering from stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, restlessness, low energy, fatigue, emotional imbalance, low immunity, digestive disturbances, auto-immune disturbances then let me know and I can help create a daily practice tailored for your needs to aid recovery.


Namaste, Heather :)


email: heather@heathergwenbird.com

Tel: 07946726660

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