Meet Dr. Kathy Gruver, www.thealternativemedicinecabinet.com, who has written three popular books on health and appeared on over 200 radio and TV shows as a guest expert. Dr. Gruver, who received a PhD in Natural Health, discusses the role of alternative medicine in keeping healthy and pain-free.
Read Part One of our interview with one of our favorite Wellness Warriors!
Q.How do you define alternative medicine in your practice?
I actually really love to think about it as complementary alternative medicine. I would like to see more people integrating the best of what we call alternative and Western. Both have pros and some downsides. My practice consists mainly of medical massage including deep tissue and Trigger Points, hypnotherapy, mind-body work including affirmations, visualization and guided meditations. I see a lot of clients in chronic pain or in acute situations like after a car accident. I do quite a bit of pain management and tailor my treatment to whoever is lying on my table or sitting in my office.
Q.What led you to practice alternative medicine and the healing of the body, mind and spirit?
It was completely by accident though I have been involved with it since I was a child. I always had interest in alternatives for varying things and when I was as young as five I would sit behind my dad in the car on long trips and rub his neck so he didn’t get headaches. My mother died when I was 18 of a very rare cancer. So that definitely influences how I practice my craft but it did not directly propel me into the world of alternative medicine. I learned to do massage very accidentally when I was in college. I was a theatre major and a woman would show up and massage all the actors for free. I apprenticed with her for three summers and when that final summer was over, I knew I was destined to get involved in massage. I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my acting career and always had massage therapy as my sideline. When I moved to Santa Barbara I decided it was time to do massage full-time. I then decided to study more, as the more people that ended up in my office the more questions they had for me. I realize they were relying on me as a healthcare advisor and I need to know more. I will never stop learning.
Q.Does stress play a role in creating physical pain?
Stress definitely plays a huge role in physical pain. There is a pain-stress-pain cycle that happens quite frequently. Dr. John Sarno talks about this quite in-depth in all his books. When we are stressed, we tense up our muscles and we have less blood flow to varying parts of the body which contributes to pain.
I have also asked numerous patients of various diseases if stress makes the condition worse. Across-the-board everyone says yes, whether they are afflicted with pain, headaches, jaw tension, cancer, arthritis, multiple sclerosis or scleroderma. Sometimes stress and anxiety about the activity that brought on the pain can cause us to stop doing that activity. Many people spend too much time laying round after an accident when they really should be getting back to some light and practical activity. Stress weighs in all aspects of our lives and definitely contributes to our pain. That is one of the great things about massage it not only helps the pain directly but also causes the entire system to relax.