Crew Blog | Dr. Boranian: Connecting Functional Medicine to Mālama Honua
Blog by Dr. Dickran Boranian
As the medical officer on board Hōkūleʻa for Leg 28 from the Galapagos to Rapa Nui, I have been presented this incredible opportunity to reflect on the mission of the Worldwide Voyage, and how it also ties into my field and practice. Our captain, Archie Kalepa, has taught us that honua can have multiple meanings. Honua can refer to our planet, our community, our family, or ourselves. So Mālama Honua literally means to take care of our planet, our community, our family, or ourselves. One important part of the mission to mālama honua is to raise awareness of man’s effect on the health of our planet, and by doing so engage people in ways to care for our mother earth.
Over the last several years I have been studying Functional Medicine. If I were to define Functional Medicine in one sentence, I would say that Functional Medicine is the science of creating health. Functional Medicine uses systems biology to uncover the underlying cause of disease, through a mutually-beneficial therapeutic relationship between patient and practitioner that acknowledges the unique nature of each individual. The ultimate goal is to restore vitality to the patient – this is much more than simply the absence of disease. Restoring vitality requires supplying that which is lacking, and removing that which is in excess, bringing a new sense of balance to the system that facilitates vibrant health.
Most of our modern diseases are created by poor lifestyle choices. By making better dietary choices, becoming more physically active, using simple stress reduction techniques, reconnecting to our communities, supplying that which is lacking and removing excesses most of these diseases can be reversed. In much the same way the health of our planet can be addressed. We must supply that which is lacking and remove that which is in excess to help restore a vital balance to our environment.
Simply put – by adopting healthy global lifestyle choices we can address planetary health.
It is not too late and we all can make a difference. What we need to do is raise our consciousness concerning how our daily actions affect the health of our environment, and then make better choices.
If you doubt that you can make a difference I would like you to consider this: We all make powerful decisions and, in a way, vote every day. When you spend your hard-earned money, you are supporting something by voting with your dollars. Do you believe that access to locally-grown, healthy food is important? Then shop for your food at a farmers market, join a food coop, plant your own garden, or subscribe to a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group. Do you believe in supporting your local businesses and community? Then put your money into your local credit union. Do you want to support environmentally-conscious companies? Then make sure your investments include those companies.
This voyage with Hokuleʻa has inspired me to be more aware of the effects my everyday decisions have on me, my family, my community, and our Island Earth. We can all Mālama Honua. By caring for ourselves, our family, and our community in a more conscious manner we will go a long way in caring for our planet.
Doc on the Rock
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