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ASEMIP (American Society of Endobiogenic Medicine and Integrative Physiology)
Introduction to Clinical Phyto-Aromatherapy & Endobiogeny Power Point
Meet our endobiogeny team.
Finding My Own Medical Home Jean Bokelmann, M.D.
The day I was introduced to Endobiogeny was the day I finally found a psychological home in medicine. It was happenstance that led me to the seminar Dr. Jean Claude Lapraz was presenting in the fall of 2004, his first seminar in Pocatello, Idaho after many years of seminars elsewhere in the United States. The stage had been set well for that fateful day. It was two weeks previously that I had been given the green light to develop an integrative medicine track for the Idaho State University Family Medicine Residency Program. This included building an integrative medicine practice, a means of introducing medical doctors in training to options for healing beyond drugs and surgery. The preceding three years I had been updating my 30-year outdated knowledge in the basic sciences through ongoing coursework at ISU. My head was filled with new and exciting scientific understandings, particularly on the heels of the human genome project completion. Concurrently, medical research was beginning to report positive findings on a handful of herbs. Having felt limited and often ineffective with the medical tools I had been trying to apply for 25 years, I had begun using herbs in select patients and had been quite impressed by the results. All the while, I had felt frustrated by not being able to find satisfactory answers for how the herbs worked. Healing paradigms that utilized herbs extensively, such as Oriental Medicine and Ayervedic Medicine, spoke an entirely different language that made no sense from the perspective of western scientific understanding. Thus utilizing herbs required a leap of faith, something that made me uncomfortable.
Thus, on that fateful day when I listened to Dr. Lapraz explain human physiology and disease based on an understanding of the endocrine system at the cellular, tissular and organ levels, I watched all the loose ends of my years of experience in medicine and my updated scientific knowledge begin to fall into place. When Dr. Lapraz described cellular membranes, membrane receptors and signal transduction, my confidence in his legitimacy found firm ground. When he showed how a particular herb could have influence on the human organism at several levels through several different mechanisms, I felt the lights to herbalism had finally been turned on for me. Concurrently, two new peer-reviewed extensively referenced books for physicians were published and corroborated much of what Dr. Lapraz was teaching with respect to the activities of several herbs. This also bolstered my confidence that there was sound science behind what Dr. Lapraz was presenting.
Opening an Endobiogenic Practice
At this point in time it happened that Dr. Lapraz had been looking for a way to see American Endobiogeny patients in the United States. He already had a number of American patients, mostly with cancer, who were traveling to Paris, France for an Endobiogenic evaluation and prescription. There were even more patients in the wings. Dr. Lapraz recognized that this created a hardship for these often ill and unstable patients, so a state-side clinic would be preferable. Simultaneously, my faculty role as integrative medicine coordinator left me in search of an integrative clinical practice. With the help and support of Annemarie Buhler, the founder of Time Laboratories, and Dr. Jonathan Cree, the director of the ISU Family Medicine Residency, I was able to begin an integrative practice alongside Dr. Lapraz as a new entity: the Endobiogenic Integrative Medical Center. It was to my great fortune that Annemarie’s granddaughter Annette Davis, a clinical nutritionist, had been attending Dr. Lapraz’ seminars since 1989 and was already well versed in herbs and aromatherapy through the family business. Annette and her husband Eric assisted me as I tried to learn the basics of Endobiogeny and phyto-aromatherapy. They produced charts from past seminar syllabi to help me systematize the history and physical exam. They also taught me how to apply aromatherapy. Until then, I had thought essential oils were something you put in a diffuser. While I understood that essential oils were supposed to have medicinal effects when inhaled, I knew nothing about topical or enteric absorption. I was also unfamiliar with the controversy as to whether essential oils should be ingested and learned how this could be done safely. Since the Biology of Functions was a new tool in Endobiogeny, the Davis’ and I studied the indexes together and tried to make sense of them through their definitions and through extensive outside reading on the endocrine system and physiology. Although Dr. Lapraz’ time was in high demand, I was also able to have limited email communication with him to answer key questions. Through this team effort and support I was able to build on my understanding of Endobiogeny and phyto-aromatherapy and take the leap into an endobiogenic integrative practice.
Quite wet behind the ears, I began seeing patients in the new clinic with Annette Davis frequently at my side. The typical patient who would come to see me would have one of the many medical mystery diseases for which no satisfactory diagnosis had been made and no effective treatment had been rendered despite numerous medical evaluations by a variety of specialists. These patients figured they had nothing to lose, and I have always enjoyed a good challenge, so it was a natural patient-physician partnership. As a U.S. trained family physician, I had to make several adjustments in order to practice Endobiogeny. First, performing the physical exam took retraining. All of the subtle signs of endocrine and autonomic imbalance I had previously overlooked had to become a critical part of my instinctive assessment. It was also a challenge for me to accept the lack of conventional medical diagnosis and instead characterize the disorder according to the Endobiogenic imbalances. Yet this was necessary in order to design the highly individualized therapy we prescribed. Maintaining a cautious amount of skepticism, I did find some impressive surprises along the way. First, many of these challenging patients returned for follow-up with reports of dramatic improvements. Second in seeing a patient at follow-up, I would note that the changes in the Biology of Functions were consistently for the better. While the patient might have reported feeling better through placebo effect alone, I knew there was no way for the placebo effect to have an impact on mathematical formulas based on standard lab tests. Third, I occasionally encountered unintentional healings of secondary conditions not addressed by the patient. For example, I had 30 year old patient who came in to get help with her premenstrual syndrome. The standard Endobiogenic assessment was performed and the appropriate treatment was initiated. The patient returned five months later stating the therapy had worked very well for three months, but for the past two months she had been experiencing fatigue and nausea. I asked if she had checked a pregnancy test and she said it had never occurred to her because she and her husband had been trying to get pregnant for eight years without any luck. So I ran a pregnancy test on her and to her delight it was positive and she subsequently delivered a healthy full-term baby boy.
Treating cancer through Endobiogeny was something I preferred to leave up to Dr. Lapraz. However, I did become involved with their care through some degree of collaboration. One of my first Endobiogeny patients was a 42 year old woman who had been diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer, BRCA-1 positive. Her older sister had just died from the disease. She and her very devoted husband were interested in doing everything possible to prevent metastatic spread or recurrence. She had undergone the standard therapy with lumpectomy, radiation, and chemotherapy. Her good friend had been seeing Dr. Lapraz in Paris and had been cured of metastatic cervical cancer, so this woman was eager to meet with Dr. Lapraz. She and her husband were informed that Dr. Lapraz was no longer receiving new American patients in Paris and that an appointment with him could be scheduled in Pocatello three months down the road. She was also offered an earlier appointment with me to gather the data and send it to Paris for Endiobigenic interpretation. At the time, I had an upcoming trip to Las Vegas, Nevada to visit my family. Since this patient lived in Southern California, she and her husband decided to meet me in Las Vegas so that I could gather the necessary data as quickly as possible. Our first meeting occurred in their hotel room which was quite poetically at the Paris Hotel. There I proceeded to gather all of the historical and physical findings necessary for a comprehensive endobiogenic assessment. I entered the data into a form I had created to help quantify the magnitude of various physical findings, and sent my findings off to Dr. Lapraz in France. At the time, Dr. Lapraz was still working closely with Dr. Duraffourd. He presented my report to Dr. Duraffourd who, based on my report , proceeded to predict what would be found on the Biology of Functions. I was told that the French colleagues present at that meeting were quite impressed at the correlation between Dr. Duraffourd’s predictions and the actual Biology of Functions. It appeared to validate some internal consistency in the Endobiogenic system, and, more importantly to me, it confirmed my ability to gather the important endobiogenic details.
Endobiogeny and My Medical Peers
Although I had been supported by the director and the faculty of the family medicine residency to develop an integrative curriculum and practice, my hopes of sharing the profound wisdom of Endobiogeny were soon tempered by the reactions of my medical peer group. While some of my colleagues were intrigued and a couple even came to the clinic for endobiogenic evaluations, most were either disinterested or outright antagonistic. There were suggestions by some that I had lost my marbles. A local oncologist blamed the herbal regimen taken by a patient with stage 3 rectal cancer for the failure of her chemotherapeutic regimen. In the latter case, while I understood the plausibility of this conclusion, I was struck by the haste with which the oncologist laid blame for the patient’s treatment failure given the low statistical likelihood for chemotherapeutic success in this situation. After spending an afternoon introducing Endobiogeny to the family medicine faculty and residents, I realized this was too big of a paradigm shift for most physicians and particularly for physicians in training who were too preoccupied learning the basics of conventional medicine. In an era where physicians were expected to see increasingly larger volumes of patients in a day, Endobiogeny simply took too much time and too much contemplation to become an easy fit in the American medical system. I realized that Endobiogeny could not become part of the residency curriculum, but that my practice of it might create intrigue for the more inquisitive residents looking for additional answers to the healing mystery.
One of the greatest barriers to a more generalized appreciation of Endobiogeny within the medical community was the lack of clinically based research. The expectation was for evidence derived from larger and larger studies and meta-analyses , usually funded by pharmaceutical companies or the government. These studies required homogenization as well as randomization of patient cohorts. Applying the modern clinical research model to the highly individualized approach of Endobiogeny would therefore be impossible. Thus, physicians who based their medical decisions firmly and confidently on clinical research had no interest whatsoever in discussing something so "unproven" as Endobiogeny. Occasionally the more seasoned physicians understood the limitations of randomized clinical trials and the statistical extrapolations, but even these more analytical physicians were reluctant to take such a large paradigm leap or to slow down their productivity.
No sooner had I shown an interest in learning Endobiogeny and starting an endobiogenic practice then I found myself in the position of presenting portions of subsequent seminars. As much as I enjoy standing in front of people and presenting interesting concepts, I found this position quite uncomfortable because I did not yet fully grasp the material I was presenting. No doubt this was an excellent way to learn the material and it provided me with some one-on-one time with Dr. Lapraz to review the slides beforehand and clarify any points of confusion. The slide presentations had been written for the most part by Dr. Duraffourd whose complexity of thought magnified the language barrier. Eventually I began preparing my own power point presentations as my confidence and knowledge grew.
The seminar attendees comprised a diverse group of healing practitioners, mostly naturopaths, acupuncturists, chiropractors, and nutritionists. There were very few medical doctors in attendance despite active solicitation within the medical community. I attributed this lack to our inability to procure and offer CME credits through the local accrediting body in addition to general disinterest among physicians in learning something outside the mainstream medical pabulum . Thus, while Dr. Lapraz had set his sights on promoting Endobiogeny throughout the American medical community, it appeared to me that this paradigm in healing would best suit naturopaths and other disciplines more naturally and holistically inclined. It was an exceptional situation when one of the seminars in Pocatello was attended by a pediatric intensivist, Dr. Kamyar Hedeyat. He already had a good grasp of aromatherapy and general use of herbs. He was fluent in French. His intensive care background made him a quick study in the physiological aspects of Endobiogeny. By the end of the seminar, as I watched Dr. Hedeyat’s enthusiasm take root, I was delighted to see that we had another American endobiogenist in the making. With a seemingly endless source of energy, Dr. Hedeyat has since then poured himself into study, research, and collaboration to help define and promote Endobiogeny in America.
About the same time that I met Dr. Hedeyat, I also began working with a resident in the ISU Family Medicine Residency who had a clear predilection for alternative medicine. While just as consumed with learning the nuts and bolts of conventional medicine as the other residents in the program, Dr. Laramie Wheeler showed a preference for reading about herbs and nutritional supplements. I enjoyed many discussions with her about alternatives in healing and eventually introduced her to Endobiogeny. After several years of facing the familiar glazed-over facial expression when talking about Endobiogeny with the family medicine residents, I was cautiously ecstatic to finally find a resident who got it. Dr. Wheeler completed her residency and began a conventional practice, maintaining a small endobiogenic practice on the side. In 2010 she decided to stop her conventional practice and focus on Endobiogeny.
I myself took a hiatus from EIMC January 2010 to July 2011 as I retired from my teaching position in the residency program. This relatively early retirement was a professional maneuver I chose, with difficulty, in order to end my hospital duty, the portion of my work that had always cast a dark shadow over the practice of medicine for me. I started working at the VA outpatient clinic in Pocatello, where I was pleased to learn that many of my patients preferred natural options over drugs when feasible. Nevertheless, being limited by the VA system to "evidence-based medicine" and FDA-approved drugs was like opening up an old cookbook where the ingredients at hand were limited and were applied in a repetitive and mindless formula with uninspiring results. In short, I missed the richness and intuitive creativity of Endobiogeny. I found a way to re-open my practice at EIMC through the support, once again, of Annemarie Buhler and Dr. Jonathan Cree. With my return to EIMC I was no longer a sole American physician practicing Endobiogeny. There were now three other American physicians who shared the vision and courage to practice Endobiogeny. It appears that Dr. Lapraz’ vision for American Endobiogeny was beginning to break through the walls of medical entrenchment and would eventually, with patience, come to fruition.