All You Need Is Psychosocial Support

“What we call psychosocial support in medicine,” explained Dean Ornish, MD, a few minutes into his talk at the Integrative Healthcare Symposium this morning, “is really just another way of saying love.” Speaking about his program’s focus on four key aspects of patient lifestyle, he highlighted food, stress response, exercise, and lastly, love and support.

On the surface, the importance of love in healing sounds cheesy and trite, but like the Beatles song, once you hear it, feel it and experience it, you can’t resist it.

Ornish is certainly onto something. Over the years, he has made real strides bringing integrative medicine to the mainstream.  Recently, Medicare agreed to provide coverage for his comprehensive lifestyle change prescription to reverse heart disease.  Not only will this make integrative medicine accessible to more people, it will help medical practices that approach health holistically fund their important work.

No doubt about it, Dean Ornish is spreading the love.  And to that end, I’ll share some of the things he told us today about the crucial roles of altruism, compassion and forgiveness in health and healing. (Find more on on

Fear is not a motivator for healthy change, feeling better is.

Our need for love, connection and community is as powerful as our need for food, air and water.  (He cited the successes of Facebook and Starbucks as examples of businesses that met an unmet need.  Connecting with others, via the internet or congregational coffee lounges, satisfies us.)

As with more exercise and better nutrition, your brain gets more blood flow and oxygen with more love.

This Valentines day, try spreading around some of that psychosocial stuff.  We need it!

Related story: Dr Vegan Goes to Washington


About alternahealthgrrrl

I'm a writer, reporter and editor who has been on the health beat for over 15 years. I've worked on staff at Whole Living Magazine and More Magazine, where I conceived an investigative piece on unwarrented hysterectomies that earned a 2009 National Magazine Award nomination. Other publications I've worked at include Self, Vogue, and Lucky. View all posts by alternahealthgrrrl

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