Opinion: Health care options are all around


By Mark Kalina, MD

Resident, Del Mar

We are truly blessed to live at a time when medical technology is in a rapidly expansive and creative phase. It may not always seem to be this way but if we sit back and reflect on the amazing advances that have arisen over the last 70 years, we can only be awestruck. Antibiotics were introduced a mere 71 years ago. Emergency medicine and trauma care has arisen and developed and been disseminated throughout our country. We can now receive acute medical care most anywhere in our country at our worst of times.

What an amazing support system that has been developed and instituted to achieve this lofty goal. Associated with this miracle is a “field, paramedical” team that can go out to where emergencies happen and deliver life-saving therapy at the scene. The care of coronary artery disease (the most common source of death in our world) has similarly been revolutionized and disseminated throughout our country and the developed world. Joint replacements have allowed people to literally have a second chance in life with restored mobility and vigor. Cancer is now our biggest challenge but even this most daunting challenge is being met head-on by brilliant minds and caring deliverers of newly evolving therapy. Recently, a new treatment for multiple sclerosis has become available and is now helping hundreds to thousands of people to live like they never thought possible in the face of this previously crippling, progressive disease. These are truly magical times.

In addition to the miracles that modern science is producing, there are equally impressive very major transformations that are possible from individual, lifestyle changes. Nutritional approaches to most all diseases including heart disease and cancer have been developed and refined and can have a major impact on an individual’s course with a physical challenge. Exercise of all sorts has proven to be a “game-changer” in a vast array of conditions from diabetes to asthma to fibromyalgia and depression. Tai chi can restore and enhance balance. Meditation and yoga if practiced consistently can change a person dramatically both inside and out. Psychological counseling can bring peace, movement and profound insight to previously “stuck” persons. Group support can literally lift an individual struggling with any challenge to new heights that were just not possible when they were in the battle alone. Forgiveness of a long-standing grudge or buried hostility can set an individual free in his body and his mind. Indeed true transformation is possible when an individual exchanges long held, limiting beliefs for new more health-giving ones and new behaviors and attitudes arise. While the medical, technological breakthroughs get the big press, the miraculous evolution that comes out of these quieter transformations is no less profound.

Most notably, these daily practices of self-care are often most powerful when applied in combination. The Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease showed the world that a low-fat diet, daily exercise, yoga, and a regular group-support had the power to reverse atherosclerosis. No one knows which behavior led to the great result but the combination leads to healing. Similarly, powerful health improvements can ensue for any individual with any condition when people eat better, move around more, develop a feeling of gratitude, make headway in improving their relationships and end lifelong patterns of self defeating behaviors. The field of integrative medicine has arisen with just this philosophy — major health improvement can evolve out of integrating multiple healthy options together from standard, complimentary, and self-care realms. Reliance on one modality to save us is limited in its power. Approaching health from a wider lens can bring more power and energy to create greater change.

All is possible. There is no “cookbook” solution. We are all unique individuals with unique stories, however, healing is available to us all — we just have to open ourselves to the miracles that we can create.

Dr. Kalina has a private practice in Del Mar. Visit


to read more of his approach to healing.