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Cambridge Progressive Medicine

Cambridge Progressive Medicine

By Dr William Bostock
Progressive medicine is all about focusing on health rather than disease. If we want to be healthy why not focus on what makes us well, rather than what makes us ill?

It is also about change. Feeling better than we do now means feeling differently from now. But to feel differently we have to think differently.

But nobody likes to be told to think differently, that's why change is so hard. This podcast doesn't aim to tell you what to do, that is rarely helpful. It aims to suggest an alternative way of thinking to guide you on your own personal journey.
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24: Pain (part 3) - Addressing pain
In this final episode dedicated to understanding pain we draw on what we have learnt so far to understand how a deeper understanding of the processes that contribute to chronic pain can help us to discover new strategies for dealing with pain. If pain is produced by neural networks in the brain what can we do about it? We explore ways of rewiring these neural networks to reduce pain. To get the most out of this episode I would really recommend listening to the previous episodes on pain first, or at the very least doing the homework from episode 23 and watching Professor Moseley’s 20 min TED talk. You can find the link for this on my website, Facebook and twitter.
March 18, 2021
23: Pain (part 2) - Chronic pain
In this second episode about pain, we pick up where we left off in part 1 to further explore the neuroscience and philosophy behind pain production, and introduce the concept of neural networks and neuroplasticity, which may provide us with new ways of addressing chronic pain. Although all pain is real, there are different categories of pain. Identifying these different categories is important as it may inform us of the most appropriate and effective treatments.
March 06, 2021
22: Pain (part 1) - Understanding pain
It is some time ago that I promised we would be doing some work on pain and so I figured it's about time we got started on the advanced class. This is the first of three episodes all about pain.  Pain is complex and incredibly difficult to manage, and many of the medications we use to treat pain are ineffective or have harmful side effects. However, I believe that through a deeper understanding of the mechanism that produce pain it is possible to find fresh approaches to addressing pain, even when the medications are not cutting it.  In this first episode we take a broad approach to explore what pain is, drawing on emerging neuroscience, as well as considering evolutionary and philosophical perspectives. 
February 26, 2021
21: Fit Notes: Taking time for yourself.
There is a perception in society that people are prone to malingering. But in my experience, we are far more likely to commit the error of continuing to battle through at work, when we really need to be focusing on looking after ourselves. There comes a point where the right thing to do is to look after yourself. And this point comes much sooner than you think. When you find yourself in this situation take the time. Don’t beat yourself up about it, don’t debate it, don’t feel shame, just take the time. We live in a society where we look after people because it is the right thing to do. But this is also a blessing and a gift. Out of respect for that gift, and out of respect for yourself, use your time wisely.
March 04, 2020
20: Functional Vs Progressive medicine.
Within the health space there are a lot of different terms floating about. Western medicine, holistic medicine, alternative medicine, functional medicine, and now I have added progressive medicine into the mix. What’s more these words may mean different things to different people. This can be confusing, but by understanding the relationship between these different ways of approaching health, where they overlap and how they differ, we can gain a better understanding of what we need to be healthy.
February 16, 2020
19: Movement.
There are many scientific studies demonstrating the multiple benefits of exercise on our health. But these are not why I recommend regular exercise to my patients. Humans are designed to move, and if we don’t, our bodies and minds don’t run as well as if we do. If you can find some time in your day to get your heart rate up a bit you will feel happier, enjoy your food more, be more in touch with your spirituality, have less aches and pains, feel more alert and energetic, be more productive, and sleep better. In short, your life will be better. Looking more attractive, not getting diabetes and living a bit longer are merely favourable side effects. They are not the goal. The exercise is its own reward. You don’t need a scientific study to convince you, all you need to do is take a walk on the beach, in the woods, or down by the river, and observe how you feel.
February 06, 2020
18: Moralising.
If you’ve listened to this series from the beginning, you will have frequently heard me saying that this or that “isn’t a moral issue.” What do I mean by this, and how do we know what is or isn’t a moral issue? Moralising is a risky thing to do, and puts your own happiness, as well as that of others, in serious jeopardy. By making something into an ethical issue you are inadvertently transferring power over your wellbeing to somebody else. If we are wise, we will keep our moralising to an absolute minimum. In general, most of us overshoot by a mile, making moral issues far more often than is necessary or helpful.
January 26, 2020
17: Sleep.
Poor sleep is a sure sign, a common early warning, that we have lost balance in our lives. It is also a key area that can be responsible for lack of balance. It is a vicious circle. If we don’t sleep well, we will feel anxious and bad, but feeling anxious and bad can stop us from sleeping. Even if you don’t think that sleep is an issue for you, I would still recommend having a think about your sleeping habits, as invariably all of us have room for improvement across many aspects of our lives. Even if you don’t sleep badly, it is possible that you might be able to sleep better!
January 19, 2020
16: Advice and guidance.
The key to improving our health lies in making sustained small changes across multiple aspects of our day to day lives. Whilst this always starts with our thoughts, with managing our minds, we must translate this into action if we are to regain our balance.
January 12, 2020
15: Antidepressants.
In 2017 there were 67 million prescriptions for antidepressant medication in England. Despite the widespread availability of a medication which has been clinically proven to treat depression, there still seems to be a lot of depression and anxiety about. If antidepressants were the whole story, surely, we should all be feeling a whole lot happier by now? Whilst I am sure that antidepressants can have a role to play in the treatment of depression and anxiety, it is important that we understand how and why we use these medications, otherwise I think there is potential for them to become part of the problem, rather than part of the solution.
January 05, 2020
14: Understanding depression and anxiety.
We talk about depression and anxiety a lot in our society, but many people, including doctors, nurses and probably even some psychiatrists are not that clear in their own minds what we are actually talking about. Even if we think we are clear in our own minds, we are certainly not always in agreement with each other. A central theme of this series is that we are always responsible for our own health, not for any moral reason, but because we are the ones with the most power to influence it, and by a wide margin. If we are going to be responsible for our own mental health, it is important that we have a clear understanding of what we mean by mental health and mental illness. If we are not clear about this, we may struggle to find the most effective strategies for managing our problems and will run the risk of inadvertently adopting harmful coping mechanisms.
December 29, 2019
Merry Christmas!
The world can be a beautiful place if we can learn to open our eyes and see it. As it is Christmas I want to share something beautiful with you. I get tears in my eyes every time I hear it. It is especially beautiful to me because it is about family, but I hope that you enjoy it too. Merry Christmas!
December 21, 2019
13: The body and the mind: Responsibility and Blame.
The body and mind are not two separate entities, they are intricately and absolutely related to each other. Trying to separate the body and mind, thinking of some conditions as “mental health” conditions and others as “Physical health” conditions makes no sense. More to the point it is an unhelpful way of trying to understand humans and can stop us from being healthy.
December 11, 2019
12: Becoming an adult.
Many of our problems are the result of a failure to realize that we are not children anymore. Many of us fail to understand the power that we gain as adults, or at least are unable or unwilling to exercise this power. There is no such thing as personality. There are just patterns of thinking that we learnt as children. But when we become adults, we gain the power to choose different patterns, if we want to. Just as when we are adults, we can choose our hobbies or careers based on what suits us, rather than on what suited our parents, so too can we choose our personalities. If we don’t, our happiness will be completely dependent on external circumstances and we will be setting ourselves up for an unhappy life, because a good proportion of the time bad stuff will be happening to us.
December 04, 2019
11: Managing your mind 101: The thought ladder.
Probably the best way to convince yourself that you have control over your own mind is to start doing it. In this episode I am going to present a simple practical tool to help you to start managing your mind today. I often warn that there are no "quick fixes" but by practicing the thought ladder you really can have an instant impact on how you feel day to day.  I learnt about this from an excellent podcast called Unf*ck Your Brain which I highly recommend you check out.
November 25, 2019
A special note on pain.
Pain is an incredibly common symptom that I see. It can be extremely debilitating and difficult to treat. The good news is that I believe that Progressive Medicine does have something to offer to people who suffer with chronic pain, and it isn’t by simply choosing not to be in pain, and it isn’t because “the pain is just in your head.”
November 16, 2019
10: Thought Work.
Learning the origin of our thoughts does not in itself make us feel better. Understanding the root cause of my insecurities does not help me if I continue to feel insecure. If I continue to think bad thoughts about myself, I will continue to feel bad. If we want to feel better, we must think better thoughts. Sadly, even that is not enough. Not only do we have to think better thoughts, we must also believe those thoughts. Learning how to think and believe helpful thoughts about yourself, on purpose, is the basis of managing your mind, and the way to achieve this is through the practice of thought work.
November 16, 2019
9: Psychotherapy.
Almost everyone stands to benefit from therapy, and there are a variety of talking therapies freely available on the NHS. This episode explores what it is all about, and how you can get involved.
November 06, 2019
8: The truth hurts.
Meditation works because it turns off our thoughts, many of which are negative and harmful to us. It helps us to see that the world can be a peaceful place when we stop projecting our anxieties on to it.  But what if instead of simply turning off unwanted or unhelpful thoughts, we could actively replace them with welcome beneficial ones? What if we could stop believing our stories that restrict us, and harm us, and instead think and believe thoughts that allow us to thrive? What if our running commentaries could support and encourage, rather than berate and injure?
October 30, 2019
7: Let's get Cracking.
So far in this series I have explored why despite the wonders of western medicine many of us still feel unwell, and why we might struggle to believe that there might be another solution.  There is another way, and seeing is believing.  In this episode I’m going to explain why positive change must always start with our thoughts, and to suggest some practical tools to help you to start feeling better today.
August 02, 2019
6: A new concept of health.
In this episode I am going to explore what it means to be healthy, and how it might be possible to be healthy despite having a serious disease, and even in the face of imminent death.  Despite how it feels when we experience ill health, stressful situations, or physical discomfort; our mental and emotional responses to these are not a foregone conclusion. They are learnt behaviours and patterns of thinking. And because they are learnt they can be unlearnt and relearnt.   We can learn to consciously influence the way we respond to external stimuli, situations and circumstances. To change on purpose how we react, how we feel and what we do. We can train ourselves to feel joyful both in the sunshine and in the rain. If we can learn to do that, good health and happiness won't be far behind.
July 16, 2019
5: Tired all the time.
A very common symptom I encounter in my day to day practice is feeling tired all the time. It is so common we have an acronym for it. TATT or Tat.  To explore this with my patients I ask them to tell me about their lives. One of the great privileges I have as a GP is that I get to hear people’s stories. People are living frantic, stressful, crazy lives.   Sometimes it can feel like we are battling life, rather than living it.  When we are not living life on purpose, when life is something that is happening to us, and we firefight and battle our way through from day to day, this will always lead to exhaustion.   But people are sometimes reluctant to accept that the reason they feel tired is because they are exhausted. They feel like there must be more to it, that there must be some underlying disease.  In this episode we explore why this is, and how we can move beyond a diagnosis to good health.
June 24, 2019
4: What is Progressive medicine? Why lifestyle is the key to good health.
Humans are meant to be running around naked in the woods.  We are designed to run, just for the joy of running. No wonder we feel unwell, no wonder our bodies and minds are out of balance, out of kilter, when we are leading such frantic, stressful, unnatural lives.    Progressive medicine is a bit like turning ourselves off and on again. Our instinct may be to distrust it, we may want a more scientific explanation and intervention, but sometimes in order to get where we want to go we need to reset and start afresh.  This podcast series aims to provide you with the tools you need to reboot yourself, to give practical suggestions for making positive changes in your life, to help you to find your reset button.
June 17, 2019
3: Time for change?
As a GP patients come to see me and they feel like something is just not quite right. When I see patients who are feeling really washed out, the most common reason is lack of wellbeing. There are some problems that western medicine is just not very good at treating. Our excessive faith in western medicine to deal with problems that are outside its ability can be quite harmful. It stops us from being able to seek alternative, more helpful solutions. If we can understand and recognize the limitations of western medicine we can clear the path for a more helpful concept of health, one that enables us to take control of our own wellbeing. A system that makes it possible to choose health. 
June 11, 2019
2: Why your doctor hasn't fixed you yet.
In episode 1 I suggested that if we want to feel better than we currently do, we need to take a fresh look at our whole concept of health. If we want to start doing something differently, we first need to recognize and understand what we are currently doing. We need to understand why what we are currently dong isn’t working for us. In general, most of us in western society adopt a concept of health based in Western medicine – I guess the clue is in the name! Western medicine is a fantastic thing, but it is not always the solution to all our problems. In this episode we are going to explore why this is, and the reasons why we might need to start thinking about health differently if we want to feel better. 
June 03, 2019
1: Choose health.
Are you fed up of feeling tired all the time? Do you struggle with poor sleep, anxiety and low mood; or physical symptoms such as headaches, abdominal pain or nausea? Have you waited weeks to see your GP, only to find that they don't seem to know whats wrong? Then this podcast is for you.  At Cambridge progressive medicine we assist you in taking control of your own health, wellbeing and happiness, using a combination of western medicine, psychotherapy, thought work and lifestyle.
May 27, 2019