Disclaimer: The following is made for informational and educational purposes only.  It is not intended to be medical advice nor an exhaustive list of specific treatment protocols.  The approach and perspective is only based upon the content contributor’s knowledge, research, or clinical experience. The content creators, authors, editors, reviewers, contributors, and publishers cannot be held responsible for the accuracy or continued accuracy of the information or for any consequences in the form of liability, loss, injury, or damage incurred as a result of the use and application of any of the information, either directly or indirectly. Each remedy plan must be individually tailored with the guidance and clinical judgment of your medical or healthcare practitioner.

In this article, we’re going to cover:

Part One

  1. Introduction
  2. Wear Two Lenses And Beyond
  3. Awareness And Critical Mind

Part Two (coming soon)

  1. General Scientific Research Publication Format
  2. Types Of Research
  3. Gold Standard
  4. Literature, Systematic Reviews, Meta-Analysis
  5. P. Value, Publication, Bias, and Other Factors

Part Three (coming soon)

  1. Where To Access Research
  2. When There Is No Research
  3. Conclusion

[PART ONE ]

1. INTRODUCTION

In a time when diverse medical and therapeutic support systems are available, we, the neurodivergents, are keen on choosing care that is a combination of indigenous/traditional practice and pharmaceutical medicine.  It seems more attainable in some countries but challenging to cultivate in parts of the world.  It most likely is caused by how reductive we’ve been trained to see most things since the day we’re popped out from the womb:

Good Baby vs Naughty Baby
Normalcy vs Authenticity
Left vs Right
Neurotypicals vs Neurodivergents
Problem vs Solution
Natural vs Synthetic
Eastern Medicine vs Western Medicine
Science vs Pseudoscience
Fact vs False
All vs Nothing

The unique biological makeup affects each of our wellbeing.  Here’s when scientific research comes in to help us understand the targeted underlying mechanisms and might lead us to choose one solution over another.  

“In the modern medicine model, this means the goal of scientific research is to uncover the objective fact of health and to understand how the mechanistic parts that make up our bodies work and react and interact with various internal and external influences, be it disease states, exercise, or the medications and herbal preparations we use. Once science understands how individual components of health work, it expects them to work this way consistently, and to work for each person in the same way.” - Herbal Academy

Oftentimes, this diminutive view can be convenient to group certain individuals or symptoms into one category in order to get standardized treatments.  However, this is the complete opposite of how other medical or therapeutic systems view the person and understand how individual medicine works in the body, as their view is much more individualistic and inseparable from the unique human-environment-food-drug-herb interaction of each individual, also known as Biopsychosocialspirital Model and Pharmacognosy.

These differing paradigms of wellbeing highlight the struggle of communication and finding a common ground between present-day science and indegnious/traditional intelligence or the medical and neurodivergent communities.

2. WEAR TWO LENESE AND BEYOND

Even though the post-Victorian medical field (which indicates conventional medicines massively evolved since industrialisation in this article) is an evolution from western herbalism and botanical therapies, the practice models and scientific studies have completely evolved from the original principles, whereas, the current Indiegnous and traditional medicines knowledge have been exclusively passing down through generational lineages from empirical practices for thousands of years.

It is recent in history that we have begun to scientifically evaluate various traditional medicinal constituents, as well as our diverse neurotypes, and how all these work with our biological makeup to match the static data, the growth of population, systemic, and economical changes in the urban world.

Due to societal and biological evolution, conflicting cultural and individual perspectives, as well as economical and political influences, the lens on helping the neurodivergent journey has produced (ironically) divergent outcomes and sets of data.

Prior to delving into finding the definition of science or how to evaluate research, let’s prime our minds with this fundamental understanding that all things, including medicines, start from curiosity and develop based on philosophies.  Here’s how two difference lenses see brain and mind:

“A fundamental difference between Eastern and Western thought can be found at the foundation of civilization. When the ancient Greeks gazed at the empty-seem-ing sky, they saw something emerge. From that something, they found material matter and physical substance : real things. Much of Western scientific inquiry on the idea there is something material in the world, something real and tangible that we can discover and explore. And if our science is rigorous and careful enough, with all personal bias removed, we will ultimately be able to know and understand the material brain. Then the mind will be revealed through the brain.
Eastern philosophy has another alternative to the view that material reality comes first. From the early beginnings, the ancient Eastern thinkers looked up into the sky and saw emptiness, the unformed Dao (means Way). Many Eastern philosophies are built on the idea that there is no matter, no lasting material to be found, only Dao (Way). Everything we experience is empty of real material substance. Things are always changing in varying ways. The best method to understand ourselves and our world is to let go of obstructions and become empty ourselves. If we are rigorous in our meditation, balanced, calm, and absolutely empty of all thought, we will perceive directly. Then the brain will be revealed through the mind.” - The Dao Of Neuroscience, p.11

Let’s explore the idea by using the spider web analogy here:

Curiosity and philosophies exist prior to most things, then form into two major views.  

Group One sees a spider web. As they start looking into the web structure, slowly zooming  into a single thread and then into the components of the thread until they find a single, profound, tangible, and an agreed upon measurable aspect in order to consider being part of discovery. Through this process, they learn the detail, structure, function, and how this spider web works within the complex system that constitutes it. They acknowledge the patterns, interdependency, and cascading effects, however, these might not be in the consideration in general practice consistently.

While Group B acknowledges the existence and functions of spider webs, they learn the structure of the web. This group then zooms out to focus on the “how” and “why” a spider makes webs, observing what holds the web and its overall function. They also include the potential influences of the surrounding environment and climate to the web and spider. Through this process, the fundamental understanding is that they learn patterns, interdependency, and exploring the axiom that nothing in creation exists in isolation, following the trail of how one thing has impacts at a cascading scale.

How about the spider?  The spider might observe these two schools of thoughts, adding its own experience and stories into the thoughts as first-hand knowledge which are later known as anecdotal evidence which is closer to real-life experience in one's daily living.

If we apply these models to today’s understanding in neurodivergence, we see most medical physicians and pharmaceutical companies focus on understanding physical structure, functions, and biochemical communication.  They might also acknowledge the external factors that influence our biological expressions but they might not be the standard practice in certain countries.  

On the other hand, we can see the following professionals focus on how patterns, interdependency, and cascading effects influence the persons and their both internal and external environments.  Such as physiologists and psychologists focus on sensory, motor, behavioural, and emotional challenges;

Neuroscientists focus on the neurocircuit as well as causation and correlation of neuroactivity, behavior, and emotion affected by external feedbacks;

Indigenous/traditional medicine practitioners and nutrition professionals focus on whole body constitution interact with climate and external changes.

As Neurodivergents, we observe both camps while adding our own feelings and experiences. Pairing the larger pool of information with our own anecdotal evidence from our evolving day-to-day experience, Person-first advocacy and strength-based therapies emerge as a model to further broaden the journey of neurodivergence.

Now, we see these two lenses aren’t in direct conflict with each other, but are both equally important.  Most research and studies can either be narrow-focused down to specific aspects, overlooking the big picture, or exploring the same element(s) with different methodologies, intent, perspectives. Much like different brands cultivate and serve their own customer base who share the similar values while occasionally finding a bridge leading to crossover collaborations.

This fundamental understanding is here to help us understand that there isn’t just one answer in nature and is the foundational idea of societies.

3. AWARENESS AND CRITICAL MIND

Staying up-to-date on the available research is an essential way of producing a safe form of healthcare instead of sick care.  Medical doctors, nurses, Indigenous/traditional medicine practitioners, herbalists, therapists, research specialists, chemists, scientists, and self-advocates are part of the broad community of health care providers and educators with each having a role to play while also having an obligation to the conversation.

In order to properly communicate with all members of this community, it’s crucial to respect each others’ views while aspiring to engage in dialog with a focus on understanding .  Scientific research publication is one of the many ways to help professionals to communicate across the board.

It goes without saying that research is not flawless. There often is room for error in scientific inquiry of all fields.  However, in general, varying entities often take scientific studies as fact in order to prove or disprove ideas/concepts/etc. with the intent of personal gain. This has the unfortunate effect of adding unnecessary complexity to an already disorienting topic.

(As we continue exploring the concept in the following paragraphs, we’ll discuss more on the in-depth potential of scientific research flaws in Part 2 section 8)

In a lot of situations, neurodivergents have unique relationships with our identities and views on our experiences just like indigenous/traditional medicine practitioners have the intimate relationship and in-depth understanding of herbal medicine that other medical systems might not have.  

Most research performed today is mostly done by teams of scientists, however, due to how the previous study model was set up, most scientists and researchers might not report adverse events due to lack of awareness of negative impacts on research participants.  Furthermore, feedback and self reports from paramedical, caregivers, and first persons’ aren’t often included;

Or the research details are done in a way that neurodivergents perceive as tedious and repetitive tasks in order to opt-out prior to the research process completion.

Another reason might also be related to in the US alone, systemic racism affects the medical and educational accessibilities in different ethnic groups. While in Asia and the Middle East, along with racism and caste systems, neurodiversity is seen as mental illness instead of neurological differences. Even though some research has been done in South Korea, China, India, Iran, and Qatar in recent years respectively, the data isn’t as consistent due to cultural barriers or educated neurodiverse families finding ways to work within the limitations of the respective systems in order to get much needed near-equivalent medical and therapeutic care.

An example of herbal medicine such as Angelica is widely used in both Western herbal medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicines. The version being used in Western herbal medicine is an European species called Angelica archangelica and North American species called A. atropurpurea, whereas the one that is being used in Classical Chinese Medicine are A. sinensis, A. pubescen, and A. dahurica.

The European and North American Angelica specieses are used to help support digestive, circulation, and anxiety, while the Chinese variants are used to help support female hormonal and reproductive status on specific weeks in a monthly cycle.

Because there are nuances as factors to affect the research outcome, we need to be able to review outputs with a critical mind, apply microscopic and macroscopic prospects, bringing our knowledge and capabilities to the table, while ensuring we identify the strengths and weaknesses in the research in order to provide constructive, respectful feedback in order to contribute to the conversation rather than detract.

In Part two and three, we’ll walk you through the details on how to evaluate research to extend knowledge from actual use, whether personal or in a clinical setting as a practitioner, educator, and advocate .
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