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Informed Consent :Cortisol and the White Coat Syndrome. Bach Flower Essences for clear thinking.

Updated: Feb 17




I was watching a TED-Talk about the neuroscience of the hippocampus- how to hack it to quit losing keys, passport and reading glasses and learned about what to ask your doctor to assure you are informed before consenting to care. The idea of being ready for those moments in which bad decisions might have very unappealing consequences, can be mitigated for having a plan, a "pre-mortem" rather than a "post mortem" when we traditionally review what happened, what went wrong... be prepared for what we are likely to feel, what is likely to cloud our thinking...


As a consumer of medical care, not just an obedient patient, we all have the right to know what we are getting ourselves into. Will the treatment work? Are there side effects? What is the cost? Are there other ways to solve this problem that might not have the side effects or be as costly?


This is only one instance in daily life where clear thinking is necessary. But you know many more. And it's amazing when we stop and think... that maybe I did not do what I set out to do because I did not know where to begin, I did not know who to ask, I got overwhelmed, I thought I needed to x y or z first...


We all experience this differently, and getting really specific with a one -one conversation with a Bach practitioner or your journal and a bach questionnaire helps us get to the feelings that we can relieve when that cortisol pumps.


A few Bach remedies to consider:

  1. Rescue Remedy for that crisis feeling- always helpful to take before during or after these "white coat" moments.

  2. Elm for feelings of overwhelm.

  3. Larch for feeling that the task is beyond your capacity. The Self Confidence remedy.

  4. Scleranthus for decision making. For those times when we would ordinarily get caught in a loop of Should I do this or should I do that?

  5. Cerato if we are likely to poll our friends and family to help us make the decision.

  6. White chestnut if you ruminate endlessly after the appointment, or receiving the news.

  7. Wild Rose if you throw up your hands and just accept the advice of the doctor/salesperson/partner because "it's all the same, anyway"


Back to Daniel Levitan's Ted Talk -this neuroscientist recognizes the impact of cortisol on our thinking. - It makes us foggy. We don't make good decisions under stress.


He does a nice job explaining what three questions we should all make when evaluating a medical treatment. And like having a place to keep your keys, having these questions at the ready mean you don't have to be at your best, when you are under stress.


Daniel Levitan's 12 minute talk is very clear and puts into context the value of having a strategy on thinking clearly when you can't.



Daniel Levitin's 2 questions and an example of what the answers mean.

For any procedure or medication, ask:


1. "What is the number needed to treat?" In Daniel's own words: "It's the number of people that need to take a drug or undergo a surgery or any medical procedure

before one person is helped."


2. "What are the Side Effects?"


His example of not thinking clearly and the consequences is pretty compelling. cue to minute 9:45.


"For the most widely performed surgery on men over the age of 50, removal of the prostate for cancer,

the number needed to treat is 49. That's right, 49 surgeries are done for every one person who's helped. And the side effects in that case occur in 50 percent of the patients. They include impotence, erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence, rectal tearing, fecal incontinence. And if you're lucky, and you're one of the 50 percent who has these, they'll only last for a year or two."

Pretty sobering... If this is a little triggering, 4 drops of Rescue Remedy in your beverage of choice to help down regulate your stress would be helpful.


These are tough conversations or things to consider. Daniel Levitan's discussion about the "pre-mortem" is food for thought. Why not have Bach Flowers be part of your "pre-mortem" .




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