All Episodes

364. Unlocking Holistic Healing with Dr. Gladys McGarey

the daily helping podcast Jun 03, 2024

Meet Dr. Gladys McGarey, a trailblazer who has dedicated over a century to transforming healthcare through holistic medicine. Known as the mother of holistic medicine, her approach emphasizes love, understanding, and a profound connection with the patient's inner physician. Dr. McGarey's pioneering work focuses on understanding the deeper lessons behind diseases rather than merely treating symptoms.

Born in India to medical missionary parents, Dr. McGarey knew from a young age that she was destined to be a physician, despite challenges like dyslexia. Her resilience led her to co-found the American Holistic Medical Association in 1978. She believes in the body's ability to heal itself by paying attention to its signals and working in harmony with our inner selves.

Dr. McGarey's wisdom offers invaluable insights for enhancing well-being through holistic practices. By connecting with our inner physician and embracing the five L's, we can lead healthier, happier lives.


The Biggest Helping: Today’s Most Important Takeaway

“Live your life with life and love. If you can do that, other things are attracted to you. They become fun. They become joy. But if you don't love the trees and the birds and the people around you, you learn to lose love. And the beat goes on.”


Thank you for joining us on The Daily Helping with Dr. Shuster. Subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Google Podcasts to download more food for the brain, knowledge from the experts, and tools to win at life.




Produced by NOVA Media



Download Transcript Here

Dr. Gladys McGarey:

I think that every disease that we have has a lesson to teach us. And when we have pain, it's to figure out what our body is telling us about what's going on.


Dr. Richard Shuster:

Hello and welcome to The Daily helping with Dr. Richard Shuster, food for the brain, knowledge from the experts, tools to win it life. I'm your host, Dr. Richard. Whoever you are, wherever you're from and whatever you do, this is the show that is going to help you become the best version of yourself. 


Each episode you will hear from some of the most amazing, talented and successful people on the planet who followed their passions and strive to help others. Join our movement to get a million people each day to commit acts of kindness for others. Together, we're going to make the world a better place. Are you ready? Because it's time for your Daily Helping. 


Thanks for tuning into this episode of The Daily Helping Podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Richard. And I cannot begin to express to you what an honor it is to have today's guest. Her name is Dr. Gladys McGarey. She is the mother of holistic medicine. She has pioneered a new way of thinking about disease and health that has transformed the way we imagine healthcare and self-care around the world. 


And over a hundred years old, Dr. Gladys still offers consultations to help people connect with their physician within, recognized as a pioneer of the allopathic and holistic medical movements. She is also a founding Diplomat of the American Board of Holistic Medicine and the co-founder and past president of the American Holistic Medical Association. Dr. Gladys lives and works in Scottsdale, Arizona where for many years she shared a medical practice with her daughter. She currently has a life consulting practice, maintains a healthy diet, and enjoys a good piece of cake every now and again. And as she approaches 103, she has a 10-year plan for all of us and an eye and a healthier and more joyful future. Dr. Gladys, welcome to The Daily helping. It is awesome to have you with us today.


Dr. Gladys McGarey:

Thank you. Thank you. I'm happy to be alive and be able to do this.


Dr. Richard Shuster:

Well, we're very grateful you are. And there's so many things we can talk about, but Dr. Gladys, I'd love to go back in time with you and tell all of us what put you on the path you're on today. What was kind of the epicenter of your journey?


Dr. Gladys McGarey:

Well, I was born and raised in India. My mother went into labor with me at the Taj Mahal. I don't know what that means. But she didn't -- I wasn't born at the Taj Mahal, but she went into labor with me. Anyhow, I think she's kind of a drama queen, but that was fun. But the fact of the matter was that I love my childhood. 


My parents were medical missionaries in Northern India. And they took their -- they were osteopaths. And they took their medical work back into the jungles where people had not seen white people before, a lot of them. I played with the children, and they tried to rub my arms to get the white offside, look normal. It was the whole idea of just being part of the community. 


And my parents treated the patients with such love and concern and understanding that I knew when I was two years old that I was a physician. In fact, my sister wouldn't let me play with her dolls because my dolls got sick and hers. And so I knew that I'd come into this life to do this work as a physician. So it was a matter of just finding out how I was going to do that. 


And life has its ups and downs, and my first two years in school were nightmares. I was a -- I'm dyslexic. I still am. I can't do a lot of things, but the fact of the matter was that I couldn't read or write for two years. And so I flunked first grade and had to repeat it. And the teacher called me the class dummy and I was accepted as a class dummy, which was very difficult for me through the years to accept the fact that, well, maybe I was, but there were other things I could do. So it was a matter of accepting what was is what was there and going on with it because I knew that I had work to do and I had to get it done somehow. 


And the interesting thing was there's so many things that have happened during this time. And after we started the American Holistic Medical Association, there was a time when there were ten of us doctors sitting around a table discussing what it was that we work with and have the ten of us, six of us realized that we had been dyslexic all our life. And to each other we said, well, we had to find another way of learning because somehow, we learned to get through the work and get and understand about medicine in order to be in the position that we were in.


And that maybe that was why we were starting the American Holistic Medical Association, because we knew there had to be an alternative way of looking at health and feeling in order that we would be the aspect of the healing process, not making it, not trying to kill and get rid of disease, but to understand what that was disease was saying to us, what it was we were learning from that, what this experience in our life of dyslexia, what it was teaching us. This is the kind of thing that we shifted from getting rid of disease and pain to okay, what is it? What is it saying? What are we doing with it? And that was the really focused point of the American Holistic Medical Association.


Dr. Richard Shuster:

In what year did you found that association?


Dr. Gladys McGarey:

‘78 I think we did the actual signing of the organization.


Dr. Richard Shuster:

Got it. Okay. 


Dr. Gladys McGarey:

We found it earlier but --


Dr. Richard Shuster:

And so I know that in concept we have, if you're going to become a doctor in this country, you go one of basically two routes. You can become an MD where you become a DO and the DO is the osteopaths were more spiritually, I suppose, in line with what the work your parents had done and you as well. Although it feels like in 2024, it feels like there really isn't much of a differentiator practically when you go see a physician, for most physicians in the medical world. 


And so I'm wondering if you could speak to us about kind of this tug of war within medicine because for many, medicine is really it's diagnosed and treat, it's write a script, right? It's treating the symptoms, not treating root causes. And the holistic approach is quite the opposite. So I guess let's start there because you are the mother of holistic medicine. So give us holistic medicine 101 and let's then jump forward and apply it to where we are today.


Dr. Gladys McGarey:

Okay. I start medical school at Women's Medical College in Philadelphia in 1941 when World War II started. I mean, it started and all my whole training was during the time of World War II. So the things that we were learning and the things that are still being taught in the essence of the medical community is getting rid of diseases and conquering pain. And I don't see it that way. I think that every disease that we have has a lesson to teach us. And when we have pain, it's to figure out what our body is telling us about what's going on. 


I have a story about a patient of mine that I've been working with actually for years and she'd been complaining of shoulder pain. And it was her right shoulder, and she had the shoulder pain and we tried -- I tried to figure out what it was and where it was coming from and all that. And we had just worked -- she and I had worked together on this for a long time. And she was at my office, and they were sitting there still trying to figure out the old answer. 


And when we were finished, she got up and she lifted up her arm and she reached over and picked up her purse, which was a huge satchel that she hung over her shoulder. And we both began laughing because all of a sudden, we realized that every time she picked up that purse, she injured her shoulder. So we had been looking for an answer, but we didn't see it until we saw it. But if we hadn't been looking for it, we'd still be looking for. 


But the idea being that our body is where we can get the answers. Osteopaths understand this. When AT still started his medicine, my medicine, my mother became an osteopath in 1913. Women weren't doctors then. It was hard enough for me when in in ‘41 to become in 13, that was really something. But anyway, the idea of the body being the teacher is such a amazing concept. In fact, my eldest son is a retired orthopedic surgeon. And when he finished his training -- he's an MD. When he finished his training and came through Phoenix on his way down to Del Rio, Texas, he stopped to visit us. And then it's going on. 


And he said to me, “Mom, I'm going down there into Del Rio and I'm going to have people's lives in my hands. I don't know if I can handle that”. And I said to him, well, Carl, if you think you're the one that does the healing, you have a right to be scared. But if you can understand that it's your job to be the best orthopedics surgeon you can be, because this work that you've been taught, and you learned, and you know, it's amazing. If I have anything that requires that kind of work with them, I want a good orthopedic surgeon to do it. I don't want just anybody. I think that the work that you've learned to do is important. 


And as you do your work, the important part of that whole process is for you to be paying attention to the physician within that patient who is your colleague, because each patient has within them the only thing that's going to treat the healing, which is the physician within them the only thing that’s going to do the healing which is that physician within them which can take what it is that you're presenting as part of the path on the way to healing and make it real within yourself is that you have within that patient, your colleague. That colleague is the physician within that patient. 


And that's essential to the whole working of holistic medicine. That's what we do as physicians is tap into the spirit within us and connect with the spirit within the patient and make a connection that is lovely and understands what we're doing and work together. It's a collaboration. It allows us to really understand the inner workings of our body as it connects with our spirit and our mind. We're trying beings and we need to work with that.


Dr. Richard Shuster:

Amazing. I would be remiss if I didn't ask you about your 10-year plan that you have for all of us, so that we can be healthier and more joyful.


Dr. Gladys McGarey:

The 10-year plan has to do with waking up every morning and realizing that there's work to do. And it may be just the work I have to do today. Like what I'm doing today is really important work that I have to do because it's the next step for the next day, and the next step for the next thing. We have to take each step as it comes up and we can't -- if we're not directing it onward and upward and towards the light, which is what I call my 10-year plan, as it evolves in day by day, working and doing things. 


And I'm not at all sure you how would I possibly have known 10 years ago that I would be talking to somebody like you in this and around the world. I mean I could not have conceived of that idea. So my 10-year plan is to take each day as it comes along and use it to the best ability that I can, knowing that it's growing into something that is much bigger. And the 10-year plan is that 10-year plan, the huge awareness that life goes on and as we take each day and live it to the fullest, we know what is the next day, and what is the next day, but we take it as it comes.


Dr. Richard Shuster:

I love this. And I want to go back, you mentioned several times that it's the job of the osteopath to connect with the patient’s inner physician and I would extrapolate that further into saying it's the job of ourselves of us to connect with that inner physician so that we can keep ourselves as healthy as possible. This has worked for you for 102 plus years. 


So if somebody's listening to this and they don't really know how -- give us some of the kind of the signposts. What are some of the things that we should be -- and obviously you mentioned pain is an indicator that there's something to discover, but we don't always have that aha moment like the purse slinging over the shoulder. So give us some guide posts here about how we can really listen to our inner patient and be as healthy as possible.


Dr. Gladys McGarey:

Of course, pay attention to your body, pay attention to everything that's around you as a teacher. However, dreams are really important in my life. They have guided me. And when I've had a situation where I really was having trouble coming up with the answer or something, I would ask for a dream. And over and over again, it's a dream that's helped me take the next step and the next step and understand what was going on. So I really encourage people to pay attention to your dreams. They really are your -- nobody else can have your dreams. Like nobody else has your what I call memory lane. The memories that you have of the people who have moved on but are not, they may pass into the death curtain, but they're not out of your lives because they're part of your memory. They're part of something that you have within you. No one can take away from you. 


I mean, nobody can take my memories away from me. My daughter who died when she was 58 but I can still see her as a 3-year-old trying to tie her shoelaces. And I went over to help her, and she looks up at me and she says I'd let her do it my own self. And so I looked down and I said, okay, okay, I back off. And she's trying and she's still fine, and she stops. She puts her head back and she -- why is it little ponytail? And she says if you ever help me, help me now. So I have memories like that that are so real that she's still with me. It's not like she's gone. She's moved on. She's into the other dimension. She's there like other members of my family and people all around me. But the memories that we have created and the work that we've done, those things are no one can take away from us.


Dr. Richard Shuster:

What would you say are some of the most profound lessons you've learned over the course of your life?


Dr. Gladys McGarey:

Well, to pay attention to what it is that my voice is saying, because I didn't really trust my voice until I was 93. And I had a dream that helped me with that because growing up, I was a dummy. I was the one that -- I accepted that. And it was something that I would I'd write something, but I asked my husband, Bill or somebody else, to go over and make sure I was doing it, and doing it properly. And I'd do a lecture and in the back of my mind, I was questioning things. 


So for years, until I was 93 and one night I had a dream. And this dream I woke up singing and laughing, and I didn't know what the dream was until I looked at it. And the dream was that I saw myself as a 9-year-old Gladys in the jungles of North India. I saw myself looking out of our tent flap in the jungle, checking out to make sure my younger brother wasn't there because he'd tattle on me and then I'd be in trouble. He wasn't there because the idea was in our family, we were not allowed to say anything but hymns or buttons on the Sabbath morning. 


Well, and I thought that was a stupid plan. I'm 9-years-old and I think I want to see what I want to see. So he's out there. I run as fast as I could to our mango tree, and I climb up clear up to the top and I'm singing any old thing I could think of to sing. and I'm having a great time. But all of a sudden, I stop. And I think, oh, what's what's going on? But I look over my shoulder, and over my left shoulder, Jesus is up in the tree. 


This is my dream. And I'm looking at Jesus, and Jesus is laughing. He's really laughing. And I say to him, Jesus loves the little children, right? And he says yes. So I go back to my singing and then I get to thinking, did he really say yes? And so I look back over my shoulder and I say I'm still a little children, right? And he said yes and he's really laughing now. And I start laughing and I wake up laughing and singing and thinking you have to pay attention to your own voice. If Jesus can accept it, for crying out loud, try accepting it yourself. But I was 93 years old, so we learn as we learn. And if we pay attention to the ways in which our inner aspect of our being connects with our mind and spirit, we can take steps need to be taken so dreams are really important in my life.


Dr. Richard Shuster:

Thank you for sharing that story. It's astounding to me, as accomplished as you are, that you didn't really have confidence in your voice until 93, but amazing. I wanted to ask you as well, and I know I read in your bio that little quip about you enjoy a good piece of cake every now and then, but talk to us, you're an expert in this, so what's your take on how to have the best healthiest diet?


Dr. Gladys McGarey:

Well, first of all, it depends on where you live. You can't expect to have the same diet in Scottsdale, Arizona as I had when I was growing up in India. So you find what's the food as agrees with you. I have a son who can't eat garlic. Now, come on, but he really can't eat garlic. It depends on what your body is able to tolerate. So just when we put out proscribe things that this is how you should eat, and some people, I have some patients who have tried to eat something that doesn't agree with them and all the time they're eating this, they're saying this tastes bad. I don't like it. And they're not actually absorbing it with the love. 


And in other words, find out what works for you, and try to make it as fresh as possible. Try to make it as non-toxic as possible. Try to don't add stuff to your diet that you know is going to hurt. I mean I don't like alcohol. I just don't like it. I don't drink it. Why should I be drinking that? Even a little bit of wine, it doesn't taste good to me. 


I think we find what it is that works for us and then use that. I had to use it with my kids. I had to find out what worked for my children. I had one son who didn't like eggs. He said it gave him a headache in his stomach. Well, I didn't make him eat eggs. I used eggs in the food that I was doing, and he was able to do that, but just sit down and eat an egg was not what he wanted, and it gave him headache in the stomach. So pay attention to who we are and what it is that our body is telling us.


Dr. Richard Shuster:

Well said. And as we are nearing the end of the episode, I'm wondering if there are any other thoughts you have, strategies people can use to have their life be as happy, healthy and fulfilling as possible.


Dr. Gladys McGarey:

The more you can fill your life with life and love, the better it gets. If you look for fear and hate and darkness, it gets really nasty. But if you can do a push for one, it doesn't matter. Somebody says something mean about you, you can just take that in and say oh that hurt my feelings, I feel so bad. And it does, it feels awful. But if you could just say, oh, that's not important and let it go, you don't even remember it. So it's taking what you want to take as part of your being in with love and healing and caring and joy and the five Ls. 


These five Ls are, just real quickly, the first two are life and love. They work together. It's like a pregnancy. When I'm pregnant, the baby eats what I eat and feeds, becomes his own being when he takes his first breath. But the first two, life and love have to work together because as a being -- but when the life goes on as he takes his first breath, then that becomes self, it becomes a person. 


The third one is laughter. Laughter without love is cruel. It's mean. It breaks families up. It causes wars. But laughter with love is joy and happiness. The fourth one is labor. I got to go to work. Too many diapers. This is too hard. But labor, without love is just you drag yourself to it. But with love, it's bliss. It's what makes you do what you're doing. It's what makes me do what I'm doing. It's what makes you see it make you. It is the essence of who we are. 


And the fifth one is listening. This thing without love is empty song. You don't understand. You just don't know what's just [inaudible]. But labor with love is understanding. And these five Ls have been sort of a template of life gets really rich and really full of what it is. The juice that makes it really good for us to keep on.


Dr. Richard Shuster:

You might have just answered this question and I loved those five Ls, but I want to ask you this. I wrap up every episode by asking my guest just this one question, Dr. Gladys. What is your biggest helping, that single most important piece of information you'd like somebody to walk away with, after hearing our conversation today?


Dr. Gladys McGarey:

Live your life with life and love. If you can do that, other things, they are attracted to you. They become fun. They become joy. But if you don't love the trees and the birds and the people around you, you learn to love, and the beat goes on.


Dr. Richard Shuster:

The beat goes on. I love it. Dr. Gladys, this was a treat for me, and I know a treat for all of us. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your wisdom with us today. It was wonderful.


Dr. Gladys McGarey:

Thank you. Thank you for allowing me to do it.


Dr. Richard Shuster:

Absolutely. And I also wanted to thank each and every one of you who took time out of your day to hear our conversation. If you liked it, if you're going to have more love in your life, go give us a follow and a five-star review on your podcast app of choice, because this is what helps other people find the show. 


But most importantly, go out there today and do something nice for somebody else, even if you don't know who they are and post it on your social media feeds using the hashtag #MyDailyHelping because the happiest people are those that help others.


Dr. Gladys McGarey:



There is incredible potential that lies within each and every one of us to create positive change in our lives (and the lives of others) while achieving our dreams.

This is the Power of You!