Natural Health ServiceThe way forward....
We use the term Human Nature, and we teach our children in school that Nature is the source of all that is, and all that we can imagine. We trust nature to recover herself after fires, storms, and other outrages. If we assist, we try to support that natural process, not to suppress it. So why do we have such a different perspective when it comes to our own health?
A human being, like any other living organism, has an ancestry, a personal history, and a specific identity. This combination of individualising features makes each one of us quite unique and original. We have thoughts, dreams, memories, hopes, goals, desires, aversions, susceptibilities, weaknesses and strengths that form the basis of who we are and how we function in the world. We are constantly responding to the environment. The food we eat, our family or group, as well as social and environmental factors, influence us at all times. We must adapt within this flux of chemical, emotional, psychical and physical forces in order to survive, and the better we adapt, the more we thrive. In contrast, when we are poorly adapted, and our responses to these outer influences creates untoward stress, then we lose our health.
The disturbance of our inner balance creates functional changes. Our sleep, sexual function, hormonal and nervous systems become disrupted. We feel anxious, or other disturbing emotions. We develop a distorted perspective on our situation, make mountains out of molehills, develop lasting emotional wounds that interfere with our ability to function “in the moment.” Is it no wonder that a compromised organic system such as just described can become prone to physical disease? The symptom may begin with only a slight disturbance, indicating the need to make an adjustment in the whole being. But if the health practitioner fails to consider the underlying situation, but focuses only on the pathological symptom, the problem is not actually being perceived in its totality.
Further, if the medicine is prescribed merely to eradicate the pathological expression of the disturbance, then we invite a new range of problems. Modern pharmaceutical medicine can suppress or mask symptoms, but at what cost? The secondary effects are not even predictable, as the suppression of pathology forces the organism to express the problem in a different way. We would all agree with this. We only need to consider how we feel if we are suppressed emotionally. If we cannot voice how we feel about something, because we have been silenced by the prevailing culture, the problem does not “go away”. It lurks underground, and when it finds a new expression, it carries the added force of the suppression. We know this to be true to how our nature works on every level. Why would it be otherwise in the treatment of disease?
An additional problem is that pharmaceutical medicine in the industrial age has been given free reign to powerfully suppress symptoms, and many of these drugs are no longer derived directly from nature, but are synthesised in the laboratories out of toxic substances, selected for their ability to target and kill living cells. They are deployed as search and destroy weapons in the body, in a military-style approach to eradicating disease. The heroic drug goes in, ruthlessly kills off the enemy, and other effects are regrettable “collateral damage.” This is wrong. It has caused untold suffering. It betrays a lack of respect for, and lack of trust in nature.
Why do we have such an un-natural medicine system? It would be a mistake to view this in a narrow context. If we widen our perspective, we realise that the medical system fits into a belief system or ideology that dominates our western mind. Heroic medicine is part of a world that is now dominated by mega corporations. Industrial agriculture produces toxic food, and the petro-chemical industry is busy poisoning the whole earth. These businesses do not serve nature; they exploit her for gain. They take risks, avoid responsibility, and are not ultimately answerable.
Natural Medicine begins with a holistic perspective of health and disease. Medicines or healing modalities are selected for their ability to correct the imbalance from the core, not merely to tinker with the symptoms. The practitioner is trained in the art of perception and properly versed in an understanding of natures cycles. Each gesture of intervention is geared to produce the maximum effect with the minimum effort, and support and enhance the natural power for recovery that exists within all living systems.
We must not confuse the technique or modality with the goal or intention. What defines Holistic Medicine is still not clear in our market place reality, but we can begin with a broad distinction:
Medicine is holistic or natural when it is applied to support the health preserving processes within an organic system. If medicines are applied to eradicate symptoms or to suppress or otherwise overwhelm a disease process, with no reference to the causation, the aetiology or the concomitant symptoms, then it is not holistic. As we know from years of observational research, the symptom is not the whole problem, and removing the symptom often invites a host of new challenges.
However, the good news is that with this definition, a Western medical practitioner may apply holistic principles, if for example she prescribes rest and nutritional awareness in a case of emotional exhaustion. And likewise, a practitioner using plant based or homeopathic remedies may be applying them in a way counter to the holistic principle, if they are given specifically to remove a presenting symptom, with no regard for the totality of the case.
The modalities employed to solve a case depends first on the correct perception of the problem. Only by collecting all the signs and symptoms, and delving into the aetiology to trace a time line of progression can the physician clearly perceive what needs to be cured in the patient; and this will be unique to each individual patient, regardless of the diagnosis.
In current medical practice, treatment is founded entirely upon the diagnosis. Following a consultation and all relevant testing, the diagnosis may still be unclear or as yet unformed. This methodology effectively disables physicians from applying a therapeutic intervention until the disorder has advanced to establish a diagnosed structural pathology. Yet the patients complaint may be loud and clear, and shouting for a medical intervention that can support the restoration of health. These cases where patients report functional change, to mood, sleep, sexual function, appetite, digestion, circulation, nervous system etc etc, occupy by far the majority of the every day physicians attention. And yet, the current medical model must send all these patients away with analgesics, anti-depressants or nothing, essentially biding time until they eventually return with a real diagnosable condition. If we stop to think about it, this makes a mockery of the idea of “health care” as the service can only take firm action when it has identified and labelled a patient´s disease. Until then, it is institutionally predisposed to ignore or dismiss the patient’s concerns.
A health care system based on natural holistic medicine hardly exists in the world. Yet if it did, it would have as its goal: a) to restore the sick to health, by safe, gentle and natural means. In such a service the first stage is the correct perception of the problem, based on a carefully managed consultation, where the report of the patient is elicited in full. The second stage is the analysis of the totality of symptoms, and the selection of the individualised remedies, derived from nature and based on empirical principals. The third stage is the careful evaluation of the effect of the treatment, and the ongoing management of the curative process. Finally, this new health care system would be actively engaged within communities with services and programs to reduce or remove the conditions that create ill-health in the first place. That would be a true NHS – a Natural Health Service, and something we could all be proud of.