Revitalizing Medicine

I am compelled to have a hand in revitalizing modern medicine for reasons both material and spiritual. Our present health care system is plagued with limiting assumptions, many of which have little to nothing to do with the core body of truth which governs all things biotic. My aim in this brief essay is to identify several of those principles in order to initiate this much needed conversation.

The European Renaissance and the subsequent industrial revolution gave rise to the mechanistic approach to medicine used widely in the West and as with any collection of memes, the challenge to any generation is to see beyond the main stream of thought which defines the borders of consciousness, especially in areas where the truth has been supplanted by commonly held opinion.

To reform any system, you must first identify the core principles of truth which compose its vertebral column. I have come to recognize the following to be true:

  • Medicine is both an art and a science
  • The human being is biological, chemical and energetic in nature
  • Energy precedes biology; physics comes before biochemistry
  • The “why” of medicine is infinitely more important than the “how” of medicine
  • Medicine serves to help humanity maintain a sound mind, body and heart, that mankind may go about its purpose unhindered by unnecessary physical, mental or emotional limitations
  • The two most important principles in medicine are: first, to do no harm and second, to put the patient first
  • There is tremendous value consolidated and organized in the minds and hearts of the medical masters in every generation
  • The time-tested system of apprenticeship is the most efficient means of conveying the wisdom of the masters from one generation to the next
  • The least costly, least intrusive and most effective medical intervention is preferred
  • Disease labels do more harm than good and are unnecessary
  • Symptoms are evidence of the body’s most efficient method for dealing with a particular imbalance
  • Suppressing symptoms is rarely advisable and is primarily an emergency measure
  • Intuition is valuable to medical science

Identifying the core principles rooted in truth in every system of medicine is of central importance to revitalize the art and science of medicine. Every system of medicine has its roots in truth; if it did not it would not exist. Moreover, all inefficiencies in medical science are born of patterns of thought which are divorced from the truth.

We would be wise to humbly allow for the possibility that modern science is not intrinsically superior to ancient science. While it may be better in certain aspects, to assume that it is always superior is myopic and prejudiced. There is no room for egotism in true medicine.

The argument that medical history is gradualist is specious; punctualism is more likely the process by which medical knowledge has been accumulated or lost over time. The rise and fall of medical knowledge has paralleled the rise and fall of civilizations. In any case, the golden thread of truth is infinitely more important than the time stamp.

Any meaningful consideration of medicine or of science for that matter must begin in truth if it is to end in truth. Unlock the body, mind and heart and you unleash the dynamic spirit of life within the individual. It is for this reason and this reason alone that the practice of the art and science of medicine is a high and noble cause.

We haven’t changed much

The remains of the past have long fascinated the thinking men and women of the present, for a very good reason. The period of cultural history known as the Renaissance, which began in Italy in roughly the 14th century and catalyzed fresh thoughts throughout the rest of Europe through the 17th century, largely took its inspiration from the records and visible remains of the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome, whose hegemony is conventionally dated from the 8th century BC until roughly 7th century AD.

The cultural and intellectual framework through which we now operate – the way we think and act – was formed in classical antiquity and refashioned during the Renaissance. We tend to prize our so-called “modern” approach to life and its problems, but scratch beneath the the shiny new packaging that enfolds our thoughts (complements of the industrial and information age) and you’ll find people whose deepest concerns, core motivations and strongest compulsions are no different than those who lived 500 or 2,000 years ago. People, no matter how far back we can peer through recorded history, are people.

We haven’t changed much.

 

 

Non-Suppressive Pediatrics

The practice of medicine took an interesting turn in the United States roughly a century ago. The net result of that turn is that the majority of interventions are suppressive in nature. This is particularly true in the field of pediatric care.

Symptoms and illness are not always a bad thing. In fact, more often than not they are evidence that the body is doing what it has been programmed to do. Whether that design came as a result of eons of evolutionary magic or at the hand of Providence or perhaps a little of both, the complex systems which constrain to homeostasis are a marvel to behold.

The immune and nervous systems play a particularly important role in maintaining the balance we know as health. Childhood, from a health perspective, is the time in which a future adult’s body grows accustomed to the xenobiotics present in the natural and man-made environment. The immune and nervous systems develop, grow and mature through exposure and many of the symptoms confused with illness are nothing more than the body working with the tools at its disposal to cleanse itself (nasal discharge, fever, etc.) and restore balance.

You may have heard a grandparent encourage to you let your children play in the dirt and not to worry too much about washing their hands afterward and there is plenty of scientific evidence which shows that such an approach does in fact promote health. But wait! Before you click off of my blog and wash your hands with anti-bacterial hand soap, read on. It gets better.

Your body is a remarkable collection of cells, but possibly more importantly, an impressive assemblage of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi and archaea. You may have thought of your body as being primarily cellular, but microbiologists will tell you that there are at least ten times as many bacteria than cells in your body.

It is estimated that there are 500 to 1,000 species of bacteria living in the human gut and approximately the same number living on human skin. This microbiota performs millions of functions in your body, including supporting your immune and nervous systems in their tireless and life-promoting work.

So here’s the rub. We now live in a society where parents are trained to run to the doctor, to the drug stores as soon as symptoms appear in their children. Since the industrial revolution we’ve seen downtime as the nemesis of productive living and as a result we’ve grown to favor hard-hitting, fast-acting suppressive interventions over letting the body restore balance through its inherent and intelligent design.

Unfortunately, bypassing the body’s systems for dealing with imbalances can produce unwanted side-effects. Give a child acetaminophin to reduce a fever, and the body, which was using the fever to burn off xenobiotic that it could not handle using less drastic measures, has to resort to another strategy to handle the invader. Plan B is never as elegant, efficient or safe as Plan A, and it is precisely on this basis that acute illness is transformed, over time, into chronic disease. The body in its almost infinite wisdom effectively buries the problem, as bees coat contaminants in the hive that they are unable to remove with propolis. Unfortunately, to do so is always a compromise that invariably leads to health complications later on.

Many of the symptoms that we’ve have come to see as “bad” are really just evidence that the body is healthy and functioning as it should. Health does not mean the absence of symptoms, especially given the fact that we live in an increasingly toxic world. Don’t get me wrong, modern medicine has its place, but I have to wonder if we as a society have let it evolve into a system that favors disease management over health care.

My company, Energetix Corporation, is doing a lot of interesting work in relation to non-suppressive pediatrics and adult care. If you’d like to learn more, please call us for a referral to a health care practitioner near you who is trained in this type of approach.

The Child of Liberalism

Anyone interested in what shaped the United States’ founding generation’s views on human nature, virtue and purpose ought to read Carl J. Richard’s The Founders and the Classics: Greece, Rome and the American Enlightenment. Richard’s comprehensive study of the founders’ classical reading provides a clear and useful reference point to square back to when confronting modern problems.

The founding fathers, as you are likely aware, were a fascinating group of individuals whose ideologies were as distinct as their personal backgrounds. Richard notes that they lived in an era that “witnessed a shift form ‘classical republicanism,’which emphasized civic duty and social cohesion, to ‘liberalism’ (or ‘modern republicanism’), which stressed individual rights and the self-regulating marketplace.”

Richard went on to note that “Classical Republicanism was, in many ways, the parent of liberalism. The birth of liberalism was messy, painful and debilitating to the parent. Liberalism has since reached a hardy old age and seems destined to outlive even its own prodigal son, Marxism. Whether it will serve as parent to yet another ideology remains to be seen.” An intriguing thought, wouldn’t you say?

While much on earth has changed due to the scientific and commercial advances over the last couple of decades, I venture to say that human nature has not changed one iota. The risk of devolving into absolutism is no less likely than it was in the early years of our country.

Granted there is much more momentum in the direction of liberalism and its underlying tenets, but the possibility is still there, especially given the propensity on the part of so many to refuse to exercise the responsibilities that go hand-in-hand with their individual rights and decline the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing political discourse in any meaningful (read: not just complaining) way.

While I am not convinced that human nature was always as problematic and slippery as it is now, it is what it is at the moment and there remains a great need to continue to have societal structures in place that keep it under control. One particular quality that must be emphasized and reinforced is the matter of restraint. Unrestrained, human nature tends toward excess, as is evidenced by the challenges facing the administrators of our states across the country.

Bill Gates, Microsoft CEO, spoke at a recent TED conference on the theme of state budgets and education, a topic in terrible need of a fresh and saner perspective. Gates’ presentation is just ten minutes long, nevertheless it is chock-full of food for thought:

Bill Gates on TED

When Gates’ talk is set against the backdrop of the recent data on Detroit’s population crash over the last decade (http://tinyurl.com/47hz4ax), it is clear to me that our old accounting and our former ways are no longer valid in the new reality.

We live in a time as tumultuous as that of our founding fathers. While they were faced with the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, the Financial Revolution, the Commercial Revolution, the American Revolution, the Industrial Revolution and more, we are faced with the new realities ushered in by the Globalization of Trade, the failure of Communism, the Information Revolution, the Rise of the East and more.

In my experience in small business, the component parts of a corporation are most easily moved during times of tumult. If the principle applies in a broader sense, I have to wonder if we are witnessing as well as being offered the chance to participate in the conception of the child of Liberalism?

If so, we had better be on our toes. We had better look at the problems we face with the understanding that the world and the way things work have changed – not just incrementally, insignificantly and temporarily – but appreciably, and for good. To fail to do so puts us at risk of regression in a time when forward and upward movement is just as possible and likely an outcome.

What is education?

The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future in life.” ~ Plato

The transition into the 20th century was a watershed event for both medicine and education. Over the course of a few decades, medical education and the system of primary and secondary education employed in our nation relinquished their classical roots which dated back to the Greek and Roman systems crafted 2,500 years earlier in favor of a new approach to healing and learning.

The Carnegie Institute funded a study led by Mr. Abraham Flexner in an attempt to reform and improve the system of medical education in the early 1900s. You can read more bout his efforts in my post The Flexner Century is Over. At the same time, educational experts sought a new way to prepare children for productive work in a world reshaped by the industrial revolution. The system of classical education developed by the Greeks and refined by the Romans focused on the pursuit of a unifying principle by which and through which life could be understood and lived meaningfully. The new model discarded that approach, favoring a new output, that is, class after class of uniformly prepared students capable of functioning in a more industrialized world.

This new approach caught like wildfire, and educational reform swept through the schools and universities of the era. Initial results appeared favorable, but over time the approach lost its luster and its effectiveness. The humanities suffered. Even though the United States had a higher percentage of educated citizens than most other industrialized nations, the previously refined and penetrating capacity for critical thinking atrophied significantly.

Consider these statistics compiled by former US Secretary of Education William J Bennett:

  • American 12th graders rank 19th out of 21 industrialized countries in mathematic achievement and 16th out of 21 nations in science.Our advanced physics students ranked dead last.
  • Since 1983, over 10 million Americans have reached the 12th grade without having learned to read at a basic level. Over 20 million have reached their senior year unable to do basic math. Almost 25 million have reached 12th grade not knowing the essentials of U.S. history.
  • According to U.S. manufacturers, 40% of all 17-year-olds do not have the math skills and 60% lack the reading skills to hold down a production job at a manufacturing company.
  • 76% of college professors and 63% of employers believe that “a high school diploma is no guarantee that the typical student has learned the basics.”

What could possibly explain these disastrous results? In a 2009 essay in American Scholar, english professor William Chase explained why his field had been “pushed to the periphery”:

But there are additional reasons for the drop in numbers of students concentrating in English and other subjects in the literary humanities. History, geography, and demography do not explain it all. Other forces, both external and internal, have been at work. The literary humanities and, in particular, English are in trouble for reasons beyond their control and for reasons of their own making. First, an obvious external cause: money. With the cost of a college degree surging upward during the last quarter century—tuition itself increasing far beyond any measure of inflation—and with consequent growth in loan debt after graduation, parents have become anxious about the relative earning power of a humanities degree. Their college-age children doubtless share such anxiety. When college costs were lower, anxiety could be kept at bay. (Berkeley in the early ’60s cost me about $100 a year, about $700 in today’s dollars.) Alexander W. Astin’s research tells us that in the mid-1960s, more than 80 percent of entering college freshmen reported that nothing was more important than “developing a meaningful philosophy of life.” Astin, director of the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, reports that “being very well off financially” was only an afterthought, one that fewer than 45 percent of those freshmen thought to be an essential goal. As the years went on, however, and as tuition shot up, the two traded places; by 1977, financial goals had surged past philosophical ones, and by the year 2001 more than 70 percent of undergraduate students had their eyes trained on financial realities, while only 40 percent were still wrestling with meaningful philosophies.

The world has changed but has humanity? In my observation people still grapple with the failure to develop a meaningful philosophy of life, no matter how much information that amass in their minds or in the visible spectrum of the collective subconscious mind we call “the internet.” Information is necessary, but not sufficient to develop the capacity for critical thinking.

American philosopher, psychologist and education reformer John Dewey made a fascinating statement in Education and Experience that has stuck with me through the years. Consider this:

What avail is it to win prescribed amounts of information… if in the process an individual loses his own soul: loses his appreciation of things worth while, of the values to which these things are relative; if he loses desire to apply what he has learned and, above all, loses the ability to extract meaning from his future experiences as they occur?

Do we need more education reform or do we need to admit to ourselves that the template that our current system is cut from was inaccurate, despite its initial appeal? I am not a classicist longing for the days of yore, rather, I am a father and a citizen, concerned for the future of his children and his country.

Refining our ability to move in the wrong direction is not the answer. Finding our way back to a program of education that results in intelligent, balanced and wise men and women capable of critical thinking – no matter what the subject at hand may be – is, in my estimation, exactly what we need.

Healthy Parts, Healthy Whole

Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother", Image by WikipediaEconomic depression cannot be cured by legislative action or executive pronouncement. Economic wounds must be healed by the action of the cells of the economic body – the producers and consumers themselves. ~ Herbert Hoover

Herbert Hoover’s response to the Great Depression– a fiscally conservative approach that relied more on a call to confidence and volunteerism than governmental intervention – failed as the businessmen and consumers he sought to inspire refused to dance to the tune that he piped.

Hoover’s presidency marked a transition between the old and the new, the tipping point between the country’s Jeffersonian roots and the realities of an increasingly urbanized modern society. His response to the Great Depression, which hit just eight months after he took office, tested his resolve and ideology. To his credit (and he is not viewed as one of our better Presidents by many), he stuck to his guns, refusing to let the pressure of the situation sway him from his fiscally conservative convictions.

I was intrigued by his quote this morning as its underlying principle holds true when considering the health of our physical bodies. Systemic health is dependent upon cellular health. Properly functioning mitochondria provide sufficient energy to maintain healthy cells in an increasingly toxic world, and healthy cells determine in large part the relative vitality of tissues. Strong, hydrated, elastic tissue then forms robust organs that combine to create a healthy you.

Cellular health is the foundation for wellbeing. The world we’ve created for ourselves, particularly since the advent of the industrial revolution, presents an increasingly toxic terrain into which the cells that compose the body of humanity are born. Toxins, both endogenous and exogenous are rapidly accumulating in living things, causing impairment of normally functioning systems that eventually manifests as what we call disease.

Homotoxicology is a promising system of medicine that focuses on relieving the body of these pernicious invaders, both biologically and energetically. Based on the idea that healthy components make up a healthy whole, homotoxicology recognizes that layers of imbalance and toxicity can be peeled away by supporting the body’s natural pathways for detoxification, step-by-step until the original cause or imbalance is addressed at its source.

I remember my macroeconomics professor at the University of Michigan describing the fact that much of what happens in an economy is based on human emotion, which is given shape incidentally, through the foggy lens called human perception. I can understand why President Hoover was so intent on bolstering producer and consumer confidence, for absent that foundation governmental, top-down intervention – even when massive – more often than not, fails to achieve the desired result.

We matter more than we tend to think we do, just as our cells matter more than we tend to think they do. Problem-solving requires first and foremost the establishment of the right perspective on the matter. Too close and you’ll lose the forest for the trees. Too far and you’ll miss critical detail. Whether you’re considering how to regain personal health or how to reestablish a healthy economy, the principles are the same. The variation comes in application.

Take care not to write off an approach just because it didn’t work out as expected, in the timing you had anticipated and in the way you envisioned. Free will is just one of the many causal factors that determines the shape of the future and sometimes a good thing or a valuable solution can be overlooked because it wasn’t received properly in the soil in which it was planted.

 

Herbert Hoover by Elmer Wesley Greene, Image by Wikipedia

I am hesitant to declare President Hoover’s approach a failure for this reason. From what I can see, the principles underpinning his ideology are at work – when the fitting application is made – in other fields. At any rate, we rose from the ashes then and signs are positive that we’re rising up from our more recent experience with the Great Recession.

 

They say that time heals all wounds, but I am not so sure that we have the time to let that work out in every situation. The healing of economic wounds as well as wounds of the physical body can be supported, but mustn’t be overly interfered with.

We are here to play an conscious and active role as we shape the future and with that comes a responsibility to think about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.

A laissez-faire attitude just won’t do, for someone else cannot do what you are here to do!

Your Lucky Day

Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

One of the presenters I was privileged to watch this weekend at our annual Energetix Lyceum described the methylation pathways of our body. Methylation acts as an on/off switch that allows the body to learn how to deal with the environment and it controls the body’s ability to detoxify.

With the industrial revolution came explosive growth in the production of new substances that have proven over time to be toxic to all living creatures on earth, including you and me. Plastics, preservatives, food colorings, synthetic fabrics, personal electronic devices and so on have made the achievement and maintenance health an increasingly difficult proposition.

I am certain that in all things there is causality. Cause and effect governs the movement from past to present and conditions the movement from present to future. What people call “luck,” as in “I had a lucky day” or “I stumbled upon the solution by dumb luck” is really another way to say “I am not too clear about the cause of this effect, but I am pleased by its occurrence.”

Similarly, the idea of “bad luck” is nothing more than an admission of the same, followed by displeasure with the outcome. In my view, professing to have good luck or bad luck is a convenient and generally acceptable way to shirk responsibility in and or for any given matter.

Those who profess to have good luck are either unwilling to accept responsibility for the investments they’ve made that have constrained to a positive outcome or they are unwilling to recognize and thank others for the seeds they’ve planted that resulted in a desirable harvest beyond themselves.

Likewise, those who claim to be the victims of bad luck are frequently avoiding the fact that they didn’t do the work required to tip the scales toward a positive outcome or they have failed to see the fact that the human race is deeply interconnected and that they more often than not are forced by the objective flow of cause and effect to harvest the less-than-perfect actions of their fellow human beings.

Luck – both good and bad – is not a random process. Like the methylation pathways in our bodies, luck is nothing more than the expression of cause and effect. Luck can appear to be random as cause and effect can be incredibly complex, with multiple agents affecting multiple processes that can link seemingly unrelated events and people.

We are all related in one way or another. Whether you read this blog in a Yurt in Costa Rica, the Presidential Suite at the Plaza Hotel in New York or a dorm room at university, your thoughts, words and actions eventually end up impacting people and events that would appear on the surface to have nothing to do with one another.

Health is also the product of cause and effect. You can no longer bank on having health throughout your life by virtue of having “good” genes. Even those with the strongest constitutions are finding themselves challenges by the mounting toxicity in our world. The point is that if you are concerned to have better luck, you must pay closer attention to causation.

The wise man handles both the good in life as well as the bad with equanimity. After a string of “good luck” he doesn’t take the good things in life for granted, rest on his laurels or forget to continue to plant seeds of inspiration, encouragement and refinement. Similarly, after a bad day or worse a bad week he doesn’t resign himself to blame, complaint or dismay.

The understanding of cause and effect is the basis for a generative life. Without this foundation it is easy to fall prey to the many substandard explanations for why life is the way it is at any given point in time.

The decisions you make in your life affect more than you could ever imagine. Think big when you think. Think of others when you think. And most importantly, think when you’re supposed to think, for luck never made a man wise.