Saturday, February 10, 2007

To heal or not to heal, that is the option

"The physician's highest calling, his only calling, is to make sick people healthy - to heal, as it is termed." paragraph 1 from The Organon of Medicine by Samuel Hahnemann

What an incredibly brilliant and simple way to begin a book. Samuel Hahnemann in 1810 a.d. eloquently ignores the rhetoric that often surrounds those whom today consider their practice to be one of healing. When in all actuality, the majority of medicine today is palliative.

I am not ascertaining that palliation is negative. It is not necessary to apply a judgement to a word or practice. It is what it is. I personally believe that as a physician, the opportunity to facilitate the movement towards health in a patient is a gift and we have more to offer to the majority of patients than palliation.

Looking only to palliation views the patient's illness and symptoms as some problem beyond control. The way to survive is to exist independent of the problem. And to be independent one must fight, and the fight can be gruesome. It is the battle that is often waged with surgery and conventional pharmaceuticals. The battle proceeds indefinitely, while the patient is locked into a war which creates problems of its own.

A healing mindset embraces the illness and symptoms as they are without judgement. Any desired shift in health is a choice that is within our control. We grow and shift health as diplomats (Getting at the Root, by Andrew Lange N.D. p. 25), bringing balance and peace back to our life, accepting our existence as it is with every step along the way. Just recognizing the significance of the healing process is empowering and simultaneously liberating. Our health is not measured by an absence of symptoms, but by the presence of vitality.

Ultimately, the palliative or healing mindset is the choice of the patient, utilized in conjunction with the treatment options provided by their doctor. Naturopathy does not monopolize the ability to heal a patient any more than does herbal, chiropractic, allopathic medicine, etc. There is no such thing as a singularly healing or palliative treatment modality, just modalities that are used to palliate or to heal. In fact, intention and direction is vastly more important than the treatment method used.

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