Thursday, March 27, 2008

A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both. -Francois Auguste Rene' Chateaubriand

I read this quote the other day and was amazed by the simplicity and eloquence with which it describes the joy I feel at being able to practice Naturopathic Medicine. I just wanted to share it.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Vis

What is the “Vis Medicatrix Naturae”? The term is commonly translated as “the healing power of nature”. I have continuously pondered this physically elusive concept during my training in Naturopathic medical school and through my practice while watching it work. I believe part of the difficulty with conceptually grasping the “Vis” is that the “Vis” is not a thing that is directly perceivable. And we do not yet have a means to measure the effects of the “Vis” and hence confirm its existence.
Gravity for example is not measureable directly. Gravity is a force with an influence affecting other objects. Gravity is a term used to describe the force of attraction exerted by one body on that of another. And we can verify this force of attraction by measuring the speed with which one object accelerates towards another. We do not measure gravity itself. We calculate the gravitational force proportionately based on the mass of the objects and indirectly proportional to the distance between the objects. There is no tool that allows us to measure gravity. When we drop an object towards the earth, we perceive the speed and motion of the object falling toward the earth with our eyes. We are seeing the results of the gravitation force affecting the object, but we do not visualize gravity itself. We have been indoctrinated since grade school, since hearing the story of Newton sitting under the apple tree, that when we see something fall, we understand and believe it is gravity that is influencing this object and is crucial to this phenomenon of falling towards the earth.
I believe the “Vis” is as intricately crucial to healing as gravity is to falling; like gravity the “Vis” is not able to be measured directly; but unlike the recognition of gravity, the “Vis” is not yet recognized and accepted as a crucial component of the healing process. Fortunately, like gravity, we do not have to believe in the “Vis” to experience its effects. The “Vis” is not magical or mystical, it is a term used to describe the healing process of the body. The “Vis” can be supported and encouraged through any means. There is not one area of healing that holds ownership of the “Vis”. Chinese medicine, Western Herbs, Homeopathy, Naturopathy, physical manipulation, etc., can all be used effectively to bolster the healing of the body. I would even argue that western pharmaceuticals can support the “Vis” when applied synergistically to the healing process. I have made this statement many times before and it is certainly worth repeating. It is not what we give to support healing, but why we give it that is important.
The healing that is possible through the support of the “Vis” is the ideal of healing. I feel fortunate to witness, practice, and support this ideal daily. I am encouraged by the feedback from my patients, as they begin to recognize the significance of their healing process. As more and more individuals experience true healing our collective acceptance of the influence of the “Vis” will become universal and our actions will be more congruent with a lifestyle that is beneficial to our own health and the health of the planet. That truly is the healing power of nature.