Man has always sought perfection in all he does and in this quest, the search for perfect health has always been an important aim.
Slowly, answers partial and complete, have emerged for many problems. However century after century new diseases and plagues have arisen.
Since the dawn of human existence and more intensely since the last few thousand years man has sought a panacea which would cure him of all his ills.
We have made little progress towards finding a panacea for all ills,
but in different cultures in different parts of the world we have found complete answers to some of the problems which afflict us.
No system of medicine has yet found a cure for all diseases but all systems of medicine do have a cure for some diseases.
To help the millions of people worldwide who suffer from so called "incurable diseases " under their prevailing medical system we need to use the strengths of the multitude of systems of medicine, which have developed independently all over the world to treat disease. It is unnecessarily arrogant and dishonest for practitioners of any one system of medicine to claim that it has the answers to all problems and that other systems of medicine are useless.
A true healer studies and utilizes the best aspects of all available systems of medicine so as to ensure the recovery of his patient in the safest and quickest way, as his primary interest is the well being of his patient. This approach is called integrated medicine.
Integrated medicine embodies a holistic approach which perceives the individual as a whole in the context of his body, his mind, his emotions, his spirit, his diet and environment. It looks upon a person as a unity, in harmony with and in association with his environment, rather than seek to separate a person into his component parts like heart, lungs liver, bones, skin etc. Each of us is more than the sum of his individual parts and is influenced by many factors, some easily apparent while others less so.
Human Health is an enormously complex paradigm, subject to a great many variables and influences.
As yet we are barely able to perceive, let alone understand the full extent of the bodies self regulatory mechanisms which allow us to maintain our health and our lives.
All systems of medicine endeavor to harness the self regulating & healing mechanisms inherent in all of all of us, but today we often lose sight of this aim in our fascination with science & progress.
The objective of medicine is not only to treat sick people but to help a person remain healthy and well. Good health allows the person to realize his full potential; as well as withstand any illness. This aim is neglected by most medical practitioners whose efforts are often directed purely towards the treatment of symptoms and crisis's.
To prevent a disease is always easier than to cure it. Traditional and holistic systems of medicine, like Homeopathy, Ayurveda and Acupuncture, have always laid more emphasis on prevention than on treatment. Emphasis is laid on treatment of a disease, in the pre-clinical phase before it manifests its symptoms. They aim to treat the person before the body is damaged and before he develops any detectable pathological changes. A problem tackled early is easier to treat because as the disease advances, more severe pathological changes occur due to destruction & alteration of the bodies tissues making treatment and recovery more difficult.
An old Chinese saying has it that the best physician is one who cures a disease before it occurs. The practice prevalent in China was to pay a physician when you were well, and to stop payment when you were ill. This had great advantages for it gave your physician a vested interest in keeping you healthy. The current practice of consulting a doctor only when you are sick, might give the doctor a vested interest in your ill health!
Education of the patient is one of the most important methods of preventing illness. This is sadly neglected by many medical practitioners, as prevention is not as glamorous or satisfying as curing a disease.
A sound diagnosis is a prerequisite to effective treatment. With the advent of many new "super drugs" in Western Medicine little emphasis is placed on a correct and precise diagnosis. As a result many physicians are content with giving drugs to treat symptoms like fever and pain without attempting to ascertain their cause. Symptomatic treatment given without making a diagnosis works in many self limiting diseases like colds & other infections. This rely s on the body's innate ability to heal itself.
Symptomatic treatment of course may lead to the problem recurring or getting worse in case of serious problems, from which your body cannot cure itself.
There are many methods which can help predict an illness, at times many years before it actually appears and long before detectable pathological changes occur. These methods help the physician initiate treatment before the illness occurs and so prevent the illness.
One of most useful of these methods is iridology, which is the science of examining the iris to obtain information about the patient's health. This is described in detail in the chapter on iridology.
Auricular diagnosis and therapy is a form of diagnosis and treatment, which originated from Acupuncture. The entire human body is represented in the ear in the form of an inverted human fetus. A total of 136 acupuncture points have been mapped in the ear with the toes represented at the top of the ear and the eye in the middle of the earlobe. In this form of diagnosis the ear is examined with a blunt probe to detect any tender spots. The same points can also be detected with a galvanometer, which reveals the affected organ as a point with a reduced electrical activity. These points are also used for treatment of the affected organs. As piercing the ears can have profound therapeutic affects, ear piercing is best carried out by a person with knowledge of these points.
Pulse diagnosis is one of the most ancient forms of diagnosis, which form an integral part of Acupuncture, Ayurveda and Tibetan medicine. This can yield a lot of information not only about the blood circulation and functioning of the heart but also about the state of other organs and about the physiological functions of the body. For best results this should be carried out in the early hours of the morning by a practitioner whose own health is good. It is said that some practitioners can even predict illness and the day of it's occurrence up to fifty years in the future! No method of diagnosis is foolproof and each of these methods is an art in itself which is largely dependent on the skill and expertise of the practitioner.
Each of these forms of diagnosis can yield information about future illnesses well before they actually occur, so treatment can be initiated before pathological changes occur. If one perceives the individual in his totality, and correlate the information we find by these methods with the patient's physical, psychological and emotional condition, we will be better equipped to help the person to achieve and maintain a state of positive good health.
Every medical system has it's so called incurable diseases which have treatments in other forms of medicine. Hepatitis, essential hypertension and backaches are regarded as being incurable by western medicine but not by other systems of medicine. In heart problems, cancers, diabetes, epilepsy, the results of a paralytic stroke, backaches, sciatica and cervical spondylitis the answers available through conventional medicine are inadequate. There are many answers in other forms of medicine, which can help to strengthen the body, prevent illness and help the body to regenerate even after injury.
Each particular illness in each individual requires an individualized treatment, which does not necessarily lie in the domain of any one form of medicine. One can not say that any particular condition can be cured by any specific form of medicine for a particular individual.
Each system of medicine has its advantages and disadvantages. No system of medicine is perfect and can cure all patients yet each one of them is able to cure some patients and help others. To be cured, the patient needs to find that type of treatment which will cure him and with which he is comfortable and able to afford, irrespective of the opinions and disagreements between practitioners of different systems of medicine about the efficacy of other systems.
In integrated medicine, after the practitioner has acquired an understanding of the patient and made a proper diagnosis, the most appropriate part of each system of medicine is selected and used together with other relevant parts from other systems of medicine to treat each individual. This allows us to give the patient the treatment best suited to his needs rather than only the treatment which the practitioner of a single system is familiar with.
Acupuncture is one of the most effective methods of relieving pain irrespective of it's cause including backaches and arthritis. It is effective in a wide range of diseases but especially disorders of the joints like arthritis, nerve disorders involving the spine and brain and immune system disorders. It even offers an effective treatment for some conditions like blindness and deafness, which are generally regarded as being incurable.
Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine has the best treatment for problems affecting the liver and the kidney. Ayurveda places little emphasis on treatment of actual illness and disease. The purpose is not to cure a particular disease but to bring each individual to his or her natural self harmony. Ayurveda emphasis the maintenance of positive good health by the control of diet, lifestyle, techniques of breathing called "Pranayama" and different postures called Yoga.
Cranio-sacral osteopathy is the treatment of choice for displaced joints including those in the spine and skull. It is useful in conditions like sinusitis, backaches, sciatica, neck and shoulder pain, dyslexia, some forms of mental retardation, epilepsy, snoring and injuries to the joints like knee, ankle, wrist and elbow. It is a gentle and effective treatment which yields excellent results either used alone or in conjunction with other methods. This is also described in detail in a separate chapter.
Back Problems are estimated to affect half of all people at some time in their lives. They are best treated using an integrated approach. This involves acupuncture (or laser treatment) to relieve the pain, Ultra sound therapy to relax muscular spasms, Cranio-sacral therapy to align the spine and Yogic asanas to strengthen the spine and so prevent a recurrence of the problem.
Homeopathy is a system of medicine which originated in Germany under the inspiration of a physician called Samuel Hahnemann. This system is based on the use of minuscule doses of various substances, based on the principle that like cures like. That means that if a particular substance causes a particular set of symptoms when ingested, the same set of symptoms may be treated by ingesting a minuscule quantity of that substance in various dilution's. This system of medicine treats the constitution of the individual rather than the symptoms of the disease. It strengthens the constitution and if used wisely allows the body to heal itself and is useful in many chronic diseases where other systems have poor results.
Bach Flower therapy draws it's name from Dr Edward Bach a 19th century physician who described the use of alcoholic extracts of flowers which he had exposed to sunlight. These remedies work exceedingly well for psychological conditions like anxiety, fear, depression, shock, lack of self confidence, anger, bitterness, jealousy etc. They are useful as an adjunct to most forms of therapy including psychosomatic disorders.
Western medicine is at it's best in emergencies like accidents and in life threatening acute bacterial infections. It also has a wide range of effective, but potentially toxic symptomatic treatments for a wide range of conditions. As most of the currently used drugs are relatively new, information about their long term safety are not likely to be available till well into this century (provided they remain in use).
The effectiveness of an integrated approach is well illustrated by the following case history from 1984. I was treating an elderly gentleman for heart failure with digoxin, which is the conventional treatment for this condition. Unfortunately this drug causes depression as a side effect, it has a low margin of safety, as it's dosage needs to be controlled very exactly for the correct therapeutic effect. Too little causes difficulty in breathing and accumulation of water while too much caused the patient of faint. So I had to adjust the dosage every few days. This gentleman also took homeopathic medicines which treated the depression and the heart failure. As a result I was able to halve the dose of digoxin and the patient remained well and healthy for the next fifteen years.
To keep the people of the world healthy and happy we should utilize the best aspects of each system of medicine. This approach is called integrated medicine.
The subsequent articles discuss the early detection of illness, different methods of treatment and the importance of your diet in relation to your unique constitution.