What is a Disease?
(The following segment does not apply to genetic diseases.)
There are volumes of medical books about diseases; millions of doctors and scientists try to explore their mysteries. Nobody is able to provide answers about the origin of diseases, probably because diseases as such do not have their own existence.
What we call a disease is our body’s reaction to something that interferes with its normal functioning. An organ remains ill, and is eventually destroyed, as long as the source of interference is not removed. A malfunctioning organ can negatively influence other organs and systems (circulatory, nervous, lymphatic) cooperating with it. There is constant struggle between health and illness in the life of our body. We could not stay alive without this struggle.
In the case of common cold, for example, we may suffer from fever, headaches, bone aches, and general body weakness. Can we regard these as symptoms as a disease? Certainly, but high body temperature kills the disease-causing bacteria; mucus released by our body carries away toxins, while headaches, bone aches, and the feeling of weakness are side effects of our body’s struggle to return to health.
What we call a disease is the defensive reaction of our body’s mechanisms designed to maintain us healthy. We all have these mechanisms. They are necessary to remove disorders in the way our body functions. They also give us warning signals when these disorders begin. To stay healthy, we need to listen and understand what our body is trying to communicate to us. Do not treat diseases as your worst enemy. In a sense, they force us to make the first step on the way towards a healthy lifestyle.
My journey to health was not easy. I was a very ill child, spending probably about 200 days out of the year in bed, fighting various infections and viruses.
My mother was an emergency physician, very absorbed by her work, and she did not have much time to sit at my bedside. When I had a fever, she would give me a few strong doses of penicillin (very widely used in the sixties) to reduce the temperature. The fever was gone in a few days but my nose was plugged with mucus and my throat inflamed, red as a tomato. This meant for my mother the necessity of more radical measures. My tonsils were removed. This caused further complications – an inflammation in the maxillary sinus and partial loss of my sense of smell. Long and ineffective treatment of these complications with large doses of medications caused pain in the liver area. I also had allergic rashes on my hands, abdomen, and back. In addition, my diet was fat and sweet. No wonder I suffered from chronic pains under my right lowest rib. Frequent headaches had to be treated with painkillers.
One day I became sick at school, and then I fainted. The school nurse contacted my mother, who suspected probable acute inflammation of appendix and made sure I was quickly brought to the surgical ward. Three hours later I was on the operating table and the head doctor of the surgical ward, a friend of my mother’s, was operating on me. As it turned out, my appendix was perfectly healthy but my liver was enlarged and inflamed. The surgeon understood the source of my sufferings when she looked at my liver, but since my abdomen was already open, she removed my healthy appendix just in case. At least it was clear from now on that the cause of my headaches, weakness, and acute pain under the right lowest rib was my ill liver. Even though the appendix operation was successful, it caused complications in the form of hemorrhoids that afflicted me for many years.
As a result of such “close contact” with medicine, I gained a certain kind of experience. I understood that whenever medicine heals something in my body, it hurts (sometimes unknowingly) something else at the same time. When I later started helping other ill people, I was finally convinced that all pharmaceutical remedies could only maintain our body in a semi-healthy state. This is why a diagnosis so often has the word “chronic” in it (chronic inflammation of gallbladder, joints, etc.). Because “chronic” means “continual” and “unending,” we can conclude that our diseases need to be treated for the rest of our lives.
Avicenna, an Arabian philosopher and physician, over 1000 years go said:
A physician should have three things in his arsenal – words, medications, and a blade.
Words are necessary to explain to patients what mistakes they make in their lifestyle, and what is the connection between the mistakes and the source of illness.
Medications when words cannot explain the cause of the disease but there still a duty to provide relief from suffering.
The blade is used when the physician cannot identify the source of the disease, influence the patient with words, or find any medication to reduce the pain. By using a surgical blade, the doctor only removes the effects of a well-advanced disease. Its source remains and is ready to manifest in new places. An operation usually provides only some temporary relief for the patients before they are afflicted with an even worse disease.
My experience taught me that the decisive factor in all matters of illness and health is the amount of energy available for our bodily organs. If there are deficiencies in the energy system that invisibly connects all our internal organs, our body becomes ill. Kan Funajana, an ancient Japanese physician, in his book “Guidelines of Medicine” wrote:
A human being is an entity whose soul and body form a union. This is why it is not possible to heal the body without considering the state of the soul and vice versa.
We already know that to maintain our body in good health we need to cleanse it regularly, nurture it properly, and build up its immunity with the use of water, fresh air, sunlight, and physical exercise. When we talk about the soul, we should think about the human bio-energy system. Our consciousness, feelings, and memories are forms of invisible energy about whose qualities we know very little. To regulate psychological processes, we need to learn their mechanisms and this involves learning about bio-energy.
Contemporary psychology considers only an insignificant number of bio-energetic processes taking place in our body. As far as medicine is concerned, it is mainly oriented towards treating the body and acknowledges little connection between the body and the soul.
Our medicine focuses so much on different parts of the body that it almost forgets its existence as an integrated system.
I am convinced that as long as medicine will use this approach to the functioning of the human body, diseases will always remain chronic and incurable. Improved methods of treating effects are not going to remove causes and bring health.
Medicine looks for answers dealing with more effective and painless methods of removing ill organs and uses constantly improving hardware. The very thought of pain caused by a low-speed dental drill used years ago makes everybody tremble. Today’s high-speed drills and effective anesthetics make a dental procedure relatively painless for the patient. However, tooth decay and gum disease still exist and will continue to exist.
Contemporary methods allow a surgeon to remove the gallbladder in 30 minutes and use only a local anesthetic. A few years later the procedure brings effects in the form of digestive disorders.
A bypass surgery uses arteries or veins from other parts of the body to take over the role of a useless coronary artery in the circulatory system. The artery or vein to be grafted is taken from the same ill body and is only a little better - five or six years later, another bypass surgery will be required.
There are thousands of such examples. In my opinion, even perfectly successful surgeries in the long run are as ineffective as patching up an old pair of pants that are falling apart. A new patch in one place creates a tear in another and eventually the whole garment is beyond repair. People who are caught in these kinds of situations with their health problems would probably agree with me. Despite huge amounts of time spent on different treatments, their health does not improve. Are there solutions for such situations? I think there are.
We should work on creating a completely new approach to the question of healing our body:
- Quit blaming our doctors for treating us ineffectively.
- Understand that we are first to be responsible for taking care of our health.
We can learn to stop headaches by simple methods removing their causes instead of taking painkillers that poison our liver and our whole body.
If the gallbladder is plugged up with stones, it needs to be cleansed, not removed.
Heart Disease, circulatory disorders, and obesity are results of laziness and lack of exercise.
Pains in our stomach and pancreas come from overeating and not caring enough about providing the proper kind of nutrition for our body.
I would like to be correctly understood – I am not advocating self-treatment.
Doctors have been, are, and will continue to be needed. We could not manage without them in extreme cases (e.g. accidents). However, we should also know how to take care of our body and help ourselves from day to day. We could use doctors only as our wise advisors.
Everybody, not only a group of trained professionals, can possess the knowledge necessary to maintain good health. We need to stay healthy in order to fully use our natural gifts such as intellect, strength, and goodness.
To be healthy, we should use the following principle of Hippocrates:If you are not your own doctor, you are a fool.
The most important fact to remember, especially for those who need to recover their lost health, is that our organism is an integrated system and we have to treat it in a complex manner – both our body and mind. Only this kind of approach brings results. Health involves striving for physical and spiritual perfection.
There is one more point I would like to make – we start causing damage to our health in various ways from early childhood. This is why we cannot expect an immediate return to health. It may take two to three years of work before we get rid of our health problems. Once we put our body and mind in order, we only need to persist in maintaining it and enjoy good health – a free gift from nature – for the rest of our life.
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