Understanding Health and Dis-ease
© 2013 Judith Hanna Doshi MA, CCH (Cand)
Have you ever stopped to ask yourself how healthy you really are? How often do you find yourself reaching for anything that will give you fast relief for your symptoms? Do you wonder whether managing your symptoms in this way qualifies as being in good health, as conventional medical thought would have us believe? What in fact does being truly healthy look like? In this article I will present an alternative view of health and disease, inspired by the principles of Homeopathy, that will hopefully get you thinking about the way you approach your own health.
The Conventional View of Disease
In conventional medicine the body is viewed much like a machine, with disease being any bodily malfunction that manifests as symptoms, can be measured and observed and is given a name (diagnosis). In other words, disease is a physical phenomenon, confined to the body and attributed to physical causes like microbes, faulty genes or a poor diet. Treatment is exclusively by physical means—usually drugs or surgery—except in the case of mental disease where other means like talk therapy may be employed in addition to drugs, although the basic premise is still that there is some derangement in the brain, i.e. a physical phenomenon.
In this view, the person is ‘cured’ when the physical causes are eradicated and symptoms disappear in the short term. So, for example, acid reflux is considered to be cured when the heartburn recedes after the person takes drugs that inhibit acid production. Acne is cured when pimples dry up for the time being with antibiotics. And on it goes … New problems that occur or old ones that resurface three or six months or even years down the road are considered to be unrelated to the earlier ones that were ‘cured’. What this means is that with a conventional approach symptom management becomes the definition of health.
The Allopathic Approach
This approach was the norm way back in the late eighteenth, early nineteenth centuries when, for instance, bloodletting was common practice. Large quantities of a patient’s blood were removed from the body—often with dire consequences—because the blood was deemed to be bad (notably, George Washington had 82 ounces of his blood removed just prior to his death!). The founder of Homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann, himself a physician, was so vehemently opposed to these so-called ‘heroic’ treatment methods—for which he coined the term ‘allopathic’ (literally meaning ‘other disease’, implying that the effects of the treatments bear no relationship to the disease)—that he abandoned his medical practice and developed the system of homeopathic medicine which thrives to this day.
In the modern era allopathy has developed considerably more powerful and targeted weapons against disease—notably, pharmaceutical drugs and surgery. There are many problems with these approaches, the chief one being that they suppress symptoms (1) and potentially worsen the disease and the person’s overall health. As an example, a rash—a commonplace, usually benign symptom—is treated with an anti-inflammatory cream or oral drug. The rash may disappear, but there is a good chance that down the road a more serious problem will appear. Conventional medicine fails to make the connection between these two events, however.
Another problem with conventional treatments is that they completely disregard the individuality of the person, treating everyone the same—a one-size-fits-all approach. The allopathic approach fails to recognize that each person is unique, with a unique susceptibility to disease and to treatments. Furthermore, side effects of suppressive allopathic treatments—often worse than the symptoms being treated—usually complicate and confuse the disease picture, making treatment that much more difficult.
The Homeopathic View: The Vital Force
By contrast, the homeopathic view is that each one of us is an energetic being with a Vital Force—that you can’t see or measure—that governs our state of health. The operation of the Vital Force is automatic and strives to maintain balance in all our areas of functioning—physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. When a stressor—such as a noxious agent or trauma—is strong enough to derail a person’s Vital Force from its smooth operation, and the person has the inherent susceptibility, dis-ease occurs (homeopaths prefer to use the hyphenated form of that word). In some cases the stressor is so potent—like an ingested poison or blunt force trauma—that it affects all of us more or less equally. In general, however, how a stressor affects us and how our dis-ease is expressed depend on our unique susceptibility to these influences. For example, a sudden change in weather can bring on an asthma attack in one person, a migraine in another, and have no effect on a third person. On the other hand, the third person may react strongly to ice cold drinks whereas the other two have no reaction to them whatsoever.
How the Vital Force Works: Dis-ease in Homeopathy
Your Vital Force compensates for being thrown off kilter by throwing out what we recognize as symptoms. The creation of symptoms is a protective mechanism: what is amazing is that the Vital Force always tries to keep the symptoms as superficial or exterior as possible so that the more important inner organs and processes are protected. In acute disease, your Vital Force can usually get back on track on its own, so we normally recover uneventfully from these illnesses. When the Vital Force is so out of kilter that it can’t regain balance on its own, we are likely to be in a state of chronic illness (in reality, all of us have some degree of chronic imbalance). In this state, no amount of allopathic physical treatments can address the state of energetic imbalance we are in. In fact, they are more than likely to suppress symptoms and worsen the state! Only the well-chosen homeopathic remedy, that resonates as closely as possible with the totality of the energetic state we are in, can kick start the Vital Force to get itself back on track.
More on Suppression and the Vital Force
In the hierarchy of symptoms that the Vital Force creates in its role as protector, a skin eruption is the most superficial symptom possible. This means that it is the furthest away from the center of the energetic disturbance. As such, it requires a great deal of energy on the part of the Vital Force to put it ‘out there’. Suppressive treatments like topical skin ointments and oral anti-inflammatories not only shut the skin down as a viable outlet for the inner imbalance but also weaken the Vital Force, causing it to seek outlets that are closer in to the disturbance, i.e. to create more ‘serious’ symptoms. For example, homeopaths often observe that continued suppression of eczema can eventually lead to an asthmatic condition. The way in which suppression manifests in deeper symptoms, however, is as unique as the person.
The Healthy State
With the homeopathic simillimum—the remedy that comes closest to matching the characteristic features of the person’s energetic disturbance—the equilibrium of the Vital Force is set right and there is no longer the need for it to produce symptoms. With harmony restored, the individual will also see a marked improvement in outlook on life, energy levels, quality of sleep, ease in relating to others, ability to handle stress, among many other general qualities of life. Now, there is freedom to express his or her creativity, pursue his or her ultimate goals and make a positive contribution to the world. This is the true definition of health.
In my Homeopathy practice I always ask new clients to rate their overall health—not just their symptoms—on a scale of 1 to 100. It is always a joy for both the client and myself to watch the ratings gradually increase over time as their Vital Force responds favorably to the homeopathic remedy selected just for them.
- 1.See my articles “Suppression and Your Health Parts 1 and 2”