Pharmaceutical medications don’t usually cure diseases, they only mitigate symptoms. For the main part, medications are palliatives designed to comfort the patient rather than cure their condition. Hypertension is not cured by mainstream medications but treated for life. Asthma, peptic ulcers, and allergies are managed with inhalers, antacids, and antihistamines. Arthritis is not reversed by drugs but tends to escalate over time, and so on. The arguable exceptions are hormones for people who need them replaced and antibiotics which kill off intruders (as well as friendly cells).
Mainstream medications are not prescribed to cure anything, because in mainstream medicine they don’t believe that you actually can cure anything. In their view, if your body was smart enough to fix itself then it wouldn’t have got sick in the first place. As far as they’re concerned, you’re just on the road to the scrapheap, so the best they can offer is to numb your pain while you break down little by little like a used auto. Meanwhile, symptoms may fade temporarily, and you are thinking, “Wow, my rash has disappeared, and my headache is gone! The wonders of modern medicine, right? I’m getting better already!” No, you’re not! As far as the disease process is concerned, you’re getting worse. And now your body also needs to deal with the harmful compounds in the pharmaceuticals which are bound to cause side-effects and put an additional strain on the detoxification organs like the liver and kidneys.
My teacher Gary Tunsky (1960-2019) used to call this David Copperfield Medicine, after the famous magician who took that as a stage name. It’s the illusion that you’re getting better when you’re actually getting worse. He said it would be like going to the mechanic because a red light went off in your car to tell you there was something wrong, and the mechanic just snipped the wire to the light and said, “There you go, all fixed! That’ll be 300 bucks please!”
More often than not you’ll be back at the doctor’s office soon with a raft of other symptoms to be treated with more medications in a never-ending game of whack-a-mole. You’ve been doing all the right things. You’ve seen all the right specialists, took all the meds you’ve been prescribed, exactly when you’ve been told to take them: Statins for your cholesterol, ACEs for your blood pressure, NSAIDS for your pain and inflammation, you’ve done everything the doctor told you to, and you wonder why nothing is working. You start to wonder why life is so unfair and you can’t just have a normal body that doesn’t keep breaking down on you and throwing up symptoms no matter what you do!
From the mainstream point of view, each symptom represents a separate condition that requires its own treatment. One blood pressure medicine, one for heartburn, one for arthritis, one anti-inflammatory, one anti-depressant, one pain medication, one for your insomnia, a drug for every bug, a pill for every ill. Each medication will also have its own side-effects that may also require treatment. That doesn’t mean that anyone is deliberately creating side-effects so they can get paid for treating them, but it does mean the system is not greatly incentivized to minimize them, either.
From the holistic point of view, health lies on a spectrum from very well to very sick. Symptoms of “different” diseases are rarely unrelated since all disease arises out of the underlying condition of the body at the cellular level. This makes intuitive sense. Why do people with more inflammation end up with more cancer? Why do people who have fibromyalgia as often as not have lupus? Why do people with Parkinson’s disease often get dementia in the advanced stages? Why do more than a third of them get depression and anxiety? Why do they get sensory, sleep, and emotional problems? It’s because these aren’t actually different diseases but the cascading consequences of the same underlying condition growing more severe over time.
The patient first got ill with something minor, but because that wasn’t treated properly their condition grew worse, and they developed more symptoms. But the doctors still didn’t know how to treat the underlying cause, so their condition continued to deteriorate until they manifested all of the symptoms which the doctors collectively refer to as “Parkinson’s Disease.” Now it’s too late to treat holistically. The poor individual has suffered so much nerve-damage that they start tremoring, experiencing rigidity, loss of balance, and finally can’t even walk unaided, and ultimately, they need around-the-clock nursing care and may experience hallucinations and delusions. It’s unspeakably tragic – and the more so, because so often it could have been prevented with the correct care.
The very definition of health under the current system is the absence of sickness. And so, from the mainstream point of view, you’re healthy until you have obvious symptoms that need treatment. Until then you have no need for a health worker. From the holistic understanding you are sick way before you “get sick.” That zone where you’re tired, achy, you’ve got brain fog and can’t think straight, you’re not sleeping, you get skin rashes, and indigestion; you’re taking coffee just to get you through the day. That’s what Tunsky called The Medical Twilight Zone. The cause is that you’re toxic, nutritionally deficient, stressed out, dehydrated and insufficiently oxygenated at the cellular level; but expensive X-rays, MRI’s, CT Scans and blood tests will not turn out anything. They’re looking for the big stuff: liver cirrhosis, hepatitis, strokes, kidney failure, heart attacks, rheumatoid arthritis, and metastasized cancer tumors and what have you. You could be knocking on the door of a chronic illness but if your condition hasn’t come into their diagnostic range, what can they do? They’ll just say you’re getting older, give you a clean bill of health, label you a hypochondriac, say you have a psychosomatic disorder or, worse, give you palliatives which relieve your symptoms while you get worse.
Once you know health is found on a spectrum, you think of things differently. You try to prevent disease where possible and only treat it where necessary. You recognize symptoms as signals of underlying dysfunction in the body and treat the body as a whole. You support the digestive system, or the immune system, or the nervous system; you rehabilitate the liver and the kidneys; you reduce stress and tend to emotional disturbances; you rehydrate; you rid the body of elements that are harmful or might cause blockages to the piping system: the arteries, lungs, and digestive tract; you ensure the cells are receiving all of the proper nutritional elements that required by the body as building blocks to make healthy tissues. Once the underlying condition of the body improves at cellular level, you begin to regenerate. All outward manifestations of illness improve, and many symptoms will simply disappear. “You cannot heal selectively,” as Charlotte Gerson used to say, “If you truly heal – everything heals.”