Don't get me wrong. If you have an illness that is best treated by drugs - I'm all for them. But if you have an illness that is best treated by healthicines - a drug can only make it worse.
What are medicines? Medicines are used to treat illness. Medicines are defined as drugs.
Medicines generally work against the illness. If you have an infection (an excessive growth of bacteria) - an antibiotic works to kill the bacteria. If you have a fracture, medicine works to reduce the excess pain and possibly inflammation until it heals. If you have a cold, medicines work to reduce the symptoms of the cold, your body does the rest.
Medicines help us to live with the illness (reducing symptoms), or by countering imbalances that are excessive: bacteria, viruses, toxins, etc.
Healthicines are used to treat unhealthiness. Medicines do not work against nutritional deficiencies, for example. If they do reduce symptoms of a deficiency - drugs can make it worse by making it tolerable.
As we saw in the blog: The truth about milk: raw? or pasteurized? we can take a healthiness view of illness, or a medical view. The medical view is a very sharp tool, designed to diagnose and treat illness. The healthiness view is a different view, appropriate to improve health balances.
Drugs do not directly counter unhealthiness - they work by changing the illness, often in an effort to facilitate healing. If you are suffering from an infection, an anti-biotic attempts to kill the dangerous bacteria, leaving your body to heal. Of course antibiotics also kill helpful body cells, resulting in a shifted, or new illness that requires healing.
As a result, all drugs have side effects. They move your illness, or your healthiness sideways, sometimes even backwards - not towards healthiness. This is done in the hope that the 'new state of illness' is less severe, or sufficiently different, or perhaps more diffused, that your body can recover and heal more easily. Antibiotics kill many non-human cells, both beneficial and harmful. Your healthiness is damaged as the illness is attacked.
What are healthicines? Healthicine is the art and science of creating and improving healthiness.
Healthicines are used to improve healthiness. Healthicines are used to treat unhealthiness.
As shown in the diagram, healthicines move directly towards health. If you are suffering from scurvy, consuming Vitamin C will re-balance your health. You need to consume Vitamin C to rebalance. If an illness is caused by a nutrient imbalance, a drug might treat the 'symptoms', but it does not treat the cause. This may result in a more serious illness because the cause continues to cause illness.
If you are suffering from arthritis - exercise might be the most appropriate healthicine. Drugs that make the arthritis pain bearable can only be beneficial if combined with exercise to lubricate the joint and promote healing. Otherwise, drugs will simply lead to a more severe illness - although with less pain.
Some illnesses are well treated by drugs. Some illnesses are best treated by healthicines. Some are best treated by a combination of healthicines and drugs. What is the true percentage? We don't know.
How many illnesses are caused by nutritional deficiencies or imbalances? We don't know.
Illness is caused by an imbalance, a deficiency or an excess so severe that it results in a medical condition. An unhealthiness can be a minor health imbalance, or severe enough to be diagnosed as an illness. There are many different deficiencies or excesses that can cause illness. Deficiencies and excesses in nutrients can result in illnesses from scurvy (Vitamin C) to obesity (sugar). Deficiencies and excesses of exercise can result in flaccid muscles or torn ligaments. Deficiencies or excesses in your immune system can result in more serious colds and flu to autoimmune diseases.
We know that many illnesses are caused by severe single nutrient deficiencies. We know, for example that scurvy is caused by a severe deficiency of Vitamin C. But we have very little understanding of what illnesses might be caused by a long term, minor deficiency of Vitamin C. I suspect your doctor will diagnose them as 'old age'.
What illnesses might be caused by combinations of nutritional deficiencies. Can we name one? I can't think of one. And I find that very, very strange. There are over 100 known 'essential nutrients' for the human body. Given huge variations in diet over the planet, through different cultural groups and over time with individuals - there is huge potential for many combinations of nutrient deficiency. Can we name a single illness that is caused by a minor long term deficiency of TWO essential nutrients?
What might be the result of a prolonged deficiency of Vitamin A, a prolonged minor deficiency of omega 3, and a long term minor deficiency of Vitamin C?
What is the cause of age related macular degeneration? It is almost certainly the result of long term nutritional deficiencies or excesses. What about other degenerative diseases? Drug companies are busy searching for medicines, but few are studying or searching for healthicines.
Given the number of essential nutrients - over 100, the number of combinations of two nutrient deficiencies that might occur together is over 10,000. Many nutritional deficiencies are uncommon in Western societies. But many are common. According to the USDA's Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals - 60 percent of males do not meet the RDA minimum for Vitamin A; 64 percent do not meet the RDA minimum for Vitamin E; over 50 percent do not meet the RDA minimum for Vitamin B6, and so on....
We don't know what illnesses, or what symptoms might be caused by these, and other deficiencies. But they should not be treated by medicines. They can only be treated by healthicines. By ensuring that people meet their nutritional needs.
You may have noticed the recent flurries of press regarding Vitamin D. It seems Vitamin D prevents many illnesses - and most of us are not consuming enough Vitamin D. But the press treats Vitamin D as if it was a medicine. It is not - it is an essential nutrient, Vitamin D is a healthicine.
If you consume a medicine to solve a healthicine problem - the problem can only get worse. You cannot treat a Vitamin D deficiency by taking a different drug. You can only cure it by getting enough sunshine, or enough Vitamin D in your diet. Healthicine.
Today, 'healthicine' is not a word. Medicine is the science or practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Medicines are drugs that you take to treat or cure illness.
The entire focus of our so called 'health systems' is on medicines. We need to study healthicines more thoroughly if we are to attain optimal health.
Why don't we know what unhealthinesses are best treated by healthicines? Healthicines do not have side effects. Because they treat the unhealthiness directly - they simply have health effects.
You have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of healthiness. You have a right to information about healthicines and medicines. You have a right to choose, but choice is best assisted by information.
yours in health,
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Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: