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|Posted on 8 July, 2016 at 17:14||comments (1)|
The Layering of Disease
Many of us have grown up within the Orthodox understanding of disease whereby, we go to our doctor with our list of symptoms. These symptoms are then used to match a disease profile as closely as possible. Once this match is successful then a diagnosis can be made and, subsequently, a treatment given. This treatment usually takes the form of pharmaceutical medicines. It could also require surgical intervention. In any case, the malady is standardised and treated in isolation. The drugs chosen are specific to that disease and the organ or system affected.
Fundamentally, holistic medicine has difficulty with two aspects of this process.
Firstly, the standardising of symptoms to establish a disease allows the doctor to make a diagnosis and thus match a standardised medicine as the course of treatment. This all seems very logical and scientific, which it is to a certain degree. However, on closer scrutiny it becomes evident that patients will sometimes present with symptoms that do not closely match a disease profile. If this occurs infrequently, then those symptoms may be treated as an inconvenient quirk (what a holistic practitioner would consider as a unique individual expression) and swept under the carpet. If this happens more frequently among the population, then the disease will be given a sub-category or variant. In some conditions I have looked at, the variations can become so numerous, and so loosely connected, that I start to wonder if there is any sense in trying to link them under one umbrella disease, from anybody's point of view.
Essentially, this system of standardisation is designed to treat the end expression of the true dis-ease. It requires the patient fit the disease profile so that they can be matched up to mass produced, patent, medicines that, in most cases, can only work to manage the symptoms rather than facilitate a cure.. This is because the symptoms are not the problem in themselves, but merely an expression of the true underlying cause.
Three different patients could present themselves to me for treatment. They may all exhibit stomach discomfort. Yet how they arrived at that condition can have many variants.
In the first case this may be related to what they eat (excess fat/acid/salt/sweet).
In the second case it might be related to how they eat (incorrect chewing due to distraction during mealtimes).
In the third case it could be due to emotional concerns affecting the digestive process.
A remedy may be given that will provide a period of relief in all cases, as long as you keep taking it. As soon as you stop the remedy the symptoms return. In essence, the individual becomes a slave to his remedies. In fact, it is the respective dietary choices, behavioural patterns and emotional concerns underlying these examples that need addressing if a lasting return to health is to be achieved.
The other aspect of orthodox treatment that a holistic practitioner like myself would take issue with, is the treatment of disease in isolation. There are two aspects to consider regarding this isolated approach.
Firstly, acute pain caused by a trauma is justifiably treated in a symptomatic way. However, recurring pain must be understood in a different way. In chronic cases, pain functions as a stern voice telling us to modify our behaviour. A hangover is a perfect example of this. Continually using pain relief rather than modify behaviour will lead to a long term decline in health.
Secondly, the treatment of disease as a manifestation in isolation supports the misconception of disease as somehow random and beyond our control. However, holistic practitioners know that there is a connection between our most recent conditions and conditions of the past. This is known as, The Layering of Disease.
Disease evolves, and goes deeper over the years, when the underlying cause remains unchanged. There may also be other contributing factors along the way. Suppressive treatment in the form of symptomatic medicines will only encourage this process.
Earlier in our life, in some cases, the body will attempt to overcome the challenges through methods that encourage expulsion. However, if the underlying cause remains unresolved then the disease will become more entrenched. With each unsuccessful attempt to resolve the problem the body loses vitality and in time methods of expulsion give way to the storage of toxins in the body. Hence, the nature of disease changes as one ages.
When treating someone presenting with a chronic condition, there will be a return back through the layers, with old conditions returning briefly before resolving themselves. The homoeopath Hering observed this and included it as part of his Law of Cure stating that symptoms will resolve themselves in the reverse order that they appear. These recurring symptoms of the past are known as Historical Symptoms, and are a positive sign of a healing process under way.
For chronic patients coming for treatment this layering of disease can sometimes be frustrating as it is often the long standing condition that they seek to resolve. However, they will often present with more recent manifestations too. When receiving such treatment, it is important to keep focused on the bigger picture. The initial resolving of more recent conditions stands as a testimony to the validity of Hering's Law of Cure in understanding the layering of disease. Once this pattern becomes established, the only other remedies needed are patience and perseverance.
|Posted on 28 March, 2016 at 7:13||comments (1)|
Skin complaints are among the commonest conditions to find their way to me for treatment.
Although skin conditions present themselves in many ways with many different labels, it is always important to treat the person with the complaint rather than the complaint itself. In this way it is possible to avoid artificially restricting the search for the cause and the subsequent solution.
In many cases there will be an internal toxic element to the overall condition. Even in some cases of contact dermatitis, where a caustic factor is not involved, extreme toxicity can lead to a heightened sensitivity in the skin as well as the mucous membranes.
The skin often takes on a detoxifying role when the other means of expulsion have been overloaded. In such an instance it is vital to review the health of these systems and to gently tone them into action before any serious detoxification gets under-way.
Essentially there are four main means for ridding the body of toxins and metabolic waste; the bowels, the kidneys, the lungs and the skin. Moreover, a healthy liver is needed to breakdown toxins and other substances in the body.
In women there is the fifth possibility of the menstruation as a means of cleansing the body. However, this is only fully active, mostly being signified by a variety of symptoms just before or around the onset of bleeding, when the other means of expulsion are under par.
It is in fact the bowels and the kidneys that take on the lions share of this process. When these means are overloaded or under-functioning they will look elsewhere to other means to burden some of the load. For example, a bout of constipation may precipitate the onset of a catarrhal state. Overloaded kidneys may lead to an increase in persperation, without activity, that is offensive in its smell.
Emotional considerations play a significant role in the outbreak of skin conditions and in the treating of them.
Although emotional disturbances can influence the general state of the systems resulting in poor metabolic function, they also have a significant impact on sympathetic/parasympathetic balance. It is well documented that both acute and chronic states of stress can act as a catalyst for the onset of a skin manifestation. In such instances of stress the autonomic nervous system switches into Sympathetic mode, which controls the Fight of Flight mechanism. The body gears up for maximum function and in the process any redundant substances are expelled, quite radically in some cases, from the body. In many cases this takes the form of skin manifestations, but in extreme acute cases it can express itself through deification, urination or vomiting. In simple terms it is a process similar to that seen in the old suspense films. To gain advantage in a chase the crew of some vehicle or vessel begin to throw all non-essential items overboard, thus maximising performance.
On another level it is important to consider the emotional impact that the healing process of skin conditions can have on the patient.
Skin is our first point of interface with the world, the quality of which plays a large role in our society with respect to how we are perceived and judged. This is especially poinient when the condition appears on the face.
We are conditioned to believe, by the teachings of modern medicine, that the condition should simply go away. This is usually achieved by the use of powerful drugs that suppress the body's attempt to detoxify itself. In the short term this seems favourable in contrast to the natural rhythms of healing that dictate the condition will get worse before it gets better. However, these pharmaceuticals do not address the underlying problem and cannot offer a cure. The individual is ever dependant on them to manage the condition. The long term use of such remedies as steroid cream can come at a cost. One such side effect is the thinning of the skin.
As a holistic practitioner, it is my experience that when you take on a case you are seldom treating the patient alone. Consideration must be given for the other people in the patient's life and what impact they will have on treatment. This is particularly evident in skin cases as the condition, finally freeing itself of the suppressive effects of the orthodox treatments, begins to express itself fully. Patients need all of their energy to deal with this development. However, they sometimes find themselves expending much of it defending the natural pattern of healing before family members and friends.
I remember the case of a woman in her mid- thirties who came to me with a small skin condition across the knuckles of one hand. She had been living with the condition since she was about 8 years old. Apart from a slight nervous disposition, the cause of the problem was not immediately obvious until I did some deeper investigating. Subsequently, it became clear that past generations had been involved in the tanning industry and later in some other form of industry involving chemicals. The patient was exhibiting a taint that was being carried down through the family.
We started commencement of treatment and true to form the condition got “worse”, progressing up the hand to the writs and, at the height of its expression, across to the other hand. It was at about this point that her husband decried me as a quack....and suggested that she go to a “proper” doctor for some treatment. The woman herself understood what was to be expected however under the barrage of pressure at home, and to regain some peace, she gave in to these demands.
I arrived at work on a Monday morning only to receive a message from the patient saying that she was sorry, but she would no longer be coming for treatment. I was about to let it go....except that I knew she was right at the point when things were about to turn around.
I picked up the phone and called her. I said, because I knew the condition was about to turn....and because I believed in what I did, I would treat her for free. Oddly enough, now that the treatment was not costing anything, the husband who was so concerned for her welfare seemed easily satisfied to give me a couple more months.
Right on queue, the condition began to improve. New expressions were intense but short lived, so there was finally a chance for the skin to begin to heal.
In time we resolved the condition. The woman insisted on paying me for all the outstanding treatments and brought along two children, the next generation to carry this taint, with skin conditions to resolve. Which we did.
It is possible to lessen the impact on the skin, to some degree, by restoring the main means of expulsion to full function. However, some of the process will have to be worked out through the skin itself. This can be quite frightening to witness, especially if it is a parent watching their child go through it. All that can be offered is the reassurance that comes of experience. When you are in the middle of this process it can seem quite a burden to bear....but like giving birth, so I am told, the toil of the event is far overshadowed by the great joy of the end result.
(The images on these pages represent a scald I sustained and treated with herbal medicine. The last picture is recent, however this stage of healing was already achieved a few months into the process )
|Posted on 11 March, 2016 at 1:56||comments (1)|
A Symptomatic Approach to a Chronic Condition will make you....
A Slave to your Remedies.
I regularly get people coming into the apothecary asking me what herb can I recommend for a specific problem. In many of these cases the problem is an acute, one-off, condition. So, I consult with them briefly and offer them a solution that will support their body's own natural attempts to resolve its imbalance.
However, all too often, someone will come in asking for a simple, symptomatic, solution to what is obviously a chronic problem. On further questioning it becomes evident that there is a history of recurring and evolving dis-ease, the latest symptom, for which they seek a remedy, being the body's most recent attempt to adapt and cope with the ongoing underlying cause.
Taking a symptomatic approach to a chronic condition will simply make you a slave to your remedies. What this means is, where there is a deeper underlying cause, using symptomatic remedies will not cure the condition. As soon as you stop taking the remedies the symptoms will return, often with a vengeance. This is true be they herbal or pharmaceutical remedies. This process enslaves you to the remedies indefinitely.
I understand that people have money concerns and the thought of committing to, seemingly, more expensive consultations seems daunting for some. While, at the time, a symptomatic approach may seem a wise and cheaper solution, this is a false economy. As the underlying cause remains untreated, the condition will evolve. The initial acute and sub-acute stages of expulsion will give was to the storage stages of chronic and degenerative disease as the body's vitality wanes. The condition will go deeper and become more complex resulting in a host of new symptoms, each requiring a new symptomatic remedy. Once organic change occurs in the final degenerative stage, the dye is cast. By this point, although some relief may be offered to improve the quality of life, in many cases there will be no road back to a self-contained level of health. Multiple remedies cost more and, as they will not resolve the underlying problem, will continually be needed over the coming months, years, decades. Work this out on a calculator and it will become clear why a symptomatic approach to chronic conditions offers a false economy.
A holistic approach is not a new idea. It goes back thousands of years when some of our most cherished thinkers sought to implement a society that put the welfare of humanity (if only their brand of humanity) ahead of all other concerns. However, somewhere along the way society became diseased and our concept of what health is became distorted. In the continuous pursuit of getting things done faster we lost sight of the importance of the quality of life...of its natural rhythms....and of the importance of taking personal responsibility for our health. We have bought in to the smoke and mirrors of science offering us quick solutions to complex problems (and when they found out how much money was to be made in so doing, there was no incentive to turn back). The fastest route is not always the best....and the real price we pay in the long run can be shocking.
Health and Happiness
The Green Man.
|Posted on 29 February, 2016 at 4:40||comments (0)|
A Possible Plan To Save The NHS?!
I was randomly listening to the radio the other night only to find another talk show being dedicated to the problems of the NHS and the usual host of ideas as to how we should save it.
I think, for me, this subject has just about reached saturation point. It is not only on the radio regularly, but also in the news and in the paper. The reason the subject has reached saturation point is because I do not think there will be any headway with the problem given the ideas that have come up. If this is the case, then it makes such shows, headlines and reports of little interest or value. Leave this subject now.....and come back to us when you have something new to report. Continually crying wolf starts to lose its effect in the end.
After engaging with these reports again and again, it became evident that a pattern was forming. Essentially, it seems, the main solution to the problem seems to be to throw the pack of cards, that is the NHS, into the air and then rebuild it using the same materials. This is not working. Every time a new government gets into power they have a crack at the NHS (as well as schools, which is another festering sore). What has become obviously evident is to achieve anything lasting the very cards themselves need to be changed. It is time to think outside the box, or pack as it were.
During the show in question, the main concern was how little time doctors spent with patients and if that did not put patients at risk. In contrast to the 10 minutes the doctors offer I find 2 hours for a patient's initial consultation. It is the only way to take a full holistic history and to understand the person with the condition rather than just the disease. Believe me, I am not having a go at the doctors. They are the victims of the system of expectations they belong to.
In response to this problem one doctor phoned in and felt the only solution to resolve this problem would be to have more doctors. I agree with this whole heartedly. In my series Patient First Medicine, I made this very point that I feared about the quality of treatment from stressed doctors and overworked nurses.
To resolve this problem the doctor suggested there be more funding available for these doctors. There is one massive problem with this......there is no more funding! This is what we are constantly being told. There is no funding for this and no funding for that. This means that the money needed to hire more doctors and nurses to take some of the strain off the existing workload has to come out of some of the funding already in circulation. I can see this working if, for example, two doctors were willing to take a third cut in pay each to create the resources to fund a third doctor. However, for some strange reason, I just don't feel that is likely to gain acceptance in certain corners.
To create change something, or someone, has to give.
However, the area I see as the most likely source to reclaim money is the massive drug bill.
Just as an example, how often have we seen or heard reports telling us that antibiotics are being given out too freely to the point that they are no longer potent against some strains of bacteria and thus putting people having operations at risk?
In my own practice alone I have facilitated a complete cure or greatly reduced the dependence on drugs in the bulk of my patients, often after they have been on them for years or even decades. These conditions included people with Asthma, Skin Disease, Hypertension, Depression, Gout, Menstrual Irregularities....and on, all of which were offered a drug solution as the only answer to their problem.....And I am not the only one out there doing this. I am only one practitioner of many holistic practitioners who are achieving these results up and down the countryside. We represent a valuable resource and a potent solution to the problems of the NHS because, in the long run, we offer a cheaper and longer lasting solution to many conditions.
One of the excuses as to why we are not embraced as a part solution to the NHS' problems is it is claimed that our methods are not substantiated by science. Certainly, it is true that we cannot substantiate our methods as readily when the test is disease oriented, but that is because our very methods are not disease oriented. We are, however substantiated by the law of probability that says, given the success so many of us have had with so many patients up and down the country, there must be more at work here than mere chance.
At the end of the day, patients are interested in results not theory. If we can't have more money to save the NHS, then let us start shifting what resources we have to where they will do some real good.
In any negotiation there comes a point when we must concede, in part, to the oppositions position, even if we don't understand it, as the only way forward. The alternative is to continue going in circles for ever, which is what we seem to be doing.
|Posted on 10 February, 2016 at 2:24||comments (1)|
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|Posted on 6 August, 2015 at 5:03||comments (1)|
The pictures shown here were taken earlier in July. However, this beautiful herb is long flowering and even now, in August, it is still possible to go out and find them in full bloom. Personally, I could find them blind-folded if put in the right place, as by stepping on their leaves they give off a distinct, chalky, aspirin-like smell. This is an indicator to us of the importance of using multiple senses for the purpose of identification.
Meadowsweet prefers damp places. Its evolution in this environment has had an influence on its effectiveness on such hot conditions as inflammation, pain and acid. However, archaic belief systems assign Meadowsweet to the wind element. It is significant that the term wind is used instead of air. The ancients saw the world as being made up of the four elements. These elements played an active role in the physical world. On a human level, it was believed that we were also subject to the influence of the elements and disease was an indication of one or more of these being out of balance.
When we combine the influences of Meadowsweet's damp environment with the archaic belief in its associations with the element of wind, we can start to understand the complexity of its function in treating disease.
Meadowsweet's water influence makes it suitable for conditions where there is burning or heat, such as in inflammation or acid. This is especially significant where these are generated from disturbances in the liver (our great source of heat) and digestive system, leading to wind.
Like many herbs that grow in damp places, Meadowsweet is quite dry and astringent. If we think of the action of the wind, it can be both cooling and drying (although remember that the long term action of astringent herbs is to passively moisten through the action of retaining moisture where there is moisture loss).
When I do my herb walks, Meadowsweet is one of the herbs I like to get people to taste. The leaf has a complexity of flavour. To me there is almost a minty quality that is combined with that aspirin like chalky astringency. This is no coincidence as Meadowsweet is one of the plants initially used in the development of aspirin. In fact its former botanical name of Spireae ulmaria helped coin the term aspirin. The other plant involved is actually the White Willow. The botanical name for the White Willow tree is Salix alba. The name Salix formed the prefix of one of the active ingredients in these plants, which is salicylic acid.It is salicylic acid which forms the basis of aspirin.
Meadowsweet is very effective in heartburn and indigestion, although in chronic
cases it is important to investigate the underlying cause. However, for acute conditions I use a leaf or a teaspoon of dried leaf/stem, infused in a cup of boiling water and taken several times a day. It is amazing how effective relief is on our doorstep....a free offering from the green ones....to sooth and heal us.
|Posted on 22 July, 2015 at 9:02||comments (14)|
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