Thought Reforms in Medicine and Health Care
Thought Reforms in Medicine and Healyj Care
Majid Ali, M.D.
We grow only to the extent that we continue to unlearn beliefs created by past experiences. Unlearning, of course, is much harder than learning. So a life of continued growth and enlightenment is a demanding life.
A life of reason is based on the observable and the observed. A life of belief, by contrast, is based on the unobservable and the unobserved. Convictions of reason grow stronger as one’s power of reason strengthens, while those of belief deepen as belief continues to deny what is plainly observable. Sadly, many in healing arts allow themselves to be led deeper and deeper into a life of belief.
Considerations of reason and belief bring us to the matters of the freedoms of speech and thought. The two are often lumped together but should not be for two reasons. First, the freedom of thought, not of speech, is what coaxed humankind to understanding, enlightenment, and civility. Second, the freedom of speech is often used to hide confusion and justify noise. With thought, not speech, begins the journey of ideas and ideologies.
We Americans are most strident proponents of freedom in general, and of the freedom of speech in particular. And yet—it seems to me—there is sparse enthusiasm for the freedom of thought. In the matters of nutrition and environment, seldom do we sufficiently challenge the presumed intellectual or moral superiority of those who insist that there is no science behind nutritional and environmental therapies to preserve health or reverse chronic disease. They profess to be champions of freedom of speech but are opposed to freedom of thought in matters of personal health. Flat-earthers not only survive but thrive.
Two other issues are of transcendent importance in the study of human nutrition: (1) the spiritual serenity that is essential for long-term good health; and (2) chronic anger and sadness that fan the fires of acidity and free radical activity in the body. The so-called mind-body-spirit trio is an artifact of thinking. Preoccupation with that trio, in reality, is an expression of our inability to sense, feel, and know the wholeness of the human condition. I have never seen anyone dissect a human and delineate where the body ends and the mind begins or where the mind ends and the spiritual begins.
In the broader context of the freedoms of speech and thoughts with the following interesting and amusing quote from the petition to get sponsors for HR 1364, The Free Speech about Science Act, introduced in 2011 by the Reps. Chaffetz and Polis that would legalize truthful speech about natural supplements in the USA:
“…FDA regulations currently prohibit manufacturers of dietary supplements or producers of food from referring to any scientific study documenting the potential effect of the substance on a health condition. Violation of this ban can result in FDA declaring common dietary supplements and foods to be unapproved drugs, the sale of which is subject to large fines and jail. Cherry growers have been told by the FDA that they face jail if their websites even contain links to scientific studies from Harvard and elsewhere outlining the health benefits of cherries for gout or arthritis pain. Similar warnings have been sent to walnut producers and companies that tout the benefits of green tea!”
America’s extreme health problems cannot be addressed without a radically new way of thinking about health and the absence of health. A serious consideration of this statement creates a new vision with strong innovative possibilities. I offer my proposal with a thought experiment, for which I safely assume: (1) There is no end in sight for the deepening health care crisis with the prevailing medical model; (2) We Americans are a compassionate and resourceful people who resolved grave problems in our history with massive citizens’ efforts; and (3) The country has a sufficient number of civic leaders, teachers, and integrative clinicians willing and able to develop and implement an all voluntary national “Health Corps”—drawing on the experience of the Peace Corps—but robustly protected from the corporate influences of the American “medical-industrial complex.”
As for the first assumption, in RDA: Rats, Drugs, and Assumptions (1994)1 , I included a letter to the U.S. Congress that began with the following words:
Two elements characterize medicine in the U.S. today: The cost of health care continues to escalate, and the health of Americans continues to deteriorate. If the two trends were to hold, a time can be foreseen when the nation’s total resources will have to be committed to health care, and everyone will be unwell.
The U.S. clearly continues on the disturbing trajectory which I foresaw fifteen years ago. The country spent $2.4 trillion in 2008 on healthcare, and Americans, as I show later, continue to get sicker. The incidence rates of most inflammatory and degenerative disorders in the U.S. are steadily rising.
My second assumption—compassion and resourcefulness of the people—has become more compelling in recent months. As for the third assumption of my thought experiment, I observed a most impressive display of medical altruism at Capital University of Integrative Medicine, Washington, D.C. during a decade when I served as its president, and again in the summer of 2008 with an all voluntary “Diabetes/Hypertension Initiative” organized and implemented by non-commercial, listener-supported WBAI radio based in New York (both described on www.majidali.com).
Below is a list of my other essays of the subject of the healing philosophy. These essays are based on materials included in the twelve volumes of my textbook, The Principles and Practice of Integrative Medicine:
1. Philosophy of Integrative Medicine
2. Of Reason, Belief, and Oxygen
3. Ideas and Ideologies Define the Human Condition
4. The Aristotle Principle
5. The Darwin Principle
6. Of Diagnosis, Detection, Ethics, and Denial
7. Freedom of Thought in Integrative Medicine
8. There Are No Controversies
9. Science and an Angry Colleague
10. History, Like Science, Is Never a Finished Story
11. Oxygen Orchestrates
12. An Air Pump Works Well When It Pumps Clean Air
13. Organized Around Metals