We will never find real health until we cast aside the crutch of modern medicine.
God and Health
The Bible says the plants and medicines we need for survival are right here on Earth. He created them and they are all around us. You cannot go a hundred yards from your house (unless there are no plants at all near where you live) and not have potent medicine at your fingertips. These medicines are in the bark, roots and leaves of trees. They are in the roots, leaves and flowers of plants. They are everywhere in every landscape in every part of the world. For millennia people of wisdom have learned to identify and use these medicines to heal the sick and make life better for people while they live on Earth.
Today many people are anxious about being able to obtain prescription medicines. It has become such an important issue the fate of our economy and our nation may rest upon it. A significant portion of the money we earn now goes toward healthcare that has become increasingly expensive in the past few decades. The costs of medical care have risen disproportionately when compared to the costs of other goods and services we routinely pay for, and the medical services we now deem “necessary” have also risen. The average person in the United States pays thousands of dollars each year simply to maintain his health.
Health care is an unique service in our society. It holds a particularly esteemed place in the minds of most people because it is intimately tied to our quality of life and our mortality. The instinct to survive is basic to all of us. When someone promises to extend our mortality or make the quality of our lives better it is difficult to not be interested in the service or drug he offers. If the medical procedure or the drug works it is not long before many view the new discovery as a necessity. The new “necessity” creates a market. The race is on for who can extract the greatest profit from it. Although people have survived throughout time without the new discovery the thought of being rid of the scourge and suffering of some disease or medical condition makes us willing to pay a high price for it. Even the hope of temporary relief is enough for some people to pay top dollar.
The instinct to relieve suffering is basic to most human beings. Few of us like seeing another human suffer and are willing to take steps to relieve it when we see it. But we have limits on how far we are willing and able to go in relieving that suffering. If we had to pay out of pocket for the medical services offered today most of us would decline. They are just too expensive. Even the most selfless of us can only pay so much. We are constrained by simple economics. Along comes the idea of insurance and suddenly we find there is a way to pay. Insurance is based on the assumed probability that most people will not require the expensive drug or procedure, but who of us knows which few will? We don’t know, so we all contribute money throughout our lifetimes in the unlikely event that we will need it. This creates a pool of money available for use by the unfortunate person who needs it. This would be a good idea if it were not for human greed. The manufacturers of drugs and medical supplies see a market created here. In the economic paradigm of supply and demand, the demand is particularly strong. Pain and suffering certainly can up the intensity of “demand.” Since the patient is not paying “out of pocket” and in most cases is not confronted with the costs of treatment while he is ill, he will accept the drug or treatment regardless of the cost. Relieving the suffering is paramount in the patient’s mind. If he does not have to sell his house to relieve it, go ahead with the treatment. After all, it is covered by insurance.
A few years ago I took care of a fine young man who was afflicted with colon cancer. I watched his body waste away from it vigorous, healthy state for about a year until he finally died. During that time he accumulated medical bills that topped $300,000.00, most of it paid for by insurance. The costs were outrageous. A two liter bag of a chemo drug (enough for one week) was $5000.00. One day stay in intensive care was $2000.00. What was all this money for? How much does it cost to produce this drug? Certainly not $5000.00 for one bag. You can blame it on the costs of drug testing or medical malpractice insurance. I am sure there are some valid reasons for the high costs. But I strongly suspect someone is making a lot of money off of these drugs. In other words, there is greed involved here. Whatever reasons may be given, the price for this drug is obscene. Twenty-four treatments would deplete the annual incomes of average families. If health is this expensive it is a failure. It isn’t working and we should know something is terribly wrong.
So, what is wrong? What has gone so terribly wrong in our approach to health? Is this what God planned for human beings on Earth? Yes, drug companies are being greedy. I think there is little doubt about that. Doctors charge too much money, partly because they can and because there is a long standing precedent for it. People have come to accept that health care is expensive. But reforming the system, cracking down on drug companies, regulating doctors, does not address the real problem. Our medical system reflects our own failure to take responsibility for our own health. There is a fundamental law of life that is being violated wholesale in our society and it is this: one of the reasons we have clay (bodies) is so we can learn to handle clay. Turning our bodies over to medical people violates our own wisdom, for we do possess the wisdom the keep our bodies healthy and to heal them if they are unhealthy. Sometimes this may require the help of others who also have wisdom about healing, but the PRIMARY responsibility for health belongs with the person who occupies and uses that body. Modern medicine is not based on wisdom. It does not seek to cure the root causes of illness, but only to treat symptoms. If it were otherwise doctors would not prescribe drugs that help one symptom, but damage another part, which they do routinely.
Hippocrates is the father of medicine and physicians are required to take an oath stating they will “First, do no harm.” Yet physicians do this every day without a care. The oath does not say, “do no harm unless you have to bring some temporary relief of symptoms.” If a drug does harm it should not be used. The drugs used commonly today have not been around very long - most for fewer than 100 years and many fewer than 10. It is impossible to know the long-term effect of many of the newer medicines because there has not been time to observe them. Yet physicians routinely prescribe these new medicines and ignore the treasure trove of herbal remedies that have been at our disposal for millennia. Furthermore, many of the modern day medicines are either extracts from plants or copies of substances found in plants. Man has become too clever for himself when he extracts or copies a substance from a plant. What about the other ingredients contained in that plant? Why are they there? We may know the key ingredient in the plant that is having the beneficial effect, but what about the substances that are found along with that key ingredient? Why are they together in nature? Should the key ingredient be extracted? Do we destroy the total value a plant has to our bodies by isolating and extracting single ingredients? Is this how God intended we should use the plants? Are certain substances co-mingled in a plant for a purpose we do not comprehend? Why are we so quick to create these drugs when we lack an essential understanding of substances already found together in nature?
The classic example of a drug found abundantly in nature is aspirin. What is aspirin but an imitation of a substance found in White Willow bark. Herbalists have used it for centuries to cure headaches. What is the advantage of imitating, when we can make it available in its natural state?
Recently I saw a billboard advertisement for a hospital. It showed a young nurse caring for a patient and printed below the words "Working with the greatest Healer of all time." I found myself asking, How do they know they are working with the greatest Healer of all time? Seems to me they routinely ignore the cures greatest Healer of all time has provided in favor of their own ideas. Doctors are so busy keeping up with the latest drugs most don't have time to study and use herbs. Most don't personally study and practice good nutrition. When I worked in a hospital as an orderly I was shocked at how little doctors thought about nutrition. It just was not part of their training and interest. To many of them understanding the relationship between what we eat and health was not important.
Every human on Earth is challenged to manage his own body and health. If we collectively outsource this challenge to professionals who are under God not primarily responsible for it we commit a grevious sin against ourselves. We in effect tell God "This learning You would like us to do does not matter. Our professionals can do better." If we persist in this attitude we will reap dire consequences in the future. The cost of medical care could be one thing that brings our society down. It is already out of control and it will never be brought under control until people realize that health is first and foremost the responsbility of the individual.