Recently, I had the opportunity to be a guest speaker for a class of nursing students at the Endicott College here in MA. Approximately twenty curious young girls and boys in their early 20s were gathered together to fulfill their chosen elective of “complementary and alternative therapies”. While giving them an overview of homeopathy and discussing illness from a holistic standpoint, and as they sat in rapt attention absorbing every word that I uttered, their brains churning with the information I had just provided, it became obvious that this was a fundamental paradigm shift for them. And, as the questions came pouring in, their eyes gleaming with bits of understanding, yet hints of shadows of the struggle to reconcile what they had learnt in their regular training so far, I almost felt a little bit sorry for them… almost. The confusion can be a real struggle, but it is needed in order to arrive at the truth. I could see it in their eyes, some even perhaps starting to question the value of continuing in the traditional nursing program, questioning where they would be headed professionally in their chosen careers. But, if they remember why they were there, why they enrolled in nursing school in the first place, then they will find their way in the world. They will continue on with their program with an understanding of disease and health from a totally different paradigm in the back of their minds, the holistic paradigm, and somehow find a way to incorporate and integrate it into their practices and future professions. They can bring the best of both worlds together. It’s doable.
Remember (at least from history), what a significant paradigm shift it was when it was first proposed (and subsequently proven) that the Earth, the planet that we inhabit, the ground that we are standing on, is not FLAT but actually ROUND like a ball. Old constructs broke down and the half-answered questions in the previous paradigm all of a sudden just started to make a whole lot of sense in the new paradigm. Along with that, there was also the puzzle, and therefore resisting voices and attitudes, of how are we not falling off the Earth if it is round instead of flat? For some of us, it is hard to let go of old constructs and embrace a different paradigm… we like to cling to the security of what we have known all along, even though it is all wrong and not serving us well. This is due to the fear of the unknown, or is it just laziness? Homeostasis has a strong influence in any kind of change. Hence, while on one hand, things click together into place organically and without effort once the truth is realized, instead of the constant struggle of having to make sense of something that is fundamentally completely wrong to begin with, on the other hand there is fightback and backlash from those who do not want to change their belief system. That’s how it is with ALLOPATHY, the medicine that has become mainstream even though to the detriment of the human race in general. That’s how it is with many other aspects of LIFE actually, whether it is the diet that one eats, or the religion one follows, or the habits one grew up with, most of us want to keep things as it is, and try to apply patches to what’s broken. People are more open to applying short term fixes to the holes in their existing paradigm, rather than even considering the idea that the existing structure might actually be rotten and that the only way to fix it is to break it all down, clean out the gunk, and build it back again with the right building blocks.
Let’s get back to the constructs of flat earth medicine. When it comes to addressing disease, it tries to patch things up, clear up the overflow, constantly and fervently tries to keep things contained as the body just revolts against such existential fallacies. Modern medicine is allopathic, where the goal is to treat symptoms by using drugs or tools that have opposite effects to the symptoms. What that simply means is that if you have a cold or seasonal allergies, take an anti-histamine. If you have a fever, take an anti-pyretic. If you are in pain, just take an analgesic to numb the nervous system. Do you see anything wrong with this way of thinking and acting? This paradigm believes that the symptoms are standalone without an underlying reason for it, they just happen randomly, ad hoc, by fluke, and the way to get better is to just remove the superficial cause (which is usually chalked up to a bacteria or a virus, or another inmate of the microbial kingdom*), suppress it, or just somehow make the body behave differently to relieve itself of the pesky symptom, and think that the ailment is “cured”. This paradigm believes that the body is malfunctioning at the level of the organ where the symptom is occurring, that there is no connection with any other inter-connected organ system, that there is no deeper or a holistic system behind that tissue or organ that is producing the symptom. IT’S LIKE TAPING SHUT AN INFANT’S MOUTH WHEN IT CRIES, TO STOP THE CRYING. IT’S THINKING THAT THE EARTH IS FLAT BECAUSE THE FLATNESS IS ALL ONE CAN SEE. It is flat earth medicine at its best.
Instead, what if you were to consider and practice round earth medicine? Holistic medicine that digs deeper beyond the obvious and takes into account that the whole is simply greater than the sum of its parts. In homeopathy, as in many other holistic approaches to health and wellness, the goal is to “treat” the person not the disease label. The goal is to understand the whole person behind the disease label, to elucidate where deeper in the body and mind is the source of the imbalance that results in the particular expression of symptoms or disease as a manifestation further downstream, and then to suggest remedies accordingly. The goal is to look at the diet, the environment, the lifestyle choices, and the mental emotional aspects of the person, and observe the impact of each on the macro-level as well as micro-level functioning of the body. The conversation needs to change, the questions need to change. The question I get asked all the time (because it’s the paradigm that dictates the language) – can homeopathy treat headaches, can it treat allergies, can it treat fibromyalgia, can it treat this, can it treat that? The answer I give is – “Better than that. Homeopathy educates YOU, the whole person, so whatever disease you come with is automatically covered, even the ones you haven’t mentioned.” Well, that’s the truth, and that’s how health and disease should be addressed. That’s the paradigm shift that needs to happen. You don’t just tape a crying child’s mouth shut to stop it from crying and think that you have fixed it, and believe that the child is all better. You find out why the child is crying, and address it at that level. You zoom out and look at the whole picture, the whole Earth, only then you realize that the Earth is round, not flat. If you operate from the zoomed in level and focus on the myopic view, then yes, the Earth is flat, and your approach will thus be severely limited. For example, all this ongoing research for Cancer continues to focus on this gene, that enzyme, this protein, that inflammation marker, this telomere, etc., all are nothing but FLAT EARTH views. Yes, you can get in your head and entertain yourself, and lose yourself among the intriguing “trees” your entire life, without ever understanding the “forest”. And, that’s OK as an academic pursuit, but to think that paradigm will ever heal anything is simply foolish thinking.
Check out Beyond Flat Earth Medicine, by Timothy R. Dooley, N.D., M.D.. It is one of my favorite recommendations, an easy-to-read best all-round introduction to homeopathy available!
*Read my post on the microbiome to understand what role the microbial kingdom plays in acute and chronic illnesses.