Article By: Lee Moden
Lee Moden elaborates on the dire straits that we have reached in our current methods of allopathic healthcare. He suggests that by embracing a holistic sensitivity to the role of our world and the needs of its inhabitants, we can pave the way for a revolution in the care of humanity. From this process a holonomic health system that encompasses multidimensional understanding of how we organically interconnect with our world under the influence of universal movements can emerge, providing a new dimension in contemporary health-disease management.
The office is not a perfect environment for us, but at least you can stand by a window and get a natural light fix and see the naturally ionised air blowing in the trees outside – you might even glimpse someone practising their yoga or tai-chi in a wild meadow.Turning back inside the office one can truly enjoy a postural nightmare, illumination from fluorescent hell and clean, vibrant fresh air suitably isolated from oneself by air-conditioning set at a non-human temperature with air-ducting harbouring slowly growing bacteria; but it’s okay because relief is just an espresso-maker away.
Getting the recommended 5-a-day can be fun and although breakfast may have been skipped, RDA-recovery and ingestion of the main food groups is a simple process of choosing from one of those sandwiches in the revolving food-dispenser and a packet of cheese and onion crisps. A bulk-buy multivitamin can also be taken to reinforce the day’s creative catering. Reading, surfing the web or vigorous debate can be multitasked with rapid eating without serious side effects.
The recommended amount of daily exercise can be satisfied by a walk from the desk to the car parked outside and on occasion, it’s good to increase the level of regular exercise, so a lift from a colleague to somewhere near a bus stop can allow for 2-3 minutes additional walking and one can exercise the fingers by checking Facebook on one’s mobile phone whilst in transit.
After a long day and maybe a commute in the car home (catching up with friends on the hands-free), one can enjoy a microwaved-from-frozen meal in front of the TV and on a few evenings, maybe some home-made food, or if cooking is emotionally stressful, a quick pickup from the local takeaway can be enjoyed.
Alcohol is necessary to ensure any un-chewed food is washed all the way down and as someone in the office explained, research proves a little wine is good for the heart, one can magnify the beneficial effect and ensure longevity, by consuming a couple more glasses. Leaving some in the bottle is a waste and this can be consumed to support the environment. The occasional Rennie can bring welcome balance as required.
Propped up in bed, one can continue the film until it finishes and once any last minute emails are checked then it’s time to set the alarm on the mobile phone and place it on the bedside table, next to one’s head in case a late text appears that requires an urgent response and to allow for a few games of Tetris in case of waking in the night.
On the one hand it is of course not serious, on the other, it is a disturbing truth and frequent occurrence encountered in my acupuncture practice, mirroring the obscene figures of an upwardly statistical trend for sick leave amongst employees:
172 million days are lost each year in the UK to sickness, costing the economy over £13 billion (CBI, Absence & Labour turnover, 2006)
It’s a catalogue of depression, fatigue, back pain, insomnia, headaches and digestive disorders to name a few.
This spread of biological chaos from work-life stress extends further still, embracing younger generations suffering from obesity, fertility issues across both genders and an immuno-compromised and spiritually fatigued society. We also seem to have developed an allergic response to natural phenomena – it is almost as if our genetic code has begun to change such that life itself is being recognised as an allergen.
The toxic diet
‘The superior physician treats through diet and lifestyle, the inferior through the use of medicinals’ (Neijing Suwen)
It’s a disturbing truth but we are poisoning ourselves in a multitude of ways.
First off, we continually divorce ourselves from the nourishment necessary for life to thrive, we facilitate imbalance at the very centre for the reception of sustenance and the generation of our post-natal energy.....our stomachs.
Foods are laden with both the purposeful and accidental toxic ingredients of the wheels of mass-production. Raw ingredients are denatured by intensive growing techniques and long journeys from the other side of our planet to our front door. Once-good-foods are reduced in quality by substances leeching from packaging and our bodies struggle to recognise the vibration from foods which carry an out-of-season, out-of-locale information-signature which at best provides part nourishment to a system already stressed by exposure to other pollutants.
We also have a poor understanding of how to eat – eating late, when emotional, rushing food, overcooking, undercooking, overeating, poor food combining is common but these further compound the problem and a weakened digestive center then paves the way for other deficiencies and so ad infinitum.
Our systems are also stressed from other toxic overlay including radiation from mobile and DECT cordless phones and WIFI, from chemicals in cosmetics, household detergents, building and decorating materials, pollutants in the water we drink and the air we breathe – all of which warrant extensive discourse of their own.
Signs of change are emerging. Only a few days prior to writing this article (Jungian synchronicity?), the president of the United States and his cancer panel produced a remarkable 200 page report (National Cancer Institute, 2010). The report explains that ‘Only a few hundred of the more than 80,000 chemicals in use in the United States have been tested for safety’. It also states: ‘Many known or suspected carcinogens are completely unregulated.’ It goes on to say that ‘babies are being born pre-polluted’ and amongst other suggestions, the report recommends eating organic food and drinking filtered water.
Our main system of dealing with illness as a result of our poor living habits and accumulated toxicity relies upon an overstretched system of healthcare biased heavily toward waiting list targets at the expense of care. We fail to provide quality, natural healing environments and this, combined with questionable degrees of revenue-generating pharmaceutical intervention is not without the potential for serious complication.
Drugs carry the risk of causing side effects by promoting deeper energetic imbalance and cumulative toxicity, ranging from the irritating, to the potentially life-threatening and all of this even before reflecting on the potential risks of drug dependency and interaction, over-prescribing and poor monitoring.
This is confirmed by quality research; a study published in the British Medical Journal in 2004 showed a 6.5% incidence of hospital admission from Adverse Drug Reactions (ADR) and concluded ‘The burden of ADRs on the NHS is high, accounting for considerable morbidity, mortality, and extra costs’. A more recent paper published in 2010 in the European Journal of Intensive Care Medicine identified 19.5% of admissions to intensive care were due to iatrogenic (disease caused by medication) events. Despite the axiom of ‘.....first of all do no harm’ we are in a disturbing climate where sometimes the cure may in fact be worse than the disease itself.
The subject is vast – one could look at the iatrogenic-related mortality statistics, the long-term effects on our health in relation to vaccinations, disease resistance from repeated use of antibiotics – the list goes on. The wonders of the tools and techniques of modern life saving medicine should be respected; however, our attempts at dealing with the inherent long-term roots of disharmony responsible for promoting disease are woefully inefficient.
Prevention - the shift from disease to individual
‘It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has.’ (Sir William Osler 1849-1919)
Continuing the legacy of Descartes, our focus remains predominantly disease above person, thus, we spend precious time fighting disease and little time understanding the true holonomic human. The above statement from Canadian physician Sir William Osler encapsulates the principles of almost all schools of thought in energy-based medicine where the subtleties of the unique organism are wholly embraced to identify the individual code necessary to awaken the inherent natural healing abilities of the individual. It is these methods that elegantly facilitate recovery when diseased and better still, aid prevention.
The 2200 year-old classic of Chinese medicine; The Neijing Suwen warns us in no uncertain terms:
‘Trying to treat disease once it has taken effect is like trying to dig a well when one is thirsty, or trying to forge weapons when the war has already begun.’
The cliched expression ‘prevention is better than cure’ is at the very centre of sensibility and logic, yet its significance attracts less attention than the message sold to us through the media – the television advert is familiar, the message far reaching.
A successful, attractive and efficient-looking business man or woman in the middle of an important meeting develops the symptoms of the onset of a cold, flu or migraine...they flip-open the cap of some pocket/purse-sized pill dispenser that ‘gets to where it’s needed...FAST’ and voila....with symptoms suppressed, they can ignore the flashing red light on their body’s dashboard and continue their meeting (whilst their body compresses the pathogen to potentially brew up something more serious for later).
It’s analogous to temporarily halting defecation by plugging the nether of one's colon, or continually pumping up a tyre with a slow puncture – disease is an inconvenience and we’ve developed some ways of ignoring it. Prevention requires more work, it’s something that doesn’t yield real-time measurable results and ultimately relies on changes to how we live; and that’s tough when we’ve managed so far by finding clever ways to offset the effects of self-abuse with sticky tape.
Reintegrating Heaven, Earth and Humanity
The premise that there is nothing new in the universe – only knowledge and truth which has always been, offers a lifeline to our potential flatline. Ironically it’s only a matter of time before the penny drops and we can squeal in delight at rediscovering something we already knew. Revisiting and recovering an understanding of the techniques, healing-technologies and wisdom of past millennia may serve to re-establish true integration throughout the individual, collective and environment.
In ancient times, Chinese physicians understood how people were connected to and affected by their surroundings. They lived by the influences of the solar and lunar movements dictating the growth energies and patterns necessary for sowing and harvesting and they discovered ways to predict and follow the genesis of disease in people based on external pathogenic factors emerging from climatic changes related to the changing seasons.
Disease tendencies in people born in certain seasons/months has been clearly confirmed by modern research studies although no scientific explanation has been found. For example, those born in March are more likely to develop schizophrenia (Davies et al, 2003) and women born in this month have earlier menopauses and fewer eggs compared to women born at other times (Cagnacci et al, 2005). The mechanisms underlying these examples and many others are well understood in classical Chinese medicine (Golding R, 2008).
In addition, the Chinese discovered the ‘levels’ and ‘divisions’ of the body that became affected by disease and they understood gender strengths and weaknesses that could be used to optimise treatment strategies and further refine treatment for each gender. Through empirical observation, the Chinese developed the quintessential understanding of how our planet and its moon interacted with its neighbours to discover the numerological sequences of cosmological interaction that mirrored the movements of life on Earth and vice-versa. By combining these related discoveries, the movements of time and space could be brought into the human body to predict times when an individual would be more or less vulnerable to specific types of disease, to know when to treat as well as how to treat.
A similar use of time-rich information specific to the individual and set in motion at the moment of birth was pioneered in the late 19th century by Dr. Wilhelm Fleiss and became known as biorhythms. These biorhythms essentially explained a cyclical movement of rising and falling reserves of physical, emotional and intellectual energies and were critical to understanding when a person was vulnerable in a related area. Research into the relationship between biorhythms and periods when people were more prone to making mistakes was taken very seriously in Japan in the 1970s when a study indicated more than eighty percent of the traffic accidents from the previous year had taken place on the driver’s ‘critical’ day. (London, Biorhythms 2010). Similar biorhythm research in Russia in (Golovachev, 1980) facilitated a reduction in staff accidents in an industrial plant by over 40% by using biorhythm information. In 2002, an official Japanese public accident prevention document listed one of the activities of insurance companies as ‘Providing diagnostic checks of biorhythms for safe driving’ (General Insurance Association of Japan). The vocabulary and application may be different, but the appreciation of other-than-circadian biological rhythms are clearly evident.
Medicine with Spirit
In ancient times, an appreciation of our need to absorb energy from the Earth in its most basic form of material substance (food) and equally important, to be spiritually connected to the ordered energy-information of Heaven were paramount to our higher functions and were without religious subscription. This Heaven, Earth and Humankind dynamic is the epicenter of healing in Chinese medical theory:
Heaven is the sun and moon, the cosmos and its cosmic energy that animates form and bestows virtue and provides direction for life. It provides the light and air we breathe – governing respiration and inspiration.
Earth is the tangible substance that supports our form, provides the material from which food and life emerges and provides a place for us to rest and return to.
Humanity is man and woman, human life – the form that arises as a result of the meeting of Heavenly and Earthly energies – organic, intelligent life that reflects these two powers and follows the mandate of Heaven.
Healing principles based on Heaven, Earth, Humankind interaction were certainly not unique and various parallel methods were used in other cultures. However, apart from the traditional practices of Chinese medicine which have enjoyed major revival, the majority of other traditional methods diminished in favour of modern Western medical practices. Aside from a move away from treating the root as well as the manifestation of disease, one of the most obvious major shifts was toward medical diagnostic and treatment methods that ignored the importance of a person’s spirit in any qualitative assessment of health.
There is a well known axiom in Chinese Medicine from the Zhen Jiu Jia Yi Jing which highlights a recurring theme among the Chinese medical classics and which highlights the absolute necessity of involving the Spirit:
‘The mediocre practitioner abides by the form, but the superior abides by the spirit.’ (Yang and Chace, 1994, p 290).
Constructing a way of being in the world and therefore a system of healthcare fit for taking us into the next millennia, is only possible if we restore our memory of how to live, move away from trying to change things to meet our short-term needs without understanding the consequences and be guided by the natural resonances of our planet and self. Respecting the role of, and reintegrating spirit into our healing systems will finally be acknowledging we have grasped the understanding of our higher conscious function and the vast potential of our race. The result? A more being-centred, organised and complete system of care.
If we follow the rules and laws that govern, shape and promote our existence - and align ourselves with sincere purpose for the benefit of generations beyond our own, the move to a greater potential can begin. The Chung Yung – a Confucian classic of circa 500BC elucidates:
‘It is only he who can maintain the utmost sincerity that can exist under Heaven, who can form a ternion with Heaven and Earth and who can assist in their transformative powers’ (Needham, 2005, p 507)
This daoist truth transcends mere poetic adage. It is a reflection on how one could, with the correct and upright intention, harness the energy from above and below to nourish and preserve that which is in the middle – life.
Steps to encourage self reflection and compassion through mindfulness-based meditation techniques and actively living in harmony with the rhythms of nature can give us new degrees of appreciation for life and its sustaining factors.
Removing the obstacles of impatience, love of material impermanence, fixation on methods that don’t work and overindulgence in ego can facilitate the transformation into a new state of conscious human existence. Albert Einstein guides us in this matter:
‘No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it’
Combining this approach with embracing a holistic sensitivity to the role of our world and the needs of it’s inhabitants paves the way for a revolution in the care of humanity. From this process a new dimension in contemporary health-disease management... a holonomic health system that encompasses multidimensional understanding of how we organically interconnect with our world under the influence of universal movements can emerge. Otherwise, when it comes to healthcare we may continue to subscribe to the lowest level of intervention:
‘The superior doctor doctors the country, the mediocre doctor doctors people and the inferior doctor doctors disease’ (Flaws, 2007, p. 229)
British Medical Journal 2004;329:15-19 (3 July), doi:10.1136/bmj.329.7456.15
Cagnacci A., Pansini FS., Bacchi-Modena A et al (2005). Season of birth influences the timing of menopause. Human Reproduction 20:2190-2193
CBI Absence & Labour Turnover May 2006
Davies G., Welham J., Chant D. et al (2003). A Systematic review and meta-analysis of Northern Hemisphere season of birth studies in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Bulletin 29: 587-593 (also see Mortensen PB)
Flaws, B (2007). Statements of Fact in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Colorado: Blue Poppy Press
General Insurance Association of Japan accessed via: http://www.sonpo.or.jp/e/publications/e_fact/2002/pdf/fb2002e_h208.pdf
Golding, R. (2008). The Complete Stems and Branches. Time and Space in Traditional Acupuncture. London: Churchill Livingstone
Golovachev, A.V. (1980) Journal: Metallurgist, Category: Industrial Safety, Volume 24, Number 3, March. Accessed via: http://www.springerlink.com/content/u1432w3u8q50l4r3/
Intensive Care Med. (2010) Jun;36(6):1033-7. Epub 2010 Mar 9.
London Biorhythms, accessed via: http://www.londonbiorhythms.com/phdi/p3.nsf/supppages/bio2?opendocument&part=5
Maoshing, N.I. (1995). The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine. A New Translation of the Neijing Su Wen with Commentary. Boston: Shambhala Publications
Mortensen P.B., Pedersen C.B., Westergarrd T et al (1999) Effects of family history and place and season of birth on the risk of schizophrenia. New England Journal of Medicine 340: 603-608
National Cancer Institute (2010) http://deainfo.nci.nih.gov/advisory/pcp/pcp08-09rpt/PCP_Report_08-09_508.pdf
Needham, J. (1956). Science and Civilisation in China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Yang, S. and Chace, C. (1994). The Systematic Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion. Boulder: Blue Poppy Press.
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