Saturday, November 15, 2014

How to cure death

Can we cure death? I recently saw this question on Quora "Why can't we cure death?". As I thought about this, using a healthicine framework, I made some interesting discoveries about health, illness, death - and cures.

First, let's take a look at the definition of 'cure'. I am not a doctor, but I consulted some medical manuals. The MERCK Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, and Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, for the definition of cure, and learned that 'cure' is not defined in these medical resources.  The word cure is sometimes used - but not with consistency of meaning.

Webster's dictionary defines cure as

1. "something (such as a drug or medical treatment) that stops a disease and makes someone healthy again". That would be a medicine that cures.

2. "something that ends a problem or improves a bad situation". That could be a surgery, that cuts out off an infected leg, for example. The patient is not totally cured, but the infection is removed. It could also be used to describe a painkiller, or any medicine that treats symptoms of a disease - pain, coughing, sneezing, etc. However, it is generally agreed that we don't cure arthritis, nor the common cold with pain medicines - we only treat the symptoms. When we only treat symptoms - we do not cure - the illness continues.

3. "the act of making someone healthy again after an illness". This cure would apply to treatments like physiotherapy, which restores function after injuries sustained in a car accident, and medicines that assist healing after an illness causes injury. It could also apply to medicines that are already included in the first definition.

Next, we to look at diseases that can be cured. What diseases can we cure?

We can cure infections.  We often cure bacterial infections with antibiotics, virus infections with antiviral medicines, fungal infections with antifungal medicines, and we can cure parasitic infectoins like tapeworm, with poisons that kill the parasite. In each of these cases we cure the patient, by killing the offending organism.There is often danger that we will kill the patient, or give them a different illness.

We can cure dietary deficiency diseases - if the disease has progressed so far that serious damage has been done - that damage might not be reversible - but illnesses like scurvy, and even night blindness caused by Vitamin A deficiency can often be completely cured - by addressing the deficiency. In some cases, anemia caused by iron deficiency for example, the deficiency can be due to inability to absorb a nutrient - but we can cure with nutrient injections, or specific nutrients that are more easily absorbed by our digestive system.

When we cure a dietary deficiency disease - we don't cure it with medicine, we cure it with health. We make the diet healthier - and the 'disease' fades away. The 'disease' is actually a case of 'unhealthiness', or a 'lack of health'. In extreme cases, like advanced scurvy, we can use Vitamin C supplements to provide a more concentrated, faster nutrient cure. This makes Vitamin C look like a medicine - even though it is simply a concentrated nutrient.  

Dietary deficiency diseases are cured by foods, not by medicines.

We can cure diseases caused by ongoing excess. Obesity, iron toxicity, arsenic and mercury poisoning can be the result of low level excessive consumption - over long periods of time. In each case the first step in the cure is to identify the excess - and remove it.  In some cases, the cure can be assisted by some action, like chelation, that removes the toxic chemical from the body.

Diseases of excess cannot be cured by medicine. They can only be cured by removing the offending excess. They are sometimes cured by intentional or unintentional dietary changes that replace the source of the excess, with healthier foods.

The diseases we can cure can be acute - when an excess of a toxin is severe and rapid, or when a deficiency happens relatively quickly, liked dehydration. They can also be chronic. Vitamin A is stored in the liver. A low level Vitamin A deficiency might not create symptoms for many years - until the liver's store is depleted. Because the patient is consuming some Vitamin A - just not enough, the associated diseases will progress slowly, but inexorably.  An excess of certain foods in the diet can slowly lead to obesity. Obesity then becomes a chronic disease, with chronic symptoms. Toxins, including excessive nutrients like iron and poisons like mercury, can slowly build up, creating the slow inexorable progression that describes a chronic illness.

How can we prevent the diseases caused by deficiency, and the diseases caused by excess? The best preventative - the only preventative - for these illnesses, is health. No medicine can prevent.  No magic herb, no placebo, no witch doctor mysticism, and no patent medicine can prevent these diseases. Only healthy actions, only health, can prevent these diseases.

Let's look at some other diseases that medicines cannot cure.

There are diseases that medicines cannot cure, but our bodies can heal.  "With proper medicine you can cure a cold in seven days, but if you leave it alone, it will go away in a week." Medicines can't cure the common cold. But our bodies can. The same applies the flu. There is no medicine to cure influenza, but the body usually cures it in a week or two. If it doesn't go away, maybe it is not a cold, or the flu - maybe it's more serious.

There are many chronic diseases that cannot be cured. They usually progress inexorably, and stay with us until we die. Arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, glaucoma, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, even cancers, and many more. There are no medicines to cure these diseases. They sometimes wax and wane, or even disappear - for short or long periods of time. But we have no medicines to cure them.We only have medicines for the symptoms, and treatments for consequences. Consequences of the illness - and often, the consequences of the medicines we take for the symptoms.

The next question is obvious. Could some of these incurable diseases actually be a result of nutritional deficiencies that we do not understand? Could some be caused by slow accumulation of toxic chemicals that we do not understand? Could some diseases that are so complex, that they are caused by combinations of deficiencies and excesses, over long periods of time?

If so, the disease will not be cured by medicines - only by health.

Maybe the only way to cure Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease - and many other diseases is 'health'. Some of these diseases, like cancer and arthritis, have many potential causes - and maybe only some individual cases can be cured with health. In some cases, there may be damage already caused - like blindness caused by Vitamin A deficiency, that cannot be reversed - but at the very least, the progression of the disease might be stopped by healthy actions, where no medicine can work.

Maybe the 'health' cure explains why these diseases wax, and wane, and sometimes go into remission. Maybe they wax stronger as we increase specific unhealthy actions. Maybe they wane and fade as we increase specific healthy actions. And sometimes, maybe some of the changes that occur naturally, throughout our lives increase our health - in some way we do not understand - and the disease fades away or goes into remission. Maybe spontaneous remission is simply unintentional increased healthiness?

What about death? Can we cure death with health?

Death, from old age, occurs when our illnesses overtake our health. Many people die prematurely from the consequences of chronic illness. Sometimes, Alzheimer's and dementia patients sometimes leave this world, while their bodies carry on living for years.

If we can learn to improve our health, consistently we will live longer. Maybe we can't cure death yet, but we can cure many 'premature deaths', before they occur, with health.

Healthier people live longer lives.  People who live longer lives are seen to have been 'healthier'. It's a tautology, but a valid one. Will we, someday, be able to make people so healthy that they don't grow old and die? We clearly cannot do this with medicines - but we might be able to do it with healthicines: things that make us healthier.

Can we cure death? Maybe we can.  First, free ourselves from the idea that only 'medicines' cure disease. We need to learn more about health and healthiness. 

to your health,
tracy

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

How far is it from Medical Theory to Medical Practice

The distance between theory and practice in medicine is about 6 inches.  The length of the corporate ego, and the length of the almighty dollar. If a medicine has been tested, and proven to be effective, but can't make 'make money', it will never reach the market, It can never make the leap from medical theory to medical practice. In many cases, you won't even know it was discovered, or tested.

Medicine is not about science, not about health, not about healing, not about cures, it's all about the dollars.

Many medicines are illegal today; illegal to buy, illegal to sell, illegal to advertise. Some are even illegal to manufacture yourself. illegal to give away. The corporate marketers would have you believe "it's for your own protection". I don't need to be protected by corporate law, I need to be protected FROM corporate law.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Beware the Quack Quack Quack my Son

With apologies to Lewis Carroll although, we don't know, he might approve.

Beware the quack quack quack my son,
the laws they spite, sciences they hatch.
Beware the hate hate bird, and shun
The frumious band who snatch.

Lewis Carroll advises us to 'beware the Jabberwock and the Bandersnatch', which of course are not defined. Was he writing nonsense, or was he telling us to beware of nonsense?

What is a quack?
What is a quack quack?
What is a quack quack quack?
Why do we need to beware them?



Is a quack someone who sells 'false medicine'. Not just that. Merriam-Webster defines a quack as "one who makes false claims of identity or expertise" - not just medicines.

Does a quack know they are a quack. They are claiming to have expertise they do not have. Do they really think they have the required expertise, or are they simply lying, perhaps to sell a dubious product, and moving quickly to the new customer?  It doesn't matter. Both the idiot and the liar fit the definition of a quack.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Placebo Paradoxes

When you research medicines, alternative medicines, even medical treatments that do not involve a physical substance, you will see reference to the "placebo effect". Statements like:

X is no better than a placebo.
Y is probably just a "placebo effect".
Treatment X is just a placebo.
Medicine X failed to beat a placebo in controlled clinical studies.

What is a placebo? What is a placebo effect? Are they real, fake, or something else? Is the placebo effect magic?  No, but placebo effects are a paradox. Merriam Webster defines placebo effect thus:

"improvement in the condition of a patient that occurs in response to treatment but cannot be considered due to the specific treatment used"

Placebo effect is a real effect in response to a treatment that cannot cause the effect.

A paradox.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Should Homeopathic Medicines be Banned?

You might also enjoy 10 Reasons to Love your Homeopath

Should homeopathic medicines be banned? I've seen this statement quite a few times in recent months. I just returned from a trip to England and Scotland, where there has been a lot of discussion of banning homeopathic medicines. The Daily Mail Reporter headlines "Homeopathy remedies should be labeled as placebos and banned on NHS", but added, "But some doctors said their patients seemed to benefit despite no clinical trial evidence that homeopathy worked."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pseudo-Pseudo Science in the Blogosphere

I recently read a post claiming to bust “10 pseudo-science theories”. However, like many posts claiming to be science based, claiming to be about science it is actually a ‘pseudo-pseudo-science’ post, presenting many ‘pseudo-pseudo-science’ theories. Many people commented on the post, most with simple statements like ‘great’ and others with minor complaints.

To be honest, when I first read the post, I thought – this makes some sense, but the author(s)? have made a few simple errors.  As I read the post over, and over, and over again, I found more holes, more nonsense, more ‘pseudo-pseudo-science’ with each re-read.

If you want to test your own sense of science, you can read the post here.  Of courses internet posts are always ‘subject to change’, so by the time you read this, the post might have changed. I often improve on my posts after they are published.

10 Pseudo-Science Theories We'd Like to See Retired Forever
If you have seen this post before, no matter what you thought, you might be very surprised by my conclusions - I have read the post at least 5 times.  I have taken the time to research many of the points, the words, the ideas and the sciences discussed therein.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Can the rich buy healthiness?


If you are very rich, can you buy healthiness?  It's an interesting question. We know that those with money can afford better 'medical care', but can they buy 'health'?

What if money is no object? How much would you pay to raise your health 'as high as possible'? Presumably, if you can raise your health as high as possible, you will suffer much less illness. When you do suffer an illness, you will recover much faster. If you can raise your health, you will live longer, healthier, look younger.  What's not to like?  If I had the money, that's what I'd want.

But, if I had money, what would I spend it on, to improve my healthiness? There are lots of 'theories' of how to improve healthiness. Eat a healthy diet and exercise are the two most often suggested. But what's the complete list?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

When I let loose my dog, my spirits fly free

When I'm in Arequipa, Peru, I walk Otto, the dog, every morning. When we're in the city, with lots of people, children, cats, and dogs, I keep him close - to keep himself and others safe from his exuberant spirit.  But once we reach the fields in the countryside, I ask him to sit quietly while I unhook the leash - and he's off. When I let loose my dog, my spirit flies free.

In the distance, I can hear the church bells, and the recorded music calling the parishoners: choir music, organ music, Spanish hymns, and the occasional hymn from John Lennon - Imagine is a local favorite here in Arequipa.

My spirits lift, as his freedom lifts his body.

What are our spirits? How can we make our spirits healthier? In the book Healthicine: The Arts and Sciences of Health and Healthiness, spirits are defined as "Our spirits are our wills, our desires, our longings, to be, or not to be." Do we need religion, or faith in God to have strong spirits. Are spirits only about religious spirituality? I don't think so.

When Otto runs free, he reminds me that I "want to be". My spirit soars with him, as he floats over the fields, ignoring the peruvian burrowing owls that screech above him, searching out the smells of the earth.

When I stop to think about it, I also realize that Otto has become part of my communities - and my community healthiness. When I walk with him and he runs with me - we both grow healthier.