Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Hierarchy of Health - Primary and Secondary Disciplines

Health Disciplines

NOTE: The concepts in this blog posting have been updated and the revised Hierarchy of Health - Primary and Secondary Disciplines, can be viewed here.

To define health, to understand health, to study health, we start with the primary elements of health and expand those to cover all aspects of health. Simple? Actually, it is not terribly complicated. A complete chart of the basic 'disciplines of health' can be found on the Personal Health Freedom website.

This chart begins with the basic components of health: nutrients, cells, tissues, organs, systems, body, mind, spirit and community. These basic components are arranged into a hierarchy, where each is dependent on the layers below. Each of these basic components has a well know 'field of study', which is identified on the chart, respectively as: nutrtion, cytology, histology, anatomy, systemic anatomy, physiology, cognitive physiology, spirtiual studies and community studies.

The secondary health components are created by combining primary health compnents - first with immediate neighbors, and then with farther components. The chart of secondary components begins, for example, with cellular nutrition, tissue nutrition, thru spiritual nutrition to community nutrition. Here we can see health studies that we intuitively 'knew about', but had no prior foundation to support or define. Note: this is the first published version of the chart - I do expect it to be improved with input from readers like you.

We can use the chart to analyze and make corrections and improvements in our basic understanding of health. What is the proper term for the study of cellular spirituality, for example? Is it valid to create a field of health to study the effects of improvements in individual spiritual health on the health of cells? Of course we may need to define and re-define 'spiritual health' as we proceed in this analysis.

This is the basic starting point for the study of health. It soon becomes very complex. The study of healthy nutrition, for example might start with a study of the foods, or nutritional compounds that are essential to good health. At present, we don't have a clear understanding of how many 'essential nutritional compounds' exist. A quick scan retreives answers ranging from 6 essential nutrients (water, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals) to lists of over 100 essential nutrients - only some of which fit into the 6 basic nutrients initially defined.

Similarily, each of the primary components of health, can become a study of hundreds of individual components. The next layer, cellular health includes the study of over 200 different types of cells in the human body - but this number is limited to 'human cells'. As far as I know, there is no similar list of how many 'non-human cells' are essential or contribute to health. When you map nutrition to cells - a comprehensive study of cellular nutrition, would be a study of the nutritional needs of each of the cell types, human and non-human, to optimize your health although many are known to exist.

The word 'optimize' is key. Present nutritional standards (RDI - Reference Dietary Intake) are defined as 'sufficient to meet the health needs'. This measurement is far away from 'the appropriate amount to optimize your health'. Optimize health is also a double edged sword, that requires significant research and analysis. Some health actions may strengthen your health in one (or more) areas, and weaken it in other areas. And oc course too much of a good thing - is not good. Personal decisions are required for personal health optimization.

Our current studies of medicine tend to look at 'avoidance, or treatment, of disease and infirmity' as the goal. This goal is not appropriate to optimize health. In order to optimize health, the goal must be simply stated as 'to optimize health'. Optimal health is difficult to measure. What is the optimal level of cellular health for a 50 year old Polish male living in Canada? In fact, each of us is different, and eeach of use has our own unique optimal health status which changes as we grow - and then age.

To attain optimal health, we need more research into health, not illness. We need free access to information about health, freedom to take health decisions and actions on our own behalf.

Which leads us back to the primary goal of this blog - Personal Health Freedom. The best way to maintain optimal health, is thru the freedom to make our own decisions about our own health and health actions. Optimal health cannot be attained, it must be maintained through continual conscious unrestrained actions and decisions.http://personalhealthfreedom.com/PDFs/PersonalHealthFreedom-Disciplines.pdf
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Horse's Tail - Health Rights

Once upon a time, there was a poor farmer, who owned a horse. Unfortunately, over time, the farmer became more and more poor - and was unable to feed his horse. He became angry at his personal situation and began to beat the horse. After some time, the horse became thinner and thinner, welts and sore spots started to show on his flesh and his tail began to fall out.

A neighbors noticed the situation and reported it to the police. The police came and rescued the horse, and the farmer was charged with animal cruelty.

What has this got to do with Personal Health Freedom? An important lesson.

A horse has rights. A horse, or a cow, or a dog has a right to adequate food, and water. And a horse has a right to not be abused physically. The man was charged with violating these rights.

Yesterday, I read a "A Woman's Health Bill of Rights and Responsibilities" written by Dr. Carolyn DeMarco in her excellent book, "Take Charge of your Body". The list consisted of a number of rights and responsibilities, which at first glance I thought might be related to Personal Health Freedom.

Unfortunately, Dr DeMarco got the part about health rights very, very wrong. She lists 9 Rights, and 6 Responsibilities. Two of the proposed 'rights' are severely conditional, for example: "I have the right to choose the types of treatments I prefer from among the options offered to me by my doctor." This list of rights, like many similar lists, is a list of 'medical rights', not health rights. Medical rights apply when you are sick - and should be defined only after your health rights, which apply when you are well and when you are ill, are clearly articulated and understood.

A quick Google of Freedom vs Responsibilities shows many pages stating that you cannot separate Freedom, or Rights, from Responsibility.

Back to the horse. The horse has rights. But what are his responsibilities?

There are none - and none required. Natural 'rights' are not 'conditional on responsibilities', and are not linked to responsibilities. We all have natural rights. Like the horse's rights, our rights are not tied to any responsibilities.

"Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person." - there are no conditionals in that sentence from the International Declaration of Human Rights.

The Canadian Bill of Rights goes a bit beyond 'natural rights' (I don't object to that, just want to make clear the difference). It says: "the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property". 'Enjoyment of property' is not a 'natural' right, it comes with some responsibilities. It is natural for enjoyment of property to come with responsibilities, because owning and enjoying a specific property may take that specific right away from other people.

The United States Declaration of Independence says "...unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". There are no responsibilities tied to these unalienable rights.

But what about 'responsibilities'? Back to the horse. Where do the responsibilities lie? The responsibilities lie on the person with power. The farmer, who owns the horse, is responsible, as part of that ownership, to provide food, water and protection from abuse. The horse is not responsible for anything. If the owner cannot provide for the horse, he can sell it. Or in some countries (or if it is a cow) he can slaughter it, and eat it. But as long as it as alive and 'his possession' - he is responsible to maintain its rights.

Responsibility comes from power. Not with rights. The doctor has responsibilities. The patient has rights. Does responsibility come with 'empowerment'? I think not, but that's another complicated discussion.

Be wary of anyone who says rights and responsibilities are bound together. They are not. Natural rights exist on their own, as a result of their intrinsic merit - and our intrinsic merit.

Responsibilities arise when someone, or some group, exercises power over others. This can happen in a family situation, a social situation, a work situation, a legal situation, a medical situation -- and many other situations.

When we exercise power over others - we have responsibilities.

When someone exercises power over us - we have rights.
... and rightfully so

What are our health rights?

The International Declaration of Human Rights should say: "Everyone has the right to life, liberty, security of person, and the pursuit of health and happiness".

The United States Declaration of Independence should say: "...unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Health and Happiness"

The Canadian Bill of Right should say: the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person, and the pursuit of health and happiness
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: