Friday, March 9, 2012

A Picture of Health

Medicine is defined, by Wikipedia, as 'the science and art of healing'.  Wrong as usual.  The body heals.  Medicine is the science and art of preventing, diagnosing and treating illness.  If the illness is treated properly - the body heals.  Medicine turns to the next problem.

In many cases, when you visit a doctor, you are given a prescription and told "try this, and let me know how it works".  There is little art, no science with regards to healing. Take the drugs and hope your body heals.

Healthicine is the art and science of healthiness.  After you leave the doctor's office, after you take the prescription, after you are 'healthy' according to the doctor (eg. not sick), you can still benefit from the art and science of healthiness.

This diagram shows the relationship between medicine and healthicine.  Medicine is to the left of  the red line of diagnosis. Once an illness is diagnosed, medical techniques are used in an attempt to treat the 'illness'.  These technique is not always appropriate.

Some illnesses strike from external sources - bacteria, bullets, toxins and viruses.

But many illnesses are the result of declining healthiness. In these cases, a medicine is not the best solution, not an appropriate option.

Healthicine is the entire study of healthiness from perfect health to illness and death. Medicine is a small
subset of healthicine.

In most cases, medicine is not required. Most of the time, you are not sick.  But you can always be healthier. In many cases, medicine is not appropriate. Sometimes, when you are sick, it is because your health has deteriorated to the point where an illness is diagnosed. Medicines are constrained by diagnosis. Diagnosis is an artificial constraint designed to protect the interests of doctors, and marketed to protect the interests of patients.

It is clear that if your unhealthiness is to the right of the diagnostic threshold - you don't need medicines, you need healthicines.  In many cases, when your health is to the left of the diagnostic threshold - healthicines are still the most effective approach. But healthicines are seldom prescribed for illness, just medicines.

Many fields of medicine, and many drug manufacturers, are trying to move the 'diagnostic threshold' to the right, so that drugs can be prescribed earlier. Attempts to 'find cancer earlier' are a common example.  Moving the diagnostic threshold is presented as a 'preventative technique', but it often leads to an increase in 'false positive' diagnoses.  It also leads to the use of drugs, when healthicines are required.

We need to examine the diagnostic threshold more scientifically.  If an illness is really an unhealthiness - maybe the diagnostic threshold should move to the left for that illness. Or we need to examine treatment alternatives more scientifically.   No matter where the diagnostic threshold resides, we need to study all of the alternatives, and continually test the most effective ones - not just the 'latest new drug'.

We use drugs to treat diagnosed illness.

We use healthicines to improve our healthiness.   To reverse unhealthiness.

We need scientific studies of the differences between illness and unhealthiness.  We need to choose the best alternative for every illness and unhealthiness, and keep improving our choices.  We need the freedom to choose - and the ability to study and document choices and results.
You have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of healthiness,

Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: