A New Definition of Symptoms & The Gift of Wonderment
By Dr. Nicole Cain
Do you remember the story about the woman who received treatment for her diagnosis of Lupus?
Her story goes beyond what we typically expect to see from a medical encounter. Not only did she enjoy the absence of disease, but she also enjoyed the presence of health.
In today’s blog I’d like to talk about the gift of wonderment but before we can do that, we have to understand the difference between the presence of health and the absence of symptoms.
First, we must go back in time.
Medicine in the 1800’s was abysmal at best. Disease was defined by observing clusters of symptoms that matched those of other sufferers and categorized based on what treatments were indicated. Treatment was considered successful when the patient’s original disease symptoms disappeared.
Methods used included: leeches, bloodletting (removing a patient’s blood to treat an illness, eg: Egyptians used it for migraines, Greeks for fevers, and others to get demons out of the blood), and poisoning with toxic compounds.
If a patient, for example, had a case of syphilis, typhoid or parasites, his or her doctor might recommend high doses of mercury (which we know now is extremely toxic to the human body). The patient was prescribed increasing doses of mercury until one of three outcomes occurred:
- The patient survived and recovered (despite the toxic levels of mercury on top of their illness)
- The patient died “due to their illness,” (aka: toxic metal poisoning)
- The patient’s original symptoms went away. This was interpreted as a cure. But really we now know that their symptoms were actually overshadowed / suppressed by the even more powerful overdose of the drug (aka: mercury) and new symptoms (from mercury poisoning) appeared. The next step was to then give the patient an equally appalling treatment with yet another new medicine. And so on goes the story.
While you may not be taking mercury for parasites, the American Medical system has become increasingly dependent on the use of medicines in eradication of symptoms. A patient suffering from paranoia is given Riseperidone (an antipsychotic medication), and then they gain weight and develop high cholesterol, so they are then started on Topomax (which is often given to help with antipsychotic-induced weight gain) and a Statin (to reduce their cholesterol). They also develop tremors from the antipsychotic and are given Tetrabenazine to stop the jerking. It goes on and on.
Another example is a patient had a back injury and he is prescribed Oxycodone. Oxycodone is known for causing depression and constipation, which the patient then starts to experience. He is given Zoloft for the depression and Miralax for the constipation. But the patient develops gas and bloating from the Miralax and insomnia due to the Zoloft. He is given Prilosec for his stomach, and is also prescribed Trazodone to aid in sleep.
Are you seeing a pattern?
This method of medicine is like the game whack-a-mole. You have a hammer in your hand and every time a furry little critter pops his head up, you whack it. Just like when a pesky little symptom occurs, you whack it with another prescription.
Doctors spend all their time whacking with their prescription hammers instead of figuring out where the moles are coming from to begin with. This results in more and more moles getting whacked, costing our health care system more money, and causing us as patients to become sicker, and sicker.
While in the 1800’s and until now, the whack-a-mole method of medicine predominated, there were and are other clinicians practicing a form of medicine called vitalism. What made vitalistic practitioners different is their unique understanding health and disease. It was this alternative perspective that made all of the difference for their patients.
Hahnemann describes his and his colleagues observations of their patient outcomes in his book entitled The Organon of Medicine, which states: “In the state of health, the spirit-like vital force (dynamis), animating the material human organism, reigns in supreme sovereignty. It maintains the sensations and activities of all the parts of the living organism in a harmony that obliges wonderment. The reasoning spirit who inhabits the organism can thus freely use this healthy instrument to reach the lofty goals of human existence.”
To summarize: In a state of health, the person is uninhibited. Their body functions in a way that is admirable, harmonious, and vital (powerfully alive). The person not only feels vital and powerfully alive, but they function so well that the people around them look at them with wonderment. The person can then live to their highest purposes in life.
This is wonderment.
Hahnemann saw wonderment in his practice, as did a small number of other clinicians who chose to deviate from the modernized trajectory of their colleagues. By understanding that a symptom is a sign of a deeper imbalance, and by seeking to understand what that imbalance is, there is hope. Once the obstacle to cure is gone, we can give the body what it needs to heal, we can promote the body’s natural ability to self-correct, we can tonify weak and damaged systems and promote the elimination of toxic waste. The body can become healthier and once that occurs, the body will no longer need symptoms in order to indicate that it is sick. Because the sickness has resolved.
This is possible for all people, and it is possible for you.
While Hahnemann reflects upon the wonderment observed by others, I urge you to focus rather, on the wonderment of the self.
You are unique, beautiful, powerful, and you have a purpose. You are reading this blog for a reason. Perhaps you were lead here by a friend, or via a winding journey of late-night-Google-searching.
Health is a gift, and our symptoms are the guideposts towards the treasure that health is. Health is not an outcome—health is a journey.
Take this gift… go on the journey.
The woman who recovered from Lupus has a wonderful story. The difference between her and the woman with the LupusMe license plate is how she thought about her health and her disease. The woman with the license plate was lupus. She said, “I AM MY DISEASE.” The woman who recovered said, “these symptoms are not me, I am a healthy vital being” and with treatment, her symptoms went away and her health blossomed.
Believe you have potential.
Believe your body is wise.
Believe you can heal.
Believe you have a purpose.
Our outward manifestations of our inward experiences (aka: symptoms) are the truest canaries available to us (see my other blog about the canaries). The canaries saved hundreds upon hundreds of lives of hard-working miners and your canary is speaking to you.
Will you chose to listen?
What will you chose to do?
Read below for some quick tips to help you get started, and some “food for thought.”
I look forward to seeing you next time.
How to get Healthy: 4 Tips For success
- Remove obstacles to cure: What in your life is inhibiting you from moving forward? Inflammatory foods? Inflammatory relationships? Poor health habits. A lack of direction? Nutrient deficiencies? What else can you think of?
- Give the body and mind what it needs: Food (healthy/ nutritious), exercise, rest, clean air, sunshine, love and more. Make your own list.
- Spiritual development: Whether it is through meditation, prayer, church, rituals, or fostering a sense of connectivity through volunteering.
- Intentional living: What does wonderment look like to you? You might consider discussing this with a friend, loved one, or counselor. Others enjoy creating vision boards, or journaling their goals and objectives. Make sure that your daily decisions lead you towards your goals and not away.
Reflection questions: Am I truly healthy?
- How do I define health?
- What are my goals (for my health, life, family, job, play, spirit)?
- Do I feel like I am in motion towards my goals or do I feel stuck?
- If I am stuck, what might be causing me to feel that way?
- What would wonderment look like in my life?
- What steps can I take to begin to change my life to point in the direction towards my goals?
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