This post first appeared on ON LINE Opinion, Australia’s e-journal of social and political debate.
Who make the health science laws of the day? Medics? Researchers? Drug companies?
Nobel Prize winning astrophysicist Brian Schmidt stated on Q&A this week, science is about ‘testing theories’ that when proven lead to reliable knowledge. Scientific theories that become laws have a constant, consistent outcome when tested.
Medical researchers will agree that the health sciences are often unsure what causes disease or the best ways to treat it. There is a fairly universally held belief that certain drugs and treatments provide beneficial effects for specific diseases. However, double-blind studies often prove inconclusive and other studies show that the placebo effect is the only reliable effect. Considering that a drug needs to be only 15% effective to be approved for use in many countries, there’s a very strong case for concluding that drug-effectiveness is often random and not governed by a law at all.
Melissa Sweet writes that “the principles behind an American “Choosing Wisely” campaign to reduce unnecessary and often expensive medical interventions are gaining support in Australia”. She cites a British Medical Journal article which states that evidence is mounting that medicine is harming healthy people through ever earlier detection and ever wider definition of disease. The campaign identifies 45 tests and treatments that are often used even when they are unlikely to help patients. Diagnosed? Watch out!
Spirituality/health research and placebo studies are bringing some new hope to both medical practitioners and the public. Christina Puchalski, Professor of Medicine and Health Sciences at The George Washington University School of Medicine, writes that spirituality is often central to patients dealing with chronic illness. “Spirituality is the very essence of who we all are as human beings – it is the source of our life, our being… Religion and spirituality help one move from hopelessness to wholeness, from despair to peace, and from meaninglessness to purpose and dignity”.
It seems that spirituality may be the missing element of the health equation that often seems unable to be solved.
There are studies that show the healing effects of forgiveness, the health turnarounds when a dose of gratitude is applied, and how compassion and selfless love throw water on the smouldering flames of guilt or unrelenting condemnation, criticism, or the adoption of a crippling sense of self bowed down with responsibility, hopelessness, or despair.
There are too many books and research studies to list where cancer survivors attest to discovering the importance of the spirituality/health connection that has healed them. The 18 million cancer survivors by 2022 in the news this week can be hopeful that such permanent healing is possible for them, too.
Wellness centres that treat a patient holistically are emerging in Australia, for example the centre that songstress and humanitarian, Olivia Newton-John, is currently promoting in Melbourne. This centre uses an integrative health model of treatment, rather than the allopathic disease model that has been in place for over a century. Newton-John once said, “My cancer scare changed my life. I’m grateful for every new, healthy day I have. It has helped to prioritize my life”.
So, overcoming cancer can be a life-changing, self-illuminating and positive experience!
A science that may be new to you approaches healthcare and healing from a spiritual perspective, and with consistent physical healing as proof of its scientific soundness.
A few years ago, a good friend was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He confided that to be diagnosed with cancer was a test of his belief in God. Over the years he had gained an appreciation of the power of scientific prayer which treats the whole person. This now enabled him to take control of his own treatment plan. For him that meant relying on Christian Science for healing. He came to understand that health was part of his spiritual heritage; a realisation that transformed him and now continues to keep his life in balance. You could say that his prayers changed his thinking first … and then his body naturally healed. At his next doctor’s appointment, after another test was done, the doctor showed his surprise at the results and congratulated him saying that no cancer could be found anywhere in his body! My friend now says, “Predictions of disease are not the final word. Diagnoses are not the final word!”
While it’s understandable at this time that most won’t be ready or willing to rely entirely on spiritual means for healing, it’s encouraging to know that the spirituality/health effect, as another building block of the health equation, is squarely in place. Although medical and nursing schools are scrambling to include courses on the positive health effects of spirituality within their curriculum, it’s clear that the integrative approach is gaining momentum.
Who knows what the healthcare model will look like when ALL the elements of the health equation are firmly in place? The community is right now engaged in carving out this new health model with the highest aspiration. I have an inkling that in time, this newly rediscovered spiritual element of healing will compel us all to conclude that hopelessness and incurability have no place in any health science equation.