The Layering of Disease
Many of us have grown up within the Orthodox understanding of disease whereby, we go to our doctor with our list of symptoms. These symptoms are then used to match a disease profile as closely as possible. Once this match is successful then a diagnosis can be made and, subsequently, a treatment given. This treatment usually takes the form of pharmaceutical medicines. It could also require surgical intervention. In any case, the malady is standardised and treated in isolation. The drugs chosen are specific to that disease and the organ or system affected.
Fundamentally, holistic medicine has difficulty with two aspects of this process.
Firstly, the standardising of symptoms to establish a disease allows the doctor to make a diagnosis and thus match a standardised medicine as the course of treatment. This all seems very logical and scientific, which it is to a certain degree. However, on closer scrutiny it becomes evident that patients will sometimes present with symptoms that do not closely match a disease profile. If this occurs infrequently, then those symptoms may be treated as an inconvenient quirk (what a holistic practitioner would consider as a unique individual expression) and swept under the carpet. If this happens more frequently among the population, then the disease will be given a sub-category or variant. In some conditions I have looked at, the variations can become so numerous, and so loosely connected, that I start to wonder if there is any sense in trying to link them under one umbrella disease, from anybody's point of view.
Essentially, this system of standardisation is designed to treat the end expression of the true dis-ease. It requires the patient fit the disease profile so that they can be matched up to mass produced, patent, medicines that, in most cases, can only work to manage the symptoms rather than facilitate a cure.. This is because the symptoms are not the problem in themselves, but merely an expression of the true underlying cause.
Three different patients could present themselves to me for treatment. They may all exhibit stomach discomfort. Yet how they arrived at that condition can have many variants.
In the first case this may be related to what they eat (excess fat/acid/salt/sweet).
In the second case it might be related to how they eat (incorrect chewing due to distraction during mealtimes).
In the third case it could be due to emotional concerns affecting the digestive process.
A remedy may be given that will provide a period of relief in all cases, as long as you keep taking it. As soon as you stop the remedy the symptoms return. In essence, the individual becomes a slave to his remedies. In fact, it is the respective dietary choices, behavioural patterns and emotional concerns underlying these examples that need addressing if a lasting return to health is to be achieved.
The other aspect of orthodox treatment that a holistic practitioner like myself would take issue with, is the treatment of disease in isolation. There are two aspects to consider regarding this isolated approach.
Firstly, acute pain caused by a trauma is justifiably treated in a symptomatic way. However, recurring pain must be understood in a different way. In chronic cases, pain functions as a stern voice telling us to modify our behaviour. A hangover is a perfect example of this. Continually using pain relief rather than modify behaviour will lead to a long term decline in health.
Secondly, the treatment of disease as a manifestation in isolation supports the misconception of disease as somehow random and beyond our control. However, holistic practitioners know that there is a connection between our most recent conditions and conditions of the past. This is known as, The Layering of Disease.
Disease evolves, and goes deeper over the years, when the underlying cause remains unchanged. There may also be other contributing factors along the way. Suppressive treatment in the form of symptomatic medicines will only encourage this process.
Earlier in our life, in some cases, the body will attempt to overcome the challenges through methods that encourage expulsion. However, if the underlying cause remains unresolved then the disease will become more entrenched. With each unsuccessful attempt to resolve the problem the body loses vitality and in time methods of expulsion give way to the storage of toxins in the body. Hence, the nature of disease changes as one ages.
When treating someone presenting with a chronic condition, there will be a return back through the layers, with old conditions returning briefly before resolving themselves. The homoeopath Hering observed this and included it as part of his Law of Cure stating that symptoms will resolve themselves in the reverse order that they appear. These recurring symptoms of the past are known as Historical Symptoms, and are a positive sign of a healing process under way.
For chronic patients coming for treatment this layering of disease can sometimes be frustrating as it is often the long standing condition that they seek to resolve. However, they will often present with more recent manifestations too. When receiving such treatment, it is important to keep focused on the bigger picture. The initial resolving of more recent conditions stands as a testimony to the validity of Hering's Law of Cure in understanding the layering of disease. Once this pattern becomes established, the only other remedies needed are patience and perseverance.