“Primum Non Nocere” (Latin for “First Do No Harm”)
- The Hippocratic Oath
When I graduated from chiropractic school in April of 2008 I remember standing during our final ceremony and reciting the Hippocratic Oath, where we as doctors pledge to always be on guard. When you take this oath, it means you will do everything you can to remain vigilant and avoid causing undue harm to any patient,
regardless of the circumstances. Another way to state it is, given an existing problem, it may be better not to do something, or even to do nothing, than to risk causing more harm than good. This is a reminder to exercise prudent judgment in every situation and the first cardinal rule of being a health care provider.
In the book, Confessions of a Medical Heretic by the late Robert Mendelsohn, MD, Dr. Mendelsohn makes a very profound statement all the way back in 1979. He said:
“We don't say we know our doctors are good, we say we have faith in them. We trust them. Don't think doctors aren't aware of the difference. And don't believe for a minute that they don't play it for all it's worth. Because what's at stake is the whole ball game, the whole ninety percent or more of Modern Medicine that we don't need, that, as a matter of fact is out to kill us. Modern Medicine can't survive without our faith, because Modern Medicine is neither an art nor a science. It's a religion.” (page 4)
Dr. Mendelsohn was quite the medical heretic. After I have spent time reading his materials, I have to say that I agree with much of his assessment. Am I saying there is not a place for modern medicine? No, I am not saying that at all. However, there are many times in practice where I have witnessed patients who were influenced into unnecessary procedures and/or treatments that ended or nearly ended their lives. If you consider each option in a risk versus benefit analysis, you will find that modern medical procedures carry significant risk. What you must decide is, is it worth it?
Today’s reality is that after all these years, modern medicine still only has two main tools in their bag: drugs and surgery. As I said before, these carry risks like life-altering side effects and the possibility of serious infection. What is worse, of the majority of drugs prescribed, the doctors expect you to take for the rest of your life. You trust your doctor, but you never actually get better. Years go by and you are still on the same medication without hope of getting off. By constantly treating symptoms such as blood pressure, high cholesterol, anxiety, restless legs, chronic pain, and others, the pharmaceutical industry sets up a model that continually generates money without a clear end in sight. If you feel better, but never actually fix anything, you become a source of revenue for life.
What I just described above is what I call disease management. You feel a bit better as your vitality continues to decline. Treating symptoms endlessly without establishing a way to help a person become free of their health challenges is a method to place greater chains upon a person, making it harder and harder for them to become free of their original issue. In fact, if you look up the etymology of where the word pharmacy comes from, it is derived from the Greek word pharmakeus which means, “a preparer of drugs, a poisoner, a sorcerer.” Adding more chemicals to a body adds to the magnitude of the shackles and reduces the chance a person can conquer the problem. To reiterate: this is disease management and a terribly flawed system destined for failure.
What I just described is the current suppressive state of what we mistakenly call health care in this country. But the true definition of health care is just the opposite! In the truest sense of the words, you do exactly that- you add health and provide care. Adding health is certainly not a challenging concept to understand. If your health is low, increase it by adding more. Simple, right?
What do I really mean when I say this? I mean that if you are experiencing a lack of vitality or a lack of function, you need to focus on ways to restore what was lost. For example, if you notice you are getting acid reflux from that steak you just ate, it means you need to stop eating steak for a while as you build up the vitality of your stomach so you can digest it once again. In another example, let’s say you notice you can no longer straighten your stiff back like you once could, it behooves you to focus on restoring the vitality of your spine. In another example, you suddenly experience chest pains and shortness of breath that will not let up. It is a safe bet that you should focus on restoring vitality to your heart. The body is big interconnected network of different functional parts and every part has its functional duty. Loss of vitality equals loss of function and these bodies frequently send out symptoms as warning signals to let you know something has been lost.
One of the most basic and undeniable truths of our existence is our understanding of what separates a living body from a dead body. The life energy that we chiropractors call innate intelligence (also known as inborn wisdom, vital force, or Chi) is present in a living body and not present in a deceased body. This energy gave you ten fingers and ten toes. It allows you to break down food and replace yourself with it. Indeed, the power that made the body also heals the body. If you cut the finger of a living person, it will heal without ever having to think about it. If you cut the finger of a corpse, I guarantee it will not heal. Why? This healing power that exists within all of us is relentlessly trying to heal us every second of our lives. It never stops until we check out. All that is required of us is to support this healing power so it can get the job done. THIS is true health care- supporting the body to regain its lost vitality. When you help the body remove the layers of toxins and trash while supporting the total restoration of decaying cells, you get back exactly what you want: health. You cannot do this with suppressive drugs or surgery. You can only add more health using safe, effective, and natural holistic approaches- approaches that pays big dividends throughout your life.
I want to end this article with a quote I always liked from Dr. Tim O’Shea’s book, now out of print, describing a normal life:
You're born. You get no drugs and no vaccinations. During childhood you have the usual illnesses, but conservative treatment gets you through them without antibiotics or drugs, and you build your natural immune defenses. You don't eat white sugar, white flour, too much meat or cheese, or drink milk or soft drinks. You concentrate on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and a clean, natural diet. You never learn to drink coffee or to smoke cigarettes. The only pills you take are powerful whole food vitamins and enzymes and minerals, which are part of your daily intake. You drink at least 1 liter of water every day. Into adulthood, you never get sick: no colds, no flu, no headaches, no diabetes, no ADD, no “thyroid problems,” no panic attacks, growing pains, fatigue, or digestive disorders, no high blood pressure. The only pains you experience come from accidental injury. Perhaps you do moderate exercise or sports activity to maintain mobility and general fitness. You look to the care of your spine. Your entire adulthood is spent in this disease-free mode. As you age, your mind gets sharper. You experience no arthritis, cancer, or osteoporosis, no Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. Finally one day after 90 or 100 years, you flicker like a candle and go out.
Daniel McDonald, DC