Can I treat this or can I treat that?

18 months ago by Dr David Owen

Once or twice a day we get an email asking can we treat this condition or those symptoms. Whilst sometimes we can give an indication on past experience based on diagnosis or symptoms, there are so many variables as to how we can help and how likely we are to improve the patient's condition. I thought it worth saying a little bit more about how we see all this and our approaches to treatment.  As a very general rule the more structural damage a person has endured the harder it’s going to be to reverse it.  By harder I mean it might take more intense treatment, changes of lifestyle and time. Likewise the deeper the physiological changes have been and the longer they have been going on, the harder it might be to reverse these.  Quite often we are particularly asked to support patients with the conditions that either there aren’t good conventional treatments for, like chronic fatigue, long-Covid, neurological conditions and physical damage.  Other times we are asked whether a number of different conditions co-exist and the treatments may or may not have adverse effects which the patient would rather avoid.  In these cases we sometimes see an initial opportunity to support the patient but not uncommonly they may have been on medication for quite a while and there is certain amount of undoing of the damage before we can press on with the healing journey.

So what about conventional treatment?  Within the conventional medical paradigm of anatomical and physiological and even biochemical disturbance, conventional medicine provides a number of unique solutions.  It does operate on a rather bio-mechanical model, what I sometimes call 'offload diagram approach' to healthcare, simplifying or producing an illness to a single dysfunction mistake that’s matched to one particular treatment.  From a holistic natural perspective the way we look at illness is significantly different.  We build on the conventional view, if you like the science but we see the other paradigms and ways of looking at them.  One of the main ones that I have found conventional medicine adequate in a rather blunt way is the idea of susceptibility.  Quite early on in peoples lives you get a sense of what they are going to be susceptible to.  Some of our work on genetics has started to draw this out but the idea of susceptibility in natural medicine is well established whether it’s in acupuncture, traditional homeopathic conditions or naturopathic conditions around familial susceptibilities.  The idea here is that you can learn from a persons physical and psychological state as to what they are going to be more susceptible to and give them support and treatment for this.  Another part of this paradigm is that we see illness as a pointer to something out of balance in the persons body or life so one of the questions I will ask the patient is what do you need to do differently, eat differently, think differently if you are to knock out these symptoms.  In this way illness isn’t a curse to avoid at all costs but rather an early warning or a pointer from our bodies or minds about what we need to be addressing in order to live a more balanced lifestyle.  The third paradigm that is often missed within a conventional frame of illness in it’s treatment options is the link between the mind and the body, by the mind I mean not just the intra construct and thought patterns but the emotional world we live in.  One of the greatest opportunities of engaging in a natural medical approach is that it gives a chance to realign and synchronise the mind and body and it sees its disturbance of a functioning structure and sensation all come about when these in the mind and body aren’t aligned or operating healthily.  Whether it’s a trauma, a grief, an unresolved relationship or early patterns from a childhood that has physiological and emotional constitution is an important pointer to both the illnesses and the symptoms we develop and needs to be addressed in order to allow healing to take place.

Can I treat this or can I treat that?  The question is more 'are you ready for a healing journey and to use your current symptoms and distress as an invitation to explore what your body and mind are trying to tell you and how you can life differently or what we might call the art of medicine?'

Just to be really clear this is not an indictment of conventional medicine with which within it’s paradigm works brilliantly and for those choosing to live and work in that paradigm get the best and most helpful outcome they can achieve.  If however you are starting to ask 'are there other aspects to my illness that can be listened to or learnt from'? Or, if conventional medicine has nothing more to offer or nothing significant to say about your symptoms or illness then it strikes me there’s a clear invitation to engage with questions of your health and well-being in a different way.