All of us make an astounding number of choices everyday that affect our health – for better or for worse. But most of us don’t see a distinction between health and medicine in these decisions. We assume that we are entitled to the path of least resistance, and that it is the job of the medical community to prop us up when the inevitable results of that attitude show up in a degraded Quality Of Life. Using the medical community to prop up bodies ravaged by toxic lifestyles and to enable our environmental addictions is a misuse of the concept of medicine. It is something for which medicine was never designed, and it will result in an over-use of a system in ways that will cause prices to rise and infrastructure to be taxed beyond its limits. That is the very reason this distinction is so vital.
It’s important to know where these attitudes come from. There are many influences in our lives that lead us to destructive beliefs about our health. For example, I just did a google search for images using the words “personal health”. What I got was a page full of images featuring doctors and medical-related results. This blurring of the meaning in these words is obviously pervasive. Any legitimate notion of Personal Health must be centered on those practices that you and I can do by ourselves and for ourselves to create the highest possible quality of life, and on the fact that all “health” is personal. Everything else is medicine.
Today, the vast majority of the ailments that medicine treats are ailments that were unheard of or extremely rare 500 years ago. A very simple example: heartburn. Have you noticed how many heartburn medications there are on the market today? Certainly the people who are making and selling all of these products will never tell you that this is most often a diet-induced ailment that is instantly curable with appropriate nutrition? And yet we continue to speak of heartburn publicly as if it were an inevitable medical condition with no apparent cause. To point out the simple truth would jeopardize millions if not billions in sales annually. There are medical causes for heartburn, but those should be remedied medically, not with repeated use of masking potions.
What’s this got to do with the medical community and how we use it? Many of these heartburn medications require a doctor’s prescription, which means we’re making doctor appointments, having lab tests, requiring those doctors to make a diagnosis and prescribe treatment, and billing insurance companies for all of it. All for a problem that different choices in diet would eliminate. And this is just one of literally hundreds of similar conditions that are equally preventable with healthy rather than toxic lifestyle choices. You can begin to see what the aggregate impact on the medical community might look like. It might look a lot like what is in fact happening.
Here’s the bottom line: live your life according to Sage principles, and reduce your medical footprint. Think about the things for which you see a doctor. Doctors should only be seen for legitimate accidents or congenital defects for which there is no environmental remedy. When all of us wake up to this simple truth we can begin to lessen the burden on our over-taxed medical system and free-up those resources for those that really need it.
We will never adequately deal with health-compromising factors in our everyday life until we get the distinction between “health” and “medicine”. Fogging up that distinction causes us to abdicate our role in creating and maintaining real health.
You’ll note also that I’m not interested in modifiers added to words to contrast them with modern usage. Rather, I just want to restore some high-integrity meaning to the original word. To do anything else would be to admit that the marketers who sought to adulterate the word to begin with had won.
Below are the words in question here, and what they should mean each time they are spoken or written:
Health – that which can and must be produced by lifestyle choices. Health is what you do; no one else can, and no one else should be asked to. Managing health by any outside intervention will always produce a lesser result in terms of Quality Of Life.
Medicine – that which requires near-term (including immediate) intervention from the science-based medical community to preserve technical life threatened by injury, and congenital or infectious pathologies.
If you look carefully at what is being said here it is easy to see how we have gotten a bit blurry on what is what. We regularly use what is technically “medicine” (i.e., pills, surgery, doctor visits, etc.) to compensate for poor lifestyle choices, but almost never take any personal responsibility for legitimate injury or the other pathologies mentioned.
The end result is an over-burdening of our medical care system (carefully chosen words), and a near-complete abdication of personal responsibility regarding our health.
To seek medical treatment for health issues will result in a less than adequate remedy; it is simply a misuse of the medical system. In addition to all of the other societal reasons for taking personal responsibility for your health, it is simply better treatment than you will receive from any other source.
Doctors, of course, are happy to take your money (or, should I say, your insurance company’s money), and they will seldom tell you that they are NOT the best source of treatment for what ails you (human nature being what it is), but now you know better.