What is Healing? ©

by Lonny J. Brown

"Medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease."
                               - Voltaire 

Most of us give little thought to the question of health until symptoms and suffering inform us that it has been lost. Usually, "health" is understood as merely the absence of discomfort and illness. When ailments do manifest, the common response is to place ourselves in the hands of what author Ken Pelletier calls the pathology management industry, and hope for the best. 

But this passive approach stifles our potential for realizing the wonderful, very real possibility of true wellness. True health is our natural birthright, and includes a sense of wholeness, energy, joy, creativity, power, and optimal performance of all our faculties. You can experience this positive high-level health if you become knowledgeable about the strategies necessary to achieve and maintain it, and activated in practicing them. The pursuit of health becomes a long-term, dynamic process built into one's lifestyle, rather than an inconvenience based on the passive acceptance of whatever fate - or doctors - dictate at times of breakdown. 

We need to de-objectify health. Our materialistic society has come to see health as just another consumer commodity, available through the "health-care delivery system" for the right price. This commercialization has led us to believe that health is a product, when in fact it is a personal, participatory experience - a behavioral relationship to one's body and life. 

You Are the Healer

Healing entails the multiplication and growth of individual cells, replenishing themselves in an orderly configuration which duplicates their ideal genetic design. This renewal is a routine part of biological life: virtually all the cells in you body will die and be replaced by others in the normal course of events. For blood cells, the turnover time is less than two weeks, effectively amounting to a natural transfusion twice per month. Other cells last longer, but it is a fact that - speaking purely physically - you are not the same person you were just a few months or years ago. This is a good reason to be optimistic about self-healing. Rapid and complete regeneration is an everyday process which you have been accomplishing all your life. 

Since this cellular turnover involves the replacement of bodily mass, it should be obvious that the quality of the newly- assimilated building material is critical to the results. In other words, diet is a significant primary variable in healing. Confirming this, a five-year study sponsored by the U.S. National Cancer Institute recently found that cancer death rates were significantly reduced by supplements of vitamin E, selenium, and beta carotene, a nutrient found in fruits and vegetables. 

The other side of cell regeneration is waste removal. The elimination of toxins and the by-products of metabolism is essential to good health. During healing, there are many ways to maximize this internal housekeeping process by promoting the optimal functioning of the organs of elimination (kidneys, lungs, colon, lymph system, and skin). These include taking certain purifying foods and herbs, fasting, aerobic exercise, sauna and steam baths, skin brushing, massage, inversions, and colonic irrigation. 

A Question of Balance

One effect of the orderly, cooperative growth of numerous cells is the mending of tissue, organs and bones, But proper functioning also entails a healthy relationship among the various systems which they comprise. Think of the complex inter-dependence of the circulatory and respiratory, the digestive and eliminative, and the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. The restoration of a dynamic, multi-dimensional equilibrium (called homeostasis) is crucial for good health. The late Norman Cousins, author of Anatomy of an Illness, called this inter-system feedback process, self- regulatory normalization. This is mostly an automatic process, but the interaction of systems is also affected by mind and emotions. For example, people with the circulatory deficit, Raynaud's disease, can be taught to self-induce greater blood flow to the extremities with relaxation, breathing, and visualization techniques. 

Note that there is nothing inherent in any drug, surgical procedure, or applied intervention that in itself accounts for cell growth, tissue repair, or restored organ functioning, although such measures may accelerate the desired results by creating metabolic circumstances favorable to the body's own repair mechanisms. The finest surgeon in the world knows that he can do no more than draw the edges of a wound together and hope that the body re-grows the living cells to connect them. Only the organism can repair the organism. In other words, all healing is self-healing.. The wise physician will always bear this in mind, and make every effort to encourage the innate healing powers of the patient, without which his or her efforts are bound to be in vain.