The years I was traveling around Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia, hitchhiking and meeting some fascinating people, I strayed as far away from American culture as I’ve ever been. Immersed in this mystical and spiritual land and it’s people I realized for the first time how outsiders view the United States. Materialism. Individualism. These, to the Indonesians I met were “bad” words. They came with the connotation of disconnection from reality, of lack of understanding what this world and life are all about. Obsessive focus on the materialistic world has taken over our culture of cars and TVs and also the healing arts. Somehow we feel that if we’re going to fully embrace science and facts and research in our health care system, that there is no room for the healing process and it’s mysteries. It’s sad really. We’re left with a materialistic view of the body, no sense of soul or spirit. This I think is one of the most extreme reactions one can think of and certainly works against our own efforts to help others heal. We aren’t primarily “material beings” our essence and all the important aspects of self we embody exist on a non-material plan, we aren’t “individuals” we exist only in community and do our best when we do the best for others.
Ok, so with all that being said, the Nobel Prize in medicine in 2015 was given out to the doctor that proved the utility of an ancient traditional Chinese medicinal herb, artemesia. They applied it to treatment for malaria and roundworm, we use it in functional medicine for many parasites and it’s probably the one herb I have seen help people in my practice the most. So personally, I’m glad it won a Nobel Prize! And many, understandably have linked this prestigious award to the overall amazingness of Chinese Medicine. However, in this article below we see the reasons why our health care system is so messed up, here we have scientists, doctors, researchers getting all up in a fuss about the meaning and relevance of a plant that’s been used for thousands of years.
Somewhere along the road, post WW II, we shifted gears, developing an overemphasis on only viewing the world of healing through a materialistic lens. In time frame we’ve also seen profit and large money interests take over health care delivery with the rise of the pharmaceutical industry, insurance companies and so on. I feel like functional medicine is a collection, albeit somewhat disorganize at the time, of healers. Healers I mean in the true sense of the word, people who were put on this planet to help others heal. Not to distribute drugs. Not to push a profit oriented medical complex’s agenda.
We are MD’s, DO’s, DC’s, LAc’s, ND’s, dentists, pharmacists, nutritionists, PT’s and more, with varying licenses but in my experience with a shared vision that healing is about more than prescribing (whether herbs or drugs) and that materialism and individualism and the pseudo-science that our current system abides by is something we need to evolve beyond. As I’ve traveled and studied throughout the world, every culture I’ve run across has “healer” and “spiritual advisor” and “doctor” all mixed up in the same person. We here in the U.S. are the exception. And the key point to all this rambling is clearly what we are doing here IS NOT WORKING VERY WELL! We are sick, overweight, depressed by the millions and we’re not drugging our way out of it very successfully. So I see functional medicine as a return to something sensible, the right blend of science and natural healing that works. It’s a return to what we’ve done in the past that worked, not something new.
Here’s a link to the article it really shows the mental status of people in the grip of science based concepts that struggle to accept the idea of healing as something more than the right chemical compound at the right time.