Measuring Healthiness: Health is Whole, illness is a Hole.

APPLEhealthillnessHealth is whole, illness is a hole in your health.

It’s as simple to measure illness, as it is to measure a hole. We can measure the depth, the breadth, the growth rate, without reference to the whole around the hole. In some cases, a single measure can diagnose an illness – although in principle several are required. One of the reasons diagnosis is error prone is the fact that measurement of symptoms is simple. Measurement of illness is also simplified by the fact that we don’t need to ‘understand’ illness to diagnose it. We only need to detect it, and once it is detected, we begin to fight against it.

Measurement of healthiness is much more challenging. With an apple, for example, we can measure the health of the apple from an apple’s perspective, or from a human perspective, where apples are food. Healthiness can be measured in many dimensions.  We might measure the healthiness of the skin of the apple, is it of consistent depth and strength, does it protect the interior, is it clean and clear of pesticides, is it strong, does it protect the interior? We can also measure the health of the flesh.  Is it ripe? Is it bruised or beginning to rot or mould? For each measure of healthiness – we can define perfection, or 100 percent healthy, and then measure against perfection.  If the skin is 99 percent free of pesticides, then that aspect of skin health receives a score of 99 percent healthy, and one percent unhealthy. Each aspect of healthiness can be expressed as a percentage, because healthiness is whole. Healthiness includes the healthy score and the unhealthy score, which adds up to 100 percent, the whole score. Health is whole.

The illness, the worm and the worm hole are also part of the measure of healthiness – they are unhealthy scores.  If there are no worms, the worm health score is 100 percent. If there are worms, the worm health score is less than 100 percent.

There are many other aspects to the healthiness of an apple, including the seeds, the ability to reproduce, and even the tree it came from.  It is not possible to take one, or a few single measurements to create a complete measure of health.

People too have many aspects of healthiness. If we want to create a complete measurement of a person’s healthiness, we must measure the entire hierarchy of healthiness, from genetics, to nutrients, to cells, tissues, organs, systems, body, minds, spirits, and communities.

Our medical systems work very hard to fight illness. We cannot measure healthiness without working hard to understand health. We can only improve our measurements of healthiness, by continually improving our understanding of health.

People often confuse measures of illness with measures of healthiness. Measures of illness are often single measurements. The vital signs: resting pulse, body temperature, blood pressue,  breathing rate, and pain, are often used to determine level of illness. But single measurements are not measurements of health. Because health is whole, a measure of healthiness should be expressed as a part, or a percentage of a ‘whole’. If you are measuring healthiness – you need a target, a goal, to measure against, and the goal will have large or small variations depending on the individual. With the apple, one goal is ‘no worms’, zero worm illness equals 100 percent worm healthiness. Measures of pulse rate, temperature, blood pressure, breathing and pain are not measures of healthiness without a goal.  No pain, for example, is not a health goal – if you are ”feeling no pain”, your health is less than perfect.

Several single measurements can be combined to create a diagnosis of illness. But measuring the depth, breadth, width, and growth rate of a hole – tells us nothing about the surrounding wholeness of health.

Measures of strength, speed, performance, etc. might also look like measures of healthiness, but these single measurements do not measure health. Measurements of performance when made in a medical setting, or in a competitive setting, are often measures of deficiency or excess. We notice when someone has a weakness.  We also notice when someone is excessively strong – but excessive strength is often an indication of unheathiness. Bobby Fisher was able to win the World Chess Championship, because his brain was unhealthy – in a way that made him a powerful chess player. It seems that he never recovered his health. Weight lifters can lift more than normal humans, due to an unhealthy excess of strength, resulting from unhealthy diet and exercise. Of course we know that the fastest runners, cyclists, etc. are not the fastest because of their healthiness, but because of their drug pipeline. We should not confuse performance with health. Health is about balance, not about excess.

So what does a measure of healthiness look like? What are some examples? Well… truth be told, there are no examples in common use. We don’t study health, we study illness instead, and we don’t measure healthiness, we measure illness.

What about BMI?  Can’t BMI be used as a measure of healthiness? BMI combines more than one measurement into a formula.

BMI is a useful ratio, although it was created to measure the unhealthiness of groups of people – not individuals.  For BMI to be a measure healthiness of an individual, there must be a goal for that individual. A standard BMI test gives a range of ‘healthiness’ that is quite wide, in fact, it ranges from deficient to excessive. Like many measures of illness, BMI lists a ‘normal’ ranges from 18.5 to 24.9. People who score below 18.5 are underweight, and those who score over 24.9 are overweight. Those who score over 30 are listed as obese – an illness. BMI is limited to ‘normal’ people, giving potentially false results for athletic persons and elderly persons. Inside the ‘normal range’ your BMI makes no statement about your health. Like all medical measurements – ‘normal’ results are ignored, because doctors search for illness.

If we want to use BMI to create a measure of healthiness – we need a goal.  If your target BMI is 22.3 and your BMI is 24 – you are still ‘normal’ according to the illness measurement of BMI.  Your BMI Health score is about 93 percent. There is seven percent ‘potential for improvement’ in your BMI score. ”Potential or improvement” in a health score can also be named “unhealthiness”.  Your BMI is 93 percent healthy, and 7 percent unhealthy. Of course there are many ways to calcualte a healthiness percentage of BMI, which might result in different scores. The impotant thing is to have healthiness expressed as  apart of the whole, so that we can measure our goals and our success in moving towards those goals. Note: Unhealthiness is a normal result of measuring healthiness.  It is the inverse of healthiness, and unless you are perfectly healthy, you will always have some level of unhealthiness.  Unhealthiness is not a moral judegement, it is simply a fact of life, living, and a result of measuring healthiness.

Your BMI is one small measure of your healthiness. You might have an excellent BMI, a lousy diet, a crappy attitude, a liver suffering from alcohol toxicity, and poor relationships with friends and family.  Each of these is a measure of your healthiness, and your unhealthiness.  There are many measures of healthiness – all throughout the hierarchy of healthicine.

Is it possible to create a complete measure of your healthiness?  Maybe not. Certainly not today. But we can try. And as we try, we will learn more about health, and more about ourselves. It is possible to create useful measures of healthiness, and learn from them. We can start now.

to your health, tracy

This post is based on the concepts in the book: Healthicine, the Arts and Sciences of Health and Healthiness.



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Can Rich People Buy Healthiness?

Interesting questions, and intereting anwers about money and health.  Can rich people buy healthiness? Check it out on Personal Health Freedom’s blog.


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Visualizing Health

Spread your arms as wide as you can. Imagine your presence extending from genetics, in your left hand accross your body, to the nutrients that build your cells and tissues, your organs, your bodily systems – to your body in the centre.  On the right, join your hands with your communities, your family, your pets, your environment, the organizations you are a part of, your friends, perhaps your church, your employers, your government, and the corporations around you.

Imagining illness:


Imagine the different illnesses, from genetic deformities to cellular tissue diseases like cancer, to diseases of the joints and bones like arthritis, diseases of the heart and circulatory systems, diseases of the brain, imagine illnesses of the spirit like fear and hatred, imagine illnesses of the communities like murder – often a family illness, as well as war, torture, genocide.  Imagine each illness as a small, almost insignificant hole in the ground close to the line of your body.  In the distance, imagine the most serious illness, large holes and finally the cliff of death.  The sun rises every day on hope, and casts shadows of doubt - often setting on death. All of this space contains all of the gradations of illness between minor symptoms and ultimately death. It might look like a landscape on a dead planet or moon.

Your body is in the centre of this field of possible illnesses. When you die, your body dies, if you have managed to reproduce, your genetics do not die. Your family does not die. The communities you are part of do not die.  Of course sometimes, a genetic line dies out.  Sometimes a family dies, and sometimes larger communities as well.

Illness is a huge field of study. Everyone is affected by illness at some time in their lives. The field of medicine encompasses only part of the field of illness, from our body, our current state of illness – to death, in the distance.  But the field of medicine ignores illnesses of the spirit, like fear and hate, and illnesses of the community like war and genocide. When we study illness, our studies stop when the illness is gone, or insignificant. Once the illness is gone – our studies leap to a new illness.  There are plenty of illnesses to study. Plenty of sick people.

Now turn around and look in the opposite direction. Now, behind you are all of the illnesses that exist, from genetics to genocide.


In front of you is only health.

How can we describe the depth and breadth of health?  Health too spans from our smallest genes to our largest, our longest lived communities. But when you look in the direction of health, what do you see in the distance?  When we look at illness, we clearly see death in the distance.  What do we see when we look at health?

We see hills to climb, mountains to summit, a sky with planets to marvel at and explore. The sun rises every day to excitement and expectation. In the field of health we can see joy, and love, and kindness. We can see the strength of independence, and the strengths of communities. We can see having, and sharing, need and support. The field of health is as wide as the field of illness – but it is much deeper. There is no death at the end, we might see a horizon, but as we approach it, it becomes part of our health – and we see another fair horizon in the distance.

Now.  Put your arms down. Look around. Health includes illness. Every illness has aspects of healthiness. Illness does not include health.  It is possible to be healthy without being ill – but it is not possible to be ill without being healthy. If you have no health, you are dead.


In this composite image, we see that the line between illness and healthiness is not easily defined.  Most of us, probably all of use, have some aspects of illness and some aspects of healthiness. We can spend most of our lives on the healthy side looking a healthiness, or on the healthy side, studying illness.  Medical professionals spend much of their lives on the illness side, searching for healthiness – or searching for and fighting illness.

We can choose to move our bodies to healthier status, or to a sicklier status, but often when we make ‘health choices’, were not sure which way we will move as a result of any choice. Many choices clearly move one part of us to healthier status, while moving another part towards illness. Health is about balance, so tipping it one way can create other imbalances.

We measure illness with infinite precision – but who measures health?  We study the causes and search for cures of illness – but who studies the causes of health? We might pretend we are studying health, as we study illness.  But when we study illness, we are facing the wrong direction to study health. We cannot expect to climb the mountains of health by looking down into the holes of illness.

Health is whole, illness is a hole in our health. When we only study the holes – we learn little about the wholeness of health, only the darkness of illness.

If we are to learn about health, we must learn to study healthiness independent of illness.   It is important to study illness.  It is more important to study health.

amazonBookImgeHealthicine: The Arts and Sciences of Health and Healthiness is about the study of health.  Healthicine is a new field of study.  There are no experts – only those who might claim to be experts because of their successes in studying illness.

Healthicine is an enormous field of study, which we hardly know. Today, every expert has an opinion about health, advice about health, an understanding of health, but there is no science of health. There is no commonly accepted way to recognize healthiness – except by recognizing the absence of illness. There is no medical or scientific technique for measuring healthiness – except to measure the absence of illness.


Most of today’s ’health experts’ are facing the wrong way, looking at illness, blind to the majesty and enormousness of health – that exists in plain view behind them. It’s time to turn around, smell the roses, and explore the stars.

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Healthicine book launch: The Arts and Sciences of Health and Healthiness

After several years researching and writing about the concepts of health and healthiness, as opposed to illness, I have consolidated many of the concepts from this site and the sister site: PersonalHealthFreedom, into a book that provides a foundation for the concepts of healthicine.

amazonBookImgePurchase paper edition on Amazon.                Purchase Kindle edition on Amazon.

Healthicine: the Arts and Sciences of Health and Healthicine is the book that lays the foundation for exploration of the concepts of healthicine. It is available on Kindle, as well as in traditional paper format. The Kindle version has colour illustrations – and links to larger versions of the illustrations. The paper format has illustrations in black and white.  Click here to view full size colour versions of the book illustrations.

Here is a preview of what you can find in the book, chapter by chapter:

1 On Health – what is health? We normally study healthiness only through our attempts to fight illness.  As a result we are, in a sense, blind to the actual concepts of health and healthiness.  We meet Alice and Zizi, two friends who have no illnesses – but are not sure who is ‘healthiest’.

2. The Foundations of Healthicine – the concepts of health flow from the concepts of life, from genetics through body, mind, and spirit – to communities. The study of health requires a ‘health’ perspective, and health goals, as opposed to an illness persective – and illness goals.

3. Hierarchies of Function and Process – healthiness is not about balance, it is about balancing. Every component of our healthiness is continually working to find health through balancing.

4. Signs and Symptoms – what are the signs of healthiness? What are the symptoms? We normally study signs and symptoms as if they were only indications of illness.

5. Measuring Healthiness – how might we learn to measure healthiness? What can we learn from measuring healthiness?

6. Aging and Infirmity – what are the differences between unhealthiness, illness and aging? Is aging a disease? Is it an unhealthiness? How can we tell?

7. Illness – what is illness? What are the causes of illness? What are the relationships between healthiness and illness?

8. Diagnosis – why is diagnosis so difficult? What types of illness are most difficult to diagnose? What is the fundamental error, or omission, in many medical diagnoses?

9. Preventing Illness – what is the most effective technique to prevent illness? Does red wine make us healthier?  How can prevention help us to better health, as opposed to ‘better illness’?

10.How to Create and Improve Healthiness – what are the fundamental techniques we can use to create and improve healthiness?

11.The Failing Edge of Modern Medicine – modern medicine works wonders and saves many lives, but there are situations where it fails miserably. What can we learn from this?

12. The Arts and Sciences of Healthicine – where do we go from here? What do we need to do to develop the arts and sciences of healthicine?

The back cover of the book provides more information:

This is a book about Healthicine, a new field of study.  It raises more questions than it answers.  As we seek the answers to these questions, I hope we can raise our understanding to new levels, to find newer, more important questions.

The medical view, limited by illness, has difficulty understanding healthiness and Healthicine.

Medicine is blind to health.

Medical professionals, both conventional and alternative, suffer from the same blindness.

Health is whole.  Health is honest. Health is true. It cannot be ‘tricked’ by medicines, nor medical sorcery. The most powerful, the most effective tool to fight illness is health. When health is improved, many illnesses simply fade away. Health can be improved before illness is diagnosed, it can be improved after illness is diagnosed, and it can be improved after illness has gone.

The road to health is wide enough for all of us. I have done my best, in this book,  to understand and communicate the depth and breadth, from the source to the surface, past illness, past wellness, to healthiness. This book is a first step down that road.

to your health, tracy

ps. This is not a ‘self-help book’. The objectives of this book are to initiate an understanding of health and healthiness. I hope and believe this will serve to make our health systems and our medical systems more effective, and our battles against illness more clear, direct,  honest, and frankly, less commercial.

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Do you need a medicine, or a healthicine?

Healthicines increase healthiness.  Medicines decrease illness.  It’s easy to say, but it can be very difficult to understand clearly. Are “alternative medicines” healthicines or medicines? Are vitamins healthicines, or medicines?  Are herbal medicines healthicines or medicines. Let’s begin with some simple examples, where the lines are very clear.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. An apple is a healthicine, not a medicine. You can eat as many as you want. Your children can eat them. Apples don’t make you healthy ‘quickly’, health is created slowly, “an apple a day“. Apples don’t fight specific illnesses, they improve general healthiness. If you are sick, an apple won’t make you well and if you eat too many, you will get diarrhea. But if you are sick, an apple a day will still help you be healthy. You don’t need a prescription to buy an apple.

If you have a bug, you might get a medicine to treat your symptoms. Medicines that treat your symptoms don’t make you healthier, they only make you feel better.  Or you might get an antibiotic. An antibiotic kills bacteria. It is a medicine, not a healthicine. It works by decreasing the healthiness of many bacteria in your body – it does not discriminate between healthy and unhealthy bacteria and can be dangerous to your healthiness. Antibiotics are powerful, and work quickly, over a few hours or a few days. Antibiotics are designed or prescribed individually, for specific illnesses and are not effective for other illnesses. If you are not sick, antibiotics won’t make you healthier and can be toxic, and dangerous, to yourself and your children. You need a doctor’s prescription to purchase an antibiotic.

The difference between apples and antibiotics is pretty clear.  Apples create health, antibiotics fight illness.  We can summarize the differences as follows:




When we see it in this table, it seems pretty clear. Medicines are not always bad, healthicines are not always good.  Each has a function. Continue reading “Do you need a medicine, or a healthicine?” »

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Community Healthiness: the Origins of Sin and Virtue, Love and Hate, Freedom and Prison

I read a beautiful quote on Quora the other day, from a five year old.  Her father had asked “How do we show someone we love them?”, and she responded “We play with them.”  I love it!  We sing, dance, and play.  Sometimes we play hard. When we love, we are strengthening our communities.

Communities, in the healthicine hierarchy, cover a wide range, from couples, to families, to partnerships, companies, corporations, churches, and governments.  Any group of people, even people and animals living or working together. Communities, healthy communities, can be competitive, cooperative, or even playful.

Let’s look back in time, before there were any communities. Adam lived alone in the garden of Eden. His constraint consisted of one rule from his God. You must not eat from the tree of knowledge. God made no other requests, no other rules.  Adam had no needs that were not met by the garden, and thus no need to make requests of God. Was it possible for Adam to love? Was it possible for Adam to sin – alone in the garden?   Continue reading “Community Healthiness: the Origins of Sin and Virtue, Love and Hate, Freedom and Prison” »

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To be or not to be: Bodies, Minds, and Spirits

BodyMindSpiritCharmsBody, mind, and spirit are often presented as the “wholeness” of health.  The elements of this triad are not sufficient to encompass healthicine, but they are important components. However, body, mind, and spirit are poorly defined, poorly distinguished and poorly articulated in many health (sick care) practices.

Philosophers have pondered for centuries, and more, definitions and locations of mind, and spirit. We often confuse, or mix discussions of body, mind, and spirit with body, mind, and soul. Continue reading “To be or not to be: Bodies, Minds, and Spirits” »

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