The Healthicine Creed

The Healthicine Creed

Health is wide and deep.
Health is a noun. A healthiness is a measurable component of health.
Health is a verb. Healthing is making someone healthier.
Health encompasses all of life’s processes.
Health is whole. Health is slow and steady.
Health is honest and true.
An illness is a hole in your health.
Every illness has a cause.
Every illness is caused by imbalance.
Disease can attack from the environment.
Disease can arise from unhealthiness.
Chronic diseases have chronic causes.
Symptomicines facilitate chronic disease.
Causal cures stop the progression of a disease.
External illnesses are cured by addressing or removing causes.
Internal illnesses are cured by raising healthiness.
Every illness has internal an external components.
Healing defends against disease and repairs damage.
Healing cures aid recovery and promote healing.
Healthicines improve healthiness.
Every disease can be cured.
Health is the best preventative.

Health is the best cure, the only true cure.

The goals of healthicine are to understand, create, and improve healthiness.
Healthy foods, actions, and communications move us towards healthiness.
Healthy people are moving towards healthiness.
Everyone has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of healthiness.
                                   Healthicine: The Arts and Sciences of Health and Healthiness. Continue reading “The Healthicine Creed” »

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Understanding Medical Cures

Jan and John are finishing up their rounds, and heading to the hospital cafeteria for lunch. John re-opens yesterday’s conversation about the word ‘cure’.

“Well, did you learn anything about the medical definition of cure in your research last night?”

Jan is frustrated, “I learned that medical dictionaries don’t take the word ‘cure’ seriously.”

“Really? For example?”, John picks up a  tray and orders a Reuben sandwich.

“First I went  to Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. It gives several definitions. The first one is ‘to heal, to make well‘. But healing is, as we’ve already discussed, independent of curing the illness – healing happens before, during, and after the illness. And ‘to make well’ is just simplistic. We could go on another dictionary search to find the meaning of ‘well’ – I think it’s less well defined than ‘cure’.”

“I see that. To make well, might range from an apology, meant to make the patient feel better, to a painkiller that makes them feel better, to a cure.” John challenges. “But doesn’t ‘well’ in medicine mean without disease?”

Jan responds, “It’s OK in simple cases, but many cases are not simple. What if someone has more than one illness.”

“Yes, an elderly person might suffer from obesity, hypertension, arthritis and diabetes.”

“Then, the Stedman’s definition says you can’t just cure one illness, because they are still sick? ”

“Now you’re getting technical and pedantic,” John comments dryly.

“If we are to define cure, we need a definition that holds up to such simple challenges,” Jan went on, “the second definition is ‘a restoration of health‘. Does health disappear when someone gets sick? I don’t think so.”

“Health is always present, as long as we are alive.  Maybe they mean that ‘some health is lost’ when we get sick, and we recover it when we get better.”  John offered.

“But restoration of health happens before, during and after the disease is diagnosed. often happens after the disease is stopped. They’re still mixing and confusing healing and curing.” Jan objected.

She continued, “Their third definition is ‘a special method or course of treatment‘. That seems OK at first, but many, perhaps most treatments simply do not cure – most treatments are for symptoms, not cures. In fact, a ‘course of treatment’, might be given to someone who is not even sick, not in need of a cure.  I can get a hair treatment – so I look better. But there is no intent to cure my ugliness.”

“You’re not ugly,” John laughed, “but it’s an interesting comparison.  So, Stedman’s Medical Dictionary defines cures that are used when you are not sick, when you are sick, and even after your sickness is gone. Is that so bad?”

“It’s worse, they don’t even use the word disease, or illness.  Can you cure someone if they don’t have an illness?” Jan showed John the text:



Jan continued, her voice getting louder, “How can we cure people, how can we search for cures, if cure is not properly defined?  Can there be a science of medicine, if we can’t even find a good definition for ‘cure’?”.

John responded quietly, “Did you check anywhere else?”

“Yes. Mosbey’s Medical Dictionary is different, but no better.  They first defined cure as ‘restoration to health of a person afflicted with a disease or disorder‘”.

“At least it mentions disease,” John comments.

“Yes, but it’s the same ‘restoration to health‘, implying that once you have a disease or a disorder, you are no longer ‘healthy’.  But health doesn’t disappear because you have an illness. It is there, actively fighting the disease.  If you lose your health – you are dead.”

“Well, many diseases are the result of a drop in health, and a restoration of health is the only real cure. Scurvy is caused by an unhealthy diet, and cured by a healthy diet.”

“Yes,” Jan agreed.  “It almost seems they have recognized that restoring health can cure a disease – but I don’t think it was meant that way. If so, they might have said something like ‘an improvement in health that eliminates disease‘.”

Jan continued, “It doesn’t actually speak about stopping the disease. What if health is restored, but the disease is still present.  Is that a cure?”

“Is it possible to ‘restore health‘ without curing the disease?”

“Of course. The unhealthiness might be disconnected from the disease – once the disease takes hold.  If you get cholera from drinking unhealthy water, and you stop drinking unhealthy water – it doesn’t cure you.”

“And what is a ‘disorder‘?” Jan continued, “A broken leg is a disorder – but we don’t cure it. The definition is simply useless as a scientific tool.”

“Yes, I see that. We don’t cure disorders, only diseases. Do they give another definition?”, asks John.

“‘The favorable outcome of a treatment of a disease or disorder‘. It’s simplistic nonsense. A person has arthritis, and they take some medicine that makes them feels better, it’s a favorable outcome.  So the medicine ‘cured’ them, according to Mosbey’s. But they still have the disease, and it’s probably getting worse.”  Jan is visibly frustrated. She stops talking and looks at John, hoping for an answer.


“Hmm..”, John thinking aloud, “Interesting that Stedmans does not require a disease to find a cure, and Mosbey’s does not require stopping the disease to produce a cure. It’s like the old joke, ‘the operation was a success, but the patient died anyway.'”, John smiled.

“It’s more than that.  A favorable outcome as defined by the doctor? or by the patient?  A patient who is so sick they want the right to die, would consider a treatment leading to death as a favorable outcome.  Does that make death a cure?” Jan asked, rhetorically adding “A favorable outcome is not always a cure, although a cure is almost always a favorable outcome.”

“Almost always?  Wouldn’t it be always?”, John asked.

“Well, there are cases where medicine attempts to ‘cure’ a disease that others don’t consider a disease.  There have been searches for medical cures for left-handedness, and homosexuality. In those cases, a cure might not be a favorable outcome for the patient nor for the society.”

“A cure that cures a non-disease. Interesting. You’ve been thinking about this a lot. It seems Mosbey’s has got stuck on a challenging question: does a cure cure the disease, or the patient?”, John looks up at the clock.  “Well, time to get back to work.  Maybe if you check some of the authoritative medical reference books, you can find a better definition of cure?”  He gets up and starts to clear the table.

“So.. both the medical dictionaries actually say that ‘cure’ is to stop a disease?”

“Not only that, one doesn’t use the word ‘disease’, and the neither requires actually ‘stopping’ the disease. I wonder what MERCK says”, Jan replies. “I’ll check tonight.  Tomorrow’s lunch, then.”

“Tomorrow is my weekend.” John replies with a smile, “You’ve got Tuesday and Wednesday to do your research. See you Thursday.”


Standard dictionaries don’t provide a clear definition of cure.  And medical dictionaries don’t do any better.  Will Jan and John find the true meaning of cure?  Stay tuned…

to your health, tracy

This post is the second in a series about the word ‘cure’. You can see the first post here: “What means Cure?

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What Means CURE?

Two doctors meet in the hospital cafeteria.  John is an old hand.  Crusty and a bit intolerant of silliness.  Jan is a new intern, just out of school. They’ve paired up together for work, and for lunches. As they sit down, Jan feels the glow of excitement of becoming a doctor.

“I can hardly wait to start curing people,” Jan gushes.

“Cure? What do you mean by ‘cure’?” asks John.

“You know, to help them get rid of their diseases.  To free people from disease.” Jan is speaking rapidly, enthusiastically.

“Maybe you should check your dictionary.” John replies curtly.

“Well, if you check your dictionary, you might be surprised at the meaning of ‘cure’.”

Jan fumbles with her phone for a moment and then reads from the screen, triumphantly: “‘the act of making someone healthy again after an illness‘ according to Webster.”



“Curing happens after the illness is gone?”, John challenged, ” I thought that was healing? Doesn’t curing happen when the patient is sick? Are you sure that’s what Webster says?”

“Hmm.. It seems they show the definition from the learners dictionary first”. Jan fumbled a bit more, scrolling down.

“So we give learners the wrong definition for cure, and then correct it later.” John smiled. “We don’t heal patients here, we treat them for serious conditions, and then send them home, so their bodies can heal.”

“Here,” replied Jan, attempting to move the discussion in a positive direction, “it says…. well, it’s really complicated..”

John provides a bit of support, “well, there are lots of different meanings for the word cure, in different situations. But you want to get busy ‘curing people’. Is there a definition like that?”

“It says ‘something (such as a drug or medical treatment) that stops a disease and makes someone healthy again‘, that’s what I meant.” She smiled, but she added, shaking her head, “but then it says, again ‘the act of making someone healthy again after an illness‘”.

“So curing someone is stopping their disease. That makes some sense. But ‘makes someone healthy again’ – seems a bit strange? If it stops the disease, but doesn’t make them healthy, is it a cure?”

“You’re just getting technical, just being overly pedantic.” Jan smiled.

“We could look pedantic up too, but let’s stick to cure.  One definition is simply wrong – healing after an illness is not curing the illness.  Healing happens before, during and after illness. Whereas the other definition is relatively accurate, except for the medicine restriction. ”

“Restriction?” Jan was puzzled.

“It is, of course, possible to cure a disease, without a ‘drug or medical treatment’. “. John tapped his knife on the tray for emphasis.


“Like, give me an example!” Jan challenged.

“How do you cure simple dehydration? ” John asked, smiling.

“hmm… Technically, dehydration is cured with water – I guess that’s not a medicine, nor a medical treatment.. except, when you are dehydrated, then it’s a medical treatment!”

“Well, that’s nonsense.  What if you are only partly dehydrated – is it a medicine?  What if you self diagnose and self-treat, is it a medicine?  Is it a medicine if a doctor prescribes it, or if some medical person recommends it, but otherwise not? Is a bottle of water a medicine if the label says “can be used to prevent, treat, or cure dehydration’, but not if it only says ‘pure, healthy, spring water‘. There are actually lots of diseases that are best cured without medicines. Some are cured by the presence of something, not a medicine, and some are cured by the absence, or removal of something causing the disease. Obesity, arsenic poisoning, and water intoxication are not cured by medicines, they are not cured by ‘something’, they are cured by ‘not’ something. They are cured by health.”

He continued, “Of course dehydration is not usually a disease – it’s usually a symptom of some other problem, and giving water as a medicine doesn’t really address the cause. Dehydration caused by lack of water is quite rare, because our bodies tell us when we need to drink water.”

“Diseases cured by health?”, Jan looks surprised.

“By something that makes you healthy. Lots of things are essential to health. If you don’t get them, or don’t get enough, you get sick – and if you get too much, you get sick.” John replied, and added, “Maybe we need a better dictionary.”

“I’ll check Oxford,” Jan replied.  She thumbed her phone and then said, “The Oxford Dictionary for English Learners says ‘to make a person or an animal healthy again after an illness’, duh – almost exactly the same as Webster’s.  Why do dictionaries think curing happens ‘after’ the illness? ”

“Dictionaries don’t create language – they attempt to tell us how language is used.  Of course it’s more difficult when you speak the language, to explain it properly to a beginner. What does the full definition say?”, John asked.

“I’m reading it, but I’m not liking it,” Jan replied, “It says ‘relieve (a person or animal) of the symptoms of a disease or condition‘. But, surely cure is about disease, not symptoms?”

“There’s often confusion between the symptoms of an illness, and the actual illness.  It’s a common mistake. Sometimes it’s really hard to tell illness from symptoms.”

Jan interrupted, “Then it says ”Eliminate (a disease or condition) with medical treatment‘. So Oxford also ignores that fact that many illnesses are cured, but not by medicines. Is there no logical, scientific definition of cure?”

“Well, lunch is almost over – why don’t you check some medical books and find a better definition.  We can discuss this more tomorrow.” John picked up his empty dishes and put them on the tray.

But before they left the cafeteria, John had to ask “What do you think ‘cure’ means now?”

“I think cure means to stop the disease,” Jan replied.

“That’s a good start.” is John’s response, “We’ll see what tomorrow brings.  Back to work.” Jan joined him on his rounds.


How can we cure diseases if cure is not defined? Or is cure defined, but just not in the dictionaries? Stay tuned, follow John and Jan as they explore the science of cure.

This post is the first of a series of explorations of the word ‘cure’. The second post is about “Medical Definitions of Cure
to your health, tracy

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Cancer Cure Catch 22

Two medical researchers meet in the university lab.  Jim is excited. John is interested.

Jim: “I’ve found the cure for cancer! All we need are some clinical studies proving it works and the Nobel Prize in Medicine is ours.

John: “Hey! I’m pumped. … But wait a minute, how can we do a clinical study that tests a cancer cure?Continue reading “Cancer Cure Catch 22” »

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The Disappearing Patients

DisappearingPatientIt’s almost 20 years since I met my first disappearing patient. A nurse in her early 40s, let’s call her Kate.  Kate was diagnosed with breast cancer. As a nurse, she had seen the results of treatments for breast cancer. She was terrified, and determined. She was not heading for surgery, nor chemotherapy, nor radiation.

But Kate worked in a hospital. She worked with the doctors who diagnosed her cancer, and she worked with the surgeon, who wanted to schedule her into surgery “as soon as possible”.

The first thing Kate did was slow down. Continue reading “The Disappearing Patients” »

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