Is there a scientific theory of medicine? If there is, I can’t find it. The field of medicine is very fragmented – naturally so, because medicine is about diagnosing and treating illness. There are many different types of illness, many different treatments – for cause, symptoms and damage caused by illness. Is it possible to develop a comprehensive theory for medicine? I don’t believe so.
In science, a theory is a ‘way of looking at reality’. In physics, for example, we have learned that theories are not ‘facts’, they are simply ways of looking at what we observe in physics. As physics advances – we search for more effective theories. The test of the usefulness of a theory – is measured by it’s ability to make testable predictions and to aid investigation.
There is no theory of medicine. Please let me know if you find one.
There is a theory of healthicine. The theory of healthicine is a framework, or way of looking at health and the study of health, that proves very useful in making predictions and investigations.
Theory of Healthicine
Healthicine – the study of health and healthiness.
Healthiness – a specific, measurable dimension or factor of health
The theory of Healthicine: Health is about wholeness and balance. Each healthiness is a measure of balance. Unhealthiness is the result of an imbalance, either a deficiency or an excess. Illness is the result of a one or more severe unhealthinesses.
Note: The word ‘unhealthiness’ is often used to mean ‘bad’. In the context of healthicine, unhealthiness exists whenever there is a health imbalance. Maintenance of balance often requires conscious effort and some imbalance, or unhealthiness is invariably present in all healthy people. Unhealthiness is not necessarily negative, but it can eventually lead to illness.
This simple theory is a very powerful tool in the exploration of healthicine.
We can apply this theory to many aspects of healthiness. We can use it to understand healthiness and unhealthiness – and ultimately, to understand illness.
Let’s start with a simple example: Vitamin X (you can choose which Vitamin).
Vitamins are ‘essential to health’. Each vitamin has a healthy range. If you consume less than the healthy range, you will become deficient – and will eventually suffer deficiency symptoms. If you consume more than the healthy range, you will suffer symptoms of excess.
There are published recommendations, best known is the RDI – Reference Dietary Intake, for each of the identified vitamins. The recommendations are a range of consumption levels that meet the health requirements of 97% of all people in the USA. The official RDA document is quite complex, because each RDA is calculated for different genders and age groups.
The RDA document provides some useful tools to explore the theory of healthicine. Each Vitamin (and some other nutrients) might have a documented:
EAR – estimated average requirement
AI – adequate intake
RDA – recommended daily allowance
UL – tolerable upper level
The EAR is defined as the level where 50 percent of people will show signs of suffering a deficiency. The RDA is the level where only 2 or 3 percent of people will suffer a deficiency. The AI is an estimate used when RDA cannot be calculated. The UI is quite weakly defined as “the highest intake likely to pose no risk in most individuals”.
One tool the RDA document does not attempt to specify or define is the Optimal consumption level for healthiness, which I have abbreviated as OPT. The optimal amount is, as we say in Facebook, complicated – it’s personal and it can change over time. We might be able to learn more about optimal amounts as we study healthicine – or it might be that we can only find optimal ranges for certain situations. In specific situations the optimal amount might be less than the EAR, or more than the UL, depending on circumstances.
Before we take this to the next level, it’s important to understand some important details. Some Vitamins are easily stored in your body. Vitamin A is an example. So if you don’t consume the RDA for Vitamin A for several days, sometime even for several months – your body may have sufficient stores to remain healthy. Other Vitamins – Vitamin C is an extreme example, are cleared from the body very quickly – so if you want to maintain your Vitamin C at a very high level – you might need to consume it more than once a day. The RDA is defined as a daily allowance, to facilitate simplification and communication of recommendations.
We can apply this model, or theory, to any aspect of healthiness.
Exercise is healthy. A deficiency of exercise can lead to unhealthiness – an excess can lead to problems with stress and healing. Of course there are thousands of different types of exercise – and many different types of people. We could, in theory, define some basic healthy levels of each type of exercise – bearing in mind that sometime healthicines have no deficiency level exists. If you don’t go swimming – you are not deficient in swimming.
Fats are healthy. A deficiency of fats in your diet can lead to symptoms of unhealthiness. An excess leads to other symptoms of unhealthiness. Take care though – science has not yet demonstrated that excessive consumption of fats leads to fatness. It has demonstrated that excessive consumption of simple carbohydrates (sugar, white flour, etc) leads to fatness.
When we look at the Hierarchy of Healthicine, we see that each layer in the hierarchy has hundreds, perhaps thousands of possible ways to measure healthiness – healthicines. Not only that, at each layer, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of processes that can also be measured to measure healthiness.
Genetics: an excess of, or a deficiency of specific healthy genes can result in unhealthiness. Genes can be activated, modulated, induced or repressed by the presence of some mollecules – and each of these processes might be deficient or excessive.
Nutrition: nutrition is not limited to the Vitamins. There are over 100 nutrients that are essential to health. Each nutrient can be studied and charted in a similar fashion to the vitamins. As we develop, and grow to adulthood, and age, our bodies ability to synthesize some nutrients can change – thus changing our dietary needs. I suspect that there are many more unhealthinesses caused by deficiencies or excesses of nutrients than we ever imagined. We tend to study nutrition one piece at a time – and our studies of diet are very weak – as evidenced by examining the government’s Food Pyramids or Food Plates.
Cells: there are over 400 different types of cells in the human body,including over 100 different types of neurons (nerve cells). At optimal health – our bodies are comprised of an optimal number of each type of cells, operating at optimal efficiency. Unhealthiness can result – and eventually lead to illness if the number, or processes of any group of cells becomes deficient or excessive. Some well know examples include diabetes – a deficiency of the cells that produce insulin, possibly created by an excess intake of foods that require insulin for use by the body.
Tissues: optimal tissues are a balance of healthy cells, their terrain or environment, and tissue matrix. Osteoporosis is a slow developing unhealthiness – leading to illness where cells involved in bone health drift out of balance and our bones become weaker is a result.
Organs: your heart might be too small, too large, beat too fast. Each organ unhealthiness might be a result of a lower level unhealthiness. It might not lead to disease, depending on the severity.
Systems: if your circulatory system is deficient in elasticity, you might have high blood pressure. If your digestive system is deficient in bile, you might have a poor ability to absorb essential nutrients.
Body: a deficiency of exercise can lead to a deficiency of muscle healthiness, placing you at risk for accidents. An excess of simple carbohydrate consumption can lead to an excess of fatty tissues, possibly leading to obesity.
Mind: an excessive excitement of the mind can create stresses for the entire body and even other people in your community. Deficiency of nutrients can result in deficient mental processes.
Spirit: How many different types of ‘spirit’ are there in each person? There is very little scientific study, or definition of spirit – probably because scientists don’t want confusion with religion, but spirit exists and is a very important factor in healthiness. We commonly speak about ‘strength of spirit’, but there are many ‘spirits’; social spirit (ability to interact with other people and communities), intuitive spirit, spirit of judgement, honesty and fair play as well as life spirit, or the will to live and fight illness and adversity. Deficiencies of spirit can affect many aspects of healthiness. Excessively spirited people may have problems relating to others or working in communities and may have problems facing reality.
Community: there are many different kinds of communities, where we interact and work with other people. Health deficiencies can lead to deficient communities – and deficient communities can result in less than optimal healthiness. We each have only one body and one mind, but our communities are built from many bodies and minds – and can continue to exist longer than any single lifetime whether they are healthy or unhealthy.
Many illnesses are ‘primary illnesses’, caused by a single deficiency or excess. A deficiency of water results in dehydration. An excess of physical stress can break bones. A single deficiency or excess is sometimes sufficient to cause death.
For each individual healthiness – or measure of health – we can map out a diagram similar to the one used for vitamins, defining minimums and thus deficiency, maximums and thus excessive levels – and maybe someday, moving towards an understanding of ‘optimal ranges’ for optimal healthiness.
It is important to recognize, as well, that many illnesses are very complex, the result of many healthiness imbalances. Some, like cancer and arthritis are actually large ‘areas’ of illness – with many possible imbalances as causes. Others, like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzhimer’s disease are so complex that we don’t clearly understand the illness or the cause. I believe that the study of illness, by studying only medical avenues, is a dead end for some illnesses. That is to say, I believe we will not learn the truth about some illnesses by studying illness – only by studying healthiness.
What do you think? Does this theory identify the cause of all illness? Join the discussion here or on Facebook.
to your health, tracy
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