Yes there is. It’s simple, and important.
Historically, there are many different theories about illness. But, when we view them together, we can find one simple, fundamental theory. Do you know what it is?
- Humoral theory states that illness is caused by imbalances of blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile.
- Chinese medicine states that everything, including the body, is governed by yin and yang, and illness is caused by improper balance of these principles.
- Ayurveda states that health is a state of balance between body, mind and consciousness, and illness is caused by imbalances.
- Modern medicine says illnesses are caused by bacteria, viruses, genetics, toxins, and other factors.
It sounds like there is not much agreement. But there is agreement of the fundamental concept which is also a fundamental concept of healthicine.
Every school of medicine believes that: “Every illness is caused by …” This is the fundamental theory of medicine: cause.
Why is this so important? It’s because of cures. If we don’t know the cause of an illness, we cannot find a cure. If we don’t know the cause of an illness, we need to search for the cause.
Once we know the cause, we can search for the cure. Of course we can sometimes work in the reverse. We can try to cure, and if we succeed, we have found the cause.
Humoral theory believes that illness is caused by imbalances of blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. The cure for every illness, in humoral theory, is to address the imbalances of blood, phlegm, yellow and black bile. Once these imbalances are addressed successfully, the patient will be cured.
Chinese medicine states that everything, including the body, is governed by yin and yang, and illness is caused by improper balance of these principles. The cure for every illness, according to Chinese medicine, is to address the imbalances of yin and yang. Once these imbalances are addressed, the patient will be cured.
Ayurveda states that health is a state of balance between body, mind and consciousness, and illness is caused by imbalances. The cure for every illness, according to ayurvedic medicne, is to address these imbalances. Once they are addressed the patient will be cured.
Modern medicine says illnesses are caused by bacteria, viruses, genetics, toxins, and other factors. The cure for every illness is to address the causal factors. Once the bacterial, virus, or toxin is addressed, the illness will be cured. However, there is a fly in the ointment of modern medicine. It seldom searches for cause for any illness not caused by a parasite. Modern medicine, and most clinical studies, search instead for treatments of symptoms.
Until we know the cause – we know little. Until we know the cause, no theory of medicine can search for a cure.
The theory that every illness has a cause, is supplemented by an additional factor, ‘faith’. “Faith does not make things easy, it makes them possible” Luke 1:37. Faith in ourselves, in our communities, in our gods, in our knowledge of cause and the link between cause and cure, makes cures possible. If we don’t believe in cures, if we don’t believe in causes that can be addressed, we are less likely to be cured. When modern medicine, as it often does, declares an illness ‘incurable’, they destroy faith, and distance us from cures.
With healthicine, we extend the analysis of cause further. We begin with “every illness is caused by …”, or in simpler terms: “Every illness has a cause.” We take it to the next logical step, simplification:
Every illness has a single cause.
Now that’s a challenging statement. Can it be true? Surely there are many illnesses that have more than one cause? Surely some illnesses have dozens of causes? Before we can say that every illness has a single cause, we need to add two simple constraints.
First we need to realize that we are talking about illness, not disease. Disease is not well defined in medicine. The word disease can refer to a class of illnesses, a specific case, an injury, a disability, a symptom or set of symptoms – especially chronic symptoms. An illness, on the other hand, is a specific case, in a specific patient.
A simple illness, then, is a single case of an illness with a single cause.
An elemental illness is an illness with a single cause. Every elemental illness has a single cause. But it’s not quite so simple. When we find an illness, with its single cause, we can always ask the question “what is the cause of the cause?“, and when we find the cause of the cause, we can ask again “what is the cause of that cause?” and so on. How can there be a ‘single cause’ when we can always find a chain of causes of causes?
You might have scurvy because you don’t eat sufficient Vitamin C in your diet. And you might have a dietary insufficiency of Vitamin C because you don’t like to eat foods that contain Vitamin C, or perhaps you can’t afford to eat foods that contain Vitamin C, or perhaps you are working on a ship that does not provide a healthy diet, with respect to Vitamin C. Each of these is a case of an elemental illness, with a single chain of causes. The cure, is to ensure that you change your diet to eat sufficient foods containing Vitamin C.
It is always possible to build a chain of causes from any single cause. Therefore we must conclude that:
Every elemental illness has a single cause, or chain of causes.
Once we understand this simple statement, we can take the next step, to an illness with two causes. What is an illness with two causes?
A compound illness consists of two or more elemental illnesses. It is an illness with two or more causes, two or more causal chains.
For example, let’s look at scurvy again. Someone might have scurvy because they don’t consume sufficient Vitamin C. When we look for the chain of causes, we might find that they don’t like the taste of foods containing Vitamin C. We might also find that their meals are cooked by someone that does prepare or present foods containing Vitamin C, because they are poor. In this case, there are two independent chains of cause for scurvy. There are two independent elemental illnesses, both with the consequences, the symptoms of scurvy. If we want to cure the illness, we need TWO cures, one for each cause. It might be possible to create a single cure, that independently addresses both causes, but if we only change one of the causes – the illness will persist.
Therefore: a compound illness requires two cures, one for each cause.
There are two more types of illness we can construct from the basic principles of an elemental illness.
A chronic illness is an illness with a chronic cause. A chronic cause is one that persists over a long period of time. A chronic elemental illness is an elemental illness with a chronic cause. A chronic compound illness is a compound illness with a chronic cause.
For example, you might get an incidence of scurvy, by working on a ship, or in a camp, that does not provide healthy meals. When you leave the ship, or come back from the camp – you might eat a healthy diet and the scurvy will be cured.
However, if you don’t like foods that contain Vitamin C, and always avoid foods containing Vitamin C, the cause of your illness is chronic, it persists over time. In this case, the scurvy, is a chronic illness, because it will persist over time.
It is interesting to note that, although our current medical system is well aware of chronic illnesses, they often fail to properly address them. Some medical references even refer to chronic illnesses as ‘incurable’.
It is also interesting to notice that many medical reference texts like Lange’s Medical Diagnosis and Treatment, or Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, offer no cure for scurvy, and instead advise treating scurvy with Vitamin C supplements.
If the cause of the scurvy is not chronic, this treatment can be effective, and it can cure the illness, and the cause will go away. But if the cause of the scurvy is chronic, treatments with Vitamin C will not cure the scurvy, they will simply maintain the chronic illness, by providing a chronic medicine.
Scurvy, irregardless of the causal chain, irregardless of whether it is chronic or not, cannot be cured by a medicine. There are actually very few illnesses that can be cured with a medicine, and most medicines, like Vitamin C tablets for scurvy – make no attempt to cure, because they avoid the fundamental principle of illness:
Every illness is caused by ….
And the consequences of that fundamental principle:
Illness can only be cured when the cause is addressed.
To your health, tracy
ps. What about a ‘complex illness’? Do complex illnesses exist? We might think of a complex illness as having multiple unrelated causes – but this is not a complex illness, it is an illness complex – a complex situation consisting of multiple illnesses, each with individual causes.