What is a disease? What is a medicine? Are medicines defined by the diseases they treat? There are many definitions of disease – and many definitions of medicine. For this post, I will use a very simple definition of disease, and a very simple definition of medicine.
Disease: a medical condition diagnosed by a doctor. Bacterial infection, cancer, arthritis, Parkinson’s, hypertension, depression, the common cold. Medicine: a substance marketed to treat a disease, recognized as a drug by the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration). These definitions are deliberately simple and clear to illuminate simplest aspects of the issue at hand.
Cancer, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, hypertension, depression, the common cold, and many other diseases have symptoms that can be ‘treated’ with medicines. But they cannot be ‘cured’ according to current medical textbooks.
Can you name a common disease that CAN be cured by medicines? Many bacterial infection, viral infections, fungal infections and parasitic infections can be cured by medicines that kill the infecting agent. Are there any other types of diseases that are cured by medicines?
Some claim that multivitamins and supplements are ‘no better than a placebo’. Can multivitamins and supplements actually cure any diseases? How many diseases can you list that can be cured by vitamins or supplements?
Scurvy is deficiency of Vitamin C. The only cure for scurvy is Vitamin C. You can cure scurvy with oranges, lemons, limes – and many other foods containing Vitamin C. You can cure scurvy, we according to medical science with Vitamin C, ascorbic acid supplements. But you can’t cure scurvy with medicines.
Scurvy can only be cured by healthicines, not by medicines. Vitamin C is a healthicine. It comes from nature in many foods. It is not a medicine that fights your disease – it is a healthicine, creating and improving healthiness. When Vitamin C is deficient, your health drops steadily to the point where you can be diagnosed with a disease, scurvy. In some cases, if your Vitamin C deficiency is extreme and over long periods, damage to bones and teeth can be so severe that they cannot be healed – even with the best healthicines and medicines.
Vitamin C is also the only preventative for scurvy. Scurvy is caused by a deficiency of Vitamin C, you cannot prevent it be taking medicines, nor by taking multivitamins that do not contain Vitamin C. Health is the best preventative.
Is Vitamin C a nutrient – when you get enough, and a medicine when you are deficient? If you have scurvy, or other symptoms of Vitamin C deficiency – do oranges and lemons, spinach, broccoli and tomatoes suddenly become a medicine? No, they are healing foods: healthicines.
Using this model, there are many other diseases that cannot be cured by medicines, can only be cured by healthicines.
Vitamin A deficiency can lead to blindness so severe that it cannot be cured. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to many other health issues, symptoms, and diseases. However, it you catch it early, if you develop night blindness due to a Vitamin A deficiency – it can often be cured with Vitamin A. You can’t cure it with a medicine. You can only cure it with a Vitamin A supplement, or foods that contain Vitamin A.
But it’s not that simple. There are different types of ‘night blindness’. Night blindness can have many different causes, from genetics, to toxins (including medicines), to Vitamin A deficiency. Night blindness can only be cured by Vitamin A – if it was caused by a Vitamin A deficiency.
Vitamin A also provides a key to another class of diseases that cannot be cured with medicines. Vitamin A is toxic. If you consume too much Vitamin A, you will develop many symptoms of Vitamin A toxicity, which can result in headaches, drowsiness, irritability, vomiting, abdominal pain, nausea, peeling skin – and even death.
The solution to Vitamin A toxicity? Stop consuming so much Vitamin A. Medicines can’t help – only healthy actions.
Now we can see that there are hundreds, possibly even thousands of diseases that cannot be cured by ‘patent medicines’, but can only be cured by healthicines, or by healthy actions.
Each of the vitamins has one or more corresponding diseases that result when they are deficient, and many have other diseases that result when excessive amounts are consumed. There are 13 clearly recognized vitamins. Each of the diseases caused by deficiency, or by excesses of vitamin consumption, cannot be cured by medicines – they can only be cured by more, or less of the foods containing the vitamins – by healthy actions.
Vitamins are essential nutrients. There are many other nutrients essential to the health of humans.
There are two essential fatty acids, and a few more that are ‘conditionally essential’. If you are deficient, you will develop symptoms and diseases of fatty acid deficiency. These symptoms and diseases can only be treated with foods containing the fatty acids – medicines cannot cure. There are also diseases of fatty acid excess or imbalance.
There are nine essential amino acids, or proteins, and six more that are conditionally essential to health and freedom from disease. Symptoms and diseases resulting from protein deficiencies cannot be treated by medicines, only by foods. Excess protein consumption has been linked to kidney disease, cancers, and osteoporosis.
There are fifteen dietary minerals essential to health. A deficiency of any of these minerals will gradually result in symptoms followed by diseases that cannot be cured by medicines. Only foods, or supplements containing these minerals – can cure these illnesses.
How many other foods are essential to health? We’re not sure. We need water, which does not fit into any of the above categories. A deficiency of water leads to the disease of dehydration, which can only be cured by consuming water. An excess of water can lead to water toxicity – which can lead to death if severe.
There is uncertainty about the total number of essential nutrients – and there is also little science about how our needs for different essential nutrients might change as we grow from a baby to an octogenarian.
In summary, there are at least 40 essential nutrients. Some estimates range to over 100 nutrients essential to health. Deficiencies in any of these nutrients leads to diseases that can be cured – but not by medicines.
There is another complete class of diseases that cannot be cured by medicines. We can go back to Vitamin A. An excess of Vitamin A is toxic. It can cause severe symptoms, disease – even death. An excess of many of the essential nutrients can result in symptoms, diseases and death. Even water can cause disease and death in excess.
Diseases caused by excess – even those caused by excesses of essential nutrients – cannot be cured by medicines. There are also hundreds – thousands of toxic chemicals in our foods and our environment. In many cases, these chemicals cause diseases with a name, that can be diagnosed – lead poisoning, mercury poisoning, chlorine poisoning – and many more. There are many toxic chemicals that cause minor, or even severe symptoms – without the severity of a ‘diseases’. Most medicines are toxic. Most medicines have ‘side effects’, many of which are symptoms of toxicity – that can lead to disease or death. The symptoms of these diseases can be ‘treated’ by more medicines – and often are. But the diseases and symptoms can only be cured by removing the toxic chemicals from our food and from our bodies.
When a toxic chemical is consumed or encountered on an ongoing basis, even in low amounts, the result can be a chronic disease. This chronic disease cannot be cured by medicine – it can only be cured, if it can be cured, by removing the contact with the toxic chemical. In some cases, where the toxic chemical has built up in our bodies – it may be necessary to consume a food, or a medicine, that helps to remove the toxic chemical.
Our list of diseases that can be cured, but not by medicines, continues to grow. There are clearly hundreds, possibly thousands of diseases that can be cured – but not by medicines. Some are cured by healthicines, some are cured by healthy actions of restraint.
There are more, we don’t know how many more, diseases that can be cured by health, but not by medicines.
If you have a minor deficiency of a single nutrient, you might suffer from some symptoms, but not enough to be diagnosed with a disease. In these cases – as in deficiency diseases – there is no medicine that can ‘cure’ your symptoms. The only cure for your symptoms is to consume required nutrient.
What about diseases are caused by several minor nutrient deficiencies acting at once? Today’s nutritional science operates, for the most part, using a reductionist methodology, studying one nutrient or toxin at a time. But health is whole. Our bodies and our health are not reductionist – they are holistic. If you are missing, or have a minor deficiency in several essential nutrients – you might suffer symptoms that are hard to understand. You might be diagnosed with a disease where the causes are difficult, almost impossible, to identify.There are many diseases that are diagnosed without identification of the cause. It’s not hard to find many diseases where the cause cannot be identified. Cancers, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and many more are diseases without a known cause. It is a failure of medicine that medical textbooks, medical science, has not developed techniques to identify the causes in individual cases, to work towards actually curing the disease. Instead, medical textbooks often recommend treating the symptoms, because the causes are not understood.
What about mental, spirit, and community diseases, like depression? Depression can be caused by many things. It can be caused by nutrient deficiencies, caused by skipping meals and lots of sugary snacks – medicines can’t help. But healthy food can. Solitary confinement can cause and exacerbate depression – should we be surprised? If your depression is caused by social isolation, taking medicines can’t make it better. Giving hugs is probably more effective. You can get better results by going out to a blues bar, listening to someone else complain about their problems in song, and getting up to dance anyway.
Most of the diseases with unknown causes are chronic diseases. This fits perfectly with the types of disease that are caused by ongoing nutrient deficiencies or toxicities. Nutrient deficiencies and ongoing toxicities can be slight, with damage accumulating gradually, over long periods of time.
How many chronic diseases are caused by minor multiple nutrient deficiencies? We don’t know. How many chronic diseases are caused by long term, minor multiple toxic excesses? We don’t know that either. How many diseases are caused by combinations of minor multiple nutrient deficiencies and minor multiple toxic excesses? We have no idea.
Each of these diseases are caused by unhealthiness, and can only be cured by healthy actions, not by medicines. Each of these diseases can only be prevented by healthy actions, healthicines, but not by medicines. Medicines might prevent the symptoms, but cannot prevent the disease.
How many diseases can be cured, but not by medicines? We don’t know, but we can name hundreds, possibly thousands – and even more symptoms caused by nutrient deficiencies, and by nutrient and toxic excesses.
How many diseases are identified as incurable by medicine today? Thousands. How many might be cured with health? We don’t know. In many cases, we don’t know because we are busy searching for a ‘medicine’ to cure a disease that cannot be cured with a medicine.
A healthicine is something that increases your health. A medicine is something that fights your disease. Vitamin C, essential nutrients and water are healthicines. Antibiotics and painkillers are medicines. But what about green medicines, natural medicines? Natural medicines can be healthicines, or medicines, or sometimes both – because natural medicines are not simple.
Our medical sciences cannot distinguish between healthicines and medicines when they attempt to treat a disease without finding the cause. What happens if you attempt to treat a disease that can only be treated with health – with a medicine? It gets continues to grow. In some cases it gets worse, even while the patient ‘feels better’. The medicine can be a success, while the patient’s health continues to deteriorate.
We need to search for health, and for healthicines, more than we need to search for medicines.
to your health, tracy
Tracy is the author of two books about healthicine: