Guest Writer for Wake Up World
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 treatments healthicines or medicines?
Let’s begin with some simple examples, where the lines are very clear….
An apple a day
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. It can be difficult to tell if something is a healthicine or a medicine. And the medical establishment doesn’t help us out here.
Is a vitamin a healthicine or a medicine? If you don’t eat apples, you might still be healthy. But if you don’t get our vitamins, you will get sick.
If you are sick from not eating your vitamins, can a medicine help you? Nope. You need to eat your vitamins. When you start eating your vitamins, again do you recover quickly? No. Vitamins don’t ‘fight the illness’, they improve your healthiness. Health is slow. Vitamins work slowly. Vitamins don’t require a prescription – you can buy them as tablets, or as apples and oranges. Are vitamins dangerous? No. Are vitamins specific to each illness? Yes. Or perhaps we should say that the illness is specific to the vitamin? If you don’t eat enough of a specific vitamin, you will get the ‘illness’ named for the deficiency of that vitamin.
Vitamins are healthicines, not medicines. You can have an illness that is caused by a lack of healthicines, and can only be cured by healthicines. If you are sick from an infection, you might need a medicine. But if you are sick from a vitamin deficiency, you need a healthicine. Some illnesses are best healthed with a healthicine, some are best treated with a medicine.
The new language of health
Unfortunately ”healthicines” are not in your dictionary – I’m trying to change that. They’re not in the medical textbooks. I have been a supporter of GreenMedInfo.com (founded by WuW contributing writer Sayer Ji) for more than 2 years now, and I believe many of the treatments they study are ‘healthicines’. Greenmedinfo provides published research about alternative medicines – as a counter to many sites claiming there is not research. But there is no word ‘healthicine’ in today’s medical system – so there is no research on ‘healthicines’ as opposed to medicines. Pity.
Your doctor hasn’t heard of ‘healthicines’. He cannot prescribe a healthicine, only a medicine. Even if you consult an ‘alternative’ medical professional who has a concept of healthicines, they have no word for healthicines. If your doctor diagnoses a ‘nutritional deficiency’, the nutrient he prescribes is suddenly re-classified as a ‘medicine’.
What if you are sick with a headache? Do you need a medicine or a healthicine? A headache is a symptom, sometimes given the name of an illness. However, having a headache does not define the ’cause’. Unless we know the cause, we can’t tell if your best option is a healthicine, or a medicine.
If your headache is caused by dehydration, you need are suffering from a deficiency of water. Taking a medicine will not help. You need to drink water. Water is a healthicine. You might also have a headache due to a deficiency of other nutrients. You might have a headache because you’ve been awake too long, and the required healthicine is sleep. Or, you headache might be caused by a bacterial infection. You might have a cold. Or an infection. Or a brain tumor. Or maybe you fell down the stairs and bumped your head. You might need medicine, or medical treatment.
There are two important things to understand:
1. An illness, or a symptom, might be caused by an external factor, our of your control: bacteria, a tumor, a whack on the side of the head. Or it might be the result of an unhealthiness: not eating healthy food, not drinking enough water, or not getting enough sleep. Illnesses that are a result of unhealthiness are normally best treated with healthicines.
2. Some illnesses progress rapidly and are dangerous. Any illness that requires rapid treatment is usually best treated with a medicine.
So, what happens when you go to a doctor with an illness that is best treated with a healthicine? Doctors can’t prescribe healthicines, they’re not sold by prescription. So what can the doctor do?
There are several common alternatives:
1. In some cases, the doctor can identify the cause and tell you “You have a headache because you are dehydrated, you need to drink more water” or “You have a headache because you need to go to bed earlier, turn off the TV and the internet”. But how often does that happen? How would you feel if you went to a doctor with a headache and your doctor told you to shut off the TV and go to bed earlier – even if he was right?
2. The doctor can prescribe something for the symptoms. This is very common. Even if it is not the best solution – you feel like your doctor has done something for you. If you go the the doctor with a headache, you get a prescription for a painkiller. In some cases, the doctor can quickly figure out the cause of your headache, and find the best treatment. But in many cases, it can be a lot of work to figure out the cause of a headache. It’s easier to treat the symptoms, and let your body, and your natural state of health, do the rest. This can be a very effective treatment in many cases. However, if the cause is not identified, and the cause is ongoing, the illness might continue to get worse.
3. The doctor can make a guess. This is also very common and results in a common medical phrase, although I don’t know if it’s in the textbooks: “Here’s a prescription for X, take this and see how it goes.” A guess has three things going for it. First: It might be right, in which case the doctor made the right decision. Second: It lets time pass. Our bodies are very good at healing and maybe time alone solve the problem. As long as the prescription did no harm, the doctor made a good decision. Third: Placebo Effect. All medical prescriptions come with a large dose of placebo effect, which can lift your spirits and help you get better. It’s a win, win, win – even if it’s the wrong prescription, it’s still a win, win. And finally, if it doesn’t help, you can go back to the doctor – and the doctor has more information “X didn’t work”, to try and make a better decision.
The role of the regulator
Both vitamins and antibiotics are sold as medicines. They are packaged as medicines, marketed as medicines and regulated as medicines – except that you don’t need a prescription for a bottle of vitamins. Our medical systems do not distinguish between healthicines and medicines, because there is no name for healthcines.
The United States Food and Drug Administration, for example, requires all ‘health claims’ to reference ‘illness’. “Health claims describe a relationship between a food, food component, or dietary supplement ingredient, and reducing risk of a disease or health-related condition. ” – a quote from the FDA site on health claims.
Does drinking sufficient ‘water’ prevent headaches? You could argue that, if you want to make a claim that ‘water is healthy’. But frankly, it’s nonsense. We don’t need to reference ‘headaches’ to claim that water is healthy. Health is larger than illness. Something can be healthy without reference to illness – unless you work for the FDA!
The FDA and ‘health’ industry regulators in other western countries do not recognize ‘healthicines’, only ‘health claims’. All health claims must reference an illness. Thus, anything that has a ‘health claim’ is a medicine. A medicine is not defined by its intrinsic properties, it is defined by the claim, or the intent. If you intend to sell it for an illness, it needs a ‘health claim’. If you intend to make an approved ‘health claim’, the claim must reference an illness. Therefore, any product that makes a health claim is a medicine.
You can sell almonds, for example as a food. But if you want to claim that they are healthy, you need to make a health claim, which must be approved by the FDA. If you try to sell walnuts, and claim they are healthy, without FDA approval, you will be notified – and if necessary, penalized by the FDA. I use walnuts as an example, because the FDA has a letter on file shutting down the sale of walnuts, because the vendor made an unapproved ‘health claim’. Walnuts are a food. Unless you make a ‘health claim’, then they transform into medicines – and the FDA can stop you from selling them.
The FDA has ‘healthicine blindness’. It has no way to recognize healthicines, and can only classify health products as medicines or not medicines. Further more, the FDA has no way to measure the true medical or health effects of a healthicine – like walnuts. If anyone claims that their walnuts are good for your health, the FDA wants proof that they are good for your ‘illness’. Healthicine blindness.
What about green tea? Is green tea a healthicine, or a medicine? According to the FDA, green tea is in the same class as walnuts. If the seller claims to help you with illness, it’s a medicine. Otherwise it’s a food. This applies to all non-approved medicines. And by default, all medicines cannot be sold until they are approved.
But wait a minute, says the skeptic. Isn’t every medicine a healthicine too? Medicines fight my illness, and I get healthier – so medicines are healthicines too. Right?
Right. And wrong. All medicines can be healthicines. But medicines can also damage your health by upsetting the natural balance of your body’s systems. And if you take the wrong medicine for your illness, it can damage your health and doesn’t make you healthier. In that case, the medicine is just a toxin. But a true healthicine only causes illness if consumed in large amounts. Healthicines are part of our normal diet and when consumed at levels in a healthy diet – they do not cause illness.
Medicines are not part of our normal diet and when consumed by healthy people, they cause illness. If you get the wrong diagnosis, you get the wrong medicine – and it becomes a toxin, not a healthicine. If your pharmacist makes a mistake, you get the wrong medicine, a toxin, not a healthicine. If you don’t follow the instructions correctly, you can turn a medicine into a toxin. Medicines are only healthicines when you get the right diagnosis, and the right medicine for your diagnosis, and you take the medicine correctly. Doctors, pharmacists, nurses, caregivers, and patients can make mistakes. In fact according to Journal of Patient Safety September 2013 hospital errors alone have been estimated to be third highest cause of death in the USA, responsible for 210,000 preventable deaths each year. As far as I know, no one has attempted to measure how many illnesses are made worse by medicine.
Your doctor usually can’t help you with a healthicine. The FDA can’t help you find a healthicine. Your illness is up to them.
Your healthiness is up to you.
The final word
Should you prefer a medicine, or a healthicine? If you are not sick, a healthicine can make you healthier. If you are not sick, a medicine is no use and most are toxic. If you are sick, a healthicine can make you healthier. If you are sick, a medicine can help you with your sickness.
Healthicines are generally healthy, and medicines – sometimes. Of course that’s not a perfect picture. Even healthicines can be consumed in excess. If you don’t drink enough water, you can get a headache from dehydration. If you drink too much water, you can get headaches from hyponatremia – and if you drink a lot more, you can die from it. So do we need labels on bottled water warning us to not drink too much? I don’t think so.
An apple day keeps the doctor away…. Walnuts are good for a healthy circulatory system, a healthy brain and healthy cholesterol (your brain is made from healthy cholesterol). These are ‘healthicine claims’, not illness claims.
To your health, Tracy
Updated September 2014
Previous articles by Tracy Kolenchuk:
- Community Healthiness: Love and Virtue Strengthen Our Communities
- Body, Mind & Spirit: Understanding the Links Between Health & Consciousness
- Curing Cancer Requires a New Kind of Thinking
- 10 Common Nutrition Myths and Misconceptions
- The Medicines Myth
- The Alternative Medicines Myth
- Fatergy Drinks: The “Energy Drink” Myth De-Bunked
- Are You Getting Enough Vitamin M?
- Generic Cancer (Part 4): The End of The War on Cancer
About the Author:
Tracy Kolenchuk, author of Healthicine: The Arts and Sciences of Health and Healthiness is a retired Canadian computer geek, health nut, arts photographer, cyclist, swimmer, world traveler, dog and horse lover, chess-player and tai chi practitioner who is passionate about everything he does.
Tracy is not a doctor. He is the founder of Healthicine.org and PersonalHealthFreedom.blogspot.com. Through his work, he hopes to change the way the world defines and looks at health, healthiness and ‘healthicine’. Tracy has written posts for GreenMedInfo.com and is a regular contributor to WakeUp-World.com.