How America’s Healing Paradigm Is Destined to Change

Detail from The Extraction of the Stone of Madness, a painting by Hieronymus Bosch depicting trepanation (c.1488–1516).

Marcel Hernandez, ND

As naturopathic doctors, we’re well aware of the skepticism with which the conventional medical establishment views us.

To say that many of the therapeutic procedures we endorse are looked upon with disbelief and alarm is a tremendous understatement.

Among the naturopathic therapies that are guaranteed to evoke upraised eyebrows and disapproving frowns among mainline medical docs: clinical nutrition, intravenous nutrient therapy, herbal medicine, supplements, holistic care of chronic illness – and, oh, that great big black box of woo-woo mystery: energetic medicine.

Marcel Hernandez, ND
Marcel Hernandez, ND

(Never mind that the enlightened sage, Paramhansa Yogananda, prophesied that the healing methods of the future would be based on a wise understanding and application of energy.)

In the medical world, if an approach hasn’t been verified multiple times in double-blind, placebo-controlled studies and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, it will most likely be relegated to the dustbin as quackery

Full disclosure: Dr. Connie and I have met many excellent, open-minded, transcendently brilliant conventional physicians. Not surprisingly, these docs are loved by their patients and have thriving, successful, satisfying practices. But, of course, they’re currently just part of a tiny minority and in no way represent the medical mainstream.

The primary therapies taught in American medical schools today fall into three basic categories: prescribing pharmaceutical drugs, performing surgery, and administering radiation.

Anything that deviates from this august triumvirate is considered second-level, second-rate, or harmful fringe medicine. Nutrition and counseling are all but ignored. Energy medicine is anathema.

Many of our readers have likely witnessed the supercilious smiles on the faces of doctors to whom they’ve unwisely confided how they’ve been helped by these and other “questionable” therapies.

This is the face of medical dogmatism – the willingness to ignore successful treatments, in their blind devotion to the accepted liturgy of standard rites and rituals.

In fairness, conventional medical schools do offer excellent scientific and diagnostic training. Today’s heroic medicine (life-saving emergency medicine) is almost miraculous in its successes. And the understanding that modern medical research has given us about how the human organism functions and responds to its challenges is nothing less than astonishing.

If we have any argument with this information, it’s not with whether it’s true, but with how it’s applied.

Some years ago, while I was a medical director at an insurance company, I very quickly discovered that the entire American health care system is driven by financial considerations.

The positive side of this picture is that competition for dollars drives research. But the unfortunate side is that mainstream medicine is painfully slow to adapt to new findings – not because the findings are false, but because change costs money.

The immense bulk and systemic dominance of the health care establishment brings tremendous weight to bear on its adherents to support it unquestioningly, and to suppress any and all doubts about its practices, to the point of considering them blasphemy.

This is the way of big systems. It would take tremendous time and energy to turn the enormous, hulking battleship of traditional medicine around.

Thank God, change is consumer-driven. In the last fifty years, we’ve witnessed tremendous changes that started at the grassroots and ended up radically altering the course of the mainstream.

Consider the organic food movement, which started when a handful of people began questioning whether big, beautiful but nutritionally deprived and tasteless tomatoes were a good thing.

In the long run, changes that start when people begin making their own wise choices are destined to grow inevitably and irresistibly.

Just for fun, let’s look at some medical practices that were accepted as the gold standard not so long ago, some of which are still being practiced today:

  • Unsterile procedure. In the 19th century, the dominant medical paradigm held that sterile practices in the operating room were of dubious value, and were, in fact, radical.
  • This enlightened practice, (mostly) long since abandoned, involved drilling a hole in the skull to release demons. Cave paintings indicate that people believed the practice would cure epileptic seizures, migraines, and mental disorders. Prehistoric people kept the bone that was trepanned and may have worn it as a charm to keep evil spirits away. Amazingly, some fringe groups still advocate trepanation for various purposes today.
  • Prefrontal lobotomy. Beginning in the late 1930s, it was thought that cutting the connections to the brain’s prefrontal lobe with an implement that resembled an ice pick would relieve otherwise intractable symptoms of mental illness. Tragically, the practice deprived its victims of many of the higher qualities of consciousness that are localized in the prefrontal lobes, including initiative, the ability to make and achieve long-range plans, and upbeat, positive attitudes.
  • Lithotomy. This method for removing bladder stones was truly strange. A blade was passed into the patient’s bladder through the soft bit of flesh between the sex organs and anus. The surgeon then inserted his (ungloved) fingers or a surgical instrument into the rectum or urethra to remove the stone. This extremely painful medical procedure had a fifty-percent mortality rate!
  • Bloodletting was based on a strange theory that the body had four “humours”– blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile. An imbalance of these humours was thought to result in disease. Lancets and blades were used to open superficial veins, and in some cases arteries, to release blood in an attempt to restore balance to these vital fluids. The “treatment” was continued daily for extended periods.
  • Bariatric surgery. Performed well into the late 21st century, the concept behind this procedure is that weight loss can be achieved by implanting a medical device, for example a gastric band, or more shockingly, by removing part of the stomach itself.
  • Mercury treatment. Today, mercury is known to be a poisonous metal that causes extremely harmful neurological damage with prolonged exposure. Yet mainline medicine historically used mercury to treat numerous conditions, including syphilis. Mercury is still used in some vaccine formulas, and in dental amalgams.

Here are a few of the current medical practices that I believe will be considered barbaric by future generations of healers: mass vaccination, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, mammograms, colonoscopies, and many types of surgery.

Even now, it’s starting to look like it won’t be long before modern naturopathic doctors will be afforded the same respect as the traditional family physician.

I believe it’s inevitable that conventional MDs will one day work hand in hand with naturopathic physicians to achieve the best results for their patients.

Remember how a bare handful of enlightened people began opting for great-tasting, organically raised, pesticide-free tomatoes? And how their numbers rapidly swelled to millions in just a few short decades?

People aren’t stupid – when it comes to healing their bodies and minds, they will make their own, independent decisions, choosing those therapies that have achieved a proven record of success.

For more on Dr. Marcel’s work click HERE.