Modern society suffers from a disease burden that is caused by out of balance patients. Obesity causes patients to be out of balance and develop diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. Obesity also promotes cancer. Traditional medicine can help people learn how to live in balance. When a person is in balance, the body heals itself. This article teaches the advantages of traditional healing in the modern world.
Traditional medicine can teach patients to live in balance and let their bodies heal themselves. This is a basic principle of health that is under emphasized by modern medicine. As the world population becomes burdened with increasing numbers of patients with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and cancer, the world can benefit more from traditional medicine. This article addresses nine basic questions that can help healthcare professionals understand how American Indian traditional medicine can help modern medicine.
Love God. Everything we have comes from God, the air we breathe, the food we eat, the planet we live on, our bodies and more. He gives us each blessings and challenges to help us become better people.
Love your family. The family is the basis of health. We live to help our families survive and prosper. Our families care for us and can support our healthy lifestyles.
Respect all people. God loves us all equally. We should treat everyone with equal respect.
Work for your community. Do what you can to improve your community. You cannot survive without your community. You are a vital member of your community. Your community needs you.
Work for your environment. You need your environment. You are a caretaker for your environment. God gave this environment to you to use in balance.
Take only what you need. You need less than what you want. Leave something for the next person.
Keep yourself thin and strong. When you are thin and strong your body is in balance and can heal itself. There is considerable variation between people concerning how thin is thin enough the answer is simple. When blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar are normal, without the use of drugs, the body is in balance.
The above guidelines are the basis for living in balance as understood by American Indians. Traditional medicine teaches people to live in balance in order to be healthy. Living in balance prevents disease and can help the body heal itself.
Modern medicine relies too much on drugs to take care of problems for patients. Modern medicine has forgotten that drugs do not cure anything. The body heals itself. The body has much more powerful mechanisms to heal itself than can be provided by drugs. Even the most powerful antibiotics and anticancer drugs cannot help a patient who does not have an adequate immune system (Adams and Parker, 2011).
The incidences of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and cancer increase in the US every year, as can be seen on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website. This is a clear sign that modern medicine is failing the US population. The cost of medicine is now 18% of the US gross national economy. Can this disease burden and cost be sustained?
The reason that heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and cancer increase every year is because obesity increases every year, as can be seen at the Centers for Disease Control website. Obesity causes visceral fat accumulation. Visceral fat and the inflammatory cells in visceral fat secrete inflammatory proteins called inflammatory adipokines (Adams and Parker, 2011). Obesity also increases the production of toxic lipids such as ceramide and the endocannabinoids (Adams and Parker, 2011). The inflammatory adipokines and toxic lipids cause heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and promote cancer (Adams and Parker, 2011).
Modern medicine enables obesity by giving patients drugs to help with their problems, while not addressing obesity. These drugs do not cure heart disease, type 2 diabetes or arthritis. Drug treatment of cancer is improving. Modern medicine has many drugs that can help the body heal itself from cancer. Patients with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and arthritis must take drugs for the rest of their lives, contend with their diseases, and contend with the toxicities of the drugs they take. It is too easy for healthcare professionals to simply give a prescription drug to a patient. It is much more difficult to teach patients to change their lifestyles in order to treat disease. Drug toxicity and drug interactions are an increasing medical burden in the US. Currently, there are 14,000 people who die every year from prescription opioids (Adams and Parker, 2011). There are 100,000 people who get ulcers from nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) of which 10,000 people die every year (Adams and Parker, 2011).
Of course, modern medicine does not cause obesity. US society has made the decision, since the 1980s, that obesity is acceptable. This can be easily seen at the Centers for Disease Control website. The incidence of obesity and over-weight people has increased yearly in the US since the 1970s and is now stable at about 70% of the adult US population. Traditional medicine teaches that obesity puts the body out of balance and allows disease to occur. Modern medicine needs to learn this fact.
Traditional healing teaches each person to be responsible for their own health. Our families can help support our health and help us make the correct decisions about our health. Traditional medicine teaches patients to get themselves back into balance to cure themselves of disease and prevent further disease occurrence.
Modern medicine relies on the carpenter approach. If the hammer does not work, get a bigger hammer. The carpenter approach is frequently the wrong approach because the toxicity of the more powerful drug may be greater than the risk from the disease. For instance, methotrexate is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Many patients have died from methotrexate toxicity. Rheumatoid arthritis does not kill patients. Medical students are taught “first do no harm.” This is contrary to the carpenter approach where harm may be part of the treatment.
Modern medicine relies on randomized, placebo controlled, double blind clinical trials to prove the efficacy and safety of drugs (Adams, 2012a). Yet, many approved drugs are no better than placebos, especially some antidepressants (Adams, 2012a). Many approved drugs are removed from the market because of toxicity problems that become apparent after large scale marketing. The major flaw in these clinical trials is that the initial assumption is wrong. The initial assumption is that drugs heal the body. Drugs do not heal the body. The body heals itself. This is why placebos are frequently as good as drugs in clinical trials. Many clinical trials seek more powerful drugs to replace older, less potent drugs. Toxicities of these more potent drugs may become apparent only during mass marketing, after approval. This is why toxicity is such an issue when new drugs are released.
Traditional healing teaches people that balance heals the body. Balance means balancing times of rest with activity, balancing body fat with muscle, balancing the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems (Adams, 2013; Adams and Lien, 2013). A balanced diet includes fruit, vegetables and protein. Fat intake should be minimized in order to minimize the deposition of fat in the body, especially visceral fat. Daily exercise is important to maintain and strengthen muscles. Muscles are lost during dieting and aging. So daily exercise is important, to help keep the muscles that can be kept. Exercise also stimulates stem cell growth in the body (Adams and Parker, 2011). Stem cells help replenish the body. Most people have active sympathetic nervous systems due to stress experienced daily. They must balance the sympathetic nervous system with the parasympathetic nervous system. Stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system is best done by exercise. During endurance exercise the parasympathetic nervous system helps regulate heart rate and body temperature. Exercise balances the autonomic nervous system. Exercise must be used carefully. This involves using the proper exercise for each patient to balance the body. Not all types of exercise are useful for each patient.
People can learn that when the body is in balance, the body can heal itself. Our society has come to the conclusion that obesity is acceptable. This conclusion is wrong. Obesity is dangerous and causes heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and promotes cancer (Adams and Parker, 2011). It is better to view a thin, strong body as acceptable. A thin body is not burdened by visceral fat. This minimizes inflammatory adipokine and toxic lipid production in the body.
Preventive medicine must become the first medicine that all people experience in modern medicine and traditional medicine. The goal of preventive medicine is to keep people healthy and prevent diseases. Preventive medicine should teach people to live in balance and avoid toxic lifestyles. There are many toxic lifestyles such as lifestyles that lead to obesity, cigarette smoking, and excessive alcohol drinking (Adams and Parker, 2011). Cigarette smoking damages the lungs, arteries and heart. Cigarette smoking is a major cause of pulmonary disease, cancer, and heart disease. Alcohol is an obesogen that stimulates the production of visceral fat. Alcohol is a major cause of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and arthritis.
Current societal norms can to be changed from accepting obesity to encouraging balanced health. This involves encouraging people to stay thin and strong. Public information from magazines, the internet, television and other sources should help people learn how to live a balanced lifestyle and be healthy.
Most of us are born healthy and can stay healthy if we live in balance. When the body is in balance, blood glucose is normal, blood pressure is normal, blood cholesterol is normal and arthritis is minimal. Balance occurs when no drugs are needed to maintain the body. Even people who have heart disease can reverse their disease by getting rid of excess weight and exercising daily (Ornish, 1996). Even people with type 2 diabetes can reverse their disease by getting rid of excess weight and exercising daily, as can be seen at the American Diabetes Association website. Even people with arthritis can reverse their disease by getting rid of excess weight and exercising daily (Bruce et al., 2005). It is possible that staying thin and strong will help decrease the risk of developing cancer. It is clear that the incidence of cancer was much less prior to the 1970s, when people tended to be thin and strong, as can be seen at the CDC website.
Daily exercise should be normal for all people. This involves mild, endurance exercise to keep the heart strong and maintain muscles (Adams and Parker, 2011). Endurance exercise burns calories, burns fat and keeps the body strong. Exercise can be walking, swimming, running, bicycling and other possibilities. The duration of exercise should be about one hour and should increase to about two hours as people age. Duration should increase with aging to help maintain muscles and decrease visceral fat deposition. As people age muscles tend to be lost and visceral fat deposition tends to increase. Aging tends to cause a loss of lusitropy in the heart, the ability of the heart to relax. Mild endurance exercise helps maintain the heart.
Each person can make the decision to live a healthy lifestyle that puts the body in balance. This may involve prayer, interacting more productively with the family, working to improve the community, working to improve the environment, and staying thin and strong. Each person should learn that a thin and strong body is a healthy body.
Nutritional education should teach people to eat less fat, more fruit and vegetables. Many people in the US and Europe eat more meat than the body needs. They have been taught that meat is essential to provide the protein each person needs. They have not been taught that excessive protein intake damages the kidneys (Adams and Parker, 2011). Some meat, especially beef, is too high in fat. Fruit and vegetables provide phytonutrients that are essential for health and fiber that helps control blood glucose and cholesterol.
Fat addiction has become a major unrecognized problem in the US and Europe. Beef, hamburger, cheese, fast foods, some frozen foods, some processed foods and other foods are high in fat. Endorphins and enkephalins are released in the brain following consumption of a high fat meal (Chang et al., 2007; Matsumura et al., 2012). This makes high fat consumption addictive. In addition, high fat consumption results in endocannabinoid synthesis which stimulates appetite (Banni et al., 2010). Fat addiction is not recognized by modern medicine. Fat addiction is a major basis of obesity.
Each person needs to learn that diet has a major impact on health. A healthy diet is necessary for health. An unhealthy diet may lead to obesity and disease. Fat addiction should be treated as an addiction just like heroin, cocaine, alcohol or nicotine addiction.
Preventive medicine is the basis of traditional medicine. Traditional healers should be hired to teach healthcare students how to live in balance. Each healthcare professional should be given classes and continuing education in preventive medicine. Preventive medicine should have a major role in hospitals and healthcare schools. In addition, healthcare professionals, including traditional healers, should educate the general public about preventive medicine and how to live in balance.
When people live in balance, they may need medical help from time to time, such as from pain caused by falls and trauma. However, the medicine needed in a balanced patient may be milder than modern medicine typically uses. Milder medicines, such as plant derived medicines, do not overwhelm the body. These medicines push the body back into balance and health.
Living in balance should become the basis of medicine in general. People who live in balance are healthy. Preventing disease should be the foundation of all medicine.
Prayer is used in many forms from simple to white sage prayers. Simple prayers involve praying out load or silently, alone or with others. White sage prayers involve one leaf of
Heat is used to treat pain from over exertion and arthritis (Adams and Garcia, 2005). The sweat lodge is the usual source of heat. The lodge is heated with hot rocks or a fire. After the smoke clears, the patient enters the lodge and lies down on the ground. The air must be clear of carbon monoxide and other dangerous gasses. The temperature of the air and ground should be about 70℃. The patient is exposed to heat for no more than 15 min. Other heat treatments include lying in warm sand, putting the feet on warm rocks and sitting in a hot bath. A hot bath should be about 38℃ and should be used for no more than 15 min. After the heat therapy, the patient rehydrates by drinking water and rests. Heat therapy can be used twice daily.
Cold is used for pain from trauma, sprains, strains and similar acute pain (Adams and Garcia, 2005). Cold can be from ice or cold water. The painful area can be packed in ice or put into cold water. The treatment should last no more than 10 min. After cold therapy, the patient rests. Cold therapy can be used twice daily.
Rest involves lying down. The feet can be elevated a few centimeters in patients with leg pain. Rest is used for all kinds of pain. Rest must be balanced with times of careful stretching and careful exercise such as walking.
Massage is used in patients who suffer from over exertion pain, such as marathon runners or long distance canoe paddlers (Adams and Garcia, 2005). The massage should be done with enough pressure to increase the drainage of fluids from the legs, arms or other body areas. The legs or arms can be elevated a few centimeters as part of the massage. Massage oils can be applied to the skin to decrease friction during the massage. Essential oils should not be added to the massage oil, or added only in very small amounts, since essential oils can be toxic to the skin. The massage should last about 5 - 10 min and can be done twice daily. After the massage, the patient rests.