Bombay Hospital Journal Issue SpecialContentsHomeArchiveSearchBooksFeedback

MODERN MEDICINE ó MOST HOLISTIC OF ALL!

CH Asrani

Family Physician, Vidyanagari, Mumbai 400 098.

I am Modern Medicine, also known as Allopathy, Western Medicine, Orthodox Medicine or Preliminary Medicine. I am constantly on the alert for newer diseases and always busy digging up newer ways to combat this ever increasing menace of diseases and disabilities, thatís why no contact with you all, my end users. But I know even if I do not contact you, you are not likely to forget me. Why, then, this decision to address you up front, face to face?

You see, for last decade or so I have been hearing mutterings "We are Holistic, We treat whole person, whereas Allopathy only treats symptoms." This disturbing proclamation was emanating from the group that finds shelter under the common umbrella of Alternative Medicine. Initially I did not pay much attention as I had much more important work on hand. You all know Medical research is solely my responsibility. When the murmuring reached gigantic proportions and became a cacophony. I thought "an oft repeated lie may sound like truth". I must therefore say my piece, hence this break in silence, to put the true picture in front of you the Health Conscious Citizens of India and let you decide.

Meticulous that I am, let me begin at the beginning. I am a one-parent child. Hippocrates was my father. I was born roughly 400 years Before Christ. My principles were laid down as early as that, I then went into hibernation to surface again in 1800 when I formed the basis of modern medical theory. My father showed that disease came about due to natural causes, and not due to evil spirits etc. He thus took treatment out of the hands of religion. He said "our natures are the physicians of our diseases." He treated his patients with proper diet, fresh air, changes in climate and attention to habits and living conditions. (Hippocrates did this hundred of years ago. Yet today you hear all these from others with claims of originality!). He objected to the use of strong drugs without careful tests of their curative values. (My God! Just note the words). His favourite medicine was Honey. Vinegar and Honey for Pain. Water and Honey for great thirst. To him the goal was "care and cure of the patient".

So letís come to the definition. What does the term Holistic denote? You know I am very specific in whatever I say or do. Nothing vague or Ďmay beí will do with me. Websterís dictionary says Holistic as in Medicine attempts to treat, body and the mind. Holistic as in Ecology treats human being and environment as a single system and Holistic the word per say relates to whole rather than parts.

The only meaning my alternate cousins take of Holistic is realizing that mind and body is inseparable and that the treatment must affect the whole body and not the parts. Well, I will prove it to you today that I am Holistic in many more ways. (after all proving theory is my forte).

The 1st allegation that I only treat symptoms. Let us first understand what symptoms are. Symptoms of a patient are important clues for us to diagnose not only the disease, but also the patient. You may ask "What do we mean by diagnose the patient?" It is to understand the patient. Only by close and detailed questioning one can find out what has gone wrong with the patient. To treat the Psyche, we need to diagnose the patient too. Does this not confirm with the holistic approach. They treat whole patients. I diagnose them too. Symptoms guide us to the diagnosis, the treatment and most important they are our parameters to confirm ongoing relief and ultimately cure. After all we are physicians and do not possess occult powers to treat a patient without asking symptoms or treat just with a photograph. I would like to ask my alternate colleagues, as to how they can treat without symptoms and how do they decide that their patient is better. I am sure this will stump them for an answer.

Allegation 2 My approach is only to the organ affected. Nothing can be more absurd. When I use an antibiotic to control Tonsillitis. I am giving it not only to relieve pain and fever, but also to prevent its spread to the ear and thus produce Ear Infection that is more difficult to treat. Also when I treat ear infection, my main concern is to prevent Meningitis.

When I treat Hypertension, my concern is not only to control BP, because no one dies of high BP, it is the deleterious effect of hypertension on the target organs that kills. Uncontrolled HT leads to strokes, sudden blindness, heart attacks and kidney failure. I am much more concerned about target organ protection. Brain, heart, eyes, kidneys. I explain to my patients, why he has to take medicine for life and I can convince him too. With my one tablet a day I am protecting his brain, eyes, heart and kidney. If you donít think this is holistic? tell me what is. Just because I can tell my patient specifically that the aspirin I give is to prevent clotting, they say I donít treat the body. I am sure none of them can give this kind of specific information about the disease, the diet and steps required to contain it. It is easy to say my medicine affects the whole body. Well, then prove it. We want documentary proofs, enough of claims based on feelings or words. These are subjective.

Going the other way, when I feel a particular drug is having unwanted effects on a certain organ, I have the expertise to stop that particular unwanted effect and continue the beneficial effect. So, am I not taking care of the whole?

You want more proof about how Holistic I am?

I promised, I will prove to you, I am holistic in many more ways. Let us take them one by one.

Point 3 - I am holistic in my approach to disease. I identify psyche as the most powerful of all. I have no hesitation in accepting psyche as numero uno, the Don of the disease causing agents. One of my uncles Adolph Meyer tirelessly promoted the holistic point of view in disease causation. He emphasized that the study of the total personality of the patient is the only basis for an understanding of his behaviour in health and in disease. Way back in 1882, he studied the effect of mind over body and gave the concept of Psychosomatic diseases. Where were my colleagues when my field workers established the psychological aspect of disease causation during World war 1 and the entity of Psychosomatic diseases in World War 2. In the words of Adolph Meyer - an Individual as a psychobiological organism, inextricably immersed in a physical and socio cultural environment.

Now that I have broken my silence, let me tell you all that I have done, even if it means boasting a little. So far I always left trumpeting and boasting to "Alternates".

* We have largest work done on psyche.

* We have identified and proved the effect of psyche on body, stomach ulcers, hypertension, heart disease.

* We have identified cause of executive hyperacidity.

* We have proved that single most important risk factor for heart disease is stress.

* We have given details of how stress plays such havoc.

* We have studied effect of meditation on mild and moderate hypertension.

* We have stress management programmes. We are so holistic in our approach that we donít mind using yoga and meditation for their beneficial effects. After all my father taught us "Care and Cure of patient" is the only goal. Any assistance you may take will not demean you. Whereas they take help all along and not even acknowledge.

* We have the largest classification of psychological disorders. If I classify separately, I must also treat them accordingly.

After all this to say I am not holistic. Ha!

Point 4 - I am holistic in healthcare delivery. I am proud to say that I offer the entire spectrum of prevention of disease, promotion of health, detection and cofirmation of disease, detection of emergencies, deploying special methods during a medical emergency to save life or reduce disability, palliation of the symptoms, cure of the patient where cure is possible. An answer as to why is cure not possible, if it is not. Early detection of complications and treatment thereof. I donít take credit for remissions, I prepare the body for a relapse, for I know that in a given disease relapse is inevitable. When I talk of prevention, I give specific prevention. I do not say keep coming to me, continue my medicines and I shall prevent everything. I also tell you how long my prevention will last. I just donít talk of boosting Immunity.

Point 5 - Talk of immunity. Again you will see I am in control. I brought out immunity from the closet of vital force. We not only have given the full concept of types of immunity, we measure and enhance immunity. We know the causes of Immune deficiency. We have a list of medicines not to be given to immuno compromised (patients with low immunity). Even in our approach to immunity we are Holistic.

Point 6 - I am not only holistic in treatment. I am holistic even in my knowledge of the disease. I know and that is why I can predict and diagnose the effect of a tooth infection on the eye, lymph node and the trigeminal nerve.

Point 7 - Even in knowing our limitations I am unique. I know, the human body is so complex, it is not the job of one individual and that is why I have specialties and super specialties. We also need experts and super experts to discover and innovate. For others they have no such thing. The only claim to specialty they have is "chronic diseases".

Point 8 - They say modesty is a virtue. I know I am the best of all. Still I keep cautioning my practitioners of the side effects they may encounter. The chances may be 1 in 100,000. Forewarned is the best thing short of experiencing. I do not cover up my side effects under synonyms like "Heat coming out." I keep working to better my medicines. Even Newtonís law of physics says "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." If their remedies (again playing cautious and not calling them drugs) are so strong so as to alter the vital force, it must have unwanted effects too, particularly with injudicious use. The way alternative prescriptions are being given in the newspapers, how can one have control over judicious use?

Evolution is the basis of life. Tell me which other science has evolved like I have. To tell you the truth even they know and accept that I am the most holistic of all. They are so proud of being referred to as alternative sciences.

Point 9 - Ask the most ardent practitioner of alternative medicine, whether he keeps a Death Certificate book in his clinic. 99% answer will be no. Not that their patients donít die. They are sure when the patient is critical or fighting for life they can count on me to look after the patient. In most cases I land up washing their dirty linen.

Why donít they accept my fatherís motto of Care and Cure of the patient, irrespective of the means? Instead of accepting me as the big brother who gives them the security that their patient will get all care, when need arises, why deride me by saying I am not holistic. But for me, today these therapies would collapse. I am the foundation on which they stand. Only truth of what all they say. You see my ethics, unlike theirs, do not let me scream on top of my voice or advertise in lay press that I am the Best, come to me. Why donít you make them understand? Why canít they join hands with me to give the best in Healthcare?

Good Bye friends, I take your leave, till they goad me to defend myself, again.

I sincerely remain,

Holistically yours

The Modern Medicine.



    To Section TOC
    Sponsor-Dr.Reddy's Lab