With the help of science, technology and the many good people who have dedicated themselves to improving our health and saving our lives, we have achieved many great things in the field of medicine. However, I believe that modern Western medicine has two major and fundamental flaws.

The first is that it is heavily influenced by the extremely powerful pharmaceutical industry. We all know that the logic of the market dictates that profit is of prime importance in any industry. The more illness that exists, the greater will be the profits of the pharmaceutical industry, at least whilst the dominant cultures prescribes laboratory manufactured drugs as the main “cures” or sources of relief from our illnesses. As a result we have reached an absurd situation in which a vastly disproportionate amount of time, energy and resources are expended on developing drugs to treat illnesses, when compared to the effort given to preventing those illnesses from occurring.

The second major flaw is that we have chosen to use powerful drugs on our bodies with only a very crude and partial understanding of how our bodies work. As the best doctors and scientists will testify, the human body is an infinitely complex organism which doesn’t lend itself readily to scientific research. For any scientific experiment to be valid beyond doubt it must take all the variables into account, but this is almost impossible with humans because the number of variables are so huge. How, for example, can we test for the long term effects of drugs without conducting experiments over a lifetime? How many cases have we had so far of drugs which were prescribed liberally, only to be banned years later when the harmful long term effects have become apparent?

Since science can’t hope to take all of the variables into account when dealing with our health, Western medicine has adopted the practice of identifying symptoms and attempting to eliminate them. One common practice is to prescribe drugs containing aggressive synthetic chemicals which are alien to our bodies and whose mission is to attack and kill those organisms which are causing our discomfort. This practice has at least two major drawbacks; firstly it doesn’t deal with the root causes of our illness, and secondly, it doesn’t take into account what long term side effect the drugs may have on the body.

In the case of antibiotics, for example, they may be successful in killing unwelcome bacteria that are making us sick, but this doesn’t deal with the issue of how those bacteria overcame our defences, and it also has the effect of killing many of the beneficial bacteria in our bodies as well. We now know that long term use of antibiotics causes all sorts of problems because it also kills the friendly bacteria responsible for our well being (see George Vithoulkas- A New Model for Health and Disease). Would it not be preferable to give our defences a major boost and help them to fight off the illness naturally? There is, perhaps, an argument for the use of chemical drugs such as antibiotics as a last resort when all else has failed and there is no alternative, but my argument is that they have become the standard option as a first resort.

Another common practice is to substitute synthetic chemicals for something that may be lacking in our bodies, as is the case with anti-depressants or thyroid pills, for example. Again, although this might bring rapid relief from our problems in the short term, in the long term it creates the effect of dependency or addiction to that drug as the body loses the capacity to produce the necessary chemical. It may also cause stress to other organs which are left with the job of attempting to assimilate or eliminate another alien substance.

In a way we only have ourselves to blame because we have come to expect “quick fix” solutions to all of our problems. Whenever we feel pain or discomfort we expect our doctors to give us something to get rid of it as soon as possible and to be able to return immediately to the habits and lifestyles which are causing those problems.

For all of the reasons I have outlined, as well as the increasingly overwhelming pressures on our health services, I believe it is imperative that we all become doctors and learn to look after ourselves properly. I was as guilty as anyone of neglecting my own health. It was only when I became seriously ill that I realised the importance of what I am saying now. Unfortunately, this is all too often the case. We could all save ourselves much suffering and hours spent in doctors surgeries and hospitals if we took the trouble to listen to and understand our bodies better and gave them the care and attention they deserve.

We tend to believe that, because average life expectancy levels have risen in recent decades, our lifestyles must be healthier than before. However, we must bear in mind that for most of our modern history a majority of the population have lived on the edge of starvation, many with poor sanitary conditions and greater physical dangers. It is only in the oil age that we have been able to enjoy food security for the majority in the Rich World. As our living conditions have improved, so have the number of degenerative diseases multiplied to the extent that, although most of us live longer, very few of us are able to enjoy our old age free from suffering. Furthermore, we know that there are cultures around the world such as The Hunzas in Pakistan and peoples of Chile, Azerbaijan and Bulgaria whose life expectancy rates are much higher than ours and where most of our degenerative diseases are unknown.

Fortunately there are a growing number of doctors and scientists who are recognising this, attempting to identify the root causes of our illnesses and develop guidelines to help us stay clear of them so that we may enjoy good health to a ripe old age. Many have been ostracised and ridiculed for daring to contradict medical orthodoxy as they pose a threat to several major industries which thrive on our drug dependent, over indulgent culture. However, the body of evidence has grown to the point when it can no longer be ignored by anyone who seeks the truth.

Our immune systems face a constant bombardment from toxins in our environment, food and water, highly stressful situations, drugs, cigarettes and alcohol, sedentary lifestyles and poor nutrition. While some efforts are made to encourage us to eat healthily and exercise regularly, these pale into insignificance when measured against the vast resources employed in persuading us to consume products which are damaging to our health.

Hopefully, by following the suggestions on this website you will avoid falling into this trap, but in the event that you do become ill I would recommend that, before or as well as going to your doctor, you take some time to try to get to the bottom of what is causing that illness. Only when we remove the causes of illness can we truly hope to cure it. Your doctor may well have the skill and technology available to give you some very useful pointers as to where your problems lie, but this doesn’t mean that you should accept the diagnosis and prescription without questioning it and first looking for a natural remedy.

I believe we have much to learn from the East in adopting an holistic approach to our health. Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine have been practiced with success for thousands of years and both stress the importance of viewing the whole organism, since all the parts of our bodies are interconnected and exert, often subtle, influences on each other. Both also point out that a healthy organism is a balanced one and that our illnesses are manifestations of imbalances in our body chemistry. They understand that it is far more sensible to try to gently restore the equilibrium to our bodies rather than aggressively atttacking the outward manifestations of imbalance.

The substantial growth in the number of holistic therapy practitioners in recent decades is testimony to the appeal of this approach. These therapies can be very useful in helping us on the road to recovery. My particular favourites are NaturopathyHerbalism, and Reflexology.

However, because they are excluded from state health provision, consulting an alternative practioner can be prohibitively expensive for many of us. Furthermore, although good holistic therapy practioners will attempt to form an idea of where our problems lie by observing a wide range of indicators such as our symptoms, the condition of indicative parts of our body such as the eyes, the tongue and the skin, our medical history and diets, they may not be able to understand the whole picture and certainly won’t be able to control the way in which we react to their diagnosis and attempt to heal ourselves.

This is why I maintain that the best doctor we can find is ourself. Only we know how we feel inside, what is our state of mental health and what stresses we place on our bodies on a daily basis. The best approach we can take is to observe ourselves very closely, take into account all of our symptoms, try to detect what imbalances may be causing those symptoms and take measures to redress those imbalances and restore equilibrium.

In my own case, for example, after having been treated with chemotherapy for leukemia, and searching around for clues as to why it had happened, I realised that all of my symptoms pointed to a problem with Candida. Candida albicans is a yeast which helps to digest sugars in our digestive tracts. A diet high in refined sugars and starches over a long period of time can cause candida to multiply and result in a wide range of problems for the whole body. One of those problems may be leaky gut syndrome, when undigested foodstuffs can enter into the bloodstream. I realised that I had carried a candida  imbalance for many years and that this may well have been a major contributory factor in my leukemia. After a few simple changes to my diet most of my long term symptoms disappeared. In the case of a serious degenerative disease such as leukemia it is clear that there has been a major imbalance, possibly caused by several different factors. A simple change of diet on its own may not be enough to correct all of the imbalances that have accrued and to restore harmony. The point is that if I had followed my own advice and become my own doctor several years ago, observing the symptoms rather than trying to ignore them, trying to undestand their causes and correcting my bad habits, I could have saved myself and the health service a lot of trouble later on.

Perhaps I have become prejudiced by my own experiences, but I have become convinced from studying the great pioneering work of doctors such as Dr Bernard Jensen that Chinese medicine is not far off the mark when it states that almost all illnesses begin in the digestive system ( I would amend that to “all physical manifestations of illness” since non-physical processes such as our thoughts will undoubtedly have been inextricably linked) . We know that, no matter how much we tinker with an engine and ensure that all of its parts are in tip-top shape, the engine will not run well if we don’t put the correct fuel into it. Although our bodies are infinitely more complex than engines, in this respect they are the same. If we don’t give our bodies the nourishment they need it doesn’t matter what lengths we go to to safeguard our health as they will ultimately be powerless.

I deal with the topic of Nutrition in its own section, but would recommend that this should be our starting point in our task of becoming our own doctor. (By the way, I have been told that GPs have around 6 hours of training in nutrition, so if you are fortunate enough to have an enlightened GP it is because they have worked it out for themselves!)

This is not to say that we should ignore all the other factors until we have sorted out our dietary habits. Finding out what works best for us can be a lengthy process and it is important that we give ourselves every chance along the way by attending to our other needs simultaneously ( see Spirit, MindExerciseCommunity, and Environment sections).

Being our own doctor can take determination, courage and  perseverance. If our immune system is well nourished and strong it is capable of fighting off an incredible number of threats to our health, as well as righting many wrongs that we have inflicted on our bodies, but it will do it in its own way and at its own pace; nature’s pace. We must have courage and determination, therefore, to resist the temptation to go down the conventional “quick fix” route of treatment when all around us may be urging us to do so. We must have perseverance to stay on course even though what we try may not bring instant results, and to keep making adjustments and fine tuning until we have restored equilibrium.

Finally, a reminder that we are always seeking balance and harmony in everything we do. When we make changes to any aspect of our lifestyles it is better to do so gradually and in moderation rather than swinging from one extreme to another, Although the healing process sometimes involves negative reactions as our body adjusts and possibly has to deal with eliminating toxins, if this reaction is severe or lasts for more than a few days, this is probably an indication that we have either changed too much, too quickly, or chosen the wrong option.

It is never too soon to start looking after yourself, so head to the Nutrition section now and begin the healing process.