Monday, October 31, 2011

What is PAIN?

A few years ago the book "Pain - the fifth vital sign, by Marni Jackson" in Greenwood books caught my eye.  I spent a few minutes browsing and quickly concluded that  - it has some interesting information and some serious flaws.

I decided not to buy.  As I started working on this blog, I began to wonder whether the book had anything useful to say.  I had forgotten what I saw as negatives. Over the weekend I picked up a copy to give it a second look.  As I started to read again I got more and more irritated (pained?).

I figured out what had bothered me fairly quickly. The book takes the position that all pain is 'bad', to be cured or avoided.  eg. There is no HEALTHY view of pain, only a medical ILLNESS paradigm.

There is no discussion of 'growing pains', nor 'healing pains'.  No consideration or thought that pain can be good - as opposed to being simply useful. There is no discussion of the 'no pain, no gain' sports mantra (although it is mentioned in passing).  There is no mention of 'healthy pain' from stretching, or from exercise, or simply from over-stimulation or release from over-stimulation.

As I drove home last night, I saw a bulletin board stating: "Pain, the best instructor - but nobody wants to go to class", advertising Taekwondo.  I realized that there is more to 'no pain, no gain' than meets the eye.  I am certain that no-one becomes a world class athlete without experiencing pain.  Sometimes this pain is bad, indicating physical damage. But other times it is a sign of a healthy workout - stretching abilities to a new level, and resulting in the ability to run faster, jump higher, swim faster -- without pain.

Your teacher, your boss, your coach - and your inner motivator, can be a pain.  Pushing you to new levels, new abilities, new pleasures.  When you lose a game, you might feel pain.  This pain can push you, help you grow in many different directions.  You might be motivated to concentrate harder, work harder and play better.  You might decide this game is not for you - and avoid the pain.  Or you might learn to accept the pain and enjoy the game, as a challenge, or as an intellectual and social game - smiling, laughing, discussing, remembering. When your opponent wins - you experience pleasure knowing that you will win next time.

There is also no discussion of the (wide grey) distinction between irritation (an itch, for example) and a pain. Is an itch a pain or a pleasure?  Some itches are pleasurable.  Some are painful.  And sometimes, an itch can move from pleasure to pain, or from pain to pleasure. Does scratching result in pleasure? or relief? or pain? - or all three?  If something, or someone, is annoying me - at what point does it become a pain?

For example, I'm going to sleep, but not going to sleep.  My body is feeding my brain a series of small irritations as my senses settle down. In my experience, if I focus my attention on an annoyance, it grows. Sometimes I can divert my attention elsewhere, maybe by counting sheep - and it goes away. But sometimes it intrudes until I scratch it away, or shift my position a bit - and then a new sensation starts to grow and annoy. These pains are, presumably, natural and always there - below the surface.  They only appear when I rest my senses. The deaf symbol for 'boring' is a sign for picking your nose - and I find that while I am waiting for the streetlight to change, I feel an irritation in my nose. Is that pain always there, below my sensory perception?

When I do my Tai Chi, or when I swim, I often feel small stabs of pain.  These are the pains of healthy movement, stretching, activation.  Sometimes I wonder if a specific pain is an indication of something dangerous - but most often I realize these are healthy pains.  My body is thanking me for moving.  I can mentally shift these pains to the 'good' category, and feel good about them. I know that if I linger on a pain, even a health pain, it can move to an excessive, or unhealthy pain. So I try not to linger - and it goes away. Sometimes when I am exercising, or even just moving around, even just typing, I feel a small 'sensation' - and I am not even certain if it is a sensation, or a pain.

Is the book interesting? Yes.  Useful?  Yes.  Incomplete? Yes.  It is a book about pain, that ignores more than half of the true view of pain.

Pain can be deficient, healthy or excessive:

And pain is more complex. Pain is subjective.  Pain can be an indicator of damage from the past or problems in the present, or fears of the future. A few simple examples of the complexity of pain:

Many of our sensory systems can experience pain. Not just our sense of touch. Extremely loud sounds can cause pain.  Extremely bright lights can cause pain.    Spicy hot foods can cause pain in the mouth's taste sensors and nose's smell sensors. Interestingly, people who do not feel pain also do not have a sense of smell. Can your sense of balance, eg. dizziness cause pain?  I'm not sure, but pain can cause dizziness. But wait, there's more...

Young children often experience pain when they hear very loud noises - noises that might seem normal to an adult.  These noises might be damaging the hearing systems of the young children.  Elderly adults lose their sense of hearing, especially higher tones, and might not hear noises that cause pain to and harm young children.  Elderly adults may suffer from tinnitus pain caused by exposure to loud noises. And teenagers, listening to loud music, might actually enjoy noise so loud that it permanently damages their hearing.

The elderly adult's hearing system might be pain deficient to high tones that damage young children, pain normal to mid-tones that are too loud, and suffer excessive pain from tinnitus, caused by previous exposure to loud noises - ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

The entire book views pain as excessive - pain deficiencies and healthy pain are hardly acknowledged.  This is understandable given the author's initial motivation - a bee-sting in the mouth, and her subsequent investigations - with medical professionals who 'deal with pain' on a daily basis.

Pain lies.  My osteopath tells me that 'pain lies, but it lies consistently'.  She also reminds me that if she is not causing pain - maybe she's not doing any good. A pain in my thumb and wrist might be caused by a muscle tension in my back - a lie, but it is possible to locate the source, with time and effort, because the pain does not 'jump around'. It follows a well defined path.  Pain is a very effective diagnostic if used well; unfortunately - and frequently in this book, it is simply something to be avoided, or eliminated.

Pain is a healthy reaction to stress.  It is a tool that teaches us to be more careful.  In specific situations, pain is generally bad. But in general, pain is good.  We all need pain to live normal healthy lives.

Are we in a healthy state when we are 'feeling no pain'? We might be asleep, or dead to the world or high on drugs. 

Or we might be high on life. 

We also need to learn about, study and try to understand a 'healthy level of pain'. How can you know what are your healthy levels of pain?  It's personal.

I'll be 59 in a few weeks, and I've heard that if you are over 50, and you don't feel any pain, you might be dead.   Lucky for me - I do feel pain.

I made a point of reading the book - I even took out my pen and marked some areas of interest.  All in all, it is a very interesting book, well written, containing lots of interesting and useful information.  It is written from a medical view, rather than a health view and thus is very different from what you will encounter on my blog. In my mind - it is a very incomplete view of the complexity of pain.

I believe in Personal Health Freedom.  I believe in my right to 'not feel pain', and in my right to 'feel my pain'.  I also believe in my right to change my mind. Knowing full well that

change can be a pain.

yours in health, and in pain,
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Primary Illness and direct causes of illness

View Diagram full Size

Some illnesses are complex, the result of multiple causes. However, many are simple or trivial to understand, although they might not be trivial to treat or cure. Simple, or primary illnesses are those that have a single cause. The value in understanding these illnesses is in our ability to prevent them, once we understand the cause.

Secondary illnesses are illnesses that have sequential causes.  Complex illnesses are those that have multiple causes.

The basic primary illnesses flow right out of the hierarchy of health.  Because each of the layers in the hierarchy is dependent on the health of the layer below, a health deficiency, or excess in one layer can cause an illness in a higher layers, in other components of the same layer - and even, in exceptional circumstances in layers below.

So, the first list of primary causes of illness is the list of components in the hierarchy of health: genetics, nutrients, cells, tissues, organs, systems, body, mind, spirit and community - in deficiency or excess.

If this list seems short, remember that nutrition alone has over 100 components that are critical to health. We don't have a comprehensive list for nutrients. Nor do we have a comprehensive list for cells, when we recognize that some of the cells essential to health are bacteria that contribute to health.

A specific deficiency in nutrition might cause scurvy - which affects cells, bones, organs and systems, but only when it becomes severe.  Before that point, it is just a deficiency.

Technically, an illness is something that can be diagnosed, and sometimes treated. A simple excess or deficiency might not be sufficient to cause an illness.  There must be significant severity, and possibly duration, for an illness to develop and be diagnosed.

To this list, we can add other deficiencies and excesses.  A deficiency, or excess of growth can lead directly to illness.  There may be a 'deeper cause' of the growth deficiency or excess, making the illness a 'secondary illness', caused by one health issue, which caused another health issue. However, if the excess growth leads directly to the illness - it can be classified as a direct cause of illness, even it it is not the primary cause. In this case, the illness does not have a primary cause.

A primary cause of illness exists when a single deficiency or excess is the only cause of an illness. Vitamin C deficiency is the primary cause of scurvy.  A bullet in the shoulder can be the primary cause of a flesh wound.

A direct cause of illness exists when a single deficiency or excess is directly responsible for the illness. If that cause had prevented, or removed removed in time, the illness would not have occurred.

All primary causes of illness are direct causes of illness. Direct causes are not necessarily primary causes.

Can we create a list that categorizes all primary causes of illness? All direct causes of illness?  I don't know, but I have created a list that covers a majority.  I'll be happy to add to the list if you can tell me something I've missed.

Each individual cause of illness, primary, direct, or secondary is the deficiencies and excesses of some component of health. To the list of health components from the hierarchy of health, we should add:

The six senses: vision, hearing, touch, smell, taste and balance. A deficiency or excess of any of these senses may indicate illness and may cause further illnesses.

Pain: a deficiency or excessive ability to feel pain may indicate illness and may cause further illnesses.

Growth: a deficiency or excess of growth may indicate illness and may cause further illnesses.

Healing: a deficiency or excess of healing which includes the immune system, repair systems and growth systems may indicate illness and may cause further illnesses.

Stress: a deficiency or excess of stress may indicate illness and may cause further illnesses.

Like the components of health, each of these causes of illnesses is necessary to health. Illness appears when they are deficient, or when they are in excess.

With any illness, if we can clearly identify a single direct cause, we can work directly to prevent and possibly to cure the illness.

Primary prevention (or direct prevention) of illness is an action that directly tackles the primary causes of illness.   This is a fundamental health concept of prevention.

However, take care when reading the latest health news.  You might read that red wine has been shown in statistical studies to prevent heart disease.  Ask yourself, is this a primary prevention?  Does it prevent specific types of heart disease - those caused by a deficiency of red wine, in every case?  If so, then it is a primary preventative. If not - it is a statistically possible preventative but not a primary preventative.

This important concept, of primary, or direct illness, and primary or direct preventatives is very powerful.  If we have a primary preventative - then searching health for the hint of an illness - before a full blown illness develops, might be combined with the preventative to eliminate cases of the illness.

This can be especially effective for any illness where a cause results in minor health issues in the short term - but serious issues in the long term.

At present, we tend to focus our 'health' care on diagnosed illness, not on health.  So we tend to ignore causes that take a long time to develop into a diagnosed illness.  I'm not discussing 'cancers caused by smoking'.  Rather, I'm wondering what illness might be caused by a low level deficiency of a single nutrient, or a combination of nutrients - when the deficiency exists for years or decades.

We need a better understanding, and better studies of primary illnesses and direct illness so we can learn more about health - and how to improve health.  With this understanding we might learn the causes of some illnesses that are mysteries today.

Yours in health,
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine:

Udo's Oil? Mercola's Oil?

Today Dr Mercola posted a note about krill oil that is marketed under his name.  I'm not complaining, just explaining.  We all need to make a living.

I often see Mercola's articles on krill oil - and I have often wondered how krill oil compares, from a health perspective, from Udo's Oil.  It is my opinion that Udo's Oil is thoroughly a researched health product, not a medicine.  Dr Mercola tends to take a medical view point, he is a doctor after all, more often than a health viewpoint.

You can view the article here:

Here are the comments I left on Dr Mercola's blog, although I don't really expect a response - he seldom responds to comments.

I have often seen Dr Mercola's comments about krill oil, and wondered if it is worth pursuing for my health, and it is good to learn more with this article - and comments by others about krill oil and astaxanthins.

I always try to look at health from a health point of view, not a medical view - and to my eye, this article tends more towards a medical viewpoint, saying things like "beneficial effects on cardiovascular health, inflammation, mental health, and neurodegenerative diseases". We need a health paradigm to support our search for personal health freedom: 

Omega 3 oils are essential nutrients, not medicines and we should study them as nutrients. I highly recommend reading "Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill", by Udo Erasmus, to learn more about health and unhealthy fats.

Astaxanthins are not essential nutrients, and can only be viewed as toxins, remember of course that "many toxins are beneficial in specific situations" - written after I've had my morning cup of coffee.

Dr Mercola offers us Krill oil and endorses it under his own label. I'm not criticizing - we all need to make a living.  Dr Mercola is an expert in Omega 3 oils. I respect his opinion and advice.

Udo Erasmus has a PhD in Nutrition, and offers us "Udo's Oil", from a balanced health viewpoint in addition to a 'medical' viewpoint.

Udo's oil provides three essential oils, Omega 3, Omega 6 and Omega 9.  Krill oil contains, according to Mercola, krill oil provides "provides 14 percent EPA and DHA", which I believe do not exist in Udo's Oil Blend. Udo does offer a DHA oil blend for vegetarians who do not get DHA from foods.

I would like to see Dr Mercola review the research on Udo's oil, for his own personal knowledge.  I would love to see Dr Mercola working with Udo Erasmus to pool their knowledge and resources - and improve our health.

Yours in health, tracy

Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hierarchy of Health - Primary and Secondary Disciplines

Health is defined as: the combined state of physical, mental and social well being

Note: You can see more recent posts about Healthicine here: What is Healthicine and Hierarchy of Healthicine.

The primary disciplines of health can be derived in a hierarchical fashion from the foundations of life.

Genetics is the foundation of health. Health begins with genetics, as does life. There is no genetically perfect human - by design.  Genetics must vary the elements in development of life to guard against toxins, viruses, bacteria, and other real and potential stressors.

Nutrition is the next layer in the hierarchy of health. Genetics require appropriate nutrients to develop in the first place.  The continued development of life requires many nutrients. As life becomes more complex - human life is very complex - nutrition also becomes more complex.

Nutrition is the foundation of health freedom. We have little control over our genetics.  We have significant control over our nutrients. I believe we need significantly more control over our nutrients.

Cells are the next step in the development of life.  Cells are complex organisms made up of a variety of chemical (nutrient) components with a genetic core. The first cellular organisms were able to live on their own.  Gradually they developed cooperation with other types of cells. The human body contains over 100 different types of cells, many of which are living, growing, reproducing and dying at any time.  Healthy cells are a fundamental element of health. Cellular health is dependent on genetic and nutritional health.  Cellular health includes the non-human flora that is part of our bodies and our health.

Tissues are colonies of similar cells, working together for a common function.  Muscle tissue, connective tissue, nerve tissue, etc. Tissue health is the next fundamental element of health. Tissue health is dependent on genetic health, nutritional health and cellular health.

Organs are structures consisting of two or more types of cells cooperating for a higher purpose. Your heart, lungs, and skin are organs that contribute to your health.  Organ health is dependent on all prior layers of health.

Systems are composed of two or more organs, working together to provide a higher function. Your circulatory system is composed of your heart, blood vessels and blood. System health is a higher level of health that is also dependent on each of the preceding layers.

Body is the final physical component of health.  Your body consists of all of the genetics, nutrients, cells, organs and systems needed for life.  The health of your body is dependent on the health of each of those components.

Mind is a component of health that rises above the body. The mind is more than just a calculator, or just an awareness.  Or mind re-minds us to eat when we are hungry, to hunt when we have no food, and learns to store food and eventually to farm so that we can plan for food in the future. The mind is rich and varied - in animals, the mind of a predator is very different from the mind of a prey animal. People can be of many different minds.  A health mind is essential to overall health, and a health mind is dependent on all of the preceding elements.

Spirit rises above the simple calculations and planning of the mind. Although animals might not have spirituality, they definitely have spirit. The spirit and spirituality of humans is rich and complex.  A health spirit is essential to optimal health.

Community, people working together, helping each other.  At the simplest level, mothers raising children.  Human children are very dependent on their community and will die without support. As we grow and develop, so do our many communities.  Communities are a valuable component of health - not only that - healthy communities contribute to maintain and improve health through each of the elements, from genetics, nutrition, cells through to more healthy communities.

These are the fundamental elements of health: genetics, nutrients, cells, tissues, organs, systems, body, mind spirit and community.  In the study of health, this is where we start.

Although medical textbooks cover the basics of genetics, nutrition, cells, tissues, organs, systems, bodies, minds and communities, we seldom study them with a health optimization goal. Their goals tend towards  'if they are ill, we need to fix it', otherwise 'you are healthy and do not need medical assistance'. There are some attempts to improve health for high level athletic competition, but it is aimed at improving strength, endurance, etc. sometimes to the detriment of overall health.

I believe health must be measured, on a scale of 1 to 10, for example if statements about health are to be of any value.  Our current binary view of health - either healthy or sick - is a poor tool for health optimization.  Measuring health on a broader scale will increase our information about health and also contribute to our knowledge of illness.

Each of these elements has an effect on the others.  Combined effects can potentially be very, very complex. It is worthwhile to enumerate and study the secondary components of health that can be generated by simple combinations of the above.

This chart diagrams the primary disciplines of health, and the first level combinations, to create a graphic of the primary and secondary disciplines of health. Click this text to see a full size view. .

Again we see many familiar studies from medical research.  But not from health research. And some interesting items appear that maybe haven't been thought about before, in a comprehensive health view.  Spirit and Cells, for example. How might the health of your cells affect your spirituality?  How might your spirituality affect the health of your cells.  There is much more here than a first glance reveals.

Yours in health, and personal health freedom

ps. If you enjoy my posts, please share - and you might LIKE my facebook page

Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Food Myth - the Reader's Digest Version

In April 2010, Readers Digest Canada published an article titled “6 Myths and Facts about Vitamin Supplements.” How many did they get right?  Read on and test your knowledge.

In Europe in the late 1600s, it was a well known fact that 'swans are white', and it could be stated as fact that 'black swans do not exist'. In 1697, a black swan was discovered in Australia - and that fact became myth.

The 'black swans do not exist' theory was destined to fail.

Statements like 'all swans are white', and 'there are no black swans' are logically flawed - they cannot be proven true - and they are proven false by a single example. Moral: watch out for 'black swan theories' pretending to be facts.  There are many black swan theories in health.

The article title is ‘6 myths and facts’, it actually finishes with a 7th, as a fact: “Truth: the best way to get your vitamins is by eating them” – of course they mean ‘in food as opposed to supplements’. Note, this 7th item has been removed from the online version is now titled "5 Vitamin Truths and Lies", but there are still 6 on the list.  My guess is that the editor simply removed 1, and then assumed that the original title was correct - and also removed one from the title without counting.  I have copies of the original online version as well as the current online version. Are you confused yet?

The statement 'the best way to get your vitamins is through food’ is a black swan theory. It is a common misconception, often supported by well meaning doctors, nutritionists and writers who view health through a medical veil.

In fact, it has been proven false over and over again. Supplements have scientifically proven to be better than food in specific cases, over and over again.  Food may be better 'in general', but it is not 'the best way' in all cases. Many of these research results have been well publicized, even in Readers Digest. Still the Food Myth ‘the best way to get your vitamins is through food’ persists. The best way to get your vitamins is with a combination of foods and supplements.  Unfortunately - we don't know the best combination, and it depends on the food, and the supplements available.

To clarify, We can try to define food. And supplements. No easy task. Is an apple food, or an orange? No problem. Food. How about chicken? Sure, food - usually.

For the moment, let's ignore the fact that grocery store apples, oranges and chickens are highly 'produced' for large quantity, low price and extended shelf life - and are very different from naturally occurring apples, oranges and chickens.

Orange Juice? Sure, well maybe - food. Today's 100 percent orange juice is highly processed to extend shelf life, and we don't know the effects of that processing on the food value. Tang? Hmmm... Is Tang a food, or a supplement. Or both? Tang contains sugar (a non-food?), as well as supplemental Vitamin C, Calcium, Vitamin E, Riboflavin, Niacin and Vitamin B6. The sugar free version contains aspartame. Tang sounds like a ‘supplement’ to me. Of course ‘Kraft Foods’, who sell Tang, refer to it as a ‘food product’. But, I believe, if I sold Tang, or the ingredients in Tang in a tablet, it would be called a ‘multi-vitamin'.

Now picking on Tang is perhaps a but unfair. But Tang is just one shade of a large grey between the black and white of food vs supplements.

How about eggs.  Are your eggs factory eggs?  Or grain fed eggs?  Or omega eggs?  Or farm eggs? What were the hens fed?  Were they given antibiotics?  Hormones to increase production? Were they allowed outdoors?  Did they get sunshine? Which eggs are natural?  Which are supplemented?

First on the article's list: ‘Myth: A multi-vitamin can make up for a bad diet’ is supported by the statement ‘many packaged foods are vitamin-enriched’. So.... It’s good for packaged foods to contain supplements – but not for me to choose my supplements? Sounds like the old saw "do what I say, not what I do....' Do I know the composition, quality and amounts of supplements in supplemented foods? Do I have control of the composition, quality and amounts?

Of course the article is talking about ‘tablets’. But even on tablets there are serious errors and omissions.

The next ‘Myth: Vitamin C is a cold fighter’ is supported by statements like ‘kids might go from 28 days of runny noses to 24 per year’. So, Vitamin C decreases the time that children have symptoms, but it's not a cold fighter.  According to the article, both are true at the same time. Note: Research reported in Reader's Digest in July 2009 - concluded that Vitamin E is a cold and flu fighter. Not mentioned in this article.

Number 3 “Vitamin Pills can prevent heart disease” is presented as a Myth. Here we have a clear ‘black swan statement’. It cannot be proven true. It can only be proven false. A few trials have been done, with a few isolated vitamins, to measure their effect on heart disease. So far, haven’t found a vitamin, or a vitamin combination that prevents heart disease in clinical trials. People believed there were ‘no black swans’, because none had been discovered. If, or when we learn what vitamins do prevent heart disease – this myth will be forgotten. Until then, it is simply an unproven theory. There is no scientific evidence to support the theory that ‘Vitamin pills do not prevent heart disease’. Vitamin pills range from simple - single vitamins to complex mixture of vitamins, minerals, herbs, etc.  Before you can state that Vitamin Pills can prevent heart disease is a MYTH, you must test every past, present and future formulation.

And can heart disease be prevented by any food or supplement?  Until we know the cause of heart disease, attempts to 'prevent' heart disease are just guesses.  We might as well test eye of newt and tongue of frog to see if they prevent heart disease.

I prefer a health view, not a medical view. I believe we need to know what foods and what supplements ENABLE and IMPROVE HEART HEALTH.

Number 4: “Myth: Taking vitamins can protect against cancer’. Do you detect a pattern here? Another general statement, made without scientific evidence. There is some scientific evidence that some vitamins in some situations did not protect against cancer. But to generalize those results to all vitamins, all cancers and create a ‘myth’ is not just unscientific, it is ridiculous.

How are we doing so far? Of four (or is it five) ‘myths and facts’ out of six (or is it seven?), Reader’s Digest has delivered incorrect conclusions based on faulty logic, missing facts and by presenting misleading information.

Myth number 5 is “Hey, it cant’ hurt” hmmm... It looks like they’ve actually found a real fact, or two or three. We think that taking supplements can’t hurt – and the author provides a few (three) examples where they can ‘increase your risk’. Of course two of the three apply only to ‘high doses of’ – not normal supplemental amounts. And the third example? Be afraid, very afraid. If you are a smoker, and you think taking beta-carotene will decrease your risk of lung cancer – it will actually increase your risk. So, keep smoking, but don’t take supplements - is that what Reader’s Digest is advising?  The truth is, any food, and any supplement CAN HURT, taken at the wrong time, or in incorrect amounts.  You  might as well say 'drinking lots of water can't hurt' is a myth.  It's a useless statement.

It should be clear by now that the Reader's Digest article is not trying to present facts, not trying to present science, and not trying to improve your health.  The mission is simple - to dissuade you from taking multi-vitamins.  Or is it just to catch your eye with a fancy list - so you buy the magazine?

Number 6: ‘Truth: Vitamin D is worth taking’. Mythed by a mile. Yes, Vitamin D is sometimes worth taking. But the way it is presented - as if the only vitamin worth taking as a supplement is Vitamin D - is certainly not true.  One need only look back, and forward, in Reader's Digest's - to find many examples of supplements 'worth taking'.

Nor does the section on Vitamin D attempt to present the facts in a scientific, or honest journalistic manner. What are the facts on Vitamin D?  The truth about the best source of Vitamin D?  The jury is out.

In fact, most of the studies that encourage use of Vitamin D are not actually Vitamin D studies.  They are sunshine studies. Sunshine is worth taking.  We don't know all of the effects that sunshine has on our bodies - we do know that it increases our Vitamin D levels, and that it has other effects.  It increases our health in many ways. But the leap of faith that gives credit to Vitamin D, and not to sunshine - is an example of our medical paradigm in action.  Vitamin D gets credit because it is simple, because you can sell it.  We need a health paradigm, not a medical paradigm. 

The natural source of Vitamin D is sunlight.  But there are people, including those who sell hats, umbrellas and sunscreen - who would like you to avoid sunlight.  No-one is selling 'walks in the park' - so few people are actively marketing sunlight for health. There is no marketing incentive to find the truth on this question. Vitamin D is found in some foods and Vitamin D supplements are also inserted into many foods in Canada. Are you getting confused yet?

The article does not mention essential minerals, nor essential oils. There are over 100 nutrients essential to health - and it is extremely difficult, to get the right amounts of each of them in a 'healthy diet'. Johns Hopkins Health says Calcium Supplements Still Count.  I see the link, which previously sent me to the report, now sends me to their bookstore.  This information is valuable enough for Johns Hopkins to charge for it.

The biggest error, in my opinion, is their support for ‘The Food Myth’. The next time anyone, or some article says ‘the best way to meet all of your nutritional needs is thru food’ – just ask

“Which scientific study came to that conclusion?”

And wait...  And wait... Because there is no way to prove the statement.  The best way is to do your own research and make your own decisions.   And to take responsibility for your own health.

I’ll continue to take (and recommend) my personal supplement choice, twice a day.

I believe in Personal Health Freedom. I believe that the best way to get your vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients is through personal choice.

I believe that "The best way to get  all of your nutrient needs is through a combination of foods and supplements".

The article does NOT speak about health, only about illness. The article is presented as facts and myths about vitamin supplements. There is no discussion of health, nor how to improve your health.  There are some suggestions about avoiding illness.  But if you read my blog, you know that I see a large difference between illness and health.

There is NO definitive evidence on how to best improve your health. It's up to you to decide what actions to take.  It's up to your governments and reporters to ensure that you have the freedom to choose, and the best knowledge available at the time to aid your decisions.  We need full disclosure of food and supplement ingredients so we can each make the best decisions for ourselves.

Yours in health, and health freedom, tracy
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine:

I have published two previous blogs on The Food Myth and the Food Myth - Clarification

Friday, October 21, 2011

I am not a Doctor

In a recent thread, I was advised that 'you are not a doctor'... I think it was meant as a criticism.

I am not a doctor.  I want to make this perfectly clear.  I do not have a degree and I am not a medical practitioner.  And I don't want to be. I am also not a scientist, who does research and publishes papers in recognized journals.

What am I?  I am, I believe, a relatively intelligent person with a very different point of view.

Doctors and alternative medical practitioners look at life and health through their medical practice.  They see things through what I call a 'lens of illness'.  The job of a doctor is to diagnose illness and prescribe treatments.  When a doctor rises in the hierarchy to an administrative role - their job rises to encompass the structures that help doctors do a better job.

I believe the best thing about doctors is their ability to diagnose and treat illness.  And I believe their greatest weakness is an inability to see the forest for the trees - the inability to see health for disease.

My blog is about health, not illness.  This is a bit of a challenge to explain, because when doctors speak about health - they look through their illness lens.  We have Health Systems - that treat illness.  We have Health Insurance - that insures against illness.  And health is generally defined as 'lack of illness'. So when people read my blog posts - the natural instinct is to think in terms of illness, to look through a 'lens of illness'.  Few people have practiced looking through a 'lens of health'.

I look at the world, and even at medicine, through a health lens.

I start from the presumption that we can and must study health without reference to illness, if we are to gain a fundamental understanding of health.  Can you imagine what the field of engineering might look like, if we studied engineering based on what to do when bridges fall down? If a bridge was judged to be 'healthy' or 'broken'.  With no middle ground?   My hierarchy of health and associated chart of health disciplines of study, makes no reference to illness. Health comes first. Illness comes later.

When I do speak about illness, it is from a health perspective, not a medical perspective.  Medical doctors, often in emergency mode, look at illness as something to be treated or cured.  I look at illness from a health perspective.  I see illness as imbalances in health, or caused by imbalances in health. I have grouped the primary causes of illness into six areas of deficiency or excess - basically imbalances of health. When I encounter illness, I think about causes, not about solutions, I think about healing, not about curing. I leave treatments and cures to the doctors - who have well defined systems for that purpose.

I do believe, of course, that doctors, alternative medicine practitioners, and other so called 'health professionals' will benefit from a health perspective, or health lens - when looking at illness and at people who are ill.

I have studied health for many years.  I remember being shocked when I first viewed a very old copy of the Physicians' Desk Reference (PDR), a guide to prescription drugs. Shocked because there was no structure. No foundation of health (or of illness) was provided.  I started to search for a foundation to understand health - and over 10 years or more I found none.  So I wrote one.

I blogged it in January 2010 - and revised it in July 2010 to create the hierarchy of health. I have looked, but not yet seen any alternative, or competitor to my hierarchy, which extends from basic nutrients to health communities.

My blog is an exploration of the ideas that flow from the hierarchy and from a 'health lens'.

When I look through my 'health lens', I see words like health, illness, treatment, cure, heal and pain in a very different light.  To be honest, I see few answers - but I do see many important questions that have never been asked.  I believe these questions will help us to understand and improve our health.

One of the most important questions that arises again and again is "how can we measure health?".  Many references define health as 'not sick'.  Health is viewed as 100 percent, or sick.  We often see statements like "She was perfectly healthy - but last week she was diagnosed with cancer."  But we know it takes many years to develop cancer.  I see health as a scale, not an absolute.  A complex scale of health measurements needs to be developed if we are to understand health. I think about this often and blog about it occasionally. How can we measure nutritional health? Cellular health?  Why are people judged as healthy - and then diagnosed as 'dying' shortly afterwards?

Another important question is "What nutrient amounts can contribute to optimizing health?"  I view nutrients as the foundation of health and the primary preventative and treatment for illnesses. We have well developed definitions of the nutrient amounts to prevent illness, but very little (I can't find any) research into nutrients contribution to optimize health.  This can be expected - because we don't measure health, so we cannot know how to optimize it.

In my research, I often encountered the food myth. The concept that we can best improve our health by eating the right foods.  Irregardless of the facts that many foods contain supplements, that many contain toxins, that many so called foods contain little or no nutrient value - and most important, many studies have demonstrated that optimal health cannot be obtained through a normal healthy diet. Pregnant mothers are advised to take supplements for the health of their babies - to improve their health. And recent studies show that many women need to improve their health levels BEFORE they get pregnant. We all have new cells, developing and growing every day. They need to be as healthy as possible to contribute to our health. It's time to bust the food myth once and for all.

My blog is also about freedom, personal health freedom.  My research into health freedom was very discouraging.  Many people who write about health freedom have an axe to grind.  From alternative practitioners who want freedom to market their treatments, to people who worry about the security of their health information.  These people have valid points of view, valid arguments, and bring excellent information to the discussion. But none of them addresses the fundamentals of health freedom.

So, I did a bit of research into fundamentals of freedom, and wrote a Universal Declaration of Health Freedom. Along the way I made two interesting discoveries about freedom that are worth review.  First, fundamental rights DO NOT come with responsibilities attached.  Only non-fundamental rights come with responsibilities. Second, one of the most commonly cited rights, the right to own property, is not a fundamental right - because it comes with responsibilities attached.

I saw that the right to life and liberty are fundamental.  And added the right to pursuit of healthiness.  There were many choices available to phrase this right - I chose the simplest to provide support for my personal beliefs.

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of healthiness.

I see many restrictions on our rights to health - and frankly I am shocked at the inconsistencies that currently exist. I believe that all restrictions on health and health actions need to be founded on solid science, clearly published - and open to challenges. At present we have many health restrictions that are totally arbitrary and almost impossible to challenge. Like the Teddy Bear that contains a pouch of white rice, banned, confiscated and impounded -  because ???

I am not a doctor. I am not a lawyer.  I am a retired computer systems analyst, with 30 years experience analyzing systems from the inside and the outside - seeing the forest and the trees - making challenges and changes to goals, objectives, policies and procedures in a bureaucratic organization that wants to move forward and doesn't like change. I am a retired computer geek, a former toastmaster, a chessplayer who reached candidate master strength at my peak.  A volunteer. A photographer. Someone who loves music, travel, horses, nature, swimming, biking, Tai Chi and new experiences, but does not own a television.

I am one man with a strange point of view - through my health lens - and some very strong beliefs that result from that view.

I believe in health, and health freedom.  I am
yours in health,
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Measuring Health vs Flu Vaccine

If only we could measure health...

Our medical systems only measure illness. In the hierarchy of health, from nutrition to immune system to community health, we measure illness, not health.

If we could measure immune system health, we would have a powerful tool to measure the need for, and the effectiveness of flu vaccines.

When you take a flu vaccines you are basically a guinea pig, a medical test subject - because flu vaccines are continually re-designed as flu virus evolves.  Unfortunately - the statistics of your reactions to the vaccine, and statistics of your preventative experience, are very poorly tracked - if they are tracked at all.

In Dr Mercola's latest post, he suggests that improving the health of your immune system is more appropriate than taking the flu vaccine. 

If someone's immune system health is high - there might be no need for a flu vaccine, not matter how old they are.  And, if someone with a strong immune system is given a flu vaccine - their statistical result should be separated from those who have weak immune systems.

We might learn answers to some interesting questions.

1. Do flu vaccines protect people with weak immune systems?  In theory - they might not, because the weak immune system might respond poorly to a vaccine.

2. Do flu vaccines protect people with strong immune systems? We can hypothesize that they might not give any additional protection - because the strong immune system is already a strong flu protection.  Or it might give protection, because the immune system learns from the vaccine.  In this case we should compare the side effects of the vaccine to the 'extra benefit' to see if the vaccine is worthwhile.

3. Do flu vaccines protect people with healthy, but not strong immune systems?  We don't know - and if we continue with the medical paradigm we will never know.  We need a health paradigm, not a medical paradigm.

4. Many illnesses have a primary cause. What is the primary cause of flu in most people? Is the primary cause of the flu - the flu virus?  Or is a weak immune system the primary cause?  If we could measure the health of our immune systems - and track that against the flu - we might answer this question.  And we would know which technique - flu virus or immune system improvement - is the most appropriate.

If we could measure the health of someone's immune system, we could also study and answer questions about actions that strengthen or weaken the immune system. We might better understand why zinc lessens the length of common cold symptoms. Does zinc improve the health of the immune system?

We can also learn to distinguish between the effects of 'stimulant foods' on the immune system - which boost activity and healthy foods - which boost the actual health of the system.  Then we could separate techniques to improve our health from techniques we might use to treat a cold or flu. Does propolis improve the health of the immune system - or just the activity level?

We can also learn more about the effects of specific toxins on our immune system.  This could lead to some very interesting results.  We might, for example, learn that the flu vaccine components boost flu protection, but the toxins in the vaccine hurt the immune system - resulting in zero net gain.

Is it better to improve our immune systems - or to take a vaccine?  We should first learn to measure our immune systems - and then we can answer these complex questions.  Taking a 'newly formulated' flu vaccine is a huge risk, with a very weak scientific foundation.

Yours in health,
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Personal Health Freedom

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I won't donate to a Cure for Cancer

I often see people asking for money to 'cure cancer'.  Well meaning people, working hard to save lives. In many cases they have lost family members or friends to cancers that appear out of nowhere  - 'she was perfectly healthy until last week she was diagnosed with cancer'. Sometimes, they are supported by people who have 'survived' cancer, sometimes more than once.  I have lost friends and family members to cancer.

I don't believe in a cure for cancer. We all live with cancerous cells.  There are many different types of cancerous cells, but most of them are not dangerous to a healthy person. Our bodies, our immune and healing systems normally encounter cancerous cells - and dispose of them, automatically healing our cancers.  If your health level drops so low that we cannot heal our occasional cancer cells - they multiply slowly.  It can take ten years or more for a cancer cell to develop into a tumor that can be detected.

By the time a tumor, or a cancerous mass is finally detected, and the medical system steps into action, the unhealthiness has continued for many years.  It may be too late to cure the cancer with health. Serious medical actions are required, and often, time is of the essence. At this point the 'cure' is not healing, it is more likely 'cutting' important body organs, killing many healthy cells with chemicals and radiation, in an attempt to stop the cancer.  Treatments for cancer typically halt the normal healing processes and lower the health of the patient.

But that's not all. Much of the medical system's cancer research is flawed, or bogus, or dependent on prior research that is also flawed or bogus as Dr. Mercola reports in a "New Discovery shakes the Foundation of Cancer Research". Mercola advises against giving to cancer research and has complained in the past that there is little or no reporting of where the funds go - other than to pay people like the executives of the America Cancer Society.

Mercola then offers 12 tips for cancer prevention.  These tips are basically tips to improve your health.  If you maintain your health - you are much less likely to develop cancer.

Why don't we know this?  Because we don't know health. We live under the mistaken impression that we are healthy if we exercise, and eat a reasonably healthy diet - most of the time.  We think that we are healthy if we are 'not sick'.  We live in a society where 'healthy people'  are suddenly diagnosed with cancers - but never diagnosed as unhealthy.  We have no scientific measurements of the many dimensions of health - so we cannot accurately measure health, nor unhealthiness. The hierarchy of health is hardly known, much less understood.

Health is not measured. Health has many dimensions.  It is possible, common, to be healthy in many dimensions - and unhealthy in a few. How can you tell?

I don't know how healthy I am.  Do you?

Mercola's tips are useful - but they make no attempt to measure how healthy you are.

We need research into health and healthiness.  People who have developed serious cancers need to be treated.  But we will prevent more cancers, and save more lives when we can detect and prevent the unhealthiness that causes cancer.  I believe we cannot 'prevent cancer' - but we can work to prevent unhealthiness, and most common cancers will not gain a foothold in a healthy body.

To prevent unhealthiness, we need to fight for our health freedoms. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of healthiness.

Yours in health,
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

This post has been re-posted on Waking Times and Tales from the Lou
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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Medical Freedom ? at Health Freedom sites

If you do a google or a bing search for 'health freedom', you might notice that the top 50 hits or more are not about health freedom.  They are about medical freedom.

What's the difference? - is actually the Natural Solutions Foundation, mission: "to support advanced healthcare and health & food freedom" They use the word health, but almost every sentence really means 'medicine'. - "the Charter of Health Freedom is proposed legislation that gives Natural Health Products and Traditional Medicines their own Act."  It's about medicine, not about health. - "The term health freedom movement is used to describe a loose coalition of organizations, consumers, activists, alternative medicine practitioners and producers of products around the world who are campaigning for unhindered freedom of choice in healthcare. The movement is critical of the pharmaceutical industry and medical regulators, and uses the term "health freedom" as a catch phrase to convey its message."  It's but medicine they are talking about, not health. -  "Health Freedom Publisher's mission is to promote the availability of complementary and alternative health information resources".  Of course they mean 'complementary and alternative medical information resources.

Why is this?  Why don't 'health freedom' sites speak about health, as opposed to 'medicine'?

For hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, we have looked at health through a medical lens.  When we see a health problem (a medical problem) we try to find a treatment cure.  Then we try to find the cause, so we can prevent the problem in the future. Our medical systems have developed very sophisticated techniques to accomplish these goals.

But looking at 'health', through a 'medical lens', obscures information about health. It's as if we have a magnifying glass, or a microscope that is designed to finds illness.  Health is always in the background - so far away that we need a telescope, or a different lens entirely to actually see health.

Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Wind is my Drug - defining health factors

The wind is my drug.
When it blows in the spring, I stand still, smell freshness and growth.
The wind is my drug.
In autumn, it brings colours and odors of harvest.
The wind is my drug.
Winter freshness bites my nostrils, invigorating me.
 In summer it's cool relief.
The wind is my drug.

I checked the USFDA definition of a drug, and it's true - the wind qualifies. It says
"(g)(1) The term "drug" means ... and (C) articles (other than food) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or other animals; and (D) articles intended for use as a component of any article specified in clause (A), (B), or (C). ..."

The full, tedious, 266 word official FDA definition of a drug can be found at USFDA Regulations SEC. 201. [21 U.S.C. 321] CHAPTER II—DEFINITIONS 1

Some might argue that the wind is not 'intended to affect...' - but when I climb up a hill to feel and smell the wind, my intentions are clear. I want my fix.

Maybe it's a good thing the wind keeps moving, so it can't be patented and bottled, or I am certain some large corporation would try to corner the market.

There are many different definitions for drugs, foods, supplements, herbs, etc. Each definition is created with an objective and intent. The USFDA definition of a drug is a definition designed for commerce and trade. It is specifically not designed for health - and makes no reference to health. Something that makes your legs fall off qualifies as a drug.  By the FDA definition, all poisons are drugs.  Maybe that's not so silly after all.

We need definitions designed for health. For Personal Health Freedom. With definitions designed for health, we can use the definitions to improve our health on a personal basis, and in our communities.

Maybe the World Health Organization (WHO) has a more healthful definition of 'drug'? They do not. Their web link for 'drug' simply says "see Essential medicines see Pharmaceutical products". Essential Medicines are defined as "... those that satisfy the priority health care needs of the population". eg. Not related to health improvement of 'non-priority health care needs'. And pharmaceutical products are defined as "... more commonly known as medicines or drugs – are a fundamental component of both modern and traditional medicine." Again, nothing about health. "WHO is not on first" when it comes to health - to misquote Abbott and Costello.

Webster's dictionary gives many definitions for 'drug', and we can choose one best suited Personal Health Freedom - and then enhance it to our objectives.

Drug: "a substance other than food intended to affect the structure or function of the body:.

Excellent. This definition clearly separates drugs from food. But we haven't defined 'food' yet - and once we do, we may need to define the 'wide gray area' between food and drugs. At first guess you might think this wide gray is called 'nutritional supplements'.  It is much wider, and has many more shades of gray than that.

What is food? Webster's defines food. We can start there, by choosing one of the definitions.

Food: " material consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrate, and fat used in the body of an organism to sustain growth, repair, and vital processes and to furnish energy; also : such food together with supplementary substances (as minerals, vitamins, and condiments)"

It's a bit messy, but it's a start. We need simple, clear definitions that work for our health. The USFDA needs complex legal definitions for use in regulations.

But maybe we need to create a new word?  We could define p-drugs (the p being silent of course) to distinguish pharmaceutical  drugs from recreational drugs.  But I'm not certain if my wind is an p-drug, or a recreational drug.  It depends maybe, on my intent :-)

In simple terms, we can say that:

a) Foods are things we need to consume to maintain health and growth.
b) P-drugs are things we create or design to have a positive effect on health or illness. Drugs might be consumed (eaten), injected, applied as a topical, or inserted into an orifice of the body.
c) Drugs are not foods. Foods are not drugs.

With those simplified definitions, we can view the world of health and medicine with fresh eyes.

Is Vitamin C a drug or a food?
Did we create vitamin C? No.
Is Vitamin C required to maintain health and growth? Yes.
It's food. It's not a drug.

That was simple. How about something more complicated.

Is fruit salad a drug or a food?
Did we create fruit salad? Yes.
Is fruit salad required to maintain health and growth? Yes, the primary purpose of fruit salad is to provide nutrients to the body.
It's a food.

P-drugs are not just designed, they are patented. They are 'chemical creations'. In the past, a p-drug might be 'extract of this wonderful mushroom', or 'eye of newt'. But not today. Mushroom extracts and newt eyes are foods. Not p-drugs. How and why? Because you cannot patent 'eye of newt', nor 'extract of mushroom'. To create a pharmaceutical p-drug, and patent it - you need to find the 'essential chemicals of your 'mushroom extract' and then create a synthetic version that can be patented. Then, the synthetic version can be proven to be 'pure' and 'fundamentally different and unique' from 'mushroom extract', but having the same 'mystical powers'.

Mushroom extract is a food. Chemicals that are designed based on mushroom extract are drugs. Ocean water extract is a food (sea salt). But NACL (salt) created in a factory is a chemical that is not a food and cannot be patented, so it is not a drug either.

If it is not patented, and was never patented, or is not eligible for patent protection - it is not a drug.

So, we can refine our simple definitions:

a) Foods are natural things we need to consume to maintain health and growth.
b) P-drugs are things we create or design and patent, to have a specific effect on illness. P-drugs might be consumed (eaten), injected, applied as a topical, or inserted into an orifice of the body.
c) P-drugs are not foods. Foods are not p-drugs.
d) some of the things we eat are not p-drugs, and not foods.

So maybe the wind isn't a drug?  But I don't care... I don't like to take drugs....
...the wind is my drug.
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

You don't know Health! Why we need Personal Health Freedom.

I believe in Personal Health Freedom. Why do I believe we need Personal Health Freedom?

Because: You don't know health.

Our medical system is designed to treat disease. It works by diagnosis of disease, and treatment based on diagnosis. This is a very powerful technique that has developed a powerful suite of tools to treat disease.

However, we know almost nothing about health. Health is poorly defined, typically not defined without  reference to illness. Health is not measured. We have no idea how to measure health - as opposed to illness. Most measurements of health consist of zero or 100 percent: unhealthy or healthy.

I have tried, and tried to find a useful definition of health, to guide my own personal actions.

If we surf over to the World Health Organization, for example, their homepage lists hundreds of links about illness and medicine.  There are a few links labeled 'health...', but when you view those links you soon learn that the word health should be replaced with illness. Health Care Technology says "see Biomedical Technology". Health Services quickly reverts to 'medical services'.  Health surveys 'measure many topics including mortality, disease occurrence,  intervention coverage and risk behaviors'.  Health surveys do not, it seems, actually measure health. This is understandable.  Many of the people on our planet are ill.  Maybe even 'most people', if you look closely enough.  The World Health Organization focuses its attention on that majority.

You can search 'alternative health' sources with similar results.  Alternative Health providers are not studying, nor providing 'health'. They are providing alternative medicines and alternative medical approaches.  I applaud them for their efforts and their results.  But they are not about health. They're about treating and avoiding illness.

There are literally thousands of unanswered, even 'unquestioned questions about health'. These are the subjects of my blog. Many of these questions might never be answered. I believe the only way we can answer these questions is by exercising our personal health freedoms.

What don't we know about health?

What is health? Is there a model of health that provides a complete picture of many aspects of health (nutrient health, cellular health, organ health, etc) in an appropriate hierarchical structure where we can see how each affects the other? (I have created one because I could not find one).  And while were at it, what is illness?  What are the primary causes of illness?  I created this model as well, after searching in vain for a useful model of illness.

How do you measure health effectively? How do you measure the health of a person?  Is your father 80 percent healthy?  50 percent?  How do you measure the health of a diet on a scale of zero to 100 percent? With what level of accuracy?  When is a non-diet (fasting) healthy?  How healthy? How do you measure the health of your muscle cells?  Your connective tissues?  You heart, your liver?  How do you measure your mind health (awareness, memory, calculation, etc).  How do you measure your spiritual health?  Your community health?

What nutrients are recommended to optimize health in humans?  In what amounts?

The situation with Vitamin C is a perfect example of the incomplete results from the medical paradigm.  We know that Vitamin C is 'vital'.  It is required for a healthy life.  But check the research into Vitamin C and you will find a minimum of facts and a maximum of BS.  The only facts to be found are the disease (scurvy) caused by severe deficiency of Vitamin C , the treatment program for scurvy; the recommended minimum daily consumption amount of Vitamin C; and some discussion of the maximum amount of Vitamin C that can be tolerated without 'side effects'.  Side Effects are a medical term that applies to the treatment of an illness.  Side effects do not occur when taking Vitamin C for health - there are simply positive and negative health effects.

The BS about Vitamin C is huge.  Does Vitamin C prevent the common cold?  The Flu?  Should you take mega-doses of Vitamin C, or not.  Does Vitamin C prevent heart disease. The news media pays attention to the controversy, as if it was a political argument. But when you look closely, you will see that the BS is about Vitamin C and illness, not about Vitamin C and health.

The important question is ignored, not researched and not newsworthy.   How much Vitamin C is healthy?  How does Vitamin C improve your health?  How does Vitamin C interact with other nutrients?  How should Vitamin C be consumed to maximize the health benefits?  Which of the 8 or more different types of Vitamin C available is the most healthy?  Which is least healthy?  Is a combination the most healthy? Does the healthiest consumption level of Vitamin C improve some health areas, while decreasing health in other areas?
These are some of the 'personal health' questions about Vitamin C. At present, there are no answers, and not even the slightest clue among scientists with regard to 'how to go about answering' these questions.  The same issues exist with many health factors.  There is no controversy because there is little awareness that questions exist.

Why don't we know the answers?  Why is there no research into health, as opposed to illness? Because we don't measure health.  We cannot measure health effects until we can measure health. 

Are certain exercises likely to improve, or degrade health? Does competition in sports, at various levels, improve or degrade health status in the short term, medium term, long term?

How does a healthy diet relate to mind health? How do toxins, like caffeine, alcohol and lead consumption affect mind health?

Is health the same as 'well being'? What are the current theories, or philosophies of health? What is the matter with Mary Jane?

Is Thanksgiving good for your health?

So many questions, so few answers...

Every day, we each make our own, personal health decisions. Many of these decisions are restricted by corporations and governments, placing limits on our freedoms - without a clear understanding of health or health objectives.

You don't know health.  But you do know yourself.  You know more about your health than anyone else.  You know much more about your individual, personal health and how it ebbs and flows than you could ever tell your doctor in a 15 minute visit about a specific problem.  You know about your health - and you have the right to make decisions based on your objectives, and your knowledge. The right to information. The right to learn. And the right to make choices. And the right to change your mind.

We all have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of healthiness.   These rights are unconditional.
You have a right to Personal Health Freedom. 

Yours in health,
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What is the difference between health and illness?

Update March 2014: the concepts explored in this post have been expanded into a book: Healthicine: the Arts and Sciences of Health and Healthicine. This book lays the foundation for exploration of healthicine.
What is the difference between health and illness?

First, we need to clarify what we mean by 'health'. In English we often use the word 'health' to refer to illness, or medical care.  Health Care is actually care for those who are ill, and would more accurately be called 'Illness Care'.  Health Insurance insures against high costs of medical illness.  It pays for medical expenses in case of illness.Health insurance is actually 'illness insurance'.

What is health? We can be 'very sick', or we can be 'very healthy'. Every illness has a scale of severity.  And every 'healthiness' also has a scale, from not very healthy, to very healthy. Every healthiness is an individual aspect of health, just as an illness is an individual aspect of being ill.

When we ask "What is the difference between health and illness?" we are actually asking the question: What is the difference between healthiness and illness?

There are many aspects of healthiness. We can view healthiness as a hierarchy of health states.

At the foundation, our healthiness begins with our genetics, and our nutrition.  Our genetics is the template, and the master plan for how our individual health will become us.

Nutritional healthiness is the health of our diet, with regards to nutrients responsible for health.

Cellular healthiness is health of the cells, including good bacteria that comprise our bodies. Our bodies are made of hundreds of different types of cells. Many of them are not 'ours', are not human cells.

Some of these cells group together into tissues - muscle tissue, connective tissues, etc.  Tissues are the third layer in our health hierarchy.

Organs are the fourth layer of the health hierarchy.  Your heart, your lungs, your pancreas.  Healthy organs are essential to overall health.

Organs, tissues and cells function as systems.  We have a circulatory system, a respiratory system, and a digestive system.  Systems are the fifth layer in our health hierarchy.

Nutrients, cells, tissues, organs and systems comprise our bodies.  The body is the sixth layer of the health hierarchy.

Your mind is, in many ways, like a very complex organ. It also creates consciousness and self awareness, rising above the status of a simple organ or system. Your mind is the seventh layer in your health hierarchy.

Above the mind is your spirit and spirituality. The healthiness of your spirit is the eight health hierarchy layer.

Community is the ninth and final layer of the health hierarchy.  Humans live in and create communities for many purposes - the healthiness of these communities affects and is affected by all of the members.

You can see a chart of the primary and secondary disciplines of health here.

If we want to measure health, or healthiness, completely - we need to measure the health of each layer. Which brings us back to the question.  What is the difference between healthiness and illness?

Illness is measured by diagnosis, and diagnosis is a very powerful, specific tool. Specific health problems must be present to diagnose an illness.

 If your health, in any layer of the health hierarchy is deficient - it does not mean you have an illness.  An illness requires specific health deficits, at specific thresholds of severity, to be diagnosed as an illness.

Simple, or primary illnesses have specific causes.  Scurvy is caused by a deficiency of Vitamin C.

Secondary illnesses have sequential causes.  A puncture wound allows an infection to enter and grow.

Compound or complex illnesses - like many cancers - are the result of may causes, often interacting over long periods of time.

Our medical (health care) systems focus time, energy and money on prevention of illness, treatment of illness and curing illness.  There is little attention paid to healthiness. Health insurance will not pay for you to improve your healthiness - if you are not ill.  If you are ill, you can go to a doctor or a hospital and expect treatment.  In civilized countries, you can expect to be treated without the destruction of your financial health.

Improving your healthiness is personal, it's up to you.

This blog is about Personal Health Freedom. I see governments and corporations placing restrictions on healthy actions, often for unhealthy reasons.  I believe we each have a right to health and a right to healthy actions - and that each of us has a right to decide what actions are healthy for us.
Tracy is the author of two books about healthicine: