Posted by: drwbortz | January 17, 2012

Convergence: West Needs East

The words health and function are virtual synonyms. A healthy body is one that is working well. So too, a healthy intestine or leg or brain each is an organ that is performing its dedicated functions in the best functional fashion. We are blessed with much redundant extra function.  We have two eyes, two ears, two lungs, two kidneys, two sex glands, when we really only need one to get by.  I can run a marathon with one lung, I can excrete all my waste material with one kidney, or overpopulate the world with one testicle.

The Darwinian reason for this seeming excess of function streams from the fact that we do not simply live in the idle gear. The environment provides constant challenges beyond merely getting by.  Hence, we understand the survival value of “extra” health.

So, we can surrender half of our original capacity with no apparent functional loss. At 60% loss still no problem with any deterioration of function.  At 30% remaining margin, we start to have symptoms, such as shortness of breath or a pileup of waste materials.  Another 10% debit from our 100%, brings us down to 20%; this results in either profound loss of function or death.

This is therefore a good-news/bad-news story, much like a bank account.  When you have extra cash in the bank, you can be a big spender. However, when you get to a certain margin a little more loss and you become bankrupt. All of the medical encounters and bills are spent in this narrow 20% to 30% margin remaining from our starting functionality.

It makes obvious great sense to preserve function. The way we do that is by good preventive maintenance, thus avoiding the trouble and expense of being sick. Health trumps illness by any possible measure. Western medicine spends all its intellectual and fiscal capital in trying to repair the damage or loss function.  Eastern medicine places its emphasis on retaining health and function.  This makes dominant good sense.

The obvious reason for the Western emphasis on repair instead of prevention is that repair pays well, whereas prevention doesn’t.  Zimmerman’s Law asserts “Nobody notices when things go right.” Such a perverse reality comes under increasing scrutiny. As the costs of Western health (illness) care begin to threaten fiscal solvency of the nations that embrace the repair model, they inevitably look elsewhere for an alternative. The East is the appropriate direction for us to seek answers.

Fortunately, medical science is maturing sufficiently to provide a rigorous science of health. Health is no longer a bland platitude, but a firm format. Health is not simply the absence of disease but a physical state of specified content. The determinants of lifelong health are not to be found in hospitals or pharmacies but in the everyday lifestyle that we pursue. We either choose health or illness.  It’s our choice to choose to act toward better health, or to neglect it.

The ancient Greek precepts of self-knowledge and moderation in all things have been rediscovered. Therefore our current trend to convergence of Eastern and Western precepts is not only of geographical import, but historical as well. The future will decree how effective we will be in the integration of our broadening curriculum for health.


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