February 14, 2014

Feeling Good Friday: Hippocrates

Normally on Feeling Good Fridays I highlight a food or a product that can promote healing but today I am going to focus on a person. This person is not alive anymore and so he physically cannot promote healing but the principles he left behind are pretty astounding and are certainly relevant today. We Americans, who are becoming increasingly more unhealthy and sick, are s l o w l y coming full circle in understanding and applying the principles that Hippocrates believed in. (Warning there is a bit of a rant in this post.)

Since I have started on my journey of healing through education about God's gift to us in real, whole, clean food, the name Hippocrates has come up many times. I have read and heard he is the "Father of Medicine." Along with that I have seen the famous quote by him, "Let food be thy medicine and let thy medicine be food." I can attest to that in the fact that food (along with a few other pieces to my puzzle) have been powerful in healing my ailing body. I am sure that I learned about him during my schooling as well but really hadn't remembered a whole lot about him.

(picture of Hippocrates found on www.pbs.com)

Recently, while homeschooling my eight year old, we were doing history and our lesson for the day was about Hippocrates. What I read really peaked my interest in finding out more about Hippocrates as well as the Hippocratic oath that was based on his way of practicing medicine and written shortly after he died by Pythagoreans in Greece.

Hippocrates broke the mold in that he did not believe that the Greek God of Asclepius was his healer. Instead, he believed that diet, rest and exercise is what could heal. He looked for causes of disease rather than treating a symptom. When he did treat he used herbs, diet changes, and getting outside along with exercise. He believed that a doctor should be trustworthy and that the doctor should use his skills wisely for the BETTERMENT of mankind.
(some of the above paragraph is paraphrased from The Mystery of History Volume 1 by Linda Lacour Hobar)

These are all amazing principles that he practiced by. The major difference in my own views is that I DO believe my God (Jesus Christ) is my healer. If it weren't for Him then none of the foods or other things would have healed me. It is by God's grace and mercy on me that I am able to thrive and function in life.

As my son and I continued learning about Hippocrates we also found out some interesting info on the Hippocratic oath. Remember, I said this is the document that was written some time after the death of Hippocrates? The people who wrote it (the Pythagoreans) based it off of the way that Hippocrates practiced medicine and his beliefs therefore it reflects him. Oh how I wish this oath was truly adhered to in our day. Our medical system would be 100% different. I will get into that briefly in a bit.

(photo of the classic Hippocratic Oath from www.wikipedia.com)

Once this oath was written it was and has been used for thousands of years as a pledge for doctors who are graduating medical school.

What I thought was most interesting and very reflective of modern western medicine is how much this oath has changed over the last 2,500 years. In fact, only 1-3 schools use this classic oath today. The others use various watered down politically correct versions that virtually mean nothing. It has become more of a ritual rather than a true oath and promise.

Let me show you what the classic, original oath written after Hippocrates death said...

I swear by Apollo Physician and Asclepius and Hygieia and Panaceia and all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will fulfill according to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant:

To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and to teach them this art—if they desire to learn it—without fee and covenant; to give a share of precepts and oral instruction and all the other learning to my sons and to the sons of him who has instructed me and to pupils who have signed the covenant and have taken an oath according to the medical law, but no one else.

I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice.

I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.

I will not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone, but will withdraw in favor of such men as are engaged in this work.

Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves.

What I may see or hear in the course of the treatment or even outside of the treatment in regard to the life of men, which on no account one must spread abroad, I will keep to myself, holding such things shameful to be spoken about.

If I fulfill this oath and do not violate it, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and art, being honored with fame among all men for all time to come; if I transgress it and swear falsely, may the opposite of all this be my lot.

—Translation from the Greek by Ludwig Edelstein. From The Hippocratic Oath: Text, Translation, and Interpretation, by Ludwig Edelstein. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1943.

The items that I bolded really stand out to me. Doctors would apply dietetic measures to treat a patient! That means food, herbs, things that God gave us on this green earth.
They will keep patients from harm and injustice. Wow, how integrous.
They will not even give a deadly drug to those who ask for it and they wont even offer it. No assisted suicide?
This next one is the one that caught my eye in the history book - they won't give a woman an abortive remedy. Pro-life even way back then!
Even though Hippocrates and most likely the Pythagoreans were not believers in Christ, and most likely did not know God the Creator they obviously valued human life. They will do their duty for the BENEFIT of the sick, not the benefit of themselves.
There will be no injustice or inappropriate relations with patients or anyone in the houses they visit. Lastly, if they adhere to this oath they will be praised and honored but adversely if they don't then they will be defamed, lose face, and probably lose their practice. Accountability what a novel concept. Yes, there is a bit of a sarcastic tone here...)

Not only was Hippocrates strong in holding to the ways he practiced medicine against many others who didn't see his viewpoint but others followed in his footsteps adhering to this amazing oath. Certainly, it is not perfect but it is a far cry from what oath(s) we have today. I wish we could go back to these principles.

Today, except for those 1-3 schools I mentioned earlier, there is no one oath that is followed. There are several different versions. Medical students graduate now and do say AN oath but it is more a set of rote words that mean nothing to almost any of these students getting ready to start their own practices. Furthermore, some of the statements in the modern versions are not even adhered too (in my personal experience.)

For starters, there is no mention of treating patients dietetically. There is no mention about giving or not giving a deadly drug to a patient. There is no mention of not giving a woman an abortive remedy, rather it says, "I will not play God" but right before that statement it talks about the fact that the doctor has the power to take a human life. There is no mention of having any inappropriate relations either.

Here are some things the modern versions of the Hippocratic Oath does say....

"I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure."
"My professional judgement will be exercised as independently as possible and not be influenced by political pressure nor by factor such as social standing of the patient."
"I will not put personal profit or advancement above my duty to patients."
"If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help."
(taken from www.amednews.com and www.pbs.com)

They will try to prevent disease? Really? Does modern Western Medicine really prevent medical disease? My opinion is, NO. In fact, they create problems with the onset of new drugs and the money behind the drugs that are being pushed. Some diseases actually come or are greatly worsened from modern medicine and the pharmaceuticals! Is prevention really preferable? I don't think so. Prevention would mean that we Americans wont need to come back to get more medicine. It would mean we would not need to be seen again in the office which would mean less mula for the pharms and doctors.

Not influenced by political pressures, by the way a person looks are how much money they have? Ummm, Hmmmm, I don't think so. That is a whole new post in and of itself though.

Do most doctors put the welfare of their patients above their personal gain (paycheck, fame, etc.)? In my experience with many, many doctors over the years personal gain is first and foremost. They want to gain more patients because that equals more money and more payoffs from the big pharma. Patients to them are just a number not an actual person that needs true help and honest care. Are ALL doctors this way - no. However, a vast majority I can bet are in it for themselves, not the well being of the patient. When test results trump the way the patient is feeling, and symptoms that may be occurring from a cause being untreated continue without a doctor caring, this tells me that the tests, drugs, etc are more priority than a patient.

Lastly, what happened to the accountability? The statement in the modern oath(s) only talk about if they do NOT violate the oath. What about if they do? Sure there are lawsuits and various ways to find justice but not through the original "promise" that was made upon graduation. Scary.

I do not believe all doctors are in this sad and corrupt state but I do believe that we can see proof of this watered down oath due to the awful state of health that our nation is in. I know it is due in part to our S.A.D diet and sedentary lifestyles and do not solely blame this on doctors. However, if the majority of our modern day doctors were following the principles and ideas that Hippocrates practiced I do believe that our world would be in an entirely different state of health. Medicine would truly would be about treating the cause not the symptom. It would be about using remedies that actually helped the root cause and healed rather than caused new problems. Patients would not just bee looked at a number. It would be amazing!

I am grateful for Hippocrates' courage in a time that what he believed wasn't widely accepted. I am grateful that there is a movement happening now in our nation that people are returning to these healthy principles. I am also thankful that there are doctors springing up who may not say this Hippocratic oath exactly, but truly adhere to the principles laid in Hippocrates foundation. It is wonderful. I am also blessed because in the past year I have been able to find a few doctors who treat the cause and not the symptom and look at the body as a whole not in pieces. They also take lots and lots of time with me getting a good picture of my health history. They genuinely care for me. Praise God!

If you are discouraged about your health I would suggest seeking out a Functional and Integrative Medicine doctor or an Investigative medicine doctor. Even some chiropractors practice Holistic Medicine (the Hippocrates Way.) There are good ones out there but it takes some searching.

If you would like to learn more about the Classic Hippocratic Oath, I found this site to be a informative one:
Western Fictioneers

Even if our doctors wont help us or treat us with no genuine care, let's start applying the principles that Hippocrates believed in about letting our medicine be our food and our food be our medicine. God gave us a wonderful gift in the clean, unadulterated foods that he gave us here on earth. Let's educate ourselves and look at modern research and testimonials as proof of the healing power in the gifts God has given us.


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For any and all health advice/suggestions and/or posts on this blog, I do not assume any liability for you. The posts and comments on this blog are not meant to be a substitute for your own practicing physician's care in your life. These posts are based on my experience and research in my own healing journey and are placed here to encourage and help those ailing with their health. We are all individuals and there is not ONE pat answer or resolution that applies to everyone across the board.