When It Comes to Chronic Illness, the Future is in the Fringe

When It Comes to Chronic Illness, the Future is in the Fringe

Discussion about how to pay for healthcare is important. It matters. But we will never resolve the question of how to pay for healthcare until we are clear about what we choose to pay for.

Chronic illness is a major contributor to healthcare costs. That includes chronic pain, which is a hot issue in the US at the moment. By definition, we can’t resolve chronic health problems with our current treatment options. If we could, they wouldn’t be chronic.

For chronic illness, we have two choices. We can choose to continue what we’re doing, admitting that we will never find a way to resolve the problems (or hoping that some miracle will happen and it will all magically go away.) Of course, when we expect failure, we are likely to experience exactly that.

Our other choice is to do something different than what we are doing, to look in a different place for the answers. We can reconsider treatment methods we once ignored, or review our assumptions and look for a new paradigm.

Medicine is based on science. But, which science?

Our proposed solution to almost every health problem is chemistry. We rely on pills for nearly everything. Physics, for some reason, is not valued, not important, fringe. Anyone who dares to talk about energy, to suggest that the energy underlying all matter has an effect on the body and the mind, is met with derision. A medical school professor who chooses to research energy medicine will likely soon be out of a job.

And yet, energy medicine is the future.

When I worked with veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, I saw great improvement with an energy technique, EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique. This is an acupressure technique people can do themselves without needles.

When patients used EFT, they often had improvement in PTSD symptoms. But many also had improvement in pain, with less need for pain medications, even though we were not specifically addressing the pain. If we really want to decrease opiate use, we should teach EFT to all patients who are interested.

Disdain for the body’s own healing ability is expensive, in money and wellness. If we want to control costs and promote healing, we need to better understand how the body heals itself, and offer self-healing methods to those who are suffering.

If energy medicine is on the fringe, so be it. But when we don’t find answers for chronic conditions in the centre, in the mainstream, we have two choices. We can keep looking in the centre, or we can look to the fringe. If the answers are not in the centre, let’s go to where they are.

Physics is a science also. When chemistry doesn’t work, let’s consider energy and put it to work for healing.


Dr Karen Ritchie was formerly the Chief of Psychiatry at M.D. Anderson Cancer Centre in Texas. She is also a bioethicist, with a Masters’ degree in bioethics from Georgetown’s Kennedy Institute of Ethics. Karen was the founder and first president of the Midwest Bioethics Centre, now the Centre for Practical Bioethics in Kansas City. Her next book, Will Your Children Have Any Doctors? will be available in August 2017.

 


 

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