While reading some wise words from herbalist Susan Weed I came across her version of a common paradigm for healing that Naturopaths are taught “The Six Steps of Healing”. It was great to revisit this information, to mull over it, and to let it steep into my essence. In the realm of healthcare it is easy to get locked into palliation – people want to feel better immediately – and if they don’t, they often go looking somewhere else for a solution. I will say this again and again – symptoms are merely an expression of a deeper disharmony. Our rational minds take the symptoms as the actual illness when in fact they are merely expressions. An example of this is the classic fever. People spend thousands of dollars each year on doctors’ visits, Tylenol, and other suppressive therapies designed to eliminate a fever. We are confused!! Fever is our body’s natural way of eliminating the microbe that is potentially hazardous in the first place; it is the attempt to literally fry whatever invasive organism found its way past our initial immune barriers. Because a fever is uncomfortable, however, we try everything in our power to stop it – getting lost in the symptoms rather than looking at the greater picture.
Susan Weed reminded me to spend more time with my patients explaining how the symptoms are not what we are treating. Medicine is both an ART and a science. The art piece is finding the root of the patient’s illness, choosing the correct levels at which to treat it, and helping the patient to understand what the goals are in the treatment. Thank you Susan for sending this wisdom my way again and for strengthening my conviction that medicine is not only science, it is art too.
THE SIX STEPS OF HEALING by Susan Weed
Step 0 – Do nothing. (Sleep, meditate, unplug the phone or clock.) A vital step.
Step 1 – Collect information. (Low-tech diagnosis, reference books, support groups, divination.)
Step 2 – Engage energy. (Prayer, homeopathic remedies, ritual, crying, visualizations, color, laughter, aeromatherapy.)
Step 3 – Nourish and tonify. (Herbal infusions/vinegars, love, some herbal tinctures, life-style changes, physical activities, moxibustion.)
Step 4 – Stimulate/sedate. (Hot/cold water, many herbal tinctures, acupuncture, most massage, alcohol.)
Step 5a – Use supplements. (Synthesized/concentrated vitamins or minerals, special foods. These are more potent and less “natural” than step 3.)
Step 5b – Use pharmaceuticals/drugs. (Synthesized alkaloids, hormones, etc. Overdose may cause injury or death.)
Step 6 – Break and enter. (Fear-inspiring language, surgery, invasive diagnostic techniques, biopsies, etc. Side effects are inevitable and may cause permanent injury or death.)