Posts filed under ‘Science and Health’
It’s hard to imagine that administering routine medical tests would have negative consequences, especially when the test in and of itself is completely harmless. Checking to make sure there aren’t problems lurking in our bodies makes perfect sense. At least until the consequences of doing so are carefully examined.
Here’s what’s happening: a lowering of the threshold of indicators when tests are called for. In fact, some tests are being administered at the onset of some general risk factors that everyone will experience at some point in their life, such as their age.
Examining this issue carefully in her book Overtreated, Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer, Shannon Brownlee points out that:
Today, the number of tests has exploded, and doctors no longer just treat the sick but instead go looking for disease among the well. (p. 200)
Why? Looking for disease so you can catch it before it becomes a big problem. At least that’s the argument. But it’s not the end of the story.
The increase in testing has caused another phenomenon. In his Op-Ed piece in the L.A. Times (May 6, 2011) Dr. H. Gilbert Welch argues that, not only testing but “treatment thresholds are too low.” He goes on:
We look harder for things to be wrong. We test more often, we are more likely to test people who have no symptoms, and we have changed the rules about what degree of abnormality constitutes disease.
Diagnostic thresholds that are set too low lead in turn to a bigger problem: treatment thresholds that are set too low.
This means we are treating as disease conditions which we used to consider normal. This triggers a whole host of problems for our medical system which are now coming to light. But more importantly, Brownlee points out:
…many other tests, which have their place if a patient has symptoms, have had the perverse effect of benefiting only a small minority when they are given routinely to apparently healthy people in the name of prevention — while exposing the majority to invasive, often dangerous treatment they don’t necessarily need. (p. 200)
Even the humorous comment, “Now I can do all the things I did before, but with the assurance that I am doing them while medicated,” is offset by the serious claim that health is not benefited by over treatment.
Simply put by Welch, “low thresholds have a way of leading to treatments that are worse than the disease.”
These revelations might well be disconcerting to those relying on multiple medical tests for reassurance that they are healthy. There is an alternative worth considering.
Richard Schiffman writes in the Huffington Post (January 18, 2012) that …
“regular prayer and meditation has been shown in numerous scientific studies to be an important factor in living longer and staying healthy.” Schiffman discusses the underlying research and surveys that support this conclusion.
I’ve found that to be true. Regular prayer, along with well balanced living, has been invaluable in maintaining my health without a host of low-threshold medical tests. Mary Baker Eddy figured this out over 140 years ago and wrote about it in her book Science and Health. I daily use prayer and her system of health maintenance.
The test that I’ve found to be essential is an examination of my consciousness. I look to see what unhealthy attitudes are lurking there, and treat those–with dismissal. There are no negative side effects from finding and eliminating unhealthy thoughts. This process doesn’t result in a cure worse than the disease.
This form of health care can effectively achieve and maintain health. That’s been my experience for many years.
Yes, there is danger in lowering the threshold for medical tests and treatment. But I’ve yet to find that there can be too much prayer and reflection as long as it leads to real change in my thinking and my life.
My colleague, Bob Clark from Florida, has written a thoughtful blog challenging the notion that with maturity comes debilitation. He shares a healing of Alzheimer’s disease achieved through spiritual means alone. Whether or not you are a “senior”, this is a blog worth reading. John D. Clague, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Oregon.
By Bob Clark, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Florida
I live in an area with a lot of wonderful older people, “seniors” as they’re often called. I love seeing seniors walking on the beach, fishing off the piers, driving convertibles, playing golf and generally enjoying life in their later years. These are the true “senior moments”.
So it bothers me deeply when I read about Alzheimer’s disease threatening to demote seniors from their well-earned place and status to a lower level where their “senior-hood” can become a curse rather than a blessing.
Here are some startling statistics from American Family Physician, “The financial and social costs of Alzheimer’s disease are staggering. In the United States, the disease accounts for about $100 billion per year in medical and custodial expenses, with the average patient requiring an expenditure of about $27,000 per year for medical and nursing care. In addition, 80 percent of caregivers report stress, and about 50 percent report depression.”
Is there an alternative to the unjust sentence this disease imposes on our seniors and their families? Is there a way to control or even avoid its collateral costs and damage? Yes. Fortunately for all of us, there is.
As health care reform lumbers forward and costs spiral upward we are seeing increased coverage of alternative approaches to health and healing. The number one alternative, according to NIH, the National Institutes of Health, is prayer. Surprised?
Well, prayer, as it turns out, actually works, even for incurable, degenerative diseases that baffle medical experts. Below is an outstanding and inspiring example of how prayer was used to completely overcome Alzheimer’s. In this case, after a medical diagnosis, every conceivable remedy was applied: Chinese herbalism, homeopathy, ayurvedic medicine, and yoga, all in addition to the most up to date pharmaceutical remedies. After all else failed, this woman found prayer to be the only effective and permanent alternative. Hers is a must read story.
Her prayer-based triumph over Alzheimer’s is just one example of thousands, offering proof that medical diagnoses are not always final and that there is a practical spiritual alternative to forfeiting the joys of senior-hood.
Today I have the pleasure of sharing this post from the blog of Shannon Horst, Christian Science Committee on Publication for New Mexico. Her story is a clear and compelling example of why people, such as Shannon and I, choose Christian Science as their health care system. It works! John D. Clague, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Oregon.
For readers who follow this blog, you know that I generally post an original piece on Monday every week. Well, yesterday, I had every intention of doing just that. But, let me share with you what happened because it is the very reason I am blogging.
Sunday night, after a lovely evening spent with my family and my brother, his wife and kids, I planned to head to my office and write my blog so that it could be posted very early Monday. But, after returning home from dinner out, I was hit with a sudden illness. I cannot tell you what it was but I can tell you that in the space of about 90 minutes I went from being fine to feeling so unwell that I could barely hold my head up or think straight. I could not find any comfortable position except to pace back and forth across one room.
As I always do, I turned to God in prayer. The prayer I engaged in is considered a scientific “treatment” in Christian Science and it is specific and designed to heal one of any illness. Sunday night, my prayer included affirmation of God’s allness and goodness and the fact that God is all cause and effect. It included my refusal to accept that I was anything less than God’s child – His actual outcome and reflection. It included my refusal to accept that I was subject to a virus or germs, because I have come to understand through studying Christian Science that I am actually a spiritual idea and not a material object. Lastly, I fully expected healing and gave gratitude to God in anticipation of a return to normalcy.
When, after about an hour, I still did not feel well, I called my mother and asked for her to pray with me. In about 20 minutes, the symptoms began to abate. In an hour they were entirely gone. I lay down and slept soundly through the night.
I did not get my blog written Sunday night. But, I experienced a clear and, for me, undeniable example of healing through prayer in Christian Science. It was quick, effective and affordable. My own experiences give me my reasons for wanting to be sure that scientific prayer is part of our nation’s search for solutions to its so-called “healthcare crisis.”
This is a question that we all need to seriously consider. If it’s true, what can we do about it? What responsibility do we have for the health of those around us? Are we contributing to their well-being, or are we having a negative effect on them. All important questions to reflect upon. In his blog post, my friend and colleague Bill Scott, Christian Science Committee on Publication for the state of Washington, discusses these issues. You will find it by clicking the link below. John D. Clague, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Oregon.
by John D. Clague, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Oregon
Health anxiety. Boy, that’s a big issue. It’s a condition I’ve seen in many people over the years. Parents worrying about each symptom experienced by their child. Adults obsessed with every the latest malady reported in the news.
Have you ever paid attention to the conversations around you at work? A day doesn’t go by without someone talking about his latest health issue, what his doctor says about it, her concerns about it spreading or getting worse, and so on. They talk about what pills they’re taking, how many, what color, how expensive.
The technology explosion, though presumed to be a benefit to mankind, may actually be a curse for the common citizen fearful about her health. On the internet you can find every conceivable disease or body malfunction known to man. You can find all the symptoms that go along with these conditions, and possible remedies. You can find out what medication you should be taking or what surgeries can solve the problem. This information only adds to the fear one may be harboring about their health. It’s conveniently called cyberchondria.
Wendy Glauser brings out an important point in her article “Health Anxiety” in the spring edition of Canadian Health. “At least 5% of the Canadian population is estimated to suffer from severe health anxiety, with a greater percentage of milder cases. Health anxiety can be triggered when …Internet websites match perceived symptoms to scary disorders or when physical symptoms persist that doctors can’t explain.”
And I’m certain that a much larger percentage of the population actually experiences sickness due to disease descriptions in the media and Internet. The idea is suggested to the mind and then the condition manifests itself in the body.
Dr. Herbert Benson, a renowned physician and researcher on the mind-body connection, has coined this phenomenon the “nocebo effect”. A more common term is psychosomatic disorder, i.e., symptoms of a disorder caused by one’s thought. His research for over 30 years has clinically proven that one’s thinking can have a healing or negative effect on one’s health.
Benson, Glauser, and those Glauser interviews for her article, report on a physiological basis for understanding and addressing these conditions. This approach will always have the limitation of the human body and brain. It relies on altering the neurological functions of the brain through thought, or through relaxation techniques, counseling, and in some cases, medications.
Interventions that heal the body through altering brain functions are limited by the body’s limitations. There’s no way around it.
As a practicing Christian Scientist I’ve found that healing goes beyond the brain and body, and comes through an understanding of spiritual nature. This understanding releases me from anxiety and any concern about my body. Rather than search the internet for a name or symptoms, I revel in the freedom that comes with focusing my thought on God as my creator, and the wholeness and harmony of His creation.
The press unwittingly sends forth many sorrows and diseases among the human family. It does this by giving names to diseases and by printing long descriptions which mirror images of disease distinctly in thought. A new name for an ailment affects people like a Parisian name for a novel garment. Every one hastens to get it. A minutely described disease costs many a man his earthly days of comfort. What a price for human knowledge! [pp. 196-7]
And she goes on to say:
The physical affirmation of disease should always be met with the mental negation…If you believe in inflamed and weak nerves, you are liable to an attack from that source… If you decide that climate or atmosphere is unhealthy, it will be so to you. Your decisions will master you, whichever direction they take. [p. 392 ]
It’s liberating to know that we don’t have to be fearful about our health, and that peace of mind comes from a decision to recognize the natural healthiness of all that God made, including me and you. We can learn to meet health anxiety at the door of thought, before it gets its mental foot in the door, with a “no admittance”. God cares for His creation and keeps it well. That’s real freedom.