Many modes of healing

Modern, scientific medicine has brought many gifts to those who receive treatment for a wide variety of illnesses and diseases. the increases in knowledge and understanding of disease have been dramatic and there have been a host of improvements in quality of life for those who suffer both major and minor illnesses.It is not hard to find examples of the benefits of scientific medicine. 50 years ago the survival rate for those suffering heart attacks was only about 3 out of every ten people who suffered attacks. Today the survival rate is more than seven out of ten. the understanding of the complex dynamics of the heart have been greatly enhanced by modern diagnostic tools such as ultrasound, catheterization and micro optical devices. Doctors have ways to monitor heart rate and rhythm and there are a host of treatment options available through the study of chemistry. The combination of complex scientific studies of physics, chemistry, electricity and other disciplines has lead to a revolution in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of heart conditions.

Similar advances in the understanding and treatment of various forms of cancer have led to dramatic increases in survival rates and quality of life.

Often we think of the study of medicine in terms of the scientific and technical knowledge that is transmitted through a rigorous and challenging form of education. It takes years of classroom preparation and practical experience to become a doctor and those who have specialized training and skills often spend additional years in training and clinical observation. We think of hours in laboratories and hours of treating patients in controlled settings when we think of medical education.

There is, however, another field of inquiry that is bringing promise to the treatment of illness and injury. The study of history and anthropology has led to the discovery of aspects of healing arts that have been successfully practiced for long periods of time. Some of those medical practices don’t meet the modern standard of double blind studies and controlled inquiries. However, there are examples where the careful study of ancient practices have yielded benefits for the treatment of certain conditions.

Once example of the use of an ancient practice in modern medicine is the use of acupuncture. This traditional Chinese medical practice has often been called a pseudoscience because the way that the practices have been learned have primarily been through tradition and person to person training as opposed to scientific method. However, there have been modern scientific studies, including double blind studies that have shown acupuncture to be effective in the treatment of pain. There are some studies that have observed pain management rates that match and even exceed those of chemical treatments. Scientists have also observed that there are fewer risks of side effects from acupuncture than from some modern medicines used for the treatment of pain.

Less studied, but possibly very effective are ancient aboriginal practices for the treatment of depression practices by native Australians. Australia’s indigenous Aboriginal people are thought to be the oldest living human culture on the planet. There are modern practitioners of physical, mental and spiritual health whose training and practices are as old as 60,000 years.

Western psychiatrists treat depression with a combination of chemical medicines and cognitive-behavioral therapies. While these treatments can be very effective, no medical treatment is completely effective in every case. Furthermore, access to scientific-based treatment for mental health issues is restricted in most parts of the world. Shortages of staffing, funding and facilities means that many are simply unable to access treatment.

The aboriginal practice of reconnecting with nature as a technique for rebalancing the spirit has proven to be successful in the treatment o depression. Non-indigenous people have traveled to remotes areas of Australia for treatment by traditional mubarrn practitioners. These treatments have been observed to be effective. The traditional healers invite that visits to sacred sites guided by particular rituals and ceremonies. Additional study is needed to understand the practices and to measure their results, but there is increasing anecdotal evidence that individuals have found the treatments to be both effective and long lasting.

It is important to understand that there are no treatments for depression that offer a complete cure. Although sufferers may see a reduction in symptoms and in some cases experience years of remission, depressive illness often remains a threat to health for years and even decades. It is extremely difficult to effectively treat.

Tradition attributes supernatural abilities to healers, but modern scientific studies reveal that rather than supernatural powers, healers have access to a body of traditional and historic information and practices that have proven to be effective over thousands of years of practice. The knowledge is passed down through the generations and is honed by an extremely long chain of trial and error. Modern scientific studies of the practices can lead to the discovery of drugs that appear in natural plants and animals, techniques such as immersion in cold water and guided meditation and other practices that hold hope for effective treatment.

Additional studies are needed, but it is clear that there are many avenues of exploration for those who are willing to conduct research into areas that are not considered to be part of a modern, scientific education. Our system is heavily weighted for scientific, technical, math and engineering skills and less funding and support is given to the study of anthropology, history and other areas where measurements are more difficult and assessments are challenging at best. Yet these fields of inquiry offer the possibility of discovering new treatments for illnesses that have caused suffering throughout human history.

As we continue to learn about how to bring relief to those who suffer, there is an obligation to make careful study of all possibilities for treatment. Dismissing possible treatments because the mode of education and transmission is not the same as contemporary scientific inquiry is to miss entire fields of study and potentially to fail to understand effective modes of treatment.

The knowledge and skills of the worlds oldest culture are fields of inquiry that hold the potential to reveal truths that have long been known by some, but largely ignored by the rest of the world.

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!