The Current Theme : Medical Dependency
Author: Alec Milne
Date : August 2006

In a year when a fourth generation Kingston member became medically qualified, and another found himself in hospital after a break of 62 years, this theme seemed reasonably qualified as a ‘current ’one.

When an octogenarian passes blood in his urine as happened last November it is predictable that his response to panic is to seek medical opinion, in much the same way that a front line soldier discovers the urgency of prayer. That the GP calms down the patient by suggesting ‘tests’ that imply no commitment to any form of treatment seems reasonable enough, and that things go wrong with these tests is not to be anticipated.  Apparently they can, and do. Thus a hospital stay of three days for an examination under general anaesthesia took place in April that included the insertion of a catheter (real shock horror this) to be carried around for the next two days, until a final all clear decision was given;  no obstruction, healthy prostate and a normal PSA, delivered.  Better still ‘no need for a further referral’ was added to the original verbal reassurance.

Within two months I received a letter informing me of a rather high level revealed in one of the blood tests and it was felt that a more thorough examination of my prostate would be of benefit. I protested that both the timing and nature of this missive was most upsetting and could not be bettered, if medical dependency was the objective. If one of the tests showed a disquietingly high level why not tell the patient which one, and by how much. Warming to my theme I commented on the apparent attitude of the other three members of my ward, two of whom had been before and would come again. They accepted the reassurance of the treatment offered, and well they might. They accepted that success was not guaranteed but knew it was the latest and best of medical treatment on offer. Their response was a purely passive one and had at least one beneficial aspect – if you can’t beat it, accept it, an aphorism that contains a fund of wisdom. The response of my letter of protest and its damaging implications for my personal philosophy was to send me an appointment time for the next week, with a card chart for future appointments.

This dismissal of a personal belief was my sticking point. When asthma brought me to Kingston in 1946, it was soon made clear that it was I who had to find an answer. I had to make it happen. In the Nature Cure File No1, I explain how this was a process that took at least five years, that it did work. Somehow and with the aid of others and with a somewhat fumbling appreciation of the process, I allowed healing to happen; somehow I moved myself into a position where I no longer needed asthma. (I treat with reserve the comment that I was a far nicer person when I had asthma than when I put it behind me.) In the simplest possible terms I learnt the value of personal responsibility, that prevention is the better part of cure and that greater understanding of the role of symptoms is essential, the one leading to the other.

My grand daughter, newly qualified, has been taught some of the skills learned by her predecessors. Their course used to be almost twice as long, and their experience developed continuously throughout a career where it was said 'a doctor’s best pill is his best side manner’ and many of the nostrums then used in the pre 1960’s now dismissed as placebos. Now medical treatment has become depersonalised, dependent finally on blood tests and scans, analysed many miles from base. Personal involvement by an informed person has always been a determining factor in recovery and is now muted. Now quite possibly, there is less understanding by the patient of the nature of his illness and treatment than since the days of the priesthood and witch doctor.

There is no correlation between the cost, and the effectiveness of treatment. The NHS becomes ever more expensive and is fragmenting into what is possible for the wealthy, and what you get with a poverty post code. What is increasingly clear is that all the steps forward that medical science is taking is being matched by a diminished sense of personal responsibility on the part of the public. For the Greeks destiny was in the hands of their numerous gods and deemed implacable. Now we have a growing acceptance approach of the inevitable nature of genetic inheritance, even to the point of double mastectomies. Meanwhile my GP adviser notes my protest to the hospital and thanks me for informing him. He understands that I can only be comfortable in a situation where I feel that what I do is going to determine future events. But should I lose my nerve, then I just have to ask for a blood test and PSA reading at our local health centre and I will be welcomed back into the fold!  I noted the expectancy. It is said that all men will die of prostatic cancer unless they die of something else first. The Nature Cure practice and philosophy is concerned with possibility of dying healthily.

Response: Lyanne Mitchell

Most of us would agree with the well known saying - "Prevention is better than Cure" and Nature Cure encourages a lifestyle which maximises on the body's natural drive, not only to survive, but to be well.

Fresh food in season (preferably organic); fresh air and daily exercise; an intelligent 'leaving alone' to allow the healing crisis to take place for minor complaints; an understanding that symptoms are not 'the enemy' to be banished as soon as possible, but 'signposts' leading us to the core of the problem; and above all - the development of a personally responsible attitude towards one's own health and a trust in the body's natural ability to repair and to heal. Nature Cure teaches "it's YOUR have the right to CHOOSE how it will be treated". Some wit said "As a society, we no longer have faith in God....we now put our faith in doctors". Most people hand themselves over, indescriminately, to their GPs and the NHS.

If a person is fortunate enough to be raised in the Nature Cure way from childhood, or to come under the guidance of a Nature Cure practitioner at an early enough stage, I believe his or her health can be protected, improved, nurtured....and his or her life-span can be lengthened and certainly enriched. (The writer of the current theme, Alec Milne, NC practitioner and life-long pioneer - is a living, breathing example of this!) The Kingston Clinic in Edinburgh has a fine reputation for natural healing. Patients were removed from the stresses of their every day world and relationships - immersed not only into a healthy , healing regime...but also a STATE OF MIND which promoted trust and confidence that healing was possible, even for very serious conditions.

But sadly, the Kingston Clinic was almost a unique environment and has now ceased to be. Within our present system - an over-burdened NHS and an army of GPs who are 'wooed' by powerful drug companies...where symptoms only are treated, without their deeper root causes being investigated or tackled....I am sorry to say that when a SERIOUS condition / disease manifests itself, very few of us are able to avoid 'medical dependency'. Faced with the urgent need for essential surgery or emergency life-saving drugs, we inevitably get sucked into the system. The logical conclusion to doing nothing, .....or to 'letting nature take its course' to die!

So far, we have only heard from Nature Cure practitioners on this Forum - (and sadly, precious few of these). I am a humble, ex-patient and 'lay follower' of Nature Cure - (I confess, with lapses!) Despite being enormously grateful to my mentor and the many benefits of embracing Nature Cure in middle life, I remain convinced that NC is most effective as a long-term preventative measure against ill health; and as a complimentory therapy for all minor ailments; but when emergencies and serious conditions threaten our very lives.....we need the medical system, warts and all.

Calling all fellow NC ex-patients and followers...... what do YOU think?

Lyanne Mitchell

Response: johnfielder

Hi Lyanne,

Whilst I find myself in total agreement with the main theme of you text, I do take issue with your closing paragraph, I quote"Despite being enormously grateful to my mentor and the many benefits of embracing Nature Cure in middle life, I remain convinced that NC is most effective as a long-term preventative measure against ill health; and as a complimentory therapy for all minor ailments; but when emergencies and serious conditions threaten our very lives.....we need the medical system, warts and all. "

It is my belief, and experience, that NC is , except in instances of accident, and some minor emergencies, and even these are minimal,quite capable of dealing with the so-called serious conditions too. I am not exactly sure what you would consider as a serious condition, I can only say that in my practice I have dealt with most conditions considered as serious, gangrene, asthma,poisoning,ulcerative colitis,diabetes, to name a few. All successfully.

Of course it is impossible to be all things for all people. It has been said that "no condition is hard to cure, only the patient".

John L. Fielder,DO,DC,ND(Adel)
President ISRN
Osteopath & Lifestyle Consultant
Academy of Natural Living

Response: StewartMitchell

We live in a medicalised culture and Nature Cure itself has been somewhat medically dependent – where would JCT and Shelton have been without (Dr) Lindlahr, and he without (Drs) Trall, Tilden etc. It was (Dr) Professor McKeowan who argued most convincingly against vaccination; medical scientist Prof Kearney has offered the most clear-cut evidence of the healing effects of the nature cure diet.

I don’t see straight NC as offering an alternative but a perspective on health, where you can view your options – confidently wait and see or go for the conventional fully informed ( or live and die with your condition, Lyanne.)

Who you consult will depend on this. If the choice is nature cure, it probably won’t be 100% because most people find us down the line of treatment; if conventional, it would be unethical if nature cure did not offer 100% support, regarding drugs or surgery as ‘accidents’.

Ultimately, is there any difference between being medically dependent and NC dependent - if one of the main aims of NC is to 'free' the spirit?

Response: johnfielder

Hi Stewart,

You make an interesting point of "medically dependant" or Nature Cure Dependant" In my mind it raises the point of dependancy. Even in the "freeing of the spirit" which you mention", are we not still depenedant on "something"? And in the instance of NC, the "self healing" powers of the body.


Response: Murray

People have always been afraid of pain, debility and death. Some, like explorers and mountain climbers, seem able to ignore such risks and suffering for the sake of their passion. At the other end of the spectrum, there are individuals who panic at the slightest sign of upset. Who suffers more? The mountain climber with a finger or two or even a limb missing is still in high spirits and ready for more, whilst the hypochondriac is in a constant state of misery, imagining what might happen to him or her.

Medical dependency is based on need. Some needs are obvious and to the true Kingston Nature Cure devotee, they are the ones for which medical help will be sought. The broken limb, the life threatening wound and the obstructive lump are examples where modern medicine can be miraculously successful. Of course it is perceived need which decides the person to call the doctor or visit the hospital. This perception is influenced by a myriad of self interests. Advertising and the media are generally very persuasive in colouring one’s judgement of what is needed. Sales of medical remedies depend on them and newspapers with sensational and scary stories are snapped up to provide vicarious excitement in a dull life. Friends and relatives want to help but feel fearful and helpless and urge you to go to the doctor or at least try their favourite pill.

And what of the doctor. He/she is a caring person too, generally, and conscientiously wants to help. The prescription is the way. Then you get better. Ah, it must have been the medicine which did it. And so it goes on.

What hope has KNC against this prevailing state of affairs?

Hope lies in the facts.

Iatrogenic disease is the third largest cause of hospital admissions. It is a major cause of death. Most doctors admit that people get better without medicines and that side effects can be worse than the disease.

The lesson? Think things through, observe carefully and decide for yourself what is and what is not to be feared. Exaggerated fear is destructive, manifests at all levels and is at the root of most serious illness. KNC teaches us that upsets of health now and then are part of being healthy and so not to be feared. Intelligent leaving alone is a major component of KNC healthy living and with time and application, fear recedes as confidence and patience grow.

Murray McGrath

Response: johnfielder

Thank you Murray for your insightful article. I am reminded of the following story which I think may well have been quoted by JCT at one time.

(Quoting from memory) The Plague was passing over the Himalayan Mountains on his way down to India, when he was sighted by Old Sol. Upon seeing him, Old Sol said,"Mr Plague, just the person I wish to see. Where are you headed now?" And Mr Plague replied," Ah Sol, it is good to see you. So where am I headed? I am headed down to India" Old Sol then enquired,"And what are you going to do down in India". Mr Plague replied," I am going to kill off three thousand people". To which Old Sol commented, "Now that is great, we could do with three thousand less people in India. So off you go."

About three months later the Plague was returning over the Himalayas, having successfully carried out his project of killing off three thousand people, when he was again hailed by Old Sol with" Mr Plague, just the man I wish to see. When you were passing through on your way to India you told me that you were on your way to kill off three thousand people. Yet I read that you killed off thirty thousand people". To which the Plage replied," Oh no, Old Sol, I only killed off three thousand people as I said I would, the other 27 thousand died from fear."

Response: johnfielder

Here is a most interesting article by Lynne Mc Taggart of WDTTY which I felt was relevant to this discussion and would like to share with you.

Dear Friends,

As I was perusing through New Scientist this week, my eye alighted on an interview with a Patrick Lemoine. This orthodox French psychiatrist made the astonishing admission that something like 35-40 per cent of all official prescriptions given patients are ‘impure’ placebos. By that he means a pharmacologically inactive substance —a sugar pill —‘contaminated’ with a little bit of active ingredient. It’s not enough to have a clinical effect but just enough for doctors to claim that it does.

The good French doctor was basically saying more than a third of all prescriptions are dummy pills and if they work at all, it’s because of the power of the mind.

That statistic blew my mind. Here was an orthodox psychiatrist, up until recently, the head of a psychiatric services at a hospital in Lyon, admitting that a giant chunk of doctors count on a patient’s belief in the drug.

The placebo effect has shown that beliefs are powerful, even when the belief is false. The placebo is a form of intention – an instance of intention trickery. When a doctor gives a patient a placebo, or sugar pill, he or she is counting on the patient’s belief that the drug will work.

It is well documented that belief in a placebo will create the same physiological effects as that of an active agent – so much so that it causes the pharmaceutical industry big headaches when designing drug trials. So many patients receive the same relief and even the same side effects with a placebo as with the drug itself that a placebo is not a true control.

Our bodies do not distinguish between a chemical process and the thought of a chemical process.

Lemoine says that the placebo effect ‘rests in the relationship between the patient and the doctor—the belief on the part of the patient that what the doctor has given him will work.

“It is what remains of the craft of the witch doctor, because unless you really know what you are doing, it’s unpredictable,” says Lemoine. “Doctors hate not to be able to predict or control the outcome of a treatment, because it makes them feel like charlatans.”

This is why, in Lemoine’s view, they prescribe ‘impure’ placebos. “This way they can fool themselves, at the same time as they fool their patients, that the treatment has predictable, scientifically tested effects.”

I remember reading about a study once that proved that it was the patient’s belief in the doctor’s ‘power’ that had mostly to do with his getting better. What he actually took—whether real drug or placebo—made absolutely no difference.

The study involved 46,000 heart patients, half of whom were taking a placebo. After examining the statistics of who got better, the researchers made the astonishing discovery that patients taking a placebo fared as well as those on the heart drug.

The only factor determining survival seemed to be belief that the therapy will work and a willingness to follow it religiously.

Those who stuck to doctor’s orders to take their drug three times a day fared equally well whether they were taking a drug or just a sugar pill. Patients who tended not to survive were those who had been lax with their regimen, regardless of whether they had been given a placebo or an actual drug.

Dummy dopamine
The power of the placebo was best illustrated by a group of patients treated for Parkinson’s disease, a motor system disorder in which the body’s system for releasing the brain chemical dopamine is faulty. The standard treatment for Parkinson’s is a synthetic form of dopamine.

In a study at the University of British Columbia, a team of doctors demonstrated with PET scanning that, when patients given placebos were told they had received dopamine, their brains substantially increased the release of their own stores of the chemical (Science, 2001: 293: 1164-6).

In another dramatic instance, at Methodist Hospital in Houston, Dr Bruce Moseley, a specialist in orthopaedics, recruited 150 patients with severe osteoarthritis of the knee and divided them into three groups.

Two-thirds were either given arthroscopic lavage (which washes out degenerative tissue and debris with the aid of a little viewing tube) or another form of debridement (which sucks it out with a tiny vacuum cleaner). The third group were given a sham operation: The patients were surgically prepared, placed under anaesthesia and wheeled into the operating room. Incisions were made in their knees, but no procedure carried out.

Over the next two years, during which time none of the patients knew who had received the real operations and who had received the placebo treatment, all three groups reported moderate improvements in pain and function. In fact, the placebo group reported better results than some who had received the actual operation (New England Journal of Medicine, 2002; 347: 81–8.The mental expectation of healing was enough to marshal the body’s healing mechanisms. The intention, brought about by the expectation of a successful operation, produced the physical change.

The doctor’s own placebo
But what was most astonishing of all about Lemoine’s interview was his disclosure that doctors also grow to believe in the power of their own placebo ‘sorcery’. The power of THEIR minds also seems to be involved in the healing process.

It’s not “uncommon”, says Lemoine, for a doctor to lose respect for a patient when the patient fails to respond to treatment. “He may decide the patient is imagining or faking his symptoms.”

This becomes a vicious circle of doubt. The doctor’s lack of respect gets transmitted to the patient, and then he, in turn, is less likely to believe in the doctor. “Any treatment he then prescribes is less likely to be effective and may even produce unpleasant side effects,” says Lemoine.

This is called the ‘nocebo’ effect and it means the power of the mind to believe an inert substance causes harm.

Perhaps the most remarkable case concerned a woman called Annie, whose severe depression landed her in a Lemoine’s psychiatric hospital for more than a decade. Most of her days were spent curled up in an armchair in the corner of her ward. After Lemoine struck up a friendship with her, he persuaded her to take part in a trial of a new antidepressant. She agreed and responded so well to the drug that she was able to leave the hospital. Subsequently she found both an apartment and a boyfriend. Her case in fact may have helped get the drug on the market.

Much later, when the ward was being redecorated, Lemoine found the antidepressant pills Annie was supposed to have taken, buried deep in the folds of her armchair. She’d hid them away, he realized, and when he checked he discovered she hadn’t taken even one.

Instances like this convince me that for the most part, we don’t need drugs, just our sincere belief that something is going to work.

Remember I was writing about this last week? For 400 years, since Isaac Newton developed his laws of motion and gravity, we have operated on the assumption that the universe is a tidy collection of well-behaved objects existing independently of each other. Matter — like us — is inviolate and self-contained. Living things like human beings are more or less a discrete assemblage – something that gets completed on its own back, through its own genetic material.

However, the latest discoveries about gut bacteria discover something closer to a constant two-way flow of information, in which the pathogen, in a sense, completes its host, both genetically and metabolically.

The best estimates are that these microscopic organisms —at last estimate there about about 1014 of them in the average gut —contain at least 100 times as many genes as we do).

We become a ‘super organism’ with an ability to do things far in excess of our innate genetic material. These little bugs don’t just complete us; they offer many improvements over the original.

This little dialogue carries on, in the form of constant signalling from the bacteria. Certain signals get turned on, depending upon which pathogen or which system in the body is out of whack.

The part about this that most interests me is that it underscores the greater question: where exactly we end and the rest of the world begins?

Even the lowliest of bacteria influences us at every moment.]For more information about this two-way flow, see our latest January issue of WDDTY.