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When medicine reaches perfection—have we achieved that elusive goal yet?
We’ve made so much progress in science and medicine, but has it been perfected yet? Will it ever be perfected?
We all admire and respect heroic doctors in their white coats: intelligent, hard-working, with the power to make life and death decisions.
All my life I only considered the western/modern medicine model as the “true” medicine—anything else I considered as questionable.
Wayne Dyer says: “The highest form of ignorance is to dismiss something you don’t know anything about.”
Well, that was me. I didn’t know much about western/modern medicine, but many of my relatives were medical doctors or married one. I ended up marrying a physician myself. I also didn’t know much about any other forms of treating disease, such as holistic/naturopathic medicine, which was well accepted in Germany where I grew up. I only accepted the academic, western medicine mode of treating illness, mainly because I thought of it as “science.” To make matters worse, I looked upon alternative/holistic doctors a bit with disapproval and prejudice.
But God has mysterious ways of teaching us lessons… ten years later I have become a doctor in natural medicine myself and write this article, knowing I might face the same prejudice I had towards holistic doctors before.
To make a long story short, due to circumstances I started realizing that for many conditions, especially chronic conditions, our current medical system offers little more than a band aid, and only suppresses symptoms via drugs, without addressing the actual causes and cures of disease.
As I learned more and experienced more, I became less impressed with modern medicine, and I stopped trusting blindly and following “doctors’ orders.” Instead, I started educating myself about health, diseases and their cures. I started reading the Baha’i writings about medicine, health and healing and I slowly realized that a new kind of medicine is emerging:
It is, therefore, evident that it is possible to cure by foods, aliments and fruits; but as today the science of medicine is imperfect, this fact is not yet fully grasped. When the science of medicine reaches perfection, treatment will be given by foods, aliments, fragrant fruits and vegetables.. – Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, newly revised edition, p. 297.
Reading this for the first time quite amazed and puzzled me. In the era of vaccines, antibiotics, statins and blood pressure medications, Abdu’l-Baha says when medicine reaches perfection treatment will be given by foods? At first that sounded more backwards than forwards to me.
But I soon realized and understood that we are indeed going backwards—back to nature—to perfect medicine.
At one point in the development of modern medicine, for example, antibiotics were the most groundbreaking discovery. But through over-prescription of antibiotics we have created superbugs that are now antibiotic resistant.
However, we now have started to develop sufficient scientific knowledge to begin understanding the effects of nutrition. Since drug companies can’t patent nature, it is more challenging to get funding for scientific studies on the salubrious effects of fruits and herbs. Eventually, however, we will study which foods cure which conditions, and we’ll start to understand how much of a certain food, in synergy with what other foods do, treats disease and produces health.
This trend is already emerging under the terms functional, natural or integrative medicine. Traditional Western medicine has even begun to recognize the positive effects such practices can have, and a slow, gradual merger of the two approaches is now occurring.
As I studied these trends and began to understand them, I truly started to appreciate the meaning of the Baha’i principle of the harmony of science and religion.
In the past, I always thought that religion hindered the progress of science. It never occurred to me that the science we apply at this point is based on a reductionistic, materialistic method that does not go beyond what our senses can perceive and therefore does not take into account the powers of the spirit and mind. This is why science can’t explain spontaneous healing or the well-studied placebo effect. With the discovery of quantum physics we are now able to get closer to a scientific explanation of those phenomena.
Of course there will always be charlatans that will try to sell snake oil and miracle cures, and there are many highly-trained, licensed physicians that advise unnecessary surgeries or drug regimens. In the end, finding a competent physician comes down to excellence plus integrity, humility and compassion by the medical practitioner.
When an acute disease or emergent condition confronts you, the Baha’i teachings advise you to consult a competent physician trained with our current modern, technically-advanced medicine. But when it comes to preventing disease, healing chronic illness and addressing conditions that require a spiritual approach, you may want to consult a holistic/naturopathic doctor that considers the body, mind and soul together.