Reprinted from Nature's Field Vol. 7 No. 1

HealingThe Healing Art
By Steven H. Horne

Speaking of the healing art, Hippocrates taught: "Whoever treats of this art should treat of things which are familiar to the common people."
Unfortunately, that is not the way things are done in orthodox medicine. Doctors are likely to give you some fancy name for your illness in a dead language. What for? Why do we need a seven-syllable word when a simple one would do.

An Australian naturopath, Dorothy Hall, gives us a clue to why this is so. "From medieval times the mystique has grown that if one has a knowledge of Latin and Greek which enables one to speak as the common man cannot, one must be able to cure all ills." In other words, using fancy names for diseases helps build the mystique that surrounds the medical profession.

Samuel Thomson, a nineteenth century herbalist, was less polite about this subject. He felt that this disease naming was outright deceptive and designed to keep the people in ignorance.

"...they have learned just enough to know how to deceive the people, and keep them in ignorance, by covering their doings under an unknown language to their patients. There can be no good reason given why all the technical terms in medical works are kept in a dead language, except it be to deceive and keep the world ignorant of their doings, that they may the better impose upon the credulity of the people; for if they were written in our own language, every body would understand them, and judge for themselves; and their poisonous drugs would be thrown into the fire before their patients would take them."

I am not ready to accuse medical doctors in general of practicing deliberate deception, they were taught to use those fancy names in medical school. However, it often seems like they are trying to deceive people in actual practice. I once had a lady tell me that the doctor had diagnosed her as having idiosyncratic pancreatitis. Translated that means: inflammation of the pancreas due to unknown causes. Wouldn't it have been easier just to say: Your pancreas is inflamed, but we don't know why? Easier yes, but it destroys some of the mystic of medicine.

Investigate the meaning of other labels doctors use for diseases and you'll discover the same thing. Many disease names are simply descriptions of symptoms in Latin. Other diseases are named for the person who discovered them and still others are named after the first person who was diagnosed as having that affliction.

Let's look at a common example. If a person comes to the doctor and says "I have a pain in my joint", the doctor might respond, "You have arthritis." What the doctor just did was repeated the symptoms back in Latin. "Itis" means "inflammation of." The word arthritis means "inflammation of the joints." Words like bronchitis, tonsillitis, appendicitis and so forth are simply Latin descriptions of the tissue or organ that is inflammed.

Any part of the body that hurts is probably inflammed, because all tissues of the body respond to damage or irritation through the process of inflammation. Hence, all these names are fancy ways of naming the location of the pain, something you probably already knew.

These, of course are the simplest disease names. There are many that are much fancier. Frequently, people ask me what to do about some strange disorder I have never heard of and I tell them, quite frankly, that I don't know. I don't treat any diseases. I don't know how. And that's not just a cop-out for legal reasons. I really don't know how to cure any disease, even the simplest cut and neither does anybody else. However, I do believe that the body knows how to heal itself to whatever capacity it is able and I do know ways of nourishing and supporting the body to aid it in its healing process. That is my specialty, supporting the body so it can do its best job of selfhealing. I leave the naming and treating of diseases to the medical doctors.

Healing takes time and Understanding

People tell me one of the primary reasons that they continue to take all of these supplements is because they have been told that nutritional healing takes a long time. There is truth in that statement, healing does take time. Any natural process takes time. I may be too impatient in my desire to eat corn to wait for the seeds I am planting today to mature into a crop of ripe corn on the cob, but nothing I can do is going to avoid the process of growth required for such an event to occur.

In our culture people do tend to be impatient-they are conditioned to want "instant relief." But instant relief is not healing. It's simply the masking of symptoms without really restoring the body to its natural healthy state.

Since most drugs are simply masking symptoms, instead of healing, you have to keep taking the drug in order to continue to obtain instant relief. However, the fact that the symptoms return, almost immediately, when the drug is discontinued means that no healing has really taken place. If the drug were actually correcting the problem, then you would take it for a period of time, get better, and not need it anymore.

Think about it. Have you ever met anyone who was "cured" of headaches by taking pain killers?
Have you ever known anyone whose high blood pressure medication "healed" them of high blood pressure so they could discontinue the drug? If antibiotics really "cure" infections, then why is it that the more people take them the easier it seems to be for them to get another infection?

In contrast, I have seen herbs actually heal the body. That is, I have observed that when one finds a nutritional and lifestyle program that actually addresses the real root causes and that the person stays on the program for a few months, and then get better, which means that the supplements one took did their job and are not needed anymore.


My creed in this approach comes from my favorite herbalist Samuel Thomson. I frequently cite the following quotes in my classes because I feel the principle they explain is of the utmost importance in health care.

"All...that medicine, can do in the expulsion of disorder, is to kindle up the decaying spark [the vital power or life force of the body], and restore its energy till it glows in all its wonted vigor. If a direct administration can be made to produce this effect, and it can, it is evidently immaterial what is the name, or color of the disease, whether bilious, yellow, scarlet or spotted; whether it is simple or complicated, or whether nature has one enemy or more. Names, are arbitrary things, the knowledge of a name is the cummin and anise, but in the knowledge of the origin of a malady, and its antidote, lies the weightier matters of this science. This knowledge makes the genuine physician; all without it is real quackery.

It has been a general opinion that extensive study and great erudition, are necessary to form the eminent physician. But all this may be as Paul saith, but science, falsely so called. A man may have a scientific knowledge of the human frame, he may know the names in every language of every medicine, mineral and vegetable, as well as every disease, and yet be a miserable physician.

I am certain that many people would consider this overly simplistic. Perhaps it is. Yet, having put these principles into practice with my own family for ten years, I am absolutely convinced that they are correct, at least in the case of acute ailments.

Acute ailments are usually intense, have come on suddenly
Chronic illness: An illness that persists for a long period of time.


I am not claiming that everyone can be "cured" using these methods. Some people, who have been chronically ill for many years, have been so poisoned with drug medications and have had so many vital organs and parts removed that they are beyond the help of natural methods. Sometimes an organ does not have the vitality to heal itself even if one starts feeding and cleansing it. However, for most illness, I agree with the following statement by Samuel Thomson.

"It is true that the study of anatomy, or structure of the human body, and of the whole animal economy is pleasing and useful; nor is there any objection to this, however minute and critical, if it were not to neglect the first great principles, and the weightier matters of knowledge. But it is no more necessary to mankind at large, to qualify them to administer relief from pain and sickness, than to a cook in preparing food to satisfy hunger and nourishing the body. There is one general cause of hunger and one general supply of food; one general cause of disease, and one general remedy. One can be satisfied, and the other removed, by an infinite variety of articles, best adapted to those different purposes. That medicine therefore, that will open obstruction, promote perspiration, and restore digestion, is suited to every patient, whatever the form the disease assumes, and is universally applicable. And acute disorders, such as fevers, cholics and dysentery, may be relieved thereby, in twenty-four or forty-eight hours, at most."

My goal is to do my best to KIS (Keep It Simple) and I think that medicine in general could benefit by trying to do likewise.

Said Dr. Buchan in Thomson's book:
"It may be alleged, that the laying medicine more open to mankind, would lessen their faith in it. This indeed would be the case with regard to some; but it would have a quite contrary effect upon others. I know many people who have the utmost dread and horror of every thing prescribed by a physician, who will, nevertheless, very readily take a medicine which they know, and whose qualities they are in some measure acquainted with. Nothing ever can, or will inspire mankind with an absolute confidence in physicians, but by their being open, frank, and undisguised in their behavior."