Keeping the patient at the centre of healing

Dr John Tilden once said, The medical world has been looking for a remedy to cure disease, notwithstanding the obvious fact that nature needs no remedy—she only needs an opportunity to exercise her own prerogative of self-healing.” This might appear controversial at a time when we are facing a pandemic and the world as we know it has changed significantly. As a healthcare professional, I do not doubt the good that vaccines, antibiotics and medication does in healthcare, having experienced first-hand and at the bedside it’s impact on health and recovery.

At a time when we are social distancing, self-isolating and shielding, we should not forget about our own ability to take control of our health through proper diet and nutrition. As far back as 400 B.C., when the Greek physician Hippocrates was applying his medical skills, he placed nutrition as his chief therapy. Apparently, his favourite foods for healing a wide range of illnesses were barley mush, apples, and dates. The dietary needs and habits of his patients were of supreme importance to his diagnoses and treatments. He is reported  to have said: ““Whoever gives these things [food] no consideration, and is ignorant of them, how can he understand the diseases of man?

Issacs Jennings, M.D. (1788–1874), tried the then-current drugging and bleeding practices of his time, but gradually lost confidence that these procedures and methods were working when he realised, that he wasn’t helping his patients much – in fact, they seemed to get much better with fewer drugs.He changed his methods and, rather than giving his patients drugs, he gave them advice on diet and rest. Interestingly, he used placebo pills which resulted in a significant improvement in health demonstrating the manipulation of the psyche to believe itself healed.Jennings became known as the greatest healer of his day. His success was that he reinforced the body’s natural ability to heal itself.

Hence, it is more important than ever that while the media debates different cures, treatments, vaccines, that we continue to advocate healthy eating habits and lifestyles. I do not wish to undermine the significant impact COVID-19 has on our lives. However, I just sometimes feel that we are so focussed on the cure and treatment, that the individual person with their own dynamic needs, are forgotten.


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