Hippocrates And Modern Medicine

I am sure most of you know that doctors have to swear the oath of Hippocrates, the father of medicine, before they can start practicing as a physician. I certainly think this is a very noble thing to do, although I often wonder how much these doctors actually know about Hippocrates and whether or not his views and teachings mean anything to them at all.

Hippocrates was a Greek physician. He was born in 460 BC on the island of Cos in Greece and died in 377BC. Hippocrates was regarded as the greatest physician of his time. His medical practice was based on his observations and on the study of the human body. Contrary to the superstitious believes of the people of his time, (namely that diseases were punishments of the Gods and can only be cured with spiritual practices), he believed that every illness had a physical and a rational explanation. Hippocrates understood that the human body could heal itself and could return itself to good health if given what it needs (philosophy of regeneration). He recommended to give the patient something to relieve pain, but nothing else was done.

Hippocrates believed that the body must be treated as a whole and not just a series of parts. (Isn’t that what modern medicine does?) He told his patients they should eat a moderate amount of food; not too much and not too little. (Back then everything was naturally organic, so no need to point that out.) A moderate amount of exercise was recommended, too. Patients were encouraged to spend time outside and walk for exercise. (Did your doctor ever tell you that?)

Hippocrates precisely described symptoms of diseases like pneumonia, tetanus, tuberculosis, arthritis, mumps, and malaria. He noted that because of individual differences in the severity of disease symptoms some people were better able to cope with their illness than others. Since every individual copes differently with given circumstances, thus the outcome will vary. He understood that a persons attitude, thoughts and feelings greatly contributed to the outcome.

Hippocrates traveled throughout Greece practicing his medicine. He founded a medical school on the island of Cos, and began teaching his ideas. He soon developed an Oath of Medical Ethics for physicians to follow. This Oath has been taken by physicians ever since before they begin their medical practice.

I believe the majority of doctors are good people who have the noble goal to help others. And obviously, during his or her career every doctor has countless of opportunities to do exactly that. Patients who come into a doctor’s office very often believe that if anybody can fix them that would be the doctor. That really gives him or her a great responsibility. In the past doctors were regarded almost as “Gods in White” by many people (most likely that is still the case for many.) One thing however, that seems to be largely overlooked is that doctors have limits, too.

The curriculum for medical studies is very tough. Those who want to become physicians must prove that they not only understand anatomy, biology and pharmacy but also that they are capable of working up to 30 hours in one stretch with very few brakes. To work 100 hours per week is not unusual for a doctor in his first years of residency. My personal opinion is that this is absolutely insane to do this to anyone, but especially to someone who carries such a responsibility. However, I think it is even more irresponsible to allow a doctor to treat patients after he has been on the job for more than 10 hours. It must be expected that they may make mistakes, which may even be fatal for the patient. In my opinion, Hippocrates’code of ethics is already broken right here.

Doctors who are employed by hospitals are in an incredible pinch of time. They do not have more than 10 minutes to spend per patient. Do you believe that this is enough time to find out everything they should know for seriously ill people? I am sure you agree with me that it does not even get close.

Another serious violation against Hippocrates code of ethics is that people don’t seem to be seen as the valuable individual they are, rather than just a number. The doctor will listen to what the problem is, suggest a “band aid” (prescription) and send the patient out the door. Very few physicians take the time to see the big picture by considering the whole person rather than an individual part.

For instance, it is much easier to put someone with high blood sugar on medication rather than to find out what led to the problem. Because going to the bottom of things takes time, much more time than what they have.

I have talked with people that suffered from high blood sugar. In a few cases, after asking the right questions, we both saw that the person was under a lot of stress, which drained the adrenal glands. As a result that person felt constantly hungry. Since she did not understand the concept of cellular nutrition and just kept on eating, she gained a lot of weight and ended up with diabetes.

Of cause it is not always that straight forward. However, in that case, I taught her some basic nutritional concepts, gave her lot’s of wholesome meal ideas and recipes, strategies how to manage her stress better and a few suggestions regarding supplements and sent her 2 hours later on her way. Within a week, her blood sugar had stabilized and she decided that she needed much less medication, and 2 months later her doctor took her off her diabetes medication.

One big problem that I see and another violation against the code of ethics is (especially since I personally know a good amount of physicians) that they either don’t know much about nutrition or they simply don’t care. Personally, I do struggle with this thinking a lot. After all, wasn’t Hippocrates who said: “Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food?” Unfortunately, nutrition is not something that gets a lot of attention in medical school. As far as I know, nutrition classes are offered in the first year of medical studies, but in the last years it is only about drugs. How much do you think would any doctor remember about his first year’s nutrition classes?

Many people almost seem to think of their medical coverage as something like a charity. One thing they seem not to be aware of is that the medical and the pharmaceutical industry are, just like every other corporation in the money-making-business, too. A pharmaceutical company is not interested which cheap natural remedies would help you get through your cold faster. They want your physician to suggest you medicine. Never mind that medicine only covers symptoms and may have very harmful side effects. According to the medical profession and the pharma companies, it’s called “side effects” and “casualties” that happen to only some, and you must see the greater good.

I know I am being sarcastic here, but you must understand, that yes, medicine can be God-sent if properly administered and taken cautiously. Yet, most medicine can only “cover” things, by for instance substituting body functions that your body at this point is not able to perform. And if medicine is taken for long periods of time, that part may have become so weak that it can never really overtake that function again (such as in the case of insulin).

A wholesome, well balanced diet can prevent most diseases or at least greatly delay its onset. In many, many cases, natural remedies provide effective, save and much cheaper help and won’t put you at risk for dangerous side effects. They will work with your body, helping it to heal, rather than fool it by making you feel better and causing trouble at an other part. I am sure that Hippocrates would get ballistic if he knew how modern medicine butchered his ideas and yet have the nerve to claim that he was the father of their medicine. (I’d be offended, too.) In my opinion, Hippocrates would feel more comfortable being called that father of holistic health rather than medicine.

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