Vitalism, Part 1

Vitalism believes that the body has its own intrinsic, or inherent, healing ability which can and should be engaged for strength and health.

Because design and function is woven into each person’s body, an interval of illness or disease is an interruption in the holistic functioning according to design. Most often, this does not require a pharmaceutical prescription to take over and control the body, or even long term supplements to compensate for what is lacking. Rather, what is needed is for the body to jump-start its natural abilities, or for momentary help from natural or non-natural substances. Following this process of aiding and not controlling the body prevents medication-upon-medication, averts side effects, and contributes to an overall enduring vitality.

The role of the doctor in this model of understanding is to stimulate and guide the body.  This may be done with various modalities (homeopathic remedies, hydrotherapy, nutraceuticals) which are applied for a short time until the body begins functioning optimally again.  A physician determining the underlying source of trouble, and systematically addressing it, is essential to a person’s body regaining its natural function of health.

A word must be said here about our expectations. We all are in a hurry, and almost nowhere more evidently than in dealing with our health. A prescription seems practical: work has to go on. A decongestant seems reasonable so that our colds don’t slow us down.  We fail to realize that we are allowing our bodies to shut down their natural rhythms and restorative capabilities, which is fine for that moment but inevitably has far-reaching consequences that catch up with us, robbing us of our health at the very time we most need added energy to enjoy life and our work.

We should understand that the goal of a pharmaceutical is to take over the function of the body. Our bodies then begin to lose their ability to produce the chemical or hormone it normally does. Melatonin, easily accessible and used by many to help them sleep, when used for an extended period of time will cause the body to stop making its own melatonin. This in turn makes it more difficult to fall asleep once the melatonin is discontinued. This does not mean that pharmaceuticals should never be used, but used sparingly and in cases of essential need.

As Vitalism believes that there is design and function in the body, so the body’s cycles are not just accidents or coincidence, but designed. They work together to enable the various functions of the body in a complete system, not individual organs or regions working independently. Even the littlest toe is important. You can walk without one, but your body would have to walk differently, finding ways to compensate, and dealing with a disability that limits mobility, even if you do not perceive it.

Vitalism, then, is more than just what modality to use. Vitalism is a philosophy: a way of looking at the body, disease, restoration of health, and maintaining health, which also factors in an organic connection between all the parts of the body.