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Podcast 22: What’s The Cause of a Disease? Pathology or Ethology?

Many years ago I asked myself the question, “What is the cause of health or what is the etiology of health?” A much wiser and experienced doctor also asked himself this same question over eighty years ago, he was a pathologist and although he understood the origin of most diseases, he had no answer to this question. He spent the rest of his life researching the question and his work is still as valid today as it was then. I have published a podcast on this, Episode 7 entitled “Health is Based on Family and Community” Seventy years on we find the medical profession is now trying to encourage this approach with “Social Prescribing”

Well, returning to the question of “What is the origin of disease?”

"Connection" by Michael Lingard may be obtained from Amazon HERE

We have been taught that most diseases have specific causes, usually just involving one or two, they could be a virus, smoking, a gene or other such factor. This has become more and more confusing for the public as researchers discover links between more and more factors and particular diseases. So perhaps the answer is far more complex than we have been led to believe?

What if, instead of concentrating our research and study in the field of pathology, we chose to shift our attention to more research and study in the field of ethology, or the study of health?

A few years ago I published a small book entitled “Connection – Towards a better understanding of health in medicine” that made the case for the fact that health is connected to practically everything and that health could be regarded as the normal state of affairs. The forward in my book drew on the wisdom of Leonardo da Vinci who combined reductionism and holism in all his work. We need to study the finer parts of any problem (this is the task of reductionism) to help our understanding but we also need to see how the whole system works (this is the task of holism).

Medicine has placed too much emphasis on reductionism to the detriment of understanding the whole, or holism.
So if we are to understand where any particular disease comes from we need to take a far broader inspection of the sufferer’s life history to the emergence of their disease.
Just as health depends on many factors including: our physical structural integrity and functioning, our food and fluid consumption, our quality of breathing, our levels of stress, our family and community support, the environmental factors of pollution in our air and water, infections from bacteria or viruses, our genetic make-up, our physical exercise, our mental health, our work, and many more factors. So too, any disease condition will require some or all of those same factors to allow its development.

The good news is that we all have control over the vast majority of those factors, sometimes we may need professional guidance and help and indeed there are such factors as toxins in our environment that are difficult to avoid. Even here, our bodies have the capacity, when health is optimized, to eliminate or nullify the effects of toxic substances.

To summarize I would contend that the greatest protection against every disease known to man is HEALTH! This is not a crazy oxymoron as it might seem, a health-promoting lifestyle has been shown to offer remarkable resistance against all the major diseases. So perhaps we should all take the optimistic view that by making every effort to improve our health we will give ourselves the greatest protection against every disease and live a long healthy, fulfilling life.

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