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The Real Differences Between Medical Science and Natural Health

There are many differences between the medical science and natural health worlds. The first is a deep difference in how we come to know what we know—what the philosophers refer to as “epistemology”.  In the world of medical science, it is believed that knowledge and truth result from rational deductive theory and logic—mental processes.  In the world of natural health, it is believed that knowledge and truth result from observation and experience—sensory processes. 

       At Harvard Medical School, I was taught that obesity results from eating more calories than one burns up, a belief based on logical scientific theories of indestructibility of energy and matter.  When silly patients told me that they cut calories way down but did not lose weight, I replied that this could not be, because I had been trained—or brainwashed—to believe that theory, no matter what was experienced.  Then, in 1976, I cleaned up my diet after the manner of clinical ecology, an unorthodox approach to food allergies, and then immediately lost weight.  Many of the approximately 3,000 patients we saw in our holistic alternative medical practice in New York City from 1980 to 1988 were overweight, and all of them were restored to normal weight following successful detoxification, without cutting calories. Our experience told us that our bodies lay on more fat when it is needed to sequester toxins, which protects us from diseases that would result from those toxins being loose in our bodies.

       The second is a profoundly different focus or direction when deciding how to treat patients.  The dominant direction in the world of medical science is best illustrated by the process that leads to FDA approval of a drug treatment.  The core of the language used in their approval is that the drug is “proven effective in the treatment of (a specific disease).”  Each disease is defined as a combination of specific elements (such as “hearing voices” for schizophrenia), and a drug is considered as proven effective in the treatment of a disease if clinical research shows that, in at least two-thirds of patients tested, it causes a favorable change in one or more of the elements that define the disease.  For instance, if a new drug is shown to stop two-thirds of patients from hearing voices, it has been proven effective in the treatment of schizophrenia, no matter what else it does to those patients, who may then sit, sedated, staring into space.  The dominant focus or direction in the world of natural health is not how a proposed treatment affects a conceptual thing called a disease, but how it affects you, the patient, a real person.

       Understanding the surprisingly strong opposition to natural health means understanding the workings of the world of medical schools, where the generally accepted scientific version of truth is taught.  For a member of the faculty of those schools to advance his academic career, he must repeatedly publish results of new scientific research.  Research projects cost a lot of money, so they must depend on grants.  Some grant money comes from the government, but most of it comes from the pharmaceutical companies.

       While treatment approaches flowing from medical science tend to focus on counteracting something wrong, some pathology, treatment approaches of natural health tend to focus on replacing what is missing, as with nutritional supplements, or restoring what has been lost, as with the Rolfing  work which I now do, which restores one’s body to the more perfect pattern of organization which we were given in the beginning.  “Touch” therapies, in particular, offer what science or technology cannot offer: the conveying, from within one person to another, of a healthier pattern of organization and functioning.  Science is profoundly impersonal; the intense personal experience referred to in that last sentence is more in the way of natural healing, especially touch therapies.

       Still, there are always a few medical scientists whose personal passion to do real good for people manages to survive in the academic environment.  My favorite is Gustavo Bounous, M.D., the discoverer of the nutritional product Immunocal, which restores our immune systems to the optimal state of functioning found in infants receiving human milk. Read more about his story in Breakthrough in Cell-Defense by Dr. Allan C. Somersall. Shortly before he died, I went to Montreal just to meet Dr. Bounous; it was worth making the trip just to feel his special spirit.

Retired medical doctor Karl E. Humiston is co-founder of Humiston Wellness in San Diego. For more information, call 619-871-2415, email or visit and




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