Health and Disease
By Are S. Thoresen DVM
Veterinarian acupuncturist homeopath osteopath agronomist
One can view health and disease in several ways and the nature of these approaches has changed through time. Ancient cultures view health as a complex state consisting of a sound mind in a sound body (mens sana in corpore sano), as in ancient Rome. Whether this just applied to the upper classes I don’t know, but this view varied with the wealth of the society. When the daily struggle to survive changes into a search for spiritual values, then we demand more from life than just physical function. In medieval Europe, most people considered health to be the absence of physical complaints.
Modern definitions of health are more complex than such definitions. They stress not only the absence of physical, mental and spiritual symptoms of disease but also that we need to experience positive elements like the possibility to fulfil oneself, to be in balance, to have joy and success, etc. This agrees very well with holistic ideas of health and disease in complementary medicine, which defines health as an absolute balance of physical, mental and spiritual energies. Conversely, disease is defined as any physical, mental, spiritual or energetic imbalance, even if it is preclinical at the time, i.e. the imbalance (as detected by Pulse or other diagnostic methods) does not necessarily manifest as symptoms of disease at that time.
How is a healthy balance achieved?
All life-regulating Processes must balance Internally and Externally in a very fine harmony. Anabolism balances catabolism; building up balances breaking down; sleep balances wakefulness; excretion balances absorption and uptake; joy balances sorrow and good balances evil. To be able to help a sick organism we must get as much knowledge of the special properties of the Processes as possible; at least we must know them and recognise them and know the typical Lesion-Symptom Complexes which can manifest if the Processes become imbalanced.
Vital Inner Functions (Processes) are necessary to maintain health and life, and lie behind all expressions of life. To survive and thrive in an ever-changing environment, all plant and animal life forms have developed adaptive internal Processes to sustain life, and complex systems to regulate these Processes in always changing feedback systems. Even if all the details were known (and that is not the case), no human brain could hope to store or recall all the complex details of these processes and their controlling systems. In keeping with the Theory of the "Survival of the Fittest", these processes have adapted by passage through countless generations of the myriad of life forms (species). Thus, they manifest as great differences between the different species.
These Processes balance each other in a complex system based upon stimulation and sedation, feedback and feedforward. An excessive disturbance of this balance activates different homeostatic or self-balancing systems and mechanisms, such as the earlier described ECIWO-systems (Embryo Containing Information of the Whole Organism) and the acupuncture system. If the Processes remain unbalanced (usually deficient), that is if the different ECIWO-systems of different levels cannot restore equilibrium, then the body must activate compensation to help the deficient Process, which cause symptoms of disease to arise. Such compensation (symptoms) will, if it is allowed to persist over a longer period of time, lead to irreversible and chronic changes in the organism (chronic disease symptoms).
However, the innumerable individual processes can be reduced to 12 essential/adaptive Fundamental Processes. In all living creatures like fish, birds, plants or insects, waste excretion occurs in very different ways. However, the differing methods of waste excretion are still manifestations of the same Fundamental Process, which in mammals is called the Kidney Process. Trained clinicians can use their knowledge of these Fundamental Processes in their daily diagnostic and therapeutic work. The vital Processes are expressed in the different organs. When Imbalance of these vital Processes occurs and last for some time without the controlling mechanisms being able to restore the balance, we become ill or weakened, until, eventually, disease can manifest as Lesion-Symptom Complexes.
There are no Sick Processes
It is easy to consider bodily actions (compensatory processes) that allow disease to manifest as "bad Processes", and the processes that lead to health as "healthy Processes". However, we must not consider the vital Processes as healthy or bad per se, in the same way as we cannot say that a rifle is good or bad. As a Marxist said during the 1970s "A tractor can be either communistic or capitalistic".
It is very important to understand that life does not develop sick Processes. Instead we must understand that the Lesion-Symptom Complexes of disease appear when the normal Processes become imbalanced (usually deficient), and when this unbalance is not rebalanced by the natural balancing systems, of which acupuncture (AP) is but one.
Below are five examples of Processes essential for life and what happens when these become Process Imbalances, i.e. become a Qi Deficiency or a Qi Excess.
This way of thinking becomes clearer if we make a list of Process Imbalances. For example, Process Imbalances include:
- Weak states (Qi depletion, deficiency, weakness, hypoactivity);
- Excess states (Qi repletion, excess, fullness, hyperactivity);
- Qi Stagnation - Obstruction;
- Or when Qi, Blood or Body Fluids appear at the
- Wrong place (for example, oedema of the limbs), or
- Wrong time (premature ejaculation, premature birth or aging, etc.).
All normally balanced Processes exist to maintain life. However, heavily stressed Inner Functions (Process Imbalances) allow Lesion-Symptom Complexes of disease to manifest in the Weak Structure. Disease is no more than too much or too little of the normal Processes occurring in the wrong place, or at the wrong time. This is what we mean by imbalance or disease.
Manifestation of Normal and Imbalanced Processes can differ
It is very important to note that the same Process can manifest differently in different species, both in its normal state, in its deficient state and in its excessive state (as for example love, hate and anger expresses itself differently in different people, different cultures, different species and at different times). Expression of normal Processes can differ in the same species, or between different times in the same animal. We must learn all the existing Processes and how these different Processes manifest themselves in humans and in different species of animals. Similarly, the Lesion-Symptom Complexes of the same disease (i.e. the manifestation of the same Process Imbalance) can vary widely between and within species.
To treat the under-function
In 1980 I had an experience that changed my medical thinking forever. I visited the office and clinic of the very famous and skilled doctor and acupuncturist Dr. Georg Bentze, who by the way became my teacher and benefactor after that visit. He presented me for a patient suffering from torticollis; the head was constantly bent to the right in an angle of about 50o. ”This condition”, Bentze said “is due to a diaphragmatic hernia”. I looked at him surprised. He then directed a green light beam towards the patient’s diaphragm, and after a few seconds the torticollis vanished. He then directed a red light beam towards the same area, and after some seconds the torticollis reappeared. Later the patient was operated for his hernia, and the condition and the torticollis were solved.
Dr. Bentze’s thinking was in short to treat the process, the organ, the muscle or the tissue that show the less activity, the under-function, the deficiency (in this case the diaphragm). Such a deficiency will create a compensatory over-function, an excess (in this case the muscles of the neck), possibly as an attempt to compensate in ways that I do not understand presently, and this excess is usually the symptoms that people see, feel, suffer, and which the doctors usually try to eliminate.
An example of this under-function from the world of trotters. All horse people interested in trotters know of the lame trotter, injected several times in his front right knee (carpus). The problem reappears several times, but the under functioning joint is actually the right Ilio-sacral joint. After treating this joint, the horse will work better with his right hind leg, and the strain and over work on the right front will be relieved, and the symptomatic problem will not reappear.