The Empty Oath

This post was originally published by my dear friend Chris Thompson in The Bridge Green School newsletter. I feel honoured to have his consent to share it with you here as i) his thoughts fully resonate with mine – you can read e.g. my post about Longevity – better long life – Part III, and ii) I have done Panchakarma in Ubud and the whole experience was incredibly powerful, healing and nourishing. Well, here it is:

“Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.”

― Hippocrates

At the conclusion of most medical schools around the world, graduates take the 2,400-year-old Hippocratic Oath, a commitment to ethics in the medical field. Here is an abbreviated version of the Oath:

“I will use those dietary regimens which will benefit my patients according to my greatest ability and judgment, and I will do no harm or injustice to them. Into whatsoever houses I enter, I will enter to help the sick, and I will abstain from all intentional wrong-doing and harm, especially from abusing the bodies of man or woman…Now if I carry out this oath, and break it not, may I gain for ever reputation among all men for my life and for my art; but if I break it and forswear myself, may the opposite befall me.”

Sadly, modern medicine has abandoned its commitment to the Oath as doctors focus on symptoms rather than prevention. As an institution it has failed miserably to advocate for a healthy lifestyle. Modern medicine shuns any traditional or alternative treatment and pharmaceutical lobbyists work very hard to shut down proven alternative treatments. Medicine is big business. Pharmaceutical companies are for-profit entities and their goal is to sell as much product as possible with little regard for patient health. We saw this with the opioid crisis in the US which led to the deaths of over 400,000 people.

Of course, there are many incredible doctors who practice modern medicine and work to educate their patients on general health through exercise and diet. Doctors are not wholly to blame. Most patients want a quick fix so they force the hand of the doctor to give them a pill. Patients always want the easy route to health.

But the fact remains that nutrition is not taught in any depth in medical school so doctors are poorly equipped even after 10 years of advanced study.

Luckily there are many alternatives to modern medicine. Ayurvedic treatment from India, for example, dates back over 5,000 years and is used worldwide for healing. One program within Ayurvedic medicine is called Panchakarma. Panchakarma is a five-fold therapy that is highly individualized based on the needs of the individual depending on their constitutional type, doshic imbalances, age, digestive strength, immune status, and many other factors.

In contrast to modern medicine, Ayurvedic medicine starts with diet. A saying from the ancient scriptures highlights this contrast:

“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use;

When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.”

What a beautifully simple concept. Eat well, be healthy.

Many Green School parents have attended Ayurvedic Panchakarma centers here in Bali to rebalance their system, cleanse and heal. AmrtaSiddhi Health Center in Ubud is the oldest and most well-known center for treatment. This retreat is led by Dr. Sujata who is a friend to many in the community. While at the Center you rejuvenate your mind and body, attend talks, learn to cook healthy recipes and receive endless treatments.

Being healthy is simple but it is not easy in practice. We are inundated with ads and promotions for unhealthy food and drink. For families struggling financially, Fast Food is promoted as a solution to their budgetary concerns. It is a battle. We are lucky at one level here in Bali as we don’t have the medical marketing assault hovering over us each day.

If we simply ate healthier we would be stronger, live longer, save money and be happier. A healthy diet prevents and cures most every ailment in the world. Food is the perfect medicine.

Possibly one of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves and our children is understanding the impact of diet in our lives. Our health is only in our hands. Let’s not give this over to corporations, the medical community and politicians.

Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food.

You don’t need 10 years of medical school to figure that one out.

Bon appetit.

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