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Brave New Cures, Shopping for New Age Health Care
AUTHOR: Walker, James
PUBLISHED ON: May 1, 2003
DOC SOURCE: CCN

Brave New Cures
                      Shopping for New Age Health Care
                                James Walker

Laura was confused and upset.  She had already paid a sizable sum for the
services of the practitioner when her pastor suggested she contact
Watchman Fellowship for an alternative opinion.  Through a friend, she had
been introduced to a health care provider who had pioneered a new
diagnostic and treatment method involving high frequency radio wave
technology.

The man’s patients called him doctor, although he was not an M.D. and did
not have a license to practice medicine in Texas.  If he had earned a
doctorate, it was not in medicine.  He did have a white smock and an
office with a receptionist, examination rooms, and a wall full of
diplomas.  She remembered how he had spoken with such confidence and asked
impressive, convincing medical terminology when he first handed out his
brochure containing the testimonies of a number of healed clients.

Laura first became uneasy when he cautioned her against going to a
traditional doctor explaining that they were at worst trying to cheat her
and at best misinformed and unenlightened.  She grew more uncomfortable
when he introduced other non-traditional health care concepts into his
treatment such as Crystal Healing, yen/yang chakra balancing, and
meditation.

Finally, Laura became openly suspicious when her “doctor” suggested that
for a slight additional fee, he could also diagnose and treat her mother –
who lived in Colorado!

It was too much to believe that his high-frequency radio transmitter was
powerful enough to diagnose and treat cancer (too small for traditional
doctors to find) in the body of a relative living in a distant state.
After counselling with her pastor and Watchman, the woman is no longer a
client of the “radio practitioner” and is under the care of a traditional
physician.

While her case may be extreme, Laura is not alone.  She is one of the
growing number of Americans turning to non-traditional practices – some of
which involve occultic or New Age philosophies.  Controversial medical
treatments include: New Age Medication, Applied Kinesiology (Muscle
Testing), Altered States of Consciousness, Reflexology, Crystal Healing,
Iridology, Touch Therapy, Aroma Therapy, Kundalini Yoga, Rebirthing,
Regression, Positive Affirmation, Visualization, and a host of others
(philosophies, practices, and techniques).

They range in scope from questionable to quackery and are often based on
Eastern Mystical or New Age assumptions that the body and the universe are
on (Monism) and that this One is God (Pantheism).  Others also rely on the
teachings of Hinduism, Taoism, Spiritism, or Native American Shamanism
(Witch Doctor) to achieve health through controversial psychic or
spiritual means.

While diverse and difficult to categorize, these questionable procedures
and treatments can be initially grouped in three general categories.

                          The Maya Model

Some therapies involve Christian Science style theories that sickness and
disease are really an illusion (sanskrit Maya) and that healing comes
through proper thinking, meditation/visualization, or positive thinking.

These practitioners will often deny the reality of their illness teaching
that they are part of the impersonal God or have the attributes of God and
can create health through positive affirmation.

                    The Energy Balancing Method

Other New Age remedies are based on Chinese concepts that an invisible,
universal life-energy (Chi or Force) consisting of a cosmic force (or
impersonal God) flows through the universe and the body.  This invisible
energy encompasses a full spectrum of existence including poles or
extremes such as dark/light, positive/negative, male/female, etc.  These
poles or opposites (yen and yang in Chinese) must be balanced by
manipulating chakra points or meridians (the passages through which this
energy flows).

                    The Psychic Discernment Model

The final category involves psychic discernment in which the practitioner
is able to diagnose, predict, or forecast alleged illnesses and treatments
based on readings which have no physical connection to the alleged
disease.  This methodology is not unlike occultic fortune-telling in which
practitioners use props (the stars, tea leaves, the palm) to foretell the
client’s future.

Like the Palm Reader that deciphers the lines of the hand, these
practitioners do readings of the patterns in the iris of the eye
(Iridology) or the bottom of the feet (Reflexology) to predict, diagnose,
or treat diseases or personality disorders.

                    New Medicine or The New Age?

What is the difference between valid medical procedures and potential New
Age practices?  Can a distinction be made between health and mental
healing?

Is there a fundamental difference between aiding the flow of blood
circulation or balancing one’s diet and opening the flow of energy
meridians between reading an x-ray or a blood test and reading the spots
of an iris?

One way to help make such distinction is to ask the question: What is the
physical or physiological connection between the diagnostic or treatment
method and the alleged disorder?

For example, when reading a blood test, there is a known, direct
physiological connection between blood cell counts, the presence of toxins
or antibodies, and known illnesses or diseases.

Valid and accepted scientific studies have demonstrated, for example the
physical connection between pancreas disfunction and elevated blood-sugar
levels.

There has not been, however, a valid, scientific connection made between
the lines of the palm (Palm Reading) and a potential pancreas disorder.

True, the hand is indirectly connected to the rest of the body but there
are no recognized scientific/medical studies that prove there is a
connection between the lines of the hand and a pancreatic disorder.

Likewise, there is no verifiable, scientific evidence accepted by the
medical community that demonstrates a connection between the specks of the
iris (Iridology) or the bottom of a foot (Reflexology) and the diagnosis
and treatment of the pancreas.

There is a direct physical, chemical relationship between certain liver
disorders and a yellowing of the eyes.  There is not a direct physical or
physiological connection between the specks of the iris and heart disease
or a weakness in the spine.

If there is not a demonstrable physical connection it could be that the
connection is psychic, psychosomatic, placebo, or quackery.

                      THE APPEAL OF NEW AGE MEDICINE

New Age Medicine appeals to a growing number of Americans because it
addresses real areas of need.

It promises alternatives to the pain and expense of drugs and surgery.
Also, New Age Medicine advances possible remedies for (traditionally)
incurable diseases.

Finally, the New Age often focuses on legitimate elements of health and
wellness that have in many cases been under emphasized by much of the
traditional medical community.  Some factors, such as diet and exercise, do
provide some genuine health benefits.

Critics claim, however, that the majority of claims made for New Age
treatments are at best overstated and in most cases are well-intended myth
or intentional fraud.

                      IF IT WORKS, IS IT TRUE!  RIGHT?

New Age Medicine often operates on the principle that when a person is
sick, one of two things always happens:

  A.  The person gets well.
  B.  The person does not get well.

When the patients do not get well, this often reinforces the perceived
need for the New Age treatment.  Obviously, the treatments must continue
because the clients are not yet cured.

Customers are often led to believe that they would be much worse without
the procedure and in some cases of prolonged illness and treatment,
patients can become emotionally or spiritually dependent on the
practitioner.

When the patients do get well, they become the practitioner’s latest
success stories with new testimonials flooding the community.  While it is
natural to assume that the treatments had something to do with the
restored health, logically this may or may not be true.

A fallacy of false cause is frequently committed when one assumes that the
treatments caused the cure.  Almost everyone who becomes sick will
eventually gets well – often without any treatment!

                        GUIDELINES FOR DISCERNMENT

While most traditional medical treatments or procedures were themselves
once considered to be unorthodox or experimental, there are some general
guidelines that may be useful to help distinguish between valid new
therapies and New Age techniques.

The general rule of thumb is to be extremely cautious when a treatment or
diagnostic method has no known or provable physiological connection to the
body or when the methods are rejected by the traditional medical
community.

If the practitioners are manipulating invisible energy flows or treating
the non-physical component of their patients, at that point they are not
treating the physical body.  Their practices may be actually spiritual or
psychological in nature (areas traditionally the focus of the religious
and mental health communities).

                            GET A SECOND OPINION

Christians should consider seeking alternative perspectives concerning
unusual or uncommon psychological or medical treatments.  A second opinion
from a licensed health care provider may shed new light on the alleged
benefits of the program.

Likewise a knowledgeable minister may be able to discern whether the
practice involves the techniques of Eastern Mysticism, Spiritism, or other
philosophies conflicting with biblical truth.

The issues involved can often be obscure and there are a number of grey
areas.  The best wisdom when exploring non-traditional (and potentially
New Age) medicine is caveat emptor (let the buyer beware).

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