Tuesday 13 April 2010

Old Medicine, New Medicine: The Shift Is On - Sarah Turner

The future of healthcare is bio-informational medicine, an approach to health built upon the foundation of quantum physics, where energy and information rule. The shift from the “old medicine” to the “new medicine” has profound implications that reverberate beyond the world of medicine. It may, in fact, help us more easily heal the world. That may sound like a pie-in-the-sky claim, and perhaps it is. But perhaps it is also the evitable effect of our moving from a medicine based on the old physics only to one that includes the newer quantum physics.

Whereas allopathic medicine is based in biochemistry—affecting the body through its molecular, cellular and tissue-based aspects—bio-informational medicine goes deeper, to those processes that allow the cells to know what to do and provide the rules by which different types of molecules learn the steps of their particular chemical dance. At this deepest level of the body, reality morphs from substance to the insubstantial—to information and energy fields—and from the laws of Newtonian physics to those of quantum physics. That means we move from the realm of determinism, material-realism and traditional cause and effect to the realm of statistical probability, non-locality and entanglement (where everything is connected in a vast web of relationships and quantum entities can influence each other no matter how far apart they are). Two common words used by the founders of quantum physics to describe the realm of the subatomic—where quantum processes take effect—were “bizarre” and “weird.” One of the startling aspects of the quantum realm is that, as physicist Sir James Jeans once said, at this level of reality the cosmos appears to work more like a great thought than a great machine. Nowhere is this truer than in healthcare and medicine, where mind and body both rule, although the degree to which they co-rule is still the subject of often heated debate. What follows are three areas of transformation that we are experiencing, slowly and sometimes painfully, in the arena of health and medicine, and all three are based on a fundamental shift in science, especially medicine, from classical physics to quantum physics.
1.      Figuring Out What Works and Why
Energy and information medicine is a body-mind-spirit approach to health, so it is more aligned with the new physics than the old. What is becoming clear is that the current standards set by allopathic medicine and classical science for evaluating therapies, and for treating patients, do not apply to the new medicine. The truth is that they may not even apply to allopathic medicine! Here’s why.
The conventional “gold standard” for discovering the efficacy of a therapy—from modalities to pharmaceuticals—has been the double-blind clinical study. Generally, two groups are needed to test a therapy or treatment: one group gets the pill or undergoes the therapy, while the other group receives a placebo (a sham treatment or an inert substance such as a sugar pill) with neither the researchers nor the test subjects knowing who is getting which treatment, the real one or the placebo. That is why such studies are called “double blind.”
The difficulties with this type of clinical trail for complementary medicine are not unique to the new medicine. Even allopathic medicine is experiencing glitches in this kind of study design. The placebo effect is being recognized as more and more mysterious, and its high rate of effect in controlled clinical trials is calling those studies into question. Very simply, the placebo effect happens when the person taking the treatment, say a new pharmaceutical, so believes in it or has such high expectations for receiving benefit from it that he or she is helped by that treatment—even if that person is taking the inert sugar pill instead of the pharmaceutical. The placebo effect is the cause and effect of receiving therapeutic benefit from a treatment that has no known therapeutic efficacy. The benefit is derived solely from the person’s own belief or expectation. You can call it “mind over matter” if you want, and you wouldn’t be wrong.
Current statistics suggest that up to one third of all therapeutic effects—and that goes not only for drugs but even for surgery—are due to the placebo effect. That’s an astounding statistic, and medicine is taking notice, although they seem loathe to replace the double-blind clinical trial with a new approach.
A new approach is needed not only because of the complications raised by the placebo effect, but also because the new medicine is not a matter-based medicine. Information and energy medicine inherently include consciousness—including the mind, thoughts, beliefs, expectations, worries, fears and such—and take them into account in their medicine. They know that what you think affects your biochemistry. They understand that what you believe about healing can affect how well you heal. That’s why the new medicine is labeled “holistic.” Since mind is an inherent factor in healing, the placebo effect cannot be used as a test of efficacy. The double-blind clinical trail is outdated and ineffective because it ignores the reality of how “information” informs healing.

2.      Fostering a New Kind of Relationship-based Medicine       
The considerations are even more complex than just accounting for the placebo effect on the part of the patient. Healers will also have to view themselves and their effect upon their patients in a new way. There is an effect in research called “the sheep-goat effect” and it says, simply put, that what you believe is what you see. In effect, nature provides her answers partly in terms of the information we ask her. And belief is part of the input, even if it is unconscious. Many researchers think this effect, similar to the placebo effect, only applies to patients. But it doesn’t. It applies to them as well. Studies have shown that what the researchers believe about the efficacy of the treatment impacts the outcome of their study of that treatment. The researcher’s belief can influence the actual outcome of a trial, such that believers in the treatment get results that verify their assumptions and skeptics get results that verify theirs—even if they are carrying out the exact same experiment! This effect has mostly been studied in relation to psi research, but it applies to all research. If belief is an information field that influences and may even partly structure our reality, there may be no way to ever devise a truly objective test for healthcare treatments or anything else.
This is not a dire situation, for in the case of healthcare and medicine, it invites researchers, physicians and therapists to truly recognize that they are part of the healing equation for their patients, and not just as technicians but as real participants in the healing process. It also throws open the door wider to treatments that are already “mind-based,” such as Thought Field Therapy, Emotional Freedom Technique, and others.  It moves us away from the view of body as machine to the body-mind as dynamic holistic system, and that shift can only be good for medicine.

3.      Where Do You Stop and the World Begin?
If information fields are the fundamental reality, and all the new physics points in this direction, then everything becomes part of healing, not just the body. Medicine becomes truly holistic in that the environment, diet, relationships, and every other aspect of our lives becomes part of the healing process. We become integral threads in a vast web of relationships that include our psychological, emotional, nutritional, and environmental health. And that bodes well for us all, as we move from seeing ourselves as isolated individuals to members of communities, connected not only to each other but to the earth and even the cosmos. This view is already widely accepted by complementary practitioners, but it is still foreign to most allopaths, where patients are still mostly, or only, their body, symptoms and pathology. This shift in medicine to a more holistic view will no doubt reverberate through our world, influencing not only health but our social and cultural health as well. At a time when our very planet is at risk, information and energy medicine may be just the medicine we need to repair our relationships as they relate to the health of the entire world.  

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