Archive | Medicine RSS feed for this section

Ways of Health: Illnesses In Primitive Societies (Excerpt)

30 Oct

Primitive societies regard illness as a misfortune involving the entire person, directly affecting his relationship with the spirit world and with other members of his group.  Although they recognize different kinds of illness, their classifications often bear no relation to those of Western medicine.  In particular, they may not distinguish sharply between mental and bodily illness, or between that due to natural and that due to supernatural causes.

Illnesses tend to be viewed as symbolic expressions of internal conflicts of of disturbed relationships to others or both.   Thus they may be attributed to soul loss, possession by and evil spirit, the magical insertion of a harmful body by a sorcerer, or the machinations of offended or malicious ancestral ghosts.  It is usually assumed that the patient laid himself open to these calamity through some witting or unwitting transgression against the supernatural world, or through incurring the enmity of a sorcerer or someone who has employed a sorcerer to wreak revenge.  The transgression need not have been committed by the patient himself.  He may fall ill through the sin of a kinsman.

Although many societies recognize that certain illnesses have natural causes, this does not exclude the simultaneous role of supernatural ones.  A broken leg may be recognized as caused by a fall from a tree, but the cause of the fall may have been an evil thought or a witch’s curse.

Because of the high mortality rates among primitive peoples many diseases represent a great threat to the patient, and the longer the illness lasts, the greater the threat becomes. In societies subsisting on a marginal level, illness is a threat to the group as well as to the invalid.  It prevents the invalid from making his full contribution to the group’s support and diverts the energies of those who must care for him from group purposes.  Therefore, it seems likely that every illness has overtones of anxiety, despair and similar emotions, mounting as cure is delayed.  That is, persons for whom healing rituals are performed probably are experiencing emotions that aggravate their distress and disability, whatever the underlying pathological condition.  The invalid is in conflict within himself and out of harmony with his group.  The group is faced with the choice of abandoning him to his fate by completing the process of extrusion, or of making strenuous efforts to heal him, thereby restoring him to useful membership in his community.

These considerations may be exemplified by a personal disaster than can befall members of certain groups and that may have a counterpart in civilized societies.  This is the so-called taboo death, which apparently results from noxious emotional states related to certain individual and group assumptive systems about supernatural forces and which also involve the victim’s relationships with his group.

Ed., Sobel, D.S., Ways of Health-Holistic Approaches to Ancient and Contemporary Medicine (Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich., New York and London ©1979) Unorthodox Medicine- Nonmedical Healing: Religious and Secular (Part 3) by Jerome D. Frank pp. 235-236.

Ways of Health •Holistic Approaches to Ancient and Contemporary Medicine

7 Oct

On the Limitations of Modern Medicine

THE FUTURE OF MEDICINE

 

It has been suggested that the character of medical culture is largely determined by that of the wider culture of which it is a part and that the medical beliefs and behaviors of individuals are largely socially determined.  It would be wrong however to ignore the scope for voluntary activity.  For one thing, current developments do not always fulfill past expectations.  Thus strains are created, both in the sphere of practice and the sphere of theory.  The old ways of seeing the world are fractured and through the cracks the real world becomes more visible.  The scope of human freedom expands.  Within the wider sphere of productive life, as indeed within medicine, the most serious emerging strains derive from industrial man’s relation to the natural world.

It is clear that the increase in human numbers and the increase in material consumption per capita must reach limits in a finite world.  Currently each is increasing at around 2 percent per year with global levels of material production thus rising around 4 percent and doubling in less than 20 years.  Because of the momentum inherent in demographic growth and of the effect of rising global expectations in sustaining economic growth, some studies have suggested that the global “population-capital system” seems bound for “overshoot and collapse” before re-stabilising within the limits nature imposes on man*.  This is not a problem that will go away if it is ignored and an increasing awareness of it is likely to lead to a fundamental reassessment of the wider constraints on human action.  As ecology is central to health, it would be surprising if such a reassessment did not also involve re-examination of the assumptions underlying modern medicine.  In any case medicine contains its own particular expression of the wider crisis—diminishing returns and a self-defeating dependence on economic growth to solve the health problems associated with such growth.

 

* Meadows, D.H., D.L., Randers, J. and Behrens, W.W., The Limits to Growth (New York: NAL, 1972).  Also see Mesarovic, M., and Pestel, E. Mankind at the Turning Point (New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1974).

 

Sobel, D. S., Ways of Health Holistic Approaches to Ancient and Contemporary Medicine (New York Harcourt Brace Jovanovich ©1979) P. 77.

The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics: Cannabis (Excerpt)

2 Jan

Active Principle.  The source of the official U.S.P.  Cannabis is from the Cannibas sativa. Little is known concerning the active principle of cannibas except that it is not an alkaloid. A red syrupy oil called cannibinol obtained by vacuum distillation has not been found to contain a highly active substance.  Cannabinol is soluble in alcohol but not in water, and is variously said to be a diterpene or dibenzopyran structure. It is excreted from the body through the kidneys in combination with glycuronic acid.  Standardized preparations of cannabis are difficult to obtain and differ widely in their potency.  besides cannabis itself, which is the dried flowering plant top, the Extract of Cannabis (dose 15 mgm) and various fractions of cannabis has been reviewed in the monograph by Walton (1938).

Freshly extracted cannabis possesses a brilliant green color which results from its content of chlorophyll. This extract has been employed to color corn medicines green.

By Louis Goodman, M.A., M.D. and Alfred Gilman, Ph.D. The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics; A Textbook of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutics for Physicians and Medical Students

(The MacMillan Company, New York ©1941) pp. 183-184

 

The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics: Cannabis (Excerpt)

8 Jan

Active Principle.  The source of the official U.S.P.  Cannabis is from the Cannibas sativa. Little is known concerning the active principle of cannibas except that it is not an alkaloid. A red syrupy oil called cannibinol obtained by vacuum distillation has not been found to contain a highly active substance.  Cannabinol is soluble in alcohol but not in water, and is variously said to be a diterpene or dibenzopyran structure. It is excreted from the body through the kidneys in combination with glycuronic acid.  Standardized preparations of cannabis are difficult to obtain and differ widely in their potency.  besides cannabis itself, which is the dried flowering plant top, the Extract of Cannabis (dose 15 mgm) and various fractions of cannabis has been reviewed in the monograph by Walton (1938).

Freshly extracted cannabis possesses a brilliant green color which results from its content of chlorophyll. This extract has been employed to color corn medicines green.

By Louis Goodman, M.A., M.D. and Alfred Gilman, Ph.D. The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics; A Textbook of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutics for Physicians and Medical Students

(The MacMillan Company, New York ©1941) pp. 183-184