“There is no money in healthy people” is just one of the phrases Guylaine Lanctôt uses in his controversial book The Medical Mafia (1994), which led to the revocation of his medical degree. The Canadian former doctor’s book exposes the plot created by the health system and the pharmaceutical industry, and addresses the misconception of health and illness in modern Western society. In a world where capitalism and the cult of aesthetics prevail, the saying “healthy mind, healthy body” takes a low priority. The current formula for a long life consists of endless visits to medical clinics, invasive treatments, hypochondria, exercising to exhaustion, and a high protein diet.
But even though huge companies promote this belief and most people hold misconceptions about health and happiness, there is a light at the end of the tunnel that is becoming stronger, and it is starting to bother large health and “well-being” organizations, who make billions from the illness industry.
Nowadays, more and more people are becoming aware of the complexity of the human body, and how illness never manifests itself solely in the body or solely in the mind. Cancer is one example of the body being weakened after a long period of suffering, conflict, and frustration, which overflows until it causes injuries to the body. The reverse is also possible. Ailments such as depression and anxiety may culminate in palpable symptoms such as skin disorders, headaches, ulcers, etc. It is no coincidence that cancer and depression are known as the “illnesses of the century”. In the current environment, health has become as chaotic as contemporary life itself.
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said long before Christ that knowledge of the body is impossible without knowledge of man as a whole. And it is from this perspective that integrative medicine is willing to shake up the orthodox structures.
The individual in its entirety: a new concept of healthy living
Conceived in American universities in the mid-1970s, integrative medicine invites research institutions, hospitals, health centers and clinics to change the medical treatment paradigm. Study no longer focuses on the illness, but on the individual as a whole – the mind, body, and spirit. The patient is now seen as primarily responsible for their own recovery, and is led to understand that healing works from inside to out, not the other way around. Medicines, treatments and surgery are seen as catalysts of the body’s recovery process, rather than protagonists of the cure.
For those who are more traditional, it is important to highlight that integrative medicine does not aim to replace conventional medicine, but to create new treatment possibilities, for those who are suffering from an illness, and for those who are trying to keep illness away. Since conventional medicine is linked to market interests, it is not profitable to offer all of the solutions to all of the health problems faced by humanity. After all, with perfect health, people would stop buying medicines.
The real intentions of the pharmaceutical industry are unknown. Therefore, limiting their actions to the prescription of drugs may mean limiting the patient's cure. Health is man's most valuable asset, not a business.
But as capitalism and the relentless pursuit of power grow ever more prominent, it is up to each of us to leave skepticism and preconceptions aside, and to adopt a path of awareness, self-knowledge, well-being, and happiness. The destination of this journey will undoubtedly transform us.
Lowsumerism and the integrative market worldwide
In Brazil, renowned health and scientific research institutions such as the Albert Einstein and Syrian-Lebanese hospitals have already shown themselves to be adept with new therapeutic approaches and at strengthening the relationship between patients and health professionals. So do not be surprised if you visit one of these hospitals and notice signs for yoga, acupuncture, reiki and hypnosis departments. The search and need for this new approach is so great that the Albert Einstein hospital even created the country’s first postgraduate degree in Integrative Medicine.
In the USA, democrat congressman Tim Ryan was so impressed by meditation that he became an activist for integrative medicine. He sponsored a bill that increased the practice of holistic medicine in some schools, and it has already had positive effects in the classroom: the children learned to control emotional outbursts and behavioral problems, to breathe deeply, and to live a more balanced life.
From this process of understanding that health can be established through internal harmony of the human being, the search for simple and natural solutions grows stronger. Grandma’s tea for indigestion, footbaths for colds, a sitz bath for various ailments, energy crystals for renewing energy. Simple and often cheap actions that connect us to our ancestors and to nature.
More open-minded brands and research institutions have noticed the integrative movement and are backing this niche. Primeira Folha and Sacerdotisa, popular presences at small fairs in São Paulo, provide interesting products for taking care of the soul, flirting with conventional wisdom and superstition. In São Paulo, Aromaflora offers Aromatherapy courses, and Joel Aleixo teaches Floral Therapy to those interested in the practice. In addition, new spaces for practicing yoga, meditation, ayurvedic nutrition and alternative therapies are opening their doors every day.
The more artisanal and human processes used by these small brands, in addition to their creativity and control of the production process, are factors that differentiate them from a cold and calculating market that views illness as money. The widespread hypochondria imposed by this cruel system can also be seen as a kind of consumerism.
Next time you have a light headache, try a cup of tea and some quiet time instead of reaching for the aspirin. Investigating alternatives and staying open to new possibilities are ways to exercise a more conscious life.