The NHS : Crisis or Opportunity ?


The NHS is in crisis: not enough beds, not enough money, hard pressed GPs  with barely time to skim through a patient’s bald notes before the next is knocking at the door, an ageing demographic, antibiotic resistance, ever lengthening waiting times for a GP or consultant appointment, or for surgery. As a nation we may be living longer, but more often than not, that equates to years of living with ill health, and symptom management on an ever-increasing cocktail of drugs. These are drugs, which are tested in isolation, not in conjunction with the other drugs you may be on, and, in a dubious exchange for the one supposedly desirable benefit, carry a whole raft of side effects, which you will then be prescribed more drugs to treat. No wonder we’re ill!

I love the NHS. I love the idealism that it stands for. I love the GPs and nurses, and the extraordinary care they give to their craft. I say this because it’s true, but also because I would like you to stay with me to the end of this article. But the truth is, that the NHS isn’t working. And it is time to look deeper into the root causes of why.

Already we pour money into the NHS as into a bottomless pit, and we know that isn’t the answer. So, what does it really cost us?  Certainly the operations and drugs are expensive, and prescription charges nowhere near cover that bill.  But the real cost is to us. As a nation we take more and more drugs –  yet get sicker and sicker. Every drug is fundamentally a chemical toxin that then puts stress on the liver to break it down, and stress on the kidneys to excrete it. The rise of autoimmune diseases, congenital abnormalities, infertility, allergies, and diseases so new they barely have a name yet, is unprecedented. But the most frightening thing is that we accept all this as normal. ‘It’s just what happens as you get older’, I hear you say. NO!!! It doesn’t have to be that way! Treated with care, and looked after properly our bodies and minds should, and can be, healthy well into old age. And it’s not that difficult. Radical, yes. Difficult, no.

So, what’s to be done? The first thing is to take back responsibility for our health.  That really means food and exercise, as the inescapable foundation of good health. But much of what we have been told is now known to be wrong, particularly the low fat hypothesis. So listen on:-

Food:- What we eat creates every cell in our bodies. So it makes good sense to eat well. Not necessarily following every food fad going. Journalist Michael Pollan puts it succinctly as, ‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants’. Go for what is truly nourishing: bone broths, offal meats, a variety of whole grains and beans. Cut white sugar out completely. Eat fermented foods such as kefir, yogurt, fermented pickles.  Use milk, butter and cheese from pasture fed cows, raw if you can get it, to preserve the enzymes. Eat a rainbow abundance of vegetables grown on mineral and humus rich soil, preferably home grown if you can.  Avoid processed factory food, additives and E numbers. Avoid anything that makes health claims such as ‘low fat’ or ‘added vitamins’.  Above all, avoid margarine. Instead, use plenty of good fats, olive oil, coconut, walnut, avocado, nuts and seeds. Don’t count calories, just enjoy a little of what you fancy. Sit together to eat, to chat about the day, laugh, take pleasure, and give thanks.

Exercise:- exercise regularly, preferably in the open air: walking, jogging, gardening, yoga, swimming, dancing , cycling, team sports, tennis. Do something you can enjoy and can make an intrinsic part of your life.

So, eating to fully nourish ourselves and regular exercise are the basic building blocks of health. But what happens when things go wrong – because, after all, everyone gets ill sometimes.

In basic medical philosophy there are two methods of treating a symptom or disease picture. The one which most people are familiar with is the method of CONTRARIES. It is ingrained in our psyches because all conventional medical drug treatments use this approach: if you are constipated, you take a laxative; if you have a fever you take an analgesic, such as paracetamol;  if you burn your hand, you run it under the cold tap. It makes perfect sense. Or does it? Let’s look closer at what happens.

With constipation, the laxative clears you out, but the fundamental problem of poor diet and lack of peristalsis will remain, in fact, it will be worse, as the gut movement gets lazier, leading to a need for more frequent and stronger doses of laxatives. How about the fever? Well yes, Calpol will lower the temperature, but again, what is really going on? When our bodies fight a bacterial or viral infection, they do this by raising the temperature, as this is the most effective way to kill the bugs. This is not the problem, it is the cure.  When the job is done, the fever naturally breaks, and the dead bacteria are eliminated by sweating, being deposited as the white coating on the tongue and discharged in urine etc.  This is what the body is innately programmed to do, and it works.  The bugs are killed, antibodies are made and off we go again, ready to roll.  If, however, we artificially try to lower the fever with paracetamol, the bugs are never properly killed, and the tough ones survive with a clear playing field to proliferate unchecked. This leaves our bodies weaker than before, and if antibiotics have been used, increasingly antibiotic resistant.

As I said, in medical philosophy there are two methods of treating disease: the method of CONTRARIES and the method of SIMILARS. Into one of these two categories fall every drug, every antibiotic, every vaccination, surgical procedure, herb, psychotherapeutic method, physical manipulation technique or system of natural medicine that you could possibly imagine. So let’s look at them more closely.

CONTRARIES: As its name suggests this works against the body. It works by suppressing undesirable symptoms in the way I have just described.  It is very good at alleviating symptoms but does not cure them. Superficially, all looks good. The fever has gone down, the constipation has dramatically unblocked, but the reactive after effect is always that we need ever increasing doses to keep the symptoms at bay, and the body gradually but inexorable becomes weaker and less able to adapt to changes without getting ill again.  The over-reliance on this method is what has created the crisis in the NHS. It is not underfunding, bureaucracy or mismanagement. It is that using contraries inherently makes us sicker.

So let’s look at SIMILARS:

The method of SIMILARS works with the body, not against it. You observe the symptom, and then deliberately make it slightly worse.  For example, if you are cold, a short sharp cold shower will chill you for a second, but then stimulates the body and leaves you warm and glowing for the rest of the day. Instead of holding the burn under a cold tap, pass it for a second through the steam from a kettle, and watch the minor miracle as the blister and throbbing disappear before your eyes.  These are deliberately simple examples to illustrate the point. Vaccination and allergen desensitisation therapy work along the same principle.  The cure is achieved by the body itself in the reactive after-effect of the treatment. This method is also called ‘Like Cures Like’.

By treating with SIMILARS we are left healthier and our bodies stronger. We don’t need to be on repeat prescriptions for the rest of our lives as just one pill or treatment is often all that is required. There are no side effects, (although there may initially be a beneficial slight aggravation of symptoms). In fact, other imbalances in the system will usually clear up as well, as the treatment is usually for the whole person, not just an isolated symptom. Similars can be used to treat pretty well every dis-ease in the book, including psychological, and is the equivalent of tough-love over tea and sympathy. The aim is always to cure rather than just alleviate symptoms.  It is not expensive, it is amazingly safe, and the results are long lasting. Much can be treated at home, by a person with a little training and half a brain, and trickier cases can then go to the therapist or GP who’s freed up time would then allow for a more in-depth consultation. At a stroke we could solve those knotty problems of an NHS in crisis. And hand the responsibility for our health back to us, where it really belongs.

In homeopathy, we have a saying, ‘Do flies cause dustbins, or do dustbins cause flies?’ The lesson to profoundly learn here, is that if we treat our bodies as dustbins, we cannot moan when the flies inevitably come.  It seems to me, after twenty-five years of treating patients with SIMILARS, that the NHS is very good at swatting flies, but does precious little to sort out the dustbins!

So the answer comes back to fundamentally changing how we treat disease: using SIMILARS first, and CONTRARIES as a firefighting last resort, and by handing back responsibility for maintaining health firmly back to the patient. We need better health education. That way we can truly have a Health Service rather than an Illness Service. And who knows? Maybe even a Natural Health Service. And what would that be like!

Trisha Longworth