The Logic of Health and Disease
Dr. Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPP, RHN, ND
The study of the life cycle for plants and other living organisms starts with the understanding that there is a reason why things happen. Plants and animals are expected to respond to their environment, to change based on environmental factors, to grow or die based on what they are fed or what they are lacking. There is a logic and a reason why every thing happens. Why is this same logic questioned when studying health and disease in humans?
Part of the challenge with humans is that there are many windows available for looking at health and disease, each one unique, specialized and often independent of the other windows. Physiology and biochemistry explore the inner workings of the cells. Anatomy looks at the overall structure. Tongue and pulse diagnosis looks at it from a Chinese perspective using Yin Yang and the five elements. Ayurvedic Medicine uses a different five elements and links disease more with a person’s lifestyle and external factors. The way a person talks, how they think, their diet, lifestyle and environment are other windows. Each perspective is a piece of the puzzle and has it’s own language. Integrating the various perspectives so that you end up with a logical understanding of a person’s health and disease is often difficult because the framework used is not the same. To understand the logic of health and disease a common language has to be used. The language of life is energetics.
Everything is energy. Human beings are energetic beings. They are constantly changing, growing, repairing, living and dying. The body is always in is a continuous multi-factorial process between health and disease. The manifestation of symptoms tell a story and the changes in the body are part of a process that is occurring for logical reasons. Most people would agree that there is a link between lifestyle and health, the mind and health, food and health, the environment and health, stress and health and so on. The disconnect often occurs when multiple factors are being considered, when the impact of time is included and when looking at acute symptoms versus chronic illness. When the factors are looked at energetically all aspects are connected and the presence and absence of health becomes logical.
Understanding health and disease involves exploring the aspects that play into that process, such as:
- The belief that the body is energy and that energy is logical.
- The use of a common language.
- Understanding the energetics of the building blocks.
- Appreciating and looking for the many causes of disease.
- Assessing the physical body and physiological processes energetically.
To what degree do you believe that the body is energy and that health is logical? Believing this mean understanding that its presence or absence happens for a reason. When you look at the body as a manifestation of a person’s energetic makeup symptoms, their location, intensity, frequency and characteristics are simply a display of the imbalances in energy that the body is faced with. For example, there is a different meaning when psoriasis is located on the elbows versus on the medial aspect of the ankles. Different organs house the energetics of different thoughts and emotions. For example, fear is held in the colon, frustration and anger in the liver, grief in lungs. Unresolved thoughts and emotions result in physiological and physical changes in the body, as seen when a stressful situation causes tension in the shoulders or stomach problems. The body ‘talks’ on an ongoing basis to inform a person of needed changes in lifestyle or way of thinking. When a person starts to connect their symptoms with their life they become aware of the logic.
When health is approached from the perspective of it being logical there is hope, the possibility of change and a way of being an active participant in the process. The conventional health care system, especially the pharmaceutical industry, is based on the belief that healthcare is predominantly random, things just happen. When health is seen as random it creates fear, uncertainty – a disconnect between a person’s lifestyle, environment, thoughts, emotions and their health.
To use energy as the common language you need to understand it. How it moves, the principles of attraction and repulsion, the additive effects of energy, energy’s ability to create and modify form or to exist without form and the understanding that everything is made up of energy and that energy responds and changes based on everything it comes in contact with. Naturopathic Medicine is strongly based on the belief that health is logical, that there is a root cause to disease and that the body can heal itself. What it is often lacking is the ability to link all the pieces together.
The language of energy provides a framework for understanding and integrating all factors that affect health, disease, assessment and treatment. What this language provides is a way of articulating energetic patterns to describe all aspects of health using the following four patterns:
- Five elements
- Yin Yang Theory
- External and Internal Factors
- Excess and Deficiency
When the energetics of a disease, symptoms, thoughts, the weather, a person’s physical build, the food they eat, their environment and other factors they are faced with are all described using the same language the logic and connection between can be seen.
The Building Blocks to Health
There are ten general building blocks to health. These are factors that influence the body and that provide the ‘fuel’ and structure to function at all stages of life and all stages of health and disease. The ten building blocks are:
- A person’s environment
- A person’s lifestyle
- Aligned posture
- Adequate rest and sleep
- Food that is healthy for your body
- Expression of emotions
- Proper breathing
- Positive mental outlook and mind chatter
The presence or absence of a building block impacts health. For example, the lack of or excess of nutrients, water and movement are often contributing factors to health concerns. Each of the building blocks can be described according to energetic qualities. For example, hot spicy food, a frustrating conversation, a hot summer day, a muscular build and a fast paced lifestyle all are characteristics of the fire element. Whereas, a cold winter day, routine and structure, slow monotone voice and a square firm build are all characteristics of earth. When too many of the building blocks that have the same energetic qualities occur at once that element can manifest as symptoms, or contribute to disease. This is seen in people who have irritable bowel syndrome (an internal fire excess condition) that is aggravated when they eat fire food or when they are faced with stress that they internalize. By looking at all aspects that affect a person from the framework of energetics the correlation between different triggers and factors contributing to symptoms and disease becomes apparent.
The Causes of Disease
The body has a tremendous innate ability to heal itself. It is constantly healing, repairing, growing and changing. The movement between health and disease is process that can shift in either direction. Research has only just started to uncover the tremendous potential of the body and the intrinsic processes that occur on an ongoing basis.
Disease is a sign that the current factors impacting a person are not conducive to sustain health. By looking at disease itself energetically the message of the imbalance becomes clearer. When the messages are addressed the body is able to heal. For example, when a person leaves the job or marriage that they hate, their health improves. On the other hand, when the messages are being ignored and the body is being forced to shift because of drugs, surgery or treatments that mask the messages it will remain in the mode of disease. It is not difficult to impose change on the body. The body is energy after all and will respond to any energetic influence that it comes in contact with. What is difficult is having the body maintain change on a cellular or energetic level. The introduction of different health building options might slow down, prolong or lessen the burden on the body but they won’t create a change that will hold. For change to be held you have to address the root cause of disease and understand the willpower of the person.
There are many different, interrelated reasons why symptoms and disease occur. Some of them are due to exogenous factors and others to endogenous ones. In every situation look for how many of them influence the shift away from health. The following lists a number of those reasons.
- A result of the past, present or future events
- A response to internal and environmental influences
- A process due to immediate, gradual or progressive insults on the body
- The reality of use it or lose it
- The misuse, under/over use or abuse of the senses
- A state of excess or deficiency of any element
- Internal restrictions due to fears and beliefs
- Suppression of natural urges or symptoms
- Incongruence with the rhythm of life
A message for change and personal growth.
The Physical Body and Physiological Processes
When doing a physical assessment a practitioner picks up indications of what is going on with a patient through many windows – how they speak, what they say, what their wearing, physical changes on the body, tongue and pulse, posture, how they move, their face etc. Diseases themselves provide another piece to the puzzle.
When a person is speaking you can hear different energetic elements being expressed. Frustration and irritability have a similar tone representing the fire element. A story that goes on and on has a quality of the water element. Someone who speaks slowly in a monotone voice with a lot details is conveying an earth quality. Every aspect of how a person speaks and what they say conveys energy. A key to the root causes of disease is often heard when a person’s affect changes as they talk about different aspects of their life.
The physical body shifts in response to energetic shifts. The acute stressors due to diet or stress often result in mild shifts and symptoms such as gas, bloating, lack of energy, slight discomfort or a mild headache. Acute stressors are seen when assessing the tongue and pulse, a patient’s movement or their breathing patterns. They often do not affect the physical structure or how the body looks. Shifts that show up in the physical structure often indicate deeper and more profound energetic patterns. Patterns that are a result of stressors or factors that are more chronic.
Every body part has a physical function, a purpose and an energetic meaning. Understanding what is done with the different aspects of the body and how disharmony impacts a person correlates with the energetics for that person. The physical body shifts in a particular fashion for a specific reason. For example, for some a painful shoulder represents the inability to work, for others it is the inability to hug someone they love, for someone else it means the loss of independence because they can’t drive and for someone else it just slows them down and makes them more cautious. What is common is that a person’s ability to give or receive has been affected. There will be a similarity and uniqueness to the energetics for every person and for every aspect of the body.
Often when a patient comes to see a practitioner they already have symptoms or have been diagnosed with a disease. It is possible to understand the underlying energetic patterns by looking at the energetics of symptoms and diseases themselves. Every organ and system can be looked at energetically. For example, the circulatory and nervous system respond to imbalances in the air element, the air element also relates to the mind and movement in the body. Different signs and symptoms convey energetic qualities. For example, heat, redness, itchiness and symptoms that are irritating represent more of a fire imbalance; whereas, systems that are stuck, cold, fixed and solid relate more to an earth quality. The location on the body, the frequency and intensity of systems all provide information on the overall energetic pattern. For example, the right side of the body responds more to Yang imbalances and the medial aspects of the body and the midline relate more to internal factors. When diseases are assessed according to the same principles and framework as the factors that contribute to disease the links between lifestyle, environment and health become clear.
The book, Messages from the Body, a guide to the energetics of health, explores the concepts outlined above in more detail. It provides a framework for understanding health and disease by looking for the patterns that are being expressed using the common language of energetics. It also explores the link between thought, emotion, physiological changes and physical changes. It provides a guide for assessing and treating all aspects of the physical body and disease according to energetic patterns and the laws of energy.
When every aspect of a patient’s assessment uses the same language the patterns and causes of disease become clearer. A person’s lifestyle, environment, thoughts and emotions becomes linked with their physical body and physiological process. Disease and health become a logical display of energy in motion – with endless possibilities.
Dr. Iva Lloyd is a Naturopathic Doctor, Registered Nutritional Consultant, Registered Polarity Practitioner and Reiki Master. In 2002 she opened Naturopathic Foundations Health Clinic in Markham Ontario. Dr. Lloyd teaches Practice Management at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. She also gives seminars on the energetics of health, the role of the mind in healing and the building blocks to health. She currently is Chair of the board for the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors.