It is an odd fact that we know very little about health, since the strong, immediate need always is to respond to and care for those who are sick. It is far simpler, much easier, more exciting, and more personally satisfying to look for the dramatic surgical rescues, etc. – than it is to consider the peculiar business of prevention, where one must somehow gain satisfaction from what does not happen, rather than from what does.
The absence of an car accident, the protection from an infectious disease, or the unseen prevention of a possible suicide attracts less attention (and funding) than the heroics of an ER trauma surgeon or the latest celebrity backed multi-million pound ‘whizz-bangometer’ testing machine. Yet the word “health” appears everywhere: `health care systems,’ `health care providers, ‘ `health maintenance organisations’.
With all the current discussion of and preoccupation with health care, one might have the idea that there would be someone who had some understanding of it. Yet, nearly all the talk of `health’ these days is really about care for tthose who have already become sick. These processes could more accurately be called `disease care systems’.
This all can be summed up in the Latin comment: “Ponos vs Pathos,” which refers to acute and chronic disease. From the naturopathic viewpoint, disease is not merely caused as a result of opportunistic invasion by germs and viruses, but by the contributing factors which challenge your physical and mental vitality. A person with a healthy body fights back and overcomes the disease.
In most cases, exposure to an infectious agent is not sufficient to cause disease. Why does one person who is exposed become ill, while another remains symptom-free? A person under stress or who is malnourished, is more susceptible to ‘dis-ease’ than a healthily fed, calm individual. The acute reaction to ‘dis-ease’ is not to be regarded as necessarily ‘bad,’ but rather the strong response of the body undertaking a process of house-clearing. The difference, where one person becomes ill and another does not, is due to the “resistance of the host”. Previous exposure to the infectious agent either naturally immunises or can stimulate immunity. Immunity also can be influenced by genetic constitution as well as dietary and nutritional factors.