The fact that the mind of the patient is responsible for any healing is news to most people. However, Whole Foods, Plant-Based nutrition and the Lifestyle Medicine that is based on it, are instrumental in making the practical choice for healing and escaping from 'Pharmageddon,' with its spiraling health care inflation and ever worsening health outcomes. Growing numbers of physicians will testify that for a heart patient even a 2 week immersion in the whole foods plant-based diet will do more to lower cholesterol than 3 to 6 months of Statin drugs, and without any side effects. The same applies to type 2 diabetes and many other conditions: a week on a Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet is usually enough to reverse a diagnosis of pre-diabetes, and in various #WFPB programs the reversals for full-blown diabetics are usually 70-80% at least within three months, and about half of the people can be off of all medications within six months. In other words, there is a rapidly growing body of experience that testifies to the actual healing of these supposedly chronic illnesses for which Pharmageddon has no answers, except of course: "You'll have to take this pill for the rest of your life." In that business model, a chronically ill patient is the best customer.
The list of conditions that are improved by a whole foods, plant-based diet includes ALS, Dementia, Stroke, Depression, Skin appearance, Ear infections, Periodontal disease, Acid reflux, Laryngeal cancer, Lung disease, Breast cancer, Heart Disease, Obesity, Hyper tension, Inflammation, Constipation, Colon cancer, Lower back pain, Sexual function, Athletic performance and Arthritis, according to the "Kale Scan" by Dr. Ostfeld:
Many doctors are motivated by the idea of practicing medicine in a way that helps people actually heal, reverse disease, not treat it without checking the eventual progression. Patients thrive with the new sense of empowerment once they get the hang of it. In the process a real paradigm shift is occurring which will be instrumental to true health care reform. Some facts are really simple, whole foods means whole foods, i.e. brown rice not white, whole grain bread not white, and research now shows that e.g. the risk of colorectal cancer is 17% lower for people eating 3 servings of whole grains per day in lieu of white.
Healing and The Quantum Doctor
We live in a mechanistic culture where we treat our body like a car: if it breaks down, we want to check it in to the mechanic shop and pick it up in the afternoon, fixed. Healing does not work that way, this attitude rests on a simplistic, mechanical model that is based on a Newtonian model of our experienced reality. Most often, the idea of the influence of the mind on healing tends to get raised around discussions of the power of placebos, which we don't understand because medical science has remained stuck in this very Newtonian, mechanistic and reductionist model of human reality, which precludes it from any meaningful understanding of health and healing. The Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet and Lifestyle Medicine, while ostensibly behavioral, by implication involves the patient taking responsibility for their own health, because about 80% of illness directly relates to diet and lifestyle. Hippocrates still understood the importance of self-examination and taking responsibility for healing:
Illnesses do not come upon us out of the blue. They are developed from small daily sins against Nature. When enough sins have accumulated, illnesses will suddenly appear.
Quantum physicist Amit Goswami points the way forward with his book The Quantum Doctor. I think any conversation about changing our health care system is pointless unless and until we understand the absolute necessity of changing the paradigm, and, with Goswami, to adopt a quantum-physical understanding of our reality and the healing process. The immediate result is that in quantum medicine all healing modalities, allopathy included, make sense, within clear limits for their application. The key to the choice of the appropriate healing modality is exactly the respect for the fact that the mind of the patient is in charge of healing. Some of the practical implications and possibilities are discussed in Joe Dispensa's book, You Are the Placebo.
What it boils down to in metaphysical terms, is that our physical experience is what Einstein termed that of a "non-local being having a local experience," or, in quantum physical terms, our concrete physical experience is a choice in the mind for one specific quantum possibility. As Goswami terms it, this process implies "downward causation" and what we experience as physical 'reality' is the effect of a thought in the mind. Conceptually, this is the diametrical opposite of the Newtonian model, where it is thought that the brain thinks and thus the mind is somehow supposed to be an epi-phenomenon of the brain. In the quantum physical model and in the metaphysics of A Course in Miracles, it is the mind that causes the brain, i.e. the brain is the manifestation of the process of thinking in our specifically chosen quantum possibility which we call "my life." Thought causes all physical phenomena, including the brain, not the other way around. This can seem a bit radical, if you're not used to it - it is a complete paradigm change. Just as radical as the notion that the earth is round when all the world thought it was flat, or the earth removes around the sun in a world that thought the sun moved around the earth. It is a complete change of vantage point, a true paradigm change and lest we underestimate the significance of that, the reader should be referred to Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
In short, the paradigm of Whole Foods, Plant-Based nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine re-frames the very concept of healing such that the primary actor in the process is the mind of the patient, not some outside agent. We decide what we put in our mouths, or what medicines to take. As A Course in Miracles puts it:
6 In this case it may be wise to utilize a compromise approach to mind and body, in which something from the outside is temporarily given healing belief. 7 This is because the last thing that can help the non-right-minded, or the sick, is an increase in fear. 8 They are already in a fear-weakened state. 9 If they are prematurely exposed to a miracle, they may be precipitated into panic. 10 This is likely to occur when upside-down perception has induced the belief that miracles are frightening. (ACIM:T-2.IV.4:6-10)
In short, all of medicine is a placebo, a physical means to mediate the process of healing, when we are too afraid of the experience of direct spiritual healing. Diet is the same thing, with the additional benefit of essentially no side effects. The Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet has high credibility at this point because of the massive scientific evidence that supports its role in healing, which is how Lifestyle Medicine is emerging as a specialty that is rapidly gaining acceptance.
Co-dependence: Source of Medical Dysfunction and Inflation
The ego works by denial of the truth, and it constantly seeks witnesses to defend its version of the truth. A medical doctor, operating from a paradigm where the body is the cause when in reality it is the effect, while the cause is in the mind, is the perfect witness to our victimhood (victims of the disease), and to confirm us in our suffering state. Such a doctor becomes the pseudo-omniscient magician who offers to patch us up by addressing the symptoms and never the cause for we typically do not want to take responsibility for our own health and well-being. Therefore, we do seek a doctor who believes that the body is a mechanical contraption that he can fix, relieving us from the responsibility from the moment we come in, and effectively ask the doctor: "please tell me how I am doing and what you can do about it." In short, the typical doctor/patient relationship is a co-dependent relationship that revolves around maintaining the ego's denial of responsibility. This is a process that Ivan Ilych has called "the expropriation of health" in his classical work Limits to Medicine: Medical Nemesis: The Expropriation of Health. His book is brilliant and should be required reading for anyone who seeks to understand the complete derailing of Western medicine, but it is also important to realize that it takes two to tango.
In the, very Freudian, psychological sense, the patient does not necessarily really want to be well, he wants attention and validation for his suffering (secondary gain), without taking responsibility for his condition, and a doctor operating with a paradigm that addresses symptoms and never cause is the perfect ally in this quest. Part of this deception is the popular medicine show of "a pill for every ill," that maintains the illusion of the mechanic's shop, where you check-in your broken vehicle in the morning, and pick it up, fixed, in the afternoon. This dynamic is also the perfect setup for excesses like the opioid crisis, which should definitely be counted as an iatrogenic illness, along with other cases of malpractice and or unwanted side effects and outright mistakes, making it the 3rd leading cause of premature death in the US.
We can now also understand why the resistance against the Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet is so high: the doctors see it as a threat to their omniscience, and the patients see it as a way of passing the black jack of responsibility back to them and many of them will fight it tooth and nail. Only if the patient is ready to take responsibility will they have a chance of succeeding with the diet. Those who do are grateful for the very empowerment that lies in the realization that you are responsible for what you shovel down your gullet and you are ready, able and willing to make the change. In the context of Lifestyle Medicine the entire doctor-patient relationship changes. The doctor now becomes merely the subject matter expert who assists the patient in making the right choices and where necessary can offer temporary medications to help patients through difficult transitions or with things that truly cannot be addressed with diet alone. In that context then, all credible healing modalities are an option for the most material factor in healing is that it makes sense to the patient, which supports them in taking responsibility for the process. The pharmacological monopoly on medicine, which rests on a Newtonian model of health, in which the doctors think it is their pills and procedures that cause the healing, is completely obsolete and needs to go. The pills and procedures are at best the instruments of healing.
It is this conspiracy of denial, enabled by a paradigm that excludes healing thorough the confusion of cause and effect, which leads to the out of control escalation of health costs. For symptom suppression, which does not address the cause, ever, results in festering wounds, and patients who keep coming back with never-ending disease progression. This is the story of our chronic diseases of affluence that cannot be healed with medicine, only "treated" with a never ending escalation of pills and procedures, while the disease process progresses inexorably and health outcomes are not improved, but consumption of pharmaceuticals increases exponentially. Pharmageddon makes its money on the illusion of omniscience and indispensability and fear will keep that magic firmly in place. All the while, a whole foods, plant-based diet could prevent or reverse these chronic illnesses completely in many cases wholly, or largely in some other cases, at the cost of the patients taking responsibility for their lives.
Metaphysics of Health
For the record, I am simplifying Goswami's terminology somewhat, as my vantage point tends to be the metaphysics of A Course in Miracles, but I will allow myself some leeway to bridge the gap with Goswami, for, in the end, we're talking about the same thing. Consciousness in my book is dualistic, so that, if all beginning is one (Heaven, Eternity, Oneness, God, Spirit, Brahman and so on), the birth of consciousness is the equivalent of the "tiny mad idea" in A Course in Miracles, i.e. an awareness of something other than itself. It is the choice for a specific quantum possibility. This individual consciousness then perceives the mind as limited and projects a whole world in this same manner, i.e. as individual consciousnesses, each one representing just one set of quantum possibilities in the whole and all therefore very much perceptual phenomena, i.e. without consciousness they don't exist. What is confusing to me in Goswami is his use of the term consciousness for the original state, which is by nature non-dualistic.
To recap, the way I will use these metaphysical terms is as follows:
- Our non-dualistic origin and reality is the Mind, Eternity, Brahman, Heaven, Spirit, Oneness, Non-duality, i.e. all is one. Logically oneness comes first, before we have the proverbial "world of ten thousand things," as Taoism would refer to it. This oneness is also never gone, though it is not perceived as long as we identify with the specialness of one specific individuality (quantum possibility).
- Then consciousness arises, "Into eternity where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad idea, at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh. In his forgetting did the thought become a serious idea, and possible of both accomplishment and real effects." (ACIM:T-27.VIII.6:2-3) This "tiny mad idea," is the thought of separation, something "more than everything," as the Course sarcastically refers to it, a separate mind (with lower case "m"), an identity different from oneness, which now, of necessity, must have a beginning and an end, a birth and a death. This idea is the birth of a separate reality and it is the manifestation of the choosing ability of the mind to focus on one specific quantum possibility and identify with it. Then, reflecting the new identity it has chosen, it now sees the whole world in similar terms - "in its own image." The choice of a specific quantum possibility goes hand in hand with an identification that perceives the entire world the same way. This projection is the manifestation of the world, and it is the cloud cover that hides the repressed guilt over choosing something over everything.
- What most thought systems miss, but where A Course in Miracles is crystal clear, although psychology gets it to some degree, is the notion that the choice of this quantum possibility of individual existence, results not only in perceiving the entire world the same way, but comes with the hidden guilt feeling that ontologically results from choosing "somethingness" over oneness and at the expense of oneness. In the end, this is the explanation of the dark side of the ego, our self-destructive tendencies, the attraction of death and so on. It is the choice for sickness over health, wholeness and healing, which is the return to the original oneness of Heaven. Thus healing is a choice we need to make. A choice of the mind. The practical way for choosing healing is to look our choice for darkness in the eye, as summarized beautifully here, by J. W. van Aalst in a piece titled Articulate your choice for darkness.
In short, when we review these dynamics, it becomes evident why we don't necessarily want healing, health and wholeness, for eventually that is an ontological threat to our choice for individuality. We are literally the house that is divided against itself. Thus, the decision for healing is a profound process. A Course in Miracles speaks of it as follows in the Manual for Teachers section of the Course:
The acceptance of sickness as a decision of the mind, for a purpose for which it would use the body, is the basis of healing. 2 And this is so for healing in all forms. 3 A patient decides that this is so, and he recovers. 4 If he decides against recovery, he will not be healed. 5 Who is the physician? 6 Only the mind of the patient himself. 7 The outcome is what he decides that it is. 8 Special agents seem to be ministering to him, yet they but give form to his own choice. 9 He chooses them in order to bring tangible form to his desires. 10 And it is this they do, and nothing else. 11 They are not actually needed at all. 12 The patient could merely rise up without their aid and say, "I have no use for this." 13 There is no form of sickness that would not be cured at once.
What is the single requisite for this shift in perception? 2 It is simply this; the recognition that sickness is of the mind, and has nothing to do with the body. 3 What does this recognition "cost"? 4 It costs the whole world you see, for the world will never again appear to rule the mind. 5 For with this recognition is responsibility placed where it belongs; not with the world, but on him who looks on the world and sees it as it is not. 6 He looks on what he chooses to see. 7 No more and no less. 8 The world does nothing to him. 9 He only thought it did. 10 Nor does he do anything to the world, because he was mistaken about what it is. 11 Herein is the release from guilt and sickness both, for they are one. 12 Yet to accept this release, the insignificance of the body must be an acceptable idea. (ACIM:M-5.II.2-3)
From a standpoint of healing, we should understand that the be-all and end-all is not that the physical symptoms go away, but rather that we are at peace. Type 1 diabetes is an example. It is not reversible by diet, but vast clinical improvements are possible and you are maximizing your body's ability to cope with any health challenges. In short, type 2 diabetes may be largely or wholly reversible 70-80% of the time, type 1 is not, but the improvement is still worthwhile and self-evident to anyone who tries. The same goes for cancer, if youǘe already had cancer, you are massively improving your chances of preventing a recurrence, with fewer or no drugs. Again, what matters is to make the choice for healing, not against it, but there is a practical reality that nobody gets out of here alive. Thus there have been saints who died of cancer, but they were at peace with themselves and with the world. What is clear however is that no healing will occur at all, even in the physical sense without this inner choice for healing. Cindy Lora Renard wrote a beautiful book, A Course in Health and Well-being, which explains all the psychological and spiritual dimensions of this process. Like with everything else in life, as long as we are in denial, we cannot successfully deal with the issues of health and wellness. In other words, the real healing process is about what goes on in the mind.
On the physical level, there are other ways of understanding our resistance against "health" and "wholeness." One of the practical manifestations is the idea of The Pleasure Trap, a book by psychologist Doug Lisle. It delves deeply into the neuropsychology of why unhealthy foods are so addictive, which is an important step in coming out of denial. This is the physiological basis for our bad food habits. More recently, Dr. Neal Barnard added to this discussion whith his book The Cheese Trap, documenting why cheese is literally addictive.
Once we are looking at our issues honestly, things can start to change. The Whole Foods, Plant-Based nutrition revolution is an integral part of the choice for health, for most of the leading causes of death, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, RA, MS and more can all be wholly or partially prevented or reversed with a plant-based diet.
Lifestyle medicine is growing by leaps and bounds
The chances of finding a plant-based physician are improving by the minute. Places to look include the database of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Plant-Based Doctors, the Happy Herbivore's Plant-Based Doctors list and the VegDocs website. It definitely makes a difference having a plant-based doctor for your entire relationship with your doctor will change. There are a growing number of options for doctors and other medical professionals to take a lifestyle medicine certification course and there are numerous lifestyle medicine conferences. Like patients who are mostly thrilled to discover the power they have to overcome some of our worst diseases, many doctors become highly motivated to practice serious medicine again, and actually to help patients with healing in their own practice. The role of the primary care physician will end up being upgraded in the process, albeit initially there is a serious hurdle, for doctors are paid for pills and procedures, not for diet advice.
The significance of the Whole Foods, Plant-Based nutrition revolution
As the documentary Code Blue points out, 86% of our health care spending is on 'treatment,' of the chronic, degenerative 'diseases of affluence,' which are inappropriately treated with pharmaceuticals and medical procedures that largely suppress symptoms and allow the underlying disease to continue to progress. These types of inappropriate treatment protocols ensure that patients will keep returning forever. In short, there is, in the case of CVD (Cardio Vascular Disease) a progression from viagra (ED is the canary int he coal mine for CVD), to baby aspirin, to statins, to stents and to bypass surgeries, which ensures a five million dollar customer over a lifetime. In diabetes the progression begins with a diagnosis of pre-diabetes which progresses to a prescription of metformin and a lifetime of drugs and drug interactions, complications (including CVD) and more drugs and procedures, making for another hugely profitable customer, with an ever deteriorating quality of life. In the meantime, the Whole Foods, Plant-Based nutritional paradigm and the clinicians who practice it, has built up a fifty year track record of success, pointing to heart disease being essentially 100% reversible (Ornish, Esselstyn), except if it is totally critical. In 'Pharmageddon' the legal drug pushers (physicians) and the illegal ones operate the same way: suppressing the symptoms to have you come back for more. The old Tom Lehrer song about The Old Dope Peddler sums it up best. If you look at it at this level, it is clear why the opioid crisis is merely the extreme result of a system gone horribly wrong a long time ago, and not some kind of a singular crisis. The marketing of pharmaceuticals became wildly inappropriate particularly after drug companies began to market directly to the public, disintermediating doctors, and reinforcing the expectation of 'a pill for every ill' at every turn. In Pharmageddon, the central problem is that if you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and allopathic medicine has held on to its presumed monopoly on the definition of health for too long already. It is hopelessly obsolete. Nutrition should move into first place, which begins with empowerment of the patient.
The improvements from a switch to #WFPB nutrition are vastly superior to any known drug regimen, as practitioners in this area will tell you every time. The same goes for diabetes. The story of Brooklyn Borough President, Eric Adams, is a case in point. In many cases, even long-term, insulin-dependent, diabetics can completely reverse the disease with a #WFPB diet, the IThrive program is one manifestation of that option, organized by a layman who shared his journey out of the hell of morbid obesity and diabetes and towards vibrant heatlh. If you add it all up, it is safe to assume that 75% of that 86% of health care spending can be eliminated by universal adoption of a #WFPB diet. Meaning a profound cultural change. The diet change becomes more likely a matter of self-help with minimal professional assistance.
The research of T. Colin Campbell, that has been documented in popular form in his books The China Study and Whole is foundational. The upshot is that whole foods are superior to processed foods, i.e. we absorb nutrients better in their original context in foods, and in many cases they can even be counter productive, or ineffective in supplement form. Some can even become toxic. The paradigm shift here is from looking at the trees in the reductionist tradition of common practices in nutritional research - seeking to identify specific effects from specific ingredients, the tree level - towards looking at the whole: the natural state of nutritional abundance that results from the adoption of a whole foods, plant-based diet. This is a complete paradigm change from looking at specifics first to looking at wholeness first, and it has implications for all of medical research on the effectiveness of drugs and procedures. The current methodology, which starts at the tree level of changes to specific disease parameters from specific drugs or procedures, at the expense of the forest level of looking at wholeness and health. As Campbell points out, essentially none of these studies are controlled for the biggest single variable: diet. They generally study the effects that are obtained against a background of nutritional deprivation, which is the standard American diet.
There is now growing awareness of the effectiveness of Whole Foods, Plant-Based nutrition thanks to the growing reach of the T. Colin Campbell's Center for Nutrition Studies and many other organizations in the field, in many cases led by various clinicians who are focused on this approach, which is now coming together in the new specialty of Lifestyle Medicine. There is a constant stream of new evidence being discussed and reviewed by Dr. Michael Greger(Nutrition Studies) and Dr. Pam Popper on her Wellness Forum Health site and many others.
The upshot is that we now understand that personal lifestyle choices can wipe out something north of 75% of health care costs, not overnight, for adoption is going to take a generation (or two), but nevertheless these insights are the beginning of a refreshing new empowerment of all of us to take responsibility for our own health. With that, we now have the tools to operationalize the notion that health and healing begins in the mind of the patient: the choice of lifestyle is the single biggest determinant of health outcomes and it is a personal choice. Whole Foods, Plant-Based nutrition is the single biggest factor in Lifestyle Medicine and it is the start of a personal choice for healing.
A practical plan for healing based on Lifestyle Medicine
For one thing, Lifestyle Medicine is showing us that nutrition, not genetics is where it's at. Sure, genetics plays a role, but nutrition is the one variable you can control: you are in charge of what goes down your gullet and if it is Whole Foods, Plant-Based food, that does make a huge difference, which trumps genetics.
It all begins with a Whole Foods Plant Based diet plan, and the sources for that are the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies for the general theory (Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet guide), as well as many good whole food plant based diet recipes, and a 7-day kick start program. There is a 21-day kick start program from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and there are any number of other options. As an overall guide, the 4-leaf survey is unbeatable, it allows you to easily track you progress. In other words, the number of options is already vast and it is improving by the day.
A whole new life is waiting for you
In the new medicine, lifestyle medicine, diet is 80% of the battle, with a modicum of medical treatment in support. The Quantum Doctor sees empowering the patient to choose healing at all levels the number one priority. For the patient, this comes with a commitment to choosing healing and wholeness and to learn to make that choice consciously and the diet aspect is merely the first step on that journey. Fortunately, for most people the improvements in quality of life are dramatic and quick. Many are able to get rid of a handful of medications within their first 3-6 months on the diet, and this should be done in consultation with their doctor.
The bottom line is that a whole foods, plant-based lifestyle is easily feasible for everyone, with motivation, and there are ample tools to help you gets started. Healing is within reach for many minor and major health problems, if you are willing to take the controls.