Albert Einstein’s scientific genius said that there are two ways of living: one is thinking that miracles do not exist, the other – that everything is a miracle. This is the secret of healing one’s soul and body – ensure “new generation” doctors -. Human beings, in fact, are a complex organism that lives in a life environment of love and work. Health is the result of multi-dimensional existence: our body and soul, psyche, mind, and social relations. This integral scientific approach, complex and complete, to the wellbeing of a person, to prevent and heal diseases, is called evolutionary-holistic medicine, or ecology of the integrated person. It is not alternative medicine, but a new method – also an old one, truth to be told, a return to the origins – of traditional medicine, as Claudio Pagliara, oncologist and president and scientific director of the cancer research association (ARK), explained to In Terris. In Brindisi, she has assisted hundreds of terminal cancer patients for free. She is the author of numerous scientific articles, even for prestigious international journals, such as the New England Journal of Medicine. She has recently published the book The Path of Recovery (Macrolibrarsi, 18 euros). Subtitle: Heal the Mind to Heal the Body, Take Care of the Environment to Cure Man, Heal the Spirit to Heal the World.
Dr. Pagliara, what does it mean to use a holistic approach in medicine?
“It is a new integral medical-scientific approach to the health of human beings, complex, with a global vision, and complete. In a way, it is a return to the basics. Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, used the holistic approach to cure people on the island of Kos, that is to say, he used an approach to the human being that considered the latter globally, as a complex entity. This approach sees disease as a multi-dimensional and multi-factorial state, the effect of external agents, but also caused from within, by our emotions, thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and in our relationship with the environment. It does not replace traditional Western medicine. It does not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Medical research, method, and scientific discoveries are the baby; whereas what we need to throw away are the economic interests that pollute medicine and science. This medical approach to health is based on three pillars: the biological organism in its entirety; the specificity of the human being – who is not a plant nor any other living being, but has a vital project that is not only material, but also spiritual and social-; the living and working environment. Healing, as I explain in my book, is an individual and collective process of healing mind, the spirit of the environment, and soul.”
Our brain – you have said – is the largest producer of both remedy and poison…
“Our brain is the greatest physician and pharmacist, our most reliable ally, but also our worst enemy. The battles of life, health, love, and work can only be won with one’s heart and mind. Our brain produces endorphins. The latter have an analgesic and euphoric effect, stimulate our immune system, and create wellbeing. Also falling in love produces endorphins. Or meditation. Negative thoughts and feelings, on the contrary, adversely affect our body’s conditions and cause disease. Many popular sayings enshrine this “medical” wisdom. For instance, we say ‘A smile is the best medicine’, or ‘die of a broken heart’, and today studies are being conducted on the Tako Subo syndrome, an electrocardiographic alteration whose symptoms are similar to a heart attack and which can even lead to death, even when one’s coronary arteries are healthy. Already in the words ‘good mood’ and ‘bad mood’ there is a reference to how our spirit or psyche affects our body’s healt, even when it comes to major diseases such as cancer. To heal the body, we must first heal the person’s mind, heart, and soul.”
Medicine, psychology, culture, spirituality, ecology… in short, all of them are one?
“Of course. The treatment of the human being is a complex approach to the complexity of the individual and his being in the world. Health is equilibrium between all the dimensions of the human being: biological-organic, body-material, psychological, affective-relational, sexual, social, and spiritual. There are organs’ called ‘target’, which are affected by certain emotions. Their illness is a symptom of a spiritual, psychological, emotional and relational malaise. People die earlier when they feel lonely. Loneliness is a risk factor for disease. Human beings are social. The basic principle of medicine and science is that nothing happens by chance. The causes of all illnesses, even of the most terrible ones, such as cancer, are always multi-dimensional. Besides the presence of external carcinogens, pollutants in our work and life environments, incorrect power supply, unhealthy lifestyle including smoking or alcohol abuse, there are always internal, psychological, spiritual, emotional, and social elements that deplete our vital energy, which is commonly called love for life. Our mood reaches our cells. Therefore, to heal the body we must heal people’s heart, mind, and soul.”
Robert Young, an American biologist and naturopath, argues that the origin of all diseases, including cancer, is acidosis, a body-acidity condition. What do you think about it?
“The doctor can not overlook anything and must be open to every branch of knowledge, with a multi-factorial and multi-dimensional outlook, without being naive. (S)he must be aware of the economic and commercial interests at stake. Acidosis is a risk factor and a problem, it can be a contributing cause of disease, but it is not the only one. The disease of our time is cancer. It steals years of life from millions of people. It is the leading cause of premature death in PYLL – Potential Years of Life Lost. It has reached the negative podium in a few decades. In 1978, Germany had produced aromatic amines, which are artificial dyes. First cases of cancer appeared about twenty years later. Chemicals and artificial additives are the most important external carcinogens. At present, over 100 thousand chemical substances can be found in products we use every day for our house and hygiene, as well as in our food. Millions of tons are produced every year. IARC, the International Agency for Cancer Research, the governing body in this field, published a study which showed that only 0.1 percent of these substances have been tested before being placed on the market. They are divided into hazard categories. But the powerful international economic lobbies act to change the degree of the risk factor.”
Thus, the leading cause of cancer are chemicals, dyes, preservatives, and pesticides, right?
“Cancer has multi-dimensional and multi-factorial causes too. Hippocrates said that it is important to know the person who is ill, rather than to know the illness of a person. I treat 3-year-old children with cancer who living in the so-called ‘land of fire’. Cancer is a normal reaction to an unhealthy environment and an incorrect life system. We need to heal the soul of our society, which is in the service of the god of money instead of life. The spirit of our world is sick. Harmful and pathogenic environment and unhealthy lifestyle are the consequence of a sick mind that makes choices based on incorrect values, such as money, profit, accumulation, and consumption. At individual, collective, and institutional levels. When there are strong economic interests at stake, win the following elements: persuasive conviction, through advertising and other means of conveying false information about the real health hazards of certain chemicals; confusion through misinformation and transmission of conflicting information; corruption, to control leaders’ opinion. We need a Copernican revolution, a new medicine and a new cultural approach, in the service of life.”
How can we begin this process of healing our body and spirit, at personal, collective, and institutional levels?
“It is an awareness-building process, personal in the first place, but which affects also collective and social consciousness, as well as that of the institutional administrators. In Italy, 4 thousand suicides are registered every year: it is a symptom of a spiritually sick society, which has lost connection with its existential mission. The food industry produces products with no interest in health; the health industry is not interested in health. Whereas an American Cancer Society research shows that over 30 percent of cancer cases are caused by a diet laden with preservatives, chemical additives, and refined sugars, flours, and animal products. In Italy, over 360 thousand people are diagnosed with cancer every year; 120 thousand of these cases are caused by poor diet. We have a duty to inform people about the origin of the food we eat, the way it was produced, stored, and transported. But, I repeat it, we need to heal the spirit in order to heal the world. It is the root of all problems.”