Cure, Suppression, Palliation, and Healing


Cure: A cure occurs when:

(a) a treatment is given to the person;

(b) the signs and symptoms of the disease go away;

(c) the treatment is removed and the signs and symptoms stay away; and

(d) the whole person is healthier and less likely to get sick than before the

This is almost always going to occur only when the whole person was
treated, and not just the disease or its symptoms. Palliation and suppression
never lead to cure in and of themselves.

Palliation: Palliation occurs when:

(a) a treatment is given for the disease;

(b) the signs and symptoms of the disease go away; but

(c) when the treatment is removed the signs and symptoms return.

The symptoms of the disease are simply being controlled (not cured) as
long as the treatment is continued.

It is a classic error of many practitioners and patients to equate palliation
with moving towards cure. Palliation is on the opposite end of the spectrum
as cure and is closer to suppression. Palliation can be useful, but in and of
itself, never leads to cure — other more vitalistic and holistic interventions are
necessary and may be as simple as changing to a healthier diet, removing
some obstacle to recovery, or reducing stress, or as complex as classical ho-
meopathy or traditional Chinese medicine. When palliation is used over a long
enough time, suppression is the natural consequence.

Palliation is the most common result of almost all health care interven-
tions. This is especially true of conventional medicine but also true for much
of alternative medicine as well. Unfortunately, both the practitioner and the
patient’s expectations are frequently satisfied with palliation. This is the most
frustrating aspect of modern health care, whether conventional or alternative.
Too few people are striving for a cure.

Suppression: Suppression is when:

(a) a treatment is given for a disease;

(b) the signs and symptoms of the disease go away;

(c) the treatment is removed and the signs and symptoms stay away; but

(d) the whole person is less healthy.

Although the symptoms of concern are better, the whole person is worse,
which leads to more and worse disease in the future. In conventional medicine
suppression is often a goal. Alternative medicine tries for a higher standard,
but because palliation is often what happens, suppression can occur here, too.

Suppression frequently occurs because a treatment is given for a symptom
or disease rather than the whole person being treated. Suppression leads
later to another more invasive illness. An example is when steroids are given
to suppress eczema and later asthma develops. If at this later point the per-
son is given a treatment that is curative, there will be a return of the eczema
as the asthma gets better.

Healing: Healing is what a living organism (body-mind) does, or attempts to
do, for itself. A treatment can only:

(a) control signs and symptoms (palliate or suppress);

(b) support life in a crisis (palliate or suppress);

(c) attack an invading organism such as bacteria or remove a pathologic
agent such as a toxin or allergen (palliate);

(d) mechanically repair tissues that have been damaged or are malformed
(palliate); or

(e) support and/or stimulate the organism’s innate healing processes while
the body-mind does the work of healing itself (cure).

Curative treatment involves stimulating the whole organism to heal itself.
The palliation and suppression of symptoms does not help to stimulate
self-healing. Palliation tends to create the opposite effect and suppression
actually gets in the way of the whole body-mind’s efforts to self-heal.

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