If you are looking to learn about the big picture of chronic disease and health care, you must first be aware of the bad, the ugly, and the good. These facts provide the foundation for building a personalized approach to holistic healing through what I call the ABC principle.
The Bad – The Problem of Chronic Conditions
In the past century, chronic diseases (those lasting 6 months or more) such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, lung diseases, arthritis, and many others have become a much larger health problem in the U.S. and other developed nations than are infectious diseases.
One out of every ten Americans suffers from a chronic disabling condition such as arthritis, back problems, a heart or lung condition that reduces quality of life over periods of years. Seventy percent of the deaths in the U.S. each year are due to a chronic disease. Seventy-eight percent of health care costs are for treatment of chronic diseases. In short, chronic disease eventually touches all of us — ourselves and our families.
The Ugly – The Risks and Confusion of Current Health Care
Although modern mainstream medicine has made many amazing advances in prolonging lives and controlling symptoms, people with chronic diseases know from their own experience that the available treatments often bring many limitations, side effects, and problems.
For example, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that over 2 million hospitalized patients in 1994 experienced adverse drug reactions, including over 100,000 fatal drug reactions.
The number of deaths from “properly” prescribed drugs placed prescription drugs as the sixth leading cause of death in this country, after heart disease, cancer, stroke, lung disease, and accidents and before pneumonia and diabetes. Yet, eighty percent of older adults take at least three medications daily. Patients on five drugs also have a 50-50 risk of suffering from an adverse drug interaction. The rates of adverse reactions seem to be rising even more in recent follow-up studies.
The Good – The Option of Personalized Holistic Healing with the ABC Principle
You can learn to build your own effective individualized program of holistic healing care that includes practitioner-provided and self-care interventions – but you have to understand where each option fits into the big picture.
Many publications on CAM are either introductory overview encyclopedias of treatment modalities or in depth explanations of one type of CAM. But, all CAM treatments — just as with Western medicine — are not the same, in terms of their potential to help different people with different types of health conditions.
By considering these elements first, people with chronic illnesses of all types can develop a big picture plan or roadmap of strategy and tactics before diving into the specifics of dealing with any life challenge — in health or another area.