Holistic Health Practices/Part 1

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2006
Why is the subject of holistic health and the New Medicine important? Literally tens of millions of people in the Western world have been exposed to or use holistic health methods. The occult revival and discontent over traditional medical care, sometimes justified, has opened the door to a wide variety of alternate therapies in society.

Why is the subject of holistic health and the New Medicine important?

Literally tens of millions of people in the Western world have been exposed to or use holistic [claiming to treat the “whole” person, mind, body and spirit] health methods. The occult revival and discontent over traditional medical care, sometimes justified, has opened the door to a wide variety of alternate therapies in society. Indeed, Time (Nov. 4, 1991) reported that alternate medicine is “now a 27 billion-a-year industry,” noting that 30 percent of those polled had tried an unconventional therapy. According to Medical World News (May 11, 1987), the overall cost of suspected health-care fraud is approaching $30 billion annually. Promoters of holistic health techniques and the New Medicine prosper by offering patients simple solutions to complex diseases as well as practices and remedies that are said to be free of side effects. Today, even thousands of medical doctors and nurses use these methods.

We certainly have no quarrel with any medical method whose safety and efficacy has been established. Our concern is with the widespread promotion of methods which have either not been proven, or are questionable on other (physical or spiritual) grounds.

While we do not minimize the problems of conventional medical treatment, our research shows that the holistic health movement as a whole is largely based upon ineffective and/or potentially dangerous methods that are not in the best interest of the patient. By and large, holistic methods reject what is known about how the human body works and are generally opposed to a scientific approach to health care.

When the New Medicine claims to “work,” it works for none of the reasons characteristically cited by its promoters. Things can work and still be dangerous, such as car bombs. Things can work and still be both wrong and dangerous, such as practices that rely upon occultic methods. Finally, things can be false and only seem to work. Innumerable holistic treatments may at first appear to work on the basis of their claimed principles, but in reality work only for reasons relating to human psychology (the placebo effect) or time (the natural healing ability of the body).

Many holistic health practitioners have wrongly assumed that their treatments are effective based on misperceptions of empirical medicine (experience alone) rather than careful scientific testing. Given the variable nature of the disease process itself, virtually any holistic health treatment can boast a significant number of “success” stories, even in serious disease.

It is therefore vital to determine (1) whether or not a given procedure works on the basis of its stated principles, (2) the relative credibility of those principles, and (3) the true reason for its effectiveness when a method is effective. If something works or seems to work, it is vital to know why it works. Failing to answer that question can be costly.

Another serious concern is that occultism and spiritistic influence are frequently the source of power behind the origin and/or treatments of numerous specific holistic health practices. In addition to their lack of scientific credibility, these practices should be questioned because of their involvement with occult methods the Bible warns against (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). Occult powers may indeed heal a person physically (at least temporarily) but only at a greater cost spiritually and psychologically.

Related to its occultic nature, holistic health methods are frequently found to depend upon some form of “energy” channeling. Many of these treatments claim to “balance” or “restore” or otherwise manipulate alleged invisible energies which supposedly exist or circulate within the human body. These energies are frequently associated with the mystical energies of occultic religion; e.g., the Hindu prana, Taoist chi, shamanistic mana, etc. Proponents claim that the real cause of illness and disease is an alleged disorder of this energy’s “natural flow” and that unless the flow is properly restored, health cannot be maintained. In other words, in most of the New Medicine, the manipulation of occult energies and health care are inseparable. Unfortunately this manipulation of mystical energy is often an open door to spiritism under another name. It is difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish the use of “energy” manipulation and transference in many holistic health treatments from the manipulation of “energy” found among occultists in their various practices.

Holistic health therapists incorrectly interpret this energy as a natural or divine energy bringing physical and spiritual health when, in fact, it is an occultic, spiritistic energy detrimental to physical and spiritual health. We freely concede that “energy balancers” might be doing nothing at all, but involvement with genuine occultic powers cannot be ruled out.

In sum, because they are ineffective, holistic health treatments are potentially dangerous because they may fail to diagnose physical symptoms properly and thus never uncover a serious underlying condition that may progress toward further injury or death. It is always possible that an unconventional method of treatment may prove useful or suggest fruitful avenues for additional research. But before any method is widely accepted by the public, common sense teaches that its claims should be substantiated.

In addition, the New Medicine may be physically, psychologically, and/or spiritually consequential because to the extent its methods may lead a person into occult involvement it brings the same kinds of physical, psychological, and spiritual dangers associated with occult practices. Unfortunately, the response to coauthor John Weldon’s two previous texts on this subject reveal that not only are holistic health methods increasingly employed by Christians, but even that many don’t seem to care about the spiritual issues involved—as long as a practice “works.” Too many people have unrealistic expectations concerning modern medicine—they almost expect miracles. But despite its great advances, scientific medicine is not perfect. However, to turn to occult medicine will only compound the problem at all levels.

In the coming weeks we will briefly describe a number of contemporary holistic health methods and/or adjuncts to treatment. While a few of these may be physically and spiritually neutral both safety and effectiveness must first be established before they can be recommended. Documentation for our conclusions relative to 12 of these subjects can be found in Can You Trust Your Doctor?: The Complete Guide to New Age Medicine and Its Threat to Your Family (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1990). Those desiring additional information on other therapies are urged to contact The National Council Against Health Fraud (www.ncahf.org, 119 Foster Street, Peabody, MA 01960; (978) 532-9383).

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