Three Possible Outcomes of Treatment

When it comes to medicine, or treatment modalities in general, there are only three possible outcomes regarding a given disease — curative, palliative, or suppressive. That’s it. Just 3 possibilities. Once you know this, you can look at any patient and any treatment plan, and follow its real outcomes as one of these three possibilities.

The highest goal, of course, is the first option of curing the disease. A true disease (and not an imbalance, which is different) is always cured by the natural law of similars. In principle this is always true, however in practice, the details need to be unfolded in a way which matches the uniqueness of each case. This includes considerations such as the correct dose and potency of the remedy, as well as the more complex situation of two or more diseases having become joined together. It also is dependent on the overall level of the patient’s vitality, which acts as the clean up crew after the remedy has completed its job of cure. If the debris of the disease cannot be fully swept away, then the total healing hasn’t concluded.

True diseases, which are subject to this law of cure, include a variety of categories, including true pathogenic diseases, such as bacterial or viral infections, strong shocks and traumas, including both physical and emotional impacts, as well as the highest form of disease which involves taking in a belief in place of knowledge.

If a disease is not cured, then what happens if it goes in one of the other two directions? In the case of palliation, there are a number of situations where it is the most appropriate to take, such as at end-of-life, where a greater comfort is sought for the dying patient. Also, more generally, where a treatment plan is working at curing the many layers and complex dimensions of a disease, then palliative means may be needed on an interim basis until the complete cure of the disease(s) are achieved. It is very important in this situation to be clear about the distinction between palliation and suppression.

The third case, which is the one to be avoided whenever possible, is that of suppression. There are many ways to suppress a disease, and the usual justification is that it made the symptoms disappear or decrease, yet in the process it has worsened the situation by giving the disease a stronger hold at a deeper level in the organism. Most of Western medicine works on this basis, as you can see from all of the drugs starting with ‘anti-‘ : anti-inflammatories, anti-biotics, and anti-depressants to name a few. The symptoms may go, but the disease takes stronger hold, and potentially at a deeper position in the hierarchy of organs. The unknowing patient probably doesn’t realize it at this point, but the disappearance of their symptoms does not represent an increase in their health.

2 thoughts on “Three Possible Outcomes of Treatment

  1. You say that an imbalance is different, so how do you address an imbalance? In Traditional Chinese Medicine all diseases are a result of yin/yang imbalances. If someone has an imbalance can that be cured too with Heilkunst by destroying disease matrices?

  2. Good question –

    The key distinction here is between a “disease” and an “imbalance”, where the curative treatment of the former is through the “law of similars”, and the cure of the latter is through “the law of opposites.

    To address an imbalance, conceptually speaking, means to further supply to the body what is missing (such as a nutrient deficiency, for example), or to reduce what is in excess (advising someone to exercise less often, if they are doing so too much).

    We have to be careful with words, here, and realize that the “diseases” referred to in TCM would be better called “conditions”, to match what we’re saying in this way of understanding.

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