When I was in school, we had a class that the Trolls of the interwebs would gleefully mock, called The Vis Medicatrix Naturae, or the Healing Power of Nature. It is a core tenet of Naturopathic Medicine, meaning that if you can remove obstacles to cure and allow the body to do its thing, it will heal.
Joe Pizzorno, a well known Naturopathic Doctor taught my Vis class. One day he told us that the best way to treat warts in kids was to hypnotize them. Not with a pendant on a chain and dubious intentions, but just using the power of suggestion. For example, tell kids that a fairy would buy the warts for a penny and have them put a penny under their pillow at night.
Kind of weird, right? But kids are weird, and most importantly- what’s the harm? So one day, my son got a wart. It was in between his ring and pinky finger. I tried some over the counter remedies, kept it smothered and tried not to worry. He was 3 and about to start a new preschool. I was reluctant to add a doctor’s visit to his worry, but the wart was getting big and starting to push his pinky out.
I remembered what Dr. Pizzorno had said and I told him that it would get better after he started preschool. I frankly forgot about it for a couple of weeks. When I remembered to check before making an appointment to have it removed, it was gone. No trace at all.
He was very proud.
Last November, he showed me a bump. It was a mucocele inside his lower lip. Sometimes they resolve on their own, so I left it alone. It looked like this:
I kept meaning to check it regularly but often forgot. The holidays rolled on and we got into winter. Still there. Not really bothering him, but it was bigger. So, I tried an herbal topical that has immune supportive and astringing herbs in it. He woke up and it was smaller. The herbal medicine tastes terrible and I was not always up for the battle and the mucocele came back. I tried the topical again, and it didn’t work.
After a couple of weeks, the mucocele was bigger than ever and he was moving his lip in a strange way- sort of Humphrey Bogart-ish. I was worried it would keep him from eating, so I made an appointment with his pediatrician. The doc looked, agreed it was a mucocele and had gotten to the point where it should be removed. He gave me a referral to the ENT group in town.
Son was very clear that another doctor was not his first choice. I told him I would wait one week to make the appointment and if it got smaller, I would not make the appointment. It was smaller the next morning. Smaller again the next morning. Now it is a layer of skin flush with his lip.
He’s 5 now, so I asked him how he did it. I was not expecting much from this conversation, which is when they surprise you. He told me that he was using his invisible iPad at night. He used the app that makes things smaller. He just sets it before he goes to bed, and it works.
Obviously, my first thought was, “Patent that app RIGHT NOW.”
Then I thought of every case I’ve seen of people who have defied their diagnosis. Some have been incredibly sick when no lab could explain why and others have thrived under total physiological chaos. It is so important to trust doctors and to appreciate the value of modern medicine, but we practitioners fail when we don’t engage the patient in the healing process.
Whether we call it hypnosis, positive thinking, prayer, meditation, mindfulness, or quackery, the message that we receive about our health is powerful. Reject the message that your health is limited by your diagnosis, and your gender, class, race, ethnicity, family history and zip code. Set your invisible iPad to run its Best Health app overnight, and see what happens.