Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Watching over-the-counter drug commercials targeted towards young mothers I am present to the classification of health problems by symptom and the idea of a drug as medicine.

“Mommy – I have a cough.”

“Here baby, here’s medicine for your cough.”

(thin strips for accurate no deviation from the median dosing each time! For the average child, that never grows, that never wavers, is always constant… For the mother that has no instinct or knowledge, that cannot measure, that has disempowered herself to consumer guidelines…)

And so the mother gives her child a drug to suppress her immune system, which reduces congestion, makes her cough go away, allows the pathogens a deeper hold on her young system, interferes with the long term functioning of her liver, immune, respiratory, and digestive systems and prolongs the duration of her illness.

Mother’s milk – the great deliverer of medicine. Compassion, nutrition, protein, chemistry, and toxicity.

What difference then, from the shaman that disempowers himself to the spirits? The medicine woman that listens to the plants? They and the mother pass down cultural ways of being around health, ways of being that demand participation, community, industry. Human instinct is to seek healing outside oneself. We’re all looking for that white coat.
The microscopic unknown of our own squishy and complex physiology terrifies us, and we’re in constant pain from dying. Sickness is fear and pain. We’re all dying. We’re all sick. We’re all afraid.
With each year that passes modern culture gains sophistication in a way that makes our illogical attachments to industry propaganda-seeded ideas of medicine more glaringly absurd.

Even the ones still plugged-in, drinking the kool-aid, unexamined, are keenly aware of the appalling humor of a list of prescription drug side effects that comes with every advertisement. Medications, not medicines. None of us believe in these singularly, but as a whole we lead our lives by them.

Popping a pill, symptom suppression, the convenience of a reactive attitude towards health – waiting until we get into the accident to get the bodywork - these aren’t medicine. Perhaps neither as a whole are food, herbs, supplements, psychoactives – all of which contain toxicity. What is medicine?

Is it what heals you? Or is it what takes the pain away? Is it outside you, or inside you? Where is the line between use and abuse? How proactive and additive about health can we be before losing time and pleasure to the pursuit, thereby subtracting from our health?

I don’t have the answer, but as the best medicine man (“drug dealer”) I’ve ever had used to say: “Medicine is anything that makes you happy.”

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