Polypathy

Shreenivas (Professor, Director), Indira Gandhi Heart Disease Institute, Patna, India.

What does a doctor do when he feels that a patient under his treatment should be sent to another for better treatment and quicker recovery? If he is sincere and has sympathy for his patient, he will decidedly refer him to another doctor whom he considers more suitable. If he is more worldly and thinks only in terms of his own personal loss and gain he will hesitate a hundred times in doing so. He will think that such a course of action may affect him adversely, may help to ruin his reputation and thereby reduce the number of patients that come to him. Sending the patient beyond his own orbit of influence may mean that he loses him forever. Referring a case may even cost the doctor his professional prestige. The doctor to whom the case is referred may utilize the occasion to add to his own glory by alleging that the other doctor is unfit and incompetent. Hence, instead of referring the case to another, the first doctor may impose a firmer grip on his patient so that he doesn't lose him. So, an individual case may end in tragedy. A case is usually referred to another doctor only when there is external pressure to do so, pressure from the doctor's own inner compulsions, if the patient makes absolutely no improvement and sadly deteriorates, or when the doctor is fed-up with frequent visits by the patient.

When I speak of better treatment I mean:

  1. less expensive treatment
  2. quicker recovery
  3. more effective and less painful methods of treatment
  4. absence of adverse drug reactions.

The modern scientific system of healing is called allopathy. Opponents of this 'pathy' allege that the system is neither modern nor scientific. But such an observation is not correct or meaningful. Allopathy is based on continued, systematic and scientific investigation and study. The results of these investigations and controlled studies are verified by scientific neutrality without prejudice.

Unfortunately, science itself is incomplete. Hence knowledge derived through science is also incomplete and no final word can be said about the true state of things. We can say that knowledge obtained through science is only 'half truth'. This is so because it is based on data received through our senses and no matter how unbiased we are, we nevertheless explain things according to our suppositions and preconceived notions. Hence, we can't say without reservation that a specific law or theory explains the real state of things and that there is no possible variation or exception.

In the science of the human body, the uncertainty is even deeper. The picture of an organ presented by a magnifying glass is vastly different to that presented by an electron microscope, and more uncertainties and difficulties arise when treating a patient. The most important fact is that the patient is not the body alone, hence it does not suffice to think only about the structure and constitution of the body. He has a mind which is composed of a vast network of interrelated thoughts. The mind is influenced by pleasant and unpleasant experiences, environment and personality. Also there are innumerable problems of life which influence the patient. Financial condition, fears, loss of faith, responsibilities and so forth, all have an influence on his health. The patient's own concept about his disease, his thoughts about the doctor who treats him and about the people who look after him, and the thoughts of well-wishers all react on his condition. When these factors are considered, one will come to realize that the science of healing is both difficult and mysterious.

Diseases which express themselves in the human body have different characteristics. If two persons suffer from the same disease, the characteristics of the disease will not be the same. No two people have ever suffered the same disease in an identical manner. In the same way, the same drug produces different effects in different persons. A drug which proves beneficial for one patient can work as a poison in another suffering from the same disease. It is now well known that whilst penicillin cures one, it can kill another. Only one injection of penicillin is enough to cause death. It is true that such cases are rare, yet who knows in whose case it will happen and who will take the risk having known this fact.

Details of allopathic medicine are given in the British Encyclopaedia of Medicine and other related, authorized publications while homeopathy, ayurveda, unani and other 'pathies' are lightly disregarded as instruments of unskilled quacks and tricksters. The same attitude holds true for healing systems such as mesmerism, astrology, yoga, acupuncture, chiropractic and so forth. These systems seem to utilize strange techniques, often beyond the understanding of most people. Yet it is worthwhile mentioning that allopathic medicine also makes use of many strange things (including plastic surgery, electrical impulses and so many others) during treatments. The use of such things is known as 'minute' medicine. Perhaps each healing system, including allopathy, is equally strange.

On the basis of my experience during the last thirty years of medical practice, I have arrived at the following conclusions:

  1. Prevention of a disease is better than treatment.
  2. The prime necessity of life is health. Education is secondary.
  3. Like life and death, health and disease are also the two facets of human existence.
  4. It is the duty of the individual and society to protect the health of its members. Health does not mean merely freedom from disease, because this will prove to be only a temporary phase in the majority of cases. By good health we mean keeping the body and mind in the best possible condition for the longest period.
  5. Our human structure is the only means to maintain our existence in the world. We have to harmonize ourselves with the entire world around us.
  6. Our human structure can be divided into the following main aspects:
    • a) physical body - construction and functions
    • b) mind- structure and functions
    • c) life force
    • d) consciousness
  7. Through our own efforts we can improve the health of our body and mind, harmonize the life force and purify our consciousness.
  8. Every individual is an independent unit which is astonishingly separate from others.
  9. The existence of every object including the human being has three aspects:
    • a) known or expressed
    • b) hidden but in the process of being expressed
    • c) completely hidden
  10. These three aspects can be recognized separately and consideration of these aspects of human life is necessary for a complete comprehension of human problems. Only then can we arrive at a correct solution to human problems, that is, the treatment of disease.
  11. Food, exercise, sleep, work, death and environment are necessary for human existence.
  12. There is no 'pathy' which has knowledge of all the mysteries of health and disease.

So often, it has been my experience and that of my patients that every healing system or 'pathy' has its own limitations. There is no 'pathy' which is self-sufficient and able to treat all kinds of disease. If the treatment of a disease is not possible in one 'pathy', it may be possible with another 'pathy'. While taking medical care of a patient we have to keep in view his temperament, likes and dislikes, responsibilities and the best course of treatment for him.

On the basis of my personal experience, I am of the opinion that a new system of healing should usher in the coming age of enlightened thinking. It should be called 'polypathy' - multifaceted treatment. This system of healing can be adopted in all parts of the world.

The fundamental requirements of 'polypathy' are:

  1. A polypathic encyclopaedia (meteria indica) should be prepared containing details of all the medicines and methods used in different 'pathies' for the treatment of all types of disease.
  2. Polypathic centres should be opened in each population unit. At these centres disease should be studied with an integrated and 'wholistic' conception of polypathy, and then treated accordingly.
  3. Specialists of the different 'pathies' should reside at each polypathic centre.
  4. A central library should be established to collect the literature of all the different 'pathies'.
  5. Polypathic dispensaries should be opened where medicines of all the 'pathies' are made available.
  6. Patients should first be thoroughly examined and then sent to suitable specialists.
  7. A course of treatment should be chalked out for each patient; and whilst doing so it must be kept in mind that the line of treatment should be:
    • a) effective
    • b) cheap
    • c) easily available
    • d) easily applicable
    • c) harmless
  8. During treatment the least number of medicines in minimum doses should be used. The life force of the patient should be allowed to counter the disease force. Each case should be studied separately. Except in special circumstances nothing should be done to vitiate the already disturbed condition of the patient. Ideally, the patient should be encouraged to recover through the normal processes of nature.

To make the possibilities of polypathy a little clearer, I would like to give the following examples:

  • Allergy can be treated by regulating the diet and rheumatism can be treated by yogasanas.
  • Bacillary dysentery can be treated by saline purgatives instead of antibiotic medicines.
  • Mental diseases can be treated by removing tension through bhakti yoga, prayer and an atmosphere of sympathy.
  • Acupuncture may be adopted as a method of inducing anaesthesia.
  • Suitable, simple ayurvedic and unani (herbal) medicines can be used in place of the bitter allopathic medicines.
  • Simple mixtures may be used instead of complicated ones (which should have red mark warnings).
  • Wherever practicable, external application should be given preference over the administration of internal medicines. Thus, for example, warm and cold bandages can be used to induce urination as an alternative to using a catheter; oral medicines can be used instead of injections; gentle enemas can be used in place of harsh purgatives.
  • Diagnosis of chronic diseases should be made collectively through a board of doctors.
  • Difficult cases should be treated only by experienced doctors.
  • Treatment should start as soon as the symptoms of a disease appear. In every dispensary, prime importance should be given to the symptoms which appear first.

Only in this way can an effective treatment be prescribed, health restored in the shortest time and the use of costly and poisonous medicines be avoided. Ultimately, I have arrived at these conclusions:

  • a) An expert doctor can discriminate and diagnose a disease entirely from ordinary symptoms.
  • b) The symptoms of a disease should be checked again and again and compared with previous diagnoses.
  • c) Consideration and recognition should be given to both standard textbook knowledge of a disease and the actual expressed symptoms.
  • d) The doctor should, above all, have sympathy and affection for the patient.

Polypathy is a synthesis of all currently known 'pathies'. It should be made easily available, easily applicable, effective and specifically for the well-being of humanity. All will be benefited by polypathy, both individuals and society as a whole.

I would appreciate suggestions and comments by readers of this article. In spite of my limited resources, I have already started my journey into this unknown sphere. In order to make polypathy a reality and a World-wide healing system, I welcome co-operation in any form from doctors, experienced persons, friends and well-wishers.