What is Healing? What is Sickness?

I work as a kinesiologist and I am a student herbalist.  Some would describe me as a complentary therapist or healer.  My clients are made up of people who would seek out complementary healers and those who come to me as a last resort because orthodox, Western allopathic medicine failed to relieve or help their health issue.

This week I received some very positive feedback from a number of clients which was wonderful for me to hear and very rewarding.  I felt that my healing path was really helping people.  However, my philosophy is that it is not me who does the healing but that the client accesses their own innate healing ability through what we do in a session together.  A the same time as receiving the positive feedback I had to take my elderly uncle to the hospital and I witnessed the orthodox Western allopathic medicine system in action.  I was not impressed with this “system” and I wondered if the H.S.E and the Department of Health are really and truly in the business of healing or are they in the business of making money.  Galway Hospital feels more like a place of business, like a processing factory than a place of healing.

Galway_University_Hospital There is no peace or calm, no sense of soothing healing. I am  not talking about the staff within this system only the “system” itself.

My observations led me to some philosophical contemplations – what is healing? what is health? what is disease? why do we get sick?  After mulling over these questions I think I am more clear about my role and what I do, the client’s role and the importance of responsibility.

“Health” is defined by W.H.O (the World Health Organisation) as

               “…a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the  absence of disease or infirmity”.

This seems like a reasonable definition to me but some complain about the word “complete” and others think that an absence of disease or infirmity is enough.  I disagree.  Health is so much more and impacts on the way we behave in this world.

Another definition is

…the level of functional and metabolic efficiency of a living organism.”

That sounds very cold and scientific.  It could as well be referring to an engine as to a living organism.

For me, health has to be holistic , a feeling of wholeness, integrated and balanced in the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of self.  Ignore any of these aspects and a person is out of balance and will feel dis-eased.

health circule

It is interesting to note the way the phrase dis-ease, meaning not at ease, with ones self, is now obsolete and disease has come to mean a specific thing, an infection or

an abnormal condition of an organism or part, inherent weakness or environmental stress that impairs normal physiological functioning”

So dis-ease, a state of being out of balance in some way, or a state of being out of sorts for some reason, has become a “disease” or medical condition that can be treated with drugs.  Think about this.  How does this way of thinking affect our health? Where does this way of thinking lead to?


What is sickness?

 The scientific model assumes we become physically sick because of an external cause such as invading germs, bacteria or viruses or because of an underlying weakness that cannot be remedied, only managed and of course this is true – to an extent.  It is not wholly true though otherwise none of us would be here today.  During the Black Plague of the 13th/14th centuries one third of the European population died. Why not all?  During the Spanish ‘Flu epidemic of 1918 more people died than the 38 million who were killed during the First World War. It is estimated that about 500 million people were infected  with this ‘flu and about 50 to 100 million people died, about 3-5% of the world’s population.  The majority who died  were, very surprisingly,  healthy young adults.   Why was this the case if the scientific model of disease is correct?


It is vital in my mind, to acknowledge that there are other things at play.  We are not just physical bodies.  We are far more than the sum of our parts.  If a person is happy and fulfilled they tend to recover from illness more fully and more quickly.  Same for the person who feels loved and supported.  It is the same for the person who eats a well balanced diet and for the person who feels a connection to something higher than him or herself.  It is also well known that someone who is in a state of fear feels more pain than someone who is relaxed.  A person with external worries such as the state of their finances, dislike of their job or relationship problems takes longer to get well perhaps because they cannot focus on their own healing.


Focusing on ones own healing is not tantamount to hypochondria.  It is participating in ones healing journey and taking self responsibility.  Many have handed over their personal power to the cult of the expert, the specialist,  and that can be a great idea.  When my lighting fails to come on I call an electrician and when my car develops a fault I go to my trusted mechanic, both experts in their fields.  When it comes to our own bodies though we should be the leading expert but we are told by the medical “system” not to question, to do as we are told, they know best.

I do not mean one should turn away from medical expertise.  I  like to think that if a person retained their personal power,  the medical expertise would work so much better.

What is healing?

There are various definitions ,

..to restore to health or soundness, to ease or relieve”

..to make whole, the restoration of health from an  unbalanced, diseased or damaged organism”


Both of these definitions ring true to me.  As far as the “system” goes it does give pain relief when needed but does it restore people to health and wholeness, to a state of balance?  I do not think it does.  Half listening to someone for about five minutes and then giving a precription is not healing a person. I think the medical practice of the Western world has forgotten what it is meant to do and it has got lost in the “system”.  It is so busy being what it is,  that it has forgotten to listen to patients, to help make their experience one of soothing calm and peace when their lives have gone crazy.

This is when people turn to holistic therapists such as myself.  We could be called in a lot sooner as we work to prevent illness as well as to assist with healing.  The alternative or complementary practitices are based on philosophies  which embrace the emotional and spiritual components of a person’s life experience as well as the physical.  We often work, as I said earlier, with people who have exhausted the orthodox route.  Complementary means

supplying what is needed to make whole or complete”

I believe a truly successful health system which really  puts healing at the top of the agenda, is one which includes the complementary therapies as a matter of course.  To do so would relieve the pressure on the health service as a whole, encourage prevention before cure,  enable more people to stay well,  enable people to have more autonomy, keep costs down and ensure that when orthodox medicine is needed, it is of the absolute highest quality.

Good Health and Good Life
Good Health and Good Life

An Bhean Feasa – Continuing the Story…

Caption here

When I opened my shop I knew a little about herbs, homeopathy and supplements but I had to learn more in order to help my customers.  I followed the I.A.H.S. training, (Irish Association of Health Stores), and completed all the training that the supplement and herbal companies provided.  I studied and researched and then I trained to become a Kinesiologist and once I received my Diploma in 2008  I began to work healing people.



I tried all the health foods that I stocked and our diet, which had always been based around fresh vegetarian produce became organic and expanded.

I had made my own bread from time to time and now we only eat home made bread.  I had grown a few spuds before but now we grow as much of our own fruit and veg and herbs as we can and we got ourselves a poly tunnel so that we could grow even more.



I searched for teachers who could help me get the most from our herbs and I began making herbal medicine from our own herbs and from wild plants growing near by.



I discovered blogs that inspired me to become more self-sufficient and more frugal minded and more creative.  I began to knit again and to make soap, body care and household cleaners. (I will be running a workshop on these topics later this year.)  Yesterday we made our own sea salt.  It is SO easy.  We collected a pan of water from the sea side – from the wild Atlantic and sat it on the range and let it boil away.


A couple of hours later we have enough salt for a week or two and it cost us nothing because the range is on anyway, providing heat and for cooking.



The more self sufficient we become the more satisfying life is. It also leads to a closer relationship with Nature.  The childhood urge to know Nature, to be connected to Nature came to the fore and that awakened a need for a spiritual connection.  My spirituality was not to be confined within a church – no thank you – but outdoors.  My temple is to be found outside near trees, on a hill, by the sea.


I suppose what I am trying to say is, that by following a dream to own and run a health shop, that dream took us further than I ever imagined.  We are on an adventure now and we don’t know where we’ll end up.