Sign up for Meridian’s Free Newsletter, please CLICK HERE
In an age of the empirical demand for measurable and peer-reviewable results, health care, like religion hovers between Newtonian physics and the newer but more theoretical quantum physics. The explanations from Newtonian physics seem more logical than those of quantum physics because Newtonian physics deals with relationships of matter and energy on a macro level; chairs, cars, and waffles. Quantum physics, while not contradicting Newtonian physics, focuses primarily on relationships of matter and energy on a subatomic, nuclear level. We are comfortable talking about Newtonian causes and effects because we deal with their visible measurements every day in labs, hospitals, and homes. When I trip, I fall; when I burn a finger, I hurt. I trust that when I take a pain-killer, the pain will stop. We expect there to be an immediate and discernable reaction for every action.
Then along comes some quantum physicist who tells us that a butterfly flapping its wing in New York effects the weather in Hong Kong, and we just shrug our shoulders and nod absently. When the effect is separated, in either time or space from our observed cause, we very often lose the connection. Consequently, we do things or fail to do others just because we have not learned or have forgotten the cause-condition-symptom chain. Even though much more is being researched and published today about real causes of many of our symptoms, we continue to either disbelieve or ignore the connection. In health care, this continues the crescendo of many chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and cancer. For example, though research has shown the link between sugar consumption and diabetes, dementia, cancer, and now heart disease; sugar consumption continues to escalate.
We have driven industries to provide solutions to our pains, by demanding results that focus on symptoms rather than causes. Though we content ourselves with pages of side-effect disclaimers, we pay for solutions that quietly create sub-symptomatic conditions with eventualities that are often incapacitating or fatal. We happily foster and feed conditions, unaware of the often-simple causes; heading towards a cliff but pacified in knowing that there is an ambulance waiting below and insurance to pay for it! If it was just a matter of discovering truth and then subsequent education, the research dollars wouldn’t disappear just because the truth comes from nature and can’t legally be patented.
Father has warned us over a century ago that these days would be days of “conspiring men” with “evil designs.”[i] His protection wasn’t to prophetically list all the evil designs, but to forbid the type of things that would serve as addictive entry portals that hijack agency by fastening the chains of hell.[ii] He doesn’t tell us what to do, but reveals principles[iii] upon which we could safeguard our agency, capacitating decisions through personal revelation.
The scope of this article is not to duplicate what Meridian has published about the Word of Wisdom over the last several years but to remind us of this cause-condition-symptom paradigm in applying divinely revealed principles. Note that God’s intent even anciently was not to mask symptoms by deadening sensation but to “remove the cause of disease” using plants and roots provided in His creation routinely as food and drink.
“…the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate.”[iv]
Many modern medications are the result of research on plants and roots but all too often their goal is to just make us comfortable by masking pain, lowering blood pressure, or other symptoms. Unfortunately, we then continue causing damage by our dietary choices. I used to ask patients if they were awakened by the loud squeal of their smoke alarm and had called the fire department, what they would expect. Would they be satisfied if a kind fireman or woman were to remove the battery, so the noise wouldn’t keep them awake? Even extinguishing the fire is not enough if there also existed a hidden cause, like a sparking loose electrical wire. Though research may not have found direct causes to all our physical ailments, we do have enough data to know that one or more of three kinds of stress causes most, if not all disease.[v] Whether physical (trauma), chemical (dietary, medicinal, or environmental), or mental (worry, inadequate emotional IQ, etc), the stress produces an inflammatory response that, if addressed early, can be relatively easily resolved. The problem is that these inflammatory conditions are often, initially without symptom. There is little or no fire alarm until the fire has grown into dysfunction and has become the cause of other conditions, chaining into “dis-ease.”
In the case of physical stress from traumas, the medicinal pain control is a blessing. But if the physical stress is caused by poor ergonomics (posture, body dynamics, etc.) then controlling pain while continuing the repetitive micro-trauma is akin to taking painkillers so you can win the contest to see how long you can keep your hand in a fire! Likewise, medication may help with mental stress resulting in anxiety, in the short run, but if the cause is inadequate emotional IQ or poor diet, the chronic use of medication will lead to side-effects, dependency, and addictions without solving the root cause. In both scenarios, taking time to trace symptoms to conditions and then to causes would result in a different approach; one using education and self-discipline with the resultant increased capability to exercise personal agency. Because we have no memory of the awful fight to keep our agency, the enticement to turn it over to someone else in order to gain convenience, safety, or from laziness, still looms large in our daily realities.
I have no desire or illusion for over-simplification, but after warning us of the “evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days,” Father gives only five verses on prohibitions that would protect us from initial agency-compromising addictions and then spends seven verses on dietary principles for the weakest among us. These are sustaining and preventative in that they address the causes of many of the chemical and mental stresses that threaten our agency if not our health.
“All wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.[vi]
The herb, …for food …in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; for food…, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.”[vii]
Herbs here include all wholesome plants from vegetables to medicinal herbs. The use of them includes the need to do so with prudence and thanksgiving. I read that to mean careful research and a thankful mental attitude that affects how our digestive systems processes them.
“The gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotion. Anger, anxiety, sadness, elation — all of these feelings (and others) can trigger symptoms in the gut. The brain has a direct effect on the stomach. … Therefore, a person’s stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression.” [viii]
Recent research findings have targeted the importance of the intestinal tract with its resident microbiome on our immune systems, and brain health. Prudent dietary attention needs to be given to the health of this here-to-fore ignored organ: the microbiome and its intestinal environment.[ix] New and ancient remedies are finding renewed validation that we have had since 1833 in this revelatory gold mine of health principles we call the Word of Wisdom. One, of many that we have found preventative, healing, and enlivening is “Miracle Detox or Miracle Tea.”[x]
I don’t endorse many specific products but wish to include this one as a wonderful example of the prudent use of “herbs in the season” that “strengthens the body and enlivens the soul.” We have personally used it for seven years. There are certainly many others that could be listed, but since Father seems to be encouraging each of us to take revelatory responsibility[xi] for our physical bodies as a training ground for gaining mastery over what Joseph Smith called, “chaotic matter,”[xii] I will forgo in the interest of real causes; the responsible exercise of personal agency.
[i] DC 89:4 In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—
[ii] Alma 12:11And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.
[iii] DC 89:2-3
[iv] Alma 46:40
[v] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120402162546.htm “Now researchers have found that chronic psychological stress is associated with the body losing its ability to regulate the inflammatory response.”
Inflammation: A unifying theory of disease: https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/Inflammation_A_unifying_theory_of_disease
[vi] DC 89:10-11
[vii] DC 59:17-19
[xi] DC 89:2 “To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days”
Could this be referring to the individual revelation needed to determine individual dietary choices?
[xii] King Follett Sermon, Joseph Smith 1844; Ensign 4/1971