The “healthy lives” of Christian Scientists – a doctor’s view

Sunset on the Thames - Tony Lobl

A very interesting blog has just been posted by a US primary care internist on a blogsite called Why is American Health Care So Expensive? The article is called: “Christian Science, faith healing and mind-body medicine with mention of the work of Elisabeth Fischer Targ MD”.

The blogger is a clinician who writes from the perspective of wanting to share her insider’s concerns about “various aspects of the practice of medicine that make no sense”. In this article she details some of those concerns in contrast to two of her patients “who were at the end of their lives, had been very healthy up until recently and had received close to no medical care for nearly nine decades.”One of those patients was “a devout Christian Scientist”. (The other was a Seventh Day Adventist.)

She writes: “I have had other Christian Science patients in the past, of great age, and am very curious about what draws them to it and how they weave it into their very healthy lives.”

That is a thought-provoking, eye-witness verification of the practical effectiveness of this spiritual approach to health care.

The writer also states: “What I end up with, after looking at the lives of healthy very old Christian Scientists, is a respect for their particular path. Much of what we, as physicians, hand out for diseases will someday be found to be at least as bad as blood letting, which does in fact work pretty well for both acute congestive heart failure and hemochromatosis. In a couple of decades we will cringe as we think of the patients who we treated with chemotherapy drugs for cancer who died of side effects with no significant beneficial effects on their tumors.”

This goes to the heart of the matter – that there are no easy, one-size-fits-all answers when it comes to individual health care decisions, but the freedom to choose is itself crucial.

However, the fact that anyone reaches a ripe old age on the back of decades of drug-free, surgery-free health care is surely food for thought – as the blog indicates.

While the posting has some factual errors, the most significant of these is ably addressed in a comment from a reader. But these are overshadowed by the article’s honesty, compassion and open-mindedness.

So, thank you, “Janice”!

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Categories: Christian Science

Author:Tony Lobl

I write on spirituality and health for a diversity of online media outlets, from my perspective as a Christian Science practitioner. I have been published by the Independent, the Washington Post, the Guardian, E-Hospice, MindBodyGreen and The Christian Science Monitor and I post regularly on the Huffington Post UK and BuzzFeed. In addition to writing and broadcast appearances I enjoy engaging with journalists, academics, health professionals and government officials about the possibilities for improving health outcomes through a greater emphasis on spirituality in healthcare and social care. I've also greatly valued the many opportunities I have had to travel globally for my church and to meet people around the world. My wife Jenny and I spent 10 years in Boston, USA, before returning to London in 2002, to take on a role as the media and legislative liaison for Christian Science in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. I studied at the University of Surrey earning a BSc Hons Degree in Modern Mathematics before the impact of spirituality on health caught my attention and re-shaped my career.

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3 Comments on “The “healthy lives” of Christian Scientists – a doctor’s view”

  1. Muxxy
    January 14, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

    The blog by the primary care internist that you quote ends: ‘Meditation and guided imagery will be more easily accepted by the medical field because we come closer to understanding them and can more easily test them….. Practices that can be taught and learned and repeated without medical supervision will be attractive for payers and this will partially counter the medical profession’s reticence to use techniques that they feel are unscientific. Already the teachings of John Kabat-Zinn have been codified into a curriculum called “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction” which has been spectacularly effective in treating conditions such as anxiety, chronic pain and insomnia. We will continue to learn what these sorts of things are good for, and perhaps we will move ever so slightly away from the modern approach of a pill for every problem.’

    Recently, the BBC website included scientific evidence of the efficacy of meditation and ‘mindfulness’ as seen on MRI scans: headed “Scans ‘show mindfulness meditation brain boost”, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-16406814 This seems another, particularly good example of ‘eye-witness verification of the practical effectiveness of this spiritual approach to health care’ (as you wrote). ‘Mindful’ in every sense.

  2. January 14, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    Thanks Muxxy. I saw those BBC reports by David Sillito and Tweeted them…very interesting.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The “healthy lives” of Christian Scientists – a doctor’s view | Christian Science in New South Wales Australia - January 18, 2012

    [...] Scientists are known to use prayer for their health and wellbeing.  Tony Lobl shares his findings from a doctor’s view on the matter.  Thanks, [...]

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