Healing the Hood Holistically


There is a saying amongst acupuncturists: “Going to a western doctor to address a chronic illness is like going to an acupuncturist with a bullet wound.” On one hand, it serves as a diplomatic extension of recognition, that western medicine serves an important purpose. Without things like emergency medicine, heart or brain surgery and (certain) vaccines, who knows where we’d be? Dead, probably. We’d be dead. On the other hand it proclaims what most holistic medicine practitioners hold true: That if it is quality of life one seeks, not only quantity, pharmaceutical medicine is useless at best, harmful at worst.

The western medical thought process, in my opinion, is not the issue, but a symptom (no pun intended) of the root fundamental flaw in how our society thinks in general. We are conditioned to determine significance in the surface of all people and things. For weight loss we staple stomachs. For wrinkles we inject boccilin toxin (brilliant marketing in the re-naming of that one), and for gray hairs we massage chemicals into our scalps.

When someone suffers with chronic pain we give them painkillers, which blocks pain receptors from activating and instead activates opiate transmitters. Within the vacuum of chemistry this is a brilliant creation, unfortunately for the sake of a moronic premise within the greater context. The source of said pain is never addressed.

The same holds true with cholesterol and blood pressure medications and even things like over the counter nasal sprays or topical creams. From a Chinese medical perspective, if someone is congested or expressing rashes it tells us something about the system and/or that fluid metabolism is not operating properly. Sure, we can flush out mucus or stop our skin from itching, but what is causing these symptoms in the first place? To address this requires much more time than writing a prescription.

The holistic treatment process is likened to peeling away layers of an onion, which can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years, yet another truth that clashes with the western conditionings of impatience and expectation of immediate results (especially when it’s not covered by our insurance!). It also requires more critical thought. A more derogatory saying amongst acupuncturists is: “Western medicine is harder than Eastern medicine in school. Eastern medicine is much harder than Western medicine in practice.”

But it shouldn’t take a rocket scientist (or acupuncturist) to realize the root cause of black suffering, anguish and oppression in our society, right? When you oppress a group for 400 years, then relegate them to the lowest rung of society, you’re bound to engender a number of vicious cycles, psychologically and physiologically that are clearly intertwined, which is to say, you guessed it… holistic.

When someone suffers from Lack of Education we prescribe poorly paying jobs, which brings with it the following side effects:

  • living in poorer, more dangerous neighborhoods

  • lack of resources to afford better quality foods

  • offspring have to attend poorer school systems

  • immersion in an equally uneducated interpersonal climate that may lead to a vicious cycle of ignorance or self-destruction

When someone suffers from Poor Discipline or Lack of Awareness we prescribe neighborhoods full of cheap, fast food and liquor stores, not specifically with the intent to harm, but obviously not to help either. Side effect include:

  • obesity

  • diabetes

  • liver failure

  • cancer

  • mental health issues

Finally, when someone suffers from Illegal Behavior we perform “surgery.” We remove them from society, mindlessly adhering to an archaic rationale that they were supposedly a danger and are better off in a cage with other similar animals. Meanwhile, only a small percentage of prisoners are actually violent and an even small percentage were violent against some complete stranger; which means almost none of these people in cages are a danger. From a Chinese medical perspective, the local scar tissue left by any surgery causes irrevocable harm, as it creates an obstructive, arthritic effect whereby healthy fluids and energy can no longer pass. I’ve personally known people who can recall a loved one going to jail (for a non-violent crime), then coming out and never being the same again.

“Drug dealer” is no one’s first career choice. I used to live in the building on the drug block in my neighborhood, and by all perception they didn’t look like they were much enjoying themselves. For all intents and purposes they worked in retail, pharmaceutical sales, one field more mindless and trite than the other. They worked long hours, late into the night, didn’t appear to have any days off and had to constantly worry about getting arrested. I often wondered how much they made, figuring it could be anywhere from $50-150k per year, neither of which being worth going to jail for. I was making less at the time but I actually felt bad for them, as I prejudged them as likely not having many other options.

No crime should go unaddressed, but locking someone in a cage, simply “cutting them out,” is archaic and mindless. One of my closest friends is a surgeon, and I’ve often heard him say the best surgeons are those who know when not to operate. At the least drug dealers simply need job training, but even better would be some form of education to spark their deepest passions and motivation.

To be honest defunding the police feels reminiscent of symptom-chasing. I know nothing of governmental budgeting, but as a resolution this seems a bit emotional, reactive and misdirected, as all evidence seems to suggest that the police need better training and more qualified applicants. I agree that (much) more money should be funneled into the black community, but should it be at the expense of safety and security, which is frequently needed to protect the innocent majority of the black community? I don’t know.

Although systemic racism is being called an emergency, it is more accurately a chronic condition that should be treated holistically, to understand the underlying pattern behind each sociological pathogen. Longstanding conditions are challenging because the inflammatory catalyst is deep seeded and complicated by a list of medications and poor dietary choices. We cannot address only one of these issues and expect them to heal. In Chinese Medicine we don’t treat only the lungs to heal a pulmonary issue, nor only the stomach for a digestive issue. We treat the whole body in recognition of its interconnectedness. In society we should not simply rob Peter to pay Paul, as this insists on still operating from a western pharmaceutical mindset. Instead, with greater deliberation we should borrow a small amount from Peter as well as several of his friends to pay Paul and several of his friends. This means improvement not only in community rec centers, but also in the quality of public schools, quantity of private schools and private tutoring. It means improvements in public housing, as well as local grocery stores and food options. There is as much scientific evidence of the illnesses caused by fast and processed food as there is by cigarettes, so where are the warning labels on their packages? Why is McDonald’s allowed to permeate the black community with immunity and cause every bit as much long term harm as police brutality does short term harm? We have to think outside the box, more critically, more holistically to effect real change.

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