The Three Laws of Medicine

1 ~
2 ~
3 ~
Primum Non Nocere
Tolle Causam
Vis Medicatrix Naturae
Firstly, Do No Harm
Treat the Cause
The Healing Power of Nature


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1) Primum Non Nocere - Firstly, Do No Harm

The primary rule of medicine is - 'Firstly, Do No Harm'

Doing no harm establishes the basis of the therapeutic relationship. You are entering into a contract with another living being where you are not trying to get any advantage over them or to do anything, or say anything, or give anything, that could do them any harm now or in the future.

You are 'in their corner', they are not in yours. You are not trying to lead them on the path of your own life, you are meeting them wherever it is that they are in trouble in their own lives. Your only wish is to help them find their way on their own journey. You want to help them, so they do not need your help any further.

Doing no harm means that you can never use anything you learn about them to do them harm. They can be completely honest with you, not hold back any symptoms or secrets, and they can trust that you will never betray their trust by using this information against them in some way or by sharing it with anyone without their permission.

However, doing no harm does not mean that you cannot challenge your patient, even if this might make them feel very uncomfortable at the time, or afterwards! The therapeutic relationship is based on support and challenge, not one or the other. If you see that they are doing themselves harm in some way, or are receiving harm from some other source, you have a duty to communicate this to them in a way that they can understand, because this goes to the core of the second rule, to treat the cause.


2) Tolle Causam - Treat the Cause

The second law of healing is- 'Treat the Cause'

Unless a person is born with a problem then, whatever it is, there will be a cause for it. We must keep open minds about what that cause might be and, equally, be aware that it is often more than one thing and that many people need to go on a journey to work through what needs attention, kindness and care.

Diagnostic laboratory tests have become overwhelmingly important in modern medicine, to the point that most doctors won't be able to say what's 'wrong' with someone until they get an abnormal test result. But this approach can just end up using drugs to manage symptoms because it is only looking at what shape the damage has taken rather than bringing any awareness to what has been causing it.

Problems have causes and, if you treat them, you can get lasting solutions. Many herbalists, throughout history and in all traditions of medicine around the world, begin by looking at the diet and the digestion because there are so many fundamental causes to so many diseases in this area.

Equally, a lack of adequate rest is a major underlying cause for many chronic conditions. Likewise, an accumulation of excess waste products is another common driver to disease. Even a simple lack of meaningful work or activity can bring a person low. Our mental and emotional health, our relationships, our work habits, what we do to relax or enjoy ourselves, all of these factors can be part of the cause of illness and, if we attend to the roots of what has gone wrong, the power of nature can bring us back to health.


3) Vis Medicatrix Naturae - The Healing Power of Nature

The third law is about the healing power of Nature.

This power, or force, is the best thing we have going for us when it comes to getting better from any kind of chronic problem. In the most practical way possible, it means that there is a natural 'intelligence' existing inside us, as it does in every living thing, that enables us to adapt to adversity, to self-regulate and to self-heal when sickness or injury has done us harm.

Simple enough to intuitively understand, this is nevertheless a deep subject that, if you are interested to learn more about, I recommend you go on to read the article on the 'cycle of healing'. That chapter goes into practical detail on how we move through different stages of healing in our everyday lives and how we can recognise when one of these stages is blocked and needing attention, it starts here



© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd