The body has the inherent ability to establish, maintain, and restore health. The healing process is ordered and intelligent; nature heals through the response of the life force. The physician’s role is to facilitate and augment this process, to act to identify and remove obstacles to health and recovery, and to support the creation of a healthy internal and external environment.
II. Identify and treat the cause (tolle causam)
Illness does not occur without cause. Underlying causes of disease must be discovered and removed or treated before a person can recover completely from illness. Symptoms are expressions of the body’s attempt to heal, but are not the cause of disease. Symptoms, therefore, should not be suppressed by treatment. Causes may occur on many levels including physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. The physician must evaluate fundamental underlying causes on all levels, directing treatment at root causes rather than at symptomatic expression.
III. First do no harm (primum non nocere)
Illness is a purposeful process of the organism. The process of healing includes the generation of symptoms which are, in fact, an expression of the life force attempting to heal itself. Therapeutic actions should be complimentary to and synergistic with this healing process. The physician’s actions can support or antagonize the actions of the vis medicatrix naturae. Therefore, methods designed to suppress symptoms without removing underlying causes are considered harmful and are avoided or minimized.
IV. Treat the whole person
Health and disease are conditions of the whole organism, a whole involving a complex interaction of physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and other factors. The physician must treat the whole person by taking all of these factors into account. The harmonious functioning of all aspects of the individual is essential to recovery from and prevention of disease, and requires a personalized and comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment.
V. The physician as teacher (docere)
Beyond an accurate diagnosis and appropriate prescription, the physician must work to create a healthy, sensitive interpersonal relationship with the patient. A cooperative doctor-patient relationship has inherent therapeutic value. The physician’s major role is to educate and encourage the patient to take responsibility for health. The physician is a catalyst for healthful change, empowering and motivating the patient to assume responsibility. It is the patient, not the doctor, who ultimately creates/accomplishes healing. The physician must strive to inspire hope as well as understanding. The physician must also make a commitment to his/her personal and spiritual development in order to be a good teacher.
The ultimate goal of any health care system should be prevention. This is accomplished through education and promotion of life habits that create good health. The physician assesses risk factors and hereditary susceptibility to disease and makes appropriate interventions to avoid further harm and risk to the patient. The emphasis is on building health rather than on fighting disease.