A Country Doctor and the Ancient Wisdom of a Samurai Physician

The other day I got a comment and 17 page views on a blog post I published back in 2013. It was also one of the first pieces from A Country Doctor Writes picked up by The Healthcare Blog, based in California. I am now on their masthead as a frequent contributor.

I was quite surprised when my piece about the wisdom of ancient (2500 BC) Chinese medics was featured on The a Healthcare Blog, a platform mostly about the technology and business sides of medicine. But ancient common sense sometimes trumps modern viewpoints:

“The first principle of the Way of Nurturing Life is avoiding overexposure to things that can damage your body. These can be divided into two categories: inner desires and negative external influences.

Inner desires encompass the desires for food, drink, sex, sleep, and excessive talking as well as the desires of the seven emotions – joy, anger, anxiety, yearning, sorrow, fear and astonishment. [I see in this a reference to archetypal or somatic medicine.] The negative external influences comprise the four dispositions of Nature: wind, cold, heat and humidity.

If you restrain the inner desires, they will diminish.

If you are aware of the negative external influences and their effects, you can keep them at bay.

Following both of these rules of thumb, you will avoid damaging your health, be free from disease, and be able to maintain and even increase your natural life span.”

And on the subject of doctoring:

“A good doctor gives medicine in response to the condition of the situation…This is not a matter of adhering to one absolute method. It is rather like a good general who fights his battles well by observing his enemies closely and responding to their changes. His methods are not determined beforehand. He observes the moment and is in accord with what is right.”

(This reminds me of my not-so-ancient post The Art If Medicine is Not an Algorithm.)

I find myself in respectable company on The Healthcare Blog and The Deductible, including one of my favorite lecturers, neurology professor Dr. Marty Samuels.

John Irvine, the editor of The Healthcare Blog, moved on to create The Deductible, where you will also find some of my writings. Matthew Holt, creator of THCB, remains a steadfast supporter of my writing. These two men, along with Kevin Pho of KevinMD, helped me find a wider audience for my writing.

My purpose in writing is not to bring forth the latest advances in medicine, but to remind myself and my readers of older, but still universal, truths about medicine and doctoring.

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Osler said “Listen to your patient, he is telling you the diagnosis”. Duvefelt says “Listen to your patient, he is telling you what kind of doctor he needs you to be”.


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