Andrew Weil, M.D.
The new age medical guru, Andrew Weil, M.D., runs an integrative medicine program at the University of Arizona. He is a physician with a mission to change the practice of conventional medicine. What Dr. Weil has in mind is a synthesis of the best of conventional and alternative medicine that he calls integrative medicine. At present, a major thrust of Weil's work at the University of Arizona is to develop new models of integrated medicine for training physicians.
While Andrew Weil is best known for his interest in alternative medicine he has authored three books which when read in sequence clearly lays out the foundation of natural health: Health and Healing; Spontaneous Healing; and Natural Health, Natural Medicine.
Weil finds that allopathic medicine is "glaringly deficient in theory and philosophy of any sort." "Lacking a clear and unified theory, allopathy is a vast and cumbersome body of data concerning the identification of specific, physical agents of disease and the use of particular treatments directed against those agents." Weil points out the differences in approach to infectious diseases between Eastern and Western medicine. He sees two problems with the focus of the West on identifying external agents of harm and then developing technological weapons against them: "The first is that the Western antibacterial weapons tend to backfire and cause direct harm. And the second and greater concern is that when you deal with things that way, you will affect the evolution of organisms in a direction that produces worse results than what you had to begin with." The Eastern approach, by contrast, is to focus on the body's immune system in order to find ways of increasing the resistance of the human body.
Andrew Weil, M.D.
What Is Integrative Medicine?
Weil laments Western medicine's embrace of technology and subsequent reliance on it. Treatment should work with the body, not against it, writes Weil, adding, "What is needed is the least invasive treatment with the maximal impact." "The readiness of an allopathic doctor to go right to the most extreme, expensive, and risky methods without even thinking of simple, safe, and cheap ones is ... typical of practice today. It demonstrates profound lack of faith in the body's innate healing abilities." More than that "they encourage belief in a chimerical ideal of diagnosis-by-machine, in which doctors would not exercise their minds at all, just feed the results of laboratory tests into computers and let the computers select the right treatments." Weil claims that diagnosis is an art and not science. Physicians are coming to believe "that numerical test results relieve them of responsibility in identifying medical problems and selecting treatments."
Weil's beliefs on medical technology are similar to those of Ivan Illich. For Weil, it is this notion of Western medicine as a technological science that has to be changed and be replaced with a concept of medicine as an art.
- Andrew Weil, M.D., Health and Healing, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, 1998.
- Andrew Weil, M.D. Spontaneous Healing: How to Discover and Enhance Your Body's Natural Ability to Maintain and Heal Itself. Fawcett Columbine, The Ballantine Publishing Group, New York, 1996.
- Andrew Weil, M.D. Natural Health, Natural Medicine: A Comprehensive Manual for Wellness and Self-Care. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, 1998