What Is Health?

Majid Ali, M.D.


Health is recognition of—and being comfortable with—one’s own divinity, during periods of certainty as well as of doubt.

Health is waking up in the morning with a sense of the spiritual—without any need to analyze what the spiritual might be. It is knowing that spirituality is a language of silence. And that the real answer to the problems of stress and anger is spirituality, not psychology.

Health is living with the certain knowledge that love, like water, flows in one direction. We are sustained by the love we offer and depleted by that which we demand.

Health is life with a deep sense of gratitude —gratitude not for any
accomplishment of the day before or for accumulations of yesteryears, but for simply being. An ENT surgeon from Greece once attended my lecture at the meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy and expressed a common frustration: “But this is utterly new to my Greek thought!” Well, if the concept of gratitude for simply being is foreign to us, we need to learn about it. In reality, that notion of gratitude is very old, in all likelihood as old as human consciousness. I consider that one of the most important human insights.
Health is freedom from chronic anger that feeds upon itself. It is living with a purpose. Life cannot be sustained without a purpose

Health is the ability to treasure personal time— with family, friends, or alone in silence.

Health is as much energy before meals as it is after them.

Health is returning to bed at night with the same level of energy with which one wakes up in the morning, going through a day’s work with steady-state energetics.

Health is living with the notion that food fuels the furnace of human metabolism; exercise stokes its fires. Health is reflected in toned-up muscles and supple joints. That requires regular noncompetitive high-frequency low-intensity — limbic, in the language of autoregulation — stretching and exercise.

Health comprises living, dynamic and vigorous bowel, blood and liver ecosystems—and of all cellular ecosystems elsewhere in the body.

Health is two or three effortless, odorless bowel movements a day—without mucus and cramps.

Health is aging with vitality and grace. Some gurus of anti-aging medicine have declared aging to be a disease, curable with exotic potions they sell. I do not understand them. We Americans are obsessed with aging. Aging, we are told, is another name for losing. We lose hair. We lose vigor of our skin. We lose strength of our muscles. Our eyesight dims. Our ankles swell up. We lose sharpness of our mind. Health, in that context, is gracious acceptance of the essential trade-off between all of those things on the one side in return for the richness of insights and enlightenment which advancing years bring.

Health is oxygen homeostasis. Oxygen is the organizing principle of human biology and governs the aging process. That is the primary theme of this series of volumes. From that perspective, health is a vigorous oxygen metabolism. Health is freedom of cells from stagnant organic acids that accumulate in fluid within the cells as well that which bathes them—and suffocates them. Health, then, is structural and functional integrity of oxygenes and oxyenzymes. It is optimal utilization of oxygen in cells and intercellular matrix. It is intact and functioning gateways of life — cell membranes that mark the boundaries between life within the cell and that which exists outside, and separate internal order of a cell from external disorder. Health is robust two-way energetic-molecular traffic between cells and the soup of life that bathes them.

The crucial importance of the “oxygen model of health” in clinical medicine is this: It requires a sharp focus on all elements that put oxygen homeostasis in jeopardy regardless of whether counsel is offered for health preservation and healthful aging, or therapies are prescribed to reverse chronic illhealth, as well as to support anintegrative management for acute illness. Indeed, I hold this principle of cellular energetics to be the singular scientific basis of integrative medicine. I illustrate this principle by citing the example of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In the prevailing pharmacologic model, the initial phase of hyperthyroidism of that entity is treated with thyroid-blocking drugs, whereas hypothyroidism, which  nearly always occurs in its later stages, is managed with replacement therapy. No considerations are given to factors that might have caused thyroid injury in the first place. By contrast, the oxygen model calls for a diligent search and effective 

management of all the bowel, blood, and liver-related elements that jeopardize oxygen homeostasis, induce autoimmune responses in the thyroid gland, and so set the stage for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

In essence, health is being kind to the body so the body can be kind to us. It is respecting one’s food. It is a sense of what one’s right weight is, and what one needs to eat to maintain it. It is living without fear of hunger or obesity. It is an awareness of one’s own divinity and a respect for the language of silence— for sensing, observing and knowing— one’s relationship with what exists within onself as well as what one is surrounded by.

For readers with deeper interest in the characteristics of health presented above, I recommend Healing Miracles and the Bite of the Gray Dog2 and RDA: Rats, Drugs and Assumptions.3 Below, I include some text from the latter volume in which I proposed a conceptual model of what I then called energetic-molecular medicine.

The empirical medicine must now evolve into an “eneregetic-molecular (EM)” — a medicine that holds the enduring principle of empiricism of the ancient healing arts and adds to it the science and technology of energetic-molecular dynamics of the health/dis-ease/disease continuum…. This is a medicine based on EM events that occur in molecules (and cells and tissues) before they are injured and changed. It is not based on the study of how dead and decaying cells and tissues look under the microscope after they have been damaged by disease.

Health is the ability to treasure personal time— with family, friends, or alone in silence.

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