Holistic Horse Health: The Vital Force

One of the biggest differences between conventional and holistic medicine is belief in the vital force. What is the vital force? The title “vital force” is often used by homeopathic practitioners but it goes by many names depending on the healing modality. The term “prana” is used in ayurvedic medicine, chi or qi in Traditional Chinese Medicine, but regardless what you call it holistic healers believe there is a wisdom in the body that works to keep it healthy. Conventional medicine does not believe the body has this healing force.

Holistic medicine desires to work with this vital force and support its efforts in healing. Conventional medicine ignores the vital force and seeks to have a direct influence in the body through outside input such as drugs or surgery. Let’s use an analogy to look at this.

Say the body is a business in a building with multiple employees and a maintenance crew. There is a manager in charge of overseeing all the workers and making sure things run smoothly. Say a water leak develops in one area of the parking lot. Since the leak is not in a vital area no one notices it immediately. A passerby from outside calls the manager and reports the leak’s location and size. The manager is grateful to have the information and quickly sends out his crew to repair the leak.

In this case the body is rocking right along taking care of itself but a small problem develops that the vital force does not immediately recognize as a problem. The leak would be a symptom and it is what is apparent from the outside. The passerby would be a homeopath who gives a homeopathic remedy, which alerts the vital force of the problem but is not responsible for the actual repair. The vital force sends the order for the repair to be done. Homeopathy relies on the belief that the body knows how to heal itself.

Now let’s look at this example from a conventional medicine approach. Say the passerby is a conventional doctor who does not care who is managing the business. He sees a leak and calls the fire department. The fire department does not care about the manager but does stop the leak by turning off the water to the whole building. Suddenly, the manager in the building starts to get messages from all over the building that the water is off. The toilets are backing up and the cleaning crew has no water to use to clean with. The maintenance crew discovers the parking lot leak and determines that the water has been shut off at the street. The crew shuts down the line going to the leaking pipe and calls for the rest of the water to be turned back on. The rest of the building is able to get back to functioning even as the one leaky line is repaired, but now there is much more to clean up due to the problems from the backed up plumbing system that was without water for a time.

In this scenario the fire department is like a conventional drug. It does stop the symptom of the water leak but it does it by affecting the whole building (body) instead of targeting the affected area and working with the resources already in place. The building crew has to work harder to deal with the secondary damage (side effects).

Now there are times when conventional medicine has to be the first line of defense or can play an important part in healing. Staying with the same example, say the building is hit by a tornado and severely damaged. The manager and maintenance crew are obviously going to be overwhelmed. In this case the fire department is needed to shut off power and water until the major damage can be repaired. In this case, once the situation is stabilized, communication with the building manager on what he and his team can do and what outside help is needed would be appropriate.

My intention here is not to criticize conventional medicine but to show how it can be harmful when it is not needed. With good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle the body’s vital force is able to manage most all minor symptoms. Occasionally the vital force will need some prompting and modalities such as homeopathy or acupressure will be quite adequate for this. Save the big guns of conventional medicine for life threatening situations that overwhelm the vital force and use for only as long as is needed.
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