Evidence-based medicine should consider all the evidence

Explaining ‘anecdotal’ phenomena from a matter-based perspective completely ignores the possibility of there being a spiritual component to maintaining health.

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PETALUMA, CA, April 4, 2016 – While researching her New York Times bestselling book “The Gratitude Diaries,” author Janice Kaplan came up with what she described during a recent talk in San Francisco as her “big plan” for maintaining an attitude of gratitude as a way to get rid of her next migraine headache.

“Well, there was sort of a problem,” said the former Parade Editor-In-Chief, “which is that I never got another migraine headache while I was writing the book.”

Apparently gratitude works in both preventative and curative ways.

Kaplan was quick to downplay her story, however, saying she wouldn’t be writing it up for any medical journal because it was “a bit anecdotal.” That’s too bad. Not because Kaplan’s account, in and of itself, is worthy of the New England Journal of Medicine, but because despite the small sample size, it could very well point to a fundamentally different approach to health – that is, a drug-free, affordable, and universally available approach to health.

Given that Americans spend upward of $17 billion each year to treat migraines, this is a really big deal.

Related: Prayer As An Alternative To Opioids

Sure, there are many who will say, “She was just lucky,” or, “That kind of thing would never work for me.” That fact is, though, it did and continues to work for Kaplan – and likely countless others – prompting her to suggest to her audience that regardless of the lack of medical proof, “it’s probably worth trying.”

The interesting thing is, there’s actually plenty of proof that what happened to Kaplan wasn’t a fluke. The tendency, however, is to try and explain such “anecdotal” phenomena from a limited, matter-based perspective, completely ignoring the possibility of there being a spiritual component to maintaining one’s health.

Again, that’s too bad. Just because something can’t be quantified using conventional scientific methods doesn’t mean that tapping into one’s innate spiritual tendencies can’t be utilized effectively and consistently, or that it’s any less scientific. It only means there’s something more to be discovered and, ultimately, better understood.

For instance, contrary to the popular notion that gratitude – or compassion or forgiveness or whatever other morally uplifted quality of thought you can think of – is something we have to force ourselves to express, the Bible suggests it’s actually a natural response to what God has created us to be. “We love,” it says in First John, “because he [God] first loved us.”

This is good news, especially for those who might be thinking they don’t have what it takes to adopt a spiritual approach to health and healing.

Related: Surgeon General Says, A Happy Person Is A Healthy Person

Of course, simply reading this in the Bible doesn’t make it so. And it’s probably impossible to prove, at least using matter-based techniques. But that doesn’t mean that each and every one of us hasn’t felt compelled at one time or another, even in the most trying circumstances, to love – to be grateful, compassionate, forgiving – and experienced the mental and physical benefits that go along with doing that. By recognizing something of the Divine in others, we begin to see and feel this same goodness in ourselves.

To discount or, even worse, disregard such evidence of this spiritual principle at work in our day-to-day lives as little more than “anecdotal” would be like Newton refusing to consider the falling apple. If it’s happened once, you can bet it will happen again. And it’s in everyone’s best interest to understand why.

Eric Nelson writes about the link between consciousness and health from his perspective as a practitioner of Christian Science. He also serves as the media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in Northern California. Follow him on Twitter @norcalcs. Continue the conversation on Facebook.

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