If you watch Fox News or CNN, you might get the idea that, at this moment in time, humans really suck at solving problems. But in actuality, we are as pragmatic as we ever have been. Or, at least as hopeful, or willing to experiment. A good example of this instinctual quality can be shown through how humans deal with sickness, injury, or pain. Nowadays, if we have a headache, we can take an Aspirin. If we break an arm, we can have a cast put on that will mold it so that it heals the way it was meant to heal. These discoveries and antidotes come as a product of thousands of years of guessing and checking; studying and discovering what we have at our disposal to solve our problems.
The earliest known records of medicine can date back to the Old Testament, or before. There is no known paper origin of medicine, but humans have been known to experiment with herbs and spices as remedies for different problems for thousands of years. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines Medicine as “a substance or preparation used in treating disease”. By the transitive property, we can assume that for something to be “medicinal”, there must be a disease at hand to fight.
But what is a disease? Words like Influenza, Polio, and Parkinson’s come to mind. Crippling illnesses associated with a weakened body. To treat or cure these diseases, medicine in the form of an injection, pill, or physical therapy can be applied to the situation. A disease can be defined as “a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms”. By this definition, something can be called medicinal if it is a substance or preparation used to fight any symptoms or signs that may show that something in the body is not functioning properly.
Like stated earlier, Doctors may suggest to a patient the use of Aspirin or Motrin to deal with a headache. A headache should require no definition, but in my own words, it is physical pain in the head. So, what about psychiatric diseases and mental illnesses, such as PTSD or Anxiety? In a 2012 report by U.S. Medicine, it was recorded that 141,000 Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans were diagnosed with noncancer pain. 32% of them were diagnosed with PTSD. Of the 141,000, 11.7% were prescribed Opioids to deal with the pain. Among the pool of the 32% diagnosed with PTSD, 17.8% of the Veterans were prescribed opioids. In this instance, the PTSD, although considered mostly psychological and not physical, was categorized as a disease, because a substance was prescribed to treat the impairments it may bring on.
So, Medicine can be used not only to treat physical ailments, but mental ailments as well. Now, the definition of Medicine defines it as a “substance or preparation”. Having focused on the substance, let us look at what a preparation implies. Alternative ways of healing other than ingesting a substance include things such as therapy, acupuncture, and meditation. In a 2014 article published by Julie Corliss of Harvard Health Publishing, the results of an extensive study conducted by John’s Hopkins Medical School could show a possible link between Meditation and a decrease in Anxiety. 19,000 meditation studies were sifted through until 47 unbiased studies could be evaluated for effectiveness by the school. The results of the 47 different studies showed that Meditation, although not a substance of any kind, can be used to lessen anxiety. This would indicate that Meditation is a form of medicine.
Meditation is a practice that requires nothing but the mind and a desire to focus. Nothing must be ingested, and nobody is performing any kind of ritual or surgery on you. So, if Meditation, which simply includes doing nothing but thinking and breathing, can be considered medicinal, then what other preparations can be considered Medicinal? The APA (American Psychological Association) published a report in 2013 on the psychological effects of Music. In the article, a meta-analysis conducted by Dr. Daniel J. Levitin and Dr. Mona Lisa Chanda of McGill University in Montreal focused on 400 studies involving music and it’s health effects. The studies showed that Music can actually improve the body’s immune system and decrease stress. The same study showed that in patients preparing for a surgery, Music was more effective than prescription drugs at relieving stress.
As shown above, the APA endorses the use of Music when treating psychological illnesses or conditions such as Anxiety and Depression. If these psychological conditions or illnesses cause impairments to the body or parts of the body that can be identified through signs or symptoms, then these psychological illnesses can be defined as being diseases. In conclusion, if these psychological illnesses or conditions can be defined as diseases, and if Music is endorsed as a helpful remedy that combats said diseases, then we can define Music as a form of Medicine, because it is a practice that helps fight disease.
Corliss, Julie. “Mindfulness Meditation May Ease Anxiety, Mental Stress.” Harvard Health Blog, Harvard Medical School, 3 Oct. 2017, http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-may-ease-anxiety-mental-stress-201401086967.
Novetney, Amy. Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association, Nov. 2013, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/11/music.aspx.
usmedicine.com. “More Opioid Prescriptions Adverse Effects for Vets With PTSD.” U.S. Medicine, U.S. Medicine, 21 Apr. 2015, http://www.usmedicine.com/agencies/department-of-veterans-affairs/more-opioid-prescriptions-adverse-effects-for-vets-with-ptsd/.
“Medicine.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/medicine.
“Disease.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disease.