"Your food shall be your medicine" is a famous quote that I'm sure you've all heard. Most of you also probably know the origin of that wise saying is the ancient physician Hippocrates. To this day, doctors still pledge to uphold the Hippocratic Oath.
Modern medical science, which is often beneficial, but can sometimes be a puppet of Big Pharma, is starting to return to the ancient principles of health and diet. Before there were mass manufactured drugs, humanity survived by using fruits, vegetables, herbs, tree bark and leaves, nuts, legumes, water, sunshine, fresh air, and hard physical labor as therapeutic agents.
We find some interesting quotes in "Let Food Be Thy Medicine", in the British Medical Journal, January 24, 2004.
Mark Lucock ends his review of the science of folic acid by quoting Hippocrates: "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food".
Although many patients are convinced of the importance of food in both causing and relieving their problems, many doctors' knowledge of nutrition is rudimentary. Most feel much more comfortable with drugs than foods, and the "food as medicine" philosophy of Hippocrates has been largely neglected.
That may be about to change. Concern about obesity is rocketing up political agendas, and a growing interest in the science of functional foods is opening up many therapeutic possibilities.
The question of fortifying foods inevitably becomes highly political, and the politics of nutrition are just as complex as the science.
Owen Dyer tells how the United States government—lobbied by food manufacturers—is trying to undermine a report by the World Health Organization on Diet, Nutrition, and the Prevention of Chronic Disease. My unadventurous prediction is that we will be hearing much more about the science, medicine, and politics of food. Hippocrates would be pleased.
Are you familiar with the complete text? Let's look at it.
The Oath of Hippocrates
I SWEAR by Apollo the physician, and Aesculapius, and Health, and All-heal, and all the gods and goddesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath and this stipulation — to reckon him who taught me this Art equally dear to me as my parents, to share my substance with him, and relieve his necessities if required; to look upon his offspring in the same footing as my own brothers, and to teach them this art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or stipulation; and that by precept, lecture, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the Art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath according to the law of medicine, but to none others.
I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous.
I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion.
With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my Art.
I will not cut persons laboring under the stone, but will leave this to be done by men who are practitioners of this work.
Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption; and, further from the seduction of females or males, of freemen and slaves.
Whatever, in connection with my professional practice or not, in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, which ought not to be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret.
While I continue to keep this Oath unviolated, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the art, respected by all men, in all times! But should I trespass and violate this Oath, may the reverse be my lot!
-- The Oath, Translated by Francis Adams, ebooks @ Adelaide
Here are some recommended foods for medicinal use, from Jean Carper's book Food Your Miracle Medicine.
apple, banana, basil, beet, blueberry, cabbage, carrot, cashew, celery, chili pepper, chives, coconut, coffee, cranberry, cumin, dill, garlic, ginger, honey, horseradish, licorice, lime, black mustard seed, nori seaweed, nutmeg, olive, papaya, plum, purslane, onion, sage, sugar, tea, watermelon, wine, yogurt.
caffeine, pasta, bread, cereal, seafood, nuts, legumes, green leafy vegetables, ginger, honey, sugar.
avocado, asparagus, basil, berries, Brazil nut, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, chili pepper, clove, collard greens, cumin, fish, garlic, ginger, kale, dark green lettuce, licorice, marjoram, nutmeg, oats, onion, orange, peanut, pepper, peppermint, pumpkin, sage, sesame seed, spearmint, spinach, sweet potato, tomato, watermelon.
apple, black currant, fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids), flax seed oil, garlic, ginger, hot chili pepper, onion, pineapple, sage.
banana, plantain, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, turnips, fig, ginger, kale, fenugreek seed, licorice, tea.
garlic, cabbage, licorice, soybeans, ginger, carrots, celery, parsnips, onions, green tea, black tea, tumeric, curry, citrus fruits, whole wheat, flax, brown rice, tomato, eggplant, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, Brussels sprouts, oats, mints, oregano, rosemary, sage, potato, thyme, chives, cantaloupe, basil, tarragon, barley, berries, seafood, olive oil.
apple, apple juice, barley, black currant, blueberry, chives, coffee, collards, cranberry, ginger, garlic, gooseberry, grape, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, shiitake mushroom, orange juice, peach, pineapple juice, plum, plum juice, raspberry, sage, seaweed, spearmint, strawberry, tea, red wine.
Decongestant (mucokinetic) -- for lungs and sinuses:
chili pepper, curry spices, garlic, horseradish, mustard, onion, black pepper, thyme.
anise, celery seed, clove, cumin, fennel, garlic, ginger, honey, lime peel, marjoram, onion, orange peel, parsley, sage, spearmint, sugar, decaf tea, foods high in carbs and starch.