Mosby's Complementary Alternative Medicine: A Research-Based Approach

By Lyn W. Freeman; G. Frank Lawlis | Go to book overview

17
Spiritual Medicine

G. Frank Lawlis


WHY READ THIS CHAPTER?

Over the past decade, there has been a renewed public interest and belief in the "true healing capacity" of faith, prayer, and spirituality. With this new interest comes the question, "What is the appropriate role of spirituality and religion in medicine?" There are many testimonies of miraculous cures as a result of spiritual intervention. Clinical trials of spiritual interventions are, however, very limited.

Most of the world's medical philosophies are tied to the spiritual beliefs and rituals of their respective cultures. Yet, in the last century, a dualism has grown between religion and the science of medicine, resulting in a sense of professional hostility between the two philosophies.

This chapter explores the research that supports the role of spirituality in medical care and evaluates the evidence suggesting that patients benefit medically from its inclusion. The evidence, consisting mostly of correlational data with some controlled trials, remains too scant to allow the development of a body-spirit model of medicine or the demonstration of a cause-and-effect relationship. Nonetheless, the data are suggestive enough to demand an appraisal of the powerful effects of spirituality and faith on health outcomes.

The evidence, consisting mostly of correlational data with some controlled trials, remains too scant to allow the development of a body-spirit model of medicine or to demonstrate a cause-and‐ effect relationship. The evidence, consisting mostly of correlational data with some controlled trials, remains too scant to allow the development of a body-spirit model of medicine or to demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship.

The student is invited to draw his or her own conclusions as to how religion may, once again, become an important component of medical care. This chapter may also serve as a stimulus for the reader to examine his or her own spiritual beliefs as they relate to health. The author hopes that this chapter will also encourage future research in this area.


CHAPTER AT A GLANCE

This chapter explores the relevance of religion and spiritual belief to health care, religion as a factor in recovery from illness, and illness prevention effects of spirituality and religion. The effects of religion and spirituality on health outcomes are referred to as "spiritual medicine."

The effects of religious commitment on heart disease, blood pressure, substance abuse prevention, suicide, and longevity are discussed. Prayer as a spiritual intervention is evaluated. The effects of prayer on human patients with leukemia and rheumatoid arthritis, on human tissue, and in critical care settings are described. The effects of prayer on fungi, yeast, bacteria, simple organisms, plants, and animals are explained. Finally, ritual—including shamanic traditional healing ritual—and its effects on health are examined. indications and contraindications for religious and spiritual practices, as they relate to health care outcomes, ore defined.

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