Written by Mike Bryan, first President of HANS, in 1984.
The idea for HANS sprang from its founders’ belief in the human potential for moral, physical and psychological growth – the capacity to achieve a level of health far beyond the mere “absence of disease,” as health is commonly understood today.
HANS believes that health is ultimately an individual responsibility. It understands health as “balance”: a balance of the physical, psychological and spiritual dimensions in each person, and a balance between each person and the natural and social environments. The path to achievement of health lies in accepting personal responsibility for the natural environment, diet and nutrition, physical activity, psychological stress, and political and cultural fellowship in the community.
The Society accepts the view that humans are an integral part of nature, intimately connected at all levels to the universe as a whole. It also acknowledges the human body’s own healing power, a power derived from our dynamic integration with the natural order. This natural healing power (or vis medicatrix naturae, as Hippocrates described it) is mediated through the body’s immune system in ways which modern science is only beginning to understand. These innate curative mechanisms, if not interrupted by physical or psychological stressors, are capable of maintaining a high level of personal and social well-being. As Paracelsus has said, “Nature cures; the doctor nurses.” The Society also recognizes that most illness and disease results from self-induced (“lifestyle”) blocks to the operation of the body’s natural tendency toward health.
Given these assumptions about the nature of health and healing, the Society believes that real medicine is what people do between episodes of illness or disease. However, since most people clearly require assistance at times of serious illness, the Society also recognizes the appropriate role for persons trained in the art of restoring and preserving health. Still, it emphasizes the distinction between symptomatic treatments which may seriously weaken the body’s immune system and those which ”naturally” support the immune response while reinforcing the patient’s role as self-care provider through education in proper nutrition, exercise and stress management. The latter qualifies as “preventative medicine” in the Society’s view; and it is this kind of therapeutic intervention which the Society fosters.
While the general public (as in self-care providers) are the chief target of the society’s networking and educational programs and efforts, an emphasis is also placed on raising the level of understanding, cooperation and coordination among professional health-care providers in the interest of optimal patient care. In this respect, HANS is guided by the recommendations of the World Health Organization for the development in all countries of a comprehensive system of primary health care. Such a system addresses the main health problems in the community, providing preventative, curative and rehabilitative services accordingly. It requires and promotes maximum community and individual self-reliance and participation in the planning, organization, operation and control of primary health care. It is sustained by integrated and mutually-supportive referral systems, leading to the progressive improvement of comprehensive health care for all. And it relies on all health workers, including medical practitioners, naturopathic physicians, nurses, physiotherapists, traditional practitioners, auxiliaries and community workers suitably trained socially and technically to work as a health team and to respond to the expressed health needs of the community.