Magazine articles and news media directed at Christians, and even many Christians themselves, tell us to forgo alternative medicine. They tell us that it’s a false god or anti-Christian.
Fortunately, there is plenty of Scripture in God’s Word to help us figure out this issue. So let’s take an honest, Biblical look at this topic using only God’s Word as our guide.
But before we do this, I would like to specify that when I say “natural medicine,” I am referring to things that are just that–natural. God-created. Foods in their whole form. Herbs. Plants. And of course, the power of Jesus Christ.
There are many alternative medicines out there right now, many of which have foundations in New Age and Eastern religions. Things like reiki healing, accupuncture, applied kinesiology are a few. Medical studies are providing documented proof of the benefits of some of these forms of alternative medicine. But for the purpose of this post, I would like to differentiate between what we are about to discuss–natural medicine–and practices of alternative medicine such as these.
Remember when I am referring to natural medicine, I mean the use of things God created (plants/herbs, natural foods, etc.) and the use of His supernatural healing from Jesus Christ.
So is natural medicine a false god or Anti-Christian? What does Scripture say?
In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the LORD, but only from the physicians.
2 Chronicles 16:12
(Clearly, the issue was that Asa turned to doctors without seeking help or healing from God.)
And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. (Mark 5:25-29)
Note that she spent all she had on doctors and continued to get worse. Like the story of Asa, we can see the striking similarities in our own culture today.
Additionally, both these verses demonstrate that physicians/doctors were present and in practice thousands of years ago. Yet all of these verses refer to using the healing power of God.
Even in the Old Testament, God’s instructions for diseases in Levitical laws put the priest in charge of duties now assigned to medical doctors. (For instance, see Leviticus chapter 13.)
Most people know the story of Naaman in the Old Testament who was healed of leprosy. But what most people, even most Christians, do not know is that he did NOT like the way God was going to heal him. In 2 Kings chapter 5:9-12, it says:
So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”
11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
Naaman put God’s healing in a box and figured God would only heal him a certain way. When he discovered that God’s healing would come through an alternative method, he almost missed his opportunity to be healed because of his anger and doubt! He figured that God would have Elisha wave his hand over him and cure him that way, and if God was going to heal him in water then it should at least be a cleaner river.
This story provides us with a clear example of how God sometimes chooses unconditional ways of healing specifically so that He can see where our faith is.
Additional references to what people today would consider “alternative medicine” and what I call “natural medicine” are:
- Then Isaiah said, “Prepare a poultice of figs.” They did so and applied it to the boil, and he recovered. (2 Kings 20:7)
- Isaiah 1:6 refers to the use of sores cleansed and soothed with oil.
- Jeremiah 8:22 discusses the Balm of Gilead used for healing.
- In Luke 10:34, the Good Samaritan treated the wounded man on the road with wine (which is an antiseptic and coagulates the blood) and oil (which soothes and forms a coating).
- In 1 Timothy 5:23, the apostle Paul tells the people to “Stop drinking only water and use a little wine because of your stomach and frequent illnesses.” We know now that wine and other fermented foods/drinks contain probiotics that are essential for good gut health and good digestion.
- James 5:14 gives us very specific instructions for what to do when we are sick:
Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.
Check out this example of utilizing God’s Word for healing in today’s world from one mom:
This is a little gross, but really awesome. My 2-year-old (potty trained) son started getting a few, small, pimply bumps on his bottom about 2 months ago. I knew from a past encounter with these that it was a mild staph infection. They weren’t causing him much pain, but we couldn’t get rid of them, and there was no way I was going to take him to the doctor for some crazy antibiotic. For two months I tried every trick in the book: Coconut oil, colloidal silver, ACV, tea tree oil, honey/turmeric, and Redmond clay. Nothing worked. Finally, I read in 2 Kings 20:7 about Hezekiah’s boils that “were plaguing him unto death.” Isaiah told him to place figs over the boil and he would be healed. I thought, “My son’s aren’t boils, just tiny little bumps,” and I put it out of my mind. After another week of struggling with the infection, I was walking through the produce section at the grocery store and saw a bin full of figs. Out of desperation, I grabbed several. That night my husband and I sliced up the figs and laid the strips over the affected area on my son. I really thought it was a long shot – I mean, none of the “common” natural remedies had helped. The next morning when we took the figs off of him, all of the bumps had surfaced, drained, and dried up! After several months of struggling and seeing absolutely no improvement, they were now nothing but a few tiny scabs. All it took was one, measly fig and he was healed. God’s medicine is amazing!
In addition to utilizing the power that Christ used to conquer death to help people find healing, I want to discuss the use of His creation, especially the very thing He originally designed us to use as our sole source of food:
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. (Genesis 1:29)
Fruits and vegetables are powerful healers, and scientists are even discovering the amazing healing properties and compounds found in these natural foods.
In 1986, prestigious molecular biology departments at various colleges and research centers discovered (or confirmed) amazing cancer-inhibiting qualities of fruits and vegetables. In test tube and animal studies, these obscure compounds were exhibiting a remarkable ability to disrupt the formation of malignant and benign tumors.
One such discovery was the compound sulforaphane found in cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, and brussels sprouts. Sulfoaphane boosts production of the body’s phase II enzymes that cart off dangerous residues of procarcinogens (cancer-causing precursors capable of damaging cellular DNA).
Today our knowledge of phytochemicals (compounds of plant origin) is exploding. However, 6,000 years ago, God had already given us this information as demonstrated in Genesis 1:29.
In addition to foods, Scripture designates leaves as that which will be used for healing everyone:
On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelations 22:2)
Ezekial 47:12 also discusses the leaves used for healing.
While Scripture provides numerous instances of healing either through the power of Christ or the power of His creation (plants, herbs, foods, etc.), the same cannot be said about references to healing through doctors’ chemicals. What Scripture does say about these chemicals is where we find the Greek Word for “magic spell” or “sorcery,” which is Pharmakeia (pharmacy): The use or administering of drugs; poisoning; sorcery/magic arts; metaph-the deceptions and seductions of idolatry.”
For instance, “Pharmakeia” appears here:
The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. Your merchants were the world’s important people. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray.
And also here:
The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts. (Revelations 9:20-21)
From these verses, we can see that Pharmakeia is the very thing that will lead all the nations astray and will be held onto until the very end. We are told and forewarned that this is the very thing that will be one of the ultimate deceptions. Yet we miss this forewarning and do not heed the foreknowledge God has given us.
To analyze the stark contrasts between these methods, let’s take cancer and weigh these verses out. The Gerson Therapy uses mega loads of organic fruits and vegetables (Gen. 1:29 and Rev. 22:2) for treatment of cancer (and other illnesses).
Conventional medicine uses (chemical) pharmaceuticals for cancer treatment (Rev. 18:23).
Now go back and read those verses again and tell me which one you think is the false god we are following in America. How deceived we’ve become and how ironic that Biblical methods are spoken against by so many of God’s people. We know so little of God’s Word and yet expect not to be deceived?
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)
I am not proposing that we never seek out medical attention. I am simply proposing that we heed the wisdom and forewarning found in Scripture so that we are not deceived and led astray.
Of course, it’s important to note that we should also not worship the created but only the Creator Himself. He is the one that gives us these natural medicines and He is the one that has intricately designed them for our benefit, whether they are used for prevention or for treatment.