Tolerance Leads to Better Health


Tolerance Leads to Better Health

Health and wellness have been lured in skepticism since the dawn of mankind. It’s understandable in many ways as to why.

Years ago, I traveled to Nicaragua and Cost Rica. It was my first experience with a saw-called “bruja” or witch doctor. I remember standing in her clinic and asking her questions about how she diagnoses the problems and how she heals. There were many natural herbs, supplements and tinctures. She shared much with me. The most impressive was when her eyes lit up and she became quite excitable. She told me about her book. The book had magical powers she told me. She said that people from the village would come to the clinic for healing and she would have them put one hand on the book and then they would recite healing words. She said that it worked most of the time, but not all of the time. It was fascinating, even as I recall it today. I never once wondered if it was true or not. Even as a pre-med student at the time, with education strong in organic chemistry, physics, and physiology. I accepted that if she said that it worked it, it works.

We have hundreds of treatments today for nearly every ailment on can think of. Medical research cannot show that certain treatments really work, but the power of belief is the ultimate wild card. If people believe that things will work, then they’ll work. This is the so-called placebo effect, which many downplay. Dr. Ted Kaptchuk of Harvard-Affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is an expert in placebo. He writes, “Placebos may make you feel better, but they will not cure you…They have been shown to be most effective for conditions like pain management, stress-related insomnia, and cancer treatment side effects like fatigue and nausea.”[1] In one study on migraines, his research showed that the placebo in the study on treatment of migraines was 50% as effective as the real drug.[1]

Dr. W. W. Mayo, founder of the Mayo Clinic was a self-proclaimed agnostic and brilliant surgeon. Most people know a little about the Mayo Brothers. What you may not know is that the Mayo Clinic was founded with the cooperation The Sisters of Saint Francis. The Mayo Clinic has had, historically, some of the greatest successes in healthcare in the World. Dr. Mayo credited the great success of his patients who did better than most great nursing care from the sisters. While science is powerful, belief may be even more powerful.

We all have different beliefs. This is what makes the World such an interesting and fascinating place to live and breathe. What makes us different, makes us stronger as a group. Unfortunately, since the beginning of time, since Cain and Abel, we have fought with each other. It seems that a human quality, however bad, is fighting for acceptance, for dominance and for righteousness. There are things in this World that we, as a group, won’t tolerate like murder, rape, theft. We need moral standards to uphold order and keep our communities safe.

Sometimes our opinions about morality go too far. Sometimes they don’t seem to go far enough. This creates dissonance and angst for many of us, as we lead lives that disconnected from the lives we envisioned in our hearts and minds. With this, often comes judgment of those that impede our way to the lives we desire to lead.

It is understandable then that anger, frustration and condemnation bleeds out into our interaction with those that seem at ends with our beliefs. We should always seek to maintain integrity, which is actions consistent with our values. We should not ask others or expect ourselves to repress our beliefs or opinions. However, when we feel that our beliefs must change everyone else’s beliefs or when we weight our beliefs more important than others, due to a perceive moral superiority, we open ourselves up to health and wellness problems.

If you ever wondered if you are judgmental, think about your last week. Ask yourselves if you have drawn judgment about someone you know? How about someone you don’t know? When you do this, you might be right or you might be wrong, but you have created a psychological point of tethering. You anchor your beliefs on something and then things are pulled in multiple different directions. Because you have anchored your beliefs and you have integrity, friction will undoubtedly arise, resulting in heartache when you are incorrect. Unless you are God Himself, you will be incorrect.

Beliefs are important, but so too is tolerance of other’s beliefs. Integrity should not be confused with moral superiority. The latter requires judgment. The former is just expression. When we conduct our days and lives consistent with our values, we are living a life of integrity and purpose. When we are in constant pursuit of moral superiority and comparing ourselves to others, we are destined for a life of insecurity, judgement, anger, guilt, and frustration.

People that have higher levels of the above are more prone to numerous diseases, like depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, fatigue, exhaustion, heart disease, and stroke. Not to mention, the implications for addiction, including alcohol, tobacco, and food.

Instead of judging the actions of others, try to love others, regardless of their beliefs. The greatest leaders in history loved all people, not just those that believed what they believed. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “When you are right you cannot be too radical, when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.” He also said, “We must in strength and humility meet hate with love. Be the peace you wish to see in the world!”

Dr. King’s wisdom is that we must hold our heads high with our beliefs, but not become radicalized. We must love over hate to bring peace to the world. Some days I wonder if peace is really at the center of most people’s hearts. The hate is palpable on social media, in our news networks, in our communities, PTA meetings, churches and places of work.

As science has create more and more answers to life’s greatest questions, I think that many have misunderstood their moral high ground to be facts like gravity. The humility to say that the best of us knows nothing compared to our Creator and that the worst of us knows great things, relative to those that have never suffered, is the rainbow which we can arc over all people, regardless of sexual orientation, race, creed, religion or political party.

When we live and breathe tolerance, we can find peace and love in our lives daily. This leads to the release of wellness hormones, reduction in blood pressure, high cholesterol, cortisol release, emotional dissonance. It improves our relationships, fosters healthy habits, and demonstrates love the Earth we live on. We share this Earth with everyone and generations past, present and those to come. We must love, not exploit it.

[1] “The power of the placebo effect.” Harvard Men’s Health Watch. Harvard Medical School. Published May 2017. Accessed July 12th, 2019.


  1. Wendy Heath on July 13, 2019 at 10:14 am

    I love this. We must love over hate to bring peace to this world. <3 Well spoken!

    • Jeremy Stueven, MD on July 15, 2019 at 1:41 pm

      Thank you for your response Wendy. I couldn’t agree more!

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