Thoughts from the front lines


Healing from Nature

east-vs-westIn Margaret Atwood’s novel The Year of the Flood, Toby’s character begins practicing holistic healing once she arrives among the Gardeners. Holistic healing (sometimes called functional medicine) is defined as “a form of healing that considers the whole person—body, mind, spirit, and emotions—in the quest for optimal health and wellness” (WebMD). For Toby, this meant starting off making herbal lotions and creams, but Pilar soon took Toby under her wing and began teaching her the ways of natural healing. Toby immersed herself in Pilar’s ways, learning about mushrooms, plants and flowers that could be used to heal someone. There is mention of maggot therapy, which the Gardener’s use to heal wounds. The maggots would “eat the decaying flesh, they killed necrotic bacteria, and were thus a great help in preventing gangrene” (Atwood 107-8). This method of healing is very different than those of modern day medicine. It’s very natural and doesn’t harm the body. So who wouldn’t want that?

Our society chooses conventional medicine over the natural approach based off of science. This means using surgery and drugs to try and cure the ailments of patients. However, because of this, we have become “vertically ill” which means that people walk around with mental and physical illnesses that they don’t understand or that aren’t recognizable to them or anyone else (Henry). Doctors prescribe pills constantly for every little thing, which only hides the symptoms and doesn’t get to the root of the issue. Holistic medicine tries to address the issue and fix the cause of the problem. Let’s say a patient suffers from depression. Instead of immediately prescribing antidepressants, a holistic practitioner might use a variety of treatments or informative tactics such as psychotherapy, educating the patient on diet and lifestyle changes, naturopathy and/or spiritual counselling (WebMD). These practitioners believe that since the mind, body and spirit are all connected, that less severe illnesses are caused by imbalances with the body as a whole, which can have a negative effect on one’s health.


Mark Hyman, a functional practitioner, talks about why this alternate form of healing is so important. I encourage you to watch the video, it’s quite interesting!

That’s not to say conventional medicine isn’t helpful though! It definitely is, in the sense that it should be reserved for life threatening diseases and illnesses. But just seeing how effective and natural the holistic approach in the novel was, makes me hope it takes off in the future and makes conventional medicine the less approached form of healing. Do you think holistic medicine is more beneficial than conventional medicine? Do believe the natural way of healing actually works?

Works Cited

Atwood, Margaret. The Year of the Flood. Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2010. Print.

Doherty, Rhiannon. “My Newfound Passion – Functional Medicine”. Beyond the Brain. 17
Oct. 2014.

“Eastern (Holistic) Medicine vs Western Medicine”. 13 Sept. 2015.

Henry, Derek. “The Difference between Holistic Medicine and Conventional
Medicine”. Healing the Body. 16 June 2014.

TEDMED. “Mark Hyman at TEDMED 2010”. YouTube. 7 Dec.

“What Is Holistic Medicine?”. WebMD.



Is Immortality In Our Future?

The search for immortality is something that even our society has been in search of for the last number of years. Everyone wants to live longer or to be younger. I do believe that one day, we will be immortal with the way science and technology is advancing. As it is right now, we have beauty products like anti-aging cream for women that claim to reduce the effects of wrinkles. NooSkins in Oryx and Crake strove for the same thing, the only difference was that they had more advanced technology.

There is already talk of humans actually becoming immortal. Dr. Aubrey de Grey for example, believes that people who are alive as of right now could live for much longer than any other human has ever lived. He believes it’s because of research that has constantly been going on that’s in search of repairing aging skin. Dr. de Grey himself is working towards creating treatments that could ultimately repair aging skin over and over. This could then lead to people being able to live hundreds of years longer than normal. You can read more about it here.

To me, I really can’t see how humans are going to become immortal just by repairing skin. There are still diseases and all sorts of other illnesses and cancers that are still not curable. But that’s just me. Maybe one day there will be cures for many of the sicknesses people suffer from today which will help the idea of immortality become an actual thing.

Oryx and Crake takes the concept of immortality a step further. Crake develops a whole new set of people who are immortal in a way. He claimed that immortality is the unknown knowledge of death (303).There would be no fear, so essentially, the Crakers would be immortal since they would have no concept of death…yet. As appealing as the Crakers are, they are very childish and are genetically programmed to drop dead at 30 years old, so in that sense, they do not live forever. On top of it all, Crake obliterated the rest of humanity and only left the Crakers, so as to rebuild society. It seems crazy that in order for society to become immortal, one would need to wipe out all of humanity first to be able to start over…it just doesn’t make sense.

But I think it was mentioned in class that there were jellyfish discovered that were immortal. This type of jellyfish was found at the bottom of the ocean and can pretty much transform itself back into a polyp – the earliest form of the jellyfish’s life – and continue on living. This means it can keep reverting to a younger version of itself over and over, therefore becoming immortal. I think it would be very cool if humans found a way to revert back to their childhood self, or even just a younger version of themselves. It’s much like I was talking about earlier about how they have products that try to reverse the effects of aging skin. This problem would be resolved if we were able to turn back our biological clocks.We could get what we wished for!


Science can only move so fast though. For now, the only humans that are immortal are the Crakers. So do you think that there is a possibility that humanity will have the option to become immortal one day? Do you agree with the concept? Let me know what you think!


Atwood, Margaret. Oryx and Crake. Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2003. Print.

Austin, Jon. “Key To Eternal Life?” Daily Express. 1 May 2016. Web. 18 Feb 2017.

Rich, Nathaniel. “Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?” The New York Times
28 Nov 2012. Web. 18 Feb 2017.

“Turritopsis Dohrnii – Is It Really Immortal?” Strange Animals. 15 Sept 2014. Web. 19 Feb