Legalities and Guidelines for Use of Natural Healing Methods in Health Ministry
1. What are some principles should go by to help avoid misunderstanding or legal problems in doing health ministry?
Doing “education” about natural healing methods instead of actually doing “therapy” on people can prevent a lot of legal risk. In some places it’s actually considered a crime for someone unlicensed to perform therapies on people. So avoid misunderstanding and make it clear that you are doing it for education of what can be done, as well as telling people about the potential risks involved and precautions. Even if you demonstrate the techniques on people, always be teaching them how to do it at the same time, as well as encouraging physician follow up.
Don’t make great claims, promise miracle cures or magic. Such tactics can result in great misunderstanding as well as lawsuits. Never try to talk above the level of your training or answer health questions you don’t understand.
Don’t diagnose anything or give medical advice unless you are a physician. You may share generally available health information based on research, etc. but be extremely careful not to come accross as advising them. Clarify the source of the information, or mention that you heard about some research and encourage them to find out further information for themselves in cooperation with their doctors.
Don’t advise people to stop taking their medications, this can cause serious injury or death. Encourage people to continue with follow-up with their physician regarding any health problems.
Always caution people that every method may have potential risks or uncomfortable side effects, and advise them to stop immediately and seek medical attention if necessary if they become uncomfortable (for example, with a hot foot bath).
Avoid medical terms such as “Therapy" in describing what you are teaching. some might think you are a therapist or accuse you of trying to practice medicine without the appropriate credentials. In teaching about natural methods it's better to use terms such as "comfort measures" when possible. If you suggest there could be healing effects be sure to use terms like "possibly" or "may have healing effects for some."
Always teach them about precautions and medical conditions which would be contraindications for doing any method (for example, diabetics should never take hot foot baths because it could cause damage to the tissues and they are at risk for infection and/or foot amputations).
It may be better to have them sign a waiver saying that they understand you are not trying to diagnose or treat any condition and recommend that they follow their health care provider’s advice.
Jesus showed cooperation with the accepted medical community of His day by sending people He had healed back to the priests for inspection of their conditions. This is an example for us today, that we are to work in cooperation with the medical community as far as possible. Mark 1：44 and said to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
Avoid presenting yourself as a “healer” or guru of some type so that man gets the glory rather than God. We are not “healers,” our role is to connect people with God, who is the source of true healing. If you subtly draw attention to yourself and present yourself as a magician or healer, the moment you leave they no longer have access to help. But if you humbly connect them with God they will continually have access to Him through a loving, healing relationship that can result in their eternal salvation!
2. What are some guidelines for understanding how to avoid potentially dangerous methods?
Some methods labeled “natural” may be potentially dangerous or cause a negative effect for health ministry efforts. Some methods that we should avoid which are especially not useful for health evangelism include the following;
Those lacking scientific evidence
Risky or dangerous therapies
Spiritually dangerous methods (New Age, “energy” work, etc.)
Potentially toxic herbs
Expensive gadgets and equipment
Extreme or“fad” diets (Adkins, macrobiotic)
Unscientific methods such as iridology, phrenology, energy massage/New Age
Things with additives and chemicals
“Magic Cures” of any kind
There is no substitute for healthful lifestyle change. The reason why many “magic cures” are so popular is because people hope for a quick fix that doesn’t require changing their habits.
Christians should not be part of trying to sell sensational cures or quick fixes to problems. Even useful natural methods such as hydrotherapy or massage cannot substitute for a Helping people make healthful lifestyle changes through the power of Christ’s love teaches valuable lessons about patience and faith, more than any quick fix can provide!
The action of natural healing methods is slower and gentler than drugs they must be continue for period of time to see effect. Because of this, it’s best to continue medications and regular doctor visits to check up on the status of improvement as well as to watch for unwanted side effects or complications related to making changes.
Natural remedies can often be used for simple discomforts. Medications or surgery are appropriate for emergencies or more serious problems.
3. What are some more acceptable natural healing methods which could be useful for health ministry efforts, when combined with common sense and physician supervision as necessary?
General education about healthy lifestyle change
Simple, nontoxic herbs
Education about sunlight
TLC – personal attention, kindness
4. What are some guidelines for understanding appropriate and safe use of natural healing methods, while avoiding dangers and side effects as far as possible?
Chose things which are generally unrefined, close to their natural state
Consider potential side effects, interactions, and precautions
Try the simplest things first
Don’t overdo it with anything!
Discontinue use if any negative side effects develop