"Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food"
I believe that a physician's most important job is to help the patient deal with the causes of unwellness (toxicity, nutritional deficiencies, dysfunctional patterns of behavior, etc.) so that the body can heal itself.
As medical students we were taught to be very uncomfortable with the word healing because it had a spiritual connotation; diminishing the supposedly "scientific" aspect of treatment. The idea of being in partnership with one's patients was inconceivable. It was the doctor's job to know what needed to be done and the patient's job to "follow the doctor's orders." While this old model still can function for many acute problems like a broken bone, it is woefully inadequate for dealing with chronic illness.
It is inconceivable that a food allergic person could receive proper care without, not only their full involvement but also that of the entire family. I like my patients to, as much as is reasonably possible, be their own physician with myself and any other doctor being seen as a consultant. Educating people to assume this role is one of the most important aspects of my work. Remember that, the word physician means teacher.
There continues to be a lot of discomfort with anything at all to do with the spirit. Yet it is imperative that this aspect be taken into consideration; as a person's faith or spiritual conviction is one of the most powerful forces for recovery. Traditional medicine is now starting to scientifically document the healing power of prayer. There are a growing number of practitioners who understand many health problems being manifestations of a spiritual problem. Since our body is the temple in which our spirit dwells we have a sacred obligation to take good care of our physical bodies. I consider the question "Is this problem spiritual, mental or physical?" to be not sensible; as, there are always aspects of all three. The question should be which spiritual, which mental and which physical intervention makes the best sense for this problem.
At the present time there is a very interesting situation. We have never had stronger drugs but, the pharmaceutical industry has a death grip on the medical profession through journals, advertisements, meeting, etc to persuade doctors that the proper role is to select which drug or drugs to use to suppress which symptoms. Natural healing systems understand that any suppression of a symptom will cause a diminished general state of health. Homeopathy is the discipline that has helped me the most with this understanding, especially the teaching of the great American homeopath Constantine Hering, who formulated what is now know as Hering's law of cure (as a person is healing, their symptoms will improve from above downward, from vital to less vital organs, from most recent to earliest symptoms which disappear in the reverse order of their appearance).
Because this is theoretical, I'll use a hypothetical case to illustrate. A patient who has arthritic pain gets treated with aspirin (or Celebrex®, Motrin®, or Vioxx®, etc.) now their pain is less but they have GI symptoms such as heartburn, pain, and eventually bleeding. The same person, treated with nutritional supplements such as vitamin C, cod liver oil, glucosamine and chondrotin, dietary modification as well as a homeopathic remedy now the patient's pain is also better but they are overall stronger and healthier.
Many traditional practitioners think it's good enough to get symptoms reduced to a level that the patient can function; but, I do not consider anyone with a chronic illness to have been adequately treated until they express the idea "It was hell to go there; but, because of what I have learned I would do it all over again."