Hashkafa: Should one follow after the permitted non-conventional treatments that work based on Segula?
Despite the Halachic permission granted under fulfillment of the above conditions to perform treatments that do not work in accordance to medical science but rather Segula, the Poskim have denigrated its use in certain instances. The use of even the permitted forms of unconventional treatment is subject to a Hashkafic question as to whether it is advised to go after these practices, in as much as the Torah has given permission for the doctor to heal, and these treatments are not recognized by medical science due to lack of verification of their efficacy. For a full review on the correct Hashkafic approach on using non-conventional medical treatments that do not involve any Halachic issues, see the following article printed in the Assia journal.
- The Tzemach Tzedek stated regarding using a certain treatment for rabies that consists of the ash of an idol that “Even if from the letter of the law [it would be allowed], nevertheless, as good advice most certainly it is not proper to go after nonsense, which has no meaning and does not help at all. Furthermore, this will be detrimental, as through seeking and relying on such treatment you will not seek true medical advice. Rather travel to a doctor and ask his opinion on how to treat your rabies, and Hashem will send his word and He will heal him.”
- The Midrash Pinchas of Rav Pinchas of Koretz states that one must be very particular against visiting gentiles for Segula medical treatments, as they are filled with sorcery, and the way it works is through them entering an even greater impurity into the body which causes the lesser impurity and ailment to leave.
- The Rebbe’s opinion: In certain cases of unconventional healing, the Rebbe expressed his disapproval of the practice: In one letter the Rebbe stated regarding visitation to a person who heals without using any healing remedies, “Inasmuch as the Torah has granted permission for the healer to heal I don’t understand why one should pursue unfathomable paths.”
- In another instance with regards to a child who suddenly stopped speaking and the parents tried chiropractic treatments as a last resort, the Rebbe replied as follows, “This is a form of treatment that many doctors have begun to use and is called chiropractic. This treatment does not involve any supernatural form of healing, and both those who practice it and those who don’t, agree that it is a physiological form of healing and it is only debated as to its efficacy and nothing more. Accordingly, this should serve as an answer to the question of whether it is Halachically permitted to continue with such treatment. However, since it is not my calling to answer Halachic questions, they should therefore gain thorough knowledge about all the details of the treatment and then turn to a Rav in their area who can give a Halachic ruling regarding it. Regarding if it is good advice, outside of the Halachic aspects, to continue to visit this Dr., since you already see an improvement then it’s advisable to continue.”
- In another letter the Rebbe writes regarding chiropractic treatment: “Although I must say that I am not enthusiastic about this form of medicine, experience has proved that it has been beneficial in many instances. It is thus worth giving it a try.”
- In another letter the Rebbe stated “Regarding one who heals in an unconventional manner and you personally know that he has been successful in some cases, in this regard you must clarify the details. You must especially verify the state of illness of the patients that he had previously received and to what extent was his success. After the above, speak to three friends and do as they advise, and Hashem should give them the proper advise to relate to you”
Based on the above, one can conclude the following Hashkafic correctness to be used towards alternative medicine:
It is permitted to perform all forms of alternative healing that do not claim to work supernaturally. Those forms of alternative healing which work in a supernatural method and have no natural understanding of their healing effect may only be used if all the following conditions are met:
Even if cleared of Halachic issues, one is to desist from going after supernatural forms of healing, and is rather to visit a regular doctor. Even those treatments that do not involve anything supernatural, one is to verify the effectiveness of the medicine or treatment through inquiring the patients of the individual. Even those treatments that do not involve anything supernatural, one is to verify the details of the treatment, its source and how it works and then present it to a Rav for a Halachic ruling.
 Tzemach Tzedek Y.D. 81; See also Devar Shmuel 359, brought in Minchas Yitzchak 6:80
 See Minchas Yitzchak ibid in name of Midrash Pinchas and Refuah Vechaim 1:22
 This possibly refers to energy healing.
 Igros Kodesh 7:303
 Igros Kodesh 18:548
 Likkutei Sichos 36:311
 Igros Kodesh 11:247
 Tzemach Tzedek ibid; Rebbe ibid