Monday, February 20, 2012

ADDING HEALTH vs Fighting Disease

ADDING HEALTH vs. Fighting Disease
In the video below, Terry Wahls, MD describes her experience with MS. As an MD she was able to access the latest and best therapies for MS, but her disease remained unabated, following its usual course of progressive degeneration.

Dr. Wahls realized the limits of medical treatment and delved into her own research. She found “that brains afflicted with MS, Huntington's chorea, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's shrank with time,” consistent with the fact that their mitochondria (the power houses that manage the energy supply of the cells) did not work well. With ongoing research and self-experimentation, she took mitochondria-protective supplements (omega 3 fish oil, creatine, and co-enzyme Q) resulting in a slowing of her decline.

With continued research she discovered other nutrients vital to optimal mitochondrial/brain health and function and added them to her growing list of supplements. Then she had an epiphany, that she could “get all of these and possibly hundreds, maybe thousands, of other compounds that science had yet to name and identify that would be helpful to my brain and mitochondria.” Interestingly, she states that the medical and food science texts that she consulted were of no use in pointing her in the right direction as to where, in the food supply, to get these vital nutrients.

She goes on to demonstrate that the typical American diet is starving the body of vital nutrients necessary for the complex biochemical reactions that keep us healthy (let alone, consuming a myriad of processed toxic chemical foods), setting the stage for most chronic diseases.

Ultimately, Dr. Wahls found the Paleolithic diet, the diet of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. You see, our genes have not changed in 43,000 years and are consistent with those of our Paleolithic ancestors; meaning that our DNA has the same genetic requirements for health (in terms of diet and exercise) now, as it did then.

The Paleolithic hunter-gatherer diet consisted of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, meats, and water. Note the absence of diary and grains, especially wheat and corn (not to mention processed chemical concoctions masquerading as food). These were all foods that were added with the beginning of agriculture, about 10,000 years ago. Our genes have not caught up with these foods and, as such, these foods create food allergies that are responsible for a host of misdiagnosed, undiagnosed, unrecognized, and therefore mis-treated, health problems people suffer.

The short of it is that Dr. Wahl was successful in restoring her health and reversing the effects of MS. At this point, when I tell this to patients, they all respond: “Wow!”

1.      While this kind of progress would not be seen in everyone, this diet clearly needs to be incorporated into the healing regimen of everyone…i.e.: to change the paradigm from fighting disease to adding health through diet, exercise and stress control.

2.      While it is amazing that Dr. Wahl was able to reverse her MS, know that the body is hardwired for survival, to be self-regulating and self-healing…that health is nature’s default. Therefore, if we give the genetic blueprint what it requires in a pure form and sufficient quantity, and stop poisoning it…it will invariably make us healthier. How far back it can bring us is influenced by how much damage was done, how long we have had it, age, etc.

3.      What is more amazing, that most of us don’t see, is the everyday occurrence—the 350 pound person eating a diet of processed chemical foods, smoking cigarettes, living a sedentary life, popping a cocktail of prescription drugs. Their body is so hardwired for survival, while at one and the same time it is being deprived of the essential ingredients for health and being consistently poisoned, it still manages to keep this person alive, the best it can—trying to buy time until the person changes their habits—until it can no longer do so. And only then, systems failure begins…and the ravages of chronic disease progress. Now, that’s amazing!

Sadly, we have been trained to be so focused on fighting disease that we have lost sight of how to nurture our birthright of health.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Reader's Digest: 6 Rules for Using Alternative Remedies Wisely...REALLY?

Reader's Digest: 6 Rules for Using Alternative Remedies Wisely....REALLY?

This article in the October issue of Reader’s Digest is typical of the all-too-often back-handed praise the traditional allopathic medical model bestows on alternative therapies. The main message to patients is to use alternative therapy with caution; implying that it may be dangerous and/or possibly delay real medical care at the risk of peril, at worst…and a waste of money, at best.


Except for #1 and  #4 below, I don’t take issue with their specific rules of engagement. Those two aside, the remaining rules are reasonable. So what is my problem here, and why blog about it?


The most glaring and rankling observation I make is the holier than thou blanket statements. After all, shouldn’t the patient follow the same 6 rules for using medical doctors, drugs and surgeries?

(Note: my comments are in RED)


6 Rules for Using Alternative Remedies Wisely

from Reader's Digest October 2011  Kathi Kemper, MD, chair of the complementary and integrative medicine department at Wake Forest School of Medicine

1. Discuss it with your doctor first. Most physicians are surprisingly open-minded about complementary therapies, our experts say. I suspect that many MD’s may be open-minded to alternative therapies, but certainly not most. I suggest it often boils down to geographic location and community mindset; ie. if the community is prone to alternative therapies, it will attract more MD’s open to them as well. Always tell your doctor about herbs or supplements you’re taking because some interact with medications. How is this any different than telling your doctor about other medications that you may be on from other MD’s? Ask for evidence. Ask your MD for independent evidence (NOT corporate sponsored studies performed and published by the pharmaceutical and medical supply manufacturers...which are beyond biased, and outright corrupt) that supports their recommendations as well. While the medical community speaks as if all they do is supported by hard evidence, only 15% of everything MD’s do (from drugs, to surgeries, tests, procedures, etc) has the type of double blind evidence that they demand of all other forms of therapy.

2. Testimonials are not enough.  If you’re not sure whether something is legit, check it out on the site for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine ( or the National Library of Medicine’s Medline Plus ( or other evidence-based sites, such as Beware of red flags. Clearly, the same is true for all medical treatments as well…only more so, because the fatal and disabling consequences of medical care gone awry are way more prevalent…beyond comparison!

3. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Remember that problems that have stumped medical science, like Alzheimer’s, are magnets for snake oil salesmen. Request references. Again, it is foolish, and more dangerous, to believe otherwise of medical treatments.

4. A legitimate practitioner will be able to offer references from at least two medical doctors and be willing to work with your physician.  A good place to start your search: the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine ( herbs and supplements wisely. While it can’t hurt to ask your MD if they have heard anything (good or bad) about a particular alternative health practitioner, their word should not be final. It is too often akin to asking the manufacturers of Coke if you should drink Pepsi. Opinions and referrals of satisfied patients, for both medical and alternative practitioners, are always a good idea.

5. The label should include a list of ingredients and an expiration or best-used-by date. Keep in mind that these products aren’t regulated as tightly as drugs; ones from developing countries sometimes contain heavy metals like lead, other herbs, or pharmaceuticals. Add a layer of protection by consulting, which tests supplements for contamination and strength. Its website provides buying advice; $2.25 per month gives you access to all its reports. One should always know as much as possible about what one puts in one’s mouth! I suggest it would be very difficult to find any statistically significant incidence of harm done by supplements. On the other hand, prescription medications (mostly, used as prescribed (>100,000 deaths/year)…but also legal prescriptions used illegally (~40,000deaths/year) ) are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Again, there is no comparison between the pandemic deaths caused by pharmaceutical drugs and miniscule incidence of harm caused by herbs and supplements. Understand the limits. One of the greatest fallacies perpetuated by the medical community is that medical care fixes anything and everything that ails you.  Let's be clear: the only thing that heals you, is YOU.

The medical model is a disease model whose invasive interventions (drugs/surgery) work to coerce the body to comply. In extreme cases, these major medical interventions can border on the miraculous, buying time for the body’s immune and healing responses to kick in. If the problem/disease/injury has exceeded your body’s ability to heal itself, extreme medical measures may only succeed in keeping you alive longer than you wish. More importantly, this invasive and chemically-based model applied to everyday health has proven disastrous.

Alternative health practitioners typically guide patients to lifestyle choices that promote health and direct care at supporting the body’s innate capacity for self-regulation and self-healing.

We would be better served if we truly understood the limitations of medical interventions.

6. Complementary medicine should be just that—an addition to conventional care. It shouldn’t be a substitute for seeing your doctor….and seeing your doctor, having and passing regular scans of all sorts, and taking routine prescription drugs shouldn’t be equated with being healthy, or disarm you from taking responsibility for your health by committing to a lifetime, lifestyle of health and wellness.

Upshot: people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

Modern medicine needs to stop creating fear and casting aspersions about Alternative Therapies and look to cleaning its own house.

Modern medicine is the leading cause of death in America. The statistics are more than frightening. This statistic alone is mind numbing:

“In the US, over 12,000people die every week (624,000/year) from health care gone awry. These aren’t people who die because of the illness or injury that brings them to the doctor. These are people who die because of the care they receive once they get there.”