by Teresa Tsalaky
Wednesday, February 04, 2004
The myth that the doctor’s medicine is best
Let’s say you’ve decided you’re willing to take responsibility for your health. Now it’s time to take action, right? Well, not quite. First, there’s an illusion that you must thoroughly dismantle if you want to eliminate the biggest roadblock on the path back to health. This illusion is deeply ingrained. It’s so deeply ingrained in the American psyche, that it sounds crazy to argue that it’s a lie, a myth.
The myth says that the doctor’s medicine is the best medicine.
It’s not true. Modern American medicine is not as marvelous as most people imagine.
Just ask some of the MDs who, appalled at the harm caused by their profession, have dedicated part of their lives to trying to change it – doctors like Stuart Berger, author of “What Your Doctor Didn’t Learn in Medical School.”
Or ask Mary Ruwart, candidate for FDA commissioner in 2002. Ruwart will tell you that many allopathic medical procedures do not undergo rigorous testing to prove their worth before their introduction. Years later, when studies are done, the procedures don’t always work as expected, she says. She should know. She left her position as an assistant professor of surgery at St. Louis University Medical School in 1976 and spent the next twenty years in medical research, developing drugs for The Upjohn Co. In her book, “Healing Our World: The Other Piece of the Puzzle,” she explains how alternative therapies have been excluded from our system of medicine.
If you need more than professional opinion, look at the official statistics. For example, a 1978 report by the government’s Office of Technology Assessment says that less than twenty-five percent of all drugs and medical procedures prescribed by MDs have been demonstrated in controlled clinical trials to be useful. That means that if you go to a doctor, more than three-quarters of the procedures in his arsenal have not been proven to work. That’s not opinion. It’s fact. It’s not myth. It’s truth.
Yet we have the illusion that the doctor only uses treatments that have been tested and proven in very scientific, objective, double-blind studies. We believe this because many doctors criticize their competitors’ therapies as unproven. Goldenseal root to fight an infection? Unproven. Kinesiology to diagnose? Quackery! So say the doctors when they’re quoted in the public press. But they fail to hold their own methods to the same standard. Allopathic treatment after treatment fails to be proven effective in double-blind studies, yet your doctor still uses them to treat you.
Meanwhile, competitors’ treatments that have been proven through rigorously controlled, double-blind, independently researched experiments are automatically dismissed as bunk. MDs are trained to assume no scientific proof is available for medicines and procedures that are not endorsed by the American Medical Association. They automatically tell you there’s no proof regardless of whether they’ve researched it.
Consider chelation therapy – an alternative a method of treating heart disease by draining toxins and metabolic wastes from the body while increasing blood flow. Most MDs don’t offer it for fear of losing their licenses. They will therefore tell you that chelation therapy has not been proven effective. Yet it has.
When researchers L. Terry Chappell, MD, and John P. Stahl, PhD, reviewed nineteen objective studies evaluating the effectiveness of so-called EDTA chelation therapy, they discovered it works very well. The studies were done on a total of nearly 23,000 patients. The researchers discovered that eighty-seven percent had registered clinical improvement. In one study, fifty-eight of sixty-five bypass surgery candidates and twenty-four of twenty-seven people scheduled for limb amputation were able to cancel their surgeries. Their findings are reported in the book, “Questions from the Heart.”
If the efficacy of this treatment – which is much safer and much less expensive than bypass surgery – has been proven in more than a dozen scientific studies, why won’t your doctor use it?
The next few chapters will answer that question, and in doing so, they will chip away at the strong illusion that the doctor’s medicine is best.
A Mere Hiccup on the Continuum
Medicine has been practiced in one form or another throughout human history. That means hundreds of cultures around the globe – from the smallest tribe in Guatemala to the greatest civilizations – have created healing practices over tens of thousands of years. Modern allopathic medicine’s 200-year history is a mere hiccup on the continuum. It represents a miniscule fraction of humankind’s accumulated medical knowledge.
If you’re sick and can’t get well, or if you have a disease that could kill you, why would you eliminate more than ninety-nine percent of the world’s medical arsenal from your treatment protocol?
According to the World Health Organization, between sixty-five and eighty percent of all people on Earth rely on non-allopathic medicine for their primary health care.
WHO has not fallen prey to the myth that the allopathic doctor’s medicine is best. It has broken through the illusion, because it knows the facts. For example, in 1993, it ranked the United States eighteenth among industrialized nations for its level of good health. It said healthier nations allow alternative modalities to openly compete in the medical marketplace. In contrast, the United States has a medical monopoly enforced by state laws and federal agencies.
WHO believes allopathic medicine is not best. It has chosen traditional Chinese medicine as the system that should be propagated worldwide to meet the health-care needs of our time.
China’s traditional medicine shares three concepts with medical systems around the world that have endured for millennia. They all are based on the premises that:
- A state of balance is necessary to maintain health.
- Nature has a tendency to heal itself.
- Mind and body are interdependent.
In most other civilizations in all other eras, medical men worked to enhance what occurs in nature. If wounds naturally heal, what would help them heal faster? If natural immunity overcomes bacteria and viruses, how can this natural ability be enhanced?
Even the so-called father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, recognized that all living organisms have inherent healing forces. He called them “nature’s healing power” and said the physician’s job was to create favorable conditions for these natural forces to do their healing work.
Hippocratic medical philosophy shares much in common with most of the healing systems practiced throughout history in all parts of the world.
“Through the ages, healing has been practiced by folk healers who are guided by traditional wisdom that sees illness as a disorder of the whole person, involving not only the patient’s body but his mind; his self-image, his dependence on the physical and social environment as well as his relation to the cosmos and the deities. These healers, who still treat a majority of patients throughout the world, follow many different approaches, which are holistic to different degrees, and they use a wide variety of therapeutic techniques. What they have in common is that they never restrict themselves to purely physical phenomena, as the (allopathic) model does,” says physicist Fritjof Capra in “The Turning Point.”
These other healing systems, with their herbal concoctions and low technology, are just as effective as allopathic medicine and more widespread. They are not chicanery, as American doctors would have you believe.
Practitioners of other systems of medicine not only have many more centuries of experience to rely upon, they also share the qualifications of allopathic doctors: They are part of a professional elite practicing medicine based on a written tradition.
The practitioners of these systems of medicine might be amused if they heard an allopathic MD criticize their work as unscientific. They might wonder at his hubris. What kind of distorted and illusory thinking would make a person discount thousands of years of empirical knowledge? It’s allopathic medicine in the Western world that has limited experience and only a tiny accumulation of knowledge.
Allopathic medicine is so young and so inexperienced that it hasn’t had time to be truly tested and proven. Without the accumulated knowledge of centuries, its patients are little more than test subjects – human guinea pigs whose lives will show whether allopathy, in the long run, proves effective.
Does two hundred years of severely limited medical research in America have more credence than tens of thousands of years of direct experience elsewhere?
Our medical system, by saying yes, has limited the number of options available to heal you to a tiny fraction of what has healed others. The vast majority of available cures – including those that are the most widely used worldwide – are not offered by physicians in the United States, because they are labeled alternative.
“We can’t say that alternative therapy is really alternative. After all, the so-called alternative therapy has been around since the beginning of man. It’s medicine and drug companies which are relatively new so are in effect the alternatives,” writes Sir Jason Winters.
After Winters got “incurable” cancer, he began searching for answers and turned first to the Bible and other religious texts. “It doesn’t mention anything about cutting, chemotherapy and radiation in the Bible. Buddha never spoke of it; neither did Jesus. Maybe they thought it wasn’t worth speaking about,” he wrote in his book, “In Search of the Perfect Cleanse.”
Winters traveled the world looking for cancer cures. In his travels, he discovered remedies that are nearly universal because they’ve been proven to work – not by a double-blind experiment financed by a drug company, but by millions of people who have used them over the centuries.
For example, he found that more than thirty countries have the same remedy for congested kidneys: Squeeze a lemon into a glass of warm water each day and drink it.
Like many self-healers, the knowledge Winters gained by doing his own research made him question why the allopathic medical establishment keeps Westerners away from so many cures proven effective through anecdotal evidence.
“The North American Indians did not spend billions of dollars each year on research to know that Chaparral
Self-healer Martha Christy came to the same conclusion after suffering for years, then finding a natural cure that her doctors never told her about. She then wrote a book about it titled, “Your Own Perfect Medicine.”
“At this point in time, we need to stop examining and picking apart therapies that have hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of years of practical experience behind them,” she wrote. “Rather than wasting their time and our money on the unnecessary contortions of trying to ‘scientifically’ prove what hundreds of thousands of patients have already experienced over many centuries with these simple and safe natural techniques, the National Institutes of Health and their panel of experts’ efforts would be infinitely better spent on deciding how to formulate new and inexpensive FDA guidelines for approving traditional medical therapies and in qualifying responsible health care practitioners for both conventional and natural medication.”
Until that happens, the doctor’s medicine will not be the best medicine. In fact, it might be the worst.
(Excerpted from "To Life: A Guide to Finding Your Path Back to Health," available at www.tolifeonline.com. The author may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Teresa Tsalaky has been a journalist for 22 years, serving as a reporter, editor and publisher at newspapers throughout the West. She has won numerous national and regional awards for her writing and editing from organizations as diverse as the National Education Writers Association and the Society of Professional Journalists.
She is listed in Marquis' Who's Who in the West and currently publishes a small daily newspaper on California's redwood coast. "To Life: A Guide to Finding Your Path Back to Health", is Teresa's first book. It explores the common elements of the journey back to health by describing what people with so-called "incurable" diseases went through in the process of finding cures.