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An Alphabet of Good Health in a Sick World
New Medicine Press
359 pages, soft cover
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Illness is your friend – Dr. Martha Grout
There is a story crying to be told. Never before in our history have we seen so much chronic illness in so many people at such a young age. For the first time in centuries we are facing a world in which our children's generation has a shorter predicted lifespan than our own generation.
Many people walk through my doors looking to find out what is wrong with them. They have seen a dozen doctors, they have undergone two dozen tests, nothing appears to be wrong, and yet they feel terrible. Sometimes their symptoms are so debilitating, they can barely hold a job. Usually they are on a slew of medications – something to lower cholesterol (which has never been proven to cause heart disease), something for the fatigue and muscle pain caused by the cholesterol-lowering medication's "side effect" of gumming up the cellular waste-disposal system, something for the high blood pressure caused by the need for more fuel because cells are drowning in cellular trash… My heart goes out to these walking wounded. They often did exactly what their insurance company told their doctors to tell them to do, and after all that time and money, they are still in search of an answer. Conventional medicine has failed them.
In America, we treat illness as though it is an enemy to be vanquished, rather than the body's cry for help. Our mindset appears to be that of the warrior, whose tools are those that slash, burn, and poison. In war there is generally a good deal of collateral damage – the side effects of drugs and surgery, the reduced quality of life because symptoms are just being managed instead of being solved.
I have a different view of illness; as paradoxical as this may seem, I think it is our friend. I treat illness as if it were the body's best effort at telling us that something needs to be addressed. If our blood pressure is high, there is some reason for it. Perhaps we are stressed beyond our capacity to function, and our body is raising our blood pressure internally to provide adequate nutrients and oxygen to the brain and critical organs. Or perhaps we are eating so many sweets that our muscles cannot tolerate the sugar load, our pancreas can no longer keep up with the demand for insulin to keep the blood sugar low, and thus our blood sugar rises. If our cholesterol is high, perhaps our liver is unable to break it down, or perhaps our demand for stress hormones (of which cholesterol is a precursor) is high, or maybe our arteries are damaged by our stiff red blood cells and require a cholesterol bandage for repair.
Our bodies, like our brains, really do their best to let us know when something is out of balance. Looking at the body as the enemy and treating it with brute force is one way to do it. It strikes me as being cruel in an unthinking sort of way.
Crisis medicine in America is among the best in the world. If you've been in a traffic accident, a hospital is exactly where you want to be. But most medicine today is not that. Eight of ten times that a patient goes to see a doctor it is because they have a chronic illness – ADHD, asthma, allergies, arthritis, autism, cancer, chronic fatigue, diabetes, fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, Lyme, inflammatory bowel, leaky gut, lupus, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, etc. And far too many times after too many tests, patients feel the system has let them down.
Our great-grandparents may have died of infectious diseases, but chronic illness was virtually unknown. They ate fresh food and meat that was not laden with chemicals, antibiotics and hormones. Then we began to eat differently. "Better living through chemistry" was the way to go. Now we spend our last years dying of renal failure, diabetes, heart disease, cancer or Alzheimer's dementia. Those who should be at the peak of their productive years are on multiple medications to prevent diabetes and heart disease, and one in six children is suffering from some diagnosed mental illness. Men have erectile dysfunction at 40 or even 30. Young men have low testosterone levels. Pharmaceutical companies are making "chewable Lipitor®" for our children as young as age four. What is wrong with this picture?
The public is demanding change. And little by little, their demands are being heard, even by the establishment. Acupuncture, for example, is practiced in some hospitals, and even in some cancer care centers.
What would it look like if we made it priority to have a healthier population in America? What if we shifted our emphasis from disease management to prevention?
Let's get past the idea that "prevention" is lots of expensive tests for "early" diagnosis. By the time a test shows an illness, it's too late for prevention – the train has left the station, disease has already set in. An inconvenient truth of the disease management system is that sick people generate money for the industry. So-called "health" insurance only pays for treating damaged organs, not generally for the education and therapies which could prevent the damage in the first place.
Prevention, as we homeopathic physicians use the term, is a fundamentally different approach to medicine.
There is a new paradigm emerging: we call it green medicine. It recognizes that healthy food and healthy environments beget healthy bodies – no matter what the genetics suggest. Good health is more than what happens in the medical office. Good health occurs best within the context of a healthy environment. When we measured mercury in the air originating from smoke stacks in the Far East, we began to realize how what we do can affect the entire world. A green lifestyle supports a healthier body. Consumers are driving change there too.
Welcome to the journey.
Finding the Fix – Mary Budinger
I remember waking up cold and oddly wet. The sheets in my bed were drenched with my sweat. I sat up and swung my legs over the side of the bed to stand up. Then the pain registered. Pain in every joint as if I were a 90-year old arthritic woman. I could barely walk to the bathroom. The lymph nodes in my neck were big and hard as marbles. The night before, life had been normal. As of that morning, it would never be the same.
I was 35 at the time. I was an Emmy-award winning television journalist. But instead of moving up the career ladder, life came to a crashing halt. Suddenly, I became something of a regular at the Mayo Clinic.
I really, really disliked everything medical. Always had. My mom told me when she took me as a toddler for regular doctors' visits, I would pass out when the nurse brought out the stainless steel tray with the needles on it. All my life, just walking into a hospital makes me nervous. But at age 35, I entered the medical establishment in a big way.
Mayo Clinic was an impressive place. Spacious waiting areas and all the specialists you might need under one nicely appointed roof. In a single day, you could see three or four different specialists; the clinic's scheduling abilities rivaled the eighth wonder of the world. First stop: the blood lab. "Eighty percent of the time we can tell what is wrong with you by the blood tests," the doctor said. Who knew there were so many things they could measure from blood? I would come to learn that doctors often use a bell curve, but I was often at the far edges of the bell curve so what worked for most people, did not work for me.
"I have patients in here for annual exams who have more wrong with them than you do," the doctor said. "Except that your SED rate and triglycerides are high, and you get a rash in the sun, you look pretty normal. Yet clearly, something is very wrong with you. It is amazing you didn't use a wheelchair to get in here today."
My fear was so intense now I could hear the ocean roaring in my ears. Being sick had always been relatively simple. It meant getting a prescription – usually for antibiotics – and all was well a few days later. This time was going to be different. I wasn't among the 80 percent whose disease could be given a name after looking at blood tests. Now it was time for lots more tests and rude invasions into body parts in hopes of finding an answer that obviously wouldn't be fixed with a simple course of pills.
♦ ♦ ♦
To go through life as a sick person didn't fit my self-image. I refused to accept it. I had thought that at Mayo Clinic I would find the top guns of medicine. But they had offered no cure, just management of a disease they weren't positive I had. I left to discover an unknown entity called alternative medicine; it spoke to fixing things at the fundamental level.
I've come to see that there is a much longer list of diseases now than a hundred years ago, yet we seem to have a much smaller ability to stick any of them on people. I've seen many people, some even on oxygen because they have such diminished lung capacity, who do not know what is wrong with them. They have seen a lot of doctors, taken a lot of tests, and still no one can figure out what is causing their problems.
What I have seen tells me the label isn't so important. The fix is the important part, and the fix is often pretty similar for an amazing number of different diagnosed diseases. When you look down from the 20,000 foot level at illness in America today, many of us are getting sick for the same reasons and many of us can get well by doing a number of the same things.
It can be hard to change our relationship with food and our environment because we really don't want to believe that there are carcinogens in our bathroom products, for example. I mean, the government is looking out for us consumers; they wouldn't let that on the market, would they? Actually, yes they do. We need to get our heads out of the sand. This "epidemic" of chronic disease in America isn't going away until we have a more honest dialogue about what we eat and what is in our environment.
Excerpt # 3
Chapter 18 – Heart Disease
Heart attacks were practically unknown in the nineteenth century. Prior to 1925, there was almost no knowledge of the illness that today we call myocardial infarction. By the early 1940's, heart attacks were the leading cause of death among American men, and by 1984, they had become the leading cause of death for American women.
IT'S NOT NICE TO FOOL MOTHER NATURE
We began to "manufacture" food. One of the first unnatural ventures was the creation of margarine, patented in 1873. After Word War ll, the food processing industry was off and running and its advertising messages were relentless.
Experts writing for the Weston A. Price Foundation explain it:
"Butter consumption at the turn of the century was eighteen pounds per person per year, and the use of vegetable oils almost nonexistent, yet cancer and heart disease were rare. Today vegetable oil consumption has soared – and cancer and heart disease are endemic.Margarine represented the introduction of trans-fats. As our consumption of trans-fats rose, so did the number of heart attacks. Trans-fats interfere with the normal function of the cells, and stiffen the walls of the red blood cells, which roughs up the arteries.
Butter on the other hand, contains nutrients which protect against plaque and heart disease:
• Vitamin A – needed for the health of the thyroid and adrenal glands, both of which play a role in maintaining the proper functioning of the heart and cardiovascular system. Butter is the best and most easily absorbed source of vitamin A.We were persuaded to stop using un-hydrogenated coconut oil which has antiviral and antimicrobial characteristics. Populations that consume natural coconut oil have low rates of heart disease. When coconut oil was fed to patients recovering from heart attacks, the patients had greater improvement compared to untreated patients.
We also began to manufacture meat. In 2010, Harvard scientists took the first worldwide look at the effects of eating meat and concluded, "The consumption of processed meats, rather than red meats, was associated with increased incidence of coronary heart disease." Things like bacon, sausage, pepperoni, hot dogs, and lunch meat contain chemicals, preservatives, and additives. Often they are smoked, cured, or salted. This landmark study clarified that "natural" meats are indeed healthy; it is manufactured, processed meat that is the problem. When you eat processed meat with additives, you get four times the sodium and twice as many nitrates. Salt drives up your blood pressure. Nitrates cause plaque to build up in your arteries.
Starting in the 1980s, sun screen makers and dermatologists persuaded us to hide from the natural rays of the sun. Big mistake. Vitamin D deficiency is now rampant. Studies have linked vitamin D to the regulation of blood pressure, glucose control, and inflammation, all of which are important risk factors related to heart disease. A 2009 study suggests that inadequate levels of vitamin D increases the risk even among people who've never had heart disease.
 A.G. Gibbon, Ischemic necrosis of the heart. Lancet, 1925, i, pp. 1270-9.
 Sally Fallon, Ancient Dietary Wisdom for Tomorrow's Children, Weston A. Price Foundation website.
 Enig, MG. Trans Fatty Acids in the Food Supply: A Comprehensive Report Covering 60 Years of Research, 2nd Edition, Enig Associates, Inc, Silver Spring, MD, pages 93-96, 1995
 Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, Why Butter is Better, 1999, accessed at http://www.westonaprice.org/foodfeatures/butter.html
 JAMA 1967 202:1119-1123; Am J Clin Nutr 1981 34:1552
 Renata Micha, Sarah K. Wallace, Dariush Mozaffarian, Red and Processed Meat Consumption and Risk of Incident Coronary Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, Circulation, online May 17, 2010.
 Paikabc, DC., Wendel, TD., Freeman, HP. "Cured meat consumption and hypertension: an analysis from NHANES III (1988-94)." Nutrition Research, 2005; 25(12):1049-1060.
 News release: New study links vitamin D deficiency to cardiovascular disease and death - Study finds inadequate levels of vitamin D may significantly increase risk of stroke, heart disease and death. Intermountain Medical Center, Murray, Utah.November 16, 2009
|© Copyright 2010-2011 Martha M. Grout MD, MD(H), Mary Budinger and New Medicine Press. All Rights Reserved.|