Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cancer and "The New Medicine"

There is a branch of medicine (although it's not really "medicine" because it's currently unregulated and I know a lot of chiropractors who use it) called functional medicine

Mark Hyman, M.D., Chairman of the Institute of Functional Medicine wrote a recent article for The Huffington Post.  In this article, he discussed the proceedings for TEDMED, specifically on the treatment and prevention of cancer in the United States, a disease which continues to rise.  It's a very informative article focusing on the new discipline of functional medicine.  If you've got a minute, it's a very worthwhile read.(Thanks for the reference, Satya.)

Personally, I don't see functional medicine as the be-all and end-all of the improvement of health in the US, but I do see it as a major step up from the current crisis-centered system that poses as "health" care here.  Basically, I see it as a step in the right direction, a step towards wellness.

Why a "step up"? 

I say a step up because at least functional medicine recognizes that the body's natural state is health, not disease and that if disease is present it is due to a deficiency or toxicity in the environment.  Functional medicine is performed using a series of symptom questionnaires and laboratory tests to determine WHY a system of the body is out of balance (rather than simply naming the disease and treating it with a drug).  The remedies offered by functional medicine are usually "natural" supplements and whole foods that treat deficiencies, diet modification, and lifestyle changes (interesting concept).  Another focus of functional medicine is on environmental toxicity and removal of heavy metals and other substances that pollute the body (like sugar).

While I do see functional medicine as a better way to deal with chronic diseases like America's top killers of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, depression, etc, I do not see it as a replacement for wellness.  This is to say that even after you have "treated" the effects of the problem, to be whole you must conitnue to give the body what it needs and stay away from the bad stuff.  Doing this would provide the appropriate environment where disease would have been unable to exist in the first place.

Unfortunately, as a society, we have not yet been conditioned to seek this type of care and it may be a while yet before people come around to wellness, so for now functional medicine may play a critical role in slowly moving us towards improved health.

The Body as a Garden

Here is an excerpt from Dr. Hyman's article which discusses the treatment of cancer, and if you've read my blog before, it may sound familiar:
"Traditionally, we have focused on late-stage curative care, and in doing so, we have missed the thinking and the treatments focused on changing the underlying conditions that led to the cancer in the first place. Diet, lifestyle, thoughts, and environmental toxins all interact with our genes to change the landscape of our health."
As I see it, to "treat" a disease without discussing why the illness developed in the first place and how to prevent future occurences is a disservice to the patient.  The article continues:
"We have been asking the wrong question about cancer. We have asked "what": What tumor do you have? What kind of chemotherapy, surgery or radiation is needed for that tumor? What is your prognosis? Instead, we need to be asking "why" and "how": Why did this cancer grow? How can you change the conditions that feed and support cancer-cell growth? How did the terrain of your garden become a host to such an invasive weed?

"Surprisingly, scientific literature is abundant with evidence that diet, exercise, thoughts, feelings and environmental toxins all influence the initiation, growth and progression of cancer. If a nutrient-poor diet full of sugar, lack of exercise, chronic stress, persistent pollutants and heavy metals can cause cancer, could it be that a nutrient-dense, plant-based diet, physical activity, changing thoughts and reactions to stress, and detoxification might treat the garden in which cancer grows? Treat the soil, not the plant. It is a foundational principle of sustainable agriculture, and of sustainable health."
I see the next decade as a time when an awakening will be brought about in the American public.  Where they will no longer settle for the status quo when it comes to diseases and conditions and treatments, but where they will begin to ask better questions and be given better answers.  I hope to be a part of this movement by continuing my research into what IS the appropriate environment for the human being.  An environment where diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes are unable to exist. 

In my eyes, these illnesses exist for two reasons:  People have been given the WRONG advice when it comes to lifestyle (especially what to eat) AND people simply do not believe that lifestyle matters that much as a result of social conditioning (family, friends, school, TV, government, and doctors).

I will continue to strive to correct both of these reasons for our illnesses by sharing up-to-date, scientific information so that you, the reader, can make a conscious decision.  Having acces to this information will reconnect Americans to what they really want but have been missing - freedom to choose sickness or health rather than be victim to circumstances brought on by an IGNOR-ant system.
Cancer is just the beginning - Dr. Steve

As a personal prediction and this is only a guess - I think functional medicine will take over the majority of medicine's current patient load (chronic disease) in the next 15 years which means the drug companies that supply most of the treatment will need to find another line of work (vaccines?) as they will be replaced to a large degree by unpatentable natural supplements.  But of course, this depends on how strong a grip pharmaceutical companies can maintain on the hearts and minds of the American public (TV/magazine/internet advertising).


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Why We Celebrate Veterans Day

To be quite honest, most of my life I was confused about all the many holidays and what we were celebrating.  All I knew was that I didn't have to go to school. 

In fact even during much of my service I never knew what each of the military holidays were about.  I would imagine that many Americans are where I was and I've dedicated this post to clearing some confusion about what it is that we celebrate.

Why do we celebrate Veterans Day?

Veterans Day was previously known as Armistice Day to celebrate the end of World War 1 (officially ending on November 11, 1918).  Armistice Day was "dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day.'"  Although in 1954, the purpose of the holiday was expanded to celebrate veterans of all wars.

With all the homecoming soldiers, airmen, seamen, and marines we have more and more veterans to include in that number.

Standing dangerously close to the business end of that camel

Not too long ago, I found out that many of those I served with in Afghanistan are now serving in Iraq, and it is with heartfelt thanks and with deep appreciation I say, "Stay safe out there fellas."

I think this holiday comes at a great time in the year - being so close to Thanksgiving, a day set aside to express true gratitude for all that we do indeed enjoy in our lives. 

The veterans we know and don't know all play a part in our having the privilege of living free.

Honoring fellow veterans on Veterans Day - Dr. Steve

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Doctor of the Future (part 1)

Today's post comes courtesy of one of America's all-time greats - Thomas Edison (1847-1931).

Edison is reported as saying:
"Nineteen hundred and three will bring great advances in surgery, in the study of bacteria, in the knowledge of the cause and prevention of disease. Medicine is played out. Every new discovery of bacteria shows us all the more convincingly that we have been wrong and that the million tons of stuff we have taken was all useless. 
"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease...There were never so many able, active minds at work on the problems of diseases as now, and all their discoveries are tending to the simple truth — that you can't improve on nature." (emphasis added)
We'd have been wise to follow his advice in 1903.  What amazing foresight he had more than 100 years ago!  Amazingly, this is BEFORE antibiotics ever became available (did he know how devastating they would be?).

What profound knowledge to see ahead to a day when doctors would ultimately get back to doctoring (the word doctor comes from latin docere which means to teach).  According to this statement, Edison's formula for getting people well is:

1-No medicine
2-Care for the human frame
3-Discuss what foods humans require to be well
4-Prevention OVER treatment

I would add to Thomas Edison's sentiment the following:  Medicine is good for traumas, accidents, very rare genetic illnesses, and helping people feel better (numbing them) before they die.  For the many Americans who've had their lives saved by medicine or been at peace before they die, we all ought to be extremely grateful, however, we must maintain an understanding that once the life is saved, the ONLY way to get well is to promote an environment conducive to health by Eating Well, Moving Well, and Thinking Well.

Daily, when I review the scientific literature, I am amazed at how far we've gone from the core tenets of natural health here in America.  Americans act as if there needs to be a pill for every ill.

I envision a day when Americans are so healthy that we will look back and wonder why we ever took so many drugs.

Next Thursday - Thomas Edison's genius Reconnects you to something new that's actually very old - Dr. Steve