While medical schools are stuck in the 19th century, teaching “a drug for every symptom,” some doctors have moved on to real health care.
The amount of health information is doubling every five years, and the teachers in medical schools were trained 20 to 40 years ago. Also, journal articles require peer review in order to be published. Peer-review” just means “status quo” and doesn’t allow for change. This is why it takes such a long time for change to happen.
What has changed? Everything!
We now have tests that can determine the cause of disease, something that was impossible when “modern medicine” was developed in the 19th century. We are no longer limited to symptoms to define diseases; we can actually find the roots.
For example, there are many different causes of the symptoms we call “Alzheimer’s disease.” One 71-year-old man diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease came in to see me because the drug given by his neurologist wasn’t working. We ordered some tests and found that he had lead toxicity. We put him on a program to remove the lead and he became normal again — and is still normal four years later. When we find the cause — and treat it — the “disease” disappears!
Because of modern technology, treating a symptom is no longer necessary. Now that we have the tools to find the cause of a problem, we are also able to treat it, effectively removing the cause and making the symptoms go away — permanently! Most treatments include nutrition, exercise and other lifestyle issues.
For example, a 19-year-old woman came in because she didn’t tolerate the anti-depressants she was given for chronic fatigue. We investigated why she was “depressed” and found that she had a genetic abnormality that prevented her from using sugar for energy. She would build up lactic acid in her muscles, making her weak and tired all the time. The treatment became obvious — don’t eat sugar. Sure, it was difficult, but within a week she was feeling “normal.” For the first time in her life she was able to go all day without stopping to rest. A couple of weeks later her mom came in asking for the same tests, saying that she had been on every anti-depressant over 20 years, which only made her sedated on top of her fatigue. Of course, we didn’t need to do the tests, we just gave her the same treatment, and her symptoms also resolved completely.
The difference between 21st-century medicine and 19th-century medicine is that we can now resolve problems and cure illness, instead of just providing “temporary relief of symptoms.” We expect results, not treatment. Even “genetic” diseases such as the young woman with pyruvate dehydrogenase deficiency above can be treated mostly without drugs. A doctor has never been able to guarantee his work because there was no way to determine a cause. We were always just shooting in the dark. Now, however, I can guarantee results because I know that I can find the roots of almost any disease and remove it.
The example of the man with “Alzheimer’s” above also didn’t need medication, he needed to “get the lead out” so his problem would resolve. When you know the cause of a disease, the treatment presents itself, and there is rarely any need for drugs or surgery.
Sometimes people require surgical intervention, but when we recommend surgery it is rarely “exploratory” because we already know the cause, and therefore the reason for surgery. We also have treatments such as IV nutrients and hyperbaric oxygen to prevent the complications of surgery.
Sometimes drugs are also required. The difference is, we use nutrients to counteract the bad side effects of drugs that may be necessary. One young woman began having seizures after a flu shot given to her following the birth of her second child.
It takes only five atoms of mercury to kill a nerve cell so it’s very hard to reverse the damage. (Lead toxicity, on the other hand, as we saw above, more often reverses when removed.) Though she does need medication to prevent seizures we have been able to keep her on a cost-effective one because we give her nutrients to prevent side effects.
Diseases we have cured that were (and are still) considered “incurable” include psoriasis, migraines, lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts, depression, coronary artery disease, epilepsy (seizure disorder), anxiety, hypertension, schizophrenia, thyroid disorders, bipolar disorder, cholesterol, obsessive-compulsive disorder, peripheral neuropathy (numbness/tingling/pain), attention deficit disorder (ADD), gout, addictions, obesity, lupus (SLE), adrenal fatigue, peripheral vascular disease, arthritis and strokes.
None of the above are diagnoses — all of them are symptoms, or syndromes (a collection of symptoms) because none include the cause of the symptoms. Each can have from several to hundreds of causes.
Finding the cause of a disease is not easy; it often takes a great deal of investigation. Knowing where to look, and what tests to do that are likely to elucidate the root cause of symptoms is a specialty in itself. Since this isn’t taught in medical schools, the doctor must learn it on his or her own. For this reason there are very few doctors who are able to actually diagnose the cause of illness.
Medicine and health care are gradually moving in that direction, but it may be a couple of decades before they begin teaching this in medical schools. Human nature doesn’t change. For example, it took over 50 years and thousands of dead seamen due to scurvy before the British government finally added vitamin C (lime juice) to the fare on board their Navy ships.
Why wait? The 21st century is now!
— Scott Saunders, M.D., is medical director of the Integrative Medicine Center of Santa Barbara Wellness Group. For more information, click here or contact the Santa Barbara location at 533 E. Micheltorena St., Suite 101, or 805.963.1824.