Good health starts with the care of your family doctor, but should include alternative medicine health care, even Traditional Chinese Medicine, and good diet and lifestyle habits. Whether it's for detox-related conditions or other issues, more people are taking the initiative to learn about health care and medicine is resulting in more healthy lives.
"Empowerment through Information" means no less than this: That as you learn -- and apply what you learn -- YOU can become the most powerful arbiter of your health.
Physician Newsletter Documents the Trend toward Informed Patients
"The Quality Letter for Healthcare Leaders," a health care industry trade newsletter, devoted its August 1998 issue to the subject of "the empowered patient." It described a new trend in health care--patients who eagerly, even voraciously, seek information regarding their health issues.
The convenience that personal Internet access provides to a wide range of heath care information is a significant factor in the trend. Another aspect is that insurance companies have discovered that making members more knowledgeable can save them money because "
patient behavior has an enormous impact on outcomes." Insurance companies are supporting the trend by providing more information to members. The third aspect the article cites is what the newsletter refers to it as baby-boomers' tendency to "question authority." This factor makes it less likely that boomers facing chronic illness will passively accept such deterioration in health as a natural part of aging.
The article also talks about how hospitals, for example, are beginning to provide libraries for patients. Another example was of a health care organization that provides a list to patients of what it deems to be the 100 or so "best" Internet health sites.
About halfway through, the article addressed the topic of "The Physician's Role in Collaborative Healthcare."
"Over the past decade, as patients have found new sources of information and taken more control over their own care, some physicians have had difficulty adjusting to this shift in roles. Physicians tell us when a patient arrives with a stack of information and asks detailed questions, they interpret this as a lack of trust,' says Edgman-Levitan, president of the Boston-based Picker Institute, a non-profit organization that promotes patient-centered quality assessment and improvement strategies. They don't realize this patient just wants to understand what's going on.'
Frankly, we find it astounding that physicians so easily and cavalierly forget that anyone going to a doctor is being asked to entrust his or her life and body to that physician as if the good doctor had a 100% success rate on every person treated. Doctors, especially in a managed care setting, are pressed for time and while we do know that many of them are concerned about quality of care issues, it doesn't change the fact that they have no more than five to ten minutes to spend with each patient. They are constrained by "care models and protocols" dictated by insurance companies that establish the basis on which care will be reimbursed.
There's More to your Health than any "Magic Bullet" Can Handle
Finally, doctors--most without being aware of it--are simultaneously supported and limited by the parameters of the scientific method. The result can be simplistic, over-generalized and "under-individualized" treatments for patients.
In his book Detoxification and Healing: The Key to Optimal Health, Sidney MacDonald Baker, M.D., explains that "Modern scientific thinking favors experiments in which a very limited number of variables are studied while all the other circumstances are controlled. That approach translates into selecting a single drug, nutrient or other intervention to be studied, avoiding the confusion that would result from the introduction of several variables at once."
"The same question comes up every day in my practice. After taking a history and doing tests that indicate a lack of certain nutrients and/or the presence of certain allergens or toxins, I suggest that my patient undertake several remedial steps at once. These may also include advice to exercise, learn diaphragmatic breathing, meditate or verbalize strong feelings such as anger or grief. But how will we know what is working?' asks an occasional patient. If you get better, you may be quite confused. It is preferable to be confused and better than to be so selective that progress may be impossible. Remember that if you are sitting on two tacks and you remove just one, you will not feel 50 percent better. Chronic illness is multifactorial. It is downright negligent to focus so exclusively on a single treatment that you fail to address the whole picture.'"
And yet that is exactly what mainstream medicine usually does today.
You Hold the Power, If You But Grasp It
There are still many medical conditions where there really is a single cause, a ready diagnosis, and a clear-cut treatment available. Standard medical treatments are the most efficacious in these cases. For instance: A broken arm from a skiing accident that needs setting and immobilizing
A cut from broken glass that needs stitching
But more and more health conditions are, as Dr. Baker reminds us, "multifactorial." Perhaps the broken arm snapped because osteoporosis weakened the bone
Perhaps the person suffered a dizzy spell before falling into the glass
(Both osteoporosis and dizzy spells may be related to toxic processes.) And did the doctor know to prescribe high doses of Vitamin C, which recent research has shown speeds tissue repair? Furthermore, the fact is that most health problems suffered by most people in modern society are far more complex than these simple cases. They are generated by multiple causes and could respond in unpredictible ways to a variety of treatment possibilities and preventative measures.
What is the answer?
You're in the middle of all this, and therein lies your power. We believe that today's "empowered" patients will become, in many ways, more knowledgeable about their state of health than their doctor ever can. How is that possible? If you are driven to find answers, you have several factors working in your favor.
Factor 1) Because you're on the inside looking out, you have an intuitive sense about the factors affecting your health care. You have the advantage of being able to compare your variations in symptoms more accurately than your doctor can. You can adjust for your individuality. When a doctor's training has taught that something "rarely" occurs, she or he is predisposed to dismiss the possibility that it could be happening with you. This can be a problem because some conditions that were rare in the past are occuring more frequently today caused by the interaction of thousands of toxins to which our bodies are now exposed. So if a doctor tells you, "Oh that's extremely rare," we suggest you tell him or her, "I want to check it out, nonetheless."
Factor 2) You know you're not crazy. Your doctor doesn't know whether you are or not. You do, however, have the personal responsibility to yourself and your healing process to address the emotional "tacks" that may be preventing you f rom healing. (see Detox as a state of mind.)
Factor 3) You're more motivated. In our litigious society, many doctors are not willing to try anything that falls outside of peer-reviewed medical journal published research and insurance company protocols. As Dr. Baker said above, this can be limiting. If it's your health and your life at stake, you have greater incentive than the doctor to find answers. If you're willing to take responsibility for the results, you can explore alternative treatment modalities that a doctor won't. This does not suggest that conventional doctors are of no help at all, or that you should go about trying out holistic health treatments modalities willy-nilly. Many people who try this find that they are given conflicting answers and treatments. No, we believe that you have to be more deliberate. Seek information first. Then act on the information you find most pertinent to you-- ideally information coming from more than one well-credentialed source.
The information on this site will provide you with a central organizing theme--an understanding of how the body naturally accomplishes the process of detoxification, and how you can facilitate the process. There are a lot of techniques that can facilitate this. No single technique will work equally well for every person, nor will all techniques fit into the lifestyle and preferences of everyone equally well. That's where your experimentation comes in. But we are dealing with SIMPLE SCIENCE here, the basic biochemistry of your body.
You suffer from one or more of the many complaints that are generated or antagonized by toxins, and you engage in an effort to reduce your toxic load, (see Sea of Toxins), and you support your body's natural detoxification processes (see How to Detox) by supplying the proper biochemical ingredients in terms of truly nutritious food healthy diet, essential supplements, appropriate exercise, and adequate rest, THEN your body will better succeed in its job of healing itself.
Doing No Harm?
News Item from CNN:
Women are more likely than men to suffer side effects from some drugs, according to research presented
at a meeting sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
At the conference, cardiologist Raymond Woosley, chairman of the Department of Pharmacology at Georgetown University Medical Center, said his research shows that nearly 40 drugs could be more likely to cause sometimes fatal heart problems in women than in men.
He said the drugs include antibiotics and medicines used to treat heart disease. For some of the drugs, women are twice as likely to suffer serious reactions
Doctors have a hard time admitting that a rather high percentage of chronic illness in this country is "iatrogenic" meaning caused by the treatment of a physician resulting in an adverse condition in a patient. Among these iatrogenic chronic conditions are those caused by a virtual epidemic of over-prescribed antibiotics. Another threat is over-use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, aspirin, etc, or [or is it non cortical steriods?] Adverse drug reactions, from too many prescriptions, are common especially among the elderly and cause thousands of deaths and hospitalizations each year, as well as untold minor reactions. Exactly when the medical community in this country will openly address all this suffering and waste, we don't know--a because they are one of the major problems with "pill and a bill" medicine. At this juncture, it is basically up to you to assess whether your physician is aware of these problems and works conscientiously to prevent them.
The untold thousands of iatrogenic illness our helthcare system is a basic violation of physicians' Hippocratic oath to "First, do no harm." It's not an exaggeration to say that much of today's health care should be labeled, "this treatment may be hazardous to your health."
A good time to "question authority" takes place every thime a doctor writes you a prescription. Ask a lot of questions. What does it do? Why does he think you need it? What are the possible side effects? How long does she think you need to take it? Ask him if you can look at his copy of the Physician's Desk Reference and read through the information on the drug before you leave his office. Then make notes. Maybe the office staff will photocopy the reference for you. Go ahead. Be a polite but persistent pain in the butt to them. IT'S YOUR LIFE and you have the right. If the doctor brushes you off, you may want to look around for another physician. or at least for a copy of the Physician's Dest Reference in your local library. Have you been pegged?--Diagnoses of convenience
With increasing research on iatrogenic illnesses and with the gradual realization among medical doctors that informed patients are more likely to attain health, it's likely that in 10-20 years a lot of this will be sorted out. In the meantime, your best defense is knowledge, and reframing your doctor-paitient relationships as a partnership of mutual responsibility to support, heal, and "do no harm." It's your life and body on the line.
We are reaching an exciting time in healthcare where patients are beginning to do more to influence the quality and methods of the treatments they receive. This shows up in the huge percentage of Americans who are willing to pay out-of-pocket for access to alternative healthcare. Likewise, more and more insurance companies are beginning to recognize that many alternative forms of health care can be more effective and less expensive than conventional strategies.
Detoxification will be one of these areas. If most doctors don't currently recognize the value of scientifically based nutritional, supplemental and other lifestyle techniques for supporting the body's natural detoxification processes, they will still eventually be convinced by the improvement in their patients who try these techniques and recount them. Eventually they'll be asking their patients how, exactly, it worked for them.