Jul 14 2019

Let’s slow this medicine train down

Published by at 12:25 pm under General

Let’s slow this medicine train down.
The constant bombardment of drugs from a marketing and medical perspective are causing some  health care practitioners to reassess the direction of medicine and prescription drugs.*   

In our last blog, we explored the world of functional medicine. Functional medicine asks the questions, ‘ Why do you have this problem to begin with?’ ‘How do we get to the core of the problem?’ And ‘How do we restore loss of function?’ Functional Medicine, includes dietary changes, exercising and working as a partner with your health care practitioner to create a health plan individualized for your needs, genetics and chemistry. It is about making behavioral changes so that we live not only a healthy life, but a life full of vitality. According to Dr. Herbst, with the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine,  “Functional Medicine is not a quick fix. It’s a process. It takes work and an active patient, or it won’t be successful. (1,2)*

This is a different approach than that of Conventional Medicine where health issues are matched with a particular drug to best manage the condition. While we can’t group all practitioners into one basket. Periodically, it is good for all of us to  assess our own health and review our own drug list, if there is one. How many prescriptions are you on? Can a discussion take place with your health care practitioner to cut down that list? Is there a lifestyle change that can take its place?  So often people get on a particular medication, and just keep taking it, because they were told to do so. Setting time aside to talk you’re your primary care provider about what you are on, and if you can get off of it, are all good questions. Less is sometimes best when it comes to prescription drugs. As Hippocrates said, “to do nothing is also a good remedy.”(1,2)*

There are some physicians out there who espouse reductions in treatment. They see the over prescribing and the overmarketing of prescription drugs in our society. And they believe we can curtail this onslaught of treatment. They call themselves “medical conservatives.” 3*

According to Medical Conservatives “…We appreciate progress and laud scientific gains that have transformed once-deadly diseases, such as AIDS and many forms of cancer, into manageable chronic conditions. And in public health, we recognize that reducing exposure to tobacco smoke and removal of trans fats from the food supply have contributed to the secular decrease in cardiac event rates. Indeed, medical science has made this era a great time to live. The medical conservative, however, recognizes that many developments promoted as medical advances offer, at best, marginal benefits. We do not ignore value. In a plot of spending vs. outcomes, we define marginal advances as “flat of the curve” gain. On the flat part of the curve, additional spending, whether it be on a new drug, device, or diagnostic test, confers little benefit to individual patients or society. We resist the urge to conflate benefits of a therapy to a population vs. benefit to the individual.  The medical conservative knows that even when clinical studies show that a drug, device, or surgery reaches a statistical threshold, the actual benefit derived by an individual can be far less than what is advertised or publicized…” (3,4)*

A recent book takes this a step further. It questions the way and amount that prescription drugs are being prescribed in today’s medical world. The author of Medical Nihilism is Jacob Stegenga, a philosopher of science at the University of Cambridge. Published  by Oxford University Press, it takes a serious and critical look at today’s medicine.  He suggests that many of today’s  treatments don’t work all that well and more importantly,  may be doing more harm than good. (3,4)*

“…Skepticism toward medicine, sometimes called “therapeutic nihilism,” was once widespread, even among physicians,” Stegenga notes. He sites that in 1860 Oliver Wendell Holmes, Dean of Harvard Medical School, wrote that “if the whole materia medica, as now used, could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be all the better for mankind—and all the worse for the fishes.”…”  But when real cures and solutions were introduced to include  anesthesia, vaccines and antiseptic surgical techniques, along with truly effective treatments such as antibiotics for infectious disease and insulin for diabetes, criticism eased. 4,5)*

It is the widespread consumption of certain drugs that are being heavily marketed to the public by the drug companies that he says are “…”barely effective and have many harmful side effects.”…” Drugs that treat metabolic syndrome to include  high cholesterol, depression,  hypertension and  type-two diabetes are often over prescribed. Diseases that can often be avoided by a healthy gut and healthy lifestyle. (3,4)*

The author isn’t suggesting to get rid of medications, but instead to “…improve medicine, aligning it with what rigorous research actually reveals about the pros and cons of treatments. ..”(3,4)*

He adds “…” there are a handful of truly amazing medical interventions, many discovered between seventy and ninety years ago. However, by most measures of medical consumption—number of patients, number of dollars, number of prescriptions—the most commonly employed interventions, especially those introduced in recent decades, provide compelling warrant for medical nihilism.”…”(3,4)*

How we got here? Among the reasons he sites are:   

Medical research is eager for positive results   When people are sick, they are desperate to be cured, and can be   prone to “the placebo effect.” Likewise, journals are anxious to print ‘good medical news’ for the public to read. Researchers get accolades when treatments are effective. Yet  “…conflicts of interest abound…” in medical research and according to Stegenga, “the rigor of research on medical treatments is inversely proportional to the benefits it finds.”  Lastly, the majority of research is sponsored by biomedical firms, who stand to earn billions from the approval of a single drug. ( 3,4)*

The harmful effects of drugs tend to be underreported.  Too often, the benefits of a drug are overrated and the safety problems are downplayed or ignored. There is little to no data on patients who withdraw from studies due to adverse reactions to a drug.  This leads to a medications harmful affects being revealed only after it has been approved by regulatory agencies. According to one study, “…harms are underestimated  by 94 percent in post-approval surveillance…”4*

Disorders are invented and common conditions pathologized.  The author refers to this as  “disease-mongering,” when common disorders now  have a name and a plethora of treatments being marketed to address them. This includes such things, according to the author, as restless leg syndrome, halitosis, ADHD, erectile dysfunction, male balding and premenstrual dysphoric disorder, osteoporosis and social anxiety disorder.(3,4)*

Screening doesn’t save lives. Instead, it can lead to“false positive diagnoses, overdiagnosis and overtreatment.” With the advancements in technology and screening, every little thing is caught and now has the potential for treatment, whether it is necessary or not. (3,4)* 

While Stegenga admits that the title of his book  “Medical Nihilism” sounds pretty severe, he hopes it will catch people’s attention. Another phrase he uses is  “gentle medicine,”  which calls for less emphasis on cures and more on care. (3,4)*

Which brings us back to Functional Medicine and Conservative Medicine. Body Biotics™ Bio-Identical SBO Probiotics Consortia™ is part of the daily care we take to ensure a healthy microbiome and a strong immune system. Our Body Genesis™ when taken on a daily basis, provides essential minerals and vitamins we might be lacking. Our pH Perfect helps balance acidity and alkalinity and our Liquid B 6-9-12 drops provide the hard to get B Vitamins so essential for managing the stressors of our lives. Addressing our health at the core and staying healthy prevents disease and prescription medicines down the road. Listen to your health care provider, but be part of the conversation, ask questions, and take procactive steps to be your own best steward of your health. *

Healthiest wishes,

Kelli

www.bodybiotics.com

Resources:

  1. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-6014/The-5-Principles-of-Functional-Medicine.html
  2. https://chriskresser.com/what-is-functional-medicine/
  3. https://global.oup.com/academic/product/medical-nihilism-9780198747048?cc=us&lang=en&
  4. https://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(19)30167-6/fulltext
  5. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/is-medicine-overrated/

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