Although there are certainly useful functions to newspapers and other media, many critics have decried the biased coverage of news by the media in America. First, four huge conglomerates control about 90% of the media. These conglomerates are owned by the rich and powerful and serve the vested interests of the rich and powerful; how fair can they be? People complain about how liberal the media are, but this is a smokescreen. I once saw a bumper sticker that read: “The media are as liberal as their conservative owners allow them to be.”
Clever rhetoric, but is there anything to it? You’d better believe it! Once again, let me refer you to Wade Frazier. His essay Lies I Was Raised With brilliantly covers the distortions of history books as well as the media. Also, Tim O’Shea (see www.thedoctorwithin.com) has a must-read chapter on public relations, advertising, and the media entitled “The Doors of Perception.” After reading these two essays, and maybe following up on some of the references cited, can you really believe that we are not being lied to and brainwashed on a massive scale?1 It’s not only that the news is presented from a limited, perhaps distorted perspective, as we will see below; a lot of important news does not even get reported. There is a website called www.projectcensored.org that specializes in stories, many dealing with health and environment, that simply fail to make the mainstream media. Do stories about alternative energy or cancer cures get much space in the New York Times? Who decides what’s “fit to print”? Dubious? Let me offer a few examples. You may remember a flap about “cold fusion” some years ago. Two scientists claimed they had discovered it, but pretty soon it was found to be all a hoax or an error, right? That’s what the media would have you believe. Alternative science websites I found (for example, What If Cold Fusion Is Real?) make it clear that these results have been replicated numerous times all over the world! Why don’t we hear about this potentially earthshaking research on an alternative energy source?2 Another: When the FDA illegally raided chiropractor Gary Glum’s office and took over $100,000 worth of material relating to a Native American herbal formula for cancer known as “Essiac,” did it make the news? Hardly. And speaking of unconstitutional FDA raids, check out Stevia Book Burning—Article by Julian Whitaker, M.D. for a story about how the FDA not only confiscated stevia, a harmless herbal sweetener, it even attempted burning books that contained stevia recipes! I thought the Nazis had cornered the market on book burning! This should have made headlines, but did it? Yet another: I always thought actor Steve McQueen died of cancer, proving that the laetrile treatment he had received was worthless. I was stunned to read later that, in fact, he did not die from cancer, but as a result of surgery. Why were we misled about McQueen’s death—and about laetrile? And finally, from the mainstream media you would assume that it’s been clearly established for years that HIV causes AIDS and that there is not a dissenting voice out there. But check out this website—www.virusmyth.net—for a totally opposite view. I’m not talking about an opinion being put forth by wild-eyed conspiracy theorists. Many of the people quoted are world-class scientists, including Nobel Prize winners! You would hope that scientists of this stature could get the attention of the press, but apparently not. There are at least three other aspects of the news media that disturb many of us. First, the depth of the news that is covered, especially on television, is extremely shallow. We get “sound bites” or scenes of politicos arguing, but without a real opportunity to expand on their ideas. Watching Bernie Sanders, Congress’ only independent representative, trying to get his ideas across on The O’Reilly Factor was an exercise in frustration! The issues we are facing today are highly complex and cannot be reduced to sound bites or simplistic notions. Some years ago the NH gubernatorial race was between an old-time, “ax the tax” candidate (meaning no broad based taxes, like sales or income taxes), and an opponent who favored some taxation, but had a complex system of checks and balances to try to make the system work. It took at least an hour of dialogue to get a grasp on her ideas. You had to be able to think systemically to appreciate her approach. Guess who won, with 55% of the vote? Of course the simplistic approach, aided and abetted by our state’s leading newspaper, won the day—except that all the underlying problems, like unfairly funded school systems, did not go away and are now coming back to bite us! Gee, this sounds a lot like the problems with allopathic “kill the tumor” cancer treatments that ignore the underlying systemic imbalances that allow the tumor to form and grow in the first place! In short, we need systemic thinking in our media—as well as in our healing modalities—and we rarely get it. Second, even when media plumb’s issues “in depth,” we are typically exposed to only a limited range of perspectives. I know the “consensus” view is that the Republican Party leans somewhat to the right of center and the Democrats somewhat to the left of center, but many critics3 argue that, when examined in the light of the Social Democratic systems of Canada, Australia, and Western Europe, both of America’s major parties lean to the right, although the Democrats less so. As a result, there is a large area—from the center to the left—that is hardly represented in the media. Ralph Nader, who received 3% of the vote in the last election—and who would have probably received at least double that under a Parliamentary system—was not even allowed to take part in the presidential debates in 2000! Why not? Where did we get the idea, in a country that prides itself on political freedom, that only two parties “count?” My opinion (and I’m not alone here; check out www.culturalcreatives.org) is that many people are disenchanted with the two major parties, because of the strong conviction that neither major party’s platform is workable anymore. According to the website just cited, more people than you may realize believe that only some sort of “green” approach will ensure a viable future. This may partly explain our extremely low voter turnout; we really don’t have much of a choice, so voters become apathetic. Maybe I’m way off base on what the electorate is feeling, but how can people seriously consider an alternative political economic perspective which the media considers dangerous or unworthy of consideration? Speaking of voting, I recently came a cross a rather chilling quote: “If voting could really change things, it would not be allowed.” A seemingly paranoid notion, but when you consider our limited range of viable choices, and the dearth of candidates pushing for real, necessary changes, it does make you wonder… Third, too much of what goes on in the media is a distraction from really important issues that frequently get under-reported or are not covered at all. While the Savings and Loan Scandal (see Wade Frazier’s essay on this: The Savings and Loan Scandal and Public Accounting) was bilking American taxpayers out of hundreds of billions of dollars, the media focused instead on the OJ Simpson trial and the President’s personal life. Seventy years earlier, President Warren Harding had a mistress and nobody cared. This is progress? Aside from all the omissions and distortions in the media, deeper down what bothers me the most about the media is that, as a result of constant exposure to our history book mythology and media-induced vision of reality from day one, the average American develops the sense that, despite some flaws here and there, the system, i.e., “business as usual” works. In other words, we gradually construct a “consensus reality” that we and everyone else around us subscribe to, thinking that the way things operate is all basically reasonable, normal, sensible, etc. What if it’s not? What if it’s dangerously destructive instead? What if some of the underlying premises, like never ending growth,4 are insane? The mindset we emerge with makes real change extremely difficult. Indeed, naturopaths, homeopaths, herbalists, acupuncturists, etc. have to deal with this problem all the time, because part of the consensus reality we absorb is that allopathic medicine is the only “real” scientific means of healing. Fortunately, more and more Americans, like Thomas Edison (see the banner quote on this website’s home page), are seeing through this bit of “reality” and embracing alternatives such as naturopathy. Another part of “reality” we learn is that food “comes from” supermarkets—although in rural NH many of us do have some experience in growing our own food or buying from local farm stands. How much does the average supermarket consumer really know about where their food comes from, what kind of soil or feed was used, what was done with the food during processing, and so on? We’d probably be horrified! When the “mad cow” story broke in England, weren’t you disgusted to learn that cows and other livestock were being fed, in effect, recycled animal waste? I thought cows ate grass! Maybe we need a “mad consumer” syndrome! Another major problem related to the media is that we see tens of thousands of commercials and advertisements by the time we grow up. Now, there is informational value here—we do need to know what’s out there. And organizations like Consumer Reports can do a fairly objective job of evaluating the products offered. Information and objective appraisal are rational functions of advertising, but advertising as it now exists has a very different agenda. There are two less-than-rational functions of advertising, it seems to me, one obvious, one more subtle. The obvious purpose of advertising is to get you to buy a particular product, whether you really “need” it or not, using whatever psychologically manipulative techniques are available—sex, fear of being unpopular, snob appeal, “good old folks” appeal, pleasant associations, jingles, catch phrases—all the usual tools of propaganda.5 Years ago I heard someone say that, with a few exceptions, the more something is advertised, the worse it is for you (or for the environment or both). I’ve been watching TV ads with this in mind of late and it’s amazing how many ads there are for fast food, candy, milk, cookies, doughnuts, coffee, high fat snacks, soft drinks, beer, and so on, as opposed to foods that are actually good for you.6 Catch that clever commercial for organic spinach? I didn’t think so! There are also lot’s of ads for gas guzzling automobiles and trucks, but none for public transportation (unless you count airline ads) or for non-polluting means of individual transportation, the hybrid car being a partial exception. More subliminally, however, the underlying message of those thousands of commercials and ads is that buying for its own sake is good. The Western credo is fast becoming “I consume, therefore I am.” Never mind the ever escalating waste, the planned obsolescence, the depletion of resources, and the pollution of the environment; never mind the social envy and “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality generated; never mind the tremendous waste of manpower and creativity squandered on advertising that could be put to better use; never mind that much of our money could be used for far better purposes than accumulating more “stuff” in George Carlin’s brilliant phrase (like, well, providing food and shelter for the homeless or helping the Native Americans emerge from the genocide and discrimination they have been subjected to for centuries);7 never mind that possessing material goods beyond a modest level is not required for spiritual growth or even happiness (think, say, of Buddha, or St. Francis; now think Howard Hughes); never mind the animals sacrificed for product testing; never mind the Third World sweatshops that produce many of the goods—just buy! So, if you are getting fed up with the version of reality fed to you in newspapers, media, and advertising, do yourself a favor and expand your horizons by reading the alternative press. And while you’re sitting at your computer, check out some of the many good alternative websites available, some of which are listed above and in the website link section of Dr. David’s website. It may take some work, but, to paraphrase an advertising slogan, “You’re worth it!”
Footnotes 1Here’s a quote from Wade Frazier, summarizing his position: “The notion of a “free press” is one the biggest fabrications in American history—a myth concocted by the media itself. The biggest lie that our media serves up is the self-serving pretense that it is objective, merely seeking the truth. All the first amendment says is that the government cannot tell the media what to write or not write. “America has never really had true freedom of speech. It is the world’s freest in significant ways, but it still is not that free…The American media is also the most manipulative of its consumers. We may have relative freedom to speak, but it does not mean that anybody will hear us. Ever since the Sedition Act was passed in the 1700’s, free speech has had a rough ride in America. During World War I, the Espionage Act was passed, making it illegal to speak out against the war, and the U.S. imprisoned hundreds of Americans for the crime of speaking out. “If the same interests that run the government also own the media, how free can the media truly be? They are stenographers to power.” 2Well, you are hearing about it here—and I read it on the Web myself. One of the great things about the Internet is that it is a truly democratic form of media. For better or for worse, you don’t need the approval of a newspaper editor or publishing company to get your ideas out there. The dissemination of non-mainstream positions is now far easier than in the past, thanks to the Internet. 3Regarding this point, and in fact, everything in this essay, I highly recommend a small but insightful book entitled Social Problems, written by my colleague, sociologist Robert Heiner. I am indebted to Dr. Heiner for reading and commenting on earlier drafts of this essay. 4See Commandment #12 in my Five Missing Commandments essay. 5Few people realize that the founding theorist of capitalism, Adam Smith, disdained advertising, because it subverted the basic ground plan of the capitalist market place. For Smith, the beauty behind capitalism is that products and services competed with one another on the basis of quality and price. Today instead, thanks to modern advertising, they compete based on the appearance of quality. Image overlays substance while manipulation subverts rational choice. 6Selling or even advertising junk food violates Commandment #13 in my “Five Missing Commandments” essay. 7Lest the reader think that genocide against the Native Americans is a thing of the past, consider that the average life expectancy of Native Americans is 10 years below the national average. One contributing factor is alcoholism, with an alcohol abuse death rate five times average. Another factor, especially on reservations, is poverty—do I need to point out the positive correlation between income and longevity? A Native American student of mine reported that she knew of several attempted and “successful” suicides, usually brought on by despair about one’s seemingly hopeless conditions.
Joel Funk, Ph.D.
The Web Team
NaturopathicHealth.net named “Website of the Week” by NH.com! We are honored and excited to receive this award and hope that it spreads the word about naturopatic health.
To see the kind words about our website that lead to our award, read this article.
The Web Team
I hope you are sitting down: I am going to state something that may challenge your belief system! Food was not meant to obtain health with…quite a shocking statement coming from a lifetime devotee of natural foods and a practitioner that prescribes healthy diets. Before you hold your breath too long, here’s the punch line: Food was meant to maintain health with.
Does this mean that Hippocrates was wrong to state “let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food?” Read on and let’s explore together some interesting points of view. In my view, and experience, it is nearly impossible and possibly irrational to try to obtain health strictly through foods.
Most nutrients occur in food in micro levels designed to maintain a healthy body. Levels that did not anticipate pollution, modern stress, constitutionally (genetically) weaker bodies than our forefathers, chemical overload and damage, synthetic everything, etc. A complex network of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fiber, protein and fat were designed by mother nature to maintain health in a healthy body. However, we are out of balance and have become far removed from our food supply. We have eschewed the wisdom of our elders and dismissed time honored information as “old fashioned” or witchcraft. Even our top medical experts are ignorant or corrupted in their views of what is healthy food—it is no wonder that our modern society has an epidemic of chronic disease. The disease-care system (called health-care in U.S.A.) has focused on acute, crisis conditions such as plagues, while ignoring the rapidly deteriorating overall health of our population. Most of us have no education, training, wisdom (even passed down wisdom or folklore) in healthy eating. We assume our government has checked out the food at the supermarket and “everything in moderation” is fine. Maybe moderation is slowly killing us!
We are so far behind in nutrient levels that our low quality food system could never replenish these nutrient deficiencies. Do you ever think about how far the food you are eating has come? How was it transported, stored, treated? Does it actually have what it should in it? Is that orange really high in Vitamin C? You would be shocked if you knew the truth. Apparently, certain government agencies think you can not handle the truth, so they sugar-coat it. They allow the makers of white bread, cereal and other denatured foods that are chemically fortified with synthetic vitamins to claim they are healthy and safe to eat. For example: Orange juice that is synthetically boosted to bring Vitamin C levels up to minimum government standards after processing destroys the special form of natural Vitamin C put there by nature.
Another solid reason for taking supplements is quite simply because of the benefits. Vitamins, minerals, herbs, enzymes and other supplements can increase our enjoyment of life and help to compensate for genetic deficiencies, past abuses of our body, damage done by illness or injury and to correct imbalances in our body chemistry. Our brain can be sharper, our blood sugar more level and we can reduce or eliminate pain and suffering. Supplement use can protect us from and prevent illness, disease and the toxic effects of pesticides, pollution and chemicals. The fuel additive MTBE, plasticizers in plastic food wrap and chemicals in our cosmetics and water supply are just some examples of our daily exposure to known poisons and carcinogens in our society. Keep in mind that supplement use is only one spoke in the wheel of health that Naturopathy has to offer. There are many other natural therapies, quite a diverse assortment, that we use in Naturopathic Medicine. At some point the truth will come out that many nutrients missing in our food supply have seriously affected our society. Some examples: Zinc helps the immune system, eating disorders and reproductive system. Chromium helps with weight, blood sugar regulation and fat metabolism. Iodine helps our thyroid and lymphs.
We need to discuss the soil our food is grown in. I do not mean to be the bearer of bad news, but decades of poor farming techniques have raped our soil. Through chemical fertilizing, heavy pesticide & insecticide use, not rotating crops and other man-made atrocities we have depleted the soil of vital trace elements, minerals, enzymes and altered the earth’s acid-alkaline balance. The increase in acid rain has leached essential nutrients out of the soil, leaving plants and trees weak. So even if one was to eat a perfect diet, the food is nearly an empty harvest. The sad fact is that our food has less nutrients than in the past. Unless one consumes organic foods, not transported or stored, there is no guarantee that there are many nutrients left.
Of course, no authority can agree as to what constitutes the perfect diet. Conflicting advice and studies flood our media, confusing most people. Through working with a Naturopathic Doctor, one can learn to develop the dietary program that works best for their body. This kind of personalizing takes time, experience and insight. It is well worth the effort. One must also take into account factors that cause poor absorption of nutrients. Some of these factors are: digestive system problems, constipation, mineral oil, birth control pills, antibiotics, sugar, caffeine, soft drinks, and other dietary blocks are just some of the factors preventing nutrients from working once they get into your body. Many medications deplete nutrients or block their absorption. In addition, the delicate acid-alkaline balance of our body, including cells, organs and joints, is vital to the assimilation of nutrients.
Individual needs vary greatly depending on our way of life. Many people are exhausted from going, going, going, not getting adequate sleep, grabbing food on the run, doing errands, taking care of the kids and others needs, while neglecting our own. Athletics, high stress, environmental pollution, work pollution, secondary smoke, medical conditions, toxins from medications, toxins from our diet and auto exhaust all have a profound influence on our nutrient needs. I treat many patients that are suffering from prolonged nutrition deficiencies. The symptoms can be poor mental health, skin conditions, joint problems, fatigue, vision problems, asthma, allergies and many other states of poor health.
Nutritional supplements, as great as they are, will not overcome, nor overpower, mental, emotional or spiritual issues that need to be addressed or that cause illness. They will not compensate, but they will help minimize damage while we are working on these other issues. To say that because the problem is emotional and therefore there is no need for supplements or a healthy diet would be illogical, perhaps even foolhardy and dangerous. In example: A family that lives near a power line, so why bother taking supplements, we’re going to get cancer anyway? Well, Vitamins A, C, E, the mineral selenium, and certain herbs may help protect against the radiation.
What foods will help us sleep? What foods will restore vision? What foods will cure cancer, arthritis, eczema, diabetes, etc.? Without supplements, which have helped all of these diseases, many people would continue to suffer. This is my point: supplements can do what foods can not. We are too out of balance in our daily lives to expect our denatured food supply to restore, obtain or even maintain health, even if we led a strict, fanatical life. It is unrealistic to expect this of food, especially when most people do not have any knowledge of the healing powers of foods. It is mostly wishful thinking.
Is this to say that foods cannot be therapeutic, that they hold no healing powers? To the contrary—foods can be quite therapeutic and healing. I regularly recommend everything from beets to garlic to fresh vegetable juices as part of a patients’ therapy for specific conditions. For example, black cherries, black cherry juice and black cherry concentrate can help iron deficiency (anemia), arthritis, gout, gall bladder and kidney problems, constipation and joint problems if used therapeutically. This is just one example of the practical use of food for healing. However, not everyone is willing to use foods in this way. It requires diligence, strict adherence to new eating habits and being very careful when going out to eat. Many people would rather pop some pills than put up with these changes to their lifestyle.
So why can’t we get what we need from our food? This question is frequently asked of me. Yes, it was intended for us to obtain all our nutrients from food. Foods had enough nutrients to maintain health in a healthy human that lived in balance: rest, fresh air, exercise, clean water, etc. If you have medicines in your “medicine cabinet” than I suggest you need to take supplements. I do not have any synthetic medicines in my cabinet, just natural medicines. Nature has the answer; we just have to be open to it. Have fun with this—don’t let it become something stressful. There’s enough of that in our lives. Have an open enough mind to be willing to try new things and think outside the box! Remember that food was meant to be nourishment, not entertainment. We should eat to live, not live to eat! Food alone cannot restore vitality and real health to a sick, diseased body. Just look at our children and seniors. Take a good look around at public gatherings, at the supermarket, at your family events.
I do not want to exclude many other facets of natural healing: emotions, mind-body connection, herbs, massage, spiritual factors, etc. I have focused on only one aspect here: supplements in general and the purpose of our diets. In future articles we will discuss these other aspects in greater detail. Love and blessings to all. And chew your food slowly and thoroughly!
To learn more, here are some of my favorite books that go into depth on this subject:
•Silent Spring by Carson. Landmark book in ecological movement. Exposes effects of chemicals and demonstrates the importance of informed and active citizens.
•Empty Harvest by Jensen. Explores the link between food, immunity and our planet.
•Secrets of the Soil by Tompkins & Bird. Solutions for restoring our planet.
•Seeds of Change by Ausubel. Passionate story of the movement to restore biodiversity.
•The Survival of Civilization by Hamaker. The way to the future for our planet and race.
•Staying Healthy With Nutrition by Haas. A detailed, thorough book on supplements and foods.
•The Book of Whole Meals by Colbin. Cookbook that emphasizes balance with the seasons.
•Food and Healing by Colbin. Classic book on eating in harmony, with mind-opening views on food.
•Cooking for Healthy Healing by Rector-Page. A cookbook that has something for everyone!
•Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Balch. Holistic treatments for many conditions and diseases.
•Foods That Heal by Jensen. Comprehensive, fascinating review of the healing qualities of fruits and vegetables.
•Electrolytes, The Spark of Life by Martlew. Great reading on trace elements and their significance in health.
You’ve all heard of the Ten Commandments, right? Maybe you’ve even seen the movie (it was good, but the book is better!). On the subject of movies, did you ever see the old Mel Brooks spoof The History of the World, Part One? There’s a scene in it where Moses comes down from Mt. Sinai with three tablets containing fifteen commandments, but it’s awkward and unfortunately he drops one of the tablets! The upshot is that today we are short five commandments. What could those missing five commandments have been about?
Popular theologian Sam Keen gives us a clue. He states that the big questions like “What is the meaning of life?” or “Why is there evil?” have been around forever, but that today there is a new, unprecedented “big” question—Will the earth survive? So, if the first five commandments deal with the relationship between humans and God (e.g., do not worship other gods), and the second with the relationship between humans and others (e.g., do not steal), I propose that the missing five commandments deal with the relationship between humans and the environment, including our immediate “environment,” the body. So here’s my attempt at reconstructing those missing five commandments, complete with extensive commentary. (What else would you expect from a know-it-all professor?) Please recite the boldface commandments out loud in a deep, Jehovian voice: 11. Thou shalt not harm the environment, My creation. This means not polluting the air, water, and land; not exhausting resources; eliminating waste by recycling virtually everything; replenishing the soil; reforesting to prevent soil erosion and desertification, and so on. Put more positively, it means living much more lightly on the earth. This shouldn’t necessitate going back to tribal living; there are many developing eco-technologies, such as free energy, which would allow a fairly high standard of living without taxing the environment.1 However, if we continue the way we’re going, tribal society may be all that survives! I once came across the case of a schizophrenic man who suffered from the delusion that all the scraps of paper, all the used razor blades, bubble gum wrappers, and tissues, and all the hundreds other sorts of trash littering the world would be gathered together and stuffed into his body. Of course, like all schizophrenics, his mistake was to construct reality with his own ego autistically located at the center of the universe—all the trash in the world is going into just his stomach! But if he had had the ability to think systemically and expand his sense of identity, he would have seen that his concern for where the garbage was going was legitimate. His mistake was in believing that the trash was going into his individual body, rather than into his “larger body,” i.e., the environment. As philosopher Alan Watts once observed, when we throw things away, there really is no “away;” what we really mean is that we throw trash where we don’t immediately see it (or smell it). But if the environment is truly our larger body (just as for many Native American cultures ones real mother was the Earth Mother, not just one’s individual mother), then we are simply moving trash from one part of our “body” to another, which is not a very wise thing to do! Thus that poor schizophrenic, in a distorted way, was actually tuning into a real problem most of us ignore every time we throw things “away.” As a result of socialization by our highly individualistic society, we unfortunately tend to construct our identities far too narrowly. Could it be otherwise? I once heard a story about a Native American youth who went off to college. When he returned after a year, his father took him out on a lake in a canoe and asked his son, “Who are you?” The son responded with his English name, then his Indian name, and a few other conventional definitions, such as student of anthropology, member of such and such clan, etc. Each time his father rejected his definition. The frustrated son finally asked who he in fact was, and the father responded, “You are the lake, the sky, the trees, the moose, the beaver, the birds, the land.” Well, you can extend this list, but the point is clear. The father was reminding his son not to forget his “natural identity.” Most of us are too much like the son. If we identified with the land and the water and the sky, we’d think twice before polluting “ourselves,” wouldn’t we? Until we can regain this sensibility, we need this 11th commandment! 12. Thou shalt limit thy population and thy growth. The 12th commandment supports the 11th, because with fewer people living more lightly on the earth, we are far less likely to harm the environment. Now, the 12th commandment seems to contradict the very first command in the book of Genesis—“Be fruitful and multiply”—but, hey, times have changed! The world population at the time Genesis was written was perhaps 4-5 million; today it is more than 1000 times that number! Furthermore, the actual cost to the earth is proportionally far greater, given the demands most of us in industrialized countries place on the environment. Depending on the technological base, there is probably an optimal number of humans the earth can safely support. Tribal hunting and gathering technology can support only a few million people worldwide, while the introduction of agriculture and, more recently, industrialization allow for many more people. But not 6 billion and not for long, given our current patterns of consumption, pollution, and waste. In a real sense we are living on “credit,” and if we persist on living beyond our ”means” we will be “bankrupt” at some point. This was the thesis of the pioneering book The Limits to Growth, which caused such a stir in the 70’s, and yet it should be obvious, even to a child, that things can’t keep expanding indefinitely. How many people should there be on our planet? One source I read cited two billion as a workable number; I think one billion would be better—why not err on the side of caution! Wade Frazier feels that we could support as many as 10 billion people at a high level if truly radical innovations, such as complete recycling and free energy, were developed. But should we? Is the earth a better place to live with more people on it? On my office bulletin board I have a handout from the Sierra Club entitled The Twelve Big Myths of Growth. We always hear about the economy growing as if this were inherently a good thing. Beyond some optimal range, however, growth is not a good thing. Growth for its own sake, as has been noted many times, is the ideology of the cancer cell! Eventually the parasite kills its host and dies too. Anyway, here are just two of the myths cited in the handout. One is that “growth is inevitable.” Although, overall, Americans can’t seem to “just say no to development,” dozens of municipalities have capped their population based on real environmental limits, to their benefit. So “to grow or not to grow” is actually a choice. Usually, myopically, we choose to grow. I was recently in the Tampa, Florida area, and was dismayed at how vast and monotonous the sprawl was. A beautiful environment has been transformed into a seemingly endless stream of resorts, malls, restaurants, and stores. Sometimes we couldn’t tell where we were because so much of the landscape looked the same! A second myth is that we have to grow or die. Perhaps this is true in the qualitative sense, in that while we are alive and well, we can and should continue to learn and grow, i.e., psychologically and spiritually. In the quantitative sense, however, this is simply not true—many economic studies show that growth costs more than the benefits it brings. Beyond a certain point, the more growth, the poorer we get! As a mundane example, consider that cities require garbage men, whereas here in rural N.H., just about everybody brings their own garbage to the recycling center. Far less in salaries to pay, no trucks to buy—thus, lower tax bills for everyone. True, there is the cost of driving to the dump, but it’s rather minimal. The problems resulting from overpopulation are psychological as well as material. Research has shown repeatedly that crowding is unpleasant and leads to aggression, both in animals as well as in humans. That’s one more reason why Dr. David and I eventually made our way from metropolitan New Jersey to rural New Hampshire. As I head towards more populated areas, the air gets dirtier and smellier, the traffic gets worse, my mood gets worse, people seem to be “in each other’s way” more and consequently we all get pushier, the noise level goes up intrusively, and the “feel” of the environment gets more impersonal and unnatural. And cities are expensive—recently I paid $39 to park for five hours in New York City! I never have to pay in Plymouth, New Hampshire. Well, OK, maybe a nickel to park downtown if all the free spots are taken! Finally, although cities can be exciting to visit, living there is bad for your health. Think about the bad air and water, the faster pace of life, the ”noise pollution,” the stress of crowding, the higher risk of being a victim of a crime, etc. Some people even talk about the negative emotional energy or “vibes” emanating from urban areas. Maybe, but do the data support the idea that cities are actually bad for your health in the long run? In one of the textbooks I use, there is a table that allows you to estimate your expected lifespan. One factor is where you live—you add four years to your lifespan if you live most of your life in a rural area, but you have to subtract two years for living in an urban area. That’s a total difference of six years! Remember, for 99% of our history, humans lived in relatively small groups—tribes, clans, etc. Thus, ironically, although surrounded by crowds in cities and sprawling suburbs, we are apt to be lonely in our isolated apartments, condos, and nuclear family homes. We have social units that are both too large and too small for the 20–500 size groups we evolved in. There have been attempts, going back centuries, not just since the 60’s, to create reasonably sized intentional communities, communes, eco-villages, etc. Although some of these, like Oneida and the Shaker communities, had guiding philosophies that most of us would not choose to live with, I applaud such attempts at creating a more harmonious, human scale-appropriate lifestyle. 13. Thou shalt not harm thy body and the bodies of others. Our body is also “part” of the environment, so that the prohibition against polluting the earth with toxic poisons stated in the 11th commandment also applies to our own bodies in the 13th. Beyond this—on the “thou shalt” side—we are also instructed to eat foods as “God created them,” i.e., only whole, organic foods, with an emphasis on raw foods. This takes some work if you shop at a supermarket, eat at restaurants, etc.2 It also commands us (gasp!) not to eat sugar, white flour, and junk food, smoke, drink,3 or use any drugs that may be harmful to us. It tells us to get adequate water, rest and exercise. So far pretty familiar stuff among the alternative health community. But the 13th commandment goes further and instructs us not to sell any harmful products to others. This is an offshoot of the Golden Rule—if it’s bad for me, I am certainly not going to sell it to you! Thus, growing and selling food is not just a “business” in this view; it is a sacred task. Therefore we should not only eat organic food, we should produce only organic food; we should not make or sell non-organic or junk food, cigarettes, and so on. I once attended the funeral of a relative who was buried in a cemetery which was the final home for many celebrities (e.g., George Gershwin). I noticed a large tomb emboldened with the name of family known for selling “fine” chocolates and candies. This family became rich and famous, but they persistently violated the 13th commandment by selling sugar-loaded candy to children and adults. By extension, it would also be a “sin” to even advertise the sale of candy or junk food. How can we morally encourage other people to violate a commandment? 14. Thou shalt not harm animals. This really ties into commandment #15 below, for if we respect nature, we would be loathe to cause unnecessary harm to animals. As some eco-activists put it, we should avoid “speciesism,” defined as the belief that the earth and all of its non-human inhabitants are here exclusively for our “use.” Where the Bible speaks of having “dominion” over all the animals and the earth, today the more enlightened members of our species refer to “stewardship,” a term emphasizing responsibility, not hierarchy. Specifically, this commandment would mean reducing or eliminating the use of animals for vivisection and in the majority of experiments. Many scientists argue that much animal research is unnecessary and even useless, as human physiology is not identical to that of any animal. The idea of caging animals and spraying, feeding, or injecting poisons of various sorts to see what happens seems bizarre to me. Why not avoid using these poisons in the first place? The Aubrey Organics cosmetics line, for instance, uses no chemicals and does no animal testing. We only need to test the chemicals used in other cosmetics because we don’t use all natural products in the first place! And of course, kindness towards pets and farm animals goes without saying. It pains me to read occasionally in our local paper about someone who has been starving or abusing their “pets.” And the manner in which cows have been selectively bred so as to be little more than “milk machines” is a good example of the speciesism mentioned above. As milksucks.com makes clear, milk, as it is currently produced, is as bad for the cows and the environment as it is for the humans who drink it. Personally, I think we should start breeding cows back to the stage where they produce enough milk for their own calves—as God and nature intended—and nothing more. As for eating animal foods, this is a controversial issue. You might expect me to state that commandment #14 should make us all vegans or at least vegetarians, but I think the issue is more complex. Humans are omnivorous and some people, depending on age, blood type, and other factors, may require animal foods. Recent studies suggest that during hunter-gatherer times, which comprised most of human evolution, perhaps 65% of our diet was animal based! Some vegetarians harm themselves by excess grain consumption and because they do not ingest enough of certain necessary nutrients, vitamin B-12 being the most obvious. I once witnessed a naturopath trying unsuccessfully to convince a pale, anemic looking vegetarian to have some eggs or liver powder! On the other hand, I am not pushing a “meaty” diet, partly for ethical reasons, and partly for environmental reasons. It takes a lot more land and water to raise 100 pounds of beef than 100 pounds of soybeans, to say nothing of the waste products involved. A good compromise solution is the “quasi-vegetarian” diet, with the strict vegetarian diet held as an “ideal” that only some will achieve. A quasi-vegetarian will eat less meat, especially red meat, thereby sparing the earth somewhat in the process. Dr. David’s recommended diet allows for some meat products, e.g., poultry, fish, bison (low in fat!), and even some beef—if it is organically grown, that is, without the pernicious growth hormones and antibiotics usually fed to cattle. Interestingly, in light of the Biblical tone of this essay, two types of animal are prohibited by both Dr. David and the Bible: shellfish and pork. In addition, this commandment dictates that any animals eaten must be treated humanely; that means they must be given sufficient room to roam (“free range”), must be fed an appropriate diet (for example, grass, not grain, for cattle), and slaughtered with a minimum of pain. If you have ever read about the evils of factory farming (see themeatrix.com), which I can’t bring myself to describe, it’s enough to turn you into a vegetarian. I refuse to eat veal, and I try to buy organic, free range chicken. 15. Respect nature and look to it for thy health. Above I mentioned that food production is more than a mere job; it is a sacred task. In today’s secular world, however, we suffer from a serious “desacralization” of life.4 I mean, how can we even think of genetically engineering food? Despite efforts by some far-seeing individuals and groups, our collective lack of respect for nature is all too obvious.5 In contrast, indigenous (tribal) cultures feel they are intricately related to the natural world and thus have great respect for nature. Notice I said that they “feel” this connectedness—it’s not just a nice ecological theory. Indigenous peoples believe that all aspects of nature, even stones, have a form of consciousness, and that humans can learn about life and healing from plants and animals. Many go so far as to give thanks to animals before eating them or to plants that yield medicinal secrets. If this seems “primitive,” consider this: the Hoxsey therapy for cancer was developed by observing what specific plants a horse ingested when it was ill! The horse had an intuitive wisdom or “attunement” to its environment and somehow knew what to eat. This sort of intuitive wisdom will allow one to attend to meanings and patterns invisible to the objectifying and mechanical (i.e., lifeless) methods of science, although occasionally a pioneer like George Washington Carver or Nobel prize winner Barbara McClintock speaks of “communing with plants”. Regarding health, we are commanded here to use natural means to prevent and treat illness: herbs, natural supplements, good food, massage, acupressure, good exercise, good water. Even good music and good light! And yes, even “spiritual technologies” like shamanic healing, meditation, and laying on of hands. Secondarily, we can use scientific technologies that do not harm the body, such as light therapy or the Rife Frequency device.6 Lastly, “heroic,” i.e. intrusive measures, like drugs and surgery, will undoubtedly be necessary some of the time, but probably 85% or more of our medical ailments could be prevented or treated via natural, supportive measures. Of course, we collectively have a huge problem obeying the ten commandments we already have! Take, for example, the prohibition against idolatry, which in essence means valuing something relative in place of that which is Absolute or Ultimate. This commandment is being violated on a massive scale by our civilization, with its rampant materialism and worship of wealth, status, power, technology, science, ego—you can add your own favorite “idols” to the list. And as for the second tablet, didn’t we steal virtually the entire Western hemisphere and kill the majority of the natives who were here first? So how likely are we to observe the missing five commandments, especially since they are not (yet) carved in stone? On second thought, I take that back a bit. The majority of Americans are concerned about the environment and are increasingly participating in holistic prevention and treatment. A small but growing percentage of Americans are truly serious about following commandments #11–#15 and choose to live a “green” life, which I envision as a synthesis of postmodern sophistication and technology with indigenous attunement to the natural world. The vital issue, as Sam Keen noted, is whether the Earth can survive. Can we create a green society in time to prevent environmental collapse?
Footnotes 1Once again, Wade Frazier, especially in his essays The Energy Racket and Visions of What Can Be, and in his own Links section, provides copious information about a free energy based, alternative future. He also has a short essay on vegetarianism. 2At the end of my last column I promised an essay on “stupid markets.” I will get to it next, but the missing commandments idea just, well, took over. I’ll also do one on fast foods and dining out. 3Ah, alcohol…Haven’t we all heard that drinking a glass of red wine daily is good for you? That lifespan expectancy chart I referred to above says to subtract 5–10 years for heavy drinking, but also to subtract one year if you are a teetotaler and to add two years if you are a light drinker (1-3 drinks a day)! How can this be? Well, there are two benefits from (red) wine—there are certain compounds found in grape seed, antioxidants called “flavonoids,” that are good for you. But you can get these antioxidants from grapes, grape juice, or grape seed supplements, without canceling the benefits by imbibing the poison of alcohol! And then there is the “relief from stress” factor. But, again, you can relieve stress by exercising or doing TM or yoga. The point is you can obtain the benefits of wine without the many negative effects of alcohol. See Tim O’Shea’s Sugar essay on his thedoctorwithin.com website. See also: Grape Juice Provides Health Benefits Without Alcohol for a detailed comparison of wine and grape juice. Guess which comes out better? I also suspect that the reason teetotalers live, on average, a bit less than light drinkers may have little to do with alcohol per se, but more to do with the uptight lifestyle of some non-drinkers. 4Nothing seems sacred these days except money. Remember “In Gold We Trust” from the Inconvenience Stores essay? Here’s a statistic I found which illustrates how the system prioritizes money over health: In 1979, U.S. government appropriation to fight smoking: $29 million; In 1979, amount U.S. government spent in price subsidies, farm loans, and other direct support for the tobacco industry: over $1 billion. (On a sheet found in the ACS [American Cancer Society] distribution shelf.) 5As a striking example of our collective lack of respect for the environment, here are several facts gleaned from just one magazine, the latest issue of Sierra, the house journal of the Sierra Club: The Bush administration is pushing to resume nuclear power, despite all the ecological and economic problems that have already been observed; climbing the Matterhorn is now more dangerous than ever due to the increased likelihood of avalanches, a result of global warming; the same global warming is held responsible for the spread of West Nile virus and soybean munching Asian aphids; The Bush administration has opened up hundreds of thousand of square miles of former wilderness area to logging, mining, and oil extraction; and the same administration is trying to strip endangered species status from the manatee and other threatened animals. There’s more, but you get the point. 6In a later column I will offer a categorical analysis of the different types of natural, psychological, spiritual, and technological healing modalities that we could ideally use first, before resorting to allopathic medicine.
Joel Funk, Ph.D.
Breakthrough research reveals that those little jars in your spice cabinet hold a wealth of healing powers that can prevent the most dangerous diseases…
Wouldn’t it be great if you could protect yourself and your family family from a whole host of diseases simply by making the food you love taste even better? Well you can! Top scientists, doctors and nutritionists are finding that just that sprinkling herbs and spices on your food is a great way to stave off everything from indigestion to heart disease—even cancer and diabetes!
More good news: spicing up your foods can also help you shed inches! “The added flavor makes meals more satisfying, which is a strong deterrent against overeating,” says American Institute for cancer research educator Melanie Polk, R.D.
Intrigued? Read on to discover how the miracle cures already in your spice rack may mean not having to turn to your medicine cabinet again!
Rosemary prevents breast cancer!
Cooks who favor this pine-scented seasoning significantly boost their protection against breast cancer! The credit goes to the natural chemical in rosemary called carnasol, which helps shield cells from the DNA damage that can trigger tumors. Studies also show that compounds in Rosemary can reduce chronic inflammation, another condition often associated with cancer.
•Bonus benefit: Boost your memory! New research shows that breathing in the scent of rosemary helps people score higher on long-term memory tests!
Fennel cuts cramps!
Do you struggle with severe menstrual cramps? A recent study found that women who took 25 drops of fennel extract starting about three days prior to and during their periods experienced far less of the swelling and uterine contractions that cause cramping. In fact, researchers say, the fennel was as effective as a prescription pain reliever! Fennel is generally very safe but because it acts on the uterus, avoid it during pregnancy.
•Bonus benefit: Pop some fennel seeds in your mouth to freshen your breath. “The licorice-like flavor neutralizes his foul odors,” says herbalist Stephanie Tourles.
Cinnamon prevents diabetes!
New research shows that consuming cinnamon is an amazingly effective way to reduce your risk of Type II diabetes—and just 1/2 teaspoon a day will do the trick! “Cinnamon contains a natural chemical that keeps blood levels in check by turning on your insulin switch—and suppressing the enzyme that normally turns off that switch,” explains study author Richard A. Anderson, Ph.D.
•Bonus benefit: Cinnamon also calms stomach spasms and increases stomach acid production, which helps break down food more easily, says herbalist David Christopher.
Turmeric halts heart disease!
Turmeric is loaded with Curcumin, and antioxidant known to lower blood levels of cholesterol and other fats. “This keeps them from clinging to artery walls and leading to heart attacks, “says Ray Sahelian, M.D. Plus, curcumin inhibits platelets from clumping together, reducing the risk of blood clots. The suggested dose: a 500 milligrams supplement daily, advises Thambi Dorai, Ph.D., of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at our Lady of Mercy Medical Center in New York City. As always, talk to your doctor before taking this or any other supplement.
•Bonus benefit: Research indicates that regular consumption of turmeric can cut your risk of developing precancerous colon polyps by 40% in just three weeks.
Ginger relieves arthritis aches!
It may best be known for its ability to quell wooziness, but what new studies prove is that ginger is also a potent pain reliever! When rheumatologist Ray Altman, M.D., tested ginger supplements on 250 patients with arthritis of the knee, he found that it reduced their pain and suffering far more than a placebo! the dose he used: 255 mg. of ginger in pill form twice a day. “Ginger appears have an anti-inflammatory effect and may also tame nerve receptors,” explains Neil Barnard, M.D.
•Bonus benefit: It also eases sore muscles. “Mix 15 jobs of ginger oil with warm vegetable oil and massage on sore areas,” advises Tourles.
Oregano shields you from cancer!
An apple a day is one way to keep the doctor away…but would you believe a slice of pizza spiked with oregano is even more effective? It’s true: 1 tablespoon a fresh oregano delivers 42% more cancer-fighting antioxidants than an apple—and 30 times more than a potato, 12 times more than an orange and four times more than blueberries! “Oregano contains very high concentrations of rosmarinic acid, one of the most potent antioxidants around,” explains Polk. “It’s particularly effective against breast, endometrial and ovarian cancers.”
•Bonus benefit: It fights yeast infections! A new study found that oregano compounds prevented the growth of candida—the micro organism that causes yeast infections.
Disease-Fighting Plants: 7 Delicious Herbs That Pack a Powerful Antimicrobial Punch
Adding herbs to your favorite dishes adds flavor, variety and color. Antimicrobial herbs provide all of that – PLUS they give your health a major boost.
Antimicrobial herbs have a unique ability to destroy and inhibit the growth of disease-causing microorganisms. This takes major stress off of your immune system, helping to stimulate it and thereby helping you to fight off a wide array of potential infections.
Antimicrobial herbs are capable of taking on a large variety of microorganisms, such as:
Other living organisms
You may already be familiar with the following antimicrobial herbs, but their potent disease-fighting properties may surprise you. We recommend they be added generously to your cooking!
1. Chili Peppers
Chili peppers contain a substance called capsaicin, which is what makes them so spicy (the spicier the pepper, the more capsaicin it contains). Capsaicin is also an anti-inflammatory compound that helps with pain relief and many other ailments.
Contrary to popular belief, chili peppers do not cause stomach ulcers. In fact, they help prevent them by killing bacteria you eat. They also contain vitamins C and A, which boost immunity and help fight off potential pathogens.
Did you know? Capsaicin is mostly in the chili pepper’s seeds and white inner membranes. Taking these out will remove some of the pepper’s heat, but it will remove some of its healing properties as well.
The active compound in cloves, eugenol, combines with other clove components to make this pungent spice highly anti-bacterial. It’s also anti-inflammatory and the compound has been studied for use in preventing:
Toxicity from environmental pollutants
Digestive tract cancers
Because clove extracts are anti-bacterial (and provide a mild anaesthetic), they’re used in the United States for dental procedures like root canal therapy and temporary fillings. They’re also used in some sore throat sprays and mouth washes.
Did you know? Cloves are an excellent source of traditional nutrients too, including omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, vitamin C and magnesium.
Allicin, one of garlic’s healthy compounds (and the one that gives it its odor), has powerful antibacterial and antiviral properties. When combined with the vitamin C in garlic, these compounds kill harmful microbes and fight diseases including:
Cold and flu
Garlic is also a potent antibiotic, fighting a wide range of pathogens, and studies show it even appears to fight antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.
Did you know? Along with being able to lower blood pressure, insulin and triglycerides, allicin may also help prevent weight gain. A study on rats — published in the December 2003 issue of the American Journal of Hypertension — found that rats’ weights remained stable or decreased slightly when allicin was given along with a sugar-rich diet, while other rats’ weights increased.
4. Mustard Seed
Researchers from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada found that the antimicrobial properties of mustard seed are so strong that when powdered mustard was added to hamburger meat, it killed E. coli bacteria.
The compound responsible for this effect is allyl isothiocyanate. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that this potent compound can fight off not only E. coli but also listeria, Staphylococcus aureus and other foodborne pathogens.
Unfortunately, prepared mustard that is typically consumed in the United States does not contain this healthy component.
Did you know? Isothiocyanates in mustard seed have also been studied for their ability to inhibit the growth of existing cancer cells and protect against the formation of new ones.
Sage is a powerful antimicrobial that is known to kill fungi, including candida albicans, and other microbes such as salmonella. Sage leaf extract is also known to kill the microbe that causes gingivitis.
Sage is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It contains flavonoids, phenolic acids and oxygen-handling enzymes, all of which give it a unique ability to prevent oxygen-based damage to cells. Sage may be useful in fighting rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions, bronchial asthma and atherosclerosis.
Did you know? Sage is also good for your brain. A study in the June 2003 Pharmacological Biochemical Behavior found that people given sage essential oil extracts had significantly improved recall abilities compared to those given a placebo.
Rosemary has both antibacterial and antifungal properties and is sometimes recommended to treat yeast overgrowth in the intestines.
Further, it is known to stimulate the immune system, increase circulation and improve digestion.
Did you know? Rosemary has been traditionally regarded as a memory enhancer. Students in ancient Greece, for instance, would put sprigs of the herb in their hair while studying.
Thyme contains volatile oil components that are known to fight a wide range of bacteria and fungi, including:
Recent studies have also shown that thyme can help prevent foods from becoming contaminated and even help decontaminate already contaminated foods. A study in the February 2004 issue of Food Microbiology found that thyme essential oil decontaminated lettuce contaminated with Shigella, an infectious organism that can cause diarrhea and intestinal damage.
Washing produce in a solution of just 1 percent thyme essential oil was also able to decrease the number of Shigella bacteria to undetectable levels.
Did you know? Thyme has been used for its antiseptic properties since the 16th century, both in mouthwashes and topically.
If you read my previous column, or my essay contrasting allopathic and naturopathic approaches to healing (both located on this website), you will see references to “systemic thinking.” Basically, this means the realization that everything is connected to everything else. For example, naturopathy recognizes, in a way that allopathy typically does not, that the different systems in the body are part of a larger system (the organism), which in turn, are part of an even larger ecosystem. So you don’t just treat the symptom or even the diseased organ, you treat the whole person. You even try to improve their environment to the extent possible.
Similarly, aspects of our society that may seem entirely separate, like medicine, energy, education, economics, science, politics, the media, law, spirituality, etc., are in fact intimately connected. The way a society approaches each one of these issues will be reflected in the way it deals with each of the others to a large extent. If you want to see a superb example of systemic thinking, applied to every one of the topics mentioned above, read as much as you can of the Wade Frazier website (see Links), especially the long essay entitled The Medical Racket. Thoreau once stated that “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” Frazier is one of those striking at the root, and I’ll be referring to his mind-blowing site in the essay that follows and in future columns. See footnote1 for more details. The reason I’m bringing all this up, is that in my columns, I too will be employing systemic thinking as much as possible. At times, it may seem like I’m rambling or going off on tangents, but the point is, it’s really all connected. So… I was once walking with Dr. David and he referred to one of the local “Quickie Mart” stores as an inconvenience store, a name that struck me as particularly apt. There is very little that is convenient at these stores for someone concerned about health and the environment. Let’s pick a typical “convenience” store and mentally walk through it, applying systemic thinking as we go. What’s often right out in front of the store, before you even walk in? You got it—gas pumps. If you fill up your tank, you are feeding the colossal oil industry, the one that made Rockefeller rich and famous over a century ago. Doesn’t it seem strange that with all the amazing new technologies over the past century, there has been basically no change in how we fuel our vehicles? Actually there have been alternatives developed—and I mean truly radical alternatives beyond merely the hybrid car. The hybrid car is in the right direction, but still works within the fossil fuel paradigm. No, I mean truly radical ideas—free (or nearly free), non-polluting forms of energy and transportation. Check out The Energy Racket and related essays and links on the Wade Frazier website; Frazier was personally involved in a situation of a brilliant innovator trying to bring a radically novel super-efficient engine to the market only to see the technology suppressed and the inventor jailed. Another inventor was threatened and then bought off when he showed up with a carburetor that allegedly could get over 100 mpg. Here’s where systemic thinking comes in. It turns out that Rockefeller, Carnegie, and other corporate moguls were not only influential in preventing public transportation and the development of non-fossil fuel sources of energy, but they were also involved in fostering the dominance of allopathic medicine in America! A century or more ago, the allopathic system was not very efficient and was in competition with naturopathic, herbal, and homeopathic systems, which often worked considerably better. There is more money in hospitals, drugs and surgery, however, and guess what we mostly have available today? As with Frazier’s inventor friend, those who try to promote cheap, harmless, effective alternative treatments—especially for cancer—are also likely to have their research destroyed and their careers ruined.2 Frazier makes clear the systemic connections between the two rackets, the same power mongers—or at least people of the same ilk—being behind both. Many of the pharmaceuticals developed, in fact, were “useful” ways to recycle industrial waste, fluoride being a prime example. Frazier includes a nightmarish essay on the topic of fluoridation, explaining how a tooth destroying, mind-numbing toxin became fraudulently promoted as a way to “protect” teeth! So when you pump that gas, think systemically. Realize that you are ultimately going to be spewing toxins into the air; when you then get sick from these and other industrial pollutants, your doctor will most likely prescribe further toxic drugs to help restore you to health. (Right!) It’s not a coincidence. It’s all part of the same system, with the same corporate hucksters getting rich poisoning you and then “curing” you. Maybe next time you’ll consider seeing a naturopath, one of whose primary goals is to help you detoxify. Ok, matters are getting depressing and we haven’t even stepped inside the store yet! I once asked the owner of a convenience store what his “big sellers” were. His response was—no surprise here—alcohol (beer), cigarettes, and lottery tickets! And then he added that in the morning coffee was a hot item (pardon the pun). In other words, what paid his bills was the demand for harmful, even addictive substances (well, gambling, while psychologically addicting, may not be physiologically addictive; however, some people claim they get an endorphin “rush” while gambling, so this too may be something of a physiological addiction). Alcohol and tobacco of course are two of the easiest ways to reduce your life span by 10-20 years (more if you drive drunk or smoke in bed). Caffeine isn’t good for you either—it doesn’t give you energy, merely helps you squander what energy you have, so you get exhausted later and then need another cup. Coffee is also acidic, and remember what people typically put in coffee—sugar and cream. The only health promoting use of coffee is in enemas, believe it or not, and it has been used that way as an adjunct in some alternative treatments of cancer, e.g., Gerson therapy. So if some irate coffee lover tells you to stick it up your butt, just smile! Anyway, none of these “best sellers” are very convenient if you are following Dr. David’s regime. I could talk about lottery tickets being a subtle way of taxing the poor, but perhaps that’s getting too far afield (although nothing is really too far afield when thinking systemically). But really, gambling does relate to a deeper addiction: greed. One Native American spiritual teacher once half-jokingly stated that Americans left off a letter on the dollar bill. Where it says “In God We Trust,” it should actually read “In Gold We Trust.” Greed was seen as a form of insanity by most Native Americans, and some Northwestern tribes even had a “potlatch” ceremony wherein tribal members gave away and even destroyed their excess wealth. Wade Frazier has some extensive essays on European and American history pointing out that the search for gold was a major impetus behind the voyages of Columbus and other conquistador’s. Things don’t seem to have changed much. Greed, as we have already seen, not only underlies gambling, but also explains why we pay lots of money for toxic fossil fuels and pharmaceuticals, and why cheaper, cleaner, more efficient alternatives are not available. Speaking of Native Americans, I often muse that they achieved a sort of inadvertent revenge for the genocide and cultural destruction inflicted on them (from perhaps 80,000,000 inhabitants to a tiny fraction of that number today, with lots of poverty and deprivation still for the majority of the survivors). How? By offering us various harmful, addictive substances as part of a “cultural exchange.” Alcohol was an addictive drug that Europeans brought over here, and it is still a major problem for Native Americans. But tobacco, cocaine, sugar, and—on many reservations today—gambling, are all addictions that intentionally or not, we took over from them. Of course, Native Americans used tobacco sparingly, for ceremonial purposes. They chewed coca leaves and probably natural sugar cane. It took the ingenuity of Europe to refine the sugar, mass produce the tobacco, process the cocaine, and build the casinos—to the detriment of us all. Back to the store… Let’s see, suppose you are thirsty and you walk around to the coolers looking for something to drink. Basically there’s nothing you can drink on Dr. David’s plan aside from water. Forget the milk, iced tea, soda, beer, wine, juice, lemonade etc. (What about diet soda? It has no sugar! Let’s hold that for a later paragraph). If you can get fresh apple cider at some point during the year that would be OK. Orange juice is usually from concentrate, which kills the enzymes, but even if not from concentrate, is still rather acidic. Dr. David maintains that citrus fruits should be kept to a minimum, although lemons and limes are good cleansers and hence ok (but lemonade has lots of sugar!). Limes, as you might know were what allowed British sailors to avoid scurvy, earning them the nickname “limeys.” What you may not know is that in the 1500’s when Jacques Cartier was exploring Canada, the natives gave him a brew made from pine bark needles, which cured the scurvy of his men. The British medical establishment ignored this for several centuries leading to much unnecessary illness and death, until finally some British doctor got all the credit for sending limes along on naval voyages. As for diet soda, first of all, any soda has stuff in it you don’t want, aside from sugar: caffeine, phosphoric acid, and artificial coloring, for example. I’ve heard that certain cola drinks are good at taking rust off automobile chrome. True or not, better use it outside your body. It’s anything but the “real thing.” Sugar is awful, being deleterious to virtually every organ and system in the body, but Nutrasweet (aspartame) is worse. Dr. David told me that the FDA has had more complaints about aspartame than any other drug or additive, ever. Aspartame, when warm, decays into formaldehyde! It’s been implicated in Gulf War syndrome and lupus. Dr. David told me he has known several cases of women who drank a two liter bottle of diet cola every day and later developed cervical cancer (one friend of mine developed lupus, but stopped her soda addiction when I showed her an article I had on this). And, ironically, aspartame apparently does not even help you lose weight! Tim O’Shea, D.C., quotes one study in which weight gain (!) was a side effect of aspartame. In fact, do yourself a huge favor and visit Tim O’Shea’s website The Doctor Within for a must-read essay on sugar that also deals with aspartame, diabetes, and alcohol. Maybe it should be posted on the door of every inconvenience store… So why, you might be wondering, does the FDA allow aspartame? Interesting question. Why also did the FDA ban stevia for a while? Stevia is an herb that is about 50 times sweeter than sugar, but is actually good for you. It helps regulate blood sugar. Dr. David told me that in Japan stevia is used in cola drinks. Why was a harmless herb banned (I think it’s now available, but cannot be labeled as a sweetener per se) while a potentially toxic chemical sweetener was given the OK? Does the FDA truly represent the health of the American public or the “health” of the sweetener and agribusiness industries? Several of the cancer books cited in the footnotes2—and Wade Frazier, again—have great information on the fraudulent, even illegal activities of the FDA. In fact, Herbert Ley, Jr., former Commissioner of the FDA stated, “People think the FDA is protecting them—it isn’t. What the FDA is doing and what people think it’s doing are as different as night and day.” So better skip the aspartame. Well, water is ok, right? Except for this: why should you have to buy water? Aside from the cost of pumping it up, which is minimal, why isn’t it free? Mostly because tap water is so impure. It has chlorine and maybe fluoride and God knows what other chemicals in it. I never drink from the water fountains where I work, unless I’m dying of thirst. I bring water from home, but we are fortunate enough to have our own well and a good filtration system. I still wonder what’s in it, but I figure it’s probably as good as what comes in those plastic bottles. Speaking of which, I recently read that you shouldn’t reuse those bottles as water bottles because some carcinogenic chemical in the plastic will get into you. You need a hard plastic bottle. Apparently they don’t leach plasticizers into the water. Even buying water isn’t such a simple matter!3 OK, you’re hungry too, so what do you buy? Almost everything inconvenience stores sell is high in sugar, fat, salt, dairy,4 white flour, chemicals, preservatives, etc. Most of it is dead, processed, devitalized food. If there is any fresh fruit, well, it doesn’t usually look all that fresh and it’s doubtful if it’s organic. The only items worth buying might be sunflower seeds, trail mix, and nuts (if fresh and unsalted). Sometimes I wonder, though, how long these packages have been hanging there on the rack, since most customers are apparently not there to buy healthy stuff! Then there’s the ice cream freezer. In my less enlightened days I used to like Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. It had neat flavors, neat names, neat owners, and they seemed pretty fair in how they ran the company. But, the product itself is still essentially dairy, high in fat, sugar, and has additives like propylene glycol and other nasty toxins that they don’t usually list on the label. Much better for you is Rice Dream, which makes an occasional summer treat. Even better, if you must have dessert, try pineapple or papaya, which have digestive enzymes in it. Or wait an hour or two after eating and have any kind of fruit. Our “sweet tooth” is Nature’s way of getting us to eat fruits at their ripest, and our fruit eating in turn helps spread seeds, but this symbiosis has been perverted by modern day pancreas-zonking candies, cakes, doughnuts, etc, that are loaded with refined sugar (or high-fructose corn syrup, etc.). Sugar is the first item on Dr. David’s “Do Not Eat” list and yet the average American consumes almost 150 pounds of sugar per year! Which is one major reason why, as I noted in my introductory column, that most of us are full of crap! So whether it’s outside at the pump, or inside with food and drink, you are probably not going to find much that doesn’t pollute you one way or the other. Here’s an interesting quote that gets to the heart of things: “There are three things which build and maintain civilization throughout time: pure air, pure water, and pure food. And as an eternal truth I say unto you, that there are three things which bring the end of civilization, even the mightiest that have ever been and shall ever be, from the beginningless beginning to the endless end of all time: impure air, impure water, and impure food.” –Zenda Avesta, c. 3000 BC. That was 5000 years ago—you would think we would have learned this basic lesson by now! What would a true convenience store offer? (not that I’m naïve enough to expect such a store to gain widespread acceptance tomorrow). Well, it could offer fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. It could have a salad bar and a juice bar for smoothies, carrot juice and the like. There could be reasonably healthy snacks like dried fruit, unadulterated trail mix, not too junky health bars and such (but you’d better check the labels), maybe home-made soup in the cold months, and pure, free (or nearly free) water on tap or in non-plastic bottles. Even the miscellaneous items like laundry detergent could be the environmentally friendly kind you can get at health food stores. And, oh yeah, because we’d all be using cleaner, more efficient forms of energy in this fantasy, there would be no gas pumps outside (maybe there would be some kind of recharging unit; perhaps even that wouldn’t be necessary). Being able to purchase any item in the place without worrying if it’s good for you or not—now that’s a convenience store! ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
I had hoped to be able to tackle “stupid markets” here too, but space demands a separate essay. There are some promising movements afoot in some supermarkets, however, like organic produce, so they can actually be a bit more convenient than inconvenience stores, if you shop carefully. Next time!
1The Wade Frazier website is truly awesome. First, it’s about 1200 pages, the length of six 200 page books! Indeed, several of the longer essays, including “The Medical Racket” are the size of books. Second, regardless of whether Frazier writes about science, medicine, history, spirituality, politics, personal experiences, economics, or whatever, everything is tied together; in fact, the essay is densely cross-linked so that a passing reference to a particular topic can be followed up in depth on another of the site’s essays. That’s why I said above that it’s a superb example of systemic thinking. Frazier also includes numerous links to other websites and extensive footnotes. It would take years to follow up on the books and websites he cites as sources. Now, I don’t always agree 100% with everything he says. Here and there I find a point where I take issue or at least feel that his conclusions may be a bit extreme. Still, overwhelmingly, I resonate to what he says. Whether you ultimately agree with his views or not, you owe it to yourself to spend a few hours reading his basic introductory material, and “The Medical Racket,” and then anything else that catches your eye. If you don’t find much of his writing to be mind boggling and a serious challenge to many of your long held assumptions, you’d better check your pulse. 2This may seem like a strong, even incredible statement, but there is a mountain of documentation to back it up. It has happened not once or twice, but dozens of times. For some readers this will be old hat, but if this all sounds to hard to swallow, take a serious look at the following books, in addition to the Wade Frazier website: The Cancer Industry by Ralph Moss, who actually worked at Sloan-Kettering during the laetrile controversy; World With Out Cancer by G. Edward Griffin; The Healing of Cancer, The Cancer Cure that Worked, and The Cancer Conspiracy, all by Barry Lynes, and Options: The Alternative Cancer Therapy Book by Richard Walters. The Frazier website provides a huge historical overview of the two competing approaches to healing (“masculine”/heroic/allopathic vs. “feminine”/nurturing/ naturopathic). To steal a line from the Walters book, if you think this sort of medical racketeering could not happen in America, you’d be dead wrong! 3Dr. Tim O’Shea’s website thedoctorwithin.com has an excellent—and scary—essay on water. Did you know that some European swimmers won’t even go into a chlorinated pool? 4In case you are wondering why I keep harping on dairy products, a topic I’ll most likely return to in a later column, see the notmilk.com and milksucks.com websites (see Links).
Joel Funk, Ph.D.
Ask Dr. David
by Dr. David Olarsch
Practice of Naturopathic Medicine
Q: Dr. David, why do I get the runaround from every doctor I see; it seems as if no one knows what they are talking about. The specialists are even worse. I am frustrated and feel like a medical reject.
A: I hear this often. Many of my patients feel they are at “wits end,” or that our clinic is their last resort. They have been ill for a long time and have not improved under the disease care system we have in Western culture. Naturopathy is a true health care system in that it seeks to help the entire body, mind and spirit, not just a singular health issue. It can be an empowering experience to learn how to listen to what your body is trying to tell you and how to treat it. Quick fixes that suppress and/or alleviate symptoms have terrible consequences such as side-effects, the problem still being there after treatment ceases, and even worse, valuable time wasted when one could be enjoying a higher quality of life.
Naturopathic Doctors spend a great deal more time getting to know their patients and in addition, their training is more oriented towards prevention, finding the cause of a problem and helping your body heal itself.
Q: How much water should one drink? Everyone seems to have different opinions regarding what is a healthy amount to consume daily.
A: There is no magic, precise amount of water that is correct for all human beings. How much water we need depends on many factors. Some of these factors include: level of activity (varies daily), climate (temperature, humidity, altitude, etc.), diet (dry foods such as flour products increase fluid needs), our health (how well our urinary tract functions, any diseases, ailments or illness) and even how well rested we are, to name a few factors. These all account for our biochemical individuality, a cornerstone of naturopathic philosophy. By now we have all heard, ad nauseam, how good and important water is. Every cell is bathed in it. Our lymph system and virtually every organ and system needs water to function, and we can live longer without food than we can without water.
No discussion about water would be complete without commenting on salt. Excess sodium displaces water from our cells, causing our body to send out the thirst signal to dilute the sodium. Often, people that are constantly thirsty add salt to their food or consume high-sodium foods such as chips and canned foods. Salt is used to mask rancid, tasteless food. It was used as a preservative in Biblical times. If one is never thirsty, I suggest trying a slight increase in natural sodium to the diet. Celery and cucumber are excellent sources of this vital nutrient. Table salt is toxic, chemically treated and barren of trace elements necessary to make salt a balanced food. One exception is “Celtic Sea Salt,” available on the web and from some health food stores. It is delicious, unmolested, gray in color, and contains over 100 trace elements missing in conventional table salt. Sodium deficiency, which I do see in my office practice, may result in low energy, achy joints, excessive perspiration, dizziness and muscle cramps.
Good sources of water, in order of preference: vegetables, fruits, spring or well water. I feel more rehydrated from an apple than from a large glass of water. Distilled water is best reserved for auto batteries! I have seen many patients that became sickly because of distilled water consumption. Carbonated water is not the best choice on a regular basis. The carbon dioxide used to carbonate the water causes bloating and puts pressure on the G.I. tract. I am often asked what is wrong with waiting until we are thirsty. Unfortunately, the thirst reflex is not a good indicator. By the time you feel thirsty, you are dehydrated. Folks who are “always thirsty” should read this and try the suggestions. Those of you who don’t consume enough water know who you are! Drink enough to make your urine almost clear. If your urine is becoming dark, strong smelling or very cloudy, you may need to increase fluid consumption.
By the way, coffee, alcohol and soft drinks actually make us thirstier as they are dehydrating, another insidious action they have on our body! These beverages are just plain bad for us, no matter what excuses society comes up with. If you are bored with plain water, try herb teas (hot or cold); there are some delicious fun herb teas available. Also, adding fresh lemon or lime juice to your water makes a nice flavor while at the same time adding liver cleansing properties to your drink! Fluids too hot or too cold are not good for the stomach and can inhibit digestion. Too many ice cubes should be avoided for that reason. In my experience, some fluid with meals actually helps digestion, as long as it is water or herb tea and a moderate temperature. Just make sure you chew food well and swallow it before taking a drink—the digestive juices in your mouth that mix with the food should not be diluted.
I am a big fan of having adequate humidity in our homes and particularly in the bedroom. Keeping a window open a crack (the moist, damp air is actually quite good for us, even helping children & adults with respiratory ailments), having live plants (particularly in the bedroom) and keeping the heat low when sleeping are vital. There are times when a large amount of fluid intake could be advantageous. When you are not feeling well, consuming a large amount of water over a short period of time might help flush out any toxins, germs, bacteria or viruses that are trying to gain a foothold in your body. In addition, those who suffer from kidney and bladder infections (urinary tract infections, or UTI’s in doctors terms), might do well to flush out with a lot of water upon the first sign of a brewing infection. While we are here, I will share that 2–4 teaspoons of raw apple cider vinegar (raw has the cloudy stuff on the bottom that is good for you!) added to some warm water, 2–3 times a day, is good for most of us in general, and especially helpful for urinary tract infections, arthritis and stomach aches.
Can we drink too much water? Absolutely. I am concerned about those who carry a water bottle with them at all times, drinking constantly. Too much water washes out of the body vital trace elements, called electrolytes, and this depletion can have serious consequences, such as kidney failure, heart attack and even death. I recommend and use a product called Trace-Lyte™ liquid electrolytes, both for athletes and anyone concerned about healthy cells, which requires a particular mineral balance for healthy cell integrity (called osmotic pressure). Read the Trace-Lyte™ link for more information. Incidentally, frequent thirst can be a sign of diabetes, which is currently at pandemic (beyond epidemic) levels in “civilized” western countries.
David G. Olarsch, N .D.
Lately we have become overloaded with information. Eat this, don’t eat that. More fiber, less fat, food pyramid, good herbs, bad drugs. This causes cancer, we were wrong about eggs, side effects, second-hand smoke, toxic home materials, power lines. Organic, genetically altered, growth hormones, antibiotics, preservatives, pesticide residue, irradiated. Confusing times we live in. We read that our health care system is almost bankrupt and some of us feel uncomfortable with medical treatments that have dangerous side effects and can feel violating. There is a renaissance of interest in safer, more humane and natural ways of treating our bodies.
Where can we learn more, who is qualified, how will we know if it is working? Are there other health care systems that work better, are more empowering and respect our bodies? What is the difference between conventional (allopathic, western) medicine and holistic (or complementary, alternative, natural, traditional) medicine?
These questions are frequently being asked by many Americans. It is increasingly difficult to find what is right when authorities contradict each other, change their minds and attack one another on an ongoing basis. The average person does not have the scientific background to understand why there is so much disagreement, let alone to know how to read food labels at the supermarket!
Holistic health care, or the system of holism, is not a new concept or philosophy. It is not religious, new age or hippy. In the simplest terms, it is how we view ourselves. Do we see ourselves as a list of diseases and defects? Or, do we see ourselves as complex beings, with body, mind and spirit contributing to what makes us tick? Do we see the interactions among all living creatures, the soil, the planet, the solar system as all being symbiotic, and all working together? Do we realize that the delicate balance we call ‘life’ is fragile, sensitive and powerful? Is it possible that we each are unique beings, with individual needs unlike anyone else’s? Can we see that there is no exact system as our needs change and evolve on many levels, often in short periods of time or even seasonally?
Holism is a concept that embraces the rhythms of life. It shows us that our needs change with our age, where we are living, how much stress we are under, and endless other criteria. We are seeing that while modern medicine has made great progress in repairing physical injuries and with communicable disease (polio, plagues), it is failing greatly in other areas. Diseases of modern civilization (degenerative diseases) such as diabetes, cancers, arthritis, heart disease, brain tumors, circulatory system problems, skin conditions, fertility and many others remain unchecked. In fact, we are more unhealthy as a population than any other time in recorded history. This, combined with the number of people who are on depression medications, children on drugs for behavior modification and an epidemic of obesity in our population, has hastened our interest as a society in holistic health care.
Holistic health care is a loosely knitted network of treatment systems that strengthen the body’s ability to heal itself. Developed and evolved over thousands of years in many different cultures, this system emphasizes non-invasive therapies and lifestyle changes, all with a lack of major permanent side effects. Some of these systems include the mind-body connection, visualization, botanical (herbal) therapies, food supplements, vitamin and mineral therapies, acupuncture, massage, rolfing, hydrotherapy, aromatherapy, color, sound and light therapy, dietary (nutrition) changes, spirituality and exercise. This list is far from complete—there are many others, many of which are culturally traditional, along with some which are new for our society.
Once we understand the body’s healing systems, we learn to listen to our needs. When we need more sleep, we honor the body by giving it more sleep. We pay more attention to our body’s needs for water, rest, exercise, nutrition and fresh air. Some call this listening intuition, others call it common sense. In holistic health care we believe that illness is another way the body communicates with us. Disease is often the manifestation of not listening to earlier warning signals, and in fact, is a deeper, more dramatic wake up call to take action.
There has been a movement in the United States over the last 200 years to return to nature for our needs. To use what was put on earth for our health, and to try to live in harmony while balancing our needs with the environment. This movement has tried to organize into a distinct system of its own by combining many elements of holism. It has been suppressed by more politically powerful systems that perceived any new system as a threat. In the early 1800’s this system was called Eclectic medicine. In the early 1900’s, it was reborn as Naturopathic medicine. Up until the 1930’s, this system experienced much growth, including naturopathic medical schools. Through a concerted effort of political pressures, legal maneuvers and denial of medical insurance coverage it was suppressed until the 1970’s, and is now experiencing a renaissance of its own.
Naturopathic doctors are the only health professionals with doctorate level training in holistic therapies. In 14 states they are licensed as primary care doctors, incorporating the best of conventional and holistic medicine. There are 4 naturopathic medical schools in the Unites States and others in Canada and Europe. There are holistic clinics that treat cancers, help bring healthy children into the world and provide preventative medicine and education to their communities. Practitioners of the holistic healing arts spend more time with you than conventional practitioners.They take the time to get to know you as an individual. This caring attitude and generous attention is greatly valued by their patients.
Holistic health care may not be for everyone. Some people do not wish to listen to their body, or are afraid to disagree with their family doctor. Others don’t realize that they can slowly incorporate change into their lives and not have to be “fanatical” or give up on conventional medicine. Despite the horrendous side effects of medications, surgery and radiation, which are still the major tools of allopathic medicine, some will still require the care that system has to offer. Many people have found it wise to use the best of each system. We do not have to get stuck doing things only one way. Taking the best each system has to offer makes the most sense. Discovering what works for us is a very important learning lesson, providing growth and empowerment as we develop a trust for listening to our innate wisdom.
Natural therapies can be fun. Receiving a massage for stress, aches and pains or injury is much more enjoyable than taking chemical substances or losing sleep! Eating well can be a gourmet experience, not torture! Some changes are pleasant, others take adjustment. The results vary, depending on many factors, such as how much commitment we make to follow through, our constitutional strength (how well we heal), the seriousness of the condition, etc. As most of our conditions took years to develop, they take some time to heal. Conventional medicine masks, controls, suppresses or alleviates the condition, while holistically applied natural therapies are readjusting the body, cleansing and strengthening organs and systems so they can work the way they were created to. When working the holistic way, patience is a great asset while the body heals itself. It can feel like work at times, as you are more involved in the process of healing than with allopathy.
Economics plays a large role in choosing health care. While there can be new expenses initially, most feel that in the long run holistic health care is much less expensive. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! It is difficult to put a value on health—Ralph Waldo Emerson said “the first wealth is health.” Often, it isn’t until we lose our health that we value it—we take it for granted when everything seems to be working in our body. Americans need to think more long term when it comes to health care. Eating poor food, polluting our environment and body, overworking and overtaxing our health defense systems is much more expensive in the long run than preventing problems in the first place.
Understanding and applying holistic health principles can lead to a more vibrant life. One filled with enjoying, not just existing. Preventing needless pain and suffering, faster healing of injuries, having more energy and creativity are just a few of the many benefits we can personally enjoy through taking care of ourselves. Society benefits greatly: less violent crime, healthier and less stressed children, less expensive health care and more productivity are just some of the more profound benefits of a healthier nation. Holism encourages people to take more responsibility for their actions—not to blame others or genetics for their problems. It is about growth, learning, loving and living life. It is wholesome and divine, while allowing for individuality.
Joel Funk, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
Plymouth State University
Paper presented at the Ninth Annual Adult Development Symposium
Amherst, MA June 24–26, 1994
Part Two of a two-part series
12. Developmentally, naturopathy is more advanced in its possession of a more extended, more integrated time frame. It does not look for short-term symptom reduction, but seeks long term cures and ultimately the restoration of health in general. This requires patience and diligence on the part of the healer and the patient. Allopathy may appear to work in the short run, but more often than not fails in the long run. As noted above, the standard allopathic treatments for cancer—radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy—all weaken the immune system and frequently cause cancer or other fatal illness in the long run (Walters, 1993).
A more subtle example was offered by one naturopath, who stated that most pediatricians keep the child “not too sick” by cumulatively drugging (toxifying) the body. The patient may eventually develop, say, a liver disease, requiring many years of cleansing and naturopathic healing. Yet, for the first few decades of the patient’s life, the allopathic physician seems like a success, despite being partially responsible for the later condition.
Another naturopath observed that short-term cures usually set up patients for worse problems later on (see #9 above). She gave the example of using antacids to depress production of or to neutralize hydrochloric acid in the stomach to prevent heartburn. This appears reasonable in the short run, but viewed over an extended time period, the problem looks rather different. Paradoxically, the typical heartburn sufferer does not produce enough hydrochloric acid in the initial stages of digestion—this is the real cause. Later on, the stomach, realizing that digestion is not taking place properly, overreacts by producing too much acid at the wrong time, thus producing the heartburn. Taking antacids at this juncture not only does not cure the underlying problem, it can make the patient dependent on antacids. A naturopath would instead recommend safe digestive enzymes with the meal (e.g., bromelain) as an initial step. On a deeper level the goal would be to restore the stomach’s acid production to normal using systemic means.
A more mundane example: allopaths recommend nasal decongestants, which, through a rebound effect, only lead to more congestion, as the body tries to eliminate toxins. People often then become addicted to conventional decongestants. Naturopaths, working with, rather than against the body, recommend, among other treatments, a nasal spray containing a variety of herbs and cofactors, which soothe the nasal membranes, fight the infection, and allow for easier mucous flow.
13. Even more importantly, naturopathy emphasizes prevention over treatment of disease. Along with Indian Ayurvedic medicine and Chinese medicine (acupuncture, chi gong, herbs) naturopathy offers a positive conception of health. Chinese doctors typically were paid only when the patient was healthy; illness indicated some failure on the physician’s part! Allopathy has no positive conception of health, aside from the absence of manifest disease symptoms. As many naturopaths have observed, we do not actually have “health care” in America, we have “sickness care.” One naturopath summed it up, only half-facetiously: If your blood sugar is 120 you’re diabetic and then allopaths will treat you; if it’s under 119, they’ll say to come back when it gets worse.
Thus allopathy often has little to offer the person suffering with a chronic disease, such as diabetes. In effect, the patient is told that they cannot get better, and that they will have to spend a shortened and progressively deteriorating lifetime limiting their diet, monitoring blood sugar levels, and injecting insulin. The disease can be controlled (partially), but not cured.
Naturopaths, in contrast, extend an optimistic view to their patients towards treating diabetes and other degenerative diseases. They state that we don’t “get disease,” we “create disease” by breaking down our natural defenses through poor diet, lifestyle, etc. The good news is that if a patient creates bad health, he or she can also create good health. In short, naturopathy offers the possibility of regeneration, a very empowering philosophy of healing (see #15 below).
One naturopath related a personal anecdote, in which he was told as a child by a leading New York City allergist that, due to his family medical history, he was virtually guaranteed to develop allergies. Raised by a naturopath himself, he stunned the allergist years later when he was examined and declared symptom free. He remains so to date. In short, a naturopathic regime prevented the allergic genotypical predisposition from manifesting phenotypically. The real goal of naturopathy, then, is not to treat disease, but to educate people to prevent disease from developing in the first place.
14. If, as many developmentalists have observed, being able to penetrate the social norms and self-created structures that bias the average member of society is a sign of higher post-conventional ego development (Cook-Greuter, 1990), then, clearly, naturopaths score high from this viewpoint as well. [My educated guess would be about Stage 5, or “autonomous.”]
The contrast between naturopathic postconventional level ego development and allopathic conventional level ego development can be seen in their respective attitudes towards criticism and diversity of opinion. Naturopaths are extremely open and flexible, thriving on the multiplicity of ideas and treatment approaches that abound. For example, one naturopath was excited to learn recently of an herb, uño de gato, which has been used for centuries by rainforest shamans in Peru. This herb has been found by naturopathic researchers to be a superior immune system stimulant, beneficial in the treatment of AIDS, cancer and a host of degenerative disorders. In short, naturopaths are open to any and all treatment modalities that are safe and effective, regardless of their source, regardless of conventional or mainstream (or even naturopathic “mainstream”) opinion.
In contrast, allopathic physicians are generally rigid and closed in their thinking, and demand a uniformity of opinion. Treatment methods, even those that have been shown to be effective and safe, are ignored if they do not fit the official doctrines of what is permissible. For example, allopathic medications for prostate enlargement do not work effectively, ultimately necessitating surgery. Numerous studies have been conducted in Europe on an herb called pygeum which demonstrate reasonable effectiveness, without side effects. Faced with this evidence, one of the leading urologists in America commented that, despite its obvious value, he would never prescribe it, as it was a “health food” remedy. Frequently articles that present an alternative perspective are rejected for publication in medical journals.
A famous example of the rigidity of the allopathic approach is the case of Linus Pauling, still living at 93. Despite having achieved world-wide acclaim for his research and having won two Nobel Prizes, one in chemistry, when he began to endorse vitamin C as a great healing nutrient, he was permanently ostracized by the mainstream scientific community.
15. Naturopathy empowers the patient, whereas allopathy does not. Allopathic use of drugs and surgery and its dominator approach to healing all too often make the patient passive, helpless, diminished, and disempowered. The “ultimate cure” for the naturopath lies in educating the patient to live in harmony with Nature. The naturopathic patient becomes increasingly responsible for their own well-being, gradually phasing out the interventions of the healer. The obverse of empowerment, however, is responsibility, and not all people are willing to assume this responsibility. Many naturopathic failures are due to the lack of commitment and follow-through required by patients, many of whom had been disempowered by the “passivating” strategies of allopathic medicine (see addendum below).
16. It is a truism in developmental stage theory, that a person at a lower stage cannot fully comprehend the world view of someone from a higher stage (Commons et al, 1984). Linear formal operational thinking cannot grasp postformal, systemic and meta-systemic modes of thought. Thus, as one naturopath took pains to point out, even when allopathic medicine does try to incorporate some of the naturopathic findings—as in recent pronouncements touting the benefits of a high-fiber, low fat diet, exercise, and selected vitamins—it tends to miss the point. For example, she took issue with the context-ignoring espousal of a low fat diet as beneficial. While eliminating harmful fats, it also cuts down on essential fatty acids needed for sex hormones, assimilation of Vitamin D, etc. Under such conditions, the liver may in fact overreact to produce cholesterol anyway, even without fat coming in. The organism’s requirements and its holistic functioning are not easily assimilated by a world view incapable of seeing the body as more than a mechanism.
Similarly, a presystemic approach to diagnosis will not be able to comprehend the systemic conception that one area of the body may somehow reflect the state of the entire organism, e.g., the iris in iridology, the feet in reflexology, the ear in acupuncture, the skin, the tongue, the hair, etc. Allopathy prefers man-made, mechanical methods of diagnosis to organismic methods (or as one naturopath put it, “the early warning signs that the Creator provided for us.”)
17. Naturopaths have an integrated view of the person as a unity of body, mind, and spirit. They treat the person as a totality, avoiding the dualism inherent in much of allopathic medicine, where all too many problems, e.g., chronic fatigue syndrome until very recently, are dismissed as “all in your head.” Allopathic physicians are just now conceding what naturopaths have argued all along, namely that there is, in large part, a biological basis for the chronic exhaustion. Fortunately, a more integrated view of the person as body/mind/spirit is making inroads among some formerly strictly allopathic healers (Remen, 1994).
18. This is more impressionistic, but naturopaths are, in my view, highly ethically developed. The personal and professional ethics of the naturopaths interviewed embody the Golden Rule, which puts them at or near Kohlberg’s Stage 6 or even 7. Whereas some health professionals who work with cancer patients often state that they themselves would never allow chemotherapy to be done to them (Walters, 1993), naturopaths would never prescribe anything that, in principle, they would not prescribe for themselves. One naturopath specifically stated that he treats patients as he would want to be treated. This means, beyond doing no harm, taking the time necessary to know a patient’s condition in full detail, charging relatively modest fees (even offering several hours a week for free phone-in consultations), providing a supportive, non-intimidating, environmentally correct atmosphere for consultations/ treatments, and treating the patient as a partner in the healing process. Furthermore, he never considers a patient hopeless or terminal; several times he stated ,”I never give up; I’ll always look for something else that might work.” This hope-engendering attitude on the part of the healer can of itself have a curative effect (Walters, 1993).
One naturopath, speaking of allopathic physicians, considered most of them individually to be pretty ethical people. He observed, however, that while most are ethical, idealistically motivated people when they enter medical school, they typically become entrapped by the system, and emerge ethically lower than when they arrived. In short, he feels that the governing institutions reinforce a conventional and even self-serving preconventional morality.
Furthermore, naturopaths are quite politically progressive. Case after case was shown or told me, revealing how the allopathy-oriented AMA, in concert with the pharmaceutical companies, the FDA, and the “cancer industry” has blocked safe, effective, inexpensive treatment alternatives for cancer and other disorders because they would interfere with power and profits (Walters, 1993). The naturopaths interviewed did not put profit and power ahead of helping people. A small, but illustrative example: One naturopath told me he was about to write a letter of support to a Vermont senator who was trying to keep soda machines out of the public schools, and was as a result getting political flak from some of the powerful cola companies.
Despite the above critique of allopathy, even die-hard naturopaths admit that the two modes of healing are complementary. For accidents and other crisis situations, allopathy is a necessity although even a broken bone, after setting, can benefit from mineral supplements. Given that naturopathic and allopathic healing are both necessary, one inevitable conclusion must be drawn: Aside from crisis situations, naturopathy ought to be the healing method of choice, given that it reflects a developmentally more advanced mode of preventing, apprehending, and treating illness and promoting health than allopathy. If naturopathy fails, or if the situation is immediately life threatening, allopathic measures should of course be used. In America today, however, the reverse is largely the case. The naturopaths pointed out that the majority of their patients are (allopathic) medical failures, whose systems have been toxified by drugs and other allopathic interventions, thus making the naturopaths’ work all the harder and reducing the chances of success. (They frequently succeed anyway!) Worse, the majority of Americans do not even visit a naturopath or other alternative healer, either sooner, when prevention could save us all billions of dollars and much needless suffering, or later, after illness has commenced. Given the recent statistics, however, it would seem that this trend is changing. The crux of the problem is whether allopathy and this includes not merely individual physicians, but hospitals, medical associations and their journals, government, the pharmaceutical industry, insurance companies, agribusiness, the media, and, finally, the mind-set of the average patient—can evolve beyond the level of formal operations and embrace the organismic, systemic view held by naturopathy and related holistic treatment approaches. Pragmatically, such a change will most likely only ensue from a grass roots withdrawal from allopathy, and statistically, this trend may well have begun. Such a transformation would bode well for the health of the American people and the planet.
The question remains: Why, if naturopathy is in the vast majority of instances the safer, developmentally more advanced treatment modality, do so few people seek out naturopaths et al, at least initially? Based on the interviews and my own observations, I would like to suggest, informally, one dozen likely factors:
1. The very fact that naturopathy does reflect a high level of development works against it. If only approximately 10% of the population reaches postconventional, postformal stages of development (Miller & Cook-Greuter, 1994), then the difficulties for the other 90% ought to be obvious (see #16 above).
2. Allopathic treatment, in the short run at least, is far easier. The allopathic doctor promises to take care of the patient through a “magic bullet” (drugs and surgery), while not demanding much in the way of lifestyle changes. Naturopathy is far more demanding, insisting on extensive dietary and lifestyle changes not many people are willing to make unless they feel they have no other choice. How many people would give up coffee, red meat, milk, ice cream, cake, candy, fried food, alcohol, soft drinks, salt, white flour, cigarettes, and Cool Whip if they did not have to?
3. Similarly, the demand to be responsible for one’s health can be threatening to those who have grown accustomed to relinquishing control to experts. One naturopath spoke of people’s “fear of self-empowerment.”
4. Naturopathic healing takes time and patience, which are sorely lacking in a population accustomed to instant results. Who wants to hear that it takes several years to fully regenerate?
5. Often, as the process of detoxification transpires, the patient will temporarily feel worse before they feel better. Some patients may lose their motivation to continue or even begin when faced with this likelihood.
6. Initially, naturopathy may cost more. The patient typically has to spend hundreds of dollars on an initial visit, supplements, special foods, and possibly a juicer, and none of this is as yet covered by medical insurance. In the long run, of course, good health pays off, but the start up cost of a changed lifestyle may inhibit many patients.
7. Aside from cost or difficulty, people, simply put, have ingrained habits that are difficult to modify. People whose main source of grain is wheat will probably balk at being told to avoid it in favor of a more diverse assortment of healthier but less popular grains like quinoa, spelt, kamut, amaranth, etc. People used to orange juice and coffee in the morning will find it hard to forego them. And how many of us are used to making/drinking fresh vegetable juices?
8. Most Americans have been conditioned from birth to view allopathic doctors as Godlike, and this childish projection tends to linger on, affecting even postformal level adults in subtle ways. Berger & Luckmann (1966) have noted that through a process of “sedimentation” we tend to see the conventional manner of doing things as somehow “natural” and correct, all other ways appearing somehow deviant and suspect—despite the fact that the alternatives may in fact be safer and more effective.
9. The medical industry, abetted by the media, has reinforced the belief system noted above, and presents natural healing as weird, fraudulent, primitive, something technology has outgrown, etc. As should be clear from the preceding analysis, there is no factual or logical basis for perpetuating this image of naturopathy and other holistic healing modalities, yet the image persists.
10. Social pressure from spouses, friends, allopathic physicians, etc., is another factor. Who wants to risk social stigmatization as a “health nut,” for following the naturopathic regime?
11. We live in a country bewitched by high technology, and allopathy is, if nothing else, high tech. It’s very hard for us to imagine that an acupuncturist taking a patient’s pulse, or a naturopath using iridology, may be better able to diagnose a host of specific problems and systemic imbalances than a hospital with its super-expensive computerized gadgets. It’s perhaps even harder to swallow the fact that, while we spend billions in the “war on cancer” that we somehow never win, herbs growing wild in North America have been demonstrated to have a curative effect on cancer and other degenerative diseases (Walters, 1993).
12. Finally, many people do not seek out naturopaths and other alternatives because they do not know they even exist. There are at least as many allopathic physicians working in the small New Hampshire town where I am writing as there are naturopaths in the entire state! Due to the monopolistic control of organized allopathic medicine, the lack of media exposure, and lack of advertising, there is all too often a consequent lack of knowledge of holistic alternatives. It was stunning and bewildering to learn that as many as twenty eight alternative treatments for cancer exist (Walters, 1993), yet the majority of Americans remain unaware of these options.
I could possibly add a thirteenth reason, one which sums up most of the foregoing discussion: Allopathy is consistent with the contemporary mechanistic, dominator (Eisler, 1987) worldview subscribed to by the majority of Westerners today, while naturopathy is not. It is the contention of this essay that naturopathy reflects a higher, more unified, more life enhancing worldview. Naturopathy and other holistic healing modalities will probably not become more widely accepted until the underlying weltanschauung itself changes. There are hopeful signs that this may indeed be occurring.
Alexander, C.; Heaton, D. & Chandler, H. (1994). Advanced human development in the Vedic psychology of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: Theory and research. In M. Miller & S. Cook-Greuter (Eds.), Transcendence and mature thought in adulthood (pp. 39-70).
Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. Berger, P. & Luckmann, T. (1966). The social construction of reality. New York: Doubleday Anchor.
Commons, M.; Richards, F. & Armon, C. (Eds.) (1984). Beyond formal operations: Late adolescent and adult cognitive development. New York: Praeger.
Cook-Greuter, S. (1990). Maps for living: Ego development theory
from symbiosis to conscious universal embeddedness. In M. Commons; C. Armon; L. Kohlberg; F. Richards; T. Grotzer & J. Sinnott (Eds.), Adult development: Models and methods in the study of adolescent and adult thought, 2 (p. 79-104). New York: Praeger.
De Schepper, L. (1994). Western medicine or homeopathy…Which one is a real science? Townsend Letter for Doctors, May, 452-455.
Devall, B. & Sessions, G. (1985). Deep ecology: Living as if nature mattered. Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith.
Eisler, R. (1987). The chalice and the blade. San Francisco: Harper & Row.
Funk, J. (1994). Unanimity and disagreement among transpersonal psychologists. In M. Miller & S. Cook-Greuter (Eds.), Transcendence and mature thought in adulthood (pp. 3-36). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Koplowitz, H. (1984). A projection beyond Piaget’s formal operational stage: A general system stage and a unitary stage. In M. Commons; F. Richards & C. Armon (Eds.), Beyond formal operations: Late adolescent and adult cognitive development (pp. 272-295). New York: Praeger.
Miller, M. & Cook-Greuter, S. (Eds.) (1994). Transcendence and mature thought in adulthood. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Remen, R. (1994). The recovery of the sacred: Some thoughts on medical reform. Revision, 16 (3): 123-129.
Sternberg, R. (1984). Higher-order reasoning in postformal operational thought. In M. Commons; F. Richards & C. Armon (Eds.), Beyond formal operations: Late adolescent and adult cognitive development (pp. 74-91). New York: Praeger.
Vasudev, J. (1994). Ahimsa, justice, and the unity of life: Postconventional morality from an Indian perspective. In M. Miller & S. Cook-Greuter (Eds.), Transcendence and mature thought in adulthood (pp. 237-255). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Walters, R. (1993). Options: The alternative cancer therapy book. Garden City Park, NY: Avery.
Werner, H. (1948). Comparative Psychology of Mental Development. New York: International Universities Press.
End of Part Two. This article was provided specially for readers of NaturopathicHealth.net
Copyright ©Dr. Joel Funk. All Rights Reserved.
Joel Funk, Ph.D.
Joel Funk, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
Plymouth State University
Paper presented at the Ninth Annual Adult Development Symposium
Amherst, MA June 24–26, 1994
Part One of a two-part series
Based in part on interviews with three naturopathic physicians, a formal comparison between naturopathic and conventional (allopathic) approaches to health and healing is presented. The underlying structures of the two healing modalities differ radically, e.g., naturopathy employs several levels of postformal operations, while allopathy is primarily formal operational. Using criteria derived from a number of developmental theories (Werner, Koplowitz, Cook-Greuter) eighteen points of contrast are delineated. The claim is made that naturopathy reflects a developmentally more advanced mode of understanding healing. Numerous examples are provided, e.g., the use/abuse of antibiotics, the role of diet, the problem of side effects, treating the disease vs. treating the patient, and issues concerning prevention, diagnosis, and ethics.
A recent survey published in a major medical journal revealed that at least one third of Americans have seen an “alternative” or “holistic” healer in the past year. Given the emerging popularity and increasing significance of alternative, holistic, or what will henceforth be referred to as “naturopathic” systems of healing (as opposed to the conventional or “allopathic” methods), it seems timely to examine the underlying structures of the two approaches from the perspective of developmental theory. A variety of theoretical approaches and developmental criteria will inform the analysis, including postformal stage theories (Commons et al, 1984; Koplowitz, 1984), ego development stage theory (Cook-Greuter, 1990), transpersonal psychology (Miller & Cook-Greuter, 1994; Funk, 1994), Werner’s (1948) orthogenetic principle, and moral developmental schemes (Vasudev, 1994).
First, some basic definitions are in order: allopathy aims to remove symptoms or the proximal cause of symptoms, while naturopathy seeks to restore the body to overall health and prevent further illness, through eliminating the underlying cause of the symptoms. One naturopath used the metaphor of a smoke alarm going off in a building. Allopathic medicine treats the problem by cutting the wires to the alarm bells, alleviating the symptom (noise). Or it may open a window to allow the smoke to escape. However, the underlying situation which produces the smoke continues to worsen. Naturopathy seeks to eliminate the conditions which cause the smoke, i.e., fire somewhere in the building. The alarm will then cease clamoring by itself.
While allopathic physicians rely primarily on drugs, surgery, and “bio-incompatible” physical energies (e.g., X-rays), all of which are invasive and potentially harmful, naturopaths have at their disposal a diverse armamentarium of non-intrusive and essentially harmless measures. These include extensive dietary changes, juicing, herbs, vitamins, minerals, glandular extracts and other natural supplements, homeopathic remedies, intestinal cleansing, fasting, massage, exercise, “bio-compatible” life energies (e.g., reflexology, acupressure), stress management, and general life style changes. It is true that some of the aforementioned treatment modalities have filtered into the allopathic mainstream, but typically not in a holistic manner, as will be seen below. In any event, this essay contrasts relatively “pure” forms of allopathic and naturopathic healing.
Based on in-depth interviews with two practicing Doctors of Naturopathy, a briefer interview with an older, more experienced naturopath who had been a mentor to the other two, plus extensive reading suggested by the interviews, as well as some firsthand experience with naturopathy and related healing methods, I have been virtually compelled to formulate the following conclusion: While there are assuredly many instances primarily crisis management where allopathic procedures such as drugs and surgery are required and beneficial, as an overall approach to healing, naturopathy reflects a more developmentally advanced mode of healing than does allopathy. Below is a point by point analysis of this developmental contrast. Except where a reference is provided, the facts and examples discussed below emerged from the interviews and readings; the entire analysis has admittedly been filtered through the lenses of the naturopaths as well as the author. Nevertheless, the general thesis is, I believe, a valid one.
Findings and Discussion
1. Naturopathy requires postformal operations for its comprehension and application, while allopathy relies essentially on formal operations and a linear model of causality. Frequently two or more linear chains may be linked by allopathic medicine as when an opportunistic infection is observed to spread after prior weakening of the immune system, as in AIDS but a true systemic level of analysis is rarely attained in allopathic medicine.
Allopathy’s near exclusive focus on the disease process and its proximal causes (bacteria, viruses, etc.) indicates a lack of systemic thinking. Naturopaths do not focus on the symptoms; they view the disease as an indication of a deeper imbalance in the organism, which requires a holistic approach to treatment. As Walters (1993), in a book on cancer treatment alternatives, writes: “The allopathic, conventional approach, for all its high-tech trappings, is based on a primitive medical philosophy: aggressively attacking an “enemy” disease. Often the patient is devastated in the process, while the cancer and its underlying causes remain.” (p. 2)
Another example: The very notion of “side effects,” a problem arising all too often in allopathic medicine (see #8 below), betrays an unsystemic view of the person. Only from the limited perspective of the symptoms being attacked are there “side effects.” From the organism’s—and the naturopath’s—holistic perspective, there are only effects. Therefore naturopaths seek remedies congenial to the organism, with virtually no “side effects.”
Yet a third example can be observed in allopathy’s failure to distinguish between synthetic chemicals, such as ascorbic acid, and naturally occurring remedies, such as the complete vitamin C complex, which includes bioflavonoids, rutin, and hesperidin as cofactors for maximum efficacy. This tendency to isolate the “active ingredient” from its larger system is also operative in the pharmaceutical field, which frequently extracts one or more chemicals from a holistically balanced herbal system. The naturopathic model assumes that the “remainder of the herb” has a significant role to play in absorption, or buffering of acidity, or minimizing potentially harmful effects. For example, aspirin was originally a derivative of white willow bark, which contains numerous compounds besides acetylsalicylic acid. As a result, aspirin has “side effects,” while white willow bark has none.
2. In vivid contrast, naturopathy assumes and requires, at minimum, a systematic view of the body (Commons et al, 1984). A system is a Gestalt, i.e., more than the sum of its parts, in this instance more than the sum of linear causal chains of disease, or more than the sum of activities of individual organs. For example, a cancer may be found in the lungs, but naturopathic treatment will involve numerous other organ systems, e.g., building the immune system, detoxifying the entire body not only the lungs, strengthening the liver and cleansing the intestines to facilitate the process of detoxification and absorption of nutrients, which can in turn rebuild damaged tissues and debilitated organ systems, etc. Regardless of the specific symptoms, the whole organism is treated.
In other words, the various organs of the body are treated in a synergistic manner, not piecemeal. Synergy in this instance means that as each organ is restored to function it helps the other organs as well. Maximum efficacy is achieved by supporting several weak organ systems at the same time. The total effect is greater than the sum of treating each organ system separately. Similarly vitamins, minerals, herbs, enzymes, cleansers, exercise, etc. are all prescribed together, as they mutually enhance each other’s benefits. Most allopathic research, on the other hand, isolates one item, e.g., vitamin E in relation to, say, cancer, ignoring the fact that this vitamin works better in conjunction with vitamin C and selenium, and vice versa.
3. Naturopathy, in fact, is typically meta-systematic (Commons et al, 1984); the naturopaths interviewed frequently drew connections between our deteriorating, demineralized soil, a result of non-ecological agricultural techniques (pesticides, synthetic fertilizers) and severe mineral deficiencies in the human body, which can lead to a wide range of diseases. The organism was always seen in the context of its physical and social environment: air, water, soil, light, noise, electromagnetic radiation, music, stress, clothing, household building materials, etc.
4. In the midst of the meta-systematic cognition described above, occasional implicit use was made of third order analogies (Sternberg, 1984). For example, a homology—a formal identity, more than a mere analogy—was made by one naturopath between antibiotics and pesticides. As a third order analogy it would break down as follows: antibiotics vs. herbal “probiotics” = short-term alleviation vs. immune building; pesticides vs. organic farming = short-term bug removal vs. strengthening plants/soil.
In other words, the contrast between organismic and linear approaches to treating “pests” in the body is identical to what occurs when attempting to treating agricultural pests.
5. Beyond this, naturopathy, ultimately, might even be considered cross-paradigmatic (Commons et al, 1984), touching inevitably on the economics, politics, history, and sociology of the various healing alternatives (Walters, 1992), ultimately penetrating to the contrasting philosophies underlying naturopathy and allopathy. Naturopathy results from a guiding philosophy at odds with the dominant mechanistic philosophy undergirding Western industrialized society. Allopathy, in contrast, is clearly derived from these same premises. Or in Eisler’s (1987) terms, naturopathy embraces a partnership model of relationship, while allopathy falls within the dominator model. As indicated below, this partnership/dominator model extends not only to the treatment process but to the healer/patient relationship itself.
6. Naturopathy at times transcends the representational level (Alexander et al, 1994). In Koplowitz’s (1984) schema, the highest stage of apprehending reality is called unitary. A unitary view of reality was sometimes explicitly delineated, other times merely hinted at by the naturopaths. The interviews were permeated with a profound respect for the underlying wisdom and intelligence of Nature. The naturopaths cautioned repeatedly that humans “play God” at their peril.
Furthermore, although, they did not use this terminology, the naturopathic view seems consistent with the recently emerging philosophy of “deep ecology” (Devall & Sessions, 1985) and with the Indian moral philosophy of Ahimsa or “nonviolence towards living things” (Vasudev, 1994).
A more specific example of unitary “thinking” can be seen in the emphasis on the healthy functioning of the cell as the basis for fighting disease—even before the immune system is called into play. Seeing humans in their “cellular” modality unites humanity with all of life, down to the mineral level.
Similarly, naturopaths are comfortable with the concept of a healing and sustaining Life Force or energy that exists in all living forms. Many of the natural remedies and treatments prescribed are designed to enhance the functioning of this force in the body. Drugs and processed food, on the other hand, are avoided, as they are said to weaken the body’s life energy. This is not a new concept by any means, as it has been recognized (under names like prana, chi, n/um, mana, and ki) and used in Asian and shamanic healing worldwide for millennia (Walters, 1993).
7. Thus, it can be stated that a basic axiom of naturopathy is trust in the wisdom and healing power of Nature. Naturopaths respect the body, treat good health as the norm, even our birthright, have faith in the body’s tendency towards homeostasis, and see disease as “a beautiful gift” or lesson, indicating the need/opportunity for change in lifestyle.
Allopathy, in contrast, typically distrusts nature, and tries to “play God” by interfering with and/or suppressing natural processes. One of these natural processes is fever, a high temperature created by the body to burn off toxins, e.g., bacteria. Naturopathy acknowledges this as part of the healing wisdom of the body and welcomes the fever (unless it becomes life threatening). Allopathy, which does not acknowledge the healing value of the fever, forces the body to lower its temperature, effectively stifling the body’s ability to heal itself and worsening the situation by allowing the toxic bacteria to propagate.
Allopathy tends to see disease as inevitable rather than the outcome of poor lifestyle choices (e.g., diet). One naturopath criticized the allopathic and widely held view that, “it’s normal for women to need estrogen in their 50’s, for older men to get prostate cancer, and for a certain percentage of the elderly to become senile.” The fact that these are statistically common problems among a population that consistently violates naturopathic principles does not mean they are normal or inevitable.
The same naturopath, when speaking of the wisdom of Nature, marveled at the more than 400 functions performed by the liver, in awe at the intelligence capable of producing such an organ. Allopaths make headlines by heroically performing liver transplants; even if naturopaths could perform surgery, it is almost unimaginable that they would remove such a miraculous organ unless absolutely necessary. Instead, they would cleanse, nourish, and strengthen it.
One allopathically trained physician bemoaned the fact that, “The medical system needs to relinquish a single-minded quest for mastery and allow for the presence of mystery….It’s the only medical system in the history of the human race that doesn’t allow for the presence of mystery” (Remen, 1994, p. 125).
8. Naturopathy has great respect for each patient. First, naturopaths abide closely to Hippocrates’ dictum: Above all do no harm. Vitamins, herbs, and massage produce no or minimal side effects aside from the necessary inconvenience of detoxification while virtually all drugs, surgery, and anesthesia have side effects, often deleterious ones. Even supposedly safe aspirin, which can cause internal bleeding, has been implicated in several deaths annually. Walters (1993), in a comprehensive critique of traditional and alternative treatments for cancer, concludes that chemotherapy is not only ineffective for the most part, but highly dangerous as well. Despite the fact that, “Only 2 to 3 percent of the nearly one-half million Americans who die of cancer every year are being saved by chemotherapy…over half of all cancer patients routinely receive chemotherapy drugs…All chemotherapy drugs are toxic and many are carcinogenic” (Walters, 1993, p. 1). Similarly the pain killing drugs frequently prescribed for arthritis actually accelerate the degeneration of the joints.
Overall, estimates run to several hundred thousand iatrogenic (i.e., treatment induced) deaths a year! One naturopath argued that this figure would be orders of magnitude larger, if what allopathic physicians do not do were factored in as well. For example, by ignoring, deprecating, and even suppressing the arguments and findings of naturopaths, nutritionists, and other alternative healers including non-traditional MD’s for decades, allopathic medicine has thereby contributed greatly to disease and death.
It is not a mere coincidence that none of the three naturopaths interviewed carry malpractice insurance, and that in general naturopathic malpractice insurance is far lower than for allopathic physicians.
Second, each person is considered unique, not as a mere instantiation of some disease pattern. Naturopathy treats the patient in depth. Naturopaths spend copious amounts of time during initial visits (from three to five hours in the case of those interviewed here), including a detailed history of physical and emotional problems. Naturopaths believe that patient’s own thoughts and intuitions about what is occurring in their body can often be valid clues in determining and refining a treatment program. Unlike many allopaths, naturopaths do not dismiss the patient’s ideas and beliefs, since “they know better.”
Similarly, early symptoms, which presage full-blown diseases later on, are not ignored, but taken seriously. (One naturopath somewhat humorously compared the disease itself to an “idiot light” going off on a car dashboard, because the driver [patient] previously ignored all the earlier warning signs.)
In diagnosing and treating arthritis, for example, allopathy focuses on the manifest disease, categorizes all patients as essentially “arthritis cases” of a particular type, and usually ignores the problem until it is advanced enough to be causing acute symptoms. In short, they treat the disease, not the patient. Naturopathy, in contrast, looks for early warning signs, such as certain aches and pains, poor nails and teeth, charley horse, even kidney infections. Similarly, in the case of osteoporosis, a number of “idiot lights” are likely to flash before the problem becomes visible on X-rays: receding gums, fingernail lines, loose teeth, achy joints, even temper outbursts. Many naturopaths also corroborate their evaluation with a diagnostic system called iridology, which presumably can indicate the deteriorating state of an organ before it manifests in disease symptoms.
Furthermore, naturopathy, being systemic, does not invoke a single, simple cause, for each disease, nor a single, simple treatment. Ten people with the symptoms of arthritis, may very well receive ten different programs of treatment, depending on the various causal factors and the patient’s specific organismic strengths and weaknesses. A rigid, inflexible character may be the prime factor for one patient, while a diet high in sugar, nuts, and citrus fruits leading to an acid/alkaline imbalance may be key in another. A third may develop arthritis due to a combination of stress, overwork, lack of exercise, and excessive coffee consumption. Naturopaths treat the patient, not the disease.
9. Naturopathy has overarching integrating principles, (Werner, 1948) several of which have already been or will be mentioned [see the attached sheet outlining the principles of naturopathy]. A somewhat related approach, homeopathy, also has very specific “meta-rules” which inform treatment, such as the axiom that “like cures like.” Allopathy at root has only one “principle,” which is to eliminate the manifest symptoms of the disease. This may make sense from the point of view of linear, formal operational thinking, but it overlooks the organismic, systemic, homeostatic nature of the body. Thus, the “cure” all too frequently boomerangs: antibiotic over-use it’s in our meat too–has now led to “superbugs,” which appear to resist existing antibiotics. Naturopaths have been warning against precisely this outcome for decades.
In fact, antibiotics actually weaken the immune system in the long run in a number of ways, for example, by removing zinc from the body. Zinc, however, is necessary for the immune system to function properly, so that when a newer, possibly stronger bacteria or virus appears, the organism’s immune system is likely to be weaker than before, not stronger. Naturopaths avoid this dilemma by using “probiotics” to treat infections, including vitamins, trace minerals (like zinc), thymus extract, bee propolis, and herbs like goldenseal, echinacea, and a four-herb formula called Essiac. All of these have the effect of boosting the immune system, although some of these work more gradually, others more immediately. More systemically, naturopaths would also recommend acidophilus to replenish the beneficial intestinal flora that have typically been depleted by years of taking antibiotic use. The net result is that the organism is stronger from the experience of having fought off the infection naturally, on its own. In a sense, the body has “learned” from the experience.
A postscript to the homeopathic principle alluded to above: Conventional allopathic healing has employed the principle of “like curing like” in vaccines and allergy shots, for example. It has not, however, been able to induce a general principle of treatment, whereas homeopathy has (De Schepper, 1994). Homeopathy treats all diseases in this manner, and can frequently predict, on the basis of the disease symptoms, which sorts of plant derivatives are likely to work. In fact, it was homeopathy’s success in treating epidemics in the last century that led to its growth in America, a growth that was stopped by the concerted actions of allopathic physicians (Walters, 1993).
In the year 1831 a great cholera epidemic swept Europe and later America. The physicians dealt with the problem as usual and the sick died in droves. Hahnemann [founder of homeopathy], not having yet seen the disease, predicted on the basis of the law of similars, the remedies which would prove curative. His prediction came true…The discovery of the efficiency of certain drugs…before having actually seen the disease, through…the application of a law—that is science. (De Schepper, 1994, p. 452)
10. Naturopathy is not only more highly integrated than allopathy, it differentiates far more precisely as well (Werner, 1948). A recently popularized, officially endorsed “food pyramid” stresses grains, vegetables, and fruits something naturopaths have been clamoring about since the turn of the century but this scheme is far too diffuse, as Werner would put it. A naturopath, for example, would further differentiate between whole grains and processed grains, between hybrid grains (semolina wheat) and naturally occurring “heirloom” grains (spelt), between reliance on a small number of grains, vegetables and fruits and eating a diversity of crops, between organically grown and “conventionally grown” (i.e., with pesticides) vegetables and fruits, between dark green leafy vegetables and nutrient-poor iceberg lettuce, between vine-ripened and prematurely picked tomatoes, between fruits that are alkaline or acid, between food grown on soil fertilized with compost or chemicals, between raw vegetables and cooked vegetables, etc.
In fact, the naturopaths interviewed provide an informational handout to all new patients, which makes recommendations for a whole host of techniques and products. A few examples: avoid sunglasses, as they filter out natural light needed by the brain and pineal gland; use the one brand of cough drops that has no sugar in it; do not drink city water, use spring water; use full-spectrum lights, not standard fluorescent lights; do not use aluminum cookware; use environmentally safe household cleaners and detergents, etc. These seemingly “obsessive” distinctions are not truly obsessive, since they are all subordinated to the integrating principle of eating food and using products that are grown/developed in accordance with Nature, and which are health promoting.
Allopathy, in contrast, suffers from what might be termed “misplaced obsessiveness.” Instead of a finely articulated view of what promotes health not a single medical school in America requires a course on nutrition, for instance allopathy focuses instead on the minutiae of disease processes, endless pharmaceutical agents, surgical procedures, office management, political and bureaucratic maneuvering, and the like.
Given that allopathic medicine dominates American culture, it is ironic, but hardly surprising, that many plant lovers use full spectrum lights to help their plants grow better, all the while working all day under inferior artificial lighting. The naturopaths interviewed observed regretfully that we take far better care of our cars, computers, plants, and pets than we do ourselves! As one remarked, “If you don’t have the right fuel in the body, it’s like having a Ferrari and putting low quality gasoline in it, then wondering why it doesn’t run well.” It should be obvious that any decent mechanic should make sure the Ferrari is first getting the proper fuel before poking around in the engine, but, to push the metaphor, this is precisely what allopathic “mechanics” do not do.
11. Naturopathy is thus paradoxically simple and parsimonious (in its few basic principles), yet elegantly complex in application requiring years of study and continuous upgrading as part of clinical practice. In the terminology of Werner’s (1948) well known orthogenetic principle, naturopathy is both well differentiated and hierarchically integrated. Allopathy, in contrast, is “simplistic” (in lacking integrating principles) and therefore excessively complicated in practice, as when physicians prescribe an anti-nausea drug to counter the effects of chemotherapy or when a diuretic prescribed to reduce water retention depletes potassium, causing “side effects” necessitating the further prescription of synthetic potassium. In brief, allopathy creates a negative spiral health pattern, while naturopathy engenders a positive spiral health pattern.
One telling indicator: There is no need for specialists in naturopathy. Typically a patient who comes in for disease A finds that symptoms of apparently unrelated condition B, which have plagued them for years and failed to respond to allopathic measures, also clear up.
A further irony: allopathic medicine presents itself as conventional, scientific, even conservative, when in fact it is a radical departure from the more natural, non-invasive healing methods employed planet wide for millennia (Walters, 1993). Naturopathy is typically depicted as “radical” in the pejorative sense of the word: as a deluded backwater far from the allopathic mainstream. Actually, naturopathy is radical in its true etymological sense; “radical” derives from the Latin root “radix,” meaning “going to the root.” Viewed historically, however, naturopathy is simply a modernized version of a venerable tradition. In that sense it is “conservative” in that it conserves the best of what has been accumulated from age old methods, as well as from modern research. As a final irony, the bulk of this research has been done by or under the auspices of allopathic medicine, which all too frequently ignores and even suppresses its own findings on the efficacy of vitamins, herbs, and other non-conventional treatment modalities (Walters, 1993).
End of Part One. Wasn’t that exemplary? To continue to the fascinating conclusion, click below…
Copyright ©Dr. Joel Funk. All Rights Reserved.
Joel Funk, Ph.D.