THE FIRST TEN MILLION
Healthcare Reform Through Education and Empowerment
It would be challenging to try to find anyone these days who doesn’t recognize that we are in a healthcare crisis. Healthcare-related costs are overwhelming the budgets of many Americans. Yet, for all our spending, our collective level of well-being continues to decline. We may be living longer, but generally, we are not feeling well! Many doctors, economists, business executives and journalists have written books on the ways we could improve healthcare services and hopefully reduce costs.
You can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that created it
In my decades dedicated to the study of our medical system, I’ve combed through piles of such books, along with countless articles on the subject. While often full of helpful facts and expert analysis, they all seem to have one common, inherent flaw:
They are offering solutions to a broken system from within that broken system, broadly accepting the belief that our current focus on the aggressive and primary use of pharmaceutical medicines for the treatment of disease is the best we can do.
I would argue that it is the paradigm itself that is broken. So I am suggesting that instead of trying to make prescription drugs more affordable or fighting for more face time with doctors, we zoom OUT and look at this issue with a broader lens: Let's take a look at some of the fundamental misunderstandings that are driving the current system. Maybe then, armed with a new level of awareness, we can start to move toward an approach to healthcare that is truly effective, far less expensive, and actually empowering to the individual...
The principle that guides traditional medical treatment in this country (whether for traumas, infections, or chronic conditions) is that of “heroic intervention”. While the history of the practice involved some very dubious methods by today’s standards (such as the use of bloodletting and mercury), we now use the term to represent the notion that the body is fundamentally incapable of healing itself.
The treatment protocols, as you will see, that evolved from this concept rely on the doctor and science to find a way to heal the body. It is assumed within this concept that the doctor’s intervention is essential, since the body is seen as incapable of self-healing.
Heroic intervention has its place
There are areas of healthcare where heroic intervention is absolutely the appropriate approach to treatment. If you fall off a ladder, are in a car accident, or are having a heart attack, you definitely want heroic intervention. The modern advancements in surgical techniques and other trauma-related technology are nothing short of miraculous.
Likewise, heroic intervention has served us very well in the arena of infectious disease. The discovery of antibiotics in 1928 truly changed the course of history, arming our medical community with an amazingly effective tool for stopping many of the most dangerous and deadly infectious diseases. At the time of the discovery of penicillin, infectious diseases were the scourge of the planet. Collectively, they held life expectancy to under 60 years of age. Now, for the first time, medicine had a tool that actually killed the infecting agent when the body’s immune system was unable to do so.
When it comes to trauma care and infectious disease, modern medicine works wonders. These are both areas where the application of heroic intervention is necessary, effective, and appropriate.
Heroic intervention has its limitations
However, there is another category of medical treatment where heroic intervention is failing us: chronic illness. Within the modern medical paradigm, there are no cures for diabetes, insomnia, migraine, arthritis, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, heart disease, lupus, anxiety, MS, colitis, diverticulitis, asthma, allergies, restless leg syndrome, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and on and on…
Do you see a problem here?
I do. Let’s just hit the nail on the head:
IF MODERN MEDICINE WAS EFFECTIVE AT TREATING CHRONIC ILLNESS, IT WOULDN’T BE CALLED CHRONIC ILLNESS….
….It would be called "six month illness" or "three week illness" or something else, but not chronic illness. Consider as well that the treatment protocols offered are mostly pharmaceutical drugs that you are expected to take for the rest of your life. It is reasonable to take a step back and examine this approach: Why pharmaceutical drugs?
Chronic illness and pharmaceutical drugs
There are a few reasons for this. The principle of heroic intervention assumes the body’s mechanisms are incapable of healing the problem. Thus, the use of drugs, i.e. biochemical reactors, that are designed to interfere with the normal mechanisms of the body to relieve symptoms. These various drugs are the expression of heroic intervention in the arena of chronic illness.
You can’t cure an illness if you don’t know what causes it
The second reason that modern medicine relies on “rest of your life” medicines to treat a chronic illness is they have no idea what causes the illness in the first place. This is a critical insight. You really cannot hope to cure a disease if you don’t know what causes it. If this statement comes as a shock to you, take some time to review the descriptions of various chronic illness on WebMD or the numerous sites sponsored by the AMA (American Medical Association).
You will find, as I did, that they are all described as incurable diseases of unknown cause. You’ll find statements like, “the exact cause of lupus is unknown,” or “science has not yet discovered why the pancreas of a diabetic can no longer make sufficient insulin,” or “the cause of irritable bowel syndrome is uncertain but researchers think it is related to...” and on and on.
Symptom relief vs. path to cure
Because modern medicine can’t cure or reverse a disease it doesn’t understand, it leans on treatment protocols focused on symptom relief. This isn’t bad in and of itself; anything that eases suffering and even marginally improves quality of life is generally a good thing. The problem with this approach, however, is that these symptom management protocols offer no path to cure, i.e. no way to reverse the disease process. That is why you are often expected to be on them indefinitely.
Pharmaceuticals aim to relieve symptoms by interfering with normal bodily processes. These interventions not only leave the underlying imbalance (or “root cause”) unaddressed, their unnatural mechanisms of action cause further imbalance in the body. You may recognize this secondary imbalance by its common name: “side effects.” You simply cannot interfere with the body’s mechanisms without messing something else up. Even if we don’t immediately notice side effects from a drug, they are there, and the body now must work harder to compensate for them.
Many people end up on multiple drugs used to counter the side effects of the first drug. This presents an ongoing challenge to the human organism that has to deal with the impact of a collection of pharmaceutical interventions. The liver faces the stress of detoxifying these foreign compounds, and the body’s immune system is constantly challenged by the presence of powerful chemical substances.
This isn’t working.
Once we really look at the facts, it becomes quite obvious that the pharmaceutical approach to health and wellness is not working. But let me be clear: there is a proper role for pharmaceutical treatment; we need not categorically avoid these interventions. There is nothing wrong with, for example, a migraine sufferer using a triptan drug to stop a migraine before it has a chance to become full-blown, or a diabetic using insulin to keep blood sugar from reaching a dangerous level.
However, it is clear that as a whole this system isn’t working. While I do believe it began with the best of intentions, our current healthcare system is failing us when it comes to the largest category of health issues: chronic illness. The paradigm of heroic intervention can save lives in the case of trauma or infectious disease, but we are still suffering in record numbers due to the epidemic of chronic illness.
The body is not stupid.
The healing capacity of the human organism has been dramatically underestimated within the dominant medical paradigm. It is built upon the assumption that the body is incapable of healing itself and ignores the basic principles of homeostasis. The body is not stupid; it is incredibly wise and resilient, and comes equipped with tremendous capacity for repair, recovery, and adaptation.
How would healthcare be different if it was guided by an awareness of and respect for the wisdom of the body? If it embraced approaches that worked with the body’s natural healing mechanisms rather than interfering with them? The path to better healthcare is not paved with cheaper drugs; the path is paved with awareness and empowerment.
Change begins with awareness.
There is no point in trying to fix a system that never made sense in the first place. The current paradigm has largely eliminated our collective awareness as to our bodies’ innate wisdom and healing capacity. It is based in a lot of erroneous assumptions about the nature of disease, the way our bodies work, and the role and potential of medicine.
Our intention with this blog is to to begin to address and unravel these assumptions, and, in doing so, restore the awareness that will light the path forward. Along this path, we will develop a new understanding of disease, including not only what causes disease, but the best path for curing a chronic illness. It’s time for us to awaken to the truth of how our bodies work, what disease really is and the potential of effective treatments. It is our honor and privilege to provide this insight and information. I invite you to stay with us!
Yours in good health,
Tom is the founder of ForeverWell and has spent decades studying and working with some of the most gifted healers in the field of natural medicine. Recognizing that our healthcare system is failing us in the area of chronic illness, he is passionately committed to helping catalyze a paradigm shift driven by education, awareness, and individual empowerment.