Is Your Doctor a Salesman?

February 5th, 2009

Although we’ve been conditioned to trust doctors with our health, many people are beginning to realize that prevention is the key to good health and that their doctors are letting them down.

Many of the health books I’ve read were written by medical doctors with a fully qualified MD degree that chose to practice alternative and natural medicine. One opinion they all tend to have in common is that modern health care is seriously flawed and that the problem originates within medical schools.

Medical School or Drug School?

Many doctors openly admit that while in medical school, they received virtually no education on nutrition or lifestyle and very little on vitamins. Nutrition and lifestyle are two of the most significant aspects of good health and are frequently associated with many of today’s most prominent and deadly diseases. Why is it that medical schools don’t recognize this? Perhaps they do but choose to ignore it.

In contrast to the lack of training in nutrition and lifestyle, medical students spend countless hours studying pharmaceutical drugs. While they can’t tell you how to eat a healthy diet, they can quickly name a drug for just about any symptom you can think of. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, pharmaceutical companies provide significant funding to medical schools.

In short, the majority of today’s doctors have been thoroughly trained to chase symptoms instead of identifying the root cause of disease and promoting optimal health.

Cholesterol and high blood pressure are common examples. With very few exceptions, these conditions are nothing more than symptoms of underlying malfunction. Instead of identifying and addressing the malfunction that’s causing elevated cholesterol or blood pressure, most doctors simply prescribe medication to artificially lower them. This does nothing to address the root problem and allows it to persist and potentially worsen.

The Continued Influence of the Pharmaceutical Industry

The influence that the pharmaceutical industry has on doctors doesn’t end with medical school. Most doctors are too busy to read the medical journals that will keep them up to date with the latest health care information. Pharmaceutical companies take full advantage of this opportunity by sending their representatives out to update doctors on the latest health issues and how their wonderful drugs address them.

Sometimes, the pharmaceutical companies even provide doctors with bonuses for prescribing their drugs. Perhaps your monthly prescription refills are helping your doctor earn a free trip to Hawaii! Isn’t that nice?

Even if more doctors made an effort to read medical journals, unless they really went out of their way to look for good research, it probably wouldn’t make much of a difference since most research is influenced by the pharmaceutical industry anyway.

It’s Not the Doctors Who are Evil

Many doctors are genuinely good people that truly want to help others. But despite the honorable intentions they may have, they’re still a product of a broken system. While it’s easy to feel resentful toward a doctor that fails to improve your health and prescribes you dangerous medication that you don’t need, the blame really lies on the shoulders of the pharmaceutical industry and also the FDA for allowing it to happen.

Based on the many stories I’ve read, I firmly believe that most pharmaceutical companies are knowingly putting people’s health in danger in order to make profit. I also believe that the FDA is well aware of it and is even supporting it.

For example, consider the painkiller Vioxx that was manufactured by Merck and estimated to have killed up to 55,000 people through heart attack or stroke. There are allegations that Merck was well aware of the dangers associated with this drug and intentionally tried to hide them. And the FDA even admitted that this drug went through a lax approval process.

Regardless of my sentiment toward the pharmaceutical industry, pharmaceutical drugs do play an important role in medicine. I’m sure there are also plenty of smaller pharmaceutical companies with good intentions and I bet pharmaceutical drugs save lives every single day. However, this certainly doesn’t justify the power that the pharmaceutical industry has over modern medicine. Nor does it mean that a steady diet of prescription drugs will promote good health.

Finding a Good Doctor

There are plenty of great doctors that have recognized the major flaws of modern medicine and have educated themselves on optimal health and addressing the root causes of disease. These doctors typically embrace the concept of “holistic medicine” which takes into consideration the wide variety of factors that can influence your health. Unlike the typical doctor, these doctors are often knowledgeable about diet, lifestyle, emotional perspective, and a wide variety of other factors that play a significant role in your health. Most importantly, they strive to prevent and reverse disease by promoting optimal health, addressing malfunction at the root level, and supporting the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

Some medical schools have degree programs based on natural and alternative forms of medicine. Doctors that earn this degree are called “naturopaths” and use the acronym of ND instead of MD. These doctors are far more knowledgeable about optimal health than the typical doctor and will emphasize natural treatments over prescription medications whenever possible.

However, finding a naturopathic doctor doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be truly dedicated to the holistic approach of pursuing optimal health. Many doctors that have embraced alternative and natural forms of medicine are still stuck in the symptom chasing mentality. While they may use herbs and supplements instead of prescription drugs, they still fail to identify and address malfunction at the root level.

To find naturopathic doctors in your area, go to the website of The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and click on the link labeled “Find an ND.”

Doctors Aren’t Always Necessary

Although many people get hung up on the acronyms following the name of a medical professional, you don’t always need a doctor to achieve excellent health. There are a number of organizations that train people with or without medical degrees to become extremely knowledgeable health practitioners.

Because this training tends to be focused more on optimal health than anything else, the help you receive from these practitioners is often more effective and useful than what you’d get from a typical doctor. Furthermore, unless you prefer the impersonal 5 minute doctor visit, you’ll typically get much more attention from these practitioners as well.

Although certified health practitioners are an excellent choice for improving your health, a licensed doctor is still the best and only choice for acute illness and emergencies. In fact, this is the one area where standard health care in America truly shines.

Be Your Own Doctor

Taking responsibility for ourselves is a basic requirement of good health that we all have to abide by. However, if you are in need of assistance and are tired of getting nowhere with the people you’re working with, another option is to take your responsibility a step further and educate yourself to the point of being able to resolve your health concerns on your own. This is exactly what I did.

I went through an entire year of frustration working with a medical doctor, a registered dietitian, an endocrinologist, a highly qualified fatigue and lyme disease specialist, and even a sleep specialist. After following an elaborate treatment protocol for most of this time, I felt only marginally better. I was concerned about how many supplements and prescription medications I was taking and was determined to find a better way.

Through extensive reading and several training programs, I gained the knowledge I needed to significantly improve my health. It was a lot of work, but I accomplished more than all the doctors and specialists combined! And now that I have the health and knowledge to show for it, I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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