There are many good things about medicine, and many things not so good. If you need an emergency room, or a life-saving surgery, or a new hip or your cataracts removed, wow, medicine is miraculous. But if you have a chronic illness like migraines, heart disease, autoimmune diseases like Rheumatoid arthritis or Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Fatigue, cognitive decline and the list goes on and on, medicine mostly offers you meds and more meds and more meds. And it convinces you of a reality of ‘learned helplessness’— that you have a disease that will never go away and your answer is to be velcroed to a conveyor belt of meds.
Now, sometimes meds are life saving. But for many chronic illness, they are often mainly addressing the symptoms of the constellation of issues you are suffering. Rarely are they aimed at getting you completely well. And off meds. And healthier than ever.
You and your practitioner accept that you have a chronic disease, be it type-2 diabetes or severe asthma. You walk around with many meds in your purse; your medicine cabinet and you buy into the concept that you have this inevitable illness and that’s your fate.
But a new medicine is starting to emerge. It’s been happening behind the scenes for about 4 decades now. More and more doctors are leaving the” fold” as they learn that by spending time to do a life review of a patient’s story (very in-depth history that looks at your whole life) they can often unveil hidden causes of your illness. When these issues, or root causes, are addressed and fixed, if the patient makes the necessary positive changes, opportunities emerge of getting rid of these illnesses once and for all.
I recently had Dr. William Davis on the show. Dr. Davis (best selling author of “Undoctored; how health care has failed you and how to be smarter than your doctor) shared his story. He had been a regular cardiologist and surgeon dispensing meds and performing procedures and making lots of money for his hospitals. But his patients were not getting healthier. They were maintained.
Once he learned the amazing role of diet, nutrients and improved life style choices, he found he could turn around serious heart disease very rapidly, even in patients on the verge of needing a heart transplant. Dr. Davis got the patients (who would take and act on his advice) to remove most carbs, clean up their diet adding in healthy fats and lots of veggies, along with supplying specific restorative nutrients. His patients ultimately did not need statins or procedures. Instead of being maintained on a long list of meds, and staying ‘ill’, they get healthier than ever, off all meds, and reversed their aging and their nasty heart conditions.
But the hospitals weren’t making the same amount of money from this new way of addressing healing. Medicine is a big business and it is built to run on lots of procedures. There’s a huge conflict here.
Getting at root cause takes time. Often the provider taking that time charges cash, but you have an opportunity to finally get well. Root cause often means you have to make a lot of proactive changes in your life style choices. Not all patients want to put that energy and change into their life, to get that wellness out. We all get to choose.
Dr. David Brownstein was on my show. He was a non-believer and thought functional medicine was a hoax. His father had been ill for years suffering with heart pain (angina) and on many meds and never really being a well man. As he aged he got worse and looked and felt like his time was soon up. Due to meeting a functional doctor who gave Dr. Brownstein one of Dr. Wright’s health books (my first mentor), David put his father on hormone replacement. Bioidentical hormones are actually therapy for treating as well as preventing many diseases, such as cardiovascular issues like David’s dad has been suffering. Dr. Wright discussed the existence of subclinical hypothyroidism (blood labs look normal but symptoms shout out loud that the thyroid is ill). In med school, most docs aren’t trained to look more at the patient than at the laboratory. David got his dad on testosterone (one root cause of his heart illness was his excessively low heart protective testosterone). He was also put on thyroid replacement, which also protects the heart as well as blood fat levels. David cleaned up his Dad’s diet, getting gluten and dairy out and more veggies in.
David’s father had been ill for decades. But once the underlying causes were sleuthed out and fixed, David’s father got off all his meds, got rid of his angina, and started to feel younger even though he was older. Most of the time, addressing the right root causes (often there are more than one), gets the patient well… rapidly.
Our health care system has created a guilty combo, where the docs hand out meds and the patient doesn’t have to make life improvements. They have more and more pills line their bedside table, but they don’t achieve getting really vibrant and well.
Today’s pharmaceutical based system has Vulcan mind-melded “learned helplessness” into us, rather than going for the cure. The real cure. Getting fully well.
Off as many meds as possible. And achieving truly unstoppable amazing wellness.
This means we look at what you were doing before you got ill, what meds and nutrients you are on, what you are eating, what are your exposures (infections, Lyme, mold, etc.), food reactivity’s, nutrient and/or hormone insufficiencies, gut wellness or not (the gut is the mothership of much of our health) and even exercise, time spent sitting versus time spent pushing yourself in a healthy way, and certainly what we put into our mouths at every fork in the road.
How you live holds a lot of answers for what got you ill and how to get you really well.
Berkson shares her own story of root cause. She reminds us that nature is generous. Your body is designed to heal. But you and your smart plus heart functional team have to figure out your weakest links, what you may be doing in your life, or exposed to in your life, or deficient in your diets or thoughts, that is not letting your body heal you. The point is not to be maintained as a more fragile progressively sicker person, but to get you well.
But it does take elbow grease. On the doc’s part. And on yours.
Berkson inspires you with the words written over the door of her gym, Pure Austin, that she instructs her cells to embrace, remember and live: “Never, never, never give up!”