By Dr. Flora van Orden, PhD
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Dr. John McDougall indicates that medicine as commonly practiced – prescribing pills and procedures rather than lifestyle change – has failed us. He discusses the promise of plant based nutrition: a biomedical science with a vast potential to reverse disease through diet and lifestyle change.
He described Western medical care and where it excels and where it fails and why treating symptoms or risk factors cannot return patients to true health. He discusses the downside of commonly prescribed medical treatments for chronic diseases and explains effective alternatives to these treatments. He describes diet and lifestyle medicine and the importance of correcting the cause of underlying diseases rather than treating symptoms or risk factors.
In his talk to medical doctors, Dr. McDougall, he quotes Nathan Pritikin as saying, “I think it’s ironic that the health agencies responsible for protecting our health are in effect destroying our health and shortening our lives.” A million and a half people are dying each year prematurely because their food supply is poisoned with excess fat and cholesterol.
Dean Ornish, “I don’t understand why asking people to eat a well balanced vegan diet is considered drastic while it is medically conservative to cut people open and put them on cholesterol lowering drugs for the rest of their lives”
He talks about disease mongering, the selling of sickness that widens the boundaries of illness and grows the market for those who sell and deliver treatments. It is exemplified most explicitly by the way pharmaceutical industry funded disease-awareness programs. Disease mongering turns healthy people into patients. It is treating risk factors not diseased.. He says he has been practicing for over40 years and ha never seen a patient die of high blood sugar, ever.
Seven of the leading causes of death are due to chronic illness: heart disease, cancer, strokes, lung disease, diabetes, liver disease and atherosclerosis. And it represents three quarters of the health care dollar spent in this country.
The treatment of chronic illness with drugs can’t possibly work. What we treat, of course, is not the patient or the disease, but we treat the risk factors, the signs and symptoms of the diseae. goals of teatment are exaggerated.goals of treatment are exaggerated. We have a patient whose blood vessel system is all clogged up, it’s full of sludge from what they ate, their arteries are in spasm.
The heart and the body perceive these problems. “We are not delivering the nutrients to the tissues because of all this peripheral resistance.”
“So, what do we need to do?” the body says to itself.
“Well, we need to increase the pressure in the system,” so the pressure goes up.
So, what do we do as agents of medical care, agents of the pharmaceutical industry? We poison the system at various levels. We poison the heart with beta blockers, we poison the arteries with calcium channel blockers, we poison the kidneys with diuretics. And the blood pressure comes down, as expected.
But what happens to all that effort the body is making to deliver nutrients to the tissues? What happens is, that effort is stopped. The consequence is you decrease perfusion pressure to the tissues and the patient dies. But, at least he died with a normal blood pressure, right?
Disease mongering expands the definition of sickness and gives an example of how the definition of high blood pressure has changed.
Let’s talk about anti-diabetic patient medications. Do you reduce the chance of getting a heart attack and dying of a heart attack? The answer is no. Do you cause weight gain? Yes. Do you cause complications? No question about it. Patients treated for 5 to 8 years with a fixed dose of a Sulfonylureas increased the risk of dying of heart disease 2 1/2 times.
How about the very large European TRACE study? Diabetic patients with a history of heart attacks treated with diabetic pills and/or insulin. Results: almost twice the death rate of those treated with diet alone, and diabetics treated without medication. Are we supposed to feel good about treating diabetes pills?
I used to work at St. Elena Hospital. I was there for 16 years and it was a very good experience. I went to a lecture. “Diabetes is caused by fat not sugar.”
So, I gathered all my staff together and we went down to the lunch room and we walked in and my first clue that there was a problem was the Pfizer representative was sitting in the back of the room. I sat down and listened for a whole hour to the presentation, and listened to the man tell me how to properly take care of a diabetic with drugs. 20 of them.
I waited until the end of the presentation and I raised my hand and I said, “Hey, doctor, the title of your lecture is called “Diabetes is caused by fat not sugar.” Did I miss something? You didn’t mention diet once in the entire hour.”
He said “I gotcha here, didn’t I?” and I said “Yeah, you got me here but a lot of the drugs you mention, they kill diabetics. Like sulfonylureas, and calcium channel blockers.”
Around that time, one of my mentors, John Hodkins, jumped up and apologized for my behavior, in a very politically correct way, might I mention. He was very good about it, he said “This is Dr. McDougall, he writes health food books. You’ll have to excuse him.”
Anyway, so I made a few other comments and John and I were walking out of the room so I looked over and said “You know our colleagues don’t really believe that’s the way you treat a diabetic, do they?” He said, “Yes, we do.”
And at that moment, I decided I didn’t want to be associated with my colleagues anymore because that’s not the way you take care of a diabetic, or any patient.”
Peace and Love be with You,
[Dr. Flora van Orden, PhD Nutrition, is a friend of Jim’s and was one of his advisors during the years that he was a prominent raw vegan educator. While Jim and Flora don’t always see eye-to-eye, we still respect and consider Flora’s opinion.]