Holistic Medicine & Supplements Are Magic

Alter of medicineDr. Paul Offit, an outspoken vaccine advocate, developer of the rotavirus vaccine & chairman of the infectious disease department at CHoPs, just published a book that holistic medicine and the use of supplements are magic and therefore nonsense. Dr. Topol, the physician-editor of Medscape, interviewed him and posted the discussion online. Physician comments were both for and against the book with most being against the premise of the book. Here is my comment:

I love the reference to the National Academy of Science’s finding that FDA-approved drugs cause well over a 100,000 deaths a year, the fact that medicine is only supported by science 15% of the time, the failure of Offit to acknowledge the proven benefits of fish oil, vitamin E and acupuncture, the fact that the US medical system spends more per capita on healthcare but ranks 34th in the world and fails to address health and nutrition, as well as the reference to the strawman argument proposed by Offit.

It is good to see that physicians can still think for themselves and understand allopathic medicine only addresses disease and fails miserably when it comes to health and wellness.

Healing is the result of an alignment with nature or God – depending on your value set. I recall a poem I learned at my white coat ceremony, “A surgeon must be careful, when he takes his knife, for underneath his fine incision, stirs the culprit, LIFE.”

Topol (the editor of Medscape) provided the Wizard of Oz backdrop for Offit’s politically-biased ramblings that are truly no better or worse than listening to the CAM proponents who state that allopathic medicine is evil. A wise man once said, “Follow those who seek truth and run from those who know the truth.”

Offit’s next book will likely tell us how his religion is the only true religion… wait a minute, science can’t prove religion so therefore religion is magic and nonsense.

Let’s look to a true thought-leader – C. Everett Koop, MD, the former US Surgeon General – he stated “During the 19th century, American medicine was an eclectic pursuit where a number of competing ideas and approaches thrived. Doctors were able to draw on elements from different traditions in attempting to make people well. Perhaps there is more to this older model of American medicine than we in the 20th century had been willing to examine.”

The human experience is a combination of mind-body-soul – to separate these into artificial silos of reality and preach from these false ivory towers reminds me of the story of the Tower of Babel. I will stay true to a functional medicine approach that understands the whole person. Those who are afraid to seek the truth will follow their false gods, ignore the science that illuminates other possibilities and always be amazed at the shadows on the cave wall. Sad – there is so much more to life.

What’s in Your Baby?

home-shows-toxic-everyday-exposures-toxinsA growing number of studies are finding hundreds of toxic chemicals in the bodies of mothers, and subsequently, in their babies after birth.

While there is no science that demonstrates a conclusive cause-and-effect relationship between chemicals children are born with and particular health problems, studies are finding associations between elevated levels of chemicals in a baby’s body and their development.

Dr. Frederica Perera, director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health has been following hundreds of pregnant women over the past 12 years to measure chemicals entering the womb during pregnancy.

The women trudge through New York City for 48 hours wearing special backpacks, each with a long tube that is slung over the shoulder. The tube, resting inches below the pregnant mom’s mouth, sucks air into a special filter, giving an approximate measurement of the air that she is breathing.

The backpack is designed to measure ambient toxics spewed by vehicles and pesticides, along with chemicals from common household products.

It surprised me when we analyzed the air samples [from the backpacks] and found 100 percent of them had detectable levels of at least one pesticide and the air pollutants we were interested in,” said Perera.

So far, the toxics measured in the backpacks match what scientists are finding in the cord blood of the babies once they are born. Small studies by other groups also are finding common household chemicals in babies.

“We’ve measured hundreds and hundreds of toxic chemicals in the blood of babies that are still in the womb,” said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit environmental advocacy organization. “Flame retardants, the chemicals in consumer products like personal care products, makeup, shampoos. It’s a very long list.”

The organization’s study found an average of 232 chemicals in the cord blood of 10 babies born in late 2009. They are chemicals found in a wide array of common household products, including shampoos and conditioners, cosmetics, plastics, shower curtains, mattresses, and electronics like computers and cell phones.

Perera and her colleagues are following the children in their study from the uterus, through birth, and up to their first several years of life. They recently published a study in the journal Pediatrics demonstrating an association between the chemicals they found in babies’ cord blood and later problems on intelligence tests and development.

Fifteen percent of children [in our study] have at least one developmental problem,” Perera said.

The amount of chemicals measured in the cord blood of the babies seems to matter. The higher the concentration, the more the IQ among children seems to dip. The study is also being conducted among pregnant women in Poland and China, and finding similar results.