Think of it this way, if 70-80% of your serotonin (the anti-depression neuro-transmitter) is made in the GI tract, and 80% of people with irritable bowel syndrome are depressed, then why is our first step always to given patients a prescription that tricks their brain into thinking they have more serotonin, yet we do nothing to fix the GI tract. Wouldn’t the better solution be to address the GI issues so they start making serotonin on their own? What if you knew that giving them this anti-depression prescription would increase their risk of osteoporosis?
Doctors are under tons of pressure from BIG insurance and BIG pharmacy to see patients quickly, address their complaints and of course to not make any mistakes. Somewhere along the way, an awful lot of the medical decision making power slipped through the fingers of physicians and landed in the hands of government, insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Today it is the millennials’ that are leading the charge for change. These 20 to 34 year olds prefer retail clinics to health insurance, 68% of them use some form of alternative medicine and they are demanding “doctor’s options” rather than “doctor’s orders”. Let me tell you a quick story that might change the way you make your own medical decisions:
As the cold-war ended in 1991, the medical research mecca known as the National Institutes of Health launched a ground breaking study known as the Women’s Health Initiative aimed at protecting women and helping them to age more gracefully. Little did anyone know that this benevolent study intended to help women would turn out to cause significant harm to thousands of them.
The purpose of the study was to investigate how hormone replacement effected the health of women. Since hormones are simply substances made naturally in the human body that serve many vital functions such as boosting cognition, and protecting the brain, heart and other systems from degenerate disease, it only made sense to study hormones and their potential role in managing disease in the aging process.
Are you ready? Here comes the “Medical Mayhem” part! The scientists conducting this study, along with the pharmaceutical industry, elected to conduct this study using synthetic hormones. In other words, they made the illogical, unimaginable and dangerous decision to conduct a study on the effects of hormones in women, but to not actually use real hormones. The estrogen-like substance used was actually made from horse urine (politely referred to as “equine estrogen”) and the progesterone-like substance used was synthesized in a laboratory. Why in the world would these presumably smart people make such a choice? Why would they use horse estrogen and synthetic progestin instead of natural human hormones?
The answer is both disheartening and distressing. Natural human hormones cannot be patented. Only human-made substances can earn a patent and only patented drugs can be sold for a huge profit. So using their significant influence in the design of the WHI study, pharmaceutical companies made sure that, “the chemicals administered to test women included horse estrogen, which they produced in the lab and patented, together with artificial hormone-like substances (synthetic progestins, which they had also patented in hopes of maximizing their profits.)[Friedman, 2013] The study, designed to last 8.5 years, was terminated 3 years early due to results showing a 26% increase in invasive breast cancer in the women on synthetic hormones. A 2008 study of 80,000 women confirmed bio-identical hormone replacement showed no increase rate of invasive breast cancer.
Bio-Identical Hormones are good for you. This type of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) improves energy and stamina, builds muscle and bone, helps you lose weight, improves your sleep and decreases moodiness from depression to anxiety. HRT protects your brain by improving mental clarity and decreasing memory loss, and it protects the heart by lowering cholesterol and insulin resistance. HRT should be monitored by a qualified physician, but managed correctly will help you look, feel and age better.
This case alone should give us pause. Is the patient really the one profiting from all of the prescription medications? Perhaps if we started to take the time to address the cause of a problem rather than prescribe away the symptoms we would all be healthier. Several major medical schools are now offering Masters’ degree programs in Metabolic and Nutritional Medicine. In orthopedics and sports medicine, the use of Platelet-rich Plasma (a portion of your blood full of stem cells and growth factors) to treat injured muscles, joints and tendons demonstrates well that, nothing heals the human body as well as the human body itself.
The bottom line is this, most of us were given at birth the most incredible, perfectly engineered, unfathomably superior and exquisitely self-regulating machine that ever has been or ever will be made. It is called the human body. Give it what it needs, get rid of what it doesn’t need and refrain from feeding it medications designed to manipulate its flawlessly programmed functioning and it will serve you well. It will have energy and stamina, it will look good and well maintained and it will endure for 80 or 90 years.