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Is Something Wrong With Modern Medicine?

A column by James D. Adams about modern medicine.

Our society is afflicted with diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and cancer, diseases that were less common a century ago. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the incidence of these diseases has been increasing yearly since the 1970’s. American Indians suffer twice the incidence of diabetes and twice the death rates from diabetes as other groups. Polynesians suffer from more arthritis than any other group. Modern medicine can treat these diseases and is even getting much better at curing cancer. However, there is no cure for diabetes, heart disease or arthritis. Modern medicine enables these diseases by giving patients drugs to treat symptoms without curing the diseases. This is fraud. Patients must remain on these drugs for the rest of their lives. This means that patients must deal with the diseases and the toxicity of the drugs. Some of the drugs used to treat the symptoms of these diseases are very toxic. For instance, some drugs used to treat the symptoms of diabetes, such as tolazamide, can cause heart disease. Some drugs used to treat heart disease, such as the statins, can cause diabetes. As of 2007, the US was paying 17 percent of its gross national product for health care. How long can the US afford to pay so much for medicine? Modern medicine has forgotten that the primary purpose of medicine is to heal.

Traditional American Indian healers know how to prevent diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and cancer. Patients should be told to stay thin and strong, do not smoke and drink no more than two alcoholic drinks daily. This is called living in balance as the Creator intends. Worship God. Respect all men. Take only what you need. Do not pollute. These beliefs contrast with the dominant religious view in the US that all you have to do is follow God’s commandments and He will always take care of you. After all, God created the world for men to use. It may be better to learn from American Indians about what God wants us to do.

Science has shown us that obesity causes heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and promotes the growth of cancer. The incidence of obesity increases every year in the US according to the Centers for Disease Control. Obesity causes visceral fat to increase. This is fat that accumulates on the intestines. Obesity also causes toxic lipids to increase such as ceramide and the endocannabinoids. These toxic lipids are damaging to the body and cause visceral fat to release inflammatory proteins called adipokines. These adipokines such as leptin, resistin, visfatin, tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin-6, cause insulin resistance, also called type II diabetes. Inflammatory adipokines also cause inflammation of the arteries and heart leading to heart disease and inflammation of joints leading to osteoarthritis. Inflammatory adipokines promote the growth of cancer tumors. Science has shown us that traditional healers are right. We should all keep ourselves thin and strong to prevent diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and cancer. Do not smoke because nicotine damages the arteries, heart and the lungs. Do not drink more than two alcoholic drinks daily because alcohol causes visceral fat to accumulate. Live in balance to prevent disease.

Do drugs cure diseases? One of the basic tenants of pharmacology is that the body heals itself. Drugs facilitate the ability of the body to heal itself. There is no antibiotic that can help against a bacterial infection if the body does not have an active immune system. There is no anticancer drug that can cure cancer if the body does not have an active defense system. Some drugs do not allow the body to heal itself. For instance, steroids used in arthritis cause more visceral fat accumulation leading to more inflammatory adipokine production. Modern medicine relies on placebo controlled clinical trials to prove that drugs work. These clinical trials are frequently abused to get approval for drugs that treat symptoms but do not help the body heal itself. When obesity pushes the body far out of balance, there is no drug that can help the body heal itself.

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Modern medicine is caught in a nasty problem. Symptoms of many diseases can be treated to keep patients alive without healing them. However, health insurance companies will not pay for preventive medicine to prevent diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and cancer. The financial burden of caring for older, sicker Americans will only increase. It is time to listen to traditional healers who teach us to live in balance, stay thin, healthy, and live as the Creator intends.

James D. Adams earned his Ph.D. in pharmacology from UC San Francisco and has been a professor of pharmacology at the University of Southern California, School of Pharmacy for 25 years. He studies Chumash Indian healing, has coauthored a book and several journal articles on the subject.