The Need for an Integrated and Holistic Health Care System

The advances in modern medicine and allied branches like bioelectronics, biophysics and biochemistry have resulted in significant improvement in the care of sick people. Today doctors can take control of many systems in the human body when the need arises. Procedures like ventilation, dialysis and implantation of pacemakers to the heart can control vital functions. If a patient cannot take food orally we can administer all the required nutrients through a vein (Total Parenteral Nutrition) till the patient is able to take orally. We have powerful anti-microbials to fight serious infections. Gone are the days when people used to die of typhoid, cholera and pneumonia in large numbers.

But, there is one aspect which is not getting the attention it deserves-that is maintenance of optimal physical, mental and social health. Modern medicine has often been described as Sickness Industry. It remains a predominantly disease centered and treatment-oriented system even though the subject of Preventive and Social Medicine is taught in medical colleges. The trend among doctors today is to specialize and super specialize. Tertiary level medical care has a glamour attached to it. Cardiologists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, cardio-thoracic surgeons and other super specialists are looked upon with awe and the family physicians who should be in the forefront of health care system are relegated to an inconspicuous corner.

While no one can deny that specialized treatment is extremely important for many people, we should never commit the mistake of giving primary importance to tertiary level care and only secondary importance to primary health care. A good health care system should always endeavor to maintain people in optimal physical, mental and social health. We should look upon a person as a whole instead of considering him as an assemblage of many organs. Today psychological problems are on the increase. A person may be examined by a panel of super specialists and declared to be normal physically but he may continue to be sick. Almost all psychological problems can manifest as physical complaints leading to unnecessary tests and medication.

The ancient system of medicine is India-Ayurveda has always stressed the need for leading a healthy life. It also has outlined several procedures for rejuvenating the body and hence is becoming increasingly popular. It makes extensive use of medicinal plants. Many of the drugs used in modern medicine are derived from plants. Reserpine, a drug used for treating hypertension and digixin, a drug used for treating heart failure are a few examples. Many of the Ayurvedic drugs have fewer or no adverse effects compared to modern medicines while at the same time being quite effective in curing many diseases.

Today Ayurveda and Modern medicine (sometimes referred to as Allopathy even though this word is not correct) are being practiced as totally different systems. Both systems have their limitations. In spite of spectacular advances modern medicine has no cure for many diseases afflicting humanity. The treatment of cancer using modern medicines often leads to so many adverse effects that one begins to wonder whether it is worth treating it at all. But modern medicine has unparalleled advantages in the treatment of acute emergencies and management of patients requiring life support systems for a considerable period of time. More research with proper documentation is needed in the field of Ayurveda to get the maximum benefit out of it. Perhaps the time has come to integrate the two systems to give the best of both to the society. It is also important for every country to provide adequate funds for running such a system. If doctors have to spend more time for providing preventive services they have to be properly taken care of by the society. Doctors should also interact with politicians, social organizations and people from different walks of life to identify health problems and take corrective measures instead of confining themselves to their clinics and hospitals, which they have to do for their livelihood when they are not supported by the government. There is no point in simply blaming doctors for becoming business minded without supporting them for rendering preventive services. If we can have such an integrated and holistic health care system “health for all” will not just remain a slogan and a dream but will become a reality.

Diabetes – No Glamour, No Joke

Can you believe that the pharmaceutical powers that be, are glamorizing diabetes. There is no glamour in this debilitating disease. They have done TV commercials featuring notable celebrities casually touting that they are diabetics, as if this is an approval that it is OK. Well it is not.

Why don’t they show us some of the common victims; those who have lost precious limbs. Show us the changes in life and lifestyle that the sufferers have borne. There is nothing pretty about diabetes.

Getting a high tech pricking device is great, but it’s nothing any of us should look forward to. Why not look for ways to avoid this destructive disease period.

Our poor diets contribute greatly to epidemic obesity and the massive increase in diabetes. I believe major problems are often created by some of the very solutions that we are using to prevent problems. These are the artificial sweeteners and many of the so called “diet foods,” being consumed.

We continue to believe that the body can be tricked by aspartame, sucralose and other unnatural substitutes being used today. Think about it, you swallow a juice that is artificially sweetened. The tongue senses sweetness. So it signals the brain, which signals the pancreas to produce some insulin because sugar is on the way down. Wait a minute, what happens because no sugar arrives? A little trick on the pancreas, eh? Well central control (being the brain) doesn’t take well to tricks. After a while it tells the pancreas not to worry. Even though it senses sweetness, it doesn’t bother to produce, it is being tricked again. Answer this. What is diabetes? What might have just contributed to it?

I know that natural products are better for you that synthetic or modified ones. However, don’t be fooled by the use of the word “natural.” Many products today are fooling unsuspecting buyers with the phrase saying, “this product contains 100 percent all natural ingredients.” Note the word “contains.” If you pour a thimble full of 100 percent natural cherry juice into a pitcher of gasoline, you could say this substance contains 100 percent cherry juice. The statement would be true, but does that make it healthy to drink?

Watch what you are putting into your body very carefully. Diabetes, like high blood pressure and even cancer is preventable. Don’t consider these diseases as a natural rite of passage as you age. Good nutrition is a key factor in overcoming diabetes and in many cases reversing it. You will pay now for the proper supplements to strengthen your body. Or you will pay later for the high tech pricking devises, being glorified by the celebrities.

Make a stand and understand that you can prevent diabetes and many other ailments. There is no glamour in having a limb removed. There is no glamour in having any of the symptoms of this disease. Make it glamorous to consult someone that is into natural nutritional supplements. Our food has become so tainted that we have to lean toward natural supplementation to overcome our conditions.

Of course if you have diabetes now, don’t take it that your life is ruined. Consult doctors, caretakers or those that can share alternatives with you. That way you can work with your regular doctor to help monitor your situation. I never recommend discontinuing any medication; however I do say try to find a way to reduce it and eventually eliminate it if you can.

Glamour Drugs?

Before you Google or search “Glamour Drugs”, the following is my definition for its use here. Glamour Drug: beautiful ads for drugs we see online, on television, and in print. Wow, I wouldn’t mind getting some of them; most are very enticing which makes for good ad copy. I guess the drug companies need to recruit all of us medical laypersons to lobby our doctors for that which we seek (or uninformed about)!

I grew up as a healthy child. At least I thought I was healthy, and still feel that way. The medicine cabinet in our home consisted of 1 bottle of aspirin, 1 bottle of iodine (for me, the only boy; burned like heck), 1 bottle of mercurochrome (for my three sisters; did not burn), 1 jar of Vicks, and a box of band aides. I ate three meals a day, drank milk and water and, if I was lucky, indulged in one bottle of soda every two weeks. During the school year my schedule consisted of school, ball practice, dinner, chores, 1hr personal time, then bed.

Before the second grade, I frequented the emergency rooms of hospitals more frequently than “Tim the Tool man Taylor”, so I was told. I could not stay out of stuff. However, beginning with the second grade, I knew how sharp razor blades, glass, and knives were. I learned the dangers of fire, how metal fans worked, and that bicycle spokes don’t just disappear when you are peddling the bike when the bike is in the upside down position (that one cost me a portion of a finger). I also learned about depth perception when it came to jumping off a barn into a six-inch swimming pool! Hey, I threw my Beagle in first and she did not limp the next day. Further, I learned not to eat the chocolate bar in the blue & white box that was occasionally in our refrigerator or drink a lot from the non-refrigerated grape juice bottle on the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet next to dads cough medicine. Oh yes, beginning in the second grade, on the rare occasion I went to the doctor, the professional opinion was usually “growing pains”. That’s it, until the seventh & twelfth grade when some attention had to be given to my legs (I abused them in sports, actually, Jeff B. abused one of them in the twelfth grade).

Today, if you have diarrhea, you probably take something to stop it, then after you are stopped up, you take something else to “clear the way” usually ending back to diarrhea. Glamour drugs are available for ANYTHING today. There are even glamour drugs that take care of the side affects of glamour drugs.

When my grand parents were 70+ years old (early 1980’s), they had one, perhaps two prescriptions that they were taking. When my mother-in-law passed a few years ago, she had a Monday-Sunday pillbox for Morning, Noon, & Evening. Fifteen to twenty pills a day and many doctor office visits to “keep the dosage right”! She lived 6 years longer than my grand parents and two years longer than her mother.

Quit complaining about the drugs and be thankful you’re healthy!

Yes, I hear you. However, I am concerned that glamour drugs are replacing proper rest, exercise & diet. I will reduce the final part of this blog to one pill, Viagra.

To start with, I’ve never had Viagra or any of the Viagra want-to-be’s. Lucky me?! However, a deaf and blind man will turn his head and pay attention to an advertised disclaimer stating, ” in the event your erection lasts more than FOUR HOURS …”. What, I want to run to the store and get some of that! Are you kidding me? I’d be “King of the hill, A number 1, King Kong”! Awoooooo!

Ok, that was close; I almost had to Google some. Seriously, my circle of male buddies and or acquaintances is quite small; lets say 150 to 200 guys (included all acquaintances). During the past two years 6 have died, all between 46 and 53, all that would want to be “King of the Hill”. Found dead in bed, the bathroom and one while getting up to get the remote for the television. Heart failure.

If the government (FDA) is NOT FOR prolonging life but rather sustaining life to the extent of the current status quo, then, is our health not a ping-pong ball in a small wooden box rapidly ricocheting off the walls of pharmaceutical companies? What if we learn 10-20 years from now that the glamour drugs, that use to be advertised on TV (you’re kidding granddaddy, advertised?), actually lowered life expectancy? Perhaps that would stretch out entitlements a few more years?