By Dr. Mercola
Dr. Robert Rowen is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the prestigious Johns Hopkins University.
He also attended the University of California in San Francisco.
He was originally board certified in both family practice and emergency medicine, as well as the American Board of Clinical Metal Toxicology.
(After being recertified, he later allowed those certifications to lapse, as he doesn't believe they're pertinent to his current work.)
Dr. Rowen has been involved in complementary or integrative medicine since 1983, and was instrumental in creating the first statutory protection for natural medicine in the United States in the state of Alaska, in 1990.
He's presently the editor-in-chief of Second Opinion, which is a printed national newsletter, and he's also still seeing patients in Santa Rosa, California.
How Alaska Initiated the Fight for Medical Freedom
"At the end of my third year at medical school, I got actually quite depressed and I almost quit, because I was participating in the treatment of patients that to me was abhorrent," Dr. Rowen says.
"... I came to see that what we were doing for our patients was the same type of chemical pollution that we were doing to the planet.
... But after three years of investment, I decided that I ought to play this out... I went on and did residency, training, and got certified. But I always kept my mind open to other things other than giving people some type of chemical to suppress the symptom."
This initial frustration, and seeing friends in Colorado and California lose their medical licenses for practicing natural medicine motivated Dr. Rowen to take an activist role and seek to pass formal legislation to protect physicians who practice "unconventional" medicine, and allow them the freedom to do so without recrimination.
"I said, "This is really a problem. Alternative medicine's getting beat up around the country, and I have the opportunity here in Alaska to do something good," Dr. Rowen says. "I was a big fish in a small pond. Yes, Alaska is big geographically, but its population was small, and half the population was in Anchorage where I was, so I had direct access to half the population. One of my patients was a big-time senator, and I asked him about this. He said he would be willing to sponsor the legislation...
That was 1989, but it was the end of session and it went nowhere. We decided to wait until the following year. The following year, 1990, early in the session, I went to my local representatives, who liked the idea. They put it in, and it was immediately attacked by the medical mob. I called it the medical mob because it went through all the committees everywhere, and then it was stripped out by a committee that had nothing to do with the legislation at all... [W]e had a major fight to get it put back in...
I went on radio in Anchorage day after day. I called my patients. This was 1990, before the Internet, so radio and calls did it. Believe it or not, my representatives told me that they got more calls on this medical freedom issue than any other issue that they had seen to date since the Vietnam War."
The Illusion of Science-Backed Medicine
Eventually, Dr. Rowen's patient-Senator got it through the Senate, and it ended up being attached to a bill desired by the medical board. It simply states that,
"The board shall not face finding professional incompetence solely on a basis that a licensee's practice is unconventional or experimental in the absence of demonstrable, physical harm to a patient."
As Dr. Rowen explains, the law is really only trying to even the playing field, as physicians practicing natural medicine are being held to much higher standards than orthodox doctors—who can and DO harm patients on a regular basis. In fact, "standard care" frequently causes more harm than good, yet those practicing this line of medicine are protected and heralded as good doctors, even though they're continually harming their patients.
"When I was going through this in late 1980s and 1990s, I had documents from the Office of Technological Assessment [showing] that over 80 percent of what goes on in conventional doctors' offices is unscientific and unproven," Dr. Rowen says.
Around that same time, he also ended up doing a radio appearance with John Renner, a major "quack buster."
"[B]ecause I was involved with mercury and amalgam, they invited the dental society. It became the first-ever joint meeting from the dental society and the medical society," Dr. Rowen says. "Renner spoke on quackery. I presented science on amalgam and mercury, and mercury being released from the amalgam...
The only thing Renner could do at that point was to try and attack the source of the information I had. The medical mob took his information and voted – voted, mind you – that anyone who recommends mercury come out of the mouth is committing fraud and unethical conduct. They also voted that chelation therapy for anything other than heavy metal toxicology was fraud and therefore unethical."
This just goes to show how much work was, and is yet, to be done... Still today we're fighting to get mercury out of dentistry, despite overwhelming scientific data showing it is profoundly harmful to implant mercury in your teeth! Fortunately, Dr. Rowen's pioneering work in Alaska has led to about 14 other states—including Washington—passing similar legislation to protect physicians practicing natural medicine.
Can Conventionally-Trained Physicians Integrate a Natural Model of Medicine?
Dr. Rowen believes that legislation must be implemented across the United States if we want to see any real change in the medical paradigm.
"In most states that have passed it, I think it's working," he says. "California passed it in 2003 or 2004 after I got here. I helped with that... I have had discussions with [our medical board], saying that they have taken the intent of protecting this medicine very seriously, and may have trained their field agents on it. Other states might not be so lucky. But that's the first place to go—educating the public that these therapies really do exist, and they better lobby to protect their rights to it.
When I give talks... one of the first things that I do is I hold up a $100 bill, and I say to the audience, whether it's conventional doctors, lay people, or alternative doctors: "If you can name one synthetic petrochemical pharmaceutical that cures any disease... then I'll turn over this $100 bill for you." No one to date has been able to claim the bill. Let's look at what we call orthodox medicine. Most of the drugs are classified into anti's: antihypertensive, anti-acid, anti-pain, analgesic, and immune suppressive which is anti-immune. They're anti's.
... Did God make us with a deficiency of any synthetic chemical anti? I don't think so. To me, the whole foundation of health and treatment of problems revolves around three basic things:
(1) nutrition or malnutrition, in other words getting the building blocks into your body that the body requires to stay healthy and to repair;
(2) elimination of toxins – it's the toxins that are inhibiting their body from repairing, so get them out; and
But what about genetics? Genetics is actually typically NOT a major part of health and disease, unless you have something like Down Syndrome, for example. But for most other diseases, science now tells us that the environment, and that includes the environment inside your body, has everything to do with genetic expression. And that's the key. The hypothesis that genes are the master controllers has been proven false.
"We're finding out now that malnutrition, toxins, and stress play epigenetic roles on your genes," Dr. Rowen says. "Genes play much lesser role than we previously thought. It's nutrition, toxins, and stress that are playing [influencing] your genes. It's the three that I pay most attention to. There's not one of those three that synthetic petrochemical pharmaceutical satisfactorily addresses."
How Can You Assert Your Right to Be in Control of Your Health?
Dr. Rowen believes that just as doctors need protective legislation, patients need to get involved in the legal system on the local level to assert their rights to health freedom, especially if they don't live in the states that already offer some minor protection for their clinicians.
"The local level in the state would mean going to your state senator and representative, who generally will have a much closer relationship with their natural constituents – meaning the voter – than the U.S. senators and representatives, who seem to represent industry. I'm not going to say that state representatives don't, but you can usually get into their office. That would be the first place to start. Meet with them as a person; write them, and tell them you want to see legislation in your state that literally protects your right to get natural therapies.
I'll give you an example... I raised this in California when I testified on behalf of our medical freedom bill here. I'm doing it again, because we're trying to get a bill in California that decriminalizes the natural treatment of cancer. Yes, we have the medical freedom bill, but there's still a bill on the books here that if you treat cancer with anything but chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, it's a crime.
Here's something to think about. In California, a 13-year-old girl, a minor, has more rights to go and get an abortion without her parent's knowledge or consent than the adult parent at age 40 does to treat breast cancer in the privacy of her doctor's office. Does that make sense to you?"
Even more ludicrous is the fact that in most states, if a child has cancer, and the parents elect not to follow the conventional cut-poison-burn cancer treatment model, they can be criminalized and have ALL their children taken away from them. As crazy as that sounds, that has happened many times, and what could possibly constitute a greater crime and abuse of justice than something like that? A perfect example of this is the Navarro case, featured in the documentary film Cut Poison Burn.
Why is Our Health Freedom Being Stripped Away?
According to Dr. Rowen, people are not turning to alternative medicine just because orthodox medicine has become too expensive. Rather, he believes people are turning toward natural medicine because conventional medicine has quite simply failed to heal. Americans spend the most on health care out of all nations on this planet, yet after all that expense, what people are left with are toxic side effects (or as Dr. Rowen states, "direct effects" of toxic drugs), reduced health, and reduced prosperity. Many are quite simply far worse off after going through the conventional medical system than when they started.
"I believe that millions of people are now turning to what we do, because what we do supports the body to heal rather than suppress it with toxic drugs... "[This is] why we have to be destroyed," Dr. Rowen says. "If you have a product that is inferior and doesn't work, what do you do to stay in business? ... The way that you stay in business is to destroy the free market...
What Pharma has done, because its products are inferior... is it has turned to buying the government – literally buying it – and buying the press, mainly the journals, and trying to get into a monopoly. That's how this has happened. All I'm asking for is a truly free marketplace. Pharma can exist. Fine, do your thing. If you have something that works better than me, play it out in the marketplace. But I should be able to do my thing, too."
How Large Corporations Manipulate the System for Their Benefit
In my view the best illustration of what contributed to the current mess we are in is illustrated by Jack Abramoff. He has been characterized as the most notorious and crooked lobbyist of our time, and is the classic example of brazen corruption and influence-pedaling, using corporation's money to buy powerful friends and influence legislation.
He was a master at showering gifts on lawmakers in the 1990s, in return for their votes on legislation. He was so good at it, he took home 20 million dollars a year. It all came crashing down five years ago when he plead guilty to corrupting public officials, tax evasion, and fraud, and served three and a half years in a federal prison..
Bribery - The Sordid Details of How the U.S. Political System Works
Because he had already served prison time for his crimes he could freely share the specific details of how he manipulated the political system. He believes that most congressmen don't feel that they're being bought and rationalize in their own mind that they justify the system. He'd lavish certain congressmen and senators with access to private jets and junkets to the world's great golf destinations, free meals at his own upscale Washington restaurant, and he spent over a million dollars a year to give them access to the best tickets to all the areas' sporting events.
However his greatest secret was that the best way to get a congressional office to do his bidding was to offer a staffer a job that could triple his salary. He would focus on the chief of staff and offer him a job after he finished working for the Congressman. This gave Abramoff inside access to the Congressman to control his votes on legislation. His influence was so pervasive that he controlled about a quarter of the U.S. Congress. Sadly he is not alone in his corrupt and criminal behavior and that's largely why we're in the mess we're in.
Drug Companies Control the System
It is a well-documented fact that the drug companies have the largest political lobbying organizations. They are some of the most clever marketers on the planet. They know how to leverage their resources by bribing politicians to give them an unfair advantage in the marketplace by placing legislation that is devastating to their competition. This is typically implemented through federal regulatory agencies like the FDA and the CDC.
Most people are under the impression that political corruption only involves somebody handing over a check and getting a favor. That's not the case. The foundation of the corruption really is all about bribery that involves giving a gift to somebody who makes a decision on behalf of the public. At the end of the day, that's really what bribery is.
The system has never changed and continues to this day because the people who make the reforms are the people in the system. Reform efforts are merely fake efforts that tweak the current corrupted system. For example the system forbids lobbyists from taking a Congressman to lunch for 25 dollars, but allows them to take him to a fundraising lunch and give him 25,000 dollars extra, and call it a fundraiser. They still have all the same access and all the same interaction with that Congressman.
The only solution is to prohibit members of Congress and their staff from ever becoming lobbyists in Washington. If you make the choice to serve the public with public service, then serve the public, not yourself. Unfortunately, that's unlikely to happen anytime soon...
Reshaping the Medical Paradigm—One Senator and Congressman at a Time?
Dr. Rowen already suggested connecting with your elected state senators and representatives on the local level, and urging them to get a medical freedom bill passed in your state. But that doesn't solve the gigantic problem that is the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
"I happen to prefer the term "Fraud and Deception Administration," Dr. Rowen says. "We have an FDA that is basically owned by Pharma. They're a rogue agency that interprets the law anyway they see fit. Most recently, I understand that Orrin Hatch and Tom Harkin went to the FDA to explain the legislative intent of DSHEA, the Dietary Supplement Education Act of 1994, since they were the authors. The FDA says, "No! That's not what was meant by Congress. We know what was meant." And here were the congressional officers!
From my perspective, at the national level, letters need to be written to your Senators and your Congressmen. You need to let them know; millions of people, millions, need to let these people know that you will vote them out of office when you see contributions in their coffers from the likes of Pharma and Monsanto. When you see a contribution from them, you know how that person is going to vote. You [need to] vote them out of office, and you let them know that you're going to vote them out."
Guidelines for Finding a Well-Qualified Natural Health Physician
Chances are, if you're reading this newsletter, you're probably at least open to the idea that your body can often heal itself. But many will, sooner or later, need a health expert to assist them through some health challenge. If you're new to natural medicine and seek to identify a coach, a clinician, physician, or natural health care practitioner to guide you through your healing process, Dr. Rowen has the following suggestions: There are several natural health organizations, and most of them offer online listings of their members, such as:
- The American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM)i
- The International College of Integrative Medicine (ICIM)ii
Even if you can't find a practitioner in your state, try an office in a nearby state, and ask them for a reference. There are bound to be many well-qualified doctors who are not members of that particular organization.
"You don't even have to go to a medical doctor," Dr. Rowen says. "There are naturopaths who know more about healing than 99.9 percent of the medical doctors in this country combined... In some states, they can do IVs. In some states, they can write prescriptions. Then meet the person. Find out his philosophy. My philosophy – I tell all my patients this and I write about this in Second Opinion repeatedly – is the three basic causes of disease: malnutrition, toxins, and stress. Address those three first, and everything else will fall into line, or most everything will fall into line."
Take a Stand to Protect Your Health Freedom
As you may have noticed, there's currently a major worldwide push to destroy your rights to medical freedom, so getting involved, in any way you possibly can, no matter what country you live in, is imperative for everyone's future.
"In Australia, for example, 400 professionals have just come out and lobbied the government to essentially ignore, refuse, or strip recognition for alternative therapies," Dr. Rowen explains. "In Europe, Germany, and England, they're trying to strip alternative therapies from third-party reimbursements and state healthcare reimbursements. In [the United States], we have the FDA on a roll to wipe out just about everything that will go up against Pharma's monopoly. We need to be vigilant. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance, as our founders said. I do encourage people to join the Alliance for Health Freedom."
I also want to urge you to join a few other organizations. Last year, Mercola.com formed a nonprofit coalition called Health Liberty with the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), the Fluoride Action Network (FAN), the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT), the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), and Consumers for Dental Choice. The coalition exists to help protect every American's freedom to make voluntary health choices, and each partner-organization has a rich history of advocacy and active campaigning for change and better access to truly empowering health information.
If you haven't done so already, I invite you to sign up with these individual organizations to stay on top of what's going on in each area. You can find pertinent links to all of them in this previous article that introduces Health Liberty. Please take a stand, and help protect everyone's right to medical freedom of choice.