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From Deceptive Boardrooms to Closed-Minded Thinking... How The Fatally Flawed Medical System Killed More Americans with Just One Drug than the Entire Vietnam War, Part 1 of 4

By Dr. Mercola

conventional medicineOver 80 percent of the people on the Internet search for health information, but the field is loaded with misinformation, deception, and outright fraud.

When I started this Web site in 1997 it was with the intention to provide you with a treasure trove of knowledge and health wisdom that will allow you to avoid the well established dangers of choosing a conventional approach to medicine.

Origins of “Doctors are the Third Leading Cause of Death”

In July 2000 I analyzed a JAMA article by Dr. Barbara Starfield from Johns Hopkins School of public health.

I carefully reviewed her data and came to the conclusion that doctors were the third leading cause of death. I created that headline, and over the last ten years it has been widely distributed all over the Internet.

When I contacted Dr. Starfield for a follow-up, she told me that she did not agree with my conclusion, but still felt that the conventional medical system was the leading cause of death. Well four years later, Gary Null published a report which indeed confirmed that fact.

So, with time I realized that my purpose in life is to catalyze a transformation of this fatally flawed medical system that has been irreversibly corrupted by multinational corporate drug and food industry interests, which put their bottom line profits far ahead of improving your health and the human condition in general.

The purpose of this site is to provide a comprehensive educational effort to expose the fraud, deception and misinformation that is prematurely killing hundreds of thousands of people every year in the US alone, and also causing needless pain and suffering in millions of others.

It might be obvious to most that I am bucking this corporate system, and they are not going to go down without a fight. The opponents are constantly seeking to discredit me so the message can’t be heard.

Truth is Violently Opposed Before It is Accepted as Self Evident

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) was a German philosopher known for his philosophical clarity. In my view he has made one of the most valuable observations on the shifting of human views on truth as he stated that all truth goes through three steps:

  1. First, it is ridiculed.

  2. Second, it is violently opposed.

  3. Finally, it is accepted as self-evident

This is not only true for health but all areas of life. However since my entire formal professional training is in health, I would like to share with you a dozen experiences from my professional career that validates Shopenhauer’s observation, and why I will not quit despite the efforts of my critics and detractors.

Three of the 12 truths I will cover in this four-part series have reached the final stage and are now widely accepted by the medical profession, although some of my recommendations still include refinements that have yet to be embraced by conventional medicine.

The remainder is in varying degrees of acceptance, and some will not be widely accepted for quite some time, but the evidence is clear for all those who are willing to objectively review the data.

Truth # 1: Bacteria Cause Ulcers

It was 1984 when I first became aware of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria, and its role in peptic ulcers. I learned this by reviewing the data in one of my favorite journals, Lancet. A family physician, Dr. Barry Marshall, from Australia, came up with a finding that turned the entire long held view of ulcers upside down.

I was still in my residency training when I sought to apply these findings but remember very clearly that the specialist that I reported to ridiculed me for even considering the wacky notion that bacteria could cause ulcers. I was almost removed from my training program for seeking to put patients on this regimen.

This was remarkable because nearly every one of the patients I put on the program had immediate, long-lasting improvement, and did not require going on lifelong antiulcer therapy.

When I went into private practice in 1985, the local gastroenterologists in my community considered me a renegade and would discredit me to other physicians.

Nobel Prize Awarded

However ten years later, in 1995, Dr. Marshall was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discovery.

This was my first personal experience with Schopenhauer’s observation.

Unfortunately, the misinformation surrounding the true cause of ulcers was still not widely known in the late ‘90s. A CDC survey during that time found most health care consumers were unaware that peptic ulcer disease was caused by infection with H. pylori bacteria in 9 of 10 cases.

About 60 percent of respondents still believed that ulcers were caused by stress and 17 percent thought that ulcers were caused by spicy foods.

Acid Suppressing Treatments Cause More Harm than Good

An important element of the conventional treatment of peptic ulcer disease is H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors, which are some of the most widely prescribed drugs in the world, and there was ENORMOUS resistance from the drug companies for physicians to accept Dr. Marshall’s finding.

I strongly believe that virtually all of these acid suppressing regimens are unnecessary and actually harm people. It was a major tragedy that these drugs became available over-the-counter in the ‘90s.

It was bad enough that physicians were using them inappropriately -- now anyone can abuse these dangerous drugs and short-circuit their body's normal protective mechanisms.

Your body was not designed to have its acid level suppressed. If that occurs, then the enzymes you need to digest are not activated, and your body will not be able to fully utilize the food you eat.

If you or anyone you know are still taking medications like Zantac, Pepcid, Tagamet or similar medications, it would be wise to stop them immediately.

Even Better Options for Ulcers

Interestingly, as I continued to study and learn natural medicine principles, I realized that while Dr. Marshall’s approach was far superior to the acid suppressing approaches, it still was not the best answer.

I learned that it is rarely necessary to use antibiotics to control the helicobacter bacteria that can cause ulcers. You can easily achieve this goal with proper diet, supplements and lifestyle modification.

Unfortunately this approach is still too far out of the box and is not widely accepted as truth. Perhaps in another ten years...

To find out more about how to get rid of H. pylori the healthy way, read The Case for Healthy Bowels: The Vital Connection between Your Gut and Your Health.

Truth # 2: Duoderm Provides Potent Wound Healing

The second confirmation of the Schopenhauer observation came at the turn of the century.

Wound healing has a long history of less than optimal treatment in the conventional model. Many wounds become chronic and are resistant to healing, while other acute wounds, like burns, are treated with a variety of ineffective and dangerous approaches.

I first learned of Duoderm in my residency over 25 years ago. When I first started using it on patients in the hospital I was widely criticized by the attending physicians and the surgeons, and they would tell the nursing staff to remove the dressing.

However, over the course of about a year they started to witness the dramatic healing improvements, and before I left the program it had become standard treatment by most of the attending and surgical staff for wound treatment.

So just what is Duoderm?

It is a nearly magical wound dressing. After you’ve cleaned your wound with hydrogen peroxide, cut the Duoderm about half an inch larger than your wound and apply. It typically sticks very well to your skin unless you are wrapping it around a digit, in which case you will need to apply some extra tape.

You can leave a Duoderm dressing on for about one week before you need to change the dressing, as long as there is no sign of infection. Interestingly, after a few days it typically will look like pus might be coming out, but it is merely the dressing itself dissolving that resembles pus.

Unlike most wound dressings that actually worsen wound healing, Duoderm accelerates it and also tends to eliminate any wound pain.

It is unclear how it works, but most likely it allows tiny bioelectrical currents to become reestablished by completing a circuit, and then your body’s intuitive wisdom takes over and finishes your healing.

If you have a hard time finding it, you can get Duoderm on Amazon.

Truth # 3: Anti Inflammatory Vioxx Kills 60,000

The third confirmation of the Schopenhauer observation came at the turn of the century.

In the early 2000s, Vioxx was an extremely popular anti-inflammatory, taken by nearly 100 million people worldwide -- with sales reaching $2.5 billion annually.

In 1999 I uncovered a study that showed people taking this drug were at massively increased risk of dying from heart disease and stroke, and I published this information in my newsletter.

I actually issued the first public warning about Vioxx while it was still in clinical trials -- a year before it became available by prescription.

Then, in 2004, another study showed that patients taking Vioxx had a 50 percent higher risk of having a heart attack or experiencing a fatal cardiac episode than those taking another popular anti-inflammatory drug – the same conclusion I had warned about FIVE years earlier.

Merck finally succumbed to public pressure and voluntarily withdrew their anti-inflammatory drug from the market in September, 2004.

It is tragic that Vioxx was only removed from the market AFTER it had done its damage, and 60,000 people ended up dying from taking it. This was NO accident; the drug’s makers knew this would happen but collected billions of dollars in profit before it was finally withdrawn. Many internal memorandums uncovered during the many lawsuits confirmed this.

Vioxx is a classic demonstration of putting corporate bottom-line profits ahead of people’s lives.

The evidence of this malicious behavior is clearly shown in a recent investigation of the drug published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The researchers concluded that the trial data available as early as December 2000 demonstrated a significantly increased cardiovascular risk associated with Vioxx and should have raised concerns about its safety -- a full three and a half years prior to Merck’s voluntary withdrawal of the drug.

Part of the problem, however, was that a large number of these damning studies were never published. They were obtained by the researchers through their work advising plaintiffs who had sued Merck in the years following Vioxx’ withdrawal. Despite efforts to improve federal drug-safety, drug companies still are not required to disclose the kind of patient data that they used for this analysis.

In the current drug safety system you are the guinea pig, as true drug safety is not assessed until a very large number of side effects have been reported by doctors. The term “evidence-based medicine” is really deceiving since this kind of cherry picking of study findings for publication is the norm rather than the exception.

Non-Drug Alternatives to Prevent and Treat Inflammation

While you can certainly control inflammation with potent drugs like Vioxx, they in no way shape or form treat the cause of the problem, and a result they are bound to cause side effects.

It would seem a far wiser approach to seek natural options that address the reason the inflammation exists to begin with. Fortunately there are many options available.

Lifestyle changes, for example, will go a long way toward reducing chronic inflammation in your body, so focus on making the following changes:

  1. Focus on eating a healthy diet. This includes avoiding pro-inflammatory foods like trans fats, fried foods, sugar and grains, foods cooked at high temperatures and oxidized cholesterol (cholesterol that has gone rancid, such as that from overcooked, scrambled eggs).

  2. Get plenty of animal-based omega-3 fats by taking a high-quality krill oil that is chock full of these beneficial omega-3's. My favorite in this area is krill oil.

  3. Optimize your insulin levels. If your fasting insulin level is not lower than three consider limiting or eliminating your intake of grains and sugars until you optimize your insulin level.

  4. Exercise regularly. Exercise is a great way to lower inflammation without any of the side effects associated with medications.

  5. Quit smoking. Smoking hardens your arteries and increases inflammation. But research shows you can reverse all the damaging effects to your arteries within 10 years of quitting. However, be sure you get your diet under control first so you don’t fall into the trap of trading cigarettes for unhealthy junk foods.

  6. Make sure your waist size is normal. If you're a woman with a waist measurement of over 35 inches or a man with a waist of over 40 inches, you probably have high inflammation and should take steps to lose weight.

  7. Have healthy outlets for stress and other negative emotions. High levels of stress hormones can lead to the release of excess inflammatory chemicals, so be sure you use tools to help deal with your current stress and resolve past emotional challenges as well. Meditation, prayer and my personal favorite the Meridian Tapping Technique (MTT) are all useful stress management techniques to try out.

  8. Optimize your vitamin D levels. Most people are not aware that vitamin D can have a profoundly dramatic impact on your health. Your best source of vitamin D is through your skin being exposed to the sun or alternatively using a safe tanning bed. In the wintertime, however, you may need to take an oral supplement. Just make sure you’re taking the right form of vitamin D in the appropriate amounts to reap the benefits, and remember to get your vitamin D levels tested regularly.

Useful Herbs and Supplements to Fight Inflammation

Finally, although they are not a long-term solution, the herbs that follow are useful for treating the symptoms of inflammation and relieving pain while you work at implementing the lifestyle changes above:

  • Turmeric, Tulsi and Rosemary: The transcription protein Nuclear Factor-kappa Beta (NfKB) is a major inducer of inflammation, and these three herbs are capable of modulating NfKB.
  • Boswellia: Also known as boswellin or "Indian frankincense," this herb contains specific active anti-inflammatory ingredients, referred to as boswellic acids that animal studies have shown significantly reduce inflammation. This is one of my personal favorites as I have seen it work well with rheumatoid arthritis patients

  • Bromelain: This enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form, but eating fresh pineapple may also be helpful.

  • Ginger: This herb is anti-inflammatory and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea or grated into vegetable juice. Powder capsules are also available, but I recommend using the fresh root.

  • Resveratrol: Resveratrol is a potent antioxidant found in certain fruits, vegetables and cocoa that is emerging as a modern-day fountain of youth. It works by preventing your body from creating sphingosine kinase and phospholipase D -- two molecules known to trigger inflammation. The science surrounding this compound is so compelling that it has become one of my all-time favorite antioxidants, and I believe one that shows real promise of health benefits.

  • Evening Primrose, Black Currant and Borage Oils: These contain the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is useful for treating arthritic pain. It is reasonable for many to take these as a supplement, particularly if you struggle with dry skin in the winter, as this is a strong indicator that you are deficient in these fats.

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