By Dr. Mercola
This website was created 21 years ago, in 1997, when I combined my two primary passions in life — health and technology — and made it my mission to share exciting new developments in natural health with a wider audience.
Thanks to you, this site has become one of the most visited natural health websites in the world for the last 12 years, with more than 10 million unique visitors each month and more than 80 million unique visitors annually.
Because of your loyal support, we've slowly but surely awakened the world to the false promises of the fatally flawed conventional medical view, which claims disease is best treated with drugs, and that the government knows what's best for your health and should be allowed to dictate your health options.
In the video above, I discuss my own journey toward health, which ultimately led me to my present-day philosophies and recommendations.
This video and article were initially published during three years ago during anniversary week. It was a big hit, and since we've had a significant influx of new subscribers since then, I'm rerunning it for those who missed it.
Learning Through Experience
Experience is a formidable teacher, and much of what I'm teaching today grew out of the lessons I learned as I tried to get healthier. I made plenty of mistakes, and fell for many of the lies, deceptions and confusion of conventional medicine.
Like so many others, I grew up eating cereal for breakfast, and I fully believed margarine was healthy. My diet was high in carbs and sugars and low in fat, and there's little doubt this played a significant role in dental decay, which I struggled with throughout a large portion of my life.
By the time I was an adult, I had a mouth full of amalgam fillings. Eventually, I discovered the truth about amalgam — that it's actually 50 percent mercury — and in 2009 I approached Charlie Brown (president of the Alliance for Mercury Free Dentistry) at a Health Freedom Expo in Chicago.
At that event, I offered to partner with him to raise awareness about mercury in dentistry and to help get this toxin out of dentistry for good.
It's been a highly successful partnership, and on October 10, 2013, a legally binding international treaty to control the use of this toxic metal was signed into action, thanks largely to the work of the Campaign for Mercury-Free Dentistry, the project organized and led by Charlie Brown.
The treaty, named the United Nations Minamata Convention on Mercury, requires the phasing out of many mercury-containing products by 2020. Importantly, the treaty marks the beginning of the end for dental amalgam around the world, as it mandates each nation phase down amalgam use, effective immediately.
Since then, I've partnered with a number of select health and research organizations that are true health advocates and educators, including GrassrootsHealth, Fluoride Action Network (FAN), National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT), and the Organic Consumers Association (OCA).
Together, we've formed a nonprofit coalition known as Health Liberty, dedicated to improving fundamental education to all on important health, food safety, and informed consent issues.
A Lifelong Passion for Exercise Got Me Into Medicine
My mother instilled in me a passion for reading. In 1968 I picked up Dr. Ken Cooper's book, "Aerobics," which sparked a lifelong passion for exercise as I have been exercising regularly for the last 48 years, never taking more than a few days off at any one time.
Cooper actually designed the exercise program for the NASA astronauts, but aside from keeping astronauts fit in an antigravity environment, exercise wasn't viewed very favorably down here on Earth.
When I first took up running, people would throw things at me because they thought I was some kind of hooligan or criminal running from the scene of a crime! People simply did not run "for no reason" back in the '60s.
I was a freshman in high school when the first man landed on the moon. Along with the rest of the nation, this event captured my attention and I decided I wanted to be an astronaut. The quickest way to do that was to join the Air Force Academy.
Unfortunately, it was tough getting a congressional appointment to get in, so in the meantime, I continued my education, focusing on engineering. I later switched to pre-med — in large part because I was so excited about exercise and health.
At the very beginning of med school, one of my professors told our class that by the time we graduated, most of what we were being taught would be outdated or obsolete.
The key element of our education was really teaching us how to learn, and that has stuck with me ever since. I never reached a point where I thought I know it all and don't need to learn any more. In essence, med school taught me how to become a perpetual student, and that attitude has served me well.
Unfortunately, most doctors ignore that message and get stuck practicing what in essence is outdated medicine.
Nutrition as Medicine
Conventional medicine is excellent at diagnosing disease, but where it fails miserably is in the treatment approaches. It typically focuses on treating the symptoms, not the root cause, and it does so using toxic drugs that frequently cause problems that are more dangerous than the original complaint.
The discovery of nutrition as a method of healing was nothing short of revolutionary for me. It really opened my eyes and gave me a whole different perspective on health and healing.
I began scouring the medical and lay literature on nutrition, and started attending conferences on alternative healing modalities, typically every month, to acquire the knowledge and skills to help people heal.
I would then apply what I'd learned in my medical practice and get tremendous results — so much so I finally reached the point where I said, "This stuff really works!" and with that, I made a commitment to practice medicine without drugs.
When I notified my patients of this new direction, 70 percent of them left. They were unwilling to quit using the drugs they were on and to address their health problems with nutrition and other lifestyle changes.
This turned out to be a blessing, as the patients I had left really wanted to get better and were willing to do the work. Eventually, word spread about their healing successes, and over the years I ended up treating patients from all over the world.
Staying Ahead of the Curve
Over the past 21 years, I've often been among the first in the media to communicate commonsense strategies of healing and staying well naturally to the wider audience. The truth is your body has an innate ability to heal. It is designed to move toward health and away from disease, provided you give it the basic support it needs in terms of nutrition, physical movement, exposure to sunlight and myriad other natural health strategies.
For example, I began talking about the importance of vitamin D for health beyond rickets back in 2000, and have warned people about the adverse effects of shunning sun exposure for over 18 years. Thankfully, the medical literature has now firmly established that vitamin D is essential for health, and that deficiency plays a role in dozens of chronic diseases.
Eighteen years ago I also began blowing the whistle on genetically engineered (GE) foods, warning people to avoid them in order to protect their health. Now, the public discussion about GE foods has finally been brought to the fore, and grassroots efforts have led to ballot initiatives to label genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in dozens of states, with major media outlets like National Geographic reporting that genetically engineered foods are a dangerous fraud.
Fight Against Mercury and Fluoride Continues
In 1998, I warned my readers to avoid dentists who still use mercury amalgams in their practice, having learned that painful lesson myself. Amalgams really have no place in modern dentistry. It's an antiquated practice, and it simply makes no sense to place a known neurotoxin inches away from your brain. As noted earlier, the international treaty on mercury now heralds the beginning of the end of mercury in dentistry.
Also in 1998, I began writing about the hazards of water fluoridation, pointing out that fluoride is a toxic drug that accumulates in your body and can destroy human enzymes. Since then, the evidence against fluoride as a panacea for dental caries has only gotten stronger, and the fight to get fluoride out of municipal water supplies continues. Here, we're partnered with FAN, which is intent (as am I) to eliminate fluoride from drinking water not just in the U.S., but around the world.
As all of these examples show, it usually takes a decade or more to reverse deeply ingrained medical myths, no matter how unscientific their basis. But eventually, the truth does tend to prevail, and I believe it's only a matter of time before water fluoridation is seen for what it really is — one of the biggest public health blunders in U.S. history, opposed to being one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.
Last year, the U.S. government finally admitted Americans have been overexposed to fluoride, and for the first time since 1962 lowered the recommended level of fluoride in drinking water. It's not enough, but it's a move in the right direction. I've also begun working with an organization in Mexico that is developing a low-tech fluoride removal system that even poorer rural communities will be able to use to make their drinking water safer.
Early Warnings Issued — Years in Advance
In 2006, I began warning about the artificial sweetener aspartame, convinced it was one of the most dangerous additives in the food supply. Since then, the medical literature has become filled with studies demonstrating its harmful effects. Not only do artificial sweeteners actually promote obesity, they also worsen diabetes, and it's fraught with side effects. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received more health complaints stemming from aspartame than ALL other food additives combined.
I was the first in the media to issue a stern warning against Vioxx. 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. I predicted Vioxx would be pulled from the market once the increased cardiac deaths were finally recognized and, indeed, that's exactly what happened — but not before more than 60,000 people had died from taking the blockbuster drug.
Take Control of Your Health, for Life!
I would encourage anyone who feels skeptical to really evaluate the evidence and put some of these healthy lifestyle principles to the test, because the ultimate proof for most people is their own experience. It either works or it doesn't. You feel better and get healthier, or you don't. My mantra is "Take Control of Your Health," and my goal is to teach you how to get off the merry-go-round of drugs, which typically treat only the symptoms while actually deteriorating your health.
Drugs can also be lethal, and even when properly prescribed and administered they kill hundreds of thousands of people each year. My message is: There are safer, less expensive alternatives that can truly address the root cause of your disease. Invariably, reclaiming health and treating disease involves addressing your diet, exercise and other lifestyle factors, most of which cost little or nothing.