Why Bother with NATURAL THERAPIES?

Many physician would likely have you believe that all natural therapies are simply attempts to rip you off, and that you should only buy what s/he's selling. Kind of like the used car ads on TV. The sad thing is that they actually believe the "only use drugs and surgery" nonsense they were indoctrinated with in medical school. Interestingly, even though most doctors will not recommend nutritional supplements, they do take them themselves!

What effect does the "only use drugs and surgery" approach have?

Our health care system is on the verge of a financial meltdown. In 2002, health care spending in the United States was $1.55 trillion, accounting for an enormous 15 percent of the nation's economy, and the average amount spent on each American for health care was $5,440 (Time magazine, January 19, 2004). For some of you, the cost of health insurance and uncovered medical costs may be as much as your entire income. Even for the wealthy among us, it can be a major expense.

Not only does the cost of health insurance come out of your paycheck (even if your employer pays for it, be assured that it is still coming out of your paycheck!), but it also gets added to the cost of almost everything you pay for. As healthcare costs continue to skyrocket, going up approximately 9.3 percent in 2002 (the largest increase in 11 years), fewer employers are able and willing to cover the cost of health insurance, and more Americans are uninsured. Our approach to treating people is also becoming more expensive and toxic--and, sadly, not always that much more effective. Despite spending more than any other country on health care, overall health rankings do not put the United States among even the top 10 countries.

In addition, toxicity from medications and surgery is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., killing roughly 200,000 Americans every year. For example, Motrin family medications (called NSAIDs) kill well over 16,500 Americans a year. This has been going on for so long that it's not even news anymore!

Adding Natural Options to the "only use drugs and surgery" approach can Save Hundreds of Thousands of Lives and Billions of Dollars! Here are just a few examples:

A. Hypothyroidism-Relying on inaccurate blood testing for diagnosis and treatment and missing hypothyroidism, which is easily treated with natural Armour Thyroid, results in:

Over 30,000 preventable deaths/year from heart attacks. Women with untreated hypothyroidism are more than twice as likely to have a heart attack. A study in the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine noted that hypothyroidism "contributed to 60 percent of cases of myocardial infarction [heart attacks] among women affected by subclinical [even mild] hypothyroidism." It contributed more to causing heart attacks in these patients than smoking, elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes! Another study supports this showing that subclinical hypothyroidism was associated with a 2.6-fold increased risk of ischemic heart disease--the biggest killer in the U.S.

Over 4,600 miscarriages/yr after 15 weeks of pregnancy, and countless more before. Six percent of miscarriages are associated with hypothyroidism. Undiagnosed hypothyroidism is also associated with infertility. In moderate to severely hypothyroid mothers, the baby was also over 6 times as likely to die soon after being born.

Learning disabilities--Children born to hypothyroid mothers have a lower IQ (average of 7 points). They are almost 4 times as likely to have an IQ under 85 and over twice as likely to have learning difficulties resulting in their having to repeat a grade.

Hypothyroidism contributes to millions being unnecessarily disabled. Over 6 million Americans have fibromyalgia, and tens of millions more have chronic muscle pain. Undiagnosed or inadequately treated thyroid disorders contribute to these unnecessarily disabling conditions. Our initial understanding of this was elucidated by Dr. Janet Travell, who was the White House physician for President Kennedy, who suffered from excruciating back pain. My published research shows that 91 percent of these patients can improve with proper treatment, especially including thyroid hormone.
Hypothyroidism is a major cause of gaining and being unable to lose weight. It causes fatigue, dry hair, coarse skin, depression, and "brain fog" as well. Americans are currently treating hypothyroidism, which is often confused for depression, with Prozac! This is an even bigger problem in the elderly who are being misdiagnosed with depression or Alzheimer's/senility when what they have is hypothyroidism.

B. Simply giving optimal nutritional support during pregnancy is cheap and would also save enormous amounts. Consider three simple examples: "eclampsia," the high blood pressure and seizures seen in pregnancy can often be prevented by taking 10 cents worth of magnesium a day; post-partum depression can often be prevented simply by taking fish oil (use a mercury free brand, of course) during pregnancy; and 250 mg of Vitamin B6 a day cuts the risk of pregnancy induced diabetes by half (Note: decrease the B6 to 50 mg 3-4 weeks before delivery or you can inhibit lactation).

C. Infertility--The medical answer for this is to spend $40,000 for in vitro fertilization and cross your fingers. Happily, for those with infertility without structural problems, natural remedies can often effectively treat infertility for under $200 and sometimes even under $100. (For info/references on these issues, go to www.Vitality101.com, click on "Useful Articles" and then on the "hypothyroidism press release" or "natural treatments for infertility" or "how to have a healthy pregnancy"). In fact, my wife and I are currently planning to do a study on infertility combining these natural remedies that individual studies have found to be effective.

D. The average chronic fatigue syndrome/fibromyalgia patient spends $50,000 on ineffective testing and treatment before finding a doctor who is trained in effective therapies (see www.Vitality101.com to see a "gold standard" study showing a 91 percent improvement rate with proper treatment). Instead of saving money and lives by paying for these effective and largely natural therapies, some insurance companies continue to shoot themselves (and you) in the foot by not covering treatment.

E. Disc disease--Two studies (one placebo controlled) with over a thousand patients show that back pain/sciatica from disc disease can be eliminated over 70 percent of the time simply by giving colchicine (an old, herbally derived gout medicine) intravenously once a week for 6 weeks. Using this approach, I almost never have to send people for back surgery. My colleagues who use it have had the same results. Conservatively, disc/back surgery costs $15,000. IV colchicine is cheap ($18 total for the 6 doses--which is likely why you never heard of it). The main cost is starting the IV is $60. Cost for treatment is $500 vs. $15,000 plus. If one guesses that there are 300,000 disc surgeries a year (I have not been able to get the exact numbers), this represents a savings of over $4 billion yearly for this treatment alone!

F. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome This common problem is associated with a pinched nerve in the wrist. People get pain and numbness in their hands, and often wake with these symptoms in the middle of the night, feeling like they have to shake their hands around. The usual medical approach is to do a nerve conduction study and surgery (cost $2,600). Unless the person continues to do activities which cause "repetitive stress injury" to the wrist/hand, the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome usually resolve within six to 12 weeks by combining the following measures (which can cost less than $100):

taking vitamin B6 at 250 mg a day,
taking Armour thyroid at the dose that feels best while keeping the Free T4 blood test within the normal limits (even if your thyroid blood tests are normal), and
wearing a "cock up" wrist splint(s) at night while you're sleeping (one that keeps the hand/wrist in a neutral position, which is the position your hand when holding a glass of water). If symptoms bother you during the day, it is also helpful to wear the splint during the day. For every one million of these surgeries that can be avoided, we save 2 1/2 billion dollars. In the few cases where these inexpensive measures fail, one can always still do surgery later.

G. Autism--Both the emotional and financial costs of this condition are enormous. The prevalence of autism is skyrocketing, now affecting as many as one in 500 Americans. Patients with autism can improve, however, using nutritional/enzyme support combined with desensitization using an acupressure technique called NAET (see www.NAET.com). This approach was found to be effective in a current study funded by our foundation.

Comprehensive Medicine

Using Comprehensive Medicine can increase effectiveness and safety and lower health care costs dramatically. Your doctor won't hear about it because doctors largely hear what the drug companies pay for them to hear--which is what's newest and most expensive. Your doctor does not know this--but look at who pays for almost all of the journals they read and medical conferences they go to! You don't have to wait for them to figure things out, though. To look for a Comprehensive Medicine approach to over 30 common medical problems, go to www.Vitality101.com and click on "Useful Articles." It's time for You to Get Well Now!

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By Jacob E. Teitelbaum, M.D.

Illustration by Jeff Ham

Dr. Teitelbaum is a board-certified internist and director of the Annapolis Center for Effective CFS/Fibromyalgia Therapies. Having suffered with and overcome these illnesses in 1975, he spent the next twenty-five years creating, researching, and teaching about effective therapies. His office is in Annapolis, Maryland (410.573.5389). He is the senior author of the landmark study "Effective Treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia--a Placebo-controlled Study." He lectures internationally and is also the author of the best-selling book From Fatigued to Fantastic!, Three Steps to Happiness!: Healing through Joy, and the just released Pain Free 1-2-3! A Proven Method to Get You Pain Free NOW (McGraw Hill, 2006). His Web site can be found at: www.Vitality101.com.

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