Statement of Principles
For those of you who want to know more about how I treat patients, I have included this Statement of Principles. These are the beliefs and principles that I live my professional life by:
1. First, do no harm.
When I became a doctor, I took the Hippocratic Oath, which says that the first duty of a doctor is to do no harm.
Unfortunately, conventional medicine often violates this rule. Just look at the statistics. Over 100,000 people per year die from properly prescribed drugs. That makes drugs the nation’s third largest cause of death, after heart disease and cancer!
And remember, that figure is for properly prescribed drugs. It doesn’t include the thousands who die from prescription mistakes. It doesn’t include the thousands who die on the operating table. It doesn’t include the thousands who die from hospital-acquired infections.
I knew that if I wanted to keep my oath to do no harm, I had to find a better way. Luckily, I did.
2. Treat the cause of disease, not merely the symptoms.
There’s a wonderful old fable about blind men and an elephant. One blind man touches the elephant’s side and thinks it’s a wall. Another feels the tusk and thinks it’s a spear. A third one touches the trunk and thinks it’s a snake. And so on.
Well, like the blind men in the fable, doctors who specialize in a specific part of the body or a specific mode of treatment often miss the big picture. For example, they fail to see how your adrenal glands can affect your energy. Or how your teeth and gums can affect your heart and arteries. Or how your liver can affect your skin.
Instead of looking at the big picture, these doctors merely look at your symptoms and give you a pill. You say your back hurts? Here’s a painkiller for you. You have high blood pressure? Here’s a blood pressure drug. Your cholesterol is high? Take this statin drug.
The problem with this approach is that it ignores the underlying reason for the problem. There’s always an underlying reason why your back hurts … or your blood pressure is up … or your cholesterol is high. And if you ignore that underlying reason, the problem will keep coming back.
That’s why I prefer a more holistic approach, one that looks at the interactions of the different parts of the body and how they affect each other.
In my medical practice, I always look at how different parts of the body affect each other. I look for chemical imbalances that can lead to sickness and disease. Then I help the patient correct those imbalances, and the patient gets better.
My friend and mentor, the late Linus Pauling, called this approach Orthomolecular Medicine. He defined orthomolecular medicine as the process where we re-balance various substances that are: a) normally found in the body; and b) required for good health.
Substances that meet this definition include vitamins, minerals, enzymes, hormones, essential fatty acids, and other biochemicals.
But notice what does not meet the definition: pharmaceutical drugs.
Pharmaceutical drugs are not substances that are normally found in the body. In fact, in order for a drug company to get a patent on a drug, they actually have to prove that it’s not natural to the human body!
So it stands to reason that you can’t use drugs to make someone healthy; you can only use them to treat symptoms. And indeed, when it comes to treating symptoms, drugs are quite effective.
How Drugs Work
Most drugs work by blocking some natural process or enzyme in the body. That’s why you’ll hear about classes of drugs like beta blockers or protease inhibitors or H2 antagonists.
Because of this blocking action, the short-term effect of drugs is quite dramatic. Over the long-term, however, the drugs create imbalances. And these imbalances create a whole bunch of new problems.
Here’s a typical scenario: A reasonably healthy man goes to the doctor for a check-up and is told his cholesterol and blood pressure are on the high side. So the doctor gives him medications, which causes side effects.
This leads his doctor to give him a second drug to treat those side effects. But of course, that second drug causes new side effects. So the doctor prescribes a third drug to treat the side effects of the second one! Before you know it, the man is taking multiple medications, and his health is in steady decline.
If you want to see examples of this scenario in real life, go to any nursing home. There you’ll find many people who landed there due to prescription drugs.
For example, did you know that there are at least 36 different drugs that cause symptoms which mimic Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s? Or that a large number of hip fractures are due to falls that are caused by dizziness and other side effects caused by drugs? It’s true. And it’s well documented in the medical literature.
Here’s the bottom line. Rather than prescribing drugs willy-nilly, I believe doctors should work on finding the root cause of the patient’s problem.
In my practice, I prescribe drugs sparingly. And when I do prescribe them, I’m very careful. First of all, I always start with the lowest therapeutic dose. You never know how someone is going to react to a drug, so I’d rather err on the side of caution and start with a small amount. I can always increase the amount later if I need to.
Second, I only use drugs as a way to provide short-term relief of symptoms. This buys me time while I work on the long-term cure that corrects the root cause of the problem.
3. Spend as much time as the patient needs.
As you might imagine, finding the root cause of a problem takes time. You have to do a thorough physical exam, take a detailed history, and run diagnostic tests. And that’s just the beginning.
Why do I say it’s just the beginning? Because no two human beings are the same. So even though we can determine a lot from the patient’s history, physical exam, and testing, in many cases there is a fair amount of trial and error before we finally “crack the code” for that patient.
Unfortunately, such thoroughness is discouraged in today’s medical system. Today, we’re in an era of assembly-line medicine. Insurance companies call the shots -- and they limit primary doctors to just 15 minutes with each patient.
That’s barely enough time to ask the patient what’s bothering them, do a quick exam, and then write up a prescription. It’s not enough time to answer all the patient’s questions. And it’s certainly not enough time to start figuring out what might actually be causing the patient’s problem!
That’s why I decided to do things differently. At my clinic, the average initial visit runs an hour. And if I have to spend more time, then I spend more time.
4. A doctor’s education never ends.
One of the reasons I’ve learned so many ways to help the body heal is that I spend hundreds of hours per year on my education. I read books and medical journals. I go to conferences. I train in new techniques. I talk to cutting-edge doctors from around the world.
And when a patient comes to me with a problem that I’m not sure how to handle, I don’t just go to some handbook to learn the standard treatment. Instead, I research the condition thoroughly and learn everything I can.
Unfortunately, research and education are not something that the assembly-line model of medicine encourages doctors to do. Doctors are forced to cram as many patients as possible into their schedule. That leaves very little time for doctors to keep up with the latest advances.
So where do these doctors end up getting most of their information? From drug company sales reps.
The result of this is rather predictable: The doctor either gives you a pharmaceutical pill …or he sends you to a specialist.
And as I mentioned earlier, specialists are so narrow in their focus that they often miss the big picture. They don’t look at the body holistically and connect the dots. So they don’t get to the root cause and solve the problem.
It’s no wonder that so many people with health problems shuttle from one specialist to another, unable to find a solution.
5. I don’t care if a remedy has the approval of the medical establishment; I just care if it works.
The history of medicine is full of examples of effective cures that took years or even decades to be approved by the establishment. Even worse, the doctors who discovered those cures were often ridiculed or punished.
William Harvey was ridiculed for saying that blood circulates. Joseph Lister was fired for treating infections. Ignaz Semmelweiss was run out of town for daring to suggest that doctors should wash their hands before operating on patients.
And there are plenty of modern examples, too:
> In the 1940s, researchers discovered that taking vitamins could improve a whole host of health conditions. But the medical establishment refused to recommend vitamin supplementation. For decades, doctors told their patients that vitamins were “just an expensive way to get colored urine.”
> In the 1950s, British scientists proved that smoking causes lung cancer. Yet the AMA disputed the findings for over a decade. Editorials in the Journal of the American Medical Association cited “insufficient evidence” that smoking causes lung cancer. Doctors even appeared in cigarette advertisements, touting their favorite brands!
> In the 1960s, the AMA’s Committee on Quackery described chiropractic as a “cult.” They embarked on a campaign to strip chiropractic colleges of their accreditation, and to make insurance reimbursement of chiropractic illegal. Today, most MDs recognize the value of chiropractic. Many even refer their patients to chiropractors … and some even go to chiropractors themselves.
> In the 1970s, Henry Heimlich popularized a technique of abdominal thrusts for choking victims. But the Red Cross and the American Heart Association didn’t accept the Heimlich Maneuver until 1985. For 11 years, they continued to recommend back slaps as the preferred treatment for choking.
> In the 1980s, Barry Marshall and Robin Warren discovered that ulcers are caused by bacteria. This discovery would ultimately win them the Nobel Prize in medicine. But when the two doctors first released their findings, they were attacked in medical journal editorials. It took 12 years before their work received the stamp of approval from the medical establishment.
> In the 1990s, I was reported to the medical board for using magnesium IVs to treat a patient with heart arrhythmia. Today, intravenous magnesium is the standard protocol in many hospitals.
The list goes on and on. Much of what was considered “quackery” yesterday is standard protocol today. And much of what’s considered “quackery” today will be standard protocol tomorrow.
Well, I can’t wait until tomorrow. I have patients who are sick today. If I have to wait 15 or 20 years for a remedy to get the official seal of approval, many of my patients will be dead.
That’s why I use a different set of standards when deciding whether to use an “unproven” remedy on a patient. The standards are as follows:
1. The treatment has to be safe.
2. The treatment has to be inexpensive.
3. There has to be some evidence that the treatment works
(even if the evidence is only anecdotal).
These three standards have guided me throughout my career. And by God’s grace, they have led me to an extraordinary track record of success.
You can also read comments from the patients themselves. You’ll find those patient comments here.
*Dr. Linus Pauling was a two-time Nobel Prize winner, and was named one of the twenty greatest scientists of all time by the magazine New Scientist. In 1975, he founded the Orthomolecular Medicine Society, of which I am Vice President. I learned a lot from Linus and I miss him greatly.