A Pill for Every Ill

Eventually, there is no difference between legal and illegal dope pushers. The paradigm is symptom suppression: a pill for every ill, allowing you to continue all the self-destructive behaviors that got you in trouble in the first place. Allowing the disease to progress unchecked.

Once you begin on a course of symptom suppression, you are setting in motion a sequence of events, which shields the patient/customer from dealing with the facts, allowing the underlying disease process to continue. With time, doses need to be increased, or stronger drugs prescribed, and so on. Again none of this is much different between legal and illegal drug pushers. Problems are suppressed and not dealt with, disease is denied and repressed and allowed to fester. What starts with maybe viagra for ED (first symptom of CardioVascular Disease), goes on to baby aspirin, to statins and more statins, stents, bypass surgeries, and lifetime billings that can be as high as $5 million for a good heart patient.

The funniest part is doctors complain that patients often do not follow the protocol. Some doctors tell me that compliance with medications is 50% at best. Yet doctors often argue against lifestyle medicine because patients would not comply. How silly is that. Moreover, experience shows that even 10 days on a plant-based diet produces marked improvements for so many people, most want to continue it.

Structural Issues in Healthcare

Perhaps the best recent critic of the healthcare system and the structural issues that prevent it from serving patients is Dave Chase, who currently has two books out on the topic, The CEO s Guide to Restoring the American Dream and The Opioid Crisis Wake-up Call, where he lays out very clearly the financial incentives that make the culture of a pill for every ill so financially destructive and a disservice to patients. That includes the insight that the Opioid crisis – so-called – is also a structural issue of the healthcare system as we know it that has been destroying the nation’s health and wealth increasingly for the last hundred years.

In short, while attorney Mike Moore is clearly doing the right thing in trying to help the states recover damages from the pharmaceutical industry ( see his recent 60 Minutes interview on the Opioid Crisis), the overall tendency to discuss the opioid crisis as a special problem, rather than a structural problem is unfortunate. The structural problem is the focus on symptom suppression, which greatly promotes the pill-for-every ill mentality, and creates pharmageddon in the first place. One can only hope that the wider discussion will be engaged.

One of the many symptoms of this part of the disease is direct to consumer marketing of pharmaceuticals, which disintermediates primary care physicians and funnels people into a pattern of drugs and more drugs, rather than health.

Lifestyle Medicine to the Rescue

Lifestyle medicine is the embodiment of the change towards emphasis on health and healing, for it established the primacy of the responsibility of the patient in their health. The prognoses of 37 out of 40 leading causes of death are now recognized to be improved by Lifestyle Medicine and the #WFPB diet, and many serious diseases can be partially or completely reversed. A partial list looks as follows:

  • CVD (Cardio Vascular Disease) – 95%, see Ornish, Esselstyn, et al.
  • Diabetes Type II – 75+% see Neal Barnard, et al.
  • MS (Multiple Sclerosis) – %?? See Dr. Saray Stansic and the upcoming documentary Code Blue
  • Alzheimers, see the work of the Sherzais.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis, see the testimony of former NFL defensive linesman Dave Carter.

This list is just growing and growing, making it absolutely clear that in the long run 85% of prescriptions can be prevented by a referral to the produce aisle of your local supermarket. Right now the movement is driven by individual patients who seek it out, but the adoption will grow and become the norm, as can be seen in various local initiatives such as Midland Texas and many other local, regional initiatives, or company health plans.

Lifestyle Medicine should focus on who wants to be well

There is clearly a portion of the population who are actively interested in taking charge of their own health. This is where Lifestyle Medicine is focused, and should be focused. Health plans of the future, should be based on a reasonable measure of patient participation, and those who do not want to should pay the price. The cost of healthcare should be at least double for those who do not wish to do their part. In practice the differences should probably be statistically averaged to where it’s no more than double. That’s enough. Time will do the rest.

Eventually, the differences will be so universally understood, that the people who won’t step up to the plate will become a minority. Something along these lines will probably achieve an overall 50% reduction in healthcare costs within a generation.

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