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Scientists Urging Obama to End Natural Medicine Research?

by in American Sickcare System, Kitchen Sink, Preventative Medicine March 19, 2009

By Dr. Nicole Sundene

Please contact your local congress if you want to help support natural medicine research that is currently at risk, and while you are at it, please tell Presdent Obama that he should include preventative medicine providers such as Naturopaths, Chiropracters, Acupuncturists, and so forth in his new “Universal” health care plan.

Although President Obama has the right idea with focusing on prevention, he is unfortunately being advised to not include all the people who can actually make disease prevention happen. Ironically, preventative medicine has never been at a greater risk than this exact moment – a time that Obama is working to create this Universal Health Plan that got my vote because it was supposedly “focused on disease prevention.”

Recently I read this article “Critics Object to Pseudoscience Center,” and it had me in such fits I could barely restrain myself from screaming out loud when I realized that all the progress in natural medicine research we have been fighting for may be wiped out:

“The impending national discussion about broadening access to health care, improving medical practice and saving money is giving a group of scientists an opening to make a once-unthinkable proposal: Shut down the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. ”

First of all, the research examples cited are not properly demonstrating all the different natural medicine studies the NIH has granted. Second of all, unless you are a doctor you have NO right to decide what is best for the condition of other human beings. Scientists only know their focus of interest. Most aren’t trained to see the big picture unless they end up in medical school.

“Salzberg suggested that NCCAM be defunded on an electronic bulletin board that the Obama transition team set up to solicit ideas after November’s election. The proposal generated 218 comments, most of them in favor, before the bulletin board closed on Jan. 19.”

Salzberg and similar scientists have a very focused understanding of human physiology, and as a former biochemistry student in undergrad, I can personally attest to that fact, although highly over-educated at the time, I still understood science only on a very focused level.Photobucket

As a biochemist, I understood the human condition in a series of mathematical equations, and biochemical formulas that basically add very little to understanding the complex machine of the human body as a whole.

Are you a mathematical equation? Are you a biochemical formula? I certainly hope not. You are a human being.

Just because someone knows how to change some spark plugs doesn’t mean they know how to build a car.

The scientists urging Obama to end CAM (complementary alternative medicine) research with the NIH (National Insititute of Health) has absolutely ZERO understanding of the human health condition unless he has an MD, DO, RN, or ND behind his name, and to my knowledge Salzberb is a human genetics researcher, not a doctor. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I would even be happy if this scientist was at least an RN, but he isn’t, and to my knowledge has NO actual medical training outside of a deep understanding of human genetics. What makes this person have the right to dictate what research is conducted in health care when they haven’t worked in the trenches of primary care?

Why should President Obama even consider taking health care system advice from someone that works on gene research and knows absolutely nothing about human health in the big picture?

“With a new administration and President Obama’s stated goal of moving science to the forefront, now is the time for scientists to start speaking up about issues that concern us,” Steven Salzberg, a genome researcher and computational biologist at the University of Maryland, said last week. “One of our concerns is that NIH is funding pseudoscience.”

Frankly, in my opinion at this prudent juncture, “pseudoscience” is wasting millions of dollars on gene research that will not make a significant difference in the lives of human beings for several generations out.

After medical school and eight years of working in family practice care throughout as a medical assistant, I have learned that prevention is the key to a highly functioning health care system, as I stated in my recent article, “Is Your Body a Money Pit?”

The CAM approach is really the only way to prevent your body from falling apart. Drugs are band-aids. Gene research is the research that should be THROWN OUT! Do we really need gene research? No, we need PREVENTION.

Gene research is an unnecessary expense and is pseudoscience in itself. Gene research is maybe the medicine of the future for elitists but will likely not solve the health care issues of “Joe the Plumber.”  What “Joe the Plumber” needs is to understand that genetics may in fact play a role in human disease processes, but they are a multi-factorial part.

I have cancer cells in my body as I write this, as does everyone else reading this, it is a matter of a variety of environmental influences that determine whether cancer gene expression will be allowed to be turned on, and it is a matter of a suppressed immune system to determine if the cancer cells are allowed to proliferate.  If you have a weak immune system, you are at risk for cancer.

If you smoke, don’t eat fruits and veggies, have an unhealthy diet and lifestyle, don’t exercise, and so forth you are allowing these cancer cells made in error to proliferate.   The cancer cells in my body right now are cells that are naturally made by accident as I discuss in my article on the “Anti-Inflammatory Diet,” using a factory as my paradigm for disease proliferation.  Mistakes are bound to occur. Your immune system does the “clean up on aisle nine” in the cancer picture.

After talking to patients for eight years as a telephone triage nurse, and working urgent care, family practice, and a variety of other specialties, I was gifted the opportunity to see how dysfunctional our health care system truly is (in one of the BEST medical settings possible, I should add). I have come to the conclusion that prevention and patient education are the missing links to American health care. That is why I started Kitchen Table Medicine.

This article about cutting a ridiculously small amount of funding to natural medicine research really ticks me off because you know how many negative drug trials there are out there?

Hundreds if not thousands… if not hundreds of thousands.

YES we are trying to conduct scientific research on natural medicines….NO we are not going to find everything to be more beneficial than placebo. This is no different than the pharmaceutical companies finding that their NEW DRUG doesn’t work either. A new drug is found to be ineffective or unsafe nearly every day, maybe even every hour, and do scientists call that “pseudoscience?”

The placebo rate for menopause, for instance, is as high as 40% for ANY treatment up to the first 12 weeks. So of course hormone replacement therapy (which was found to cause breast cancer…etc etc) or ANY treatment can be shown to be efficacious when scientists properly distort the information.

Why is natural medicine labeled “pseudoscience” when it is has been used respectfully and successfully in Asia for at least 3000 years? I think the REAL pseudoscience is drug companies making up synthetic drugs and trying to feed them to us at ridiculously over-inflated prices.

That is pseudoscience at it’s finest. People paying $800 a month for an “off label drug” (not even proven to be efficacious) that gets pulled off the market a few years later because it is going to give you cancer or a heart attack or result in some other terrible outcome.

Do you smell that? Yeah smells like pseudoscience!

What about kids with autism being given anti-psychotic and anti-seizure meds that have absolutely no research to vouch for them? Ummm…pseudoscience.

The whole problem with health care in America is that we don’t have enough prevention. Doing away with research and shutting prevention oriented docs such as myself out of a universal health care plan is politics at it’s finest, because who owns the politicians and the FDA?

The pharmaceutical companies.

If Obama really wants to make a difference during his time in the White House, he should go after companies that are allowed to charge a gajillion dollars for their drug that they can afford to advertise during the Super Bowl.

Natural Medicine companies, for the most part, won’t pay to study natural medicines because no one can patent and make billions off of a well known and effective natural medicine such as garlic. So without the NIH, we have very little hope of understanding how best to use our natural modalities, and which were shown to be the most efficacious.

Enough independent studies on fish oil have finally been done and now there is a pharmaceutical version available at a ridiculously over-inflated price.  If your co-pay is only $10 it is probably saving you money, but it is not saving the overall health care budget for insurance to pay $60 for some fish oil that can be picked up at your health food store (like Carlson, Arctic Omega, Pharmax, Twinlab, etc).

Insurance won’t pay me $120 to educate someone on how to eat to prevent gall stones but they will pay $20,0000 for a gall bladder surgery removal!!!! So they have the surgery…and then guess what? They have to be on the SAME diet that would have prevented the gallstones from forming. And the patient then comes running to me for advice because their MD can only tell them to live with the chronic diarrhea. Does this make sense to anyone? It sure doesn’t make sense to me.

If Obama wants to make a difference in health care he should not be listening to “scientists”, he should be listening to doctors, nurses, medical assistants, insurance companies, and referral coordinators….the people fighting the primary care battle in the trenches day in and day out. I slaved away in the primary care trenches for eight years.

Did this geneticist do it? Did he listen to little old ladies crying about how they can’t afford food because their drugs were so expensive each month. Did he listen to the depressed obese old man tell me he would rather die from diabetic complications than follow the diabetes diet. Doubtful.

Don’t expect Medicare to cover all your drug costs when you retire, and don’t expect Obama to actually fix the health care crisis until he guts the system, guts the corruption in the FDA, caps the pharmaceutical industry, and turns health care in to a paradigm that is focused on prevention. Doing away with research on CAM isn’t going to stop me from doing my job, but it certainly isn’t helping it.

Nor is it helping any other American.

No wonder America is the second most unhealthy country in the world next to Finland, and we pay more than any other country for health care. I propose that Obama think outside the box and implement a Chinese or Ayurvedic model of medicine where patients are actually taught how to live well on a daily basis. Where they see their doctor more than once a year, and follow the health care models of China and India where healthy people exist in a system that doesn’t pay much to keep them healthy.

The answer to the health care crisis is not removing Preventative doctors from Premara or taking funds from CAM researchers. If we really want to save money on health care, the plug should be pulled on whatever those human genome researchers are doing. Genetic research is costing us millions if not billions in funding…not a study to see if human touch is helpful in disease management and patient comfort levels, a study that may inspire more doctors and nurses to step down from their pedestals and interact with their patients on more of a human level. A study that might encourage health care providers to put the “care” in health care.

What it all comes down to, is that treating diseases through gene therapy is so far out in the future it won’t even touch the health care crisis for several generations out, if ever, and we need to act NOW.  Forget the eldery, forget the baby boomers, the crisis is going to break when our current generation of children reach their fifties and one in three of them are diabetic.  If the diabetic crisis continues at it’s current trend, this is what will happen.

Please contact your local congress
and let them know you want CAM research supported, that you want preventative medicine doctors and options on your health care plans, and if you need information on how to go about doing that visit the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

Feel free to send me hate mail on this one, but I have the “Trifecta of Experience” to speak out against these “pseudoscientists” calling me a “pseudoscientist.”  The proverbial pot calling the kettle black.

Well this kettle has been traditionally trained as a scientist, and has also been a triage nurse in a family practice setting for eight years, and now is a preventive medicine doctor with the ability to understand this debate from a myriad of perspectives, and the only way out is to solve the crisis at our very own kitchen tables. We need healthy whole foods that we can afford, we need to implement exercise programs in work places, to get America HEALTHY and not pumped full of billions of dollars worth of monthly drugs.

The only way out is to focus on PREVENTION, Obama has that part right, he is just listening to the wrong panel of advisers.  They are all likely corrupt with their own initiatives, and owned by the FDA, which is in turn owned by the Pharmaceutical companies.

How do I know? Just take a look at the health care systems of other countries that aren’t paying small fortunes to researchers to study human genetics when we are several generations out to even efficaciously applying these modalities.

What the NIH should actually do is ditch the geneticists and focus all of their research on CAM and prevention. It is truly the only hope that American health care has. Gut the health care system. Throw out the baby and the bath water.

Maybe that is unnecessarily harsh, but what kind of human being doesn’t want to promote the healing power of human touch? Someone that has no clue about humanity.

Keep the Cam research. Do away with NIH grants that are funding the unnecessary luxury of genetic research, and allow every American the opportunity to PREVENT disease instead of putting a band-aid on it. And if they do get a disease, they still will need a naturopath to help them with the long term big picture of how to prevent the disease from progressing.

Heck I’ve got an electrician here working away right now who says, at 55 years of age, the only thing that holds him together is his weekly appointment with his naturopath.

A human geneticist telling us what to do with the human body is exactly like an electrician telling us how to build a house. Just because you know about the wiring doesn’t mean you know what is best for the entire structure, and yes, I did just ask this electrician if he could build a house from the ground up and he said, “Nope.”

~Dr. Nicole Sundene

10 Comments
  1. I love it when you are ranting! What a ridiculous article you linked to, and what a ridiculous proposal to do away with natural medicine research. I doubt Obama is that stupid, but he is a politician after all.

  2. […] Scientists Urging Obama to End Natural Medicine Research … […]

  3. Well I think all politicians start out with the right intentions but then the system messes them up. What is science really?

    Science is observation, followed by testing of that hypothesis. I would think that years of observing natural medicines working effectively to bring people’s health in to balance and prevent disease should be the ultimate gold standard. Many drugs that “scientists” call “safe” haven’t even been through generations of people and that is why we end up with messes like thalidamide and DES….

    • Dr. Nicole Sundene – thanks for a very well-written “report”! I have been telling people what you said – that everyone of us has cancer cells and everyday our bodies are battling them. There are so many misconceptions about food and diseases!

      I am not a doctor nor a dietician, but I do know we have been lied to that diseases have no cure except drugs with side effects, painful chemotherapies. People still fail to see there’s no miracle in a pill!

      The consoling news? I think NO ONE should have the right to take away your access to natural foods EVEN IF natural medicine research gets stopped. (FDA should be reviewed and reformed. Same for EPA. Both approve filthy foods and substances that harms/kills man, animals and environment – sometimes without testing them.)

      According to ex-journalist Loretta Noble, more than 350,000 toxic goes untested for effects on humans and yet the are approved for public (or private) use. And what have these gene researchers been doing?

      Add me please (if you have not) – http://www.twitter.com/qutequte A tweet could bring more awareness to issues close to your heart (and mine)!

  4. I want to disagree with this because I have a family member that could benefit from the stem cell research that Obama recently approved, but I guess I am just wondering why Obama doesn’t hire a DO or ND to be on the panel and be part of the checks and balances of what makes sense with this new Universal healthcare.

    But I do agree with Sonya, I love it when you are ranting because we get the news that the media basically censors from us, and that is why I read all your articles.

  5. Thanks for updating me on this! I’m embarrassed to admit, but I didn’t realize that complementary alternative medicine was on the chopping block…I also assumed Obama was smarter than that!

    There have been many times in my life when I’ve had to say no to a traditional and more invasive medical procedures. I’ve done this with a lot of thought, research into alternative treatments(thank goodness for the Internet) and trust in myself. Most of the time, my body heals better…maybe because of my commitment to helping it heal…rather than just swallowing a pill! I think there’s plenty of room for both US medicine and alternative medicine. I appreciated this post very much:~)

    Sara’s last blog post..The power of make-believe

  6. I have always gone to Call a Nurse for all of my health concerns. Because of my family history I need to have regular checkups and whenever I have a question I call Call a Nurse and they are always very polite and knowledgeable. It is very important to stay on top of your health and have a check up at least once a year to ensure that you remain healthy. Many health problems are curable but you need to catch them in time. Do not wait to go see a doctor because it may be too late.

  7. Dr. Nicole, this is what I wrote to the President and my senators:
    Please push for legislation that includes Naturopathic medicine coverage
    in the Universal health care plan – it is mandatory for me. Before I
    found my naturopathic doctor, I was sick all of the time. My naturopathic
    doctor didn’t just prescribe antibiotics to “cure” me, she found out what
    was the underlying cause of the sickness – food allergies and a lack of a
    gall bladder – and with a change in diet and enzyme replacement therapy to
    “replicate” what my missing gall bladder did, I am well and healthy now.
    Western medicine doctors don’t investigate underlying causes of illness,
    they just medicate. It is mandatory that you include Naturopathic
    coverage in the Healthcare plan. I will be willing to come talk about my
    experience if this will help – I am living proof of the benefit of
    Naturopathic medicine over western “medicate it” medicine. I have also
    used Accupunture to cure a whiplash injury that worked so much better than
    drugging the symptom or using anti-inflammatory drugs. These natural
    medicine practices must be included in the healthcare plan. Thank you,

  8. Hi 5 all … I couldn’t of said it any better so I have just copied and pasted … There have been many times in my life when I’ve had to say no to a traditional and more invasive medical procedures. I’ve done this with a lot of thought, research into alternative treatments(thank goodness for the Internet) and trust in myself. Most of the time, my body heals better…maybe because of my commitment to helping it heal…rather than just swallowing a pill! I think there’s plenty of room for both US medicine and alternative medicine. I appreciated this post very much:~) here here

    All my best to you and your alternative health
    Phillip Skinner

  9. A universal health care plan without the naaturopathic health care can only be a death care plan.

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