Why Doctors Don't Prescribe Natural Health Products

Ever wonder why most physicians don't prescribe herbs, antioxidants or homeopathic remedies as a primary defense and treatment against disease? In this article I will attempt to provide a rational explanation. Dr. Matthias Rath, MD is a leading expert in cardiovascular disease and nutrition.

Rath is the Director of Cardiovascular Research at the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine in Palo Alto, CA, and is the author of Eradicating Heart Disease, a book that I would recommend to any heart patient or for that matter, any person with a heart.

Rath believes that heart attacks and strokes are not diseases, but rather symptoms caused by vitamin deficiencies. I agree. He states that vitamin C deficiency is the primary cause of cardiovascular disease, and then proves his case with the following evidence:

In simple terms, vitamin deficiency leads to weakness of the blood vessel walls causing the deposition of the repair molecule lipoprotein(a), this eventually builds up over time into atherosclerotic deposits and plaque, which decrease blood flow to the heart muscle.

Rath prescribes many nutrients for heart and artery disease, including lysine, proline, carnitine, vitamin E, CoQl0, magnesium, niacin, B-complex and several trace elements.

So why don't the majority of allopathic physicians take part in proclaiming the good news about the benefits of vitamin C and other nutrients? There are many reasons.

First, North American physicians lack financial incentive to prevent disease, as they are rewarded by governments and insurance companies for treating disease based on the name of the condition and a specific allotment of time, similar in fact to how a licensed car mechanic estimates the cost of repairs in an automobile shop. This is the business of medicine.

The more patients a doctor can process in 8-12 hours, the more they are paid. Less time spent per patient equates to greater patient volume. You do the math. It takes far less time to diagnose a disease based on symptoms alone than it does to identify the cause of the problem and recommend a constructive lifestyle approach based on the biological uniqueness and emotional state of each patient.

Second, physicians have little or no training in nutrition science and biological medicine. The logic here is as follows. How can someone teach you something about which they themselves know nothing or very little about? Don't expect an allopath to be an expert in botanical medicine and vitamin therapy, or you will be greatly disappointed. As Dr. Leo Roy, one of the first holistic physicians in Canada said, "Doctors are down on things they are not up on."

Third, physicians have little or no support from the policy makers and enforcers from "above", in fact they are often discouraged from practicing any form of medicine perceived by medical boards as being non-scientific, unconventional or a form of quackery. For fear of losing their medical license and being sued for malpractice after many years of specialized medical training, many physicians who would like to stretch themselves, simply choose not to and conform to the rules of engagement.

Medical standards, policies and laws pertaining to the freedom of practicing alternative medicine by willing doctors must change. In Canada, physicians are intimidated and even revoked by their own College of Physicians and Surgeons (COPS) for practicing alternative medicine. An eye-opening good book on this topic is The Medical Mafia: How to Get Out Of It Alive and Take Back Our Health and Wealth, by Dr. Guylaine Lanctaot.

At present there are several physicians in Canada currently involved in litigation, who are being forced to expend time and huge sums of revenue to defend themselves, merely for their involvement in chelation therapy, ozone therapy, environmental medicine, homeopathy and even hydrotherapy.

Fourth and this is a BIG one. VITAMINS ARE NOT PATENTABLE. Pharmaceutical companies have little interest in spending the billions of dollars they currently spend on drug research on natural health products. Compared to chemically synthesized drugs, and specifically those that contain substances foreign to the body (xenobiotics) vitamins offer limited prospects in terms of economic monopoly, commercial profit and exploitation.

Drug companies can't patent something found in Nature, such as manganese or pantothenic acid. They have to alter it somehow to make it unique, and this change in chemical structure often increases the toxicity or side effects of the substance. Therefore, vitamin research receives scarce financial support (although this is beginning to change) which means there are few clinical reports to publish in conventional medical journals.

Medical textbooks provide an extremely limited amount of scientific data on the health benefits of vitamins, and very few universities teach nutritional medicine, so very few medical students learn about this important and crucial field. Limited knowledge means only a handful of doctors practice nutritional medicine, and so millions of people continue to die needlessly from cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and obesity.

Fifth, a typical allopathic physician has a much different view of disease etiology and pathology. Compared to some of the complimentary and alternative medical models, the conventional paradigm of what causes disease often provides a striking contrast, especially regarding the influence of nutrition & fitness. Allopathic medicine is dedicated to the destruction of the pathogen, microbe or bacteria with very expensive drugs and technology. Naturopathic medicine attempts to treat the whole person, the cause rather than the effect and teaches how to prevent infection, chronic disease and physical degeneration with natural remedies, whole foods & fitness.

Sixth, Dr. Batmanghelidj, MD, author of Your Body's Many Cries For Water, believes that doctors have wandered from their original tradition of freethinking and medical philosophy, because they are forced to memorize predigested information in order to get through the curriculum in teaching hospitals. The burden of having to remember so much misinformation around conditions that are simply complications of chronic dehydration must be lifted. But how much money is there in the promotion of water? Doctors have a sense of pride within their medical community, so they tend to be very sensitive to the criticism and ridicule they may encounter from their own colleagues, if and when they step out of the conventional circle of acceptable practice, regardless of whether it helps the patient or not.

Seventh, physicians are taught that besides preventing classic diseases, such as scurvy, beriberi, and rickets, or using iron to treat anemia, vitamins have very little additional value. Of course many proponents of natural medicine consider this view to be extremely narrow and outdated. If physicians made the time to study nutrition science and actually prescribed dietary supplements to large numbers of patients, a great majority of doctors might be convinced by the evidence of outcome alone. But the risk of losing their practice or suffering reprimand for practicing "unconventional" medicine is not something many physicians are prepared to take.

Eighth, unfortunately, medical circles tend to be ultra-conservative, with much of their energy devoted to the study and treatment of disease instead of health. Medical schools are also organized into organ specific departments, and the connection between each department often gets lost in the framework of isolation. Remember, the more specialized anyone becomes the less they know about the whole.

Ninth, the selection process of each medical student depends to a large degree on academic status and grades. The process isnメt really based on individual ethics, morality and motive, such as why the student is there in the first place. If it was, natural medicine would be leading the way without opposition and the first rule of medicine Primum non nocere (Above all, do no harm) would seldom be ignored or compromised. Students get high grades when they simply repeat during testing procedures exactly what the teacher wants them to say. Students who question what they are being taught are often labeled as renegades or troublemakers, and are seldom rewarded for challenging status quo.

Conventional medical schools therefore, are packed with students who are good at absorbing dogma but not necessarily good at thinking and questioning, because they have learned by climbing up the ladder of conventional education, that following precepts handed to them by presumed authorities is the best approach. To succeed in the process of medical training, one must also be prepared to suffer, as medical school can be likened to military "boot camp". Students are ground to pulp intellectually, exposed to massive amounts of endless information, which they must memorize, but not necessarily "comprehend", in order to pass exams.

Typically, medical students live on cafeteria food and coffee, have no time for exercise, and are seldom well rested. So, if the training process itself does not respect the health and welfare of the student, and if the teachers themselves do not model optimum health in appearance, word and deed, as they are byproducts of the same thinking and training, how then can students learn to respect the health and welfare of future patients?

Tenth, in North America, modern medicine has evolved into a disease management business, instead of a true health-care society that devotes more energy, time and money into education and prevention of disease rather than treatment. It tends to compartmentalize the human body, create branches and divisions that specialize in only one organ or gland, and because much of their teaching is based on reductionism and genetic determinism, they tend to be extremely mechanical in their approach. Therefore, the trend for change and reform within our medical establishment continues to be painstakingly slow and extremely frustrating, especially for healthy, high-energy athletic men and women looking for insight & advice on how to get stronger, run faster, improve immune response to strenuous exercise, stay well and remain highly functional.

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

As always, stay well and live free!