The dog days of August are past us, but we can still readily imagine corn fields baking in the sun interspersed with farmhouses – on many a shaded porch, a dog and its master napping through the afternoon heat. Hot nights and breezeless days may have been relieved with iced tea or cold beer, but tempers have remained unquenched this year, mostly due to the fear that life will end if President Obama's health-care policies are put into law. Given the complexity of everything financial in the US – tax code, Federal Reserve regulation, collateralized debt obligations – is it any wonder that health-care revision would not also be onerous? Washington has taken Lewis Carroll's lessons on education in Alice in Wonderland to heart – not reading, writing, arithmetic, but "obfuscation, derision, and uglification" – the former being the bureaucrat's favorite. Why make something clear and simple when one can confuse and complicate? The written blueprints for health-care reform run better than a thousand pages. Assuredly there is enough verbiage in such a document to offer a loophole for every insurance company. It is eye candy for the tabloids and networks to film irate and testy citizens shouting obnoxiously at congressman-sponsored town meetings fretting that their health-care rights will be taken away and that nationalization of health care will turn visits with the doctor into curt doc-in-the-box repairs.
Meanwhile, commentary in the editorial pages offer lots of doggerel and very few answers. One would think that with so many intelligent people in Washington, academia, and in the press, there might be a good, prudent means to revise health care. Unless I have missed something, most of the writing has been no better than the August heat and deserves little more than napping through it.
The August 2009 issue of Dr. Jonathan V. Wright's Nutrition & Healing offers "3 simple – and FREE – steps that will put an end to the health care crisis for good!" Dr. Wright is well known for his nutritional expertise and knowledge of using nutrition as medicine. Less well known is his distrust of federal regulators, whom he calls los Federales. Dr. Wright believes that the regulators have taken away our freedom of choice in health care. Most doctors shun complementary and holistic treatments because regulators restrict and suppress their use. In 2005 the Access to Medical Treatment Act was introduced in Congress. The legislation would permit an adult to choose any medical treatment desired, even if the therapy did not have the approval of the FDA or state medical boards. Such treatment use would require that the therapy have a good safety record and that adverse effects be reported. Dr. Wright is also angered that the FDA is permitted to suppress health claims about nutrients. He believes that this is a direct suppression of freedom of information. Wright would like to see the introduction of another legislative act that he calls the "Free Speech about Science Act," which would permit manufacturers to discuss scientific studies regarding their nutritional products. Such information would need to disclose conflicts of interest. Lastly, Dr. Wright would like each of us to take responsibility for his own health. Individuals who are unwilling to eat right, exercise, and reduce health risks like cigarette smoking have little incentive to do right when an insurance policy or universal health care covers the costs of disease and accident. Of course, lifestyle changes require tremendous self-discipline – many of us either lack such restraint or prefer the immediate gratification of a gluttonous diet.
While prevention is the best medicine, we still need to treat illness. The Congressional blueprint looks to reduce costs by instituting efficiency in processing medical bills. Such efforts will reduce costs modestly. Unfortunately, our population is growing dramatically, and the influx of illegal aliens has taxed the resources of hospitals and medical clinics. Any savings made through efficiency would be negated by the tremendous expenditures for high-cost medical surgeries, emergency care, and cancer care for an ever-expanding population. The development of biotechnology and advanced chemotherapy agents has made the treatment of cancer an extremely expensive proposition. Such therapeutic protocols are now being extended into the treatment of neurologic, rheumatologic, and other autoimmune conditions. One cannot spend $500,000 or more for treating cancer and expect that financial resources will be routinely available. Wall Street expects pharmaceutical companies to develop new cures that will be more expensive than treatments we have now. At some point, someone, a regulator or insurance company, will need to put a dollar amount on the limit for individual care. As harsh as rationing treatment might seem, we cannot expect society to cover nor can we afford infinite medical charges for an individual.
In the interim, we do need a mechanism to provide basic medical services for all. Having people show up at the emergency room with no health insurance is a terrible way to deliver care – can someone honestly argue that it is better than insuring everyone? The question is whether private insurance carriers or a nationalized health-care delivery system would do the job better. One issue I have with private insurance carriers is the inhumane system they have in place to deny individuals coverage at the time when care is needed. Insurance companies engage in unscrupulous means to deny coverage by canceling contracts because for example, a patient omitted mention of treatment for acne when applying for a health insurance policy. At the very least, Congress should enact legislation to prevent insurance companies from denying coverage for those individuals who have been yearly paying their health insurance premiums. Additionally, Congress does need to create a health-care system that covers individuals who are already ill and need further care.
Dr. Shari Lieberman Passes
Shari Lieberman, PhD, died in July after a prolonged course of treating metastatic breast cancer. Dr. Lieberman, age 50, held a PhD in clinical nutrition and exercise physiology. She was a certified nutritional specialist, renowned author of nutritional books, lecturer and public speaker, advocate for nutritionist care, and leader in crusading for nutritional treatment in medicine. Dr. Lieberman's books included Transitions Glycemic Index Food Guide (2006), The Real Vitamin & Mineral Book (2003), Dare to Lose: 4 Simple Steps to a Better Body (2003), and All About Vitamin C (1999).Dr. Lieberman's activist activities included her board and president position for the American Preventive Medical Association, later known as the American Association for Health Freedom. Lieberman testified at legislative hearings about nutrition, dietary supplements, and suppression of information regarding nutritional supplements. The American Dietetic Association once sought to strip Lieberman of her nutritionist credentials; she marshaled an admiral defense of nutrition and dietary supplementation, maintaining her credentials. Lieberman has served as a defense witness supporting nutritional supplementation for doctors, nutritionists, and health-supplement companies. Regrettably, her capable arguments in support of nutritional supplements were not collected into a series of papers. Very forthright, Lieberman did not mince words in attacking the sloppy science of a dietary supplement naysayer. She had a special disdain for the handful of individuals who have made a livelihood of attacking alternative medicine therapies. Nutritional medicine has lost one of its lions!
Over the years Dr. Lieberman has written articles for the Townsend Letter. In the August/September 2007 and 2008 issues, she wrote about Poly MVA, a proprietary formulation used as a nutritional adjunctive treatment for cancer. Lieberman previously had reported the role of Poly MVA in treating metastatic prostate cancer in the August 2005 issue of Alternative & Complementary Therapies. Dr. Lieberman's last published article appeared in the August/September 2009 issue of the Townsend Letter. The study, "A Review of Whole Body Hyperthermia and the Experience of Klinik St. Georg," reports the results Dr. Friedrich Douwes, president of the German Society for Oncology, has had using hyperthermia in advanced cancer. In conversations I had had with Shari during the past year, she was impressed that hyperthermia was a major advance in cancer care. She had been planning to write a series of papers on hyperthermia based on the experiences of Dr. Douwes. Her premature death precluded the further exploration of hyperthermia on these pages.
Dr. Lieberman strongly believed in the role that gluten enteropathy plays in creating ill health. This issue of the Townsend Letter focuses on digestive problems and irritable bowel syndrome. Dr. Lieberman would have argued that all patients suffering from IBS and other digestive problems should be investigated for gluten sensitivity and wheat allergy.
Dietrich Klinghardt, MD, PhD
In our July 2009 issue, readers were introduced to Dr. Klinghardt's approach to treating Lyme disease. Klinghardt believes that Lyme disease is grossly underdiagnosed and is a component in many chronic diseases, especially neurologic disease. At the Northwest Association of Naturopathic Physicians meeting in Seattle last May, Klinghardt lectured that Lyme disease is missed because western blot testing for Borrelia antibody is rarely part of the work-up. When physicians do consider Lyme disease, typically an ELISA antibody study is done to rule it out. Klinghardt thinks that this is a great injustice, as the ELISA study is nearly always negative and misses the presence of Borrelia. Further, he notes that coinfection with organisms such as Bartonella, Ehrlichia, and Babesia is nearly always missed due to a failure of suitable lab diagnostics.
Klinghardt's approach to Lyme disease is not an antibiotic treatment; rather, his protocol calls for using natural agents to control the organism. His "detox" approach includes chelation of toxic elements, especially mercury, employing natural chelators such as chlorella, garlic and cilantro. Klinghardt reminds us that many individuals suffer from a metabolic disorder wherein chemical forms of porphyrins circulate abnormally due to insufficiency of zinc and pyridoxine. The need to supplement zinc, in high doses, and vitamin B6 is critical for a detoxification process to work. In this issue, Dr. Klinghardt introduces his systematic approach to detoxification. He thinks that detoxification is based on a triad of mechanisms:
"The body always strives to achieve equilibrium between stored unresolved emotional issues, toxin retention, and the presence of pathogenic microbes. The reverse axiom: A patient cannot be 'detoxed' beyond the degree to which emotional issues are also released."
Klinghardt argues that detoxifying heavy metals, chemicals, and biotoxins cannot be completed if the patient's emotional and mental state remains in conflict and unresolved. Similarly, a patient who is infected with microorganisms will fail to be completely chelated and detoxified due to the organism burden. His approach to detoxification includes the use of energetic approaches – such as acupuncture and chiropractic – to deal with stresses the patient faces with energy dysfunction. As complicated as such an approach may be, the chronically ill patient has a better likelihood for a good outcome by considering the emotional and energetic components with the biochemical and biologic treatments.
Stephen Olmstead, MD
Dr. Olmstead is a cardiologist, but he writes in this issue about a microbiology topic – biofilms. I first had the opportunity to work with Dr. Olmstead more than ten years ago, when he was asked to design a study of the effects of intravenous chelation on cardiovascular disease. Although his study design passed muster with the National Institutes of Health, some doctor at the local university hospital thought that chelation was dangerous and didn't deserve to be studied. The university decided not to participate, and the chelation study was abandoned.
Olmstead introduces us to biofilms – a new way to look at microorganism colonization in the gut. While we have been taught to consider organism infection to involve freely circulating organisms, what Olmstead refers to as "planktonic growth," it is more likely that organisms congregate in biofilms. The biofilm offers bacterial and fungal organisms a greater level of defense to resist pathogenic competitors and parasites, as well as chemicals and antibiotics. If the biofilm is indeed the new standard for microorganism colonization in the gut, mouth, and other tissues, the notion that we can depend on antibiotics to control infection appears to be fraught with failure. Olmstead proposes a strategy – curiously, also a triad strategy – to control the infective biofilm.
Jonathan Collin, MD