Tom Ballard, ND's blog


Changing the Ecology of Health Care: Green Medicine (pt 1)
November 11, 2008, 9:07 pm
Filed under: Commentary | Tags: , , ,

by Tom Ballard, RN, ND

Have you measured your medical carbon footprint?

“Carbon footprint” may be new to you or maybe you’ve been walking in ecological shoes for years. Al Gore or Rachael Carson might have turned you on to the complexity and vulnerability of the planet. Whether new to it or an old “nature buff”, you think of yourself as having “Gone green.” But, what about your medical carbon footprint?

Many of us have health issues that need as much attention as the environment, yet we’re not applying the same standards of care. It’s often off our radar to think about how our health care choices impact the world. We may spend more time with our recycling than in choosing a doctor. But, our bodies are an ecological system just like any river, wetland, or pond we’ve worked to save.

Respect yourself as you would the pond

You’ve seen the polluted pond: malnourished, overgrown with weeds, its critters starving and sprouting extra limbs, imbalanced to the point of stagnation and death.

What do you do for a dying pond?

You may not be a trained ecologist but you know what the pond needs – fresh water, sunlight, appropriate nutrition, waste removal, a healthy mix of organisms: reestablishing equilibrium.

You wouldn’t propose saving an endangered pond by hiring a chemical manufacturer. Ecological balance is not restored by petrochemicals. The petrochemical treatment might improve one component of the pond, say reduce the acidity, but it would not turn scum into pure drinking water. History shows that it would further upset the balance. Nothing would be gained except profits for the corporate alchemists.

White Castle Health care

High costs, poor results

Rather than being thoughtful about our healthcare choices, it’s easier to check into the White Castle on the hill. You know; the hospital or clinic where MDs, nurses and various technicians scurry about in white. We read about White Castle medicine in magazines and newspapers. The financial pages rave about their tools – drugs and replacement parts. Even our leisure life idealizes the White Castle; Marcus Welby and the gang from ER and House populate the White Castle. It’s familiar. It’s clean. It’s safe.

Well, familiar anyway.

The truth is that the White Castle rates an A for emergency medicine, but an F at treating chronic disease. According to the AMA’s own statistics, White Castle medicine is responsible for well-over 100,000 deaths per year and countless side-effects. “Appropriately administered” health care is one of the top ten killers in the US.

Your blood pressure may be high because you lack magnesium, another person’s because they have high lead levels. A drug that artificially lowers your blood pressure does not solve the original problem. You’re still low in magnesium and that deficiency will show up in other ways; perhaps as a coronary artery spasm. White Castle medicine has little use for magnesium, it can’t be patented.

Whole-systems science demonstrates that pumping petrochemicals – drugs – into our bodies does not work well for chronic disease. Arthritis, diabetes, asthma, heart disease, cancer, skin conditions, acid reflux, bowel problems, depression – the entire stream of chronic health problems is expanding every year, despite newer “breakthrough” drugs. Studies untainted by the drug industry show that, despite the hype, few drugs have undergone rigorous, long-term, independent tests for safety and effectiveness. (Overdosed America)

White Castle medicine constantly offers short-term, profit-friendly, chemical treatments for long-term inner-ecological imbalances.

Although rarely funded, lifestyle research demonstrates that simple, ecologically sound, sustainable solutions such as toxin-free nutrition, clean air, safe work places, and moderate exercise outperform drugs. Adult-onset diabetes drugs cost billions of dollars, yet are less effective than regular exercise. Oatmeal lowers cholesterol better than statins. Eating four ounces of beans a week cuts cancer rates by twenty-two percent – better than any drug. Natural therapies outperform drug treatments both for prevention and treatment. Why? Because they root out the underlying cause – inner-ecological imbalance –thus establishing an environment for healing.

Yes, what works for the pond works for you.

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