The science your GP knows nothing about
If you are getting nowhere fast with your chronic health issue, and you’re finding that your GP and specialists don’t know how to make it go away – then I give you ‘Nutritional Medicine’.
An area of science that it is extremely likely your GP knows nothing about.
This is a confusing statement for some – and would have honestly confused the bejesus out of me at any point in my life up to 2014.
But then the GPs didn’t know how to make my chronic disease go away – and I stumbled into Nutritional Medicine, and it honestly took my breath away that this even exists in the world.
What is it?
Nutritional Medicine, also called Functional Medicine in the States, is the study of our biochemistry – and how the food and supplements we eat, plus environmental factors, interact with our bodies and genetics.
Practitioners take a holistic approach to patient care.
Instead of treating an illness with drugs, to provide relief and manage symptoms, Nutritional Medicine will look at the whole person and do a bit of detective work to determine how this body ended up in this state of chronic disease in the first place.
The practitioner will then recommend diet and lifestyle changes in order to reverse the issues that have come about.
In my case this approach was completely effective and reversed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome within weeks, when my GP had told me I would have to live with it for a few more years.
In a world where we are surrounded by chronic disease, this approach is underused, underestimated and mostly just not even on people’s radar.
It is considered an ‘alternative’ therapy!
I repeat: changing your lifestyle and diet to reverse your chronic disease is considered an alternative therapy.
The science of Nutritional Medicine can look at factors such as our methylation cycles, MTHFR status, presence of pyrroles, oxidative stress and heavy metal toxicity. It understands the issues around many of the common foods we eat, and the issues that can come about when we have imbalances of common vitamins and minerals.
This science gives us practical ways to start to manage and even eliminate issues we are told there is no cure for. Issues such diabetes, autism, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, autoimmune disease and thyroid problems – which a GP can only do so much for – have all been treated successfully with Nutritional Medicine.
Dr Mark Hyman, a US MD and prominent practitioner in the field, explains that Nutritional Medicine “views the body as one integrated system, not a collection of independent organs divided up by medical specialties. It treats the whole system, not just the symptoms.”
Which is what most of us assumed doctors were already doing right?
Treating the whole system, not just the symptoms?
But no – they’re not.
While our conventional medical system is lifesaving and brilliant in the treatment of acute illness, its approach to chronic illness is a disaster.
When you look at this situation within the context of a world where so many of us have been suffering for years with the same chronic diseases, it is unbelievable that this is happening.
In a 2015 article about the fragmented Australian healthcare system, Martin Bowles, secretary of the Federal Department of Health, describes chronic disease as “the fastest growing issue that we have to deal with.”
He states: “50% of the population have at least one chronic disease and 20% have two or more chronic diseases.”
And also bloody expensive for the taxpayer.
Now I’m not trying to tell people not to go to their GP any more. At all.
But I am saying, become aware that there are other routes to wellness.
I do also acknowledge that sometimes a course of drugs, when it comes to depression for instance, could potentially save a life by getting that person’s mental health on the right track. In the short term.
But long term, its not actually a fix for that depression and is likely creating more problems for that person’s health. And the GP is often reluctant to help patients get off their medications – because they don’t have another answer to give them.
Which is ridiculous given all the answers, and other science, that exists.
What doctors know
I have had this conversation with people a few times since I made this life-altering discovery, and most often we – the general public – just do not get it.
I get blank stares and open mouths and comments along the lines of “Doctors know about nutrition! Of course they do!”
It is flabbergasting to us to think that they wouldn’t.
Because it sounds so simple – nutrition. The very food we eat. The very stuff which helps our bodies operate effectively.
Doctors must know all about that!
But actually – they don’t.
While they may cover the basics of a ‘healthy diet’ (I use inverted commas intentionally) in medical school, they do not cover any of the science that a nutritional medicine practitioner would.
This curriculum from the University of Western States, for its Masters degree in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine, lists these among its subjects:
- nutritional biochemistry,
- detoxification pathways,
- hormone and neurotransmitter regulation and imbalances,
- whole food nutrition and supplementation,
- oxidative/reductive dynamics,
- autoimmune causes and strategies,
- nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics, and
- the fundamentals of mind-body medicine and the psychology of wellbeing.
But these lifesaving, lifechanging things are not part of normal medical degrees.
As I will demonstrate…
The prestigious Stanford University in the States lists the content of its five-year MD Program here.
Nutrition is not mentioned. Functional Medicine is not mentioned. None of the important science from the nutritional medicine degree is mentioned.
Imperial College London’s six-year MBBS/BSc Medicine degree list it’s subjects here.
Again, none of these Nutritional Medicine subjects mentioned.
Monash University in Australia lists nutrition as one of the topics that falls within years one and two of its five-year degree Bachelor of Medical Science and Doctor of Medicine.
But then when you look at the course content for years one and two there doesn’t seem to be anything mentioned about nutrition – let alone Nutritional Medicine or the areas of science that fall within it.
It’s not there.
Suggesting the nutrition aspect of the course is fairly limited.
[Ironically Monash does run a free three-week course called Food as Medicine just for the general public! A bit of a fun topic for them – how nice!]
What doctors are learning is obviously good information – viruses, treatments, anatomy – and science that we, as the human race, need to know.
But these doctors will leave their training ignorant of other topics that could have a profound effect on the health of their patients. Ignorant of ways they can fix people.
They will not know that people have reversed many symptoms of many diseases without using a single pharmaceutical drug.
Which is a tragedy for them as practitioners, and a tragedy for those they are treating.
To give you a real life example of this, please watch this amazing video by Dr Rangan Chatterjee – a British GP who suddenly realised how terrible it was that he was never trained in Nutritional Medicine when his baby son nearly died of a simple vitamin deficiency.
So as you can see, its not just me saying all this. Actual doctors agree.
Watch the video. It’s amazing.
Personally I find this situation at best crazy, and at worst completely terrifying, and endangering to public health.
And I don’t blame doctors – who in my experience are mostly brilliant and compassionate people – as they are just victims of the same broken system as the rest of us.
But we clearly all need to start to taking responsibility for the fact that we have all this amazing knowledge – and all these highly effective ways to help people – and we are still sending people out of the GPs office with prescriptions that cannot fix their conditions.
How many people have died of their chronic diseases while on lifelong courses of drugs that can’t fix that disease, when they could have used simple dietary and lifestyle changes to reverse it?
I bet more than one person you know.
Why is this happening?
The fact that pharmaceutical companies are the only ones with huge dollars to spend on medical research is clearly an issue. We have ended up with a drug-led system for exactly this reason. If medical research were all independently funded we’d obviously have an entirely different landscape on our hands. And probably a whole different approach to food and lifestyle which would naturally come about as a result of this.
So we need our universities and other funding bodies to make this research happen. But it’s not happening in a hurry.
With the system as it is, we are offered drugs for our ailments from the start, and our diets and lifestyles are not particularly scrutinised.
Most of us don’t realise there is a better way, and will be unlikely to ever find an alternative because the medical profession doesn’t have a grasp on what the alternatives are.
So we are never even offered a better way – and we are mostly not empowering ourselves to find other answers.
(Literally, the only reason I discovered all this is because I had been told to just live with my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for a few more years – and I couldn’t. So I was forced to find other ways. But that was a combination of sheer dumb luck and obstinance.)
There is also an education problem in that we give our traditionally trained medical practitioners the last word when it comes to medical knowledge. They are revered and respected. They are rarely questioned.
And they also believe they deserve this level of deference.
And while they are clearly some of the best people we’ve got, we collectively fail to realise that they’re not the only people we’ve got.
How many normal parents these days have found alternative solutions to their kids’ (or their own) health challenges through changing their diet or lifestyles? And how many of them have received support and co-operation from their GP in this endeavour? How many of them have actually been dismissed and invalidated? How many of them have actively been criticised?
It’s hard to say right? But the answer should be none.
And it’s not none.
We need a system in which doctor and patient become a team. In which our investigations are actually an investigation, and not a 10 minute (at best) discussion, after which a band-aid is swiftly administered.
We need to consider the fact that there are options and pathways. We need to look at the person’s mental and physical health together, and also the lifestyle issues that have led them to a place of chronic disease.
How to combat this problem
This system is clearly not going to change overnight – but things are starting to change.
I am ever grateful for the internet and website such as Pubmed which allow us to look up medical studies for ourselves. I am grateful for pioneering practitioners in this field such as William Walsh who has worked with thousands of patients over four decades and is “dedicated to unraveling the biochemistry of mental disorders”.
And to the pioneers of Nutritional Medicine such as these guys listed here.
And I am also ever grateful to my own dietitian who introduced me to these concepts in the first place.
We need to just keep spreading the word.
And the only thing we can do in the meantime – as a patient – is educate ourselves.
Being aware that there are alternatives to pharmaceutical treatments, and actively seeking those treatments out, is key.
Realising that we can become empowered when it comes to our own health is key.
Doing our own research is key.
Imagine if the 50% of us with one or more chronic diseases all started doing these things? Imagine how many could completely turn their health around? And imagine how empowering and exciting that would be?
It would be a very different reality we live in. And one I hope I live to see.
You can find nutritional medicine doctors in Australia here
Have you fixed your chronic condition with an alternative therapy? Have you empowered yourself within the medical system and found your own answers?
I would love to hear from you. Please drop me a line on my contact page.
Some of the things I think about holistic health and stuff
Some snapshots of my journey through my own health challenges
“I believe that people can change their lives, circumstances and nothing short of themselves as people through working on their health in a holistic way.”