Living Medicine Vs Pharmaceuticals, part 1: The Antibiotic Crisis

Stephen BuhnerPhysicians continue to utilize antibiotics without much thought. We focus on the misuse of painkillers, when the most dangerous thing we do is overuse antibiotics. Resistant bacteria are a more severe problem for the survival of this civilization than oil depletion, global warming, topsoil erosion, and water scarcity. —Stephen Buhner

“Stephen Harrod Buhner On Plant Intelligence, Natural Healing, And The Trouble With Pharmaceuticals”

My Chorale Pic

The December issue of SUN magazine carried an insightful, though sobering, interview with an herbalist that I thought would be an inspiring and deeply meaningful article to review and share in my Health Light Newsletter blog.  The interview is by Akshay Ahuja, writer for the SUN and production manager for Ploughshares, an organization that works with churches, governments and civil societies, in Canada and abroad, to advance policies and actions to prevent war and armed violence and build peace.

Stephen Buhner was born in 1952 in the Midwest where he was introduced to his healing ministry through his great-grandfather, a country physician in rural Indiana.  At the age of sixteen he left home to attend college in California. From there he traveled and settled in the high mountains of Colorado, where he built a “turn-of-the-century cabin that he lived in for four years.” His path to becoming an herbalist started out with a personal healing of severe abdominal cramps with the perennial herb osha root.  His encounter with this herb was more than remedial and had a spiritual and vital quality to is, as he recalls in the interview.  He currently lives in Silver City, New Mexico.

I just dug up the root and began eating it. It’s got a spicy, celery-like taster. Not only did I feel my body getting better, but I could feel, inside, some living entity that cared for me.  It’s difficult to explain, because it’s not something we generally talk about in the West. When you use a living medicine and get well, you feel that the world is alive and aware and wants to help you. People often talk about saving the Earth, but how many times have you experienced the Earth saving you?

I love this man’s insight into the natural botanical world of herbs and his thoughtful perspectives on both the natural healing and modern medical models. He covers a lot of territory, so it may take a couple of posts to do the interview justice. This is, I feel, a very timely and important mile-stone article.

Let’s start with the heart of his message: the overuse of antibiotics that has resulted in the evolution of bacteria into “superbugs.”  To gain a perspective on how this has come about, we need to consider the history and evolution of our medical system. Buhner, who has spent his entire life exploring herbal medicine and has published several books on this and related topics, gives some very thoughtful consideration to this in the interview, which can best be presented in his own words. In his 1999 book “Herbal Antibiotics” he speaks to the heart of the “flaws” of what he calls “technological medicine.”

“By declaring war on bacteria,” he writes, “ we declared war on the underlying living structure of the planet.” Buhner maintains that, through indiscriminate use of antibiotics, we have created “superbugs” with few effective pharmaceutical treatments, wreaking havoc in hospitals and making future pandemics likely.

Asked what is wrong with the medical system in the USA, Bunher gives a very interesting synopsis of its relatively brief history, starting at the close of the nineteenth century when homeopaths were plentiful and allopaths were fewer and the poorest of the various groups of physicians.  The discovery of penicillin changed all that.

Allopathic physicians argued that their training was based on science and was thus more legitimate than other medical traditions and would provide safer interventions. With a lot of lobbying, they managed to get control over medical practice and have the other approaches outlawed. After the discovery of penicillin in the 1920’s, antibiotics became a primary aspect of allopathic practice. The drugs were so effective against previously difficult-to-treat problems, such as infections in burn patients, that Western cultures completely embraced allopathic healing. In 1942 the entire worlds supply of penicillin was 8.5 gallons about seventy pounds. By 1999 the production of antibiotics in the U.S. alone reached 40 million pounds per year.

Unfortunately medical researchersbeliefs about bacteria were very wrong. Researchers said it would take roughly a million years for bacteria to develop widespread resistance to antibiotics through spontaneous mutations. They assumed bacteria were stupid, when in reality bacteria are highly sentient. They communicate by means of a sophisticated language – as sophisticated as ours. They recognize their kin. They protect their offspring. They create chemicals designed to produce specific outcomes in living systems, which certainly fits any definition of tool-making.

Weve tended to view bacteria as a collection of single-celled entities, but when many of them join together, its more proper to look at them as a swarm intelligence. And complex organisms such as plants, animals, and insects are, in essence, communities of bacteria.

Ahuja: How does bacterial resistance challenge the current medical model?

Buhner: Since the end of World War II, the medical establishment has been promising that we are heading for some sort of disease-free future in which we will live to be 120 and never get sick. They almost imply that they can cure death. Scientists’ inability to predict the bacterial response undermines the entire world view that the allopaths disseminated – and still disseminate – about disease and the nature of the world around them. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that, in 2011, 722,000 people picked up infections in hospitals. About 75,000 of those patients died during their hospitalizations. And some sources give a much higher figure for annual deaths from hospital-acquired infections.

The allopaths’ lock on medical practice, which they insisted would create safer outcomes for the public, has not done so. All it has done is give one orientation toward healing a virtual monopoly on practice.

Ahuja: How would you treat a resistant infection with herbs?

Buhner: One woman who had undergone multiple antibiotic regimens over several years for a resistant staph infection (MRSA) came to me for help. She was about to lose her foot to the disease. It took a month to turn her condition around using an African herb called Cryptolepis sanguinolenta. Commonly used to treat malaria, it is also a broad-spectrum, systemic antibacterial with no side effects – at least, after twelve years of use, I have seen none.

Vancomycin is the antibiotic often used for staph infections. Besides being frequently ineffective, it has a long list of side effects. In general, herbal medicines have fewer or no side effects. They are composed of hundreds of synergistic compounds, whereas pharmaceuticals have just one compound, or perhaps a few. We have been at this antibiotic business only a century or so. Bacteria have been around for 3.5 billion years:

This begs the question, will not bacteria eventually become resistant to plant medicines? I love Buhner’s answer.

Buhner: With a pharmaceutical, the bacteria analyze the single compound and generate solutions to it, which they then pass on to other bacteria. Plants, on the other hand, generate multiple compounds that deactivate resistance mechanisms in the bacteria and enhance the activity of the plant’s natural antibacterials. Bacteria cannot easily counteract that kind of complexity. Also, plants aren’t trying to kill all the bacteria on Earth. They merely want to create a balance in which the plants and bacteria set limits on each other’s behavior.

Ahuja: There seems to be a general view that herbal medicine is fine for coughs and colds, but when something gets serious, you go to a conventional doctor.

Buhner: The pharmaceutical companies’ advertising campaigns are very good. We have been trained to think of technological medicine as the only reliable type and other approaches as outdated remnants of a prescientific age. Yet the majority of people I have met don’t much like doctors or hospitals. The one thing modern medicine is good at is trauma. If I get hit by a car, I will go to a hospital. But other than antibiotics and some surgeries, hospitals have little they can offer to cure disease. They can only address the symptoms.

Pharmaceutical companies are in business to make as much money as they can. They try to develop drugs you have to take for years and years, such as medicines for high blood pressure or depression. You don’t get well; you just keep taking the drug.

Buhner then cites an example of herbal practice in Africa, where the people can’t afford Western drugs and the infrastructure there doesn’t support drug manufacturing.  Local healers in Nigeria, for example, were asked what herbs they were using. Researchers then took the seeds from the best and most effective herbs and gave them to the people so they could grow their own plant herbs. This had a very empowering impact upon the people, not to mention its ecological friendliness.

I will continue sharing Stephen Buhner’s perspectives in the next post. I will close this post with words of a colleague in the healing field. “Nothing is wrong. Everything matters.” Allopathic medicine has played an important role in healthcare and continues to play a crucial role in the emergency room of our hospitals. On the other hand, pharmaceutical medicine’s days are numbered. Already pharmaceutical companies are getting out of the antibiotic business for two reasons. One, they don’t make a lot of money with the drug’s short-term usage. Two, “they know antibiotics are going to fail, and they don’t want to be the one holding the bag when they do.” According to Buhner’s latest information, the U.S. Government is taking over antibiotic research and production and will take all the blame when it crashes, and crash it will. “As David Livermore, the top antibiotic resistance researcher in Britain, put it, “It is naive to think we can win.”◊

Until my next post, here’s to your health and prosperity throughout the coming New Year.

Anthony Palombo, D.C.

Visit my HealthTones.org blog for more exploratory articles in the field of healing and transformation.

Advertisements

Your Lab Numbers Do Not Measure you Health

My Chorale PicI sat next to a long-time friend at a social event recently and, being a doctor, I asked him how his health was. He immediately proceeded to tell me about his cholesterol and blood pressure, both of which he said were “normal.” Now, that’s a pretty well accepted way most people measure their health, by their lab numbers, which don’t really say much about a person’s health. One can have “normal” numbers and still have a stroke or heart attack, especially if one is medicating to mask their symptoms to keep their lab values looking well within “normal” ranges and them feeling better.  But, what’s really “normal?” One man’s normal is another man’s illness and worry.

I put “normal” in quotation marks to emphasize that there really isn’t a one-fits-all norm — and so-called “normal ranges” are based on the medical model of treating the symptoms of disease, not fostering health. Medical students study cadavers that died from diseases and medical studies are based on treating the sick, not the well.  Generally, doctors don’t treat the well.  They treat the sick.  So their standards are based on the sick and not the well.  Also, what is “normal” for one person may not be appropriate for the next fellow.  I’ll give you an example. The “normal” range for triglycerides in the average person is <150.  The healthy range for triglycerides is much lower than that at <80, so I’m told by my brilliant colleague, teacher and clinical nutritionist at Whole Health Associates in Houston.  This points to a choice we have to be merely outside the range of health failure and disease or to be well above that range experiencing great health and vitality. 

THOSE WORRISOME CHOLESTEROL NUMBERS

Another example is the worrisome cholesterol numbers. In the first place, cholesterol has nothing at all to do with cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is caused by inflammation. Cholesterol is simply the body’s way of dealing with inflammation and the damage it does to the blood arteries and vessels. It’s a patch material used to keep the eroding  blood vessels from springing a leak. It’s an adaptation and not a marker for coronary heart disease (CHD).

It’s only in America where high cholesterol is said to be a marker for CHD, and that’s only been so since Big Pharma developed and started flooding the market with statin drugs (Lipitor and its cousins) to suppress the liver’s production of cholesterol, a fat that every cell in your body needs to build its outer membrane that protects it from free radicals and oxidation.  A fat that your body makes hormones, nerves and brain tissue out of.  An essential fat in your skin needed to turn sunshine into Vitamin D.

We elderly need more of this essential fat than you youngsters for our brains cells to regenerate as they begin to die off as we age.  So, higher numbers are normal and good for an aging person.

It’s the ratio between the HDL and LDL that’s important and not the total cholesterol.  Your HDL needs to be at least 25% of the total cholesterol.  For example, if your total cholesterol level is 200, your HDL level needs to be around 50.  The total cholesterol number will vary with the level of demand for cholesterol in the body. LDL’s carry the cholesterol from the liver out to where its needed in the body. HDL’s go around collecting what’s not used and then taking it back to the liver to be eliminated as bile from the body. Cholesterol is an essential fat in your body. There’s no such thing as “bad cholesterol.” That’s medical programming designed to engender fear in people so they will buy Lipitor and other Statin drugs. It’s pure and simple propaganda folks. Mute those commercials.  Don’t let that programming into your subconscious mind.  

The logical thing to do is not treat the cholesterol but rather determine why there’s an increased demand for it in the first place and treat the cause of the demand.  When you remove the necessity for more cholesterol, the numbers will come down.  In most cases, the cause is stress and high insulin in the blood stream from consuming to many starches and sweets. Insulin erodes the inner lining of the blood vessels if it accumulates too much. Food allergies and sensitivities are another trigger for inflammation.  Uric acid in the blood, as in gout, is another common trigger.

ALLOPATHY, HOMEOPATHY AND FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE  

Your lab numbers do not measure your health. They measure a momentary snapshot of the current conditions of your body fluids. That’s all. Your blood and your urine. That’s the terrain in which allopathic medicine works.  Your lab numbers say nothing about the health of your body’s organs and tissue cells.  That’s the domain of “functional medicine,” which is what I practice.

Allopathy is defined in my New World Dictionary as the “treatment of disease by remedies that produce effects different from or opposite to those produced by the disease: loosely applied to the general practice of medicine today, but in strict usage opposed to HOMEOPATHY.”  Those “different” effects are what mask the symptoms of disease.

Homeopathy puts a small dose of the same disease in the form of a coded water solution into the body in order to trigger an immune response in the body so that the body learns how to deal with the actual disease on a safe “do-no-harm” level. This works beautifully, and is completely harmless. 

Functional medicine explores organs and systems malfunction and then supports the body’s own innate healing intelligence with nutrition and herbs in order to catalyze the healing process into action.  Chiropractic also takes the functional approach, offering spinal care to restore nerve flow to organs and tissues and thereby restore their normal function.

HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE IS NORMAL

Here’s another example of numbers dictating one’s sense of health and well being.  High blood pressure is normal, given the circumstances in the body that require it. Blood pressure, like cholesterol, will increase in response to a need in the body for more pressure behind the blood flow.  It could be thick blood caused by toxins in the bloodstream.  It could be constricted blood vessels due to cortisol pouring into the bloodstream to handle stress.  It could also be kidney failure causing fluid to build up in the tissues and around the heart and other organs.  Whatever the cause, it doesn’t make a bit of sense to lower the blood pressure with drugs — drugs that deplete CoQ10, the very energy source for the heart and kidneys — without finding out what’s causing the necessity for higher pressure in the circulatory system and correcting that. That’s what we do in functional medicine: find the cause and correct the interference to the normal function of organs, hormonal glands and body systems.  Now, the person would be wise to take the HBP medicine to avoid having a stroke — and take 60 mg. of Coenzyme Q10 daily to replace what is leached out by the medicine.  This goes for anyone taking Statin drugs as well.

YOUR BODY KNOWS BEST– TRUST IT 

Well, I think that’s enough for one post. I hope you learned something from this one.  I will leave you with these encouraging words: Trust your body. It doesn’t make mistakes. It knows exactly what it is doing. Help it do its job better. See an alternative healthcare practitioner.  Stop measuring your potential for disease and focus on building up your health . . . and don’t sweat the numbers.

Here’s to your health and healing,

Anthony Palombo, D.C.

dranthonypalombo@live.com

Visit my Healing Tones blog for inspiring reading on a variety of timely topics.