Something clicked in my mind this week, an insight that I have resisted for many years. There is a bit of the contrarian in me, I must admit; but I do hold back, I fight the urge to find fault. I do respect authority and I dread anarchy. But I don’t believe in blind obedience in politics--and certainly not in questions of science.
However the fact is that our health bureaucracy, which is political, regulates medical research, products and commerce in most areas of vital personal interest, e.g. Food, Drugs and Health products and services in general. The FDA is the only agency of our government with censorship powers that can abridge constitutional freedoms, such as freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
When I was a medical student I was shocked and saddened at the spectacle of FDA harassment of the psychiatrist and researcher, Dr. Wilhelm Reich. He eventually died of margarine poisoning in a federal prison where he was sentenced for contempt of court--after he refused to cooperate with a judicial hearing that he felt was improper. He felt it was impossible for a court of law to judge his scientific work and he stuck by his guns--and it killed him. I am not kidding about the cause of death: prisoners were served high trans-fat margarines in prison, now known to induce coronary atherosclerosis, and he succumbed to a heart attack within a year and at the young age of only 58. Soon after his death, his scientific writings were burned in an incinerator by the FDA, right here in America. The bureaucrats regarded his books as “labeling” for the orgone accumulator, his invention, which the FDA and their experts contended did not work and had no scientific basis. Burn, baby, burn! Only the FDA can get away with that. No bureaucracy in America should have that power!
But that was before the health effects of air ionization were appreciated. Reich proved by experimental measurement of electroscope discharge rates that the accumulator did preserve a negative electrical charge potential. This very likely represented electron transfer from the metallic lining of the orgone accumulator. I think a serious scientific investigation now would have to acknowledge that Reich’s biggest crime was in being too far ahead of his time.
But that is not the point. Bureaucracy won. An eccentric scientific genius lost--and we all lost something with him--a piece of our freedom! We have gotten accustomed to allowing bureaucracy to censor information that applies to our personal health. We accept the fact that an expert necessarily knows more than we do about what is good for us. Poppycock! Currently we have been brainwashed by a 50 year propaganda campaign to blame our major health problems on fat and cholesterol. At the same time, it was, illegal to make claims that health problems could be caused by mineral-depleted soils or that health benefits were obtainable by means of vitamin and mineral supplements. The American people were kept in the dark. Physicians who spoke out were ridiculed, censured, and occasionally lost their license! That is why there are so few nutrition-physicians in America today. There are lots of nutritionists with other degrees or no professional degree at all, but there are almost no qualified and experienced physician nutrition specialists. Most doctors have been misled by their training in a way that denies the importance of nutrition. The de facto situation in American Medicine remains: “put nutrition last.”
I hate to say it, but most physicians are not qualified to diagnose nutritional disease, to give nutrition advice, or to answer most of the medical nutrition questions of their patients. This is the number one reason for the declining prestige and credibility of the American physician. It is also the main reason for the increasing popularity of acupuncturists, chiropractors, nutritionists, homeopaths, massage therapists and lay healers, who all rely heavily on nutrition and herbalism, including homeopathic herbalism.
Let’s review just a few situations where governmental experts have held back public appreciation for the truth in the field of medical nutrition. First let me draw your attention to the classic remark that appears at the end of almost every one of the thousands of news releases announcing new discoveries in nutrition: “more research is needed.” That one sentence by itself has held back the use of nutrient therapy for decades.
Vitamin E: Drs. Evan and Will Shute, brothers who 60 years ago treated their patients with vitamin E and wrote about its remarkable benefits against heart attack and arteriosclerosis, were ridiculed and ostracized by their colleagues and the AMA leaders. Time has proved the Shute brothers correct even beyond their expectations. The most recent research shows an almost 50 percent reduction in heart attack mortality simply by taking vitamin E supplements--just as the Shute brothers taught us 60 years ago! But to this day have not been given credit for their medical breakthrough, and for their courage in challenging the medical establishment and forcing the world to confront the fact that a vitamin could prevent and/or cure a fatal disease.
Vitamin C:Dr. Linus Pauling did a careful analysis of the world medical literature about vitamin C and the common cold. He concluded that the vitamin at doses higher than the official RDA (recommended daily allowance) offered a 30 percent decrease in symptoms, though not a complete preventive effect. He was called senile, even for such cautious heresy. Challenged, he went on from there to research the anti-cancer effects of vitamin C. A single vitamin, which at doses in excess of 10 grams per day gave a 7-fold survival advantage to terminal cancer patients. He opened the way to the antioxidant revolution and was finally credited in a special issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1991. But he has never been credited properly for his enormous courage and scientific leadership in the field of Orthomolecular Medicine. History will judge that this should have been the basis of his third Nobel Prize.
Folic acid:deficiency was known 60 years ago to cause birth defects, especially spina bifida, failure of closure of the developing spinal cord. This information might have prevented thousands of babies from a lifetime disability. But our FDA and their advisors were not quite convinced. Afraid to be wrong, they ruled against food enrichment with folic acid until 1997! Furthermore they ruled that vitamin pills could contain only a minute 400 microgram amount of this vitamin for fear that an occasional case of vitamin B12 deficiency would be obscured by larger amounts of folic acid. It is so ridiculous in the light of hindsight that one has to question the whole idea of allowing experts to rule as dictators in the real world. Market forces and lawsuits are probably a better way--certainly more honest and true to nature. If someone is harmed by a product, let them sue. That is more reliable than expecting a small board of appointed experts to determine what is right for everyone.
Vitamin A:Here is a vitamin that is deficient in at least 20 percent of our population over-all, and more like 50 percent of the sick, especially in hospitals. This vitamin is absolutely essential for immune competence, healing, hormone regulation and detoxification of a host of chemical agents. It was the first vitamin proven to prevent cancer. That was in 1923! After 85 years we read new reports of cancer reversal and reversal of some leukemias as well. How many chemotherapy drugs can do that? Deficiency is fatal, especially to children. Take measles for example: children with low vitamin A are likely to suffer complications and even die from the disease; children with adequate vitamin A are protected--so much so that vaccination for measles is actually unnecessary as long as vitamin A is maintained. Nature has endowed us the capacity to store up to a few years supply in our liver; however, infection and poisoning can deplete these reserves in a matter of hours! And few of us are saturated, full to the brim, to begin with. Why not? Because the public health experts tell us that vitamin A is dangerous. Hence, vitamin companies keep the amount of vitamin A in their products at the low RDA, 5000 iu. Therapeutic doses of 25,000 to 100,000 iu are hard to get. How about dietary sources--eggs (300 iu each), whole milk cheese (300 iu per ounce) or butter (450 iu per Tbsp), heavy cream (220 iu per Tbsp), or liver (50,000 iu per 1/4 pound)? But all these traditional foods are high in cholesterol and fat. They are not allowed in the low fat, high complex carbohydrate diet, which is currently ‘in’. So we have more vitamin A deficiency and more epidemics of flu and viral disease--and cancer too as a result.
Vitamin D: Breakthrough: The New England Journal of Medicine, March 1998, leads off with research that documents almost 60 percent incidence of vitamin D deficiency on the medical wards at Massachusetts General Hospital. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9504937
That is almost as bad as an earlier study that found an 80 percent deficiency rate in elderly nursing home patients--particularly if they used sunscreens! In both cases these grim statistics are a result of ‘expertosis,’ expert opinion gone awry? Widespread deficiency of vitamin D is caused by two errors in public health policy. Error number 1 is the low fat diet. By avoiding dairy fat, the benefit of vitamin D fortification is lost. Is this the secret cause behind the epidemic of osteoporosis? Yes, and that leads us to error number 2, a second public health fiasco: solar phobia. On the basis of questionable evidence, the public health experts have convinced the public to stay out of the sun and to use sun blockers before exposure. As little as SPF 8 is sufficient to prevent penetration of UV light and prevent vitamin D production in skin.
Instead of sunbathing, almost everyone these days is gobbling calcium tablets; but it won’t help much without vitamin D--because this vitamin regulates calcium absorption. Since sunlight is now off limits, how about food sources? The food sources of vitamin D are: dairy, fortified foods, including breakfast cereals, gelatin products, and fish, all of which yield 50 to 100 iu per serving. Cod liver oil contains 400 iu per teaspoonful. Add it up and you will see that it is not easy to get 800 iu of vitamin D from food on a day to day basis. Sunbathing, especially exposing the skin between the shoulder blades for about 20 minutes, 3 times per week, remains the most efficient way to maintain vitamin D protection.
A surprise finding is that vitamin D, and especially combination vitamin D and calcium, will prevent bone fractures and osteoporosis. However this does not work at vitamin D intake less than 800 iu daily. This is 400 units higher than the old RDA and 200 iu higher than the newly revised RDA for those over 70 years of age. Thus the New England Journal editor recommends that: “the amount of vitamin D in supplemental multivitamins or calcium supplements should be increased substantially, and all adults should be advised to take them.” This is a major change in the attitude of medical orthodoxy. Until now, fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D, were considered stable and unlikely ever to be deficient in the well-fed American population. IT was taboo for health professionals to claim otherwise. Perhaps our public health experts are recovering from “expertosis” at last!
In summary, we see again that some of the most effective nutrients, such as vitamins A and D and folic acid, have been restricted for the past many decades; and the low fat, high carbohydrate diet, which is the darling of the health experts and promoted almost as a panacea, is flawed. While there may be a reduced risk of coronary arteriosclerosis with the low fat diet, the deficiency of fat soluble vitamins puts one at extra risk of succumbing to environmental hazards, such as infectious disease, cancer, pesticides and toxic chemicals due to low vitamin A, and osteoporosis, hyperparathyroidism, and hypertension due to low vitamin D. If that isn’t bad enough, consider the already established fact that the low fat, low cholesterol diet is associated with depression, suicide and violent death from accidents and homicide, probably due to hypoglycemia and hyper-insulinism!
I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that medical progress has been delayed by at least 25 years and that millions of lives have been lost and millions more made unnecessarily miserable because of misguided bureaucratic policies against nutrition medicine. This has been particularly strategic in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state licensing boards, but also in the various public health services. Is it unfair to charge the governmental agencies with mass murder? I think not. However the greater crime has been committed by ourselves. You can’t really blame bureaucrats for being conservative and defensive. If they make mistakes they lose their jobs. But we, the public have been too damn passive; and if we make mistakes we pay with our lives!
So the cure for ‘expertosis’ is to realize that no one can take care of you as well as you can take care of yourself. Don’t give away authority or responsibility for your health to a bureaucracy, not even one manned by experts. Only in case of trauma or fulminating illness is it necessary to rely totally on the judgment and skill of the medical team--and the grace of God. But when it comes to staying alive and in good health day to day, each of us must satisfy his own genetically determined needs in relation to the demands of everyday life. When that is not working, the most reliable authority is the dialog between you and your doctor. Well-meaning propaganda and well-intended laws that interfere with that relationship do a dis-service to the health of America.
© 2010 Richard A. Kunin, M.D.