An ‘n’ of 1

Apparently my posts are too coy. I didn’t intend them to be; I was merely trying to be solicitous of people’s feelings and alert to the vagaries of readers’ judgment. Well, this post is my attempt to avoid coyness if that is how solicitousness has been perceived.

Look, the formalized practice of medicine kills many, many people. Almost all of the drugs that are prescribed for long term diseases like high blood pressure, adult onset diabetes, hardening of the arteries, and bone loss are worse than the problem they are sold to cure or improve. The practitioners that prescribe them are trapped in a world view that is inherently poisonous and we are trained in such a way as to doubt as superstition any claim made by someone who is not an ‘expert.’ Now, to put an even finer point on the point: experts are why docs routinely prescribe poisonous medications; the reason why docs enforce silly diagnostic protocols like yearly mammograms, and PAP smears, and office-based blood pressure management and drugs known to cause memory loss and increases in diabetes, for example, when the number needed to treat is somewhere north of 100 to 1 and thus cause those side effects and many others in people who will not receive any benefit. That is just crazy; or so it seems to me.

Experts are not bad guys; they are just coddled, insulated, over-educated fools. Is that clear enough? Generalized rules are promulgated by experts and all generalized rules kill people and may not even be of help to those that could conceivably benefit from the general rule. Need an example? How about 50 years of ‘eat a low fat diet, saturated fat is bad for you, beta-blockers are necessary for the first year after a heart attack even though we know it causes poor sleep, fat-weight gain, depression, erectile dysfunction and diabetes?’ If you want more examples of ‘expert advice’ they are easy to come by.

That said, if I needed abdominal surgery, open-heart surgery, for a long list of reasons, I would hasten to the nearest ‘expert’ without a second thought. The salient word in that sentence was ‘needed.’ If I had malignant high blood pressure I would take about any med the cardiologist wanted to put me on. Please understand the distinction; docs are wonderful when they are the right answer to the right question. And it is here that I probably get into trouble with the consumer, he’s being coy again, and the medical professional, he’s making wild claims; true claims, but ones far too complex for the average consumer to understand.

OK, so here is how you ‘split the baby.’ Modern medical practice is based on a very flawed understanding of biological systems. Flawed at the very foundation of methodology. Double-blind, placebo-controlled trials are the worst possible way to find out if any particular therapeutic modality is the right one for the patient standing right in front of you; any doc who has been plying his trade for any length of time has discovered that different doses of the same medicine work differently in different people. What gets missed is that meds all have a Gaussian distribution of effect and ‘effects’ on a population. One of the results of this is meds that absolutely will work for some people never see the light of day because they only worked for a few people over on the right or left of that bell curve and the proof will never reach statistical significance because the mathematical modeling, level of confidence, does not, cannot account for the variety of mechanisms of action of the drug in a whole population. Well I won’t get too far off in this direction because I have another purpose.

There is a way out of the dilemma of; if experts are to be avoided how do I know the right thing to do for my health? Look in the mirror, baby. To, more or less, quote a famous person: (you) are the one(s) (you) have been waiting for.

The reason I have been urging you to experiment with the 3 variables of diet, exercise and spiritual discipline, here is the real secret, is that there is nothing else to do; those are the 3. There are not ten or a dozen, there are 3. Experiment with one or all of those 3 and measure them against meaningful  surrogate markers like VO2 max, heart rate variability, the soundness of your sleep, happiness, productivity, family life, grip strength, gait stability, triglycerides, testosterone; measure them against useful things, not silly things like ‘total cholesterol,’ ‘blood pressure while waiting too long in a doctor’s office,’ ‘how much radiation can I accumulate getting mammograms?’

Now such experimentation, for those of you who have tried it, entails examining the  full human experience. What are the salient virtues- for example: courage, fortitude, honesty, compassion, humility- that empower you to change? How do you source your food and make shopping, cooking, sharing and eating a meal an opportunity for healing rather than stress? If, as I claim, each of you has a unique path to wholeness, what properties do you share with others that will allow you to be an ally and friend to others that need to make changes as well?

Here is what I know: if you will help me create a network of dialog, testing and shared data that is rich enough with example, comparability and human stories we can discover the real path to health. We can do real, serious, non-lethal medical research. Actually not merely ‘non-lethal,’ the only real application of the scientific method possible in complex biological systems.

Now, stated this bluntly, the above seems to lack the humility I aspire to; still, I believe it is true and I hope it will inspire you to join me in the grand experiment I propose. I have templates for each of the variables, simply as a place to start, and hundreds of actual cases of people who have started with those templates and years of data as they have applied the template and made adaptations as we saw the data, the numbers, shift and change. I have wonderful stories and real data. Please get started too.

Smile, Have Fun, God Speed,

Dr. Mike


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