Patricia shared her recent experience of having to endure the rants of her doctor:
“Well, I guess that I am officially undoctored! I have been going to the same internist for two years and she has always said that she knows nothing about supplements. But that was okay, as I do know something about them.
“During this time, my medication has not changed, blood work was the same, with almost the same results each time. Just this week, she kind of went ballistic, repeated that she knows nothing about supplements, but does not believe in them, cannot imagine why people take them, told me that they were totally screwing up my body, and if I did not stop taking them, do not come back.
“I said ‘thanks’ and ‘good-bye.’
“Love the book!”
Patricia did the right thing: ignored the doctor’s rant, accepting it for the admission of gross ignorance that it reflects, and walked out, never to return. This is part of the message of my new Undoctored book: We insist that healthcare providers act as our advocates, a collaborative relationship in which both parties make a contribution. The dictatorial attitude of Patricia’s doctor, coupled with her astounding admission of ignorance on nutritional supplements, means that she could not achieve health through this provider, only prescription drugs and procedures that have little or nothing to do with health. Given her ignorance on supplements, it is likely that she was equally ignorant about nutrition. Without knowledge of nutritional supplements and nutrition, how could any doctor hope to understand health? Or provide useful advice on health?
If you took your car to the auto mechanic and he ranted on and on about how taking good care of your car was silly and that an occasional engine rebuild or transmission replacement was all you needed to keep driving, while providing no solutions to lesser problems you’ve experienced, you would likely walk out, too. You might even refuse to pay the bill because he failed to fix the problems–funny noise, occasional stalls, overheating, etc.–that you reported.
Then why should we pay a doctor for such an outright admission of ignorance with no useful advice offered?
I wouldn’t share Patricia’s story if it were unusual or rare. But it is common: doctors, like the FDA, make absurd declarations such as “Nutritional supplements cannot be used to treat any condition. Only drugs can do that.” (Yes, this is actually stated in FDA materials.) This attitude means that ignorance about the safe, informed use of nutritional supplements is the rule–even if they provide life-changing or even lifesaving benefits. Witness the evidence of widespread medical ignorance that has operated these past 40 years because of this attitude:
- Iodine supplementation has been forgotten since iodized salt essentially erased iodine deficiency during the 20th century. In the 21st century, we’ve been advised to cut back on salt that has prompted a return of iodine deficiency, hypothyroidism from iodine deficiency, and goiter.
- Vitamin D supplementation with non-human vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol), the most costly prescription form, is more often advised than the human D3 (cholecalciferol) even though D2 is inferior and does not provide the same reduction in death rate as D3.
- Fish oil was rarely advised by doctors as an inexpensive supplement, but is now widely prescribed as a “drug” costing 20- or 30-times more for a preparation that is not superior to fish oil from the health food store.
- Calcium supplementation (yes: a supplement) is commonly advised for bone health despite the fact that it does not increase bone density nor decrease osteoporotic fractures and likely increases cardiovascular risk substantially
- Magnesium deficiency is widespread and contributes to osteoporotic fractures, heart rhythm disorders, and sudden cardiac death, since magnesium is removed from all drinking water and commercially-produced vegetables have up to 60% less magnesium than the past. It can only be corrected with magnesium supplementation.
There are many others. But you get the idea: In general, doctors are astoundingly ignorant about nutritional supplements. Rather than learn about them, they pooh-pooh them like Patricia’s doctor, make fun of you if you take them, and insist that only drugs and procedures are effective tools for health.
What I hear in the rants from my colleagues in such situations was: “Why are you wasting my time with all these questions about health? I am busy dispensing drugs and procedures to people who compensate me better than just answering your silly health questions!”
Because our focus is health, not revenues from health, we are free to explore ideas and practices that genuinely work in maintaining or regaining health