Chronic Disease and Alternative Health

Chronic Illness and Alternative Care (Preventive Medicine)

Recently, I have noticed an interesting shift in the meaning of common phrases. "Health care" is now synonymous with large impersonal institutions, escalating technology, toxic pharmaceuticals and surgery.

It seems to me the problems we have in health care delivery begin at the level of how we think about health and illness. We have been greatly influenced by Louis Pasteur and the germ theory - a great discovery in its own time. A microorganism attacks; the host becomes ill; the disease runs its course; the patient either survives or dies. This translates into the notion that each illness has a definite beginning and self-limited duration.

Unfortunately, this model breaks down with the majority of illnesses today. In America, chronic, debilitating, degenerative conditions are the most prevalent illnesses.

People with chronic illness are not well-served by the medical community. For example, rheumatoid arthritis sufferers face many long-term complications from steroid therapy, including crippling compression fractures due to the loss of bone density caused by the drugs. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) cause problems both with the kidneys and the gut. More and more evidence is accumulating that auto-immune conditions are food-allergy related and NSAIDs only make that situation worse. This is only one example of hundreds.

Unfortunately, our system is geared to intervention at a very late stage of pathology when extensive tissue damage has already occurred. A surgical team is a very good resource for life-threatening trauma or a quadruple bypass. But, how much help can they give in taking steps to avoid the surgery in the first place? And highly trained, specialized surgical teams require work to keep the team together.

This model holds true throughout the health care delivery system. Health insurance reviews look for discrete incidents of injury or illness with precise endings. Only recently has preventative medicine even been included in insurance coding.

My approach to health and wellness is entirely different. I believe that many debilitating conditions can be avoided if people have good information and guidance early - in the beginning stages. I see disease as a long runway where, over time, the body is subjected to one metabolic insult after another. Our bodies have fantastic adaptive abilities, but finally, the overload is too great and we get "sick." Really, there have been problems all along, but nobody took appropriate action soon enough to reverse the trend. The truth is - our environment is not very healthy. If it were healthy, we would have far fewer debilitating diseases. The good news is - there's a lot you personally can do to increase your level of health and well-being. The more information you have about how to live a healthy life, and the sooner you start, the easier my job becomes.

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