Eating healthy — a new disease?

Allopathic medicine has a long history of “inventing” diseases and giving them fancy Latin names — all in order to come up with a pill or treatment to “cure” it.

Healthy foodsBut this one gets the absurdus maximus award — a Californian doctor, Steven Bratman, has “medicalized” a strong conscious desire to eat healthy, nutritional foods as a mental disorder! And, of course, he’s given it a name: orthorexia nervosa.

These poor demented souls are, as reported in The Guardian, “solely concerned with the quality of the food they put in their bodies, refining and restricting their diets according to their personal understanding of which foods are truly ‘pure’.”

They follow crazy behavior, like trying to eliminate refined sugar, salt, caffeine, alcohol, or other food groups from their diet. And they rebuff foods that have been in contact with pesticides, herbicides or contain artificial additives.

Granted, there are people who get a bit neurotic about food safety and base their dietary choices on fear rather than good sense. But the idea of turning food concerns into a mental health disease is just one more instance of medical manipulation.

While an anti-orthorexia drug hasn’t been developed — yet — Bratman quickly cashed in on his “disease” by writing a book called, “Health Food Junkies.”  I’m gratified to see it didn’t make much of a blip on the sales lists and got a dismal review score on Amazon.com (just 3 stars out of 5, with one person echoing my own feelings, saying, “So it is now a fixation to ‘obsess’ about healthy food? This is the most stupid, irresponsible drivel I have ever heard of. Ok, let’s NOT obsess about food, let’s keep eating meat, and dairy, and preservatives, and chemicals, let’s eat genetically modified food, let’s NOT read labels, let’s NOT think about what’s in our food, let’s keep getting diabetes, cancer and heart disease which NO DOCTOR has ANY CURE FOR!!! Just treatment, NO CURE. Let’s do that. Because doctors are so good at curing diseases. That’s why we are such a healthy nation! Mind-numbingly irresponsible, for a physician to write this.” I swear, I didn’t write that (but wish I had!). Here’s the Amazon page, just so you can read some of the other scathing reviews!

Not surprisingly, Bratman’s ideas have been picked up by the British medical community, which seems intent on destroying everything that isn’t totally aligned with the allopathic paradigm, be it homeopathy or, now, healthy eating!

Ursula Philpot, chair of the British Dietetic Association’s mental health group, told The Guardian: “The issues underlying orthorexia are often the same as anorexia and the two conditions can overlap but orthorexia is very definitely a distinct disorder. Those most susceptible are middle-class, well-educated people who read about food scares in the papers, research them on the internet, and have the time and money to source what they believe to be purer alternatives.”

(Interestingly, the main goal of the association appears to be acceptance by the medical profession, and, in the group’s words to “act as a specialist within a multi-disciplinary team … (and) act as a consultant to other health professionals advising on nutritional aspects of care.” Sounds much like those chiropractors and other alternative health providers who used to be willing to medicalize their professions in order to gain the approval of MDs. By now, most of them realize that’s not going to happen!)

Getting back to the dread “orthorexia nervosa” disease, Wikipedia further explains: “The subject may avoid certain unhealthy foods, such as those containing fats, preservatives, man-made food-additives, animal products, or other ingredients considered by the subject to be unhealthy; if the sufferer does not eat appropriately, malnutrition can ensue. Orthorexia sufferers have specific preferences about the foods they are eating and avoiding. Products that are preserved with additives can be considered dangerous. Industrial products can be seen as artificial, whereas biological fruits and vegetables can be seen as healthy.”

So, unless you relish an apple with a thick coating of pesticide residue, a fast food burger with 80 grams of saturated fat, or a TV dinner with a list of unpronounceable (and unidentifiable) ingredients, you may want to make an appointment with the nearest shrink. You could be a very sick mind (although chances are, you’ll have a heck of a lot healthier body than most!).

The friend who sent me this information — a guy who has a PhD in molecular biology and is finishing his last year interning as a psychiatrist — had a novel suggestion: “How about we come up with a term for a syndrome where certain sciences over-classify and are slaves of the pharmaceutical industry? Maybe inservio supervacuus (superfluous slave).”

The thymes, they are a-changing!

By Terry A. Rondberg

For years, I’ve been railing against the over-use, misuse and outright abuse of antibiotics. Time and again, I’ve reported on the evolution of “superbugs” that have built up a resistance to traditional antibiotics.

Plants as medicine?
Plants as medicine?

Recently, I heard some good news about the topic. Researchers have found that inexpensive plant-derived essential oils might be a natural alternative to many chemical antibiotics.

According to research presented at the Society for General Microbiology’s spring meeting in Edinburgh in May, the essential oils of thyme and cinnamon were found to be particularly efficient antibacterial agents against a range of Staphylococcus species.

Strains of these bacteria are common inhabitants of the skin and some may cause infection in immunocompromised individuals. Drug-resistant strains, such as meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are extremely difficult to treat.

“Not only are essential oils a cheap and effective treatment option for antibiotic-resistant strains, but decreased use of antibiotics will help minimise the risk of new strains of antibiotic resistant micro-organisms emerging,” said lead researcher Professor Yiannis Samaras of the Technological Educational Institute of Ionian Islands, in Greece.

Dr. Samaras and colleague, Dr. Effimia Eriotou, tested the antimicrobial activity of eight plant essential oils. They found that thyme essential oil was the most effective and was able to almost completely eliminate bacteria within 60 minutes.

The Society’s announcement about the research provided additional information on essential oils, which have been recognized for hundreds of years for their therapeutic properties, although very little is still known about how they exert their antimicrobial effects in humans.

Australian aborigines used tea tree oil to treat colds, sore throats, skin infections and insect bites, and the remedy was sold commercially as a medicinal antiseptic from the early 20th century. Various scientific studies have demonstrated that essential oils are not only well tolerated, but are effective against a range of bacterial and fungal species. Their therapeutic value has been shown for the treatment of a variety of conditions, including acne, dandruff, head lice and oral infections.

The Greek team believes essential oils could have diverse medical and industrial applications. “The oils — or their active ingredients — could be easily incorporated into antimicrobial creams or gels for external application. In the food industry the impregnation of food packaging with essential oils has already been successfully trialled. They could also be included in food stuffs to replace synthetic chemicals that act as preservatives,” the researchers added.

I have mixed feelings about this report. Of course I’d like to see more attention paid to health care that doesn’t rely on chemical drugs. But I think this type of report only goes half way to the goal of changing the prevalent mindset about health.

It isn’t enough to switch to phytochemical substances as “treatments” for disease. We need to get to the point where we’re balancing the human system and optimizing its own ability to counteract any environmental stresses it encounters. As long as researchers keep thinking of plants and foods as “medicine” we aren’t making the fundamental changes that are vital for true wellness.

Research and Public Perception

by Terry A. Rondberg, DC

The media constantly communicates to its vast audience the recent medical breakthroughs. Traditional medicine dominates our society. The recent medical mishaps such as dangerous prescription painkillers, are associated with the failures of regulators who ignore the apparent loopholes of allopathic medicine.

However, alternative health care is gaining attention. It is commonly utilized by the general population. A recent study by Hong at Ohio State University found that nearly three out of four adults over age 50 use some type of alternative medicine. Hong noted, “The most commonly used…was chiropractic, which about 43% of respondents had used.” [1]

Research and Public Perception - by Dr. Terry RondbergUnfortunately, the general public is unaware of chiropractic’s potential contribution to overall wellness.

According to the results of the World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC) survey titled, “Identity of the Chiropractic Profession,” only five percent of participating DCs believed the public considers that chiropractors are doctors who correct subluxations, while 81% believe the public defines chiropractic as doctors who help treat back and neck pain.” [2]

Eighty‑five percent of the chiropractors said the nervous system is essential to the practice of chiropractic, and 65% indicated the public should define chiropractic as stress and  subluxation correction.

In 2003, the Institute for Social Research at Ohio Northern University conducted a survey of  North American chiropractors.  The results showed that 89.8% of respondents felt adjustments should not be limited to musculoskeletal conditions and 88.1% felt that the term vertebral subluxation complex should be withheld. [3]

Some chiropractors have expressed that the public perception should identity the profession. Others wish to limit our role to musculoskeletal pain practitioners, justifying their position by claiming that only low back pain has sufficient research evidence and backing. Both sides are incorrect for reasons I have discussed elsewhere. [4,5]

A successful public relations approach should match the public’s interest with our vision of chiropractic. It is necessary for the public to be properly educated on how chiropractic meets their needs.

The success of this strategy came to light when Dr. Madeline Beherendt’s study on infertility was published in the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research, (JVSR) which resulted in positive and credible media coverage for chiropractic.

Among the television programs reporting the study’s results were: KBCI Boise, WCBS New York, KING Seattle, KYW Philadelphia, WTNH New Haven, KUTV Salt Lake City, WCPO Cincinnati, WOAI San Antonio, KOLD Tucson, and KPTM Omaha. On one of the specialized health news wire services, the press release was accessed by journalists more than 700 times by the end of March. [6]

Furthermore, Dr. Erin Elster, an upper cervical chiropractor in Boulder, Colo., gathered data from 44 MS patients and 37 PD patients treated during the span of five years. After treating upper neck injuries in 81 patients, 91% of MS patients and 92% of PD patients improved, suggesting that correction of neck injuries may reverse MS and PD.

The Chiropractic Journal reported, “The World Chiropractic Alliance (WCA), publisher of JVSR, distributed a press release on the research results, which was quickly picked up by major news media, including Reuter’s wire service. The news was relayed to newspapers and television stations around the world, and the story showed up in a wide array of media.

“Viewers watching CNN coverage of the Florida hurricanes saw the headline scroll by on the late breaking news crawl … readers saw all the details in The Washington Post … Internet browsers found the story on sites as varied as the National Institutes of Health’s MEDLINE and the Armenian Medical Network. Yahoo News featured the story and it even appeared on the Merck pharmaceutical company’s website.

“Within days, millions of people were exposed to information about chiropractic and how correction of subluxations might result in an improvement or reversal MS and PD. Although the research examined the two specific diseases, the press release emphasized that the role of chiropractic was not to diagnose or treat those diseases directly, but to correct subluxations and, in doing so, affect the progress of the diseases.” [7]

More recently, a collaborative study of chiropractic care, oxidative stress, and DNA repair has peeked the interests of medical news services and alternative health websites. [8, 9]

The public and journalists are not interested in “manipulation” for the treatment of low back pain. However, they are interested in learning about chiropractic as a focal point on wellness and quality‑of‑life issues often neglected by traditional medicine.

The answer is university-based research and not just a few studies focusing on small case histories. Although encouraging, a long‑term solution must be implemented. The university based research, should involve thousands of patients, and published in prestigious, medical journals. The group QOLR has embodied this challenge but your assistance is paramount.

References

1. Hong G‑S: “About 70 percent of older adults use alternative medicine.” News release. Ohio State University . April 9, 2005.
2. “Consultation on Identity: Quantitative Research Findings.” World Federation of Chiropractic, Dec. 7, 2004.
3. McDonald W, Durkin K, Iseman S, et al: “How Chiropractors Think and Practice.” Institute for Social Research. Ohio Northern University. Ada , OH . 2003.
4. Kent C: “A challenge and three myths.” The Chiropractic Journal. September 2004.
5. Kent C: “Where are we going?” The Chiropractic Journal. August 1997.
6. “Infertility research still a top news story in U.S.” The Chiropractic Journal. May 2004.
7. JVSR, WCA hit two more publicity home runs. The Chiropractic Journal. October 2004.
8. “Chiropractic Influence on Oxidative Stress and DNA Repair.” Medical News Today. March 7, 2005.
9. “Doctors crack code on chiropractic care.” Mercola.com. 4/27/05.

About the Author – Dr. Terry Rondberg
Terry A. Rondberg, DC, is a tireless advocate for drug-free chiropractic, chiropractic patients, wellness, and the mind-body connection for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. As CEO of the World Chiropractic Alliance, he is a global activist for the interests of doctors of chiropractic and their patients.

Some Facts About So-Called “Alternative Medicine” – By Terry Rondberg, DC

According to a recent national survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one in nine children and teens use herbal supplements or some type of alternative medicine.

This is the first time children’s use of such remedies, including meditation and chiropractic care, has been measured. Adult use of alternative care remains about the same as it was in 2002 — more than one in three.

Given that children are generally healthy, the finding that one in nine uses alternative medicine is astounding.

The study is based on a 2007 survey of more than 23,000 adults who discussed themselves and more than 9,000 adults who spoke on behalf of a child in their home.

The adults most likely to report using alternative care were women, college graduates and those who live on the West Coast. Among most adults, alternative care was used equally by those with private health insurance and those without.

Children were five times more likely to use alternative care if a parent did. Those covered by private health insurance were more likely to use alternative care than children who were uninsured or covered by public programs.

In 2002, adult use was 36 percent, compared to 38 percent in 2009.

In this decade, many academic medical centers and other mainstream health care providers have integrated alternative care into their research and patient services. Chiropractors can be found in general hospitals. Insurance coverage and licensing of alternative care is on the rise.

There were differences in how the 2002 and 2007 surveys were conducted. Regarding herbal remedies, the 2007 study asked participants whether they had used such a product in the previous 30 days, while the 2002 study asked if they had taken it in the past year.

In both studies, herbal remedies were the most popular form of alternative care for adults. In the latest survey, nearly one in five adults reported taking a supplement in the previous month.

For adults, pain was the primary reason for seeking chiropractic care.

About the Author – Dr. Terry Rondberg
Terry A. Rondberg, DC, is a nationally recognized author, speaker and publisher on chiropractic care and wellness. He’s an outspoken proponent of chiropractic and drug-free healthcare.