By: David Richard, Organic Consumers Association |
Modern medicine has failed us by providing unnatural solutions to natural problems. We are ill because we live in a toxic world, filled with the unnatural stresses of industrialization and technology along with their chemical and energetic fallout. Lost is the spiritual basis and altruistic motivation of society. Modern medicine follows a worldview that values technological innovation over healing tradition, arrogantly assuming that anything made by nature can be better made by man.
This system is basically driven by money rather than by healing intent. At the heart of the financial orientation of this system is the protection of U.S. Patent Law, which rightfully excludes natural substances and processes from patent protection, but wrongfully allows patent protection for unnatural substances and processes to be applied as so-called bio-compatible medicines (drugs), foods, soil amendments and other life process “solutions.” In reality, these substances and processes are bio-incompatible and, to a greater or lesser extent, toxic. Without the legal protection and endorsement of patent law, modern medicine/healthcare as we know it lies down and dies, drained of its financial lifeblood.
We live, and have evolved, as a part of nature rather than above nature. Therefore any system which is not rooted and grounded in nature is not of service to mankind. Each member of society pays an enormous surcharge in funding the current degenerative healthcare paradigm. First, in the cost of re-inventing effective natural remedies and medicines as synthetic patented drugs. Second, for all of the costs associated with “proving” the efficacy of these drugs, marketing and selling them, lobbying for them, and buying legislators and legislation to protect them.
This same surcharge, based upon another example of the same underlying principle, is applied to society in funding the biotechnology of genetically engineered food crops.
Most importantly, human suffering is not reduced, nor is human health increased, by the paradigm of modern medicine, healthcare and food technology. Arguably, human suffering is increased and human health is reduced. We all suffer and pay for the patent-protected profits of a few.
There is the possibility of inexpensive and effective healthcare for all. OCA Executive Director Ronnie Cummins has called this system “Regenerative Healthcare.” From my point of view, this is our only hope for the future, as it integrates and unites whole foods grown in healthy soils, ecological mindfulness, nature-based medicine, enlightened psychology, the Arts for Healing, and Spiritual Altruism in one holistic model.
In his brilliant essay published on February 5, 2017, in the OCA Newsletter, entitled “Regenerating Public Health: Beyond Obama and Trump,” Cummins offers a profound insight into the ill health of our so-called healthcare system, as well as a clarion call for a revolutionary new model of sustainable, nature-based healthcare he calls “Regenerative Healthcare.” Contrasting this with the existing model ruling our “Degeneration Nation,” he spares neither pole of the political spectrum in his review.
He condemns the Right for its cold-hearted, hypocritical approach to healthcare, denying public health funding to the poor while cozying up to mega-rich healthcare business interests in order to feather their own political nest. He reproaches the Left for its support of the same institutional model, granting universal healthcare, but without real choice, instead forcing care through systems and processes that are fundamentally flawed—being both unsustainable and unhealthy. The Left, too, feathers its own nest in propping up this profit-over-people model.
In reality, neither Obamacare nor Trumpcare address the real, deep-seated, and long-term healthcare issues of our country, which are rooted in our soil, our food, the very nature of our medicine, the technological and ecological lifestyle choices we make, and particularly in the way we think and feel about ourselves and our health.
I add my voice in support of Cummins’ call for a new model of Regenerative Healthcare, in particular focusing on the role of U.S. Patent Law in propping up our current broken healthcare system.
From patent medicine to patented medicine
In the 18th, 19th centuries and even into the early 20th century, many medicines containing unknown ingredients, often making exaggerated and dubious claims, generally untested and without proven clinical effectiveness, were sold to a gullible public by formulators who typically hawked their own wares. Known as “patent medicines,” some were credited with affecting near-miraculous cures. But most, as later determined, were little more than “snake oil,” a phrase itself describing a turn-of-the-20th-century patent medicine. In fact, some of the ingredients used, uranium or radium for example, were actually toxic or, in the cases of opium or cocaine, powerfully addictive.
Addressing this Wild West show of unregulated claim and unknown composition, “modern” medicine began to standardize a pharmacopeia and to test medicines for efficacy. The U.S. government, in the form of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), began to review the therapeutic claims made, the ingredients used, and the testing processes applied to these medicines.
All apparently well and good for the consumer. However, one key factor would prove to be the elephant-fly in the ointment of the “standard-of-care” medicine resulting from these reforms: the patent protection of medicines synthesized in the laboratory as opposed to healing substances found in nature. This single factor was to create a medicine primarily of synthetic substances, or drugs, since patent law protection meant enormous monopoly profits for the drug companies who staked claim to the health benefits these substances purported to offer, while relegating any toxic effects caused by the drug to the status of unintended “side effects.” Rather than reforming the old “medicine show” of the patent medicine hucksters, a new but much more sophisticated era of ill-conceived, but patent-protected drugs was inaugurated.
In historical counterpoint to these systems of patent medicines, both old and new here in the U.S., were the systems of medicine in place around the world for thousands of years prior to these newcomers, each having developed sophisticated and effective natural medicines and remedies long before the first white man set foot upon the shores of the New World. Such systems existed in highly organized form in China, India and the Middle East, were characterized by the patriarchs of Western Medicine, including Hippocrates, Pliny, and Paracelsus, but also existed in some organized form in virtually every human culture in the world. Every tribe, civilized and primitive, had its healers or Shaman who knew and used the remedies and medicines that flourished in the world they inhabited. The effectiveness and safety of these “nature” medicines were proven over hundreds, often thousands, of generations. They were condition- and dose-specific, and the duration of their treatment and prognosis for cure was generally well known. Related forms of healing, physical as well as spiritual, typically enhanced the outcome of treatment with these natural medicines.
Instead of building upon the foundations of these effective traditional systems of natural medicine, what we see today is a sophisticated reprise of the era of huckster patent medicines based upon patented synthetics. The outcome, however, is the same: profits over people.
Today we see medicines of unknown composition being marketed, since no drug is required to display a full disclosure label listing all of its ingredients for the benefit of the consumer. We see highly toxic substances being routinely employed in the “wars” on various diseases. We see an epidemic of addiction to prescription drugs. We see synthetic substances in every prescription drug in the country, as if a synthetic substance were bio-identical to its natural counterpart, as if it were as effective as its natural counterpart, as if it were as safe as its natural counterpart.
We see drugs tested in hugely expensive research and clinical trials, all funded by the companies with direct vested interests in the outcome of the trials, and overseen by government officials who have either just revolved in or out of one of these companies. What drugs are tested? Only the synthetic drugs protected by patent law, assuring long-term profit—enormous profit—to the manufacturer.
Is this system truly “evidence-based” or is it simply “outcome-funded”? Consider the list of “side effects” of nearly any major drug now on the market. Are these truly “side effects?” Or are they actually direct effects that are simply inconvenient for marketing purposes and a subtraction from the corporate profit bottom line?
In the broader context of public health, we see an environment—land, sea and sky—that is grossly contaminated by every form of pollutant known to man, every poison and toxin, every contaminant and adulterant imaginable. We see a degradation of the soil in which our food is grown, and even a corporate-funded degradation of the seeds that provide the genetic basis for our food. We see contamination by radioactive waste, by electromagnetic radiation, and by digital sound and image stress. We see foods depleted of the nutrients they once contained, having been grown in our depleted soils and having been so over-processed that there is no longer any life or real nutrition remaining in them.
All these realities of our society, once again, can only really be understood in terms of corporate profit-making at the expense of public health and welfare with technological “innovation” and U.S. patent protection at the heart of many of our public health ills.
Corporate dependence on patent protection
According to U.S. Patent Law there are four main “judicial exception” categories used to withhold U.S. patent protection. These are: (1) abstract ideas, (2) laws of nature, (3) natural phenomena, and (4) natural products.
In the past, there has been some latitude in allowing newly isolated and purified substances obtained from natural sources patent protection, as long as these isolates or purified substances have some novel functional properties not demonstrated in the original compound. However the basic idea is that only something synthesized by man or markedly enhanced by man can be protected by a patent.
What if the fundamental premise of this system is false? What if man can only preserve the essential whole that was created by forces more elemental and synergistic than can ever be created or replicated in the laboratory?
This premise of patent protection of bio-incompatible synthetics is being pushed to its extreme by a recent court ruling that makes it even more difficult to obtain a patent for novel isolates or purified substances obtained from a natural substrate. Perhaps this is a more consistent ruling intellectually. But it’s one that pushes pharmaceutical medicine even further afield from its natural origins.
What this orientation toward human innovation over traditional wisdom and natural holism has created is an incredibly lucrative socio-economic system focused upon introducing bio-incompatible, “alien” molecules into the human body. It has taken health away from the soil, air and water, the plant and animal kingdoms, and even the mineral kingdom, and placed it squarely in the province of the laboratory. It pays, ridiculously well in fact, for “health science” corporations to create, patent and market what amount to monstrosities of nature.
Evidence-based, “Standard of care” medicine:
How can we reconcile all of the “evidence” amassed by researchers around the world for nearly a century with the notion that modern medicine is basically bio-incompatible?
I prefer not to consider the specific details of individual research and clinical trials, and to focus instead on the bottom line of what we are seeing in our society. I have glimpsed behind the curtain of the Great Oz of Medicine in enough individual cases to conclude that these research studies seek only to prove what it is profitable for them to prove. If the basic orientation of this research is to make a profit, how can we expect the actual outcome to build public health or provide for the common welfare?
We are generally not seeing outstanding specimens of health and vitality in our society, as have been traditionally observed in native populations. Instead we are seeing a population that is grossly overweight, underfit, tired, and chronically ill, mentally and physically. While we are seeing a longer lived population, this outcome is much more likely due to hygienic improvements such as indoor plumbing, a relatively hygienic water supply, a relatively stable food supply, and other infrastructure improvements—not on modern medical intervention.
And while we are seeing a decrease in epidemics of microbial contamination, we are also seeing a concomitant increase in auto-immune disease and digestive conditions as we overcompensate in our usage of antibiotics and vaccines, depleting our microbiome and thereby incapacitating our immune systems. Moreover, we are seeing a sustained, dramatic and societally-debilitating increase in degenerative diseases, which are relatively uncommon and often unknown within a healthy native population. We are seeing a huge rise in childhood autism as well as other childhood psychological and behavioral disorders, while at the other end of the age spectrum, we are seeing a dramatic increase in the incidence of senior dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
This summary does not even include the direct deaths, incapacitations and toxic reactions from “standard of care” medical drugs or the addictions and suicides caused by psychotropic, pain-relieving and anti-anxiety medications.
Follow the money trail
There is a common thread that runs throughout the ugly tapestry we call modern medicine. It is money.
In ancient China, it was not uncommon for a medical practitioner to be paid only while the patient was healthy. Accordingly, there was a direct financial incentive to promote health rather than disease.
Our system knows no such reinforcement of health through economics. It knows only the reinforcement of disease as a source of nearly limitless profit.
What if patent protection were withdrawn from synthetic, bio-incompatible drugs, since their application is in biologically active, holistic systems called human beings? What if any drug with a toxic side effect in a statistically significant portion of the population were forced to be withdrawn from the marketplace? What if any potentially addictive or suicide-promoting pharmaceutical drug were forced to be withdrawn from the market? What if any toxic agent such as radiation or chemotherapy were forced to be withdrawn from the market? What if every clinical or research study were forced to be funded using public rather than private funds, with the proceeds being held in the public trust rather than in private corporate coffers?
This will never happen of course. However, a shift can begin to be made toward a system of medicine and healthcare rooted in the natural world, in our food supply, in our environment, and in the natural healing substances found abundantly in plants, animals and minerals from the earth. Again, reaffirming Cummins’ essay, we call this paradigm “Regenerative Healthcare”.
Nourishment and toxemia
According to those historically known as “the nature healers,” there are really only two diseases afflicting mankind: toxemia and under-nourishment. Too much pollution of the body, physically and spiritually, from the surrounding polluted environment and its over-processed foods and synthetic “medicines,” and not enough nourishment, physically and spiritually, from the surrounding environment obtained through the whole food, pure water, fresh air, and natural medicine of the earth.
These two principles were also embodied in the medical philosophy of Hippocrates, the “Father of Medicine” who said, “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food,”** and also “To abstain from doing harm” or simply “Do no harm” in more common parlance. If only these two principles were followed in spirit and actual practice, we would have an amazing revolution in modern healthcare, a system of true Regenerative Healthcare building up the strength and vitality of our nation. We would look at nature differently and ourselves differently, seeing that the two are really one.
Right now, we are nearly 180 degrees off the mark in steering our course toward Regenerative Healthcare. I believe we are headed toward a health crisis of epic proportions in terms of the health of our planet, our personal and societal health, and our very existence as a species. We are looking outside of ourselves and our environment for the answers to problems that are as close to us as the air we breathe, the water we drink, the foods we consume, the medicines we take, and the tools we use to supposedly enhance our well-being.
The cost of this crisis in absolute dollars will be staggering, as has already been projected by the best analytic minds of our time.
We have a choice to change course or to continue down the path that leads directly to this health crisis. True change will require a re-orientation back toward the earth, back toward our planetary “mother” as it were. If we value a future for ourselves and our children, we will consider this a matter of absolute personal commitment and responsibility. Every decision we make will either reinforce this choice and contribute toward the general welfare of our fellow man—or it will bow to a system that is not really about health or healthcare at all.
Together we will live or die based on this decision. My deepest, most sincere hope is that we choose life.
** While there is current scholarly contention in attributing this quotation to Hippocrates, it is certainly in accord with what we know of his practice – using diet, exercize, lifestyle adjustments, etc. in treatment as well as his healthcare philosophy of general diagnosis and “passive” therapy. In addition, the core of his medical philosophy appears to be in stimulating “the healing power of nature” (vis medicatrix naturae) in the patient rather than through dramatic physician intervention.
David Richard is former Owner and Publisher of Vital Health Publishing as well as author, editor and long-term health enthusiast. He has worked in and around the natural products industry for over 50 years, is an OCA member, supports the organic food and agriculture movement, and is dedicated to an ecologically sound, sustainable future.
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