Saving Lives: Against All OddsHelke Ferrie March 1, 2017
Dr. Jozef Krop Awarded 2017 Dr. Rogers Prize – Groundbreaker Award
“We discuss forests, agricultural land, plant and animal life, but virtually ignore the real threat to the very existence of the human species.”
~ Dr. Jozef Krop, before the first World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland Commission), 1985
Dr. Jozef Krop, environmental medicine physician and Lyme disease expert, has become well-known to Vitality readers and other Canadians for his dedication and commitment to putting his patients first. And on Friday, February 24, he received the prestigious 2017 Ground-breaker Award. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Rogers Prize for Excellence in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the Groundbreaker Award is a “one-time award to honour those individuals whose personal conviction to pursue practices above and beyond the medical status quo have prepared the way for future leaders,” evocative of Sir Isaac Newton’s famous quote: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
The Groundbreaker Award is sponsored by the Lotte and John Hecht Memorial Foundation, and Dr. Krop shares it with an impressive list of integrative medicine experts:
- Dr. Steven K. H. Aung of the University of Alberta (Chinese medicine)
- Dr. Stephen Sagar, of McMaster University, Hamilton (integrative oncology)
- Dr. Donald Warren (Cdn. College Naturopathic Medicine)
- Dr. Joseph Y. Wong (Toronto Pain and Stress Clinic)
A Seismic Shift in Medicine
Back in 2007, the inaugural Dr. Rogers Prize went to Dr. Abram Hoffer who, during his tenure as psychiatry professor in Regina, Saskatchewan, was encouraged to reform psychiatry by Tommy Douglas, then premier of that province. Dr. Hoffer proceeded to prove that schizophrenia can often be cured through nutritional interventions.
Among Hoffer’s students was Dr. Jozef Krop – a refugee from then Communist Poland: “During my internship at Saskatoon City Hospital I was assigned for one week to Dr. Abram Hoffer. That experience changed my life and medical practice for good. In Dr. Hoffer’s office, I witnessed for the first time the successful use of diet and supplements (e.g. B3, vitamin C, B6) together with antipsychotic meds in the treatment of schizophrenia. I observed how Dr. Hoffer slowly withdrew the psych meds and continued with diet and megavitamin therapy and achieved very successful outcomes, with many recovering completely.”
Dr. Krop’s approach to medicine evolved towards finding the root cause of health problems, rather than going by the book. For example, after decades (from 1983 to the present) of treating patients with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (environmental illness) using detoxification and orthomolecular medicine with great success, he was disturbed to find that some did not respond to his treatment approach. In fact, they were unresponsive even though they had exactly the same symptoms as other Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) patients. Then he learned that patients with chronic Lyme disease tend to exhibit the same symptoms as MCS patients, but they respond better to antibiotics and other bactericidal therapies. So, he called all those patients who had been unresponsive to his original treatment approach, tested them for Lyme disease with internationally validated methods, and found that every single one of them was infected with the Lyme bacteria.
In the early 1980s, the scope of his medical practice broadened after he returned from his training with Dr. Theron Randolph who, along with Drs. Linus Pauling, Abram Hoffer, and John McLennan, founded what is now known as orthomolecular medicine (which prevents and treats disease by providing optimal amounts of substances which are natural to the body), and was then called clinical ecology. Reading an 800-page textbook by Dr. Lawrence Dickey on clinical ecology made Dr. Krop realize that he needed to take a 180 degree turn away from what was standard practice in conventional medicine, namely symptom control. Instead, his new approach would search for the cause of disease, remove it if possible, and thereby cure the patient.
In regards to conventional medicine, Krop had observed: “I was aware that the majority of doctors in America and Europe were mostly managing symptoms. Symptom control is a multi-billion dollar business … it is the market, and wealth is measured in this market, as in any other, by growth – not by the diminishing returns that cures would generate.”
In this context it is important to remember that the terms ‘complementary’ and ‘alternative’ medicine were invented in the 1980s by the pharmaceutical industry to protect drug profits. The scientific research supporting orthomolecular medicine arose and still continues in universities. Those medical systems which are indeed alternative and now often complementary – such as acupuncture, meditation, relaxation therapies, and herbal medicine – arose mostly in China, India, and from Native American traditions and also have their roots in antiquity. Their great value has been demonstrated for decades and Western research has confirmed their efficacy. Indeed, the four recipients with whom Dr. Krop shares the 2017 Rogers Prize are among the outstanding contributors to alternative and complementary medical methods that work.
Dr. Krop Persecuted by College of Physicians
Orthomolecular medicine, however, is a threat to Big Pharma-driven medicine because it often renders drugs unnecessary. One gets a feel for this when reading the research of Dr. John Ioannidis, currently one of the most prominent co-authors of the evidence-based teaching programs in our medical schools. Big Pharma is forced to defend itself in court continuously, but complementary, alternative, and orthomolecular medicine is not.
In 1989, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) threatened Dr. Krop with disciplinary investigation, with the stated objective to “deal once and for all with these clinical ecologists,” as the subsequent trial transcripts recorded. Indeed, the expert witnesses selected by the CPSO’s prosecution were working with Big Pharma, one and all.
Undeterred by this development, and aware that he stood to lose his licence if the CPSO pursued their disciplinary investigation, Dr. Krop made a presentation in 1991 on behalf of the Canadian Society for Environmental Medicine, to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario’s Standing Committee on Social Development, advocating the so-called ‘Alaska Clause’. Originally included in medical regulatory law for the first time in Alaska, it derived from the Helsinki Accord on Human Rights that had emerged out of the Nuremberg Trials following World War II. A Bill using that same wording was championed by Ontario MPP Monte Kwinter: “No disciplinary body of any College constituted under the RHPA [Regulated Health Professions Act] as a regulatory body, may base a finding of professional incompetence or negligence or failure to maintain the standards of the profession, solely on the basis that a registrant’s practice is experimental or unconventional, in the absence of demonstrable physical harm to a patient.” In 2000 it became part of Ontario’s Medicine Act. Since then it has been adopted throughout Canada.
Environmental Medicine on Trial
In 1994, the CPSO laid 52 charges against Dr. Krop to demonstrate that he had “fallen below the standard of practice.” These charges were based on Dr. Krop’s use of: orthomolecular therapy; nutritional counselling; environmental control such as clean air, clean water, and pesticide-free food; diagnosis and treatment of food, chemical, inhalant sensitivities; use of sublingual immunotherapies; detoxification; diagnosing and treating Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and systemic Candidiasis; and detoxing neurotoxic solvents. He was also charged with prescribing vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, evening primrose oil, and antifungal medication. (All of these are part of standard medical practice today.) Dr. Krop was also charged with using a German-engineered electrodermal testing method (which he preferred as a pain-free testing method for children with environmental and food sensitivities; he ended up publishing seven controlled research studies on this method, all available on PubMed).
By then, Canadian law included tax relief for chemically injured individuals, and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation had become the first government-sponsored body to develop housing for those suffering from chemical sensitivities. (Dr. Krop was involved with that development as well.) Given that environmental impacts on health were already becoming well known and part of some Canadian medical school teaching programs, the CPSO had an uphill battle to prove that Krop was guilty of malpractice. The CPSO’s biggest problem was that there was so much research supporting Dr. Krop’s practice and proof of patient recovery. So their discipline panel opted to stick with outdated opinion pieces and avoid research entirely.
They went on an extensive (illegal) fishing expedition by contacting some 200 of Krop’s patients: none of whom would testify against him. This was done because the CPSO had no “index case” (i.e. a complaint or recorded medical misadventure). What the disciplinary panel finally did introduce was an opinion piece by an arm of the Quackwatch organization, the American Council on Science and Health. Written in 1994, it lists all the industries that would be harmed if MCS was to be taken seriously, from carpet glues to perfume: “MCS theory promotes an irrational fear of all chemicals around us [and] costing society millions of dollars [by] restricting people’s lives in unnecessary ways and diverting them from effective medical treatment … It may burden the health-care system, severely tax the insurance industry, and wreak havoc with workers compensation programs.”
In June 1999, Dr. Krop was officially found guilty of “falling below the standards of practice” for diagnosing and treating MCS. Ironically, in that same month the international consensus statement on MCS, developed at the world’s premier medical school, Johns Hopkins, was published in Harvard Medical School’s Archives of Environmental Medicine (vol. 54/3: 147-149). Dr. Krop was one of the signatories. The CPSO’s final judgment stated that while they had studied the defense materials and acknowledged that Dr. Krop’s dedication undoubtedly had led to the health improvements of his patients, “the committee preferred its own evidence” – of which they had provided none whatsoever.
The CPSO’s dilemma was that Dr. Krop’s license could not be revoked. So, they ordered him to alter his patient consent forms to state that all of his diagnoses and treatments were based on only his personal “opinion,” not on published science. Curiously, the committee also opined that even though whatever Dr. Krop was doing was “not supported scientifically,” he was explicitly permitted to continue doing it. Today, this peculiarly worded reprimand is known as ‘The Krop Defense’ and taught in Canada’s law schools.
CPSO Faces Scrutiny from Media and Government
Currently, the CPSO continues to persecute some doctors for the use of bioidentical hormone therapy for menopausal women, even though synthetic hormones have been identified as carcinogenic for over a decade. If doctors fear disciplinary investigations where published science and positive patient outcome are unlikely to be considered, then the new tactic is the offer of signing an ‘undertaking’, promising not to use the therapy which the CPSO objects to on completely arbitrary grounds – in exchange for no trial. In my opinion this is straightforward coercion and makes a mockery of the practice of medicine. Some doctors do fight for facts and patients’ rights to choose, and frequently the Krop Defense has saved them. Indeed, since the Krop Trial began, several law firms have emerged which specialize in defending doctors and dentists against their regulatory colleges. A path has been forged. It is possible now to prevail against bullies.
Looking back, one observes that after the Krop case a dam seems to have broken. The Canadian Medical Association’s flagship journal published an 8-part series on the diagnosis and treatment of environmental illness, and Canada’s Human Rights Commission formally recognized Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. Then the Toronto Star published its “Medical Secrets” series on the CPSO’s failure to “serve the public interest,” documenting how the CPSO shielded some doctors from prosecution even when repeated malpractice led to deaths. Robert Cribb and Tanya Talaga won the Michener Award for investigative journalism for this series.
And then the Ontario Ministry of Health ordered a KPMG Report which documented years of mishandled patient complaints by the CPSO. As well, the Glasnost Report was published detailing the CPSO’s abuse of many innovative doctors including Dr. Krop. The federal Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled in 2004 that Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and Electromagnetic Field injury are genuine medical conditions which require accommodation at work and that treatment should be covered by Medicare.
Perhaps to keep himself sane during those two decades of disciplinary investigation, Dr. Krop produced a book, now in its third printing, entitled Healing the Planet One Patient at a Time – A Primer in Environmental Medicine. It is used in various teaching institutions.
Hardly had Dr. Krop recovered from the ordeal on behalf of environmental illness patients, when the CPSO charged him with diagnosing and treating Chronic Lyme Disease. He describes that second confrontation with the status quo in chapter 4 of the book: Ending Denial – The Lyme Disease Epidemic – A Public Health Disaster.
The CPSO worked hard from 2008 to 2010 to maintain the status quo which claimed that there is no such thing as Chronic Lyme Disease (never mind scientific evidence to the contrary). They failed. In spite of the fact that Lyme disease became the hottest political potato in medicine, Dr. Krop continued working to help Lyme patients anyway and kept up with the ongoing research as well.
In 2014, Green Party leader Elizabeth May introduced Bill C-442 in the House of Commons, calling for proper testing and treatment of Lyme disease. It was based on her reading of Ending Denial, and meeting constituents with Chronic Lyme. The Bill was supported by the Canadian Medical Association, became national law in 2014. Yet so far no proper tests for Lyme are available in Canada and very few doctors know how to diagnose or treat it; most Canadian Lyme patients go to the U.S. Meanwhile, the CDC estimates that there are over 300,000 new Lyme infections occurring annually in North America.
Dr. Krop Today
These days, Dr. Krop is working with his old alma mater in Poland at the University of Lodz, developing training programs for environmental medicine and creating a Post-Graduate Centre for Ecological Medicine, the first of its kind. He also directs the ‘Ecohealth and Wellness’ clinic in Mississauga. Clearly, he just can’t stop himself. He keeps seeing new paths and explores them with his patients, regardless of the dangers to himself – for which we all owe him our deepest gratitude.
- A. Hoffer, Adventures in Psychiatry – The Scientific Memoirs, Kos Publishing, 2005
- The 2001 Glasnost – googled; the KPMG report – available via firstname.lastname@example.org
- J. Krop, Healing the Planet one Patient At A Time, Kos, 2002
- H. Ferrie, ed. Ending Denial – The Lyme Disease Epidemic, 2014 edition, BioMed Publishing
- Also, google CanLyme and International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society
- Dr. J. Ioannidis: The Atlantic, November 2010, D. H. Freedman, “Lies, Damned Lies and Medical Science”
- H. Ferrie, The Kafkaesque Conviction of Dr. Jozef Krop – google; check out Helke’s articles on Dr. Krop, the CPSO, and Lyme on Vitality’s website.