ON BEING GRATEFUL FOR WHAT WE’VE GOTHelke Ferrie November 13, 2013
How the De-programming of a German Citizen Made Me Realize How Lucky Canadians Are
“The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”
Attributed to Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
The annual Whole Life Expo, which has grown to become the largest showcase of natural health in Canada, takes place this year on November 22-24 at the Metro Convention Center. Not only is it an excellent place to find the latest health information, it is also a celebration of our freedom to choose whichever approach we like.
To highlight the value of our health freedom, I conducted a little case study earlier this year. The results will increase your gratitude for the tremendous variety of choices we enjoy in North America and for the right we have to challenge the medical status quo. Even more significant is the sobering realization of how precious this freedom is and how badly it needs protecting! In time-honored case study reporting, I give you here the story of my project.
Some thirty years ago, a young woman named Helga Freudenberg walked into her family doctor’s office carrying a baby and holding on to two toddlers, one of whom was an emotionally disturbed foster child. This was her first visit following the birth of her second baby by caesarian section. An elementary school teacher, she was now back to work and adjusting to the breathless lifestyle of a working mom. The doctor did a routine blood pressure check (while she was sitting), declared it high, and prescribed blood pressure medication, cholesterol-lowering drugs, and blood thinners (just to be on the safe side, he said, given that some members of her family had suffered strokes and heart attacks).
That one blood pressure reading, taken more than three decades ago from a young mom under stress, had propelled Helga unknowingly into the ranks of those millions of duped people made into permanent patients by their ignorant (or culpable) doctors who had abandoned critical scientific thinking in favour of the comfortable routine of enforcing compliance with a profitable medical status quo.
In Germany, compliance is pretty much a religion: obeying the God in White, as doctors are called, is a given; questioning expert opinion is virtually unthinkable. This mindset is powerfully supported by the national health care system which pays for all those prescription drugs on top of everything else.
Off Come the Rose Coloured Glasses
Helga and I became friends when we were both 10 years old and met in Germany after my return from India. We kept in touch after I went back to India and eventually moved to Canada. In July 2013, Helga came for her third visit to Canada. One day, in passing, she mentioned the drugs she was on: one ACE inhibitor (Rampril), one Beta blocker (Nebivolol), one calcium channel blocker (Zanidib), one blood thinner (Warfarin), and one cholesterol lowering drug (Lipitor). This is a woman who had never smoked, drinks at most one beer a day, follows a low-meat and fresh fruit-and-veggies diet, does her own whole grain baking, isn’t an ounce overweight, and for years has biked, hiked, and done yoga has on a weekly basis. Now retired from teaching, her biking and hiking take her literally throughout Europe – she is as seriously into exercise as I am into books.
Trusting that our life-long friendship would survive what I had to say, I wasted no time in informing her that all her drugs were unnecessary, even dangerous, especially when taken long-term (32 years!). I further pointed out that her doctors are evidently medically illiterate, and suggested a serious research workout, beginning by establishing her blood pressure – correctly.
And so I put Helga through a crash course in pharmaceutical toxicology and medical politics (aka the international medical mafia). With several volumes of German-English medical dictionaries at the ready and a doctor in the house (my husband) to explain crucial biochemical terms, we companionably explored the world of modern medicine. For the first time in her life, Helga read the manufacturers’ product information for the drugs she was taking. I was gratified to see that this scared the hell out of her and galvanized her into action. She learned about successful legal actions brought against the manufacturers of those drugs she was on. And she was shaken by the news of regulatory fraud in North America and Europe that supports Big Pharma and ignores patient outcome to such an extent that properly prescribed drugs have become the leading cause of death.
Once our investigation was fully underway, any attempt to take a break from our research work-out and just go for a walk and talk about something else repeatedly failed as her anger came to a boil after having been duped by such huge lies and this toxic perversion of science.
Kicking the Drug Habit – Cold Turkey
We measured her blood pressure three times daily for 7 days, always lying down on her right side (not sitting up!), and it became clear that the measured range was consistent with her athletic lifestyle: diastolic (lower) values between 65 and 80. We also took the blood pressure again, each time, but then sitting up, which of course showed the great difference in values within just a minute: lying down she was in the athletic healthy range, sitting up she had the values of a sick patient!
Helga then decided to go off all of her drugs cold turkey, a rational decision given her excellent health and lifestyle. After a wash-out period of four days, we again took her blood pressure three times daily for ten days. She remained in the healthy range, and is still in it, without the drugs. She came to understand that whatever is the lowest value frequently registered (her lowest was 70), reflects the true state of her cardiovascular health, and that the great variation observed throughout the day and weeks was a sign of robust, healthy elasticity of her arterial walls.
All those drugs can be justified as useful for genuinely sick people made so by environmental toxins and poor lifestyle choices; some drugs (like Warfarin and ACE inhibitors) are useful in serious emergencies, but only in the short term. None are necessary long-term if appropriate lifestyle changes can be made and are followed. Yet, they are marketed and prescribed as some sort of chemical health insurance that supposedly protects against suffering the same fate as family members who had heart attacks and strokes – that deceptive insinuation that cardiovascular disease is somehow potentially hereditary. This absurd notion of prophylactic health protection with drugs is the engine that drives the profits from this toxic brew of fraudulent research and marketing.
Interestingly, Helga observed that she had lost her sense of smell some years ago – a well-known side effect of long-term use of ACE inhibitors. However, her healthy eating habits must have protected her against the known nutrient depletions (ie. zinc, vitamin C, B6, calcium, magnesium, and potassium) caused by these drugs, all nutrients which are vitally necessary to the healthy functioning of the heart and brain. Importantly, research shows that extremely active lifestyles protect against the worst side effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs which are known for their risk of causing disintegration of the heart muscle (rhabdomyolysis) as well as kidney damage and failure.
So it appears that Helga’s lifestyle triumphed over Big Pharma! This ability of exercise to protect against heart disease was proven in a meta analysis published by the British Medical Journal (Oct. 1st/2013). An analysis of 305 clinical trials involving tens of thousands of patients with established heart disease, or who had suffered a stroke, showed that subsequent exercise was a more reliable prevention of another stroke or heart attack than those drugs Helga was taking. Amazingly, when this study was discussed on CBC radio, the commenting doctor stated that apparently “we might be able to reduce medication a little.” That is, however, not what the study concluded at all! It concluded that exercise was better than medication – i.e. no medication, just exercise.
Way back in 1991, the British Medical Journal (one of the Big Five journals available in various languages simultaneously) observed: “Treatment of hypertension is part of preventive medicine, and like all preventive strategies, its progress should be regularly reviewed …. Many problems could be avoided by not starting antihypertensive treatment until after prolonged observation … Patients should no longer be told that treatment is necessary for life: the possibility of reducing or stopping treatment should be mentioned at the outset.” Unfortunately, Big Pharma’s marketing roar drowned out that bit of good sense quite successfully, and evidently Helga’s doctors had not read this or the manufacturers’ information on the drugs they blithely kept prescribing.
Essential Nutrients Not Available in Europe
Naturally, our discussions included how to treat one’s cardiovascular system as nature requires, in health and disease. As a result, Helga returned to Germany with a list of those nutrients which we can readily buy in Canada to maintain our health or to treat hypertension if necessary. I made that list short, including key items which we take for granted here. Helga then made inquiries at her local German pharmacies and health food stores, with the following findings:
Germany: no natural source available. The synthetic version, often made of GMO corn which cannot be usefully absorbed, comes in 500 mg capsules: 100 cost about $35.
Canada: many choices, all natural-sources: 180 caps cost about $26
Germany: no choices available. So if you want to treat epilepsy, for example, with Magnesium gluconate instead of drugs, you can’t. 100 capsules cost about $20
Canada: offers many choices and all the different varieties. 250 capsules cost about $26.
Germany: only offers synthetic E (dl-alpha tocopherol) which is essentially useless; natural d-alpha tocopherol is unknown and unavailable. 100 capsules cost about $50
Canada: offers both synthetic (usually in pharmacies) and natural-source E (d-alpha and mixed tocopherols in health food stores); 250 capsules for about $23.
COD LIVER OIL (also source of vitamin D3)
Germany: allows it, but without a guarantee of being free from heavy metals; sold in Germany per 100 capsule at about $30.
Canada: sells many brands, some of which are guaranteed free of heavy metals; with 300 capsules costing about $24.
Germany: not available at all, except possibly by prescription. The pharmacists who Helga questioned were amazed that this was widely available in Canada.
Helga was also informed that all those supplements she had brought home from Canada are available, but only in Holland from where they can be ordered. Back in 2005, I had published the English translation of The Earth’s Gift to Medicine – Minerals in Health and Disease authored by Dr. H. G. Wenzel, a German physician who is certified in both psychiatry and neurology and also trained in orthomolecular medicine by Dr. Abram Hoffer. He told me that all his patients got their supplements from Holland and that our freedom of choice was quite unthinkable in Germany and beyond the average doctor’s training.
Germany and most of the EU member states are determined to eliminate risk at all costs, or at least their bizarre interpretation of risk. For example, the mere potential of runny stool from too much vitamin C is judged as catastrophic, whereas brain damage from psychotropics or a heart attack from statin drugs amounts to regrettable collateral damage along the way of assumed medical progress. By definition, a nutrient cannot be a medicine in Europe.
Support for the drugs-only camp also comes from China where some herbal products have been shown to be contaminated with serious toxins. In Germany, the Bundesinstitut fur Risikobewertung (BfS) (national institute for risk assessment – https://www.bfr.bund.de) ensures people are told exactly what they may or may not take, and Germans obey – virtually always. What keeps them compliant is the fact that the drug-only model is supported by the national health insurance system, while naturopaths (Naturheilpraktiker) who may treat people with nutrients, herbs, and vitamins (from Holland of course), are not covered by health insurance.
Currently the freedom we enjoy is supported by a U.S. Senate bill S1031 and its companion Bill in Congress HR 2194. These expand the term “medical care” to include dietary supplements and would allow people to get up to $1,000 annually covered for supplements without a doctor’s prescription. A 2012 study by the Rand Corporation found that families with consumer-directed health coverage spent an average of 21% less the first year after switching from traditional coverage, and if half of all insured Americans were taking charge of their own health, $57 billion would be saved annually in Medicare costs. Protecting our freedom means sorting facts from spin. This can only be successful if you don’t believe what you are told, especially not self-proclaimed medical experts and politically vulnerable institutions. Go and check it out yourself.
WARNING: Neither Helke Ferrie nor Vitality Magazine recommend that anyone go off their drugs cold turkey, without the strict supervision of a knowledgeable physician.
German prices were changed to approximate Canadian $ values. Those comparative Canadian prices are for products by Natural Factors, Inno-Vite, Now, Carlson, Sisu, Organika.
The best one-stop source for treatment of cardiovascular disease: Dr. Zoltan Rona’s article in Vitality’s September 2009 issue. (Ed note: just go to our website and type Zoltan into the search engine on our home page, to find all of his articles.)
The Big Five: JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal), Lancet, BMJ (British Medical Journal), NEJM (New England Journal of Medicine).
Naci, H., Ioannidis, J.P.A. Comparative effectiveness of exercise and drug interventions on mortality outcomes: meta-epidemiological study. BMJ, October 2, 2013, vol. 347:f5577Cite on exercise + 2 more
For information on health freedom legislation and battles go to Alliance for Natural Health UK and USA and the Vitality articles by Dr. Robert Verkerk. My new book Creative Outrage, Kos 2013, available for free on https://www.helkeferrie.com, has extensive resources and sources on the published proof of the toxicity of these commonly prescribed drugs and the fraud and regulatory complicity supporting their availability.
Worst Pills Best Pills provides correct information on pharmaceutical drugs. This Public Citizen organization has taken the FDA successfully to court many times to get Black Box Warnings or have drugs removed from the market.
The best monthly newsletter to guide self-reliant and critically thinking patients is by Dr. Sherry Rogers, Total Wellness, Prestige Publishing 1-800-846-6687
On what essential nutrients are depleted by drugs go to R. Pelton and J. LaValle (both pharmacists), The Nutritional Cost of Prescription Drugs, Morton 2004, available on amazon.com
To support the protection of our right to health care choices join the Natural Health Products Protection Association (nhppa.org). Read the articles by its director, lawyer Shawn Buckley on Vitality’s website. (Ed note: to find them, simply go to our website, and type “Buckley” into the search engine on our home page.)
Helke Ferrie is a medical science writer with a master's degree in physical anthropology. Her specialty lies in investigative research into ethical issues in medicine and the politics of health. She started her investigative journalism career in the mid-1990s, looking at issues of medicine and environment. She has been a regular contributor to Vitality Magazine ever since. Helke has also authored several books on various subjects including: "Ending Denial: The Lyme Disease Epidemic", "What Part of No! Don't They Understand: Rescuing Food and Medicine from Government Abuse", and "The Earth's Gift to Medicine". Here are links to some of her works: http://old.vitalitymagazine.com/book-reviews/review/the-earths-gift-to-medicine/ https://www.amazon.ca/Ending-Denial-Updated-2013-Epidemic/dp/0988243733 https://thebovine.wordpress.com/tag/helkie-ferrie/ https://www.riverwashbooks.com/product/17162/What-Part-of-No-Dont-They-Understand-Rescuing-Food-and-Medicine-from-Government-Abuse---a-Manifesto-Ferrie-Helkie Helke has also been a regular contributor for the Vitality Magazine. Links to few of her articles: https://vitalitymagazine.com/article/the-tyranny-of-government-protection/ https://vitalitymagazine.com/article/success-story-how-i-recovered-from-lyme-disease-and-hypothyroidism/ https://vitalitymagazine.com/article/getting-the-lead-out/ Helke Ferrie now lives a retired life and can be reached at email@example.com