The Perils of Being a Patient

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How to Survive Conventional Medicine with Your Health Intact (Opinion Piece)

“Great is the power of steady misrepresentation.”  Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882)

Everyone will sooner or later consult a doctor. That encounter may save your life dramatically in emergency medicine, or lead you into a living hell if chronic disease and cancer are involved. For chronic disease, modern medicine offers drugs derived from complex synthetic chemistry, drugs which are purposely designed to control symptoms and ensure loyal “consumers” until death – usually from the side effects (one of which is chemically induced nutritional deficiency). Indeed, package inserts clearly state “this drug does not cure”. The word cure has become a four-letter word in modern medicine. This symptom-control approach to medicine is provided by well-trained, well-intentioned licensed practitioners.

Having personally experienced medicine at its best and at its worst, these are no hyperboles. Human systems are essentially labyrinths; medicine is no exception. As in the Greek myth, when entering such a system one better have Ariadne’s thread, as the hero Theseus did when seeking out the subterranean monster, the Minotaur, to find the way back out. The Minotaur in our lives is illness, a monster that paralyzes through fear, and heroes are heroes because they conquer their fear – after that, slaying the monster is not necessarily a big deal. Being a hero isn’t all that difficult. Anyone who employs critical thought in the face of authority already is a hero.


Doctors who practice “conventional” medicine are fundamentally handicapped by a medical paradigm that accepts most diseases as idiopathic (of unknown cause). In truth, there is no such thing. If doctors tell you that you have an incurable disease they cease to be scientists, whether they know it or not. Don’t believe them. Educate them. And if they won’t listen, fire them.

Conventional thinking equates labels with reality. For example, the labels “cancer”, “multiple sclerosis”, or “diabetes” are descriptive terms that identify the differences between them as seen by the doctor and experienced by the patient. Description is of little help when you want a cure. All of these diseases are ultimately caused by the same thing – heavy metals, nano-bacteria (mercury amalgam fillings and root canals), common pesticides, chronic vitamin D deficiency, or long-term nutritional deficiencies from a diet of processed and nutrient-devoid foods loaded with antibiotics, synthetic flavouring and preservatives. While it is true that cancer is defined by abnormal cell growth, multiple sclerosis is characterized by the disintegration of the nerves’ myelin sheaths, and diabetics are deficient in insulin, the patient needs to understand what caused their disease in order to regain health: no cause, no cure.

Science has proven exhaustively that every disease is caused by some kind of identifiable challenge to the body’s defences, primarily the liver and the immune system (e.g. bacteria, viruses, parasites, radiation, systemic electro-magnetic interference, stress-induced hormonal imbalances with toxic consequences, environmental or pharmaceutical toxins causing organ damage or genetic interference which result in the malfunctioning of vital enzymes, and more). Every disease state is in theory (and also in practice) curable by making the immune system and liver into the patient’s allies through removing that harmful cause and fueling the body with those nutrients that have become deficient.

Synthetic drugs are never nutrients and always increase toxicity. A disease is never a drug deficiency, but always accompanied by serious nutrient deficiencies. The fact that a toxic trigger can cause cancer in one person and diabetes in another is certainly of “academic” interest, and some day we may know why  – but who cares?

This confusion between a useful cause-based diagnosis and a descriptive label leads often to lethal “cognitive traps”, as Dr. Groopman explains in his fascinating book How Doctors Think. At autopsy, he reports, at least 15% of diagnoses are proven to have been wrong, which is why the patient is dead. He cites research showing that 80% of serious doctor-caused harm to patients can be explained by a “cascade of cognitive errors”, all stemming from not having listened carefully to the patient and hastily plugging the patient into diagnoses.

When showing my physician husband this book, he snorted, “Most don’t think.” His respect for conventional medical practice got its first shock when, a few weeks after completing his specialization exams, he ran into one of his most intelligent colleagues. When he asked his friend about his current reading, expecting to discuss new research, his friend answered: “Now I am studying the fee schedule.”


Since the 1970’s, money interests have steadily taken control over how governments run health care systems, how doctors practice, and how medical research is conducted. Last November, I attended an event at the University of Toronto; the guest speaker was Dr. Richard Smith, who until recently was editor of the British Medical Journal (for 25 years), one of the “Big Five”. His brilliant discussion of the phantom world that medical journals have become was as disturbing as his admission that he was unable to stop this corrupting process. He confirmed what editors of the New England Journal of Medicine, Marcia Angell and Jerome Kassierer, had reported in their own recent books about their failed battles against the dominance of financial interests and the fraudulent research these interests require to profit from sick people.

When asked if one could trust any leading medical journals, Dr. Smith laughed out loud and exclaimed: “No!” And how should patients protect themselves from doctors acting in good faith on this mostly fraudulent research? Dr. Smith replied, “Patients have to understand that they are actually in a bogus contract with the doctor. The patient thinks the doctor can fix my problem. That is a very powerful fantasy! Patients need to invest time and energy in researching [their problem] and be smarter than the doctor. Nowadays that is possible!” And he recommended the internet-based open-access medical journals which are free of advertising and Big Pharma interference.

Because of a relentless push to produce patentable, lucrative symptom-control drugs, researchers around the world have concluded, after combing through 9.4 million research papers at the US National Library of Medicine in 4,000 journals, that “the vast majority of published research… is false.” (Wall Street Journal, Sept. 17, 2007). As for mandatory continuing medical education, Nature reported on September 22 last year that these conferences are basically “re-allocated marketing events” controlled by the funding pharmaceutical and medical devices industries. On January 7 and 8, CBC reported that the Health Canada warnings about adverse events associated with prescription drugs are generally ignored by doctors: “We cannot open the letter for them. We cannot make them read them,” the HC spokesperson said.


It is charitable and proper to forgive those who sacrifice their profession and their patients by functioning as drug-pushers, for they know not what they do. But it is vital that patients know that only those doctors who determinedly think outside the box will listen carefully and dare to go for a genuine “cure”.

Patients can’t wait until medical schools and journals are reformed and profit ceases to dominate medicine. You need to take charge. Ask your doctor if he or she sees drug reps and point out that they are neither patients nor medically trained, so you – the patient – expect equal time. Always hold your doctor to the current standard of practice as published on the websites of the licensing colleges:

Never accept an antibiotic unless the target bacteria has been identified through appropriate lab tests and it is certain your infection is not caused by a virus, which antibiotics can’t kill. Antibiotic resistance is possibly the greatest health threat in the world today – caused mostly by careless prescribing and their prophylactic use in food-producing animals.

Always treat pain, chronic or acute, to the fullest extent as it is now internationally recognized as the 5th vital sign and must be treated with the drugs that work best for you and in the individually necessary dosage.

Always demand a full explanation (diagnosis, treatment, drugs prescribed, dangers of that drug etc.) because informed consent is the law governing medical practice, and if necessary point that out.

Always ask if the drug prescribed is still under patent protection. If it is, ask to see the current CPS (Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties) to check for Health Canada warnings (the older the drug, the safer it generally is). Insist on a generic equivalent or substitute if available, as the Canadian Medical Association guidelines expects of doctors. This applies even to drugs handed out in a hospital: you are entitled to this information.


While discussing this article with my husband, he suggested that it is vital, when consulting a doctor, “never to use a conventional diagnostic term”. If you say “I am so depressed”, sixty seconds later you will have a prescription and be headed for Antidepressant Hell, because you have just pushed a well-worn button. To find out what awaits you on those drugs, spend a couple of hours surfing the net by typing in search words such as “SSRIs + adverse events” or “+ legal actions”.

Should you ever be tempted to take a drug you see advertised on American television (unavoidable since Direct to Consumer Advertising (DTCA) of drugs is permitted in the US), clear your brains as fast as possible by surfing the net for information on DTCA. Those are probably the deadliest drugs on the market and most were created to target diseases invented by the pharmaceutical industry to create a new market niche.

Should your doctor offer you enrollment in a drug trial, remember that doctors get paid big bucks for such recruitments. Guy Faguet, author of The War On Cancer, spent his life as a leading researcher with the US National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society. He describes drug trials as nothing less than human toxicity tests. (As an aside, note that he disapproves of mammography, and PSA tests for prostate check-ups, because of their unacceptably high false positives!) On September 27 last year, the New York Times published salient details of the US Department of Health report on drug trials. The Inspector General concluded that “in many ways, rats and mice get better protection as research subjects than do humans.”

If you are taking a synthetic drug, consult the nutrient depletion handbook by the American Association of Pharmacists, and Dr. Cass’ excellent book. They spell out which essential nutrients are depleted by every prescription drug. Supplementing those nutrients is the logical thing to do and is guaranteed to reduce side effects and may even get you off the drug altogether.

How do you know what is a bad drug? Google the World Health Organization’s Essential Drugs List; not a single patented drug is on it. It does not include cholesterol-lowering drugs, antidepressants and the like. Then there is the excellent newsletter Best Pills Worst Pills published monthly by Ralph Nader’s organization, Public Citizen, which has successfully challenged the FDA on many dangerous drugs and got them off the market. A quick internet survey on the number of law suits filed against a drug provides the most informative warning.

To me, any drug that carries a Health Canada advisory or an FDA black box warning is unacceptable, no matter the disease, because they have been found to interfere with cell repair, damage the immune system and the liver, and decrease vitally important hormone activity. I prefer to be my body’s friend instead. For every conventional and usually toxic treatment, there exists a non-toxic alternative – every one of which was developed by mainstream medical research. Your doctor is not trained to look for alternatives and drug reps don’t discuss them. Doctors are always astonished to learn that they exist and are science-based. In fact, never before in the history of medicine have we had this much choice.

Descartes (1590-1650) started us on the path of scientific thinking, which is both a habit and a method of antiauthoritarianism. Descartes taught that “systematic doubt” should be “the guiding principle for action”  – a matter of life and death for patients. Uncritically accepting external authority of any kind is always the beginning of suffering because then you have “squandered [your] resistance for a pocket-full of mumbles”, as Simon and Garfunkel famously put it. If anybody wonders if this article comes close to practising medicine without a license, I better make it clear that my aim was to suggest everybody should treat, with determined and polite doubt, all those who practice medicine with a licence.


H. Cass, MD, Supplement Your Prescription: The Essential Guide to Making Prescription Drugs Work Better for You, Basic Health, 2007
G.B. Faguet, The War on Cancer: An Anatomy of Failure, Springer, 2005
R. Fitzgerald, The Hundred Year Lie: How Food and Medicine Are Destroying Your Health, Dutton, 2006
J. Groopman, MD, How Doctors Think, Houghton Mifflin, 2007
J. Kassirer, MD, On The Take, Oxford University, 2005
R. Pelton & J. LaValle, The Nutritional Cost of Prescription Drugs, 2nd ed., Morton, 2004
Richard Smith, The Trouble With Medical Journals, Royal Society of Medicine, 2007
H.G. Welch, MD, Should I be Tested for Cancer? Maybe Not, University of California, 2006
Thermography call 1-866-242-5554

Truthful publications:
Worst Pills Best Pills News, Public Citizen: $ 12 per year
Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, 416-733-2117; $68.90 per year
Townsend Letter for Doctors And Patients, $51 per year
Total Wellness Newsletter by Dr. Sherry Rogers, $40 per year
Medical Veritas, accessed via
Alternative Therapies, $80 per year
*Public Library of Science/Medicine (PloS Medicine)
*Open Medicine
Integrative Medicine: A Clinical Journal,, $64 per year
open-access, internet based

Find a doctor (Google):
American Academy for Environmental Medicine (Canada and US)
Canadian College for Naturopathy
Ontario College of Family Physicians (request nutritional/environmental practitioners)
OMA Section for Complimentary Medicine
Gerson Institute
International Academy for Oral and Medical Toxicology
International Society for Orthomolecular Medicine

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