Not the Ducks! – Drug Layering

The dialogue of the quack brigade is filled with the notion that there is a vast conspiracy to get you to spend enormous amounts of money on medication and that instead you should be spending it on whatever specific pseudo-science the quack wishes to flog.

And while they may all compete, they tend to unite specifically to bash medicine and universally their claims are couched in pseudo-science and conspiracy.

My friend Ben sent me this t-shirt photo.

“I take Metformin for diabetes, caused by the hydrochlorothiazide I take for high blood pressure, which I got from the Ambien I take for insomnia, caused by the Xanax I take for the anxiety, that I got from the Wellbutrin I take for chronic fatigue, which I got because I have high cholesterol…..”

Sounds terrifying! It’s a pithy little thing to guffaw at but are you seriously taking a T-shirt slogan as the banner under which you wish to march?

This sounds like the Old Lady who is swallowing dogs to catch a spider…

Okay… Shall we wield the hammer?

If this t-shirt ended at “exercise” I would have claimed it was one of those things that simply ignores facts of life and shames fat people. It’s one of those things thin people wear to justify being thin as some sort of morally superior creature.

But it claims Chiropractic Care reduces cholesterol. Which is moronic. And the nutritional supplement industry is so ridiculous that it is an entirely unregulated industry designed to make you eat things you probably don’t need to if you simply eat a sensible and balanced diet.

See the thing is? This is a strawman. You wouldn’t be given any drugs after the first. Your side effects would be regarded as such and your drug may be tailed off. Or an alternative. You wouldn’t mix drugs like this unless you needed the drugs to survive.

I talk in this year’s lecture about the insanity of our health care system. Where it went wrong. It’s been co-opted not by the pharmaceutical industry, as you may think, but something worse than that. Your health care system has been co-opted by something far more insidious, and far less related to your health interests:

It’s the CHEMICAL industry. That’s who is behind the pharmaceutical industry. Its entire premise is this:

“If something is wrong with you, eat some chemicals.” (In the 1950’s, openly, Dow Chemical’s public marketing slogan was, “A better life through chemistry.”)

These are the same people who classify atropine and penicillin as chemicals despite them being from a source that was “natural”. This is the same sort of people who assume that crushing an atropine containing berry from the belladonna plant is superior to my measured IV line.

Are you tired? Maybe you need some (2R,3S,4R,5R)-2,3,4,5,6-Pentahydroxyhexanal. Fear not? That’s the “chemical name” of something we need to survive.

Glucose. These are a group of people who would fear Adenosine-Tri-Phosphate.

You can call me “anti-doctor” if you want. I love doctors, individually, though, so it’s not true. Several are my good friends. They had great intentions to be healers when they went to school. One saved my life when I had internal bleeding due to a ectopic pregnancy and I nearly bled out during the night before the rupture was discovered and surgically repaired. One set my daughter’s broken arm. I’d want them, not an herbologist or naturopath, if I got in a car wreck.

Medicine does some amazing things very well and saves lives. I know lots of docs who are great at what they do. And they go home and pore over their books and through PubMed to help their patients, after hours.

But 85 percent of what they do, what is billable to insurance? It’s drugs. (Medicine used to be art and science, but it is far more codified than you may think–docs can do only what is in their book of billable insurance codes.)

One of the most potent poisons on the planet is very useful in fixing broken bones. Curare.

And part of the magic is drugs.

Just one simple drug? Dapsone. What it has done? Is eliminate leprosy as an entity. It is slowly stomping it out. And this entire dialogue is “America Centric”. The joke is they assume we in the UK bill this to insurance.

And they live in a strange world where they don’t think the drugs are that important. And that’s the dialogue they wish to push.

And the premise is undeniable. I’ve made my bold statement in 28 cities so far this year on my lecture tour, that the agenda of our health care system, the vast majority of it, is now to feed people chemicals to make them whole. (Which makes no sense, and will never work.) Chemicals that the human body cannot metabolize, assimilate, or eliminate.

I usually have M.D.’s in my audience. No one yet has disputed my bold statement. Sometimes they talk to me afterwards. In my next blog,  I’ll share what an M.D. said to me after my Boise class.

After my Boise class, an M.D. anesthesiologist patiently waited in line to talk to me. I’ll call him Dr. R.

But he was kind, humble, and clearly unimpressed by the “Doctor as God” philosophy of some M.D.’s. He didn’t want me to call him by his doctor title; he insisted I call him by his first name, Curtis. He wanted me to know, “Our profession is changing, a bit.”

He said his wife, who won a big prize at my lecture, had doTERRA essential oils all over their house. He said, “We use ginger on the bottom of patients’ feet, and peppermint, against nausea after anesthesia and surgery, because it works.” Then he qualified, “Well, we do it a little.” I was very excited about this, and surprised. “You do? I’m so impressed!” I wondered if he had to do it when his colleagues aren’t looking. Or just look the other way as nurses do it?

Yes but they aren’t stopping the usage of anaesthetic. Also? I must point out that ginger on your feet is just a gigantic waste of ginger. A shocking waste considering ginger’s use in my culture. Ingi is it’s name in tamil. Ginger is the name derived from it. And this is the first time I have heard of ginger being used on feet.

And again, key to this dialogue is the portrayal of doctors as unapproachable jerks. You know what? We are human too. Even the poshest of us has to deal with patients. The Doctor title is a professional title, we use it because in cases of emergencies people can call us. As in “Is there a doctor, we need help”. Not a doctor of Chemistry.

But people we meet call us by our names. I don’t refer to Hera as Dr. Hera. She doesn’t call me Dr. Avi. Neither do my friends. The only time I will insist is when I am celebrating my degree. Because it needs to be done. But that’s for fun.

But just as the description of medics is arrogance and “know it all” while the quack is humble and worldly? There is one trope we notice here. Quacks generally name drop their product.

Since I know a fair amount about the medical profession, I know that M.D.’s who use natural substances cannot offer or sell them to their patients. Not without being under scrutiny and even condemnation for being outside their scope and way outside billable codes. The managed care systems they work in generally will not tolerate docs offering natural, non-toxic, gentle alternatives that people have been using effectively for thousands of years. They truly HAVE to treat all problems with chemical solutions, to stay viable in their profession and make a living.

If you did? You wouldn’t have quoted that T-Shirt.

No drug elicits as much fear in a patient as the most natural drug of them all. In India the appearance of this is fear incarnate.

The humble IV line. Water and Dextrose or Ringer’s Lactate or Saline.

Even worse might be the fact that their peers scorn them if they operate in things outside the drug world. I have seen many holistic-oriented docs become more and more bitter, as they become pariahs in their profession, seeking truth outside mainstream drug-obsessed medical school and wanting to share it with others. They are under scrutiny by their licensing organization, often sanctioned.

This is because drug companies heavily influence med school curriculum, drug companies underpin research hospitals and residencies, drug companies control the peer-reviewed journals, drug companies heavily influence the FDA, and drug companies provide the continuing ed doctors receive.

Doctors are literally immersed in drug-company propaganda, and no other competing information is given any attention in their practitioner education nor their delivery systems. Their peers will scorn THEM for offering you anything but a cocktail of drugs, and they in turn will scorn YOU in many cases if you try anything outside their scope. Less so than 10 years ago, luckily! The world is getting friendlier and friendlier to alternatives. The vast majority of Americans seek and use alternatives to “Standard of Care” every year.

Because none of your bullshit works? Because naturopathy is so unregulated that people have been poisoned? That anti-Medical stances kill? But the quack has to portray his stuff as working and promote it.

And they do so by ignoring the fatalities.

Because people do not die in Naturopath Clinics. They die in hospitals. They die after medicine tries to save them. The world is getting friendlier with alt-medicine because it is easy to dress like a doctor now that we don’t.

For instance? I wear a white coat here, in the UK? I would not wear it. Because the cleanliness guidelines require a bare below elbow policy. I am looking less like a doctor day by day while they look more like the traditional image.

She’s had to roll with it, for 14 years since she became our doc. Ever since my now 16-yo daughter Libby was kicked out of Dr. David Johnson’s pediatrics practice in American Fork because children were not welcome there who do not follow their immunization schedule, which I refused. I wrote his office a four-page letter on my way out, and I went to Dr. Kendall and asked if she would admit us for our occasional visit. Even though I won’t use AB’s unless it’s life threatening, and I won’t shoot my kids up with dead bacteria and mercury. She said sure, no problem, and stated, “Vaccines are controversial to be sure.” She supports them and delivers Standard of Care treatments. But I appreciate her open-mindedness and her respect for my brand of mothering.

Anti-Vax to boot!

Vaccines are not controversial, they are over 3000 years of use in the form of variolation and over 120 as vaccines. They have eliminated Smallpox and would eliminate Polio if not for people such as these quacks. These quacks are the western voice of people like the Boko Haram and the Taliban. I learnt of Mike Adams not from the Internet.

But from friends returning from Pakistan with his leaflets being translated.

To point out how bad this is? Aid workers in Pakistan and Afghanistan and Nigeria were killed for distributing the polio vaccine. Polio is undergoing a resurgence thanks to them and indeed the anti-vax lobby is the western voice of support for the Taliban and Boko Haram’s policies.

Once I told her for Libby’s ear infection I was going to use ear candles, and she said, totally nonplussed, “Yes, I know what they are, and they work, and here’s why….” Love her. Highly recommend her (a mother of 6 herself) to anyone in Utah County who wants a classically trained M.D. for your back pocket, who isn’t threatened by, and is even somewhat educated in, alternatives to the care her office provides.

They do not work. In fact? I know ear infections especially should be treated with antibiotics because.

1. Ear Candles can burn a hole through your ear drum

2. Ear infections if untreated can cause Chronic Otitis Media, hearing loss and untreated will cause bone remodelling resulting in deafness.

I know this because my ENT Exam case was a case of Chronic Otitis Media.

So back to Dr. R in Boise. He said, “We’re changing, slowly. I even have an orthopedic surgeon in my hospital who brings his quart of green smoothie to work!” (Thing is, my problem with docs isn’t that they don’t eat healthy. My problem with them is that they don’t help their patients do so, and instead they just drug every problem. A nurse who talked to me after my Portland lecture last month said she confronted a doc she worked with about why he doesn’t counsel his obese patients to lose weight, and how to do it responsibly, instead of just handing out statin drugs. He told her, “Because it’s awkward to talk about.” The nurse was appalled.)

We don’t eat healthy because we work crazy hours and the only thing open at midnight is the kebab place.

And this is bollocks. I tell patients to lose weight. I actually show them my own exercise routines and encourage them. I take nutrition charts for children. I actually do BMI calculations for adults, pregnant women and regularly monitor weight and height in children.

Nutrition is my bread and butter. What the quack means is their “nutritions”. Things like you must drink water slowly so it is absorbed.

I quote from Ben Acre’s Bad Science. When a kid was told this he asked that if he drank too fast would water fall out of his arse? Cheeky sod, clever bugger though.

And statins?

Save lives.

And about Dr. R’s essential oil usage? As impressed as I was that he did it, at all, he said, “We can get away with it because we’re such a small hospital.”

Wait what the what? Dr. R here is giving out untried and untested medication at profit in conjunction with other medicines in untried combinations?

And they get away with it because there are no inspectors.

Here’s what I mulled over, later. Why is using natural, non-toxic, efficacious substances like lavender, ginger, or peppermint, that science has proven are calming, warming, and stimulating, “getting away with” something?

Lavender you say? HAHAHAHA! Oh this is rich. Lavender is Natural. However…

NIH does not recommend the use of lavender while pregnant or breast-feeding because of lack of knowledge of its effects. It recommends caution if young boys use lavender oil because of possible hormonal effects leading to gynecomastia, and states that lavender can cause skin irritation.

Yeah, Lavender can give you breasts. As a man. By the way? Gynaecomastia can increase your chance of male breast cancer. And that is more dangerous to men than women because

1. We don’t self check as much

2. Since our breasts are smaller? We get spread and higher grades of cancer faster.

All the rebuttals to these boiled down to “nuh huh” and were made by aromatherapists who smell small quantities of things rather than apply it to the skin.

I think what Medicine is “getting away with” is wanton use of destructive chemicals that harm people. I wish they would START with the gentle, time-tested, inexpensive options.

And chances are we would simply have to use more “destructive chemicals down the line”.

Anything can happen. We can always hope, and keep advocating for these principles. Speak up. Even to your doctor.

And I shall speak up in a very very simple way.

Ever had a sore throat? Impetigo? See both are caused by Streptococcus. Harmless right?

Not really. Do you  ever wonder why doctors give out anti-biotics for just a sore throat?

There are two diseases you can get. One is nephritic syndrome. The inflammation of the body causes protein and blood leakage via the kidneys. While “alarming” it is more treatable.

The other? Is a thief of childhood. I had a case on friday. A 10 year old child who was 3 inches and 10 Kg lower than what his height and weight should be. And we cannot calculate the loss of development this disease has caused to his intellect. The child is tired. When he takes his shirt off all you can see is skin and bones.

What caused him to be there? Was a naturopath. Chronic Cough? Take some ginger and turmeric. So his mother lovingly made him ginger turmeric milk every day and rubbed preparations on his chest. And all that happened was he got worse till he could no longer play with the other kids any more. His knees and elbows hurt. And finally she brought him in to a “big” doctor. Because our clinic has more equipment than the quack she went to. She is not to blame. She doesn’t know the difference.

A simple sore throat lead to this. This is called Rheumatic Heart Disease. On examination? The child’s joints are hot and swollen. Aspirin does not reduce the pain, aspiration of the fluid does. But that is distressing to any 10 year old boy. But that is the least of his worries.

His heart is failing. The edges of the heart valves are ragged so they don’t pump blood properly. In exchange his heart gets more and more muscular which shoots up pressure in his lungs. He will need insanely expensive surgery to repair the valves. We could help hundreds of people for this cost. We have raised the cash for him, but it is such a frightful waste.

Untreated? The median survival is 2 to 3 years before death by cor pulmonale.

Treated? He will live a long and happy life.

We wasted resources to correct the folly of quacks. Because “natural” options. Do you want to know the joke?

2 weeks of amoxycillin would have prevented all of this.

To understand the damage realise that this child has lost 30% of his expected body weight. Imagine all that lack of growth his developing brain has endured. Now imagine all those lost school days and lost childhood. And now imagine what this child would endure without people who looked out for him.  If he was born in the North in places like Uttar Pradesh or the Tribal Lands?

He may not have gotten this help. He would be one more statistic.

The quack who treated him will continue to ply his trade.

And will continue to be supported by people like this.


  1. smrnda says

    “I think what Medicine is “getting away with” is wanton use of destructive chemicals that harm people. I wish they would START with the gentle, time-tested, inexpensive options”

    Being in the US, I HATE this line of reasoning. The idea that you can treat yourself using some herbs you buy at the grocery store and that this is more effective than real medicine just gives ammunition to people who want to argue that it’s no big deal if a person has no access to real health care.

    Additionally, as you said, many of these options don’t work, or else they’re only treating rather minor conditions. Maybe some lavender incense will help someone sleep. However, I have schzo-affective disorder, epilepsy and macular degeneration. I need real drugs, and so do many people.

    On the diet/exercise lifestyle – these are actually harder for many people than anyone wants to admit. Plenty of low wage workers don’t have time to go to the gym, and the millions of fast food workers usually get a fast food meal during their shift as compensation.

  2. Al Dente says

    World War I was unusual compared to previous major wars. It was the first big war where more soldiers died of enemy action than died of disease. During the American Civil War (8161-1865) 140,000 Union soldiers were killed in combat or died of wounds compared to 224,000 who died of disease. The difference in deaths between the Civil War and World War I was primarily due to vaccinations and other improvements in medicine. When I was in the U.S. military I was vaccinated against diseases I’d never heard of (for instance: paratyphoid and Japanese encephalitis) because militaries are great believers in vaccinations. They would rather have people get shot than get diseased.

  3. smrnda says

    @al dente

    During the Russo Japanese war, more personnel diet of beri-beri than in combat among the Japanese as well.

  4. says

    Today, I went to the beachfront with my children. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter
    and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed
    the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab
    inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back!
    LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to
    tell someone!

    [Leaving this up… Because it is a Cool Story – Avi]

  5. stever says

    I don’t blame Big Pharma. I blame the insurance racket. By pumping money into the healthcare marketplace, it drove prices up to the point where a broken arm can leave you bankrupt if you don’t have insurance. At the same time, malpractice insurance made malpractice suits easier to win, since juries know that it’s an insurance company that will be be writing the big check. That’s if the case ever gets to trial. Insurance companies don’t like trials. They tend to settle, after calculating how much they need to raise premiums to get their money back. The doctors then have to jack up their fees to cover the ever-rising premiums. The money goes ’round and ’round, with the insurance cartel taking its cut with each iteration. The 1955 (!) novel “Preferred Risk”, by Frederik Pohl and Lester del Rey, describes a dystopian future where the Insruance Company (they have all merged) is the Government and also the Bank, Company credit accounts having replaced all other currencies. At the time, it was satire, a classic extensio ad absurdum. It’s not so funny now.

  6. Rich Woods says

    I wish they would START with the gentle, time-tested, inexpensive options

    Whenever I hear any alt medicine described as “gentle”, I think “so it’s weak, slow to act and almost certainly ineffective”. And that’s being generous.

    One of my mates was unlucky enough to pick up a case of C. difficile during a hospital stay. He was isolated and ended up having to resort to last-line antibiotics. He was 12 hours away from a perforated colon. If anyone had suggested two days earlier that he rub ginger on his feet before trying anything else, he would have thrown them out of that 3rd-floor window.


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