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HEALTH CARE A LOOK BEYOND




The rising cost and sometimes invasive nature of medical technology, combined with an increasingly savvy public, have sparked what is being called the Health Care Revolution. Are we on the threshold of an exciting new era in medicine? When we talked with the leading pioneers in mind-body medicine who have paved the way for public awareness of a more holistic and person-centered form of medical treatment, one message became abundantly clear: This revolution is powered by the collective vision of each and every one of us. As we take responsibility for our own health care and the kind of medical treatment we want, the health care system will follow.

VISIONARIES OF THE YEAR 2000

Discontent with our present health care system is being felt not only by the individuals it serves, but also by health care professionals doing their best to work with the often unreasonable cost-cutting measures imposed by managed care. People are outraged by insurance costs that have reached unprecedented highs, forcing 42 million Americans to go without coverage, while insurance reimbursements for medical care have become so restrictive that patients, doctors, and hospitals suffer under the strain. Mistrust and suspicion abound as the public becomes better informed about the hidden agendas fueling insurance providers' policy decisions (which often ignore patient welfare) and the high profits motivating pharmaceutical companies and medical-technology industries to dominate the treatment market.

Along with feeling frustrated by the policies and politics of a health-care system gone awry, patients are frightened by the invasive medical procedures, which Dr. Deepak Chopra says are responsible for 36 percent of the deaths in this country each year. Taking charge of their health care, individuals are spending unprecedented amounts of their own money to find alternative holistic treatments that are less invasive and, in many cases, more effective. In their attempt to bring public dollars back into the system, insurance companies are mandating treatment options that often are as indiscriminately prescribed as drugs and surgery.

If revolution promises change, which direction will that change take? To find the answer, we turned to the experts in mind-body medicine, who collectively stand on the cutting edge of this medical revolution. The public has applauded the efforts of these pioneers - seen by many as the visionaries of modern medicine - to transform our health-care system into a more humanistic and spiritual practice that promotes health and personal responsibility. In recent interviews with Body Mind Spirit, best-selling authors Deepak Chopra, Larry Dossey, John Robbins, Christiane Northrup, Bernie Siegel, Dean Ornish, Herbert Benson, Joan Borysenko, Caroline Myss, Andrew Weil, Edward Taub, and Michael Samuels, shared their visions on the future of health care in this country.

"In the next five years we will have diagnostic precision through technology such as we've never known. We will be able to predict future illnesses and diagnose even the slightest chemical imbalance in its earliest stages." - Deepak Chopra, M.D.

"Courses in spirituality and healing are now in place in eleven major medical schools in this country. These are historic developments, and they will continue. The research documenting these effects is so abundant that it will not go away. We're going to have to deal with it, and it will find an honored place in medicine of the future." - Larry Dossey, M.D.

"I want to undermine people's blind faith in the medical establishment in order to restore their faith in themselves, in the remarkable healing powers they possess, and in the power of their intentions, their purpose, their choices, and their lifestyles... We often act as though health comes from the doctor or the drugstore or the hospital. We approach our physicians with a mixture of terror and worship. We view them as experts whose authority we dare barely question, rather than as collaborators, supports, and resources... M.D. does not mean 'Medical Deity'." - John Robbins.

"The ability to heal is an innate part of every human being and everything in nature. And when we align with that power, approximately 90 percent of what we currently call health care will not be necessary." - Christiane Northrup, M.D.

"If we want to see medicine change, we have to change how doctors are educated." - Bernie Siegel, M.D.

"It's so much less expensive to pay for a lifestyle-change program than it is to pay for bypass surgery, angioplasty, or a lifetime of cholesterol-lowering drugs." - Dean Ornish, M.D.

"Self-care includes alternative methods people can learn to do on their own, such as the relaxation- response, meditation, visualization, expressive art therapy, nutrition, exercise, and stress management. Right now . . . most people depend primarily on pharmaceuticals and surgical procedures. We must balance . . . by adding . . . things people can do for themselves." - Herbert Benson, M.D.

"What we really need in health care is a total paradigm shift, where energy is seen as primary and the physical body is seen as secondary . . . We're energy bodies as well as physical bodies, and the two work synergistically." - Joan Borysenko, Ph.D.

"As energy practitioners, we have to work with our colleagues. We have to work to respect each other, to evolve into a mutual future that serves us both. Because we are not suddenly going to be able to meditate our way out of viruses. And we are not suddenly going to be able to energetically set a broken bond . . . we have to look at the fact that we need that world, and find some way that these two worlds can work together." - Caroline Myss, Ph.D.

"I believe that a lot of hospitals will go bankrupt. My hope is that they will be resurrected as healing centers . . ., where people go for a week or so and learn how to eat, exercise, and use their minds to access their own healing power. This kind of treatment would be paid for by insurance. - Andrew Weil, M.D.

". . . our body and our mind are a complete and total ensemble - what affects one immediately affects the other. Our body-mind ensemble is infused with spirit - the divine essence that is the absolute and infinite source of all life. Plato, Aristotle, Lao-Tse, Buddha, Maimonides, Muhammad, and Jesus taught us that divinity is in every living thing - that wherever we look, there is the face of God . . . We have a healing force in each of our trillions of cells that is equivalent to the presence of God. This healing force is able to reverse disease, shatter addictions, cause us to lose weight, and allow us to manage stress. - Edward A. Taub, M.D.

"I believe that art and healing are one. They cannot be separated. I think that everyone is an artist and everyone is a healer. Through art, people can get to a place of luminosity, of pure spirit within themselves, where they can expand - change in time and space. This allows them to merge the two sides of their spirit. As the two sides of the spirit merge, people become open to their deepest truths; and by seeing and accepting those truths, inner healing can begin." - Michael Samuels, M.D.

(Reprint, Body Mind Spirit, Special Issue 1997) Did You Know That . . .


CONCERNING HEALTH CARE COSTS:

  • The number of fully industrialized countries other than the U.S. that do not guarantee minimum

  • health care to every single citizen - 0

  • U.S. rank among nations in per capita expenditure for medical care - 1st

  • U.S. rank among nations in medical malpractice suits - 1st

  • U.S. rank among nations in infant mortality - 25th

  • Percentage of nations in Western Europe whose infant mortality rates are lower than in the U.S. -

  • 100%

  • Percentage of birth attended by midwives in Western Europe - 75%

  • Percentage of births attended by midwives in the U.S. - 4%

  • Average cost of a midwife-attended birth in the U.S. - $1,200

  • Average cost of physician-attended birth in the U.S. - $4,200

  • Health care savings obtainable annually by using midwifery care for 75% of pregnancies in the U.S.

  • - $8.5 billion

  • Average cost of a cesarean birth in a U.S. hospital - $8,000

  • U.S. cesarean rate in for-profit hospitals compared with nonprofit hospitals - nearly double





CONCERNING THE CANCER INDUSTRY:

  • Percentage of cancer patients whose lives are predictably saved by chemotherapy - 3%
  • Conclusive evidence for the vast majority of cancers that chemotherapy exerts any positive influence on survival or quality of life - none

  • Percentage of oncologists who said if they developed cancer they would not participate in chemotherapy trials because of the "ineffectiveness of it and its unacceptable toxicity" - 75%

  • Percentage of people with cancer in the U.S. who receive chemotherapy - 75%

  • Company that accounts for nearly half of the chemotherapy sales in the world - Bristol-Meyers Squibb

  • Chairman of the board, Bristol-Meyers Squibb - Richard L. Gelb

  • Richard L. Gelb's other job - vice chairman, board of overseers, board of managers, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

  • Director, Ivax, Inc. (a prominent chemotherapy company) - Samuel Broder

  • Samuel Broder's other job (until 1995) - executive director, National Cancer Institute.




CONCERNING TOBACCO AND THE AMA:

  • Year it was learned that 96.5% of patients with lung cancer had been smokers - 1950

  • Year the U.S. surgeon general announced that smoking caused not only lung cancer but also heart disease and emphysema and was costing the country tens of billions of dollars a year in health care costs - 1964

  • Public statement by AMA president Edward R. Annis in 1964 regarding surgeon general's report - "The AMA is not opposed to smoking and tobacco"

  • Position of the AMA when the American Cancer Society, Public Health Service, and Federal Trade Commission supported health warnings on cigarette packages - opposition

  • Year the AMA Member Retirement Fund was discovered to have millions of dollars invested in tobacco securities - 1981

  • Year the New England Journal of Medicine published a special article analyzing the campaign contributions made by the AMA to congressional candidates - 1994

  • Conclusion of the New England Journal of Medicine report - the AMA gave significantly more money to legislators supporting tobacco-export promotion than those who opposed it




CONCERNING PEOPLE MAKING HEALTH CARE DECISIONS FOR YOU:

  • World's largest private cancer treatment and research center - Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

  • Chairman, Memorial Sloan-Kettering's board of overseers, board of managers - John S. Reed

  • John S. Reed's other job - director, Philip Morris

  • Health insurance companies heavily invested in tobacco stocks - Travelers, Prudential, Cigna, MetLife, Aetna

  • How much health insurance companies typically pay for a heart patient's bypass surgery - $30,000

  • How much health insurance companies typically pay for a patient's balloon angioplasty - $7,500

  • How much health insurance companies typically pay for a heart patient's nutrition and stress- management education - $150

  • How much health insurance companies pay for teaching a well person how to eat well, stay healthy, and prevent heart disease - $0




CONCERNING KIDS AND ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER:

  • Primary treatment for U.S. schoolchildren diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) - Ritalin

  • Potential side effects from Ritalin - anxiety, hair loss, convulsions, nausea, insomnia, headaches, weight loss, slowed growth, compulsive nervous behavior

  • Number of well-designed studies in which Ritalin has been shown to enhance long-term learning - 0

  • Percentage of hyperactive children who improved when artificial colorings. flavorings, and sugar were eliminated from their diet - 79%

  • American Academy of Pediatrics position on medication and drug treatment of children with ADHD - endorsement

  • Number of words about nutrition in American Academy of Pediatrics position paper on ADHD - 0

  • Sponsors of American Academy of Pediatrics nutrition video for children - the Sugar Association, Inc. and the National Live Stock and Meat Board

  • In a fact sheet promoted by the American Dietetic Association that focuses on ADHD, "Questions Most Frequently Asked about Hyperactivity," answer given to the question "Is there a dietary relationship to hyperactivity? Should I restrict certain foods from my child's diet? - No

  • Source of fact sheet promoted by American Dietetic Association - the Sugar Association, Inc.




From the book Reclaiming Our Health: Exploding the Medical Myth and Embracing the Source of True Health, copyright 1996 by John Robbins.

Reprinted by permission of H.J. Kramer, P.O. Box 1082, Tiburon, California, 94920.

Reclaiming Our Health is available through your local bookstore or by calling (800) 833-9327

(Reprint, Body Mind Spirit Magazine, Special Issue 1997)

Copyright © 1996. The Light Party.

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