Read an Excerpt

From the Introduction

The healthcare landscape has changed. Breakthrough solutions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries controlled the spread of acute and infectious diseases and provided people with greater life spans. But today, technologically advanced countries face different challenges to health, one of which is an enormous increase in chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and Type 2 diabetes. What worked so well in the treatment of acute and infectious disease simply doesn’t work for chronic disease. And unfortunately, what most people—doctors and patients—have not yet recognized is that we are treating individuals for their symptoms without addressing the source of the ill health. Truly, much of chronic disease is self-inflicted—a result of how you and I live and how we look at health and disease. Your Inner Pharmacy looks at this problem and shows you how you can avoid or minimize the effects of chronic illness by improving your health.

The trend toward more and earlier occurrences of chronic disease means lost years and a declining quality of life that compromises many of us from middle age into our final decades. The core of the problem truly is how we look at health and disease. The good news is that this core contains the seeds for new solutions. The solution lies in our deeply ingrained attitudes. When we change the way we look at health and disease, our priorities change. The action steps that we can take to improve our health and decrease the deterioration of our bodies happen naturally when we hold a deep-seated understanding of what is at stake and what can be gained through a proactive approach. Unfortunately, the sea of information and misinformation about health and disease has led most of us to not know where to begin to sort it out, to not know what questions to ask or even who to ask them to.

Here it is in a nutshell. In a typical lifespan, you rapidly move from the “invincibility of youth” to the onset of chronic disease. Health is taken for granted until it is lost. And our automatic response is to turn first to medications to control symptoms. We have come to expect that it is normal to take one or more lifelong medications beginning at an early age. The focus on disease and on controlling symptoms has clearly become “Plan A.” Within this scenario, degenerative disease is increasing and healthcare costs are spiraling out of control. Baby boomers as well as their children and grandchildren are missing out on opportunities for vitality in their lives and quality time together.

Great technological and pharmacological advances over the past century have provided us with more years to live. Yet when combined with stressful lifestyles and deteriorating diets, these extra years also provide more opportunity for the advancement of chronic disease, which all too often removes the quality of life from those years so nicely added on at the end.

The great progress made in the treatment of acute and infectious diseases is being overshadowed by the enormous increase in chronic diseases such as osteoarthritis, GERD, asthma, heart disease, elevated blood pressure, diabetes, and anxiety/depression or mood disorders. Standard first line of treatment is to use medications to control them. However, unlike infectious diseases, where the right medication solved the problem by killing off the invading agent, chronic diseases are rarely caused by outside invaders. Rather, they are caused by malfunctions within the body itself and are not eliminated by a “one size fits all” approach.

Chronic diseases do, fortunately, often respond to treatments that normalize and improve the function of the body. The fact is that you have a pharmacy within your body—your Inner Pharmacy—that creates many good and bad chemicals. Moreover, you were born with a body that has a phenomenal ability to regulate and heal itself. Restoring and promoting its normal function should be the first line of treatment for most ongoing, low-grade, non-life-threatening problems, otherwise known as chronic disease.

Given the opportunity, your Inner Pharmacy can keep you healthy and ward off chronic disease for a lifetime. A properly functioning body and a healthy lifestyle combine to maintain and sustain the normal function of your body so that it requires less outside intervention throughout life.

From Part TWO
Chapter 4: The Missing Piece in Your Healthcare

…To summarize, all of us are at risk for aerobic deficiency from an imbalance in the raw materials and/or not having the right kind of exercise to convert those raw materials into good chemicals. And the common dietary problems that affect the raw materials are (1) not enough good fats, (2) too many bad fats, and (3) too many carbohydrates, or any combination of these three.

It’s rather simple. Yet, unless you are somewhat disciplined about your diet, it is easy to screw up on all three of the above, because that is how most people eat, at least in the Western world. It’s also why, in addition to maintaining a good diet, my patients supplement their diets with nutrients such as fish oil, flax seed oil, wheat germ oil, black currant seed oil, or sesame oil. This is individualized according to body type, diet, and activity level, but most patients take at least one of these essential fatty acid products as a supplement. (This is discussed further in part 3.)

The other key to correcting the aerobic deficiency is getting your body to convert good fats into good chemicals and energy. The best way to do this is through aerobic exercise, which literally trains the body to burn fat. When done properly, it makes the body burn more fat all the time, not just when you are exercising. You could exercise just thirty minutes a day, and your body will burn more fat in the other twenty-three and a half hours because of what you did and how you did it.

“Aerobic” doesn’t just refer to a certain kind of exercise class held at the local health club. Almost any exercise could be made more anaerobic (sugar-burning) or more aerobic (fat-burning). To maximize the aerobic component of your exercise, whatever you choose to do, the most important factor is to elevate and sustain your heart rate. (A formula for determining your appropriate heart rate follows later in this chapter.)

If you exercise at too low or too high a heart rate, you miss out on the benefits from exercise, or worse, you can injure yourself. The most common problem that people develop by exercising improperly is an anaerobic excess, which results from exercising at too high of a heart rate.

With an excess of anaerobic activity, your liver often can’t keep up with converting enough stored sugar, protein, and fat into useable blood-sugar. Your liver also has to work overtime and use additional nutrients to break down the by-products of the increased anaerobic metabolism, especially lactic acid. When this happens, you typically have more soreness in muscles and joints and may even experience sleep problems, such as waking during the night, due to excess levels of lactic acid. You are also more prone to injury such as sprains or strains.

Even though you can feel great during exercise, because of the high from adrenal hormones, your adrenal glands are, in fact, getting depleted. This “adrenaline rush” is one more chase by the “saber-toothed tiger,” one more stressful event for your body. Eventually, fatigued adrenals make it even more difficult to maintain adequate blood-sugar levels during and after exercise, which creates more fatigue and a predisposition for low blood sugar. The subsequent sugar cravings often reinforce the cycle and cancel any benefits from the exercise.

From Part TWO
Chapter 5: What Holistic Healthcare Looks Like in Real Life

…Whether traditional allergy testing would have identified John’s wheat sensitivity depends on what tests are done and what is measured. But there is a bigger question that reveals a major deficiency in our medical system: What would have prompted John to consult with an allergist for his shoulder problem in the first place?

He had no way of being directed to an allergist. Our medical system is primarily symptom-based, so Twohe took himself to an orthopedist because he had pain in his shoulder. Symptomatically, it was an orthopedic problem.

John did not know, because of the way our culture has taught us, that his symptom was the result of an underlying functional problem. Like most of us, he let his symptom dictate where he went for help. Then the orthopedist, who specializes in the symptom of shoulder pain, evaluated John’s shoulder, found damage, and would have proceeded to clean up some of the damage.

But the orthopedist looked only at John’s shoulder, not at John the person. He didn’t address potential malfunctions that were causing the damage, and he didn’t give much credit to the possibility of the healing power of nature taking care of the shoulder if normal function could be restored.

Of course John didn’t take himself to an allergist. That would have required knowing the specific malfunction creating the shoulder pain. It would have also required an open-minded allergist who performed the type of allergy tests that would reveal John’s wheat sensitivity and who could then relate it to his shoulder pain.

Remember, almost all symptoms result from underlying dysfunction. That is why it is so important to match the treatment to the patient. The one-size-fits-all approach to treating symptoms, without individualizing diagnosis and treatment to the various underlying dysfunctions, is quite limited. When you have a chronic problem, consider a healthcare provider who is a generalist. By looking at you holistically, he or she can enhance the matching process. Someday, I hope we will have “dysfunction-based protocols” that doctors of all types can agree on and follow. Then we will all do a better job of attaining successful outcomes for specific symptoms and improving the health of our patients through normalizing the function of their bodies and guiding them to more active, healthy lifestyles.

What I did with John and his shoulder problem was not magic or intuitive or some form of exotic healing. It was simply identifying and correcting faulty physiology, which then allowed his body to function normally and to heal itself. When that happened, he was free of a painful, annoying, limiting, symptom—and free to live his dreams and to achieve his goals.