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Body, Heal Thyself

While humans have known for centuries that the body can and will, indeed, heal itself, our present generations have been programmed to rely on human interventions, medications, and other unnatural means. My favorite quote about this comes from Steve Gundry:

Thousands of years ago, Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, had described the body’s ability to heal itself, which he called ‘veriditas’ (green life force). He believed that the physician’s job was to identify which forces were keeping the patient from healing himself and then remove them. Veriditas would take it from there.”

What does this mean for all of us today, faced with a pandemic and a host of misinformation, political mazes of intrigue, and boondoggling? I suggest we look at what we CAN and DO know.

The human body – as with most living things – is a biome all its own. We are carriers for microbes and microsystems, and the balance of all these can and should together for the benefit of the individual. Then there is the understanding that, of course, “no man is an island, entire of itself.” [John Donne] Human beings are pack/herd animals and we require interpersonal relationships for our best health. Is this not why solitary confinement is such an austere punishment?

Once we understand this concept, once we realize that the body does not consist of discrete systems and parts, but rather synergistically complex relationships, we can then begin to conceive of illness and disease as a matter of imbalance, an “undoing” of the delicate harmony maintained by a healthy body. As Hippocrates and his students, the giants on whose shoulders we stand, understood, our job as physicians is to “identify which forces” prevent our patient’s body from healing itself and “remove them.” This may be removing harmful forces (smoking, exposure to human-manipulated chemicals, etc) or adding in helpful forces (utilizing food as medicine, assuring the body has essential vitamins and minerals available to it, etc), or – most likely – a combination of both.

Everyone knows at this point that cigarette smoking is harmful to the human body; they do not need physicians to tell them this. But then – after years of smoking – people are still amazed when they experience cancers, emphysema and/or heart disease, almost as if they chose to ignore the facts. Perhaps it is the belief that it can’t happen to them. Perhaps they prefer to blame other things in their environment (and it is much more likely that it is from a combination of multiple factors). The bottom line is our bodies are made to fight cancer.  We all have cancer cells processing through our bodies at all times.  But the immune system, whose job it is to clear these cancers through various methods, is overwhelmed and cannot suddenly decide to work after years of being abused and fed improper nutrition and faced with multiple abuses. Heart disease, emphysema, cancer – they do not materialize overnight.

So – along comes a novel contagion that our bodies have not seen before. How does the body naturally handle such a thing? An intact, well-fed, and well-maintained immune system takes the newcomer hostage.  It analyzes it, identifies its clothing and its internal components, and then constructs a lethal elimination process. If it cannot destroy it by any other method, it isolates it. Then the body is well prepared; if it ever sees that enemy attempt to pass its gates, there is an army of defense ready to attack and destroy.  This is how the body can defend and maintain itself.

Is it any wonder, then, that it is the unhealthy, those with poorly operating immune systems, that are most vulnerable? Not at all. At least, not to those who understand the concept of how the body works.

How about “social distancing,” then? Stay-at-home recommendations? Isolation of the healthy and the young? Surely that helps to protect our elderly and vulnerable, correct?

Actually, no. All it really does is prolong the inevitable. If the healthy body does not see the virus, it cannot produce its own antibodies to it.  If it does not product its own antibodies, it will be more likely to shed the virus and unknowingly expose the elderly and vulnerable to the virus. This idea is commonly referred to as “herd immunity,” but I prefer to think of it as the best way to stop the enemy. Those of us who actively attempt to provide the body with what it needs in order to maintain its delicate balance MUST be exposed to the contagion, and for the ultimate greatest benefit to “society,” MUST produce our own antibodies.  Natural immunity is far superior to engineered immunity.

Let us also consider vaccination. Vaccines are best reserved for diseases that have a high mortality rate. Tetanus, for instance, has a high mortality rate. Most cases occur in unvaccinated people, and the elderly, newborns and injection drug users are at higher risk. It has a short incubation period. Another problem disease – at least for newborns – is pertussis.  While it causes “whooping cough” in older children and “the cough of 100 days” in adults, it can cause death in newborns and infants. Vaccination is therefore important for all who will be in contact with those most vulnerable.

Vaccination is practically useless, however, in diseases with very low mortality rates. It is far preferred to boost the immune system and avoid those forces that interfere with the body healing itself (i.e., its immune defenses). The reliance on engineered immunity versus natural immunity only creates more problems than it solves. We know from experience that multiple vaccinations at one time overwhelm the immune system and create auto-immune situations, where the immune system is “turned on” and begins attacking the body as if it were something foreign. This creates as big a problem as processes which attack the immune defenses and create immune deficiencies. Again, the problem is with BALANCE.

My suggestion to you is, learn about your body. Learn how to balance the body’s needs and what to avoid. Learn what foods are inflammatory in nature and anti-inflammatory in nature. Learn what exposures you CAN control and eliminate them. To quote Michael Pollan: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

January: A New Year, A New You!

The first month of the calendar year is named after Janus, the Roman god with two faces – one looking back and one facing forward.  Aptly, the month of January is our opportunity every year to look back on the previous twelve months while looking forward to the coming year.

As a family physician, January is the month when I receive the most requests for “something to help me lose weight.” Other times it’s for help to stop smoking, but that is nearly always accompanied by the express desire to not GAIN weight when they stop smoking.  The old formula of “too much going in, not enough going out” doesn’t seem to impress people much.  So, they frequently ask for something they can “take” to help them, one way or the other.

What if I told you that:

  • I could address BOTH challenges with one simple application of something to both of your ears once a week?
  • That in order to lose weight, you must actually EAT, and eat frequently?
  • That you not only are what you eat, but what you eat can actually boost metabolism and work in your favor?
  • That certain types of exercise are better for you and more efficient for weight loss and toning?

Press Needles are used for both smoking cessation and appetite suppression, and the location on the ear is the same for both issues. To re-set the thermostat of your metabolism, it is far better to eat small frequent meals, focusing on whole grains, fresh foods – as close as possible to how they appear in nature – and healthy fats.  Adding extra protein and drinking lots of water (64 oz. a day or more) can also help accelerate your body’s natural weight-loss response.  Tai chi, yoga, and pool-style exercises have been clinically proven to be far better styles of exercise for improving metabolism. There are also some preferred supplements that will also help with your weight-loss/lifestyle changes.

All of these are reasons to seek help through Direct Primary Care.  I can take the necessary time to walk you through changing the way you think so you can more effectively change the way you eat/drink/sleep/behave. You CAN do this without lining the pockets of the pharmacy benefit managers and pharmaceutical company CEOs. Just give us a call!

 

 

What is “Healthcare Freedom?”

We know the definition of Healthcare (or we think we do). But the definition of Freedom? Not so much.

You might think that the ability to choose your doctor would be healthcare freedom. “Free to choose,” sounds about right, doesn’t it? Or being able to choose what “healthcare system” one utilizes might be closer. Okay, you think, I can’t choose my doctor, per se, but I can choose which hospital system I use. How about insurance? I can still choose which insurance company to use, and choose among policy options – right?

None of the above represents true Healthcare Freedom. The field of medicine is one of the most heavily regulated in our nation, and regulation is the mirror opposite of Freedom. It is slavery – slavery to rules and regulations, slavery to a system designed to kill innovation and creativity. The online journal  http://LiveScience.com defines Freedom as “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.”

And in today’s healthcare landscape, it appears that Cancer patients are not free to act, speak, or think as they want without restraint.  I recently received a forceful request for records on a patient who refused to undergo any chemotherapy or radiation treatment. We politely sent the request back, stating we needed the patient’s signed consent to share records. “No, you do NOT,” the requestor said, because apparently “when a person has cancer they ‘belong’ to the collective, to the community, to the cancer board.” It has been deemed in the best interest of the population as a whole to have all information on every cancer patient available to everyone.

How does THAT make you feel?

The body requesting the information stated they had attempted to get the information from the patient, but received no response. Clearly, the patient didn’t want to share his/her information with them. After a brief tussle regarding the patient’s right to privacy, I politely told them that I could not help because we also had no further records available. This patient must have realized that their information would be sought from all possible sources, and strategically insulated themselves against just such a vigorous invasion of privacy.

Healthcare Freedom is something we lost years ago, when we collectively bought into the lie that we need health insurance. It became inextricably tied to our employment status, and that was when the chains of slavery were forged for us. And when the unholy alliance of insurance and hospital systems was formed, the iron shackles were placed around our feet. When governmental entities started regulating insurance companies, hospitals, and independent physicians, we were placed in our cells. And when we gave up our right to privacy from those same regulating bodies, we lost our last shred of hope for Healthcare Freedom.

“These are the times that try men’s souls,” wrote Founding Father Thomas Paine during a very bleak period in our country’s history. In “The Crisis”, penned on December 23, 1776, he wrote “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered. Yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

Today – as an independent patient-driven healthcare professional, I will continue to fight for healthcare freedom, though it is a true David vs. Goliath match-up.  I will continue to find holes in the walls that have been built up and throw rocks at the heads of the giants.  I will work hard to get my patients the tools they need, even if it means being a blockade runner.  And I will fiercely guard their personal information, even if I must spin a web of my own to protect it.

Because even if you don’t value your privacy or freedom, I do.

 

Why More Assistant Physicians Should Be Utilized in Primary Care

Last month, I wrote about “What is an Assistant Physician?,” and also introduced you to Amber Milward, MD AP. It’s been three weeks since she started with us here at Direct Primary Care Clinics, LLC in Osage Beach, Missouri. So, what do I think?  I think I need to explain why Assistant Physicians should be utilized in Primary Care.

Dr. Milward’s knowledge is far superior to that of any nurse practitioner student that has previously rotated through my office. This is no surprise, since Dr. Milward matriculated from an accredited medical school. The healthcare industry is beginning to take notice of Assistant Physicians’ strength of education. According to the Primary Care Coalition Issue Brief: Collaboration Between Physicians and Nurses Work, the number of clinical hours (hands-on training seeing actual patients) for MDs is four times that of those getting a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP).

So when it comes down to it, who would you prefer to be treated by if you’re sick – Someone with 500-1500 combined clinical hours, or someone with 6,000? Of course, there is another big difference in that certified physicians (like myself) have also completed at least three years of residency in primary care – including another 9,000-plus hours of intense, grueling training.

Of course, specialty residency training delivers a superior level of overall knowledge and expertise. I am not saying there is anything wrong with Nurse Practitioners, merely pointing out the vast difference in training and education. I have yet to work with or meet a Nurse Practitioner or PA (Physician Assistant) who does not acknowledge the extent of my education and training, as well as appreciating what they can learn from me. I believe they would each likewise feel there is something to learn from those MDs who have completed medical school, but have not completed residency training.

Imagine a practice consisting of a Family/Internal Medicine/Pediatrics physician, supported by an Assistant Physician (MD), a Nurse Practitioner (APRN or FNP) and a Physician Assistant (PA). Patients would have confidence that the care they receive from such a collaborating practice would be complete and thorough, as the definition of a collaborating practice is under the umbrella of supervision of the residency-completed overseeing physician.

To my fellow residency-completed primary care physicians: I suggest that you consider hiring an Assistant Physician as a mid-level provider in your practice. It would be a bit more like the “good ol’ days,” when physicians were trained as apprentices. The extent of their knowledge base is fantastic, and they are closer to medical school than you; they’ve more recently dissected the human cadaver. They have more recently practiced over and over the one-handed tie. And they are eager to work and to learn everything you can teach them about what you know best: how to deliver excellent individualized primary medical care. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

What is an Assistant Physician?

In 2014, then-Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed the bill that created a new “mid-level” medical provider position, making Missouri the first state to license Assistant Physicians. But what is an Assistant Physician?

An Assistant Physician (NOT to be confused with a Physician Assistant!) is a graduate of a medical school, who therefore has a Doctorate in Medicine (MD), but has yet to complete a residency program. This medical school experience contains intense learning and skill development, covering ALL areas of medicine. For physicians, the residency that follows hones those skills into a particular specialty, such as Internal Medicine or General Surgery.

So why didn’t these medical school graduates get into residency? Is it really that difficult to get into a residency program?

Most folks don’t care if their physicians have an MD or a DO behind their name, which is good.  They are still “doctors.” There are differences in the methodology of the two schools, but overall competency is pretty much equivalent between the graduates who matriculate from medical schools or osteopathic schools.  Take a look at the chart below and note the 2016 percentages of MD and DO graduates in the U.S., as well as International Medical Graduates, who are degreed from non-U.S. medical schools.

Figure 1

Figure 1:Society of Teachers of Family Medicine

This gives you some idea of what the competition looks like, but not as clearly as this second graph I found:

FMpositionsfilled

When I graduated from my US medical school in 1999, it was so easy to get my first choice– notice the difference between number of available slots in Family Medicine residencies (blue line) and the number filled (red line). Nearly 600 residencies went unfilled in 1999, versus just over 100 empty spots this year. No wonder my second choice wanted to convince me to be their first choice – I was a U.S. medical school grad! Easy-peasy!!!

But take another look at that same graph – what happened around 2013? The number of residency positions in Family Medicine had decreased over the years, because they weren’t filling. Then in 2013 they started filling again. The number of available positions gradually increased, but the rate of filling those positions remains the same. In short, it has become a fierce competition to get into residency.

I know, I know – I’m throwing a lot of boring statistics at you. But the bottom line is this: getting into residency has become extremely competitive. Unfortunately, this leaves many competent doctors left behind in a cartoonish dust cloud. So they re-apply the next year. And the next. After a couple years out of medical school – with the medical school debt they can’t possibly pay back on a non-physician salary – it becomes harder and harder to get into residency.

Okay, this is all very well and good, but I have been speaking in a vague and abstract manner.  Let me put a face and a soul to this problem:

Meet Amber Milward M.D., AP. She received her Bachelors in Science from the American University of Antigua, St. Johns, then went on to earn an M.D. from their accredited medical school in 2013. While attending medical school, she also earned her online Masters in Healthcare Administration from Walden University in Minnesota, with the goal of gaining a competitive edge when applying to residency programs. Upon graduating in 2013, she applied for residency positions in multiple primary care specialties. And then again in 2014. And again in 2015. She was told by every residency program director that they “ranked” her as a potential candidate, but she had not matched – meaning, she had yet to get a foot in the door of a residency program.

Since then, she has done volunteer work to keep her skills up, and studies to stay up-to-date. But stuck in the limbo-land of Medical School/Residency purgatory, she could not get a paid position that allowed her to use the knowledge and skills she has obtained. Until Missouri’s Assistant physician program became reality. This program gives her –and the many other qualified medical professionals just like her– an opportunity to use their earned medical degrees to benefit patients in need of care.

Dr. Milward, Assistant Physician, will begin a collaborative practice agreement with me in April. Dr. Milward is originally from Arkansas and is no stranger to the Ozarks. She can learn a lot from our members and this experience will give her a lot of additional training.  I hope you will all welcome her and help her learn even more about Family Medicine. As I will attest, the ONLY excellent way to learn the practical side of family medicine is from listening to you – our patients.

New Year Resolutions

Have you contemplated your New Year’s Resolutions for 2018 yet? Most folks want to get healthier, quit smoking or drinking soda, or want to start exercising and lose weight. And you’ve probably been told that all those goals should be pursued under the direction of – you guessed it – your physician. But do you know why?

There are so many options out there. Want to quit smoking?  “Use vaping as a substitute,” you may have heard. But studies are showing that vaping is no better (and maybe a little worse) for you than cigarettes. Patches help, but if you smoke with a patch on you can flood your system with nicotine, which doesn’t help with the smoking cessation attempts, and can even impact your blood pressure or heart health! You can take prescription medication, which – at best – has up to a 60% success rate. You still need a prescription for these medications, and smoking cessation programs are most successful under the direction of your physician.

What about weight loss? I remember an old Garfield cartoon where Garfield was thinking, “Diet is just  DIE with a T.” Tens of billions of dollars are spent annually on over-the-counter supplements, and there are fad diets galore. But are they healthy for you? There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and people can actually become malnourished while on some diet plans. So, what are you to do? It’s always best to pursue any major health changes under the direction of your physician.

Fitness centers abound, so there’s little excuse for not exercising. And these facilities have fitness experts who can help guide you along the path of what exercise you should apply.  But there are situations where excessive exercise can be quite detrimental for people with certain conditions. And therefore (you know this is coming), you should always consult your physician before starting an exercise regimen.

I already told you about the 21 Days That Changed My Medical Career. The 21-Day Challenge weight management program through nutraMetrix worked for me, big-time, as well as for my staff.  It will work for you, too, with some guidance from me as your physician. We will target the problems you have, and use either some parts of the 21-Day Challenge, use all parts of the 21-Day Challenge, or we might even use NONE of those strategies and choose to explore other options.

If appetite is a problem, we can use ear acupuncture for cravings and appetite. Are proper food choices challenging for your condition? Our Wellness Coach, Rebekah, can help guide you to the particular foods ideal for YOUR body. What exercise programs are safe for you and your medical conditions? You have your personal physician (Me!) to consult for that.

We are also poised to do ear acupuncture for smoking cessation. This tried-and-true method has far better success rates than any pharmaceutical product of which I am aware. Sure, you can seek ear acupuncture for smoking cessation from other sources. But you are NOT guaranteed a personal physician who graduated from an accredited U.S. medical school, who studied physiology and biochemistry from university professors, and who learned anatomy on a human cadaver. T DPC Clinics you have the dual benefit of a formally-trained physician who ALSO now brings the techniques of Traditional Chinese Medicine to bear on you and your Western health problems.

And just in time for you to make good that New Year’s Resolution, here’s what we’re doing in 2018: If you want to utilize acupuncture (for any purpose), you can add on a Wellness Package to your membership. The “Wellness + Acupuncture” package is $35/month for one person, and $60/month for two or more people on the same membership. This subscription gets you a complete package, with 24/7 availability to BOTH your personal physician and your personal wellness coach! It also includes the cost of acupuncture; otherwise, the Wellness Package is $30/month for one, $50/month for two or more of same membership.

That’s right – for only $35 a month, you can meet your health resolutions head-on and finally have success in 2018. Here’s to a healthy New You!