A new book offers a way forward in our fight against the epidemic of chronic disease.
In his new book, The Community Cure, author James Maskell documents a new approach to medicine centered on community: that is, coming together as groups of patients suffering from the same afflictions to heal more effectively (and cost effectively). In a world where chronic illness is on the rise and bankrupting health systems across the globe, it is an intriguing solution. This approach puts functional medicine at the center, emphasizing lifestyle changes, social support, and natural health to maintain wellness rather than the use of prescription drugs. Unfortunately, the federal government, at almost every turn, prevents Americans from becoming knowledgeable about the benefits of natural health by maintaining the monopoly of prescription drugs on American medicine, and it has to stop.
Integrative medicine is all about getting to the root cause of disease, and Maskell argues that an overlooked root cause is loneliness. He presents research demonstrating the debilitating effects that loneliness and isolation have on human health. He quotes the Chief Medical Officer of Cigna as saying loneliness “has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it even more dangerous than obesity.” A chief characteristic of Blue Zones, which are regions around the world where populations live longer and experience less chronic disease, is the presence of strong communities. In short, social isolation is a bigger determinant on health and disease than any other factor.
How can this knowledge be leveraged to improve our health? Maskell promotes the notion of group visits. The idea is for diabetes patients (or cancer patients, heart disease patients, etc.) to come together in a group to learn about the elements of the disease, how to address them with diet and lifestyle changes, and work together as a group to implement these changes. Working as a group instills a sense of comradery and accountability. The Community Cure documents the stunning results that have been achieved by different practitioners and patients using this model across the country.
This makes a lot of sense. The standard in our medical system is for a doctor to diagnose a condition, prescribe a drug or surgical intervention, and send the patient off on their own. Many physicians, let alone patients, express frustration with this model. One doctor got involved in this movement when he noticed that, after heart bypass surgeries, many patients came back with clogged arteries because they returned home after treatment to the same habits that caused the problem in the first place. Patients with depression are prescribed anti-depressants and sent off to manage their condition on their own. Not only is this approach ineffective, it is incredibly costly. In 2016, the total costs for the treatment of chronic disease in the US totaled $1.1 trillion—equal to about six percent of GDP.
The problem with implementing such a pioneering approach to medicine are the many barriers the federal government throws up that block patient access to the cheap, safe, and effective natural medicines that can help us heal.
- Through the “new supplement” notification system the FDA is in the process of developing, consumer access to thousands of dietary supplements is threatened;
- The FDA oversees a process that allows Big Pharma to turn natural compounds into expensive monopoly drugs;
- By restricting the health claims that can be made about supplements—claims that are backed by strong scientific evidence—consumers are prevented from learning about the benefits of natural medicines that can help them heal, preserving the monopoly of prescription drugs on healthcare;
- The FDA is considering a ban on compounded bioidentical hormones like estriol, as well as a host of other compounded supplements and medications that are crucial to patient health;
- The federal government caves to special interests that want to keep exposing us to dangerous chemicals like glyphosate, BPA, arsenic, and others while we are learning that these chemicals are a main driver behind chronic disease.
The links above will take you to recent coverage of these issues where you can take action to defend natural health.
If you’re interested in a free electronic copy of Maskell’s book, fill out the form below.