Adapted from Doctors Are More Harmful Than Germs: How Surgery Can Be Hazardous to Your Health – And What to Do About It by Harvey Bigelsen, MD. Reprinted by permission of North Atlantic Books.
“Well Mrs. So-and-So,” says Dr. Almighty, “since you are fifty years old and reaching menopause, you don’t need your uterus anymore; in fact it is probably getting in the way. Since we will be in there, we may as well take out your appendix because you don’t need it either, and taking it out will prevent future appendicitis. Most older women have gall bladder problems, so let’s take that out too, for prevention. Oh, and one of my friends is a plastic surgeon: While you are asleep and can’t feel anything, he can do a tummy tuck and smooth out some of your wrinkles with Botox. Don’t worry, it’s very, very poisonous, but we will just use it on your wrinkles. No big deal!”1
Sounds fabulous, doesn’t it? One-stop surgery: magically taking care of everything that could possibly affect you over the next ten years. Take your body, cut into it, slice it up, and redo it, better than ever! Recently, I was reading the in-flight magazine on the way to New York. A story listed the best doctors in New York City. The top three specialties: hair transplants, liposuctions, and Botox injections. All cosmetic surgeons! This is what they call good medicine?! I call it barbaric cosmotology.
Every day I hear people’s stories. I see and hear lies and propaganda on television. And I am getting more and more outraged. What is going on today in the name of health care is an absolute nightmare. Increasingly, needless and damaging surgeries are being performed. We are given chemicals and poisons under the euphemism of prescription drugs. The worst part is that all of this is done with incredible arrogance. Our allowing it is quite literally killing us and destroying our society. We, as a society, have become sheeple. We have accepted that the letters MD and AMA equal “expert.” We follow along, blindly trusting purely on the basis of someone wearing a white coat and declaring his or her expert opinion, in our supposed best interest. We have put aside our critical thinking and we have entrusted our bodies—our very beings—with those who are best served by profit and whose decisions too often are based upon the last salesperson who visited.
Surgery Leads to Chronic Inflammation
Let me tell you right now, very clearly: surgery is a big deal! After any surgery, including cosmetic surgery, you are bruised, you are swollen, and you are scarred, both inside and out. I don’t care whether the surgeon stuck a stapler down your throat, punched a hole in your belly for the laparoscope, or used a scalpel. Every surgical cut leaves a scar, through every layer of tissue. Even your deep, internal fluids are affected. You have injuries ranging from the surgical cuts to bruising caused by the surgeon physically moving the tissues and fluids around. The damage has to be reconciled or it will have lasting effects.
The body naturally heals itself by creating inflammation that surrounds an insult and isolates it from healthy tissue. This is the most basic, most essential healing effort by the human being. If you have a small cut, the swelling and redness followed by a scab is the inflammation that the body creates to heal that cut. The greater the injury, the greater the inflammation, and the more noticeable and far-reaching its effects. Yet even with a major injury and similarly massive inflammation, if you allow the healing process to follow its normal, natural course, the inflammation is not a problem.
While sometimes unavoidable, any kind of surgery interferes with your natural healing process. Surgery damages you, leaving scar tissue behind that disrupts the flow of your essential fluids. Scar tissue is denser than regular tissue. It’s tight and doesn’t stretch like normal tissue. As a result, blood and other essential bodily fluids cannot flow through it. Inflammation relies upon those fluids to provide nutrients and remove its waste from the injury site. A typical rehab program doesn’t come close to acknowledging this, let alone restoring that flow. Tired all the time? That exhaustion is a direct result of the body using up its energy reserves trying to heal the surgical injury. The only “off” switch the body understands is death. As long as you’re alive, the body is going to expend energy trying to heal. But scar tissue is like a brick wall trapping the inflammation. No nutrients get through to it, and its waste just circulates around and around, depleting your energy and causing you to feel twenty years older after surgery.
Chronic inflammation is the term modern medicine uses for this phenomenon. The longer inflammation stays in the body, the sicker you become. Trapped inflammation causes chronic disease. It’s such a critical factor that the medical journals have been full of research into it these past few years. Inflammation and heart disease. Inflammation and diabetes. Inflammation and arthritis. All of this research interest led to development of the highly-sensitive C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) test. The test identifies deeply hidden, chronic (trapped) inflammation. Yet these researchers largely ignore the most basic question: where did that inflammation come from?
Intelligence by Nature
I know the answer, and now you know it. You are not all better when the surgery is over. That’s nonsense, and any doctor will tell you that. Why the need for physical therapy? For rest? For rehabilitation? For a follow-up exam? The body views surgery as an assault with a knife! Surgery can be lifesaving. It can also be life-threatening. Take, for example, the 1987 death of movie actor and comedian Danny Kaye, who died from complications of hepatitis. Did Kaye die from hepatitis C in a blood transfusion during open-heart surgery, as some have suggested? Or, did he die because his body responded to the violent open-heart surgery attack by creating a massive inflammation that ultimately destroyed his liver?
All surgery is an assault on the body. It is the most common cause of major, long-term inflammation in the body. Long-term inflammation occurs when a physical barrier is present that keeps the healing process from resolving itself normally. The barrier traps the inflammation, shielding it so that the body can neither bring it healing tools nor move its wastes out through the normal channels of blood and lymph circulation. Our circulation is part of the natural flow of our bodies, which is blocked from full expression in the presence of a physical barrier. The longer our flow is blocked, anywhere and in any way, the more likely that it will have a negative effect on our health. If our flow is already blocked and we then experience an injury, there is a 100 percent chance that we will experience long-term inflammation from that injury, unless and until we release our flow. On the surface it may seem as though healing is complete: a wound may close over, swelling may be reduced. However, when inflammation is trapped, the body continues to marshal resources to try to heal it. Although not always visible, these attempts will continue until the body literally exhausts itself to death. This is why it’s important to keep in mind that both current and previous events can create physical barriers that block healing by trapping inflammation. These events can include:
* A fall, accident, blow, or other physical force
* Objects lodged in the body that do not naturally occur there
* Pharmaceutical drugs
* Chronic tight areas created by hanging on to emotions
* Emotional and physical traumas
Scarring in particular guarantees that our flow will be blocked, because the tissue that makes up a scar contains no fluid or blood; it has no life force. Scarring is permanent. Scars can sometimes be minimized, but they are always permanent additions to the landscape of our body. The physical barrier created by a surgical scar permanently impairs the natural flow of our body. From the time of a surgery forward, we must periodically tune up our flow to avoid becoming run down, just like a car needs a periodic tune-up to regain performance worn down by the effects of running the engine. Surgery assaults the body because it cuts the tissue in such a way that scars must be formed in order to heal the injury. Surgery therefore will always create a physical barrier that interferes with healing within the body. Surgical scars block the flow of healing fluids, and therefore inflammation becomes trapped. The wastes just circle around and around, unable to flow out naturally. And so healing inflammation becomes a poison that the body, in its infinite wisdom, attempts to disarm and remove with whatever reserves are available.
These days surgery has become commonplace. But how could any doctor with any ethics whatsoever view surgery as “no big deal”? The long-term, trapped inflammation resulting from surgery leads to chronic disease. Western medicine’s thrill, and I would say obsession, with surgery demonstrates the lack of respect that doctors have for the human body today in the United States. It also shows the incredible lack of respect doctors hold for the human being. If you believe the screw they put in to heal your broken arm when you were twelve has nothing to do with your recent diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis—think again.
I’m going to share with you some chapters from the history of medicine that you may never have heard before. We all are familiar with the rewriting or tampering of history in a general sense. Medical history is no different. We owe ourselves the complete story, so that we may decide for ourselves what is real, what is unreal, and what is important. These are our bodies that are being experimented upon and assaulted! Wouldn’t you like to make an informed decision about something that you will live with or die from?
Medical schools teach students that the body has no intelligence of its own, that it is a machine to support the function of the brain. Parts are replaceable, and some parts are not even needed. Medical students learn, essentially, that the human body is exempt from the laws of nature. How ludicrous! This is an extremely limited understanding of the body, which we are still continually discovering new things about. Think for a minute: Every week a discovery is in the news that includes a scientist saying, “This is brand-new, unexpected information.”2 We are discovering new species all the time. We haven’t yet identified every plant that exists, nor do we know what lies at the very bottom of the seas. We continue to find smaller and smaller particles of matter. Researchers are still trying to understand how the brain works.3 Science is continually trying to fully understand and explain the way that nature works.4
But in a world where medicine denies that the body has intelligence or follows the laws of nature, the intervention rules all. There is always a test or a procedure that will fix the problem. In this world failure is defined as a lack of the right intervention. An intervention is a concrete action with a clear course and a presumed result. There is no room for creating here: no room for opportunities, discoveries, or understanding. It is all about doing something rather than waiting to see what happens. Against this backdrop, we have been convinced that allowing nature to take its course may be dangerous to our health. And now we, the general public, have come to accept surgery as a first resort, rather than a last resort. We believe, for example, that it is far safer to cut out a baby by a C-section than to enable a natural birth. Obstetricians would prefer that I say, “deliver a baby.” This is a word game! The truth is that a C-section is major abdominal surgery. Medically, a “section” means to cut into or cut out of. Only very recently have medical doctors begun to acknowledge that midwives are right: a vaginal birth is essential for a healthy start in life. Labor contractions, along with compression of the body as the infant squeezes itself through the birth canal, cause the diaphragms in our body to start moving. That’s right: we have more than one diaphragm. Movement of those diaphragms is responsible for the unrestricted, free flow of our bodily fluids. The same fluids, by the way, whose flow is disrupted by surgical scars.
There are many more stories that have contributed to our becoming sheeple. For instance, most of us accept that whole food is naturally balanced in a way that synthetic or genetically modified food will never be able to mimic. Yet in the doctor’s office, when we are told that our knee has “gone bad” and should be replaced, we don’t hesitate to schedule the surgery. If we have a “good” doctor, in fact, we are excited about the prospect of a brand-new, shiny knee. Why? Because, even though scientists are still discovering new things about how the body works, we’re still thinking that everything the doctor says is right. So we get this great sales pitch about the replacement knee, made with the “latest technology and materials.” If we object, we’re told scary stories about the dire consequences of facing the unknown with this ticking time bomb inside of us. Our knee has been transformed into a bomb. Not only that, but we’ll be alienated socially because we can’t run down steps anymore. Or worse. The same doctor will cheerfully remind us that there is no guarantee we’ll be better off; in fact this is just our first artificial knee. It’ll wear out in a few years and we’ll need more surgery to replace it. Yet we accept the “need” for such surgeries without question, despite the uncertainties and the costs.
Cures, Side Effects, and Other Lies: One Hundred Years of Propaganda
How did we get to this point? I’d like to present you with a simple fact to think about. In 1910 the medical establishment we take for granted became the dominating health care philosophy, gaining the majority of our financial backing and research support. Yet we still do not know the definitive cause of, nor have we seen a cure for, one single chronic disease. I am not referring here to crisis medicine or infectious diseases such as polio or smallpox—medical science has done quite a bit for acute illness and health problems. I am talking about all diseases and conditions called chronic: cancer, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, kidney disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and so on.
One might argue that we do know the cause for some of these conditions. But while we have found correlations, we certainly haven’t found definitive causes. While the mainstream medical community might pinpoint blocked arteries and high blood pressure as the “causes” for heart disease, in fact blocked arteries and high blood pressure are symptoms pointing to an underlying cause. High blood pressure can damage blood vessels and stress the heart muscle and other organs, but it is not the source of heart disease. The science of modern medicine classically points to symptoms as causes, but this is shortsighted.
Celebrities like Jerry Lewis and the foundations they represent have raised millions of dollars over the years “for a cure,” with zero results. Licensed medical doctors are not allowed to use the word “cure” when talking about chronic disease because not a single cure has been found in nearly one hundred years. Indeed, any doctor claiming to offer a treatment that cures one of these ailments will lose his or her license. The Arizona Medical Board once charged me for “curing a person by illegal means.” The head of the board told me that they did not care if my patients were getting better or worse—they only wanted me to do the work “in our way, scientifically.” In other words, better that you die in the hands of the doctor, than get better in a way the medical community does not accept.
Amazing! This, folks, is the truth. Health insurance companies generally do not pay for alternative care, using the term instead as a euphemism for “unproven by modern, scientific means.” Industry lobbyists constantly pressure researchers to debunk therapies like acupuncture, which has been in existence and known to be beneficial for thousands of years. Frankly, for the past one hundred years you have been snookered. The amount of brainwashing has been incredible. Chiropractic may be covered by health insurance today, but most people still refer to it as “quackery.” These very same insurance companies encourage members to receive the latest medical treatments and devices—it is only later that we discover those treatments or devices were unproven by modern, scientific means. For example, in 1975, pharmaceutical giant A. H. Robins lost a legal battle because its IUDs were killing women. Today, hundreds of women are fitted for “safer, better designed” IUDs. Pelvic inflammatory disease is still a risk. Never mind that it wasn’t until after the A. H. Robins case that the FDA began to require testing and approval of new medical devices. Today, in 2010, there are no fewer than five medical devices and drugs under intensive scrutiny by the FDA because their numbers of adverse reported events are bringing the original approval into question.5 In most cases, that original approval was based upon the product’s similarity to an existing approved product—one that was on the market before 1975.
We are told that pharmaceutical drugs have side effects. Wake up folks, these are not “on the side,” like an appetizer: they are direct effects. They happen as a result of taking a drug. If you put a foreign chemical in your mouth and swallow it, that drug will have multiple direct effects—not side effects. Watch the TV commercials for the latest designer drugs. Most of the time a beautiful woman is running through beautiful fields, telling you how happy and wonderful she is as a result of taking this medicine. It may cause her hair to fall out and she may experience “rare or unusual” side effects including death, but look at how beautiful and happy she is! Listen: how can death be a side effect? A foreign chemical is one that does not occur naturally in the body; therefore, it has negative effects. But over and over again, we’re told, “the benefits outweigh the risks.” Oh, really? If you’ve personally experienced one of these “unusual side effects,” you probably believe otherwise.
We know of governments that dispense propaganda; in public relations, the technique is called “spin.” There is no shortage of spin in pharmaceutical marketing. Let’s examine this concept of a “side” effect. Pay attention the next time you see a Viagra or Cialis commercial. The ads warn you to see your doctor if you experience a sudden drop in vision. The target market for these two drugs is a man in his seventies looking for the sexual performance of a man in his thirties or forties. Viagra or Cialis has greatly enhanced the blood flow to his penis; however, remember that he has the circulation of a man in his seventies. To succeed in their mission, the drugs increase the blood going to the penis, which means that there is not quite enough blood flowing to his eyes—the farthest distance away from the heart that blood must travel. Therefore, the seventy-year-old man taking Viagra or Cialis has vision problems. Well? Isn’t this a more logical outcome than a side effect? How much are you willing to gamble, or, more to the point, how much will you allow other people to gamble with your health?
Are you still wondering if we are being brainwashed? Consider the common adage, “cholesterol is bad for you.” Drugs that lower cholesterol, such as Vytorin and Lipitor, now gross companies billions of dollars in profits. Recent studies show that the use of these drugs does nothing for heart disease: nothing, nada, nyet.6 In any language you choose, there has been not one positive effect on heart disease by lowering cholesterol. Yet we keep reading stories that the drugs themselves, in studies funded by the pharmaceutical companies, improve the outcome of heart disease.7 If you read further, you learn that the studies conclude that the drugs reduce the likelihood of death from a blood clot, because they lower the blood cholesterol level. Therefore, we are told, perfectly healthy people with no known risk of heart disease should be taking statins! The pharmaceutical companies would probably also prefer that we pay no attention to the medical and scientific journals publishing research suggesting that the incidence of cancer is much higher in people who are taking these drugs.8
England wanted to sell statins over the counter, and in the U.S. medical doctors recommend that children take them. Why? To counter “the obesity epidemic.” Cholesterol is a fatty deposit in the blood vessels and it’s because of this, we are told, that overweight people have heart disease. The crazy twist of the medical spin machine has convinced us not only that all overweight people have heart disease, but also that low-fat foods are healthier than whole-fat foods. “Eat fat, be fat” seems to be the logic, if you can call it that. Nature just isn’t quite so black and white. The longest study ever done on a diet demonstrated that the Atkins diet produced healthier participant outcomes than the American Heart Association’s recommended diet in every category possible.9 Yet the day after that news was reported, the media reports and stories were all about lean foods and the importance of lowering cholesterol.10 Misdirection and misinformation serve the status quo and industry profits, not the health of Americans. We need to ask ourselves: Which companies run ads on television? Which organizations sponsor networks and documentaries?
Our Biology Holds the Truth
Throughout the centuries there have been two competing philosophies of disease in Western medicine, and one of them has been suppressed intentionally, for personal greed.11 Louis Pasteur came up with the germ theory of disease more than a century ago. The medical system that we all know stands upon this theory: If you have diarrhea it should be stopped up. If you have a fever it must be brought down. Attack, attack, attack and kill, kill, kill is the deliberate strategy of our medicine. Within the pages of my book, Doctors Are More Harmful Than Germs, I offer a different truth.
Pasteur’s scientific and intellectual rival, Antoine Béchamp, accepted the notion that germs live in a diseased body. His competing philosophy of medicine follows this concept—indeed, every other practice of medicine around the world acknowledges it. Far from being a noxious agent itself, diarrhea represents the body’s own intelligent decision to flush out a noxious agent. According to this theory of medicine, which is often called “biological medicine,” a therapy must be directed at rooting out a cause and helping the body, not suppressing the symptoms that tell us what is going on. Yet over the course of the past one hundred years, Nobel Prize–winning works following the theories of Béchamp have been cast aside.
It is interesting that while Pasteur’s original theory is known and repeated widely today, the fact that he recanted it on his deathbed is not. He finally shared with his colleague that Béchamp was right: the germ means nothing; the terrain is everything.12 And what is the terrain? Why nothing less than the human body, as a whole, living being! We are not the sum of parts and pieces; we are a whole. U.S. medicine adopted Pasteur’s germ theory of disease and has stayed with it because the germ theory supports the magic bullet philosophy of therapy. Find the germ and prescribe the magic bullet. Give the disease a name and assign a pharmaceutical bullet to treat it. The name of the game is the name. In my book I counter this problematic approach to medicine by showing the truth of the terrain theory (biological medicine), and demonstrating that health, disease, and healing are processes.
What Choices Will You Make?
I have been involved in the politics of medicine for more than thirty years. Constitutionally, medicine is a state’s right to define and sanction. It does not belong to the federal government, nor does it belong to any one industry interest. In the state of California, licensed practitioners include medical doctors (MD), osteopaths (DO), chiropractors (DC), naturopaths (ND), and acupuncturists (LAc), who all attend school for at least seven years before they may earn their licenses. So tell me: How is it that our health insurance can demand that we work only with the MDs? Who appointed our government, along with the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, as the experts in determining how best to care for our health? Well, I’ve some bad news for you: we all played a part in handing over that authority and responsibility to those people.
Medical doctors doing surgeries and prescribing drugs (poisons) are the number one cause of chronic disease today. The United States ranks forty-second in the world in longevity. For the first time in history, women’s life spans are becoming shorter. Children are being treated for diseases once considered conditions of old age. Before it was disbanded, the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment issued a report finding modern, scientific medicine to be effective only for trauma care!13 Our health care system has failed us. It has become a monopoly fostering a single approach to health.14 Unless we achieve reform, we will bankrupt our nation and become weaker individuals. It is time for us to wake up and stop this madness!
1. While this example might strike one as extreme, it is sadly reflective of trends in modern medicine. “Researchers cite other cases in which organs were presumed to be so dispensable that they could be removed ‘prophylactically’—often with unfortunate outcomes. In recent years, for example, many older women undergoing hysterectomies have been advised to have their healthy ovaries removed at the same time, the rationale being: If you are past your childbearing years, why hang on to reproductive organs that might turn cancerous and kill you? . . . ‘Evolution has an edge on us,’ [researcher] Dr. Nahrendorf said. ‘I would be very careful about saying, you don’t need this organ, get rid of it.’” Natalie Angier, “Finally, the Spleen Gets Some Respect.”
2. Ibid. For example, researchers and those reading the published results expressed surprise at learning the major, and essential, role the spleen plays in recovering from trauma.
3. “Researchers who have taken images of the brain as it processes information related to personal identity have noticed that several areas are particularly active.” Benedict Carey, “After Injury, Fighting to Regain a Sense of Self.” This article is just one example of how little we know, and how monumental are the discoveries.
4. Dr. Nahrendorf, one of the researchers in the above study, said, “But the more you learn, the more you realize that we’re just scratching on the surface of life. We don’t know the whole story about anything.” Natalie Angier, “Finally, the Spleen Gets Some Respect.”
5. See, for example: Natasha Singer, “J. & J. Recalls Hip Implants”; Gardiner Harris, “U.S. Inaction Lets Look-Alike Tubes Kill Patients”; Barry Meier, “When Heart Devices Fail, Who Should Be Blamed?”; Bloomberg News, “F.D.A. Deal Leads to Recall of Infusion Pumps”; Lindsey Tanner, “Medical Device Problems Hurt 70,000+ Kids Annually.”
6. John Abramson, MD, says, “There is not a single randomized control trial that shows that cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are beneficial for women of any age or men over 65 who do not already have heart disease or diabetes.” (Emphasis mine.) In Robert Crayhon, MS, CN, “An Interview with John Abramson, MD: The Overselling of Statins.” Dr. Abramson also says, “There’s a conspiracy of false hope. . . The public wants an easy way to prevent heart disease, doctors want to reduce their patients’ risk of heart disease and drug companies want to maximize the number of people taking their pills to boost their sales and profits.” In Melissa Healy, “Effectiveness of Statins is Called Into Question.”
7. “We just don’t know what the balance of benefits and harms are for people who are going to take this for a lifetime.” “They questioned why the authors [of the JUPITER study] didn’t report the rates of death from heart attack and stroke, which when teased out of the data turned out to be unaffected by Crestor.” Quoted in Carla K. Johnson, “Cholesterol Drugs for the Healthy Still Debatable.” “Among the risks raising new concerns, recently published evidence indicates that statins could raise a person’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 9 percent. . . . They point to mounting concern that cholesterol medications—known as statins and already the most widely prescribed drugs in the United States—may not be as safe a preventive medicine as previously believed for people who are at low risk of heart attacks or strokes.” Duff Wilson, “Risks Seen in Cholesterol Drug Use in Healthy People.” See also: Emily Coakley, “Statin Study No Substitute for Diet, Exercise, Researcher Says”; Pam Belluck, “Wider Benefit Seen From Cholesterol Drugs”; and Bill Berkrot and Ransdell Pierson, “Crestor Study Seen Changing Preventive Treatment.”
8. “Dr. James M. Wright . . . cautioned that the true scope of statins’ side effects remains unknown. ‘I don’t think we know all the harms yet.’” Devon Schuyler, “Pinning Down the Side Effects of Statins.” See also: Mark Hyman, MD, “Do Statins Cause Diabetes and Heart Disease?”
9. Bonnie J. Brehm et al., “A Randomized Trial Comparing a Very Low Carbohydrate Diet and a Calorie-restricted Low Fat Diet on Body Weight and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Healthy Women”; Gary D. Foster et al., “A Randomized Trial of a Low-carbohydrate Diet for Obesity”; Tom Watkins, “Study Finds Heart Guidelines Often Based on Thin Evidence.”
10. “No one has ever shown that with the Atkins diet you can both lose weight and maintain that loss. But with reduced fat diets, you can do this.” Robert Bonow, then-American Heart Association president, quoted in Ian Sample, “The Fat and the Thin of It.”
11. Harris Coulter extensively documented the two schools of medical philosophy and practice in his four-volume series Divided Legacy: A History of the Schism in Medical Thought.
12. Léon Delhoume, De Claude Bernard a d’Arsonval.
13. Dana Ullman, “How Scientific Is Modern Medicine Really?”; P. Joseph Lisa, The Assault on Medical Freedom.
Harvey Bigelsen, MD, helped found the American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA) in 1978, and three years later helped to write the Arizona law allowing alternative medical practitioners to be licensed and judged by their peers rather than by mainstream doctors. The author of Doctors Are More Harmful Than Germs: How Surgery Can Be Hazardous to Your Health – And What to Do About It (2011), Bigelsen is a frequent lecturer for alternative health organizations, he lives in Nevada City, CA.