With the accelerating decline of my long-enjoyed good health, I lose faith more and more each year in the pharmaceutical firms of America. It is clear that they wield incredible and potentially corrupting power. I have little faith in the pharmaceutical firms' desire to see a healthy America. I see them promoting multiple-pills-a-day regimens, to be taken for life, and not necessarily promoting health. Their side effects sometimes outweigh any health advantages they offer. But I gain faith each year in the natural farmaceuticals in the Green Farmacy Garden. While I consider myself both a naturalist and a spiritualist, I have strayed from the Southern Baptists who introduced me to religion before I was old enough to have a questioning mind. Mine is still a questioning mind! Turning 78 on April 4, 2007, I still envy those who believe, without doubt. I wish I did! Surely I so wish, if they are right! Maybe even if they are wrong! They are less likely to worry themselves to death. I am also impressed with figures suggesting that 90 to 95% of Americans resort to prayer in illness. If they believe, they are much more liable to be helped. If they believe more in the healing power of their acupuncturist, chiropractor, herbalist, homeopath, naturopath, orthopedist, or even their minister or shaman, than they do in their allopathic physician, there is a good chance that, with the power of mind/body synergy, those non-allopathic modalities are more likely to succeed than the allopathic modality. Yes, I am saying that with many people, believing is more liable to cure than is allopathy. And those same people, reading that our many Biblical foods are menus of medicinal phytochemicals, from which their bodies can selectively mine those needed by the ailing body, are more liable to be helped by using the biblical food farmacy.
Many of us have come to believe my earlier published statistics that pharmaceuticals kill a thousand times more Americans than herbs. The famous Gary Null and a few others even say that pharmaceuticals are bigger killers than cancer, cardiopathy, diabetes, or stroke. And, it is easy to see that the newest, most expensive, and most advertised pharmaceuticals are among the most dangerous. Yes, shortly after Phase 3 clinical trials and final FDA approval, the pharmaceutical firms get their marketing efforts into gear with the permeating message, "Ask your physicians if New Drugs A, B, C and W, X, Y are right for you," simultaneously giving free samples to the allopaths to encourage you to take the new drug. And off go their drug reps to reward the allopaths with more than free samples — training seminars in romantic places, where they will learn most of the positives about the new drug and few of the negatives. Before you know it, you are taking Drug Z for the side effects of Drug A. You, the American Public, are induced into what I call Phase 4 "Cynical Trials," in which half of the new pharmaceuticals will be relabeled, with stronger warnings, or partially or completely recalled within a decade. Meanwhile, more expensive pharmaceuticals will continue to cause many more deaths than are caused by the safe herbs we are led to believe are dangerous. They are not! Check the Bextra, Celebrex, and Vioxx stories, and soon-to-be-heard statin stories (three close friends of mine, too old to be worried about cholesterol, have been hospitalized because of using statins), and head counts of iatrogenic fatalities. The Null numbers: The total number of annual iatrogenic deaths in America is 783,936 (Null et al., 2003).
Remember that pharmaceuticals have been with us less than 150 years. If our ancestors left Africa via the Holy Land 2000 years ago (for faith-based literalists), maybe a million years ago (for the less literal), then our genes, tracing back to our African/Holy Land ancestors, have had at least ten times more temporal experience with biblical herbs (e.g., cinnamon, coriander, cumin, dill, garlic, grape, mint, milk thistle, myrrh, olive, onion, pomegranate, saffron, turmeric, and the like). Pharmaceuticals and synthetic food additives are relatively new to our genes. Our bodies have had thousands, perhaps millions, of years of evolutionary experience with the thousands of phytochemicals in these edible species. Our bodies may even require many of them. In many cases, I will wager but cannot prove, the body has evolved homeostatic mechanisms for maintaining homeostatic balances for these phytochemicals. Our body can sequester them from our dietary milieus if we need them, excreting them if we do not. We can prove this for simple elemental chemicals such as selenium and zinc. I will also wager that homeostatic balancing activities exist for hundreds of many, long-familiar dietary components. We just assigned an RDA for choline in the past decade. The further we get from our paleolithic diet and, more importantly, the more synthetic pharmaceuticals and food additives we ingest, the more liable we are to suffer imbalances. It is not only food additives that hurt us; it is the subtractives as well. The subtractive phytochemicals are those important nutrients reduced or lost in food processing. Most of the value in whole grains is lost in the processing (e.g., some of the minerals such as copper, iron, manganese, selenium, and zinc, and vitamins such as Bj, B2, B3, B5, B6, E, and folic acid).
Restoring chemical balance may require getting back to basics, those primitive paleolithic foods rich in phytonutrients. At the same time, we should reduce our consumption of over-processed, nutrient-poor junk foods, avoiding additives and even pharmaceuticals where possible and plausible. I am not saying that there is no place for pharmaceuticals, but I will say that in many cases there are balanced Biblical foods that are pharmacologically competitive with unbalancing pharmaceuticals, and these food farmaceuticals should be drugs of first resort, the pharmaceutical of last resort. And if you believe more in me and my Biblical food farmaceutical shotgun than you believe in your allopath and her/his expensive pharmaceutical silver bullets, then there is a better chance that my natural approach will help you. Believing is half the cure. Can you believe in a company whose 2-billion-dollar-a-year drug was shown in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) back in 2002 to be no better than a placebo for major depression. Can you believe that, now 4 years later, that company still has the premier lead-off ad page for JAMA touting the $2-billion-a-year drug as so trusted, so reliable, so efficacious? I suspect you would be better off with Biblical walnut oil and Biblical saffron, nourishing and medicating your body, attenuating the depression with few, or no, consequential side effects. Ask your congress person to insist on a new third-arm trial comparing Zoloft with walnut oil/hypericum/saffron, a triple-whammy food-farmaceutical antidepressant. If you count all the possible side effects reported in the fine print of that ad for the $2-billion-a-year pharmaceutical, you will count more than a hundred. When that study was published back in 2002 showing the pharmaceutical as no better than placebo, almost nobody heard that the drug failed, too. The news was instead blaring out that "St. John's wort no better than placebo." True St. John's wort (SJW) fared no better than placebo in this clinical comparison of SJW, Zoloft, and the placebo. But that is the half of the story that Joan Q. Public heard a thousand times, maybe once or twice hearing that the pharmaceutical also failed. Do I think there is a pharmaceutical/FDA/press conspiracy? I will say that they are all singing the same song, and the song is wrong, thus hurting Americans. Their monotonous song drives American consumers from the safer food, herb, and spice farmaceuticals to the more expensive, more dangerous synthetic pharmaceuticals — all this at the expense of our health and the health of our planet. Even our rivers and lakes — and consequently our water supply— are now cocktails of pharmaceutical residues.
That bit of antidepressant news was so depressing that I resorted to song writing as alternative therapy. I like to remind people of the failure of the press to report the real news back in 2002.
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