An Excerpt from Andrew Saul's 1995 Dissertation
NATUROPATHIC EDUCATION AND MOTIVATION IN HUMAN HEALTH BEHAVIOR
There is a critical fork in the path of health education, and it occurs most clearly at the point where the subject to be taught is nutrition. Traditional, mainstream dietetics favors a balanced, all-food-groups diet and discourages the use of food supplements. However, a persistent minority of unorthodox nutritionists favor radical diet revisions and the therapeutic use of high potency vitamin preparations. There is a remarkably big difference here in both philosophy and effectiveness.
Throughout our lives, we have made many crucial, this-or-that decisions: which college to attend or not attend; who to marry or not marry; which job to accept or not accept; how many children to have or not have. Collectively, our country makes proportionally major choices with each Supreme Court decision, with each general election, and with each Congressional vote.
pharmaceuticals available to everyone won't solve our disease problem any
more than making guns available to everyone will solve our crime problem.
More vaccinations will do little for cardiovascular diseases that are responsible
for one half of all deaths in the
I (obviously) feel very strongly that there is an alternative, a nutritional "road less traveled" that we should have taken long before this. That road is the one of personal responsibility for health, complete dietary overhaul, and, when needed, aggressive high-dose vitamin therapy instead of drugs. The closest professional description of this approach is naturopathy, the organized science of natural healing (Airola, 1970, 1977, 1980; Inglis, 1965; Law, 1976).
There is still time to reverse our steps and take this other path. I perceive a keen need for a direct appeal to individual doctors, students and patients to improve their health by changing their own lives. I work with all of these folks every day as a college lecturer and natural therapeutics consultant. Dale Carnegie maintained that winning friends is everybody's second priority, because their number one concern is their family's health (Carnegie, 1981).
Pasteur said on his
deathbed that poor health is not the fault of germs (Nutri-West,
1994). Neither is it uniquely the fault of Congress, as much as we may
like to say so.
Aside from accidental injury, whatever we do to our bodies we do ourselves, daily, by the lifestyle choices we make. Even the effects of Down's Syndrome, often seen as the ultimate genetic curse, can be largely overcome by huge doses of B-complex vitamins (Harrell, 1981). There is no outside enemy to fight; as Pogo said, it's us. As the "bogeyman" disappears from a child's room as soon as the light is turned on, so do old-style, failed disease-care systems pale and fade when examined under the light of nutrition research and clinical proof. We do not need "further study" on mineral and vitamin therapy. The work has already been done, the results are in print, and the public is cheerfully but unhealthfully ignorant. How did we miss it?
One possible explanation is that the public has been "dumbed down" by a cozy relationship between the mainstream medicine and the media. As many communities have only one major newspaper, and our country in effect operates with a "one-party" (i.e. medical) health-care delivery system, we have more than a hint of monopoly. Major wire services are continually fed articles reflecting the positions of the largest, most vocal, and best funded health lobbies and professional trade groups. What is politically correct, popular, and easily reduced to a sound byte is what gets publicity; what gets publicity tends to get funded, and what is funded gets done. Medical witch hunts for a test-tube, magic-bullet cure for cancer or AIDS fit this description. Since pharmaceutical industry investment in such projects is very high, there is funding. Media cooperation is equally high, for a heroic, new celebrity-style medical crusade easily sells papers and commercial air time. Politicians know a bandwagon when they see it, and the result is more laws favoring orthodox medicine... and still more funding.
If there is one truth about clinical nutrition research, it is that it is certainly not self evident. Frederick Robert Klenner (1949, 1971), William J. McCormick (1946, 1947, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1957, 1962), Irwin Stone (1972), and later Linus Pauling (1976, 1986) all reviewed the literature on vitamin C, came to the same conclusions about its importance as a therapeutic agent, and were summarily ignored. I have often said to both practicing and student chiropractors that if established medical and nutritional authority won't listen to their own, they certainly won't jump to hear you. Considering the paucity of interest (and funding), it is quite remarkable how much good nutrition research has been done, and how almost all of it points to three embarrassingly simple conclusions:
1. The average American's diet is terrible, being superabundant in chemicals, calories and protein and very deficient in fiber and diverse major vitamins and minerals.
2. Higher US Recommended Daily Allowances plus nutritional supplements are clearly needed, and even modest increases in vitamin and mineral intake regularly result in both disease prevention and clinical cure.
3. Most citizens, and their doctors, are vaguely aware of item 1, unaware of item 2, and not concerned enough to act on either.
I continue to be amazed at the number of people who actually do not know that huge doses of vitamin C can safely be used as an antibiotic, antiviral, and antihistamine (Smith, 1988). Most surprising is the clinical nutrition misinformation level among doctors, who ought to read their own journals but apparently don't. Busy physicians tend to over rely on the salesforce (or "detail men") from pharmaceutical houses the way TV viewers rely on news anchorpersons: just give us the summary. Patent drug companies make money from patented drugs, not generic vitamins. There is much more money to be made with Prednisone than with pyridoxine (B-6). Doctors prescriptions generate patent drug sales without the doctor having to pay a cent. This well entrenched and profitable system favors itself politically and in the mass media. The medical lobby is the most powerful in the land, for the American Medical Association's Political Action Committee has outspent all others (Raasch and Cochran, 1994; White, 1994). Whether nutrition disinterest results from a lack of financial interest, a lack of political clout, or a lack of inclination, the end product is the same: patients are the losers.
My purpose is to help correct this problem by placing both the facts and the motivation directly into the reader's hands. From that point, it is up to each person to live healthfully using all available tools to do so. It is wise to select the less traveled path when it gets you where you want to go.
The first task is to get people interested in making the journey. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. You can, however, make it want to drink. Motivation shortens the distance between the pond and the muzzle.
Although each of us must ultimately make our decisions alone, it is our nature to pay attention to input from others. We appear to have been listening much too closely to the "vitamins are dangerous, drugs are not" spokespeople. Our attitude towards health too often seems to resemble a psychology experiment where white-coated scientific authority figures were able to get subjects to deliver apparently painful shocks to other human beings simply because they were told to.
If scientific authority has adequate power, it can accomplish remarkable feats of repression outside of the laboratory. For example, it took 112 years after James Lind discovered the citrus fruit cure for scurvy for the British Board of Trade to require lime juice on their merchant ships (Pauling, 1976). Scurvy is a fatal disease, and countless thousands of sailors died in the meantime. Linus Pauling appeared before a Senate Subcommittee on Health in 1975. He gave a carefully referenced and crystal-clear presentation on the benefits of large doses of vitamins, especially vitamin C (Williams, 1977, chapter 9). After over twenty years, that same Subcommittee has done nothing with that information. Nutrition can cure us, and ignoring nutritional research can and has hurt us.
Surgeon James Lind was right about citrus, and Professor Pauling was right about supplemental vitamin C. Each of these men published, and were promptly put on the back burner of the scientific stove. Their work endures because of its soundness and because it helps people. It is a big kitchen, however, and louder, larger and shinier pots and pans have gotten the public's attention, the professions' attention, and the attention of the press. The first task, therefore, is to show people that they do in fact have a choice. Since there are so very many choices in life, it is easy to have missed Dr. Lind's 1753 Treatise on Scurvy and almost as easy to not have read Dr. Pauling's How to Live Longer and Feel Better (1986). As a civilization, we've spoken rather a lot and said rather little; we've written a lot and buried some of what's most useful under the heap.
By strip-mining libraries, we can produce some very motivating evidence of successful nutritional cures. Since such an endeavor itself requires motivation, there is a need to stimulate an individual to action. After years of shamelessly coercing patients, students, and practicing doctors to hit the books and see for themselves, I can confidently report that once started, this educational process is self-sustaining. Thorough knowledge of mega-vitamin nutrition mixed with our own keen need for personal health improvement is such a combustible mixture that a single, well placed spark will start a good fire.
To help provide that initial spark, I have written three books that attempt to blend personal conviction, motivation, and all too seldom seen scientific literature into a guide for students and patients. This project has evolved over some 23 years of classroom teaching and private practice as a natural therapeutics consultant, or naturopath.
We think in terms of the difficulty of educating and motivating someone else to do something when the really tough task is to do it ourselves. Dr. Albert Schweitzer said that not only is example the best way to teach, it is the only way. The issue of motivation comes back to each of us: we may talk the talk, but can we walk the walk? First, we need to work on ourselves. An old saying is that the teacher teaches best what she most needs to know.
Teaching and motivation are closely connected. The first rule of teaching is that you need to get the listeners' attention in order to deliver the goods. A second rule is you need to get them to both accept and act on their new knowledge. The third is to monitor progress and make sure they got it right. (Loeffler, 1986)
Rule One is fairly easy, as health is personally important to everyone, particularly to those who don't have it. Monitoring effectiveness is simple, too: if they get better, it worked. If they didn't, try something else. This is a routine and completely valid approach in medicine, used every day by physicians everywhere.
Rule Two is the tough one: getting them to act on their knowledge. If Oglethorpe knows full well that smoking is harmful, how then do you get him to stop? To want to stop? To even want to want to stop? Facts alone are not enough. Even our love and concern is inadequate. I have watched many of my relatives smoke themselves to death, fully informed and fully loved.
It is the same situation with any other health issue, including nutrition. Overweight people, sedentary people, alcohol drinkers and careless eaters all increase their risk of disease. This knowledge is as well known as the behaviors are common. How shall the personal health behaviors of millions of Americans be changed? A citizenry that holds individual freedoms such as the right to bear arms so dearly will almost certainly reject any attempt to control their food choices. I have often witnessed the mere presence of a vegetarian at dinner causing a form of mental indigestion among others. (I have not only seen it, I've been the token veggie at many a meal.)
To enlighten the people, a great deal of public mobilization, and money, would normally be suggested at this juncture. Perhaps an all-out educational campaign would help. After all, per capita cigarette smoking has decreased ever since the landmark Surgeon General's Report of 1964 (Ray and Ksir, 1990). Perhaps money would help. Look what that can do for our national highway system. Still, I think that prodding our government to do it sounds better than it will play out. Federal endorsement of alternative medicine and aggressive vitamin therapeutics would likely conflict with far too many special interest groups to ever get through the House or the Senate.
Veterans of World War I learned that war does not end all wars. Many of us have lived long enough to be considered veterans of other wars. The War on Poverty resulted in a demeaning welfare system. The War on Drugs has resulted in more Americans in prison than any Westernized country. The War on Cancer has resulted in more hospitals, yet cancer kills half a million Americans annually. A War on Germs is lost before it is begun, since germs are everywhere but not all people are sick.
In the Sixties, one slogan was "What if they gave a war, and nobody came?" Enough individual actions should add up to peace. Well, what if each person eats right, exercises, eradicates their bad habits, and starts taking vitamins? Might our new slogan be: "What if they gave everybody health insurance, and nobody needed it?" The result would be nothing less than total national health, gained one person at a time.
Oddly enough, it may be that we've had trouble seeing the trees because of the forest. Health care is such an enormous issue that we tend to bite off more than we can chew. Getting a nation to be healthy is one tall order. To think we can ever gain national health by refinancing the same old disease model is ludicrous.
Having to respond to a problem frequently means someone was asleep at the switch who should have prevented the problem in the first place. Teachers themselves are taught the importance of being proactive. Well planned lessons and well established discipline will avoid many a classroom disruption. An unwritten code of teaching is that if the principal has to come to your room to quell trouble, you botched it. When police respond to a crime victim, or when ambulances respond to a heart attack victim, in some way we have failed to be proactive.
An author that calls for personal action on the part of the reader had better have something worthy to contribute. I for one will be embarrassed if all the nutritional advice I can offer to the universe is "eat a balanced diet." Aliens would be puzzled to see all our hospitals and nursing homes so full of our loved ones, and yet so barren of natural foods and supplemental vitamins. We have to motivate and educate for optimal nutrition today to avoid ending up in those places tomorrow. And we personally have to do it ourselves, for ourselves.
As difficult as it truly is to change our own personal habits, it remains the only sure method to gain our own health, and to positively influence another person to do the same. This project is really about education and motivation in just one person's health behavior, and that is the individual reader's.
In the end, education may be reduced to an option, and motivation may be reduced to an offer: there is a way out, and you are free to try it. The Titanic had insufficient lifeboats, yet many of them were launched when less than half full (Winocour, 1960). There actually was a way out for hundreds more to be saved, but only for those 1) who knew early that the ship actually was sinking and 2) who climbed in a boat. Most of those lost never knew their options until it was too late.
Today, Americans have real health options but are largely unaware of the safety, the scientific validity, and the real curative power of simple nutrients. Sometimes it is the most dreadfully ill persons that make the discovery, on their own, that there is a way off the sinking ship of conventional drug-and-surgery disease care. Terminal cancer patient Anthony Sattilaro, M.D. is a good example (Monte, 1981; Rehert, 1981), and Ann Wigmore is another (Wigmore, 1964, 1983). These individuals recovered after "hopeless" diagnoses. It is regrettable that so much more often, patients are never informed that they even have choices such as macrobiotics or wheatgrass, and that these alternatives can really work.
This can and must change. We must advocate, and personally choose, that less-traveled route if it will lead us to health. That small lifeboat, no matter how flimsy it looks, is a better bet than staying on a big, solid, doomed ship.
Copyright C 1995, 2004 Andrew W. Saul.
Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at http://www.doctoryourself.com/review.html ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at http://www.doctoryourself.com/saulbooks.html )
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