The United States spends more than $3 trillion each year on health care. That's more than what the next 10 countries spend combined! There could be justification for spending that exorbitant amount of money if it produced results, but what does research show?
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, out of 13 industrialized nations, the United States is last when it comes to the most years of life lost for adults and the highest infant mortality rate. The World Health Organization and the National Research Council claim that out of 16 industrialized nations, the United States has the highest chance that a child will die before age 5, the highest rate of women dying due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth and the second-highest rate of death by coronary heart disease and lung disease.
Mainstream medicine and its care for the millions of Americans struggling with chronic diseases leaves many with little hope or answers. The standard model of care for conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, low thyroid, acid reflux and autoimmune disease is inadequate, to say the least. Having coached people all over the world in reversing conditions such as these, I've been able to pinpoint three reasons why mainstream medicine is failing you:
1. A lack of individualized care.
Mainstream medicine has become a colossal “one size fits all” system. The focus has been to diagnose a disease and match it with a corresponding drug. This medicine matching game doesn't take into account that we're all different; every person is genetically and biochemically unique. There are no “magic pills.” What works for one person may not work for the next. We should take into account biological variability and tailor a solution for the individual.
2. A policy of treating symptoms.
Pharmaceutical drugs are, for the most part, not designed to heal, but to manage symptoms. Because this is the case, when a patient with a chronic condition is given a medication, he's often told he'll have to take the drug indefinitely. This is also why, as time goes on, medication lists normally get longer and dosages become higher.
We should see symptoms as the body’s “check engine light.” What would you think if I covered up the check engine light and kept on driving as usual? In terms of health, we should find out why the symptoms are there in the first place. Very few people are sick from a pharmaceutical deficiency. Clinical investigation of the underlying issues is the only way this can be accomplished.
3. An overload of side effects.
A good question to ask yourself when deciding between healthcare options is, “What is the most effective option that causes the least amount of side effects?” If a drug fits this criteria, then it might be the best option for you. It just so happens that medications often do not fit this criteria.
Have you ever watched a drug television advertisement before? Prescription drugs killed more people in 2009 than heroin and cocaine combined, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the Journal of American Medical Association, more than 100,000 people die each year from the proper use of prescription drugs. Not from overdosing or taking the wrong drug, but from the side effects of the “right drug.”
So where does this leave us? We need to do something dramatically different to fix a dramatically failing model of care. Admittedly, it would be a daunting task to change the trajectory of the entire system, but you can change your trajectory. Alternative care such as functional medicine attempts to be a solution to the standard model of care. In functional medicine, we design health programs for the individual by clinically investigating the underlying dysfunctions. It is truly hope for the millions falling through the cracks of conventional care. I wrote an article last year entitled The 5 Principles of Functional Medicine for MindBodyGreen that explains this exciting field of natural health.