BreakFree Medicine is a book about healing, medicine, and maintaining wellness. It provides the missing holistic, comprehensive, and solution-based approaches often lacking in today's conventional medical care. It is succinct, valid, and applicable to patients and practitioners alike. BreakFree Medicine is a reference guide for anyone seeking to effectively navigate today's changing medical environment.
""Dr. Sarah LoBisco's book is a brilliant and comprehensive look at medicine, healing, and wellness from both the analysis and critique of what is wrong with our modern system of medicine, and also by detailing the path we need to take, both individually and collectively, to achieve better health from a physical, emotional and spiritual perspective. I highly recommend this book, and anyone who reads it will be grateful for having done so and the knowledge and insight they will have gained."" - Michael Wayne, Ph.D., L.Ac., author of Quantum-Integral Medicine: Towards a New Science of Healing and Human Potential and The Low Density Lifestyle.
""Dr. Sarah LoBisco is a shining example of an integrative doctor who is teaching modern medicine how to balance scientific progress with natural healthcare wisdom. Her book BreakFree Medicine is a treasury of wellness."" - Robert Holden, PhD, author of Happiness NOW! and Shift Happens!
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A Systematic and Integrative Guide to Balancing Your Body
By Sarah LoBisco
Balboa PressCopyright © 2016 Sarah A LoBisco, ND.
All rights reserved.
Traditional, Conventional, and Natural Medicine: The Power of a Beautiful Integration
Naturopathic doctors revere the body's innate ability to heal and to be restored to optimal function through the least invasive, most natural means possible. This philosophy views disease as a state of imbalance, and believes that when the body is provided with what it needs, it is restored to its natural balance. Our aim is to address the underlying cause of disease, remove any obstacles to cure, and support the body with the proper nourishment it needs to heal.
My training in naturopathic philosophy has been furthered by the study of functional medicine, which provides insight into one's unique biochemistry. It utilizes a holistic model that incorporates specific biological assessments to help determine individualized nutritional needs and deficiencies. Functional medicine also offers insight into how various supplements or medications affect each person's body differently.
Conventional medicine, which is the medicine practiced by today's medical doctors (MDs) and their allied professionals, tends to rely more on tools aimed at covering or suppressing symptoms. Although I am trained in the use of pharmaceuticals and diagnostic tools of modern and scientific research, I have earned the letters "ND" (vs. "MD") after my name because of the ways in which I use, apply, and view those tools. This book is not meant to assert which type of medicine is better. Both are needed. I have the utmost respect for conventional medical practitioners and their brilliance. I am not questioning their abilities, diagnostic excellence, or knowledge of core clinical sciences. I do, however, agree with most of my colleagues who use integrative medicine. Conventional medicine tends to apply this knowledge by suppressing symptoms without always addressing causes ... an approach that could be contributing to today's healthcare crisis.
Today's Conventional Medicine Statistics
Many people who are interested in healthcare reform and integrative medicine are familiar with Gary Null's publication, Death by Medicine, a compilation of various studies on the state of healthcare statistics in the United States. This publication cites sources for estimated costs, death rates, and unnecessary medical events. Null lists the following conditions with an estimated rate of mortality that totals 7,841,360:
Adverse drug reactions
Nosocomial (hospital-based) infections
Null concludes, "Our estimated 10-year total of 7.8 million iatrogenic [a condition unintentionally caused by the actions or words of a physician] deaths is more than all the casualties from all the wars fought by the US throughout its entire history." Yikes! This is quite an alarming conclusion for most of us to hear, especially since we are led to believe that we have one of the best healthcare systems in the world.
Recently, I came across an updated statistic on our country's dreary healthcare outcomes. A meta-analysis in the September 2013 issue of the Journal of Patient Safety affirmed "that a lower limit of 210,000 deaths per year was associated with preventable harm in hospitals," with an upper limit of approximately 400,000. Interestingly, this analysis was limited to only four studies and only took into consideration specific medical harms using the Global Trigger Tool to flag specific evidence in medical records.
A June 2010 report by the Commonwealth Fund, a private organization advocating for a "high performance health care system providing better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency," echoed Null's disconcerting news on the state of US healthcare. As stated in the Executive Summary of their 34-page report,
The U.S. health system is the most expensive in the world, but comparative analyses consistently show the United States underperforms relative to other countries on most dimensions of performance. This report, which includes information from the most recent three Commonwealth Fund surveys of patients and primary care physicians about medical practices and views of their countries' health systems (2007-2009), confirms findings discussed in previous editions of Mirror, Mirror. It also includes information on health care outcomes that were featured in the most recent (2008) U.S. health system scorecard issued by the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System.
Among the seven nations of Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom (UK), the United States ranked last in overall health outcomes. The United States has also ranked last in the 2004, 2006, and 2007 editions. The Netherlands, UK, and Australia scored highest in patient and physician survey results for the experience and dimensions of care. The following items were among the considerations for key findings in this report:
1. Quality of care and access
4. Quality of life
It is concerning that the United States fails to achieve better results for healthcare, falling behind seven nations in the dimensions of access, patient safety, coordination, efficiency, and equity. Universal health coverage was absent in the United States, which was a notable difference from the other countries. Furthermore, the other six countries spent less money per person and overall in healthcare's gross national product compared to the United States. It is questionable whether President Barack Obama's healthcare reform legislation will improve affordability and access in the future. During the editing of this book, The Common Wealth Fund released their 2015 report, "U.S. Health Care from a Global Perspective: Spending, Use of Ser vices, Prices, and Health in 13 Countries" and reported similar results in 2013 as in 2010, stating that, "Despite spending more on health care, Americans had poor health outcomes, including shorter life expectancy and greater prevalence of chronic conditions."
Ten years after The Institute of Medicine issued their article, "To Err is Human," a 2010 studyexamined possible harms to hospital admissions in North Carolina between 2002 and 2007. The report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggested that the above statistics concerning medication errors and conventional treatments are not improving:
In a study of 10 North Carolina hospitals, we found that harms remain common, with little evidence of widespread improvement. Further efforts are needed to translate effective safety interventions into routine practice and to monitor health care safety over time.
A 2006 analysis from the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 21,298 adverse drug events in emergency rooms were reported by an estimated 701,547 individuals in a two-year span. Among these cases, 3,487 required hospitalization. Drugs requiring regular outpatient monitoring in order to prevent acute toxicity were responsible for 41.5 percent of the estimated hospitalizations overall.
According to a 2010 review, adverse drug reactions (ADRs) are of special concern for those over 65, females, and young children. The authors stated that in emergency departments, ADRs were found more frequently in elderly patients who were on multiple medications and who had more than one diagnosis. In children, it was estimated that 5.4 percent had ADRs, with 56.7 percent of these being related to beta-lactam antibiotics. Of concern, only 6.9 percent of children with ADRs were referred for further investigation.
This review also noted that among children suffering from an immune-related blood disorder, there were associations between selected antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, mucolytics, and measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination. Finally, female gender was a factor in developing ADRs, in general, and atopy (a type of allergic hypersensitivity response), was a risk factor for beta-lactam antibiotic sensitization in female hospital nurses.
Room for Improvement
Depressing news, isn't it? Or is it? Despite some of the negative press around doctors and healthcare, I never cease to be amazed at the absolute dedication and brilliance of professionals across all medical specialties. I believe that most doctors wish to do what is best for the patient, based on what they are taught. Physicians come into this profession to help people, not to hurt them. The fact that we are not doing well with outcomes simply indicates that there is room for change.
The answer lies in a new approach, one that uses a blend of conventional, integrative, functional, and naturopathic medicine. Instead of depending on the acute care model to treat chronic diseases, this approach shifts the focus to lifestyle and diet modifications to prevent them. It unites the science of epigenetics, nutrigenomics, individualized supplementation, and mind-body techniques.
This new viewpoint reflects a very different mindset than the "pill for every ill" mentality of conventional medicine. Although appropriate for traumatic or acute conditions, our current quick-fix mindset for long-term health has led us to the pathetic statistics I listed earlier in this chapter. It teaches people to ignore and suppress their bodies' warning signs with magic pills until we are barreling right through stop signs toward a major crash-and-burn. The result is a disconnect between the body, mind, and spirit, and a potential strain in the patient-doctor relationship.
Thankfully, there is a new approach which solves this problem using a completely different model. I will dive more into this model in Chapter 2. The good news is that we don't need to change all the tools at our disposal, just how and when we use them. This approach applies integrative methods to empower the patient and to help achieve the highest level of health for every individual.
The Problem with Known "Truths" in Medicine
You may be wondering why a book on natural medicine is turning into a discussion of philosophy, but the two are quite interconnected. A strong tie between healing and psychology has been noted since the beginning of time. The father of medicine, Hippocrates, said, "It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has." Many can relate only too well to this statement. I hear my clients exclaim time and time again that they wish their conventional doctors would simply listen to them. It is a simple request, yet why is it so hard to come by?
In the current economy, doctors who wish to assess psychological contributors to their clients' symptoms are also faced with the practical business ramifications of running a practice in which payment is typically not reimbursed for such "frivolities." According to the American Medical Association (AMA), physician reimbursement is based on three factors:
In 1992, the federal government established a standardized Medicare physician payment schedule based on a resource-based relative value scale (RBRVS). Under this scale, physician service payments are calculated based upon the cost of the service provided as divided into three components: physician work, practice expense and professional liability insurance.
This approach brings attention to the fact that we are not suffering from a lack of knowledgeable and brilliant medical minds; rather, the payment model does not allow for integrity, authenticity, and courage.
There is a sense in medicine that "healing" is based more on insurance premiums and the bottom line of the pharmaceutical industry than on physicians making treatment decisions based on the individual patient. It seems that the ultimate authority regarding coverage of services are the insurance companies. Dr. Kirsch expresses his frustration in being caught in this model where clear ethical boundaries are indistinct:
When I select a specialist for a patient, I first look at the patient's list of approved physicians instead of immediately suggesting the best available specialist. If a patient needs to be hospitalized, then I must know which hospitals are in the insurance company's network. And when a pharmacy calls me because my choice of a medicine is not on the patient's formulary, I casually prescribe another medication.
Kirsch is brave enough to acknowledge the possibility of hypocrisy of physicians practicing at their highest ability within a system run by the business of insurance companies. This seems to be true even among doctors who claim to practice high ethical standards. For example, it is not uncommon for physicians to be guided in their choices of labs and imaging based on a patient's insurance plan. Furthermore, insurance companies are in the position of determining which medications are covered and whether a patient can afford a physician's first choice of what to prescribe.
Although the new approach to medicine described in this book promises better outcomes, the business of medicine makes the acceptance of it slow in coming. Preventative medicine and long-term goals are up against human nature's desire for the quick fix and that alluring quest to discover THE cure, THE diet, THE pill, or THE miracle. In today's society, advertisers and marketers have convinced us that their particular panacea will produce fast and effortless results, and with money-back guarantees. We are bombarded by the media's brilliant catering to this primitive, gluttonous quest. The use of mindless brainwashing techniques, empty promises, and a "pill for every ill" as the instantaneous answer are the solutions offered, regardless of how many years of abuse our body has been through.
These messages produce a cultural norm to pop a pill, erase the symptoms, and keep on going. This presents a challenge for those in the integrative health fields. Naturopathic doctors, whose philosophy incorporates finding the true cause of a disease or symptom, not instant fixes, can be easily drowned out by the millions of dollars spent on advertising quick cure-alls with sexy marketing campaigns. It is, indeed, a sad state of affairs when money is not just the bottom line of Ebenezer Scrooge cronies, but also the final say in how we heal. What is most disappointing and scary to me is that when I receive inquiries for my service, the first question is typically, "Does insurance cover your services?" It reflects the modern viewpoint that healthcare comes down to the best deal. How sad! And how infuriating to both doctors and patients! Society has trained the sick to regard their healing as a commodity to the best bidder. Oh, Judas!
In this book, I am inviting you to slow down and awaken to that quiet, calm voice within. This voice will lead you into a healing partnership with your doctor, not encourage a split between you and your body. In the next section, I will invite you to question your belief about science and explain to you why our current model is lacking.
For the Love of Pseudoscience and Medicine
I love medicine and I love science. That's why I studied to become a naturopathic doctor. I know there is room for both. Here's the thing, though ... science isn't the ultimate truth. Rather, science is a system of knowledge that covers certain truths. Merriam-Webster defines science as ...
1 :the state of knowing: knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding
2 a: a department of systematized knowledge as an object of study
b: something (as a sport or technique) that may be studied or learned like systematized knowledge
3 a: knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method
b: such knowledge or such a system of knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena: natural science
4 : a system or method reconciling practical ends with scientific laws
When we look at the definition of science with an open mind, the question of whether science is indeed a theology in itself is a valid one. Some might view this as blasphemy, but today's science is mostly based within the confines of testing the theories of other scientists and proving or disproving their methods. In this instance, we are claiming that what is to be considered true is only in what has been previously explored. That's why the whole definition of science can be misleading when "breakthroughs" occur or a different viewpoint on conventional science is expressed. The truth is, if it cannot be explained within the confines of current understanding, the majority of society views it as a threat. Unfortunately, this means that the very subject of natural health can be threatening to our current view of medicine because it isn't what is currently accepted within the definition of the "science of medicine." According to an article in The Humanist, science may indeed be a form of religion:
In its pure form, science is supposed to be used for exploration and discovery, not for conforming and confirming what is already present. The fact is Science is becoming a political, economic, and theological basis in which anything beyond status quo and conventional thinking is looked upon as pseudo-science or dangerous. It makes me question, has science become a fundamentalist religion?
Excerpted from BreakFree Medicine by Sarah LoBisco. Copyright © 2016 Sarah A LoBisco, ND.. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 - Traditional, Conventional, and Natural Medicine: The Power of a Beautiful Integration, 1,
Chapter 2 - A New Approach to Individualized Treatment, 16,
Chapter 3 - Let Food Be Thy Medicine, 30,
Chapter 4 - Moving Toward Healthier Outcomes, 52,
Chapter 5 - Your Gut: The Home of Mood, Food, and Immunity, 67,
Chapter 6 - Healthy Body, Healthy Brain, 85,
Chapter 7 - Finding Hormonal Harmony, 113,
Chapter 8 - Toxic in the 21st Century, 131,
Chapter 9 - Heart & Soul Medicine, 149,
Chapter 10 - Conclusion, 156,
About the Author, 161,
Resources: for Further Reading, 167,
References by Chapter, 169,