Long-term, severe, multi-system diseases such as M.S. and M.E. and others are very difficult to treat. The idea that you would try a lot of different treatments one by one, discarding those that make you feel more ill and continuing with those which decrease symptoms or disability, seems like a ‘no brainer.’
Unfortunately, due to something known as a ‘healing reaction’ the problem is not at all that simple.
Many different nutrients and therapies can cause problematic symptoms and side effects which are an indication that the treatment is not a good fit for you and should be discontinued. However, some therapies may also provoke symptoms which are not merely annoying side-effects but instead healing reactions that are a very good indication that the therapy is working and doing what it is supposed to.
It may seem counter-intuitive but this means that feeling somewhat worse after starting a new treatment is not always a bad sign. Sometimes, it is a very good sign and even an essential sign that deep healing is occurring.
In ‘Deep Healing Versus Symptom Removal’ Dr Lawrence Wilson writes,
Symptom removal is the type of doctoring offered by the medical profession and by most holistic doctors as well. Symptoms are the focus, by and large, and the goal is to make them go away. The problem is that symptoms often point to deeper imbalances that are not usually not addressed.
Deep healing is a much more profound process. It has to do with restoring the body to its former state of health. This means restoring its energy production system, its minerals ratios and much more. Symptom removal occurs as a “side effect” of these programs.
Healing therefore usually takes longer and involves lifestyle changes as well. It is more work for both the client and the practitioner. In the long run, however, it saves time and lots of money, and may save your life as well.'
It is important that the symptoms from healing reactions remain at a level that the patient can handle however. Very intense healing reactions can even be dangerous in some cases. M.E. patients in particular must go very slowly when it comes to treatments causing healing reactions. Slow and steady progress is the goal.
Why are symptomatic approaches so popular?
In his excellent article ‘Deep Healing Versus Symptom Removal’ Dr Lawrence Wilson explains that symptomatic approaches are so popular because:
1. They appear simple. This means they are largely superficial and easily understood by doctors and patients alike. Balancing methods are much more difficult to comprehend and to practice, as well.
2. Doctors, drug companies and hospitals love them. This is sadly the case because the patients never really get well. They always come back with the next symptom or problem, so it is good for business. Most holistic physicians are still recommending symptomatic treatments, in my estimation. Many are still interested in having the patient come back many times. Therefore, no matter what they profess, they are less interested in deeper balancing methods that actually heal the patient at deep levels. However, overall they are much better than conventional medical doctors I have met.
3. Symptomatic approaches ask very little of the patient in most cases. The person is allowed to keep eating junk food, skip adequate rest and sleep and ignore the problems in their lives.
Why are symptomatic approaches so problematic?
The problem with symptomatic approaches to treating serious diseases includes that,
A. They are superficial and don’t deal with the causes of illness.
B. They are very costly as the patient is never healed and so needs continual retreatment and side-effects cause additional symptoms which must then also be treated which means that a patients requires more care over time rather than less.
C. Adverse events and unintended consequences often occur. Diuretic drugs may dangerously lower potassium or magnesium levels, for example, or stain drugs may dangerously lower CoQ10 levels. Antibiotic drugs may also kill all the ‘good bugs’ in a person’s system, leading to yeast infections and other secondary problems. Adverse events may be mild while others kill people every day.
D. They tend to mask deeper problems by eliminating warning symptoms. As Dr Lawrence Wilson explains:
Simple fatigue can signal a small cancer in the body or a pending heart attack. However, most doctors, faced with this common complaint, do little or no testing to find out if something deeper is amiss. Instead, they may advise the patient with fatigue to exercise more, take a nap, take a vacation or worse, have a cup of coffee or tea. By following this advice, however, the patient often masks or obscures the original symptom of fatigue. This often leads to worse problems in the following months or years.
In Detoxify or Die, Dr Sherry Rogers writes,
You and your doctor have been screwed into believing every symptom is a deficiency of some drug or surgery. You've been led to believe you have no control, when in truth you're the one who must take control.
Unfortunately, the modus operandi in medicine is to find a drug to turn off the damaged part that is producing symptoms. A simple example is the prescription of calcium channel blockers, the number one drug used by cardiologists for angina, hypertension, congestive heart failure, or arrhythmia. But as with any drug, this does not fix anything that is broken. It merely poisons normal physiological pathways, thereby forcing the chemistry in a direction that attenuates symptoms.
Since nothing has been done in terms of getting rid of the underlying cause, the disease continues. In addition the missing fatty acids and minerals in the cell membranes that house and calcium channels are not identified and repaired. Nor are the sequestered membrane chemicals that caused the damage, like unavoidable PCBs and Mercury, gotten rid of. If this were not enough perpetuation and acceleration of damage, the side effects of drugs are not innocuous. For example, calcium channel blockers have been shown by MRI to cause definitive shrinkage of the brain and loss of brain function, a side effect rarely mentioned by clinicians or news media.
It should not come as a shock that this type of information is ignored, since studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association document how the practice guidelines for American medicine are made by physicians who receive compensation from the drug industry. In addition so is the FDA, the very government regulatory body that approves drugs, riddled with advisers with financial ties to (and is heavily lobbied by) the very drug industry that is seeking its approval.
Why is deep healing safer than much of the symptom-based and drug-based medicine available?
Dr Sherry Rogers explains that with treating the causes of disease, ‘A life sentence to medications that block physiologic pathways is avoided.’ She continues,
Bear in mind that since medications do not fix anything, they allow the underlying problem to continue uncorrected and actually accelerate. Meanwhile, new symptoms and new seemingly unrelated diseases are the inevitable consequence of this biochemical faux pas.
Immediate benefits with treatment may not be benefits at all
Some of the treatments which may have little or no effect or make a person more ill at first may in fact be the best ones to continue with. It is also possible that some of the treatments which make a person feel better very quickly are the ones that should strictly avoided!
Fundamental therapy does not instantaneously result in improvement. Anything that would improve you within a matter of minutes, hours, or days is, in fact, not therapy at all. It is palliation—symptom suppression—which in fact may not be helping you at all.
Symptoms are usually manifestations of defence responses and reflect but do not cause the underlying problem. Symptom-based treatment alone is therefore flawed at best and dangerous at worst: to treat symptoms without understanding the underlying disease process can cause death: the third leading cause of death is treatment by physicians, which kills 250,000 people per year (the first being heart disease and the second being cancer). Most drugs are not aimed at the primary cause of disease but at symptoms and are therefore dangerous. If you fix the defence mechanism, at some deep level you can worsen symptoms and also feel worse overall.
(This is such an important point, I’m tempted to print it here in 20 point bold, italicised and flashing type in lurid green with pink stripes!)
If a person were unaware of the fact that a positive initial effect were not always positive, and a negative initial effect were not always negative one may very easily come to the completely twisted conclusion that stimulants and drugs are the most effective treatments and that any therapy which promotes deep healing should be strictly avoided.
What is this type of medicine called?
I’m told that what I am describing here is probably best referred to as a combination of orthomolecular medicine, environmental medicine and holistic medicine. Although really it is just good medicine. Real medicine. Medicine based on science.
Orthomolecular medicine (also sometimes known as nutritional medicine) is a system for the prevention and treatment of disease based on the knowledge that each person's biochemical environment is genetically determined and individually specific. Therapy involves supplementation with substances naturally present in the body (for example vitamins, minerals, trace elements and amino acids) in the optimal amounts for that individual at that time to correct nutritional deficiencies and the resulting biochemical abnormalities. The term ‘orthomolecular’ was devised by Nobel Prize winner Dr Linus Pauling and loosely translated means ‘the right molecule in the right amount.’
Environmental medicine deals primarily with the effects of the environment on humans including water and air pollution, toxins and other problematic substances in food and in the products we use, vaccinations and travel.
Holistic medicine is a system of medicine which considers man as an integrated whole, or as a functioning unit. It is characterized by its focus on the whole person as a unique individual, on the energy of the body and its influence on health and disease, on the healing power of nature and the mobilization of the body's own resources to heal itself, and on the treatment of the underlying causes, not symptoms, of disease.
Other terms may also be used, such as nutritional balancing, nutritional medicine, biomedical treatment, integrative medicine, functional medicine, nutrigenomics and natural medicine etc., and others may prefer to avoid any type of new terminology whatsoever.
Standard and cutting-edge testing also plays an important role in some aspects of this type of medical care, as do some ‘mainstream’ medical practices. (The term mainstream is problematic as what is mainstream in one country may be referred to as ‘alternative’ in another.) All useful treatments and tests are used, without bias. The best is taken from each different type of medicine and all of the resources that are available. Many orthomolecular, holistic and environmental practitioners are also doctors.
The best of all worlds is to find a trained doctor that also specialises in holistic, environmental or orthomolecular medicine. Advice can be sought on individual issues by nutritionists, detoxification experts, dieticians and experts in any one of a number of relevant fields. But only doctors have range to the full array of tests, treatment and knowledge.
The need for a balance between symptom management and deep healing
There are times when a symptom-based approach is appropriate.
This includes times when symptoms are self-limiting (such as due to a healing reaction) and with certain conditions in which a symptomatic response is very necessary including overwhelming infection, very high blood pressure, severe cardiac arrhythmia, any cancer or other similar situations; in this case emergency medicine is an excellent choice as one must deal with the life threatening symptom before trying to correct underlying problems that may be causative.
Symptomatic medicine is also appropriate in long-term or advanced diseases where not treating the symptom may cause deterioration or a lack of progress in the overall healing program, such as with symptoms such as severe pain or sleeplessness – particularly where the treatment has little or no effect on the overall program of healing. There is little point trying to give the body of someone all the materials it needs to heal if the person cannot sleep for more than a few hours a day and so is and putting enormous stress on the body.
Where possible, it is desirable to also treat the cause of symptoms at the same time and to go with the most minimal and safe effective symptomatic treatment available.
In the case of improving sleep, this might mean first trying to remove stimulants from the diet, to meditate and to improve sleep hygiene. The next step might be calcium and magnesium taken at night or by L-tryptophan or inositol supplements or a low nightly dose of melatonin. After that, a higher dose of melatonin may be trialled or low dose melatonin combined with the methylcobalamin form of B12 (to try and reset the sleep/wake cycle). As a last resort, and for a limited period of time, prescription sleep drugs may be trialled. The idea is that more serious measures are not taken unless the milder and simpler measures have proven unsuccessful.
Which nutrients promote deep healing and also improve symptoms in the short term as a side-effect?
Some of the treatments used in deep healing can also have a positive effect on symptoms, most notably vitamin C (at an opti-dose) and liposomal glutathione.
They both give the body the ‘rapid and profound influx of electrons’ needed to fight disease and to support heart, lung and brain health and immunity says Dr Levy, who also adds that ‘Virtually all diseases and toxins/poisons cause sickness and death through their electron stealing activity.’
Glutathione and vitamin C and other antioxidants are not cure-alls, particularly when it comes to the treatment of long-term diseases. But Dr Levy does explain that even where the disease is too far advanced to be reversed the administration of reduced glutathione and vitamin C can at least provide reliable symptomatic relief.
Is this about mainstream medicine and cutting-edge science always being the wrong choice compared to what is often called ‘alternative’ medicine?
No, there are a lot of quacks in BOTH fields of medicine! People that treat only symptoms, misdiagnose you and then blame YOU when their unscientific approach fails or that are a waste of time and money come in both types. I'm not a fan of the vast majority of practitioners, from both fields.
The important distinction is between medicine which works and medicine which doesn’t, not some artificial line between so-called ‘mainstream’ and ‘alternative’ medicine.
It is a myth that orthomolecular, holistic and environmental medicine rejects science, is not backed up by evidence and research and is not scientific. Orthomolecular expert Abram Hoffer MD explains that it is in fact mainstream medicine, as it is most often practiced, that is not scientific. He writes,
Modern medicine is not scientific, it is full of prejudice, illogic and susceptible to advertising. Doctors are not taught to reason, they are programmed to believe in whatever their medical schools teach them and the leading doctors tell them. Over the past 20 years the drug companies, with their enormous wealth, have taken medicine over and now control its research, what is taught and the information released to the public.
In Detoxify or Die, Dr Sherry Rogers writes,
I have to laugh when people ask me if I do alternative, herbal, acupuncture or holistic medicine. ‘No,’ I reply. ‘We do state-of-the-art medicine. In other words, we find the biochemical, nutritional and environmental causes and cures rather than blindly drugging everything. Sure, herbs are gentler, safer and more physiologic than drugs and holistic medicine attempts to incorporate many diverse modalities, etc. But there is no substitute for finding the underlying biochemical causes and cures. This is real medicine. This is where medicine should and would have been decades ago, if it had not been abducted by the pharmaceutical industry.
Drugs are essential for turning off certain bodily systems in emergencies, pain medications are essential for some patients, but they don't actually fix anything. They don’t get to the cause. This type of medicine is well suited to emergency use to a large extent, but the same approach just isn’t appropriate for chronic health problems and disease prevention.
To use a car analogy, all drugs do is turn off the 'no petrol/gas' light (the symptom) they do nothing whatsoever to actually GET more petrol etc. (the cause of the problem).
The best news about this type of medicine is that much of the treatment is not disease specific, so you don’t necessarily need to have doctors expert in M.E. or whichever disease you have to help you make real progress with it. It is also affordable and parts of it can even be done without any medical assistance.
Is this about ‘natural medicine’ always being better than drugs?
No! Natural does not always means safe and many natural products are as big a waste of time and money to take as are many drugs.
The issue is that no matter what other treatments are tried, making sure your body has all the materials it needs to run properly is an essential part of any program aimed at reclaiming lost health. No drug can take the role of any of these nutrients and full health will never be achieved while these low nutrient levels remain untreated or while the load of toxic chemicals is high.
Even for those who prefer to wait in hope for a miracle cure in a pill, and find nutritional medicine very ‘unsexy’ and unexciting, it makes sense to fix what deficiency related damage can easily be fixed now, so that any future treatment has a higher chance of success.
I haven’t found a good doctor yet, can I do some parts of the program myself, now?
Having solid medical advice and support every step of the way is ideal. It is also possible to do some parts of this type of program safely by yourself, while you try and find a trained professional to help you, if you are prepared to do so in a responsible and intelligent manner and to first spend a lot of time reading and researching before you do so.
Andrew Saul PhD in his book ‘Fire your doctor: How to be independently healthy’ writes,
In newspapers, magazines and on television, the public has been warned off the very vitamins and other supplements that have been repeatedly proven to reduce illness in practically every instance. The effective use of food supplements and natural diet saves money, pain and lives... and you have been told not to do it. If you want something done right you have to do it yourself. This especially includes your healthcare. Vitamins do not cause even one death per year. Still it is granted that we need access to all the tools that medicine and technology can provide, when used with caution. We must also fully use our natural resources of therapeutic nutrition and vitamins. To limit ourselves to pharmaceutical medicine is like going into the ring to fight the champ with one hand tied behind our backs.
There are absolutely times when we need professional help, but we can act to greatly reduce the frequency of those times and far beyond what we have been told. Time in front of a computer screen can teach us a lot more than time in front of a movie screen. But hasn’t health information on the internet been described as the mother lode of all quackery? Of course it has, but as you learned in kindergarten, calling names does not make it so. There is a practical alternative to blind trust, use your noodle and see for yourself.
Andrew Saul PhD also makes the following comments,
Most people’s fear of self-care centres on three common fallacies.
1. You are not educated enough to treat yourself, that is what doctors are for
2. Natural therapies are not powerful enough to cure real diseases
3. Megavitamin therapy is dangerous
These are not facts, these are beliefs, and they are all unfounded. If your doctor does not believe in using vitamins, not only is that doctor behind the times, that doctor is not being scientific. Therapeutic nutrition is not a matter of belief; it is a matter of confirmed clinical experience. Belief systems can be wrong.
Modern drug based medicine is as incomplete as a novel written with three vowels. As discordant as a symphony constructed using only some of the notes. High dose nutritional therapy is the much needed missing part of our vocabulary of healthcare. The fight against disease needs all the help it can get.
The topic of deep healing is a complex one. This paper aims to provide only a very basic overview of this topic for patients new to this subject. It is an informal summary of some of the books and articles I have been reading lately (they have each added a little bit to the puzzle).
I find these ideas and concepts compelling and they make an enormous amount of logical sense to me in comparison to endlessly chasing new symptoms.
It is recommended that patients do as much reading as possible from the reference list and treatment cautions list of this site and that all nutritional and detoxification programs are individually designed and monitored throughout by a qualified medical expert, if possible.
Detoxify or Die by Dr Sherry Rogers
Sauna Therapy for Detoxification and Healing by Dr Laurence Wilson (book)
Deep Healing Versus Symptom Removal and The Emergency Health Paradigm Versus Nutritional Balancing by Dr Lawrence Wilson.
Principles That Identify Orthomolecular Medicine by R. Kunin, MD
Orthomolecular Medicine - Revisited by Ray C. Wunderlich, Jr., M.D.
Fire Your Doctor! How to Be Independently Healthy by Andrew W. Saul
How to live longer and feel better by Linus Pauling
Doctor yourself : natural healing that works by Andrew W. Saul
Curing the Incurable: Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins by Dr Thomas E. Levy
GSH: Master Defender Against Disease, Toxins and Ageing by Dr T. Levy
More recommended reading:
Ascorbate: The Science of Vitamin C by Dr. Hickey and Dr. Roberts
Dr. Atkins' Vita-Nutrient Solution: Nature's Answer to Drugs by Robert C. Atkins
Foods and Supplements to Balance Phase 1 and Phase 2 Liver Detoxification and Pathological Detoxifiers and Environmental Illness and Detoxification Profile Results - The Pathological Detoxifier and Chronic Illness from the EI Illness Resource Blog
Good Health in the 21st Century by Carole Hungerford
Juicing, Fasting and Detoxing for Life by Cherie Calbom
Optimal Nutrition for Optimal Health by Thomas E. Levy
Our Toxic World: A Wake Up Call by Doris J. Rapp
The Ascorbate Effect in Infectious and Autoimmune Diseases by Robert F. Cathcart, M.D.
The Detoxification Enzyme Systems by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
The Healing Factor: Vitamin C Against Disease by Irwin Stone
The New Optimum Nutrition Bible by Patrick Holford
VITAMIN C, TITRATING TO BOWEL TOLERANCE, ANASCORBEMIA, AND ACUTE INDUCED SCURVY Robert F. Cathcart, III, M.D.
VITAMIN C: The Real Story by Steve Hickey, PhD and Andrew Saul
“People’s ability to detoxify certain substances is as unique as their fingerprints or their face. There is as much as a 500 fold different in people’s detoxification abilities with different chemicals.” Dr Sherry Rogers
“The CHF patient has more drugs on board than most other diseases. Meanwhile the real underlying causes, which can be totally correctable, go consistently ignored by medicine. And once a congestive heart failure victim starts accumulating drugs, it is extremely rare if any drugs are withdrawn. Instead his physicians steadily pile on more to keep pace with his worsening symptoms. The number of drugs should tell you that medicine doesn't have a clue as to what the true underlying cause is for CHF.” Dr Sherry Rogers
'Sometimes a reason for insurance rejections is that the therapy is not "reasonable and customary". But I should not be penalized for physicians' lack of knowledge. For example, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (June 13, 1990), it is reasonable and customary for 90 percent of physicians to fail to look for something as rudimentary and lifesaving as a magnesium deficiency in over 1033 patients hospitalized for cardiovascular problems. A sad fact is that many of these patients died from myocardial infarction secondary to arrhythmias and their undiagnosed magnesium deficiencies. Instead they were loaded up with many symptom masking drugs.
It is "reasonable and customary" for over 16,000 patients to die in the hospital each year just from gastrointestinal hemorrhaging secondary to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It is "reasonable and customary" for over 100,000 patients to get congestive heart failure each year secondary from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Page, 2000). And it is "reasonable and customary" for patients to have $50,000 of bypass surgery, even though they start re-clotting their new vessels within six months.
And it is "reasonable and customary" for doctors to British prescribe Mevacor, Pravachol and other HMG COA reductase inhibitors to lower cholesterol, when many proven and safe nutrients will do the same without side effects. Meanwhile the cholesterol-lowering drugs inhibit the gene for this enzyme, thereby turning off the body's production of coenzyme Q10 (Willis). This medication induced coenzyme Q10 deficiency in turn leads to depression, fatigue, a mitochondrial dysfunction, high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy, periodontitis, congestive heart failure and more (Tomasetti, Folkers, Jusy, Nakamura, Mortensen). But the patient thinks he is getting a bargain at over $100 a month because his cholesterol level looks good on paper.
Drugs do not cure anything, they merely turn off poisoned and malfunctioning pathways. And we know why the practice guidelines for every medical disease make it look as though every symptom is a deficiency of some drug (Choudhry). Arthritis becomes a Celebrex deficiency, heartburn becomes a Prilosec deficiency, and depression becomes a Prozac deficiency. Fortunately there are many heavily reference books that document the unethical practices of the drug industry in perpetuating the pharmacologic feast for patients, rather than finding and getting rid of the underlying causes.' Sherry Rogers
“If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson
“Unless we put medical freedom into the Constitution, the time will come when medicine will organize into an undercover dictatorship to restrict the art of healing to one class of men and deny equal privileges to others; the Constitution of the Republic should make a special privilege for medical freedoms as well as religious freedom.” Attributed to Dr. Benjamin Rush, M.D., a signer of the Declaration of Independence
“The doctor of the future will prescribe no drugs but will interest his patients in the care and nutrition of the human frame and in the cause and prevention of disease.” Thomas Edison.
“Orthomolecular treatment does not lend itself to rapid drug-like control of symptoms, but patients get well to a degree not seen by tranquilizer therapists who believe orthomolecular therapists are prone to exaggeration. Those who've seen the results are astonished.” Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D.
“Do something to improve your health. I think we should leave no stone unturned in our search for better health. I also believe that you get out of your body what you put into it. Your body will respond to your efforts to improve your health. The time to start is right now. Another old saying: "If not now, when? If not here, where? If not you, then who?"” Andrew Saul PhD
“Modern medicine’s narrow approach, to treat every disease as if it were a drug deficiency, has resulted in a steep price for humanity. It is obvious millions have died prematurely since vitamin C was first discovered over 80 years ago. Brave and resolute men and women, Albert Szent-Györgyi, Irwin Stone, Linus Pauling, Ewan Cameron, Emil Ginter, Matthias Rath, Andrew Saul, Tom Levy, Steve Hickey, Raxit Jariwalla, John T. Ely, Hilary Roberts, and others promoted the idea of vitamin C therapy but were readily dismissed, even belittled.” Bill Sardi, author of You Don't Have to Be Afraid of Cancer Anymore
“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all argument, and which cannot fail to keep man in everlasting ignorance. That principle is condemnation without investigation.” William Paley (1743-1805)
Note that the aim of this site is to provide a starting point for health and healing research for ill people; especially very overwhelmed and disabled ill people. This site provides recommendations, summaries and reviews of books but is not meant to be a replacement for actually reading some of these wonderful health books if the reader is at all well enough to do so. (Plus getting individualised advice from a doctor that is also an orthomolecular medicine expert if possible). There is no substitute for reading as many of these books as you can. The HHH site can only really hint at their full brilliance. The amount of insight, scientific references, logic, intelligence, compassion and experience in the recommended books will most likely amaze you. HHH aims to encourage people to do their own reading and learning, and to always make up their own minds. All content copyright Jodi Bassett 2006 - 2014.