Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Health Protection vs Health Freedom

Last night I attended the FREEDOM IN CRISIS LECTURE TOUR lecture by Shawn Buckley.  It was a very interesting, enlightening presentation.  Shawn is a tireless (and as far as I can determine, mostly 'paidless') worker for health freedom, with great knowledge, insight and initiatives. There were many threads, and perhaps because I have researched health freedom - only one shocked me with it's intelligence. 

In Canada, as you may know, our governments are pressing for strong 'consumer protection' legislation.  Our government wants, not only the arbitrary restriction of your rights to purchase foods, medicines and even teddy bears - they also want very strong rights to order product recalls, to trespass and seize products deemed to be 'offending the regulations'.  

Shawn gave many examples of government's attempts and ability to protect us from healthy living. The True Hope story, where our government acknowledges that suicide deaths resulted from product restrictions.  The heart disease cure that brought hundreds of people back to health - how Shawn protected the seller in a legal challenge from the BC Medical Association.  And finally, how our government shut down production and sales of a Teddy Bear - because it has a heat pouch containing white rice, a dangerous health risk. 

Then Shawn reminded us about peanut butter.  Of course we all know about peanut butter.  Every year, people die from peanut butter.  But anyone can go to the supermarket and buy a big jar of peanut butter.  We need to ask, how can our government justify protecting us from white rice teddy bears, while allowing purchase and consumption of peanut butter.  

But then he took the leap that surprised me. Shawn has issued 'access of information' requests when he wanted information about government reasoning and activities.  Shawn is a lawyer - and legal processes are his forte. 

He has issued an 'access for information request' about risk.  But not what you might expect. You might expect Shawn to ask for the governments 'risk analysis' on several restricted products.  But no, that would be to simple.  Although it is clear the government has not done any risk analysis - it might be possible for them to create a risk analysis to justify the restrictions. 

Shawn Buckley has asked the government if they have assessed the risk created by restrictions!

Brilliant!  If the government is going to restrict our freedom because of a potential risk, they need to assess both sides of the risk. 

If our government is sincere about protecting our health, they need to demonstrate that sincerity with analysis and processes that protect us from regulatory errors.

We know that, in the case of the True Hope product, EmPowerplus, our government actions to 'protect the public' resulted in suicide deaths of several bipolar patients.  Government actions were taken against EmPowerplus without an assessment of the 'risk to the public'. And they were also taken without an assessment of the 'risk to the public' presented by the government regulations.  In the end, the courts decided in favour of TrueHope, and issued a ruling:
court ruling
‘The Defendants [Truehope] are not guilty’

Necessity. ‘The Defendants were overwhelmingly compelled to disobey the D.I.N. regulation in order to protect the health, safety and well-being of the users of the micronutrient treatment [EMPowerplus] and the support program.’ 


Truehope was compelled by the courts to disobey the government regulations.  Our government did not appeal.  

If governments are to create regulations that restriction health freedoms, it is important that they:
 - weigh the risks associated with the regulation
 - weigh the risks associated without the regulation (eg. health freedom)
 - make a decision based on a comparison of relative risks
and be prepared and have a process to re-evaluate all restrictions when new information comes to light.

Or our courts will continue to tell our citizens to ignore the regulations to keep our health freedom.
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Star Trek Medicine vs measuring health

The main medical item seen on various Star Trek shows (and various incarnations) is the medical tricorder.  Star Trek uses many types of tricorders, or scanners used for various purposes.  The medical tricorder is used to scan humans, animals and occasionally aliens for signs of illness.

Even in the Star Trek future, there seems to be no tool to measure 'health', only a tool to measure illness.  This is demonstrated fully in Star Trek Minutiae episode 131 (not Star Trek)\ where the doctor says:

"I’m not picking up anything on my tricorder scan. He seems perfectly healthy."

Apparently, if you are healthy, the tricorder does not give a reading.  The quote from Beverly in STTNG First Contact: "It's a... new medical scanner. It's a little more precise than an X-ray machine."  The medical tricorder is a diagnostic device - not a health measurement device, nor a treatment device.

The most talked about medical scanner in today's technology is the MRI scan.  Does the MRI scan reveal anything about your health?  No. The MRI scan searches for 'abnormalities' - on the assumption that if there are no significant abnormalities detected - you are healthy.   Health is not measured.

I wish for a future where we can measure health, instead of waiting for illness to 'strike' and then attempting to diagnose the illness.

What would our medical systems be like, if we could measure health?

How would 'clinical trials' be conducted if we could measure health effectively?  

We should measure the health of all subjects before the clinical trial.  Then apply the treatment.  And after the trial - or even during the progress of the trial, measure the subjects' health again.  'Side effects' are a measure of illnesses caused by the treatment.  We should also measure the 'health effects' -positive, or negative.

What would our 'health systems' be like if we could measure health?  I think it will take a very long time to answer that question.  When we can measure health effectively, we will learn many new facts, come to many new understandings.  We will learn that specific actions that improve health in the short term - might be detrimental to health in the long term.  Or that some actions that improve long term health actually harm short term health.  This does not surprise us - but it would be very useful to have a measuring tool.

A specific exercise, running five miles, for example, might be shown to harm immediate health status, to improve medium term health status and slightly effect long term health status.  We don't know.

Of course it's not that simple.  Even with a toolbox that effectively measures health - it still takes 10 years to measure the effects of a ten year change in health activities. And a lifetime to measure the lifetime effect of lifestyle changes.  This is the major reason these changes are personal - each person has a right to make their own decisions about health actions because the truth will not be known until they are dead and gone.

I firmly believe that measuring health is a serious deficiency in our current health systems and practices.

What might we learn about cancer patients, for example, if we try to measure health?  I often hear or read quotes like 'a cure for cancer', 'he beat cancer, but it struck again', and 'she was in perfect health, but suddenly struck by cancer'.  Does cancer strike suddenly?  We know it does not.  It takes years for cancer to grow to a dangerous level.  Many, if not most people over a certain age, have some cancerous cells - and their healthy body is dealing with them effectively.  But some people have either a more serious 'cancer', or a body in 'poor health', that creates a medical emergency.  If we could measure the 'health' of all cancer patients - we might learn more than any 'cancer treatment clinical trials'.

We might also learn that cancer is not just a 'cellular' disease.  Cancer cells exist, but the critical issue in a specific cancer might be nutrient health, tissue health, or system health or a combination of health factors.

We will be better equipped to find the 'cause' of many illnesses, if we can measure health effectively.  There are many illnesses, like cancer, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, etc where the cause is not clearly known.  Our current medical system searches for 'a cure', perhaps because once an illness is detected - finding a cure is more important than finding the cause. What if we could find the cause?  In some illnesses, like arthritis, we know there are many potential causes - and each individual suffering from arthritis may be suffering from several causes.  But current treatments for arthritis, generally, - ignore the cause.

We will be closer to finding and understanding causes when we start to measure health on all seven dimensions: nutritional health, cellular health, tissue health, organ health, system health, body health, mind health, spiritual health and community health.

When a doctor says 'he has the heart of a 20 year old', what does it mean?  Does it mean anything useful, anything accurate?  When we start to measure organ health and organize and analyze these measurements by demographics, we will be able to see that he really has the heart of a 24 year old, or not. We will also be able to tell if specific groups of people have better nutrient health, cellular health, etc - not just 'they live longer, but we don't understand why' or 'they are less likely to get heart attacks, but more likely to get cancer'.

Our medical system often speaks of the 'gold standard' treatment for an illness.  What is the 'gold standard' for measuring nutrient health?  What is the 'gold standard' for measuring cellular health?  What are the gold standards for measuring tissue health, organ health, mind health, spiritual and community health?

The sad truth is that we do not have any standards for measuring health.  And few tools. We have many tools that measure illness - few, if any, that measure health.

I believe in personal health freedom. An important step to achieving personal health freedom is the development of a suite of tools to measure health.  If you know of tools that 'measure health', as opposed to measuring illness - please leave a comment, or drop me a note.   

Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Universal Declaration of Health Freedom

Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of healthiness.

Note: This declaration, prepared in 2010, has led to the book:  Healthicine: The Arts and Sciences of Health and Healthiness which expands on these concepts.

Full Version:

Whereas the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and...";
Whereas the United States Declaration of Independence says "All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that amount these are life, liberty and...";
Whereas the Canadian Bill of Rights says "the following human rights and fundamental freedoms, namely, (a) the right of the individual to life, liberty...";
whereas life does not exist without health, and quality of life is first measured by quality of health, and life ends when health ends;
whereas liberty is fundamentally constrained by health, and poor health creates a deficit in the liberty;

a fundamental right of all people is "the right to pursue healthiness".

Thus, the Universal Declaration of Health Freedom states thus:

Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of healthiness.

-------  discussion  -----------

These three rights are fundamental rights of individuals and do not depend upon, nor infringe upon the rights of other individuals.  As fundamental rights, these rights are not dependent on any 'responsibilities', that might encumber non-fundamental rights, for example the right to property.

"The right to pursue healthiness" includes  the right to seek the highest qualities of personal and community health and to take actions that improve health.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person." Any action that threatens the health of an individual is a threat against the "security of the person".   Therefore it can be seen that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is perfectly aligned with the Health Freedom Declaration.

The United States Declaration of Independence states that " that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness".  "Pursuit of happiness" a valuable right, and it can be seen that it includes the pursuit of healthiness.  What could be more happy than a healthy person?  Happiness might first be measured by healthiness, which includes physical, mental, spiritual and community health. Therefore, it can be seen that the United States Declaration of Human Rights is also aligned with the Health Freedom Declaration.

The Canadian Bill of Rights states that "the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property". Like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Canadian Bill of rights recognizes right to 'security of the person' and thus the right to the 'pursuit of healthiness'.  

The Canadian Bill of Rights muddies the water with the right to the 'enjoyment of property'.  Enjoyment of property is an important right in our society - and an important right to health freedom.  However, it is not a 'fundamental right'. By its very definition, the right to the enjoyment of property, most especially when the property in question is a limited resource like real estate, infringes on other people's rights to enjoy the same property. Thus, property is a 'secondary right', not a fundamental right.

You can find other declarations of health freedom:

 International Declaration of Health Freedom from World Health Freedom Assembly 2006.  A more in depth declaration of health freedom, although the text is a bit sloppy and could use a good editor.  Contains information that is useful for contacting other Health Freedom organizations around the world.

2004 - NHFC Declaration of Health Freedom "National", eg. United States view. Poorly written, unnecessary emphasis on privacy and law.  Some useful links and info.

Charter of Health Freedom  Canadian.  Wordy and specific to Canada.

Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

ps. If you enjoy my posts, please share - and you might LIKE my facebook page
My Healthicine Page
and the book: Healthicine: The Arts and Sciences of Health and Healthiness

Monday, October 25, 2010

Measuring Health - how healthy are you?

If you can't measure it. you can't manage it", said management guru Peter F. Drucker.

How do you measure your personal health?  Can we measure health?  Is 'health' the opposite of 'illness'.  Do we measure illness?  These simple questions force us to think seriously about the definitions of health, and illness.

Warning.  If you try GOOGLE, your public library, your doctor to find a 'health measurement' - you will be seriously challenged.  The word 'health' is generally used to mean 'illness'. Health Care is not about health - it is about illness. "Measuring Health: A Guide to Rating Scales and Questionnaires", by Ian McDowell is not, as the title suggest - about measuring health.  It is about measuring illness and deficiencies.
For example it discusses the Health Utilities Index which measures the health of our sensory systems as:
1. Able to see, hear, and speak normally for age.
2. Requires equipment to see or hear or speak.
3. Sees, hears, or speaks with limitations even with equipment.
4. Blind, deaf, or mute."
eg. If you can 'see, hear and speak normally for your age' - you are healthy. There is no measurement of how healthy you are.  Measurements of 'health' only arise when you are clearly 'deficient'. Health is not measured. Either you have it, or not.

Illness is defined by 'diagnosis'.  The result is binary.  Either you have disease x, or you do not. Doctors diagnose 'illness' and prescribe a treatment.  Some illnesses have progressions, from pre-diabetic, to type 2 diabetes is one example.  Pre-diabetes is also measured as a 'yes/no' answer.

Yes/no responses are not adequate measures of health.  We need a more sophisticated technique - or perhaps many sophisticated techniques to create an accurate measure of health.  We can start with the basic disciplines of health: nutrients, cells, organs, systems, physical health, mental health, social health and spiritual health. If we can measure health on each of these areas - the sum will provide an overall health measurement.

But search you may - you will not find a tool to measure your health status in any one of these areas - much less all 8 of them.

How can you accurately measure your nutrient health?  Nutrient health is made up of hundreds of components - the essential nutrients.  Our medical establishment does not agree on the two key factors required to measure nutrient health:

1. What nutrients are essential to health? eg. What nutrients do we need to measure to determine nutrient health.
2. What level of nutrient is 'optimal' for optimal health?  Our medical systems generally define how much of each nutrient is 'essential to avoid illness in most people', and how much is 'so much it may result in risk of illness'.  But between those two numbers - often very far apart - there is no scientific information that recommends 'optimal' levels of nutrients.

If we try to measure cellular health... hmm. Do we need surgery? What tools does our medical system have to measure cellular health - of a relatively healthy subject? Are the blood cells healthy? The skin cells?  The bone cells?  etc. How do we know how healthy they are - on a scale of 0 to 100 percent, for example.

When we can measure health, some serious questions might be easily answered.  Do mercury fillings improve or degrade your health?  Your cellular health? Your organ health? Does removing mercury fillings improve your health in the short term?  The long term?

Can we measure individual (or personal) health to any useful level of accuracy?

How can we manage our own personal health if we cannot measure health?

If we are to strive for Personal Health Freedom - we need to explore the measurement of health.
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Driving with a Healthy Attitude

Last year I attended a concert by a visiting musician.  I do that a lot....

Before the performance, she told us about her drive across the city, and how she was 'cut off' three or four times.

My brain went fuzzy.  I thought,"When was the last time I was cut off?"  I couldn't remember.  I drive a lot. More than most people.  But I hardly ever get 'cut off'.  So what's up with that? It took some thinking, and I started to pay attention to how I drive.  Over time, the answer came to me.

There are several reasons why I never get 'cut off' when I'm driving.

First, if someone is ahead of me - even in a different lane, I pay attention.  If they want to move in front of me, even if they don't signal, I generally detect it in advance - and give them room.  It is almost impossible for someone to 'cut me off' because of my driving attitude.  And afterwards, I usually find they don't even want to be in front of me - they want to change lanes so they can make a turn, disappearing from my path.

I remember driving in Toronto, with an older passenger who said "I never signal lane changes. Why should I signal my lane changes."  I pointed to the car in front of me, clearly (to me) planning a lane change. I backed off - and the driver zipped in front.  "There," I replied  "he didn't signal - so I'm driving for him as well".

Another reason I don't get cut off has to do with my high tolerance for mistakes by other drivers.  To be honest, sometimes I get frustrated, but generally, if a driver is lost, in a hurry, not paying attention, a new driver, an elderly person who maybe doesn't see very well, a visitor from out of province, or just plain idiotic and they do manage to 'surprise' me by pulling in front - I don't hold a grudge.  I might honk my horn, but generally not.  And in a few minutes - I forget about it.

So, if you cut me off today, I won't remember, or care, five minutes later. I certainly don't keep a list of people who cut me off, nor a count.

Next time you are cut off (or in a car where the driver was cut off) ask these simple questions:

1. Were you caught by surprise?  If you were caught by surprise, maybe you were not "cut off", maybe you were just not paying attention? Honk your horn at yourself. (sometimes I wish we had different horn sounds - so I could have one honk for DANGER, another for 'sorry....').

2. Did you see it coming, and speed up "try to not let the other driver in"? You were not "cut off", you were driving like an idiot.  Shame on you.  Honk your sorry... horn.

3. Were you speeding?  If you were speeding, are you saying: "I'm a better driver than most, so I can choose to drive faster and still be safe" - so, if you can drive faster and be safe, then  no one can cut you off - because you anticipate and share the road better than the other drivers.

I believe it is not possible to be cut off if you are speeding.  Once you pass the speed limit, you accept responsibility for what happens in front of you.

so... ask yourself, is it possible to be 'cut off' if you are driving alert, safely and sharing the road?  Maybe, but unlikely.

The secret to ensure we are never "cut off" when driving, is simple: change our attitude. Share the road.

Make this a personal health choice. Choose to be a healthy driver.
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I get knocked down, but I get up again

I get knocked down, but I get up again.
I get knocked down, but I get up again.
(song: Tubthumpinb by CHUMBAWAMBA)

Is this how health works?  We are up.  Then we get knocked down.  Then we get up again. This happens over and over and over.  At some point, we get knocked down so hard that we cannot get up again - or we realize we need help.  So we visit a doctor.  The doctor prescribes some medicines, or surgery, or other intervention - and we get up again, but maybe not so tall.  Until we get knocked down and we can't get up again. And we die.

Sometimes we view our health status as 'ok', or 'sick'. eg. as 'Knocked down' or 'up again'.  This is a very simplistic and weak paradigm. 

How should we view health?  

Our health is a status measurement - a summary of many status measurements. How healthy are we on a scale of 0 to 10.  Dead, to perfectly healthy.  How healthy are our cells?  How healthy are our tissues, our organs, our bodily systems, our body, our mind, our communities and our spirit?  The sum, or summary, of these health status measurements is a powerful measure of our health.  We are not 'knocked down or up again'.  We are lying down, or kneeling, or crawling, or standing up, or walking or running.  Or we can walk, but not run.  Or we can run, but not very fast... A continuum of measurements provides a more useful health status. 

Health is also a balance measurement - the sum or summary of many balance measurements. Are our nutrients in balance - not to little, not too much.  Are our stresses in balance - not too little, not too much.  Our parasites are in balance, not to little, not too much. And so on. 

If a 60 year old goes to the doctor for his annual physical, and the doctor says "You're as healthy as a 50 year old person".  What does it mean? Does it mean anything? And next month, if the 60 year old is diagnosed with terminal cancer - does it mean he's as healthy as a 50 year old with terminal cancer? 

How does this happen?  It does happen.  Why is our current health system not able to measure health status, complete health status - and give a useful answer? 

The answer is very complex and very simple. 

There are 9 dimensions of health. Nutrients, cells, tissues, organs, systems, body, mind, community and spirit.  How do we measure your nutrient health?  We don't, unless you are ill. Do we have an established method for measuring nutrient health of people.  No. How do we measure the health of your cells?  We don't, unless you are ill.  Do we have an established method for measuring the health of your tissues?  No.  And so on. 

Each of these 9 dimensions contains a list of components.  There are over 100 different nutrients essential to the maintenance of our health. Our medical system does not provide a definitive list, much less a definitive guideline for health.  Our body consists of over one hundred different types of cells.  Is it possible to measure the health status of each of them?  Is it necessary to determine health status completely?  Our bodies are comprised of many organs, systems and tissues.  How do we effectively measure the health status of each and all of them? 

There are 6 factors that can lead to illness, by deficiency or excess.  They are genetics, nutrients, parasites, toxins, stress and growth.  How do we measure the status of these health factors?  We don't bother, unless you are ill.  Do we have an established method for measuring deficiencies or excesses of nutrients?  Of stress?  Of growth?  No. Not unless you are sick to the point of a diagnosis. 

Of the over 100 essential nutrients, are you suffering from a deficiency or an excess of 1, or 10, of 30? Do you have sufficient healthy bacteria to maintain your health?  But not an excess, and not an excess of unhealthy bacteria?  Are you under-stressed?  Or overstressed? How can we tell the difference?  Are the symptoms similar? Are you lacking stress in one area, but suffering from too much stress in another?

I believe that, if we shift our paradigm from 'I get knocked down, but I get up again', to 'In some ways I am very healthy and in others, not so healthy - I'm working to learn about and improve in those areas', we will be closer to understanding and improving our health - and our health systems.  

What do we need to accomplish this?  We need to develop effective paradigms and tools to measure health status and illness status - far below the threshold of 'sickness' (I get knocked down).  We need more powerful tools than simple diagnostics that produce a 'yes/no' answer. 

We need to provide individuals with information about their health status, based on the measurements from these tools and technologies.  

We need to give individuals the responsibility and the power to take health actions on their own behalf.   To give them personal health information - and Personal Health Freedom.  
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Food Myth - Part 2

I have received a number of positive comments about my recent blog The Food Myth. Some people were confused about my message. Thanks very much for the comments - I view all comments as positive. They help us to understand each other, and ourselves.  This post is a clarification of my position with regards to The Food Myth.

Myth: The best way to meet your nutritional needs is through a healthy diet.  eg, Eat the right foods.

Fact: Eating the right foods is an excellent start to meeting your nutritional needs.  However, it is insufficient and eating the wrong foods can be dangerous. 

First let's be clear what I mean by food.  I mean foods in their natural state - raw or cooked.  Non-supplemented foods. Many of the foods we buy in the store are 'supplemented foods', or invented foods. Even the basics like bread and meat, cheese and wine, often have additives that are nutritional, or perhaps not.

I love Gerry's comment that when she was pregnant in Japan - she was advised to eat small amounts of 30 different types of food every day.  This advice is very good.  We don't know for certain which foods are essential to a healthy baby, so we  try to eat many different foods to ensure all the needs are met. This is much healthier than binging on a single food - which probably only contains a small number of the essential ingredients to help a baby grow. The same is true for us as adults.  Every day we grow 'new cells', and they need nutrition.  But I'd guess that many North Americans don't eat 30 different foods in a week.

Fact: Eating supplemented foods is an excellent second step to meeting your nutritional needs.  However, it is insufficient, and sometimes dangerous. 

It is unfortunate that we do not have a good word to name 'supplemented foods'.  We have a very fuzzy distinction between foods and supplements, made worse by the huge quantities of supplemented foods that are now on the market. We need a word for supplemented foods, to distinguish foods, from supplemented foods, and from supplements. I propose the word 'sfood' for supplemented food, and 'sfoods' for supplemented foods.

Salt is supplemented with iodine, because most people cannot get enough iodine in the food they eat. Supplementing table salt with iodine improves the health status of most people in the general population. On the other hand, table salt you buy today is not just supplemented with iodine - it is also contains non-food products to keep it flowing smoothly.

If you buy rock salt, or sea salt, it is not normally supplemented with iodine. Table salt is supplemented, therefore it is a 'sfood'.

or is it?

According to many people, Mercola, for example, table salt does not contain 'food salt'. It contains a highly processed form of sodium chloride, and iodine supplement and some chemicals to help if flow freely.  The table salt in my store also contains sugar.  Mercola says that table salt is very unhealthy and upsets your normal fluid balances.

So, according to Mercola, and others, table salt is not a food, and not a sfood.  This makes it is a supplement.  Eg. it is a non-food, containing a supplement that is essential to your health.  Supplements normally have 'additives' in the package.  As does the iodine supplement that is sold as 'table salt'.

Politicians, health professionals and product manufacturers can argue for decades about table salt.  Is it a food?  A sfood?  A supplement. Who is right?  The only important decision is your Personal Health Freedom decision.  You can decide for yourself and act on your decision - as long as sea salt and rock salt are available as alternative purchases. But, when you buy a processed food product containing salt, in most cases, you don't know what kind of salt it contains.  So, if you want to avoid table salt, you must take severe actions.

There are many valuable sfoods.  Breakfast cereals, breads, margarines and many other foods are supplemented with essential nutrients - changing them from foods, to sfoods.

Fact: Meeting your nutritional needs by choosing the right supplements is an excellent first step to optimizing your health status.  

There is a huge difference between 'meeting your nutritional needs' and 'optimizing your health status'.  Vitamin and mineral guidelines are generally designed to prevent illness.  To quote the Nutrition Information Resource Centre "Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) – the average dietary intake level of a nutrient that prevents a deficiency in 98% of a population."  There is a huge difference between preventing a deficiency, and optimizing your health.  If you just 'meet your nutritional needs', you may suffer many deficiency related illnesses that are just 'below the level of diagnosis'.  And few people have diets that regularly meet the RDA recommendations.

"Optimizing your health status" is the primary goal of Personal Health Freedom.

'Meeting your nutritional needs' is similar to getting 50 percent on an exam.  A pass mark. Sufficient - but hardly a worthwhile goal.  We can easily reach 70 percent, 80 percent or higher with some research, study and effort.

We need to ensure that the food myth is busted - to free ourselves, to move our health forward, personally, and as families, communities and societies.
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Primary Causes of Illness

This post was written in 2010.  In 2018, I published the book: A Calculus of Curing, which presents a more thorough and comprehensive view of causes of illness.  You can read about the book by clicking this link. 

The information presented in this blog post has been rewritten and can be seen here. This post contains a simplified version.

Our current 'health system' tends to focus on symptoms and treatments. Disease is diagnosed through symptoms.  And we often treat the symptoms instead of the illness ignoring the cause.  Often we hear someone raising money to find 'the cure' for cancer --why?  Is it because we have given up trying to find the causes.  Is cancer is a monster of so many different causes - and our medical and health systems cannot deal with this reality.  Or is it simply that you can 'sell' a cure, or sell the search for a cure - but you cannot sell a 'cause'.   I believe that a more thorough study of disease causes, in general and in specific cases, will improve our health status.

Are diseases, illnesses and infirmities defined by their symptoms?  Or their causes?  Answering this question is not as simple as you might guess.  However, we can clearly define and categorize the basic causes of disease and infirmity.  Is it a disease, an illness, an infirmity?  The words have similar, overlapping meanings.  I will use the word 'illness' from this point forward.

There are six basic causes of illness. They are: genetics, nutrients, parasites, toxins, stress and growth.  In each case, the illness can be tracked to a deficiency, or a surplus of some health factor.  In this simple chart, you can visualize the scale for each of the six basic causes of illness as simple deviations from a healthy status.

Genetics - we are each conceived with a specific genetic code. In some cases, this genetic code is faulty, leading to illness, sometimes very quickly, and sometimes after a very long time.

Genetic factors can be deficient - where the person does not have genes to avoid an illness, or healthy, or excessive - where the genetic factors have a negative effect on the person's health.

Nutrients are a key to health, but also a key to illness.  Many essential nutrients have corresponding deficiency illnesses.  Scurvy is a severe deficiency of Vitamin C.  A healthy intake of nutrients leads to healthy cells and a healthy body.  Excesses of essential nutrients can cause illness. Nutrients can clearly be seen as deficient, healthy or excessive depending on the amount consumed. The most challenging question about nutrients is 'what is optimal' at this point in my life, and my health. Illness caused by nutrient deficiencies or excess can be easily diagnosed if they occur in the short term.  Illness caused by long term nutrient deficiencies or excesses are more difficult to understand.

Toxins are often cited as causes of illness.  As with other health factors - we can demonstrate that many toxins can be deficient, leading to unhealthy states - or sufficient for health and health enhancement, to excessive, leading to health problems. As we create new chemicals daily - it is very difficult to track which might be fast, or slow toxins.  Note: I have taken care to not label nutritional excess as toxicity - to clearly differentiate between nutrients and toxins.  Nutrients are foods that we need to live a normal healthy life.  Toxins are not.  However, many foods contain toxins - plants and animals develop toxins to defend themselves from predators. And many plants create or use chemicals that are toxic to people.

Parasites, bacteria, viruses, etc -are  one of the most commonly cited causes of illness. However, even with parasites, it is important to remember that you can suffer from a parasite deficiency. Your body  may be blessed with healthy bacteria. Some parasites can cause illness. Like genetic and nutritional factors, parasites can be deficient, healthy or excessive.

Growth and healing systems are another potential cause of illness. Our bodies are well adapted to dealing with health issues.  We have systems that protect us and heal us when any of the above five factors create health issues. We have growth and healing systems, and an immune system.  But sometimes these complex systems go off the rails. Our bodies require healthy immune systems and healing systems to deal with the stress of day to day living.  If these systems are deficient, as they often are elderly people, illness can creep in. Alternatively, healing and growth can also become excessive, running amok, leading to  a specialized set of infirmity or illness, ranging from allergies to tumors.

Growth and healing systems can cause illness when they are out of balance.  Like each of the others, these factors can be deficient, sufficient or excessive.

Stress is the final potential cause of illness. Too little stress, specifically in the forms of physical and mental exercise - can turn our muscles and brains to mush.  A healthy amount of stress is vital.  But excessive stress can lead to physical or mental illness and even to broken bones. Technically, we could view most illness causes as 'stress'.  Nutrient deficiency, toxin excess, etc.  However, for the purpose of categorizing causes of illness we need to limit stress to stresses not covered by other categories.  Things like physical, or mental 'whacks on the side of the head'.

That's it.  Six causes of illness.  When we speak about health and illness, we can clearly see how they are linked together. Healthy is the balance point for each of the factors.  Go too low, or too high - and you throw your body out of balance, and illness is the result.  This is one important way of looking at, and classifying all illness.

Note: the sequence has been updated from the original post to create a hierarchy that can be aligned with the hierarchy of health. It can also be noticed that each of the elements in the hierarchy of health can be a source of illness when they are out of balance.

We know it's not that simple.  Many illnesses are caused by secondary or tertiary health issues, or combinations of health issues. However, it is important to understand the primary causes of illness as a foundation to the study of health, and also to effectively study preventatives.

You may be suffering from several different deficiencies and excesses, from mild to severe.  The health issue then becomes - which is most important - and what actions should be taken today, this week, this month?

Those decisions are personal.  Actions to prevent illness and to deal with illness are also personal.  It's  about Personal Health Freedom.
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Food Myth

The best way to meet your nutritional needs is through a healthy diet.  eg, Eat the right foods.

Is a myth.  It is not a valid scientific hypothesis. It cannot be tested by the scientific method.  The truth is, we don't know what is the best way to meet our nutritional needs.  The truth is, we do not have more than the faintest idea what our needs are for optimal nutrition.

This particular myth is often presented as 'fact' at the end of a series of 'scientific studies', giving it credence as if it was the result of a scientific study.  This only encourages sloppy thinking.

You can see many articles and reports that present evidence from scientific studies on the effects of vitamins on disease, and then leap to the unscientific conclusion, the mother-false-hood statement, "The best way to meet your nutritional needs is through food."

Why is this statement a myth?  Why is if 'false'?  First of all, it is a myth because, simply, it cannot be proven.  There is no scientific test that can be designed to prove that "your best source of nutrition is through food (where food does not include nutritional supplements)".  The only scientific tests completed to date have proven the opposite.

Scientific tests have shown that adults who consume calcium supplements - are healthier than those who try to meet their calcium needs through their diet.

Scientific test have shown that, for most people in the northern hemisphere - it is better to meet your Vitamin D needs through supplements than through diet. If you don't get enough sun, you can try eating a lot of fish, liver, etc. But because this is difficult, and possibly dangerous, many foods are 'supplemented' with Vitamin D, including milk, yogurt, margarine and breakfast cereals.

This bring us to one of the other issues with the statement: "The best way to meet your nutritional needs is through a healthy diet."  What is food?  What does a healthy diet consist of?  Is it better to meet your nutritional needs through 'supplemented foods' where you have no control over the amount of supplement - and possibly no knowledge of the supplement - or through personal supplement decisions - where you make the choices?  Or both? .

The second reason it is a myth, is that it is a 'black swan statement'.   There was once a theory that there were 'no black swans'.  And this theory held true for many years - until black swans were discovered in Australia.  And the theory was dead. The Food Myth is, like the Black Swan Theory, an 'all or nothing' thinking error.  As a result, a single contrary report nullifies the myth.  The food myth has been proven wrong many times.  There are many specific, well known examples where (non-supplemented) food is NOT the best way to meet your nutritional needs. Salt is supplemented with iodine - because most people cannot meet their iodine requirements through non-supplemented food.

Next time someone hands you the myth - 'the best way to meet your nutritional needs is through a healthy diet', ask them simply:

"Interesting, what scientific studies have proven this to be true?"  But don't hold your breath waiting for an answer - one of your nutritional needs is oxygen.

Why is this important to Personal Health Freedom?  We believe it is important for every person to make their own health choices, and to be responsible for those choices.  We also believe it is important to study, not to discount, the value of nutritional supplements to improve health.

The Food Myth discourages personal actions and personal decisions - while pretending to give you 'responsibility or perhaps simply 'blame' for your dietary choices.

Personal Health Freedom wants you to have the freedom to make personal decisions about your health, including both your diet and your supplements, as well as the freedom to act on those decisions.

See Part 2 of the Food Myth here
and the Reader's Digest version of the Food Myth here

ps. If you enjoy my posts, please share - and you might LIKE my facebook page
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Hierarchy of Health - Primary and Secondary Disciplines

Health Disciplines

NOTE: The concepts in this blog posting have been updated and the revised Hierarchy of Health - Primary and Secondary Disciplines, can be viewed here.

To define health, to understand health, to study health, we start with the primary elements of health and expand those to cover all aspects of health. Simple? Actually, it is not terribly complicated. A complete chart of the basic 'disciplines of health' can be found on the Personal Health Freedom website.

This chart begins with the basic components of health: nutrients, cells, tissues, organs, systems, body, mind, spirit and community. These basic components are arranged into a hierarchy, where each is dependent on the layers below. Each of these basic components has a well know 'field of study', which is identified on the chart, respectively as: nutrtion, cytology, histology, anatomy, systemic anatomy, physiology, cognitive physiology, spirtiual studies and community studies.

The secondary health components are created by combining primary health compnents - first with immediate neighbors, and then with farther components. The chart of secondary components begins, for example, with cellular nutrition, tissue nutrition, thru spiritual nutrition to community nutrition. Here we can see health studies that we intuitively 'knew about', but had no prior foundation to support or define. Note: this is the first published version of the chart - I do expect it to be improved with input from readers like you.

We can use the chart to analyze and make corrections and improvements in our basic understanding of health. What is the proper term for the study of cellular spirituality, for example? Is it valid to create a field of health to study the effects of improvements in individual spiritual health on the health of cells? Of course we may need to define and re-define 'spiritual health' as we proceed in this analysis.

This is the basic starting point for the study of health. It soon becomes very complex. The study of healthy nutrition, for example might start with a study of the foods, or nutritional compounds that are essential to good health. At present, we don't have a clear understanding of how many 'essential nutritional compounds' exist. A quick scan retreives answers ranging from 6 essential nutrients (water, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals) to lists of over 100 essential nutrients - only some of which fit into the 6 basic nutrients initially defined.

Similarily, each of the primary components of health, can become a study of hundreds of individual components. The next layer, cellular health includes the study of over 200 different types of cells in the human body - but this number is limited to 'human cells'. As far as I know, there is no similar list of how many 'non-human cells' are essential or contribute to health. When you map nutrition to cells - a comprehensive study of cellular nutrition, would be a study of the nutritional needs of each of the cell types, human and non-human, to optimize your health although many are known to exist.

The word 'optimize' is key. Present nutritional standards (RDI - Reference Dietary Intake) are defined as 'sufficient to meet the health needs'. This measurement is far away from 'the appropriate amount to optimize your health'. Optimize health is also a double edged sword, that requires significant research and analysis. Some health actions may strengthen your health in one (or more) areas, and weaken it in other areas. And oc course too much of a good thing - is not good. Personal decisions are required for personal health optimization.

Our current studies of medicine tend to look at 'avoidance, or treatment, of disease and infirmity' as the goal. This goal is not appropriate to optimize health. In order to optimize health, the goal must be simply stated as 'to optimize health'. Optimal health is difficult to measure. What is the optimal level of cellular health for a 50 year old Polish male living in Canada? In fact, each of us is different, and eeach of use has our own unique optimal health status which changes as we grow - and then age.

To attain optimal health, we need more research into health, not illness. We need free access to information about health, freedom to take health decisions and actions on our own behalf.

Which leads us back to the primary goal of this blog - Personal Health Freedom. The best way to maintain optimal health, is thru the freedom to make our own decisions about our own health and health actions. Optimal health cannot be attained, it must be maintained through continual conscious unrestrained actions and decisions.
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Horse's Tail - Health Rights

Once upon a time, there was a poor farmer, who owned a horse. Unfortunately, over time, the farmer became more and more poor - and was unable to feed his horse. He became angry at his personal situation and began to beat the horse. After some time, the horse became thinner and thinner, welts and sore spots started to show on his flesh and his tail began to fall out.

A neighbors noticed the situation and reported it to the police. The police came and rescued the horse, and the farmer was charged with animal cruelty.

What has this got to do with Personal Health Freedom? An important lesson.

A horse has rights. A horse, or a cow, or a dog has a right to adequate food, and water. And a horse has a right to not be abused physically. The man was charged with violating these rights.

Yesterday, I read a "A Woman's Health Bill of Rights and Responsibilities" written by Dr. Carolyn DeMarco in her excellent book, "Take Charge of your Body". The list consisted of a number of rights and responsibilities, which at first glance I thought might be related to Personal Health Freedom.

Unfortunately, Dr DeMarco got the part about health rights very, very wrong. She lists 9 Rights, and 6 Responsibilities. Two of the proposed 'rights' are severely conditional, for example: "I have the right to choose the types of treatments I prefer from among the options offered to me by my doctor." This list of rights, like many similar lists, is a list of 'medical rights', not health rights. Medical rights apply when you are sick - and should be defined only after your health rights, which apply when you are well and when you are ill, are clearly articulated and understood.

A quick Google of Freedom vs Responsibilities shows many pages stating that you cannot separate Freedom, or Rights, from Responsibility.

Back to the horse. The horse has rights. But what are his responsibilities?

There are none - and none required. Natural 'rights' are not 'conditional on responsibilities', and are not linked to responsibilities. We all have natural rights. Like the horse's rights, our rights are not tied to any responsibilities.

"Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person." - there are no conditionals in that sentence from the International Declaration of Human Rights.

The Canadian Bill of Rights goes a bit beyond 'natural rights' (I don't object to that, just want to make clear the difference). It says: "the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property". 'Enjoyment of property' is not a 'natural' right, it comes with some responsibilities. It is natural for enjoyment of property to come with responsibilities, because owning and enjoying a specific property may take that specific right away from other people.

The United States Declaration of Independence says "...unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". There are no responsibilities tied to these unalienable rights.

But what about 'responsibilities'? Back to the horse. Where do the responsibilities lie? The responsibilities lie on the person with power. The farmer, who owns the horse, is responsible, as part of that ownership, to provide food, water and protection from abuse. The horse is not responsible for anything. If the owner cannot provide for the horse, he can sell it. Or in some countries (or if it is a cow) he can slaughter it, and eat it. But as long as it as alive and 'his possession' - he is responsible to maintain its rights.

Responsibility comes from power. Not with rights. The doctor has responsibilities. The patient has rights. Does responsibility come with 'empowerment'? I think not, but that's another complicated discussion.

Be wary of anyone who says rights and responsibilities are bound together. They are not. Natural rights exist on their own, as a result of their intrinsic merit - and our intrinsic merit.

Responsibilities arise when someone, or some group, exercises power over others. This can happen in a family situation, a social situation, a work situation, a legal situation, a medical situation -- and many other situations.

When we exercise power over others - we have responsibilities.

When someone exercises power over us - we have rights.
... and rightfully so

What are our health rights?

The International Declaration of Human Rights should say: "Everyone has the right to life, liberty, security of person, and the pursuit of health and happiness".

The United States Declaration of Independence should say: "...unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Health and Happiness"

The Canadian Bill of Right should say: the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person, and the pursuit of health and happiness
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Monday, May 17, 2010

About me and Health Freedom

This is personal. About me. And about my search for health and health freedom. Many years ago, I started to look with my personal, critical eye at my few encounters with medical professions and the alternative medicine professions. I was, to be honest, very disappointed. I still am very disappointed. Not that they don't provide solutions. I have been very happy with many of the results provided by my doctors, dentists and alternative healers. In a few cases, not so happy, but in general, very happy.

But I am not happy with our medical system, how it works and how it doesn't work. I find it to be very unscientific and sometimes downright misleading and dishonest.

As the internet developed, I did boldly go to places like The Cancer Society the Arthritis Foundation and I read many books on health and medicine. It occurred to me, over time, that they were not telling 'the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth' - although I did not understand why, and I still do not understand. Maybe I never will, and maybe I don't need to. It was clear to me that much of the 'health and medicine' information on the internet was also a 'battleground' between medical professionals and alternative medicine practitioners.

I was very dismayed. Continual arguments about the validity of 'licensed medical practitioners' vs 'alternative medical practitioners' are muddying the waters and confusing evidence and facts about health and medicine. Science was out the window - although licensed medical practitioners claim it is 'on their side'.

I tried to create useful documents on health as part of my learning process - and still have many of these documents from the past 10 years. They provide a a foundation for my current understanding of our situation.

Then I saw some information on the internet about Health Freedom. WOW!

But when I looked closely, I found much of the 'same old, same old'. Many 'Health Freedom' sites are provided by alternative medicine practitioners, to validate their theories and their professions. I have no objection to their theories and their craft - it's just not Health Freedom. Today I google 'health freedom' and the first hit is the The Natural Solutions Foundation whose mission is "to discover, develop, demonstrate and disseminate natural solutions". The first item on their list of 'what we stand for' is We stand for the freedom to choose allopathic and naturopathic healthcare according to individual free will. I don't object to that - it's just that it's not about health nor about health freedom - it's about their choice of solutions.

I found the Institute for Health Freedom - actually a useful and interesting site, to be, unfortunately, very focussed on a political, United States view of health and health freedom. Their definition of 'health freedom' is The freedom to choose one's health care providers and treatments, and to maintain confidential relationships with one's providers, without interference from government or private third parties. It sounds good when you say it quickly, but..what does it really say? First of all, it is not about health - a common mistake. It is about sickness - and the ability to choose 'treatments'. And secondly, it is not about 'freedom', it is about 'confidential relationships, without interference'. The Institute for Health Freedom does not, wisely, choose to present thier definition of health. And lastly, it's about the establishment - not about health.

I am interested in a scientific, world view of health and health freedom. And a personal view.

In summary, I have found much information and many internet sites about medicine, and about alternative medicine, and many sites about politics - but very little actual information about health and health freedom.

What is health? What is health freedom? How should are medical systems work to ensure that our knowledge of health moves forward scientifically?

This blog, and this website are my attempts to learn about health and health freedom, and to document that learning, and to present the information I discover so that you can think for yourself, discuss, criticize and appreciate.

Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

I encourage comments - all feedback is positive.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Health Defined

What is health? What is healthy? What is illness? What is medicine? What is practicing medicine? What is food? What is a drug? What is a treatment?

Health is a very complex topic. If you go to your doctor for a checkup, you might be declared ‘healthy’. But what is that? Does healthy mean you are 9 on a scale of 10? Or does healthy mean you are at 6 on a scale of 10, but not sick? What if you have a condition, like diabetes, which can be measured on a scale, but you are otherwise healthy? Arrrgggg.

WHO, the World Health Organization was formed in 1948. At that time, they defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”,

I suspect this definition came from a committee. It has the mark of a committee – sloppy English and muddled thinking. As written, it is a definition of perfect health ‘a state of complete ... well-being’, followed by a waffle clause – ‘and not merely’.

I think the intended meaning was: the health of a personal, group or a nation can be defined as

the combined state of physical, mental and social well being.”

What is personal health freedom? The freedom to take subjective and objective measurements of your levels of health and to take any actions you believe will change your level of health in the way you wish.

What is health? The question is often stated, definitions are often proposed. We need a definitive one. I’ll start. Help me out with constructive criticism if you can. I will use the term ‘being’ as short for ‘person, group or nation’ to avoid wordiness and repetition. I hope you will find my definitions useful and provocative.

Health is a measure of the state of wellness of a person, or community.

note: The following section of the blog is historical, as I developed my ideas.  The structure for studying health has been updated and expanded in the Hierarchy of Health blog which shows a slightly different structure - and one more suited to further analysis. 

Nutritional health is the wellness level of nutrients in and consumed by the being. Nutritional health is the foundation for all health. Without nutritional health – all other health components will start to fail. Nutritional health is dependent on foods consumed in the past, present and future. From a cellular point of view - and we consist of our cells, nutritional health is measured by the health of the 'soil' that is our body's food supply to our cells as well as the food delivered thru food.

Cellular health is the wellness level of the cells of a being. Nutritional health is required for cellular health; however cellular health can also be affected positively or negatively by other factors from genetics and exercise to toxins and radiation. Cellular health of a person includes the healthy presence of non-human cells, bacteria, viruses, etc.

Organ health is the wellness level of the organs of a being. Eg. Liver, lungs, skin and heart. Cellular health is required for organ health.

System health is the wellness level of the various systems that exist in a person. Including the circulatory system, the respiratory system, the nervous system, the elimination systems (of which the respiratory system is one), and the hormonal systems. System health is dependent on the health of the organs supporting the system, and thus dependent on the nutritional health and cellular health.

Physical health is the wellness level of the entire body, including muscles, tendons, bones and hair. Physical health is dependent on all prior levels. Note: 'the body' might be 'the body of the community being examined'.

Mental health is the wellness level of the being, including memory, calculation and planning. Mental health is dependent on the health of all prior levels. Note: what our society defines as 'mental illness' is often not directly related to mental health - and may be closer aligned with spiritual and social health.

Sexual health is the wellness level of the sexual interactions of a being. Sexual health is dependent on all prior levels of health.   I have come to the conclusion in later blog postings that sexual health is a system, not an element in the hierarchy. 

Spiritual health. Spiritual health is personal. It is not dependent on freedom. It can help maintain a healthy balance when other health components are severely affected. You might think that spiritual health is independent. It is possible to have a strong spirit when your main health status is ‘your legs are being eaten away by cancer’, but maybe that’s not a healthy attitude. It is important to distinguish between 'strong spirit' and a 'healthy spirit'.

Social Health - was renamed and redefined as community health upon reflection and analysis. 

Community health is the wellness level of the communities of humans and their interactions. Community health is dependent on freedoms to associate and work together for health - a freedom that is currently severely curtailed in many areas.

I tried to sequence the components of health in a logical, dependent order, from the basics of nutrition to the complexities of community health. Did I miss anything? Let me know your thoughts.

Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Monday, January 4, 2010

Freedom? Health?

What is freedom?

What is personal freedom? How does this relate to health? And what about groups? Families, organizations, religions, etc. do they have rights of freedom as a group? Should they? And what about the ‘state’. Is the government ‘free’ to do as it wishes?

Freedom is a very complex idea. Wiki gives many definitions,

Freedom may refer to:
 Freedom (philosophy), the idea of being free.
 Freedom (political), the absence of interference with the sovereignty of an individual
 Four freedoms, Roosevelt's freedoms of (1) speech and (2) belief, along with the freedom from (3) fear and (4) want.
 Liberty, the condition in which an individual has the ability to act according to his or her own will
 Economic freedom, a term in economic research and policy debates
 Free content, freedom of an artistic work to be redistributed, modified, and studied by others
 Individual freedom, the moral stance, political philosophy, or social outlook that stresses independence and self-reliance
 Statue of Freedom, on top of the U.S. Capitol dome in Washington, D.C.

As always, the official word is wanting... Freedom is a term so broad that it cannot be constrained by definitions. It can be explored by definitions.
What are our rights to freedom?

I love the quote from John Ralston Saul “Freedom - an occupied space which must be reoccupied every day.
Freedom is not something that ‘once attained is owned’. It is like peace, sometimes it is necessary to use force to maintain your freedom.
I deliberately chose the words ‘personal health freedom’ to distinguish my concept from ‘individual freedoms’. Corporations and cats are individuals, but they are not people.

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
—Article 1 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

It is clear we cannot define freedom precisely. However, in the context of ‘personal health’, a useful definition of freedom is not difficult.

If a ‘person’ believes that a specific action will affect their health, in a way they want to affect their health – they should be free to take that action.

Freedom is freedom to act. Freedom to choose. To open a door, climb a wall, or, in the words of John Ralston Saul – to occupy a space. Personal health freedom is freedom to take actions that affect your health.

Note: I did not argue to take actions that ‘improve’ my health. That would be too simple. It would also leave the door open for opposition on the basis that ‘this’ action might not improve my health. Most, if not all actions that ‘improve your health’ can also cause poor health in certain situations. Many things that improve short term health, can lead to severe problems in the long term. Examples range from drinking water to taking painkillers. Every health decision has positive and negative aspects. Only the person who is ultimately ‘affected’ can make the decision.

Now we are getting dangerous... What if, someone argues that whatever they want to do is ‘for their health’ – and therefore they must be ‘free’ to act. In theory, they can do whatever they want.

Hmm.. What is the opposite of ‘freedom’? My thesaurus says: captivity, confinement, imprisonment, incarceration, limitation, servitude, slavery. I think we’re talking about ‘limitations’ as the opposite of ‘personal health freedom’.
Limitations has two main meanings, one of which is not relevent. Limitation: restraint, disadvantage

bar, block, check, condition, constraint, control, cramp, curb, impediment, inhibition, injunction, obstruction, reservation, restriction, stricture, taboo

What if someone wants to ‘smoke cigarettes’ for the short term ‘healthy feeling’ they get, even though in the long term, smoking damages their health? We permit them to smoke. To make their own health decisions, negative and positive.

What if someone wants to take an action, or treatment, that some people believe is ‘negative’, because they believe it will provide temporary, or permanent benefit?

Does our society need a way to constrain health freedom? And what constraints are reasonable?

Suddenly our discussion of ‘personal health freedom’ becomes a discussion of limitations, constraints, restrictions and taboos. We need a new blog for that discussion.
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Health Freedom Survey – January 2010

What is Health Freedom? Why me?
A quick google survey reveals many sites purporting, proposing, and pursuing health freedom. How do they define health freedom? – is a web page that consist of an email signup page, which dies if you enter your name and email address? What’s up?

The American Association for Health Freedom ( as well as has become the Alliance for Natural Health - USA. Eg. Health Freedom is freedom to sell health (and by extension, health freedom is freedom to make health purchases).

They say: The Alliance for Natural Health USA (ANH-USA)*, is part of an international organization dedicated to promoting sustainable health and freedom of choice in healthcare through good science and good law.

The Alliance for Natural Health says: The ANH is an internationally-active, not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation, based in the UK, that is working to help positively shape the regulatory and scientific framework affecting natural health in order to develop more sustainable, natural and biologically-compatible approaches to healthcare.

What is Health Freedom?
Health Freedom New Zealand, lists several international Health Freedom sites at: which range from
- the Alliance for Natural Health,
- to the Canadian Red Umbrella Ladies - – “We are among 3000 Canadians who use a high potency vitamin and mineral supplement for the treatment of Bipolar Affective Disorder. The supplement, called Empowerplus has allowed us or a loved one to completely control the symptoms of manic depression and has facilitated a return to a normal, healthy life. All without the well-documented side effects of psychotropic drugs. Many of us have resolved our illness with Empowerplus while under the supervision of our doctors.”.

Wikki says: “The term health freedom movement is used to describe the loose coalition of organizations, consumers, activists, alternative medicine practitioners and producers of products around the world who are campaigning for unhindered freedom of choice in healthcare. The movement is critical of the pharmaceutical industry and medical regulators, and uses the term "health freedom" as a catch phrase to convey its message.”

Why me?

I believe in Personal Health Freedom.

The Institute for Health Freedom , says: “The Institute for Health Freedom was established in 1996 to bring the issues of personal health freedom to the forefront of America's health policy debate. Our mission is to present the ethical and economic case for strengthening personal "health freedom," defined as:
The freedom to choose one's health care providers and treatments, and to maintain confidential relationships with one's providers, without interference from government or private third parties.
The Institute does not endorse any health care treatment, product, provider, or organization. Rather, the Institute for Health Freedom is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research center—a Washington-based "think tank."

This is closer to my objectives, but still missing much that I believe is ‘personal health freedom’. First of all, it has a decidedly ‘born in the USA approach’.

I understand that it is important to ‘act locally’, but believe it is also important to ‘think globally’.

What is health freedom? What is health? What is freedom? What is ‘personal health freedom’. Today, we have many questions, and too few answers.
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: