Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Resolutions are Healthier than Medicines

Beverly Sills - by Carl Van Vechten

“You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”
 Beverly Sills

At this time of the year, we think of New Years Resolutions. We resolve to do better and to be better. 
are New Years Resolutions healthy? Do they make you healthier?
Many new year's resolutions are about health.  It's interesting to look at the hierarchy of healthicine, and see where we can make healthful New Year's Resolutions.   

A glance at The Hierarchy of Healthicine shows where resolutions can help us.  We can resolve to build healthy communities, healthy spirits, a healthy mind, and a healthy body.

We often make resolutions about nutrition - diet, which we believe will improve the healthiness of our bodies, thus our mind, spirits and communities. There are no medicines that can replace nutrition. No medicines better than resolving to improve your diet. 

We seldom make resolutions that address specific bodily systems or organs - with the exception of smoking.  Tissue healthiness, cell healthiness is tied to nutritional healthiness - and few people resolve to have 'healthier skin'. Most of us assume that our genetics are beyond our control. We cannot make resolutions that have a useful effect on our genetics. 
Medicine is designed to tackle specific illnesses, not healthiness.  Medicine focuses attention on specific organs, tissues and systems. There is no medicine for an unhealthy body, nor for a weak spirit. New Years Resolutions tackle aspects of health that are NOT well handled by medicines. Our communities, our spirit, our mind - medical systems hardly recognize these aspects of health. But our New Year's Resolutions work to improve them.  
Do our resolutions make us healthier? Of course they do.  The act of 'resolving' to make changes is healthy - even if some of the changes do not directly improve our health. 

According to the US Government website, the most popular New Year's Resolutions are: 
Drink Less AlcoholNutrition, Body
Eat Healthy FoodNutrition, Body
Get a Better EducationMind
Get a Better JobSpirit, Community
Get FitBody
Lose WeightBody
Manage DebtCommunity
Manage StressMind, Spirit
Quit SmokingBody, Respiratory system
Reduce, Reuse, and RecycleSpirit
Save MoneyCommunity
Take a TripSpirit, Community
Volunteer to Help OthersSpirit, Community

The important thing about New Year's Resolutions is choice. New Year's resolutions help us to exercise choice about our healthiness.  Even if our resolutions fail, we gain practice creating resolutions, and acting on them. When we resolve, we work to make a better world, to create a positive new beginning.
Healthiness is about balance - and balance is about movement.  New Year's resolutions require us to consider movement - and to act on our decisions.  This heightens our awareness, and ultimately our healthiness.

My resolutions for 2013?  I resolve to be happier in 2013. To be grateful for what I have.  That's for my spirit health. And I resolve to stand up for health, healthicine and health freedoms - for your health, for my health and for the community of healthicine
Everyone has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of healthiness. When we make New Year's resolutions, we are exercising this right.  Exercise makes us healthier, even exercising our rights.

to your health, tracy

Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

NRA Admits Failure

Yesterday on the news, the NRA suggested that the government should put armed guards in every school to protect our children. This statement is, without doubt or confusion, an admission of failure.  

The failure is so clear that even sensible gun control detractors understand.

There are two important things to know about this failure of the NRA executive statement.

First, it is idiotic. Only a person or group suffering from severe delusions, or attempting to support a totally unreasonable position would suggest a solution that:

a) costs Billions of dollars.  About 100,000 schools * salary of $20,00 a year = 2 billion dollars - and then you need to add, probably 50% for 'administrative costs' - and God only knows how much more for legal costs. That's not counting private schools, after hours work (overtime), nor universities and colleges.  It's also not accounting for the fact that some schools have very small campuses and could (in theory) be covered by a single staff member - but others are huge.  And if you pay them more - you might get better quality staff.  Duh.

b) ignores the fact that the school killings were not just pre-meditated, they were planned, sometimes weeks in advance.  What 15 year old boy would NOT have the common sense to know that the first thing you do, if you want a free hand, is to kill the 'sleepy guard' who has guns, but has never had the need to use them on the job.  And what chance would the sleepy guard have against a juiced up, maniacal 15 year old in body armor with an assault weapon?

c) Or, if you, a deranged 15 year old, have no access to guns - simply break into the office of the sleepy guard who never uses them anyway. This proposed solution puts more guns in schools, where they can be misused, stolen, mishandled (accidents do happen) and where they present an image of killing power to all staff and students. A solution that would, in all likelihood, cause more deaths than it prevents. It also puts people 'who have physical power' in a school, with our children, where that power can easily be abused without firing the gun.

Second, the position of the NRA highlights a simple failure of democracy in the USA.

The position that every US citizen has the right to bear arms is based on simple concepts and understandings.  that:

No citizen can trust their governments.
No citizen can trust their corporations.
No citizen can trust their police.
No citizen can trust their neighbor.
No-one can trust anyone in authority.

Thus everyone needs the right to a gun to protect themselves and their rights.

This failure of trust is at the foundation of the so called 'democracy' in the USA.

Elections are not fought on the argument that our leaders can move our country towards a better world.  They are fought on the basis that 'that politician' (your opponent) cannot be trusted.  The planet is round, our world does not have 'sides'. But our democracy forces us to take sides, to view  members of governments, and candidates, as possible enemies.

Candidates promise to 'cut taxes and government spending', on the assumption that all governments and all government spending cannot be trusted.  Thus all taxes are bad. The assumption that it is not possible for governments to 'do good things'. Note: This assumption will extend to the spending on gun toting guards in schools as well. What goes around, comes around.

No candidate attempts to present a vision of government that, in the words of a famous Canadian, are designed to "make the world a better place".  (Tommy Douglas "Courage, my friend, it's not too late to make the world a better place.”)

If any politician dares to present a better world - they will simply not to be trusted.

Democracy has become distrustacy.

There is, simply, no attempt by any level of government in North America (Canada included) to 'make our world a more trusting place'. If our world was a more trusting place - governments would be more open and honest, corporations would be more open and honest, police and military would be more open and honest, even our courts of law would be more open and honest.

But our design and implementation of our so called 'democracy' specifically inhibits attempts to make things better.  At the same time, while encouraging distrust, it encourages secrets, which encourages lies.

How did this come to be?

This is not the fault of the NRA. It is not because of the NRA.

There is an interesting parallel to health.  Our so called 'health systems' are actually medical systems.  Medical systems look for problems.  Healthiness is ignored.  If you are 'healthy', your doctor doesn't want to waste time on you - there are too many sick people.

The only healthy people who have medical expert attempting to make them 'healthier' are elite athletes.  And in those cases, the focus is not actually on improving healthiness, it is on improving speed, strength, reaction time, etc. even at the risk of decreasing overall healthiness in the short term or the long term.

No one studies healthiness. No doctor has time to try and improve healthiness.  There are no PhDs of Healthicine - the arts and sciences of health and healthiness. 

The Hierarchy of Healthicine is a framework of healthiness from genetics, to nutrients to cells, tissues organs. It extends beyond the body, the mind, and the spirit to our communities.  Our families, our churches, and our various governments.

Our 'democratic election' process is designed to search for and high-lite problems, not successes. Our news reporting systems emphasize conflict, not success, exacerbating the problem. People actually 'fear' successful governments, on the assumption that 'reports of success' can only be a dangerous lie.

This ignorance of healthiness extends from our genetics to our communities, including our governments and the NRA.

How healthy is our government? What are the parameters that define a healthy government?  How might a healthy government improve the healthiness of their citizens from their genetics, to their nutrition, to their many communities?

At this time - these questions are mute, not moot. No one asks about the healthiness of government, all parties are interested in finding the 'illness' of government, so they might be elected based on the strength of their opposing views.

And the NRA statement speaks this nonsense clearly. They suggest MORE control, by putting armed guards in schools - and they claim that somehow this might give us more freedom.  It does not, more control generates more distrust. We don't need more adults to control the children.  We need to teach our children how to behave like adults.  We are all children.

We need more trust.  That's the foundation of freedom.

Let't take a fundamental look at the 'stated goals' of the NRA in this situation.  To make our schools (and other places) safe for our children.  We are all children.  We all need all of our places to be safe places.

Are our places safer if everyone has a gun?  Or if no-one has a need for a gun?  The answer is clear.

Where there is no need for guns, that place will be safe from guns.

If the NRA wants to work for the safety of all, they need to work towards a society where trust is higher than distrust. Where guns do not exist - in most places - because there is no need for guns.  Guns might still exist as toys - I'll admit they can be fun toys. But we need to work toward a society where guns, as weapons, defensive or offensive, are simply not needed.

We might ask, after all this discussion of healthiness, about the healthiness of the NRA?  The hierarchy of healthiness extends to communities and the NRA is a community.

How healthy is the NRA? 

It it is important to note that healthiness is not measured by illness.  Healthiness is not the 'opposite of sickness'.  Healthiness is about balance, has many components and is always in flux.  Rocks are not 'healthy'. They do not change, there is no balance.  Neither is a political position that is totally inflexible and immobile 'healthy'.

The response of the NRA to the school shootings is not just unhealthy, it is sick. Sickness, however, tends to be concentrated in a small part of a possibly healthy body - unless it becomes large enough to present danger to the entire body.  It is possible to have a cold and be perfectly healthy otherwise.  It is possible to cut your finger, and be perfectly healthy otherwise.  If you break a leg - it might have more of an effect on your overall healthiness, but take care. It's not difficult to imagine a situation where, a broken leg might cause an improvement in someones overall healthiness. It is possible for the NRA to be healthy, and have some sicknesses at the same time.

A measurement of the 'healthiness' of the NRA is independent of their position on guns or gun control.  But we don't even know how to measure the healthiness of our diets - much less the healthiness of our communities.

We don't know if the NRA is healthy or not. We don't study healthiness.

The right to guns, is lower on our priorities than the right to food, shelter, water, the right to medical care when we are sick, and the rights to travel and assemble freely, the right to safe schools. It is lower than the right to pursue happiness. If anything, the right to guns, is a sub-item of that right.

It's time to put our priorities in a proper sequence.

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

to your health, and your freedom,
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Microsoft HealthVault vs Google Health vs Personal Health Freedom

Wouldn't it be nice if you could keep all of your medical records in one place?  A central computer cloud like Microsoft's Skydrive or Google's Document service, automatically backed up and secured for you?

I recently went through a long series of tests (having just passed the 60 year milestone, or was that millstone?).  I called the clinic to see if I could get a copy of the results.  Well, yes, but the doctor has to be there to approve it.  Are they my records? or not?

I recently read "The Decision Tree: Taking control of your health in a new era of personalized medicine", by Thomas Goetz, and I came across a paragraph or two about Microsoft's HealthVault - and the Google competitor - Google Health.

According to Thomas Goetz, writing in about 2009, published in 2010, quoting Microsoft's Craig Mundie, "Medicine is about to go from analog to digital. This means that manual processes [like diagnosis] are moving to a set of automated processes.  Of course medicine, from a bureaucratic point of view, is resistant to this sort of reengineering.  So we wanted to see what Microsoft could do to anticipate these changes and introduce technology that makes it more graceful to move from the old model to a data driven model."

Wow, that sounds exciting.  And from the looks of things, it's had three or four years to mature.  Were do I sign up?

As near as I can tell, and I did a LOT of research, the best place to sign up is Germany.  But, you need to live there.  And get your medical work done there.  In theory, Microsoft's Health Vault is available in the USA, Great Britain, and Canada too.  But... from my lonely log cabin in in Alberta, Canada - NOT.

Germany seems to have the most advanced HealthVault services.  I'm not surprised.  The Germans are big on rules, regulations, lines and squares, order and consistency.  That should make HealthVault tools easier to develop and implement.

Unfortunately, in North America, our need for something like HealthVault is exactly the reason it doesn't work.

Or does it work?  Thomas Goetz wrote about the dream in 2009.  So did the American Medical Association and the Mayo Clinic. According to the Microsoft HealthVault Privacy Statement, it was launched in 2007?

But since 2009, the AMA and the Mayo Clinic websites have virtually nothing to say about the HealthVault. Now that's impact! (NOT).

The only references you will find relate to the fact the Google gave up on Google Health, and if you are a Google Health user, you can supposedly transfer your data to Microsoft's Health Vault - if you do it soon.  I guess even the massive Google doesn't think your health records are important enough to keep more than a few months.

What is it really?  What is Microsoft trying to build?  You can be sure that Bill Gates and crew are not in this business 'to make you healthier', they're in it for the bucks.

The best consumer description I have found to date is actually a marketing document from Telus, the provider of Microsoft HealthVault in Canada (but not Alberta, sorry).  You can view it here:
Microsoft (Telus HealthSpace) HealthVault. It does contain some contradictory statements, but hey, it's a marketing document - what did you expect?

Microsoft, it appears, is hoping that at some point, this will catch fire - and they will be the key player, in the middle between doctors, medical labs, and patients.  An enviable position. And to be honest, we do need someone in the middle.  I recently had an ultrasound.  I waited a week for results and then called my doctor.  But the results had not arrived.  I called the lab, to learn that they had sent the results to the wrong doctor. Presumably, the 'wrong doctor' ignored the 'irrelevant information' and my doctor didn't notice the absence of results.  The lab then, they said, passed the results on to the right doctor.  But what do I know??? Another week, I called my doctor and was advised that yes, my results had arrived, but because there was nothing to worry about, they didn't bother to call me.

I would like my results to come to me. And I send them to my doctor.  Or perhaps to come to both my doctor and to me, so I would notice if they were sent to the wrong doctor.

In my visit to my doctor, I also had a chance to take a peek at some of the lab results he received. To be frank, they appeared to be barely readable. Crappy copies of something printed on a crappy printer - poorly organized, I'm guessing each lab has their 'standard format', that does not conform to any other lab format. Am I wrong?

But evidently I don't have a right to my lab results. I can get them, if the doctor gives permission. There is legislation pending in the USA to give US citizens the rights to their lab results - but at present many US citizens also don't have a right to their lab results either.

So 2009 to 2012, three, or is it four years, and not much change in Microsoft Health Vault.

Where might it go?  Where should it go?

There are standard tests for most lab work.  There should be standard result formats.

I should have access to my results.

If I want a 'second opinion' for example, at present, I must ask my doctor to send my results to my 'second doctor'.  Will he send the entire file with all notes? Maybe.... If I have the file, I can send it myself. Not only that.  If I have the files, I can also send it to an electronic doctor.

Electronic Doctor?  What's that?  There have been a few tests done with computers 'assisting' doctors in diagnosis.  In some cases, doctors do better, but in many cases, computer programs can do better. And that's not all.  Computer programs can learn to improve their skills much better than a doctor, who is busy working.  And when new knowledge is available, computers can be re-programmed much more easily than a doctor.  And even more valuable - computer programs can give diagnostic 'alternatives' with measures of probability.  There is a 31 percent chance that you have "abcde", but a 24 percent you actually have "bcdef".  This valuable tool is almost unheard of in the medical profession.  But your doctor might not like to be 'challenged', nor 'informed by his patients' (or a computer).

When we truly have a Health Vault, with all of our health records, it will enable many diagnostic tools and techniques that are unavailable in today's poorly organized medical infrastructure.

I wish Microsoft great success with HealthVault - although I'm not holding my breath.

My personal opinion is that:

a) it will take (more) years for the HealthVault concept to become something useful
b) there will be lots of controversy along the way.
c) it is always possible that some other company will 'come up the middle (between Microsoft's HealthVault, Google Health, and whatever Facebook might be planning) and surprise us all.

I believe in the concept of a HealthVault.  Everyone should have access to their personal medical records, in one place.  Our medical infrastructure is, to be frank, making a big mess of it all. Just try to get all of your medical records into together - if you are the same age as me, it is not possible.  Many have been lost, forgotten or destroyed, even, in a few cases, stolen.  And that is not in the best interest of my health.

Unfortunately, as a result of my investigations into the German version of HealthVault, Microsoft's HealthVault is now convinced my computer lives in Germany.  The only way I can get to the US HealthVault site is to use a different browser than my favorite Google Chrome.  So, I head for Internet Explorer and Google to HealthVault USA - it gives me HealthVault UK.  duh.... At least I can try my Facebook ID from there without a translator. Nope.  Trying to log in with Facebook just trashes me out to the 'signup' page - an infinite loop of opportunities and refusals...

Everyone has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of healthiness.  Everyone has a right to access, store and control access to their medical records.

to your health. tracy


If anyone out there has actually used the Microsoft HealthVault, I'd love to see your input. I have looked at the introductory pages (and the promises I must lie to in order to get access), but I don't feel like lying to my computer again today. Alberta HealthVault?

From my lonely log cabin in Canada, I can I can point there, but all I get is an empty shell called No actual services. Not even a hint that has any concept of Microsoft's HealthVault. If you tell Microsoft's HealthVault site you live in Alberta, you will be directed to - and locked out of HealthVault.  It appears that, in only in Canada, Microsoft's HealthVault has been farmed out to Telus (except in Alberta).  I do wonder if there are different providers for every state in the union?

Of course you can lie to computers.  Frankly I seem to be forced lie to my computer EVERY DAY anyway. I've learned that lying to computers is something we take for granted.  I am constantly asked to "check that I have read and understood ... blah, blah, blah" - computers MUST be lied to if you want to get anything done. I could tell HealthVault that I live in New York, or Berlin, or Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  Maybe that would give me access?  Unfortunately, even if I have an ID, it won't give me access to services from local doctors - because Alberta has not signed on.  But it might let me enter my own information (if I can get copies).  Even that would be an important step.

Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Placebos, Nocebos, and the Spirits of Healthicine

Our medical system is less comfortable and less effective as studies and results move from the body to the mind, from the mind to the spirit, and from the spirit to the community.  Each of the top layers of the hierarchy of healthiness is studied with fear rather than with respect by science and medicine.

The placebo effect is one of the most misunderstood, misrepresented, and maligned effects of health and medical products. That's because placebo effects are just a technical name for the spirit, which medical science refuses to acknowledge.

Placebo is an interesting word, the definition of which helps to create an incorrect view.  Placebo, according to Webster, is "a usually pharmacologically inert preparation prescribed more for the mental relief of the patient than for its actual effect on a disorder". Written as if placebos do not provide physical relief.  But they do.

Many doctors prescribe 'placebos' because they recognize that mental relief is an important aspect of physical relief. 'So called' mental relief is often accompanied by physical relief. Even if they don't understand the details, these doctors are not 'deceiving', they are acting in the best interests of the patient. They often prescribe 'patent medicines' that, in theory, will have no effect on the condition, rather than an alternative medicine - because paying more, and going to a pharmacy, increases the placebo effect. Some doctors recognize that drugs with an actual effect - not specifically related to the patients (untreatable by medicine) condition have a stronger placebo effect.  The most effective placebo is often not an inert pill, but one that the patient can 'feel working'.

The Placebo Effect has three parts:

1. The basic placebo effect is an increase in a patient's response to a treatment.  It doesn't matter if the treatment is a patent medicine, an alternative medicine, a surgery, or a prayer - all treatments benefit from the placebo effect.

2. The nocebo effect (a reverse placebo effect) can increase your awareness of, or the presence of side effects of a treatment, even to a placebo (null) treatment, or from a diagnosis. In some cases nocebo effect can result in death where there is no danger.

3. Regression to the mean is a natural physical process that moves statistical outliers back to the normal range. It works equally well with golf tournaments, coin tosses, protest movements, as well as health and medical conditions.

The placebo effect, and the nocebo effect (but not regression to the mean) are effects that lie on the layers of body and mind, and of mind and spirit.

Drug manufacturers hate the placebo effect, because it forces them to try and do better than mere 'suggestion'. As if that was a false requirement.  Drugs also benefit from the placebo effect.  And can be degraded by the nocebo effect.

Doctors (and others) often claim that the effects of 'alternative' medicines are entirely due to the placebo effect. This allows them to ignore 'facts' in favour of untested 'fictions'.

Neither seriously considers the symptoms of healing or healthiness. What are the symptoms of healing?  How does the placebo effect affect the symptoms of healing? What are the symptoms of healthiness?  How does the nocebo effect affect the symptoms of healthiness?

Studies of the nocebo effect are generally aimed at minimizing its effect in patients. But, it's strange to note that studies of the placebo effect are also aimed at minimizing it, even though it has a positive effect on patients health.

Almost everyone ignores, or is ignorant of 'regression to the mean'.

Scientific studies often ignore 'regression to the mean'. Even though it has a huge effect on results. Scientific studies of medicines typically compare a 'product being tested' vs a placebo. So, of course, they are DOUBLY affected by the placebo effect. And the researchers think they are accurately measuring the placebo effect, and thus, accurately measuring the 'product effect'. But they often ignore regression to the mean, which pretends to be, or is mistaken for placebo effect. Regression to the mean happens on both sides of a double blind study.  It happens to the patient's illness, and also to the patient's healthiness as well.

How does regression to the mean work?

Golf scores provide an interesting example.  If you review the field of competitors from a golf tournament, and rank them according to their score on the 1st hole, some will have good scores - and some will have bad scores.  But the scores on the 1st hole will, likely, have little predictive value for the tournament. If you add in the scores from the 2nd hole, some of the people with the highest score will 'regress to the mean'. People with the lowest score will also regress towards the mean. All scores move towards the average.  The sequence is statistically irrelevant, even though it has an effect (placebo effect?, nocebo effect?) on the participants performance. With any two holes counted, you might still have the final leader - in the bottom half.

The more rounds you add to the score - the more the scores bunch together, and the better your information. We tend to watch golf score from round 1, to round 2, to round 3, and we only pay attention to the leaders - so we miss the big picture. We miss regression to the mean entirely, because we perceive little effect on the leaders. In round 1 - someone is ahead (often as random as who did the best in round 10).  Then in round 2, someone else is ahead - because the leader in round 1 was the farthest from the mean, and his score 'regressed to the mean'. And so on.

Regression to the mean happens with any sample monitored over time. It's a statistical fact, not a 'placebo effect'.  It will happen if patients take medicines - prescription or alternative medicines, and it will happen if they do not take any medicines. It happens even if they decide to NOT take medicines that are prescribed.

Medicine, is complicated, even if you just study the physical facts and ignore the spirit. If you select a group of people suffering from a cold, for example, some will have mild colds, some moderate colds, and some - severe colds. Some will have had a cold for one day, some for 3 days, etc. The mean appears to be those with 'moderate colds'.  But  that's a poor understanding. Colds are not normal. The population on average does not have a cold.

The mean they are regressing towards is actually 'the mean' of the normal population.  Most people do not have colds.  In a very short time - the members of your test group will 'regress to the mean' and most of them will no longer have colds.  This is 'normal'.

It's even more complicated. Some are very healthy people, some are less healthy and some are very unhealthy - where healthiness is measured independent of their colds.  Some eat nutritious diets, some junk food diets.  Some exercise regularly - some are couch potatoes. Some are mis-diagnosed, they don't really have a cold, they have allergies, or even heart failure. Healthiness changes slowly, much more slowly than the symptoms of a cold.

Studies of cold medicines typically have very short duration, in the hope that this will minimize those complications.  But if we were to study cold healthicines - we would need to study people over larger variations of healthiness and over wider periods of time.

Healthiness also regresses towards the mean. People who are healthier than the mean tend to drift to being less healthy.  People who are less healthy than the mean notice, and try to move their healthiness towards the mean.  I fear that the mean healthiness is also regressing in today's society.

As a result, studies that struggle with 'placebo effect' and ignore 'regression to the mean' constantly find confusing, conflicting results.  Who to blame?  Not themselves of course, it's much easier to blame 'placebo effect'.

If we are to learn the truth about health, we need to stop ignoring or hiding from real effects.  Placebo and nocebo effects are real effects.  As is regression to the mean.

There is another important aspect of the placebo effect.  Very important.  We can use arthritis as an example, but it applies to any illness.

The variations factor.

If we are studying a group of people with arthritis (or any chronic illness), there is a huge variety in their conditions.  Some have mild arthritis   Some have moderate arthritis.  And some have severe arthritis. Some have had arthritis for years - some for decades or generations. Some eat healthy diets and some don't.  Some exercise regularly - but some don't.  Some might take up, or drop, an exercise plan during the study. Each of them is sometimes healing - and thus they have symptoms of healing.  Their healing status might change during the study, due to 'control' conditions, or uncontrolled conditions. But scientific studies tend to 'not measure' symptoms of healing'.

So called 'scientific studies' generally ignore these variations, or deliberately trying to minimize them. Of course when a drug is marketed, the marketing is 'expanded' beyond the variations studied. A treatment is tested on the selected group.  The treatment has an effect.  Placebo effect has an effect. The outliers in the group tend to regress to the mean (unless they die - a mean we will all regress to eventually, in which case their results might be excluded from the published study).

Scientific studies want nice clean results.  The placebo effect is a nuisance.  Nocebo effects are not even noticed, nor measured in most cases. Regression to the mean is easy to ignore - and extremely difficult to measure with regards to both healthiness and illness.

A severe weaknesses of science based medicine is the need to be 'right' or to find the 'true' answers. The simple truth is: truth is complex.  There are many truths, and many views of truth. Many valid views of truth - but medical science wants to find 'the one'.

The placebo effect, is a different effect in different people.  Just as some people exercise more than others, some exercise more than others - some are more spiritual than others.  And this spirituality can change over time. The medical profession might use the word 'suggestibility' to avoid terms related to 'spirituality'.

Some doctors are more spiritual, more 'placebo effect enhancing' and this too will regress to the mean, towards the average, as time passes and as more results are gathered.

The placebo effect, and the nocebo effect reside on the borders between body and mind, and between mind and spirit.  Regression to the mean lies on the border of our understanding. We have a mathematical theory, but it is difficult to apply to all of the factors that 'regress'.

The spirit is independent of the technologies of science. It is at a higher level than mere facts, figures, scientific studies, and clinical research studies. Medicine, and science try to ignore and disparage spiritual and placebo effects. They have no mechanisms to understand them.  I believe that eventually our sciences will encompass the spirit, but today, there is only fear that the spirit will overwhelm (or perhaps trick) science.

Science is afraid of spirits.

To quote medical historian Anne Harrington in The Placebo Effect: An Interdisciplinary Exploration, "Placebos are the ghosts that haunt our house of biomedical objectivity, the creatures that rise up from the dark and expose the paradoxes and fissures in our own self created definitions of the real and active factors of treatment."

When we hide behind, or from spirituality, and the placebo effects, our knowledge of health is decreased. As a result of decreased knowledge, our health freedom is decreased.

Everyone has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of healthiness. Even a right to the most effective placebos our spirits our sciences can create and our spirits can handle.


this post has been re-published by
Waking Times

Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mammogram vs thermogram? Cancer scam or health sham?

If you listen to the news, you may have heard some noise about a new breast cancer detection tool, called thermography, or thermogram.  I've seen news reports stating:

"Clinic offers cancer diagnostic test dismissed by experts"

"'Useless' breast cancer test touted across country"

And the following quote from an authority figure:
"It's not effective at detecting breast cancers,” said Gillian Bromfield, senior manager of cancer control policy at the Canadian Cancer Society. “It misses the large majority of breast cancers and, on top of that, it also detects cancers when there actually are none."

It all sounds very 'newsworthy', but what are the facts? News reporters prefer to quote authority figures, it's easier than doing an analysis of the facts.

Maybe we should start first with mommograms - to set a baseline. What is a mammogram used for? What is the success/failure rate?  How many cancers does it detect when there are none?

According to the American Cancer Society, "A mammogram is an x-ray exam of the breast. It is used to detect and evaluate breast changes."  Note, they do NOT claim that a mammogram detects or diagnoses cancer.  About thermograms, they say "Newer versions of this test are better able to find very small temperature differences. They may prove to be more accurate than older versions, and are now being studied to find out if they might be useful in finding cancer."

The Canadian Cancer Society says "A mammography exam is a low-dose x-ray." Note, they also do not claim that a mammogram diagnoses cancer. They describe it as a 'screening test', and go on to say that: "Diagnostic tests will be done if the signs and symptoms of breast cancer are present, if the result of a mammography is abnormal, or if the doctor suspects breast cancer."

A mammogram is a screening test.  If it shows abnormal results, further analysis is required to diagnose cancer, or to learn that cancer is not present.  What is the statistical effectiveness of a mammogram?

The Journal of Medical Screening published a research paper monitoring mammograms in Helsinki, Finland, and reported "The estimated sensitivity of the screening programme was 58%; and 53% if corrected for overdiagnosis."  eg. Mammograms are about 50 percent effective as a screening test for cancers. Their conclusion: "The study provides further support to the hypothesis that service screening with mammography reduces the risk of breast cancer mortality." eg. A screening test that has about 50 percent effectiveness reduces the risk of breast cancer mortality.

The Journal of Clinical Oncology published a report comparing mammography, breast ultrasound, and Magnetic Resonance Imaging, to monitor breast cancer in a group of women at high risk of breast cancer. They found the effectiveness of mammography to be low - 33%. Ultrasound was found to be 40%, and MRI was found to be 93 percent effective.  Their conclusion: "Mammography alone, and also mammography combined with breast ultrasound, seems insufficient for early diagnosis of breast cancer in women who are at increased familial risk"

Mammograms are an inexpensive useful first screen tool in cancer protection, but not terribly effective at detecting breast cancer, and according to some studies they indicate cancer in a number of situations where cancer does not exist. According to Wikipedia, mammograms have a false positive result in about 80 percent of cases where investigation is indicated, and between 10 and 30 percent false negatives, where cancer exists but is not found.

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a research paper that studied 30 years of mammography statistics, in a paper titled "Effect of Three Decades of Screening Mammography on Breast-Cancer Incidence"  The author's conclusion: "Despite substantial increases in the number of cases of early-stage breast cancer detected, screening mammography has only marginally reduced the rate at which women present with advanced cancer. Although it is not certain which women have been affected, the imbalance suggests that there is substantial overdiagnosis, accounting for nearly a third of all newly diagnosed breast cancers, and that screening is having, at best, only a small effect on the rate of death from breast cancer."

The Radiology Journal reported a review of 16,000 studies of "Thermography, Mammography, and Clinical Examination in Breast Cancer Screening" and found that thermography had a success rate of 39%, eg. in a similar range of effectiveness as mammography.

It is important to note that use of thermography to detect breast cancer is not some 'new technique'.  It was introduced as a screening tool in the 1950s but was dropped when it was found to be not as effective as other techniques.  Today, thermography uses much newer technologies and may have significantly improved.  It's certainly difficult to tell based on the rhetoric from cancer societies.

It has also been noted that mammograms are most effective at detecting breast cancer in 'soft breast tissue' and less effective in 'dense breast tissue'.  Thermograms appear to be more effective for women with dense breast tissues.

Is this a case of the pot calling the kettle black?  Clearly, based on these research papers, the quote by Gillian Bromfield, senior manager of cancer control policy at the Canadian Cancer Society - “It misses the large majority of breast cancers and, on top of that, it also detects cancers when there actually are none," could just as easily have been a quote about mammograms. Is Gillian a doctor? No she is not (neither am I).

Or is this a case of Coke vs Pepsi?  Maybe that's a poor comparison.  Coke and Pepsi are equally BAD for your health (even though they are marketed as making you feel good). Maybe the comparison is more like apples vs oranges.  Eg. Both are useful, and they provide different health benefits.  Both are good for us.

Mammograms are useful tools in the early detection of cancers.  Their weaknesses include more cancers missed, especially in women with dense breast tissue.  Mammograms use x-rays, which may present some danger over the long term.  Thermograms are also useful tools in the early detection of cancers, but we're not so clear on their weaknesses (despite the rhetoric in the news).

Are mammograms, or thermograms the best tool for initial breast cancer screening?  That's a difficult question. At present the cost of a mammogram is less, but that may be a result of higher use.

Who wants to know the truth?  Clearly people who support mammography want us to know their truth, and the people who support thermography want us to know their truth. There is, somewhere, a common truth, but finding the common truth is much more difficult - it may take years, possibly decades.

What do we need?

The cancer societies tout 'early detection' as their goal.  With early detection, we can, supposedly, treat earlier and have better chances of survival. The truth is more complex.  Breast cancer, like all cancers, is very complex. There are different types of breast cancer - none of the screening tools measure what type might present (so far). The screening tool indicates a need for further analysis and possibly treatment. The earlier the 'detection', the higher the likelihoods of false positives, and associated costs and dangers.   I was in Argentia when the president had a diagnosis of cancer in her thyroid gland, had the gland removed surgically, and subsequently learned that there had not been any cancer present. Many men (I am a male) have their prostrate glands removed, only to learn later that there was no danger.

We need a tool that is inexpensive enough, and simple enough to detect and cancer-like growths over time.  In our current medical paradigm, we aim to 'detect cancer' and to 'aggressively treat cancer' once it is diagnosed. I believe this is not the most effective approach.

We need a tool that is inexpensive, non-invasive, and provides continuity.  Breast cancer does not develop overnight.  It takes years, decades. The Canadian Cancer Society recommends that women over 50 receive a mammogram every two years. 

We need a tool that facilitates HEALTHING of breast cancers. We need a tool that helps us to avoid the dangers of surgery, chemotherapy, etc., by techniques that slow or reverse the cancer like growths before they become serious.  

Early detection is not enough. We need early detection AND techniques that are appropriate for 'early detected' cancers. These techniques should be based on healing, not on killing, on treating the body as a healthy tool, not as a cancer victim. 

If we develop a tool that can detect breast cancer like growths in the first few years - long before they might be detected by a mammogram?  It would probably have a very high incidence of 'false positives'.

However, if we use this tool regularly, over time, we can see the progress of these growths and track their progress - long before there is a diagnostic need for surgery or chemotherapy.

If we can detect, and track the progress of such growths, we can learn many things:
 - which are more likely to grow into cancer
 - what healthy behaviors enhance or inhibit their growth

Is thermography this tool.  As long as we keep searching for a tool 'like mammograms', we will only find tool that, like mammograms - are only used to screen for a diagnosis, which will result in serious, dangerous further diagnosis and treatment protocols.

Unfortuntely, the cancer societies operate on a medical paradigm. Search and destroy illness.  They know nothing about health.

Both the thermogram and the mammogram are designed to search for illness. They do not measure 'healthiness', they measure 'presence of illness' (or not).

What about me?  If I was a woman, would I want a regular mammogram?  Of course.  Even a 50 percent chance of finding cancer is better than none - even if there is a high chance of mis-diagnosis.  But I would want a thermogram too.  We may learn, in the long term, that mammograms and thermograms are each most effective at finding, or discriminating between different types of cancers. But not it we throw one out because it only performs 'no better than' the other.

It appears that mammograms, and thermograms, are at best 'tied in fourth place' for their ability to detect cancer (behind a clinical diagnosis, ultrasound and MRI techniques).  But mammograms lead the field because they are relatively inexpensive, and also because they are the incumbent. It also seems clear that thermograms and mammograms detect and measure 'different indicators' of cancer.  As a result, a combination of both will give more complete information.

There are many different types of breast cancer, and different ways to classify breast cancers.  We might learn that mammograms are more effective tools to indicate some types - and thermograms are more effective tools at indicating other types.
The USFDA (Food and Drug Administration) and Health Canada both claim to be 'looking after your health', but they are doing their best to STOP YOU from to getting a thermogram - even if you pay for it yourself.

In the long term, both mammograms and thermograms might evolve into a less expensive, more effective cancer screening tool - but not, it seems, if the USFDA and Health Canada have their say.

Everyone has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of heathiness.  I only wish our medical communities and our government would spend a bit more time pursuing healthiness instead of arguing over the fourth best technique for pursuing illness.

to your health, tracy

You can find another interesting post about mammogram vs thermogram here:

This article has been reposted by AGMCLIMAS.COM without credit to author or blog.

Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fashion Medicines: Are your medicines HEALTHY? or just Fashionable?

A while ago I went out looking for a black jacket to replace one that was a bit worn.  I went to many stores - but the 'style' I wanted was not for sale.  It was in style two years ago - and it had pockets in all the right places. It was light, comfortable, fit well and looked good.  But I was forced to buy a different style.

We have become used to the fact that perfectly good clothes go in and out of fashion - and if you shop at the big chains, what you can choose depends on the fashion of the moment.

What about medicines?

Is your medicine fashionable?  Are your health products fashionable?

That might seem like a strange question.  But think for a moment.  Or, go to the local drug-store  or supermarket and buy some toothpaste. You might see toothpastes, with names like:

Clinical Gum Protection - with Clean Mint
Protection and Whitening Striped Toothpaste
Fresh Mint with Baking Soda
Total Protection plus Whitening

Does this sound like a health product list, or a fashion list?

Or maybe your fashion is an organic, free range, non-GMO, non-fluoride toothpaste? You will probably need to go to a specialty store.  Because that fashion is not for sale in your local chain.

Let's be frank.  What is the healthiest toothpaste?  What is the healthiest toothpaste for seniors?  What is the healthiest toothpaste for children?  What is the healthiest toothpaste for you? Nobody knows - not even close.

You might think that the big toothpaste companies are actually doing research to determine which products are most effective. You might hope that your government is monitoring toothpastes to see if there is any risk to your health. Think again.  My local drugstore has over 50 different types of toothpaste on display.  No one could be expected to figure out which is more effective.  Every one of them contains fluoride.

GreenMedInfo lists 33 research reports into the dangers of fluoride.

I've tried to buy toothpaste that does not contain fluoride and documented it in my toothpaste rant blog. Is fluoride toothpaste better? No.  It's just more fashionable.

If you are buying toothpaste, you can choose your fashion, from the ones available at the store. If you want a different 'fashion' or style of toothpaste, sorry, we had that ten years ago, but this year it's 'out of fashion'.  Was it more effective?  We don't know.  Was it healthier?  We don't know.

What about cold medicines?  Are cold medicines sold based on their effectiveness?  Or on fashion?

At your local drug-store you will find many cold medicines. You can shop last year, this year, or next year and be guaranteed you will find products listed as 'new', 'improved', and phrases like 'now with ...'.
You will find that each company that sells cold medicines has a 'new improved product', with new and improved packaging and a new and improved price.

But will you find any scientific tests?  Do any of the providers of cold medicine actually test their results against last year's product?  Does anyone?  Does anyone actually compare one companies products against another?

The truth about cold medicines, fits perfectly into a recent blog "The Medicines Myth" - cold medicines, like most medicines sold today, don't cure anything.  They 'treat the symptoms'. Treating the symptoms explains why the fashion leading 'cold medicines' are 'all in one' medicines that treat cold, flu, sinus infections and allergies too.  These are symptom medicines, not treating the illness.

Which cold medicine treats cold symptoms best?  Is that one available - or can you only buy the latest 'fashion' of cold medicine?

It would be nice to think that the creation of cold medicines is progressing steadily to provide better and better products. But no.  There is no independent testing of effectiveness. The improvements are aimed at marketing not product effectiveness - just like toothpaste. It's easy to market fashion: : show someone sniffling and coughing - then show them breathing easy.  Which is more 'fashionable'.  Do these cold medicines make you healthier?  We have no idea, but like cosmetics, they might make you look healthier, they make you feel healthier.

What about condoms? You might not think of condoms as medicines - but they are designed to prevent disease.  But how are they marketed?  A report from whats-in-a-name blog compares condom names to names used for Android tablets, with some fun results.

Condoms may be sold to prevent disease, or to prevent pregnancy - but they are marketed using 'sell the sizzle, not the steak' fashion statements.  What does your condom say about you?

Another 'fashion' used to market medicines is the 'behind the counter' fashion.  If a manufacturer can market their 'medicine' as 'so strong the druggist keeps it behind the counter' - it's a powerful fashion statement. Are stronger medicines healthier?  Frankly, we have no idea which are healthiest.  We measure illness, not healthiness. We know that stronger medicines are more dangerous - we don't know if they are healthier.

But, is there a way out?  Is it possible to buy medicines that are not 'fashionable'?  Yes, but it's harder.  You have to buy 'open source' medicines, or 'green medicinees'. You will undoubtedly find these medicines are also marketed through fashion - that's the nature of marketing.  But they are not 'designed' as fashion medicines.  Drugstore toothpaste and cold medicines are designed and marketed by fashion, not for health.

In many cases, it's more effective to make your own medicines.  As Hippocrates advised "May all your foods be medicines, may all your medicines be food'.

When the only medicines available are the 'fashionable ones', our freedoms are limited to the current marketing hype.  It's possible to make an old jacket last a bit longer - but we need to know which medicines are most effective, not which are 'newer', 'fresher', 'more fashionable'.

Everyone has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of healthiness. 
to your health, tracy

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Medicines Myth

What are medicines for? What do medicines do? Your first instinct might be exactly wrong "Medicines cure disease". Isn't that what medicines do? 
No, it is not.  

I researched the top selling prescription medicines of 2011 (you can see the list below) and reached a simple conclusion.  Of the top ten best selling drugs in 2011 - not one of them cures a disease.

Some of them address symptoms  - but none address the cause of the disease they treat.
Most, if not all, are simply 'preventatives' applied after the fact, as the the old saying goes "shutting the barn door, after the horse has bolted".
The statement: "medicines cure disease" is a myth.

You might have seen this common disclaimer on 'alternative health products': This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
The top ten patent medicines are used to 'treat' disease after it occurs. They could use a shortened disclaimer, removing only a single word: This product is not intended to diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease and it would apply to all 20  of the top selling drugs of 2011 - and 19 of the top 20 in 2008. Although, it might be argued that they 'prevent' illness, take note: none prevents illness before it is diagnosed. They only claim to 'prevent risk' after an illness is diagnosed. 
You don't need to go far to find 'conspiracy theories' about drug companies putting profit over health, or even theories about governments trying to keep everyone sick or even dead. But these theories are just noise.
Are the drug companies lying to us?  No.  They are simply telling us their truth, their whole truth, and nothing but their truth.  They are, after all, 'selling'.
There are many truths worth knowing: 
A drug that cures disease will not be a bestseller.
It is more economically motivating for drug companies to produce drugs that you 'keep taking'.  Drugs that 'cure disease' don't sell as much, because once the disease is gone - the need for the drug is gone. If drug companies only work to cure disease - they will be working to put themselves out of business.  There are, after all, only so many diseases. Sometimes I wonder if we have more drug companies than we have diseases.
Many drug prescriptions lead to death.  
Dr. Mercola reports: Fatal prescription drug overdoses surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of accidental death in 2007, according to the Department of Health. 

We can cure many of the diseases the top 20 drugs treat.
This is important. The top 20 drugs treat the symptoms of some very common diseases.  In many cases, we can cure those diseases, but only without drugs.  Maybe not in every case, but in many cases. However, at present, we have no idea how many - because we prescribe drugs instead of cures.
Can we cure heart disease, respiratory diseases, and mental illness? These are three of the top diseases attacked by the 20 best selling drugs?  The other is cancer.  
Yes we can. But not with drugs.  First, we need to go back to the father of medicine, Hippocrates. Hippocrates said: "Nature itself is the best physician." He was talking about healthing illness - treating illness by improving healthiness. He also said "Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food." And lastly, he said: "If you are not your own doctor, you are a fool."
The top 20 (or more) selling medicines are not foods. You cannot buy them without a prescription.  They are not from nature - they are designed and marketed by corporations. And they do not allow you to be your own doctor - you MUST get a prescription to purchase them - even if you are a doctor. None of the top selling drugs of 2011 fit the recommendations of Hippocrates. 
Heart Disease - Cardiovascular disease - can we cure heart disease? yes.

We know how to cure cardiovascular disease. When I say 'we', I mean 'there are people who know'. There are people who know how to cure cardiovascular disease .  Some of them are active, making a good living, curing cardiovascular disease.  Some are simply people who have learned how to cure their own heart disease - and are 'being their own doctor', curing themselves.
But.  Is anyone researching these cures? Is anyone working scientifically to study and improve them?  Are they being published in 'medical journals'.  Nope.
Why?  I believe the main reason YOU can't find a cure for heart disease is simply that it takes WORK to cure heart disease.  You want to take a pill.  Too bad. Your doctor can't cure heart disease unless you give him absolute control over your diet and considerable control over your exercise regime.  A pill won't work. Curing heart disease requires active, ongoing work and 'healing'.
We know what works.  However - we don't know 'what works best' because no-one is studying this scientifically. No one is studying the 'healing' of heart disease.
Now more bad news.  If a doctor, or you cure your heart disease - will the insurance company pay for it?  Nope.  The insurance company pays for treatments.  It pays for the treatments that are 'on the list'.  If it's not on the list, and you pay for a treatment that cures your heart disease - your medical insurance will not pay. Your medical insurance is not health insurance, it's sick insurance. If your doctor recommended it - he might be reprimanded, even banished, for recommending a treatment that is not on the list. No matter if it cures you or not.
Respiratory diseases - can we cure asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory diseases? yes.
There are people who have cured asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory diseases - but not with drugs.  Drugs do not even attempt to cure. It is important to recognize that these disease symptoms can arise from a wide variety of situations.
Medicines don't cure respiratory disease (with a few exceptions for antibiotics in specific situations). Medicines treat symptoms.
So, why don't we know how to 'cure' respiratory disease?  Because it's hard.  Each is an individual case. Because curing respiratory disease requires 'healing'.
Experience has shown that in many cases, it is possible to cure respiratory disease - if you take the time and effort to focus on a cure, not on the symptoms.
Mental Illness - can we cure schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder?  Yes. 
There are people who have cured these mental illnesses.  Clearly they can be cured in some cases. But is anyone studying these cures? Nope.  They are considered 'anecdotal evidence' if they are noticed at all.  No-one is tracking them, much less studying them. If you are diagnosed with a mental illness, the diagnosis is counted in statistics.  But if you are cured - there are no statistics.

No one tracks ALL cures, of any disease, statistically. 
What about cancer?  Cancer drugs have taken over many of the top spots in drug sales, but none of them cures cancer.  You might have, some time in your life, donated time or money to find a 'cure for cancer'.  Rest assured - no-one is searching diligently for a cure.  Everyone is searching for a drug.  A medicine.  And medicines don't cure illness. At least not the important ones. The medicines that are important are the ones that sell the most, not the ones that cure.
Can we cure cancer?  I believe we can.  I also believe we cannot cure cancer with drugs. Unfortunately, when you donate money to find a cure for cancer - it is spent looking for a drug to cure cancer - or just as likely - it is spent trying to get more people to donate to find a drug to cure cancer.
There are people out there, many people, who have 'cured cancer'.  But our 'drug driven system' views them as 'anecdotal evidence' and ignores them.  There is no-one actively researching to see what actually happened when cancer was cured and to publish the information - certainly not any drug company.
If you are healthy - your 'heath insurance' will not pay.  If your status changes from sick to healthy - your health insurance is not obligated to pay.  Health insurance only pays for specific, identified treatments, not for cures.
When will we (the big we, the 'all of us', the 'conventional medical wisdom' we) learn to cure these diseases?  When health becomes a verb. When we learn to health. When we study healthicine as thoroughly as we study medicine. When health insurance pays for cures, when researchers focus on health, not on symptoms, when medicines are not restricted to 'patent medicines', when we put 'open source medicines' and 'patent medicines' to the same test - do they cure?  Do they heal?
Do any drugs cure disease? 

I don't know if there are some drugs that actually cure disease - but I do know that they are not the top sellers.

Health Freedom? We will not achieve health freedom until we begin to pursue healthiness as diligently as we pursue illness.  

Here's the top 10 selling medicines, from 2011.
1. Plavix - the purpose of Plavix is to prevent blood clots in someone who has recently had a stroke or a heart attack.  Does it heal the damage caused by a heart attack or stroke?  No.  Does it heal the blocked arteries that might have caused the heart attach or stroke? Nope.  The expectation is that you will take Pavix, because it will suppress your natural, healthy, clotting tendencies - and thus, possibly, prevent another heart attack or stroke. Does your doctor prescribe Plavix to give you time for other, slower treatments that will cure your circulatory system, or heal the damage caused by disease? Nope. Your doctor signs your prescription, adding perhaps some dietary advice, and then signs off until your next checkup.
2. Lipitor - the purpose of lipitor is to lower cholesterol.  The purpose of lowering cholesterol is, in theory, to reduce heart disease. Does Lipitor cure? No. Does it 'heal' the damage of a heart attack or stroke?  No. Does it heal the damage that is caused in theory, by high cholesterol?  Nope. It is designed to lower your cholesterol, and hopefully your body will heal from the damage caused by high cholesterol.  Does your doctor prescribe Lipitor to give you time for other, slower treatments that will cure your heart disease or heal the damage from your heart disease? Nope. Your doctor signs your prescription to Lipitor and then signs off until your next checkup.
3. Advair Diskus - contains two medicines; one that relaxes the muscles in the walls of the air passages in the lung, keeping them open and thus making it easier to breathe. The other reduces inflammation in the lungs and thus helps reduce swelling and irritation in the small air passages in the lungs  It is commonly prescribed for  asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  Does it cure asthma or COPD? Nope. Does it heal the damage or inflammation in the lungs? No, it reduces the effect of inflammation, but does not address the cause. Does your doctor prescribe Adviar Diskus to give you time for other, slower treatments that will cure your asthma, COPD, to heal the damage it caused? Nope. Your doctor signs your prescription, adding perhaps some lifestyle advice, and then signs off until your next checkup.
4. HUMIRA - a TNF inhibitior. TNFα inactivation is used to lessen inflammatory reactions associated with autoimmune diseases. As of 2008 adalimumab has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn's disease, moderate to severe chronic psoriasis, and juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Does it cure any of the diseases it treats?  No. Is the expectation that your doctor will prescribe HIMURA while they work on another treatment to cure the illness, or search for the cause?  No. Your doctor is expected to sign your prescription, adding perhaps some lifestyle advice, and then signs off until your next checkup.
5. Enbrel  acts as a TNF inhibitor. TNFα inactivation is used to lessen inflammatory reactions associated with autoimmune diseases. It can be prescribed for is rheumatoid, juvenile rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis, plaque psoriasis and ankylosing spondylitis. Does it cure any of the diseases it treats?  No. Is the expectation that your doctor will prescribe Enbrel while they work on another treatment to cure the illness, or search for the cause?  No. Your doctor is expected to sign your prescription, adding perhaps some lifestyle advice, and then signs off until your next checkup.
So, 5 of 5 so far.  Not one of the five top selling medicines actually cures anything. What's up with this?  Let's continue.
6. Rituxan - destroys B cells, and is used to treat diseases characterized by excessive numbers of B cells, overactive B cells, or dysfunctional B cells. This includes many lymphomas, leukemias, transplant rejection, and some autoimmune disorders. Put simply, Rituxan lowers your level of healthiness (killing cells that are normally a healthy part of your body), while attempting to lessen the effects of disease. Does it cure any of the diseases it treats?  No. Is the expectation that your doctor will prescribe Rituxan while they work on another treatment to cure the illness, or search for the cause?  No. Your doctor is expected to sign your prescription, adding perhaps some lifestyle advice, and then signs off until your next checkup.
7. Remicade - is a monoclonal antibody against tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) used to treat autoimmune diseases.  Just try to say that with a straight face - and then try to explain what it means.  Remicade is a relatively new immunosuppressant, so new in fact that, according to Wikipedia, its actions are not yet clearly understood. It can be prescribed to treat psoriasis, Crohn's disease, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ulcerative colitis.  Does it cure any of them? No. Does your doctor prescribe Remicade as a temporary measure and then try to find the cause of, or a cure for your illness? Nope.  But like Embrel and HUMIRA, you are warned that these drugs can have serious, even fatal side effects.
8. Crestor - is a statin, used to treat high cholesterol and similar conditions, to prevent cardiovascular disease. Does it cure cardiovascular disease? Nope.  Does it cure high cholesterol?  Nope. As with all statins, there are risks of diabetes, kidney toxicity and other 'side effects' that your doctor needs to monitor.
9. AVASTIN - an angiogenesis inhibitor, it slows the growth of new blood vessels. It is used to treat cancers, because cancers stimulate the growth of new blood vessels.  Does it cure the cancer? No. It only attempts to slow it down.
10. HERCEPTIN - is an antibody that interferes with the HER2/neu receptor. It is primarily used to treat slow the growth of certain breast cancers.  Does it cure breast cancer? Nope.  Studies showed that it increased the life of late stage cancer patients from about 20 to about 25 months. 5 extra months - for a cost approaching $100,000 per year according to Wikipedia.
Do the top selling drugs 'cure disease'?  Nope. Ten for ten.
I could carry on, the next ten best selling drugs in 2011: Seroquel, Diovan, Singulair, Lantus, Atacand, Gleevec, Zyprexa, NEXIUM, Spiriva, and Cymbalta.   Not one of them cures the illness they are prescribed to treat.  They may treat symptoms, or suppress some aspects of the illness.  But none cures.
I did a similar survey of the top 20 drugs sold in 2008 and only 1 could be said to cure disease in any sense - it's no longer in the top 20 sales. All of the rest, 19 of the top 20 medicines sold in 2008 did not cure anything - and were not designed, nor marketed, not prescribed, to cure anything. They are designed to 'treat' illness, not to cure it.

Here's the top 10 selling medicines, from 2008.  As in 2011 - not one of them 'cures' the disease they are designed to treat. 

1. Lipitor - the purpose of lipitor is to lower cholesterol. The purpose of lowering cholesterol is, in theory, to reduce heart disease. Does Lipitor cure? No. Does it 'heal' the damage of a heart attack or stroke? No. Does it heal the damage that is caused in theory, by high cholesterol? Nope. It is designed to lower your cholesterol, and hopefully your body will heal from the damage caused by high cholesterol. Does your doctor prescribe Lipitor to give himself time for other, perhaps slower treatments that will cure your heart disease or heal the damage? Nope. Your doctor signs your prescription to Lipitor, and gives perhaps a bit of dietary advice and then signs off until your next checkup.
2. Nexium - the purpose of Nexium is to lower gastric acid secretion and thus to prevent the damage caused by GERD - Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Does Nexium cure GERD? No. Does it heal the damage caused by GERD? Nope. The expectation is that you will take Nexium until you die from something else, and hopefully your body will heal itself of the effects of GERD. Does your doctor prescribe Nexium to give himself time for other, perhaps slower treatments that will cure your GERD, or heal the damage? Nope. Your doctor signs your prescription to Nexium, and gives perhaps a bit of dietary advice and then signs off until your next checkup.
Note: Nexium is no longer in the top ten as of 2011. In 2010 The FDA cautioned against high doses or prolonged use of PPIs, because they've been shown to increase the risk of infection, bone fractures and dementia.
3. Plavix - the purpose of Plavix is to prevent blood clots in someone who has recently had a stroke or a heart attack. Does it heal the damage caused by a heart attack or stroke? No. Does it heal the blocked arteries that might have caused the heart attach or stroke? Nope. The expectation is that you will take Pavix, because it will damage your natural clotting tendencies - and thus, possibly, prevent another heart attack or stroke.
4. Advair Diskus - contains two medicines; one that relaxes the muscles in the walls of the air passages in the lung, keeping them open and thus making it easier to breathe. The other reduces inflammation in the lungs and thus helps reduce swelling and irritation in the small air passages in the lungs It is commonly prescribed for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Does it cure asthma or COPD? Nope. Does it heal the damage or inflammation in the lungs? No, it reduces the effect of inflammation, but does not address the cause.
5. Prevacid - Lansoprazole is used to treat gastric ulcers caused by a family of pain relievers known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It is, a drug designed to treat the damage caused by another drug. It works by slowing or preventing the production of stomach acid. Does it cure anything? Nope. It doesn't even cure the damage cased by NSAIDs, it just attempts to reduce the damage, perhaps so that, hopefully your body can heal. 
Note: Prevacid is no longer a top seller - the patent expired in November 2009.
So, 5 of 5 so far. Not one of the five top selling medicines actually cures anything. What's up with this? Let's continue.
6. Seroquel - is an antipsychotic used to treat schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, and also to treat depression. The most common 'side effect'? It makes you sleepy. I guess if you are sleepy, you aren't so schizophrenic, bipolar or even depressed. Does it cure schiophrenia, bipolar disorder, or depression? Nope. Does it help heal the damage that might have been caused by extended periods of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or depression? Nope.
Note: Seroquel is still for sale, but the FDA drug safety guide says "Read this Medication Guide before you start taking SEROQUEL and each time you get a refill.  These serious side effects are described below: Risk of death in the elderly with dementia... Risk of suicidal thoughts or actions..." 
7. Singulair - for maintenance treatment of asthma and also to relieve symptoms of seasonal allergies. Does it cure asthma? Nope. Does it cure seasonal allergies? Nope. Does it heal the damage caused by asthma or seasonal allergies? No. It is designed to relieve symptoms - so that your body can recover from the damage.
8. Effexor - used to treat depression, general anxiety disorder, social phobia, panic disorder, and symptoms of menopause. Does it cure depression? Anxiety disorder? Social phobia? Panic disorder? Menopuase. Nope on all counts. It treats the symptoms - but does not attempt to identify nor address the cause. Does it heal the damage that might be caused by depression, anxiety disorder, social phobia, panic disorder? Nope.
9. Oxycontin - a pain reliever. Designed to be an improvement on morphine, heroin and codeine. Does it address the cause of the pain? Nope. Does it cure anything? Nope. If the cause of the pain continues - you will need more Oxycontin.
10. Lexapro - is used to treat anxiety and also major depression. Does it cure the anxiety or the depression? Nope. There is no attempt made to find the cause of the anxiety or depression. Lexapro simply attempts to 'lessen' it.

Ten for ten.

Of the top ten best selling drugs in 2008 - not one of them cures disease.

I could carry on, the next ten best selling drugs in 2008: ACTOS, Protonix, Vytorin, Topamax, Risperdal, Abilify, Cymbalta, Lamictal, Zyprexa, Levaquin, Celebrex, used to 'treat' conditions from heartburn and migraines to epilipsy and arthritis. Do any of them 'cure disease'? One. Levaquin is an antibiotic that is used to treat - and cure - bacterial infections of the skin, bladder, etc. All of the rest, 19 of the top 20 medicines sold in 2008 did not cure anything - and were not designed, nor marketed, to cure anything.
This post has also been published by:
LBA Enterprise
It has also been translated into Spanish by , and published as: El Mito de Las Medicinas
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: