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  • Web conversations and mainstream medicine

    The company I work for, Metametrix Clinical Laboratory, is on the leading edge of research in etiologically-focused medicine. We develop tests that help identify the root cause of chronic illnesses, an area of medicine known as functional medicine. This approach to patient care, while not widely accepted or endorsed in large part by the mainstream medical establishment (or their drug company financiers), is fundamentally obvious and intuitive when taken at face value. Consider this analogy: when your car engine light comes on, do you try and figure out why the light is on and fix the problem, or do you simply try and turn the light off- ignoring the cause? It is deeply depressing to me that many people do not view most drugs as such: a mechanism for turning off the warning signs.

    Why do such few people know about functional medicine? Why is our industry only a very small niche of the largest industry in the world: health care? Why don’t more medical establishments teach and promote the constantly developing science that supports etiological medicine? Why are we killing ourselves with over prescribed drugs and ignorance of nutritional and environmental influences?

    Health care is divided into two categories: disease management, and disease causality. Disease management focuses on applying a canned ‘diagnosis’ and prescribing a treatment that mitigates the signs and symptoms of the disease. Whereas disease causality focuses on identifying the underlying cause of the disease and applying treatment at that level. Symptom-relief vs. Disease-relief.

    Unfortunately, the vast majority of medicine focuses on disease management. Why? Well, disease causality is infinitely more difficult to identify, it’s not a very good business model- consumers overwhelmingly prefer fast-food medicine, and… people just don’t know about the alternatives.

    But truth will prevail. A paradigm shift is on the horizon- supported by the scientific community, growing numbers of doctors and clinicians fed up with the fast-food medicine, and the alarmingly high rate of chronically ill patients discovering that the fast-food approach to medicine is not only inadequate but has actually contributed to their deteriorating health.

    Read one doctor’s take on this Transition in Clinical Medicine.

    All of us at Metametrix feel the often overwhelming potential that exists in this new paradigm of medicine. We’re nervous and excited and hopeful. The research we are a part of can not only save peoples lives but can vastly improve the quality of life on this planet. As we strive to fully understand the extraordinary complexity of the body and perfect our methods of measuring the body’s metabolic, genetic, and cellular function, we continually move towards complete solutions to disease. This is the future of medical science and health care.

    Right now mainstream medicine is stuck on the idea that we can artificially make super humans- just take this drug and you won’t need your mitochondria to function all that well. Just take some amphetamines and you’ll be able to concentrate unnaturally well. Problems with sleep? Here’s some downers, you’ll sleep like a log.

    Why not concentrate our efforts on helping the body function the way it has evolved to function, instead of making it function the way that’s convenient for us right now? Sure we have done remarkable things and saved many lives with advances in drugs. But drugs should be relegated to the domain of emergency care. Use them if you have to, but don’t delude yourselves that there’s a drug fix for every problem.

    However, for certain powerful interests that is a very hard pill to swallow. Drug companies want you to think that they’ve got all the answers. For any problem, just ask your doctor about pill xyz and you’ll be back to ‘normal.’ It’s sick, really. These people are killing us, and they know it. Where large sums of money are involved, ethics fly right out the window. They come up with half-baked studies that ‘prove’ thesafety and effectiveness of a drug then bribe, coerce, or cajole the powers that could prevent the product’s launch. And when they finally have a stamp of approval from the FDA, they choke one-way media with adverts so thoroughly that you can’t watch and not agree.

    But there is hope. The world is changing in more ways than one. The rise of the Internet and the explosive growth of the web offer new possibilities for truth to prevail. As the old marketing principles born in the era of industrialization slowly fade to irrelevance, the new media of the collective web is supplanting it at a rapid pace. We now live in a world where an idea can spread like wildfire, even if the idea hurts powerful financial interests. Practically every human can have a voice- and any voice will carry just as far as we need it to. Humanity yearns for truth and growth and survival, and the more we learn to give humanity a voice the more we will see what our society truly needs.

    As individuals we understand our limits- we cannot be experts at everything, so we rely on others for help. This fundamental characteristic of humanity is largely responsible for our species survival. And as our numbers grew we invented ways of disseminating to the masses the information from the experts. We discovered print media, radio, and tv. And we continued to thrive and grow into ‘developed’ nations of individuals. But the only way this growth was possible was through a top-down hierarchy, where a few powerful individuals decided what the majority needed to know. This is still largely how we operate.

    But the web is starting to change all of that. The web is a decentralized network of individuals. There is no one power that decides what is important and what is not. We all do. We no longer have to sit passively and accept what the establishment deems important enough to occupy a time-slice on tv, or a section on the front page of the newspaper. We actively seek our sources of information- we search. And by choosing our sources, we impact their visibility, and effectively delineate useful information from garbage. There has never been a medium of communication and information dissemination that rewards quality, relevance, and importance as much as the web does.

    This is why I believe the web is our strongest ally in this battle against fast-food medicine. Here we have a voice, and here all the voices of the hopeless chronically ill, discouraged doctors, and forward thinking practitioners can come together and converse. And maybe we’ll discover that the paradigm shift is well underway.

    Theme: Esquire by Matthew Buchanan.