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'An article purportedly written by me on doctors receiving commission for tests ordered by them is doing the rounds on the internet. I have written no such article. Whatever article I write is put up on my website. So everyone should be cautious before circulating something along these lines.'


Dr. B. M. Hegde

ARE WE BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE?

What worries me is the recent news item that when the doctors in Israel went on strike in March 2000, death rate fell significantly in Jerusalem city, while it did not change in the coastal city if Netayna, where doctors worked as usual. Even when compared to the month of March in 1999 and 1998 the fall in death rate in 2000 was noteworthy. Similar trend was reported from Los Angeles County in the 1970s and, possibly, also in Canada a few years ago. Even in the field of drug trials small studies seem to give striking benefit but under further investigations they “do not deliver the degree of benefit initially touted by their clinical champions and marketeers.” Many examples could be given such as milrinone (PROMISE STUDY), epoprostenol (FIRST), vesnarinone (VEST), amlodipine (PRAISE II), hypertension treatment (HOT), and a host of others.

All is not well in our thinking in this area. While the life expectancy seems to have gone up in the developed countries, mainly because of the change of mode of living and better standards of living, human life span has not gone up. Health expectancy (a word I coined to denote the number of years a newborn baby could expect to live without the help of doctors and medicines) seems to have come down in the industrialized countries. Hardly any one in the West goes beyond the age of ten without having to be taking multivitamin and many other pills almost as a part of their diet! In fact, health expectancy is quite high in some of the developing countries like India, where people in villages live almost their full lives without any medical interventions; the life expectancy being 67 years.



There is hardly a “well man” in the developed West, what with routine screening making life miserable, to say the least, despite the fact that a recent editorial in the British Medical Journal avers that routine screening could seriously damage one’s health! Modern quantum physics makes a mockery of future predictions in any dynamic system without the total initial knowledge of the organism. Doctors have been predicting the unpredictable. To predict man’s future his doctor should have complete knowledge of his phenotype, genotype and his consciousness. That seems to be impossible in the present state of our knowledge.



Positive science, at best, could answer the questions how or how much, but not the question why. One could say how does a patient get any disease but would not be able to answer the question why does one get any disease? I have a new hypothesis in this area.



Diseases originate in the human mind (consciousness), the seeds being negative thoughts like greed, jealousy, hatred, anger, and depression. If sown in a genetically fertile soil (with the correct genetic pattern), the seeds could grow well into the final tree (disease) with all its ramifications, when fed by the help of a conducive atmosphere, including tobacco and alcohol, that works like the best manure for the crop. Management, therefore, should take into consideration all these together; not just the changes in the phenotype. The latter has not taken us too far!



The phenotypical changes that we have been relying on, like elevated blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, homocysteine, lowered resistance to foreign invasion, and many other known biochemical parameters are but the concomitant changes that occur in the body en route to the final result. (Disease) The relative significance of these keep changing depending on the status of the research groups that come up with another new biochemical marker of disease. Until very recently homocysteine was not known and so fats were haunting man, although the first ever study of “Diet and Heart” from Framingham, never got published, as it did not show any connection between the two! After the advent of homocysteine there are reports emanating from different sources incriminating the latter as a more dangerous sin compared to the fats. Time was when fats were the be all and end of atherosclerotic disease. Then came the time of cane sugar and many others came and went.



To compound our confusion we have been targeting these midway changes as the cause of diseases and trying to reduce and/ or correct them mostly with disastrous results, as noted above! Proper audits of our interventions have shown many of the technologies, not to speak of drugs, have done more harm than good. Many midway technologies have never been audited at all! Many of the interventions in the intensive care units fall into this last category.



Antioxidant vitamins did not do much good compared to eating extra fruits and vegetables in a large group of Canadian postmenopausal women. Whereas some studies did show benefit from eating fish, larger studies did not show any difference between those that eat fish daily compared to those who eat fish once in a blue moon. Long term prospective studies did not show any benefit from regular screening and correcting the biochemical abnormalities in asymptomatic individuals.



All these could be explained by the above hypothesis. Results of studies are pouring in showing the significant role played by negative emotions in the causation of major killer diseases. A major American doctors’ study, British Civil servants study, Scandinavian males study and, lately, a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showing men and women having significantly higher cardiac events when they get depressed. Similar studies have shown many diseases, including common cold and cancer, to be connected to negative emotions!



Timeless Indian system of medicine, Ayurveda, has extensive literature on this subject and the role of the human mind in human diseases has never been better appreciated anywhere else. The main thrust in the treatment of diseases in Ayurveda also depends on keeping the mind happy and contented. Hatred, greed, jealousy, pride, anger, and depression have been cited as the most important risk factors along with sedentary living habits.


“Prasanna Aathma Indriya Manaha Swasth ithyabhideeyathe”

Charaka Samhita.

(If one could keep his soul, senses, and the mind happy and contented, healthy life is assured for mankind)



Now with quantum physics trying to understand human consciousness, time has come for modern medicine to divorce itself from the time-honoured reductionist logic of linear relations in dynamic systems. It is a pity that after so many fantastic claims of advances in medical science we have been able to eradicate only one disease, small pox. Incidentally, that was not being done with any advanced technology! Edward Jenner, credited to be the father of vaccination, had to have his method authenticated and refined, with the help of a long term (twenty year) prospective study of the Indian system of vaccination, practised there for centuries with nearly 90% success rate, by a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London, Dr. T. Z. Holwell, in the year 1747. Holwell spent many years in India to study the system of vaccination with attenuated virus!



We need a paradigm shift in this area for the good of humanity. Instead of concentrating all our energies in trying to modify the midway changes in the human body with drugs and technologies, without much of a benefit, we need to have a holistic approach to disease, trying to replace all the negative thoughts in human mind with positive thoughts of love, compassion and altruism!



A tall order indeed, but looking at the directionless movement of mankind with the industrial revolution where value systems have been give a go by, resulting in even High School children shooting their peers for petty jealousies, we better move fast to keep them healthy on this planet. Let the wisdom of the human body play its part in the game of healthy living! Let not the medical fraternity think they are wiser than the body’s wisdom!

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Sages and Scientists Symposium February 2010

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