Are You a Skeptic?

If you are much like me, you grew up with the mentality that you can trust conventional medicine. Doctors are trained well and have your best interest at heart and you never really thought twice about whether a medicine prescribed to you was good for your health or not. Some on the other hand are natural skeptics about everything and especially anything to do with their health.

I’m not in any way opposed to western medicine. Nor do I think that the majority of physicians have any malintent.  Actually quite the opposite. I praise God for conventional medicine practitioners. Our son, Elias, recently was hospitalized at Cooks Children’s Hospital in downtown Fort Worth due to a rare liver disorder that we are still investigating weeks out.  His emergency care was outstanding and likely life-saving. His specialists have been equally amazing. Surgeons and ER docs save lives daily and internal medicine practitioners are solving medical mysteries daily. However, I am also a natural skeptic.

Skepticism can be healthy or harmful. If it paralyzes you and you never move forward in any direction then it will harm you. If it leads you to think and research and seek out answers then this it is a virtue. My skepticism ran high during PA school when I got to the pharmacology courses. Thankfully, my professor was also kind of a natural skeptic too and always pointed out how the clinical trials were done and how easily results could be skewed and really taught us to read these trials with a very scrutinizing mind. He showed us drug companies could run numerous trials that showed their medications to be more harmful than helpful and only publish the one(s) that showed their drug as efficacious and safe.

Now this is not to say that all medications are bad just because the system is broken at best. Medications can be lifesaving. Antibiotics save lives but can also cause significant health issues if used inappropriately. Without insulin, type I diabetics would still only survive a few years after diagnosed when now they can live virtually normal lives! With any medical decision the big question is: Does the benefit outweigh the risk? If a medical intervention is low risk but is very likely to benefit you then it’s a no brainer. The water gets very muddy quickly however when the risk and benefit ratio is very tight. Moderate risk of harm and moderate risk of benefiting you.  This is the time to put your skepticism glasses on and ask the right questions and research yourself. Being a healthy skeptic will go a long way when it comes to your health.

What is killing most Americans? The way most Americans will leave this life will not be due to some freak accident. It will be due to cardiovascular disease and cancers. No medicine can change a person’s lifestyle or prevent cancers from forming. Our body was designed to function well when treated well and will break down when abused. This does not mean that all disease and cancer was from bad life decisions but it does mean that our lifestyle choices matter. And they matter a lot. Any athlete knows if they over-train and don’t rest optimally, they will get hurt. This is a simple concept that is so lost when we think about our diet, sleep, and stress management. Poor diet? High chronic stress? Sleeping 4 hrs/night? Your immune system WILL be compromised and you will have a high risk of getting very sick. Of course genetics play a large role in our health but epigenetics (aka lifestyle choices) are much more powerful to how these genes will be expressed. If you don’t believe this go online and read the hundreds of thousands of people who have put autoimmune diseases into remission with dietary changes alone. There are some cultures who don’t even have cases of heart disease and it kills over half a million Americans a year!  

All this to say, be a healthy skeptic! Find a Primary Care Physician who is lifestyle-medicine  minded and uses medication judiciously. I’ve been blessed to work for two amazing DOs in Fort Worth who think this way. Do your research and ask around. And if you are making good lifestyle choices but still struggling with weight, fatigue, hormone imbalances, mood issues, or digestive complaints despite a full negative workup, seek out a Functional Medicine Practitioner who is trained to help you search out the root cause of your symptoms.  You have to be your own biggest health advocate. You can’t rely on your doctor who sees you once or twice a year to just prescribe you medications to help your symptoms. If you don’t know what functional medicine is, stay tuned…

Jake