Here’s why you need to know the word iatrogenic

I was finishing my continuing medical education credits this weekend. I was flabbergasted by what I was hearing in this pharmacology webinar. The only conclusion I could draw is that most of the drugs that patients are prescribed are poisons. They may affect some small positive change, but cause 10 x more problems than they prevent. This diabetes drug I was learning about can cause gangrene and death. But the pharmacist who was presenting didn’t think it was necessary to tell his patients that - he said maybe only if the patient seemed paranoid - so he wouldn’t get in trouble later. And here’s why you need to know the word iatrogenic.

It’s the third leading cause of death in the United States. And it means:

“relating to illness caused by medical examination or treatment”

To simplify, these are deaths caused by medical error. A study in 2016 done by Johns Hopkins found that 250,000 deaths were caused every year by medical error – and other reports show these deaths could be as high as 440,000. The CDC lists respiratory disease as the third  most common cause of death and its number is 150,000 deaths per year. So in fact, it is the fourth leading cause, not the 3rd. 

I think we revere medicine too much. And fail to recognize the miraculous healing abilities of our bodies. I was shocked a few years ago having a conversation with one of my patients. I had said that the body heals itself. And the more we get out of the way, the faster it works. He said, “Do you really believe that?”  I asked him what he thought was happening under a bandaid when you had a cut. He thought that the bandaid was the reason the cut healed. This actually sounds preposterous to me now that I am writing it, but he really believed what he was saying. And this was a very successful, smart and highly respected man. 

I don’t know what your school of thought is,  but I need you to know that the body can and does heal itself. And when we get out of the way, it works really well. What kinds of things get in the way?

  • Processed food with seed oils
  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Contaminated water 
  • Toxins (like pesticides/food coloring/preservatives)
  • This is not an exhaustive list,  but I think you get the point. 

This is one reason why we need to eat whole organic foods. Why we should meditate and drink filtered remineralized water. Why we should get at least 7 hours of sleep. When we provide the things our bodies run on, and remove the things that get in the way – they run and heal amazingly well. And healing doesn’t always look pretty. People are scared of fevers. They are a healthy response to a bacteria or virus or other pathogen. They heat the body up enough to kill the pathogen – but what do we do? We keep beating it down. And then we stay sick longer than necessary. We voluntarily suppress our kids and our own immune systems, just to not be inconvenienced or because we think the fever is dangerous. You’d be shocked at how high a temperature our bodies and brains can handle. And the whole process of getting sick is what strengthens our immune system.

If I had been this patient’s doctor, that the pharmacist was talking about, I would have told him what his body needs in order to heal.  I have patients who have been able to reverse their diabetes by doing these things. And sadly most people don’t have a clue that this is possible. And it is possible for most medical conditions – as long as the damage is not irreparable. And I would say in most cases, it is not irreparable. The unfortunate fact is that most doctors believe that medications are the only way to handle disease. And they have been taught this in school and by the drug reps they are educated by –  I’m not one to get on a soap box in a blog, but better here than making comments in the webinar I guess!!

What you should know is that your body is amazing. And the sooner you recognize that your body can heal, your whole world can change. You are not a victim of your genes and your health. You may just need a doctor who knows what I am telling you – they don’t get to dictate how your health goes. You do. I use an app called ePocrates to look up how drugs work and their side effects when I am with patients – and you’d be surprised how often the symptoms they come in with are listed as common side effects of one of the medications they are taking. I recommend always reading the fine print before you agree to taking a drug. And weigh the costs and benefits. There is usually a more natural way that actually helps you get healthier. It will definitely be more work than popping a pill, but you are worth it! You don’t want to be 1 of the 10% of US deaths that are caused by medical error!