AltMedAngel: Alternative Medicine Angel
This is a non-profit site offering educational information and broad based research on various health conditions, medications, supplements and therapies. In addition, this site provides information on how to naturally improve overall health, strengthen the immune system, and slow the aging process. There is a list of physicians who use alternative treatments, a newsletter and book review section, and a product guide. To access this site: Click on the link above or at the bottom of this page.
Are Your Vitamins Killing You?
Thoughts from an Alternative Doctor
The following are the thoughts of Dr. Bruce West of Health Alert. For more information on how to subscribe to his newsletter, go to the Library on this site.
Beyond Vitamins and Antioxidants
The synthetic vitamin controversy started in the 1940s with Alice Faye Morgan's dog experiments showing that starving dogs lived longer than those fed synthetic or isolated vitamins. And it continued into the 1970s when I began telling my patients that ordinary vitamins don't work.
As my clinical studies became more and more vast into the 1980s, I actually started putting my ideas in writing. At that time I said clearly that single nutrient supplements don't work, either separately or with each other! I learned this the hard way--by trying to help people get well with these products.
As time went by, my studies continued to show poor results using isolated nutritional supplements. At the same time, I was recording more and more "miracle" results using whole-food, phytochemical-rich nutritional supplements. I continued to study these products, to write the truth about nutrition, and to encourage other health professionals to do a better job with their patients. Yet the supplement world was aghast.
In the later 1980s and 1990s, even esteemed journals started to sound like me. In April 1994, Newsweek had a cover that read, Better Than vitamins. They were referring to phytochemicals from raw foods. Later still, well-controlled studies showed that vitamin E takers enjoyed no fewer heart attacks, strokes, or death from heart disease. And this after taking 400 lUs for more than five years.
The controversy continued as isolated beta carotene caused all kinds of problems. Twenty thousand women given beta carotene enjoyed no more protection from cancer and heart disease than women who took "sugar" pills. And even good old vitamin C (ascorbic acid) seemed to speed up hardening and clogging of the arteries!
My, How Things Have Changed
Things have really changed now. Promotions for products and materials are now blaring, "Beyond Vitamins," "Beyond Antioxidants," "Why Your Vitamins Don't Work," and "The Great American Vitamin Hoax." Sadly, most are simply trying to cash in on the ever-growing knowledge that synthetic and isolated nutrition is mostly bunk.
Some of these "experts" would have you believe that only they know how to make a "complete" vitamin product.* They even rate other products based on their own "scientific" parameters. Yet careful study reveals that they take the usual synthetic materials from pharmaceutical houses and add in some stale herbs like garlic, St. John's Wort, and Echinacea, along with hot selling items like rose hips, grape seed extract, olive leaf, etc.
Too many companies claim that their products are phytochemical products while they use synthetics and non-organic plant materials. The processing can be abysmal with all semblance of live nutrition destroyed by heat, freezing, freeze drying, and more. You will never know the difference. Yet, the companies now trying to cash in on the phytochemical revolution were the very ones who were aghast at me years ago.
It is truly amazing how things change, and yet don't really change at all. There are few if any really new, high-tech cures. There are few if any really new nutritional products. There are few if any really new "miracles." In fact, they were there all along-provided by nature-before we altered nature so drastically as to preclude all these natural wonders from our daily fare.
What I said in the 1970s was true then and is true now. Nutrients work in harmony with one another as only nature provided. When separated, their healing powers are eliminated. For nutrients to work in your body and to help you gain and keep robust health, they must contain vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, trace activators, known and unknown phytochemical counterparts, enzymes, and more, in proper combination.
Unless nutritional products are made from organic crops (as nature intended), processed to maintain the life energy of plant and animal nutrition, and maintained in their natural form like a complex puzzle, they will work minimally for you at best. And at worst they will fail completely, or even make your condition or disease worse. For the most part, these are the synthetic products that are costing Americans billions of dollars. They are not what I use or recommend. The live, phytochemical products that do fight disease are the ones I discuss in Health Alert every single month. And this is one thing that has not changed.[NOTES * "Are your vitamins 'complete'?," Health Alert, vol. 16, No. 9]
Hormones to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease?
In the world of medicine, doctors and professionals often "see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear." This has definitely been the case with the use of hormone replacement therapy--and in particular estrogen therapy--as a means to protect postmenopausal women from heart disease. You've heard it from your own physician or gynecologist. "Mrs. Jones, you should be taking estrogen, if for no other reason than to protect you from a heart attack."
I won't bore you with the details, but simply put, the evidence does not support the use of estrogen as a means of protection against heart disease."1,2 Period. After so many years and so many women, how could so many doctors and experts be wrong? The answer may be as simple as laziness. Once the "scientific" pitch is made and doctors incorporate the information into their belief system, they may not be interested in seeing new or contradicting information. Given that women in study groups who were administered hormone replacement therapy had lots more cases of thrombosis, clots, phlebitis, pulmonary emboli, and cancers, it is a sad commentary on scientific medicine.
Another pet theory of medicine is that heart disease is in some way caused by bacteria. Most of these ideas evolved around the Chlamydia pneumoniae bacteria. Lots of patients have been prescribed lots of antibiotics for this supposed condition.
The time is also up for this medical "notion." An article in The British Medical Journal [321:204-207,2000] proved that there is no relationship between bacteria and ischemic heart disease. Again, despite tens of thousands of prescriptions for antibiotics and the landslide of side effects they caused.
The truth is that neither antibiotics nor estrogen will resolve heart disease. This problem is basically caused by lifestyle--a horrible diet, lack of exercise, and across-the-board nutritional deficiencies and imbalances. And no amount of prescription medication will do anything about these basic underlying problems. But as long as lazy people prefer to take a pill over addressing the problem, and as long as doctors can make a buck in this fashion, this folly will continue.
Most doctors I know simply want to do what they want. And they don't want to have to make many changes to their belief system. Make no mistake-regardless of the belief system, the facts do show themselves in day-to-day medical practice. Yet too many docs will simply see what they want to see and disregard the rest. And this has been the case with estrogen therapy to prevent heart disease. Is it any wonder that Premarin is the second best selling drug in America?
[Notes: (1) "Effects of estrogen or estrogen/progestin regimens on heart disease risk factors in postmenopausal women. The Postmenopausal Estrogen/Progestin Interventions (PEPI) Trial." Journal of the American Medical Association, 1995;273:605-613. (2) Cheng, GS, "HRT should not be used for heart disease prevention," Family Practice News, 2000;30(9):l-2.]
Scared To Death
When it comes to caring for cardiac patients, I am probably the busiest man in America. And because of sheer numbers, I don't usually get involved when a patient or reader rejects my therapy. After all, I am already overwhelmed helping the people who need and want my help. But emotions don't change no matter how busy one becomes.
I get too many letters that literally hurt my heart. They go like this: "Dear Dr. West, I have decided not to follow through on your recommendations because my cardiologist forbids me to take anything except his prescriptions." And on the one hand, I can understand the doctor--given all the megadose junk out in the marketplace. But on the other hand, I am devastated if the condition is as serious as heart failure, severe coronary artery disease, severe angina, cardiomyopathy, and more. Because in these and most other serious heart problems, this patient has just penned me his or her death certificate. They have, in effect, been literally scared to death.
Oh, it won't happen overnight. There will be months or years of invalidism before the end. And there will be tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars spent. But in the end, the result will be the same. Unless someone or something enters the picture to correct the underlying cause of the heart disease and strengthen the heart, another page of cardiac statistics will have been written.
The exceptions to this scenario are few. There is an occasional patient who needs a specific surgical procedure for a cardiac problem like a bad valve. But even these cases are usually caused by an underlying, fomenting condition that continues even after a new valve is implanted. And even in these cases, nutrition is needed if only to insure a safer surgery and better recovery.
What to Do
If you are seriously ill with heart disease, miracles are waiting-often despite your doctor. A good course of action can be summed up in this letter from one of my readers. "Dear Dr. West, About 10 years ago I had open heart surgery for clogged arteries and have been on prescription medications ever since. My energy level was very low. I was completely impotent and I generally felt that I was just 'getting by.'
"A few months ago, my heart started beating wildly and I was rushed to the hospital. After several days of testing, I was aghast at the diagnosis of cardiomyopathy, with an ejection fraction [heart pumping power] less than 15%, with no hope except a transplant. Years ago I had planned to start your protocol, but my doctor warned me that supplements were a bunch of bunk, and that they could dangerously interfere with my mediations.
"Well, it was pretty clear to me that I had been medicated to near death. So I dug out your heart report, read it, and must admit that it seemed too good to be true. But I had nothing to lose and started on 12 Cardio-Plus, nine Cataplex B, six Organic Minerals, six Cataplex E-2, and a tablespoon of flax oil daily. Well, six months have passed. By this time, I slowly weaned myself off all my prescriptions (which was forbidden by my doctor). I underwent another battery of tests which revealed NORMAL FUNCTION with normal pulse, blood pressure, and heart size. My cardiologist went into shock and actually called me in for a conference to discuss this miracle..."
First let me assure you that I have many files full of letters almost identical to this one. And second, this man was near death and took matters into his own hands. This is always not the best thing to do. Rather, the best thing to do is to start your protocol and after three to six months, begin to wean off medications with your doctor's help. If your doctor rejects everything out of hand, find a new doctor. After all, with critical or terminal heart disease, the last thing you need is a doctor with blinders. If you die, he or she will simply tell your family that we did everything we could, and go on practicing medicine as usual.
The truth-as you can now understand-is that everything is almost never done. Instead, the most critical element is routinely missed--treating the underlying cause of heart disease. And this would be easy for the average physician to miss since they openly admit they have little knowledge of what causes heart disease. Do not be scared to death. The products used in my protocols are the same as eating food. They will not interfere with your prescriptions except in rare instances. Those of you taking warfarin (Coumadin) cannot also take Chlorophyll Perles or Cyruta-Plus. If you are taking potassium pills, these can be weaned after a week on Organic Minerals.
During the time on my heart protocol, you would do well to eliminate synthetic supplements and powerful herbs. These can interfere with drugs and with my protocol. Get started today. And when you get going, understand one thing. Your doctor is only doing what he or she has been trained to believe is state-of-the-art cardiac care. They will have no idea whatsoever about your new protocol. And most people, especially doctors, will ignore or condemn that which they do not understand. Do not let this deter you.
These products are 100% safe, even with your prescriptions. When you start getting better (a novel concept in cardiac care), you will need to wean from drugs. At that point the drugs are becoming more of a danger to you than the condition. Your doctor will not understand this. Doctors are used to caring for patients who do nothing except follow their advice. Take this into account, get the job going, and take responsibility for yourself.
Remember our patient with cardiomyopathy? Look this up in a physician's desk reference and you'll find a condition that is incurable and terminal. Remember this the next time any doctor tries to scare you to death.
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