– by Frank Shallenberger, MD, HMD, ABAAM
One of the questions that I hear a lot is this, “I went to Mayo Clinic [or some other well known allopathic ivory tower] and had $34,000 worth of lab tests, but I had to come to Carson City to get well. How is it that your therapies fixed my problem when nobody else could?” It’s a logical and important question. Here’s the answer.
Everybody knows what it’s like to see a doctor who uses allopathic medicine. That’s because allopathic medicine is the system of medicine that has been exclusively used in the United States for the last one hundred years. It is the only system taught in medical schools and used in hospitals. And it is the only system that the American Medical Association, most insurance companies, and Medicare recognize. The reason that doctors like me can get resolution to problems that allopathic medicine fails at is because we don’t limit ourselves to a strictly allopathic approach.
When people ask me what kind of system of medicine I practice, I tell them I practice orthomolecular medicine. Now if you’re like most people, you probably have no idea of what that means. But it is really very simple. “Ortho-” comes from the Greek word that means “to correct”. “Molecular” refers to molecules.
I stand on very high ground by practicing orthomolecular medicine, because the concept was developed by Linus Pauling, MD. Everyone has heard of Linus Pauling. Dr. Pauling was a two time Nobel Prize winning physician, and is considered one of the greatest scientific minds of the twentieth century.
The term orthomolecular medicine was coined in 1968 by Dr. Pauling. He defined orthomolecular medicine as “the preservation of good health and the treatment of disease by varying the concentrations in the human body of substances that are normally present in the body and are required for health.” Drugs are not “substances that are normally present in the body”, and so they are not used in the orthomolecualr system.
I received my medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and then had post doctoral training at The Mount Zion Hospital and Medical Center in San
Francisco. But even though both of these institutions only teach the allopathic medical system, I don’t use it. I decided long ago that the orthomolecular system made much more sense to me. So before you see me, I want you to understand that the orthomolecular approach I use is fundamentally different from the allopathic approach you are used to.
The things that an orthomolecular doctor does often look like what an allopathic doctor does – there is an examination, tests are ordered, and treatments are prescribed. But that’s where the similarities end. Here are the key differences between these two systems of medical treatment.
The allopathic system treats with drugs. The drugs are by definition not natural to the human body. In fact, most people don’t realize it, but in order for a pharmaceutical company to obtain a patent on a drug, they have to prove that it is not natural to the human body.
These drugs are not prescribed to cure or prevent disease. They are prescribed for one thing only, to alleviate symptoms. And they usually do that very well. The drugs that an allopathic doctor uses cannot treat the cause(s) of the disease or condition being treated, only the symptoms. That’s why a doctor who exclusively uses the allopathic system will tell you that it is not possible for him to prevent or cure a disease.
Orthomolecular medicine is different. Orthomolecular doctors do not use drugs. They use substances that are naturally found in the human body such as foods, herbs, hormones, amino acids, enzymes, vitamins, etc. to correct the imbalances in the body that brought about the condition. We combine that with lifestyle guidelines such as how you eat, sleep, and exercise. It turns out that where the drug approach fails, this approach really works. An old friend and alternative colleague of mine, Roby Mitchell, MD is fond of saying, “You can’t medicate yourself out of a disease you behaved yourself into.”
Next, and this is even more important to understand, orthomolecular treatments are not prescribed simply to alleviate symptoms. Instead they focus on removing the cause(s) of the disease or condition that is causing the symptoms. An orthomolecular doctor will tell you that it is very possible to both prevent and cure disease, because he is treating on a causal level.
Not Quick – Not Simple
The allopathic system is quick, simple, and easy. This is because simply treating symptoms is easy, and can be handled in a cook book fashion. Everybody receives the same treatment
regardless of what is causing the symptom. You have a headache – here’s a pain drug. You have an infection – here’s an antibiotic. You have high blood pressure – here’s a drug that lowers your pressure. This is fundamentally different from orthomolecular medicine.
Orthomolecular medicine is often not quick, simple, or easy. Investigating causes and finding the right treatment can take weeks to months instead of mere minutes. That’s because the imbalances in the body that are causing the symptoms are often completely different in each individual patient, even though the symptoms themselves can be the same.
However, as effective as the orthomolecular approach is the primary driving force that moved me toward orthomolecular medicine was not effectiveness. It was safety. The treatments used are natural and inherently safe. Nobody gets hurt – ever. Furthermore, once the condition has been cured, the treatment can be stopped. This is not true about allopathic medicine.
According to the United States Office of General Accounting, over 125,000 people are killed every year from drugs that are properly prescribed by allopathic doctors. This is because drugs are inherently dangerous. They often produce side effects, many of which then need to be treated with yet one more drug. These days it is common to see a patient receiving allopathic medicine who is on more than five different drugs. Additionally, since the drugs are used only to alleviate symptoms instead of removing the conditions causing the symptoms, they can never be stopped.
But drugs are not always bad, and the truth is that sometimes they are needed. I am trained both in allopathic and in orthomolecular medicine. So sometimes I will prescribe a medication to help with the symptoms while I am using the orthomolecular system to create a cure.
How it Works
Would you like to buy a car that fixed itself? The tires would never wear out. Spark plugs would be continuously renewed. If someone crashed into it, the car would automatically repair the dent. And as soon as the engine started getting out of tune, it would immediately tune itself so that decades later it would still be running perfectly well. Here’s an absolutely amazing fact. God designed our bodies to be just like that – to heal themselves. And in general, that’s exactly what they do hundreds of times a day.
You receive an injury – your body fixes it. You get a cold or a flu – your immune system cures it. You’re exposed to a toxin – your liver eliminates it. The only time you really need
to see a doctor is when it doesn’t do what it is supposed to do. There are two reasons why this might happen.
One is that you are not giving the body enough of all the things it needs to heal itself. This would include anything from sleep to vitamins to hormones to exercise.
Two is that your body is being or has been exposed to some toxin that is blocking its healing ability. This would include anything from heavy metals like mercury and lead to smoking to infections to allergens to chemicals to drugs – even the drugs that doctors prescribe.
In the orthomolecular system, the doctor’s job is not to diagnose your condition and put you on the latest miracle drug. The doctor’s job is twofold: 1. Find out what things your particular body needs that it isn’t getting, and make sure that it gets them, and 2. Find out what factors are blocking the healing process in your particular case, and get rid of them. The first process is called rejuvenation, and the second is detoxification. So the doctor and the remedies he prescribes don’t actually do the healing – your body does.
There are three really big challenges that both doctor and patient face in doing this. One is obvious – no two human beings are the same. Thus, even though an awful lot be determined about a person from history, physical examination, and testing, in many cases there is a fair amount of trial and error before the “code is cracked”. This requires diligence and some patience.
Second, although the body can heal itself of almost anything, it often doesn’t do this quickly. This is especially true for long term conditions. The longer that a condition or disease has been present, the longer it is going to take for a cure. In our modern day instant gratification mentality, the process can require considerable time. Many patients make the mistake of giving up on an orthomolecular program that is working simply because it is not working fast enough.
Third, most people have been programmed to think that medicine is by its very nature like the allopathic system – a cook book affair. They often consult with an orthomolecular doctor thinking that they are going to simply get a diagnosis and a pill – something quick and easy. When they are told that they need to exercise, change the way they eat, get more sleep, receive detoxification procedures like colonics and chelation therapy, and take a handful of vitamins, hormones, and herbs, they may feel surprised and intimidated.
Dealing with these challenges is what orthomolecular doctors have been trained to do. I have been practicing orthomolecular medicine since 1981. I know that the orthomolecular
approach takes some getting used to, and I also know how to guide, encourage, motivate, and help you to do whatever you need to do in order to get well again.
The best way to treat a disease is not to get it. The only thing that I don’t like about my job is having to regularly see people who are sick from diseases that could have been prevented. No one has to have a stroke, get a heart attack, have diabetes, get Alzheimer’s, be diagnosed with cancer, or get arthritis. Let me repeat that. No one has to get sick with anything! The medical literature is irrefutable on this subject – just as Dr. Pauling said some fifty years ago, all diseases are preventable.
Doctors who practice orthomolecular medicine have a vision for the future of medicine. That vision was stated by one of the other great geniuses of the twentieth century, Thomas Edison. Mr. Edison saw the future, and he said, “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” And for those who want it, that future is here right now. I long for the day when I go to the office, and everyone I see is healthy, and is only there to learn how to stay that way.
But prevention is a hard thing to sell. When people are sick and miserable they have a very high level of motivation to spend money and to make whatever changes are necessary to feel better. But, when they feel all right, the motivation is not nearly so intense. However, when you are feeling good is actually the best time to be working on staying that way. That’s one of the reasons why I focus so much on preventive testing. From Bio-Energy Testing (www.bioenergytesting.com), to panels that assess toxicity, and hormone, vitamin, mineral, and circulatory status, there are many ways to tell whether or not a person is on the road toward a disease long before they actually get it.
Getting a less-than-perfect test report often provides the motivation to make any needed changes. This is certainly my goal. For a definitive and fully referenced treatise on this subject, I ask you to read my book, Bursting With Energy. It will help you to understand in detail just how your body heals itself, and what you can do to help it. You can get it from amazon.com, all major book outlets, and also from the clinic.
Summing It Up
So the bottom line is this. An orthomolecular approach is not for everyone. It often takes time. It always requires lifestyle changes. It is not usually quick. And some of the treatments and tests are not covered by insurance. But it is literally the only way to go if you
want to insure a healthy, fully functional life free of disease. And for this physician, that’s all I need to know.