Thursday, January 5, 2012


Dr. Oz writes regularly in Time magazine and I became interested in his essay in the January issue of 2012. It is entitled “Pressure Relief” and the added comment is “This year brings a breakthrough procedure to fight hypertension”. He begins by saying that it is “hardly a surprise that hypertension can kill you” and goes on to say “medication and lifestyle modification have been the baseline treatment for the 25% of Americans who are hypertensive’. He goes on to admit that benefit is unpredictable and sometimes useless. Although he mentions lifestyle, instruction in this is rarely approached in the average medical consultation. He then describes a new method of treatment that is undergoing a trial in the U.S. “using radio frequency energy to zap and disable a few select nerves in the kidney”. He describes it as a “breakthrough”, perhaps the most overused word in announcements of the results of medical research. It always strikes me as a “fat cat” use of a word, since it provides a “promise” that evokes a kind of hero worship attached to a “brilliant” idea. Furthermore, the promise that evokes great hope in potential patients is sometimes never fulfilled.
Now, it is true that we have known that high blood pressure is sometimes, and relatively rarely, due to arterial interference of kidney function. This was discovered by Goldblatt and is known as Goldblatt kidney. It is a complicated issue that does not require detailed discussion here. The problem I see is that which affects modern medicine in general. The word “zap” got my attention because it carries with it a concept of destruction. It obviously involves a technical procedure, so you can bet that it will be expensive and we have all been warned that the cost of medicine is taking us toward national bankruptcy. When, in fact, do we ever see something in medicine that is relatively cheap? The word ”prevention” rarely crops up and is never used in a true sense of forestalling serious disease. Preventive medicine is still regarded at most medical institutions as periodic chest X-rays, mammograms colonoscopy and etc. I am not denying their potential benefit but it only means that if anything is found by any one of these techniques, it represents early disease. It is not strictly prevention. The question that sticks out is why the arterial supply of the kidney has been compromised in the first place. If the function of the kidney and its connections with other organs depends on its nervous system, to “zap and disable a few selected nerves” must truly be an example of “closing the stable door after the horse has gone”. When we “fry” complex natural systems in the marvelous construction of the human body, we are bound to be wrong in the long run. Our overall health is appalling when Dr. Oz has to tell us that “twenty five percent of Americans are affected with hypertension”. Is this inevitable in the gradual aging of the human body or is it something that we are doing to ourselves? It must be a reflection of medical failure to have to “zap” something that is a vital part of the detailed construction of the body. Indeed, we must conclude that removal of an important organ by surgery, because it is beyond repair, is also evidence of medical failure.
So, what can we say about prevention? This blog has focused on oxygen as the primary nutrient in every post and the emphasis is always placed on how the oxygen is used in providing cellular energy. We recognize that Mother Nature is an able, if not always perfect, designer of the body. The approach that we have offered is based on the Three Circles of Health (Post, Monday Oct 25,2010,”A Proposed Revision of the Medical Model). Genetics/stress/energy circles make the assumption that the only one that we can control is the energy required for all our cells to function properly and derived from appropriate nutrition. Even that is changing since the newest branch of genetics is epigenetics, the science of how we can influence our genes by nutrition and lifestyle. The last post on this blog (Thursday, Dec 15, “Sweet and Dangerous”) provides research information supplied by the late Professor John Yudkin as long ago as 1973. It is very difficult for many people to believe that sugar affects our health in so many ways as Yudkin claims. He stated that the epidemic of cardiovascular disease was related to sugar. That implies that the overall problem of atherosclerosis is involved and that is the cause of the disease that affects the arterial (hence oxygen delivery) supply to the kidney.
Perhaps the best evidence of the effect of diet is in a book by Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn,Jr. (Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. Avery:2008) who has been able to provide strong evidence that cardiovascular disease can not only be prevented, but can even be reversed by a plant based diet. Dr. Esselstyn has said that we should not eat “anything with a mother”. When I pointed out to him that humans are equipped with incisor (cutting), canine (tearing at meat) and molar (vegetable grinders) teeth, his response was that “meat eating would only have been used in a dietary emergency by our primitive ancestors”. This might be contested by anthropologists since there is plenty of evidence that they did eat meat. However, to many people a plant based diet spells out the removal of so much of the contemporary pleasure derived from what we eat and drink. Those that do begin to obey the natural rules of nutrition find a new pleasure in their ability to appreciate the nuances of flavor that comes from the consumption of “God made” food. Unfortunately, “God made” food is the most expensive, but ”junk” foods absorb far too much of the family budget and are remarkably expensive if an accounting is used. Generally speaking, it is not breakfast, lunch and dinner that is slowly killing us. It is what we do in our social activities. I am not a “kill-joy”: I am a realist! Our national consumption of ”junk” has nothing to do with nutrition. As Yudkin said, “palatability must not be confused with good nutrition”. The food industry panders to palatability, because it sells. That is why so many products in the Super Market are “laced” with sugar. I repeat the wise words of Hippocrates ----“Let your medicine be your food and food be your medicine”.