Thursday, 24 March 2016

Reading Doctor Hegde

Fraudulent Practices in Modern Medicine

Those who care to think raise some uncomfortable questions and teach us to doubt. With one such doubting doctor who is also called poor man’s doctor, we deconstruct some reigning ideas in modern medical practice. In fact we can easily show that there have been some errors, even scandals, in modern history  that resulted in a dominance of modern allopathic system of medicine. 
      Dr B M Hegde, despite being criticized for right wing sympathies and some unsupported generalizations and  certain inconsistencies nevertheless emerges as one of the very few scientist-philosophers of modern India who needs to be widely read and debated. Passionate, informed, brilliant, witty, iconoclastic, provocative and lucid, Dr Hegde is a renowned cardiologist trained in allopathic system who has exposed, along with certain lesser known but significant scientists, fraudulent or somehow problematic nature of certain medical practices. In a nutshell he argues – or rehearses – with authority and wealth of data he memorizes so well  that one shouldn’t visit a doctor unless it is an emergency. Most of routine tests prescribed are either not needed or could result in more harm than good. For most of the common diseases including hypertension and diabetes, dominant modes of testing and treatment are deeply problematic. We have cheaper alternatives for most of treatments. The drugs you take most probably shouldn’t have been taken – you could have taken generic equivalent.
      The old WHO definition focusing on absence of disease is reductionist and is not workable except to make every one of us a patient, a good business for the industry-named disease mongering by Ray Moynihan. (All of us have “diseases.” Around 15 cancers in all of us currently. Immune system takes care of so many things on its own though tests could be positive) 
Hegde’s definition of health “enthusiasm to work and enthusiasm to be universally compassionate”  comes closer to the original definition of Sigmund Freud who defined health has “work and love.”
      Dr Medelsohan in Confessions of a Medical Heretic wrote: “Medical school does its best to turn smart students stupid, honest student corrupt and healthy students sick.”  Dr Andre Weil in Health and Healing: Conventional and Alternative Medicine, Principles and Practice wrote: “I find (modern) medicine glaringly deficient in theory and philosophy of any sort … lack of any clear concept of health leading medical doctors to pay more attention to disease.” Hegde shows how they are proved right – and “most of us hypocrites swearing by the Hippocratic Oath!” and gives us some stunning or shocking facts from his What Doctors don’t get to know in Medical School and other published works and lectures:
  • “The watch dog bodies like the WHO, FDA and others of their ilk have been shown to be receiving more than 80% of their funding from the vested interests like the drug and device lobbies.” 
  • “The thinking that doctors and hospitals are needed to keep a society healthy is plain rubbish.”
  • “The USA healthcare system is a terminal patient in the “ICU”.
  • The present medical education is “disease orientated and not patient orientated.”
  • He notes that cholestrol lowering is today7.2 trillion dollar business and it feeds on certain invented or distorted notions about cholesterol.
  • Building on David Eddy, a former professor of cardiovascular surgery at the Stanford, who left his job and got his PhD in mathematics, he writes “From heart surgery to prostate care, the medical industry knows little about which common treatments really work”Elley traced “one common practice -- preventing women from giving birth vaginally if they had previously had a cesarean -- to the recommendation of one lone doctor.” He also liked to cite a figure that only 15% of what doctors did was backed by hard evidence.
  • “As modern medicine quick fixes are absolutely necessary in emergency situations, many of the chronic illnesses and minor illness syndromes either do not benefit from the top-heavy modern medical establishment, or could do well with very inexpensive but effective alternative systems of medicine.”
  • Many procedures including bypass surgery are done more often “to fill the coffers of hospitals and surgeons, rather than to help patients. Many studies in this field are being twisted, using all sorts of statistics, to show benefit to the patient, while in essence, the procedures are only helping the doctors and the industry.”
  • “Many doctors and most lay person have a misconception that hi-tech investigations are needed for arriving at a good diagnosis. The truth, however, is otherwise. Lord Platt, wrote in 1949: ‘If you listen to your patient long enough he/she would tell you what is wrong with him/her.’”
  • Loannidis analyzed "49 of the most highly regarded research findings in medicine over the previous 13 years". And "Of the 49 articles, 45 claimed to have uncovered effective interventions. Thirty-four of these claims had been retested, and 14 of these, or 41 percent, had been convincingly shown to be wrong or 5 significantly exaggerated.”
  • Total Body Scanner checks 500 parameters at a time and if 100 people go for checkup, there will be 5x500 cases of false positive. There will not be  a  single normal person.” 
Hegde makes much use of a key distinction between normal and average, and says that above and below average are effectively treated as abnormal by doctors and cites some astonishing facts regarding historical personalities and cases that had much below and above average figures of B.P but lived without trouble. Much of discourse on BP and diabetes is invented by shifting or manipulating the threshold lines of normal range. He asks would over 5.7 or 6ft  persons be declared abnormal or above average?  Normal, he notes, is a statistical term described by Gaussian curve that treats plus two standard deviations.
      He has launched crusade against testing/treatment regimen of several commonly occurring diseases that consume our health budget and cause long queues outside clinics of doctors. There is highly provocative and deconstructive lecture by Dr Biswaroop Chowdhury on youtube “Treating Diabetes in 72 hours” that proposes treating diabetes through simple change in diet – shifting to 100% raw vegetable cum fruit based diet for 72 hours and it has been tried by many and found remarkably effective. They compare anti-diabetic drugs with sugar filled placebo capsules!
      Someone asked guru “I want peace” and he replied "leave I and want and see what remains is peace.” Building on a remark in Ayurveda he never go to a doctor when you are healthy – you have enthusiasm to work and don’t hate anyone, you don’t need a doctor.
      Who can dispute that overall our ancestors or elders lived more healthy lives when allopathic system was little heard of, and treatment didn’t cost much. Today, thanks to all kinds of things we are all ill to little or greater degree.
      “There is no science of man today” wrote Nobel Laureate Dr. Alexis Carrel in his classic – Man the Unknown. “We use the inanimate sciences of physics and chemistry in an animate, conscious human being.” 
Allopathic system has registered its success primarily because of its inherent strengths – if we let it go,  that would be turning the clock back. What is needed is to expose its unholy alliance with capital and its exclusivity, hegemony, and hubris.

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