A patient recently shared a pretty thought-provoking article with us. It was on one of the big problems with government-issued health advice: Time and again, that advice has proven to be wrong.
It’s certainly been the case with mercury fillings, which can never be made nontoxic no matter how many bureaucrats insist on their safety. It’s certainly the case with dietary guidelines such as the promotion of the high-carb, low-fat diet that’s played a key role in the obesity epidemic. We see it in the push to vaccinate everyone for everything possible, regardless of individual risk, clear evidence or even informed consent.
No doubt you can think of plenty of other examples.
It makes you wonder: Why does government get so much so spectacularly wrong so often when it comes to matters of public health?
For one, our government, by nature, moves very, very slowly. This is sometimes to our benefit. It creates stability and makes it hard for any one person – or even a whole political bloc – to legislate at their whim.
But it also makes our government prone to be behind the times on essential, practical matters. It can take years to finalize new rules or recommendations.
In the meantime, scientists barrel full speed ahead with their research. Scientific knowledge evolves. It’s never some unchanging, set-in-stone body of information. The more advanced our technology, the more we’re able to see and measure and re-evaluate what we’ve known before. Our new knowledge changes the old, and that opens the door to yet more discoveries and deeper understanding.
Think: It wasn’t so long ago that everybody “knew” that “germs” make you sick. Now we know that our bodies actually contain more bacteria than human cells; that it’s the balance of “good” and “bad” microbes AND the condition of their environment – the intracellular matrix or biological terrain – that impact our health. As research into the microbiome progresses, the picture is sure to become even more complex.
This speed difference might explain a good chunk of the problem.
Related to it is the fact that our government is hardly radical. It abides by the status quo – in this case, thinking of the body as a kind of machine built of disparate parts, not a unified whole. So long as the old symptom-based, linear ways of understanding health and illness dominate – versus the “quantum” dynamic approach of biological medicine – so will public health policy replicate its mistakes and shortcomings.
Instead of looking at how to support the body’s natural ability to self-regulate and heal, it aims to force the body with drugs or surgery to respond in a way that resembles health (in so far as it eases symptoms). It focuses more on preventing “bad” things from reaching a body, less on providing what will help it be naturally healthy and able to defend against “bad” things on its own. It focuses on simplistic cause-effect instead of respecting the complex webs of factors that ultimately contribute to a person’s health and well-being.
Then there’s the matter of money, with corporate interests having far more influence than actual citizens do. We see this most plainly, perhaps, in cases like that of former FDA head Margaret Hamburg, who participated in the rulemaking process on mercury amalgam despite her financial ties with Henry Schein, the country’s top amalgam dealer. We’ve all seen and heard examples of the revolving door between government and business, where regulators move into the private sector and private sector individuals move into government to regulate the industry they once worked in.
We see it, too, in situations like the ADA’s backpedaling from the amalgam separator rule they themselves had a hand in writing. Maybe they realized how much they have to lose should the rule be approved and adopted. After all, embracing it would be a tacit admission that amalgam is hardly the benign substance they keep insisting it is.
Regardless of the why the government tends to get so much so wrong about health matters, there are good reasons to take your health and well-being into your own hands. You have intelligence, and you know yourself best. Only YOU can make the best decisions for YOU, based on your personal beliefs, values and goals.
When it comes to your health, you have the right to self-determination. That is the essence of health freedom.
And with rights come responsibilities – in this case, the responsibility to truly inform yourself. Read and watch and listen to as much as you can. Think critically. Find well-trained and trustworthy biological, holistic practitioners and natural healers. Learn from them.
Learn from everyone and everything you can.
Image by Steve Snodgrass, via Flickr