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Buch Leseprobe Finite Being in White Coat, Joseph Ashun, MD
Joseph Ashun, MD

Finite Being in White Coat

Ancient Healer and Modern Physician ...

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– Alternative Means of Therapy

Taking a sober assessment of the complex problems of conventional medicine, many people, including physicians, have recognised that the effort of resolving these seemingly intractable problems in medicine need a new orientation which is meant to eventuate in the application of alternative means, for example, natural medicine coupled with changes in the way we live. Consequently, effort has been undertaken in many countries to develop alternative means of remedy with positive results. Such natural medicine has been predominant in China for centuries.

We know in medical history that natural medicine was practised in the olden days, but fell into oblivion in many Western countries on the advent of science and industrial revolution. Since then, Western countries have been blinded with conventional scientific methods of industrial production, including medicinal drugs. In view of the fact that the overall achievements with conventional medicine have not satisfied our hopes and aspirations despite determined effort by doctors, our one and only hope today is that naturopathic medicine may open a new era and play a predominant role in Medicare in the coming years. The new trend towards naturopathic medicine may in the foreseeable future also contribute to reduce the exorbitant cost of Medicare programmes. We must all hope that excellent natural medicinal products at affordable prices will be on the market for all human sicknesses.

Currently, Germany is forging research on biomedicine with the aim of finding effective natural remedies at affordable prices. The University of Zagreb in Croatia, my Alma Mater, has already established a medical faculty for biomedicine. More details of naturopathic medicine will follow in the later pages. However, with the hope of developing biomedicine as an alternative in our minds for the future, many people may want to detract our attention from it by arguing that, in the past, due to advancements in conventional medical science, our standard of life has been improved. This cannot be doubted, but it should not escape our notice that this advancement has, on the other hand, not improved the overall quality of life. Generally speaking, aside the achievements in medical science, generations have had to undertake strenuous efforts to smooth away difficulties that are by-products of such achievements. Some of these are, for example, side effects of many drugs, which have been detriment to human health, aside the many conventional drug-related deaths in almost every country in the world. Media reports in Germany indicated that in the year 2010 there were many thousands of drug related deaths in hospitals. To avert this danger, physicians have a large measure of responsibility in that while they oblige themselves to re-establish good health in indigent patients on the one hand, they try everything possible to minimise the adverse side effects of drug therapies on the other hand.

It is generally known that good health has been a long-felt want in humans for a long time. Even in the present day, it is felt that however difficult it may be, physicians must be able to find ways to achieve the common goal of sustainable good health in fellow human beings. Unfortunately, looking at our health problems today, alongside intensive medical progress and intensive continuing medical education for decades, we have to conclude that there must be something wrong with the means we apply to tackle these problems. Beyond reasonable doubt, one can say that great part of the health problems of today are the result of unhealthy lifestyles as well as the stresses and strains of modern living, notwithstanding the adverse damages some conventional drugs do inflict on human health. Nevertheless, the past records on the numerous detrimental effects of conventional drugs on human health should oblige us to look for less harmful alternatives.


Natural Remedies as Alternative Means

Firstly, to retrieve the situation we must first put faith in God, try to gain proper insight into His natural laws and His natural healing systems that guarantee our human existence on earth. We must put faith in God because He has his place in medicine, though we do not seem to acknowledge this. In addition, we must vary our way of acquiring knowledge or information and also vary the ways and means we apply in medical practice. The physician’s profession must be executed in good faith and must be morally and ethically feasible. Physicians and drug companies must give an impetus to natural therapies such as herbal- and sero-therapy. Natural therapies, especially naturopathic remedies (herbal drugs, homeopathy, acupuncture, sero-therapy, hydrotherapy, physical medicine, therapeutic exercise, balanced diet etc.), must be given absolute priority in order to reduce overdependence on conventional therapies and thereby lower the high costs.

As already mentioned above, recent research has shown that Vitamin B17, which is found in many vegetables and fruits like walnuts, lentils or black beans, may be able to replace conventional chemotherapeutic drugs against cancer. Certainly, there are numerous effective herbal remedies against many illnesses known today as well. Treatment of malaria in recent years has shown that herbal drugs can be an alternative to conventional therapies. Considering their low cost, less harmful side effects coupled with high efficacy, their therapeutic value might overweigh that of conventional therapies. Malaria, one of the most dangerous parasitic diseases of humans, has been known for decades causing hundreds of millions of illnesses and millions of deaths especially among young children each year in the tropical and subtropical areas worldwide. Malaria has also killed many travellers from non-endemic areas who visit these areas as tourists or business people. Until recently, prophylactic measures and therapies have been conventional and billions of dollars have been expended for this purpose. Despite their high costs, the efficacy of this prophylactic measures is not properly visible. To this, their severe side effects have limited their application in the endemic areas of Africa and other developing regions. Two prominent drugs that have been recommended by WHO for treatment of malaria and for prophylactic measures are Lariam (mefloquine, 250mg) and Malorone (atovaquon). In Germany eight tablets of Lariam cost 54.23 € (price from 2006). Twelve capsules of Malorone cost 58.17 €.

However, Artesunate (artemisinin derivative), a herbal drug that has been used by the Chinese as an antipyretic drug for 2000 years has been clinically proven to be the most effective anti-malaria drug (against plasmodium falciparum infection) known today. I have witnessed its effectiveness in Ghana myself. Intravenous Artesunate is the first choice of therapy in severe cases because of its efficacy against malaria falciparum infection. One day I was asked to visit a European patient who was being treated on malaria with intravenous quinine because his condition had been critical for days. I went to visit him and immediately realised that quinine for this particular patient was not effective. Apart from that, there were clear clinical indications that cardiac toxicity of quinine was one of the causes of his deteriorating condition. I advised the attending doctor to change the regime and use instead intravenous Artesunate. She followed my advice and the patient recovered promptly. With this experience I can certify the efficacy and the affordability of the drug. In Ghana, twelve capsules of Artesunate, enough to treat uncomplicated and even cerebral malaria, was selling at about 2 €. Because of its efficacy, less side effects and very low cost, it was very popular among the European residents. When the Chinese introduced the drug to Africa, the big pharmaceutical companies and the WHO did not recommend it for treatment in endemic areas of Africa. But practice in these areas proved that the drug is more effective and has a therapeutic advantage over chemotherapeutic drugs heretofore recommended by the WHO. Consequently, even the non-European patients preferred to take Artesunate.

Suspiciously, because the big drug companies didn’t want to lose the African market and keep on selling their older chemotherapeutic anti-malaria drugs, they began to make a synthetic combination of the old ones and Artesunate and market them as new drugs. In the end they got the WHO to recommend them for treatment against malaria in endemic areas of Africa. The drug companies had no problem to convince the WHO because the authorities there felt it incumbent on them to support this cause. Examples of these regimes are Coartem (Artemeter and Lumefantrine) and Artemeter-amodiaquine, just to mention a few. For poor African countries, these combinations are still expensive. Coartem is selling at about 28 € in Germany. In Ghana, the popularity of Artesunate as a potent herbal alternative to other anti-malaria chemotherapeutic regimes continued until 2009, when some dubious people brought fake ineffective Artesunate into the market to scare consumers. I am of the opinion that it is improbable that organised criminals ever indulged themselves in bringing these cheap drugs to Ghana. Doctors and pharmacists in Ghana began to warn the general public of these drugs. As a result, demand for them dropped rapidly. Now, the golden age of cheap Artesunate as a mono regime against malaria gradually came to an end in Ghana and Africa. It is very difficult to find those behind the sale of these fake drugs and their motive. But every rational being can imagine who might be the suspect behind it. The end result of this action is that there are no more herbal alternatives to the expensive chemotherapeutic regimes recommended by the WHO on the market currently. Doctors are obliged to follow recommendations by the organization, so in this case they indirectly helped to promote the sale of the combination drugs in Ghana through prescription despite their severe side effects. This is one of the ways, among others, that are used to prevent the introduction of affordable, effective and less harmful alternative herbal drugs into the market.

It is certain that if naturopathic medicine with its focus on promoting health and preventing diseases had been the dominant medical model, not only could have the healthcare costs been drastically reduced, but many peoples’ health could have improved at affordable costs. If we succeed to find natural means to remarkably enhance the human immune systems as preventive measures, almost all the known diseases will not occur in humans. The result might be that overdependence on conventional physicians and therapies will also drastically reduce and thereupon lower healthcare costs. Bearing in mind that diseases are not objects of reality and that almost every bodily disorder, except those in old age, is the result of a human beings’ particular way of life, it stands to reason that changing our way of living alone, for example, quitting smoking, abandoning excessive alcohol intake, drug abuse, over-medication with especially antibiotics, making regular exercise, eating plant based and vitamin-rich foods and weaning from other bad habits et cetera, will definitely contribute to the enhancement of the individual immune system to a maximum capacity, and thereby make our human body resistant to all disorders or at least reduce our susceptibility to diseases. Additionally, the body systems will be more capable to do repair works and execute quick replenishments. Since conventional medicine has dominated medical practice for decades, change of lifestyle as a means to promote health has not been an order of the day. This is due to the type of education and thoughts that has been developed to guide the medical practitioner. The German scientist Richard Kuhn (1900-1967) argues that all great theories of science have developed because scientists have first accepted a pattern of thought which has led them to construct a particular vision of reality. Kuhn designated these patterns or models of thought ‘paradigms of knowledge’.

Today, after many years of concerted efforts, perpetual endeavour to manage human infirmities, we are anything but pleased with the health conditions of human beings. Despite our strenuous efforts in medicine, we have not been able to improve our quality of life substantially. The more we progress in technological developments, the more various infirmities arise. It is obvious to many of us that something is wrong with the Medicare systems of today. For example, statistics in Germany show that there were about 1.5 million indigent patients in the social-welfare systems in the year 1995; in 2009, there were about 2.7 million; and in 50 years time, this number is prognosticated to have been increased to about 4.5 million. Unfortunately, these patients are over-consuming conventional drugs without seeing any overall qualitative improvements in their individual conditions of health. On the contrary, many, especially the elderly, are suffering from drug related illnesses such as headache, dizziness, kidney insufficiency or anaemia. Despite the fact that some of these drugs are adverse to their health, huge amounts of financial resources are being expended unnecessary to cover the costs.

Presumably, the old pattern of thought or paradigm which has guided us up to now does not promote the achievement of the common objective in medicine, namely, the alleviation of mankind from all sorts of bodily ailments or infirmities and lastly, to improve the quality of human life at affordable prices. In the old way of thinking in medicine, a diagnosis was based upon the presence of certain symptoms supported by specific laboratory findings. And medical treatment has been based upon studies on hundreds of people with the same disorders, who were all considered to be identical patients. On the basis of this, billions of financial resources had been spent every year in countries like Germany, the UK and the US, with only a fraction of it devoted to prophylactic measures. The conventional treatments we use today are focused on disease and have largely been arrived by trial and error (ex juvantibus), often without proper understanding of why they work in some cases and why they do not in others. The paradigm of conventional medicine, such as it is, seems to be incommensurate with needs in human healthcare. Therefore, it is rational and desperately urgent to develop a new paradigm which takes each individual patient as unique, endowed with specific generic variants that may provide advantages or disadvantages to disease such as in the case of beta-thalassemia and sickle cell anaemia, whose carriers are resistant to malaria, or people with gout arthritis (inflammatory disease of joints, usually that of the toes due to uric acid deposits), whose aging process may be slower.

Now let us first look at the old paradigm which has accompanied our activities in medicine to date before we go to the new paradigm which is meant to replace it. The old paradigm regards the body as a machine, the body and mind being separate. It puts emphasis on the elimination of disease and treatment of symptoms, on the specialization with the risk of tunnel-vision, and the use of high-technology, heroic measures. Focus must be on objective information; how the patient is doing is based on charts, statistics, test results et cetera. The physician should be emotionally neutral and detached. He or she is the all-knowing authority. He or she is in control of the patient’s health decisions. The physician is half God and needs to be glorified. As a result of the old way of thinking, conventional treatment had considered all patients to be essentially identical subjects. Diagnosis of illnesses was based on the presence of certain symptoms, supported by laboratory findings. The new paradigm is quiet different.

The new paradigm addresses the whole patient. The body and mind are interconnected and inseparable. Emphasize is made on achieving good health, treatment of underlying causes and an integrated approach, focus is put on diet, lifestyle, and preventive measures and on subjective information: how the patient is feeling. The physician’s caring and empathy are critical to healing. The physician is regarded as a partner in the healing process. The patient is in charge of healthcare choices of his or her own.


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