Why an Integrated Approach can help

Modern medicine has many benefits. It is excellent for treating acute conditions (accidents, infections, surgical emergencies, heart attacks) and diagnostics tests have improved immensely during the time I’ve been in practice. However the major problem we face as a society today is an epidemic of chronic illness. Mainstream medicine has made very little progress here. Drugs have proved a blunt and largely ineffective tool for managing chronic disease.

I have watched as prescribing has trebled over the last 15 years with minimal benefit. I have noticed that many patients are increasingly worried by the sheer number of drugs they are taking.

Since its beginning in 1958, NHS spending has increased from £9 billion (in today’s money) to over £100 billion. Despite this massive increase in health spending, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and many other diseases have spiralled out of control and we are experiencing an obesity epidemic. The problems within the NHS are largely created by factors outside the NHS. A prime example is diabetes which now eats up one-tenth of the total NHS budget. This disease has nearly trebled in 30 years, mainly due to our changes in diet.

Although life expectancy has only just started to dip, our healthspan has declined markedly with the average man spending the last seven years in poor health and the average women ten years and this period of ill health is increasing with each decade. We are getting sicker quicker and for longer.

What strikes me is that the present approach isn’t working, the NHS is creaking at the seams and costs are now unsustainable.

There has to be a better way. In fact, we do have answers. Whole societies have existed with little or no illness and minimal health costs; we know poor health is not inevitable. Long-lived races have shown us that we can live long healthy lives if we follow basic rules of health.

Many highly motivated patients have reversed the most serious of illnesses, even when their doctors have told them there was nothing more they could do.

The cause of much of this chronic illness lies in our modern lifestyle: rarely before have so many people eaten such an adulterated and nutritionally-depleted diet and rarely have we been exposed to such high levels of toxicity. We can add high levels of stress to the equation. A huge scientific literature now supports these conclusions but remains largely hidden. If we investigate and correct these factors, rather than focussing only on prescribing drugs, then we can start to make progress.

Many of the diseases that I once thought incurable, I now regard as potentially treatable. I believe there is nearly always something that can be done to make a difference.