The Three Traditions of Medicine – Dr. Carolyn Dean MD ND

The Three Traditions of Medicine

December 11, 2018

According to my friend, Susun Weed (Yes she’s a herbalist!) there are three medical traditions: Scientific, Heroic, and Wise Woman. 

Let’s look at Scientific Medicine. I write in Death by Modern Medicine that since the Flexner Report in 1908 “the Carnegie and Rockefeller foundations were able to establish a ‘scientific’ medical monopoly in North America. You can access the report for yourself online and read how the allopaths worked alongside the wealthy foundations to remove every ‘rude boy’ and ‘jaded clerk’ from the business of medicine.” They did this by removing funding from homeopathic, eclectic, women and black medical schools.
Further in the book I comment on the current state of Scientific Medicine:

Research For Sale

Former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), Dr. Marcia Angell, struggled to bring the attention of the world to the problem of commercializing scientific research in her outgoing editorial titled “Is Academic Medicine for Sale?”

Angell called for stronger restrictions on researchers receiving drug company stocks and other financial incentives. She said that growing conflicts of interest are tainting science. She warned that, “When the boundaries between industry and academic medicine become as blurred as they are now, the business goals of industry influence the mission of medical schools in multiple ways.” She did not discount the benefits of research but said that a Faustian bargain now existed between medical schools and the pharmaceutical industry. 

Angell left the NEJM in June 2000. Two years later, in June 2002, the new editor of the NEJM announced that it would now accept biased journalists (those who accept money from drug companies) because it is too difficult to find ones that have no ties. It was reported that one measurable tie between pharmaceutical companies and doctors amounted to over $2 billion a year spent for over 314,000 parties and events that drug companies sponsored for doctors.

A more recent study shows that there are very few researchers who don’t work for drug companies. The LA Times reported that most scientific research is false in “Science Has Lost Its Way, Costing All Of Us,” an October 27, 2013 article. Scientists at the biotech firm Amgen analyzed the results of 53 landmark papers in cancer research and blood biology that Amgen was investing in. Of the 53 landmark papers evaluated, only six papers, or 11%, proved valid.

Science-based medicine led to the current application of “Evidence Based Clinical Practice Guidelines” that doctors are supposed to follow, but if science is so biased, then clinical practice is also biased and can lead to bad decisions and bad outcomes as doctors robotically follow the recipe book guidelines.

Then there is Heroic Medicine, which is all about trauma surgery and catastrophic care run with the precision of an elite military operation and constantly inventing techniques to save lives. After all, who doesn’t want to be a hero? I just finished Congressman Steve Scalise’s account of his near-fatal shooting during a baseball practice in Washington. There is no question that his life was saved countless times by Heroic Medicine and all those people on his team are heroes. 

And finally, the Wise Woman tradition (which I see as the dietary, supplement, herbal, homeopathic, and lifestyle interventions) is deliberately shunned as not as consequential as Heroic Medicine. And because they are shunned, they are not taught in medical school, and doctors are informed that if they didn’t learn about a technique or health modality in med school, then it’s probably quackery!

Doctors, for the most part, define themselves as part of Heroic Medicine. Our training is up-close-and-personal, right in the trenches. My first day of Internship I was on night shift in the ER, not sitting with a family doctor listening to a stressed-out mother with too much on her plate. So, doctors are conditioned from day one to regard medicine as Heroic and our role as heroes. But not every doctor can be a battlefield hero with the vaulted ego that comes with the territory. Often they just carry the vaulted ego.

I think true heroism is displayed when we sit with patients and share their concerns and give them courage to go on in the face of stress and illness and chronic disease. Heroism comes with going outside the norm seeking alternatives for patients that don’t put them at risk. Unfortunately, most doctors don’t go beyond their drug-and surgery-based medical conditioning. They don’t seek out alternatives to help their patients and their patients suffer the consequences. 

The consequences are becoming more obvious. “The US Life Expectancy Is Going Down” and doctor dissatisfaction with their jobs is at an all time high. 

My advice? Take charge of your own body, be responsible for your own health. Use doctors for their diagnostic expertise and catastrophic medicine interventions – the rest is up to you!

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Carolyn Dean MD ND

The Doctor of the Future®

RESOURCES: Along the borders and in the links of my web site you can find my books, writings, and my call-in radio show. Email your questions to:

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