February 10, 2020
Honourable Tyler Shandro
Minister of Health
423 Legislative Building
10800 – 97 Avenue NW
Dear Mr. Shandro:
This month’s topic is a big one. Most modern chronic diseases are not diseases at all. Disorders caused by inflammation are technically symptoms and not diseases. The only true diseases are the problems that cause the inflammation. None of this is new. The idea that inflammation is the cause of the vascular damage and neurological damage that underlies most chronic illnesses has been widely accepted as fact for decades. As early as 1860 world renowned pathologist, Rudolf Virchow speculated that cancerous tumors arise at the site of chronic inflammation. Time magazine did an extensive layman’s article explaining this theory very well over fifteen years ago.
Hopefully, in the next five minutes you will learn more about the causes and correct treatment of most chronic diseases than you would learn in five years of medical school. Can it really be that simple? Remember the cardinal rule of healthcare which is, “Always treat the cause of the problem not the results.” Hopefully by the end of this letter we will have dispatched nearly every disease you can name into the ranks of the preventable and curable.
In the attached diagram, which you have seen before, we see the five or six major causes of inflammation at the top of the diagram and over a dozen chronic disorders at the bottom. I could have easily included a dozen more such as ALS, anxiety, Asperger syndrome, many autoimmune disorders, depression, Hashimoti’s thyroiditis, Grave’s Disease, some migraines, ulcerative colitis, and Tourette’s syndrome. But how do we treat all these various disorders? The diseases at the top of the diagram are for the most part infections both bacterial and viral. These are treated by eliminating the source of the infection and by helping the immune system to clear away the pathogens. There are other irritants that causes chronic inflammation such as asbestos, coal dust, and tobacco residue in the lungs. These are harder to get rid of and prevention is by far the better way. Still these diseases are pretty straight forward and they are generally treated correctly if they are treated at all. The disorders at the bottom of the diagram are a different story. When they are treated, they can be treated one of two ways, the right way or the wrong way. We can treat the symptoms or we can treat the cause. Generally we treat the symptoms. Let’s start by understanding how these inflammatory disorders work. The way that inflammation causes tissue damage in the tissues of all the various tissues and organs of the body is because inflammation causes the release of various chemicals such as C reactive Protein, cytokines, interleukins, tissue necrotic factor and others.
These chemicals travel through the bloodstream to all the tissues of the body and do various degrees of damage, mostly vascular and neurological, at various tissues and organ systems. When enough damage is done that the patient notices a problem, the patient seeks a medical diagnosis and depending on the organ or tissue in question the problem is given a name. Because all of these so called chronic diseases are the result of the products of inflammation, they all respond symptomatically to some form of anti-inflammatory drug. Big Pharma has no end to its various forms of anti-inflammatory drugs. For a patient just looking for a quick fix, this is the solution that he is looking for. However, the problem with this quick fix is that it does not remove the cause of the problem so the patient never gets better. So, the physician has a patient for life, Big Pharma has a customer for life and the patient has a problem for life. Still it helps if the patient can pass the cost of this misguided treatment off on the taxpayers through publicly funded healthcare or some form of employer funded insurance.
We often see this play out in the treatment of arthritis which does respond pretty well at first to anti-inflammatories like aspirin, ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, Celebrex, Vioxx, and at a later stage, various steroids. The problem is that these never fix the problem and eventually antiinflammatories can damage the kidneys which can lead to kidney failure and a need for dialysis. This is not a problem for people who own or operate dialysis equipment. Again, we just send the bill to the boring people also known as the taxpayers.
However, there is a better way and a small group of very dedicated physicians do get results by addressing the primary causes of all the disorders at the bottom of the diagram. The primary cause of all the disorders at the bottom of the diagram is all of the diseases at the top of the diagram. Needless to say this is very intense total patient care addressing total wellness not just a few annoying symptoms. This is certainly not for everybody but it must be offered as an option in every case because that is the very basis of informed consent. If you do not have informed consent you do not have consent at all and that is unprofessional conduct which is punishable by fine and /or suspension.
So, now you see that medicine is actually quite simple. There really are only five or six diseases that matter. They are all relatively easy to treat and if you get them right, everything else goes away. You may have also noticed that four of the five primary diseases occur where there is an orifice between the outside of the body and the inside. These four areas are the mouth, the lungs, the geneto-urinary tract and the gastro intestinal tract. The viruses in group five actually enter through one of these four entry points as well. A sixth form of chronic inflammation not seen on the diagram is poorly healed and chronically inflamed injury sites such as concussions and back injuries. Now lets look at the four remaining areas of inflammation.
Chronic lung infections are far less common than they used to be and we take things like tuberculosis and pneumonia very seriously as we should. The main cause of chronic lung inflammation was irritants inhaled into the lungs through smoking and unsafe workplaces. In the workplace people used to inhale things like asbestos, coal dust, heavy metals in mines, fiberglass and hydrocarbons. Today workplace safety has improved a lot. Thankfully, smoking is decreasing a lot as time goes by although vaping and the legalization of marijuana may not be a step in the right direction.
Dental care and dental wellness have improved drastically over the past half century and this is mostly due to a strong emphasis on prevention and very early detection and intervention. Dentistry also owes a lot of its success to the fact that it was never a part of national healthcare which made the need for personal responsibility more important. Unlike our healthcare system which is about 36th best in the world (Dead last among first world countries); our dental health is really second to none and all of this comes at a staggering cost of one dollar per person per day. (Sorry about that, but your fact checkers will find that the total expenditure on dental care including orthodontics in Alberta is 1.5 billion dollars annually which when divided by 4.1 million Albertans comes out to $365 per person per year. One dollar a day!) Can you imagine what this would cost if the government ran this area of healthcare? Never mind that there would probably be no prevention, long waiting lists for surgery and you would probably have to go to a foreign country to get implants and other complex treatment. Never! Granted there are some people who are currently under treated but often these people have a comorbidity of mental illness and / or serious addictions. Offsetting the problem of undertreatment ,our Alberta dentists also have an equally serious problem of overtreatment and fraud which is figured into the $1.5 billion figure. So our dentists aren’t perfect but they really are the best in the world. Having said all that what really matters is that active dental disease causes a lot of inflammation which is a contributing factor to a lot of chronic diseases that we see throughout the body. In order to eliminate the chronic diseases that result from inflammation, good dental health is very important.
Pelvic infections and sexually transmitted diseases in particular are often very hard to treat and the outcomes are often less than ideal. I would like to think that treatments will continue to improve but in reality the efficacy of antibiotic therapy is not getting better and in fact it is becoming less effective. That only leaves us with prevention which is never going to be the complete answer in this area. Still there is some room for improvement in the sex education programs offered in schools currently. These programs tend to understate the seriousness and complexity of infection problems choosing instead to focus more on just preventing pregnancies.
By far the biggest of the five or six causes of inflammation has to be GI infections. And so it should be because this is the area which has an exceptionally elaborate immune system (The reticulo-endothelial system.) which keeps bacteria and foreign proteins in the gut from getting into the bloodstream and from there into the rest of the body. Sadly, today’s modern western diet with a lot of processed foods high in refined carbohydrates and laced with chemicals cause the gut to leak which allows a lot of bacteria and partially digested proteins to escape the gut where they are identified by the reticulo-endothelial system to be foreign and a massive immune response is launched. This defense is only partly successful but in the process a lot of C reactive protein, cytokines and interleukins are released which travel throughout the body and cause the disorders at the bottom of the diagram. For many people this is what goes on all day every day and the result is not just a gut problem but also a lot of chronic secondary diseases. So this is why a lot of good well studied and well-intended physicians focus on gut health as the foundation for treating various chronic diseases. They have some success which does not surprise them. They would probably have more success if they focused on all five or six primary causes of inflammation. The Medical Establishment dismisses these physicians as a bunch of whacky kooks and their successful outcomes are dismissed as luck or coincidence but ignore these people at your peril. They are on the right track.
The last cause of inflammation is visceral fat. Remember metabolic syndrome, diabetes, obesity and all that discussion a few months back. Remember how we lamented that Diabetes causes vascular and neurological damage that results in heart disease, dementia, blindness, kidney failure, amputations and all that stuff and you said to yourself, “I wonder how that all works.” Well, there is more than one mechanism for sure but it turns out that fat storage is one of the main results of high insulin levels and high carbohydrate diets. It turns out that adipose tissue aka fat produces a lot of the same inflammatory biproducts( C reactive protein, cytokines, interleukins) which cause the vascular and neurological damage that we eventually see as chronic diseases. So, this isn’t getting any easier. What this means is that to be truly effective in treating the cause of most chronic diseases (Inflammation) we must control the five disease groups at the top of the diagram plus traumatic injuries plus they must have to eliminate most of their excess body fat. Big challenge there but still the people have the right to know don’t they? It is that whole informed consent thing. One final thought on visceral fat, belly fat, and fat in general is that it also produces a lot of estrogen. Who knows what kind of problems that could cause: breast cancer, man breasts, infertility, etc.
So, that brings this month’s discussion to an end. Hopefully you have learned more in the last five minutes than you would have learned in five years in medical school. I also hope that by now I have dispatched nearly every disease that you can name into the realms of the highly preventable and very treatable diseases. If there are any major diseases that I have not dispatched to the realms of the treatable and preventable let me know and I will try to deal with them possibly when we wind the series up in May. The only major disorder that we have not discussed yet is Autism and that will be dealt with in depth in April.
This time I will ask you to send a reply and give me your thoughts on the first five letters in the series. It has to be a shock to a new health minister like yourself with very little medical background to be suddenly plunged into the dark world of the medical industrial complex, big Pharma, and all the assorted elites and stooges that keep this charade running.
Have a great month ahead and I look forward to your comments.
Dr. Murray Hennings, DMD