A Cautionary Tale

Americans are constantly bombarded with advertisements for prescription drugs and the belief that we need drugs or surgery to get well from any condition that deviates from optimum.   This is because advertising works - for better or worse.  Americans comprise about 5% of the world's population and take about 50% of all pharmaceuticals taken in the world.  An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (1998) estimates there are over 100,000 deaths each year in the United States caused by pharmaceutical drugs (and over 700,000 emergency room visits) – which makes adverse reactions from the use of prescription drugs the 4th leading cause of death in the US. 

Many chronic conditions can be avoided by adhering to a healthy diet (avoid processed foods), sensible exercise, and stress management.  An ounce of prevention truly is worth at least a pound of cure.  Physical Disciplines such as Yoga, and Tai Chi (internal martial arts) have been used for hundreds of years to maintain & optimize health.  Even just brisk walking is good medicine.  An acupuncture treatment is, in a way, a physical discipline like yoga or tai chi delivered in a concentrated, focused dose . . . insomuch as it helps put order and spontaneity back into the body and stimulates the body’s own self-healing mechanisms.


While on staff at the Cleveland Clinic Dept of Pain Management, I was privy to work alongside many distinguished physicians at one of the top 5 hospital healthcare systems in the country.  I was exposed to western medicine in a way that most acupuncturists or alternative healthcare practitioners will never experience.  I learned a lot from my experiences there and benefited from their knowledge.  However, I also observed that many patients are harmed by prescription drugs and procedures, indeed, even I was harmed this way and had to work very hard with alternative and complementary medicine to recover. 


Western medicine is unparalleled at keeping one alive from traumatic injuries and serious infections, and saves many lives.  It would be foolish not to use western medicine when appropriate.  However, especially with longstanding chronic conditions, it’s easy to get sucked into the medical system and come out much the worse for wear.  In our culture, patients are easily steered towards drugs or surgical procedures as a first resort when safer, healthier treatments are available. Pursuing procedures on top of procedures and drugs on top of more drugs can have dire consequences.  Drugs are toxic & surgical procedures have risks - both can leave patients worse off.  I’ve seen this many times over . . . and I’ve experienced it myself.  Feel better, live better, and get better without resorting to drugs or surgery whenever possible – and it's possible more often than you may know.  It takes commitment, empowerment and discipline – and it leads to a healthier outcome.  And a healthier outcome is what it's all about.