Prevention and Wellness to be Centerpiece of Health Care Reform


After 27 years of making prevention and wellness the centerpiece of my practice, it was amazing to see in the New York Times that the government now plans to make them the centerpiece of health care reform. (Sort of like being in an alternate universe.) With the government finally getting on the bandwagon, it is important to make sure that a majority of the programs focus on true prevention–which involves our nutrition, our exercise, and our attitudes! How about starting with requiring serious courses in nutrition and exercise physiology at all medical schools, so that doctors would have an educational base for the importance of nutrition in all health. Anger management for all health care providers and their patients wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Most current programs that are labeled prevention are actually early detection–which is helpful too, but secondary. For example, you need to be educated to eat less sugar, eat five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables daily, get adequate exercise, and do stress lowering activities to lower cortisol in order to prevent diabetes. Early detection (sometimes called prevention) of diabetes includes programs like community blood and urine testing. But by the time you are spilling sugar in your urine, the time for real prevention is already past!

Here’s the quote:

“Two Democratic senators working on comprehensive health legislation, Max Baucus of Montana, the chairman of the Finance Committee, and Tom Harkin of Iowa, have taken the lead in devising such incentives.

“Prevention and wellness should be a centerpiece of health care reform,” said Mr. Harkin, who regularly climbs the stairs to his seventh-floor office on Capitol Hill.

The White House agrees. One of President Obama‘s eight principles for health legislation is that it must “invest in prevention and wellness,” a goal espoused in almost identical words by Republican senators like John Cornyn of Texas and Orrin G. Hatch of Utah.

Frank B. McArdle, a health policy expert at Hewitt Associates, a benefits consulting firm, said, “Wellness and prevention programs have become a mainstream part of the benefits offered by large employers, and it’s virtually certain that Congress will include incentives for such programs” in its bill. The goals of such programs are to help people control blood pressure, fight obesity and manage diabetes and other chronic conditions. Under Mr. Harkin’s proposal, employers could obtain tax credits for programs that offer periodic screenings for health problems and counseling to help employees adopt healthier lifestyles. Programs could focus on tobacco use, obesity, physical fitness, nutrition and depression, he said.”

Swine Flu and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Swine Flu and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Last week I wrote about swine flu, and sent some recommendations for a friend, Sara Altschul, to post on her health blog, Here’s what I recommended:

PREVENTION The most important preventive measure is the old standardfrequent hand washing. Also, do not rub or touch your eyes or nose when you are out in public and haven’t washed your hands. Buy, carry and use the non-alcohol based ecologic hand sanitizers. Cough into a tissue or your bent arm.

IMMUNE BOOSTERS Now, on to boosting the immune system. One of the best immune boosters is still Vitamin C. Take at least 500 milligrams, with 6 to 8 ounces of water, 4 times a day. Other immune boosters are strong anti-oxidants including Oprah’s current favorite, acai berry. Another one, which is known specifically to work for flu, is elderberry. There an alternative version of Airborne, Source Naturals “Wellness Fizz” which contains forsythia, and all the other herbs in the Yin Chiao formula I will describe below in the treatment section. as well as zinc, selenium, and elderberry.

SYMPTOMS It’s important to recognize the symptoms early: they are any combination of theseheadache, cough, sore throat, fever, nausea, dizziness.

TREATMENT If you have any of these symptoms, get a prescription of Tamiflu and start it right awayit is effective only if you start it within 48 hours of the beginning of symptoms. Some types of flu viruses are already resistant to it, but the one that is causing the current outbreak isn’t. Probably the most effective treatment is Chinese herbs. They are effective in both killing the virus and helping resolve the flu symptoms. The best thing to take is a combination of two Chinese formulasYin Chiao Chieh Tu Pian, and Zhong Gan Ling. They should be taken as a combinationtwo to four Yin Chiao tablets twice a day, and four to six Zhong Gan Ling tablets three times a day. They should be taken with food. It is also important to remember that if the person has signs of prostrationthat is, too sick to get upor shows any sign of dehydration, they should go to the hospital.

Fast forward a few days, and now swine flu is the hottest topic in the media, and for good reason since it is spreading rapidly, and people need to know what to do. I just noticed an email from Consumer Reports (one of my favorites, by the way) that pretty much issues a blanket warning against use of any supplements or “immune boosters” which they put in quotes, as if there is nothing that can really boost the immune system. That inspired me to begin my own blog with a comment on my recommendations, especially the ones regarding Traditional Chinese Medicine, which I have been practicing since 1978. Let me just make my own blanket statement hereChinese herbal formulas can be effective for flu. Here’s the way I made my recommendations. Last year I did some research on formulas which had been used successfully in China for bird flu. I found one, but it was a formula that requires getting packets of raw herbs at a Chinese pharmacy, boiling them, and then drinking the (generally nasty tasting) tea. That’s not any help it this country because it’s just not going to happen here. Before I looked any further I checked with my partner, Dr. Leon Chen, who was an orthopedic surgeon in China, and was head of a large hospital department of orthopedic surgery in Kansu before he came here. He confirmed that the formula I had found was the real thing. Then we looked for Chinese patent formulas that had the same herbs in them, and came up with the combination of Yin Chiao Chieh Tu Pian and Zhong Gan Ling, which I recommended. I have actually used this for flu for myself and for patients and it has worked. I have not specifically used it for swine flu. However, the way Chinese herbs work is different than Western drugs. They are very complex, and it is nearly impossible for viruses or bacteria to develop resistance to them. As a matter of fact, there are antimicrobial formulas that were first recorded in 200 A.D., are still used, and still work. So with all due respect to Consumer Reports, an appropriate formula from Traditional Chinese Medicine is something that you can use to help you if you get the flu. By the way, there is also the issue of quality control for the Chinese patent formulas, a legitimate worry with all the contaminated products of various kinds coming from China, and something I am very careful with in my practice. The company I recommend is Mayway, which distributes Plum Flower herbs, all rigorously quality controlled. Mayway doesn’t sell the formulas directly, but you can buy them at

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