Science, Clinical Nutrition, and an Angry Colleague – Philosophy of Healing
Science, Clinical Nutrition, and an Angry Colleague
Majid Ali, M.D.
I define integrative medicine as a discipline that keeps the patient at the center stage and applies all safe, effective, and relevant therapies without subservience to any one school of medicine. I define nutritional medicine as a discipline that seeks to restore redox equilibrium and oxygen homeostasis with the empirical use of food choices in the kitchen and nutrient supplementation as restorative therapies, and holdsthe patient as the final arbiter of what constitutes safe and effective long-term therapies. This definition underscores the following core tenets: (1) First, the central objective in this medical discipline is not to treat mere diagnostic labels as diseases—juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, for instance, for joint inflammation caused by adverse responses to molds, foods, and other elements—but to effectively address the underlying issues of redox dysequilibrium and dysoxygenosis; (2) Second, it focuses on the empirical use of nutrients as the primary therapies rather than the use of agents of pharmacologic blockade (which become necessary in acute illness); and (3) Third, the efficacy of and safety of nutrient therapies must be determined by the patients based on personal long-term use, rather than by practitioners based on controlled and blinded short-term studies lasting for a few weeks.
The above definition contains a clear statement concerning the central importance of an individual’s sense of how choices in the kitchen and nutritional supplementation affect her body because she alone lives in her skin and can tell how she is affected by what she eats in the long run. Evidently, individuals cannot be blinded to what they eat, as well as to how their choice of foods affects their well being over years and decades. Clearly, the nutritional status of an individual profoundly affects the energetics of his day and the quality of his sleep at night. Indeed, all true progress in nutritional medicine came from astute empirical observations of individuals with a special interest in the affects of foods and nutrients on their bodies, clinicians as well as those not in the healing professions. This is a crucially important issue. In 1958, in medical school, I was taught that good physicians do not let their patients influence their judgement. It took me nearly three decades to see how dangerous that advice was. Integrative nutritional medicine, as defined here, requires its practitioners to be deeply respectful of the patients’ senses of healing phenomena, and to offer all counsel and nutritional therapies that are safe and effective without subservience to one or more schools of medicine.
Nutritional medicine is a philosophy of health that is based on the knowledge of what nourishesthe body in health and on what special needs for nurturing tissues under duress have. The human frame cannot remain healthy without light and love. The requirements of the unwell for that light and love, during the process of healing, are substantially larger than those in good health. Thus, my definition of nutritional medicine extends far beyond the low-carb, low-fat, or any other diet-of-the month fad. Nutritional medicine is not a mere prescription of coenzyme Q 10, magnesium, and arginine for heart disease. Nor is it the use of vitamins by intravenous infusions for anyone to ‘anti-age’ or cure cancer. My definition of nutritional medicine requires that the practitioner must have a gardener’s deep sense of nurturing his plants integrated with a scientist’s devotion to the purity of his observation. That—for me—constitutes the first fundamental issue in nutritional medicine.
The devil is in the detail, some readers might say, while agreeing with my general philosophic case for nutritional medicine. How can we know what is optimal for a healthy subject for years?, the question might be raised. And for decades? How can one determine what those special needs for nutrients of tissues under duress are? Those questions form the heart of the secondfundamental issue in nutritional medicine: the truth is in the words of empiricists in medicine. Nutritional medicine can be advanced only through women and men who advise the healthy and care for the unwell for decades, make astute clinical observations, diligently record their findings, and then truthfully share that information with their colleagues and the public at large.
There is no place in that nutritional medicine for placebo-controlled studies conducted with mice or medical students for weeks and months.That statement might rankle some but I have strong reasons with which to defend my view. Human biology is an astounding web of webs of energetic-molecular events— an ever-changing kaleidoscope brought to life by bursts of energy, and driven by complementarian and contrarian signaling pathways, far too many to be counted, let alone regulated by this mineral or that vitamin therapy. I address this crucial issue further in the first chapter entitled “The Seven Core Principles of Nutritional Medicine.”
The complementarity and contrariety in proteomics, lipidomics, glycomics, genomics, and molecular players of oxygen homeostasis is mind-numbing. I devote Nature’s Preoccupation With Complementarity and Contrariety, the first volume of this series to that subject. Indeed, the subject matters included in that book should be considered integral to those presented in this volume.
Fortunately, one does not hear anymore from the false scientist who chapmioned RDA for decades and robbed hundreds of millions of people of wonderful opportunity to heal their unwell bodies with empirically validated nutritional therapies.
In writing this volume, I had two objectives: (1) to provide a rational and logical basis for prescribing integrated nutritional therapies; and (2) to render an account of integrative management protocols in use at the Institute. I hope this volume will provide valuable guidelines to physicians who wish to incorporate nutritional medicine in their practice.
Majid Ali, M.D.,
New York, June 27, 2004
List of Related Philosophy Essays
Below is a list of my other essays of the subject of the healing philosophy. These essays are based on materials included in the twelve volumes of my textbook, The Principles and Practice of Integrative Medicine: