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Natural Nutraceuticals Rather Than Pharmaceuticals

by Dr Janice Wilson(more info)

listed in nutraceuticals, originally published in issue 166 - January 2010

Abstract

Janice Wilson started her working life in the folds of pharmaceutical giants like GSK and Pharmacia, but after a bout of depression she took a fresh look at things. What she saw within the industry she worked in she didn't like and it led to her setting up her own natural health and healing company – Simply Vital Ltd. Here she explains what she feels is wrong with today's pharmaceutical industry and why we should all open our minds when it comes to medicine.

Relaxtion in a pool

Janice Wilson

Interested in health from as far back as she can remember, Janice studied pharmacy and medicine at university. After several years working for world-class pharmaceutical giants like Glaxo and Pharmacia, she then created a notable list of private consultancy clients helping them attain the quality standards required during the development and manufacture of their medicines. However, when she became over-stressed and then depressed, instead of accepting the drug prescribed by  her doctor, she opted for counselling, not realising how profoundly the process of personal development would impact her world, change her views on healthcare and be the impetus for establishing her own holistic health company – Simply Vital Ltd.

A Slick but Misguided Industry

The pharmaceutical industry continues to attract some of our brightest graduates lured by the lucrative packages and future potential the industry offers. When I joined its ranks in my early twenties I believed I was doing a valuable job for a worthwhile industry. In those days, as many of my colleagues will agree, the industry was very different from the one that exists today.

The earlier success of the 'magic bullet' approach to drug discovery allowed companies in the eighties to considerably expand their research efforts and as new physiological receptors were identified, they raced to find molecules that would fit or block these receptor sites. Companies raced each other to be first to market; in their own pipeline they would be developing follow-on molecules to replace those whose patent life would soon be expiring. Bringing these synthetic molecules to market as efficiently as possible then became the goal as the clock ticked on their patents. Then, like any other industry, manufacturing costs had to be driven down. The result of all these efforts and the increasingly stringent regulatory requirements the industry was obliged to meet in order to gain their product licences, created a highly aggressive machine employing hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, but by now the focus had shifted quite obviously from patient to profit in line with worldwide booming stock markets.

As I witnessed these changes, I became increasingly uneasy and sceptical of the industry's motives, but as a busy executive didn't have much time to really think deeply about it all. That was until depression struck! Apart from the odd flu attack and a touch of IBS every now and then, I'd had a good health record with little need for medications of any sort. I'm not quite sure what made me hesitate to take the little Prozac pill my GP had prescribed, but thank goodness I did. I felt like I was dying but somehow, I knew it was the wrong thing to do. Instead I opted for counselling to talk through what was happening and find some answers.
 
Over time and much soul searching, I discovered that I had been spending so much energy trying to achieve at work that I had been completely denying my own feelings, my own self, and I was totally unaware I was doing so. Slowly, as my consciousness expanded and my self- awareness grew, I started to feel better, as if I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and it was a truly joyful experience to be finding 'me'. Utterly amazed at the effects this process was having, not just emotionally and mentally but physically too, I began exploring the role of our emotions to create either health or illness.

The more I learnt about the complexity of the nervous system and how sensitive it is to our thoughts and feelings it became clear just how barbaric modern day treatment of so called 'mental illness' actually is.

Anxiety and Depression

Contrary to the conventional medical view that is popularized by the industry, anxiety and depression are not caused by the presence or absence of particular neurotransmitters. A more accurate explanation is that these biochemicals are depleted as a side effect of an overactive stress response established in childhood. Experiences of feeling rejected or abandoned by other people are the most common triggers for depression, but don't expect your average GP or Psychiatrist to grasp this concept. I was astounded to discover the level of ignorance within the medical fraternity who wield the power to issue mind altering drugs and even more astounded to learn of the extent of irresponsible and widespread overprescribing of anti-depressant drugs ("80% of GPs admit to over prescribing anti-depressants." – Pharmaceutical Journal April 2004).

Chart of anxiety and depression
 
As M. Scott Peck wrote in his book The Road Less Travelled, "depression is healthy", and it is! Although it may not feel like it at the time, it is a sign telling us that things cannot continue the way they are and a period of personal growth is due. The process of finding uncomfortable feelings and bringing them to the surface i.e. into conscious awareness is accompanied by new connections being made with the nervous system. The person will feel more alive than ever before and be more able to be his or her true self and empathise with their fellow man. This is in stark contrast to the numbing effect of the SSRI drugs which by artificially raising serotonin levels simply block all feelings, good and bad, from being felt, thereby denying access to the true self – the real person.

Changing the System

The current approach to healthcare is clearly stuck in the dark ages: medics are not trained to create health, but to diagnose and treat symptoms; Pharmacists are paid according to the number of items they dispense and the profit they make from over the counter sales. Pharmacists are the only health professionals whose time and advice is not valued or remunerated. Try turning up at a dental surgery and asking for an opinion for free! It's not possible, and the same is true of all other health professionals whose education and experience is properly valued. This approach engenders the wrong attitude amongst Pharmacists who, as the 'custodian of drugs', should be given every support to carry out that important role professionally.

This approach, and the entire system that supports it, encourage a quick fix mentality and guarantee a steadily increasing percentage of the population are medicated...exactly what the pharmaceutical industry requires for its survival!

Creating Health

To be healthy means to be 'whole' (the words have the same Latin root), that is, to have body, mind and emotions fully functioning and fully integrated with one another. In this state our physiology can function as it should, we can access our true 'self' and then fulfil our potential as human beings. This was the conclusion I came to and laid as the foundation for my company Simply Vital. Never having studied a jot of philosophy in my life, I found that my own conclusions aligned with the traditional wisdom that has been passed on through the ages.

It is easy to understand the harm we may do by distancing ourselves from the natural energies we have evolved with and on which our physiology depends: nourishing food, sunlight, clean air and water, but more difficult perhaps to grasp the concept of our inner 'self or to know how to reconnect successfully with this healing force. Manifesting through the Autonomic Nervous System to create order in our body, our innate healing force is what many complementary practices seek to encourage. Acupuncture, Meditation and Aromatherapy etc all help foster balance between the nervous systems sympathetic and parasympathetic branches and it turns out, that this balance is key to unlocking the door to our innate healing force – our vital energy.

Profoundly affecting this balance are our emotions.  The ancient philosophers who proclaimed "know thyself" realized the potential of this energy for creating health and treating illness; their wisdom is reflected in the traditional systems of medicine that evolved. Modern day research now confirms their approach and concludes:
  • Emotional awareness promotes health and slows ageing;
  • Suppression of emotions leads to mental and physical illness

The Vibrational Energy of our Emotions

When we feel a certain feeling, a specific profile of peptides (small messenger molecules used by the body to communicate) are released in our body.  These peptides and their receptors exist throughout the whole body, but are highly concentrated in the gastro-intestinal tract, circulatory, immune, hormonal and nervous systems. In fact, so widespread are the receptors for these 'molecules of emotion' that it can be said that, the mind really is – in the body. When we experience positive emotions, like joy, gratitude and especially love, we literally 'vibrate' with the frequency of the feel-good molecules flowing throughout our entire body.[1]  In contrast, negative emotions, such as anger, anxiety, sadness and even ordinary small worries release a different profile of peptides, sowing chaos in our physiology.[2] However, it is not the release/expression of these so called 'negative' emotions that causes us problems; it is the long term suppression of them that causes illness.

Life and the human condition constantly present us with opportunities to experience our feelings allowing us to grow and mature emotionally. If we are afraid to feel our feelings we will stay 'stuck' and eventually an illness will arrive. Anxiety and depression are simply created by fear – the fear of feeling certain feelings. This means that nurturing our inner self is fundamental for creating health. Paying attention to our feelings, thoughts and attitudes may seem like self indulgence, but it is a vitally important process if we are to clear the negative energies that may be holding us back from fully living.

The Role of Good Nutrition is Completely Underestimated by the Medical Profession

Although the pharmaceutical industry is quick to claim credit for the waning of infectious diseases in the first half of the 20th century, it was not the result of new drug discovery; it was the result of better nutrition, and more specifically, the availability of good quality protein on which the immune system depends. For example, almost 70% of the decline in pneumonia mortality occurred before the invention of sulphur drugs in 1935. Also, more than 80% of the decline in tuberculosis mortality occurred before any good drug therapy was developed n the 1950s. Polio is the only disease that shows a correlation between a drug or vaccine introduced to treat infections and the slowing of its infection rate.[3]

Since over 70% of people entering hospitals are clinically malnourished, it would make sense to ensure that clinical practice improves these stark statistics.  Poor diet is to blame for many Western diseases, yet this is entirely dismissed by the medical community, who in effect collude with the pharmaceutical industry. To suggest, as most GPs do, that the average UK diet supplies adequate nutrients for good health is quite frankly a joke, especially with recent (2006) government reports confirming otherwise. 

Many Drugs are Ineffective or Actually do more Harm than Good

"90% of drugs do not work in over 40% of people" – the CEO of GSK proclaimed recently. Furthermore adverse drug reactions (ADRs), are the 4th leading cause of death in the West. As synthetic foreign molecules, all drugs carry risks yet the significance of this risk: benefit ratio seems to be increasingly ignored by the majority of doctors and the industry that educates them.

The Power of Natural Medicine

In my daily work helping patients who often suffer debilitating chronic illnesses, I see people prescribed drugs which are actually speeding their demise. It is difficult to believe that in 2009 this can be true – that such irresponsibility can exist, but the belief that pharmaceuticals are the only real option seems endemic in medicine from consultant to GP.

In contrast, I am in awe of the power of natural foods and extracts to heal both body and mind. From debilitating inflammatory diseases of the colon cured with enzymes and probiotics, to Restless Legs Syndrome successfully relieved with our tailored nutraceutical recipe to nourish the nervous system and better control of Parkinson symptoms with flower essences. Of course our genes matter. But what medicine currently fails to acknowledge is that the expression of genes is controlled by the cellular environment, which is influenced by our lifestyle; our food, level of activity, pollutants and stress levels and our thoughts and emotions.

The founding father of medicine, Hippocrates, didn't know about genes, but he did say:

"First do no harm" and "Let thy medicine be thy food and thy food be thy medicine".

References

1.    McCraty,RM, Atkinson et al. The effects of Emotions on Short term Power Spectrum Analysis and Heart Rate variability, The American J of Cardiology 76(14): 1089-1093. 1995.
2.    Krittayaphong RW. Cascio et al. Psychosomatic medicine 59(3): 231-235. 1997.
3.    McNeill WH. Plagues and Peoples. Doubleday, New York, NY 1977.

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About Dr Janice Wilson

Dr Janice Wilson is the MD of the holistic health company Simply Vital Ltd (www.simplyvital.com). After studying Pharmacy and Medicine at University, and working for several years in the pharmaceutical industry, her observations and personal experience led her to conclude that a great many illnesses arise from poor nourishment, negative thoughts and attitudes or repressed feelings. Aware that the practice of medicine today largely ignores these causative factors and therefore misses the opportunity to offer true healing, she established Simply Vital Ltd. The company supports and empowers individuals seeking improved health and fellow professionals wishing to adopt a more integrated approach to the practice of medicine.
The evidence base confirming the success of the holistic approach grows daily.  Whilst acknowledging the advances that some modern medicine can offer, Janice campaigns for a more judicious approach to drug prescribing generally. Dr Janice Wilson can be contacted on Tel: 0870 609 1180. For more information about Simply Vital and their products visit www.simplyvital.com

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