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Empowering Change in Medicine – How Health is in Our Hands (and Under Our Nose)

With the start of May upon us, visions of summer beaches dance in our heads. For my geeky cranium, the beginning of a new month also signals a time to reflect and revisit some lessons learned and game-changing headlines in health.


A Quick Tour Down April Lane- How Health is in Our Hands

In April, I was very focused on advocating the shift from sick-care to health-care. This was fueled by the recent release of my new book and expanded on in my conversation with renowned physician, Dr. Keesha Ewers on her Healthy You Radio show. My favorite part of the interview, which you can listen to here, was how empowered patients are paving the way to transforming the doctor-patient relationship.

In fact, I experience this conversion every day in my interactions with my amazing and intelligent clients. They are constantly teaching me and pushing me to dig deeper into the science of biochemistry and genetics and to connect this knowledge with the art and soul of medicine. This process is in perfect alignment of the true meaning of “doctor,” which originates from the Latin word “docere,” translated as “to teach.” Their questions and insights allow me to learn more and then translate this knowledge to all of you and them.

This kind of holistic and partnership in healthcare points to the emergence of a new type of medicine, in which BreakFree Medicine is a part of. It is fueled from the genius insight of the pioneers in naturopathic and functional medicine and based on the belief that our health is in our hands. We hold the power to make lifestyle changes that modulate our genetic expression and release us from the victim mentality that our genes are destiny. This is the science of epigenetics and if you haven’t heard about it yet, take another walk down the Human Genome path here!









Extra! Extra! Read All About It!  Medical Errors are the Third Cause of Death in the United States!!

As I was writing the above, I glanced at my inbox and saw my “Medscape Topic News Alert”- Medical Error is Third Leading Cause of Death in US.

I know, I shouldn’t multitask! Still, this time, it was purely providential! This email contained the most updated and appropriate reference for why we need to take back our power and convert our current insane medical model into an integrated one!  Consider the facts here, not the least of all is how America ranks last in healthcare among 11 industrialized nations!

We need to expand our system to fit people’s individualized needs, not attempt to shrink unique variations into an inflexible and outdated approach with losing results. Our model is primarily based on labeling diseases, diagnoses, and treating the symptoms- but you are more than a label and numbers on labs! (Especially when the accuracy itself is questionable!)

This latest study laid out just were we are headed if we keep moving in the same direction. Medscape reports (bold emphasis mine):

Medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States, after heart disease and cancer, according to findings published today in BMJ.

As such, medical errors should be a top priority for research and resources, say authors Martin Makary, MD, MPH, professor of surgery, and research fellow Michael Daniel, from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.

But accurate, transparent information about errors is not captured on death certificates, which are the documents the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses for ranking causes of death and setting health priorities. Death certificates depend on International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes for cause of death, so causes such as human and system errors are not recorded on them.

And it’s not just the US. According to the World Health Organization, 117 countries code their mortality statistics using the ICD system as the primary health status indicator.

The authors call for better reporting to help capture the scale of the problem and create strategies for reducing it.

The original article is a true gem. It synthesizes studies I read and reported in my book on medical error rates. The authors state that these appallingly high numbers may have been under-reported!

Here is a great summary of the enormity of the problem- about 4x bigger than thought! (bold emphasis mine)

How big is the problem?

The most commonly cited estimate of annual deaths from medical error in the US—a 1999 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report7—is limited and outdated. The report describes an incidence of 44?000-98?000 deaths annually.7 This conclusion was not based on primary research conducted by the institute but on the 1984 Harvard Medical Practice Study and the 1992 Utah and Colorado Study.8 9 But as early as 1993, Leape, a chief investigator in the 1984 Harvard study, published an article arguing that the study’s estimate was too low, contending that 78% rather than 51% of the 180?000 iatrogenic deaths were preventable (some argue that all iatrogenic deaths are preventable).10 This higher incidence (about 140?400 deaths due to error) has been supported by subsequent studies which suggest that the 1999 IOM report underestimates the magnitude of the problem. A 2004 report of inpatient deaths associated with the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research Patient Safety Indicators in the Medicare population estimated that 575?000 deaths were caused by medical error between 2000 and 2002, which is about 195?000 deaths a year (table 1?).11 Similarly, the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General examining the health records of hospital inpatients in 2008, reported 180?000 deaths due to medical error a year among Medicare beneficiaries alone.12 Using similar methods, Classen et al described a rate of 1.13%.13 If this rate is applied to all registered US hospital admissions in 201315 it translates to over 400?000 deaths a year, more than four times the IOM estimate. (BMJ. 2016;353:i2139)

Here’s a visual from the article for those who like infographics below:


Causes of death by medicine 2013









The author’s summary points are as follows:

  • Death certificates in the US, used to compile national statistics, have no facility for acknowledging medical error
  • If medical error was a disease, it would rank as the third leading cause of death in the US
  • The system for measuring national vital statistics should be revised to facilitate better understanding of deaths due to medical care


The Movement of Change from the Dreary Stats to Empowering Facts

The reason I wrote BreakFree Medicine, and the reason why I report on the facts above, aren’t to focus on the problem. Rather, they are to set the stage of where we are headed if we continue blindly down the path that seems most comfortable, but is truly dysfunctional. It’s to point out the need for a better way, and we have that way now…if we apply integrative medicine!

My mom always said that people choose the pain they know over the unknown. Humans tend to like predictability; they may even freeze to change. As one 2007 article entitled, “Managing Change in Healthcare” writes:

One of the key concerns in Health care management is management of change and health care professionals are obligated both to acquire and to maintain the expertise needed to undertake their professional tasks, and all are obligated to undertake only those tasks that are within their competence.1 Moreover, change occurs continuously around us. We may want to support it, be indifferent to it, and be passive or participate in it. The pace of change has increased dramatically.2

Managing change is about handling the complexity of the process. It is about evaluating, planning and implementing operations, tactics and strategies and making sure that the change is worthwhile and relevant.3 Managing change is a complex, dynamic and challenging process.4 It is never a choice between technological or people-oriented solutions but a combination of all.5

Effective change has been characterized as unfreezing old behaviours, introducing new ones, and re-freezing them.6-8 Change may be continuous, sporadic, occasional, or rare. Predictable change allows time for preparation, whereas unpredictable change is more difficult to respond to effectively. Since changes in healthcare occur so rapidly, they are less likely to be predictable.9

The only sustainable competitive advantage today is the ability to change, adapt, and evolve – and to do it better than the competition.10

This article in the British Journal of General Practice further emphasizes the power of the patient in choosing change for themselves. Internal motivation can result in a lasting impact on health behaviors and result in improving our overall healthcare. That’s right, we can really move the needle if we do more than hope and pop pills (natural supplements and medications included here!)

If we take it one step at a time, it’s doable. It’s easier to do simple replacements rather than large overhauls. (Yes, I took the liberty of bolding text here as well):

Keeping going during the learning phase is crucial. The idea of repeating a single specific action (for example, eating a banana) in a consistent context (with cereal at breakfast) is very different from typical advice given to people trying to take up new healthy behaviours, which often emphasises variation in behaviours and settings to maintain interest (trying different fruits with or between different meals). Variation may stave off boredom, but is effortful and depends on maintaining motivation, and is incompatible with development of automaticity.6

Patients should choose the target behaviour themselves. Progress towards a self-determined behavioural goal supports patients’ sense of autonomy and sustains interest,17 and there is evidence that a behaviour change selected on the basis of its personal value, rather than to satisfy external demands such as physicians’ recommendations, is an easier habit target.18 Patients need to select a new behaviour (for example, eat an apple) rather than give up an existing behaviour (do not eat fried snacks) because it is not possible to form a habit for not doing something. The automaticity of habit means that breaking existing habits requires different and altogether more effortful strategies than making new habits.

Using the Tools Right Under Your Nose

Many of you may have noticed I’ve been really diving into research about essential oils. This is because I truly feel they are a missing and underutilized tool that could really impact our nation’s wellness. However, due to the confusion and controversy of application, quality, and inaccuracies in conclusions and methodology of research, it sometimes gets a bad rap.   Thankfully, this is getting “cleaned up” with better research, a whole database full in fact!

This month, I went into more detail on  why essential oils were so versatile for so many things and provided information on essential oils to support mood and emotions. I also wrote an article that is a good example on how essential oils can be implemented in this model as a natural method to support the body systems. Specifically, the subject was on dealing with allergies and respiratory issues. You can read that here if you missed it.


Happy Mother’s Day

I can’t end this overview of last month without mentioning my gratitude to all the mom’s and motherly figures out there. It’s mother’s day this weekend. So, I did post an expanded version of the e-blast I sent to my essential subscribers this month. This blog is on the power of mom’s love along with some essential oils tips to go with it. By the way, my oil subscribers do get extra e-blasts and oil tips that I write every week, they aren’t posted on this site. Are you taking advantage of this?

Read the Mom-Body Connection here.



Information to Empower

Finally, before you scroll to my almost OCD-like list of the articles that I thought you may like, so you could be informed…here’s some upcoming events that I think you’ll be interested in:



The event will be held at SUNY Adirondack in the Theater from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. To learn more and get information on how to register, click here.

Did you see these Lyme Updates this month?

2. I’ll be doing a book signing at the Book House at Stuyvesant Plaza on May 26th at 7pm. Learn more here and join me.

3. The Natural Cancer Prevention Summit starts on May 16th! Guess who’s on the same day as Bruce Lipton!? Talk about humbled! Register here and take advantage of early bird pricing to pick up some great deals on how to own it here!










Now, here’s some geek out facts, if you wish to skim on!


April 2016 Top Holistic and Integrative Health Reads











Updates of Interest:


New Tech & Techniques


Toxins and Health


Microbiome and Creepy Critter News


Exercise and Fitness


Holistic and Mind-Body News











Resources for Nutrition










Be AWARE: Updates and Cautions


Pregnancy and Hormonal Health