Seeing Our Way To The Future
21st century holistic solutions



USGS biologist collecting samples
Photo courtesy of USGS/
Biologist collecting samples

Posted 4/24/09 by Yasha Husain

The EPA has issued the first list of pesticides to be tested to see if they are endocrine disruptors. The list of 67 pesticides was decided based on the chemical's exposure. Those selected have a "high potential for human exposure through food and water, residential activities, and agricultural pesticides applications."

Read the EPA's press release from April 15, and view the list of endocrine disruptors to be tested via EPA's Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program page.


For more on drug take-back initiatives, including information about how to
set up a local program,
go to:

Northeast Recycling Council


Building an Oregon Drug Take-Back Program


Article - Health Care

10 Ways to Bring Down Health Care Costs
by Yasha Melanie Husain
Posted August 23, 2009

When the United States Constitution was drafted, it marked the beginning of great things to come.

A bill that provides for universal coverage for all United States citizens would again mark the beginning of a very promising future.

As an extension of the enduring Constitution, the universal health care bill will adhere to the basic tenets set by the preamble:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

The bill would, like the Constitution, be a living document, meaning it can be amended going forward to improve its applicability and ensure it stays current with the times.

To assuage concerns about how to pay for the new bill, it makes good sense to point out there are many ways to bring down health care costs while also improving the quality of health care over the next 10 years. Below, I’ve listed just some of my thoughts on how this could be done. The ideas are based on my personal experiences with the health care system, environment, bureaucracy and culture of the United States, and additional work I’ve done as a journalist.

In the end, my belief is that with universal health care the United States will wind up finding it not only has fully-covered individuals, but a higher quality of life. Who could argue with such an outcome?

Below are 10 ways I envision the United States can bring down health care costs over the next 10 years and for the long-term:

1. Train Family Physicians to More Readily Use ‘Foods that Heal’ and ‘Holistic Medicines’

2. Improve Diagnostics While Reducing Number of X-rays, Blood Tests and Hospital Stays

3. Reprioritize and Expedite Medical Research

4. Store Medical Files Digitally but Leave Files Under Patient’s Control

5. Have Health Insurance Pay A Portion of ‘Foods that Heal’ Like It Does ‘Drugs that Heal’

6. Government Require Companies Stop Polluting

7. New Standards in Agriculture, Food Production and Distribution

8. Conserve Energy and Space and Convert to Renewable Products

9. Spread the Wealth of Top Quality Care and Teleconferencing

10. Treat Mind, Body & Spirit as One

1. Train Family Physicians to More Readily Use ‘Foods that Heal’ and ‘Holistic Medicines’

Train family physicians, in particular, and all physicians, in general, to prescribe diet and foods that heal, as well as holistic treatments such as touch manipulation, herbs, massage, breathing exercises and yoga, when providing preventative care and treatment for minor and major health concerns.

Physicians could in the near future 1) become trained to administer holistic or all natural remedies alongside allopathic treatments or 2) refer patients to highly-trained, holistic physicians just as they already refer patients with ankle injuries to physical therapists.

Those patients having difficulty leading a balanced, healthy lifestyle would be good candidates for holistic care. So would individuals trying to overcome or cope with a serious injury or illness.

While the government may need to provide assistance to jumpstart the implementation of new and expanded training opportunities initially, in a short amount of time the schooling would pay for itself and there would also be a new generation of doctors, nurses and therapists fluent in holistic health care, which has been shown again and again, over 1000s of years, to be both preventative and curative in nature. The new generation would follow in the footsteps of pioneers like Dr. Scott Gerson, Dr. Vasant Lad, Dr. Deepak Chopra, Yogi Hari, Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Joseph Mercola and the now deceased, Dr. Bernard Jensen, while also building on integrative models already in place.  

As patients begin to practice healthy diets and lifestyles, yoga and meditation, drug costs and the number of doctor’s visits and hospital stays are more than likely to go down as people’s overall health improves and they become self-reliant. At the same time as cost savings are realized as a direct result of better self-care resulting from an integrative frame of mind and system, insurance-related policy changes requiring doctors no longer get paid per procedure will also have brought down the cost of insuring Americans. A portion of the combined savings can be used to offset the costs of training practitioners, both licensed and new to the field of medicine, to practice holistically, and with a deeper understanding about alternative or complementary options.

As the gradual transformation toward integrative medicine moves along, the future of health care will begin to rely more heavily on non-invasive treatments for minor and major injuries, ailments and diseases, which are effective and cause no side effects, such as osteopathic touch manipulation, naturopathy, Ayurveda’s panchakarma, meditation, yoga, acupuncture and massage. The beneficiaries of such a transformation will not only be the patients, but food and herb producers and distributors, physicians and therapists. They will all be paid for their services, which also happen to be environmentally friendly.

Finally, the overall burden on the health care industry, as it exists today, will be decreased as a result of a hands-on, integrative approach that in the end should free up time and money to be spent on patients with injuries, traumas and conditions they feel require immediate and expensive allopathic treatment.

2. Improve Diagnostics While Reducing Number of X-rays, Blood Tests and Hospital Stays

Overexposure to radiation; too much blood-letting; side effects from pharmaceutical agents; danger of getting a staph infection at hospitals; and burden of stress from high costs of testing and treatment, not-to-mention unpleasant hours driving to appointments and sitting idle in waiting rooms, are but examples of troubles associated with missed diagnosis, misdiagnosis and ill- or overtreatment. The answer, reduce the number of x-rays, blood tests, emergency room visits and hospital stays that are not necessary.

First and foremost, improved administration, including the proposed universal coverage; the digital sharing of medical records between patient’s physicians; and again, the changing of fee structures for doctors, this time to reduce the impact of the threat of malpractice lawsuits, will go a long way in creating efficiency system-wide and reducing unnecessary tests and visits in doctor’s offices and emergency rooms, not to mention hospital stays.

But cost savings and efficiency can be achieved through other means as well, including diagnostics, and the use of both age-old methods and cutting edge techniques.

In terms of inexpensive, noninvasive, and all natural means of diagnosing illness, Ayurvedic doctors have for at least several millennia relied on pulse diagnosis. Osteopaths since the beginning of the last century have uncovered and healed internal ailments using touch manipulation.

Patient’s symptoms can also be more heavily relied on to help holistic and allopathic physicians work through a problem in order to diagnose; unfortunately, symptoms haven’t on a consistent basis been used as a determining factor in allopathic, Western medicine since x-rays, blood and urine tests have become the holy grail of diagnostics. Symptoms, including the earliest signs of illness, could be more readily observed and taken into account by integrative medicine.

There are also important new means of noninvasive testing that don’t carry with them a risk of side effects, and are highly accurate, though at current costs they can be cost-prohibitive compared with the status quo. They include saliva testing for understanding the levels of and relationships between vitamins, minerals and hormones in the body; blood and urine tests to help determine bone breakdown; and a breast cancer test that doesn’t involve heavy doses of radiation.

Reprioritized spending on diagnostics can lead to savings down the road by preventing more illnesses from developing and reaching the later stages.

3. Reprioritize and Expedite Medical Research

Scientists conducting cancer and stem cell research, to name but two areas of study in medicine, could be given more latitude and research dollars aimed directly at progressive research for finding cures and breakthroughs.

The New York Times article, Grant System Leads Cancer Researchers to Play It Safe, by Gina Kolata, published on June 28, describes how cancer research is not as targeted at finding breakthrough cures as it could be; it’s not progressive enough. PBS’s Science Now recently ran a segment with a stem cell scientist who described how he and his colleagues feel they are working with one hand tied behind their backs. A shifting of priorities in health care-related research, at least in distinct areas, is required.

Effective treatments and cures to today’s most prevalent health problems, like cancer and diabetes, when they are discovered, can begin to drastically reduce spending on ongoing treatment of those diseases.

But do not confuse progressive research and clinical trials with irresponsible science. Research money should be spent on targeted solutions, and not be overshadowed by a lust for profits or recognition that detracts from finding whole solutions efficiently.

Finally, integrative medicine can help the cause too. Holistic medicine may hold as many clues regarding how to solve the riddles of disease as allopathic, or Western, medicine, does, and should become not only a larger part of the overall health care system, but of the research effort as well.

4. Store Medical Files Digitally but Leave Files Under Patient’s Control

Medical files could move more easily between doctors using digital storing and sharing, however, patients should continue to be given control over their files so the privacy due all patients remains in tact. If a patient can not be responsible for his or her files, arrange for a family member, loved one, friend or caregiver to have control of them.

Consider, for example, building a central database where files for all patients are stored, but each patient or patient advocate maintains sole control regarding who accesses the information the file contains. A patient, in addition to sharing his or her file, or portion thereof, with all of his or her current physicians, could agree to let personal physicians put data from his or her medical record toward scientific research efforts, but the data would need to be inputted into a pool of information by the doctor or doctor’s assistant absent personal information about the patient. More complete renderings of a patient profile for medical research would need to be agreed to separately by the patient.

In the end, practical and digital records-sharing will promote greater information-sharing between doctors and physicians, reduce the number of times tests are repeated by individual physicians, clinics and hospitals, and cut-down on administrative costs, all vital to the patient’s and plan’s interests.

5. Have Health Insurance Pay A Portion of ‘Foods that Heal’ Like It Does ‘Drugs that Heal’

One aspect of the new universal health care could be a form of insurance that helps patients afford the best quality and kinds of foods for their body type and condition if they can’t afford the same foods based on their income and spending levels. This aspect of coverage would be paid toward foods that heal just as private and public insurances already pay for part of the costs of prescription drugs. The beneficiaries would be, in addition to patients whose immune systems will be better off, food producers and distributors.

The environment would likely benefit too, and costs may come down as a result of fewer residues from pharmaceuticals in the waterways. The United States Geological Service recently conducted a very large study that detected abnormally high amounts of synthetic drugs in American waterways. The study suggests, if ignored, the emerging problem could pose still more of a threat to people's and species’ health and the environment.

To a degree yet unknown, the cost of ensuring patients receive foods that promote overall improved health could reduce the cost of producing, delivering and cleaning up after synthetic drugs. What holistic medicine tells us is that those who afford whole and high quality foods, and live a healthy lifestyle, are better able to maintain health.

Ultimately, foods promote healing as well as are useful in preventative medicine, and ought to be considered an aspect of thorough health care coverage.

6. Government Require Companies Stop Polluting

The government could do more to stop companies from polluting the environment by demanding more immediate change in the way business is done with regard to which chemicals and hazardous substances can be used and in what amounts, and who conducts oversight of a company site as it ages. Policies could help encourage faster transformation to renewable and nontoxic products, including the actual adoption of those products and substances already discovered to be effective and safe.

Just as climate change has served as an impetus for technological advances in renewable energy production and a call for a reduction in carbon; the health care crisis can and should be viewed as a call for advancements in medical treatment and bans on still more dangerous chemicals and compounds that enter the environment. New environmental standards should be based on the newest science that can detect chemical compounds at parts per billion, and on commonsense. Because in some cases it just makes sense to use a product known to be nontoxic versus one that is toxic, or at best, its toxicity is questioned. Greener industry standards can have very positive effects on health care, helping more people avoid illness.

7. New Standards in Agriculture, Food Production and Distribution

New standards in food production and distribution that would help slow and reverse the rates, in the young and aging, of obesity, diabetes 2, cardiovascular disease, cancer and mental health problems, would be a great boon to health care. Calling for the end of cheap and unhealthy packaged foods from grocery store shelves and their replacement with affordable all natural, low in sodium and sugar, whole foods, will help slow and reverse numerous forms of disease progression. Improving the quality of meat, seafood and dairy so it’s lower in saturated fats; whole, and not processed with unwarranted sugars and additives; and hormone and antibiotic free, will also help improve people’s health. At the same time, the revolution in foods will promote humane farming practices, a decline in pollution and runoff from pesticides on farms and feed in fish farms, and greater diversity in American crops.

A health care bill can reduce health care costs if it is tied to setting still higher standards for agriculture and food distribution, and if it is complemented by continually aggressive education regarding holistic diets.

8. Conserve Energy and Space and Convert to Renewable Products

Across the health care industry, conserve materials, energy and space without sacrificing quality of care, and use renewable materials that can be responsibly recycled, as often as possible. Conserving as well as tightening up the number of procedures, such as cat scans performed in emergency rooms each year, can diminish the amount of non-hazardous and hazardous waste born out of modern-day health care.

9. Spread the Wealth of Top Quality Care and Teleconferencing

Ensure top quality clinics and physicians are located in rural, urban and suburban neighborhoods. Top quality care provided each citizen will only serve to encourage positive attitudes about health care and self-care.

While it’s good to have a trusted doctor or physician nearby, teleconferencing can also complement the best care available today. For instance, teleconferencing can be used when specialists are located hours or even countries away, as well as for simple follow-ups that don’t require an in-person visit with physicians. The result of teleconferencing will be lower costs associated with travel combined with improved care.

10. Treat Mind, Body & Spirit as One

The physical, mental and spiritual are interconnected and when treated that way can help bring about unsuspected solutions and recoveries. At offices, clinics and hospitals across the country, combine medicinal schools of thought so to treat the mind, body and spirit together. On other words, have psychology, holistic and allopathic medicine work in concert with one another so that a cancer patient, as part of his or her treatment, receives psychological help that aids in healing, and a mental health patient, again, as part of his or her treatment, receives dietary and somatic assistance that aids total recovery.

Aim toward training physicians to always think holistically, in terms of mind, body and spirit, so that ten years down the road each physician, dentist and nurse has an understanding of medicine from the holistic and allopathic viewpoints and can continually provide a comprehensive package of care that is best-suited for the patient in his or her environment. If done well, integrative or holistic medicine can become a major contributor to bringing down health care costs in the short- and long-term as natural remedies continually help bring about a healthier lifestyle and people.

Article Posted on August 23, 2009





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