What Bugs You?

It seems that you can’t turn a page, a dial or click on an arrow and not hear or see something related to gut health.  Studies on the microbiome are everywhere. What is one to make of it all?

Last week alone there were studies released from Oregon State University (Nature Microbiology), Germany (Frontiers in Psychiatry), Harvard and MIT (American Chemical Society meeting).  Everyone seems to have hopped on the bacteria bandwagon.  

I think this is a great trend.  It tells me that there are many people looking into WHY and not just HOW.

WHY is a much better question to ask than HOW when it comes to health. For decades our healthcare system has been focusing on the HOW as Americans have been getting sicker, fatter and more drugged up. Chronic diseases such as Diabetes, Asthma and Alzheimer’s are becoming epidemic even as we seem to be living longer.  25% of American women in their 40’s and 50’s are taking antidepressants.   

We’ve been focusing on HOW to fight symptoms rather than WHY they occur in the first place. So, we have been great at devising treatment techniques and drugs to deal with symptoms, but not so good at uncovering causes. The causes are still present and probably becoming more common.

Finally, people are waking up and asking WHY. The microscopic world, and how they and our environment interacts with our individual genetics, is a pathway towards truly understanding the causes of illness and, hopefully, will lead to our being able to prevent illnesses rather than just treat the symptoms or the diseases.

But, there are a lot of people vested in the HOW. Big Pharma, most healthcare delivery systems and even big Agra (the food business).

I see the resistance in Dentistry, too. You see plenty of commercials for implants, cosmetics and smile enhancers, but very few, if any, for diagnostic and preventative systems. Follow the money!

This month our team will be attending a conference sponsored by The American Academy for Oral Systemic Health.  I joined this organization as a founding member because it focuses on the WHY and not the HOW. It reflects my professional philosophy that I call “Biorationale.” Things have to make sense to me and not just cents!  It’s about causes and not just treating symptoms.

The Seven Deadly Sins are biblically based on Christian doctrine promoted by the 4th century monk Evagrius Ponticus (he actually listed 8). Among them is Greed (Avarice). It is money and the pursuit thereof that fuels the current HOW philosophy of healthcare.

Yet, among the 7 deadly sins, you will not find IMPATIENCE though Patience is one of the seven virtues. And, I believe that a lack of patience also fuels the HOW.

Business and individuals want results quickly. So, they shortcut the process, skip the WHY, and just offer bandaids to cure the symptoms.  In corporate America, the stock prices have to keep going up. A pill or procedure for every problem provides a quick-fix, but at what expense?

What we’re seeing is that it’s at the expenses of long-term, sustainable health.

The same is true for oral health. It’s why we’re one of the foremost practices in the world utilizing a combination of technology and bacteria profiling to assess risks. We’re not doing as many “procedures” as most practices and we’re not exposing our patients to as much radiation. We’re also not plugging anyone into some “case type” or “formula.” That’s become too common in medicine today.  It’s pigeonholing people into categories rather than caring for them as individuals. That’s something I personally abhor.  

Patience indeed is a virtue and greed is a deadly sin especially as it relates to healthcare.

To everyone’s excellent health and wellness,