Cavitations & Their Impact on Overall Health

By Gary M. Verigin, DDS, CTN

One of the main goals of true biological dental medicine is to reestablish the patient’s overall health by eliminating long-term obstacles. These include

  • Dental implants of any kind, metal or ceramic.
  • Root canal filled teeth.
  • Untreated devitalized (dead) teeth.
  • Restored teeth displaying chronic inflammation.
  • Restored teeth with heavy metals producing elevated galvanic currents.
  • Surgical scars in the soft tissues.
  • Cavitations.

The more obstacles that are harbored in the jawbones, the more bioenergetic impulses are disturbed. This just puts more stress on the extracellular matrix – the biological terrain, which guides all health and illness – and triggers health issues long before any chronic disease can be formally diagnosed.

jawbone osteonecrosisThis is especially evident when Chronic Ischemic Bone Disease (CIBD) is involved. Its effects are pernicious and insidious. And it comes in many forms, as outlined here by the world leader in researching diseases of the jawbone, Dr. Jerry Bouquot. (How important is Bouquot to dentistry? His textbook is used in more than 80% of US dental schools today.)

Yet CIBD isn’t really a disease in and of itself. It’s the result of many local, systemic, and energetic events or disorders that ultimately lead to decreased blood supply (ischemia) to and dying, decaying bone marrow (infarct) in the jaws.

It’s also not easy to diagnose. Consequently, it remains very undiagnosed by dentists. Many don’t even know much about it, even oral surgeons. And thanks to the Internet, there’s a lot of misinformation circulating about this oral barrier to systemic health.

This article is one attempt to correct the record.

The Scientific Proof of Jawbone Osteonecrosis (CIBD)

title page of Bond's Treatise on Dental SurgeryJawbone osteonecrosis was first discussed by Dr. Thomas Bond in his 1848 textbook A Practical Treatise on Dental Medicine – the very first English textbook on maxillofacial pathology. (“Maxillofacial” means pertaining to the jaws and face; “pathology” refers to the scientific study of disease.) In it, he observed that the disease didn’t seem to require abscessed teeth or gums to cause complete death of the marrow. The necrosis, he noted, “may be caused by any means which destroys the nutrition of the bone or any part of it” – usually from “constitutional vitiations, or defects of nutrition consequent upon general pravity.”

His recommended treatment? Remove the bone.

Other dental researchers remarked on the phenomena of jawbone death, as well, but it wasn’t until G.V. Black came along that anyone seems to have considered the subject at length. Known as the father of modern dentistry, Black included a whole section on the subject in his 1915 Work on Special Dental Pathology. He described the slow bone death as occurring “cell by cell,” resulting in the formation of holes in the jawbone – “cavities” of up to 5 centimeters in size. (This is the likely source of the popular term “cavitations” to describe CIBD.) He wondered about its unique ability to destroy so much bone without pus, redness, or swelling of the overlying tissues; without raising body temperature; often without even causing pain.

His treatment suggestion was similar to Bond’s: Curette the diseased bone.

Following Black, important work was done in the field by R. Paul Ficat and Jacques Arlet of the University of Paul Saboteur in Toulouse, France, as well as Dr. Robert Gorlin from Minneapolis and Dr. Jens Pindborg from Copenhagen, Denmark. All these men Dr. Bouquot considers important mentors and giants in the field of osteonecrosis.

The concept of cavitations is supported voluminously by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons in their 1997 textbook Osteonecrosis: Etiology, Diagnosis and Treatment.

Today, many biological dentists suggest that a kind of intellectual suicide permeates the dental profession because so many cavitations develop in conjunction with teeth treated with root canal therapy. Yet this is just only one possible cause of these disorders.

What Causes Cavitations?

If you’ve done much reading about cavitations, you’ve probably run across the claim that they’re caused by a failure to remove the periodontal ligament after surgically extracting a tooth.

Dentists who say this often lay the blame on oral surgeons who weren’t taught how to remove this bit of tissue that serves to hold the teeth in place. Some have even claimed that it’s “against the law” to remove the ligament. More than once, I’ve heard this even from lecturers at meetings of the various biological and holistic dental associations

Yet there is no single cause of cavitations. Every odontogenic disturbance field has a genesis of its own. They can be the main problem or a consequence of other disturbances in the body’s self-regulating functions. Here are just some of the factors that can contribute to CIBD:

  1. Severe infection in the jawbone, impairing the Basic Regulative System or Greater Defense System.
  2. Not removing enough of the diseased bone – including the periodontal ligament – during tooth extraction.
  3. Hereditary or acquired clotting disorders, including thrombophilia and hypofibrinolysis.
  4. Poor regulation of blood viscosity and clotting ability due to an impaired biological terrain.
  5. Antibiotic and corticosteroid use before and after tooth extraction or cavitation excavation.
  6. Excessive use of NSAIDs during the past 12 months.
  7. Bone routinely exposed to vasoconstrictors via dental anesthetics.
  8. Tobacco and nicotine use, which inhibits bone healing.
  9. More infection or trauma than in all the other bones combined.
  10. Osteoporosis.
  11. Areas of scarring, previous surgery or infection, bone gaps, and areas previously treated with radiation – all of which are likely to be deficient in bone-forming cells (osteoblasts).
  12. Insufficient growth factors to stimulate bone cells to grow and mature, forming healthy bone tissue.
  13. Unsterile “sterile” bone implants.
  14. The patient’s aging process.
  15. Radiation and chemotherapy.
  16. High levels of antiphospholipid antibodies. (These cause blood vessels to narrow and grow irregular, which in turn leads to thrombosis, or clotting in the vessels themselves.)
  17. The presence of heavy metals, such as mercury, silver, copper, and iron.
  18. Thyroid deficiency or deficiency of growth hormone.
  19. Nutritional status.
  20. Trauma from dental surgery.
  21. A history of really tough experiences – spiritual, mental, emotional, or physical – that the patient has not yet healed from, whose “legs are not back under their metabolism.”
  22. High anxiety and a tendency toward catastrophizing pain.

Only by drastically minimizing or eliminating all factors that led to the formation of the disturbance field can the cavitational lesion be successfully eliminated. Then it’s a win-win for patient and surgeon alike.

Just How Common Are Cavitations?

Some of the best data we have on the prevalence of CIBD comes from research by Drs. Thomas Levy and Hal Huggins.

They randomly selected 112 charts of patients, aged 18 to 83, who were undergoing total dental restoration revisions at the Huggins’ Diagnostic Center between 1991 and 1995. The research team surgically raised full thickness flaps at all old extraction sites in each patient, then explored each area with a small drill in a slow speed hand piece. Occasionally on some third molar (wisdom tooth) sites, they injected a small amount of contrast radio opaque medium before drilling to aid detection.

Here’s a summary of their most significant findings:

cavitations data

The researchers were adamant that unless these cavitational sites were thoroughly eradicated, renovated, and sanitized, patients suffering from neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s. ALS and Parkinson’s symptoms would not be able to feel the lessening or progression of symptoms.

Any improvement in symptoms was gladly accepted by their patients.

What Does a Cavitation Look Like?

open cavitationTo view a cavitation site, the dentist first exposes it, then uses a small, round drill in a slow speed hand piece to make a series of small test holes But before debriding the site – that is, surgically removing tissue – the dentist will collect a tissue sample, which typically includes bone speckles, blood, and any loose soft tissues, along with any oily-looking, serum-like fluid, and place it in a specimen vial for later testing.

Within the hole itself, you commonly see green, yellow-green, and sometimes dark, tarry material. You may see material that looks like thick, oily cottage cheese or blood-soaked sawdust or powdered grit or fatty globules or even chocolate ice cream.

Basically, what you’re looking at are focal pockets of gangrene – a necrosis caused by obstructions of the blood supply which may be localized or widespread. Bacterial metabolites and other waste products are generated in the decay process. Over the long haul, this interferes with the function of the autoregulatory system, which includes the organs of detoxification:

  • Immune system (thymus, lymphoid tissue).
  • Nervous system.
  • Mucosal surfaces.
  • Liver.
  • Extracellular matrix and Ground System.
  • Cellular respiration and antioxidant system.
  • Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.

We used to be able to send tissue samples to a lab at the University of Kentucky for evaluation. ALT Bioscience would produce a report on the toxicity of each sample, using a state-of-the-art photoaffinity labeling technology. It relied on a chosen combination of 6 ATP-binding enzymes that indicate the presence of toxic compounds by a decrease in their ability to interact with their respective nucleotides (the basic components of DNA). They also have one very important thing in common: Each is directly involved in the production of ATP.

The body’s ability to produce and maintain ATP levels is absolutely essential for life because every cellular process is driven either directly or indirectly by it.

When ALT Bioscience said they would no longer be offering the testing, we stopped doing cavitation surgeries. (We now refer them out.) There was no better way to verify the presence of toxicity in the tissues.

Today, DNA Connexions in Colorado Springs now provides a Full View Test that identifies bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites in tissue, removed teeth, implants, bone grafts, and other biological samples. It tests for 88 different pathogens, including tetanus, botulism, diphtheria, HPV 16 and HPV 18, Candida albicans and more.

The Challenge of Properly Diagnosing Cavitations

Osteonecrotic focal infections are very hard to diagnose properly. Where are these disturbance fields located in the jaws? Which teeth should be removed? Which extraction sites need to be renovated and sanitized? Which organs need to be treated before oral surgical intervention?

As individual work by Dr. Jerry Bouquot and Dr. Johann Lechner has highlighted, diagnosis by x-ray is impossible. MRI and CT scan are unreliable. Even a radioisotope bone scan is insufficient unless technetium-99m is used.

One diagnostic system once used by many biological dentists is the Cavitat – a computer-assisted alveolar ultrasound (TAU) instrument that identifies cavitational porosity in the jawbone. This was much better for diagnosis than any x-ray could be. However, its reliability depended on the porosity – a factor complicated by the tendency for heavy metals to deposit in areas of chronic inflammation. Those metals make porosity hard to pick up.

Perhaps because of such limitations, a good number of dentists turn to things such as Applied Kinesiology to locate odontogenic disturbance fields. However, this muscle testing has proven too coarse of an assessment for consistently reliable results.

Energetic assessments tend to be much more reliable measures of disturbance fields. The Bio-Functional Regulation Matrix Resonance Imaging developed by Fritz Kramer and Reinhold Voll is especially precise and the system I favor in my own practice.

Successfully Treating CIBD

While various homeopathic therapies in conjunction with nutritional therapies can help keep cavitational sites in check, surgery is the main intervention. An oral surgeon goes into the site to remove the diseased tissue and disinfect the bone.

Of course, if any of the factors that can contribute to CIBD are not addressed in advance, proper healing may not be successful. All impediments to healing should be removed before cavitational surgery.

It is most important to clear up all existing latent chronic inflammations, not because they might spread, but because they cause energy-consuming limitations with increased depletion of fibroblast which are the ‘mother cell’ for all cells of the matrix.

If multiple surgeries are needed, they should be spaced apart, time-wise, so the body won’t be overwhelmed by a series of surgical shocks. Otherwise, there’s risk of lasting blockage of Ground System regulation and a shock to more chronic, progressive forms of systems. The damaged immune cycle can no longer respond adequately to more stress.

If the patient is undergoing – or as gone through – any harsh allopathic therapy, their adrenal glands should be assessed to help buffer the effects of additional oral surgery.

It’s impossible to over-emphasize the importance of protective therapy before cavitational (or any) surgery. You want to lay the groundwork for healthy, uneventful healing. The matrix and all immune functions of the Greater Defense System need to be addressed. The body’s self-regulating abilities must be as robust as possible.

It’s a point that bears repeating: There can be no lasting healing without addressing the needs of the biological terrain.

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KTH Flashback: Modern Chronic Illness, a Cumulative Condition

Originally posted January 20, 2016

man looking at rain through windowMany of the patients we see come to us with longstanding health problems they suspect are related to things like root canal teeth, mercury amalgam fillings and cavitations. But while such dental factors may indeed be playing a role, they’re seldom – if ever – the sole cause of distress.

As Dr. V reviews each person’s health history, he typically sees a pattern of physical, emotional and energetic traumas throughout their life, sometimes starting quite early. We can see how the current illness progressed over a very long time, evolving from minor complaints to full-blown, disabling conditions. The dental factors play one role – sometimes a major, triggering one – but ultimately, it’s the accumulation of insults to body, mind and spirit that pollute and disorder the terrain so much as to interfere with the normal, healthy functioning of the body. The body is – as ever – trying to maintain homeostasis, but increasingly there are obstacles. Function becomes dysfunction.

Modern chronic illness is a cumulative condition. It’s the interplay of all manner of toxic exposures, injuries and insults that manifest in disease.

Consider diet: Eating a burger and fries from a fast food joint once in a while probably isn’t going to do much damage. Eat it every day, and health problems pile up fairly quickly. Add to that a lack of physical activity, and the problems compound. Add pharmaceutical drugs prescribed to “manage” symptoms such as high blood pressure, elevated lipids, arthritis or other pain and the like, and you create further chaos – and even more when more drugs are given to treat the “side effects” of the original medications. And the whole time, you’re living in a highly polluted environment, breathing, consuming and absorbing thousands of synthetic chemicals and their residues…

Is it just diet that’s the problem? No, it’s the whole complex.

Context, as they say, is everything. And interactions – everything. Rubbing alcohol on its own is safe to use. So is bleach. Mix them together and you get chloroform.

Which brings us to a really interesting and welcome study that was published a while back in Carcinogenesis. As reported by the New Zealand Herald,

The startling findings from a task force of around 174 scientists from 28 countries, published today tackles long-standing concerns that there are links between mixtures of commonly encountered chemicals and the development of cancer.

From the thousands of chemicals to which people are routinely exposed, the scientists selected 85 prototypic chemicals that were not considered to be carcinogenic to humans, and they reviewed their effects against a long list of mechanisms that are important for cancer development.

They found 50 of those chemicals supported key cancer-related mechanisms at levels which humans are regularly exposed.

The findings supported the idea that chemicals may be capable of acting in concert with one another to cause cancer, even though low-level exposures to these chemicals individually might not be carcinogenic.

It was the first time the issue has ever been considered by interdisciplinary teams that could fully interpret the full spectrum of cancer biology and incorporate what is now known about low-dose chemical effects.

“Since so many chemicals that are unavoidable in the environment can produce low-dose effects that are directly related to carcinogenesis, the way we’ve been testing chemicals, one at a time, is really quite out of date,” said study lead author William Goodson III, a senior scientist at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco.

This is a great reminder of why looking at the big picture matters so much – likewise, regular detox and healthy life choices. While there are some things that can be a drag on our health that we can do little to avoid, taking the best care of ourselves that we can provides a good and necessary counterbalance, helping our bodies be more resilient in the face of potential harms.


Also see “Why Is It Called ‘Biological’ Dentistry Anyway?”

Modified from the original

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Thanks-Giving: 11 More Awesome Quotes on Gratitude

gratitude

  1. “I made cranberry sauce, and when it was done put it into a dark blue bowl for the beautiful contrast. I was thinking, doing this, about the old ways of gratitude: Indians thanking the deer they’d slain, grace before supper, kneeling before bed. I was thinking that gratitude is too much absent in our lives now, and we need it back, even if it only takes the form of acknowledging the blue of a bowl against the red of cranberries.” – Elizabeth Berg, Open House

  2. “The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” ― Henry Ward Beecher

  3. “’When you are grateful,’ Brother Steindl-Rast explained, ‘you are not fearful, and when you are not fearful, you are not violent. When you are grateful, you act out of a sense of enough and not out of a sense of scarcity, and you are willing to share. If you are grateful, you are enjoying the differences between people and respectful to all people. The grateful world is a world of joyful people. Grateful people are joyful people. A grateful world is a happy world.’” – Douglas Carlton Abrams, The Book of Joy

  4. “Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” – Alphonse Karr, A Tour Round My Garden

  5. “The best antidote to the furtive poison of anger, fear, anxiety, or any of our destructive, unwieldy passions, is just gratitude. And not the grandiose, boisterous or especially obvious kind. It is not necessarily the verbose or expressive kind. It’s often the full immersion, a kind of deep submersion even, into a pool of awareness. This penitent affect distills within us surreal realizations; it is a focus, tinged with layers of deep remorse and the profound beauty of newfound appreciation that washes over us about the simplest things we have slipped into, or suddenly become aware of our own complacency over. This cooling antidote instantly soothes any veins swollen with the heat of pride, or stopped up with pearls of finely polished self-pity. This all comes about with a balm of humility that is simultaneously soothing and jolting to all of our senses at the same time. It is a cocktail both sedative and stimulant in the same, finite instant. It often occurs as we are halted dead in our tracks by a thing so extraordinary and breathtakingly natural, even luscious in its simplicity and unusually ordinary existence; often something we have been blatantly negligent of noticing as we routinely trudge past it in our self-absorbed haze. These are akin to the emotions one might feel as they finally notice the well-established antique rose garden, in full bloom; the same one they have walked by for years on their way to somewhere – but never noticed before. – Connie Kerbs, Paths of Fear

  6. “I make a point to appreciate all the little things in my life. I go out and smell the air after a good, hard rain. I re-read passages from my favorite books. I hold the little treasures that somebody special gave me. These small actions help remind me that there are so many great, glorious pieces of good in the world.” – Dolly Parton, Dream More

  7. “Say thank you for a beautiful life and be grateful for the small things of life which are miracles we have actually got used to.” – Sanchita Pandey, Voyage to Happiness!

  8. “I have learned over a period of time to be almost unconsciously grateful–as a child is–for a sunny day, blue water, flowers in a vase, a tree turning red. I have learned to be glad at dawn and when the sky is dark. Only children and a few spiritually evolved people are born to feel gratitude as naturally as they breathe, without even thinking. Most of us come to it step by painful step, to discover that gratitude is a form of acceptance.” – Faith Baldwin, Many Windows: Seasons of the Heart

  9. “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy

  10. “i thank the universe
    for taking
    everything it has taken
    and giving to me
    everything it is giving
    -balance” – Rupi Kaur, milk and honey

  11. “I truly believe we can either see the connections, celebrate them, and express gratitude for our blessings, or we can see life as a string of coincidences that have no meaning or connection. For me, I’m going to believe in miracles, celebrate life, rejoice in the views of eternity and hope my choices will create a positive ripple effect in the lives of others. This is my choice.” – Mike Ericksen, Upon Destiny’s Song

Previously

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Are Loneliness & Your Health Related?

Physician Dr. Lissa Rankin says, “Yes” – and offers some thought-provoking ideas for becoming less isolated, more connected.

“This is medicine, people,” she says…

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Brush, Floss,…Sleep

When you think about taking care of your teeth, you probably think of brushing, flossing, eating right, and seeing your dentist for regular cleanings. But there are other drivers of oral health that you might not think of right away.

sleepingSleep, for instance.

Previous research, such as the 2007 Journal of Periodontology study we told you about before has suggested that lack of sleep is second only to smoking as a risk factor for gum disease. And more recent studies have lent more support for the relationship between sleep and periodontal health.

Consider the study published early last year in the Journal of Periodontal Research. For it, rats were divided into four groups: one fatigued, one infected with oral pathogens, one with both conditions, and a control group. They were observed and evaluated over the course of several weeks. In the end, the fatigued rats showed worse systemic health, more inflamed gum tissue, and more alveolar bone loss. (Gum disease degrades this thick ridge of bone that contains the tooth sockets.)

In conclusion, our results suggest that fatigue is a modifying factor for periodontal disease in rats.

What about in humans? We see the sleep-perio link there, too – especially in the research on sleep disorders and gum disease risk. For instance, a study published earlier this year in Clinical Oral Investigations found that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) changed oral bacteria and correlated with gum disease severity. Studies that considered sleep disorders more broadly also show a relationship between poor quality sleep and poor periodontal health (this and this, for instance).

Why should sleep have anything to do with it?

For one, lack of sleep or constantly disrupted sleep raises cortisol levels, which in turn contributes to inflammation – one of the common denominators of gum disease and the ever-growing list of systemic conditions it’s been linked with. Cytokine levels also go up, also contributing to inflammation. Our immune systems become compromised.

At the same time, lack of sleep can lead us to less-than-healthy food and drink. For instance, you might caffeinate and sugar up with things like sodas, energy drinks, and over-the-top Starbucks concoctions. You may eat more for convenience or comfort, less for nutrition.

You may go slack on home care, as well – too tired to put too much effort into it.

All this, in turn, pollutes and stresses the biological terrain – the extracellular matrix that drives health and illness alike. The more stressed and compromised the terrain, the less able the body can self-regulate properly. Eventually, you get symptoms that we interpret as various illnesses – from cancer to gum disease and everything in between.

The best hygiene in the world is only partial help at best if the terrain is constantly, chronically compromised.

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Brush, Floss,…Sleep

When you think about taking care of your teeth, you probably think of brushing, flossing, eating right, and seeing your dentist for regular cleanings. But there are other drivers of oral health that you might not think of right away.

sleepingSleep, for instance.

Previous research, such as the 2007 Journal of Periodontology study we told you about before has suggested that lack of sleep is second only to smoking as a risk factor for gum disease. And more recent studies have lent more support for the relationship between sleep and periodontal health.

Consider the study published early last year in the Journal of Periodontal Research. For it, rats were divided into four groups: one fatigued, one infected with oral pathogens, one with both conditions, and a control group. They were observed and evaluated over the course of several weeks. In the end, the fatigued rats showed worse systemic health, more inflamed gum tissue, and more alveolar bone loss. (Gum disease degrades this thick ridge of bone that contains the tooth sockets.)

In conclusion, our results suggest that fatigue is a modifying factor for periodontal disease in rats.

What about in humans? We see the sleep-perio link there, too – especially in the research on sleep disorders and gum disease risk. For instance, a study published earlier this year in Clinical Oral Investigations found that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) changed oral bacteria and correlated with gum disease severity. Studies that considered sleep disorders more broadly also show a relationship between poor quality sleep and poor periodontal health (this and this, for instance).

Why should sleep have anything to do with it?

For one, lack of sleep or constantly disrupted sleep raises cortisol levels, which in turn contributes to inflammation – one of the common denominators of gum disease and the ever-growing list of systemic conditions it’s been linked with. Cytokine levels also go up, also contributing to inflammation. Our immune systems become compromised.

At the same time, lack of sleep can lead us to less-than-healthy food and drink. For instance, you might caffeinate and sugar up with things like sodas, energy drinks, and over-the-top Starbucks concoctions. You may eat more for convenience or comfort, less for nutrition.

You may go slack on home care, as well – too tired to put too much effort into it.

All this, in turn, pollutes and stresses the biological terrain – the extracellular matrix that drives health and illness alike. The more stressed and compromised the terrain, the less able the body can self-regulate properly. Eventually, you get symptoms that we interpret as various illnesses – from cancer to gum disease and everything in between.

The best hygiene in the world is only partial help at best if the terrain is constantly, chronically compromised.

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Guest Post: Fast Food Medicine or Individualized Health Care?

Our thanks to the office of integrative physician Dr. Joe Sciabbarrasi for letting us share this post from their blog. (Original)


Ever since the 2004 release of Super Size Me, there’s been the occasional “debunking” story about this person or that who ate nothing but McDonald’s and still lost weight. Of course, unlike Morgan Spurlock, they strictly controlled their calorie and carbohydrate intake and exercised vigorously on a daily basis.

McDonalds foodIn other words, their “proof” of weight loss with McDonald’s has nothing to do with a typical McDonald’s customer’s diet and lifestyle. That couldn’t have made a difference now, could it?

And consider one of the latest fast food diet tales getting attention. In this case, a genetics professor at King’s College London recruited his 23 year old son to eat as much McDonald’s food as he wanted for a 10 day period. Before, during and after, he collected fecal samples for testing.

After sending in the samples to three different labs in order to ensure consistency, Cornell University’s microbiome test results said his gut microbes had been “devastated.” His father said they saw “massive shifts in his common microbe groups.” The gut microbes are a complex community of at least 1,000 different species of microorganisms that live in your digestive tract and are responsible for maintaining a healthy immune system, regulating digestion, and maintaining weight.

Tom lost half of his bifidobacteria (healthy bacteria designed to suppress inflammation in the digestive tract) after eating McDonald’s. His firmicutes, whose job is to extract energy from food, also became replaced with obesity-linked bacteroidetes. He lost nearly 40 percent of his total bacteria variety, and even after two weeks of recovering from the diet and returning to a healthy balanced regimen, his microbes still were unable to recover.

Now, this is hardly a formal study. There was only one test subject. Yet it confirms – and elaborates on – what we know from a diverse range of research: A fast food diet is not a healthy one.

So is it really a model we want to follow for improving health care in this country? Because we are seeing the rise of fast food medicine, its goals the same as McDonald’s. Standardize. Focus on “customer service.” Use more lower skilled workers for basic tasks. Aim for volume.

There are so many problems with this, it’s hard to know where to begin. For one, it seems blind to what people actually want from their doctors. Despite the growing desire for and emphasis on convenience, one of the biggest wants is simply for time with their doctor. These days, the average is 8 minutes.

They also want empathy, clear communication and a partnership, where they’re not bodies on an assembly line but individuals able to make informed decisions about the treatments that are best for them.

That kind of relationship is nearly impossible in a fast food model.

Standardization at its worst means conforming to rigid protocols, undeviating procedures and inflexible treatments for each and every person. While this might make good sense for things like simple infections or acute pain or trauma or critical care, in the day-to-day practice of non-emergency medicine, it doesn’t quite fly.

And that’s because chronic, ongoing and usually preventable disease is now the norm. Where the leading causes of death once included infectious diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and diphtheria, almost all the big killers are now chronic conditions – things like heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and stroke. We’ve also seen the rise of “enigmatic” illnesses such as fibromyalgia, chronic Lyme, chronic fatigue and various environmental illnesses.

Modern disease is complex disease. It is not linear. There is seldom if ever any single cause or single effect. In most cases, it is a complex web of factors that eventually triggers a cluster of symptoms we classify as one disease or another. The most common of these factors? Diet. Lack of physical activity. Chronic stress. Insufficient sleep and rest. Tobacco and other drug use. Environmental toxins.

Vitruvian manThe human body is a complex system. Each of us is biochemically and bioenergetically unique. Each of us has our own particular history of injuries and illnesses and stressors. Each of us makes a unique set of lifestyle choices, some of which support good health, some of which undermine it. All these combine, too, to manifest the particulars of any illness.

This is why, for instance, two people can be exposed to the very same “germs” and only one will get sick. It’s why two people can smoke cigarettes for decades and only one will develop emphysema. It’s not luck. It’s not some mysterious force.

It’s individuality.

Only when you are seen, understood and treated as the unique individual you are can you find the path you need to optimal wellness and radiant health. That path is a little different for everyone. As it should be.

And that requires a physician, a healer who is free to think and act both inside and outside the box of “standardized” care. It’s called Physician Autonomy: the need for competent physicians to determine with the patient what is best for that patient from the best available medical evidence – and from their own clinical intuition based upon years of medical practice. It is a process accomplished through shared decision making with the patient.

And it usually takes longer than 8 minutes.

You are an individual. You are the author of your health and well-being. You are infinitely valuable.

The health care you receive should be equal to that.

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