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Science, Energy, and Medicine

Majid Ali, M.D.

Earlier in this chapter, I write that many hard-core medical "scientists" will scoff at the case histories I include here to illustrate the potential benefits of effective self-regulation. I know all nondrug and nonscalpel therapies are deemed unscientific and dismissed as quackery by my colleagues in mainstream medicine.

What is science in medicine? First and foremost, it is simple observation. An observed phenomenon in medicine must not be dismissed just because it does not fit into preconceived notions of science in medicine. I devote a the companion volume RDA: Rats, Drugs and Assumptions to this essential subject. Here, I cite three instances of how "scientific" medicine has operated in the past. It should make us wonder how physicians of the future might regard what we consider science today.

Medical "Science" of Genital Mutilation

In 1861, Isaac Baker Brown, an eminent London surgeon, recommended amputation of the clitoris for treatment of headache, PMS symptoms and mental illness in girls and young women. He claimed excellent clinical results from this operation. He was a prominent and influential member of the Obstetrical Society. After many years of enjoying great fame and fortune for his surgical prowess, Brown finally fell in disgrace. Interestingly, Brown didn't get into any trouble because he mutilated the genitals of too many girls and young women but because he angered someone at the Commissioners of Lunacy by unlawfully detaining a young woman with the intent of amputating her clitoris. Public furor forced the London Obstetrical Society to investigate Brown in March 1867 and consider his expulsion. A problem arose: The members of the Society couldn't punish Brown for performing clitoridectomy because they were themselves "clitoridectomists." Finally, on April 3, 1867, the Society voted to expel him—not for performing the operation but for failing to obtain the consent of patient's family (Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology of the British Empire 67: 1017-1034; 1867).

It is hard to read accounts of barbaric rituals of genital mutilation among some ancient tribal cultures. Anthropologist Jomo Kenayatta, who later served as the first president of independent Kenya, defended ritual clitoridectomy in tribal Kenya in a book published in the late 1930s, but seemed very uncomfortable doing so. How does one comprehend medical "science" blaming the clitoris for headache, PMS symptoms and mental illness in nineteenth century? How does one understand the barbaric acts of English surgeons who committed heinous crimes of mutilation in the name of medical science?

Medical "Science" of Destroying the Immune System with Radiation

On August 29, 1994, I saw a C-Scan TV program in which James Garrity, a submariner who received radium treatments at age 18, described his case history in testimony delivered before the Senate Sub-Committee for Environment chaired by Senator Joseph Lieberman. Garrity's throat was radiated to keep his ears from bleeding during the "tank test"—an exercise in which submarine trainees are required to practice escape techniques in simulated deep water conditions. Garrity developed episodes of voice loss, nasal discomfort, peculiar tooth fractures, and finally came down with cancer of the nasopharynx.

Garrity was radiated by Connecticut M.D. Harry Haines who was a forceful proponent of solving the ear problems of submarine crews with radiation treatment. Emboldened by his experience with submariners, he began to radiate throats, ears and necks of little children to treat common viral and bacterial infections. Doctors at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore were impressed by the results reported by Haines and began to radiate their pediatric as well as adult patients with similar problems. They also excelled in using radiation for acne and enlarged thymus glands of children and young people. Most of these children grew up with severely damaged immune systems, and many developed cancers of the thyroid gland and other tissues in the head and neck region.

Treating tonsillitis, acne and thymus enlargement with radiation was considered good science in medicine. Whenever I see a patient with a severely damaged immune system resulting from radiation, I wonder how any intelligent physicians could be that simple-minded. How could Dr. Haines and others at Johns Hopkins not have recognized the widely known dangers of radiation?

One internist at our hospital received radiation treatment for acne of the face and upper torso during childhood. During the 1970s, I diagnosed many cancers in his skin biopsies. He grew crops of basal cell cancers in radiated areas of the skin. He was lucky because his dermatologist watched him closely and removed his skin cancers in early stages. I know of many patients who were not that lucky.

I have seen patients with severe immune problems whose enlarged thymus glands were radiated during childhood—many years after the widely publicized reports of cancers in children caused by radioactive exposure in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The irony is that an enlarged thymus gland in children is an innocent condition that causes no problems, and, in most cases, is incidentally diagnosed with X-rays taken for unrelated reasons.

Medical "Science" of Destroying Immune System with Killer Drugs

I have cared for many young men who were infected with the HIV virus in the early 1980s—long before their partners died of AIDS in the mid-1980s. They are living full, productive lives. Some of them developed lesions of Kaposi sarcoma (a form of malignant tumor of blood vessels), Pneumocystis carini and other lung infections and oral ulcers. One of them had malgnant melanoma removed on two occasions. The remarkable thing about this group of patients is that none of them took AZT, DDI, DDC or similar toxic antiviral drugs. All of them followed broad holistic programs with a focus on nutritional support, herbal and other natural antiviral therapies, meditation and spiritual work. I do not know any patient who became infected during the early 1980s, took bone marrow-killing toxic drugs for more than a few years, was not supported with natural immune-enhancing therapies and who is still symptom-free fifteen years later. I have asked for such examples on radio shows on many occasions. To date, no one has called me and told me of a long-term HIV survivor who accepted toxic drug therapies.

Many studies show that drug therapies do not prolong survival in patients with AIDS. The survival in HIV-positive persons, with or without clinical evidence of AIDS, is vastly improved with natural, nondrug, restorative therapies that support an individual's antioxidant, enzyme and immune defenses.

In a cohort study of 5,833 individuals with AIDS in New York City, survival in HIV-positive gay men was compared with that of HIV-positive black and Hispanic women (N Eng J Med 317:1297; 1987). After one year, the cumulative probability of survival among men with AIDS was over 80 percent while that for women was about 30 percent. After two years, the figure for men was over 50 percent while that for women was about 10 percent. What are the possible reasons for such a wide difference between mortality among men and women? The most likely explanation of this difference is that gay men quickly learned some aspects of the biology of HIV infection, made many needed lifestyle changes and had the resources to seek and obtain effective natural nondrug therapies. Black and Hispanic women in New York City were not that lucky. Also, it seems likely that administration of highly toxic drugs for HIV infection without any efforts to buttress the damaged immune system with nutritional therapies hastened the death of many women.

"All My Friends Died with Azt, I Wondered If I Could Live Without It"

David L., an Italian in his mid-thirties, thinks he was exposed to the HIV virus in 1980 or 1981. Some of his friends developed AIDS and were treated intensively with AZT and other drugs. One by one, they died of AIDS in the early and mid-1980s. His physicians in Italy advised him to have HIV tests done, and to take drugs if the test showed HIV infection. Initially he declined the antibody test. When finally he had the test done in 1985, it confirmed what he already knew. Despite persistent pleading by his physicians, David declined AZT and other drugs.

In the summer of 1995, he flew to New York to consult me. I was very curious why he had stubbornly declined drug treatment.

"David, why did you refuse treatment?" I asked.

"I didn't refuse treatment," he replied in a thick accent.

"But didn't you just now tell me that you repeatedly refused to take AZT, DDI and related drugs?"

"Yes, I did," he smiled. "I only refused AZT, DDI and other drugs. I didn't say no to other therapies."

"What other therapies?"

"Natural and herbal therapies."

"Who was treating you?" I asked, my curiosity piqued.

"I found some good herbalists and naturopaths." He flashed another smile.

"Oh," I said, trying not to sound surprised as I studied David's face for some moments, wondering what I was going to make of it. "You are in your mid-thirties now," I began, recovering. "You were in your mid-twenties then. Help me understand how a young man says no to drug treatment for a disease that is considered fatal by everyone."

"It wasn't a difficult decision." David became somber.

"Not difficult?" I asked, incredulous. "What decision can be more important than a life-death decision like that?"

"It wasn't difficult, at least not then," David laughed lightly.

"So?" I pressed.

"There wasn't that much to think about, Dr. Ali," he replied. "All my friends died with AZT. I was prepared to die too. It occurred to me that if I was going to die, I might as well die without AZT. Then I wondered if I could live without it."

"Prepared to die," I murmured to myself, then repeated after him. "Die without AZT."

How does a young man learn to talk about death like that? How does he cope with the fear of death? How does he plan for his own imminent death with such serenity? What does he say to his family? Or friends? Or himself? I looked into David's soft blue eyes, looking for answers to my questions. He held my gaze, probably wondering what thoughts populated my head. 

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