Dave Schrader (email) welcomed Dr. Gregory A. Smith, who founded a medical group that focuses on integrative medicine for the treatment of chronic pain and prescription narcotic dependence and addiction. He discussed how powerful pharmaceutical corporations legally manufacture and distribute addictive and often deadly medications with the full authority of the US government. Although the US citizenry constitutes only 5 percent of the global population, Smith revealed, Americans consume a whopping 80 percent of the world's hydrocodone, which is found in painkillers like Vicodin and Norco, as well as 50 percent of all the prescription drugs in the world.
According to Smith, this overwhelming reliance on medication is due to a deliberate shift in medical philosophy which has focused on the treatment of symptoms rather than solving the root cause of ailments. Driving that agenda, he said, is the pharmaceutical industry, which reaps huge profits by ensuring that people continuously need medication. "Let's face it, sick people that don't die are great for business," he observed, "because they keep coming back every 30 days for a prescription," often for years or even decades over the course of their lifetime. Additionally, he said, economic factors like taxes and regulations have forced doctors to treat more patients per hour than in previous years in order to simply keep their practices in business. As such, doctors who devote time trying to treat their patients' ailments often make far less money than their colleagues who merely prescribe drugs to combat symptoms.
Since the FDA receives the majority of their funding from the pharmaceutical industry, Smith said, the government is unlikely to put a stop to this broken medical system and, therefore, the onus of protecting one's health falls on the individual. "The days are over where you can simply just blindly trust the doctor or the system to do what's right for you," he warned, "you have to ask questions." To that end, Smith suggested that people ask their doctor if there are alternatives, specifically natural remedies, to drugs prescribed to them. Should they be dissuaded from such an approach, Smith said, "it's time to look for a new doctor." Ultimately, he stressed that people need to take a more proactive and informed approach to their own health care.
In the first hour, Dr. Emily Cooper talked about how treating obesity and diabetes as a disease rather than a behavioral problem can have radical life-saving results. She explained that recent studies have shown that "there's a complex feedback loop that regulates our metabolism" via communication between the brain and the body through "hormone messengers." This system, Cooper said, can be dysfunctional in some bodies and result in obesity and diabetes, regardless of a person's diet or exercise regimen. She expressed hope that, should the medical community begin to see obesity as a disease, new treatments can be devised, more research can be undertaken, and insurance companies could be forced to provide greater coverage of the condition.
NASA celebrated the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics by releasing some breathtaking satellite images of the venues created for the games in Sochi, Russia. The photos, taken via the agency's Terra satellite, provide a remarkable view of both the vast series of sites built for indoor events, which dot the coastline along the Black Sea, as well as the mountainous terrain that plays host to the skiing and snowboarding competitions. More on the story at Space.com.