Is medicine killing you Lissa Rankin, MD at TEDxFargo

its modern medicine killing you

its modern medicine killing you

saving it

the very idea that we should have to ask that kind of question is so upsetting to

me as the doctor I was called the medicine the way many are called to the

priesthood as a sort of spiritual calling my whole goal is to help you

heal not to harm you and yet when you look at the causes of death

preventable medical error is the number three cause of death according to the

Center for Disease Control and the Institute of Medicine and it's not just

medical error it's the whole nature of our pill-popping medical culture that's

been adopted by patients and doctors alike now we know according to the

Center for Disease Control that ninety percent of doctors visits are the result

of stress and yet as a doctor I wasn't hot to help you deal with your stress I

was programmed to believe that it was my job to medicate you or to operate on you

so that you can go back to the status quo of your stressful life and had I've

started to rethink that in the research that i've been doing lately and what

I've come to realize that as doctors it is our job to help you address the fact

that stress is one of the biggest killers among us and that maybe instead

of medicating you are operating you solely maybe we need to help you address

the issues that might be predisposed acute illness or exacerbating your

illness like the toxic relationships in your life or so fucking job training

your life force

financial worries or social isolation and loneliness or pessimistic world view

all of these things have been scientifically proven to predispose you

to illness and yet when was the last time your doctor suggested that our

health care system is so broken because we are in the business of symptom relief

not symptoms prevention dr. Andrew Weil says we have a disease management system

not a health care system and we knew this was sort of turning a blind eye to

this I think because we think chronic stress is just an inevitable part of

life it's just how we have to live and as doctors and patients we are turning a

blind eye to this because it's too hard to face we don't want to realize what it

would take in order to alleviate our stress to predispose us to longer

healthier lives so we've made this collective agreement that I won't talk

about it you won't talk about you know stress is bad for your health as a

doctor I know how many of my patients are showing up in there in my office

because because of the stress in their lives and yet we sort of agreed not to

talk about it but I'm here to illuminate that for us because the idea that

medicine could be killing us is just an estimate and i cant live with that

because I have a dream of the healed health care system one in which we bring

the best of modern medicine everything that we've learned about pharmaceuticals

and surgical interventions in such and we marry it with what it means to be a

true healer what I was called to do as a doctor

we're not only am I putting a band-aid on the symptoms are the result of your

stress but I'm also putting in you this medicine i think is so much of what

we've my in modern medicine today

I dream of being able to replace that her claiming the heart of medicine and

of reminding you what it means to be a whole healthy human being

this is essential because our current health care system just isn't working we

all know it

doctors and patients alike yeah it's broken people this is breaking my heart

because when you look at the data we spend more on health care than any other

country in the world and yet 32 countries have longer life expectancies

than we do

patient dissatisfaction is rising ninety percent of hospital patients didn't even

know the name of her doctor at the time of discharge its not just doctors at the

stations that are dissatisfied doctors are just as dissatisfied nine out of 10

doctors would not recommend becoming a doctor and seventy percent of Americans

take at least one prescription drug 20% take five or more so I want to show you

something here the pill bottle have a month's worth of medication and then I'm

gonna show you there's approximately 500 of you here to show you how much

medication it take to medicate all of you for just one day based on these

statistics now we've been trained in our system

think about medicine the way a doctor with think about football player you

know the football player gets injured so we bring the injured football player out

of the game and we fix that ankle and we set the boner we inject the joint we do

everything we can defend the football player back out into the game but when a

lot of people are talking about is perhaps the best thing for the football

player is to get the football player out of the game

right and that it's not just the doctors call what do we do when the star

football player says doc just do anything do anything you can to get me

back in the game so we can win the Super Bowl

that's what many view as patients are doing you were asking us as doctors to

filling it was hell you can go back to the game of your stressful life and I'm

here because it's breaking my heart that we're having to defend and I want to

change the game I want to suggest that maybe there's a different way of doing

this so I wrote a book called mind over medicine scientific proof that you can

heal yourself and it's all about the scientific data that proves how stress

affects our bodies and this was really revolutionary to me of the doctor I

didn't know I don't know anything about him for five years ago and it was

shocking to me to study the data because of what I came to realize is that is not

what we think stress is you know I think in this culture we have this concept

that dresses like a badge of honor I'm I'm stressed therefore I'm busy and

worthy an important but to the body stress is very different

is anything that triggers the amygdala in your brain to turn on what walter

Koenig at Harvard called the stress response also known as the

fight-or-flight response so anything that turns on your fight or flight

response put you into the sympathetic nervous system and fills her body was

cortisol and epinephrine another very poisonous stress hormones no business

good if you're getting chased by a tiger about to be in a car accident that helps

to protect your life but your amygdala doesn't know the difference between

getting chased by a tiger and negative thoughts beliefs and feelings that

originated in your mind that turn on those stress responses now what i don't

realize this was my my big AHA is that the nervous system has two operating

system there's the fight-or-flight stress response

sympathetic nervous system

and there's the parasympathetic nervous system or what herbert benson at

Hereford called the relaxation response and this was my big epiphany your body

is beautifully equipped with natural self repair mechanisms your body knows

how to fight cancer how to prevent heart disease how to fight off infection does

this every day but those natural self repair mechanisms are deactivated every

time their bodies and stress response now what is stress dressed as I said is

getting chased by a tiger but stress is also cites social isolation and

loneliness dresses selling your soul for a paycheck dresses the pessimistic

worldview dress is fearful anxious worried thought

toxic relationship dresses money worries stress of knowing that you have a strong

within you that you have yet to think just a feeling out of touch with your

life's purpose dresses negative beliefs about your health

dressed as overwhelming feeling like nobody really get the real you

dresses pretending to be something that you're not feeling disconnected from

source on average we have more than 50 stress responses per day in modern

culture and every time the bodies in stress response your body's natural self

repair mechanisms are disabled and what kills me about this is that as doctors

by not acknowledging that by not helping you recognize that by not identifying

with you what might be activating the stress responses in your body

we might be doing the unthinkable we might actually be killing you

we might be

reducing your life expectancy the quality of your life and your whole life

span and that is not okay what we need to reclaim is we need to reclaim the

sole medicine that medicine used to have you know several hundred years ago we

were much better at the School of Medicine part of this we think I have

that chronic stress of an inevitable part of our lives but we can learn from

what scientists call Blue Zones around the world these parts of the world where

people have a greater than average percentage of people who lived to be

over a hundred these people know what Seoul medicine is one of the many things

that we really need medicine is being loved just as you r medicine is helping

those in need medicine is expressing your creative genius medicine is always

seen the glass half-full medicine is the unconditional love animal medicine is

laughing out loud medicine is speaking your truth medicine is knowing that you

belong medicine is communing with nature medicine is nourishing the body with

real food medicine is tapping in the source medicine is being

unapologetically you when I'm not suggesting that he won't need other

medicine thank God for modern medicine thank God for modern medicine yeah

we over the past century we extended our life expectancy by thirty years thirty

years that's remarkable because of the advent of things like antibiotics and

vaccinations and remarkable advances in pharmaceuticals and surgical

interventions thank God for modern medicine my husband cut two fingers

office left him with a table saw ya so thank God for dr. Jones who spent eight

hours in surgery with a microscope putting those fingers back onto the my

husband has ten fingers today and my friend my 42 old friend just had a


thank God for TPA the clot buster for several days later he was discharged

from the hospital with almost no residual deficits I'm not suggesting

that we should throw the baby out with the bathwater but what I am suggesting

is that those remarkable advantage vance's that we've made in modern

medicine we've taken the biochemical approach to medicine too far and we

forgotten what it means to be truly healers and this breaks my heart now I

know what I'm saying here that that you need to look at the stress in your life

and that you need to get a medicine that you really need I know that this isn't

what many have you want to hear and honestly I was having a meltdown on the

plane yesterday coming out here because I was thinking I don't want people to

misunderstand me and this is no don't kill the messenger it's not easy to look

at these parts of your life I was thinking about this woman Katie Smith

met on my book tour and she's a young mother with brain cancer and she just

had surgery yesterday and I'm thinking about this stock and I'm thinking I

don't ever want catered to think that I'm blaming her for her brain cancer I'm

not I'm praying for Katie and I think about my doctor has one of the best

doctors that I know and I know it hurts her when I criticized medicine if I even

suggest that medicine might be killing off this breaks her heart shaped the

planet five-hour her intentions are so pure and I think about Susan matheson

has one of the organizers here

a program called the whole health medicine Institute we're teaching

doctors to practice this kind of Medicine these are some of the most

amazing doctors in the planet I'm not trying to throw them under the bus

what i'm saying is you know I was thinking about this and I thought this

is my tough love TEDx talk I'm saying this because I love my profession much

but it breaks my heart

what has become of us and I love each of you so much that I can't bear to see you

squander even one more day this beautiful life that you have the

opportunity to live and I don't want to see you accepting chronic stress as a

natural part of our lives we don't have to live this way life can be so


need imagine this every morning you wake up and you're so excited about all the

possibilities that lie ahead because anything could happen and you're

surrounded by people who love and know the real you not them ask that you put

on try to fit in but the real you underneath and you're living your

purpose fine dining in fulfilling your your calling your express and the divine

spark within you and because you are the bills are paid because the university's

care of those who are living in alignment with their divine nature you

laugh often love often you get laid often

things you guys like to talk about sex Marr have been scientifically proven to

reduce stress responses from the body and activate relaxation responses and

help your body's natural self repair mechanisms healing you and that's what I

want for you know I know this is hard because I'm not just a doctor and a

patient by the time I was 33 years old I was taking several medications in order

to stay in the game and my life and I have such a stressful life but I was

told that there's seven medications were gonna be something that I was gonna have

to take for the rest of my life and I was a doctor my doctor professors were

telling me this so I believe I didn't realize that what I had to do the

medicine I really needed was to get out of the game of my life and when I

realized what I was going to have to do I was terrified because it meant I had

to leave my abusive marriage and it meant I had to quit my job and medicine

I spent 12 years training to do this work and it meant I had to take my

entire life savings invested in following a dream that I could be here

talking to you about things like this today and I'm now down to half the dose

of one of my medication and this is possible for you I would love to be able

to tell you how you can have this for yourself but unfortunately you're gonna

have to write the prescription for yourself but what I can offer is one

question that I asked many patients that has helped many people heal and it's

this what does your body need in order to seal now I know that the answer that

may come up can be very frightening and changes so scary and uncertainty can be

paralyzing but what I discovered on my own personal journey is that the flip

side of uncertainty is the possibility of anything being able to happen so I've

discovered that if you want big miracles you have to take big risks and if you're

looking for smaller risk

have to be willing to accept small miracle and it's ok if you're not ready

to take those risks but I encourage you to do whatever you need to do in order

to to give your body the medicine that it really needs so I ask this of you we

are in this together I have a dream of healing health care and it's going to

take a grassroots effort you and me together and I'm gonna have to do this

with all of you

empowered patients unconscious healthcare providers uniting together to

reclaim what is rightfully ours I want to close with a question that Mary

Oliver poses tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious

life let yourself give yourself the medicine that you really need thank you

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