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Chopra: Obama should focus on alternative medicine

January 21, 2009 by  

Herbal supplements may help AmericansIn the run-up to the election, President Obama promised to place healthcare reform near the top of his agenda.

In an editorial published in the San Francisco Chronicle, Deepak Chopra argues that by bringing complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) into the mainstream, the country could boost its citizens’ long-term wellness and effect considerable cost savings.

Currently, conventional medicine fails to provide sufficient preventive care, Chopra says. He also claims that the majority of doctors are too reliant on the influence of pharmaceutical companies when it comes to choosing a treatment path.

"The era of patient-centered, humane care has long passed," he writes. "Yet, in the face of burgeoning alternatives, official medicine shrugs its shoulders and shuts its doors."

He points to examples in which science has failed to uncover a satisfactory answer as to why some people get sick and others don’t.

Chopra proposes that the Obama administration should begin listening to those who promote and practice CAM, as it can offers answers to many of the nation’s chronic health problems.

Tom Daschle, Obama’s pick for Health and Human Services Secretary, has in the past supported more exploration into the benefits of CAM.


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  • Pam WOrner

    Amen to that.

  • s c mailen, jr.

    This is absolutely right. However, America still has millions of people who think the government will somehow do the “right” thing each time something is wrong. I wish!
    Our government specializes in doing the wrong thing at the wrong time for the wrong reason(s). In effect, our government is in bed with many corporations (compliments of career politicians). We might as well think of ourselves as doomed sheep, cowering before ravening wolves. Good intentions and denial have NOTHING to do with getting what we deserve from our ‘leaders.’

  • Bob Livingston

    It is absolutely predictable by any sober person that Obama nor any president will not challenge the financial and political power of the pharmaceuticals. Anything said to the contrary will be a political statement and meaningless.

    • Paul Trood

      Totally correct Bob, and whilst 42% of congressmen have substantial shareholdings in pharmaceutical companies nothing will change. We are all being used for profits.

    • June Arthur

      I have a story for you. I am a 68 yr. old lady who has enjoyed reasonably good health all my life. Except for bronchitis, allergies, and anxiety problems, I was fine. When my old doctor retired , I started going to a new younger doctor in 2005. Everything was fine until along about 2006, his nurse started saying my blood pressure was high. It was no higher than it had ever been, but she convinced the doctor who started insisting I go on medication. I refused, knowing that I had whitecoat b.p., and my anxiety about going to dr. caused it to rise. They refused to listen to me. When I told him I had a bladder infection, he wouldl not listen, and did not test me. I had that for 3 months until one day I found blood in my urine and went to another dr. for treatment. It was too late. Due mostly to that infection, I had gone into atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat), and my b.p. did really shoot up. I landed in hospital 4 days. I have been forced to take a b.p. medicine for over a year which lowered my b.p. much lower than it should have been. I was too off balance and dizzy to walk for over 8 months, and my complaints fell on deaf ears. Since this doctor put all this in my medical records, my new doctors will not tell me how to get off this. All this happened simply because I told this very arrogant doctor to stop writing me so many prescriptions, since every time I saw him thats all he did. He got very angry and jumped up in m y face and screamed at me. I would much like to call attention to the fact that older people are getting much abused in the name of the Medicare dollar. I have filed complaint with my state, but they ignored it. Thanks

      • Mindi

        Sounds like you need a new doctor!! It stinks that most doctors think M.D. is short for Major Diety!

        To get good care you really need to look for a doctor that doesn’t think pills for everything is the answer. How to find one?? Perhaps if you talk to your friends, you can find one that is honest and good.

        Good luck with that.

  • Fred

    Chopra is just another ‘don’t worry, be happy’ nutjob with a book out. His medical opinions aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. There are studies that have shown how some untested and undocumented alternative medications are more dangerous than doing nothing, yet he fails to mention that in his argument preferring to use scare tactics to make his point instead.

    If Chopra wants his way, he needs to find scientific methods to test and document alternative medications and their impacts, just as the drug companies have to do. Anecdotal evidence where facts are selected to prove a case is a poor method to bet your life on.

    • Paul Trood

      Sorry Fred, you fit into the “haven’t I been conned” category. The cost of running double blind placebo trials with large numbers of people is very expensive and the FDA is totally against anything for treating illness that is not a DRUG. Chopra is not a nutjob, he is enlightened to the realities that modern medicine does not try to cure anything, only treat the symptoms and keep the profits rolling in. It is people of your ignorance that big pharma loves. For god’s sake open your eyes.

      • Fred

        Let me reword that for you … ‘It’s too expensive to prove that these actually work and won’t harm people. You will just have to trust me’.

        There … is that better???

        Drugs are chemicals. Herbs are chemicals. Your body is nothing more than a chemical processing plant. Open your eyes and stop listening to the con artists selling oregano claiming they are anything different.

        How expensive could a double blind test be if these things really worked?? Since these are ‘natural’, they can’t cost much to make? Line people up, hand stuff out, take notes. If they worked, you wouldn’t have to pay people to take them. You could probably get some med students to administer it on the cheap. Get a couple of people that know how to write FDA reports and off you go.

        Or are they just afraid that the truth really is they aren’t any better than a placebo? Chopra is just another con artist selling his version of the Law of Attraction to those willing to believe anything.

    • Terry

      The FDA was created under FDR to stop liars from selling ineffective medicine. Now the FDA is so corrupt with political influence and bureaucratic inefficency, we would actually be better off without it. Life-saving medicine is held up in clinical trials for so long that people are DYING while waiting for the FDA to move!

      Limited government is ALWAYS better government. There will always some people who are dumb enough to pay high prices for sugar-pills but that is far better than dying while the government sleeps on a cure that it refuses to release.

  • jorgaone

    It is very clear to me that nay-sayers will never really investigate the claims of the so-called alternative medicine gurus; because they don’t want to know the truth.
    The Lord says clearly in the Bible that everything for our good is already HERE–and that was BEFORE all the chemicals that our bodies can’t utilize came out.
    Medicines were made up for our good from herbs for thousands of years before they were manufactured in labs–and did what they were intended to do without harm to our systems.
    I personally collected herbs with my dad as a youngster to sell to the pharmicuetical companies long before the chemicals were made. The big pharma USED to use herbs too–but it was too cheap, and too efficient, and it could be duplicated without benefit of their labs. For instance, Midol USED to be made from High-Bush Cranberry bark (cramp-bark is what the Chippawa called it) because it is a natural and wholly safe muscle relaxer with no side effects. Peppermint leaves can be chewed or steeped in tea without a perscription & camomile can be added for an upset stomach. Can’t regulate that!
    Wake up! We already have what we need to save ourselves and our health, and the Government is trying to regulate it out of existance! Our bodies CAN use herbs–they CAN’T use man-made chemicals!
    So-called alternative medicine is actually the original, and still the best…BO will NEVER accept an inexpensive and readily accessible alternative to national health care.
    This up-coming generation is the first one who will die SOONER than their parents! Doesn’t that tell the nay-sayers anything?? We have “progressed” ourselves right into the dark ages again with “modern medicine”. God, help us!

    • Patricia

      The Lord says clearly in the Bible that everything for our good is already HERE

      You got that right, I have been using alternatives for over 30 years and even my allergist agreed that what I take helps. Many women have gone to natural treatments for the natural life changes that happen, I myself being one of them. Our bodies aren’t made to digest man made chemicals and they poison us by causing harm to other parts of the body. All the drug companies are out to do is make a buck at the expense of peoples lives.

      • Emi

        I have had the opportunity to live in South Africa whilst with the TV media and have proof that alternative works. Many statesmen, the rich etc., travel to ZA, seeking alternative healing that actually works. They even have a cure for aids, but are not allowed to share this info, since they are part of the UN. Also, have you seen the pearly white teeth they have? Corn on the cob is eaten daily, before brushing. Sugar is used for wounds. Each Friday children are given a dollop of castor oil or molasses plus malt. The list is endless.

        Sure there are chemicals in plants, but the ones produced by science adds a lot more than is needed so as to have continued docotor visits – which leads to more prescriptions. A viscious cycle. The deal is not to heal but to get as much money as possible. Doctors today feed into this. How many do house calls? – this is gone and forgotten.

        This economic crises has arisen to get us back to basics, as to how things were. No credit cards that leads to more debt. Purchase only what one can afford. Live simply yet well with what God has given us. Brazil has a stream where people in the vicinity have twins most of the time. They do not abort their new offspring (only in cases of child rape which is being debated now).

        My husband fell off a ladder and lost his memory, was mistreated and meds given that made him lifeless and drooling. I am home nursing him myself. He walks, he eats, watches tv and interacts with the children who are still young. So who says alternative does not work? Try it before you talk – however be cautioned, there are scammers out there in every field of life.

  • Sharon Davis

    I doubt very much that BO would include any form of alt. health care, we might actually stay healthy and the drug co’s prophets would fall. Providing evidence that alt. medicine works wouldn’t be hard, and would like to see proof that Pharmacudicals work or only mask our symptoms.

    • Patricia

      BO should include them, he should look into them for help with his daughter’s allergies.

  • Marcia

    I am in a wheelchair with chronic pain due to a medical dr. giving me the wrong medicine for a polio suvivor. However when I went to an alternative medicane or herbs none of them helped me. I am now on a muscle relaxer and a nerve stimular in my back to stop the nerve pain from my feet. If these devices were not available to me I would not be able to live with a quality of life. Mainstream medicine is good if you are pro active on your care and know how to oversee what your dr. is doing. I didnot do that back then but I do it today. Every prescription I investiagate the side effects and the good effects and how the offset each other.

  • Rachel Paluch

    Anyone in a position to pass regulation on any industry should not be allowed to have any financial interest in that industry. If it is accurate that 42% of all congressmen have shareholdings in the pharma industry – then it is obvious that is where you begin with legislation. That 42% should not be allowed to vote on any thing having to do with this industry. It is simple common sense.

    • Patricia

      If it is accurate that 42% of all congressmen have shareholdings in the pharma industry

      All branches of government need to be included in that percentile and the oil and utility companies should too.

  • Anne

    First of all I want to say that “science” has ignored a lot. The govt. knows that alternative medicine helps people. They speak against it because they do not have a hand in it and that’s the way it should stay.

    I have to say this concerns me, what Chopra has said. The govt. will move in now, with seemingly good intentions, and vitamins/supplements/homeopathics, etc., will be regulated. And that, in my opinion, would not be good.

    I don’t want them to have anything to do with alternative medicine. I know from my own experience that there are other ways to treat conditions than with traditional medicines. We all know that a lot of medicines come from herbs. They take say for instance valerian, which is quite safe, add chemicals to it and come up with valerian, which is very addictive and has a lot of side effects.

    Here in MA it is against the law not to have health insurance. That makes me see red!! If I don’t want health insurance, leave me alone. We were penalized on our tax return for it and were forced to get it. What next?

  • Mike Stafford

    Fred, and those like him, in 1986 I was in college where I had access to a health services/medical library where I picked up an issue of The Lancet (then the name of the British Medical Journal). They reported on an American medical steering meeting held, but not reported much, in this country. The report was that our medical system did not forsee change in their failures with chronic and degenerative illnesses. Therefore, they decided to find ways to “manage” disease and render “care” rather than “cure”.
    The results of that consensus is evident today: exponential growth in costs; insurers unable to manage risks and runs on their funds; patients receiving therapy for conditions secondary to surgeries, drugs, transplants, misdiagnosis due to concurrent care at other specialists, internal toxicity from endless sources and nutrient stripping (from drugs) causing nutrient deficiency diseases. These problems are but a small part of the price we’re paying for modern medicine and “group pay” schemes to finance our personal responsibilities. Socialized medicine or national “health” care will never fix this problem. The problem is systemic and pervasive because people resist learning and doing what they, individually, must do to get and stay well.
    We are near crisis stage because people have looked to medicine and government as their salvation. We live in a “health bubble”. It is just like the “financial bubble” extant just before the crash last September. Everything looks fine on the surface; but, in reality, it isn’t.
    Your best chance to survive what could easily happen is to learn as much as you possibly can about detoxification, nutrition (non-medically sanctioned info), basic hygiene, antiseptic techniques and believing God for health.


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