As mentioned in my last message, our Ritalin article evoked some strong feelings, especially from health practitioners. Here is what another M.D. felt.
Thanks for your efforts in bringing sensible views on health to your readership. Your material on Ritalin was great. I look forward to reading the article/research done by your son, I believe it was. (NB: This research is available by emailing email@example.com)
I am a past president of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine. In that Academy, we physicians are particularly concerned regarding some of the dramatically powerful effects of various environmental factors. And that doesn't mean that I am a far-left or even left-leaning “environmentalist.” In fact, I too believe that capitalism is the best system around, even though it is far from perfect.
I have often stated that one of the worst aspects of American life is the status of and promotion by the soft drink manufacturers. Those of us who work with kids who are hyperactive and who do not believe that the best treatment is Ritalin, often find that if the parents will simply eliminate sugar from the child's diet, and have the child take a few appropriate nutrients, these kids will do dramatically better.
One of my colleagues, Sherry Rogers, M.D., is fond of stating that headaches are not a darvon deficiency. In a similar way, hyperactivity is not a Ritalin deficiency. A good physician is going to attempt to find the cause and deal with the problem at that level. And one of the causes is a terrible diet. McDonalds and Coca Cola will cause a lot more problems than just hyperactivity.
One of these days American medicine at large is going to begin to realize that the food we eat does have an effect on the way we behave and live our lives. Computer buffs are familiar with the adage: garbage in, garbage out. It's a truth that has relevance as well in the behaviors we see. Garbage as food, garbage as entertainment, garbage as behavioral modelling by parents, and other forms of garbage will manifest in the output of garbage.
Values which honor quality over quantity in all aspects of life are important. The quality of the food we eat, the quality of our relationships, the quality of our investments, the quality of the words we speak, are all very real contributors to the life that we live.
To believe that the foods we eat have nothing at all to do with the lives we lead, as suggested by the one physician you quote, is a sad representation of the view of life currently held by many Americans. Every day I see patients whose lives are better and are more fulfilling as they change the way in which they eat. It's true for adults as well as children.
And then the mentality that taking some pill is the answer to most of our problems, demonstrates how pervasively the way in which the pharmaceutical mode of thinking has affected most doctors. If your skeptical physician correspondent would learn how to take a history listening for subtle clues and would then learn how to treat patients by eliminating the appropriate foods and suggesting specific nutritional support, she would be amazed at how well many of her complicated and challenging patients would do.
I could write at length on the subject, and I may have written a bit too much already. But your work and efforts at waking us up to the importance of quality and value is appreciated. Quality and value have far more to do than just qualify our financial investments. They should rule every aspect of our lives.
Richard S. Wilkinson, M.D.