This week, we don't discuss research or news, but rather re-visit some first principles. What has largely brought me to this point is a particular drug company's sponsored and frequently aired ad we've all seen for some time about gastric reflux, wherein a 'celebrity' GP flogs the drug, having pointed out that only your GP can diagnose the disease. Yes... me too! However, the ad did bring me some happiness recently when it was aired during the cricket, which took my mind off Australia's dismal batting for thirty precious seconds. It also reminded me of just how precious our GP's are!


The three anti's are anti-inflammatories, anti-hypertensives and antacids. Whenever you start to need one of these, the others follow in due course, and as soon as you need one of them, you need to start paying particular attention to your health. They are all related, so lets have a look at the relationship and see how it all fits together. It's important to remember that if you need these medicines, it isn't because you are doing something wrong necessarily, but rather that you need to be cautious as to your health in the present and longer terms.




The biggest disease in the world is inflammation. It is so big that some years ago TIME magazine devoted a major story to it, which from memory took up a substantial portion of that particular edition.

inflammation diagram

Aside from some genetic and auto-immune factors, most inflammation comes from the gut either because of too much food (most commonly), allergy (histamine - increasingly) and maldigestive problems caused by inappropriate diet or poor diet. Now, there is a difference a lot of people don't realize between poor diet and inappropriate diet. We well know what poor diet is, but inappropriate diet is a matter of incompatibility.



Incompatibilities, as examples, are the following; an elderly person eating too much raw food, a patient suffering from chronic constipation eating too much fibre - the problem isn't lack of fibre, it lies elsewhere, vegetarianism is often a problem (it is true that vegetarians live longer, but that is because they eat fewer calories, not because they're vegetarian), too much dietary monotony - the same breakfast every day, and so forth. What all of these examples set up is inflammation and spasm. The inflammation trans-locates and becomes systemic over time, and both contribute to indigestion resulting in the antacid route. I once  had a young woman with a weak digestive system who ate all raw food - totally inappropriate as she had no hope of digesting it properly; she didn't like what I had to tell her and never came back for a second visit. She had read all about the health giving benefits of raw food on the internet, and so I therefore had to be wrong. She was also aghast that a herbalist would suggest she eat red meat.


I digress slightly. And so I shall further. There is some sort of urban myth in Australia and the USA that one simply attends a traditional physician for one or two visits and we unfurl before them some sort of definitive diet/lifestyle programme that will keep them in optimal health for the rest of their born days. Quite where such delusions spring from is a complete mystery to us, and in the thirty years of which I've been a student and practitioner it has failed to go away - the myth, that is. The human body is dynamic and needs constant revision both in terms of medicine and diagnostics. In my view, western medicine simply can't provide the diagnostics for optimal community health - this is evidentiary in the fact that we live in a very sick society! Contrary to the common cry, our sick society has nothing to do with what we eat and everything to do with what western medicine says we can eat. Every item on a supermarket shelf has been given the 'GP tick of approval'! Let us not forget that. For every item on the shelf, there is a board of doctors who say it's okay, or tacitly do nothing to say it isn't. The western human being is the only primate on the planet which doesn't take therapeutic amounts of herbal medicine on a daily basis, and all the primates which do so don't have need of the three anti's because they are already taking them, and are thus preventing hypertension, inflammation and maldigestion - well, for a time at least. Yet, despite overwhelming scientific evidence in support of this fact, no board of doctors anywhere says there is anything therapeutically you can do to improve your health. Professional negligence by omission!


However, back to hypertension: The hypertensive pathway is to my mind still not that well understood and I think it's a bit complicated. There is some involvement with the gut, but as there are many causes of hypertension it is way too simplistic to solely blame a dietary cause. The problem with taking a anti-hypertensive drug is that it doesn't solve the hypertensive pathology - the causitive factors are still in situ. And yet I am still amazed at the number of patients who think they don't have hypertension because there blood pressure is normal whilst they take the drug - utter ridiculousness - that view is akin to saying you don't have a brain tumour because Oxycontin gets rid of the headache!


Now, James Fixx, the man who started the whole world jogging, believed that you could eat whatever you wanted as long as you exercised enough. Fixx had had a heart attack prior to starting running and had a history of hypertension. To a large extent, his running forestalled his demise, but as far as I'm aware he did little to change his dietary habits and eventually died of a heart attack. You might like to Google the facts here as it's been a while since I read his story.


The point is that Fixx at one time was on all three anti's, and it was his diet and lifestyle which had got him to that point. One anti had led to another, and exercise alone won't solve the problem - and neither will diet, although they're important nonetheless.