By Nicholas Gonzalez, MD
What exactly is Green Medicine? I like to think of it in terms of stimulating the body’s own resources and extraordinary abilities to repair and rebuild itself, and help reverse even serious illness, using diet, nutrients, detoxification procedures and not usually drugs, to move our bodies in a healing direction. It also means living a clean life at home, avoiding exposures, as much as possible, to toxic synthetic chemicals, it also means working to keep the larger world around us cleaner, greener, as it was originally meant to be.
This approach differs considerably from the more conventional medicine we know so well, the slash and burn treatment of illness that uses drugs, invariably with long lists of toxic side effects, to blast away at the illness – be it bacterial or cancer. Of course no one denies the benefits of technological, pharmaceutical-based modern medicine but it has serious limitations, and often doesn’t work very well – witness the recent reports revealing that antidepressants, long considered one of the great victories of modern medicine, may overall work no better than placebo.
But, nice as it may sound, gentle as it might seem in theory, can green medicine really work, say against a terrible disease like cancer? Well, my colleague Dr. Isaacs and I, certainly believe so, and our experience over the past 20 years in the trenches with at times the sickest of the sick has helped confirm that done properly and intensively, our brand of medicine can work.
We’ve received some significant recognition over the years, in the form of funding by major corporations such as Nestle and Procter & Gamble, even the US National Cancer Institute. We’ve published results confirming the benefit of the treatment against the worst of cancers, and continue working hard toward its wider acceptance.
Though those who know of our work see it as a medical treatment, in fact, it really is, at its core, “Green Medicine,” an entire green lifestyle, that uses food and nutrients and enzymes to change our vital chemistry for the better, but that also requires patients lead a clean and green lifestyle. We think of our therapy at three levels, personal green, the basics of good, wholesome nutrition, local green, the environment in our homes and offices, and global green – protecting the soils, the forests, the air and the earth.
In terms of personal green, our therapy, in its essence, consists of three basic components, individualized diets, individualized supplement protocols, and detoxification routines, such as juice fasts and colon cleanses, but it most certainly is not “one size fits all.” We don’t prescribe just one magical diet, suitable for all sizes and shapes of humans, but a variety ranging from near pure near raw nuts and seeds to fatty red meat three times a day, akin to an Atkins’ approach. Our supplement programs are equally as varied, involving precisely designed combinations of vitamins, minerals, trace elements, again depending on the patient’s specific needs, and for our cancer patients, large doses of enzymes we believe fight the disease effectively. The detoxification routines we believe help patients mobilize and excrete the myriad of toxic chemicals we take in daily from our food, water and air, and that we synthesize daily during normal minute to minute life.
In addition to whatever specific diet, supplements or detox procedures I might prescribe, since I started in practice, we have insisted our patients eat primarily, if not exclusively, organically. We’ve long believed that organic food, whether of plant or animal in origin, not only lacks the many the toxic chemicals found in conventional selections, but provides more nutritional benefit. For example, organically raised carrots yield higher quantities of essential antioxidants such as beta carotene, and grass fed beef can contain ten times the amount of the essential omega-3 fatty acids than cattle raised on grain in the feedlot.
Easy Being Green
Twenty years ago, organic wasn’t as easy to come by as it is today, now with every supermarket in the country providing naturally grown food. In the good old days, even into the 1990′s, my patients often had to rely on limited selections of produce from small mom and pop health food stores, or turn to mail order suppliers that shipped overnight. Today, fortunately, organic is everywhere – when over Christmas my wife and I stayed on Sanibel Island in Florida, I was pleased to see even there, the local Island supermarket had an extensive section of organic produce, as well as grass fed meat. Organic is always best, but locally grown organic is the very best, since food, even if grown cleanly, loses some value in transport.
We believe that the cleaner the food, the better our patients do, but we believe everyone – or at least, everyone interested in optimal health – should eat organically, or at least as much as feasible, given the cost issue. I have eaten this way myself for the better part of 25 years, and my wife and I run an “organic kitchen.” I’ve been eating cleanly for so long, that when I travel and must rely on non-organic restaurant food, I can feel the difference. I don’t sleep as well. I’m just not as sharp mentally. Those chemicals do indeed make a difference.
Of course, water is as important as food, lots of it, since, we’re mostly made of H2O. But only clean water, the cleaner the better. Don’t believe that tap water is ok, chlorine has been shown to be mutagenic, that is, it disrupts our very DNA, and the debate about the safety of fluoride continues unabated. As my wife Mary Beth wrote in her “Green” blog about water recently, evidence now shows millions of Americans ingest all manner of drugs that have contaminated our water supply. Who needs such stuff, even if the amounts are small. Clean water is key, always, and for our supply, we rely on reverse osmosis filtration. Put ten water experts in a room together and you will get 20 opinions about the best filtration system, and admittedly, no system is perfect, but until someone comes up with a better way, I believe reverse osmosis still the best.
Green Home and Office
We run an organic kitchen, but we also run a non toxic home. All our cleaning products are “green,” from companies such as Seventh Generation and Shaklee, both with extensive selections of home products. When we had our apartment painted several years ago, we purchased non-toxic non-fuming paint that left no irritating, noxious odor. All our rugs consist of natural fibers, untainted by any number of chemical treatments commercial carpet manufacturers traditionally use, such as formaldehyde, even pesticides – that’s right, some commercial carpets have traces of pesticides, so when your kids are crawling over them playfully, the stuff will rub onto their skin.
I also run a green office. When we had the place constructed 16 years ago, we insisted everything in the office – the wooden floors, walls, even the furniture, be constructed of non-toxic materials only, no toxic dyes, no formaldehyde, only natural woods, natural oils, and natural paints. A company with a factory in Vermont and a New York showroom, Pompanoosuc Mills, made all our office furniture out of natural, untainted woods and finishes, and 16 years later, all of it has held up to wear and tear beautifully, without exposing us to one milligram of synthetic toxic junk.
Of course, when you live green personally, at home, and if possible, at the office, you are living green globally. When you choose organic, you support farms that don’t apply the load of toxic chemicals that degrade soil, penetrate into water supplies, and eventually leech in our rivers and oceans, then into the fish who swim in these waters. When you choose local organic, you reduce the carbon footprint, the costs of transport, and reduce, as well nutrient loss. When each of us lives green in our home, we’re keeping a host of toxic chemicals out of the greater environment at large.
I’m encouraged by the growing acceptance of adopting a green lifestyle, and the change in attitude toward concepts such as organic I’ve witness over the past 20 years. With the growing interest in all things green, I believe more and more of us will turn to greener medicine, the gentler, less toxic interventions that can work, again, if done properly.
Nicholas Gonzalez, MD