The Future of Medicine is … Not Medicine

fresh-fruits-and-vegetables“The Future of Medicine is … Not Medicine” was the topic of a lecture I attended three years ago by Dr. Lane Sebring of Winberley, TX. He spoke to our futurist dinner at the World Future Society, and I completely forgot about this until I stumbled upon a recording and re-watched it. What follows are my notes from his 71-minute lecture, followed by the video recording and a shorter 3-minute intro to his clinic. Dr. Sebring got his MD at the University of Texas in Galveston but quickly became disillusioned with the traditional practice of providing “sick care” and just another pill in what can be called a “disease management” system that profits from treating symptoms to keep patients as paying customers. Because he wanted to focus on health and wellness instead, he became an expert in Functional Medicine — a form of alternative, integrative, or holistic medicine — and now practices in that specialty and serves as a board examiner for the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.

 The Future of Medicine is … Not Medicine (MY NOTES)

  • Dr. Sebring looked to anthropology to understand why, even with modern medicine, many of our diseases today didn’t even exist a century ago.
    • Heart Disease was almost unknown prior to 1900.
    • Cancer also was rare. With all the studies of Egyptian mummies, only one was ever found to have died from a form of cancer, and in 1950, cancer didn’t even make the top 10 as a cause of death.
    • Osteoporosis, he said, began to be a problem when farming of grain replaced the hunter-gatherer diet some 10,000 years ago.
    • Diabetes, it seems, is also related to diet, and he says it’s completely reversible with the right diet.
  • Sebring attributes much of today’s disease to changes in diet and exercise, and to that I’d add sleep as well, because these are the three pillars to good health.
  • He argues that human genetics evolved over millions of years but have scarcely changed since the dawn of agriculture, some 15,000 years ago. That change marked the end of the Paleolithic era and the beginning of the agricultural age.
  • Follow the lifestyle that our genes expect, and you won’t have disease. By eating what humans were designed to eat, including nutrient-dense foods, and by avoiding disease-causing foods, we can reverse chronic illness and prevent it.
  • Dr. Sebring endorses a Paleo diet of mainly of fish, grass-fed pasture-raised meats, eggs, vegetables, fruit, berries, fungi, roots, and nuts. He calls on us to avoid grains, legumes, dairy products, potatoes, refined salt, refined sugar, and processed oils that are all associated with modern agriculture.
  • Refined sugar and the high-fructose sweeteners in sodas, fruit drinks, and other foods are immensely addictive, but what’s worse is that all cancers crave glucose (sugar), so cutting back on sugar helps avoid cancer.
  • Sebring’s observations jive with the Katie Couric documentary “Fed Up,” which I reviewed a week ago.
  • Present-day hunger-gatherers, including ethnic groups in South America and Africa, do not develop heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, obesity, allergies, asthma, or irritable bowel disease. Some die young, in child-birth or in battle, but they age quite well until they die. Sebring wants all of us to do the same — live a full life until eventually all of our organs give out at once and we die.
  • In reality, and obvious in an evolutionary medicine mindset, what appears to be the cause of the disease is often the body’s response to some insult. High cholesterol is an example. It doesn’t “cause” heart disease, but many things that cause high cholesterol do cause heart disease. So, Sebring says doctors should prescribe statin drugs to reduce cholesterol levels since there’s a reason the body is producing more of it. Find out what that reason is and address that instead.
  • Besides the Paleo diet rich in meat and devoid of grain, Sebring often prescribes supplemental vitamins when needed. One example is Vitamin D, because we don’t get enough sun outside, and he usually advises at least 5,000 iu.
  • While he didn’t specifically mention stress and sleep, Sebring did say the average hunter-gatherer work day is 2.5 hours. Compare that to the average farmer work day of 10 hours or modern office workers who today work 14 or more, including work they bring home.
  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis are relatively new conditions. No hunter-gatherer group to date even has a word for Arthritis since their joints don’t wear out like ours.
  • Not only does the Paleo diet help reduce obesity, it also reduces tooth decay, asthma, irritable bowels, reflux, peripheral neuropathy, psychiatric disorders, and PMS postpartum depression.
  • About fitness, Sebring said strength exercise with resistance builds not just muscle but brain cells too, and it increases metabolism and detoxifies. When we exercise, our sweat chelates iron and other heavy metals, and it’s good for diabetes.
  • About Organ Reserve, human organs have much more capacity than needed, but with illness and stress that capacity diminishes until the point when the organ itself stops functioning. The body is pretty good at naturally balancing itself, so that ideally all organs give out about the same time and we just die.
  • About the Future of Medicine, Dr. Sebring sees more interest in evolutionary medicine (another way to say functional, alternative, integrative, or holistic medicine), more control over our own health, less confusion about what is appropriate for health & wellness, more freedom, and less dependency on prescription drugs. That’s because functional medicine treatments have no side effects, are far less expensive, and offer reduced morbidity.
  • Sebring thinks functional medicine can actually replace 70% of traditional medicine.

. . .

Related Documentaries (my favorites)

Hunter-Gatherer diet feeds Mitochondria & Brain Cells — As Dr. Wahls says in her TED talk, “You’ll pay one way or another” – either pay now for a nutritious diet that improves your productivity and quality of life, or pay more later for medical intervention and long-term healthcare.

Fed Up — Going against everything we thought we knew about food and weight loss, this movie reveals a 30-year campaign by the food industry to mislead and confuse the American public.

The Weight of the Nation — This HBO series is about Obesity, a really BIG problem (excuse the pun). With over two-thirds (69%) of us overweight or obese,  it’s now the largest threat to the health, wellness and future survival of our nation. 

Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue America’s Healthcare — can be described as “An Inconvenient Truth” for the healthcare debate.

Wall-E” — is a warm-hearted commentary on environmental pollution that portrays future humans as super-obese couch potatoes living in a robot & technology dominated world.

Robot and Frank” — shows the challenges and benefits of companion robots for the elderly who don’t warm easily to technology.

The Waiting Room — is like a punch to the gut for people cast off and left out of our U.S. medical care system, what some call the best in the world.

A Place at the Table — is a documentary about Poverty, Hunger, and Health. It shows us how hunger poses serious economic, social, health and cultural implications for our nation.

The Line — is an important documentary about poverty. It covers stories of people across the country living at or below the poverty line. They have goals. They have children. They work hard. They are people like you and me. Across America, millions are struggling every day to make it above The Line.