Why Over-Treating Illness Is Worse Than Doing Nothing

“Practice not-doing, and everything will fall into place.” ~ Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Modern medicine over-treats most illness.

Yes, that’s a strong statement. But there is proof to back it up.

One source for this proof comes from a doctor. Dr. Nortin Hadler, M.D. lays it out in his 2008 book, Worried Sick: A Prescription for Health in an Overtreated America. He has done a lot of research. The bibliography is 43 pages long.

In his book, he reviews studies done on many of the most popular and most widely practiced modern medical cures. This includes original and later research. A short list of these treatments includes:

  • chemotherapy
  • mastectomy
  • statin drugs
  • bypass surgery
  • angioplasty

His findings? There was no proof these therapies worked! In many cases, they were worse than doing nothing. And all of them had serious side effects.

He further concludes that we are generally over-treated. As you might imagine, other doctors didn’t take this kindly. After all, they only get paid when they treat things. Anyone notice a conflict of interest here?

He recommends asking your doctor how likely it is any procedure will give you meaningful benefits. And he recommends you listen carefully to the answer.

Another area of concern are diagnostic procedures. For years, I have discouraged patients from getting EMG (Electromyogram) tests. These are done to test muscle electrical activity. Many people experience worsening of their condition after this test.

And recently, the US Preventive Services Task Force recommended against prostate cancer screening.

Note that these aren’t treatments. They are only done for diagnosis.

Your takeaway? You’ve read it here before, but it bears repeating:

Your body is designed to heal itself. That doesn’t mean it can’t use help sometimes. But it does mean that you shouldn’t count on extreme measures (drugs, surgery) to help you be well.

In other words, sometimes doing nothing is the best approach.

All the best to you for your health and happiness,

Dr. Bruce Eichelberger

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