A Better Way to Heal Chronic Illness A Conversation with Walt Stoll, MD

By Karen Engelsen, for EdgeLife Magazine

Q: What lead you to your perspective on the healing arts?

A: “I was born and raised on a dairy farm in Ohio and so always had an appreciation for the web of life. I was granted a full tuition scholarship to Western Reserve University (now Case-Western Reserve University) and majored in psychology as a pre-med candidate. Even then I was most interested in how everything fit together.

“The first year I attended Ohio State’s Medical School (1958), they had decided to offer two educational tracks: both the traditional piecemeal approach and a new, integrated approach. This new approach combined each basic science subject with the clinical side of each subject. In other words, when the liver chemistry was covered, so was the anatomy, surgical anatomy, physiology, radiology, etc.

“I know it sounds only logical now, but this was revolutionary at the time. They asked for volunteers for the new program and separated the class into two parts to compare our progress. Of course, I jumped at the chance to be in the new group, to my everlasting thankfulness.

“So, when I got into practice I was primed to do what interested me most: be a family practitioner who saw things in wholes. This led inevitably to patient education as my approach to health, which lead, inevitably, to my interest in holistic medicine.”

Q: In your practice, what had patients been through by the time they hit your office?

A: “Most had already seen an average of a half-dozen physicians with little or no resolution. In other words, I got all the hard cases in this little town of 10,000 people. I was the first new doctor in 25 years to start practice there. I soon got a significant reputation for not shying away from the hard cases. I was the only physician with a hitching rack in the parking lot for all the Amish who came to me. The Amish are well known for their self-sufficiency and interest in helping themselves.”

Q: What are the dirtiest white lies conventional medicine tells us?

A. “That all illnesses are only legitimately approached via the allopathic (conventional) concept. The truth is that 85% of all illnesses seen in the family practitioner’s office are chronic illnesses, all of which are best approached first by holistic/complementary methods. Only 15% are best first approached allopathically!

“Money speaks. Conventional medicine is a political/economic monopoly. I sometimes call their insistence upon their method as ‘attempting to force the health-care camel through the eye of the allopathic needle.’

“The AMA supports a front organization called Quackbusters, which consistently has labeled anything not strictly allopathic as quackery. Now they have invaded the Internet with Web MD and even have a glossy Web MD magazine promoting allopathy as the only way to think. The work of medical anthropologists that describes this is documented in my first book, Saving Yourself.

Q: Why does conventional medicine avoid incorporating a holistic perspective?

A: “There is no money in it. A holistic approach requires patient education. Have you noticed that insurance companies have consistently refused to pay for patient education? The real money in medicine is shuffling patients through as fast as possible with Band-Aid remedies. This is one reason conventional docs have so much disposable money to continue to bend the publics’ direction toward the monopoly. The AMA lobby has consistently been the largest lobby in Washington D.C.”

Q: Who benefits from the system staying as it is?

A: “Conventional docs, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies. Do you understand that insurance companies make more money the more money they pay out? This seemingly counterintuitive mechanism is fully explained in my first book..

Q: So, how can someone suffering chronic illness best work with the conventional health care system?

A: “They cannot work with strictly conventional physicians since these physicians are the most brainwashed by the system of them all. There are too many reasons to keep up the current system, socially, economically, and professionally, for these physicians to risk thinking differently!

“However, individuals suffering from chronic illness can, first, educate themselves via the many books out there and use the resources in books like mine—Saving Yourself and Recapture Your Health—to find a competent physician. Such a physician would be trained in complementary medicine and have his or her patients’ welfare as the #1 priority and not money. Second, and perhaps the hardest thing to do: change their concept about health away from the magic-pill concept to accepting self-responsibility. Chronic illness is always best approached first this way. In contrast, acute conditions such as a broken leg, etc., are best first approached allopathically.”

Q: What are the top ten chronic illnesses in the US that would be better treated with the 3LS program you write about in Recapture Your Health—and why?

A: “All degenerative diseases. All lifestyle conditions. Take your pick. I have always insisted that we do not want to ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ and discard allopathy altogether. We just need to stop insisting that allopathy is the only ‘pathy’ out there. All currently studied chronic conditions clearly show that lifestyle is inextricably linked to the incidence of these conditions.”

Q: Many city dwellers lack time, access, or money to attend meditation groups or to purchase and prepare whole foods. What do you recommend as a starting point for them?

A: “This requires self-education and commitment. I have done it and know how hard it is. I had to do it myself before I could, in good conscience, recommend it to my patients. But I have yet to speak to one patient who did not say it was well worth the commitment.

“Start with the one approach you are most likely to continue and do it long enough to see results; diet can be as little as a week (done correctly), aerobics in as little as six weeks (done correctly) and Skilled Relaxation can be immediate, for temporary relief of symptoms, but long-term results take a month or so (done correctly, with biofeedback certification).”

Q: Is Skilled Relaxation “new age” or does it have a scientific medical basis?

A: “All medical schools now are teaching the benefits of Skilled Relaxation, after decades of scoffing. Biofeedback has put the lie to the doubters. Start with The Relaxation Response, an early book by a Harvard medical school professor, Herbert Benson, M.D.”

Q: What is the single most important thing you would like chronically ill people to know?

A: “There is real hope beyond the strictly allopathic approach they have been brainwashed to think is the only way. The allopaths have had nearly one hundred years of unopposed monopoly over the thinking of this country (see the Flexner Report written in 1910). However, now this is rapidly reaching the ultimate absurdity that all such monopolies eventually come to—non-sustainability! The holistic/complementary approach is less expensive, safer, and more effective for all chronic diseases and can be combined with the allopathic approach as needed.”

Walt Stoll, MD, and Jan DeCourtney, CMT, are co-authors of the book, Recapture Your Health: A Complete Step-by-Step Program to Reverse Your Chronic Symptoms and Create Lasting Wellness, (ISBN 0965317129), available at local and online bookstores, and from Sunrise Health Coach Publications, 1-877-357-9355 or "http://www.sunrisehealthcoach.com".

Recapture Your Health by Walt Stoll, M.D. and Jan DeCourtney, C.M.T., (Sunrise Health Coach Publications, 2006)
Order at www.sunrisehealthcoach.com, 303-527-2886, or toll free at 1-877-3LS-WELL (1-877-357-9355)
Contact/info: Jan DeCourtney, info@sunrisehealthcoach.com, 303-527-2886, www.sunrisehealthcoach.com

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