Is medicine killing you? Lissa Rankin, MD at TEDxFargo


Translator: Arvind Patil
Reviewer: Rhonda Jacobs Is modern medicine killing you? Or saving you? The very idea that we should
have to ask that kind of question is so upsetting to me as a doctor. I was called to medicine the way
many are called to the priesthood, as a sort of spiritual calling. My whole goal is to help you heal,
not to harm you. And yet, when you look
at the causes of death, preventable medical error
is the number three cause of death, according to
the Center for Disease Control and the Institute of Medicine. And it’s not just medical error, it’s the whole nature
of our pill-popping medical culture that’s been adopted
by patients and doctors alike. Now, we know, according
to the Center for Disease Control, that 90 percent of doctors visits
are the result of stress, and yet as a doctor I wasn’t taught
to help you deal with your stress. I was programmed to believe
that it was my job to medicate you or to operate on you, so that you could go back
to the status quo of your stressful lives. And yet I’ve started to rethink that in the research
that I’ve been doing lately. And what I’ve come to realize
is that as doctors, it is our job to help you address the fact that stress is one
of the biggest killers among us, and that maybe instead of medicating you
or operating on you solely, maybe we need to help you
address the issues that might be predisposing you
to illness or exacerbating your illness, like the toxic relationships in your life or a soul-sucking job
that’s draining your life force. (Laughter) Or financial worries, or social isolation and loneliness, or a pessimistic world view. All of these things
have been scientifically proven to predispose you to illness, and yet when was the last time
your doctor suggested that? Our healthcare system is so broken because we are in the business
of symptom relief, not symptom prevention. Dr. Andrew Weil says, “We have
a disease management system, not a healthcare system.” And we’re blind to this, we’re sort of turning
a blind eye to this, I think, because we think chronic stress
is just an inevitable part of life, it’s just how we have to live. And as doctors and patients
we are turning a blind eye to this because it’s too hard to face. We don’t want to realize
what it would take in order to alleviate our stress, to predispose us
to longer, healthier lives. So we’ve made this collective agreement: I won’t talk about it;
you won’t talk about it. You know stress is bad for your health. As a doctor, I know how many
of my patients are showing up in my office because of the stress in their lives. And yet we’ve sort of agreed
not to talk about it. But I’m here to illuminate that for us, because the idea that medicine
could be killing us is just anathema to me;
I can’t live with that. Because I have a dream
of a healed healthcare system – one in which we bring
the best of modern medicine, everything that we’ve learned
about pharmaceuticals and surgical interventions and such, and we marry it with what it means
to be a true healer, what I was called to do as a doctor, where not only am I putting a Band-Aid on the symptoms
that are the result of your stress, but I’m also putting a soul back in you. This ‘soul medicine,’ I think,
is so much of what we’ve lost in modern medicine today. I dream of being able to replace that,
of reclaiming the heart of medicine, and of reminding you what it means
to be a whole, healthy human being. This is essential because our current
healthcare system just isn’t working. We all know it. Doctors and patients alike. Yeah, it’s broken, people. This is breaking my heart, because when you look at the data, we spend more on healthcare
than any other country in the world, and yet 32 countries have longer
life expectancies than we do. Patient dissatisfaction is rising;
90 percent of hospital patients didn’t even know the name of their doctor
at the time of discharge. It’s not just patients
that are dissatisfied; doctors are just as dissatisfied. Nine out of ten doctors
would not recommend becoming a doctor. And 70 percent of Americans
take at least one prescription drug; 20 percent take five or more. So I want to show you something here. These pill bottles have a month’s
worth of medication in them. And I’m going to show you –
there’s approximately 500 of you here – I’m going to show you how much medication
it takes to medicate all of you for just one day,
based on these statistics. Now, we’ve been trained in our system
to think about medicine the way a doctor would think about
a football player in a football game. You know, the football player gets injured, so we bring the injured
football player out of the game, and we fix the ankle, and we set the bone
or we inject the joint, and we do everything we can to send the football player
back out into the game. But what a lot of people
aren’t talking about is perhaps the best thing
for the football player is to get the football player
out of the game. (Laughter) Right? And yet, it’s not just the doctor’s fault. What do we do when the star football
player says, “Doc, just do anything. Do anything you can
to get me back in the game, so we can win the Super Bowl.” That’s what many of you
as patients are doing. You are asking us as doctors
to fill you with pills so that you can go back to the game
of your stressful life. And I’m here because it’s breaking my heart
that we’re having to do that. And I want to change the game. I want to suggest that maybe
there’s a different way of doing this. So I wrote a book called
“Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof
That You Can Heal Yourself,” and it’s all about the scientific data
that proves how stress affects our bodies. This was really revolutionary
to me as a doctor. I didn’t know anything about this
four or five years ago, and it was shocking to me
to study the data because what I came to realize is that stress is not
what we think stress is. You know, I think in this culture we have this concept
that stress is like a badge of honor: “I’m stressed, therefore I’m busy,
and worthy, and important.” But to the body, stress is very different. Stress is anything that triggers
the amygdala in your brain to turn on what Walter Cannon at Harvard
called ‘the stress response,’ also known as
the ‘fight-or-flight response.’ So anything that turns on
your fight-or-flight response puts you into
the sympathetic nervous system, and fills your body
with cortisol, and epinephrine, and other very poisonous stress hormones. Now, this is good
if you’re getting chased by a tiger or about to be in a car accident
because it helps to protect your life. But your amygdala
doesn’t know the difference between getting chased by a tiger and negative thoughts,
beliefs, and feelings that originate in your mind
that turn on those stress responses. Now, what I didn’t realize,
and this was my my big aha, is that the nervous system
has two operating systems: there’s the fight-or-flight stress
response sympathetic nervous system, and there’s the parasympathetic
nervous system, or what Herbert Benson at Harvard
called ‘the relaxation response.’ And this was my big epiphany. Your body is beautifully equipped
with natural self-repair mechanisms. Your body knows how to fight cancer,
how to prevent heart disease, how to fight off infection. It does this every day. But those natural self-repair mechanisms are deactivated every time
your body’s in stress response. Now, what is stress? Stress, as I said,
is getting chased by a tiger. But stress is also social
isolation and loneliness. Stress is selling your soul
for a paycheck. Stress is a pessimistic worldview. Stress is fearful, anxious,
worried thoughts. Stress is toxic relationships. Stress is money worries. Stress is knowing that you have a song
within you that you have yet to sing. Stress is feeling out of touch
with your life’s purpose. Stress is negative beliefs
about your health. Stress is overwhelm. Stress is feeling like nobody
really gets the real you. Stress is pretending to be
something that you’re not. Stress is feeling
disconnected from Source. On average we have more
than 50 stress responses per day in modern culture. And every time the body
is in stress response, your body’s natural self-repair
mechanisms are disabled. And what kills me about this
is that as doctors, by not acknowledging that, by not helping you recognize that, by not identifying with you what might be activating
those stress responses in your body, we might be doing the unthinkable: we might actually be killing you. We might be reducing
your life expectancy, the quality of your life,
and your whole life span, and that is not okay. What we need to reclaim, is we need to reclaim the soul medicine
that medicine used to have. You know, several hundred years ago, we were much better
at the soul medicine part of this. We think that chronic stress
is an inevitable part of our lives, but we can learn from what scientists
call Blue Zones around the world. These parts of the world where people
have a greater than average percentage of people who lived to be over 100. These people know what soul medicine is. So what is the medicine
that we really need? Medicine is being loved just as you are. Medicine is helping those in need. Medicine is expressing
your creative genius. Medicine is always
seeing the glass half full. Medicine is the unconditional
love of animals. Medicine is laughing out loud. Medicine is speaking your truth. Medicine is knowing that you belong. Medicine is communing with nature. Medicine is nourishing
the body with real food. Medicine is tapping into Source. Medicine is being unapologetically you. (Audience member) Woo hoo! Lissa Rankin: Woo hoo! (Applause) Yeah! I’m not suggesting
that you won’t need other medicine. Thank God for modern medicine. Thank God for modern medicine. (Cheers) (Applause) Yeah! Over the past century
we extended our life expectancies by thirty years. Thirty years! That’s remarkable. Because of the advent of things
like antibiotics and vaccinations, and remarkable advances in pharmaceuticals
and surgical interventions. Thank God for modern medicine. My husband cut two fingers
off his left hand with a table saw. Yeah, so thank God for Dr. Jones, who spent eight hours
in surgery with a microscope putting those fingers back on
so that my husband has ten fingers today. And my friend, my 42-year-old friend
just had a stroke. Thank God for tPA, the clot buster, so that several days later
he was discharged from the hospital with almost no residual deficits. I’m not suggesting that we should
throw the baby out with the bathwater, but what I am suggesting
is that those remarkable advances that we’ve made in modern medicine – we’ve taken the biochemical
approach to medicine too far, and we’ve forgotten what it means
to be true healers. And this breaks my heart. Now, I know what I’m saying here – that you need to look
at the stress in your life, and you need to get
the medicine you really need – I know that this isn’t what
many of you want to hear. And honestly, I was having a meltdown
on the plane yesterday coming out here, because I was thinking I don’t want
people to misunderstand me, and this is, you know,
don’t kill the messenger. It’s not easy to look
at these parts of your life. I was thinking about this woman
Katie Smith, who I met on my book tour, and she’s a young mother
with brain cancer, and she just had surgery yesterday, and I’m thinking about this talk
and I’m thinking, “I don’t ever want Katie to think that I’m
blaming her for her brain cancer.” I’m not; I’m praying for Katie. And I think about my doctor, Kim,
who’s one of the best doctors that I know, and I know it hurts her
when I criticize medicine. If I even suggest
that medicine might be killing us, this breaks her heart,
she has a planet-sized heart and her intentions are so pure. And I think about Susan Mathison,
who’s one of the organizers here. (Cheers) (Applause) Susan’s one of the doctors
in a program that I’m leading called the Whole Health
Medicine Institute, where we’re teaching doctors
to practice this kind of medicine. These are some of the most
amazing doctors on the planet. I’m not trying to throw them
under the bus. What I’m saying is that – you know,
I was thinking about this and I thought, “This is my tough love TEDx Talk.” I’m saying this because
I love my profession so much, that it breaks my heart
what has become of us. And I love each of you so much
that I can’t bear to see you squander even one more day of this beautiful life
that you have the opportunity to live, and I don’t want to see you
accepting chronic stress as a natural part of our lives. We don’t have to live this way,
because life can be so beautiful. I mean, imagine this:
Every morning you wake up, and you’re so excited
about all the possibilities that lie ahead because anything could happen. And you’re surrounded by people
who love and know the real you, not the masks that you put on
to try to fit in, but the real you underneath. And you’re living your purpose, you’re finding
and fulfilling your calling, you’re expressing
the divine spark within you. And because you are, the bills are paid because the universe takes care of those who are living in alignment
with their divine nature. You laugh often, you love often, you get laid often. (Laughter) (Cheers) Yeah, things are good for your health. (Laughter) All of these things – You guys like that;
I should talk about sex more. (Laughter) All of those things
have been scientifically proven to reduce stress responses in the body
and activate relaxation responses, and help your body’s natural
self-repair mechanisms heal you, and that’s what I want for you. Now, I know this is hard
because I’m not just a doctor, I’m a patient. And by the time I was 33 years old,
I was taking seven medications in order to stay in the game in my life. And I have such a stressful life. But I was told
that those seven medications were something
I was going to have to take for the rest of my life. And I was a doctor, my doctor professors were
telling me this, so I believed them. I didn’t realize that what I had to do,
the medicine I really needed, was to get out of the game of my life. When I realized
what I was going to have to do, I was terrified because it meant I had to leave
my abusive marriage, and it meant I had
to quit my job in medicine, and I spent 12 years training
to do this work. And it meant I had to take
my entire life savings and invest it in following a dream so that I could be here talking to you
about things like this today. And I’m now down to half the dose
of one of my medications. And this is possible for you. I would love to be able to tell you
how you can have this for yourself, but unfortunately, you’re going to have to
write the prescription for yourself. But what I can offer is one question
that I’ve asked many patients that has helped many people heal, and it’s this: What does your body need in order to heal? Now, I know that the answer
that may come up can be very frightening, and change is so scary,
and uncertainty can be paralyzing, but what I’ve discovered
on my own personal journey is that the flip side of uncertainty is the possibility of anything
being able to happen. So I’ve discovered
that if you want big miracles, you have to take big risks. And if you’re looking for smaller risks, you have to be willing
to accept smaller miracles. And it’s okay if you’re not ready
to take those risks. But I encourage you to do
whatever you need to do in order to to give your body
the medicine that it really needs. So I ask this of you;
we are in this together. I have a dream of healing healthcare. And it’s going to take
a grassroots effort – you and me together. And I’m going to have to do this
with all of you – empowered patients and conscious
healthcare providers uniting together to reclaim what is rightfully ours. I want to close with a question
that Mary Oliver poses: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?” Let yourself give yourself
the medicine that you really need. Thank you. (Applause)

About the author

Comments

  1. Some people don't ask for pills!! The doctors nowadays can't be arsed finding out what is wrong with us so they give us a prescription to shut us up!

  2. Thank you so very much Dr Rankin, although I am sure you wouldn't mind if I call you Lissa.Beautiful presentation in many ways. I hope I can spread your message further!

  3. Thank you so very much Dr Rankin, although I am sure you wouldn't mind if I call you Lissa.Beautiful presentation in many ways. I hope I can spread your message further!

  4. Thank you so very much Dr Rankin, although I am sure you wouldn't mind if I call you Lissa.Beautiful presentation in many ways. I hope I can spread your message further!

  5. "Thank god for modern medicine….*ahem* I said, Thank god for modern medicine!"
    crickets*crickets*crickets

  6. Doctors should be paid no more than 75k a year….this would guarantee that the people who become doctors do it because they care.
    My experience with doctors is very bad…as well as administration. My experience is that they simply could care less.

  7. I'm so grateful to have found you through Sara Gottfried, MD. I'm not a physician, but a dietitian who loves to learn and think outside of the box. You're right on! Thanks!

  8. Is medicine killing me? I was given Cipro for what they thought was a UTI. After one pill I couldn't walk because of tendon pain and tingling throughout my body. Three months out and I'm still trying to heal.
    I was told later the UTI test was negative and I never needed to take it.

  9. My question to this doctor is ",Are you willing to take a pay cut in exchange for seeing your vision come to fruition?" Real medicine does not need to cost so much for the average peron who does not have significant health problems. I suggest this applies to Dentists as well.

  10. عاجل إتـــصل بـدكتور على وتساب ❂00212621577701❂
    التخليطة الطبيعيةو رائعة في علاج المشـاكل ضعف الإنتصاب و سرعة القذف وصغر الحجم قضيـــب للاستفادة من منتوج يرجى التواصــل مع مصطفى المالكي

  11. Polypills to make sure that elderly are DEMENTIA controlled and Owned. Mr Pharma is Happy with Tedx Talks.

  12. I can’t believe this is still up: get a YouTube subscription now, as I am doing, so you can upload all health-related videos that educate the public on the dangers of Big Pharma, because they are all going to be taken down by YouTube very shortly (or demonetized so that producers won’t have finances to continue to create investigative docs, as every 500K views earns them $1,000, which is used to create new content…) So censorship and information suppression is about to happen on Facebook and YouTube in a really big way. Snap up and save all related content. It may not be available tomorrow! Wikipedia’s already been taken over. All controversial medical articles that could alert people to the truth have been rewritten by one of the most notorious and sleazy shills on the planet who sits on their board of directors like a toad. The same is happening in all media outlets so that these villains can have their way with people.

  13. She endorses vaccines, but this video was from 6 years ago. I think that there is a good chance that she does not think that vaccines are the lifesavers that she thought back then. As bright as she is I bet she realizes vaccines as they currently exist are not worth the risk at the very least.

  14. yes…I avoid going to my doctor unless I am very sick. I think all this looking for disease in healthy people is bad really really bad. I see the nay sayers on here. Yes sometimes people need medications, but not to this level.

  15. The problem is that Big Pharma controls medical schools, and health care. They want ALL of us life long customers, popping their pills. Most doctors today just prescribe pills, and the only thing they know about the drugs they prescribe is what Big Pharma tells them. Hence the huge costs, but poor results.

  16. Wonderful. The system is "broke" from the perspective of the patient, but lucrative from the POV of the MIC. Life spans are longer because of #1 public health and sanitation – clean water, sewers … then the antibiotics and other "medicines".

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