History tells us that when Columbus and his sailors arrived in the America’s, they reported finding American people in astonishingly good health. Soon, rumors arose of a fountain of youth, which many Spaniards sought, but never found. The Spaniards were approaching health with the same linear thinking that is currently driving our great nation towards bankruptcy. They thought a simple solution, a fountain of youth, could ensure good health for Europeans. In their efforts to secure and profit from the fountain of youth, and also from the the silver and gold, the land, and the slaves they might capture, they introduced infectious agents that transformed the existing American civilizations.
Viruses don’t require government funds to travel. They can migrate much more rapidly than explorers and soldiers. Within decades, explorers entering uncharted lands in the Americas were finding communities that had already been shattered and impoverished by diseases that Spaniards had, sometimes unknowingly, introduced. In their quest for gold, slaves, farmland, and the fountain of youth, the Europeans quickly disrupted the environment, the social structures, and the food systems that had fostered good health. Instead of Europeans finding good health, Americans became ill. Many historians now believe that the Americas were conquered, not by soldiers, but by disease.
Today, the Americas face a similar crisis in healthcare. Our disease, however, is not infectious. Our disease is chronic. According to our Centers for Disease Control, 50% of adult Americans suffer from a chronic disease. With half of our population sick, it is no wonder productivity is on the decline and healthcare is contributing to enormous personal and national debt. I believe the numbers of sick people will continue to increase as long as healthcare is tackled in a linear manner that increases access to drugs and the doctors who prescribe them, and puts more gold in the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies that influence our government and sponsor our medical schools and research institutions.
I believe this because I know that good health is a multidimensional function. Good health is not dependent on access drugs. Good health is dependent on access to a clean environment, good nutrition, positive relationships with other people, and a reasonable balance between work, sleep, and play.
When all of these factors are present, wellness prevails. When these factors are missing, drugs will only further aggravate the imbalance, leaving the users biochemically weakened and prone to further disease.