Archive for category Medical Science?

Do neurotransmitter imbalances really cause depression?

Many patients see me for depression and tell me that they have a “chemical imbalance.”  They then want a drug to correct this so-called chemical imbalance.  The pharmaceutical industry has done a very good job of exaggerating the science of neurotransmitters.  The following article reviews some of the actual science:

Some of the highlights include:

-There is little difference in neurotransmitter levels between depressed and non-depressed people

-There is weak evidence linking neurotransmitters and depression.

-Most studies have shown that antidepressants are no better than placebo

-80% of the effects of anti-depressants are due to the placebo effect.

If you’re already on an anti-depressant, please don’t stop it without talking with your doctor.  Many people can experience withdrawal symptoms.  A certain percentage of people seem to respond well to anti-depressants so those should not stop them either.

–Dave Ou, M.D.

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Does lowering cholesterol lower your chances of heart disease?

There has been a massive campaign by the media to “educate” the masses that high cholesterol can cause heart disease so lowering cholesterol must be good.  What people don’t realize is that the science isn’t so clear cut.  Let’s take a look at some of these issues.

Fibric acid derivatives are a popular group of cholesterol lowering drugs.  They include Lopid (gemfibrozil) and Tricor (fenofibrate).  According to the November 2007 issue of the American Heart Journal, they lower total cholesterol by 8% and triglycerides by 30%.  HDL or good cholesterol is improved by 9%.  This sounds good right?  Well, they found that the mortality rate, which is the rate of death, tended to be higher when taking the drugs compared to placebo.  They did not prevent deaths from heart attacks or strokes.

In the January 20, 1984 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, they reported on the Lipid Research Clinics Coronary Primary Prevention Trial, which used cholestyramine to lower cholesterol.  On the average, the LDL or bad cholesterol was lowered by 10%.  There was a decrease in heart disease, but there was no prevention of deaths from heart disease.  They also found that there was 31-42% increase in deaths from non-heart related problems.  In other words, cholestyramine reduced heart attacks, but increased your chances of dying from other diseases.

Remember when doctors used to tell women to take hormones to prevent heart disease?  Doctors found that hormones would improve both LDL and HDL cholesterol by 10-15% each so they assumed that heart attacks would be prevented.

The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) tested a combination of estrogen and progestin.  They not only had no effect of preventing heart disease,  they increased risk of breast cancer, stroke, heart disease, and venous thromboembolism, which caused the study to be stopped.  Using estrogen alone also did not prevent heart disease, but increased the chance of stroke.

The only types of cholesterol lowering drugs that have been shown to prevent heart disease are statins.  They are controversial in of themselves, but  I won’t go into those today.

The point of this article is that lowering cholesterol doesn’t automatically mean you’ll have a happier, longer life.   Pharmaceutical reps come in my office all the time to tell me how their drug lowers cholesterol.  I always ask, “Have they been proven to prolong life?  They usually reply, “No, but they lower cholesterol.”  My response is “Some studies have shown that lowering cholesterol can shorten your life.  Treating numbers is not medicine.  We want to help people, not numbers.”

The same applies to natural supplements that lower cholesterol.  Do we know if they prolong life?  I don’t think anyone knows.

We need to focus on ways to improve and prolong the quality of life and not obsess over numbers that may or may not relate to overall health.
–Dave Ou, M.D.

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Conventional Medicine is a leading cause of death

With all the hysteria over the H1N1 flu (aka swine flu), we need to keep things in perspective.  As of today, the WHO has reported only 44 deaths worldwide.

In comparison, according to an article in the Journal of the American Medical  Association in 2000, they reported that around 200,000 Americans die each year from the modern healthcare system.  Some put the estimate closer to 1,000,000 per year.  Either way, conventional medicine is considered one of the top 3 causes of death in the U.S.

One of Dr. Mercola’s most popular articles is on this very issue and can be found at:

Now, I’m not recommending that you run as fast as you can away from doctors.   Modern medicine can be lifesaving in many situations.  I still prescribe medications when I don’t know of an alternative to manage a problem.  What’s important is to look at all your options.  The best option is a method to help your body heal itself and that’s where I put most of my focus.  I’m just now starting to understand how to help the body heal itself so I have a long road ahead to understanding all its aspects.

–Dave Ou, M.D.

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Swine Flu

The biggest news item in the last few days has been the swine flu outbreak that started in Mexico.  The mainstream press has created fear that there could be a rash of deaths worldwide from this.  It’s been very curious to me that the only deaths have occurred in Mexico and nowhere else.  I have wondered if it has to do with the fact that Mexico City is considered to have among the most polluted air in the world.

It’s also very important to remember that the flu itself is rarely fatal.  The people who die from a flu usually die from secondary bacterial infections.  That’s the part that is deadly.  A recent study concluded that most of the people who died from the Spanish flu in 1918 died not from the flu itself, but from pneumococcal pneumonia.  They didn’t have antibiotics for that back then but we do now.

Dr. Mercola has written an interesting article about the fear mongering created by the the swine flu news.  It can be found at

There are interesting tidbits in the articles such as the fact that Tamiflu has been banned from use in children in Japan because of side effects.  Also, most of the fear regarding the dangers of flu vaccines originated from the swine flu vaccine given in the 1976.  It was linked to hundreds of cases of paralysis from  Guillaine-Barre Syndrome as well as multiple deaths.

You can also see the true statistics of the swine flu on the CDC’s website at Curiously, the numbers are much lower than that reported by the press.

Finally, the international stats of the swine flu can be found at the World Health Organization’s website at

–Dave Ou, M.D.

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My friend and colleague, Greg Wastl, of the Center for Natural Healthcare in Minnesota has a new blog with headlines from  alternative medicine.

You can find it at

–Dr. Ou

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Most research on health may not be true

Dr. John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at Ioannina School of Medicine, Greece,  showed that much scientific research is highly questionable. Back in 2005, Dr. Ioannidis showed that there is less than a 50% chance that the results of any randomly chosen scientific paper will be true.  He repeated the research a few years later and came to the same conclusion.

Approximately, one-third of all conclusions by highly respected studies are found to be incorrect a few years later.

On a similar theme, the Wall Street Journal on Mar. 11, 2009 reported that a researcher published falsified data showing the benefits of drugs such as Effexor, Bextra, Vioxx, and Lyrica.

My suggestion would be to approach research with skepticism, yet keep an open mind.  Ultimately, you are responsible for your own health and you should not overly rely on any one source of information, including me.

To read more about the above, you can visit


–Dave Ou, M.D.

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Are antioxidants overrated?

Recent  randomized studies continue to  show no benefits of antioxidant supplements in preventing disease.

In the Jan. 7, 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, vitamins C and E did not reduce cancer in men.  The same issue showed that selenium and vitamin E did not prevent prostate cancer.

In the Jan. 7, 2009 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institutes, beta-carotene, vitamins C and E,  did not prevent cancer.

In fact, almost all randomized studies done so far have not shown any benefits of antioxidant supplements.

You might think this is a conspiracy by the pharmaceutical industry.  However, two of my mentors in alternative medicine have found the same thing.  Dr. Savely Yurkovsky, founder of Field Control Therapy, has tested antioxidants and he found that antioxidant supplements put additional stress on the body.  Peter Fraser, founder of Nutri-Energetics, found the same thing.  Fraser goes further and says that antioxidant supplements can be useful in the final stages of healing.

What’s going on here?  I think that the problem is that no one has stopped to think about how the body functions and heals.  Let’s go back to how oxidation occurs.

Free radicals are produced as a by-product of oxygen metabolism such as when the immune system is trying to remove foreign invaders from the body.  The free radicals kill microorganisms, but they can damage the body itself as part of collateral damage.  Proponents of antioxidants have an oversimplified logic that if collateral damage is “bad”, countering free radicals must be “good. ”

The major flaw with that logic is that free radicals also have an important purpose in the body: to help remove toxins and foreign invaders from the body.  In other words, antioxidant supplements can interfere with the immune and detoxification systems of the body.

Another interesting angle with regards to antioxidant supplements are the benefits of oxidation therapies such as ozone and MMS.  While I don’t personally use oxidation therapies, there are many reports of those being used for such problems as cancer and chronic infections.  Isn’t it interesting that some people recommend antioxidants to prevent cancer and others actually use oxidants to treat cancer?

I think the real solution is to help the body to regulate its own use of oxidation and antioxidation.  When this occurs, the body is able to more efficiently oxidize foreign invaders and to better control collateral damage.  I believe that this is one of the many mechanisms of the Natural Healing Program that I use.    My hypothesis is that when the body’s ability to heal itself is supported, then the body can intelligently regulate all the complex systems in the body such as oxidation and antioxidation.

–Dave Ou, M.D.

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Pioneers are the ones with the arrows in the back.

This is a saying from the Old Wild West.  Whenever, medical doctors start looking at alternative medicine, they risk being attacked by their colleagues.  They are often ridiculed and called irresponsible.  In extreme cases, they are prosecuted by the legal system.  It’s not easy to think outside of the box because of these dangers, but it’s my commitment to helping people reach an optimum state of health that continues to drive me.

As I’ve explored different ideas within alternative medicine, I’ve started to experience attacks from that community, too.  It seems that it’s human nature to always attack anything and anyone that’s different.  This applies to health care, racism, politics, etc.

-Dave Ou, M.D.

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Healing is not something that is investigated by many allopaths part II

I recently shared the results on my quality control statistics on the effects of NES on my patients with my allopathic colleagues.  The results were extremely impressive, if not amazing, to me.  However, there was no interest from my colleagues.

In previous years when I was doing acupuncture, I used to pass around high quality studies on the benefits of acupuncture from the Journal of the American Medical Association, a very prestigious journal,  to my colleagues.  That didn’t generate much interest either.

Doctors often argue that they don’t recommend alternative medicine because of the lack of research.  My experience shows that even when showing them good research, they don’t change their old habits.

–Dave Ou, M.D.

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Legal issues prevent me from sharing successes in my practice

I recently spoke to an expert in alternative medicine and asked him if there were any issues about sharing successes from my practice.  I had just performed a quality control statistical analysis of how my patients were doing and felt ethically obligated to share the positive results with the public.  He told me doing so could cause an investigation from the medical board or FDA. I asked how that could be so.   The gist was that reporting improvements that come from outside the realm of conventional medicine is threatening to the establishment and that many legal procedures and regulations have to be fulfilled before such information could be made public.

This is not the first time that I’ve found there are limitations to the idea of Freedom of Speech in this country.  It’s ironic that mainstream medicine always attacks holistic medicine for not having research to support its claims yet there are so many legal obstacles to making that information public.

-Dave Ou, M.D.

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