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"Double Standards" and Natural, "Non-Conventional" Health Care

Written by Wellness Club on August 22, 2008 – 1:26 pm -

I was discussing the subject of drugs and drug testing with a friend online the other day, and thought that the following might be of interest to HealthBeat readers:


My friend wrote:

The problem: pilots are human, and subject to all the normal problems everyone else goes through. When a pilot gets depressed, they cannot seek help, or they will be grounded for a period that can last for years.

Why is it OK for police, judges, firemen, other jobs with great social responsibility, to be successfully treated with anti-depressants, but pilots are expected to be superhuman physically and mentally?

And I replied:


You are quite right – it is really NOT ok for there to be such a double-standard. No one is functioning at their best when filled with side-effect producing pharmaceuticals. Fortunately the FAA has the oversight and the clout to do something about it – most other professions do not, and you have judges making bad decisions that affect peoples lives, cops putting themselves, their partners, and the public at risk with dulled reflexes, crane operators making bad picks with dulled judgment, and so on.

It is worth remembering however that depression is not caused by a Zoloft or Paxil or Effexor deficiency, anxiety is not caused by a Valium or Xanax deficiency, high blood pressure is not caused by a Norvasc deficiency, diabetes is not caused by a drug deficiency… and yet these are common problems that people use sense and reaction-time dulling drugs for.

Fair enough perhaps if you get this stuff "covered" by some health care plan, and it doesn’t affect your employability, and you really don’t care that you are disabled to some degree by side effects…

But in the case of a pilot, this is a big concern. Conventional treatment for many illnesses using conventional drugs will ground a pilot, resulting in a sudden and severe loss of income – no wonder many attempt to self-treat. While hypertension or arrhythmias or diabetes will be found on the FAA physical, depression can be hidden with varying degrees of success.

But it need not be so. Given the financial incentive for a pilot to maintain the ability to fly, perhaps it might be worth stepping outside of the "corporate medical insurance plan" box and seeking some alternative, non-conventional health care.

A visit with a naturopathic physician, while reportable to the FAA, could be legitimately reported simply as "Nutritional and Dietary Counseling" even though the desired effect of such counseling might be the correction of imbalances that may be manifesting as, say, neurotransmitter imbalances resulting in feelings of depression. Result: reporting legitimately accomplished with privacy maintained.

As far as drugs go, a good Naturopathic Medical Doctor would perform neurotransmitter testing and make dietary and supplement changes to correct out-of-range neurotransmitters, without using reportable drugs. This is not fantasy or psychic woo-woo stuff – we do it successfully, every day here. Though we can prescribe drugs (Dr Myatt is an NMD – Naturopathic Medical Doctor – and is fully licensed and in possession of a DEA number which allows her to prescribe any FDA-approved drug) we very rarely do so – it just isn’t necessary. Drugs are more like Band-Aids – they treat the symptoms while the patient heals them self. We treat the causes, resulting in much faster and more complete healing.

Further, dietary supplements like L-5HTP, SAMe, St. Johns Wort, bromelain, grape seed extract, niacin, etc. are NOT reportable to the FAA as "drugs"…

We are constantly amazed at the medical "problems" that folks drug themselves for that we correct without drugs. Some examples; hypertension – easily correctable without Norvasc or other drugs, type 2 diabetes – not just correctable but curable without drugs, allergies – yep, drugless relief, high cholesterol – back to healthy ranges without drugs, GERD – a "slam-dunk" with Nexium NOT required, heart arrhythmias – most respond nicely to drugless treatment (we have a lawyer patient who was told after 3 successive ecg’s that he had a permanent and irreversible heart block – that he was "a ticking time-bomb" and would likely need a pacemaker. After a month of drugless treatment his cardiologist repeated the ecg and shook his head saying "If I were a lawyer I would not want to have to go into court to explain this – it is gone and your heart is fine – and that is not supposed to happen!") The list goes on and no, but you get the idea – mankind survived and thrived for millennia without the help of modern drugs – what the heck has changes so in the last century to make us any different?

It also amazes me that folks insure their automobile but don’t expect the insurance company to pay for their tune-ups, oil changes, new tires, or new muffler – but when you suggest to someone that they might part with a few of their hard-earned dollars for a health care consultation or vitamins or supplements they react with horror, expecting that to either be "covered" by "the plan" or they just won’t do it. Yet in the case of a pilot, that refusal to take some personal responsibility for one’s own health could result in being grounded with the loss of income that would result.

The analogy would be to knowingly drive on your bald tire, waiting for it to blow out on the road so that you can call road service to come out and put the spare on… and still not bothering to get new tires "because the insurance won’t cover it."

So, if you have aviation buddies who are dancing around the FAA trying to avoid reporting ground-able stuff have them tap us – I’ll bet we can help keep ‘em flying… and get them healthier than they’ve ever been…

As an aside, I would love to have the opportunity to apply some simple dietary and vitamin techniques to a training class of aviators, with a parallel class as a control – I’m certain we could  demonstrate improvements in strength, stamina, endurance, coordination, alertness, resistance to fatigue and illness,  reaction times, and more… at little cost to Unka Sam.

Nurse Mark

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