Over-diagnosis is almost becoming as much of an epidemic as the myriad diseases suddenly turning up. It appears as if there have been more new classified diseases in the past 10 years than ever before. I believe these diseases are being diagnosed due to a gradual narrowing of margins of what is considered “normal” for a healthy person.
They are also being perpetuated by direct-to-consumer advertising, which plants seeds of fear and doubt in the mind of the viewer. This, coupled with radical changes in diagnostic criteria, has lead to a plethora of new diseases and new medications.
In this article, I discuss what I feel are the 10 most-commonly over-diagnosed diseases and some natural alternatives to prescription drugs.
1. High Cholesterol
High cholesterol is one of the most over-diagnosed diseases in the United States. It is estimated that 1 in 4 Americans has been diagnosed with high cholesterol and is taking a potentially dangerous statin drug.
When I first began my practice 30 years ago, acceptable cholesterol levels were in the 240 mg/dl or below range. In recent years, the American Heart Association standard for healthy cholesterol levels has changed from 240, to 220, to below 200.
These new standards make maintaining this new “ideal” cholesterol level much more difficult for many. The acceptable LDL, or “bad” cholesterol readings, have dropped from 160 mg/dl to 130 to 100 during my years in practice. Many doctors now recommend 70 or below. This is a “target” that is virtually impossible to hit with diet and exercise alone. So, as you can imagine, when following these guidelines more folks than ever qualify for cholesterol-lowering medicine.
I still recommend that patients do their best to follow these guidelines.
Often overlooked, though, is the level of inflammation/oxidation in your body. Be sure to request serum hs-CRP and homocysteine levels the next time you have your cholesterol checked. These tests are excellent indicators as to whether your cholesterol can oxidize and stick to your arteries. Knowing your levels of each of these is just as important as knowing your lipid profile numbers.
If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol and your doctor has you concerned about heart disease, I recommend taking a more natural approach. First and foremost, it is important to eat a heart-healthy diet. A heart-healthy diet is filled with organic produce, nuts, seeds, beans, lean meat, chicken, fish, and healthy saturated fats like coconut oil, butter, and olive oil. Adding organic raw garlic to your diet can also help lower your cholesterol naturally.
When it comes to preventing high cholesterol and heart disease, saturated fat is not your enemy. It’s trans fat you need to avoid. Trans fats are the type of fat found in highly-processed foods. Margarine, canola oil, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, are examples of trans fats best avoided. Basically, the type of fats most often found in processed foods such as “junk food” and “fast food.”
If you need a little extra support, my Diamond Nutritional’s Cholesterol Support Formula can stabilize your cholesterol and reduce inflammation, often without the need of statin drugs.
My formula contains a synergistic blend of ingredients designed to correct deficiencies and imbalances that may contribute to high cholesterol.
These ingredients include:
- Chromium – 90% of Americans are deficient in this essential mineral. Low chromium levels contribute to the development of high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease.
- Guggul Resin – A small, thorny tree native to the Middle East, guggul resin stimulates the thyroid gland, which helps lower serum cholesterol levels.
- Sytrinol – This proprietary blend of citrus and palm fruit extracts acts as a powerful antioxidant that lowers cholesterol and decrease artery inflammation.
- Guar Gum – This potent fiber improves your digestion, relieves inflammation, and increases “good” (HDL) cholesterol while lowering “bad” (LDL) cholesterol.
- Artichoke Leaf Extract – Artichoke leaf extract contains cynarin, a compound that has been scientifically-proven to lower blood serum cholesterol levels.
The American Medical Association officially classified obesity as a disease in June of 2013. In light of this development, an obesity vaccine is now in the works. Considering the health dangers associated with unnecessary vaccinations, I suggest turning to more realistic options.
One of the most important things you can do right now to lose weight naturally is to give up the diet soda. As a matter of fact, I strongly recommend giving up any type of food with the word “diet” in it. Diet foods do not help you lose weight; they keep you fat. Pre-packaged, highly-processed diet foods contain chemicals that decrease your metabolism and trick your body into storing fat.
To lose weight the healthy, natural way, slowly wean off highly processed foods and invest in a whole-food diet of organic vegetables, fruit, meat, poultry, fish, butter, yogurt, and dark chocolate. Eat 3-5 small meals per day and exercise regularly. Even if all you do is get in a brisk 30-minute walk three times per week, it’s enough to get started on a healthy exercise program.
3. Dry Eye Syndrome
I’ve been seeing a lot of commercials lately discussing a relatively new “disease” called dry eye syndrome.
The popular drug used to treat dry eye syndrome is called Restasis. Restasis is in the class of drugs called immunomodulators. Immunomodulators suppress your immune system and prevent it from attacking its own healthy tissue. This means that a large majority of those with chronic dry eye have it because their immune system is rejecting their tears.
In the case of any autoimmune disease, I do not recommend suppressing the immune system as this can be dangerous to long-term health. Instead, I recommend getting to the bottom of the problem and treating it from the inside out.
The development of an autoimmune disease almost always means that a combination of stress and trauma combined with environmental factors is to blame.
The most common autoimmune disease associated with dry eye is Sjögren’s syndrome. In Sjögren’s syndrome, your immune system attacks the glands responsible for producing tears, saliva, and other necessary lubricants. Thyroid disease is another underlying cause of dry eye.
In both of these conditions, hidden gluten intolerance could be to blame. Gluten intolerance is an inability to digest the protein (gluten) found in wheat, barley, and rye. When a person with gluten intolerance ingests this protein, the immune system goes to work systematically attacking various organ systems, causing myriad symptoms.
If you’re living with dry eye, here’s what I recommend:
- Try a Gluten Free Diet
Adhering to a completely gluten free diet for 6-8 weeks can help ease the inflammation associated with dry eye. If your symptoms improve and you notice you feel healthier overall, you may have gluten intolerance.
- Get Tested for Thyroid Disease
Diagnosing thyroid disease can be misleading as many physicians only order a thyroid stimulating test (TSH) to screen for hypothyroidism. This test will often miss hypothyroidism, as it does not directly measure the levels of free T3 and free T4 from your thyroid gland. In order to receive a complete and accurate thyroid function diagnosis, I recommend the Complete Thyroid Panel + Thyroid Antibodies from Direct Labs.
This panel of tests will not only tell you whether you have hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, but Hashimoto’s thyroiditis as well. Just take the test order slip to any LabCorp location to get your blood drawn and LabCorp will send it away for you. You’ll get your results in as little as 5 business days!
- Reduce Stress
Stress can exacerbate autoimmune disease and lead to a condition called adrenal fatigue. In adrenal fatigue, the glands that produce your stress hormones become so over-taxed, they no longer work properly. (Dry eye is often a precursor to adrenal fatigue.) Even if you’re a very ambitious person, it’s important to balance your work with rest periods to avoid burnout.
- Take a Probiotic
85% of your immune system is located in your gut. This is why anyone struggling with an autoimmune condition should invest in a good-quality probiotic supplement.
My Diamond Nutritional’s Probiotic will give your immune system a boost while improving your overall digestive function. Unlike many store-bought probiotics which may contain as few as 1-3 billion single-strain bacteria, this probiotic formula contains 22 billion live, active colony forming units to repopulate your gut and build a strong defense against autoimmune disease.
This complete formula contains lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus paracasei, bifidobacterium lactis, bifidobacterium bifidum, lactobacillus plantarum, lactobacillus rhamnosus, saccharomyces boulardii.
4. Overactive Bladder Syndrome
Overactive bladder syndrome is a tricky condition but I wouldn’t classify it as a disease. Over-active bladder is often caused by underlying neurological, autoimmune, and anxiety conditions that can often be treated naturally.
The prescription drug Toviaz, designed to treat overactive bladder, blocks receptors in the bladder and cause it to relax.
Unfortunately, this drug also comes with a long list of potential side effects including difficulty passing urine, dry eye, gastric retention, muscle weakness, ulcerative colitis, liver disease, kidney disease, and degenerative eye disease.
For my patients with overactive bladder, the first thing I recommend is magnesium. Magnesium is an essential mineral that regulates over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. It is often the missing mineral in many cases of anxiety, insomnia, and neurological distress.
For best results, I recommend a chelated form of magnesium that is more bioavailable to your body. My Diamond Nutritional’s Chelated Magnesium Formula contains 500 mg of your daily allowance of this essential mineral. For most adults, I recommend three once a day.
In addition to a magnesium supplement, I also recommend both men and women practice Kegel exercises to strengthen their bladder muscles and reduce incontinence.
When I first began my clinical practice, true diagnosis of depression was not nearly as common as it is today. These days, millions of people are being diagnosed with it.
Some conventional treatments for this now-common disorder have been linked to terrible side effects including suicidal thoughts and tendencies and homicide.
For my patients struggling with depression, I first look for the underlying cause. Is there a history of past or present emotional or physical trauma? Are there nutritional deficiencies? What does the diet look like?
Once the underlying cause of depression and anxiety is discovered, treatment is often as simple as making dietary changes, adding the needed nutritional supplements, and, if necessary talk therapy in the case of trauma.
In my opinion, attention deficit disorder is one of the most over-diagnosed developmental disorders among young children. Now, more than ever before, children are often placed on medication in an effort to change their behavior.
Let me be clear. I am not against medications. I am against the overuse of medications! There are circumstances where these medications can be helpful. But far more often there is a simpler explanation and treatment.
Oftentimes, dietary factors are a strong contributor in ADHD symptoms. Highly-processed foods containing food dyes, HFCS, MSG, BHT, BHA, gluten, corn, and soy have all been linked to unusual behavior in children.
When treating a child with the symptoms of attention deficit disorder, I also take into consideration any underlying physical conditions that could be causing the problem. Thyroid disease and nutrient deficiencies often cause ADHD symptoms.
With most children, a combination of dietary changes, nutritional supplements, and play therapy is all that’s needed to get ADHD symptoms under control.
7. Erectile Dysfunction
While erectile dysfunction is a true condition, it is not a disease in and of itself. It’s actually the symptom of a disease. Treating male impotence isn’t as simple as using a prescription to induce an artificial erection. This approach does not treat the underlying cause and can lead to harmful side effects.
For my patients experiencing erectile dysfunction, I test for heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, testosterone and high blood pressure. I also rule out side effects from medication the patient may be taking. Stress is sometimes a contributing factor as well. Nine times out of ten, once the patient gets one or more of these underlying conditions under control, ED goes away on its own.
Part of the natural treatment I use for male impotence is my Diamond Nutritional’s L-Arginine Supplement. This supplement isn’t anything like some of those questionable “male enhancement” supplements you can find online. L-Arginine is an amino acid necessary for the production of protein and it has been used successfully to treat erectile dysfunction.
L-Arginine helps reverse erectile dysfunction by naturally and safely increasing the levels of nitric oxide in your body. This helps relax the blood vessels and muscles in the penis and improves blood circulation.
In addition to treating erectile dysfunction, L-Arginine also helps treat many of the conditions that cause erectile dysfunction. This amino acid helps strengthen the heart and improve blood circulation in patients with heart disease and circulatory disorders.
According to statistics issued by the Centers for Disease Control, arthritis affects 1 in every 5 people. In my opinion, this condition is quite over-diagnosed. These days, if a patient 40 and older complains of even mild joint or muscle pain, they are almost immediately placed on a prescription medication, often a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID).
These medications have a long list (and history) of potential side-effects.
Arthritic conditions are often caused by a highly-inflammatory diet of processed foods. Gastrointestinal disorders, nutritional deficiencies, obesity and sedentary lifestyle are also contributing factors.
For my patients with chronic joint pain, I recommend an anti-inflammatory diet filled with raw garlic, onion, broccoli, cayenne pepper, and turmeric. I also advise low-impact strengthening exercises such as walking, swimming, and rebounding.
My natural product, Diamond Nutritional’s Inflamments, is designed to reduce inflammation without medication.
As you get older, some of your brain cells die, which may result in forgetfulness, loss of ability to concentrate, and mood changes. Like many age-related conditions, these mild symptoms are often over-diagnosed as the first stages of dementia.
For my patients with mild cognitive impairment, I recommend eating an anti-inflammatory diet, regular exercise, and keeping the mind sharp with brain-training games, social activity and reading.
An omega-3 fatty acid supplement can also prevent dementia by treating brain inflammation. Be sure to choose one that is triple distilled to remove heavy metals, such as Diamond Nutritional’s Balanced Omega Support Formula.
It is also wise to rule out vitamin B-12 deficiency, as we have a tendency to absorb less vitamin B-12 orally the older we become. This is often due to decreasing amounts of a glycoprotein known as intrinsic factor (IF). This is produced in the stomach lining and is required for the absorption of vitamin B-12 in the small intestine. Vitamin B-12 deficiency is a common cause of dementia, especially in the elderly.
Anyone with symptoms of dementia should also have a thyroid profile.
Hypothyroidism is another common cause of dementia.
10. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is what I term a “blanket diagnosis” because it seems just about everyone with chronic stomach distress gets diagnosed with it. True irritable bowel syndrome is often linked to neurological damage as a result of physical or mental trauma. This trauma rewires your enteric nervous system or the “second brain” in your gut.
Oftentimes, chronic gastric distress is due to leaky gut syndrome and/or inflammation of the intestine, which can almost always be linked to poor diet and excessive antibiotic and/or NSAID use.
For optimum gut health, I recommend a whole-food diet filled with probiotics and fiber. I also advise using turmeric to fight inflammation and strengthen intestinal integrity. Lastly, I recommend adding a good-quality probiotic supplement and magnesium to heal the gut-brain connection.
The simple fact is this: According to conventional medicine, if it can be classified as a disease, it can be “treated” with prescription drugs. With these diseases and many others, the key to healing from them is not suppressing symptoms but getting to the root cause. Once you can do that, you’ll have lasting health with no need for life-long dependency on prescription pills.