Introduction: Dr. Joseph Mercola is an osteopathic physician, also known as a DO. DOs are licensed physicians who bring something extra to the practice of medicine. Osteopathic physicians practice a "whole person" approach, treating the entire person rather than just symptoms. Focusing on preventive health care, DOs help patients develop attitudes and lifestyles that don't just fight illness, but help prevent it, too. Dr. Mercola is also board-certified in family medicine and served as the chairman of the family medicine department at St. Alexius Medical Center for five years. He runs one of the most popular medical/wellness websites in the world.
Daily Bell: Thank you for sitting down with us. Your website is the gold standard for holistic wellness and scientifically-oriented alternative medical advice. Give us some background on yourself. Where did you grow up and how did you get interested in medicine and nutrition and preventative health care?
Dr. Mercola: I am the oldest of five children, born to parents who never graduated from high school. When I was growing up in Chicago, my parents were well intentioned but I was a sugar junkie. By the time I was in college I had a mouthful of mercury fillings from all my cavities and severe cystic acne.
My love of reading eventually led me to health books. One book in particular, by Dr. Ken Cooper – who was in charge of training astronauts – inspired me to get fit, so I started running and have now been regularly exercising for the past 45 years.
For all of high school and a good part of college, I worked as a pharmacy apprentice in a medical clinic, where I developed the erroneous belief that drugs were the solution for any disease. I started medical school in 1978 and did a three-year family medicine residency from 1982-85. Unfortunately, like most medical students I was brainwashed into becoming a drug-prescribing physician as I bought their philosophy hook, line and sinker.
My transition to natural health began several years after I finished my residency, when I discovered the damaging effects of sugar consumption and its connection to cancer and nearly all chronic disease. I then started attending seminars and educating myself on natural health. I started my website, Mercola.com, in 1997 to help educate others about what I'd learned. My book, Take Control of Your Health, explains this journey in more detail.
Daily Bell: What is your opinion of medicine and healthcare in the West today?
Dr. Mercola: Unfortunately, there is an aberrant collusion between many drug and food industry multinational corporations that has the government endorsing strategies that benefit industry and not the people.
For nearly all chronic disease, which comprises the bulk of health challenges, the entire system is carefully orchestrated to deceive and manipulate people into making choices that merely serve to perpetuate their problems rather than treat the cause. This results in enormous profits for the industry.
This is facilitated through massive conflicts of interests and revolving doors between industry and government.
Most physicians have little training or interest in applying lifestyle changes that can eradicate the bulk of chronic degenerative diseases that plague our society. This is a result of a variety of factors that are primarily related to lack of financial incentives to industry that heavily promote the drug model.
Daily Bell: What is your opinion of the FDA? What does it do?
Dr. Mercola: The FDA's self-described mission is to protect and promote the public health. But the reality is it primarily protects major pharmaceutical industries and their bottom lines, tragically causing more death and disease across the world, rather than helping prevent it. I think the Vioxx scandal is a perfect example of this.
In my opinion, the FDA has gotten so out of control and corrupt that it has totally lost its focus on what exactly it should be doing for public health. The FDA even admitted in a massive self-analysis in 2007 that it lacks the competency and capacity to keep up with scientific advances. Former FDA managers like Dr. David Graham, who revealed on a PBS special that his supervisors had chastised him for even thinking the FDA served the public, have reiterated this.
More proof of this is the transcript of a history of FDA laws and regulations that is on file at Harvard Law School, which explains how years ago an FDA task force established a policy of ensuring that the presence of dietary supplements on the market doesn't act as a disincentive to drug development – something I believe is in direct conflict with what the FDA should be doing for public health.
There are massive conflicts of interests. One reason it's come to this is because the FDA is so financially dependent on the industry it's regulating, through the user fees it gets from these companies.
It's also literally taking away our rights to choose what foods we want to eat, including regulating HOW we consume them. For example, it's seeking to take away our right to consume raw, unpasteurized milk under the guise that raw milk – something that just a few decades ago people drank all the time, straight from the cow, with no one questioning it – might harm us. Yet, at the same time, it allows us (as adults) to walk in a store and purchase cigarettes, a known carcinogen.
Now the FDA is trying to take away our rights to choose to take vitamins and supplements, under Senate Bill 1310, the Dietary Supplement Labeling Act of 2011. They're saying the bill is to improve the safety of dietary supplements, but all it really does is make it financially impossible for vitamin and supplement companies to stay in business.
You simply cannot trust the FDA to make your health decisions for you.
Daily Bell: Should the FDA be abolished?
Dr. Mercola: That is something that obviously does not happen overnight, but I believe in personal responsibility and informed consent over federal mandates and collusion. Any practitioner or business is responsible for their products or services, responsible to inform the benefits and risks and accountable to the judicial system for harm.
Daily Bell: Who is behind the FDA and the attack on traditional (non pharmaceutical) medicine and healing? Is it corporations? A deeper and more powerful entity?
Dr. Mercola: I believe it is a variety of multinational corporations primarily focused in the drug and food industries.
Daily Bell: Who owns and controls the pharmaceutical companies? Is it the same small, powerful group of families that control central banking?
Dr. Mercola: I don't know, as this is something I have not studied.
Daily Bell: What do the controllers of the pharmaceutical companies seek? Are they trying to poison people in some sense? And why?
Dr. Mercola: I don't know. This is something I have not studied.
Daily Bell: The elites who run the world (whoever they are) are said to want to reduce the population of the world drastically. Agree? Disagree?
Dr. Mercola: I don't know. I have not studied that.
Daily Bell: Is there any truth to the idea that vaccines may not be good for you?
Dr. Mercola: People need to know and understand that they do have choices when it comes to vaccines. That includes opting out of vaccine mandates that states make regarding their children. For more information on what your rights are, I refer people to the National Vaccine Information Center's website, where you can learn more about how you can opt out of a vaccine, if that is your choice.
There is no question that there are potential dangers to any vaccine – that's why drug companies put warnings and lists of possible side effects to their vaccines in the package inserts. More specifically, there are 60 studies that now confirm a cancer link to the polio vaccine you had as a child. With the HPV vaccine, which Michelle Bachmann put in the news again, there were 20,915 adverse events reported to the VAERS database, as of December 2010. There also were 89 deaths connected with this vaccine, including a young boy who died eight days after he was vaccinated with Gardasil.
And the VAERS database is believed to represent ONLY ten percent of all the events that occur because only a small number of people even realize it is available to report their reactions on.
Another point that's not widely publicized by vaccine proponents is that sometimes the vaccines cause the very disease they're meant to prevent. We have vaccine-derived polio in Africa as an example of this.
These aren't the only vaccines that can cause serious problems for some people – the chicken pox vaccine, for example, has been associated with a surge in shingles, even in the young children who've received the vaccine. I've addressed these issues and many, many more vaccine-related topics in my newsletters. I think the most important message is to research each vaccine before it's administered, read the package inserts and weigh the risks and benefits before you vaccinate.
When it comes to vaccines, there are three primary questions that need to be considered:
• Is the vaccine in question safe?
• Does it effectively prevent disease?
• And which vaccines, if any, can safely and effectively be given together or in close succession?
A great way to get started at this is to simply use the Search Feature at the top of each of my Web pages and search my site, as it contains a litany of research on vaccine safety, and the lack thereof, or go straight to http://vaccines.mercola.com. The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) also provides well-referenced information on vaccines and diseases, such as HPV, rotavirus and polio.
Daily Bell: Do you believe vaccines cause autism, as Dr.Wakefield believes?
Dr. Mercola: I have met and interviewed Dr. Wakefield at length about his work and his personal and professional insights into a number of topics, from the gut-brain connection so often seen in autistic children to the safety of a number of childhood vaccines. For more information on Dr. Wakefield, I urge you to listen to his interview and read my commentary, which is available on my site.
As far as vaccines CAUSING autism goes, the evidence seems very compelling that they play a role. They certainly are not the cause for all cases but they seem to play an important factor for most. The newest information is on the gut-brain connection; those who are born to mothers who have been on antibiotics or eat loads of sugar or take birth control pills tend to pass on unhealthy gut bacteria that, unless improved, can radically increase the child's risk of injury once they are given a vaccine.
Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride, a Russian neurologist who has a child with autism, has done some important work in this area and I have an interview with her on this topic on my site.
Daily Bell: There are many additives in foods today. Are they causing cancer, diabetes, etc.? If so, why isn't this better known?
Dr. Mercola: There are many food additives with known links to chronic diseases and ill health. For example, MSG, high fructose corn syrup and aspartame are three of the most dangerous additives in foods today. There are many other hidden additives I've written about, such as food dyes, but these three are at the top. The truth about these additives isn't hidden but for some reason the mainstream media has chosen not to question industry and the FDA on the safety issues associated with these popular, commonly used additives.
Daily Bell: What do you think of the pharmaceutical model of health care that provides you with "cures" for a variety of conditions that may or may not be related to specific diseases?
Dr. Mercola: As I've said before, the pharmaceutical model and focus is to sell treatments that rarely, if ever, address the underlying cause of the disease and tend to perpetuate the long-term sale of their solutions. Their goal is to make money, not to make you well.
Daily Bell: What do you think of Codex Alimentarius?
Dr. Mercola: Codex Alimentarius is a World Trade Organization, global health plan that is a looming threat to your health freedoms. It was created in 1962 through a series of relationships between The World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the American FDA and USDA. The "Codex Alimentarius" itself is a compilation of food standards, codes of practice and guidelines that specify all requirements related to foods, whether processed, semi-processed, genetically engineered, or raw. Their stated purpose is to 'protect consumers' health, ensure fair business practices within the food trade and eliminate international food trade barriers by standardizing food quality.'
But the plan's goals are to designate rules that regulate trade and food standards all over the world, including what you eat, how it's grown or obtained, and even in what form you consume it – for example, raw vs. pasteurized milk. It's formed partnerships with major pharmaceutical companies, and if this plan comes to completion it could force you to buy synthetic versions of the natural vitamins and supplements you take today – at huge costs. This has already happened in Europe, and a current US Senate bill, if passed, paves the way for your supplements to basically be taken from you. It's something that I've been urging my readers to fight for quite a while.
There are many problems with Codex, many of which are not immediately recognizable unless you have the proper perspective. But one of the most bizarre and potentially dangerous issues is their Vitamin and Mineral Guideline, finalized on July 4, 2005, which classifies nutrients as toxins.
Daily Bell: Why have traditional forms of medicine come under such heavy attack?
Dr. Mercola: I believe natural health care is a threat to the conventional medical model. Once you understand that most chronic disease can be prevented, that cancer is largely a man-made disease, than you begin to appreciate that authentic, inexpensive solutions that work are indeed a very serious threat to their profits.
Daily Bell: Will the attackers win?
Dr. Mercola: I don't believe so. I suspect they let the genie out of the bottle with the Internet, which allows information to be rapidly shared with many on a global scale. Ultimately, social networks will allow the truth to prevail.
Daily Bell: What do you think about naturopathy, the idea that the body itself must be kept in balance and that once in balance, you ought not to affect it with medicine of any sort but simply allow the body to heal on its own.
Dr. Mercola: I firmly believe in many of the principles of naturopathy, the primary one being that your body is designed to be healthy if you give it the appropriate foods, sleep and exercise, and are able to avoid toxins and traumas from emotional stressors. This is the fundamental solution for nearly every chronic illness. I am always amazed how the same principles are able to work so well for so many different diseases when applied.
Daily Bell: Is good nutrition the most important thing in the world?
Dr. Mercola: This is probably the single most important physical contributor to health and ideally is the foundation for all health approaches. The challenge, of course, is that there is wide controversy in this area even among most of the natural health experts. Ultimately, if you listen to your body and try a number of different sound strategies you will learn what is best for your body to allow it to thrive, blossom into health and avoid just about all diseases.
Daily Bell: Should people take vitamin supplements?
Dr. Mercola: Supplements are just that, a supplement to a healthy diet, not a replacement for it. However, with our modern society I do believe there are a number of crucial supplements that most people need to seriously consider including
• vitamin D,
• a high quality probiotic and
• high quality animal-based omega-3 fats like krill oil.
Daily Bell: Are the regulators winning? Are people being deprived of health care choices?
Dr. Mercola: The federal regulators have complete authority but there is quite a bit of resistance out there. People are seeing firsthand the harm our conventional medical industry is causing, assisted and protected by federal regulators, medical associations and insurance companies. This is all about money, and people are looking for better alternatives. Unfortunately for many, they are trapped in the system and financially, they can't afford to get out of it and they suffer for it.
Daily Bell: What is your opinion of AIDS? Are people being deliberately misinformed? Why?
Dr. Mercola: I was very involved in this topic in the late '80s and even testified before a presidential committee on this topic in Washington, DC. However it is very complex and I haven't studied it enough to have a definitive answer at this time.
Daily Bell: Is medicine and health care in the US and the West anything like you believed it was when you were younger and more idealistic? Have you been shocked at what you have found?
Dr. Mercola: The influence of the drug companies has become far more pervasive. When I first started to practice there were 16 vaccines given before age five and it cost under $100. Now there are 49 and it costs over $2,200. Prior to 1995 drugs were illegal to advertise on TV; now they are pervasive.
At the same time that the increase in drug company influence has occurred we have the Internet, which is a powerful countermeasure to their deceptive influence.
Daily Bell: Why don't more professional medical people stand with you publicly? Are they afraid?
Dr. Mercola: First of all, many do. But I suspect there are many factors that prevent others, as they have not yet been able to break the brainwashing of the current model. I believe the bulk of physicians sincerely seek to do the best they can for their patients and believe that is what they are doing. But once they have learned the truth there is a fear of ostracism with their professional colleagues.
Daily Bell: Are you afraid that your business and your family might come under attack for your views and success?
Dr. Mercola: It seems fairly inevitable.
Daily Bell: Tell us about your business today and how it's going.
Dr. Mercola: We have a solid team of highly committed staff that helps us put together our content and provide resources to help people better take control of their health.
Daily Bell: Are you expanding? What do you plan next?
Dr. Mercola: Our newest initiative is Health Liberty, which is designed to address four of the largest threats to the future of the human race. They are
• Mercury in dentistry
Daily Bell: Any other points you want to make?
Dr. Mercola: That covers it.
Daily Bell: Any reading or information you want to refer people to?
Dr. Mercola: I would STRONGLY recommend subscribing to my free daily newsletter to keep current on what is happening in the world of health. We screen hundreds of articles EVERY day and provide the best of the best so you don't have to scour the literature to find out what is going on in the health field.
Daily Bell: Thanks for the insights. Stay well!
We were very happy to interview Dr. Mercola because we admire what he does day in and day out to inform people about the reality of modern Western medicine.
We used to believe that that the ill health provoked by Western governmental policies was purely a mercenary activity but now, sadly, we do not. As the Internet continues to inform of us of the reality of this melancholy world, we've come to believe that the ill health being forced on the world's population is something beyond a bottom-line phenomenon.
To many, fortunately, Dr. Mercola is a wakeup call. He is a beacon of truth, pointing out the barrage of increasingly malicious treatments and policies aimed at every good practice that the human race has been able to acquire over the past several thousand years. Everything from acupuncture to vitamins is under attack these days.
Children are being forced to take vaccine cocktails that give them asthma, maybe autism, or even worse. Vitamins are rapidly being forced into a medical posture thanks to Codex Alimentarius. Soon you may need a prescription to purchase Vitamin C. And then there are sugar substitutes like aspartame and high fructose corn syrup. And as technology advances, there will doubtless be more and more genetically modified food as well.
In the 21st century, good health is not doctors' business; it is not an "expert's" business – these individuals unfortunately must almost certainly be co-opted by the larger medical-industrial complex. Good health is up to YOU. We're glad Dr. Mercola has offered himself up as a guide. He's trusted by many who visit his website, and, given his compassion and conviction, we understand why.