The Nature of Self Limiting Illness
and the Role of Nutrition and Mind / Body Medicine

Dr Michael Ellis


If the general public were to be given clear information on the nature of self limiting illness and on the remarkable ability of a properly nourished immune system to overcome almost all diseases unaided, the bottom would fall out of the minor ailments market tomorrow.

Although vitamins and essential nutrients have become part of established medicine with two out of three doctors in American and Europe using vitamins and supplements, there is a push by the pharmaceutical companies to use the Codex Alimentarius plans for protectionist legislation through the United Nations and the European Union to censor natural therapies.

The drug companies have attempted to either make vitamins as prescription drugs or even ban health claims for vitamins and also attempted criminal price fixing for raw materials.

The new medicine, is based on the functional aspects of the body, which are based on dynamic processes on a cellular level related to the interconnected pathways through the endocrine nervous, hormonal, and immunological systems taking into account, particularly the efficacy of the liver and intestines.

Prof. Avni Sali (Head of The Graduate School Of Medicine Swinburne University, Melbourne) has shown there has been no improvement in cancer mortality in males and females in the last fifty years. John Bailar, Prof. of Epidemiology in the U.S., stated in 1999 that a decade of war against cancer, has been a qualified failure.

It has been shown that cancer, like the other degenerative diseases of our society which include cardiovascular disease, cholesterol, diabetes, arthritis, obesity, osteoporosis and stress can be prevented by lifestyle changes, that is nutrition and the use of nutritional products, exercise and relaxation.

The health of the public rests on three legs of a stool. These legs being, release of stress, a sense of mastery of ones own life, and support of the community. This concept of health promotion was pioneered by the First International Conference of Health Promotion which was held in Ottawa in November 1986. At that time, the Conference was a response to a growing world expectation for a new global public health movement. This charter emphasised promotion of healthy lifestyles prevention of disease increasing rehabilitation and community health services.

The Fifth Global Health Conference on health promotion was held in Mexico City in June 2000. It particularly emphasized promoting social responsibility for health, increasing community capacity, and reorienting health systems.

The 51st World Health Assembly - Health for All Policy at the United Nations pledged that all nations would act together to meet common threats to health and promote universal well being. This health for all policy was a result for research by the World Health Organisation which in April 2002 is seeking to stimulate a global health debate on the epidemic of illness in our society.

The health of an individual in society is tied up and inextricably related to human rights, human justice, lifestyle change, reduction of stress and the fundamental conditions for resources and health including peace, shelter, education, food, income, a stable eco-system, sustainable resources, social justice and equity. (International Conference of Health Promotion, Ottawa 1986).

I would like to discuss three significant research trials based on the management of cancer, heart disease and stress which in fact when looked at in an overall perspective are all related. Just as the body is composed of mind, body and spirit and works in an integrated fashion, the various illnesses, which people suffer have a common cause.

Medical science is now beginning to define this cause but unfortunately because of the kind of education that doctors receive, (the bio-medical model), this means that most of the profession are not willing to open their eyes to a holistic total picture. The problem is further inflamed by the fact that medical schools seek out students who although may be very intelligent are not being educated for life itself. This is seen as such a problem in England that there is now thought of introducing arts education into the domain of medical science. The most successful medical school in Germany chooses its students on the basis of passion as opposed to academic results and also includes within its curriculum a host of complementary, holistic and nutritional education. Once the students have enrolled, their only requirement is to pass. Despite this, the university achieves the highest results in Germany.

Of course, this sentiment is being echoed by the public at large, seventy percent of whom are now also turning to naturopaths and alternative practitioners. People are looking for more than just therapy. They know that therapy can often be painful. People increasingly are seeking for something extra which I would term 'quality of life'.

Environmental Factors and Cancer

In the New England Journal of Medicine on July 13th 2000, a paper was published estimating the overall contribution of inherited genes to the development of cancer. The paper was the combined data on 44,788 twins in Sweden, Denmark and Finland that enabled the researchers to assess the risks of cancer in twenty eight anatomical sites

The conclusions provided remarkable information. In particular, it showed that environmental factors were the dominant determinants of site specific cancer. From this perspective, environmental exposure, particularly in regards to foods, and environmental toxins (xenobiotics) and stress is paramount in the causation and treatment of cancer.

Prevention and Reversal of Cardiovascular Disease

Dean Ornish's work at San Fransisco's Preventive Medicine Research Centre is impressive. Over the past ten years, Ornish has demonstrated that a comprehensive group approach which includes an extremely low fat diet, aerobic exercise, smoking cessation, yoga and meditation as well as group support can unclog plaque narrowed coronary arteries.

He published a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 1988, in which two groups of a total of 48 patients with cardiovascular disease were trialed, the control with conventional treatment and the other group with a comprehensive lifestyle approach. The result showed massive differences in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. At a five year follow up, coronary stenosis was increased for11.8% of controls and stenosis had decreased in 3.1% of the treatment group.

The Dean Ornish program in America is supported by forty insurance companies and costs $10,000 compared with an average cardiovascular surgical intervention which costs at least $40,000-$50,000.

Release of Stress and Treatment of Cancer

The scientific work in medicine done on the effects of a stressed society on disease really started with the work of Dr David Spiegel at Stanford University. In 1989, his very significant work on the effect of psychosocial treatment on the survival of patients with metastatic breast cancer was published in the Lancet. 86 patients were split into two groups. Both groups had routine cancer therapy. However, the treatment group had a one year intervention consisting of a weekly supportive group therapy. The study showed survival time for the intervention group was 36.6 months compared with 18.9 months for the controlled group. This means that psychosocial treatment increased the survival of breast cancer patients twice.

The kind of information, regarding cancer, cardiovascular disease and lifestyle change has been all but ignored by the medical profession at large. But, it does point to the way stress and the release of stress has on the management and treatment of both cancer and cardiovascular disease and probably most diseases of western society.

I therefore feel that powerful psychosocial changes need to be implemented for the general population if we are to create a more co-operative and healed society..

There should be a new medicine based on the prevention of illness and the creation of health rather than the treatment of illness.

Dr. Matthias Rath - Matthias Rath, M.D., the world-renowned physician and scientific researcher who received the prestigious 2001 Bulwark of Liberty Award sponsored by the American Preventive Medical Association has stated "Throughout the 20th Century, the pharmaceutical industry has been constructed by investors, the goal being to replace effective but non patentable natural remedies with patentable and highly profitable pharmaceutical drugs. The very nature of the pharmaceutical industry is to make money from ongoing diseases. Prevention and cure of diseases damages the pharmaceutical business and the eradication of common diseases threatens its very existence"

.It should be understood that manipulation of our food by commercial interests has caused disease and suffering and the direct result has been a massive increase in cardiovascular disease, cancer, adult onset diabetes, liver and kidney disease, obesity, dementia and osteoporosis. Crops grown on chemical fertilisers, containing nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium do not contain essential minerals and therefore human bodies are also deficient in these essential minerals.

Such foods are further degraded by mass production methods of ripening, storing, dry-cooking and freezing. Food processing destroys virtually all of the essential nutrients that we require for our health.

Meat itself is infected with bacteria, especially salmonella and Campylobacter and there are also carcinogens in meat including for example, the antibiotic Sulphamethazine. Large fish are contaminated with mercury. Plants grown on mineral depleted soils require external pesticides which are potent carcinogens and also contain oestrogenising hormones that reduce human sperm count. With respect to water, there are about sixty thousand chemicals which are not filtered out by water treatment stations.

This is why in our society we have the burgeoning costs of a health system which is out of control ,where planned obsolescence is programmed into an ageing population in order that the pharmaceutical companies, through their band-aid approaches may make more money in treating new found degenerative diseases

It is no wonder that the health system is in crisis when the whole essence of health care is based on the use of allopathic drugs. Yet it is known that iatrogenic illness or illness caused by drugs or technological intervention is such that the treatment of illness is now the fourth commonest cause of death in Western Society. (Journal of the American Medical Association). Sixteen per cent of patients who enter hospital either die or come out worse than when they went in. (Medical Journal of Australia 1995)

It is obvious that the current system as it stands is not curing the population or enabling individual to prevent illness or enhance the body`s ability to cure itself.


Dr Michael Ellis

Dr Michael Ellis is a medical doctor, futurist, and peace worker, living in Melbourne.

Dr Ellis is Founder of The Medical Renaissance Group. The aim of The Medical Renaissance Group is to create a new kind of medicine which integrates mind, body and spirit, society and the environment.

He is also Founder of the Centre for Change which aims to create an openness of dialogue for men and women of goodwill, in order that we can find a way out of the current global crisis. It also aims to contribute to the creation of a planetary peace culture, which affirms our deepest respect for all life which makes up the biosphere.

Dr Ellis has higher qualifications in general medicine, paediatrics and nutritional medicine.

He has a special interest in mind-body medicine and in optimizing the physical, mental and emotional health of the individual. He is a Research Fellow at the Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, Swinburne University, where he is particularly interested in brain longevity and the prevention of dementia.