Charitable foundations abound throughout the world, each working to enhance society by supporting its own individual cause—relief for the poor, civil rights, feeding children, fighting discrimination, protecting dolphins, exploring the heavens, maintaining parks, promoting education, and supporting the underserved. The list of causes is virtually endless. Some of the largest and wealthiest charities in the entire world support some facet of medical research, all seeking our donations—American Heart Association, Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, The Alzheimers Foundation, and so many others.
In fact, have you ever noticed how just about every chronic disease has its own dedicated society--a champion; an "angel" in the form of a person or a philanthropic organization?
Unfortunately, you may have also noticed that holistic medical research has no angel society – no person or organization to help it?
It gets virtually none of the dollars that go to high profile medical charities, which support research into specific high-incidence diseases like breast cancer (1 in 8-U.S.; 1 in 20-globally), prostate cancer (1 in 7 men), stroke (1 in 500), autism spectrum disorder (1 in 130 children), sickle cell disease (1 in 500 African American births), cystic fibrosis (1 in 2500) and many other human diseases each devastating the lives of countless people worldwide. Most of these mega-foundations might be noble charities (although in recent years many have come under scrutiny for unethical and deceptive financial practices).
But what will my charitable dollars do for any of these big organizations? Nothing. Bill and Linda Gates, Warren Buffet, Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal (the richest man you never heard of) alone are spending more than $100 billion to work towards the cure for cancer, HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and other diseases afflicting developing countries. The now ageing baby-boomers as a generation are about to leave behind an estimated $9 trillion and a sizable chunk of that will go to support various charities of many major causes of disease.
But besides major charities, there are also literally thousands of smaller charities which advocate for relatively—and in many cases—extremely rare diseases: Xeroderma Pigmentosum (1 in 1 million), Hypertrichosis 1 in 1 billion), Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (1 in 1 million), Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (1 in 2 million), etc. If someone you love is unfortunate to have any of these rare conditions, it is understandable why you would be strongly motivated to donate to a specific charity. But giving money to a disease-specific charity is a very odd, and peculiarly ineffective, way of spending your philanthropic dollar. There is a better way to support medical research in general and holistic medical research in particular.
I personally support the idea of what has been dubbed “micro-causes”. This means choosing a research foundation that needs specific help RIGHT NOW, where a small amount of money can immediately make a significant difference to advance a ground-breaking experiment. Contact a charity that has general appeal to you and ask them what their immediate needs are and precisely how your donation will be spent. Most research laboratory directors would be happy to tell you specifically what they need. And you may be very surprised. You may find, for example, that a very well-designed and elegant study of a particular medicinal plant’s anti-cancer activity is being postponed due to the lack of a single piece of equipment or instrument. Or that funds are lacking to purchase key chemicals, antibodies, or a -80°C freezer. Simple. Easy. Clear. With a “micro-cause” donation, you actually know where every dollar is being put to use. No siphoning off money for marketing, promotion, salaries or other hidden bureaucratic costs that are found at all large charitable foundations. And remember, you are helping push the research forward NOW. Today.
It's also relevant to think not just about numbers of deaths a disease causes, but numbers of years lost and the quality of life reduced. It is understandable that people will treat a disease that kills children more seriously than one that mostly affects people who are nearing the end of their lives. Likewise diseases which do not cause death but rather disable or take away a person’s ability to support a family are equally compelling. Holistic medical research advances often yield results which are applicable to a wide variety of conditions—not just a single disease.
Holistic medical research has as its ultimate goal the complete and comprehensive healing of the individual and society through re-establishing balance at every level of existence. In contrast, the practice of conventional medicine is inextricably tied in with the whole “medico-pharmaceutical-industrial complex” whose first priority is to make a profit. As horrible as this sounds, it’s absolutely true. It’s true about your own physician if he or she works in any sort of group or is affiliated with any HMO, which nowadays all do. Although your doctor may outwardly seem as if his/her first priority is “heal the patient” and “do no harm” (from the Hippocratic Oath which all physicians swear to uphold), most never really consider this solemn oath of proper priorities after graduation day. That first medical school loan bill arrives six months after the graduation party. Even with a physician’s best intentions, they find it increasingly difficult to have the patient as the first priority while operating within the medical system with its rules of how to practice medicine, order tests, prescribe medicines, aggressive pharmaceutical sales representatives pushing drugs, fear of malpractice suits, time restrictions and pressures, plus the endless paperwork to satisfy insurance companies and decision-making bureaucrats.
Holistic medicine has no such pressures. It cures disease, extends lives, improves quality of life, enhances physical and emotional well-being, and promotes human evolution to its fullest potential. And does this at a fraction of the cost of conventional medicine.
So why aren’t more charitable donations being given to holistic medical research? Lack of holistic medical research funding is based on a variety of reasons. The major source of funding for medical research are pharmaceutical companies who, predictably, are very reluctant to support research into lifestyle modifications, herbal medicines, and other un-patentable and therefore unprofitable products. Thus holistic medicine research has historically never had, and never will have, pharmaceutical industry support.
Secondly, the therapeutic benefits of systems-based holistic medicine interventions may appear only after long treatment periods. Supporters are often not sufficiently far-sighted and patient.
Thirdly, for most holistic medical modalities, intellectual property cannot be protected. This makes commercial investments very unattractive and, as you would imagine, are rarely forthcoming. As an aside, someone a few years ago tried to “copyright” a specific sequence of yoga postures and claim them as his own; it was recently dismissed in court. Another company tried hard to trademark the Ayurvedic terms Vata, Pitta, and Kapha fortunately also to no avail.
Finally, holistic medicine has a much broader scope than most people understand. Much of what we find ourselves surrounded by and exposed to on a daily basis has been linked to chronic disease, cancer, and even mental illness. Everything from pesticides, preservatives and additives, GMOs, cosmetic products, certain commonly consumed “foods,” smoking, UV radiation penetrating the ozone layer, nuclear wastes, and much more. The effect of this toxic load on our health and well-being is never really emphasized, yet it’s vital. Perhaps we just assume that donating money to the few charities who say they are addressing these issues, will make the problem go away. Or perhaps many people think about these environmental issues for fifteen minutes and then, given the enormity of the problem, focus on something more scalable. Nevertheless, these toxicities are effecting each and every one of us at the level of our DNA and very likely also our offspring and future generations. The Foundation for Holistic Medical Research (FHMR) is doing what it can to change that through its studies on Panchakarma detoxification therapies.
Given these realities, support for holistic medical research must necessarily come from private donations. In order to address the funding imbalance, financial support for holistic and systems biology research must come from patients, practitioners, consumers, private business and angel philanthropic foundations.
In the past, the FHMR made great strides. Mainly through Dr. Gerson’s own personal resources and with some support from several of our patients and a few courageous private companies, FHMR pulled itself up by its own bootstraps, to conduct research which clarified and advanced several areas of holistic medicine. We are now at the point where we clearly see where further research would yield the greatest good.
If everyone who has experienced the benefits of holistic medicine were to contribute just a little, there would be enough dollars to apply state-of-the-art advanced techniques of basic science and continue discovering the fundamental mechanisms of healing.
Or perhaps our angel will appear.
By investing the money “upstream”, in basic laboratory research, we can eventually help not just a few individuals, but hundreds or thousands. In giving to foundations like The Foundation for Holistic Medical Research, you are not donating your money…you are investing it. And the “return on investment” is the emergence of naturally-based approaches to cure disease at its root causes and extending and improving human life for generations to come.
FHMR is unique in that our Scientific Director is also an active and experienced clinician who has pioneered holistic medicine, and is seeing it improve and save lives every day in practice. By supporting the FHMR, you’ll ensure that holistic medical research is getting the most bang for its buck, and that we’ve carefully determined the most relevant studies for the benefit of the patients that need it most.
Click here to see our newest research initiatives.