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Free Speech in American Healthcare

Last weekend, I had the privilege of learning from one of the best clinicians in the field of functional nutrition, Dr. Michael Gaeta. As always, he brings added value to his seminars and this event was no different. On top of bringing a wealth of knowledge about cardiovascular care, he also introduced us to Dr. Peter McCullough, one of the nation’s leading cardiologists who gained attention during the pandemic for having dissenting views from mainstream medicine.

What I loved about meeting Dr. McCullough was that he was not afraid to express dissenting views even amongst a group of practitioners who see drugs as a last resort. Dr. Gaeta’s tagline is “Nature First, Drugs Last.” Dr. McCullough did not skirt the issue but confronted it full steam ahead. In his brief presentation, Dr. McCullough advocated for the safety and efficacy of statin drugs, something that most of us in the room, myself included, would adamantly oppose, but what I found intriguing is that all he wanted to do was open a dialogue with us…just as he wanted to open a dialogue with his MD peers during the pandemic.

Dialogue is a necessary component of freedom of speech. Is this not one of the basic foundations that America stands for?

We may say we believe in freedom of speech, but our actions often discredit our words. For example, despite a stellar career with many accolades, degrees and scholarly publications, Dr. McCullough’s Wikipedia biography is full of statements that he promotes misinformation. I know, I know…Wikipedia is not the best source for information, but the reality is that Wikipedia represents our culture today, which boils down to this, if we don’t agree, you are evil and must be silenced. History tells us that this is nothing new. Anybody ever heard of the Salem Witch trials, or maybe Galileo? And, just to be fair, if we believe in free speech, Wikipedia can also say what it wants to say!

So, what did I learn from Dr. McCullough’s presentation by continuing to listen even after I realized we were not in complete agreement? I believe Dr. McCullough made a valid point about the potential negative effects of withdrawing a statin. He stated that someone is more likely to have a heart attack in the 6-12 months after withdrawing the medication. I believe that this risk is probably in large part because the individual has not done the work to improve their health…but that’s a topic for further investigation and discussion!

Dr. Gaeta hopes to debate the topic of statins further with Dr. McCullough on a future podcast. I honestly hope that happens. It will be a healthy debate, amongst two esteemed colleagues who value learning and respect each other’s opinions.

What else did I learn? I learned that there are things that we agree on! Dr. McCullough noted that more functional practitioners are needed to keep people well! This was such an encouragement and maybe with a little more dialogue, clinical nutrition will be seen as a key to healthcare in America!

So, friends, keep the dialogue open and keep America free!

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