I am not a consummate authority on these matters - I simply present a few of my opinions, with links to a some of the information that leads me to believe as I do. It is for the reader to consider, and personally investigate, or to ignore the whole thing.
(You may prefer to skip the diatribe and just scroll on to the links.)
Second - we (and our physicians - in part) have been mislead concerning the benefit-to-risk ratios of conventional treatments, particularly medicines, which often pose severe health risks. It also became clear that we should have been taught to think of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids as "medicinal chemicals", not just as "food". (The Department of Soil Conservation (Dept. of Agriculture) offers some objective information about this, based on many years of research. Hit the links at the bottom of that page, it's good info.) Market forces, political, and personal agendas have driven medicine into the narrow channel that it presently occupies.
Third - we have been indoctrinated into a system of belief, given expectations concerning health and the loss of it, hardly different from the faith and fatalism that paralyzed ancient and medieval man. (We are no different, only the times have changed.) Now MDs take the place of the "Pope's men", (in whom we trust) concealing lack of character behind association with "institutional authority", concealing ignorance of conclusive research behind sophistries, or if questioned effectively, behind aggressive tantrums, and concealing bad judgment and harm done behind transparently manipulative artifices. Prominent physicians testifying before Arlen Spectre's committee on medical safety were unanimous in describing acts of negligent homicide as "preventable adverse/negative outcomes/events", and in describing subsequent felony obstruction of justice as "defensive behavior". They say that we cannot understand and rectify the causes due to secrecy and cover-ups arising of physicians' fear of being prosecuted for their lawlessness. Therefore, they say, the slaughter will continue unless they are granted automatic and complete immunity in exchange for information (honest confessions). In other words, they will continue killing the hostages unless the Senate capitulates with legislation placing them above the laws that everyone else is subject to. When Arlen Spectre remarked that he had information indicating that doctors are at least the fourth leading cause of death in the nation, they said that this was utterly untrue, that they are only the eighth leading cause of death. I trust the real nature of the problem is becoming apparent here.
If you suppose that it must be uncommon, or exaggerated, the Harvard study is probably the most authoritative source among many. (So common, and so many, that I will have to compose and link in a separate "medical injury" page to describe the issues, and link to sources.) Problem: My shortcut to my favorite study won't work, and these things can be hard to find - but here is another, from the Institute of Medicine. It is very similar. A few quotes from the introduction: "Preventable adverse events are a leading cause of death in the United States." - "the results of these two studies imply that at least 44,000, and perhaps as many as 98,000 Americans die in hospitals each year as a result of medical errors."
JAMA is becoming stingy about free access, so I have not read this, but the title of this article tells us a little:
JAMA / volume: 284 (page: 95)
Lucian L. Leape, MD July 5, 2000
Laws define carelessly offing our fellows as a "criminal act". Keeping that in mind, factoring in the Harvard study, (or the similar numbers above) and if "regular" homicides are around 20,000 annually, then the "criminal" roughly three times more likely to kill you than all other criminals combined is, in fact, your doctor. Obviously there is a pervasive issue of extremely bad judgment among physicians. I believe that this applies as much in the diagnostic stages as it does to the actual treatments that kill us. Knowledge is certainly the best shield against all this unpleasantness. We must develop the ability to accurately assess whether our doctors are using good judgment and are observing the best procedures in diagnosis and treatment.
Getting that knowledge may not be easy. The truly definitive and enlightened research is normally buried under mountains of mediocrity. (To put it politely.) After mining out enough of the best on some subject of interest, it becomes clear that most of the "work" in that area has no real value. It appears that many "researchers" make a career of riding the research funding gravy train parasitically. This obscures the work of the few whose efforts are not only genuine, but sometimes, genuinely brilliant. Further, it tends to mislead anyone (your doctor) who fails to make a complete search of the material.
Concerning nutrition, a little knowledge can be dangerous. In attempting to correct one deficiency related complaint, it is possible to cause a new one. Portion and proportion are the key issues. It takes some dedication to learn nearly enough about this. (For all the time that I have spent on it I do not know "enough", but the more we learn, the more mistakes we can avoid.) It is complicated more because some of us must make special compensation for the inefficient use of certain nutrients arising of genetic causes. (And consequent "familial predisposition" to, say, heart disease.)
In considering medical history in detail, every little thing, and beginning to understand the chemistry causing those events, it develops that those same underlying causes may indicate higher risk for other, subtly related health problems. For example, we all hear the advertisements for petroleum derivatives that promise relief from flaky, dry, or cracking skin. A very common cause of this is a deficient / imbalanced intake of essential fatty acids. (Irregularity, too.) Provided that is the cause, failure to correct it is likely to result eventually in problems with the heart, liver, and brain, which greasy lotions hopefully do not reach.
By doing what we can to understand these things, we can have considerable say in matters of health. Conversely, new deficiencies (and ultimately, major health problems) can be caused by supplementing haphazardly. Likewise, we can be permanently injured by consenting to take a prescription medication that we have not investigated in detail. Do you really want to trust the fifth leading cause of death with those choices?
FINDING THAT INFO:
As to sources of information, the best starting point that I have found is an impressive collection of links to research journals, which has a high percentage of journals that offer detailed evidence. Some of those included are not so useful, but on the whole, a high standard. (Even the good ones require some digging.) A few of these require a subscription, some require sign-up, and allow limited free access on that basis. Many allow unconditional access to the abstracts, but require a subscription for the full text versions, some also allow free access to the older full text versions. They have "onboard" file search utilities, which usually perform best with very specific questions, such as "hypertension", or "chromium".
Naturally, The Journal of Nutrition is one of my favorites, and what I found surprising at first is that these same chemicals (nutrients) appear as major players in the mechanisms described in many other journals. For example, you can find a surprising amount in Heart and Circulatory Physiology indicating very clearly that heart disease, high blood pressure, etcetera, are very commonly the direct result of insufficient intake of certain minerals and amino acids. I gradually came to believe that this is usually the case, whatever the condition.
Biochemistry is dauntingly complex, and the first obstacle is the arcane terminology. I find it helpful to open a new window, (click "file", select "new" then click "window") then use that second copy of the browser to go to this online dictionary of medical terms. This way, you can simply click over to the other copy of the browser, find what is needed, and click back to the first copy, which never left the paper you were reading.
Here is another collection of links to medical journals, which I have not spent much time in. These seem to focus more on the practice of medicine, and while quite informative regarding how the system works, and your doctor's clinical perspective, they are superficial in the sense of how the body actually functions.
Dr. Joel "Dead Doctors Don't Lie" Wallach has posted extracts from Sen. Doc. 264, 1936, discussing lack of actual nutrient in foodstuffs. If you listen to his radio show, get into the best journals, and discover that his "outrageous claims" are actually supported by very credible research.
Campaign Against Fraudulent Medical Research is quite impressive. It can only be described as a "mega site" offering links (with descriptions) to hundreds of informative sites. Some of these hope to sell you a book on the individual subject, but even those usually provide enough good info and credentialing to make purchase tempting. On the whole, these things lean more toward opinions than proofs, but they are (mostly) very well informed opinions worth considering seriously.
BETTER MOOD AND BRAIN FUNCTION:
HedWeb has an overview that discusses how we may noticeably improve brain function and mood by means of nutritional chemistry. (The page that takes you to requires some sampling of available links - don't give up - several lead to great stuff. Others to philosophical matters, some quite interesting, some quite debatable.) The information is fairly comprehensive, if you follow the text links, which lead to pages with info and links to additional detail. Take in a wider view though. For example, in taking zinc, (as some info there might prompt you to do) can cause a deficiency in copper. Copper, among other critical tasks, plays a role in maintaining the health of non-trivial tissues (such as the heart). Solution: Appropriate supplementation of copper also. Have a look at the Journal of Nutrition's abstract of "Cardiovascular Disease from Copper Deficiency—A History" or "Dietary Copper in the Physiology of the Microcirculation". Hundreds of things like those two can be found, in many different publications.
This jumps to what seems a good, objective review of the book "Nutritional Medicine". (Which I have not read yet.) Some interesting subjects for further investigation can be gleaned from the book review alone.
While an SSRI like Prozac might cost $150 a month, similar effects are
maybe not always, achieved with L-triptophan and B vitamins, which
can be had for a few dollars a month, and without the risk of heart damage.
(Those are the principle materials the body uses to synthesize serotonin.)
Trends in treatment seem to follow the money, no matter what risk you may
be exposed to in the way of side effects.
THE GREAT DAIRY SCARE OF 2000:
Another health issue is one that I only heard of recently. I was already aware that Monsantos is the seeming personification of giant corporate disregard for every ethic, and life, in the pursuit of market (and some believe, world) domination. They do appear to have an impressive record of deliberately misrepresenting the hazards of some of their products. Now I learn that one of their many questionable experiments in genetic engineering is aimed at increasing milk production. The key issue is that cattle treated with this product produce milk containing significantly more of the exact same hormone that enables the spread of cancer. It involves yet another instance of apparent complicity on the part of the FDA. Taken individually we might believe that this is only an example of the mismanagement huge bureaucracies are prone to. Viewed collectively it is an entirely different matter. I firmly believe that the FDA cannot be trusted.
I do not question the sincerity of Robert Cohen, who has made an impressive investigation of the matter, and presents disturbing conclusions at his extensive web site. Although sincerity alone does not prove a case, and although he is prone to some emotionalism, a thorough look around his web site is pretty convincing. (Hmm... My diet is about 80% dairy.)
I should mention Dr. Stanley Monteith's review of AIDS issues. In short, that the mainstream media's presentation to the public is somewhat misleading, and that there is other research (mostly from very credible sources) indicating that the virus is more resilient and potentially transmissible than we are told. "Dr. Stan", a retired surgeon, has re-designed his pages on the subject, and I feel that the greater detail they formerly went into was more useful. (But much longer.) Now there is only a dry recital of references in section 7, and brief mention of them in the article. There are some other things that he has written on the subject, and while he flirts with paranoia, the facts that he brings out are well worth considering. I can attest that he is a remarkably well informed person, and that many of his controversial statements over the years have proven 100% correct. I sometimes wonder about people like him: Were they a little - uh - "suspicious" by nature, causing them to investigate matters the rest of us ignore, or was the condition induced by the things they discovered when they did investigate?
There are many things that I will add here in the future, but it's a start. Meanwhile, a thorough search on both "fluoride" and "vaccines" could be interesting - there is reason to question "conventional wisdom" concerning those. Here is a place to start on fluoride. Don't be discouraged by "purchasing opportunities" there, they also let you read it free, online. They are not dealing with the matter as aggressively as many do, but they counterbalance some of the more extreme conclusions found elsewhere.