I have a problem.
I am a believer in learning from the past. As a matter of fact, I don't think a healthy lifestyle or a healthy diet could be understood correctly today if one didn't study the 2.5-million-year evolutionary history of our species.
However, here is my problem.
I know of some holistic medical researchers and practitioners who base their current beliefs solely on research performed years ago. While the facts identified in those days were important at that time, some of them have since been disproved. Unfortunately, some clinical practitioners still stubbornly hold those refuted facts to be gospel.
Saturated fats and root canals
One example involves the health risks of saturated fats. It was once believed and proved that saturated fats increased the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, recent peer-reviewed papers have disproved those outdated facts, such as a study published online April 12, 2015, in BMJ (Vol. 351:h3978). Yet, some healthcare professionals today still discourage the consumption of saturated fats based on those invalidated ideas.
Another example involves root canals performed on abscessed teeth. Many root canals done in the past were biologically unhealthy because residual infection often could invade the blood system. Or, some materials used in the root canal procedure were toxic to the body. The techniques of performing root canals in the past were greatly flawed.
Today, endodontists have perfected procedures and materials to treat abscessed teeth without the risk of bacterial infection or toxic substances leaking into the bloodstream, as illustrated by this 2016 study in the European Journal of Dentistry (Jan-March 2016, Vol. 10:1, pp.144-147) and by this 2015 study in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research (August 2015, Vol. 9:8, pp. ZC15-ZC17).
Yet, some holistic practitioners still profess that root canals should never be done because of improperly performed root canals in the past.
What does this mean?
Nothing is carved in stone. We all need to have open minds. Many truths in the past turn out to be disproved -- that's just the way it is. If we can think outside of the box, have a healthy degree of skepticism, and relish learning, all of us will be better off moving forward.
My problem is that some practitioners get stuck in facts that are eventually proved false, and they are unable to open their minds to newer knowledge.
Alvin Danenberg, DDS, practices at the Bluffton Center for Dentistry in Bluffton, SC. He is also on the faculty of the College of Integrative Medicine and created its integrative periodontal teaching module. He also spent two years as chief of periodontics at Charleston Air Force Base earlier in his career. His website is drdanenberg.com.
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