Now come the folks who are candidly making an effort to go over the heads -- or under, depending on how you see it -- of the medical establishment. And all to help each of us make it past the century mark by a couple decades.
Armed with a whole lot of common sense, establishment-accepted diet-and-excercise advice for healthy living, and some still controversial and experimental techniques and revolutionary propositions, a pair of organizations -- the American Academy of Medical Preventics and the International Foundation for Preventive Medicine -- are ready to offer help in "Reversing the Aging Process."
They are taking their case directly to the people "in the hope that by getting to the patients, we can, through the patients, get their doctors informed and interested about some of the new things that are available," according to Garry F. Gordon, M.D., chairman of the board of AAMP's 200 physician-members, and Jean Adams, PhD., of the foundation, Gordon quotes Nobel prize-winning scientist Rene Dubos to the effect that "medicine doesn't change from within itself, but it takes the force of public opinion to cause it to change."
Fountain of Youth? Well, not quite as simple as that, but Dr. Gordon says flat out that people were intended to live 120 years.
But "everybody is always looking for the magic bullet, something they can swallow, or be shot with, and go right on having their fifth of gin a day, or their two packs of cigarettes, or the 20 cups of coffee and they won't have to pay attention to the little details for [achieving] our maximum intended lifespan, which is 120 years."
Specifically, Gordon and his group are concerned with conquering the monster killer: atherosclerosis, "which," he says, "since it takes one out of every two of us away, is a pretty major problem." It accounts, he says, for some 52.4 percent of American deaths, one way or another, "the end point of a disease which is either stroke, heart attack, gangrene or rupture of an aneurism. It doesn't really make any difference. It's all the same -- a defect in the plumbing."
Under auspices of the foundation, a non-profit, educational organization, doctors from AAMP (and other health and nutrition groups) participate in a kind of traveling road show of health seminars. (But, Adams is careful to point out, without commercial accoutrements such as sales display tables.)
This year's "Reversing the Aging Process Seminar" marks the fifth annual event in the Washington area. It will be held from 1 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday at Lisner Auditorium, 21st and H Street NW. Advance reservations, which are discounted by $5 from the $15 door fee, may be made by calling 256-5471 or 256-5854.
Gordon and his colleagues are committed to traditional nutrition and exercise, as essentials for healthy cardiovascular systems. But they are also convinced -- and there is a slowly growing body of medial evidence to support them -- of an important relationship between degenerative circulatory disease and imbalances of trace elements in the system. Evidence is also mounting that even low levels of, for example, lead or mercury or phospherous can wreak havoc with the body.
These physicians are also convinced, principally by a body of anecdotal evidence -- not accepted as scientific fact by mainstream medicine and still widely dismissed as nonsense, and worse -- that a technique known as intravenous EDTA chelation can dramatically reverse the degenerative effects of arteriosclerotic cardio-vascular disease, and even such potentially disastrous conditions as diabetes-induced gangrene.
Chelation is a recognized therapy for critical lead and mercury poisoning, but its broader use is espoused by only a select group of physicians and chemists, including Gordon and his colleagues in AAMP. (A book on the matter, "Chelation Therapy," by medical writer Morton Walker, has just been published by '76 Press.)
Gordon will discuss Chelation (which he sees as an eventual substitute for the too-often-unsuccessful by-pass surgery) at the seminar, as well as other new developments in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, such as the use of noninvasive (non-surgical) diagnostic techniques likethermography and radioactive isotopes.
As he warms to his subject, Gordon takes on the air of a born-again evangelist. He and other speakers at the seminar, like nutritionist Richard Passwater (author of the "Easy No-Flab Diet") and Dr. Murray Susser, director of the Pittsburgh Preventive Medicine Clinic, will try to dramatize such things as the need for changed life styles, vitamin therapy and the importance to the diet of good old garlic. (It promises, says Gordon, to live up to much of its old-wives'-tale mystique, with its relationship to vampires as a possible exception.)
Work in Japan with a deodorized garlic used as an oral chelation agent has shown dramatic promise, Gordon says. (A garlic study is underway now at George Washington University.)
In addition, the groups will detail the use of a snip of hair to measure levels of potentially dangerous elements in the system, do individual computerized nutritional surveys and proselytize in the best revival tradition for revolutionized life styles free of those most common American addictions: "sucrose, caffeine and nicotine."