Robert S. Mendelsohn

Risks and treatments
A lot of people I know seem t o be having gall bladder operations, and when my mother mentioned that four of the six women working in her department h ad had their gall b l ad d e rs removed , I seriously began to question both the treatment a n d the disease . Hhy are so many people afflicted with this problem? Is surgery the only way to ge t rid of gallstones? Having read that 90 per cent of gallstones a r e chiefly cholesterol, and considering the evidence between cow ‘ s milk feeding in infancy and high cholesterol levels in later years, I wonder whether we are seeing some of the results of yea rs of bottle feeding. Herb e rt Ratner, M.D., ed itor of Child and Family Magazine , has given another c lue by pointing o ut to me the relationship b e tween oral contraceptives and gal l bladder problems . The New England Journal of Medicine of January 22, 1976 published a paper by Lynn Bennion , M. D., etalentitled “The Effects of the Oral Contraceptive on Ga ll Bladder Bil e of No r mal Homen” \vhich demonstrated tha t the birth contr ol pill as r outinely prescribed induces i mpo rtant alterations in the composi tion of human gall bladder bile a nd suggests a biochemica l basis for the incr ease in ga ll bladder disease among women who use oral contraceptives. Ge r a l d Heiss , M.D., and Ela ine l.Jeiss , R. N., in “Ho r mona l Th erapy and Chol e lithiasis” (Int. Surg . 61:452, 1976) reviewed 1,346 ga ll bladder operations a nd f ound increasing ga ll bladder disease in women under 40 who were taking the Pill , the increase being especially dramatic in women und e r 29. “The Boston Collaborative Drug Surveillance Pro g ram” published in La ncet (1:1399-1404) points out this association as does the book, “The Royal College of Gener a l Practitioners: Oral Contraceptives and He alth” (Manc h e ster Pitma n Publishing Co.) . Surgery is not the only way to get rid of ga llstones. I know tha t now a fter having talked to Ross Andersen, D. C., D.T (drugless the rapist) of Toronto , Ca n ada . Dr. Andersen uses what is called the ” gall bla dder flush” to ge t rid of ga llstones. He describes the process in this way : ” First I look a t the patient’s x -rays to determine the size of the stones . Then the pa tient is put on large quantities of fresh or froze n apple juice, a t least fo ur large glasses a day , a long with his norma l diet, for t wo weeks . The apple juice has a soft ening ac tion on the stones. Nex t, on a day the pa tient can stay home and rest, h e is g i ven one-half c up of olive oil blended with one- h a lf c up of freshlysqueezed l emon juice a nd one t easpoon of disodium phospha t e . He the n lies down on his right side with his right leg up to his chest fo r h alf a n hour. This causes a strong contraction of the ga ll bladder which expels any sludg e or stones . Another teaspoon of disodium phosphate is t aken in the evening . ” If during this process a stone were t o get stuck in the duct, Dr. Andersen would consider the patient a candida t e for surgery. “I’ve worried abou t stones ge tting stuck,” Dr. Andersen admits, “but in the 40 or 50 people I ‘ ve tr ea ted in this manner, I’ve never seen it h a ppen . Even the o ccasional patient I h ave recommended against using the flush has us ed it with success . Another co lleague in Toronto has tr ea t ed 3,000 patients this way without a stone ge tting stuck. ~~en ne cessary, the treatmen t can be repeated in a couple of weeks. Dr . Andersen f eels tha t die t is definitely a part of the chol est e r ol buildup, a nd he recommends tha t patien ts stay a\Vay from g reasy fo ods, a lco hol, rich f a tty foods, dairy products, and certain oils like cottonseed o il and palm seed oil. He a g rees that on e of the less reco gnized dr awb ac ks to surgery is that when their gal l bladde r has been removed, patients feel they can ea t any thing . Yet in reality , if patients continue to ea t as unwisely as before, they wi ll just shift the prob l em to another a r ea of th eir bodies .
“I always prefer working with the pa tient’ s physic ian,” Dr . Andersen points ou t, ” a nd I would recommend tha t anyone wanting to try this treatment put themselves under the care of a holistically- minded phy sician of some sort.” So there you have– a nother view. And perha ps if goo d nutrition and the ga ll bladder f lus h catch on, most gall bladder surg ery will become a thing of the pas t. After all , look what ‘s happened to a ppendicitis!
Note on an
The antidepressant ( generic name: desipraminine) which your doctor prescribed is an offspring of another antidepressant, imipramine (trade name: Tofranil) . If your mother still feels tired, she should be aware that drowsiness is a side effect of her drug . Furthermore, since she has had her gall bladder surgery, she should be careful of any drug that can affect liver function. Pertofrane, metabolized in the liver, may cause liver damage as well as transien t jaundice in which the passage of bile becomes obstructive. Pathologic changes in liver enzymes (transaminase and alkaline phosphatase) may occur, and repeated liver function tests are mandated . Indeed, in all patients who undergo a long course of Pertofrane therapy, periodic liver studies for signs of toxicity should be done .

Original photo by Bob Miller, Seattle Post Intelligencer Oct. 28, 1980

Robert S. Mendelsohn (1926 – 1988) was an American pediatrician and critic of medical paternalism. He denounced unnecessary and radical surgical procedures and dangerous medications, reminding his readers of public health failures such as the 1976 swine flu vaccine fiasco and the damage caused to daughters of women who took the drug Diethylstilbestrol during pregnancy.[1] He portrayed doctors as powerful priests of a primitive religion, with dishonesty as its central ethic. His mild manner appealed to the public, while his message infuriated his medical colleagues.[2]

Mendelsohn wrote a syndicated newspaper column called The People’s Doctor, and also produced a newsletter with the same name (the newsletter continued after his death until 1992, under the name The Doctor’s People.[3]) He published five books, including Confessions of a Medical Heretic,[4] Mal(e) Practice: How Doctors Manipulate Women,[5] and How to Raise a Healthy Child…In Spite of Your Doctor. He appeared on over 500 television and radio talk shows.

In Confessions, Mendelsohn argued that the methods of modern medicine were often more dangerous than the diseases they were designed to diagnose and treat. He advised consumers to be suspicious of their doctors. “One of the unwritten rules in Modern Medicine is always to write a prescription for a new drug quickly, before all its side effects have come to the surface.” (Confessions of a Medical Heretic, p. 32