On April 15, renowned physician and holistic doctor, David Brownstein, took the exam to renew his board certification with the American Academy of Family Practice (AAFP). The experience he endured spurred him to decide that he would not likely renew his certification again, according to a blog post he wrote, titled “Family Practice Exam: Drugs, Drugs, and More Drugs.”
The re-certification process consisted of taking a seven-hour exam entirely focused on pharmaceutical drugs and the interactions between them, he said, with no questions about diet or nutrition.
“If this is what it takes to be board-certified by the [AAFP], I say ‘Fugetaboutit,'” he wrote. “I will not suffer through this nonsense again.”
Exclusive focus on drug interactions
According to Brownstein, nearly every question in his board exam concerned the uses or side effects of a drug, or the ways that different drugs interact. He writes that he cannot recall a single question about the importance of diet or how to identify nutritional deficiencies. Every single patient vignette he had to read consisted of an obscure question about the drug therapy being used by a patient taking multiple drugs.
“I actually felt bad for the poor patients in the vignettes as they were having their biochemistry poisoned with multi-drug prescription cocktails,” Brownstein writes.
The overwhelming focus on pharmaceutical interventions in the test constitutes a failure by the AAFP to acknowledge the role that diet plays in health, Brownstein charges. It suggests that the organization thinks that prescription drugs are the only way to improve patients’ health.
“It is too bad that the medical research does not support this idea,” he writes.
What about nutrition?
Browning is one of the country’s foremost practitioners of holistic medicine, a practice that aims to treat a person as a whole, rather than focus on specific symptoms or diseases in isolation. He is the medical director of the Center for Holistic Medicine in West Bloomfield, MI, and has lectured internationally on his successful experiences using nutritional therapy and natural hormones to treat patients. He is the winner of the Norman E. Clarke Sr. Award for Science and Practice from the American College for the Advancement in Medicine, and of the 2005 ARC Excellence Award for Distinguished Clinician from the Academy of Integrative Medicine for “Advancement in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Chronic Diseases.”
Other than the brief interruption resulting from the testing schedule, Brownstein has been board certified by the AAFP for his entire career. Yet, he writes that he had already considered letting his certification lapse when he received the most recent notification. That’s because over the course of his 20-year career, he no longer identifies the care he provides as “conventional family practice.”
“I still use much of what was taught to me in my training, but now, I primarily rely on items that support the body’s physiology and biochemistry and I strive to avoid using items that poison and block the body’s pathways,” he writes.
“Unfortunately, nearly all of the drugs currently used in conventional medicine work by disrupting the body’s physiology and biochemistry by poisoning enzymes and blocking receptors.”
Brownstein sees his recent experience as a sign that medicine has been moving in a direction opposite to his own trajectory.
“I felt sorry for my young conventional colleagues who were taking the exam,” he writes. “They were taught virtually nothing about what health is and how to promote and maintain it. Unfortunately, the only tools in their toolboxes are prescription drugs.”
Brownstein is the author of numerous books, including Overcoming Arthritis; Vitamin B12 for Health; Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It; Overcoming Thyroid Disorders; The Miracle of Natural Hormones; Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do; Salt: Your Way to Health; The Guide to Healthy Eating; The Guide to a Gluten-Free Diet; The Guide to a Dairy-Free Diet; and The Soy Deception.
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