Dr. Sherry Rogers A Doctor for All Reasons
These are the words of a frustrated patient who happens to be a doctor also a doctor who came to the end of her tether and realized that nothing medical school had taught was providing solutions. A strikingly beautiful woman, US-based Dr. Rogers was suffering from such horrible eczema that people would ask her, “What on earth happened to you?” when meeting her. She was plagued by years of insomnia, brain-fag so bad she totaled 5 cars in less than so many years. Her body was a Candida factory from all the antibiotics she had taken. Increasingly frequent headaches were virtually paralyzing. A range of bizarre neurological symptoms came and went, but mostly came, due to mercury amalgams, formaldehyde outgassing furniture, and vinyl wallpapers. Pesticides assaulted her endocrine system; her ovaries were dead at age 44. In addition, her love of horses caused her to break her spine six times in riding accidents resulting in total dependence on heavy pain killers adding to the toxic environmental load about which she knew nothing then.
Dr. Sherry Rogers has all the right stuff: an M.D. and membership with the prestigious American Board of Family Practice and a Fellowship with the even more prestigious American College of Allergy and Immunology. However, as it turned out, the finest and most useful part of her education commenced when she found herself to be a fellow E.I. (Environmental Illness) patient entering a fellowship with the vast majority of all patients, everywhere. The overwhelming research evidence is rapidly forcing standard medicine to understand that the epidemic diseases of our time (cancer, asthma, the autoimmune diseases, neurological and psychiatric illness) are the price we pay for a civilization built without forethought about its consequences for human health.
A deeply religious person, she says that “God sent me all those illnesses and gave me the task to find a cure for them. Now, at 58, I am healthier than I ever was in my entire life.” That positive attitude which affirms, as part of the wholeness of life, even the greatest afflictions combined in Dr. Rogers with the spirit of a medical detective. The result was embarking upon medicine’s “road less traveled “ which provides an education in modern environmental toxicology and nutritional science.
Her greatest support has come from her husband, she says. Dr. Rogers dedicated almost every one of her many books to her husband, nicknamed Luscious. In love with him for the past three decades, he is a frequent presence in her books by way of anecdotes showing how his keen observation and intuitive understanding helped to find ways to heal. Learning of the neurotoxicity of carpet backing and glues, he ripped them out one day. Dr. Rogers walked into the devastated office and “felt like walking on air. I could breathe and my mind was clear at last!” Together, Sherry and Luscious found Dr. Jo Miller in Alabama who taught her all about food allergies (deadly nightshades in her case, i.e. potatoes, tomatoes, peppers etc.) and cleared up her eczema for good. They learned that the paints, glues, varnishes, insulation materials, and pesticides they had exposed themselves to, during the renovation of their 200 year old farm, were the source of everything else she was suffering from. Patients need to be as grateful to Luscious as to Sherry.
The ancient Greeks believed that Asclepios, the god of medicine, was “the wounded healer” because he limped due to an injury that never healed. He is depicted accompanied by a dog who represents his instinctual guide and a small child carrying a lantern signifying the child’s open mind which illuminates the doctor-patient relationship. Thus good doctoring has been gained through suffering. In Dr. Rogers’ case this included deliberately becoming a guinea pig. In the 1980’s she smoked heavily “in order to get hooked so I could teach my patients how to get unhooked”. She observed with amazement that it took until 1990 before smoking was outright forbidden at medical conferences.
Dr. Rogers, the eldest child of a large and very poor family, says: “I should not have succeeded. “Nobody in my family for generations had finished even high school. In my area, in the 60’s, coming from such poverty, being a woman, I could expect little. But I put myself through university and became a doctor.” Her training was traditional: “During medical rounds, we went to see the gall bladder in #326,” she recalls, “not a human being.” Standard medicine labels, she says, and misses the reality that “among 100 arthritis patients, the cause of arthritis in each may be a different one.” Illness as a bio-individual event, shared humanity, and the need to follow Hippocrates’ advice on clean air, clean water and “Let food by thy medicine”, are the eternal biological truths that doctors like Sherry Rogers are reviving.
A Fellow of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, she has written many excellent books, lectures internationally, teaches courses at universities, publishes original research with the US National Institutes of Health and leading mainstream medical journals, and runs a practice that serves patients who seek her out from all over the world. She edited the environmental health section of the International Medicine World Report. Like her great teachers, Dr. Thereon Randolph (the father of environmental medicine) and Dr. William Rae of the famous Dallas, Texas, environmental health clinic, she too had that amazing experience of a medical Alice in Wonderland: she fell into that rabbit hole and learned that nothing in health and disease is as she had thought it was.
Her illness made her see with the eyes of the activist who recognizes the arrogance and Big Lie of the dark side of medicine. She is an outspoken critic of the automatic-pilot drug-pushing medicine which not only does not inquire into causes, but has forgotten that finding causes is what medicine is all about. “A headache is not a Darvon deficiency,” she insists. “Time to test your cardiologist?” or “Time to fire your doctor?” she challenges the readers of her marvelous monthly newsletter, Total Wellness. She never seems to miss an opportunity to tell the truth about the latest blockbuster drug touted by Big Pharma as the answer to whatever ails us, though it almost always does more harm than good. Introduced by her oft-repeated saying, “How the sick get sicker quicker” Dr. Rogers provides the full scientific information on these drugs and tells how the side-effects are carefully concealed, the statistics falsified, and what the financial implications are for patient and industry. In 1993 industry managed to get the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition to publish a tobacco-science type study designed to protect their patent-dependent lucrative products against the increasing preference by patients for more effective natural substances. Diabetics, who benefit dramatically from high doses of this neuropathy preventing vitamin, were given less E than the daily recommended allowance (RDA) for healthy people - in order to make it appear that natural substances such as Vitamin E are useless.
For Dr. Rogers we are all under a huge MACC Attack (multinational agricultural and chemical corporations) from the disease-producing industry (pharmaceutical companies and genetic engineered food and pesticide producers). She teaches how to survive and thrive in this toxic world, what foods confer health, what strategies protect against pollution (“The solution to pollution is dilution” - read her books to find out how). That begins with cutting “out the CRAP” (cigarettes, coffee, refined sugars, alcohol, aspirin, processed foods). Central to health is the abandonment of SAD, the Standard American Diet with its nutrient-depleted and toxin-laden refined foods.
Dr. Rogers’ parable of the Twelve Boxes explains the central concept of this new medicine, the notion of the “Total Load”. The body can handle lots of toxins and emotional stress, but as the chemical flood tide increases beyond our evolved capacity to cope, we become sick. Unlike the mechanistic model of standard medicine, which masks the symptom or attacks a specific organ, environmental medicine teaches that the road to health begins by reducing the total load: identify food allergies, and/or identify and desensitize chemical sensitivities, and/or increase good nutrients, and/or heal absorption problems such as a leaky gut, and/or correct the imbalance of intestinal flora such as in Candidiasis, and/or reduce emotional stress etc.
“I like to think of the total load as being analogous to a boat filled with twelve marked boxes. All of us are set adrift in the sea in the same type of boat with the same twelve boxes”, and we all develop leaks. “Some of us have a leak near the gunwales so we only need to throw overboard a couple of boxes to stop taking on water. Others have their leak toward the keel and need to throw over many boxes.” And what is in those boxes? “The total environmental overload.” Box 1 through 11 contain inhalants, pollens, dust mites, molds, animal danders, food allergies, specific environmental sensitivities, hormone deficiencies, the infamous Leaky Gut, deficient nutrition, heavy metal poisons, emotional stress, electromagnetic field sensitivities etc. The 12th is the “mystery box” which could be the worst killer because it contains “the patient’s unwillingness to take responsibility for his own health.” Understanding requires action, so one must chuck that gas cook stove, stop eating processed foods, and remove mercury amalgams. Tragically, this box may contain the “worst of all: a spouse who is unwilling to learn and become a partner in healing.”
Dr. Rogers’ Tresure Chest
The E.I. Syndrome took over 3 years to write. Its first edition appeared in 1986 when being an environmental physician was far more dangerous to one’s professional health than today. Dr. Rogers did the research and writing while battling environmental illness herself. She was treating patients like herself, lecturing on environmental medicine, and writing this book while slowly healing herself. This is the real thing suffered through chemical by chemical, researched, and applied to herself and others. All her subsequent books are expanded forays into specific illnesses providing new and up-to-date medical insights into each.
To gain an appreciation for Dr. Rogers’ achievement, consider her description of life during the writing of this book: “In 1986, even though I was infinitely better than I had been in the previous one and a half decades with E.I., I was still so profoundly affected that when I lectured in Chicago that year, I had to rent 3 tanks of oxygen on wheels and use them delivered through a ceramic mask just so I would know my name!”
You Are What You Ate gives an outline for the treatment of “resistant diseases of the 21st century”. It is a first-rate how-to book for both diagnosis and treatment options to be explored. It is also a most valuable crash course in the principles of environmental medicine explained through lots of patient case stories and personal experiences as a patient and as a doctor. This book is especially valuable for people suffering from Candida-related problems.
The Cure is in the Kitchen provides you with the long and the short of macrobiotics, its principles, history, medical and biochemical bases, recipes and shopping guides. This book took years to put together as Dr. Rogers studied with the world’s foremost expert on this diet, Michio Kushi. The case histories make this a dramatic cookbook which is an indispensable tool especially for cancer patients. Humor is its most welcome and notable feature, as the intrepid Dr. Rogers describes how she managed to experiment with this strange diet. It is important to mention that Dr. Rogers explains the applicability of various diets, as the strict macro diet is not appropriate for all situations.
Macro Mellow is for people with chronic illnesses who need not go as far as the totally strict macrobiotic diet and who want to keep their families from running away from them at dinner. It is strong on issues such as cholesterol and specific nutrients required in the various chronic illnesses.
Chemical Sensitivity is a 48-page booklet that deals with the basics of environmental illness, its scientific basis, its identification, and answers the most common questions asked. The Scientific Basis for Selected Environmental Techniques provides patients suffering from environmental illness with the tools they may need to educate their doctors with incontrovertible scientific and epidemiological evidence, bring some relevant new information to PTA meetings, help their lawyers working to establish the validity of work-place-related chemical and other environmental injury, and handle insurance companies. Written for Americans, the facts are equally useful to Canadians in our parallel battles.
Tired or Toxic? Guides the reader through the world of environmental illness: causes, diagnosis, treatments, their underlying biochemistry is explained for the lay person; every conceivable question is answered. Most importantly, the politics of modern medicine is explained with excellent references, showing why standard medicine is often so abysmally ignorant and kept in the dark by economic forces (see the chapter, entitled “When medical evolution becomes revolution”). This book is like an extensive consultation with Dr. Rogers’ herself.
Wellness Against All Odds addresses the needs of the patient with serious and potentially fatal illnesses. Dr. Rogers summarized this book herself in her September Vitality article. In it she provides the nuts and bolts of environmental medicine: how to get rid of accumulated toxins and correct nutrient deficiencies in serious illness conditions through the use of up-to-date therapies.
Depression Cured At Last, a book of some 700 pages focuses on all the ways by which our brains get attacked by environmental toxins and nutritional deficiencies and how to regain control over your mind and soul. (This one is my favorite, I must admit.) It is a marvel of research meticulously referenced and shows how seamlessly mind and body, biochemistry and spirit, interact to make a meaningful life possible.
No More Heartburn focuses on the diseases of the bowel giving practical solutions to all those who have been through years of toxic drugs and debilitating surgery. Finally, in Pain Free in Six Weeks, Dr. Rogers' latest book, she deals with the causes, biochemistry, and range of successful treatments of all forms of pain about which she knows more personally than anybody would care to know - in arthritis, fibromyalgia, fractured discs, cancer, Gulf War Syndrome.
Far from being exclusively focused on environmental illness, her books (and especially her newsletter) provide a wealth of information on prevention. You learn how to heal, eat, live and raise your family in the spirit of Hippocrates.