Obesity and associated chronic diseases cost this country roughly $147 billion a year in direct medical expenses. It’s not a problem that will be legislated away by health care reform plans that perpetuate status quo medical approaches. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) therapy, when combined with a careful diet plan, regular exercise and other hormone-based treatments, can make a huge difference in helping people lose weight, and could help trim the nation’s health care budget as well.
If you’re like most physicians, healthcare reform is a topic of conversation around your proverbial “water cooler.” Let’s face it: We are looking at a tsunami of chronic disease, and the so-called thought leaders have failed to present any viable options for dealing with it.
The US healthcare system ranks at or near the bottom among industrialized nations for many desirable health outcomes. Yet the dialog on reform is focused on how we can continue to fund a system that is the worst at what it does. It is like arguing over how best to pay Paris Hilton to do your corporate taxes!
The current debate is over how to fund “sick care.” How to keep drug companies in business? How to enable Americans to stay fat and lazy without consequence? How to make sure every American is enmeshed in a bureaucratic insurance plan that adds tremendous cost and administrative overhead but little value to most healthcare encounters?
If we want better answers, we must ask better questions. Like, how can we help patients move towards better health using preventative measures that tax the economy less? How do we shift after-tax profits of struggling corporations like General Motors from insurance companies and drug companies to their employees? How do we as doctors provide true “health” care and still make a decent living? If those are your questions, I think I have some answers.
If you’re reading this, you’re already moving away from the “pill for every ill” paradigm. You’re at least open to the idea that, “You will never medicate your way out of diseases you behave yourself into.” You’ve probably gotten blue in the face telling patients to exercise, eat better, and lose weight. It hasn’t worked.
I know because it didn’t work for my patients for 36 years. And mind you, this is not 36 years sitting behind the desk pointing a finger. This is 36 years of studying with Kenneth Cooper MD, the “father of aerobics,” at the Cooper Center for Aerobics Research; of studying exercise with Nautilus founder, Arthur Jones; of doing a cardiovascular pharmacology fellowship; of working with nutritional medicine pioneers Hugh Riordan and Jonathan Wright; of studying personal achievement strategies with Anthony Robbins.
And let’s not forget US Marine Corps officer training, martial arts training with Chuck Norris; study of endocrinology under diabetes expert Carlos Menedez, MD, and traditional medicine training in mainland China. And then there’s the 22 years of clinical experience in ER, ICU, and orthomolecular medicine including training at Texas Tech University School of Medicine and the University of Alberta. As we say here in Texas, this is not my first rodeo.
With all that behind me, I still could not help most of my patients achieve consistent and lasting weight loss.
A Very Heavy Problem
We have an epidemic of obesity-related disease, and it’s costing us a LOT of money. According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality, medical spending on obesity and associated diseases doubled in the past decade, reaching $147 billion a year. Incidence of obesity grew 37% between 1998 and 2006, and now accounts for a shocking 9.1 percent of all medical spending, up from 6.5 percent in 1998 (Finkelstein EA, et al. Health Affairs. Published online, July 27, 2009. http://content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/content/abstract/hlthaff.28.5.w822)
I’ve postulated the theory of Oximation on these pages as a fundamental cause of obesity and related chronic diseases. (Join www.HolisticPrimaryCare.net and read Hypothyroidism, Candida & “Oximation”: Toward a new Model of Chronic Disease Winter 2008) That mechanism can be debated. But there is no debating the fact that Americans are grossly overweight and that weight reduction can reduce morbidity across the spectrum of chronic disease.
My problem, clinically, was that I didn’t have a reliable weight loss strategy that was safe, effective, and palatable for the average American housewife. That is, until recently.
Discovering Injectable HCG
In the Fall of 2007 while at the Tahoma Clinic with Dr. Jonathan Wright, a male patient came in and asked me to start him on a weight loss program using Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG). I knew about HCG for cryptorchidism, but had never heard of using it for weight loss. But I’ve learned over the years that some of my best intel comes from patients. This man had a book called, The Weight Loss Cure by Kevin Trudeau. In it, Trudeau detailed the work of a brilliant British physician named A.T.W. Simeons, MD.
I’d heard Trudeau’s name before. The Federal Trade Commission had repeatedly sued him for false/exaggerated claims; the last penalty was to the tune of $37 million. He was jailed early in his career for larceny, illegally charging thousands of dollars to clients’ credit cards. He’s hardly the type of guy from whom I would usually draw clinical guidance.
But sometimes thieves speak truth. Through his books, Mr. Trudeau has alerted the public to the very real benefits of some alternative therapies, as well as to some of the ugly machinations of Big Pharma. He is also largely responsible for resurrecting Dr. Simeons’ HCG protocol, which Trudeau—overweight since childhood¾used in his own effort to lose weight. Besides, my patient was eager to try it, and I owed it to him to at least read up on Simeons and HCG.
Over a span of 40 years, Dr. Simeons meticulously developed a protocol for HCG injections combined with a specific, 500-calorie diet. I was engaged by the way Simeons presented his theories and conclusions. I didn’t agree with much of what he wrote about the physiology of obesity, but we shared a philosophy: “When a treatment based on such speculations showed consistently satisfactory results, I was sure that some practical advance had been made, regardless of whether the theoretical interpretation of these results is correct or not.”
Simeons believed that fat storage is regulated by the diencephalon, similar to the way a banker stores your money. When there is a stable deposit/withdrawal balance the banker keeps your money at the bank where you can easily access it. If, however, you suddenly start making huge deposits and few withdrawals, he might suggest putting some of the funds into a CD. The funds tied up in CDs are not so easy to access and, of course, they draw interest.
If there is an abrupt change in the deposit/withdrawal balance, the “fat bank” of the diencephalon is overwhelmed and sends the surplus into deep storage that is much harder to access. Generally speaking, the only condition under which the human body feels the need to tap into these deep strategic reserves is during pregnancy. This is when high levels of HCG are produced, allowing for constant metabolic access to fuel stores, regardless of the mother’s eating habits. This was the rationale prompting Dr. Simeons to try HCG for weight loss
By giving HCG injections and putting patients on calorie restriction diets, he found they could easily lose 0.5 to 1 pound per day over a 40-day period. He published his ideas and his protocol in the Lancet in 1954 (Simeons ATW. The action of chorionic gonadotrophin in the obese. Lancet 1954; 267 (6845): 946-7), and also produced a small patient-oriented book entitled Pounds and Inches (The original manuscript is posted on several HCG related websites; just Google “pounds, inches, HCG”).
Dr. Simeons’ consistent results, coupled with the rigor of his analysis of the mechanisms of obesity, were enough to convince me to give the protocol a try.
It happened that this patient lived just around the block from me, so he would stop by each morning to get his injection before I left for the office. We stuck by Simeons’ protocol (me doing the sticking), and it worked as Simeons described. After 40 daily injections, he lost around 25 pounds with no side effects. Most importantly, he was never hungry despite stringent calorie restriction!
I was one of the first doctors involved with the Optifast weight loss program. Over the years, I’ve prescribed fen/phen, various diets, and all sorts of OTC weight loss supplements. Nothing compared to HCG for safety, efficacy and patient acceptance.
A Role for Other Hormones?
I could not help but wonder, however, whether the program could be improved by combining it with everything I’ve learned over the last 30-plus years. Simeons seemed to think that thyroid and other hormone replacement therapy had no role in weight loss. He felt estrogen replacement caused weight gain and that thyroid hormone had not proven helpful with weight loss.
But Simeons wrote in the era when Premarin was the primary form of estrogen replacement. Premarin is conjugated estrogens from the urine of pregnant mares. Those could be expected to cause weight gain as well as a host of other more dangerous medical problems. Also, the thyroid replacement Simeons was familiar with was synthetic T4, given orally. T4 is the poorly active precursor to the active T3. In most people, synthetic T4 is poorly converted to T3.
Another problem with conventional thyroid therapy is oral delivery. Endocrine glands deliver hormones directly into the blood. Oral ingestion of T4 further compromises pharmacodynamics by sending it through the GI tract, portal system, and liver. Not long after getting to the Tahoma Clinic, Dr. Wright and I discussed whether transdermal thyroid hormone might work better, as we knew it did with steroid hormones. Both of us being hypothyroid, we tried it and were pleased with the results.
With subsequent patients, I judiciously amended Simeons’ protocol with the lessons learned from other mentors. There was no escaping the metabolic impact of insulin, as I learned from Dr. Menendez. Insulin is the primary hormone controlling fat deposition, so insulin secretion must be regulated to achieve weight control. Drastic calorie reduction reduces insulin secretion.
Regular exercise, as taught by Dr. Cooper and Arthur Jones, may not be an efficient weight loss tool, but it plays a critical role in maintenance. When bio-identical hormones were used as taught to me by Drs. Northrup and Wright, they did not cause weight gain and added many clinical benefits. If the problem of yeast overgrowth is addressed comprehensively, I can facilitate weight loss and also relieve hunger.
Lastly, working with pharmacist, Craig Toman, PharmD, I converted Dr. Simeons’ HCG injections into a more patient-friendly nasal spray, which is obviously more convenient and less painful.
Trimming Waists, Trimming Waste
The result is what I have dubbed the “Weight is Over” program, a 60-day protocol that adds comprehensive bio-identical hormone replacement (including transdermal thyroid replacement), expedient exercise, and a functional, lifetime eating concept to complement Simeons’ HCG protocol.
The beauty of this program is that it works for nearly everyone, especially the middle-aged overweight women who often have the hardest time losing weight. You need not be a bull-headed fitness fanatic like me to make this work.
While it is definitely challenging to stick with a regimen of just 500 exogenous calories per day, the HCG works to release calories from stored fat, so the body still gets exactly the calories it needs for proper functioning. The brain does not perceive starvation. The problem with a 500-calorie diet without HCG is that the body is not getting access to that stored fat. The result is compensatory slowing of metabolism, ketosis, hunger….and a greater than 90% failure rate.
I’ve had patients who have struggled with their weight for 15 years easily lose substantial weight on this program. And weight loss is just the beginning! Overall health improves. Skin improves, blood pressure improves, cholesterol levels improve, chronic pain is reduced, and sleep improves, as does mood.
The cosmetic effects are demonstrable in these photos of one of my patients. What I’m unable to show you is the wake of jettisoned prescriptions and medications for depression, high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, etc, that my “Weight Is Over” patients are able to leave behind them. Once patients complete the initial protocol, get into an exercise routine, learn to eat right, and feel the difference, they typically maintain healthy weight, though some do need to repeat the HCG protocol after a 6-week hiatus.
This approach is highly cost-effective. I typically work with groups of 10 patients who each pay me just $750 to proctor them through the 60-day program..
What would be the impact on the quality and cost of health care in the US if more primary care physicians offered this type program? Would it make logistical, financial, and ethical sense for you to invest 2 hours per week to proctor two groups of 10 patients over 60 days with no investment in equipment or overhead (I’m assuming you have a scale and a tape measure)?
Not a “Cure,” But a Big Help
HCG is not a “cure” for obesity, as Dr. Simeons and Kevin Trudeau suggested. No single factor is “the answer.” For long-term weight management, all the pieces of the ergonomic puzzle have to be addressed. Still, HCG is the most effective adjunct I have found for getting people¾particularly average American women¾on the road to weight loss and better health.
Whether you like it or not, patients are ordering HCG from online pharmacies without a prescription, giving themselves injections, and sometimes getting good results on their own (you can view their stories on YouTube). They could certainly do better, and do it more safely, with your assistance. Your practice could do better with their assistance. And GM, along with thousands of other nearly bankrupt American companies, could do better with all of our assistance in stemming the flood of obesity and associated chronic diseases.
We can’t legislate health care. Health care is a verb. It is the result of the combined effort of patients and physicians at redressing the metabolic imbalances that manifest as chronic disease. You can participate in an effective solution and be compensated for it, or you can continue to point fingers, watch diseases progress and see your patients continue their inexorable and costly declines. The choice is yours.
I’ve got more information about the “Weight is Over” protocol on my website: http://www.drfitt.com/03weight.php.