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Over the last year, the revelations and news media coverage of Edward Snowden have firmly lodged the word 'whistleblower' in the minds of not only Americans, but people all over the world. With Snowden's recent Nobel Peace Prize nomination, it signals public opinion is very much behind those that expose the truth.
A whistleblower is defined as a person who 'exposes misconduct, alleged dishonest or illegal activity, either in a corporate or government organization.' Heath and wellness are fields that has gained significant popularity over the last 25 years, due in part to whistleblowers who have not only pioneered new ways of staying healthy, but also exposed frauds and in some cases a willful cover up by government and corporate forces to keep us sick and needy.
Here is a list of some of my favorite wellness whistleblowers. Who are your favorites?
1. Jeff Bland, PhD
Known as the "father of Functional Medicine" Jeff Bland has been a recognized leader in the field of nutrition and chronic disease for over thirty years. Dr. Bland introduced the concepts of Functional Medicine to all corners of the world, and has inspired a new generation of holistic doctors in America, including big names like Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. David Perlmutter.
As well as functional medicine, Dr. Bland has played a key role in the development of Naturopathy in America as a founding member of Bastyr University. Currently Naturopathic Doctors can practice as a licensed primary care physician in 16 states.
Thanks to, in part, Dr. Bland's unflinching dedication to the truth about nutrition, toxicity and chronic disease, insurance companies and large health stakeholders are now engaging this new group of physicians to find cost savings. The tide is turning!
2. Dr. Ignaz Semmelweiss
Dr. Semmelweiss was an Austrian physician in the 19th Century who was the first to recognize the importance of hand-washing in the medical field. Pasteur's Germ Theory was still a couple of decades away and his observation that doctors were spreading disease went against the prevalent thought at the time.
In 1850 he went public with his theories and spent the next 14 years trying to get the medical establishment to take his ideas seriously. Not only did they not gain acceptance in his lifetime, but he was also placed in a mental hospital against his wishes where he later died. After his death the germ theory was developed recognizing Dr. Semmelweiss as the founder of anti-septic policy and prevention of nosocomial disease.
3. Gary Null
For over three decades, Gary Null has been one of the most foremost advocates of alternative medicine and natural healing. He has written 70 best selling books, hosted the longest running syndicated health radio show and created over 100 full feature documentaries.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s Gary's writing for Penthouse magazine covered many topics that were extremely controversial at the time, but looking back seem to be way ahead of their time. He was a keen critic of the modern cancer industry and promoted several therapies that have gone on to gain wider scientific acceptance like clinical nutrition, chelation therapy and detoxification.
4. Gwen Olsen
Gwen Olsen worked for 15 years as a pharmaceutical representative, selling prescription drugs to doctors. Her award winning books 'Confessions of an Rx Drug Pusher' and 'Drugging our Children' blew the whistle on some of the most unsavory aspects of modern American healthcare.
A passionate advocate for mental health, Gwen continues to spread the word about the conflicts of interest that are putting Americans health at risk via her writing and speaking engagements.
5. Satchidananda Saraswati
After the loss of his wife, Satchidananda traveled around India learning about meditation and spiritual teachings. He then began teaching yoga which lead to the development of "Integral Yoga" which "integrates the various branches of yoga in order to bring about a complete harmonious development of the individual."
Widely credited with bringing yoga to America, his first public appearance was legendary. He was the opening speaker at the Woodstock Festival in 1969 and used that platform to write numerous books and hold multiple lectures. He lived in New York for many years, and I'm sure would be delighted to see the state of yoga today in America.
6. Dr. Dean Ornish
In 1977, Dr. Ornish conducted a series of clinical research papers that proved for the first time that just by changing your lifestyle and diet, you could stop the progression of, and even reverse, coronary artery (heart) disease.
These lifestyle changes include smoking cessation, whole food, plant based diet, moderate exercise and stress management techniques like yoga and meditation. His research has not only spread to look at other diseases, but also inspired a new generation of holistic doctors, bloggers and event past US Presidents like Bill Clinton to take on a plant based diet.
7. Dr. Andrew Wakefield
This is likely the most controversial choice on this list of wellness whistleblowers. Dr. Wakefield is a British pediatric gastroenterologist. His case series printed in the Lancet journal in 1998 first linked the MMR Vaccine to a novel bowel disease.
This paper has become a source of significant controversy. The Lancet has since retracted it and Dr. Wakefield is widely portrayed by the mainstream media as a fraud. However, there is a lot more to this story that is never reported, and given the rising tide of public opinion and chronic pediatric disease, I'm sure there will be a twist in the tale.
In his book, Callous Disregard, Dr. Wakefield does some classic whistleblowing, sharing specific evidence of collusion between government and business to cover up the side effects of vaccination. My personal opinion is that Dr. Wakefield will end up being a 21st Century Ignaz Semmelweiss, and perhaps just like his Austrian forefather, he will end up marginalized in his own life time. I for one hope it doesn't take that long.