By Rob Verkerk PhD, founder, executive & scientific director

Last Thursday at 9:00 GMT, the first of three-part landmark series, Doctor in the House, went to air on BBC1 television. In it, NHS GP, functional medicine practitioner and Nuhealth2 conference think tank participant, Dr Rangan Chatterjee, lit the touch papers that could be an important trigger for how chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity are managed at the coal-face of primary care. The approach is equally relevant for mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, now rated by the WHO as the single greatest burden on healthcare systems the world over.

Diet and lifestyle, not drugs

In episode 1, still available (at the time of writing) to UK viewers on iPlayer, Rangan did something most doctors don’t get a chance to do, at least outside their own homes. He lived with a family and changed their lives, by reducing or eliminating drugs, changing diets and altering lifestyles. He showed how time combined with a connected, systems and functional medicine approach towards the individual’s health, could resolve type 2 diabetes in a month. That just doesn’t happen among the millions who are prescribed Metformin. Dr Chatterjee also showed how he could approach the complex issues surrounding hormonal changes at menopause without resorting to HRT.

What the critics say

The program has received a lot of praise. It will give a lot of people hope and show just how important dietary and lifestyle changes can be to the recovery of health particularly in cases of chronic disease. Dr Chatterjee was also fully expecting detractors. It goes with the territory when you have the resolve of Dr Chatterjee, with so much enthusiasm to see change in a system that is as intertwined with pharmaceutical interests as present-day mainstream primary care. But that’s a good sign, not a bad one. The debate, at least in the UK, is out in the open with over 6 million people being exposed to the series.

Writing in The Times, Andrew Billen wroteWhile in theory one is in favour of people taking responsibility for their health, there was something distasteful in the way this far from stupid family was guilt-tripped into doing so. Next let’s parachute a teacher into some struggling family and voyeuristically enjoy her lectures on how dad should be supervising his children’s homework and mum should be ‘reading more.”

Everyone is of course entitled to his or her opinion. One of ours relates to our concerns over people being over-prescribed drugs for type 2 diabetes, obesity, depression and other chronic diseases that often don’t work and contribute to a host of serious side effects, even death.

The other predictable criticism has come from the anti-low carb brigade, headed of course by the dieticians. With relatively few exceptions, these healthcare professionals, who have been delegated responsibility for nutritional matters by mainstream medics, still see fit to feed cancer patients ice cream. They also fail to accept copious evidence for the benefit of wheat and dairy exclusion among huge swathes of the public. So it is no wonder Dr Chatterjee finds himself in their cross-hairs, even if he is resolving problems they’ve been stuck on for decades.

More constructive criticism could have been related to how you factor in sufficient time to deliver the kind of functional medicine approach that Dr Chatterjee uses. As it happens, an awful lot of thought has gone into that issue by a lot of different doctors and experts around the world, including Dr Chatterjee himself. But it’s not good fodder for programs like Doctor in the House so you won’t see it discussed there. But it is an issue with which we grappled during our Think Tank deliberations in March this year, in which Dr Chatterjee participated.

Doctor in the House – Rangan Chatterjee exposed

Those who only follow Dr Chatterjee on BBC1 will get a limited view of the scale of issues a doctor like Rangan Chatterjee is up against in trying to contribute to a groundswell of change in primary care. You won’t, for example, see some of the supplements that are vital to help restore health being used, nor will you hear the term ‘functional medicine’ mentioned. We hope both the article we link to below and the video we release today might help you understand more about his drivers. The good news: Dr Chatterjee is not alone. There are more and more GPs who are disenfranchised with the state of chronic disease care and the myopic nature of their training — and want to see change.

Health journalist Jerome Burne, another ANH friend and frequent contributor to the Daily Mail newspaper, interviewed Dr Chatterjee. For “one of those frustrating reasons”, Jerome’s interview didn’t make it to the newspaper. Thank goodness for the relative freedom of the internet: you can read Jerome’s full article that should have been published in a major newspaper on Jerome’s site, Health Insight UK.

We also release today a short video of excerpts from Dr Chatterjee’s revealing contribution to the Think Tank debate we co-organised with our friends at Yes to Life last March.

Watch the 4 minute video:

UK viewers, don’t forget to see episode 2 of Doctor in the House at 9 pm tomorrow. Remember: no TV dinners!

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Comments

  1. From what I read 100,000 people die or are killed by prescription drugs in USA. UK must have the same problem. There are so many other ways of treating discease for anyone prepared to learn a bit how the body works.

  2. I would like to see the entire health service promoting this type of preventative measure as it could save the NHS millions in well needed funds in the long term. I am myself overweight but have recently lost 20lbs on a similar plan. healthy eating and the right exercise works!

  3. Dear Dr. Chatterjee,
    I strongly recommend that you pursue postgraduate training in constitutional homeopathic medicine and orthomolecular, functional nutrition. These health care fields will provide the tools that you seek to truly heal the root causes of disease, and restore and maintain the optimum health and well-being of your patients. I know this as a fact from over 30 years of clinical experience. You will feel a sense of gratification in your medical practice that traditional medical education will never provide.
    Most sincerely,
    Dr. Fleisher

  4. Sadly testing for Homocysteine is rarely if ever included in NHS testing. It is more of an indicator of future health problems linked to stroke and circulatory problems. Also it is raised when B12 is low. Dr Chatterjee used this test in the programme along with the 24 Hour Saliva Test. This is also not used within the NHS to my knowledge. It gives more of an indication of how the levels of cortisol vary during the day. The NHS Test just tests the blood once ! Also Adrenal Fatigue is not recognised within the NHS. So not helpful for people who can only operate within the NHS which makes me sad.

    I was disappointed that Thyroid testing was not completed as I personally thought the lady of the house had an issue – which many of her symptoms suggested. It would have been good to hear Dr Chatterjee’s take on the NHS testing of just the TSH and occasionally the FT4 which many of us know is only part of the story. T3 is the most Active Thyroid Hormone and is needed in every cell of the body – but rarely tested.

    I thought it was a fantastic programme and just hope it reached those that so need his approach. How many will be able to access his care and concern I wonder. We need more programmes like this and of course more Functional Medical Practitioners in the UK and beyond. Maybe when the NHS collapses under the strain of its own prescriptions – the Functional Practitioners will be waiting in the wings to make everyone well again !

    1. I totally agree!!! I have been ill for 15-20 years, only does diagnosis fibromyalgia. I recently looked at my records and my thyroid results clearly show hypothyroidism, but NHS will only test TSH and range is too high, so I’m always just at top end, which is too high!! My T4 is low, so T 3 May also be low, but NHS don’t test this and don’t give it in the case of hashimotos because of cost, however abroad it is recognised and prescribed much cheaper. My GP has wasted so much money on me without acknowledging hypothyroidism and making me sicker in the process!!! Come on all you Doctors, tell the truth, and get together in action to save all this suffering!!!!

  5. so many doctors/medicals don’t listen and treat everyone the same well we are notclones ,listeningto the patient and using alternatives as opposed to pharm is often more benficialand doctors should not be penalised for thinking outside thebox and treating occordingly– with natural meds!

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