Almost everyone has heard of the Hippocratic Oath for Physician’s, and when asked about it will say “First do no harm”. Strangely enough, this was not in the original ancient Greek manuscript. The quote from the original manuscript actually states this: “I will use those dietary regimens which will benefit my patients according to my greatest ability and judgment, and I will do no harm or injustice to them”. The very next sentence in the oath reads, “I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a peccary to cause an abortion.” I have always found it strange that an oath created by either Hippocrates, the father of modern western medicine, or one of his students, would still be used today, when the tenets of the oath are not followed in the slightest.

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Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine thy food”. Why? Because he understood the components inside food, were the key to maintaining optimum health and is true medicine. Reading the second quote from the oath, you can see how he felt about the use of lethal drugs as well. Yet here we are, living in a society that all but excluded nutrition from the curriculum of medical schools and uses drugs as the only remedy for any aliment, however, we still use his oath. So how did we get to a place where the teachings of Hippocrates are replaced with the mirrored opposite of it? One has to understand the landscape of the medical schools of the early 1900’s to find the answer to this question.

During the early 20th century, there were only a few very good medical schools in the country. However, there were a lot of mediocre and downright awful medical schools. Many of them were effectively “diploma mills”. At some of the schools, you did not even need to attend classes. If you mailed in enough money to the school they would give you a medical degree.  The American Medical Association (AMA) created The Council on Medical Education, to survey the training in universities inside the United States and make recommendations to improve it. They, however, had some difficulties because the people inside the council had vastly different perspectives on what recommendations were needed. Coupled with the fact that they virtually ran out of funds by 1908, they were in dire straits. At which point Henry S. Pritchett,  the Carnegie Foundation’s (which was, by this time a subsidiary of the Rockefeller foundation) President, offers to take over the project on behalf of the AMA. They quickly accepted his offer and he became the President of the council.

Andrew Carnegie and John D Rockefeller, repeatedly worked together to achieve their mutual goals and this was no different. They funded through their tax exempt foundation, Simon Flexner (a board member of Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research ) and Abraham Flexner(from the Carnegie Foundation of Advancement of Teaching) to do what the AMA couldn’t do with their council. They accurately found all the problems with the medical schools but also made vast recommendations. Most of the recommendations they made were sound and needed to be implemented. However, they sprinkled in some recommendations that would without a doubt make their bosses and their pharmaceutical industry very powerful. They suggested that the study of pharmacology take up a much bigger share of the course load and they also suggested to start building research departments at “qualified” schools. Pritchett then endorsed everything in the Flexner Report, which was then published all over the United States. As you would expect there was a cry from the people of this nation, to reform and overhaul the medical schools so these practices could no longer take place. This reaction was one that Rockefeller was hoping for so he could use it to his full advantage. It’s called the Hegelian dialectic and the Rockefeller’s are masters at it. They either manifest a problem, or in this scenario, use a legitimate problem to their advantage by shedding light on it to get a particular reaction. In this case, the intended reaction was the people asking for change in the medical schools. They then present a solution, through which they can gain control while looking like they are doing so to protect the people. The solutions they presented were the reform of the medical schools and to raise the quality of education through the building of top-notch facilities; all the while, getting rid of negative things like diploma mills. This of course needs funding and these men are experts at exploiting situation where someone needs money.

Rockefeller and Carnegie then used their tax exempt philanthropic” foundations to quickly give out hundreds of millions (a number that is in the billions today) in tax-free grants to the medical schools in the country. Those that did not want to conform to the recommendations found in the Flexner report, did not receive the grants and fell by the way side. Whereas those that would follow the guidelines were able to build the facilities the report spoke of and they flourished. Rockefeller and Carnegie also littered all the school’s board of trustees with members of their foundations or made many of their men consultants of the universities. Once you control the board, you control virtually everything in the organization and Rockefeller managed to do this though his grant program to almost all the medical schools in the country. At this point, all the medical schools in the United States switched from the Homeopathic medicine that Hippocrates taught (and Rockefeller himself used) and started teaching the German school of medicine, called Allopathic Medicine. A school of medicine that teaches doctors to suppress symptoms with the use of pharmacological drug and radical surgeries leading to long stays in the hospitals.

Thus, the age of Big Pharmaceutical and its “profit over people” approach to medicine had begun; an age that causes a laundry list of side effects and over 100 thousand deaths every year from doctor prescribed drugs.

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