Warsh, also a medical advisor for Earth Conscious Films, told host Robert F. Kennedy Jr. that the increase in chronic disease has more than one root cause and the solution will come from a combination of modern and natural medicines.
"I just think that we're way too quick in modern medicine to give medication, we're way too quick to give an antibiotic. There's no reason we can't use the best of natural medicine and the best of modern medicine," he said.
According to Warsh, people should focus as much on prevention as they do on treatment.
Kennedy pointed out that data from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) showed that only about six percent of Americans had chronic diseases in the 1960s, but the percentage grew to 11.8 percent in 1986 and 54 percent in 2006.
However, there is no single answer as to why there are higher rates of chronic diseases. "There's no way it can be one thing. It's everything," Warsh said. "It's the way that we're living. It's the nutrient-poor food that we’re eating … If you're not getting the nutrients, then how is your body going to be able to function properly?" (Related: Could inflammation be the core cause of all chronic disease?)
Another factor is that people are surrounded by more chemicals. Warsh noticed that children in his practice whose families work to decrease the use of chemicals in their homes or eat more nutritious food tend to be healthier.
"By and large, they're not nearly as sick as the other kids that I've seen over the years," he said.
Kennedy noted that pediatricians aren't sounding the alarm about the drastic rise of chronic disease in children. Warsh provided a number of reasons for this.
For instance, since most pediatricians focused on their day-to-day practice, there hasn't been a wave of movement among doctors and pediatricians to really think about the root cause and identification of chronic diseases in general as a major issue.
Profit, he said, is another factor. "There’s not a lot of money [for corporations] in improving your vitamin D or eating healthier."
In a separate interview, Warsh said he's seen the ways in which conventional medicine ignores the patient as a whole – and instead focuses on treating the symptoms.
For instance, he has a case where a baby has severe acid reflux at two months old, and the doctors are quick to dole out prescriptions and order tests instead of asking about the baby's diet. He learned that the parents recently switched from breast milk to formula milk, and by switching to another formula, the symptoms went away.
"It was just as simple as thinking about things more holistically and thinking about the root cause," he said.
In bridging the conventional and alternative divide in integrative pediatrics, Warsh's perspective has shifted. And he knew how to put in the work to become an integrative pediatrician.
Warsh took it upon himself to pursue additional training in functional medicine, homeopathy and Ayurveda, among other holistic practices. (Related: Rosehips reduce inflammation and fight off chronic disease symptoms.)
He uses complementary Eastern and conventional medicine. "My ethos and what I really believe in is that there shouldn't be Eastern medicine and Western medicine. It should just be medicine. You need both things together and that's the essence of integrative medicine – it's combining those two."
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