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Break the System

A Duke University–educated physician, Len Saputo should have been able to help his wife, a trained nurse, better when she suffered her first life-threatening anaphylactic attack. Or her second. But by her 23rd attack, in a Hong Kong hotel far from their California home, he was not only spooked and worried, but downright abject about his own inability to cure his wife. His colleagues recommended a course of Prednisone, which caused her face to balloon and her ankle to crack with a mere misstep. Something else had to be done.

As it turned out, Saputo’s wife was reacting to the hundreds of allergens that are the regular byproduct of modern life. By sticking to a strict regime of food and environmental restrictions, she has been able to live off the drugs and without suffering anaphylactic attack No. 24. And her husband has been radicalized.

With the country seemingly paralyzed by the buffoonery that passes for the Town Hall healthcare debates, Dr. Saputo has some common sense wisdom for Washington. His newest book is A Return to Healing. He appears at Readers Books on Aug. 27 to offer his own prescription for America’s healthcare woes. First on the list? Get rid of prescriptions, at least those big pharma drugs that treat after-the-fact symptoms instead of before-it-happens modifications.

Co-written with Marin County resident Byron Belitsos, A Return to Healing offers its own five-point plan for changing the country, beginning with mandating an hour’s worth of daily exercise for everyone, young and old, and taxing junk food as severely as we do alcohol and cigarettes. The two seek to expand the role of and the insurance coverage for such complementary and alternative medical practices as Chinese herbology, acupuncture and chiropractics, healing methods embraced in other cultures and pooh-poohed in our HMO-dominated medical system.

They demand an overhaul of the FDA, a government arm so overrun by the needs of the multibillion dollar pharmaceutical industry as to be its puppet. They support single-payer health insurance that covers all citizens and suggest that consumers should always have access to alternative therapies.

With their emphasis on preventative life-style changes—exercise and leafy greens cost the healthcare industry not a single sou—one would think that Saputo and Belitsos’ recommendations would be warmly embraced. One would, of course, be wrong.

Dr. Len Saputo appears on Thursday, Aug. 27, at Readers’ Books. 130 E. Napa St., Sonoma. 7:30pm. Free. 707.939.1779.