The Future of Healthcare with Dr. Christopher Merchant and Carolyn Merchant, authors of The Origin of Disease: The War Within

Doctors must fight against bias, false assumptions and the influence of money. Doctors and researchers need to open their minds to new ideas and find new ways to benefit patients. Doctors refused to accept ulcers were an infection, until patients became aware and demanded a change in the standard, and ulcers began to be treated […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

Doctors must fight against bias, false assumptions and the influence of money. Doctors and researchers need to open their minds to new ideas and find new ways to benefit patients. Doctors refused to accept ulcers were an infection, until patients became aware and demanded a change in the standard, and ulcers began to be treated as an infection.

The quantity of medical knowledge has expanded exponentially, but the quality of knowledge in terms of causes and cures is still lacking. Too much of medicine and research is devoted to greater knowledge of small details and observations; and the conclusions are limited by specialty interest and specialty knowledge. No one is looking at a bigger picture, a broader base of knowledge across specialties, more than one pathogen at a time, or more than one chronic disease at a time. The one cause per disease does not apply when infectious pathogens are the root cause of a chronic disease.

Asa part of my interview series with leaders in healthcare, I had the pleasure to interview Dr. Christopher Merchant and Carolyn Merchant, authors of The Origin of Disease: The War Within. Dr. Merchant has been a family practice physician for 42 years. Carolyn Merchant has been a practicing attorney, specializing in eye injuries, for 35 years. She achieved national recognition and an AV-5 rating, the highest possible rating from peers and judges. The Merchants contemplated the principles in the book for forty years, based on experience, discussion, research, and observation.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

In our careers, we observed problems in the diagnosis and treatment of chronic disease; and too much unnecessary suffering. The medical system is fragmented by specialization, which has caused confusion and the inability to see the patient as a whole or find the causes and cures for chronic disease. Patients may have more than one chronic disease, caused by the same root causes, yet specialists are unaware of, or do not treat, co-morbid conditions outside their specialty. The influence of money, and the desire to treat symptoms instead of causes has caused a decline in the health of the people, and an explosion in both chronic disease and the cost of healthcare.

Dr. Merchant started his career in a low-income area with a high rate of parasitic disease, which led him to be outspoken about the need for supplying clean water lines to the area. He came to realize the potential for parasitic disease to cause other chronic diseases, over time. Over many years of practice, Dr. Merchant came to understand the Principle of the Whole, a central organizing principle described in the book, based on the diagnosis of chronic infection in chronic disease. He did not necessarily want his beliefs to be true, but over time, and through experience, research, observation, and unprecedented successes, the principles became obvious. We felt the need to share our knowledge.

Researchers report “associations”, and research articles seldom state a cause of anything, or offer solutions to benefit patients. Practicing physicians are not allowed to treat patients based on the report of an “association”. Money and politics impact what research is done, how the hypothesis is structured, and how the outcome is reported. The medical system seeks one cause per disease, which does not fit with the fact more than one pathogen or combination of pathogens can cause the same disease; and the same pathogen can cause different diseases in the same person or a different person. We read reports where research was on the wrong track, on the right track but not quite there, and research which made important discoveries and did not recognize the importance of the discoveries, because the specialization of the researchers limited the broad base of knowledge necessary to recognize the discoveries.

Doctors who speak out about new ideas in medicine, and about infectious causes of chronic disease have been criticized and ostracized over centuries, and Dr. Merchant experienced that as well. We saved our research and resources for forty years, and as we reached retirement felt we need to organize the research, and put our thoughts into the book, for the benefit of all.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you published your book?

We have had an amazing response to our book page on social media and encouragement from around the world. We now have followers on every continent, who have supported our posts. Our twitter is also growing fast. We are honored by the people who chose to join our social media pages, and for all the people we know or have met who have encouraged us, and said they were grateful someone finally had the courage to say it!

Can you tell our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the healthcare field?

Dr. Merchant comes from a long line of independent and outspoken thinkers. He has been a practicing family physician for more than forty years, applying the principles of the book. Carolyn Merchant has been a personal injury attorney specializing in eye injuries, and represented clients injured by medical devices, for thirty-five years. She achieved national recognition for her work in eye litigation and was a speaker and four national and international conferences. Together, the Merchants researched, observed, and discussed the book for forty years. Each new issue was researched to confirm or deny our belief, based on current knowledge. At the same time, Dr. Merchant experienced unprecedented successes treating chronic diseases, by applying the principles of the book.

We studied and relied on thousands of articles and texts, before completing the book; and have found hundreds of articles and texts since publication, which also support the principles of the book. Our principles of chronic disease are supported by existing scientific knowledge; however, we offer original thought on the meaning of that knowledge, by examining cross specialty knowledge and the microbiology of immortal pathogens and parasites.

What makes your book stand out? Can you share a story?

Medicine today diagnoses symptoms, findings, observations and syndromes; and treats symptoms. When new findings or observations are made, new diseases are named, or old diseases are subdivided into new forms of the disease. Our book offers original thought on the root causes of chronic disease. It describes existing scientific knowledge and interprets the knowledge in a new way, to offer a new vision for medical care and understanding chronic disease, for the benefit of all. It puts many chronic diseases into a cohesive whole that can foster innovation and discovery in medicine.

Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to and/or see in the healthcare industry? How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo? Which “pain point” is this trying to address?

Every patient should start with a family doctor who can coordinate care and perform appropriate tests to diagnosis of infectious pathogens and parasites, which could be a root cause of their chronic disease. Diagnosis of immortal pathogens and parasites should be the standard of practice, in all chronic disease. When treating physicians and specialists routinely test for immortal pathogens and parasites, the cause of many chronic diseases will become obvious.

Physicians must recognize acute infections with immortal pathogens and parasites, and prescribe treatment at the acute stage, to limit the potential for development of chronic diseases or the premature development of chronic diseases.

A patient history must include all family members and close contacts, significant others, animals in the household, animal contact and the degree of animal contact. Studies have shown non-genetic relatives of people who work with animals have higher incidences of chronic diseases than genetic relatives. Medical doctors need to collaborate and share knowledge with veterinarians, who have significant relevant knowledge of animal pathogens transmitted to humans.

Patients need a better understanding of the origins of chronic disease and know how to protect themselves. Many chronic diseases originate from animal pathogens and parasites; yet, doctors are unaware animal pathogens and parasites can cause chronic disease or are reluctant to advise patients their illness could be from their animals. People need to stop sleeping with their pets and kissing their pets and learn about the diseases that can be acquired from their pets, absent reasonable precautions; and particularly the dangers of owning cats and birds.

Mental illness is a medical illness, yet once patients are sent to the mental health system, medical diagnosis is often not considered. SSRI drugs are the default drug for depression, which are promoted by industry to psychiatry without appropriate warnings. SSRI drugs are dangerous for the patient and have a propensity toward suicide, homicide and other violent acts. Every mass shooter, many suicides, and family massacres can be traced to the use of SSRI drugs, when the patient was starting, changing the dose, or stopping the SSRI drugs. SSRI drugs should not be a default drug for depression, patients must be warned of the risk of suicide and homicide. Any mental health patient should be tested for immortal pathogens and parasites; and any patient prescribed an SSRI drug should have weapons removed from the home or otherwise secured. Investigations into mass murder and family massacres should include animals in the home and animal contact, and the killers tested for both SSRI drugs and immortal pathogens and parasites (including toxoplasmosis).

Diseases of unknown origin, syndromes, and diseases named after a doctor, before modern diagnostic tools were available, need to be re-investigated for infectious causes. Co-morbid conditions need to be considered as potentially arising from the same infectious causes. We have diagnostic tools and treatment already, if doctors become aware of infectious causes of chronic disease and are allowed to test patients for chronic infections.

Specialties must collaborate in patient care and in research, and optimally seek more uniform nomenclature to foster understanding between specialties. When diseases are named based on symptoms and findings, rather than causes, it causes confusion; and when different specialties give different names to the same thing, it fosters a lack of understanding and communication between specialties. Diseases should be identified based on a root cause, and not based on a symptom, finding or observation.

Doctors must fight against bias, false assumptions and the influence of money. Doctors and researchers need to open their minds to new ideas and find new ways to benefit patients. Doctors refused to accept ulcers were an infection, until patients became aware and demanded a change in the standard, and ulcers began to be treated as an infection.

The quantity of medical knowledge has expanded exponentially, but the quality of knowledge in terms of causes and cures is still lacking. Too much of medicine and research is devoted to greater knowledge of small details and observations; and the conclusions are limited by specialty interest and specialty knowledge. No one is looking at a bigger picture, a broader base of knowledge across specialties, more than one pathogen at a time, or more than one chronic disease at a time. The one cause per disease does not apply when infectious pathogens are the root cause of a chronic disease.

When research discovers associations in chronic disease, the research should be continued to determine if treatment of the infectious “associations” benefits the patients’ chronic disease or diseases.

The FDA needs to either get out of the business of medical devices or eliminate the doctrine of federal preemption. The FDA does not protect us with regard to medical devices and gives a false sense of security in the use of dangerous medical devices; yet at the same time attempts to limit the ability of the judicial system to protect us. Defective medical devices have caused tremendous morbidity. Refractive surgery needs to be stopped, because in the short or long term, it is creating millions of disabled people who are suffering, and people who will become disabled before the end of life. The FDA needs to investigate risks associated with cosmetics, particularly with regard to powder cosmetics, sparkle cosmetics, and eye make-up.

Our book offers a way forward for important discoveries to conquer chronic disease with the tools we already have, and with treatments directed at causes. It offers new avenues for research, and redirection of research, which can fundamentally change how chronic diseases are understood; and allow for discovery of causes, cures, and preventive treatments.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why.

It is very difficult to write a book, particularly a book such as ours. It took forty years to finalize the concept for the book, and two years just to write the book. After the book was submitted, the editing of galley sheets was tedious. We are now promoting the book, doing book signings, maintaining our social media presence and a blog, and filling out interview forms. The effort continues long after the book is completed and published.

Let’s jump to the main focus of our interview. According to this studycited by Newsweek, the US healthcare system is ranked as the worst among high income nations. This seems shocking. Can you share with us 3–5 reasons why you think the US is ranked so poorly?

-Doctors are not diagnosing chronic infection, causing an explosion in chronic disease.

-Doctors are not recognizing and treating acute immortal infections, leaving the patient vulnerable to developing a chronic disease years or decades later, when the acute infection has been forgotten.

-Doctors are naming diseases based on symptoms and findings instead of causes, which does not cure the patient and leads to endless dependence on the medical system and pills.

-Specialization and money have limited medicine’s diagnostic acumen, divided the patient into parts, and limited the ability to see a bigger picture, particularly with regard to co-morbid conditions and the relationship between chronic diseases that arise in different specialties.

-Doctors and patients do not recognize the danger of animal pathogens, and doctors are unwilling or reluctant to share that danger with patients, because Americans are deeply attached to their pets and other animals.

-Patients need to recognize the danger of acquiring animal pathogens and take reasonable precautions around their own animals.

-Research has ignored infectious causes of disease, and particularly immortal intracellular pathogens and parasites from animals; failed to recognize the commonality across chronic diseases; and that the microbiology of immortal pathogens match the findings observed in many chronic diseases.

You are a “healthcare insider”. If you had the power to make a change, can you share 5 changes that need to be made to improve the overall US healthcare system? Please share a story or example for each.

-Doctors should begin diagnosing chronic infections, which are causing an explosion in chronic disease. Doctors should begin diagnosing and treating immortal infections at the acute stage, to prevent or delay development of chronic disease.

-Doctors should name diseases based on root causes, not based on symptoms, findings and observations. Syndromes and diseases named after doctors should be re-investigated for infectious causes.

-Specialists need to collaborate and share knowledge, and all doctors need to resist the influence of money.

-Physicians need to take a more comprehensive medical history, regarding all members of the household, close contacts, and animal contacts; and also collaborate with veterinarians.

-Doctors and patients must be educated to recognize the danger of animal pathogens, and doctors must overcome their reluctance to share that knowledge with patients.

-Patients need to recognize the danger of animal pathogens and take reasonable precautions around their own animals.

-More research is needed into infectious pathogens, and particularly immortal intracellular pathogens and parasites from animals.

Thank you! It’s great to suggest changes, but what specific steps would need to be taken to implement your ideas? What can individuals, corporations, communities and leaders do to help?

The best way is to spread the information and knowledge. We need to reach a critical mass of people with knowledge, before meaningful change can take place. The medical system is very resistant to new ideas and to change and is constrained by the “standard-of-care” and ICD codes. We need more flexibility in treating patients, and physicians must be allowed to diagnose and treat chronic infections at the acute and chronic stage.

We need advocacy and for interested parties to take up the cause, we need for corporations to fund research into causes of chronic diseases and not just treatment of symptoms, and we need doctors to discover for themselves that chronic infection causes chronic disease based on their own experience and observation in testing and treating patients. We need diagnostic tools, which are readily available at a reasonable cost, which can diagnose multiple immortal pathogens.

We need to modify the principle of one cause per disease. Koch’s principles do not work well in infectious disease, or in diseases which may have more than one cause. Thus, researchers equivocate in reporting results as an “association”, which limits the ability of doctors to help patients by diagnosing and treating infectious causes of chronic disease. Research studies finding associations should continue to studies on treatment.

Practicing physicians need diagnostic tools to test for immortal pathogens, which can test for multiple pathogens at the same time, and which are available to the doctor and patient at a reasonable cost.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better healthcare leader? Can you explain why you like them?

We reviewed more than 30 books and 1500 articles in writing the book and have collected hundreds of articles since the book was published. Some of the most important books in writing our book were:

  • Breggin P. 2008. Medication Madness, The Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Suicide, and Crime. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin.
  • Breggin P. 2013. Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal, A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients, and Their Families. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Dr. Breggin is a psychiatrist who has been outspoken about the dangers of SSRI drugs, and how those drugs cause violence, suicide and homicide. The drugs do not work, and approval was obtained by manipulating the studies before the FDA. When patients became agitated during the clinical studies, the patients were given valium in addition to the SSRI drug, to calm them, without disclosure to the FDA the approval was actually SSRI drugs plus valium.

The FDA has studies confirming the dangers of SSRI, and based on their adverse event reports and studies, and knowledge that less than 1 in 100 adverse events get reported, SSRI drugs could be responsible for an 800% increased risk of suicide and violence; and more than 1.5 million acts of violence, leading to the devastation to the families of victims and perpetrators.

  • Di Fabio A. 1982. Rheumatoid Diseases: Cured at Last. 4th ed. Franklin, TN: The Rheumatoid Disease Foundation.
  • Di Fabio A. 2017. Rheumatoid Diseases Cured at Last. Franklin, TN: The Arthritis Trust of America.

Dr. Blount was an early pioneer who advocated that rheumatoid arthritis had an infectious cause — the limax amoeba. He was criticized and his medical license threatened, and the medical board attempted to entrap him, but he ultimately prevailed and went on to establish an arthritis foundation. He claimed to have cured himself and more than 15,000 others.

The 2017 book expanded the concepts in the 1982 book, to include a variety of pathogens, including those in our book, which could have been treated concurrently with the medicines used by Dr. Blount.

  • Ewald PW. 1996. Evolution of Infectious Disease. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Ewald PW. 2000. Plague Time: How Stealth Infections Cause Cancers, Heart Disease and Other Deadly Ailments. New York: Free Press.
  • Ewald PW. 2002. Plague Time: The New Germ Theory. 2nd Ed. Anchor Books.

Dr. Ewald is an evolutionary biologist, and college professor. He professes many interesting ideas, as part of his “germ theory”, including that many chronic diseases will ultimately be proven to be infectious, based on his knowledge of evolutionary principles. He also believes when pathogens are transmitted rapidly from person-to-person the pathogen becomes more virulent; and that treatment of chronic infections with low dose antibiotics has less risk of causing antibiotic resistance than acute infections spread rapidly, due to the low risk of transmission of the pathogens.

  • Friedman H (ed), et al. 2004. Chlamydia Pneumoniae Infection and Disease. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.

The book covers a variety of chronic diseases caused by chlamydia. It is insightful, and suggests causes of chronic diseases; and also offers significant evidence supporting the principles in the book.

  • Hippocrates. The Corpus, The Hippocratic Writings (Kaplan Classics of Medicine). 2008. NewYork: Kaplan Publishing

It was a somewhat difficult read but it was a fascinating read. Hippocrates was the first to say diseases had a cause, and were not just sent from God. He saw and treated many of the same diseases we see today. His approach was novel, based on observation and meticulous documentation of the course of diseases. His observations of the course of diseases, and survival or demise of his patients, are recognizable observations pertaining to diseases that persist today.

  • Stephens R (ed). 1999. CHLAMYDIA Intracellular Biology, Pathogenesis and Immunity. Washington, D.C.: ASM Press.

The book is a basic text on chlamydia, and the microbiology of chlamydia, which expanded Dr. Merchant’s knowledge and understanding of the causes of chronic disease. Chlamydia pneumonia was not discovered and recognized as a separate form of chlamydia, until the late 1980s. The chlamydia text expanded Dr. Merchant’s knowledge and understanding of how immortal pathogens cause chronic diseases. The microbiology of many chronic diseases corresponds to the microbiology of chlamydia.

  • Storz J. 1971. Chlamydia and Chlamydia-Induced Diseases. Charles C. Thomas: Springfield, Illinois.

Dr. Storz was a veterinarian, who studied chlamydia and was a visionary in his field. Veterinarians have studied animal pathogens for a long time, and are knowledgeable about the fact animals can transmit animal pathogens to humans. Veterinarians are willing to state a particular pathogen causes a disease, and the diseases caused by pathogens in animals correspond to the diseases caused by the pathogens in humans.

  • Summers A. 2014. COMMON DISEASES IN COMPANION ANIMALS, 3rd Ed. China: Mosby.

The book describes animal diseases, including chronic diseases in animals, which have a remarkable similarity to human diseases. Animals get most of the same chronic diseases as people, and pathogens can be passed both from animals-to-humans, and from humans-to- animals.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

[email protected]

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


The Future of Medicine is Functional

by Caroline Varriale

The Future of Healthcare: “We must let doctors be doctors” with Christopher Maiona, M.D. of PatientKeeper, Inc.

by Christina D. Warner, MBA
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.