John Bradshaw - Conversation with Dr. James L. Marcum
He is a physician. He's a cardiologist, in fact. He's dedicated his life to the betterment of human health and to encouraging people to know Jesus, the Great Physician. He has also dared to write some things that have shaken up the establishment. His name is Dr. James Marcum, I'm John Bradshaw, and this is our conversation.
John Bradshaw: Dr. Jim Marcum, thanks so much for being here. I appreciate you taking your time.
Dr. Jim Marcum: Well, it's my pleasure, and I know we have so much to talk about today, but I wanna thank you for allowing me to be here with you, and also for, you know, playing some of the programs we've made in the past.
John Bradshaw: We did.
Dr. Jim Marcum: Thank you for doing that.
John Bradshaw: We continue to air many of your programs, and they're great.
Dr. Jim Marcum: And we are... you know, just being gracious and thankful is so important to our physiology.
John Bradshaw: Yeah. Hey, I wanna get to that. First, I wanna start talking about you, or I want you to talk about you. So, tell me where you're from and where you were raised.
Dr. Jim Marcum: Well, I live in the Chattanooga area.
John Bradshaw: Is that where you started out?
Dr. Jim Marcum: No, well, I was born in east Tennessee, so I've always been from this area.
John Bradshaw: Yeah, sure.
Dr. Jim Marcum: And we've been practicing cardiology here. I've actually practiced for over 30 years.
John Bradshaw: How did you get into cardiology? Well, first, why medicine? Somewhere along the line, you wore a younger man's clothes and you said, "I'm gonna be a doctor".
Dr. Jim Marcum: Well...
John Bradshaw: Why?
Dr. Jim Marcum: Well, what happened to me, John, is when I was about 7 years old, at that time our family lived in Florida.
John Bradshaw: Mm-hmm.
Dr. Jim Marcum: And believe it or not, I was one of these kids that liked to climb trees, and I was climbing a tree one day, the day after Thanksgiving, in the early '70s. I fell out of the tree and broke my arm.
John Bradshaw: Ah, okay.
Dr. Jim Marcum: And I had the type of fracture where the bones were like this.
John Bradshaw: Ooh.
Dr. Jim Marcum: Back then we used to put traction to try to loosen the muscles so the bones would align so they can heal.
John Bradshaw: Yeah.
Dr. Jim Marcum: Bones have to be in alignment to heal. We call that setting a bone, but back in the '70s, they used traction. So back then they used a lot of traction on my arm, and unfortunately, they used too much.
John Bradshaw: Oh.
Dr. Jim Marcum: And it was like a tourniquet, and I can remember being under a lot of pain, and the next day, of course, I had gangrene in my arm and fingers, and my dad said, "That's probably not the best place to stay". So he took me to a different hospital, and then through a series of operations, anointings, and prayer, God was able to heal me in His way.
John Bradshaw: Mmm.
Dr. Jim Marcum: And I'm still one of the few men in America that has a tan in the bottom of their skin and can grow hair in the bottom of skin, and through all of that, I'd still, I lost the tips of three fingers from gangrene, and if you see this brown spot this is a skin graft from my leg.
John Bradshaw: Yep.
Dr. Jim Marcum: And I grow hair out of that.
John Bradshaw: You do?
Dr. Jim Marcum: And you don't see that every day.
John Bradshaw: No, you don't.
Dr. Jim Marcum: And I don't really advertise it. Let's shake hands here.
John Bradshaw: Yeah.
Dr. Jim Marcum: See? I always reach under.
John Bradshaw: Ah, there you go.
Dr. Jim Marcum: So I would not let people know I had that for years.
John Bradshaw: Yeah?
Dr. Jim Marcum: But God... looking back, over time, God used that to propel my interest in medicine and healing.
John Bradshaw: Yeah.
Dr. Jim Marcum: And from that point on, I had that desire, and I had to go through all the physical therapy and rehabs and five operations. I still can't rotate my arm because it never healed correctly.
John Bradshaw: Interesting.
Dr. Jim Marcum: But through that experience, I think that's where it started, at age 7, interestingly, in the field of medicine.
John Bradshaw: So how did youSo how did you get from there to specializing in cardiology?
Dr. Jim Marcum: Yeah, so I went through and did all the different things, and I did my undergraduate at the University of Texas in Austin.
John Bradshaw: Uh-huh.
Dr. Jim Marcum: And from there I moved to University of Texas medical school and studied there. And for a while I thought I wanted to do orthopedics you know, fix bones and that.
John Bradshaw: Yeah?
Dr. Jim Marcum: But one day I was in the operating room, and the doctor said, "Jim, just hit it harder". And I felt like it was more construction, you know.
John Bradshaw: Yeah, yeah.
Dr. Jim Marcum: And I said, "I don't know". And by then I'd gotten married, and my wife says, "Well, why don't you do internal medicine till you figure this out"? So I spent three years doing internal medicine on the East Coast, and there I met some wonderful mentors.
— And these stories are long, but one of my mentors was the father-in-law of Dr. Oz, m'kay?
— Oh, how about that?
— In the Philadelphia area.
— Dr. Lemole. So through influences there, I said, "Well, cardiology is really something I wanna do". 'Cause you get to work with your hands still.
— And I wanted to continue to work with my hands as well as make diagnosis and work with people. And so that period of time I decided to go into cardiology, and then I did another fellowship at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.
— Sure, great place.
— Which you're familiar with.
— Oh yeah. What a city.
— And I spent years there, and then after that, I was trained as a general cardiologist.
— But back 30 years ago, we didn't have near the technology.
— We did not have defibrillators. We did not have stents. We did not have valves from the groins.
— Hold up. Just 30 years ago, there were no stents?
— No, we did angioplasties...
— ...but we did no stents. When people had a heart attack, we used to give special medicine called a thrombolytic
— ...that would break it apart, and then we moved into this balloon angioplasty era.
— Then that didn't work so good, and then we have been developing stents and perfecting that for heart attacks ever since.
— Well, let me ask you... you talked about losing the end of three fingers. Was that ever a challenge or a difficulty in...
— I mean, cardiology can be pretty hands-on, depending on what you're doing.
— It was in other people's eyes. For instance...
— ...I really wanted to... I really thought at one time I wanted to be a cardiovascular surgeon.
— Those are the ones that cut you open and, you know, move things around inside you. But they said, "Nah, they probably won't let you do that, but you can work from outside, you know, through little motions with catheters and looking at screens"...
— ..."seeing where things go". You know, we can put pacemakers in, angioplasties, angiograms, things like that from outside in. So that's what... I thought, "Well, if I can't do this, let me do this". But hearts always interested me.
— Yeah, how fascinating.
— Always interesting.
— Okay, let me ask the doctor. I've got a question for the doctor. What, as a cardiologist, do you wish people either knew regarding their heart health, or...perhaps they already know, but they're not doing? Gimme three things. "Here are three things I wish people would do to look after their heart".
— Well, the first thing is something that you're probably not expecting...
— ...okay? But the key to heart health, period, is Christ.
— Why in the world would you say that?
— I would say that. Well, Christ, first of all, is our ultimate Healer.
— So let's say we have some bad genetics in our family. We store cholesterol, and we have heart attack and pass away at a young age.
— And that still happens. Let's say bad things happen. Myocarditis...
— ...an infection of the heart, things like that happen. Well, as long as we have Christ as our basis, we know that this world is not our home. We're just passing through. We're going to have healing. It's just where, when, and how. That faith takes away fear and anxiety, which raises adrenaline and cortisol, which stresses and age our body.
— That's interesting. Yeah.
— And it also, that relationship, through the Holy Spirit, gives us the power to do things and see things and make decisions for the right reasons...
— ...which is to glorify God.
— So when you know Christ, the Holy Spirit helps you with your health in all aspects, guarantees your healing forever. That is the most important thing I want someone to know now and forever.
— Yeah, amen.
— So I start with that.
— Okay. Okay.
— But, other things...
— Yeah, gimme two more.
— Yeah, just simple things like eating vegetables, you know, eating vegetables. Vegetables have greens with nitric oxide, which makes the arteries bigger, healthier. The organ I treat is that inside lining called the endothelium.
— That goes everywhere. Well, we know greens really make that healthier, and a lot of people don't eat greens with nitrates in them anymore.
— They eat everything else. Just something simple as eating a salad every day...
— ...is a big help. And another big thing is move the body parts.
— We are not moving like we did 300 years ago.
— We sit. We sit at computer desks. We don't move. But when we move, the blood flows against the endothelium, makes it healthier, brings oxygen throughout the body, helps our metabolism so we don't store as much fat in the body, and keeps our body from aging. Now, you know if we sit here long enough, our bodies are gonna get stiff.
— That's called oxidation.
— It's aging us. The same thing happens on the inside of our blood vessels throughout the whole body. So if you don't use it, you lose it.
— You lose it.
— So just something simple as eating greens, moving, and we could go on down the list with water, the words... every input that's out there changes our physiology.
— Now I'm gonna pick up on something that you just threw away, but first I'm gonna notice something. You might have said "exercise". Instead, you said "movement".
— Why did you distinguish between the two? That was deliberate.
— Well, through my 30 years of practice, a lot of people, when you hear "exercise," it stresses 'em...
— ...that they get, "I can't do that. You know, I'm in a wheelchair. I can't exercise".
— But you can still move, whether that's moving your arms, deep breathing, walking instead of driving, you know, going up the stairs instead of elevators.
— And of course, if you can schedule regular movement or exercise on a treadmill or whatever works for you...
— That's good, too. Yeah.
— ...that's great, but I don't want to intimidate people. We wanna empower them...
— ...you know, to get going and doing things. And that's why we use the word, I use the word "movement," 'cause, you know, some people think all we need to do is walk on a treadmill...
— ...but you need to move all the parts, and as we get older, you know, as I've come into the sixth decade of life, I have to stretch more than ever, 'cause if I don't stretch, I get... so I spend...
— ...five or 10 minutes just going through a stretching routine and light weights, then the aerobics. So that's why I use the term "movement".
— There was something else you said, and you just kind of threw it away a moment ago, and I don't wanna distract us, but I wanna bring it back because someone is thinking, "Wait a minute".
— You said all these other things. You mentioned water, and you mentioned the words you use.
— No one watching this program right now has ever heard a cardiologist refer to the importance of the words you use. Probably never heard a doctor...
— ...so why did you say that the words you use have some kind of impact on health?
— That's interesting.
— Well, let me build a context, John.
— Every input we have changes our physiology.
— The words, the thoughts, the rest, the water, the food, the movement, the light... everything either makes us, improves our physiology or makes us worse. Follow me so far?
— Interesting. Yeah.
— And of course, we've gotta agree with that.
— So, we have our genetics, the DNA...
— ...and the software that affects the hardware; that's called the epigenetics...
— ...so to speak.
— So these lifestyle changes, these inputs can change our genes. If enough changes occur, mutations, we get a symptom.
— The body malfunctions. When we get a symptom, we tend to go to the doctor. When we go to the doctor, we can treat a symptom or replace a part, but we usually do not get at the cause.
— Sure, that's true.
— So, I go back to the Bible, and I call it "biblical prescriptions". God has given us things in the Bible throughout time that's our true source of authority.
— Sure, that's right.
— Medical books, you can't believe everything you hear out there. You know, there's biases, but there's the bias in the Bible by our Creator. He's gonna tell us the truth every time.
— So I go back to the Bible and try to find the physiology and let people use that to improve their health.
— Okay, words.
— So that's the words.
— Remember the text in Proverbs... I think it's Proverbs, maybe 16:24, where it talks about words are like honeycombs...
— That's right.
— ...sweet to the body, but healing to the bones.
— That's right. That's there.
— So I went back and studied all of the studies that are out there about words, and people that... there's a great book by Andrew Newberg, how words affect your brain.
— So he actually looked at different words and phrases and studied the parts of the brain, and he looked at how it turned on and off, but words like, if I say stuff like, "John, you are the best-looking man I've ever seen"...
— Well, okay.
— ...you know, I love what you say.
— I hear that a lot.
— Yeah, you do such good work, John.
— I don't hear that a lot, but the good-looking part, I like that.
— I love the way you take care of this ministry.
— Oh, okay.
— You just do a great job.
— Yeah. I feel better.
— Yes, you can do this.
— I feel better already.
— But, you know, but those positive words, those affirming words...
— ...change the physiology. You make less of the stress chemistry. The part of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex turns on. The stress part of the brain called the amygdala turns down.
— But also, when I say bad words to you... now, I'm not gonna say that.
— Okay, good.
— Even when I do that, it turns on that. You make chemicals like epinephrine, adrenaline that raises your blood pressure, increases the chance of you having a heart attack, damages our immune system, causes us not to sleep good at night, makes inflammation in the body so we get stiff to some degree. So, negative words... and I think we've seen that: Anyone in an abusive relationship...
— Oh, absolutely.
— ...their health's affected.
— Something's going on inside, whether it causes inflammation in the brain, neurotransmitters causing depression, feeling good, not sleeping well, hurting their blood pressure, the immune system. So words, not only the words you use, but the words you receive change your health.
— So what I've been trying to do to help my... understand this and use it better, I've been looking at the red-letter words in the Bible.
— This is how Christ communicated and talked, and the more I can understand how He uses words, the better I can incorporate that so I can improve my health, just improving the way I use words, and if I'm around people that say bad words, I want to try to extricate myself from those situations...
— ...'cause they're affecting my health, whether I like it or not, especially negative words.
— That's right.
— So that's why I don't watch much news anymore. Man, those guys, John, I don't know if you've watched them, but they're not very positive.
— No, they are not. No, they are not. That's really interesting because what you've... by connecting that with the Bible and principles we can understand, of course.
— Of course. And, you know... you do know... the Bible speaks a lot about the sort of words we should use, in the New Testament, encouraging us to use "sound speech," which "cannot be condemned"...
— ...and so forth. Okay, so that's really interesting.
— So it's interesting when you think about words as a prescription...
— ...as well as words, you use the right words, and you can help heal people.
— Be thankful in all things, you know, even our trials and tribulations. So words are a way to treat, and they're also a way to help prevent disease.
— Yeah. So, you trained as a physician, internal medicine, cardiology. But here you are. You talk more about the Bible, perhaps, than anything when it comes to health.
— How do you get from, you know, medical school to this place now in your orientation where, for you, the Bible has become a significant part of a healing regimen? How do you make those discoveries? What nudged you in that direction?
— Well, it started, again, from our story earlier on. I was anointed by physicians at one time. They thought I might lose my arm.
— But I still think God chose... not a route... and if He would've chose that for me, I would've accepted that as part of His will and tried to use that to glorify Him the best I could.
— But He did not choose that. So He gave, I think, a divine miracle at that point in my life, so I knew that there was more than healing than what physicians could do.
— Physicians can help, but there was more to healing. Healing came from God, and I had that ingrained in me at a young age, so even as I went through medical school and cardiology fellowship, I knew that modern medicine could treat symptoms, but our ultimate purpose in healing was something so much more.
— And I think people want to hear this. They want to have that hope. They want to know that, you know, there's more than our bodies here and the health we have here.
— Yeah. Yeah, that's so interesting. Do people know that? Generally, no. Do Christians know that, generally?
— Yeah, well, I don't think so.
John Bradshaw: Okay.
Dr. Jim Marcum: Okay, I'm able to minister to many groups, and some people do not correlate their health and the way they take care of their bodies...
John Bradshaw: Yeah.
Dr. Jim Marcum: ...and their lives and all of these inputs with their spiritual life.
John Bradshaw: Interesting.
Dr. Jim Marcum: But, you know, in the Proverbs, "In all...ways acknowledge Him, and He [will] direct your path".
John Bradshaw: That's right.
Dr. Jim Marcum: So a lot of people now, since we've had the pandemic, since we had... when they hd their own health problem...
John Bradshaw: Mm-hmm.
Dr. Jim Marcum: ...then all of a sudden, they start looking for answers, and they say, "Hey, what can I do to have healing? Where should I go for truth? You know, where do I go? What do I do"?
John Bradshaw: Mmm.
Dr. Jim Marcum: "Where do I start"?
John Bradshaw: Mmm. Fantastic. Well, I'd like to ask you another question, but I'm gonna pause and ask this question on the other side of the break. Because you're an author... you've written several books, one of them a book called "Medicines That Kill". Now, it's fascinating that a physician would write a book called "Medicines That Kill". So in a minute, we're gonna ask you about this. I'm going to ask you, are you anti-medication? I think I already know the answer, but I wanna hear you say that. And I also wanna ask you, what in the world are these medicines that kill? How does that happen and occur? So, we're gonna be back in just a moment. With Dr. Jim Marcum, I am John Bradshaw, and this is our conversation, brought to you by It Is Written.
John Bradshaw: Welcome back to "Conversations," brought to you by It Is Written. It is my good fortune to be speaking today with Dr. Jim Marcum, who is a cardiologist, he's a television host, he is an author, and he's written, among other things, a book called "Medicines That Kill". Jim, "Medicines That Kill", I mean, look, is that just a clickbait title where you're trying to grab people's attention?
John Bradshaw: Well, yes. I wanted to grab people's attention because I think people needed to be aware that medicines have its place, but medicines can also be dangerous.
Dr. Jim Marcum: Are you anti-medication?
John Bradshaw: No, I'm not, but remember, medications haven't been around for years and years and years.
Dr. Jim Marcum: True enough.
John Bradshaw: Remember, in the old days we had natural remedies. We had, you know, ways people took care of themselves. Then we had a whole new industry develop, and some of those medications were very useful, especially things that would put people to sleep for surgery. Antibiotics were very useful. Medicines that would stop bleeding were very useful. But through the years a lot of people said, "Well, you know, we just wanna take medicines forever and ever".
Dr. Jim Marcum: Yeah.
John Bradshaw: And I've been around long enough that I've seen lots of medicines that were on the market that were taken off the market 'cause they did dangerous things...
Dr. Jim Marcum: Mm. Mm-hmm.
John Bradshaw: ...antibiotics that were pulled, certain types of anti-inflammatories that have been pulled off the market. So, and also we see that medicines taken inappropriately...
Dr. Jim Marcum: Yep.
John Bradshaw: ...can also cause problems. So this book came about right when a lot of narcotics were being written for.
Dr. Jim Marcum: Mm-hmm. Oh, oh, oh, and history has demonstrated when narcotics were pushed...
John Bradshaw: Yes, a lot of...
Dr. Jim Marcum: ...and basically started...
John Bradshaw: Yes.
— ...an addiction epidemic.
— Right, and a lot of people were having chronic pain.
— Yep, that's right.
— And because of that chronic pain, doctors kept giving medicines and medicines. Then we found out it was terribly addicting, and then one thing led to another. They started taking these medicines, and it caused catastrophic physiologic consequences.
— Yeah, yeah.
— So that was part of it, and then a lot of times we just, we weren't getting at the cause of disease.
— You know, we say, "Hey", and all the medicines, no matter, every medicine that I know has side effects.
— Yeah, sure.
— Some have more side effects than others. So every medicine out there, we have to talk about the risk and the benefits.
— The rhythms that I use for heart rhythms, if taken inappropriately, can kill a person. Antibiotics, if you have an anaphylactic reaction... especially we see that occasionally with penicillin... that can cause a death as well.
— If you take too much of narcotics... we've talked about that. So any medicine can be lethal if we don't take it correctly, and sometimes in the manufacturing, it gets to the market, and we don't find out that it's a problem until it's been out there. Then we say, "Oh wow, we got a problem. Let's take Vioxx off the market".
— "Let's take fen-phen off the market. Even though it helps people lose weight, it's destroying people's heart valves".
— We didn't find that out... and yet people jump on these. We market these and yet we don't understand the full knowledge of how these can... so medicines can kill you, but that wasn't the real reason I wrote the book.
— Yeah. Okay, two things... one, it occurs to me, too, that a lot of the most popular medications today are for diseases that can be avoided. Secondly, I wanna ask you, gimme an example. Can you give me an example of a situation where you've seen in somebody's life, they started innocently taking a medication, and it just blew up on them?
— Yes. Yes.
— Gimme a story as far as you can.
— We know that type 2 diabetes is a big deal.
— Sure, okay.
— And that's because we have too much fat in our bodies. Usually, we make too much blood sugar, m'kay? And we have to get rid of that blood sugar. Well, a lot of people think the only way to treat that is with medication.
— But if you get at the cause, if the cause is not exercising and fat, you remove those; you don't have to take the risk of a medication.
— So I've known several patients through the years that continue to take more and more pills for diabetes, and let's say what happens to them; that they get dehydrated, they don't drink enough water, or they go to a place where it's real hot. Then all of a sudden their kidneys can't get rid of the diabetic medicine that's already in their body.
— So a little bit of medicine becomes a lot of medicine. Then their blood sugar goes too low, and guess what happens?
— What happens?
— They die.
— You can die from too low of blood sugar. You can go into what we call a diabetic coma.
— The blood sugar goes too low. You need blood sugar to work. You don't get blood sugar in the brain... the brain doesn't work.
— So you need blood sugar. So that's just one example I've seen. And you could talk about all the medicines for high blood pressure.
— Mm-hmm, sure.
— So some people...
— And those are very popular.
— Who's not taking that?
— Some people take too many of them, and it makes the blood pressure go too low.
— Then they get up real... they get dizzy-headed, they fall down, hit their head, or break their hips. Then we have another problem. So medications can cause side effects, consequences that we're not aware of. In the rhythm business... I give medicines for heart rhythms, and if we don't watch these medicines that control dangerous, fast heart rhythms, can also make the heart go too slow.
— And also the medicines, John, they interact with each other.
— And these interactions can cause problems as well. So the more medicines you're on, the more side effects, the more interactions. And right now most people, in the United States, at least, are taking at least one medicine, some people as many as three prescription medicines.
— And there's a place for that, but as a physician, I want to let them know about alternatives they can choose...
— ...if they don't wanna take the medicines, how to get off of them, and if they choose to stay on it, I want to educate them about the risk, benefits, and how to take these medicines correctly. That's what this book, "Medicines That Kill," tried to do...
— Yeah, yeah.
— ...to let people understand that medications are a problem in themself.
— How rare is this? Because I know someone is thinking right now, "Oh yeah. He's just talking about taking too much or too little, and I've got this under control". This is not rare...
— ...that medications mess with people.
— It's not, and I did all of the research in the book, and I added up all the deaths that occurred from medications, the ones that happened because medications were given inappropriately.
— Mistakes were made...
— ...medicines that were overdosed, medicines that were interacting with each other, medicines that just cause what we call anaphylaxis. And that, if you added up all the causes of these deaths, it was the number one cause of death in America, killing more people in one year than even heart disease, which is the number one...
— Which kills 600,000 people a year.
— Right, right, but no one wants to admit that.
— And it's a very hard statistic to get to the bottom of. So in the book, I tried to add up all of those different causes and give the numbers for our readers so they could understand, yes, we have a problem here. Medicines can kill.
— There are several questions I have to ask you. The first one that jumps to my mind is, how many people did you tick off? I mean...
— ...the drug rep who came by your practice probably wasn't thrilled that you were letting people know that medications may not be the only answer at all times, so did you rub some fur the wrong way?
— Yeah. Well, I've, believe it or not, I've rubbed fur the wrong way quite a few times in my life.
— Good for you. Yeah.
— And they say if you're not rubbing some fur the wrong way and you don't have a little controversy going on, maybe you're not doing things right.
John Bradshaw: So yes, they were very unhappy, but they couldn't say too much because if they said too much, guess what? It gets more publicity.
Dr. Jim Marcum: Right.
John Bradshaw: Then people start hearing about it more. So I was more shunned than anything else.
Dr. Jim Marcum: Interesting.
John Bradshaw: Yeah, I was more, "Oh, don't pay attention to that. That's not important". But in that book also I talked about spiritual things as well.
Dr. Jim Marcum: Yep. Yep.
John Bradshaw: So that's another thing.
Dr. Jim Marcum: So, okay, someone's saying, "Oh wow".
John Bradshaw: "Martha, we take two medications each". What do they do? Don't flush 'em down the toilet.
Dr. Jim Marcum: No.
John Bradshaw: What... and I think this is a fair question for anyone taking medication. They wanna know they're taking the right medication in the right dose in the right way. Let's say they want to check on that.
Dr. Jim Marcum: Right.
John Bradshaw: What should they do?
Dr. Jim Marcum: Well, first of all, you know, that's a lot between you and your physician...
John Bradshaw: Sure.
Dr. Jim Marcum: ...who knows why you're on it, the risk and benefits. So I would go to my doctor and say, "Listen, do I need this medicine? What are the risk and benefits"? And also take it on yourself to read about it on the internet. There's lots of data out there; you can learn about your medicines. Go to programs like this where you can get a little bit more time to digest all of what's going on.
John Bradshaw: Yep.
— And then, once you know the risk and benefits of medicine, ask your provider, "Is there anything that I can do to change my physiology, all of my physiology"?
— There we go.
— And that's called wholism. Remember, medicines are reductionalism. They're just changing one chemical pathway. But when we incorporate biblical prescriptions, we change the entire physiology.
— So is there anything I can do to help my physiology so I don't need these medicines? Sometimes you can; sometimes you can't. But sometimes, John, people say, "I just don't wanna do that".
— "I don't wanna do this. I don't wanna do this. I just don't wanna do any of that". And that's okay. Then they're gonna have to have some element of risk, 'cause I think free will and choice is very important.
— Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Now, you said, you know, a person will take it upon themselves, do some study, go on the internet. Now, you're an eminently balanced guy. You've got decades in this. Your track record speaks for itself. You're not a crank on any level. But, someone says, "Well, I went on the internet, and I read that if I"...
— Oh yeah.
— ..."if I just eat acai berries, then all my problems are gonna go away".
— What advice do you give? How do we prevent people from tuning into cranks?
— Well, what I...
— 'Cause there's plenty of 'em.
— Well, you have to have a true north or authority in your life...
— ...even as a doctor. You know, every 10 years I've had to relearn everything, and I can't tell you how much that was appropriate 30 years ago that is not relevant now.
— Yeah, that's interesting. So as medicine develops, right?
— Right, everything develops. There's always a truth-learning curve that's going forward. So you have to have a place to start.
— And that's why I went back to my source of authority, which is the Bible.
— So I go back to the Bible. "If any [of] man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God".
— That's right.
— I ask God for guidance, and I say, "Go back to the Bible to sort of get the balance of things, and then go to sources that you can trust, after you go to the Bible, where you can get a balanced approach". Now, certain things do help a little bit, but if you go back to the Scriptures, the Scriptures very much point to balance in life.
— In all things, you know, and it points to balance. And if you look at that big picture, you know, it's just not one food. It's everything together. It's just not one thought. It's all the thoughts. It's just not drinking a specific type of water. It's drinking water, in general. It's not type of a specific exercise. It's moving, in general. And as you go back and look at the way Christ lived, you say, "Well, Christ was all about balance and love"...
— ..."and these universal principles of these laws that govern the universe".
— Yeah, so you don't have a miracle cure to recommend somebody?
— No. There are some things that will help.
— Yes, I do have a miracle cure...
— Ah, okay.
— ...but we've already talked about that...
— Yeah, yeah, yeah.
— ...and that miracle cure is having Christ in your life, changing you and leading you along this path.
— And I think if you go back... and others, I'm not the only one that's saying this... people have said this for hundreds and hundreds of years...
— ...that the key to health is Christ, and Christ is the real Healer that we have.
— And as long as we have that, that's the place to start and let the Holy Spirit change you, and then you start doing things for the right reasons. You find truth in your life, and your path, John, might be different than my path. We all have different paths, but we just wanna be going in the right direction.
— Yeah. Amen. So you are very big on biblical prescriptions, so much so that you've written extensively about biblical prescriptions for health. I'd like to talk about that, and we're gonna build on what we've discussed already. What's a biblical prescription for health?
— Okay. Well, I think the Scriptures, in themselves, of course, leads to ultimate healing.
— M'kay? So that is the number one prescription we all want, that salvation that comes from faith, belief in Christ, and that power that comes from the Holy Spirit. So we want that. If we don't have that, it doesn't matter what we have.
— But if we look back, you know, some of the things that God says about... you know, He wasn't against the use of modern medicine...
— You know. But He pointed to the big picture. So there is a place for modern medicine. They had healers at that time. Now, they weren't effective against things like leprosy and things of that nature, but they were good at certain things, so they had their place. In fact, Dr. Luke...
— Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
— ...was a very good physician that eventually transitioned with Paul into evangelism.
— That's right.
— So, Luke was a very good physician, and he helped people as much as he could. So there's a place for modern medicine, but within that, Christ taught that there was a reason that we have health problems to begin with. We have bad genes. You know, we've been separated from the original plan.
— That's right. Sin has brought all of this about.
— Yes, but things as simple as understanding... well, what were some of the diet recommendations? We talk, in Genesis, at Creation week, that He says, "Let me give you plants". In Genesis 1, the sixth day of creation, He says, "Let me give you plants to eat". And now studies have shown that people that eat plants, fresh food that grows, do better.
— So, that's a biblical prescription.
— We found out that people that walk, He recommended walking places, and they did better. No, we didn't have cars and too many... but those people do better.
— People that are outside instead of inside do better. People that drink water do better. People that use kind words do better.
— People that have a merry heart... remember, "A merry heart does good, like medicine".
— Like a medicine, yeah.
— People that have purpose in life, work, something to do...
— ...they do better, from a health purpose. People that know how to rest, whether it be a weekly rest or a nightly rest, they do better.
— Getting enough of that.
— Right, so all of those are biblical prescriptions that help you start to see the big picture, but empower you to know when our genetics break down, where we should go.
— You know, you mentioned... I asked you about biblical prescriptions. You just recited, rattled off four, five, six, seven things just like that. You know what's interesting? Every one of them that you mentioned is life-changing.
— But every one of them, Jim, is simple, and not one of them costs you 10 cents.
— And not a lot of side effects, other than maybe not wanting to do it, maybe being inconvenienced.
— But, John, where do you get the power to do that?
— Okay. Now, let's talk about that because, you know, there are people like, "Well, we've been trying to get around to moving or exercise"...
— ..."but we don't". So let's talk about that. Now that we have some knowledge, how do we cross over to put that knowledge into practice?
— Implementation, right. Well, when my patients say, "Listen, I really wanna come off the medicine"...
— ...so I'll say, "Well, which one do you want? And here's why you're on it". And usually it's a chronic disease. Let's say they're on a sleeping pill...
— ...and they don't want to take a sleeping pill anymore. They know it's causing the groggy, not thinking well. Maybe they're falling down now. They're getting older.
— Mm, mm-hmm.
— I say, "Well, the first thing you do is have God in your life and ask Him to help you. He wants to help you. He wants to be part of this journey".
— "He wants to give you the power".
— M'kay? And now let's go back to some biblical prescriptions. You know, God made us, when it gets dark, to turn off the lights.
— So maybe we should turn things off.
— Yep. I was just reading... I gotta jump in here...
— ...I was just reading... a town in Scotland that's gone dark...
— ...so that you can see the stars and so forth. They're talking to the lady who's led this charge... Moffat, Scotland... and she said, "Darkness is good for you. Too much light is bad for you". Perhaps a simple way to put it, but the principle is correct, right?
— What are you doing with every light in the house on at 1:00 AM?
— Right, because that changes your circadian rhythms...
— That's right.
— ...changes the epinephrine and the melatonin in your brain.
— So you don't rest as well.
— Mm-hmm. So, back to the folks, so you're helping them, and you talk about...
— So I said, "That would be that. But, you know, ask God to help you do this. Turn off some lights. Maybe don't use a cell phone. Maybe turn off a television"...
— ..."especially if you're having problems". The simple things like that maybe will be things that would help, and that's biblical prescriptions. God used to do that. So another thing that might help is, why don't you start getting tired? You know, why don't you get tired so your body feels like rest?
— Uh-huh. There we go.
Dr. Jim Marcum: So why don't you do something during the day? And another biblical prescription is to work, take care of the earth, take care of each other. Why don't we do those things and see if that will not help you sleep better? So we have all those biblical prescriptions, one after another. You know, God didn't make us to have these gigantic meals and stimuli at night.
John Bradshaw: Right.
Dr. Jim Marcum: You know, and certain chemicals that we put in our body that rev up our body, maybe we should look at those and ask God, "God, can You help me find something else so I might be able to rest better, so I might be able to age better, so I might turn down these stress-related chemicals, so I might lower my blood pressure and sleep better at night and live longer".
John Bradshaw: What's really interesting, Jim, is what you are saying is, learn how better to cooperate with the systems God set up.
Dr. Jim Marcum: Yes. These are natural-designed laws that we were created to live under.
John Bradshaw: Yeah.
Dr. Jim Marcum: When we don't live under designed laws, like the law of gravity... if you jump off, you're gonna break something.
John Bradshaw: Right.
Dr. Jim Marcum: If you don't live the way our Creator made us, we're gonna break down sooner.
John Bradshaw: Yeah.
Dr. Jim Marcum: And then when we break down sooner, we have a problem, and then we go this modern medicine route, though there is a place for that, 'cause there are some genetics that are unfixable.
John Bradshaw: Sure.
Dr. Jim Marcum: And even if you are out there and you're unfixable, God has a plan for you.
John Bradshaw: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Amen. So we're learning to cooperate with God's systems, get on God's program, and when you do, you discover...maybe God might have known what He was talking about in giving us these systems and these prescriptions. If we learn to follow them, we'll just do a whole lot better. Okay, great. My guest is Dr. Jim Marcum. I'm John Bradshaw. More from our conversation in a moment, brought to you by It Is Written.
John Bradshaw: Welcome back to "Conversations," brought to you by It Is Written. I'm with Dr. Jim Marcum, who's a cardiologist and an author and a television presenter, and he has radio programs, and he's online, and I'll tell you before we're done where you can find him online because you are gonna want to know more from Dr. Marcum than we can share in this really rather short time. Dr. Marcum, you've been very clear, for a man who wrote a book called "Prescription", or "Medicines That Kill"... you're very clear you're a practicing physician... a specialist, no less; you certainly believe in modern medicine; you believe in medications when they're appropriate and they're needed and that's the place to go. You're all about that. Your emphasis in, really in cooperating with God as far as you possibly can in wellness and so forth, wonderful... but let's talk for a minute about modern medicine. We spoke a moment ago, and you were saying every few years you gotta relearn the trade because of new techniques and new technologies, and back in the day there weren't even stents, for example. What do you see in modern medicine today that maybe excites you? How's modern medicine moving in a way that really is benefiting humankind? 'Cause we believe in modern medicine.
Dr. Jim Marcum: Yeah, well, you know, modern medicine is great for replacing parts.
John Bradshaw: Mm-hmm.
Dr. Jim Marcum: Okay, it's great for treating symptoms...
John Bradshaw: Yep.
Dr. Jim Marcum: ...especially short-terms until a person can maybe make some changes so they don't need it. So, all of us wear out, okay?
John Bradshaw: Yeah.
Dr. Jim Marcum: At different speeds based on our genetics and the stress we put on those. Let me tell ya a story. Well, this is when I first started practicing years ago. There was a pastor, and he developed Lyme's disease.
John Bradshaw: Oh, that's a tough one.
Dr. Jim Marcum: That's tick-borne disease.
John Bradshaw: Yeah.
Dr. Jim Marcum: But Lyme's disease can also affect the conduction system, the wires of the heart.
John Bradshaw: Mm.
Dr. Jim Marcum: Okay? And his heart, because of the Lyme's disease, the wires became incredibly slow, heart rate in the 30s, and he was going... his organs did not generate enough blood pressure to get oxygen and get rid of metabolites. He needed a faster heart rate.
John Bradshaw: Sure.
Dr. Jim Marcum: So, we have the ability to put in a pacemaker, both the short-term pacemaker, which we put in to see if he would sort of heal from Lyme's disease, which he did not.
John Bradshaw: Oh!
Dr. Jim Marcum: It was permanent damage. So we put in a permanent pacemaker, and he is alive today spreading the gospel...
John Bradshaw: There we go.
Dr. Jim Marcum: ...with the pacemaker in.
— Yeah, amen.
— Now, he is not perfect. I know people that just, their genetics, they wear out, their arteries get diseased, they start having chest pains...
— ...and they have heart attacks. Well, we could put in a stent...
— ...that can help them.
— Now, we want to try everything we can to slow down the progression of disease and reverse it, if possible. But it's not possible to reverse disease. We live in bad genetics. Some people get cancers...
— ...and mutations. It's no one's fault. It's just our genetics, and sometimes it happens. Well, we have modern medicine. If we pick up on that early on...
— ...especially colon cancers and certain types of cancers...
— ...we find that, we take... modern medicine sees it, we get rid of the problem, and people are many times cured.
— I made a phone call to a friend after she'd been diagnosed with cancer...and was rather horrified to hear from her, "We went to the doctor, and they said I have no hope. I'll be dead in 18 months". And she was a picture of health. It was one of those cancers that just comes from outta nowhere.
— "I'm gonna be dead in 18 months". When I recently saw her, she is alive and well. The physicians are saying, "We can find no cancer anywhere in your body". So what happened was, long story long, they sought a second opinion. This is, as a result, clearly of prayer and faith, but modern medicine, and they got her on a regimen that just seemed to work, blew the cancer out. She's doing great.
— You see, that's fantastic.
— Yeah, and God can use modern medicine to heal.
— He can use lifestyle medicine to heal.
— And for some people, He decides to let them live in affliction.
— Remember Paul?
— He could have healed Paul.
— Yes, and He chose not to.
— Well, He chose not to for His greater purposes...
— ...but He will heal him in His time.
— That's right.
— And that's where our faith and hope and our spiritual part comes in.
— But some of the interesting things in modern medicine...
— ...for instance, in the old days, when we had rhythm problems, there's one called atrial fibrillation.
— Lots of people get that.
— We used to not have much we could do but give medicines, but now we can go up inside the heart, we find out where that rhythm's from, and we get rid of that rhythm by a procedure called an ablation.
— The pacemakers... at one time, Alfred Hitchcock had one of the biggest pacemakers in his abdomen. But our pacemakers are very small now...
— ...and we just put 'em in under local, people usually go home the same day, and that keeps the heart from going too slow, where sometimes in the past the wires would get old, just like a car battery...
— ...and it would be over.
— But now that's a place where modern medicine is very helpful. Some people... yeah.
— Address this. I apologize for cutting you off there. Address this for me. There's a great deal of mistrust of the entire medical... I'm gonna call it industry. I notice this among Christians, among conservative Christians, particularly. Now, there's some reason for that.
— I think the whole medical industrial complex has maybe...made a few unwise calls, which have caused some people to look at them askance. But we ought to be able to have faith, and I think we can have faith in modern medicine, can't we? I can come to you as a physician and have faith that you're working for my benefit and betterment and that the team of doctors and the helpers and specialists around you really want the best for me. I'm concerned about people that say, "Oh, they're all quacks, and you can't trust any of 'em". That's just not right.
— No, and I share their concern because there are some out there that are in systems that aren't healthy.
— And we have to realize that that's out there. But at the same time, we have to realize there's a lot of good people...
— ...that are out there. They're wanting to do the best; they're maybe working in a system and a world that's not perfect.
— Yeah, yeah. Some great technology, some wonderful medications...
— Oh yeah. For instance, now in patients that the heart valves would wear out...
— Sure, yeah.
— ...years ago, they got... people would get too old; there'd be too high risk for surgery.
— We can now replace heart valves through groins now.
— Isn't that fantastic?
— Yeah, both the aortic and mitral valve, we can do that with.
— The bypass surgeries, when arteries get so clogged up where people don't have a quality of life...
— ...we can now go and do bypass surgery and stents much better than we've ever had before.
— Now, of course, we don't want to do that till we have to...
— ...but we can do that.
— We think about joint replacements.
— We've got so much better than that... eyeglasses, hearing aids, dental work. You know, if you think about it, there's tons of places... detection of cancer.
— I mean, there are so many ways that we have improved, but we have to take it on ourselves to do some homework, find out the right providers and right people that we can go to, that we can trust, talk to our friends and neighbors. It takes good information to make good decisions.
— So whenever you have these big health decisions, get good information, pray about it, talk to your families, go get as much good information as you can, and then try to find someone that agrees with your belief system.
— I've found out it's very important not to go against the patient's belief systems.
— I have some patients that say, "No, I will never take a medicine under any circumstance". And that's their sincerely held belief.
— So I explain to them the risk and benefits of that approach, and if they say, "No, I'd rather do it this way," sometimes they're so scared and fearful of going against what they believe and what God's leading that it causes them to have a side effect.
— Mmm. Mm, mm, mm. Mm, mm, mm.
— It's a side effect. Whether it does or not, they believe.
— Belief systems are very important. Just like if someone believes they're gonna get better, we call that a placebo effect.
— One third of patients will get better from the placebo effect, even if they're just getting a sugar pill.
— One day I'm gonna ask you why that is. I don't have time here 'cause there are a couple other things, but that's...
— What's in the brain happens in the brain.
— It's phenomenal, isn't it?
— It's what the brain does with endorphins, belief systems. It turns out some people don't wanna take a medicine, and they take it; it stresses 'em out.
— They make adrenaline and cortisol. They can't sleep at night. They think the medicine's killing them, and it does because they believe it. So belief systems are very important. And likewise, if they think a medicine and a doctor and a healer is helping them...
— ...it also helps them...
— ...to a certain degree. So, modern medicine, we have great technology, better than ever.
— It appears to me that by... I'm talking about you here... by being willing to look at parts of modern medicine that may not be...doing everything right, you're a great believer in balance.
— You seem to be, you seem to model balance. You're careful that you don't overdo the meds, but there are gonna be times that you may need 'em in order to save your life. Talk about balance and why that's important.
— Well, it's important to have balance, 'cause, you know, if you're on a seesaw, for instance, and if you don't have balance, you tip.
— And when you tip, things don't work well. So sometimes in our world that we live in, it does not promote balance. And real balance, I think, again, comes from the Scripture so we can see the big picture, what's really important. And as we see the big picture of what's really important, balance becomes a little bit easier. Then we do things, not for ourselves, but we do things because we want to glorify God in all things.
— So we start doing those things, and then it gets a little bit easier 'cause we're... easy to see where that balance occurs from. We realize that our Savior was the most balanced ever...
— That's right.
— ...ever, you know, He... you know, people didn't agree with what things He did, right? They didn't say He was balanced, but He was a balanced...
— Yes, He was.
— ...Savior. So as we learn that, and we grow into it, we realize the world doesn't want us to be that way.
— When we're unbalanced, it creates stress; it creates all sorts of problems, and that generates revenue for different people, and, you know, 'cause they try to give you things to help you get rid of the fear and the anxiety. Some people turn to bad habits...
— ...whether it be alcohol or drugs or even prescription medications. And we don't see the big picture. So as we balance ourselves out, we can see things more clearly, and nowadays, John, it's harder than ever to see balance. There's an effect that was studied called the illusory effect, where if you hear something more than two times, even if it's not true, your brain tends to believe it.
— Oh, interesting.
— So if you hear something over and over and... "This is the best thing ever. This is the best thing ever. This is the best thing ever". Well, even if it's not true, your brain starts to think it.
— And it changes your belief system.
— Advertising works.
— Yes, it does.
— It does.
— Hey, tell me about this, because among the things you've written here, look at this. Created by cardiologist Dr. James Marcum, and it's not 10 steps to have a healthier heart: a set of Bible studies for kids.
— It's fantastic. "God Heals Me: My Bible-based Plan for Health and Happiness". How did this come about?
— Well, I wanted... originally that came about from this Bible study called "Biblical Prescriptions for Life".
— And biblical prescriptions is sort of what we sort of wanted to get people into, the Bible...
— ...as a transformative way to health. Christ is a key to health. That's the real message. So, people needed something that was doable. Some of the big health... and this is similar to other programs out there, but each program, it starts with things that people can do. They can be successful in it, and they do it through the power of a relationship with Christ.
— And it goes through... this is a seven-week Bible study. It ends in the physiology of worship and how worship itself changes you physiologically and also empowers you. It doesn't start there. We sort of build into that. We start with practical things.
— Worship changes you physiologically?
— Yes, and now we have scientific studies that prove that.
— Yeah, it changes the part of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex. Some people call that "the God brain".
— It grows it.
— And everyone knows when you're in worship, when you feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, your body feels different.
— You have that peace; you have something that transcends anything here on earth, and that was given to us at creation. Remember, that's a law that was given to us that governs creation.
— God said, "Listen. I'm gonna give you a time to rest and heal and to acknowledge, to be holy". And so that is a treatment, and we talk about that in this, as well as other steps, and so this is a great tool for people that want to become healthy...
— ...that want to figure out, well, where do I start?
— 'Cause some people beat themselves up. You know, of course we can't be perfect. We need a Savior, right?
— That's right. That's right.
— And we need steps that we can do so we don't beat ourselves up, and this is that. And from that, we said we need something for the younger generation, 'cause we want to start to "train up a child in the way he should go".
— We wanna train them in these thought patterns as well, so that's where we came up with the plan for kids, for younger ones especially, and in this world, we needed alternatives to offer them something, if families want, to be helpful, and we have a lot of homeschool people that like this...
— ...as part of their curriculum.
— So, where can people find these resources?
— Well, we have a website called BiblicalPrescriptionsForLife.com. They can get all of these resources. They can order them. A lot of people are using these as outreach.
— They'll go to their friends and neighbors and say, "Hey, listen, you wanna get off of medicine? You wanna lose a few pounds? Come to my house and study this with me for seven weeks. Let's become friends". And guess what? They're introduced to the gospel through this.
— And this is made for people that have never thought about health as part of their lives.
— Dot com, yeah. And if they want to interact with me directly, now that I've gotten a little more time, they can go to my personal email, which is Heartwise... one word... HeartwiseJM... Jim Marcum... @yahoo.com. And I try to answer each individual's question as well as I can without interfering with their doctor or becoming part of their care. We try to sort of steer them in the right direction, when to use modern medicine, lifestyle medicine, and more than that, we wanna pray for them and get them into the Bible...
— ...and get them to understand that God is the real healer, not man. God wants to partner with you on everlasting health.
— Also, for people who wanna watch more of your presentations...
— ...we can go online, but tell us where to find you online on YouTube.
— Yeah, I have a YouTube channel called "Biblical Prescriptions for Life" that's been very popular, a little bit controversial...
— ...but popular. And during the pandemic, people wanted to hear my views on different things, so I've been able to talk about different pandemic-related issues, but that's not the real reason we had it, John.
— The real reason was to introduce people to biblical prescriptions... to see the big picture...
— ...that we're gonna continue to have health issues, health problems, controversies, and we don't wanna be so distracted by the noise that we don't see what's going on...
— ...and that we don't connect with the real source of healing.
— So that's the reason, and God has blessed that. And also on your station, we still have programs where we give information as well.
— Right here on It Is Written TV.
— So, it's out there, and I'm easy to get ahold of, and I just want, I have a heart now more than ever to help out whatever little way I can to help people to find true healing in Christ.
— It's fascinating, and of course, you're not the only physician who's ever done this, but you've jumped in, boots and all, as a physician using medicine to point people to the Creator, who's really the Great Physician.
— That's a wonderful thing. Must... You'll understand what I mean when I say, you must derive some tremendous satisfaction by seeing a patient take it a little step further than just a prescription or an implementation of a principle and see that person look towards Jesus. That's gotta be very encouraging for you.
— Yeah, and, you know, everyone has their ups and downs in ministry.
— You know, you have your critics, you have the people that throw arrows at you, and you have, you know, sometimes it can be a challenging path, but when you have someone that's, you know, come to Christ... I'm working with a church right now that's just finished this, and I got a email from them the other day that said, "This has been transformative". They never saw health through a spiritual lens before. And it's just changed my life.
— And I'm hoping that it will change their life and they'll use this as a tool to let someone else know about Christ and the healing power therein. But yes, it gives you encouragement and empowerment.
— Yeah, and what you've been able to do, too, is take your life's calling and bring Christ into that. Now, physician or otherwise, that is something anyone can do.
— Use your platform.
— In your case it's medicine, for somebody else, it's something else. Use that platform to share Jesus.
— And it might be as simple as a word, saying thank you, or just some kind act.
— It might be something that's very simple.
— Dr. Jim Marcum, thank you. This has been great. I've enjoyed it. The time has flown by.
— Undoubtedly, lots and lots of people have been blessed. I hope we can talk some more.
— I hope so too.
— We'll look forward to seeing you soon.
— It's been a good time. Thank you, John.
— Thank you.
— Thanks for having me.
— And thank you for joining us. What a blessing this has been. Remember the websites, the YouTube channel. Dr. Marcum even said you can contact him directly. This has been fun. Our hope, my hope, my hope and prayer is that you'll find ultimate good health through faith in Jesus Christ, and you'll have not only good life in this world but everlasting life in the world to come. He's Dr. Jim Marcum. I'm John Bradshaw. This has been our conversation.