|Issue #21 - June 2004|
Welcome to this issue of Naturopathic News, issue #21. It’s my goal to help you find natural solutions to health problems. This newsletter is one way to do that. The more educated you are about your health options the better able you will be to take control of your health.
In my last newsletter I asked a question--What could I do to better serve you? I’m sure that some of you have some good ideas that would enhance what we do. What is the one thing that you would change or improve about your experience as my patient? Positive feedback is important and affirms what we are doing right. Negative feedback is even more important as it helps me identify problems in order to solve them. Feel free to respond by email, phone, or written note.
A HOMEOPATHIC STORY
Many people are introduced to homeopathy through their experience with the homeopathic medicine called Arnica. This remedy is prepared from the beautiful flowers of the plant, Arnica montana. I thought I would relate one of the 2 most dramatic cases of Arnica that I have treated. First I will describe the symptoms and some situations that would make you think of Arnica in the first place.
It is considered the single most important remedy for trauma and bruises. This can be horrific traumas such as head-on car crashes or industrial accidents. It can be useful for the chronic affects of old traumas or surgery. Often there is marked soreness; tenderness to touch or pressure, the person feels as if they were beaten, their bed feels too hard. Whenever there is bleeding into the tissues, bruising, Arnica may be the right remedy.
The most important mental/emotional symptom is the familiar “I’m alright, I don’t need anything.” You will hear this from people in an Arnica state after falls or accidents where they obviously have been hurt or injured. This has led to the common perception that Arnica does not want to be approached or touched.
Here are some common situations for Arnica:
When I was in naturopathic medical school in Portland, OR my young son and I would bicycle the neighborhood streets as a way to get outside together. There was one hill in particular that was a steep descend. We would work up a fast rate of speed before leveling out once again. One time, as we blasted down this hill, Skylar fell off his bicycle. He proceeded to scream like a banshee. Hearing him you would have thought that he had one of his limbs ripped off. His shrieking was so loud that several people came out from their houses along the street to see what was wrong.
It was difficult to tell how bad the damage was as Sky wouldn’t let me approach or touch him. After about 10 minutes of this I realized the state that he was in and went home to get a high potency of Arnica. By the time I returned he had been crying for at least 20 minutes, still at a high volume. I managed to get 1 pellet of Arnica under his tongue and within a couple of minutes his whole state changed. He quieted down and allowed me to check out his injuries. There were several areas of raw, scraped skin but no broken bones. Already he was saying that the pain was a lot less. I thought that the swelling and bruising would only get worse and anticipated days of recuperation. Instead, 80% of the swelling was gone by the next morning and there was only some slight residual bruising.
In the years since, homeopathic Arnica has had a constant presence in all of my first aid kits for home, school, or car. Its efficacy is proven time after time whenever its use is indicated.
If you have had any experiences with Arnica please feel free to email me and I will share the most interesting ones in my next newsletter.
FROZEN FRIES ARE 'FRESH' VEGGIES
Anyone trying to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to their diet may have just gotten an unlikely assist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Based on a little-noticed change to obscure federal rules, the USDA now defines frozen French fries as "fresh vegetables."
A federal judge in Texas last week endorsed the USDA's decision in a court case. U.S. District Judge Richard Schell said the term "fresh vegetables" was ambiguous. The USDA quietly changed the regulations last year at the behest of the French fry industry, which has spent decades pushing for a revision to the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act. Known as PACA, the law was passed by Congress in 1930 to protect fruit and vegetable farmers in the event that their customers went out of business without paying for their produce. The Frozen Potato Products Institute appealed to the USDA in 2000 to change
its definition of fresh produce under PACA to include batter-coated, frozen French fries, arguing that rolling potato slices in a starch coating, frying them and freezing them is the equivalent of waxing a cucumber or sweetening a strawberry. The USDA agreed and, on June 2, 2003, the agency amended its PACA rules to include what is described in court documents as the "Batter-Coating Rule."
Tim Elliott, a Chicago attorney who recently challenged the revision in a Texas federal courtroom on behalf of a bankrupt food distributor, said defining French fries as fresh vegetables defied common sense. "I find it pretty outrageous, really," said Elliott, who argued that the Batter-Coating Rule is so vague that chocolate-covered cherries, packed in a candy box, would qualify as fresh fruit. "This is something that only lawyers could do," Elliott said.
Meir Stampfer, a professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, said it "boggles the mind" that the USDA would label French fries a fresh vegetable since most commercial fries are prepared in oil laden with heart-clogging trans fatty acids. The USDA explained its rationale in its arguments in the Texas case. "While plaintiff argued that battered-coated French fries are processed products, they have not been 'processed' to the point that they are no longer 'fresh,' " attorneys for the USDA argued. "It is still considered 'fresh' because it is not preserved. It retains its perishable quality.
GP: Shades of “Catsup is a vegetable” from the Reagan years. When this school lunch change was promoted during the early 80’s it seemed ludicrous. Since then we have ‘discovered’ that processed tomato products contain significant amounts of lycopene. I sincerely doubt that there will be anything good that comes out of this “frozen French fries are a fresh vegetable”.
ASTHMA DRUG MAY BOOST RISK OF DEADLY ASTHMA ATTACKS.
One of the most commonly prescribed medicines to treat America's 16 million asthmatics may actually make asthma worse and contribute to heart problems, two studies find.
Shelley Salpeter of Stanford University says daily doses of beta-agonists may increase the risk of a fatal asthma attack and more than doubles the risk of cardiac events such as heart attacks.
Some Beta Agonist Drugs
Beta-agonists help relax muscles in the lungs when they spasm during an asthma attack. They are administered in two ways, as a fast-acting "rescue" drug at the beginning of an attack and in a longer-acting form designed to prevent attacks from occurring. The latter is frequently given in combination with inhaled steroids, as both drugs help prevent asthma attacks.
Salpeter and her team reviewed studies conducted from 1966 to 2003 of asthmatics taking beta-agonists. They found that patients who took the drug daily developed a tolerance and had more inflammation in their lungs than those not taking the drug at all, making them more susceptible to a potentially deadly attack.
"People shouldn't be taking these smooth muscle relaxants long term, "says Salpeter. However, the National Institutes of Heath treatment guidelines for those with moderate asthma call for the use of long-acting beta-agonists in combination with inhaled corticosteroids.
The team's second study was on the effects of beta-agonists on the heart. The researchers found that asthma patients who took beta-agonists were more than two times more likely to have adverse cardiovascular events such as congestive heart failure, heart attacks and sudden death.
Beta-agonists increase heart rate and decrease essential levels of potassium, putting the heart at greater risk of attack or failure, according to the study.
GP: It’s not as if these drugs are the only recourse for people with asthma. I have had good success with individuals using homeopathy combined with nutrition and lifestyle changes. These do take more effort than taking a pill or using an inhaler. However, there are no negative effects on the heart and there is no increased risk of a fatal asthma attack.
NUTRITION ADVICE EVERYONE CAN AGREE ON
1. AVOID TRANS FATTY ACIDS AND PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED FATS ("BAD FATS"). They increase the shelf life of food products but decrease the shelf life of people who eat them.
2. CONSUME SOME OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS EVERY DAY ("GOOD FATS"). Only three grams a day may reduce your risk of sudden cardiac death as much as 50% - 80%, lower your triglycerides, reduce inflammation (e.g., arthritis) and may help prevent cancer.
3. EAT FEWER "BAD CARBS" LIKE SUGAR AND WHITE FLOUR. They are low in fiber, so you get a double whammy: a lot of calories that don't fill you up and, because such carbs are absorbed quickly, a blood-sugar spike and an insulin surge, causing you to gain weight.
4. EAT MORE "GOOD CARBS" LIKE FRUITS, VEGETABLES, LEGUMES AND UNREFINED GRAINS SUCH AS WHOLE WHEAT AND BROWN RICE. They are rich in fiber and important nutrients, which slows absorption and fill you up before you take in too many calories.
5. WHAT YOU INCLUDE IN YOUR DIET IS AS IMPORTANT AS WHAT YOU EXCLUDE. There are at least a thousand substances that help protect against chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. With few exceptions, those protective substances are found in good carbs such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
6. ENERGY BALANCE IS IMPORTANT. You lose weight when you burn more calories (exercise) than you consume.
7. EXERCISE MORE. Simple changes like taking the stairs, parking a little farther away, and walking 30 min. a day can make a difference. Small increases can lead to big improvements over time.
8. CHOOSE QUALITY OVER QUANTITY. Smaller portions of good foods are more satisfying than larger portions of junk foods, especially if you pay attention to what you're eating. You have a wide range of dietary choices; it's not all or nothing. If you go on a diet and feel constrained, you are more likely to drop it. But if you see your food choices each day as part of a spectrum, then you are more likely to feel free and empowered. If you indulge yourself one day, you can eat more healthfully the next. To the degree you move in a healthful direction on the food spectrum, you're likely to feel better, lose weight, and gain health.
COCA-COLA AND CHILD LABOR
Coca-cola and other large businesses are indirectly benefiting from the use of child labor in sugarcane fields in El Salvador, according to a new report released June 27 by Human Rights Watch (HRW). HRW is calling on the company to take more responsibility to ensure that such abuses are halted.
From 5,000 to 30,000 Salvadoran children, some as young as eight years old, are working in El Salvador's sugarcane plantations where injuries, particularly severe cuts, are common, according to the report, 'Turning a Blind Eye: Hazardous Labor in El Salvador's Sugarcane Cultivation.' Under Salvadoran law, 18 is the minimum age for dangerous work and 14 for most other kinds. But the relevant provisions generally go unenforced in part because the children are hired as "helpers," rather than employees that would entitle them to certain protections. Not only is the law circumvented in this way, but children who are injured in the fields often must pay for their own medical treatment despite another provision in the labor code that makes employers responsible for medical expenses for injuries incurred on the job.
"Child labor is rampant on El Salvador's sugarcane plantations," said Michael Bochenek of HRW's Children's Rights division. "Companies that buy or use Salvadoran sugar should realize that fact and take responsibility for doing something about it." The 139-page report, which was based on interviews with 32 children and youths between the ages of 12 and 22, as well as with parents, teachers, activists, academics, lawyers, government officials, and representatives of the Salvadoran Sugar Association, during a trip to El Salvador last year, is the eleventh in a series on child labor issues and the fourth that concerns child labor in El Salvador.
Cutting sugar cane is backbreaking and hazardous work for a variety of reasons. The most common tools are machetes and similar sharp devices, and both the monotony of the work and the fact that it is usually conducted under direct sunlight make for frequent accidents, even among experienced workers. In addition, because cane is often burned before it is cut to clear away the leaves, workers risk smoke inhalation and sometimes suffer burns of their feet. As one former labor inspector told HRW, "Sugarcane has the most risks. It's indisputable - sugarcane is the most dangerous (agricultural work)." Although not as hazardous, planting sugar cane, which girls often perform, is also difficult and exhausting as planters must keep up with tractors that make rows for the cane, also in the hot sun. In addition, children who work on sugarcane plantations, particularly during the harvest, are often required to miss the first several months of school each year, while older children often drop out of school entirely.
Sugar production has grown in importance in El Salvador since the 1950s and by 1971 exceeded the production of basic grains. By the 1990s, sugar, which was produced mainly by state-owned plantations, had become El Salvador's second-largest export crop after coffee. Beginning in 1995, most of the plantations were privatized. Coca-Cola does not own any of these plantations nor does it buy the cane directly from them. Instead, it buys the sugar milled from the cane from El Salvador's largest sugar mill, Central Izalco. Coca-Cola's own guiding principles provide that its direct suppliers "will not use child labor as defined by local law," but, according to correspondence exchanged between HRW and the company, Coca-Cola has applied this requirement only to Izalco, even though HRW's research found that Izalco purchased sugar cane from at least four plantations that use child labor in violation of the law. "(That) means that Coca-Cola's supplier mill can comply with Coca-Cola's guiding principles even though it is aware that the sugar it refines is harvested in part by child labor," HRW concluded.
GP: If you needed another reason not to drink this stuff, here it is. The negative health effects of all that sugar, caffeine, and phosphoric acid are bad enough. But don’t forget the effects on the people who work it.
If any of you would like to check out Emerson Ecologics online here is the address of their home page. http://www.emersonecologics.com/Main.asp. Here you will find information on herbal products and nutritional supplements as well as product specials. If you have any questions about these items feel free to email me.
Gregory Pais, ND, DHANP