|Issue #72 - September 2008|
Here are some pages that are of particular interest:
Store : There are 227 products from Emerson listed on this page. If yours isn't one of them please let me know and I will add it so you can order online. This is particularly convenient after hours or on the weekend. Of course, you can always order by phone from Emerson at 800-654-4432.
Newsletter : Here you will find all 72 issues of my health newsletter, "Naturopathic News".
Optimal Health Points : This is my blog archive that I update every week. Check out the entry for September 23 about how people taking statin drugs to lower their cholesterol experience more delirium.
WHAT CAN HOMEOPATHY DO?
When used intelligently homeopathy works quickly and safely for acute injuries and emergencies. Here's a case from when I was a student at NCNM (National College of Naturopathic Medicine) in Portland OR.
My best buddy during this time was James Hutton. James had spent many years as an EEG technician before going to naturopathic medical school. His interests were diverse but he had an initially skeptical attitude about homeopathy. He took the opportunity to extern with Dr. William Turska, ND. Dr. Turska was somewhat of a maverick within the naturopathic community but he did really fine work with cancer and AIDS patients and others who were seriously ill.
James had the wheels and we often took breaks going to our favorite Thai restaurant or to one of the great Portland parks. One day getting out of his sports car he slammed the tips of his fingers in the car door. If you've ever done this you know it's one of the most excruciating pains that you can experience. Your whole body's consciousness narrows down to the extreme pain you feel.
I didn't have a lot of acute prescriptions under my belt at this point but one particular remedy stood out in my mind in the intensity of the moment. It was Hypericum perforatum well known as St. John's Wort. Now it so happens that I knew a fair amount about Hypericum as an herbal remedy. In fact it was one of my favorite herb friends before I learned its homeopathic characteristics.
Going back to my days at the California School of Herbal Studies, in 1981, I had learned the wonders of this great plant from Rosemary Gladstar, one of the foremost herbalists of the last 25 years. To do this day I love showing neophytes the reason why the species name for this plant is 'perforatum'. If you hold a leaf up to the light you will see hundreds of tiny pores or 'perforations'. We learned that herbally, St. Johns Wort oil (which has a beautiful scarlet color) has an affinity for nerves and nerve endings. Anywhere in the body where there is a concentration of nerves St. Johns Wort can be very useful.
Seven years later at NCNM I learned about the homeopathic characteristics of this amazing plant ally. Hypericum is the premier remedy for injuries to nerves. What Arnica is to bruises and injuries of soft tissue, Hypericum is to nerves. Arnica acts on bruised muscle and connective tissue. Hypericum acts on bruised or injured nerves. Therefore, use Hypericum instead of Arnica if nerves are injured along with soft tissue. A hammer blow to the fingers, like smashing them in a car door, crushes the nerves between the door and the bone, causing severe pain. Here Hypericum is the first remedy to think of. It is especially indicated for injuries to parts rich in sentient nerves, such as fingers, toes, the spine, coccyx, and anus. It has extensive additional use as a vulnerary (for wounds), which we will explore in the future.
With this detail you can see why Hypericum was the first homeopathic remedy I thought of when James crushed his fingers in the car door. If you have experienced this kind of injury you know what happens-swelling, intense pain, and immobility. Nothing is broken but you will not be using your fingers for much of anything for a few days. However, this was not James prognosis. 5 minutes after the first dose of Hypericum 1M (a medium to high potency) James' pain began to change. 10 minutes later it was significantly reduced. Swelling was much less than expected and he was able to drive home without discomfort after our last class that day.
Remember Hypericum as the remedy for crushed fingers, injured old scars, falls on the tailbone or coccyx, and torn nails or nail beds. It's no wonder that herbalists and homeopaths alike sing its praises. Hypericum perforatum, St. John's Wort, is a wonderful and valuable healing plant.
LOW VITAMIN D INCREASES BREAST CANCER DEATH RISK
If you are diagnosed with beast cancer, and happen to be deficient in Vitamin D at that time, you are almost 75% more likely to die from the disease then women with sufficient Vitamin D levels. Your cancer is also twice as likely to spreads to other parts of your body. From these results it seems that your Vitamin D status is linked to the progression of breast cancer.
Between 1989 and 1995, researchers tested the blood of 512 women who had been newly diagnosed with breast cancer. All the breast cancer cases were localized, meaning the disease had not spread beyond the breast and armpit region. The average age of affected women was 50.
15% of the women with healthy vitamin D levels died from their cancer, and 17% had their cancers spread to other areas. In contrast, 26% of the vitamin D-deficient women died, and 31% had cancer that metastasized. All together this means a 73% higher risk of death among women who were vitamin D deficient, and a 94% higher risk of the cancer spreading.
Vitamin D deficiency was a lot more common in women who weighed more. According to study author Pamela Goodwin of Mount Sinai Hospital and the University of Toronto, this is because "fat tissue acts as a trap for vitamin D." "Levels were also lower in younger women," she said, "which was a bit of a surprise, until we realized older women were taking more supplements." Premenopausal women and women with high insulin levels were also more likely to be deficient in vitamin D.
Only 24% of the women involved in the study had vitamin D levels considered healthy, while 37.5% were considered deficient and the remaining 38.5% fell in between. "This study found that vitamin D deficiency is very common among women with breast cancer, and it suggests that vitamin D deficiency is linked to poorer outcomes in these women," said Nancy Davidson, director of the breast cancer program at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
DR. PAIS'S COMENTS: If you've been diagnosed with breast cancer get a serum hydroxy vitamin D test. You want your levels to be optimum-from 50-70 ng/ml. This is one fairly easy, safe, and reasonable action to take to improve your prognosis.
This is strong evidence that vitamin D can help prevent and fight off various cancers. We know that breast cancer cells have vitamin D receptors and interact with vitamin D. Part of this interaction is to cause cell death. This effect is very similar to the action of the drug Tamoxifen, but without the side effects.
FDA: 20 DANGEROUS DRUGS
A 2007 federal law requires the FDA to disclose all its investigations into reports of possibly drug-related adverse events. The first of this series of quarterly reports has been released. It includes adverse events reported between January 1 and March 31, 2008.
Here's the list of drugs and the adverse events that have been reported:
1. Arginine Hydrochloride Injection (R-Gene 10) -- Pediatric overdose due to labeling and packaging confusion
2. Desflurane (Suprane) -- Cardiac arrest
3. Duloxetine (Cymbalta) -- Urinary retention
4. Etravirine (Intelence) -- Hemarthrosis (blood in a joint)
5. Fluorouracil Cream (Carac) and Ketoconazole Cream (Kuric) -- Adverse events due to name confusion
6. Heparin -- Anaphylactic-type (life-threatening allergic) reactions
7. Icodextrin (Extraneal) -- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
8. Insulin U-500 (Humulin R) -- Dosing confusion
9. Ivermectin (Stromectol) and Warfarin -- Drug interaction
10. Lapatinib (Tykerb) -- Hepatotoxicity (liver toxicity)
11. Lenalidomide (Revlimid) -- Stevens-Johnson syndrome (a deadly drug reaction)
12. Natalizumab (Tysabri) -- Skin melanomas (deadly skin cancer)
13. Nitroglycerin (Nitrostat) -- Overdose due to labeling confusion
14. Octreotide Acetate Depot (Sandostatin LAR) -- Ileus (bowels not moving)
15. Oxycodone Hydrochloride Controlled-Release (OxyContin) -- Drug misuse, abuse, and overdose
16. Perflutren Lipid Microsphere (Definity) -- Cardiopulmonary reactions (lung/heart problems)
17. Phenytoin Injection (Dilantin) -- Purple glove syndrome (discoloration, pain, and swelling of the hand that may lead to amputation)
18. Quetiapine (Seroquel) -- Overdose due to sample pack labeling confusion
19. Tebivudine (Tyzeka) -- Peripheral neuropathy (tingling or numbness in the extremities)
20. Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) Blockers -- Cancers in children and young adults
FDA September 5, 2008
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: Do you take any of these drugs? Do you have any symptoms that relate to the side effects listed? Talk to your doctor about your concerns and ask about alternatives.
LESS RADIATION WORKS IN BREAST CANCER
Three weeks of radiation treatment work just as well as the usual course of five weeks or more for women with early-stage breast cancers, Canadian researchers have reported, after monitoring a large group of patients for 12 years.
The results, presented September 22, 2008 at a conference in Boston, provide very strong evidence that radiation protocols can safely be shortened to make life easier for patients.
The US typical schedule involves five to seven weeks of daily treatments. About 180,000 women a year develop breast cancer in the United States, and most are given radiation. From 30-40% may be candidates for the type of treatment given in the study. Shorter radiation treatments are more available in Canada and Europe than in the United States.
These results apply most to women with early cancers, which were removed by lumpectomy and had not spread to the lymph nodes.
The study included 1,234 women who started treatment at one of eight hospitals from 1993 to 1996. Half of the women received the standard regimen of 25 treatments in 35 days (five treatments a week for five weeks). The other half had 16 treatments in 22 days. The shorter course used slightly higher daily doses of radiation, but the total cumulative dose was slightly lower. But after 10 years, there were no significant differences between the groups. Both had recurrence rates of 6-7%.
Dr. Silvia Formenti, chairwoman of radiation oncology at New York University and the leader of breast cancer research at its cancer institute, called Dr. Whelan's study "impeccable and extremely solid." She said she had treated more than 1,000 patients using a faster schedule of treatments. The median time since treatment is more than five years, and some patients have had slightly more advanced disease than those in Dr. Whelan's study. So far, she said, the results have been at least as good as those with conventional treatment.
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: Radiation treatment is always a balancing act between giving enough radiation but not enough to cause serious damage to healthy tissue and organs. Based on the work of Dr. John Goffman in "Radiation and Human Health" we know that any radiation increases the risk of breast cancer. So you can't escape this inherent risk with radiation treatment for breast cancer.
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS AND VITAMIN D
At an international meeting of MS specialists in Montreal it was reported September 19 2008 that children later diagnosed with multiple sclerosis had far lower levels of vitamin D than other children. Though other research has shown links between vitamin D status and MS, these were the first studies to show the effects in children.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system caused by damage to the myelin sheath that protects nerve cells. It affects 2.5 million people globally and can cause symptoms ranging from tingling to blindness and paralysis.
These studies presented at the Montreal meeting on MS showed that children had low levels of the vitamin when they began to show evidence of the disease. "Three-quarters of our subjects were below the optimal levels for vitamin D," said Heather Hanwell, a graduate student in nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto, who led one study.
Hanwell's team studied 125 children who had what is known as a demyelinating event -- evidence of damage to myelin that causes symptoms such as numbness. Blood was taken at the time. Twenty of the children were diagnosed with MS within the next year, Hanwell said. Tests of the blood showed that 68% of those children had suboptimal levels of vitamin D. The children with MS had much lower levels of the vitamin than children who did not experience any MS symptoms.
Another study led by Dr. Brenda Banwell of Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children showed similar results. "Seventeen of 19 children who had been diagnosed with MS had vitamin D levels below the target level," Banwell said in a telephone interview.
Canadians have one of the highest rates of MS in the world, according to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. "In Canada for six months of the year the sun is not intense enough for us to manufacture vitamin D in our skin," Hanwell said.
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: You might be tempted to say that this study is coming out of Canada because they don't get as much sun as we do. You're probably right. Canada has also been publicly suggesting that minimum levels of vitamin D be raised.
Perhaps the lesson we can take is that medicine is not as beholden to pharmaceuticals in Canada. Or that Canadian medical doctors get more than 5 hours (American medical school average) of nutrition in medical school.
Whichever it is it's great to see the interest and concern related to what may turn out to be a nutritionally treatable disease. Given the effectiveness of the "Swank diet" in treating some cases of multiple sclerosis this is just another piece of the nutritional pie for this disease. For those of you who aren't familiar, Dr. Swank was an Oregon physician who determined that his multiple sclerosis patients did better with a specific diet. A pretty radical approach for his non-nutritionally trained peers. But his patients were happy with it!
You know you are living in the year 2008 when:
1. Your reason for not staying in touch with family is because they do not have e-mail.
2. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of three.
3. Your grandmother asks you to send her a JPEG file of your newborn so she can create a screen saver.
4. You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home.
5. Every commercial on television has a web site address at the bottom of the screen.
6. You buy a computer and 3 months later it's out of date and sells for half the price you paid.
7. Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn't have the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go get it.
8. Using real money, instead of credit or debit, to make a purchase would be a hassle and take planning.
9. You just tried to enter your password on the microwave.
10. You consider second-day air delivery painfully slow.
11. Your dining room table is now your flat filing cabinet.
12. Your idea of being organized is multiple-colored Post-it notes.
13. You hear most of your jokes via e-mail instead of in person.
14. You get an extra phone line so you can get phone calls.
15. You disconnect from the Internet and get this awful feeling, as if you just pulled the plug on a loved one.
16. You get up in the morning and go online before getting your coffee.
17. You wake up at 2 AM to go to the bathroom and check your E-mail on your way back to bed.
18. You start tilting your head sideways to smile. :)
19. You're reading this and nodding and laughing.
20. Even worse; you know exactly who you are going to forward this to...
I am often asked what supplements I recommend. Many of you have been surprised to discover that I favor food over pills; lifestyle changes over fads. I have been working with nutrition for over 30 years, herbs for over 20 years. Where and when appropriate I recommend them to my patients. I strive to act from knowledge, experience, and research.
Emerson Ecologics (800-654-4432) carries almost all of the nutritional supplements and botanical extracts that I think are useful. Their customer service is excellent and their delivery is reliable (often only 2-3 days to this region). It's a great way to get physician quality products at reasonable prices.
To offset the cost of shipping, reference my name when you establish your account and receive a 10% discount on every order. If you have any questions about these items feel free to email me.
That's it for this issue of Naturopathic News. If you've thought a bit extra or learned something new, then I achieved my goal. As usual, if you have questions or concerns brought up by these subjects, let me know.
Gregory Pais, ND, DHANP