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Dr. Gregory Pais, ND
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Home arrow Naturopathic News arrow Issue #31 - April 2005
Issue #31 - April 2005

Welcome to this issue of Naturopathic News, issue #31. It’s my mission 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.

 

“A DAY IN THE LIFE” OF A HOMEOPATHIC CASE

Part 3
Characteristic Symptoms

So, it’s the first visit, you’re looking across my desk, and it’s time to tell me why you are seeking homeopathic care. What do you say? Where do you start? Maybe you’ve read Dr. Timothy Dooley’s wonderful introduction to homeopathy, “Beyond Flat Earth Medicine” and you remember that characteristic symptoms are what I need to hear. But you don’t really know what that means.

Characteristic symptoms are symptoms that illustrate the individuality of the patient. These may be found in the mind, emotions, dreams, general tendencies, food cravings, sleep, sex, energy, and so on. What we’re looking for is the individual expression of the person who is sick. The real pathology of the patient if you will.

Characteristic symptoms describe the patient’s illness as a unique complete entity. The basic concept is that a person is ill as a total entity, not only a part is sick, but that all of the person is ill. The illness is seen in the symptoms. Some symptoms are common and some are unique but all show the total illness. As a homeopath I pay attention to the most identifying features of the whole. The features that run through the whole case.

What do we need to know about a symptom to understand it? What gives us the most comprehensive information? One of the most accomplished homeopaths of the 19th century, Clemens von Boenninghausen, wrote extensively on this subject. He developed the following set of interdependent questions that help us derive the most value from each symptom.


1. Who?
The personality, the individuality of the patient, must stand at the head of the image of the disease, for the natural disposition rests on it. In this area we find the sex, age, bodily constitution, etc. The more striking or rare the differences from the norm, the greater the attention.


2. What?
This question refers to the disease, i. e., to its nature and peculiarity. Each person diagnosed with the same disease label still expresses unique symptoms. Various aspects of how they express the disease differentiate them from anyone else with that same label. The ultimate importance lies in the symptoms themselves. It does not rest solely on the attachment of a disease label.


3. Where?
The seat of the disease, though part of the previous question, deserves further emphasis. Often, a characteristic symptom can be derived from the location of the illness. This is true not only for a local disease like a rash, but also for more systemic diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. In such situations it is rarely the case that the whole body is affected equally. It may be that one side is affected more than another, or the upper (not the lower) part of the body is involved.


4. Concomitant Symptoms (symptoms occurring at the same time).
Every individual presents with a more or less numerous group of symptoms. Taken together they represent the totality of that person’s disease (when the image is complete). Think of a mosaic where every tile exquisitely laid in place represents an aspect of the overall picture. One absent or misplaced tile can distort the image (the picture of the disease) making it unrecognizable. Hence the importance of concomitant symptoms. This is especially true when the symptom is seemingly not related to the disease. An individual has acute kidney stone colic and the concomitant symptom is an unusual outburst of anger. Someone has experienced a strong grief and they have a craving for salty foods that they don’t usually like.


5. Why?
The cause of the disease or etiology has a prominent part in pathology books. A large part of this is only untested theories or attempts at explanation. Homeopaths take a much more versatile, wholistic view of etiology that goes beyond simple association with a pathogen.

At one level there exist internal and external causes. Internal causes properly refer only to the general natural disposition, which in some cases amounts to a peculiar supersensitivity or individual susceptibility. For some, illness always begins with their throat. For others, their skin is affected. Some are indisposed at the level of intellect or emotion.

The external causes embrace everything that, where there is such an internal disposition to disease, may produce disease. Weather, poor food choices, sick building syndrome, mental or physical abuse, abandonment, grief, etc. Maybe the specific cause of the kidney stone colic was the burst of anger that preceded its onset. If so, this etiology becomes a significant factor in the understanding of the case.


6. Better or Worse?
The modalities of a symptom, or things that make that symptom better or worse, are quite often a key to unlocking the case. Is the cough better from eating food? Does the throat pain increase when cold water is swallowed? Is the pain better with heat? Or with cold? Does the night sweat always occur at the same time of the morning? A clear modality is worth its weight in gold. One strong modality can shift the perception of the case and point the homeopath in the right direction.


7. When?
This concerns the time of the appearance, the aggravation or the amelioration of the ailments. The periodic return of symptoms after a longer or shorter cessation may relate to specific causes such as menstrual ailments, weather changes, seasons, etc.

Of even greater importance are the aggravations and ameliorations at particular times of the day. Whether this applies to local symptoms that the person has or their general overall state. There is hardly any disease that does not manifest in some form a distinct aggravation or amelioration. As homeopaths have paid inordinate attention to such details over the last 2 centuries they have the capability of applying such information in clinical practice.


This has been just a short introduction to the world of characteristic symptoms and their application in homeopathy. The next time you need to check in or keep a record of your symptoms, ask yourself these 7 questions. The answers might surprise you and delight your homeopath.

 

GREEN TEA ANTIOXIDANTS AND PROSTATE CANCER IN HIGH-RISK MEN

A supplement containing antioxidants from green tea was 90 percent effective in preventing prostate cancer in men at high risk for the disease.

That's the conclusion of an Italian study that found after a year of taking green tea catechins, only one man in a group of 32 who were at higher risk of prostate cancer actually developed the disease, while nine men in a group of 30 high-risk men who took a placebo developed prostate cancer.

They recruited 62 men at high risk of developing prostate cancer because they already had precancerous lesions, which often turn into cancer within a year. The men were between the ages of 45 and 75. The researchers excluded vegetarians because they may already have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer, men who already consumed green tea, and men taking antioxidant supplements or hormone therapy.

Thirty two of the men were asked to take a 200-milligram pill containing green tea catechins three times daily for a year; the other 30 men were given a placebo. Biopsies were conducted at six months, and then again a year later. Remarkably, only one man in the treatment group was diagnosed with prostate cancer, while nine men in the control group developed the disease.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study showing that green tea catechins (GTC) have potent chemoprevention activity for human prostate cancer," said study author Saverio Bettuzzi, an associate professor of biochemistry in the School of Medicine at the University of Parma in Italy.

"A projection of our data suggests that up to 90 percent of chemoprevention efficacy could be obtained by GTC administration in men prone to developing prostate cancer such as the elderly, African-Americans and those with a family history of prostate cancer," Bettuzzi said.

Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting men. More than 230,000 American men are diagnosed with this disease each year, according to the American Cancer Society. Since many prostate cancers are found in their early stages, about 99 percent of those diagnosed can expect to live at least five years, while up to 92 percent survive for at least 10 years after their diagnosis. However, prostate cancer can be deadly. The disease claims the lives of more than 30,000 men in the United States annually, making it the second largest cancer killer in men.

Findings from the study were presented April 20, 2005 at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting, in Anaheim, Calif.

DR. PAIS’S REVIEW: This is further confirmation of the value of green tea antioxidants in the prevention of prostate cancer. However, don’t think that all you have to do is drink green tea or take a supplement and you’ll be safe. It would take 12-15 cups of green tea daily to match the levels that were used in the study. And you’d be getting pesticides, caffeine, and other contaminants in the process. And there’s no guarantee that the supplement from the store or the one sold through the mail is of high enough quality. Sad to say most of the herb companies formed within the last 10 years have questionable quality control. If you're concerned about prostate cancer, lifestyle changes, like maintaining a healthy body weight (obesity increases your risk) are a good place to start.

 

GOT MILK? GOT PARKINSON’S—MAYBE

Middle-aged men who drink one or two glasses of pasteurized milk a day may double their risk of Parkinson's disease later in life, according to a study. Researchers are uncertain of what is causing the link, whether an ingredient or contaminant in the milk, but believe it is not related to calcium.

The 30-year study followed over 7,500 men between the ages of 45 and 68 who were part of the Honolulu Heart Program. During the study, 128 men developed Parkinson's disease, which is a degenerative disease of the nervous system.

Specifically, those who drank more than 16 ounces of milk each day were 2.3 times more likely to develop Parkinson's than those who didn't drink any milk. During each 12-month period, 6.9 cases of Parkinson's would be expected per 10,000 people who drank no milk; however, among those who drank more than 16 ounces daily, 14.9 cases per 10,000 people would be expected.

The findings are in line with a previous study that found eating a lot of dairy products increased the risk of Parkinson's in men (the findings did not apply to women). In the current study, no link between calcium and Parkinson's was found, so researchers believe another component or contaminant of milk is responsible.

Neurology March 22, 2005;64(6):1047-1051

DR. PAIS’S REVIEW: It may be the issue that commercial milk is so far away from the natural food of 100 years ago. Most has Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone, pesticides, and herbicides. The pasteurization process itself changes the chemical structure of milk (this Parkinson’s study was done with pasteurized milk). Raw milk from organically fed, pastured cows is a different animal altogether (pun intended!).


The following tips may help prevent Parkinson’s Disease:

  1. Regular exercise
  2. Avoid environmental toxins—hormones, solvents, pesticides, herbicides, etc.
  3. Eating foods high in folic acid (vegetables)
  4. Proper levels of iron. Not too much, not too little. Don’t take iron unless you have been diagnosed as iron deficient.

 

FISH OIL BEATS STATINS FOR LOWERING MORTALITY RISK

The April 11, 2005 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine published a review of the effects of various lipid-lowering regimens on overall mortality and mortality from coronary heart disease. Researchers from Basel Institute for Clinical Epidemiology and University Hospital in Basel, Switzerland reviewed 97 clinical trials published between 1965 and 2003 that included 137,140 men and women being treated and 138,976 control subjects. The current analysis compared the association with mortality risk of diet, lipid-lowering drugs categorized as statins, fibrates, and resins, and the nutritional supplements omega-3 fatty acids (commonly found in fish oils) and niacin.

The risk of overall mortality was reduced by 13 percent by statins and 23 percent by omega-3 fatty acids compared to the risk experienced by those who did not receive treatment. When the risk of mortality from heart disease alone was analyzed, the use of statin drugs and omega-3 fatty acids were found to lower the risk by 22 and 32 percent, respectively.

The superiority of omega-3 acids in lowering the risk of overall and cardiac mortality CANNOT be explained by an ability to reduce cholesterol, which averaged 2 percent in this meta-analysis compared to an average reduction of 20 percent achieved via the use of statins. The protection provided by omega-3 fatty acids against heart arrhythmias, along with their antithrombotic and anti-inflammatory properties may be responsible for the mortality risk reduction suggested by this review.

Vol. 165 No. 7, April 11, 2005 Review Article

DR. PAIS’S REVIEW: Realize that the statin category of drugs, which are prescribed to reduce cholesterol, make the drug companies over 10 BILLION DOLLARS a year. Two years ago the lab result that was used to indicate statin drug necessity was lowered—meaning that literally millions more people were suddenly now at risk and could be prescribed these drugs.

But this study tells us what is really happening. Omega-3 essential fatty acids were a much better protector of heart disease than statins. And the effect was not due to cholesterol lowering! Those of you who have worked nutritionally with me in my practice have heard a lot about omega-3 essential fatty acids and heart disease. This research further supports what we already know.

The caution is that, just like with the drugs, there is money to be made by pushing supplements. Not every omega-3 supplement is as good as its claims. The ones from your store or mail order catalog may be unstable, lacking in nutritional value, and possibly rancid. Educate yourself fully before purchasing supplements. What is the background or training of the person or company? Quality control is of preeminent importance.

 

HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY AND STROKE

While synthetic hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has previously been promoted as protection against heart disease and stroke, studies have offered evidence otherwise. Researchers found that synthetic HRT is actually linked to an increased risk of stroke, typically ischemic in type (caused by blockages of blood flow to the brain) and severe in nature.

In fact, synthetic HRT boosts the risk of stroke by almost one-third and the risk of fatal or disabling stroke by more than half. These conclusions were drawn based on 28 trials involving nearly 40,000 women, showing that in women receiving HRT:

  • Strokes increased by 29 percent
  • Fatal or disabling strokes increased by 56 percent

One of the trials reviewed also linked synthetic HRT with higher risks of breast cancer and heart attack. The trial, which included almost 17,000 women over 50, indicated those taking HRT for five years doubled the risk of life-threatening blood clots.

British Medical Journal January 7, 2005

DR. PAIS’S REVIEW:  After all the hype, it's becoming increasingly clear to conventional medicine that the benefits of estrogen simply do not outweigh the risks. That is if they are paying attention to the science and the research.

Remember, synthetic progestins like Provera are responsible for nearly all the side effects and should rarely be used by any woman. And, the most popular estrogen women use--Premarin--comes from horse estrogens. There are far better estrogen options when estrogen is called for. The one that seems to work the best for most women is a transdermal preparation of human estrogen. Application through the skin allows lower doses than oral and also decreases the production of potentially dangerous estrogen metabolites.

It is putting the cart before the horse to start taking hormones of any type if the necessary lifestyle change shave not been made first. These include:

  • A better diet based on your personal needs
  • Balancing your omega-3 and omega-6 fat intake
  • An exercise program, even of the low- to moderate-intensity variety
  • Limiting grains (unless you are normal body weight) and sugars as they cause yeast overgrowth that worsen hormone levels
  • Eliminate caffeine as it can also have adverse effects on hormone levels

Making these simple lifestyle changes are a lot safer than following some of the common treatment protocols such as hormone therapy.

 

EMERSON ECOLOGICS

I am often asked what supplements I recommend. Many of you have been surprised to discover that I favor food over pills, lifestyle over fads. I have been working with nutrition for 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 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 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 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.


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