|Issue #33 - June 2005|
Welcome to this issue of Naturopathic News, issue #33. 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. If you would like to stop receiving my newsletter send me an email and let me know.
“A DAY IN THE LIFE” OF A HOMEOPATHIC CASE
It’s my intent with this ongoing series of articles to address everyday issues that come up in the course of homeopathic practice. If there is a question you have that you would like addressed, please let me know.
Why do I want to know everything there is to tell me about your symptoms? What’s the objective? What do I do with all of that information? How is it useful? At some point during homeopathic treatment one of these questions, or a similar one, must have passed through your mind. Here are some very important considerations in completely telling me what is going on.
Sometimes a new, seemingly inconsequential change occurs and you don’t think it’s important to mention it. However, like a highway sign on the way to a new destination, it may be just the piece of information we need to know what to do next. It might be a food desire that has recently become very strong. Perhaps you’ve noticed that your vision has changed. Maybe you have been belching more or your shoulder has been sore. You might think that these symptoms are explained by circumstances—greater physical activity, too much time in front of the computer, eating more fruit than normal, etc. For just one symptom that may be true. Taken all together, several symptoms that have developed may indicate the emergence of a new remedy picture.
Often when working on a case there are several homeopathic remedies that cover much of the case. What we’re looking for is the Simillimum—the remedy/potency/dose that best matches the overall picture and is curative. Different aspects of a case may predominate in the beginning and, as time goes on and healing occurs, a different remedy picture is revealed. You may be very attached to the previous homeopathic medicine, as you have responded to it so well. When completely new symptoms come up they might indicate a shift in the healing process. Perhaps one of the other remedies originally indicated has come to the forefront. If so, we need the information that the new symptoms provide.
These are just three of the reasons why new symptoms can be very important in the management of your homeopathic case. There is much that goes on behind that seemingly simple question, “Anything new come up since our last visit?” When these symptoms are missed or not followed up on correctly that’s when cases get stuck or confusing. Which means that your healing process may not be as rapid, gentle, or permanent as it could be.
The subject of Provings is a large one. I will cover it more fully in a later newsletter. Some background is necessary to understand what proving symptoms are in the context of this article.
To carry out a Proving a substance is first chosen. A homeopathic preparation of the substance is prepared by serial dilution and succussion according to the rules of the HPUS—Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States. This homeopathic preparation is then given to a group of healthy people. The symptoms that these people develop while taking the medicine are called a Proving. This information forms the basis of what we know about that particular homeopathic medicine. Not everyone will have the same level of sensitivity to the medicine when they take it. In other words, some of the Provers will develop more symptoms in response to the medicine based on their susceptibility.
When you take a homeopathic medicine for the first time you could possibly develop a symptom from the remedy itself. It’s as if you were taking part in a Proving. This isn’t necessarily a bad result. But it’s something that needs to be communicated. If the remedy is correct the proving symptom is often gone in the first month and the person feels much better. If the proving symptom still exists after one month, the case probably needs to be reviewed (hence the importance of consistent follow-ups). If there is no other clear remedy picture present, it’s usually best to stay with the same remedy. If there is another clear remedy picture, it may be time to give the new remedy.
ASPIRIN AND THE RISK OF BREAST CANCER
According to a recent study, taking aspirin or ibuprofen may boost a woman's chance of succumbing to breast cancer.
Researchers evaluated data on some 114,000 women (ages 22-85) who participated in the California Teachers Study. The women were free of breast cancer when they enrolled in the study a decade ago. (At that time, the women informed researchers how often and how long they had used aspirin and ibuprofen.)
During a follow-up period, some 2,400 of the women were diagnosed with breast cancer of known receptor status. When researchers broke their findings down by pain reliever or type of breast cancer, the results showed:
Taking ibuprofen every day for at least five years increased a woman's chance of developing breast cancer by 50 percent, compared to women who did not regularly take the drug.
Daily use of aspirin for five years or more caused a woman's risk of ER/PR-negative breast cancer (not sensitive to estrogen or progesterone) to spike by 80 percent, compared to non-regular aspirin users.
Journal of the National Cancer Institute June 1, 2005, Vol. 97,, No. 11: 805-812
DR. PAIS’S REVIEW:
The best way to avoid drugs and still get relief from your pain is to utilize treatments that address the underlying cause of your symptoms. Obviously, pain can result from a number of different causes, but there are certain approaches that end up addressing many of these causes at the same time. Homeopathy and nutrition are two of the best ones.
ALL NSAIDS MAY BE LINKED TO HEART ATTACK RISK
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are associated with an increased risk of a first MI (myocardial infarction), results of an observational study suggest. Diclofenac and ibuprofen seem to pose about as much risk as the COX-2 inhibitor rofecoxib, the study authors say.
Rofecoxib (Vioxx) was withdrawn from the pharmaceutical market at the end of September 2004 after use of the drug was tied to adverse cardiac effects. Since then, however, questions remain, such as whether all NSAIDs share these harmful effects.
Drs. Julia Hippisley-Cox and Carol Coupland, from the University of Nottingham, UK, conducted a population-based nested case-control study. They report their findings in the June 11th, 2005 issue of the British Medical Journal.
Their study included 9218 cases of a first MI in people between the ages of 25 and 100 during study period from 2000 to 2004, and 86,349 controls matched by age, calendar time, gender and practice.
The authors identified all prescriptions for NSAIDs for each case and control in the 3 years before their index date (specifically celecoxib, rofecoxib, ibuprofen, diclofenac, naproxen, other selective NSAIDs and other nonselective NSAIDs).
The adjusted odds ratio (OR) for rofecoxib use within the 3 months before an MI was 1.32; for ibuprofen it was 1.24 and for diclofenac it was 1.55 (p < 0.01).
The authors observed a tendency to increased risks with use of other selective NSAIDs, though these did not reach a significance level.
Dr. Hippisley-Cox and Dr. Coupland estimate the number-needed-to-harm for patients aged 65 years and over were 521 for diclofenac, 1005 for ibuprofen and 695 for rofecoxib (VIOXX).
"Given the high prevalence of the use of these drugs in elderly people and the increased risk of myocardial infarction with age, even the relatively large number of patients needed to harm could have considerable implications for public health," they note. "We think that enough concerns exist to warrant a reconsideration of the cardiovascular safety of all NSAIDs," the investigators conclude.
DR. PAIS’S REVIEW:
MAXIMIZE ANTIOXIDANTS IN YOUR SALAD BOWL
Raw or steamed vegetables, and salads that include onions, fresh herbs, and dressings made from pure extra-virgin olive oil provide high antioxidant values, reports the British Journal of Nutrition (2005;93:257–66). Certain salad ingredients also add more antioxidants than others, and certain cooking methods decrease them.
Antioxidants are compounds that protect cells from damage by free radicals. Free radicals are electrically charged, highly reactive particles that damage cells throughout the body by triggering oxidative reactions. Oxidative free radical damage is believed to be a central cause in the degenerative changes associated with aging, including those that leave us more vulnerable to cancer and heart disease. Vitamins C, E, and A are well-known antioxidant nutrients, as are the minerals zinc and selenium. Bioflavonoids are another group of potent antioxidants widely found in the plant world. Some bioflavonoids are pigments that give plants their color. Fruits and vegetables are especially rich in vitamin, mineral, and bioflavonoid antioxidants. Numerous studies have demonstrated that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can prevent chronic diseases, including heart disease and cancer.
In the current study, 27 different vegetables and 21 different herbs and spices were studied for their antioxidant value, as demonstrated by their ability to neutralize free radicals. The effects of various cooking procedures on the antioxidant value of some of the vegetables were measured. Some of the vegetables and herbs were evaluated in combinations designed to resemble typical salads, and several oils and vinegars were also tested.
Artichoke, beet, broccoli, garlic, leek, radish, and red chicory had the highest antioxidant values of the vegetables tested; among the herbs and spices, cumin had the highest antioxidant value by far, followed by sage, rosemary, marjoram, and thyme. Steaming vegetables led to a drop in antioxidant values of 20 to 30%, but boiling led to nearly 80% reductions. Salads were made with combinations of lettuce, tomato, onion, carrot, and cucumber. Adding onion increased the salad antioxidant value significantly, and so did adding fresh herbs to the salad, such as lemon balm and marjoram. Pure extra-virgin olive oil was found to have a high antioxidant value; however, the presence of crushed garlic or other herbs in the olive oil reduced its antioxidant value by 40 to 80%.
The results of this study suggest that to maximize the antioxidant value of vegetables, they should be eaten steamed or raw, in combinations that include fresh herbs, spices, and dressings made from pure extra-virgin olive oil.
DR. PAIS’S REVIEW:
Here we find that the vegetables, herbs, dressing, and preparation methods we use greatly impact the antioxidant content of our diet. As any of my patients that have worked nutritionally already know this, but it’s nice to see the topic researched and discussed in such a way. There are times when supplements are an important adjunct (NOT REPLACEMENT) to a good diet. Just remember, the next time some clerk or friend is touting the latest and greatest pill, you can do it better with a fresh vegetable and herb salad. No pill or capsule matches a whole food for nutrient diversity. When you’re eating that dandelion green or artichoke leaf you’re getting a lot more nutrition than just antioxidants.
PLASTICS COMPOUND MAY CAUSE PROSTATE ABNORMALITIES
Even very low levels of a chemical found in plastic containers and tin cans boosts risks for prostate abnormalities in mice, and may do so in humans as well, researchers report.
They say fetal blood levels of bisphenol A, "far below" thresholds deemed safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, are associated with malformations in the prostates of developing mice -- malformations that could predispose these mice to cancer as adults.
"We've got to be concerned about exposure to this amount of bisphenol A, an amount that's actually below the EPA level. In fact, if you have a baby today, your baby is going to have more bisphenol A than levels used in this study," said senior researcher Fred vom Saal, a professor of biology at the University of Missouri.
In addition to helping lead this study, vom Saal presented data earlier this year to a special legislative committee in California that was considering the passage of a state bill banning bisphenol A in all products used by children aged 3 and under, such as baby bottles and plastic toys. The committee has since passed the bill, which is slated for a vote in the state's Legislature, he said.
According to vom Saal, bisphenol A is used to form a type of long-chain chemical used in great quantities by the plastics industry and in tin cans over the past 30 or 40 years.
"This chemical is inherently unstable, however, particularly if it's heated or there's any kind of alkaline or acidic contact," he said.
"What's interesting about bisphenol A is that it was also developed many years ago as a synthetic estrogen," added lead researcher Barry Timms, a professor of biomedical sciences at the University of South Dakota School of Medicine.
In fact, this same molecule is a key ingredient in many oral contraceptives, he said, creating another potential source for fetal exposure in women who may not realize they are pregnant and continue to take the Pill.
Diethylstilbestrol (DES), an estrogenic compound very similar in structure to bisphenol A, has long been connected to increased risks for uterine and other reproductive-tract cancers in young women, the researchers said. Timms said he and vom Saal "also started realizing that very small physiologic levels of these synthetic estrogens had an impact on prostate development," so they decided to take a closer look at bisphenol A.
In their study, which was published May2, 2005 in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers fed pregnant mice doses of bisphenol A "below the range of exposure [found in] pregnant women."
They report that male mouse fetuses obtained from these pregnant mice showed significant malformations of the urethra, as well as abnormally large prostate ducts. According to Timms, bisphenol A appears to over stimulate certain prostate cells, increasing cell growth.
That could mean that, even at these very low exposures, newborn mice "will end up with larger prostates when they age than their [unexposed] counterparts," Timms said.
But while enlarged prostate is a relatively benign condition, prostate cancer is not, vom Saal noted.
"All these female sex hormones do the same thing -- they elevate receptors, priming the response system to male hormones in the prostate," he said. "So what you have is an organ that's hypersensitive to male sex hormones, and that's a risk factor for prostate cancer."
Vom Saal stressed he's not advocating an industry-wide ban on bisphenol A, which previous animal studies have also linked to neuro-developmental problems, lowered age for puberty, and increased risks for breast cancer and polycystic ovary disease.
"I don't mind it being used in airplane wings and computers, things like that," he said. "But the idea that we need this in food storage items -- we just don't. We certainly don't need it in baby bottles, there are alternatives like polyethylene, polypropylene, glass."
One big problem is that it's tough right now for consumers to detect which plastics contain bisphenol A, and which don't, he added.
"Bisphenol A is typically in the clear, hard plastic," vom Saal said, "not the softer, non-clear containers. But until there's a right-to-know law, where the kind of labeling we have on food is demanded to be put on these products, you can't tell safe from dangerous plastic."
In the meantime, Americans -- especially pregnant women and those caring for small children -- might want to take some simple precautions, Timms said.
When it comes to plastics, tin cans and oral contraceptives containing this chemical, "the warning would be 'be careful, be aware,' " Timms said." There are alternatives; you do have a choice."
DR. PAIS’S REVIEW:
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