|Issue #46 - July 2006|
Welcome to this issue of Naturopathic News, issue #46. 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. If you have a friend or family member who you think would appreciate the information provided, send me their email address.
WHAT CAN HOMEOPATHY DO? Part 2
I had some good feedback for the Arnica acute case that I printed in my April newsletter so I thought I would share another one from my files.
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.
HORMONE REPLACEMENT DOUBLES BREAST CANCER RISK
Older women who take hormone pills that combine estrogen and testosterone more than double their risk of breast cancer, according to a study of more than 70,000 nurses. Co-author Rulla Tamimi of Harvard Medical School stated, "This type of hormone therapy's possible risk of breast cancer may outweigh any benefits."
The findings, published in the July 24, 2006 Archives of Internal Medicine, indicate that hormone supplements, such as estrogen-progestin pills, increase women's risk of breast cancer, strokes and heart attacks. Earlier research also found a greater breast cancer risk in women with higher natural levels of testosterone.
Estrogen-testosterone pills are sold under the brand names Estratest and Estratest H.S. by Solvay Pharmaceuticals of Marietta, Ga. Those brand names appear on a Washington-based advocacy group's "Worst Pills" list http://www.worstpills.org/ because of breast cancer risk. "We strongly urge women not to use this product or similar products from compounding pharmacists," said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group, which produces the Worst Pills list.
The Food and Drug Administration has asked Solvay for evidence the drug eases hot flashes in menopausal women, as the label claims. The company has requested a hearing on the matter. The drug was approved 30 years ago, before such evidence was required.
The new study used data from the long-running Nurses' Health Study. The women who took estrogen and testosterone after menopause had a 2 1/2 times higher risk of developing breast cancer than women who never took hormones. Most of the women taking the combination used Estratest.
The researchers took into account other breast cancer risk factors, such as family history, weight and age at menopause and still found an increased risk associated with estrogen-testosterone pills.
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: Often drugs such as these are prescribed as a 'magic bullet' to somehow arrest the aging process and provide youthful vigor. But not without a cost. It's one thing to choose this option fully informed. It's another if you take this type of hormone replacement therapy and aren't fully cognizant of the risks involved. There is no magic bullet; it's hard work to get healthy. Without hormone replacement it's a lot safer too.
PESTICIDES AND PARKINSON'S DISEASE
In a recent study, Exposure to pesticides was shown to increase the risk of pesticides by about 70%.
More than 140,000 men and women were followed through 2001 as part of a cancer prevention study at the Harvard School of Public Health. Those who reported being exposed to pesticides or herbicides before 1982 had a 70% higher rate of Parkinson's disease 10 to 20 years after the initial exposure. The risk was highest among people with occupational exposure to pesticides, such as farmers and ranchers, the investigators reported in the July 2006 issue of the Annals of Neurology.
The findings echo a similar but smaller recent study by Mayo Clinic researchers. In that study, published in the online edition of Movement Disorders (http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mds.21009), the Mayo investigators found that men who have been exposed to pesticides are more than twice as likely to develop Parkinson's disease as men who have managed to avoid contact with the toxic chemicals.
In both the Mayo and Harvard studies, the Parkinson's risk from reported pesticide exposure was equally high among farmers and non-farmers.
The Harvard investigators evaluated U.S. men and women who were part of the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition cohort started in 1992 by the American Cancer Society. Of this group, 143,325 who returned study surveys in 2001 and who did not have a diagnosis of Parkinson's or parkinsonian symptoms at baseline were included.
A total of 7,864 participants (5.7%) reported exposure to pesticides, including 5,203 men and 2,661 women. In all, 1,956 participants fell into the category of farmers, ranchers, or fishermen, and people in this group had a 14-fold greater likelihood of pesticide exposure compared with those in other occupations. Blue collar workers were twice as likely as others to be exposed to pesticides.
In addition, "in postmortem studies, higher levels of organochlorine insecticides have been found in the substantia nigra or striatum of individuals with Parkinson's disease," the authors wrote. "This finding reflects that organochlorine insecticides persist in tissues many years after cessation of exposure."
In autopsy studies to which the authors refer, significantly higher levels of organochlorines were found in the brains of people with Parkinson's disease.
Organochlorine pesticides include DDT (banned for use in the United States, but still in use in some developing nations), chlordane, lindane and toxaphene. This chemical group also includes polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) which are hazardous industrial pollutants.
Ascherio A et al. "Pesticide Exposure and Risk for Parkinson's Disease." Ann Neurol 2006
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: The substantia nigra is the part of the brain that is affected in Parkinson's disease. For years these types of pesticides have been known to cause degeneration of the substantia nigra and to produce neurologic abnormalities in animals. This research presents overwhelming evidence that pesticide exposure cause Parkinson's disease. If you know anyone that is coping with this disease look to their history. If you believe that pesticides are safe read this research.
YOGA IS A NATURAL PAINKILLER
This study adds yet another health benefit for the practice of yoga. The debilitating pain of chronic pancreatitis, one of the most painful conditions known, was relieved through the practice of yoga. As reported in the journal Gut, patients found considerable relief from their pain by practicing yoga. Some of the reported benefits are less medication and less pain.
Yoga is a psychospiritual discipline practiced in India for thousands of years. It combines specific body postures with controlled breathing exercises. The goal is to unite body and mind in a state of peaceful tranquility.
Research over the last 20 years has demonstrated benefits ranging from improvements in depression, arthritis, asthma, and multiple sclerosis, to relieving heart disease, high blood pressure, and giving pain relief.
The pancreas releases enzymes that help break down carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Chronic pancreatitis is inflammation caused by long-term alcohol abuse. The enzymes normally used for digesting food actually start to eat away at the pancreas, causing scarring of the organ and the surrounding tissues.
Patients with chronic pancreatitis often have severe abdominal pain that may be worse when they eat or drink, and sometimes the pain can be constant.
Researchers at the United Kingdom's Grantham and District Hospital added yoga to their rehabilitation program for people with chronic pancreatitis. A yoga program led by an experienced instructor was started for 24 people there who were suffering from pain, anxiety, and weight loss. A 3x per week yoga practice for 12 weeks led to an average 62% reduction in pain. Consequently those patients practicing yoga needed significantly less pain-relieving medication than before.
Yoga has been shown to improve strength, flexibility, and balance. It can relieve tension, improve mood, and enhance circulation. Despite what you may have seen yoga is appropriate for all ages, shapes, and sizes.
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: I have been practicing hatha yoga since 1974. It has always been one of my favorite recommended exercise programs and many of my patients have greatly benefited from it. It holds a special place in the hearts of my pregnant patients who have utilized it throughout their pregnancy for the maintenance of flexibility and relief of low back pain.
GOVERNMENT MAY FORCE ANTIDEPRESSANT USE ON SMALL CHILDREN
Children in the foster care system, some as young as 3 years old, are being screened for mental illnesses and started on psychiatric drugs for disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. Among children in foster care:
55% in Florida take the drugs
60 % in Texas take psychiatric drugs
66% in Massachusetts take them
Yet, according to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, drugs recommended to treat depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, which were designated as first-line treatments by the Texas Medication Algorithm Project, have not been shown to be more effective or safer than non-drug treatments or older, less expensive drugs. Further, the drugs were designed to treat adults and now, under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Action Agenda, may be used on children.
Although the federal government does not have constitutional authority to regulate mental health and early childhood issues, recommendations for mental health programs aimed at children as young as 3 years old, and intervening with some children from birth, exist.
This has the potential to label infants with psychiatric disorders while creating an escalating market for psychiatric drugs and big profits for the companies that sell them.
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: This is just plain sick. It's bad enough that these drugs are the meds of choice when safer; more effective, non-toxic options exist. To force them on kids in the foster care system is unconscionable. As reported in this newsletter over the past year, these drugs increase the risk of suicide in children; have little to no effect when compared to placebo, and act by covering up the problem, not curing it.
USING TYLENOL CAN CAUSE LIVER DAMAGE
A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical reports that consistent Tylenol doses may cause liver damage. Tylenol, which contains acetaminophen as the active ingredient, is the most widely used painkiller.
This study involved 106 subjects, some of whom took four grams of Tylenol (or eight extra-strength Tylenol tablets) every day for two weeks. One group took Tylenol alone, another group took Tylenol with an opioid painkiller and a third group took placebo pills.
Up to 40% of the people taking Tylenol, either by itself or with the other painkiller, had abnormal test results that signaled liver damage. The test results among the placebo group were normal. The researchers recommended that people take no more than four grams of Tylenol a day, and no more than two grams daily for heavy drinkers.
Overdoses of acetaminophen are common. It is widely used in over-the-counter and prescription drugs so people often unknowingly combine medications. Overdoses of acetaminophen are the leading cause of acute liver failure.
Journal of the American Medical Association July 5, 2006, Vol. 296, No. 1: 87-93
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: One of the best features of my naturopathic medical training at NCNM was how the sciences were applied to clinical practice. We discussed acetaminophen poisoning in our physiology class. Our theory, which has since been confirmed, was that the liver was damaged through depletion of glutathione, a critical antioxidant. This was nicely combined with the information from our clinical nutrition class to propose a treatment-N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), the precursor to glutathione. And in fact, NAC is given in pharmaceutical amounts in the emergency room for acetaminophen poisoning.
From my perspective as a homeopath, pain is an expression of the Vital Force indicating that something is out of balance. With an acute accident or injury, the source is usually easy to determine. However, when it's related to chronic disease or critical errors of lifestyle, it's a message that not only needs to be heard, but acted upon. Covering it up with Tylenol or related pain medicines is not the way to do that. As described in this report, you may be doing more harm than good.
MCDONALD'S ADMITS FRIES HAVE MORE TRANS FATS
On Feb. 8, 2006 McDonald's admitted that its fires contained 33% more trans fats than what they said before.
The world's largest restaurant chain (what a sad fact) said its fries contain a third more trans fats than it previously knew, citing results of a new testing method it began using last December. That means the level of potentially artery-clogging trans fat in a portion of large fries is eight grams, up from six, with total fat increasing to 30 grams from 25. Often used by restaurants and in packaged foods, trans fats cause cholesterol problems and increase the risk of heart disease. The dietary guidelines for Americans that were issued by a government panel last year said people should consume as little trans fat as possible. The disclosure comes as McDonald's Corp. starts rolling out packaging for its menu items that contain facts about their nutritional content. A move made due to the fast-food industry facing increasing pressure from consumer groups and the government to provide more information.
Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, called the change "quite a dramatic increase." He renewed the nonprofit health advocacy group's call for McDonald's and other fast-food chains to make healthier food - and for them to ban the use of partially hydrogenated oil, the source of trans fat. Trans fat is made when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil - a process called hydrogenation. "Nutritionally it's a disastrous product," Jacobson said of the fries. "McDonald's could fry in canola oil or other liquid oil" as it does in Australia, Denmark and Israel, he said.
In September 2002 McDonald's pledged to switch to new oil that would halve the level of harmful trans fats in its fries. But it has delayed those plans, reneging on its pledge. The FDA began mandating that packaged foods companies report trans fat levels as of January 2006, but the fast-food industry is not under similar requirements.
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: It was such a big splash in the news; McDonald's was going to lead the way to 'healthy' fast foods. What a joke. Turns out they never reduced the amount of trans fats, it is actually more than they reported.
Remember, when you read food labels don't be fooled by the term '0 Trans Fat'. Due to marketing shenanigans and the power of the food industry, a serving of food can contain .4 grams of trans fat and still be labeled as 0. Only buy foods that say "No Trans Fat" per serving.
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 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