|Issue #56 - May 2007|
As of Friday October 6, 2006, my website www.foroptimalhealth.com, is up and running.
Here are some pages that are of particular interest:
Store: There are 160 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.
Here you will find all 56 issues of my health newsletter, "Naturopathic News".
Optimal Health Points: http://www.foroptimalhealth.com
This is my blog that I update 2-3 times per week. Here you'll find breaking health news or stories that piqued my interest.
Steam Valley Fiber Farm Tour
For all of you who came to our Spring Farm Tour, Thank You! We had a glorious Spring Day, sunny, blue sky, with a bit of wind. The goat kids were frolicking, the Maremmas were barking, and the Border Collies were herding. And everybody loved the oatmeal cookies! If you couldn't make it take a rain check for next year.
Recently I've been studying Dr. Joseph Kellerstein's commentary on the Organon, which is the instruction manual for the practice of homeopathic medicine. He raises some interesting issues about the nature of disease and how and what it is that we treat with homeopathic medicines.
The essential idea is that disease consists of deviations from the former healthy state of individual. These deviations are ones that the patient feels, others around her perceive, and are observed by the homeopath. All these perceptible signs represent the disease in its entire extent.
The most intelligent approach is to first clear away any maintaining causes of disease. Some examples from practice are, 1), if someone is drinking 5 cups of coffee a day and has high blood pressure, first you must remove the coffee, 2), when a child has repeated ear infections and consumes dairy products, you remove the dairy products as dairy has been proven to be the most common nutritional cause of otitis media, 3), when complaining of chronic fatigue and stress, the person must change sleep patterns to increase the number of hours of sleep, 4), if a nutritional cause of disease is present, for instance, consumption of artificial colorings, flavorings, and preservatives by an individual diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, those substances must be removed.
Where there is no obvious maintaining cause to be removed what we then see are the signs and symptoms of the disease itself. Hence it is these symptoms alone by which the disease demands and can point to the appropriate medicine for its relief. More specifically, the totality of the characteristic signs and symptoms of the disease are the outward manifestation of the disease. Characteristic meaning strange, rare, peculiar, unusual. Which is why "I am depressed", or "I am stressed out" are fairly useless statements. There is nothing in these words to convey anything specific to the individual. Hence it is the totality of characteristic symptoms that are the only thing, in every case of disease, to be discerned. So that by means of homeopathic medicines the disease can be cured and health restored.
This is Dynamic Disease. As Dr. Kellerstein describes it, it's as if there is a shift in the Operating System of the body that is self-perpetuating. In contrast to the disease that is due to bad lifestyle, errors of nutrition, unhealthy environment, etc. For example, if I complain of heartburn, and eat fried fast food all the time and consume lots of spicy food, is this dynamic or hygienic? It's hygienic. In other words you've stacked the deck in favor of getting heartburn to the degree that the body's response is expected. If you have severe, chronic heartburn, that is getting worse all the time, in spite of having the healthiest, most balanced diet, then this would be more dynamic. This is a shift in the operation of the body without any external provocation. Clinically, most patients present with a combination of hygienic and dynamic disease. By clearing away the hygienic maintaining causes, optimizing lifestyle, nutrition, etc. (with safe naturopathic modalities), the disease created by those causes will disappear. If disease persists after this optimization process then it is true Dynamic Disease. This is what we treat with homeopathic medicines.
Problems occur because most people do not want to experience the discomfort of changing their lifestyle, altering habits, or correcting nutritional mistakes. Or they come to me with a single focus of what they want cured. But a single symptom of disease is no more the disease than the foot is the person. Even worse, these single symptoms are treated with suppressive therapies (symptomatic treatment) that do no more than cover up the symptom, not addressing the cause. After perhaps a brief period of relief, the altered symptom(s) return in full force.
Remember, once the hygienic symptoms are cleared away, what remains are the signs and symptoms of the true dynamic disease. These must be felt and experienced so that they can be communicated. For within the characteristic signs and symptoms of the dynamic disease lies the indications for the homeopathic medicine that will cure those very same signs and symptoms. In other words, "suffering is the Language of Nature pointing to its own remedy." Suffering is the language requesting aid, spelling out and specifically defining the remedy that is required. But we have to understand these signs and symptoms at the deepest level possible. "Hay fever" doesn't cut it. "Pain in my legs" is insufficient. Now you see why "Nothing is changed", "Everything is the same," communicates no useful information.
IS THERE ORGANIC FISH?
Yesterday, one of my patients made an off hand comment that she thought 'farmed fish' was healthier than fish from the ocean. Which made me consider the idea of whether there could truly be organically raised fish.
Buying a chicken labeled "organic" is relatively straightforward: it comes from a chicken that runs free, that ate only organic food, and was not fed antibiotics or hormones.
But what makes a fish organic? The Agriculture Department, which decides such things, is also trying to answer this question. Only they can sanction the "organic" label. How they define this answer will affect consumers and of course mean profits for anyone that is able claim 'organic fish' on their label.
The Alaskan salmon industry, whose catch is made up of wild fish whose living conditions are not controlled, are not likely to make the grade. They disagree, as wild fish tend to swim in cleaner waters and are favored by fish lovers. Farm-raised fish often live in cramped nets and in unhealthy conditions in polluted water. It is contended that calling them organic is a perversion of the label.
The issue comes down largely to what a fish eats, and where it lives. In some instances the fish can be fed an organic diet. There is broad agreement that the organic label is no problem for fish that are primarily vegetarians, like tilapia and catfish, because organic food for these fish is available.
Fish that are carnivores, like salmon for instance, do not meet the definition because they eat other fish that are not organic. "When it comes to carnivorous fish, it seems to be a complete deception of what organic means," said Andrea Kavanagh, director of the Pure Salmon Campaign, an advocacy group working to improve conditions for farm-raised fish. "Organic is supposed to be on 100% organic feed."
A strong motivating factor here is economics. With consumer sales of organic products hitting $13.8 billion in 2005, many retailers want to get a piece of the 'organic pie'. To them organic is not a safe, healthy, sustainable method of food production. It's a way to make a buck.
At this point there is some seafood being sold as organic in the United States. Either with an organic label from another country or a different accreditation group. Wal-Mart's and Costco's 'organic shrimp' comes from a company in Florida. You can buy 'organic' king salmon from New Zealand. The Agriculture Department has not finalized its rules on organic fish yet. We will need to pay close attention to see how close to they arrive at the true meaning of organic.
In the meantime there are some labels that can help you should know. "Sustainable" fisheries attempt to ensure that their fish stocks do not become depleted. "Naturally raised fish" might come from relatively cleaner water or fishponds with fewer fish.
Ultimately, the way to once again have healthy fish to eat is to stop polluting the oceans. We need to not over fish areas and decimate breeding populations. If we set strict regulations for 'farmed fish' and 'organic fish' it will be better for all in the long run.
ER VISITS DUE TO DRUGS
Using Drugs Causes 700,000 in U.S. to go to ER Every Year
A recent study tracked adverse drug events reported at 63 U.S. hospitals between 2004 and 2005. During that time the hospitals reported almost 21,300 emergency department visits.
If you were to spread those results out over the United States as a whole, it would mean that more than 700,000 people, especially those 65 and older, visit U.S. emergency rooms each year as a result of adverse drug reactions.
Age is a major factor as seniors were seven times more likely than younger patients to be admitted to a hospital for this reason, and more than twice as likely to be treated in the emergency room. This makes a lot of sense as this population is commonly over-prescribed for-polypharmacy, and the interaction of different medicines is the culprit here.
For the purposes of the study, drugs included prescription drugs, vaccines, and over-the-counter drugs. Adverse effects included allergic reactions, side effects, accidental overdoses, or secondary effects such as falls or choking. Drug-related deaths, suicide attempts, abuse, and withdrawals were not considered in the study.
About 117,000 patients per year required hospitalization for adverse drug events. Many of those cases stemmed from drugs that require monitoring to avoid toxic build-up, including:
* Painkillers containing opioids
* Anticlotting drugs
* Antihistamines and cold remedies
In those 65 and older, Emergency Room visits were also linked to:
* Coumadin, which helps prevent blood clots
* Digoxin, which helps weak hearts work more efficiently
Journal of the American Medical Association October 18, 2006; 296(15): 1858-1866
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: I find it telling that drug-related deaths and attempted suicides were excluded from consideration. This is especially ominous with all of the research in the last couple of years pointing to teen suicides and the use of anti-depressant drugs. I also have to wonder how much these numbers under-estimate the problem as other research has indicated figures more than 20x higher.
I'm astounded by the conventional perspective that, even if it recognizes a problem, implies that drugs are the only solution for health and one just has to accept the risks. This is true whether they are telling you to take hormone replacement therapy that causes uterine and breast cancer; COX-2 inhibitors for arthritis that caused more than 40,000 deaths, or SSRI anti-depressants that have been shown to increase the likelihood that teenagers will commit suicide. Believe it or not, you can be healthy without drugs and use treatments that don't cause worse problems.
CLOTHES MAY BE BETTER THAN SUNSCREEN
A study of over 1,800 children suggests that wearing clothes during outdoor activities may be more effective at preventing the development of moles (nevi) than using sunscreen, reports the American Journal of Epidemiology (2005;161:620-7).
Moles may be a precursor for melanoma, an often-fatal form of skin cancer. The percentage of people diagnosed with melanoma has more than doubled in the past 30 years. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun is the leading cause of all skin cancers. People who have a weakened immune system, have a history of severe sunburns (especially in childhood), have relatives with skin cancer, are fair-skinned, or have been exposed to certain chemicals found in pesticides and wood preservatives are at greater risk of developing melanoma. The greatest risk factor, however, is having moles on the body.
Moles are benign skin lesions where pigment-producing cells are concentrated. Most moles are not present at birth, but are acquired with advancing age and exposure to the sun. Usually it is recommended that one decrease sun exposure by wearing protective clothing and/or using sunscreen. However, the protective effect of sunscreen is probably less than has been promoted.
This study examined the effect of clothing and sunscreen use on mole development in 1,812 children between the ages of 2 and 7. Parents provided information about their children's sun exposure patterns, including outdoor summer and vacation activities and the history and severity of sunburns. They also answered questions about sunscreen use: the SPF (sun protection factor) of the sunscreen product, the frequency of use, and the areas to which the sunscreen was applied. In addition, information was gathered about the type and amount of clothing worn while at the beach or pool. The children were examined and the number of moles recorded. Sunscreen did not appear to protect against the development of moles; this was true regardless of the frequency of sunscreen use and the SPF of the sunscreen. Wearing clothes, however, provided significant protection, and children who wore the most clothing during outdoor activities had the fewest number of moles. These results suggest that clothing should be worn to minimize sun exposure, and that sunscreen should not be relied upon as a sole means of protecting the skin from UV radiation.
The authors of the study emphasize that sunscreen should be applied to exposed areas of skin. Children, especially infants, are particularly prone to hazards from UV light, as the pigment producing cells in their skin have not fully formed. Sunscreen is not recommended for use on children less than six months old.
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: It is difficult to find a completely natural sunscreen or one that doesn't cause skin reactions. Though sun avoidance is recommended across the board it must be individualized for the location of the person. Avoiding sun in Arizona and southern locales makes sense. If you live in the higher latitudes or in areas where clouds predominate throughout the year you need to get sun exposure for internal vitamin D production. Some experts recommend exposure to arms and legs for 1/4 of the time that it typically takes to produce redness of the skin. So, if it takes 20 minutes for your skin to get red, you would expose it for 5 minutes maximum. An interesting note is that vitamin D itself is preventive against skin cancer.
SUGAR AND THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Many patients, especially parents, are surprised when I tell them that sugar is a problem when you are sick. It actually can suppress immune function and lessen your body's defense against infectious disease.
The body does not discriminate when it comes to sugar. It doesn't really matter that much whether it's fruit sugar or white sugar or honey. Hence my standard recommendation of no fruit juice when you are ill. It may taste good but it's not helping you get well.
Here are some specific studies to examine this further:
"Sugar can suppress your immune system and impair your defenses against infectious disease." Ringsdorf, W., Cheraskin, E. and Ramsay R.
"Sucrose, Neutrophilic Phagocytosis and Resistance to Disease," Dental Survey. 1976;52(12):46_48. Sanchez, A., et al.
"Role of Sugars in Human Neutrophilic Phagocytosis," American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Nov 1973;261:1180_1184. Bernstein, J., al.
"Depression of Lymphocyte Transformation Following Oral Glucose Ingestion." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.1997;30:613
LOSING SLEEP CAN MAKE YOU FAT
A sample of nearly 10,000 adults has found that those individuals who sleep less than 7 hours per night are significantly more likely to be obese. Other studies have found associations with other illnesses, including several reports from the Harvard-run Nurses' Health Study that has linked insufficient or irregular sleep to increased risk for colon cancer, breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
There is a general perception that sleep is a waste of time or not really important so that you can get by without sleep and manipulate when you sleep without any consequences. These studies would seem to contradict that idea. I often tell my patients that lack of sleep disrupts the body's physiology in fundamental ways. These studies indicate that increased risk for disease kicks in when the individual consistently gets less than 6-7 hours of sleep per night.
Sleep deficit can put the body into a state of adrenal alert, producing more stress hormones and raising blood pressure. This increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. It also increases the state of inflammation in the body leading to heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes.
This study on obesity, from Columbia University, found that adults who sleep the least appear to be the most likely to gain weight and to become obese. Other researchers have found that even mild sleep deprivation quickly disrupts normal levels of the hormones ghrelin and leptin, which regulate appetite. Sleep-deprived people also develop problems with their blood sugar, which can lead to diabetes and weight problems.
"Sleep", October 2005
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: One of the most common conversations I have with people relates to the importance of sleep and the amount of time that one sleeps. Usually I say that 9 hours is the average that is necessary. Most people say they average between 6-7 hours of sleep. This is further evidence that not only is that an insufficient amount, such low hours of sleep is a risk factor for disease.
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