If you read the newspapers, or, as in my case, the e-paper, you may have noticed that the buzzword of the times seems to be "sustainable." References are commonly made in the press to sustainable energy resources, sustainable agriculture, sustainable economic policy, and sustainable environmental policy. So much has this term appeared in the press lately that one might consider it symbolic of a new zeitgeist -- one of preservation, of a growing awareness of our limitations as a country and even as a species.
For those of you familiar with the current homeopathic theories about the periodic table, you might recognize in this transformation the characteristics of the twelfth or even the thirteenth row of the periodic table, as described by Scholten, Sankaran and others. The twelfth stage is one where the structure (analogize freely to person, group, or nation) has gone beyond its apex, and is now clearly in decline, and desperate efforts to shore up its weaknesses are being made. There is a feeling of crisis (Jayesh Shah observed this) -- that unless some drastic measures are rapidly implemented against the growing threats that are mounting, the system will go into decline. By the thirteenth row, there is already the beginning of a feeling that the structure's best days are behind it, and the most that can be done is to try to prevent further damage to its integrity. The situation remains desperate, but now there has been measurable damage done, and the structure is weakened.
There is a crisis of global warming, a crisis of pollution more generally -- there are toxins in our food, in our commodities, and in every life-sustaining natural resource, and a crisis in our economy -- we've mortgaged our future and can't keep up the payments. The first decade of the twenty first century may be remembered as a time where the United States moved from maturity into middle age. The question is being asked nowadays what kind of old age lies ahead of us -- one of continued decline into progressively greater states of debility, or one of stable sustenance of a lower level of productivity, but with the gracefulness and wisdom that can be attendant to the latter years of life. Graceful decline sows the seeds for healthy renewal. The karma that we accumulate in these years of our lives benefits the next generation.
In medicine, the awareness of its non-sustainability has grown more slowly. Government, businesses, doctors, health care administrators, health insurance companies, and the public has been aware for at least two if not three decades that there were serious problems in the economic viability of our health care system. Since the Hillary debacle of the early 1990's, the government has sat in nearly paralyzed silence as the crisis has mounted. In the past two years there has been a growth in community health centers, thanks to legislation passed in 2006 to make funds available to promote their development. But the number of uninsured has remained relatively stable at about 16% of the population, and the costs of health care have grown yearly at triple or quadruple the rate of inflation over this time. The Medicare Part D plan has led to many Medicare recipients simply not taking their medications since they can't pass through the dough-nut hole. Businesses continue to shed health care costs at increasing rates because they are unaffordable. Yet in all of this spiralling of health care costs, we rarely hear that our health care system is unsustainable.
The elephant in the room won't go away, although noone likes to admit its presence. Cadillac care for all simply can't be bought, unless it is with Madoff money -- that is with money that isn't there. But who is talking about down-sizing the health care system? Instead, the main focus nowadays seems to be on increasing coverage for the uninsured and the underinsured. We are trying to prop up a system that is collapsing under its own weight. The tree simply won't support Horton the Elephant any more and (with apologies to Dr. Suess) the egg is cracking under his massive weight.
Bloomingdale's style health care has to go, and no one is willing to say it. In part the reluctance to acknowledge that we have to cut health care expenditures is based on the misconception that no safe alternatives to Bloomingdale care exists. It is also based on the fact that cost-saving measures, while good for the public and the government, are bad for the health care industry, which thrives on copious health care spending. The more health care is consumed, the more money for doctors, hospitals, the pharmaceutical and medical device industry, and for health care corporations. Insurance companies do not benefit directly from greater health care consumption, as their costs rise, but the need for health insurance just increases as expenses sky-rocket, so their product is in greater demand.
If an inexpensive wonder-drug came along that would cure 90% of people of 90% of their problems, it would spell disaster for the health care industry. A healthy population would consume less health care. Doctors, hospitals, nurses and countless bureaucrats and administrators would have to close their businesses. The health care industry would be a victim of its own success, and would probably get in line for the next big government bailout. So who in the health care industry wants a healthy population, when it means economic ruination? Homeopathy has been "dissed" for centuries for many reasons, but this one may be the best one yet. Homeopathy purports to cure at least 90% of health problems, although probably not at a 90% rate. Still, with skillful care, at least 50% can be substantially benefited or cured, and in the hands of experts 75% - 80% cure rates have been reported. Homeopathy is accustomed to being treated as a cipher, notwithstanding the growing body of evidence that has accumulated to support it. But it is the lack of economic utility towards sustaining the medical industrial complex that will help to keep it from becoming a more popular form of treatment. Medical care is still in the 11th stage of the periodic table. There is a perception of threat, but the feeling exists (in spite of the obvious evidence that contradicts it) that the structure is sustainable. Like all that grows, the health care system too will age, and when it reaches stage 12 or 13, homeopathy will be ready to be called into service. Because homeopathy is that wonder-medicine. Understandably, those unfamiliar with it will smile at this proclamation with self-assured skepticism, but those familiar with homeopathy know it to be true, since they have experienced it themselves, are acquainted with the scientific evidence, and see it daily, if they are practitioners, in their practices. Cheap, effective, safe treatment. What could be better? What could be more sustainable? Our time will come.
- Ocean State Holistic Medical Collaborative
- Ann McKay, R.N.C., John McGonigle, M.D. and Mark Brody, M.D. have devoted themselves to homeopathy and related alternative medical treatments. In keeping with the spirit of homeopathy's founder Samuel Hahnemann M.D., we utilize treatments that emphasize safety and the restoration of the sick to health.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
If you read the newspapers, or, as in my case, the e-paper, you may have noticed that the buzzword of the times seems to be "sustainable." References are commonly made in the press to sustainable energy resources, sustainable agriculture, sustainable economic policy, and sustainable environmental policy. So much has this term appeared in the press lately that one might consider it symbolic of a new zeitgeist -- one of preservation, of a growing awareness of our limitations as a country and even as a species.
Posted by Ocean State Holistic Medical Collaborative at 8:29 AM
Friday, December 19, 2008
When my 2 year old daughter Aviva becomes unspeakably tired, she sometimes moans, "I don't want to go to bed!" When she isn't sure what she wants to eat, she often stubbornly insists on being given the "whole thing" and then leaves the "whole thing" on the table, with perhaps a nibble removed. This perverse tendency towards opposites is not just a phenomenon of two year olds. It appears as a kind of systemetized madness in our world in general and in particular in the world of modern medicine. The "No Child Left Behind" act of our waning administration turns out to be an unfunded mandate, leaving behind every child it purports to help. The law governing the timber industry pushed through by the Bush administration which was sold as a way of protecting the environment earned the moniker "The No Tree Left Behind" act by the environmentalists who exposed its hidden agenda, which was to allow an increase in logging on previously protected lands. "Investment" in today's marketplace, as Paul Krugman points out in a recent editorial in The New York Times, often turns out to be joining a kind of "Ponzi economy" where you let the rich steal your money and you end up in bankruptcy court. I sometimes wonder whether we are we the "not" generation?
Modern medicine has been riding under the banner of "evidence-based medicine" for many years now. This is in many ways yet another ironic hoax, however well meaning, that doctors, researchers, and the public have allowed themselves to be taken in by. As usual, it has been exploited fully by those who tend to profit from it, such as drug companies and the research industry itself. Evidence-based medicine all too often turns out to be (you guessed it) stealth advertising. Naturally, evidence-based medicine is being promoted as an antidote to the kind of irrational and misleading information that advertising is famous for. Not! The campaign to promote evidence based medicine has become an example of science becoming not-science, of salesmanship masquerading as evidence -- it is a wolf in sheep's clothing. While this may not be true for all medical research, I find it hard nowadays to pick up a journal and find an article that is free from the "not" wisdom that poisons our times. It is ironic (but perhaps not surprising) in this "information" age, where through the internet, cell phones, i-phones, and blackberries we can rapidly access more information than was ever before imaginable that so much of it seems to be "not" information.
Let's take a guided tour of a recent example of "medical science" that illustrates this point. This "research" article is contaminated by lies, misrepresentation, and distortion -- enough to make the most aggressive salesman blush. Yesterday, a sales rep left me (red flag) a copy of an article recently published in the Journal of Affective Diseases (109 (2008)252-263). The article is entitled "Efficacy and Safety of Quetiapine in Combination with Lithium or Divalproex for Maintenance of Patients with Bipolar I Disorder." The abstract concludes resoundingly with this bold summation: "Quetiapine with lithium/divalproex can provide an effective long-term treatment option for bipolar I disorder to prevent recurrences not only of mania but also depression." Taken at face value, it would appear that this claim should be considered as a tremendous step forward in the treatment of bipolar disorder. Since many of us doctors are too busy to read scientific articles in depth, to say nothing of critically, this take home message may be what we are left with (this, I believe is what the authors hope). Examining the claim carefully, one might reasonably infer that quetiapine, in combination with lithium or valproex is effective in preventing recurrence of both mania and depression in bipolar disorder.
Eureka! If true, this is the answer that researchers have been searching for for decades -- an effective way of preventing the recurrence of manic or depressive episodes in bipolar patients. Shouldn't this make the national news, if it is indeed the case? Not only that, the article implies that this treatment is just one of many "treatment options" that are available that "prevent" the recurrence of mania and depression in bipolar disorder (although these options are not mentioned in the article). Put to rest your worries, patients and families of patients with bipolar disorder, one need not worry about future recurrences of this illness, if only you or your family member take quetiapine with either valproex or lithium. What a relief!
But not so fast! Elsewhere in the article, the authors write that the addition of quetiapine to valproex or lithium actually only "increased the time to recurrence of any 'mood event' compared with placebo plus lithium or divalproex. In other words, you still get recurrences, but it takes on average longer to get them. Well, that's a different kettle of fish! What happened to "prevent"? A close reading of the article reveals that there are also methodologic limitations, which resulted in the exclusion of many patients who could not be excluded if that patient happened to belong to you, the treating doctor, because they didn't fit the research protocol neatly enough.
The authors also highlight in their introduction that the current treatments available for bipolar disease have "significant safety and tolerability issues." Yet in this particular study, they conclude that the "long term treatment with quetiapine plus lithium or divalproex was generally well tolerated." How can this be, since all of these medications (quetiapine, lithium, and divalproex) are examples of the very treatments which the authors refer to in their earlier criticism of the safety and tolerability of bipolar medications? Finally, in a last ditch effort to dust off the safety record of the drug quetiapine, whose reputation they clearly are attempting to elevate, they say that although there were "increases in weight, lipids and glucose with the addition of quetiapine...", "further long term research studies are required to fully assess the consequence of change in [these] metabolic parameters..." In other words, they imply that bad effects should not necessarily be accepted as valid until further research produces evidence that they are as bad as they sound, but the good effects should be accepted without the need for further research to see if they are indeed as valid as they sound. Ahem!
They conclude that the "results from this study suggest that those two combinations [quetiapine plus lithium or valproex] may carry a positive benefit-risk ratio for the long term treatment of bipolar disorder..." Well, why may carry? Why not does carry? The reasons are clear. This treatment option is not clearly safe. In saying that the treatment may carry a positive benefit-risk ration, the authors implicitly acknowledge that the drugs tested actually may not carry a positive benefit-risk ratio. The word may is one of the most common words I see in medical research articles in the conclusions section. Nobody wants to commit, because, after all, most results are just suggestive, and almost never conclusive. I have found that the only thing one can safely count on in a medical reseach article is that in the body of the text the need for further research will be unquestionably endorsed. And so the research goes on, and on, and on.
I've become so used to these deflating qualifications to research, which are invariably paired with overstated conclusions, that I sometimes feel like I would imagine an experienced chess player feels, who easily finds the weaknesses in his beginning opponent's position. You know they are there, it's just a matter of spending the time, and you will almost surely find them. It's a shame that the authors misstate their conclusions. One can see they desperately want to offer something helpful, and as a result are drawn towards making inaccurate, false or misleading statements. The fact is, in this article, quetiapine did actually decrease the relapse time to the next "mood event." This is a limited but significant finding. If only the authors would acknowledge the full limitations of their work, instead of overstating it, they would not undermine their credibility so much.
Aviva doesn't cause too much trouble juxtaposing her opposites. She may complain about not wanting to go to bed, but she still gets put to bed. Sometimes I wish I could put this misleading research to bed too, but the researchers never seem to sleep.
Posted by Ocean State Holistic Medical Collaborative at 6:11 AM
Friday, December 12, 2008
Recently NPR ran a piece about a woman who asked questions about the safety of vaccinations for her child. She was somehow connected with a leading vaccine "expert" who "educated" her about vaccinations. This physician was well supplied with research data which lent support to the idea that vaccines are both safe and effective. The women told how she went from being skeptical of vaccinations to being militantly against the non-vaccinators in this world, who she felt just freeloaded the benefits of vaccination without going through the trouble of vaccinating themselves or others. My colleague in homeopathic practice, Dr. Jon McGonigle, recently gave a talk at a local hospital in which he presented the case for thoughtful consideration of the safety and efficacy of vaccinations. His opponent, who argued the case for vaccination, attempted to shut down such thoughtfulness by presenting volumes of research data supporting vaccination.
To supporters of vaccination, those who question it must seem like spoil-sports or stubborn contrarians who obnoxiously refuse to accept what is clear and obvious. With such voluminous data supporting the safety and efficacy of vaccinations, who but the most mule-headed could continue to question the wisdom of vaccination? Is there any reasonable basis to doubt the evidence that would seem to make the widespread use of vaccinations a virtual no-brainer?
I do not claim to be an expert in vaccinations, but I have read about the topic and am familiar with the arguments on both sides. As a physician, I find the research evidence compelling, but I also find it impossible to ignore the arguments that have been raised against vaccination. I am not an anti-vaccinationist. Still, reason dictates (to me, at least) that a wiser course of action is to neither blindly accept the vaccinationists or the anti-vaccinationists positions, and to maintain an open-minded attitude about vaccinations. Indeed, you should not allow your minds to be shut to the thoughtful process of evaluation of anything your doctor recommends, and I include myself here, whether it be vaccination or any other medical intervention. Your brain has a purpose: use it!
The research evidence for vaccinations speaks for itself. It uses the instrument of statistics to demonstrate that vaccinations are both safe and effective. The statistics are there and their validity is in general quite impressive. In areas of the world where infectious disease is endemic, research has shown that incidence of these infectious diseases, along with subsequent mortality and morbidity has dropped dramatically and in some cases (polio and smallpox) disappeared entirely (see the National Network for Vaccinations website) with the introduction of vaccination programs. As usual, the problem with statistical methods is not usually in the statistics themselves, but with their interpretation. This is what led Mark Twain to observe that "there are lies, there are damn lies, and there are statistics." Caution in the interpretation of statistics is rarely in evidence in medical journal articles. Indeed it is not uncommon to find unjustified claims of safety and efficacy in the title, abstract or conclusions of a scientific medical research article. These mistakes have led to tragic errors of medical judgment such as with Thalidomide, Diethystilbestrol and Vioxx, to name but a few. Let us therefore survey briefly some of the problems with vaccinations that have been raised for the most part by those who come from the "safety first" camp. Consider the following facts that have been reported in various sources as you evaluate the merit of vaccinations:
- The incidence of infectious disease began to drop markedly in the early and mid-twentieth century well before the introduction of massive vaccination in the 1950's and 1960's. This has been widely attributed to improvements in public health and greater awareness of hygienic practice. This trend continued after the introduction of vaccinations. Whether the continuation of the trend represents a continued effect of improved public health practices or the effects of the vaccination program, or both has not been proven.
- There is a well established record of vaccine injuries. Indeed the government established a national vaccine injury compensation program for such people, so even our government acknowledges that vaccines can be harmful. Congress enacted a law in 1986 ("The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program" (NVICP) in response to information about multitudes of children who had become sick or even died after vaccinations. Some reports have linked vaccinations in infancy to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). These include findings by Australia's Viera Scheibner, PhD, which revealed an increased incidence in SIDS among infants after vaccination. There have been 100's of children whose parents have developed autism within weeks or months after vaccination. Their efforts to obtain compensation through NVICP have, with a few notable exceptions, been rejected because statistics do not support their claim of a cause and effect relationship between vaccination and their children's illness.
- Many people who have been vaccinated fail to acheive immunity (as measured by antibody titers found in their blood) or, for whatever reason, become infected in spite of being vaccinated. Infants in particular, whose immune systems are underdeveloped are prone to this, which is a reason for frequent revaccination during the first year of life. This has also led to the addition of "adjuvants" or immune enhancers to trick the immune system into responding more robustly than it naturally would. By asking the immune system to respond in an abnormal way, it is assumed there is no payback or fallout, but in fact the economy of nature would suggest otherwise (there are no free lunches).
- For some illnesses, such as influenza, those who would benefit most from the vaccination, such as infants and the elderly, because of their vulnerability to develop more serious and potentially dangerous forms of the illness are also least likely to develop a protective antibody response to the vaccination because of weaker immune function. This is the case with influenza, and possibly some other vaccinations, such as pneumovax. In addition, vaccination for influenza is from last year's strain of influenza (from which the vaccine has been cultured) and may or may not be relevant for the current year's influenza strain, which can not be determined until mass outbreaks occur.
- There are many case reports in the scientific literature and reported in other journals of children who received vaccinations who developed autism or developmental regression soon after receiving vaccines. While the research has thus far not established a statistically verifiable connection between autism and MMR (the vaccine most often implicated in the development of autism), the parents of these autistic children have repeatedly testified that their children showed dramatic negative changes in their health soon after vaccination and would likely be unpersuaded by (and probably furious with) anyone who tried to tell them that vaccines are safe. Indeed, there are a few reported cases where the government has offered compensation to the parents of children who have become autistic after vaccination, in spite of NVICP's general policy of denial of such suits.
- It is known that infant's immune systems are immature, yet it is considered without substantial risk to embark upon a course of extensive vaccination for them. Children may be vaccinated within hours of emerging from the womb. Hepatitis B vaccination is usually begun within hours of birth, and while it appears to have led to a reduction in the incidence of Hepatitis B, there have been reports of immune and immunologic damage following Hepatitis B vaccination. This may be because the infant's immune system is not prepared to handle foreign proteins injected internally.
- The incidence of autism, asthma, ADHD, allergies and other chronic illness is rising with no credible reason offered by the medical profession. The development of chronic illness when acute illness is suppressed is consistent with the homeopathic concept that suppression of illness tends to lead to the development of more serious and more chronic illness. Indeed, the costs of health care in the United States are growing by leaps and bounds, so while we may celebrate the decreased incidence of infectious disease, we can not necessarily conclude that we as a society are healthier as a result of vaccination. Many have argued that there is a price to good health, but the reverse logic is equally credible -- namely, that the healthier we are, the less health care we should need.
- There seems to be no limit to the number of vaccinations our children can be given without raising questions about their benefits. While each individual vaccination comes with its body of research evidence, no concerns ever seem to be raised about the number of vaccines we subject ourselves and our children to. The more, the better seems to be the underlying assumption. This raises the question whether the actual risk may be greater than the sum of each individual risk -- a synergism of multiple vaccinations. It is well known to be the case with medications, where polypharmacy is regarded in most medical circles as a dangerous practice, or at least one best avoided if possible. During the first year of life, the CDC recommends a total of 7 different types of vaccines, given a total of 18 times. Over the first 15 months of life, there are 12 different recommended vaccines, given a total of 27 times. Gardasil is now being considered as another mandatory vaccination. (Since I first posted this blog one month ago, 2 rotavirus vaccines in the first 8 months of life have been added to the list of recommended vaccinations by the American Academy of Pediatrics.) Where do we stop? Nowhere, or only when it is clear we have gone too far, when the damage is widespread and irreversible?
- We have been given reassurances many times about the safety of medical treatments that seem to challenge common sense, only to find later that the data had been misinterpreted, or methodologically flawed. In addition to misinterpretation, research data may be fudged, suppressed, used in restricted population groups which don't relate to the public in general. The dangers of long term effects may not be apparant in short term or even extended trials, only to raise their ugly heads later, after many have died or been permanently maimed. Medical research has emphasised efficacy over safety for centuries. Hahnemann warned of this back in the early nineteenth century, when he referred to primary and secondary effects of medicines: the good effects came first, and the heavy price often came second. In short, research data can no longer be trusted the way it once was. People have been killed or maimed too often by treatments which the government, medical researchers, and physicians themselves have calmly and self-confidently proclaimed to be entirely safe.
- There is increased evidence that we must try to live in harmony with nature, not try to master it. The triumph of vaccination has helped to eliminate illnesses that were once the scourge of humanity: polio and smallpox for example. But now new infectious agents arise that are proving even more challenging, such as AIDS, MRSA, and possibly new strains of influenza (bird flu). Humans have tried to master nature for their safety, pleasure and comfort. We have found however, that our use of fossil fuels, commercial agriculture, and technology has proven imprudent. We did not forsee the problems of pollution, such as global warming, toxins in our food, in the toys of our children, in the water we drink, and in the air we breath. We did not forsee the effects of commercial agriculture on the quality of our food, which has now affected the quality of our health. Thinking that we can ride roughshod over mother nature has proven to be misguided. The use of antibiotics has led to the appearance of MRSA, clostridium difficile, pseudomonas, and resistant strains of tuberculosis. Antibiotic use can also lead to fungal infections, and to the selection of multiple antibiotic resistant bacterial strains. As we continue to make "progress" technologically, we wipe out species of plants and animals. When do we stop to consider the possibility of living harmoniously with nature, rather than destroying, in General Sherman-like manner, every part of it that lies in our path?
- Some may say that one can't live harmoniously with small pox, plague, polio or leprosy. Homeopathy is able to prophylax against most infectious disease with some success (albeit possibly with less overall efficacy than vaccination). It can also treat most acute infectious illness including viral illness, again with considerable, but not total success. Homeopathic treatment virtually never results in any serious morbidity or mortality. It also provides a means of living harmoniously with nature. It does not have dangerous or lethal side effects. The worst that can be said about it is that it is not perfect. It does not wipe out infectious organisms or the diseases they cause. But it also does not cause holes in the ecosystem which later may be filled by even more pathogenic organisms. It does not pollute or destroy the environment. It does not suppress acute illness and in the process create chronic illness. It is a reasonable alternative to vaccination for many or most infectious illnesses, but it may not alway confer the degree of protection we would like to have.
In sum, vaccination has been shown by numerous studies to be effective in reducing the incidence of certain infectious diseases, but it has not proven to be equally effective for all, and it has a compromised safety record. It is touted as being a wise choice without sufficient regard for the long-term and short-term risks, both to ourselves and to the ecosystem. It is difficult not to succumb to the temptation to protect ourselves and our children from frightening diseases. But we must remember that while we protect with one stroke, we may be opening ourselves up to other dangers with another. We simply do not know the long term consequences of vaccination. Vaccination should be considered a useful option, probably some vaccines more than others (Diphtheria and Tetanus appear to be among the safest), and particularly in situations where epidemics are present or threatening, but it may or may not be a wise choice as routine treatment for ourselves or our children. It is not the no-brainer choice that it has been held up to be. It warrants careful thought, and much further research. This research will not occur as long as there is blind acceptance of the safety and efficacy of vaccines and as long as an attitude that discourages thoughtful reflection upon the research data persists in the medical community.
Posted by Ocean State Holistic Medical Collaborative at 6:35 AM
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
As a physician with a background in child psychiatry who specializes in homeopathic treatment, I find it sad that the popular press continues to reify the fictitious disorder of ADHD. This artificially constructed disorder is often treated as an illness when in effect it is a loosely defined aggregation of symptoms which occur in different patterns with different individuals. As is the habit with the lumping kind of nosology that characterizes modern medicine, all these individuals are amazingly given the same diagnosis! When one looks more closely, however, one sees that there are some children where the emphasis is more on the attentional aspects of the disorder and others where the hyperactive or impulsive aspects predominate. Indeed there are some who exhibit marked mood swings, thereby creating debates about whether they have ADHD or bipolar disorder of some combination of the two. In fact, what we see is evidence of the crudeness of a diagnostic system that persists in trying to fit square pegs into round holes.
In the homeopathic system, one works with the individual and notices the unique aspects of the child's symptoms rather than lumping the child into a group to which they do not properly belong. By avoiding this mistake, the child is not stigmatized, and instead is viewed as a unique individual whose inattentive or hyperactive symptoms are merely manifestations of a more generalized derangement in their body’s self-regulatory system. Remember, ADHD has no lab tests or reliable biological markers; it is the arbitrary name given by a number of psychiatrists and psychologists who many years ago sat around a board room table during the creation of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual and decided that Attention Deficit Disorder would be a good name to describe something that they only understood dimly at the time. Later they decided their original understanding was imperfect. so they changed it to ADHD -attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, which has only created more confusion. I say we should stop trying to define something with inaccurate language, and stop creating illness out of our own misperceptions, which only furthers the process of stigmatization. Instead, start learning about ways of curing what is mistakenly viewed as a life long illness and start appreciating the uniqueness of our children. A good place to begin is Judith Reichenberg Ullman and Robert Ullman’s book Ritalin Free Kids, where many examples can be found of successfully treated children who exhibited symptoms of what has been referred to as ADHD.
It is ironic that the purveyors of the modern psychiatric nosology contribute most to stigmatization, even though they are often the same people who are trying to fight stigmatization. The left hand does not know what the right is doing. This is likely to be because of confusion about what a disease or illness is within the medical profession. While it may be true that illness-mongering is motivated by the sincere desire to bring help to people, such labelling not only becomes a powerful force of stigmatization, it offers no lasting solution to the problem. Instead, it allows for only a lifetime of symptom management with drugs. Effective as the drugs may be at managing the symptoms they do not take away the illness of ADHD. The best way to fight stigmatization is not to stigmatize in the first place, to eliminate the underlying illness which causes "ADHD" symptoms, rather than to try to argue people out of what has been engendered naturally through the process of illness-mongering.
mark brody, md
Posted by Ocean State Holistic Medical Collaborative at 9:01 PM
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Two of my wonderful homeopathic mentors, Roger Morrison, M.D. and Nancy Herrick, P.A. recently inspired me to take a deeper look into the virtues of a healthful nutritional program. Their inspiration has driven me to the radical and perhaps reprehensible habit of regularly ingesting cod liver oil. Cod liver oil has been extolled for generations for its health benefits, and has also acquired a reputation for its noisome aroma. Recent research, spurred by the writings of Weston Price, DDS and others have led to a more scientific basis to these benefits.
My first few attempts at imbibing this repulsive product were accomplished amidst waves of nausea, with copious gagging and facial contortions -- horrible to witness, I'm sure. I tried combining this wretched brew with a variety of foods, only to find that my disgust for it spread to everything it touched. Finally, I discovered the age old trick of holding my nose while gulping down the stuff. Now, I am happy to say, I find the whole process tolerable, although by no means pleasant.
One day, my 2 year old daughter was observing me in my morning confrontation with this health nemesis/boon and asked me, "What's that?" "Cod liver oil," I daringly replied. "I want some cod liver oil," she forcefully proclaimed. This prompted a somewhat devilish response, possibly conceived out of long hours of having to listen to the endless demands of a two year old tyrant: "I want..I want... I want..." "Sure Vivi (short for Aviva), you can have some cod liver oil," I said, already chuckling to myself at what I imagined her response to it would be. I justified my sadistic impulses by the thought, "It's good for her!" Maybe I just wanted someone to share my misery with.
Innocent being that she is, she unhesitatingly welcomed the teaspoon of glimmering glop as I delivered it to its fated destination. One gulp and it was gone! I waited for the expected grimaces of revulsion in vain. Instead, a bright smile lit up her face as she amazingly announced, "I like cod liver oil!" Floored by this contretemps, I mustered up a somewhat bewildered and largely disingenuous reponse: "Good, Vivi. Cod liver oil is good, isn't it?" "Yes!" she quite sincerely proclaimed.
Future administrations of this vile health balm led to similar grateful responses, and at times I even (mirabile dictu) heard fall from her lips the unthinkable: "Daddy, can I have some more cod liver oil?" I found myself joking with my wife (who refuses to come near the stuff) that we should make some cod liver oil ice cream for her in our ice cream maker. This strange and peculiar reaction to what was decades ago a product infamous for being the bane of a young child's existence prompted me to a moment of reflection. What could it mean that something at once so healthful and so repulsive could be so unrepulsive and even satisfying to the palate of my little child?
Nature seems to have for the most part built us in a way that discourages us from ingesting noxious substances and encourages the ingestion of more salubrious ones. Although not a perfect system, we do not have to be taught to have a horror of the smell of our own feces or that of a skunk, or of rotting organic matter. Our nose tells us what to do. Occasionally we can be misled however. Sugar tastes great, but in large amounts can cause diabetes, obesity, and dental caries, if not other health problems. Many foods that are quite bitter or difficult to digest become more palatable with proper cooking and preparation. These include many of the cruciferae plants: cabbage, brussels sprouts, and broccoli. Other foods such as red pepper (Cayenne) are pleasantly stimulating in small amounts but toxic in large amounts. So sometimes nature's way is to caution us not to overdo it, rather than to avoid entirely. Perhaps this is the case with cod liver oil, too. Cod liver oil is rich in Omega fatty acids, Vitamin A and Vitamin D. Too much Vitamin A, Vitamin D or Omega 3 fatty acids can be toxic, but too little can lead to adverse health effects too.
So nature's way may be to give us a yellow light, rather than a red light. How do we know when the light is yellow or red? Maybe there are some of us who are like canaries in the mine shaft who are wired by evolution to show us the way (even though they may know nothing of the scientific basis of their food instincts.) I like to think of the community of homeopaths as a consortium of canaries, who in the face of a great majority whose preferences lie elsewhere, demonstrate for those who are willing to ponder a bit longer the subtle but powerful effects of their contrarian medicines. And, the medicine tastes great!
Posted by Ocean State Holistic Medical Collaborative at 6:31 AM
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, there was a proliferation of the market for what were then described as "nostrums" or as they were more pejoratively referred to, "quack medicines." These kind of "snake oil" medicines were offerred up to the public by fast talking hucksters of the type lampooned in Steven Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. To say that the medical community of the time frowned on these practices is a bit like saying the Catholic Church frowns on devil worship. The medical literature of the time is filled with the severest condemnations for such practices which often reach a high pitch of moral rectitude. William Osler wrote in 1910 (The Faith That Heals, British Medical Journal 1; 1470-2) "For a generation, the people of the United States have indulged in an orgie of drugging. Between polypharmacy in the profession and quack medicines, the American body had become saturated ad nauseam."
Homeopaths were lumped by many allopathic physicians with these hucksters and homeopathy was viewed as yet the next ruse cooked up by mountebanks and medical pretenders. Conventional physicians eschewed advertising, believing that as medical scientists, appealling to humankind's baser motivations and preying on the innocent was not only inappropriate, but morally reprehensible. Today, however, the tables are turned. Ironically, physicians embrace the hucksters and hucksterism reigns with (almost) unbridled authority in the halls of allopathy. While in recent times, we have seen a countermovement to try to limit some of these excesses, not the least of which is government inquiries into the relationships between leading researchers, drug companies, and possible tax fraud, the pharmaceutical industry and medical device industry still commands the full attention of the modern allopathic physician. Drugs continue to dominate as treatment modalities. There is even recent literature suggesting that statins may be "medically indicated" for people without hypercholesterolemia, or any sign of the illnesses for which hypercholesterolemia is considered to be a mere risk factor.
In these times of excess, the proverbial shit eventually hits the fan, as it did with Enron, with the mortgage industry, with credit, and as it is likely to do with polluting our environment, engineering our food, and trying to act as policeman to the world. Throughout this sycotic overgrowth of allopathic medicine, throughout its corruption by the moneyed interests, homeopaths have remained true to their profession, continuing to pursue that Holy Grail first enunciated by Hahnemann -- "to restore the sick to health, to cure, as it is called" (Aphorism 1, The Organon). When the shit starts hitting the fan with allopathy, when we realize that we have built a system that is too big, too expensive, too toxic, too disease oriented, and too impersonal, homeopathy will be waiting in the wings, quietly waiting for the flotsam and jetsam of the conventional medical system to float its way.
It's not that we have such great powers of restraint in expressing ourselves. It's just that we've grown hoarse after centuries of clamoring for attention and finding that almost no one listens. It is sometimes difficult as a homeopath to observe the psychological power of hucksterism over people. While saying it is like watching lambs being sent to the slaughter would be an overstatement, there is still a feeling of sadness and anger among many of us homeopaths as we watch people get consumed by the system, with all of its impersonalism, its toxic side effects, its immense expenses, and its sometimes false hopes. We are wise to hold our tongues, though, because homeopathy is not yet so reliable that we can be sure we can do better all the time. The truth is a more shadowy affair, because sometimes people do have good outcomes with conventional treatment, and sometimes people have poor outcomes with homeopathy. We homeopaths are superior to the allopaths in that we kill or maim fewer people with our gentler approaches, but until we can demonstrate that we can cure more consistently than allopathic medicine, it is best not to overpromise and overstate, as the hucksters have done within allopathic medicine, what we have to offer. Then we too have become the mountebanks which the modern allopathic huckster has become.
Mark Brody, MD
Monday, October 27, 2008
One has to suffer many ignominies as a homeopath. Sometimes I wonder what about me got me interested in a field where opportunities to "eat crow" abound. My patients sometimes call me to cancel appointments because they are sick or want to see their primary care doctor for treatment of an acute problem that unexpectedly has arisen -- not the chronic problem for which they initially came in. This distresses me greatly, because in spite of my efforts to educate my patients about the broader applications of homeopathy, they still do not always look upon it as something that might be suitable for managing their acute illnesses, or they simply see their primary care doctor as the one best equipped to handle these episodes.
Part of the problem is probably cultural. We have it so ingrained in us by our PCP's, our families, and even the advertising we are exposed to that our PCP's are our first "go-to" docs that it is almost reflexive to call them before anyone else. Partly it is our failure as homeopaths to communicate the broad-ranging applications of homeopathy. Some of our patients have grasped this and honor us (even if the honor may at times come somewhat unwelcomed in the middle of the night) by making us the first go-to doc. It's a big responsibility, but if we do our job well, the results can be magnificent. And, we and our patients know that we have moved them further along in their health, not merely squelched the symptoms by suppression.
Our patients who cancel because they are sick do not realize that viewing acute illness in its raw unsuppressed form can often be a wonderful window of opportunity into an understanding of their chronic illnesses. It's a difficult concept to metabolize. I don't know if it would have rung my bell when I was just beginning to study homeopathy. Being willing to consider an alternative treatment for one's chronic and treatment-resistant health problem is not the same as embracing homeopathy as a primary treatment option for one's health in general.
We would like all of our patients to embrace homeopathy with open arms, as we practitioners have done long ago. But the reality is that there will always be some for whom we will always merely be consultants, relegated to a supporting role. Once the chronic problem is cured for these folks, they will probably think of us again, should another chronic problem arise, but they will still go to their PCP's for flu's, cold's and other acute problems, in spite of our best efforts at tactfully providing an opening for them to broaden their use of homeopathy in their lives.
Homeopathy provides wonderful effects for most of our patients, but it is still somewhat esoteric -- or perhaps just not so easy to accept for our "reason-gifted" minds. As an outlier, it naturally evokes a certain degree of xenophobia, and however wonderful its effects may be, it can not quite emerge from the shadows of strangeness into the kind of comfortable acceptability that even the most dangerous or toxic conventional treatments enjoy, by their widespread use and publicity. Homeopathy is indeed "strange, rare and peculiar" in the world of health care, even if it may be viewed by many as quite effective. Relinquishing the familiar and trusting our health to this odd approach is an act of courage and open-mindedness that is no small accomplishment, especially when fearful relatives, friends and even our own fears might question the wisdom of such a bold action. Perhaps that is why Hahnemann said, "Aude sapere" -- Dare to be wise.
Mark Brody, M.D.
Posted by Ocean State Holistic Medical Collaborative at 9:50 PM
Friday, October 17, 2008
My two year old daughter Aviva is in the "I want" stage of development. "Daddy, I want raisins! I want Mommy! I want apple -- whole thing!" My wife and I do our best to get her to ask politely, but sometimes it's hard not to lose our cools. There are just times where she simply can't have what she wants, nor are we there to cater to her every whim. She doesn't understand this, nor can we easily explain such concepts to a two year old.
Our country is now going through an "I want" crisis of its own, and no authority has been there to tell us we can't have all we want. Politicians' re-elections have depended on them not saying no to any of the country's "I wants." As parents, my wife and I are totalitarians, so poor Aviva has to submit to our dictates. We are benevolent dictators, by and large, so there are boundaries that keep the family from descending into utter chaos, without too many of the excesses (I believe) of unlimited power. The lack of constraints on our country's financial system, our credit system, our manufacturing system, our health care system, and our transportation system however, has led to a bottomless pit of need. We now find ourselves with multiple crises on virtually all fronts as a result of the failure of checks and balances.
Our financial system is imploding, credit is frozen up, products are beset with safety problems, our health care system is pricing itself into a state of unaffordability, commercial agriculture has depleted our land and denutritionalized and toxified our food supply, and our dependency on fossil fuels has led to a global warming problem that is reaching emergency proportions. We want houses, we want credit, we want cheap stuff, we want cheap food and lots of it, we want unlimited health care access, we want our SUV's and low-mileage cars. And by and large, no one has said no to these wants. There have been a few, like Wendell Berry and Bill McKibben who have been warning for years about the dangers of disrespecting the balances in our ecosystem, but aside from these admonishing few, there have been little in the way of checks and balances on the systems that cater to our ever-expanding wants and desires.
It is sometimes equally sad and amusing to watch our presidential candidates argue about the merits of their respective health care plans. Both acknowledge that neither of their plans is perfect, although they both (naturally) claim that theirs is better than the other candidate's. Noone is willing to say that the Emperor is naked! It is not that it is politically incorrect, it's that we haven't been willing to break down our denial about this obvious fact. For the past 10 years the costs have health care have been rising at 3 or 4 times the rate of inflation. Clearly, this pattern can not go on forever. Since we have our heads in the sand about this fact, we have clearly decided to wait until the system becomes so bloated in cost that it is collapsing under its own weight. We'll deal with the problem then, I suppose.
While many of the innovations of modern medicine are indeed impressive, some are less so, and they are all costing us an incredible amount of money. Our conventional allopathic system is increasingly becoming so overweight that it's going to start having strokes and heart attacks. It's fast becoming moribund, at the very moment it's at it's greatest size and influence. This is a time when homeopathy is well poised to move to the forefront. Since nation-states can not cover everyone for every problem, the choice becomes to either not cover everyone (the United States' solution), to cover everyone, but limit the coverage (the European solution), or to find cheaper but effective solutions (India's solution). The U.S. and European solutions clearly have limited political viability, and as costs continue to rise, they become less feasible. Opposition to homeopathy is so strong (even within India), that further expansion of homeopathy as an affordable viable alternative is likely to occur only when the system is in a state of utter collapse.
Like the stubborn fool who keeps looking for his lost keys where the light is, even though he lost them over in the dark, homeopathy, with its astounding potential for cost savings, if more broadly applied, is likely to languish in a state of dark obscurity until the lights go out. Fortunately and unfortunately, this state of affairs does not appear to be all that far off in the future.
Posted by Ocean State Holistic Medical Collaborative at 9:52 PM
I have learned many things from my wife and child, but one thing that has been very important in my personal growth has to do with dependency. Growing up, I was schooled by my parents in the importance of independence in life. They each grew up in homes where personal autonomy was somewhat limited by a rigid, traditional patriarchal or matriarchal system which had all the freedoms of an autocracy. At least this is my read on it-- I may be mistaken about their experiences of their families. I feel confident however in the accuracy of my perception that their own personal experiences led them to give great weight to the value of independence for all of their children.
The blessings of independence are many, but humans thrive where there is a balance between independence and dependence. If we can not be independent, how can we be a separate person? But if we can not depend on anyone, how can we become part of a community, or form a relationship, for that matter? Too much independence is scary, as it means disconnection from your social nature. Too much dependence can be scary as well, since it threatens to have the group swallow up one's individuality. One of life's challenges is to negotiate an acceptable compromise between these polarities. My wife and child have helped me to become more comfortable with my dependency. It was a place I had a hard time going to for a long time, but their constant love and the deepening of our connections over time has enabled me to exist more comfortably in that sometimes scary place.
Devoted homeopaths usually have a life-long love affair with homeopathy. The beauty of the method, the sometimes miraculous response, and the experience of connecting deeply with the universe in one's understanding of our fellow human beings can be a mystical experience. Many of our patients have experienced life-changing results with homeopathy, and while technically a medical intervention, homeopathy's effect is sometimes more like a religious experience. The powers of homeopathy can be so inspiring that one sometimes can form what seems to me to be an excessive devotion to it, that moves us away from the balanced state between dependency and independence.
Homeopathy is a tool to engender health. It is an incredibly powerful tool, possibly the most powerful tool in our possession, but it is not the only tool. I think we sometimes forget that other tools can often be useful too. Hahnemann himself advocated for the use of more conventional treatments in the case of emergencies, as with drownings, cardiac arrest, or acute blood loss. There is no reason to give remedies in a situation where the patient requires immediate interventions such as CPR, defibrillation,surgery, or a tourniquet. He talks about this in Aphorism 186 in the Organon. Sometimes, time is simply too short. And Hahnemann lists many situations, which he refers to as "obstacles to cure" (See Aphorism 77 in the Organon)where there are certain aspects of our environment that are changeable that are impinging negatively on health. Without the removal of these obstacles, the prospects for recovery will be dim.
In our modern world, where nutritional problems are rampant due to the influence of agribusiness and the commercial food industry, where exposures to toxins in the form of antibiotics in our food sources, radon, lead, PCB's and bisphenol-A, and drugs (legal and illegal), sleep-deprivation, and other life-style stresses are rampant, it is a wonder that homeopathy can effect any positive changes at all. Some homeopaths, including Nancy Herrick and Roger Morrison, are beginning to call our attention to these factors, particularly in their work promoting the contributions of Weston Price in the area of nutrition. They are keeping us from being so blinded by the beauty and power of our method that we fail to see the need for dietary changes, nutritional supplements, and in some cases, life-style changes if we are to complete our mission. Our mission also does not stop with our patients either, since public health intervention is sometimes as important or more important than working with our individual patients.
The risk of love is dependency, which is really not love at all. The risk of total independence is no love, and no connection. Our challenge as homeopaths is to not love homeopathy so much that we ignore other healing interventions that should be part of our greater role as healers. But we can neither be such generalists that we lose our love for and proper dependence on homeopathy as a healing intervention. It is our love for homeopathy that should inspire us to do all we can, including going outside of our quest for the simillimum, in our efforts to restore the sick to health.
Mark Brody, M.D.
Posted by Ocean State Holistic Medical Collaborative at 8:02 PM
Monday, October 13, 2008
When I was a medical student, I was struck by the fascination doctors had with illness. The grotesque, the disgusting, the horrific seemed to only arouse interest in my mentors, and in many of my fellow students. I remember one of these fellow students coming up to me one day during our internal medicine rotation with a glow of excitement on her face saying, "Did you see Mr. Jones (not his real name). He has sino-orbital aspergillosis (Fungus eating up his eyeball). You should go take a look -- it's pretty cool." Was there something wrong with me for being horrified rather than titillated by the opportunity to witness fungus growing out of a person's eye socket? Or was it the other way around? I soon came to understand that a good case or "fascinoma" was usual the end product of some poor person having some rare difficult to diagnosis and usually quite horrible disease with a terrible prognosis. Why did my colleagues seem to rejoice in such cases, where I found them only depressing? Was I in the wrong field, or was there something wrong with these people?
I came to coin the term "pathophile" -- one who has a love for or abnormal interest in sickness and pathology. It was my way of trying to feel O.K. about not being so happy about discovering dread diseases in people. It's not that I felt these doctors didn't care about people or want to help them with their illnesses, it's just that I seemed to lack this emotional response to their illness. While some may find it easy to make the leap from wanting to relieve suffering and heal the sick to relishing the discovery of serious pathology, I have found it difficult to make this transition myself. I have difficulty getting excited about anything I can not help my patients with, even if it is rare and uncommon. What's to get excited about unless it moves the patient towards health? One of my medical school professors once expressed his regret to me that I had decided to pursue psychiatry rather than surgery. "What would surgery offer that I couldn't find in psychiatry?" I asked him. "You get to see so much pathology," was his unhesitating response. I sat dumbfounded, unable to comprehend his obvious pleasure at viewing diseased organs.
The net result of 4 years of medical school and many many years of residency appears to me to be that doctors have a profound knowledge of illness, but very little or no training about health. In fact, I feel it is safe to say that few doctors would even be able to say what health is, without making some reference to illness (i.e., that it is the absence of illness). Why should doctors have knowledge of health if they are primarily interested in illness anyway? Yet, I would argue that if you do not truly understand health you will be very limited in what you can do to treat illness.
How can one truly move people towards health if one doesn't know what it is? You can not simply move away from a point and know you are moving in the right direction. You must know where you are going.
Homeopaths fancy themselves as knowing something about health, since the homeopathic art is all about strengthening health. Hahnemann gave us one of the most profound and eloquent descriptions of health I know of. It is worthy of study and contemplation, as it reveals much about the author, and raises ontologic and other metaphysical questions about the meaning of health. It goes like this (taken from the Organon of Medicine, Aphorism 9, O'Reilly translation): "In the healthy human state, the spirit-like life force (autocracy) that enlivens the material organism as dynamis, governs without restriction and keeps all parts of the organism in admirable, harmonious vital operation, as regards both feelings and functions, so that our indwelling rational spirit can freely avail itself of this living healthy instrument for the higher purpose of our existence."
This animistic, vitalistic view of health, with a bow towards a teleologic view of human existence, must have rocked the nineteenth century like an IED. Yet, much as we may want a more precise material understanding of health, it is hard to argue that Hahnemann has not, in one tightly packed sentence arrived at a singular and comprehensive definition of health. Hahnemann fills in some of the blanks later on in the Organon, but what is perhaps remarkable about his contribution is that he takes on the question at all. Many would be content with "if it works, just do it." But Hahnemann goes a step beyond this by asking us not to accept the appearance of health for health itself. To truly restore health, we must know something about it, or we will be misled, as he felt many of his generation had been, into taking on treatments that might have the veneer of authenticity, but lacked the deeper and more worthwhile signature of true health. Let us salute Hahnemann, the first "salutophile".
Mark Brody, M.D.
Posted by Ocean State Holistic Medical Collaborative at 8:57 PM
Monday, October 6, 2008
It is not uncommon to learn about worrisome aspects of American children's health, not only about the apparant rising incidences of obesity, asthma, allergies, ADHD, and Autism, to cite some of the more well-known, but also the rising concerns about the safety of certain standard treatments. Recent concerns were voiced by the respected journal Pediatrics that drug samples proferred to pediatricians were not properly vetted for safety (see the New York Times, Oct 6, 2008). You also may be familiar with the recent guidelines issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that interdict the use of over-the-counter cold medicines for children. The recent past has seen concerns raised about suppressed data by the drug company SmithKline Beecham, indicating that it's drug Paxil is not as effective as the company had been claiming, and that it was associated with suicidal thinking. It has been shown in repeated studies that Methylphenidate (Ritalin) and other stimulants can cause growth retardation and sudden death in children with underlying cardiac anomalies.
Most of the reactions to these alarming reports that I read about in medical journals have emphasized the need not to panic or over-react. Recently, clinicians have attempted to connect an increased suicide rate among teenagers to a reduction in the number of antidepressants prescribed, although causality has not been clearly established. There seems to be far more lamentation about the more cautious approach to prescribing that has evolved than there is about the children who have lost their lives, their health, or their self-esteem because of "side effects" to the standard treatment. Your pediatrician is likely to tell you that there is no "proof" that vaccination is dangerous to your child, and certainly not that it can cause autism. Yet there is no "proof" that vaccination is entirely safe either. Quite the contrary, there is copious evidence that vaccinations sometimes cause harm, and the government has led its imprimatur to this fact in 1986 by passing the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. In light of these facts, how can we be sure our children are receiving treatment that is both effective and safe?
The main questions we face regarding our children's medical treatment are: just how safe are the standard treatments, and just how dangerous are they by comparison to no treatment or to other alternatives? Should we sometimes not allow pediatricians or child psychiatrists to treat our children? What else can we do, when we feel uncomfortable with what is being recommended? The pediatricians tend to rate the risks of treatment as extremely low, and this may be the case, but is it actually lower than the alternatives, or not treating at all? For example, how do we know when to use antibiotics for ear infections, or do we never use them, as some say, arguing that otitis media is a self-limited viral infection (i.e. not antibiotic responsive)?
Many people are horrified by the rampant use of medications in children (and for all age groups in the United States, for that matter). We really shouldn't be horrified if those medications are "medically necessary," should we? Perhaps many of us are not fully persuaded that all those drugs are in fact necessary. There is something frightening about all those drugs that seems to be almost atavistic, perhaps harkening back to a time when our ancestors prowled the planet, testing various plants and substances for their medicinal property, both eager to discover a substance with healing properties, but equally wary that while some substances may be healing, others can be lethal.
Homeopathic treatment can in many cases provide a viable alternative when the stakes are high, and the conventional treatment necessitates the use of strong and potentially dangerous medications. Of course, we would like to try to address our child's health safely without compromising efficacy. If you are unfamiliar with homeopathy, Dana Ullman has written a whole volume on homeopathic care for children, Homeopathic Medicine for Children and Infants, which you may want to take a look at (although any introductory volume on homeopathic medicine can serve as a guide to the treatment of acute illness such as colds, flu, upset stomachs sprianed ankles, and allergy attacks). Future postings will address some of these specific problems in greater detail for you, or you may wish to refer to other links, such as blog.hmedicine.com. This article aspires to one thing only: to raise your consciousness to the fact that there are safe alternatives for your children's health that might be preferable to what you may presently be doing, with some trepidation. While homeopathic medicines do not always work, they are uniformly safe, and well tolerated at least 90% of the time. Begin your exploration, and stay tuned as we bring you more about this extraordinarily safe, effective and often life-saving form of treatment.
When I first learned about homeopathy, I was shocked that such a safe and effective treatment was not being more widely embraced. In my career I have encountered so many patients who had been "through the mill" of conventional medical treatment, and had emerged in some cases jaded, and in others merely discouraged, because of lack of sufficient benefit from their conventional drug therapy, or serious health problems resulting from their use of chronic medications. I have seen many parents struggle to get their kids to take their Ritalin or asthma medications daily. Kids don't want to take them, because they just want to be normal. Homeopathy offers us the hope that our kids can be healthy once again, and live lives free from the burden or stigma of chronic illness. It is not always sufficient all by itself, but it goes farther towards this goal than is ever possible with standard treatment.
Mark Brody, M.D.