About Us

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.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Your child's medical care: risks and dangers

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.