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, February Issue Of Natural Alternatives
February 02, 2006
Hello, and welcome to this edition of my Natural Alternatives Newsletter!
I hope you will enjoy reading this issue.
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IN THIS ISSUE:
1) INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE
2) ARE HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES MORE EFFECTIVE THAN FLU SHOTS?
1) INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE
Integrative medicine combines modern medicine with proven complementary and alternative (CAM) techniques. CAM is not meant as a substitute for medical treatment, but rather as an enhancement for patient well-being.
There are many different types of complementary and alternative therapies. Some common ones include:
Acupuncture. Based on principles of ancient Chinese medicine, acupuncture uses thin needles applied to specific points of the body. In acupuncture, placement of the needles restores the flow of energy and balance in the body.
Biofeedback. Biofeedback uses audio or visual cues to help a person learn how to gain control over mental and bodily functions (like lowering blood pressure or anxiety levels).
Chiropractic. Chiropractic care involves manipulation of the joints (primarily those in the spine) to restore normal function of the body.
Herbal products. Herbal medicine uses plant-based materials to treat specific symptoms or diseases. Use of herbal preparations dates back to ancient Babylonian times.
Hypnosis. In this technique, patients are placed into a deep state of relaxation which provides increased awareness. During this “trance” suggestions are made by a therapist to promote wellness (like stopping smoking).
Massage. Massage uses hands-on manipulation of the soft tissues to relieve muscle tension, enhance relaxation and stimulate circulation. There are many different techniques.
Yoga comes from the ancient Sanskrit word meaning union. The practice uses specific poses, guided relaxation, breathing and meditation to induce deep relaxation and, ultimately, bring the body into connection with the universe.
IINTEGRATIVE MEDICINE IN PRACTICE
Woodson Merrell, M.D., Integrative Medicine Specialist and Director of the Beth Israel Center for Health and Healing, says many physicians are now embracing integrative medicine. However, it can be difficult to determine which therapies are best for a patient. Many CAM techniques have been used for thousands of years, but not all have been tested for interactions with traditional medicine.
Merrell has developed a website at his center to help guide physicians and patients in their selection of integrative treatment. The site from The Center for Health and Healing is available at http://www.healthandhealingny.org. Merrell also recommends several other websites for consumer information:
Medline (http://medlineplus.gov). Medline is the medical database maintained by the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. The service provides access to a wealth of health information and listing of government-sponsored clinical trials.
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) (http://nccam.nih.gov). NCCAM is a division of the National Institutes of Health. This branch supports research, training and education to the public and professionals regarding CAM.
ConsumerLab (http://www.consumerlabs.com). This organization is an independent laboratory that tests products related to health, nutrition and wellness, like herbal products, vitamins, sports products and personal care products. Items that are tested and meet the laboratory standards for quality are allowed to display the ConsumerLab seal.
2) ARE HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES MORE EFFECTIVE THAN FLU SHOTS?
Homeopathy may be more effective than flu shots. In the deadly flu outbreak of 1918, patients treated with homeopathy had much higher survival rates. Not only is the avian flu front-page news, but clinics and doctors are warning us about the dangers of the common flu. Posters and leaflets, ads and articles urge us to get our shots, the pressure greater than usual with the ominous bird flu looming.
In Great Britain, a National Health Service leaflet says, "If you knew about the flu, you'd get the jab." But the British environmental magazine The Ecologist (October 2005) can't help wondering if that's really the case: "If people truly knew about flu, and the lack of effectiveness of the vaccine being offered as protection, would they really be so obedient about getting the jab?"
Last September, a report in the American Medical Association journal Archives of Internal Medicine dropped a bombshell: Although immunization rates in those over 65 have increased 50 percent in the past 20 years, there has been no decline in flu-related deaths. One reason is that hundreds of flu viruses can be circulating at any time.
Nevertheless, every February, scientists at the World Health Organization meet to define the three that are likely to cause the most misery the following winter. The viruses they choose are included in that year's vaccine. But in the months between formulating the vaccine and administering it, the viruses -- which constantly evolve and mutate -- may have changed, or new ones may emerge.
Flu experts often get it wrong. In 1994, for example, they predicted that Texas, Shangdong and Panama viruses would be prevalent, so millions of people were vaccinated against those strains. However, when winter arrived, entirely different strains were circulating through schools, offices and households worldwide.
Even if the vaccine contains the right strains, not everyone responds by producing the antibodies that fend off the flu. As many as 40 percent of people over age 65, for example, do not respond to vaccination. Last year the U.S. Centers for Disease Control funded research on health-care workers in Colorado. Results showed virtually the same percentage of people suffered from influenza-like illnesses whether they were vaccinated or not, leaving researchers to conclude that the vaccine "was not effective or had very low effectiveness."
Ineffectiveness is not the only thing to worry about when getting a flu shot. Alternative Medicine (October 2005) lists the typical ingredients in a vaccine: Aluminum hydroxide (associated with Alzheimer's and seizures), thimerosal (a mercury-based neurotoxin linked to ADHD and autism) and phenol (a human carcinogen) are among the substances added. This has caused some people to ask whether vaccines might do more harm than good.
Do we have alternatives? During the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, which killed up to 50 million people worldwide, homeopathic physicians in the United States reported very low mortality rates among their patients, while flu patients treated by conventional physicians faced mortality rates of around 30 percent. Dr. W.A. Dewey gathered data from homeopathic physicians treating flu patients around the country in 1918 and published his findings in the Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy in 1920. Homeopathic physicians in Philadelphia, for example, reported a mortality rate of just over 1 percent for the more than 26,000 flu patients they treated during the pandemic.
Today, a number of homeopathic remedies for the flu are available, including oscillo, or oscillococcinum, which has been shown to shorten the duration of symptoms when taken within 48 hours of onset. Homeopaths have been given this remedy since 1925. Interestingly, it's made from the heart and liver of ducks, which carry flu viruses in their digestive tracts.
"Based on clinical studies, homeopathy produces some of the fastest results in relieving flu symptoms," says Dana Ullman, MPH, the author of nine books on homeopathic medicine. In addition to trying oscillo, Ullman suggests considering influenzinum 9C, a homeopathic preparation of the three newest flu viruses obtained from the Pasteur Institute in France. Although not definitively shown to prevent the flu, it is a popular protocol in Europe. Finally, Ullman advises visiting a homeopath for a specific constitutional remedy in preparation for flu season. Other homeopathic flu remedies, depending upon one's symptoms, include gelsemium, bryonia, aconitum, monkshood, nux vomica, eupatorium perfoliatum, rhus toxicodendron (poison ivy) and arsenicum album.
While there's no evidence yet that homeopathic remedies can prevent the flu, they seem to be very useful in treating the flu. And they're less aggressive that the usual injections. The people now targeted for shots -- the elderly, young and immune compromised -- are those least able to withstand a systemic chemical assault.
Research also consistently shows that people of lower socioeconomic status are at higher risk for a wide range of infectious diseases. The Ecologist wonders whether "vaccines are endorsed as a remedy for so many things that are too complicated (like better hygiene) or too expensive (like winter-proof housing) for the government to fix."
So, now that the flu season is here, what should you do? Homeopathic remedies might help. But Alternative Medicine offers the most startling solution of all: Get sick. "From a naturopathic point of view, getting the actual flu may not be such a bad thing -- that is, if you are relatively healthy -- because it will make you more resistant to the flu later in life. Also, getting the flu is an opportunity for the body to detoxify."
For those who are less healthy -- with conditions like diabetes, asthma, pulmonary disease, emphysema, frequent pneumonia or impaired immunity -- less invasive, more natural ways to "fight" the flu might be prescribed. Sometimes the simplest preventive actions yield the most immediate results: Wash your hands, get enough sleep, eat your fruits and vegetables, exercise and avoid stress.
PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE!
Thank you for reading.
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This newsletter is for educational purposes only. It is your right to educate yourself in health and medical knowledge, to seek helpful information and make use of it for your own benefit, and for that of your family. You are the one responsible for your health. You must educate yourself in order to make decisions in all health matters. My views and advices are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medicine, but simply a help you to make educated changes in order to help your body heal itself. If you have a medical condition or concern you should consult your physician.
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