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Your October Issue of Natural Alternatives
October 02, 2009
Hello, and welcome to this little late edition edition of my Natural Alternatives Newsletter!
I hope you will enjoy reading this issue.
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“The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.” ~Hippocrates
IN THIS ISSUE:
1) EPIDEMIC OF FEVER FOBIA: THE FACTS WHY FEVER IS YOUR FRIEND
2) CAN ESSENCIAL OILS BE USED FOR INFLUENZA PREVENTION?
3) MORE IMPORTANT NEWS ABOUT VITAMINE D
Health and medical journalists are not presently providing the public with what might be the most important health advice that they should be given during the flu season: people with the flu should avoid taking fever-reducing drugs, such as aspirin or acetaminophen (aka TylenolTM), except in rare situations.
It is widely recognized that fever is a vital defense of the body in its efforts to fight infection. A fever enables the body to increase its production of interferon, an important antiviral substance that is critical for fighting infection. Fever also increases white blood cell mobility and activity, which are instrumental factors in fighting infection. Jane Brody, a long-time respected health columnist for the New York Times, reported back in 1982 on the healing benefits of fever. She noted, a number of physicians, including pediatricians, are now suggesting that moderate fevers be allowed to run their course, for they may shorten the illness, potentiate the action of antibiotics and reduce the chances of spreading the infection to others.
Recognition that fever is beneficial has been known for more than 2,000 years, and historically, the healing benefits of fever are so substantial that many patients have actually been treated with ''fever therapy'' to aid their recovery from such ailments as cancer, syphilis, tuberculosis and even mania. However, in the 1800's, aspirin compounds that rapidly reduced fevers became commercially available, and the medical view of fever changed dramatically. Since the mid-1800s, drug companies have successfully convinced conventional physicians and the general public to become vigilant in bringing down fevers, even sometimes using such drastic measures as cold baths and alcohol rubs along with aspirin.
In reference to the flu and fever, the bottom line is that it makes little sense to aggressively suppress the body's natural defenses against viral infection. There are, of course, some exceptions here. For instance, it may make sense to seek medical care if one's fever is above 104 degrees for over six hours or in any fever in an infant under four months of age.
Calling Dr. Gupta: CNN’s Correspondent Gives Himself Questionable Medical Advice
“Fever phobia” is so rampant that many usually intelligent people, including physicians and medical reporters, forget what they know about the inherent defenses of the body when they become sick.
On September 23, Sanjay Gupta, MD, CNN's chief medical correspondent, described his own experience in getting the H1NI flu while reporting from Afghanistan. Although Dr. Gupta reported that he experienced a “high fever,” he never gave specifics, but it is unlikely that over 104 degrees. The fact that Dr. Gupta was away from home and in war zone probably led him to want some relief of his fever, and because of this, he choose to take Tylenol. However, he certainly didn’t help himself by taking this drug to suppress his fever.
It is therefore no wonder that he became the sickest he has ever become. Taking drugs that suppress fever disables the body’s own defenses in fighting infection. It is akin to unscrewing the warning oil pressure light in your car as a way to get rid of that irritating red signal. Such “treatment” is not curative, and in fact, it can lead to much more serious problems.
Ironically, the word “symptom” derives from the words “sign” or “signal” …and just turning “off” a sign or signal is simply not smart, even if double-blind studies show that unscrewing the warning bulb is “effective” in turning the light off.
Ultimately, Dr. Gupta missed a great opportunity to educate the public about not taking fever-reducing drugs, except in certain extreme fevers. Perhaps this article will “light a fire” underneath him to do so.
The New Drug Pushers: Parents
In a 2007 survey of Australian parents published in a pediatrics journal, a shocking 91% of parents used fever-suppressing drugs in the treatment of their children’s fever. Even more startling is the fact that this survey found that the medications were refused or spat out by the child in 44% of the cases, and yet, 62.4 of the parents actually used force to get their child to take these drugs, using different methods of ingestion (29.5%) or by using a suppository (20.8%).
It is interesting to note that children tend to have an inherent fear of doctors, and this fear may not simply be the result of getting injections from them. This fear may be an instinctual fear that what doctors offer them may not really be good for them, despite the seemingly short-term benefits of many drugs. It may be time for us to listen to our children.
Serious Problems from Aspirin and Acetaminophen
Many people minimize the problems from these common drugs, but do so at their own and their family’s peril.
Children who get a viral infection and are given aspirin can lead to Reye’s syndrome, a serious neurological condition that can cause death. Aspirin is also known to thin the blood and increase the chances of various bleeding disorders. Its use more or less doubles the risk of a severe gastrointestinal event, which in most cases can lead to hospitalization. Lower doses that people take to reduce heart problems only seem to decrease these risks by a small amount.
Many people take acetaminophen because it is not associated with increased bleeding. However, the general public is usually not aware of the fact that poison control centers in the US receive more calls as a result of an overdose of this drug than any other drug. This same problem exists in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Most commonly, overdoses of acetaminophen can lead to acute liver failure. In children, it has been associated with increased asthma and eczema symptoms.
Safer Solutions for the Flu…
Instead of using conventional drugs that suppress fevers or that inhibit other important defenses of the body, it makes more sense to use some type of natural medicines that mimic and augment the wisdom of the body.
Homeopathic medicines are my own favorite method to augment the body’s own defenses so that they can more effectively heal themselves from various ailments, including the flu. Because of the similarity between the 1918 flu and the H1N1 flu, it may be helpful to reference homeopathy’s impressive successes in treating people during the 1918 flu.
The death rates in the homeopathic hospitals in the US were only around 1%, while the death rates in conventional hospitals were closer to 30%. Another important fact from that era is that New York City had the lowest mortality rate during the 1918 flu than any city in the U.S., and this impressive statistic is primarily due to the fact that this city’s health commissioner at that time was Royal Copeland, MD, a renowned homeopathic physician, who later became a thrice-elected U.S. Senator (Franklin D. Roosevelt was even his campaign manager during his first election as senator). Copeland asserted, “There can be no doubt that the superiority of homeopathy in a purely medical condition is just as great as it was fifty years ago.”
One of today’s most popular homeopathic medicines for the flu is the popular Oscillococcinum, a medicine that has been used by homeopaths since the 1920s. There have been four controlled studies that have shown that this medicine is effective in reducing the symptoms of influenza as compared with those people given a placebo. The effectiveness of another homeopathic remedy, called Gripp-Heel, was compared with that of conventional treatments in a prospective, observational cohort study in 485 patients with mild viral infections and symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle pain, cough or sore throat. As evaluated by the practitioners, 67.9% of patients were considered asymptomatic at the end of Gripp-Heel therapy vs. 47.9% of patients in the control group. Practitioners judged homeopathic treatments as 'successful' in 78.1% of cases vs. 52.2% for conventional therapies. Tolerability and compliance were 'very good' given for 88.9% of patients in the homoeopathic group vs. 38.8% in the conventional treatment group.
The above homeopathic medicines are primarily helpful during the first 48 hours of onset of the flu. Other homeopathic medicines to consider during this time and afterwards include: Gelsemium, Bryonia, Ipecacuanha, Arsenicum album, Eupatorium perf., Rhus toxicodendron, and Baptisia (homeopathic medicines are traditionally listed by their Latin names so that consumers and doctors will know the precise plant, mineral, or animal species of every medicine). Each of these medicines has a history of efficacy in homeopathic doses for treating the specific syndrome of symptoms that each has been found to cause when given experimentally in overdose to healthy people. To determine the details of each of these medicines, please consult a homeopathic guidebook, such as Everybody’s Guide to Homeopathic Medicines by Stephen Cummings, MD, and Dana Ullman, MPH or the Complete Homeopathic Resource for Common Illnesses, by Dennis Chernin, MD, MPH.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dana Ullman has written extensively on homeopathic research in an ebook entitled Homeopathic Family Medicine: Evidence Based Nanopharmacology, which describes and references 200+ clinical trials testing homeopathic medicines. Dana’s resource center, Homeopathic Educational Services (www.homeopathic.com) is a leading source for homeopathic books, medicines, home medicine kits, software, and courses.
2) CAN ESSENCIAL OILS BE USED FOR INFLUENZA PREVENTION?
With more people investigating ways to support their immune system, and perhaps go so far as to actually prevent infection from influenza viruses (Swine flu, for example), a primer on essential oils and infectious illness is in order. There are several natural medicines available which have solid backing in flu prevention: zinc lozenges and elderberry extract are two very popular items. Though little attention has been given to the use of essential oils for this purpose. It is the position of many leading aroma-medicine practitioners that the use of oils for the treatment and prevention of infectious illness is the area of medicine where these products will be of greatest help to mankind. AND, there is a growing body of scientific evidence revealing true antiviral and immunostimulating effects of essential oils. Here’s a look at the research, and some easy-to-use recipes and techniques one can use to protect the immunity of themselves and their families.
Research on Essential Oils as AntiViral Agents
Over the last decade, laboratory researchers around the world have found many essential oils are capable of directly eradicating viruses. Further, they may even prevent viruses from moving between cells within the body and limiting the spread of infection. This is not an over-optimistic interpretation of the data by an essential oil proponent, but the actual conclusions of controlled research studies.
Abstracts of all the research mentioned here can be found through pubmed.gov, the database maintained by the National Institute of Health and the US National Library of Medicine. If you wish, you can browse these results by entering search terms such as “essential oil virus”, “antiviral essential oil”, and more specifically “laurus nobilis SARS” (Laurus nobilis being Bay Laurel essential oil, and SARS a highly-infectious viral respiratory ailment).
While there is not yet data where essential oils have been tested against Swine Flu and Avian Flu specifically, as we’ll see there is every reason to believe the oils will be effective against these virus strains as well.
What Does the Data Mean?
An interpretation of the research can be summed up (and this is only one writer/scientist’s interpretation) as this: MANY essential oils have antiviral activity, some oils more than others — which oil eradicates what virus depends on the oil’s natural chemical makeup AND the unique structure of the virus being tested. Finally that “whole” essential oils have a stronger effect than any single chemical component synthesized or extracted in a laboratory.
A study in the August 2009 Journal of Phytotherapy Research performed by scientists in the Department of Virology at the University of Heidelberg, noted that several chemicals commonly found in natural essential oils exhibited antiviral activity — being able to “reduce viral infectivity by greater than 96%”. The oils studied were Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, and Thyme (chemotypes were not mentioned in the abstract), tested against HSV-1.
The researchers also compared the individual chemical constituents of these oils with whole natural Tea Tree, and concluded the “constituents present in natural Tea Tree essential oil revealed a ten-fold higher selectivity index and a lower toxicity” than the isolated single chemicals.
Laurus Nobilis and SARS
Because research is not yet available on the effects of oils against Swine and Avian influenza specifically, we need to make careful, logical conclusions from the data that IS available. For instance, the oil from Laurus nobilis (or Bay Laurel, the common cooking spice) was found to have antiviral action against the SARS-CoV virus — a highly contagious illness that made headlines as it spread around the world in 2003.
A look at the aromatherapy literature notes that Bay Laurel has a highly complex makeup, containing molecules from nearly every one of the major classes of compounds found in essential oils. Hyssop is another oil also considered potently antiviral, again with a similar complex structure.
Selecting Oils For Daily Flu Protection
It is this sharing of natural compounds that supports the literature’s assertion that there are a great many oils in use today that are antiviral — one reason you’ll typically see several oils, not just one, in an antiviral formula. But which oils to use for your needs? This is where the long-time historical practice of aroma-medicine therapists helps us choose.
The antiviral and immune-supportive essential oils have been categorized by the symptoms the infection produces. The Cineol-containing oils, like Eucalyptus and Ravensara are chosen where the bronchial system is affected. Melissa and Tea Tree are most commonly used for viruses infecting the skin — though their antiviral action for other parts of the body should not be ignored, because their synergistic effects with other oils creates a formula with a complex mixture of natural chemicals — similar in respect to the balance found in the single oil Bay Laurel.
Other oils are highly regarded for their positive effect on the immune system overall: Frankincense is considered by some to be the most potent immunostimulant, and Melissa has this property as well.
A short list of essential oils that one can select from to support immunity against influenza infection includes the following: Melissa (having significant anti-HSV activity, it is also thought to be a potent immunostimulant — boosting the ability of our immune defense), Tea Tree (a very broad spectrum antiviral/antimicrobial), Rosalina (also known as Lavender Tea Tree, with a natural chemical profile containing constituents of both these oils), Lavender (commonly used as an anti-stress agent — which itself supports immune system function — and also having antiviral action), Bay Laurel (Laurel Leaf, reported effective against SARS-CoV), Ravensara aromatica, Eucalyptus Radiata (one of many Eucalyptus species, this one is most often noted as “antiviral”), Frankincense (considered by some the most effective immunostimulant oil available), Thyme, and Hyssop decumbens (a highly regarded antiviral, with a highly complex natural chemistry makeup).
An Influenza Prevention Recipe
An example blend including these oils: 2 parts Melissa, 1 part Thyme (Thujanol, Geraniol or Linalool), 4 parts Lavender, 3 parts Ravensara, 4 parts Eucalyptus Radiata (Narrow Leaf), 3 parts Hyssop, 6 parts Rosalina (Melaluca ericifolia) and 3 parts Bay Laurel. A “part” can be anything — a milliliter, a drop, an ounce — just as long as they’re consistently the same volume. For children between 2 and 13, use 4 parts Lavender, 3 parts Rosalina, 1 part Ravensara, 1 part Eucalyptus and 3 parts Bay Laurel. This recipe is excellent as a lower-cost version for adults as well — and has been made more gentle for the young ones (consult Valerie Worwood’s “Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child” for more on using essential oils with kids).
How To Use The Oils for Influenza Prevention: Diffusion
The most knowledgeable and experienced practitioners believe diffusing this oil blend is the best way to give the most comprehensive support for both antiviral and immune system support. A cold-air nebulizing diffuser will make a fine mist of the essential oils, which quickly evaporates into the air in your home, office or other enclosed space. Typically, these diffusers are run for a few minutes every hour, getting oils into the air but not overdoing it. This conserves the oils, but allows continuous low-dose inhalation. One should never feel overwhelmed by the aroma; the oils are very potent, and typically “less is more” when using 100% pure therapeutic-grade essential oils. The use of an appliance timer can make this process very simple: just set the timer to run a few minutes every hour throughout the day — that’s it! Not only is the air being disinfected, but folks in the room are getting small amounts of oil in their bodies all the time. Again, it’s important to not feel more is more in this situation! Trust your instincts on the amount of diffusion necessary for your space and needs.
Aromatherapy Baths and The All Important Foot Massage
In cases where diffusion is not practical, topical application of the oil formula is the next best thing. This can be done in a couple of ways: either though an aromatherapy bath, or through the ancient practice of reflexology — where the oils are absorbed at the reflex points of the feet.
For the bath, mix 4-6 drops of the essential oil recipe in a little carrier oil (or any off-the-shelf bath oil). Swirl this blend into an already drawn bath and soak! For children, lessen the amount of essential oil 2 drops (for ages 2-8) or 4 drops (9-13). The feet and the areas of the body where the lymph nodes are close to the surface are also excellent places to massage in this recipe. The oils readily penetrate the skin and are rapidly absorbed. For adults, make a 5% concentration of the essential oil recipe in any carrier oil (Coconut, with its own antiviral activity may be best — otherwise any one will do). A 5% concentration is simply a 1 to 20 ratio — 1 part essential oil blend to 19 parts carrier (this same concentration is made by adding 44 drops of the formula to each 1 fluid ounce of carrier oil). Lower this concentration for children in a manner similar to the aromatherapy bath. A daily foot massage, and/or massage into the armpits, neck and sternum is an excellent means of treating yourself and your family to these wonderful herbal medicines.
Conclusion: Essential Oils, Infectious Illness and the Future
While we cannot be certain of the direct effects of essential oils for our needs, it appears to the lay practitioner that the evidence supporting their use is just and solid as for any other natural medicine choice. Recall that the world’s leading aromatherapists suggest that it is in the prevention and treatment of infectious illness that essential oils will find their place in our medical systems.
Given the data that so many essential oils offer antiviral activity against a variety of viruses, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that they will be effective as Swine flu prevention. And with their relative ease of use, and ready availability, there’s little reason not to see what they may have to offer for you and your family.
Final Note: The recommendations and statements in this report have not been evaluated by the FDA. They are not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease, but to offer the opinions of those involved with natural health, based on historical references and peer-reviewed scientific publications. As always, consult a qualified medical practitioner for any health concerns.
About the Author: The author is a regular contributor to several sites in the areas of traditional medicine. More information on essential oils, for example, and therapeutic blending can be found at www.anandaapothecary.com
3) MORE IMPORTANT NEWS ABOUT VITAMINE D
Vit D is becoming one of my favorite vitamins. In fact, if someone asked me if I could recommend just one vitamin to improve health, I'm pretty sure I would tell them to take Vit D. Vit D deficiency has been linked to bone loss, immune system problems and even cancer.
Your skin helps to synthesize Vit D when exposed to ultraviolet radiation. The problem is that many of us are concerned about skin cancer so we use sunscreen which in turn, inhibits the formation of vit D. Those of us living in northern climates have an even greater problem with exposure as we wear heavy clothing and spend a lot of time indoors.
One recent study has linked Vit D deficiency with increased incidence of hypertension (high blood pressure) in females. Researchers used data from the Michigan Bone Health and Metabolism Study that examined women from 1992 and then again in 2007. The study measured blood pressure and vit D levels in premenopausal women aged 24-44 years.
The results showed that women who were deficient in Vit D had a 3 times greater risk of developing hypertension in later years.
One more reason to take Vit D.
If you're not sure how much to take you can ask your doctor to order a blood test to measure your vit D levels.
American Heart Association (2009, September 25). Vitamin D Deficiency In Younger Women Is Associated With Increased Risk Of High Blood Pressure
Author: Dr. Bruce Forciea
PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE!
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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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