How Obamacare Will Impact Integrative Healthcare

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I have to admit that I was taking a wait-and-see attitude, but this recent NPR post really gave me hope.

It seems that in beginning to make some much-needed changes to the way we Americans receive our healthcare (including making care available to millions who have, for way too long now, gone uninsured and cut off from the system), those shaping the new system have had the foresight to realize that integrative healthcare is GOOD healthcare.  And, in recognizing this, provisions have been made to make sure that “Alternative” (how I hate that term) methods of treatment will be both available and covered in the new scheme of things.

Because this information is both much-needed and somewhat hard to come by, I am posting the whole thing here.  Those who want to read the original, however, should simply click here and trail off to the NPR site.

Here’s the National Public Radio/PBS Newshour report:

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How The Health Reform Law Will Impact Alternative Medicine Access

July 29, 2013

The Affordable Care Act says that insurance companies “shall not discriminate” against any state-licensed health provider, which could lead to better coverage of chiropractic, homeopathic and naturopathic care. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Jane Guiltinan said the husbands are usually the stubborn ones.

When her regular patients, often married women, bring their spouses to the Bastyr Center for Natural Health to try her approach to care, the men are often skeptical of the treatment plan — a mix of herbal remedies, lifestyle changes and sometimes, conventional medicine.

After 31 years of practice, Guiltinan, a naturopathic physician, said it is not uncommon for health providers without the usual nurse or doctor background to confront patients’ doubts. “I think it’s a matter of education and cultural change,” she said.

As for the husbands — they often come around, Guiltinan said, but only after they see that her treatments solve their problems.

Complementary and alternative medicine — a term that encompasses meditation, acupuncture, chiropractic care and homeopathic treatment, among other things — has become increasingly popular. About four in 10 adults (and one in nine children) in the U.S. are using some form of alternative medicine, according to the National Institutes of Health.

And with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the field could make even more headway in the mainstream health care system. That is, unless the fine print — in state legislation and insurance plans — falls short because of unclear language and insufficient oversight.

One clause of the health law in particular — Section 2706 — is widely discussed in the alternative medicine community because it requires that insurance companies “shall not discriminate” against any health provider with a state-recognized license. That means a licensed chiropractor treating a patient for back pain, for instance, must be reimbursed the same as medical doctors. In addition, nods to alternative medicine are threaded through other parts of the law in sections on wellness, prevention and research.

“It’s time that our health care system takes an integrative approach … whether conventional or alternative,” said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who authored the anti-discrimination provision, in an e-mail. “Patients want good outcomes with good value, and complementary and alternative therapies can provide both.”

The federal government has, in recent years, tapped providers like Guiltinan, who is also the dean at the Bastyr University College of Naturopathic Medicine, to help advise the federal government and implement legislation that could affect the way they are paid and their disciplines are incorporated into the health care continuum. In 2012, Guiltinan, based in Kenmore, Wash., was appointed to the advisory council of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Proving that alternative medicine has real, measurable benefits has been key to increasing its role in the system, said John Weeks, editor of the Integrator Blog, an online publication for the alternative medicine community. The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, created by the health law, is funding studies on alternative medicine treatments to determine their effectiveness.

Weeks said both lawmakers and the general public will soon have access to that research, including the amount of money saved by integrating other forms of medicine into the current health system.

But the challenges of introducing alternative care don’t stop with science.

Because under the health care law each state defines its essential benefits plan — what is covered by insurance — somewhat differently, the language concerning alternative medicine has to be very specific in terms of who gets paid and for what kinds of treatment, said Deborah Senn, the former insurance commissioner in Washington and an advocate for alternative medicine coverage.

She pointed out that California excluded coverage for chiropractic care in its essential benefits plan, requiring patients to pay out of pocket for their treatment. Senn thinks the move was most likely an oversight and an unfavorable one for the profession. Four other states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon and Utah — ruled the same way in the past year.

“That’s just an outright violation of the law,” she said, referring to the ACA clause.

Colorado and Oregon are in the process of changing that ruling to allow chiropractic care to be covered, according to researchers at Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care.

Some states, like Washington, are ahead of the rest of the country in embracing alternative practitioners. The Bastyr University system, where Guiltinan works, treats 35,000 patients a year with naturopathic medicine. Sixty percent of the patients billed insurance companies for coverage.

Guiltinan said a change in the system is not only a boon for alternative medicine doctors, but helps families of all income levels access care normally limited to out-of-pocket payment. That’s why some alternative medicine aficianados like Rohit Kumar are hoping the law will increase the ability of his family — and the larger community – to obtain this kind of care.

Kumar, a 26-year-old business owner in Los Angeles, said his parents and brothers have always used herbs and certain foods when they get sick, and regularly see a local naturopath and herbalist. He’s only used antibiotics once, he says, when he caught dengue fever on a trip to India.

While the Kumar family pays for any treatments they need with cash — the only payment both alternative providers accept — they also pay for a high-deductible health plan every month to cover emergencies, like when his brother recently broke his arm falling off a bike.

Paying for a conventional health care plan and maintaining their philosophy of wellness is not cheap.

“We pay a ridiculous amount of money every month,” Kumar said of the high-deductible insurance. “And none of it goes toward any type of medicine we believe in.”

Even so, he said the family will continue to practice a lifestyle that values wellness achieved without a prescription — a philosophy that Guiltinan also adopted in her practice.

As a young medical technician in a San Francisco hospital, she decided that the traditional medical system was geared more toward managing diseases and symptoms rather than prevention. Naturopathic medicine, on the other hand, seemed to fit her idea of how a doctor could address the root cause of illness.

“The body has an innate ability for healing, but we get in its way,” Guiltinan said. “Health is more than the absence of disease.”

Juicy Juicy

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I guess that it should not surprise me that I haven’t written as much about my experiences on the month-long journey of the juice fast as I’d intended to. The days have caught up with me. I’m surprised to look at the calendar and see only one more day left of fasting. I was on the phone with my naturopath two days ago, checking in with her, and going over some of the foods that I will be using as I start my raw diet for the next ninety days.

While I have done juice fasts before (I have habitually done juice fasts in the high heat of August every year, fasting as briefly as three days or for as long as the entire month, depending upon the year, my schedule and the way my body feels), I have never attempted a raw diet—vegetarian, yes, raw, no—before and needed some guidance.

I was pleased to hear from her that perfection is not required in a raw diet, that only about 80% of the foods need to be strictly raw and that I was allowed, for instance, brown rice (which I love) and baked tofu (ditto) while on the diet. I feel that with these allowances, and with the occasional baked sweet potato, I’ll be able to make the diet work, especially with the help of books like Raw Food Made Easy by Jennifer Cornbleet and Ani’s Raw Food Essentials by Ani Phyo to help offer food plans, great recipes and, perhaps most important, composed shopping lists for staple foods.

But I digress: the juice fast.

The who/what/when/where/how of it. The thing in life that I have found easiest and hardest, both at the same time.

The first thing you need to know about juice fasts is that you are not really fasting at all. You are flooding your body with every nutrient it needs, in a form in which it need not be digested, only absorbed directly so that every ounce of the goodness is easily used by your body. You will be amazed by the lack of waste. Your body will use everything you give it if your juice is well-composed. And the energy (and a great deal of energy it is) that your body usually uses for digestion is instead used to heal that which needs healing.

Thus, after a juice fast, I have been told by a dental assistant that I had the healthiest gums she’d ever seen. I have had my blood tested before and after juice fasts to prove that the process of fasting has a dynamic influence over everything, from high blood pressure to cholesterol to blood sugar.

Everything comes into balance; the body heals itself. This is the blessing of the juice fast.

Along with the complete detoxification that also takes place. Using only pure organic juice allows the body to flush out all that it is holding in. The bowels detoxify. (I leave that process to your imagination. I will only say that that part of the fast—the first ten days or so—is unpleasant.) The body breaks down fat that is has hurriedly stored, in which it places excess sugars, uric acid, etc. (Also no fun, but the way you feel after it has been broken down and the toxins flushed away is well worth it.)

The process of detox can be harsh; the person fasting may need to use probiotics to support this phase and may also need to use a source of protein (I use brown rice protein powder) to supplement the juice in order to keep strength up. Once the detox phase passes (you can see it pass by watching your tongue, which will at first be thickly coated and later a clean pink as the toxins leave your system), the fast becomes pleasant.

I have never experienced actual hunger while on the fast. Because I make sure that I have plenty of juice at all times. I make sure I am satisfied; so what I miss is not actually eating but chewing. There is something in the act of chewing that is pleasurable. Believe me, you miss it when it’s gone.

To give you some general information about juice fasts, it’s important, right up front, to point out that they should always be undertaken with the agreement of and supervision of your health care professional. Like anything else that dynamically impacts health, they should never be done in secret. (It always amazes me how many Americans feel that their health care professional should be able to help them, even though they keep secrets form them, go to other doctors to get other pills that they want that they never mention to their primary care doctor. They abuse the trust that exists between themselves and their doctors and then get angry when that doctor can’t help them to get well.)

Once you’ve set up the terms of the fast (and, as I’ve said, they can be as brief as three days or as long as thirty—after thirty days, the body may begin to digest muscle as well as fat, and we don’t want that, so thirty days is the absolute limit, even though I tend to feel, after three weeks in, as if I could fast endlessly, which is when my naturopath steps in and tells me to stop), you begin to prepare yourself for it.

First, you need a proper juicer. There are many on the market. Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that Breville makes the best juicers. They are expensive, but they have strong motors that last a long time, sharp blades and, best of all, wide mouths that all whole apples to pass into the machine without needing to be chopped. You can do the research for yourself; there are many fine juicers on the market. But one tip: don’t bother with those under a hundred dollars. They never work right and break immediately under constant use (and during the fast they will be used constantly).

Find the juicer that is right for you and order it. While you are waiting for it to arrive, begin to prepare yourself for the fast. You can’t just start fasting, you must allow your body to slowly prepare itself.

You do this by dropping specific foods over the days. Stop meat first, then the rest of animal proteins (dairy, eggs and the like), then stop with any processed foods, like catsup, and then stop with the carbs, like rice or wheat, and then slowly winnow down off vegetables and fruit alike until you are ready to let go completely. I take a week to do this. (On the other end of the fast, you have to do the exact same thing and add foods in slowly, slowly to allow your body to adjust.)

Then, juicer in hand, you begin. Over the years, I have always used a full array of fruits and vegetables when I’ve fasted. I would make “meal” juices of vegetables and “snack” juices out of fruit.

This time, I decided to do a much stricter fast. One that involved only green vegetables. So I was juicing kale, Swiss chard, cucumber, zucchini, celery, cabbage, parsley, watercress, and the like. For fun, I occasionally threw in carrots (too much sugar for this fast, so I limited them), tomatoes, and radishes.

What I have found is that the juice fast that involves fruit juices in easier and more fun, with its balance of sweet and savory juice, but the fast like the one I am on now, the fast involving green vegetables only is deeper and far more powerful. I’ve lost more weight on this fast than I have on any other. It also has cut through bloating, and given me a deeper sense of detoxification as well. I recommend it, although it is a more difficult fast.

In fact, as I look over the last paragraph, I see that I (subconsciously?) omitted broccoli from the list of things I juiced. Perhaps because I’ve found broccoli juice to be the single worst taste I’ve ever had on my tongue. And yet, broccoli is such a powerfully healing food, it is needed to be included in the juice. (By all means, mix some coconut water—you can find raw coconut water if you are a stickler—and some green tea into the juice to cut it and give it a sweeter, more pleasant flavor.)

I make three juices a day and I make about 30 to 40 fluid ounces at a time. This is a lot of juice, several glasses per juicing. But in this way, as I’ve said, I never experience hunger.

It is important that you drink the juice within fifteen or twenty minutes of juicing for best benefit, but, as we live in an imperfect world in which we tend to be running around all the time, it is possible to keep juice for a few hours. It won’t be as good as it would have been in the first few minutes, but what can you do? Just keep it in a closed, opaque container, like a water bottle. Don’t let the air get to it, or the juice will oxidize like an apple that has had its skin removed. Nothing will kill the benefit of the juice faster than contact with air. And make sure the container is opaque to keep it away from sunlight as well. Finally, keep it cold. Either in a hamper, like you’d use on a picnic—I know people who keep these in their trunks to protect their juice during the workday—or the refrigerator.

Finally, there is one other aspect of the juice fast that I want to mention: time.

You will find that, during the fast, you have so much more of it. You don’t take hours a day to prepare food. You don’t take more hours to eat it. When on the fast, I find that I have more time for myself and my thoughts than at any other time. And this is great, because I also find that, during the fast, while my body heals, my mind and spirit do also. In taking the time to slow down, to rest (and you do have to rest as much as possible as you simply will not have all the energy that you regularly do and because rest is key to the healing process), issues that have been as or more toxic to the body than sugar, flour, etc, will also be washed away. The fast brings a mental and spiritual clarity as well as physical.

As I said in the beginning of this post, I was talking to my naturopath the other day to help set up the plan for the days ahead when I step away from fasting (which is, strangely akin to going away to a health spa, even if you are at home in your own bed, kitchen, etc) and return to eating.

What I haven’t shared as yet is what I said to her. I told her that, since beginning my fast, I’ve been sleeping deeply, drinking in sleep. I’ve awakened energized, where I usually awaken to find myself still exhausted. I’ve lost weight—about twenty-five pounds so far. All bloat is gone. My feet have bones showing. My chin has reappeared and the shape of my face has changed from round to the oblong thing that is was twenty years ago. My skin is clearer and the texture of it has changed. My energy is up—in the last week or so of the fast, it always amazes me how much energy that I have in spite of not having had a solid meal in weeks.

My naturopath said to me, “You sound so good.” She sounded very pleased. Then I thanked her for her help and said that she had quite literally given me my life back. The arthritic pains that trouble me constantly have fades. My joints are fluid. My feet don’t hurt. I now have dropped two pants sizes and one shoe size. I’ve even dropped as ring size. Best of all, I look and feel younger, rejuvenated.

“The only thing that worries me,” I said to my doctor, “Is where I will be in five years. Will I be able to keep this up?”

“As long as you know me you will,” she answered.

I found this very comforting.

Homeopathy Hits a Homer

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If you haven’t heard by now, here’s an incredible article on the efficacy of homeopathy, via Dana Ullman, writing for Huffington Post.

Recently, the Swiss government (not any pressure group, think tank or pharmaceutical company–the actual government of the country of Switzerland) released a report on homeopathy and related CAM treatments.  Their findings are astounding, in that they give evidence, once and for all, of the efficacy of homeopathic treatments.  Further, the report notes that half the population of Switzerland uses or has used CAM treatments, specifically homeopathic medicines, and that a full eighty-five percent of the population of that nation believes that CAM treatments should be covered by the national health care plan.

Such a difference from the folks in the UK, who have allowed themselves to be deceived by a small group of very vocal “skeptics,” whose role it is to drive homeopaths and homeopathic medicine into the icy waters of the North Atlantic.  Perhaps if the British government could see it way clear to conduct its own exhaustive research into the matter they, like the Swiss, would conclude that homeopathic medicine and other CAM treatments not only should be part of the national health care, but also are actually more effective, cheaper and safer than their allopathic alternatives.

I live for the day when allopathy is considered the “alternative” to mainstream homeopathy.  And I won’t shut my big mouth until that happens.

Read Dana’s article about the Swiss government’s findings here.  And help spread the word by cut and pasting this link all over the internet.

The Thing About Colchicine

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On first consideration, you may not think that this is very important. After all, it likely doesn’t involve you directly. However, as a warning sign, this is something that should alarm every American and drive them to action. So read on:

Colchicine is a drug that has been in use literally for thousands of years. It is made from the flower the Meadow Saffron, also called the Autumn Crocus (Colchicum Autumnale). As the allopathic drug (the planet is also made into a homeopathic remedy called Colchicum, which, happily in not affected by the events discussed here) is still taken more or less directly from the plant and not from a chemical equivalent, it might almost be considered an herbal remedy that has, for generations, been used by allopaths in the treatment of gout.

In fact, as a treatment for gout, Colchicine has likely been around for as long as gout has. First recorded treatments for patients with gout date back to 1500 B.C., when physicians in Egypt began using the medicine for patients with rheumatism. It began being used specifically for gout in Rome in 500 A.D. After hundreds of years of being used in Europe, none other than Benjamin Franklin brought Autumn Crocus plants to America so that he could grow the herbal medicine for the treatment of his own case of gout. And it was “purified” into an allopathic drug for the first time in 1833. It has been used in exactly the same way ever since.

Colchicine works by leeching uric acid from the human system; and as uric acid build-up is the cause of gout, the medicine is effective not only for gout attacks, but can be used daily as a preventative, in that the medicine will keep the amount of uric acid in the system low enough to keep attacks from occurring. Note that Colchicine is also an anti-inflammatory, although it is not effective against other forms of arthritis or realted conditions.

For years, Colchicine was the go-to medicine for those with gout. It was easy to get a prescription for, it was cheap and it was effective—on average, a thirty-day supply cost as little as five or six dollars. And the drug was effective enough that, for many patients with gout, it was the only drug needed to keep their disease under control. So, what’s the issue with Colchicine? With everything going so well, a safe, effective, readily available and cheap medicine for one of the most painful conditions known to mankind, what could have possibly gone wrong?

Why the FDA, of course.

It is important to note that Colchicine was such an old drug that it actually pre-dated the FDA itself. There are a number of other drugs that are in the same position of having been grandfathered in when the FDA was formed, drugs that had been in use for decades and were an established part of the allopathic pharmacy, in regular use all over the United States on a daily basis. But of certain, specific reasons, Colchicine suddenly was targeted by the FDA.

Although no deaths or other catastrophic reactions to the medicine were uncovered (indeed, Colchicine is one of the few allopathic drugs that a person like me—someone who is almost rabidly dedicated to homeopathy to the point of avoiding almost all aspects of allopathic medicine at all times—could feel good about. It was as close to natural as possible and still be a part of the allopathic pharmacy.

And it was fairly safe to use. The only negative side-effect associated with the drug that I know of is that it will cause diarrhea if over used. And, indeed, many patients using Colchicine chose to take it until it caused diarrhea, knowing that, in doing so, the uric acid would be flushed away more quickly, if not more comfortably.

But a few years back, the FDA very quietly decided that Colchicine was not safe. That it had never been tested effectively enough. And so they very quietly once more (and the FDA can become remarkably stealthy when they want to) removed the drug from the market, saying that they had reason to suspect that it was not safe. Which was, let’s face it, much like the Bush administration insisting against all evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction as an excuse for declaring war.

Here’s the thing about Colchicine. The FDA turned the drug over to URL Pharma, with whom they had entered into a new agreement for the medication. URL Pharma agreed to invest $100 million in the drug, $45 million of which went to the FDA itself as an “application fee.” After Colchicine (I really shouldn’t call it that at this point, because the drug formerly know as Colchicine had been taken from the market and legally no longer existed) passed the various tests and was officially declared safe, was it simply put back on the market under the same name for $6 for a thirty day supply?

Of course not.

Colchicine was renamed Colcrys and returned to the market. And who has been given an exclusive license for the drug? URL Pharma. And what is the cost of a thirty-day supply of Colcrys? Ninety dollars.

That’s right: in “proving” that a drug that has been used for thirty-five hundred years is safe and effective, a pharmaceutical company has been given the right to increase the cost of the exact same drug from five dollars to ninety dollars for a one month supply. But why? Why is Colchicine worth re-licensing?

It’s all about gout.

You see, in our nation, somewhere around fifty million people have high blood pressure. And many, many of those patients are given diuretics in treatment for hypertension, with the idea that, if the amount of fluid in the blood flowing through blood vessels is reduced, then the pressure of the blood beating against those vessels will be reduced from an unsafe higher level to a safer low level. All well and good.

But what the doctors prescribing diuretics don’t tell their patients is that one common issue with using them is that they can cause gout. As the amount of fluid in the body is reduced, then the amount of uric acid is increased. And because uric acid weighs more than water, the acid flows down to the feet, where the acid crystals (the excess of the acid) are stored by the body in the joints of the feet, most often the joints of the big toe, with the result of a gout attack.

Because of the misuse of diuretics, millions of Americans now have gout, a disease that, once established in incurable. The condition can be managed (with the use of Colchicine—excuse me, Colcrys), but not cured.

And so, over the past twenty years, literally millions of hypertension patients have become gout sufferers as well. And those patients needed a medicine for that condition for the rest of their lives. But what did allopathic medicine have to offer? The best remedy was this old, old medicine, one that was nearly worthless in terms of profits. But not, it turns out, if it were taken off the market and remarketed as a new drug under a new name. Then you can increase the cost of the medication nearly twenty times and, as a result, profits are huge.

Can anyone tell me how, in any way, shape or form, the FDA was looking after the interests of the American pubic in the way it dealt with the drug Colchicine? Instead of investigating the use of diuretics in the treatment of hypertension, something that leads directly to the creation of gout symptoms in many patients, the FDA instead takes a medicine that has been used safely and effectively for thousands of years and declares it safe so that it can pocket a huge fee and then allow a pharmaceutical company to extort the members of the public who need that medicine.

This result is that those patients without insurance can no longer afford their medicine, and that insurance companies are forced to pay a much higher amount for those who do have the medicine (this results, of course, in higher medical costs for all). When will the FDA actually make a decision, take an action that is in the best interests of the American public, a community that they are sworn to protect?

The thing about Colchicine is that it proves that they are not doing it yet. And there are other drugs—and plenty of them, that were grandfathered in, that the FDA could use to perform the same magic act of taking a drug with little profit and turn in into a new profit center. So the question is: where will the FDA strike next. And that’s not a very nice question to have to ask about an agency of our own federal government. I’d like to think that my government is working for me, and not against me, as it did with Colchicine.

Homeopathy, Allopathy, Skeptics & That Amazing Old Randi–All’s Fair in Love & War & ‘Homeophobia’?

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So just a couple of days ago, I was reading a post in the blog of a British homeopath and discovered that the Amazing Randi is a gay man.  And that he had the courage to announce himself as such at age 81.  Now Randi and I have never seen anything eye to eye in the past.  I have found his attacks on homeopathy to be rather vile at times, as he does not always satisfy himself with a debate over ideas, and does, from time to time, get a little irritable, and, in his irritability, tends to deride those of us who uphold the principles of homeopathy, both in philosophy and action.

But upon reading the screed against Randi and his, to use the blogger’s vernacular, “lifestyle,” I couldn’t help but wonder what that has to do with homeopathy, allopathy or the ongoing debate between the two for the hearts and minds of patients everywhere?

Let me go on record again as stating that Randi and his minions have attacked me here in the past, I’ve received death threats from some and just some rather juicy rude comments from others (I guess that Randi’s recent disclosure will remove some of the juiciest rude remarks from the vocabulary of his Flying Monkeys–time will tell.), and that I in no way support anything that the Skeptics do other than simply talk, as I believe in the right of free speech for all.  They are free to disagree with me as often and as loudly as they might.  They may not, however, attempt to in any way stop me from using homeopathy, from making the decisions that I am free to make in terms of medical treatment or to try and shout down, Tea Party style, any homeopathic lectures, meetings or study groups.  You get the idea:  debate when appropriate, but respect the fact that those who disagree with you have an equal right to believe as they will and to state their opinions freely.

Randi, Amazing, The

Before continuing, I want to post a link to a site on which you can hear Randi speak about his sexuality and his process of coming out.  I think that it is important to share this link, as I find his words to be thoughtful and well-presented.  (Here’s the link.)  I want to congratulate Randi for having the courage to come out, even at age 81.  It takes guts for any public person of any stripe to announce himself or herself to be openly homosexual, and so I want to state on the record that I am in full support of the man personally and that I hope he finds much caring support when it comes to his honesty about his sexuality.

But now I need to switch gears.  Again, Randi has been a vocal opponent of homeopathy many years.  In that time, he has made fun of, called names concerning and offered money to vex anyone and everyone in the homeopathic community.  I have never understood his hatred of homeopathy.  I have read again and again that he consider it quackery.  I get that, but that does not usually lead to such an emotionally explosive response.  I’ve always rather suspected that Randi saw homeopathy as an odd enough and a politically weak enough branch of medicine that he rather cynically latched onto it as a means of making a name for himself, as he thought that we would be able to drive homeopathy and all homeopaths into the sea rather easily.  This has not proven the case, however, no matter how many Flying Monkeys Randi launched.

But now, for a homeopath of some note, John Benneth, to sink to Randi and the Monkeys’ level and lower, to issue a rant of pure homophobic bigotry, well, this is the sort of thing that I have never been willing or able to keep silent about.  Most of the time, I read the posts in internet homeopathic groups, nod or shake my head, and just read on.  But, upon reading this screed, I knew I had to say something.  And that something is:  a man’s life and his sexuality is his own business, no matter his political goals, no matter his fame or lack of same.  To take the fact that the man is an acknowledge gay man and to try and warp that into anything other than a simple fact of life is not only inappropriate, it is despicable as well.

If you haven’t read the post, dated October 22, on Benneth’s blog, creatively named “The John Benneth Journal,”  well, here’s that link.  It’s important that you visit his blog and that you read and understand what he is trying to do with his post and with his comments that follow.  In a post entitled “Homeopathy Hater’s Lover Exposed,’ Benneth uses NY Post and Fox News techniques in order to prey upon the lack of understanding that many feel concerning homosexuality in order to paint Randi as “other,” as a lesser thing than a human being.  Further he alludes to the possibility that Randi may or may not have had charges of sexual abuse of a minor thrown at him in the past.  I hope not.  There are few things that I abhor more than any adult who would destroy the life of a child through the use of rape.  But Benneth has no proof to offer, only the whiff of guilt, which he mixes with his own bigoted notion that all gay men are rapist of children to try and get his readers to agree.  This sort of use of fear and anger combined with ignorance has given rise to political action in the past, but I hope it will fall on deaf ears now.  Indeed, I hope that Benneth will hear loud and clear from his readership that his methods and the content of his attack are both outrageous.  He needs to remove the offending posts and to stay far away from crossing this line again in the future.
What makes Benneth’s personal and base attack all the more outrageous is that Benneth is himself a homeopath, a healer.  And yet, in this case, with this argument, he has taken the low road.  I posted a comment on his blog which lead him to immediately attack me in very much the same way.

It saddens me a great deal to see such a bitter and vile underside of the global homeopathic community.  I have heard from another practitioner that not only is homosexuality a form of mental illness, but that the sad and desperate little homosexuals (to use that practitioners jargon) can be saved through the use of homeopathic remedies.  In that the homosexuals I know are neither sad, nor to be pitied, I can only say that this practitioner and others who would, like Benneth agree with him, are apparently not content to merely study Hahnemann’s homeopathy, but have apparently found a way of traveling back in time to live with Hahnemann back in the 1850s, so woefully antiquated are their arguments.

My experience of homeopathy and homeopaths has always been that they have taken the high road, seen themselves as healers and lived that role, by elevating the thoughts of those with whom they come in contact, even those who disagree with them.  To learn of their new idea that debate itself should be a “like for like’ thing and that the homeopaths, therefore, should stoop to the same shabby comments at their opponents truly upsets me and makes me question the health of the homeopathic community itself.

P.S.  I must admit that I almost, in opening this piece, commented that at least now we know why Randi spells his name with an “i,”  but that would be wrong, wouldn’t it?  Totally wrong.

Short Rant: Statin Drugs, Diabetes or Heart Disease, Your Choice

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I haven’t ranted about this sort of crap for a while, but a new article in the New York TImes concerning newly found risks in taking statin drugs to lower cholesterol levels has me back in the same frenzy that I entered every other time the Times has told us all about the risks that allopathic crap drugs carry.

Don’t believe me.  Here’s the article.  Read it for yourself.

What makes me particularly crazy is the fact that doctors see a 9% increase in the chance of developing diabetes as a “side effect.”  And that they find this increase to be completely acceptable.  From the story:

“’I don’t think it’s very clinically important,’’’ said Dr. Steven E. Nissen, chairman of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic, who consults with drug companies that make statins but requires his fees be donated to charity. ‘What I worry about here is that people will read this story and say, ‘I don’t want to get diabetes so I’m going to stop my statin,’ and then they have a heart attack.’’’
True, nobody wants anyone to have a heart attack. But shouldn’t we all share a desire that the medicine we take be safe AND effective?  What good is  an allopathic piece of shit drug if it, to some degree (let’s not get crazy and think that statins ALWAYS prevent heart attacks), prevents one disease, while it, so some degree, increases the risk of another.  Millions are at risk of diabetes.  Millions and millions of Americans are living at the threshold of the disease, live with insulin resistance or “syndrome X” as it is called.  What would happen to them, to those already living with high risk of diabetes, if they were to take the statin drugs to prevent heart disease.  So many of the causative factors of heart disease are the same for diabetes and vice versa.  Can a drug that causes an increase of possibility of one ever be a wise treatment for the other?

How is it possible that we have a medical system in which a significant increase in risk for a terrible disease is seen as a “side effect?”  It boggles the mind.  And yet, to the millions who have been so dazed and confused by a lifetime of hearing allopathic bullshit propaganda, it all starts to see as if it makes sense.  A few will die from the drug, and a few will be saved by it.  Only fair.  Only fair.

What makes me so sad is that there are other methods and other medicines that can be equally effective in the treatment of high cholesterol that don’t involve the same risk that allopathic medicine does.  Isn’t it high time that you gave that some thought?  That you stopped taking medicines that put you at risk when you take them and, instead, found something that is safe and effective?

May I suggest that you explore homeopathy?

Homeopathy, Skeptics & Chinese Food: A Placebo Effect Cul De Sac, Featuring Tina Fey & Her New Book, Bossypants

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When I am not busy trying to make the world safe for homeopathy, I am often busy reading books and reviewing them for the New York Journal of Books—and, in doing so, I am busy trying to make the world safe for readers as well.

In the book I am now reading for my next review, Bossypants by Tina Fey, I came upon a short chapter that resonated with me.  Called “I Don’t Care If You Like It,” the chapter had to do with the concept of whether it is right or wrong for women to be comedians.  But there was something in the universality of people having the right to do or think as they like that hit close to home with me.  So I thought I’d share it with you.

First a few chapters from Bossypants:

“Amy Poehler was new to SNL and we were all crowded into the seventeenth-floor writers’ room, waiting for the Wednesday read-through to start.  There were always a lot of noisy ‘comedy bits’ going on in that room.  Any was in the middle of some such nonsense with Seth Meyers across the table, and she did something vulgar as a joke.  I can’t remember what it was exactly, except it was dirty and loud and ‘unladylike.’

“Jimmy Fallon, who was arguably the star of the show at the time, turned to her and in a faux-squeamish voice said, ‘Stop that!  It’s not cute!  I don’t like it.’

“Amy dropped what she was doing, went black in the eyes for a second, and wheeled around on him.  ‘I don’t fucking care if you like it.’  Jimmy was visibly startled.  Amy went right back to enjoying her ridiculous bit.  (I should make it clear that Jimmy and Amy are very good friends and there was never any real beef between them.  Insert penis joke here.)

“With that exchange, a cosmic shift took place.  Amy made it clear that she wasn’t there to be cute.  She wasn’t there to play wives and girlfriends in the boys’ scenes.  She was there because she wanted to do what she wanted to do and she did not fucking care if you like it.

“I was so happy.  Weirdly, I remember thinking, ‘My friend is here!  My friend is here!’ Even though things had been going great for me on the show, with Amy there, I felt less alone.

“I  think of this whenever someone says to me, ‘Jerry Lewis says women aren’t funny,’ or ‘Christopher Hitchens says women aren’t funny,’ or ‘Rick Felderman says women aren’t funny…Do you have anything to say to that?’

“Yes.  We don’t fucking care if you like it.

“I don’t say it out loud, of course, because Jerry Lewis is a great philanthropist, Hitchens is very sick, and the third guy I made up.

“Unless one of these men is my boss, which none of them is, it’s irrelevant.  My hat goes off to them.  It is an impressively arrogant move to conclude that just because you don’t like something, it is empirically not good.  I don’t like Chinese food, but I don’t write articles trying to prove it doesn’t exist.”

Which all goes to show that cosmic shifts can happen anywhere, any time.  They can happen while reading the next book that you are to review.

So thanks Tina Fey for setting me straight, for letting me see just how arrogant it is of the Skeptics to not only decide that homeopathy is not for them, but to also take the next step and, like Chinese food, start writing articles and making videos announcing that it does not exist.

If I have had not just one but multiple healings through the use of homeopathy, then, say the Skeptics, either it was all a coincidence and my symptoms were going to go away anyway, or I am just too much of an idiot to know that I have been tricked and fooled, again and again.  Because I am ssssoooooooooo easily lead that I can believe that I have been healing just because someone waves a wand at me and says that I have been healed.  (Funny how that never seems to work with allopathic drugs, no matter how many wands are waved and now matter how much I believe in them as well.  But placebo effect is a wacky old thing, it just comes and goes, comes and goes…)

So let me say this to the Skeptics (and, by the word Skeptic, let me note that I am not addressing those who are generically skeptical, those who are actually asking questions with the intent of getting answers, no I am addressing those who have more formally named themselves Skeptics and who have made it their business to be more or less the medicine police for a world that neither needs not wants such a service), in Tina Fey’s vernacular, when it comes to homeopathy, those of us who have spent our lives studying it, practicing it and/or being treated by it “don’t fucking care if you like it.”

You can take it or leave it.  As can I.  And I choose to keep it.  I choose to continue being treated by it, and writing about it, and studying it and seeing to it that it remains a legal form of medical treatment in my own country and in countries around the world.

Because this is where you really make me mad, Skeptics, when you don’t just satisfy yourself stamping your feet and shouting.  When you take it upon yourself to try and see to it that the laws change and that I no longer have the right to have the medical treatment of my preference.  And that is where you are making your mistake, Skeptics.  You should have stuck with your phony “Oh, look I overdosed by taking homeopathic remedies incorrectly in a way that would never actually cause an overdose for a homeopathic remedy, although, were it an allopathic drug, it likely would have killed me!” videos.  Because when you seek to take away my legal rights, you get me mad.  And millions of others just like me.

You see, people don’t like being told what to do, especially by an arrogant group of loudmouths.  You may get some media attention just for the novelty of it all, but I think that you will find that, in trying to drive homeopathy into the ocean, you actually get many people who have no intention of actually taking homeopathy themselves, upset enough to see to it that your measures don’t work.

Why?

Because just like Tina Fey, millions of people agree that “just because you Skeptics don’t like something, does not mean that it is empirically not good.”

And we don’t have to convince you of anything.  We don’t have to prove a damned thing to you.  And we have the right to choose when it comes to our own medical care–not you, never you.  Honestly, and we mean this from our holistic little hearts, we just don’t fucking care if you don’t like it.

Homeopathy exists.  And homeopathy is loved by millions.  Just like Chinese food.

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