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.

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Starting Over from Scratch

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For me, it all started with numbers. I disliked all the numbers associated with me. My age. My blood pressure. My blood sugar. The waist size on my pants. My shoe size. All of them described someone older than I, sicker than I, more restricted by life than I. Over time, it came to seem as if gravity were pushing me down more than others.

So I decided to make a change.

I have been doing juice fasts every year for years now. Always in the high heat of August, when it feels so good to drink down the cool juice and then to sit outdoors, catching what breezes I can.

Sometimes the fasts are as brief as three days, just enough for a little detox and a little rest. Other times they can last a full thirty days, a period of time in which I can reassess, decide what aspects of life are working for me and which ones are not. It is a time to reassess work, relationships, and, most important, lifestyle choices—food, locale, etc.

Last August, I had set out to do a full thirty days. And I was nearly there. On day twenty-eight, Hurricane Irene swept up the East coast and walloped the state of Connecticut. We were without power for days. And, with no power, I had no juicer. Our excellent health food store, New Morning, was closed. Everything was closed. Trees were down everywhere, roads were flooded. Radio stations disappeared. The batteries on our old radio failed and stores were closed. So we went without.

In short, that fast ended abruptly.

One day I was juicing carrots, zucchini and cucumber. The next I was baling out the basement.

And after that we ate what food we had. Canned things. Bottled things. Crackers with peanut butter. Not the usual ending of the fast. I had intended to move onto raw foods for a time to continue losing weight and cleansing my body. But Irene changed my mind. Within two weeks it was as if the fast had never happened.

So, I’m on to the next fast now. To change those numbers. And I pray this time for a soft landing.

It was a funny thing that motivated me this time. It was a picture that I saw on Facebook. It has been all over the Internet by now, I’m sure, but I’ll post it here:

This bloated possum serves as the "Before" image for my juice fast

It’s a possum you broke into a bakery in Australia. You can see from the hole in the back of the box that he was a good bit smaller when he chewed his way into the box then he was when he finished eating. Image what the little guy must have thought when he got into that box. I’m sure he smelled the pastry, and so he had a clue as to what was ahead. But to find so many! And so many flavors! He apparently ate all night until he not only was too swollen to get back out of the box, but even to move.

Take a close look at the picture. His expression tells the whole story.

So I saw this picture and, at first, laughed. It is funny. (I just hope that the people who had the sense of humor to take the picture also had the sense of humor to let the poor thing go.) But then I began to identify with the animal. I realized that I look like that too many nights after too many dinners. That could be me on the couch instead of the possum in the box. And, like the possum, my own discomfort, my own bad numbers (aside from age) were those that I earned from my own bad choices.

So I have decided to make a good choice for a change and to decide to go on a juice fast as a means of starting from scratch. If you’ve never experienced a juice fast, it is an amazing thing. A time of detox, which can be quite difficult, followed by a time of rest and reflection that can yield powerful results if you let it. And then, at the end, there is a time of joy, as your being feels charged with energy and healed from within. It it, as I say both a difficult thing that requires determination and a wonderful, powerful tool for healing.

Last summer, I mentioned my juice fast in passing here at Psora Psora Psora, as a bit of an amuse bouche. This time, as the stakes are higher, I intend to write in more detail, giving notes on how to do a juice fast safely and effectively. Even with a nod to giving some recipes for specific juices. (Hint: lots of carrots are involved.)

There’s nothing that I can think of in life, short of joining the witness protection program, that can give you a fresh start like a juice fast. I hope that, as you read these entries, you come to agree.

Getting Healthy, Getting Free

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A friend from LinkedIn and a colleague in the community of alternative medicine, Brenda Vanta, MD, recently sent me a copy of her first book, called Free from Health, Relationship and Money Hiccups: An Easy and Effective Solution.

I’ve read the book and wanted to help spread the word about it.

While the “easy” in the subtitle may be a relative turn, the book does offer information on various methods by which we can all become both more whole and more healthy. Brenda Vanta has developed an exercise she calls “Stage Technique” that seems a very useful tool for the average person to use to free himself or herself of emotional/mental/energistic blocks. Blocks that keep us from attaining the level of health (and in the terms of this book, health = freedom) that we might otherwise enjoy.

I think that book well titled, in that it is all about the ways in which we can be set free. And I recommend that book to anyone who would like a basic primer on healing and how it takes place.

Free is available both in print and e-book forms, and both may be found at Amazon. The cost of the e-book is just $5.98 in Kindle format, and $10 for the print format. I hope you’ll take a look.

A little book on a great big topic

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.

More Juice

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As a write this, the weather here in Connecticut has changed.  When I went into my juice fast, all was humid, hot and hazy.  Now, as is common for the end of August, the sun is hot but the breeze has cooled.  The nights are cool as well, and so the tops of the trees are beginning to color.  The little weeping cherry in our front garden is always on the forefront of the move from summer to autumn, and many of the leaves that trail down its ropey branches are already tinged with gold.

This leaves me, as it has other years, chilled to the bone.  Nothing in the body of anyone on a juice fast can withstand anything like the cold that is to come.  That is the reason why these fasts are done during high heat.  That and the abundance of fruits and vegetables of all sorts.

And so my fast winds down as does the summer.  The sun has shifted on the horizon, making the shadows already a big longer and the light already a bit deeper, not yet the pure gold of October, but not the July’s hot spotlight in the sky.

And so what has happened to me in this fast?  Well, certainly I have lost weight.  Certainly my skin is clearer, my eyes brighter, my cheekbones a bit more pronounced. The chin, that was more or less disappearing into my neck now protrudes into the world as it should.  And I certainly have detoxed.  My fingernails are perfectly pink, without mark or mar, as are my gums.  Most important, in the days since the exhaustion that is, for me, the second phase of the fast (detox being the first), the usual sense of peace has entered in.  While fasting, I feel that I am more connected with the earth beneath my feet, with the light, the heat (or lack thereof), the seasons.  I feel that I am also more connected with myself and with the body that I all too often take for granted.  And so there is at the end of the experience a sense of purpose, as sense of calm and a sense of accomplishment.

I had intended to give information, to tell what juices I use and how I blend them.  And how juices can become an important part of your diet, even if you don’t fast.  Even if you just add them in with what you are eating already.

But that will wait for another day.  There’s time enough for that when I get to it…

In the meantime, here’s a Wikipedia article that gives some basic information on juice fasts.

Juicy

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Because it has been a habit of mine for a long time now, I no longer think that it is strange.  But when I stop and think about it, or when I put it this particular way, I can’t help but find just how odd my habit is.  You see, I have a habit of not eating for one month out of every year.

Or to put it better, I have a habit of not chewing for one month out of every year.  I eat plenty, in fact I pack my system with nutrients, but I do not chew them.

 

Every August, I go on a juice fast.  I started it some years back when I was feeling what I can only say was “extremely middle-aged.”  I felt fat, tired, rather listless and, worst of all, trapped.  Trapped in my own body and trapped in a cycle of thoughts and actions that I knew were not the healthiest, the best they could be.

So I sought out a reset button.  I went to my naturopath before beginning my juice fast, and she mentored me through it.  Not only did she stand by and add rice protein powder when it was needed, but she encouraged me through it and educated me as to what I could expect from the juice fast.

And, if you are ever to undertake one, you need to know what to expect.

You need to know that the first stage of the fast, the detox stage, is a doozy.  Your tongue is coated white, your breath smells.  You feel achy and tired and irritated.  You may break out in rashes, and some of the stuff that will come out of your body will appall you.  Still you have to go through it.  It is an important part of the fast.

You see, the whole reason to go on a juice fast it to allow your body to heal.  And detoxing the system of all the junk that you regularly carry around inside, packed down in your bowels is an essential part of that healing process.

When you go on a juice fast, you are literally flooding your body with nutrients that are given to it in liquid form.  These nutrients are absorbed directly into your body.  They do not need to be digested.  And because the body does not have to use the amount of energy that it usually dedicates to digestion (especially of things like fried foods and red meats), it is able instead to dedicate that energy to healing, to rebuilding tissue that needs attention.  Kind of like when a community dedicates itself to rebuilding infrastructure.

And more, the juice helps cleans the bowels, sweeping away built up waste.  Therefore, the first few days of the fast can be remarkable in terms of what is lost.  Bloat goes away.  Toxins are flushed.  By the end of the first ten days or so of the fast, your system is beautifully cleansed, your eyes are brighter and your skin looks better.

For one thing, the juice fully hydrates.  For another, is fully nurtures the system.

I learned long ago that, for me, the best time of year for the fast is the high heat of summer.  Others swear by the first days of Spring as the best time.  But whenever the fast takes place, it renews, reinvigorates and it heals.

Most years, I only fast for three days.  To get to those days, I do three days of prep, in which I eliminate foods each day until, on the fourth day, I begin my fast.  While fasting, I take at least four large juices a day—two vegetable and two fruit.  In addition, I drink plenty of water.  At the end of the three days, I take three more to slowly add foods back into my diet, always breaking my fast simply with vegetable broth.  Then I add cooked vegetables.  Then I add brown rice as well.  Then I begin the fourth day with yogurt and begin to build back up to eating as usual.

Sometimes, however, I go for a full four weeks.  These are special fasts, and special times when I can take the time to rest and pay attention to myself and my needs, when I can meditate and be still.  In years when I am working hard in August, I can only do the short fast.

But this year, I will do the full twenty-eight days.  I am eighteen days in already.  My detox has passed and been replaced, as it has been in the past, with a sense of energy and concentration. In the first part of the fast, I was too tired to write about it.  Now, with time on my hands (it would amaze you how much time you have when you don’t have to cook, eat or clean the kitchen every night), I will finish up the fast here, with you, letting you know more about juicing (something I have become passionate about over the years) and the occasional juice fast.

 

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