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?

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Medicine, Healing & The “Placebo Effect,” Part One

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I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the “placebo effect.”

I warn you up front, this is likely to be long, likely published in pieces as I find the time.  But I can’t help it.  I find this whole topic to be damned interesting.

Mostly because I have noticed that the Skeptics—that crazy-quilt of organizations in the English speaking world who are making such a noise on the internet when it comes to something near and dear to my heart, homeopathy—tend to use the term “placebo effect” as those being cross-examined in court use the Fifth Amendment, as way of putting an end go conversation and a means by which they can always claim “victory,” even if it is of the Pyrrhic sort.

I think we are all aware of the idea of what a placebo is and what the placebo effect must therefore be, but, when you stop and think about the manipulation of reality that the blanket term “placebo” covers, you have to reconsider both what the term means and what the implication of its existence—and no one doubts its existence, apparently, not even the Skeptics themselves (and they doubt everything it is possible to doubt, as we shall see)—means.

First, though, a note on the Skeptics.

If you haven’t had the pleasure, you should look into the activities of the various groups that comprise the movement, sort of a Tea Party of the medication, philosophical and metaphysical realm.

I have recently become quite enamored by one of the Grand Old Men of the Skeptic’s movement, one Robert T. Carroll, PhD, who hosts the site The Skeptic’s Dictionary, on which he gives his viewpoint—and, more important, the reasons for his viewpoint—on topics ranging from, as he puts it, “Abracadabra to Zombies.”

Carroll’s academic background serves him well in his Skully-ish search for the “Truth.”  He was, until his retirement four years ago, a professor in the philosophy department of Sacramento City College—a position he held for thirty years.  Somewhere along the way—he is kind of cagey about his personal evolution as “skeptic”—he got downright skeptical and, as a result has built a very interesting website.

Because the purpose of that website is skepticism—it is called The Skeptic’s Dictionary, after all—he has quite a lot to say about religion, science and, of course, “alternative” medicine.

Now, regular readers of my blog and of my books all know how I hate the term “alternative” medicine, it that the term itself establishes allopathy as the thing that homeopathy, et al, are alternative to—in other words, allopathy is medicine, and everything else is an alternative.  My belief is that either it is medicine or it is not.  Hippocrates spoke of both homeopathy and allopathy (not by name, of course, but by philosophy) two millennia ago, either establishing both as systems of medical treatment, or setting himself up as a target for the Skeptics to go running after…

But the hated “alternative” term aside, Carroll has much to say about the topic at hand, “placebo effect,” in his Skeptic’s Dictionary.

Here’s a taste:

“A person’s beliefs and hopes about a treatment, combined with their suggestibility, may have a significant biochemical effect, however. Sensory experience and thoughts can affect neurochemistry. The body’s neurochemical system affects and is affected by other biochemical systems, including the hormonal and immune systems. Thus, it is consistent with current knowledge that a person’s hopeful attitude and beliefs may be very important to their physical well-being and recovery from injury or illness.

“The psychological explanation seems to be the one most commonly believed. Perhaps this is why many people are dismayed when they are told that the effective drug they are taking is a placebo. This makes them think that their problem is “all in their mind” and that there is really nothing wrong with them. Yet, there are too many studies that have found objective improvements in health from placebos to support the notion that the placebo effect is entirely psychological.

“Doctors in one study successfully eliminated warts by painting them with a brightly colored, inert dye and promising patients the warts would be gone when the color wore off. In a study of asthmatics, researchers found that they could produce dilation of the airways by simply telling people they were inhaling a bronchodilator, even when they weren’t. Patients suffering pain after wisdom-tooth extraction got just as much relief from a fake application of ultrasound as from a real one, so long as both patient and therapist thought the machine was on. Fifty-two percent of the colitis patients treated with placebo in 11 different trials reported feeling better — and 50 percent of the inflamed intestines actually looked better when assessed with a sigmoidoscope (“The Placebo Prescription” by Margaret Talbot, New York Times Magazine, January 9, 2000).

It is unlikely that such effects are purely psychological.”

First, let me encourage everyone to read the whole of Carroll’s long consideration of the placebo effect at his website.  I cannot include the entire article here due to its length, but I do think it is one of the better articles on his site.  (Some, like his article on Naturopathy are both factually incorrect and academically weak due to Carroll’s biased stance.  Like most of the Skeptics, he proves himself far from being actually skeptical about anything other than the specific topics that define their group focus.  About allopathy, for instance, he shows no skepticism at all, no matter how toxic various forms of allopathic treatments have been clinically shown to be.)

I want to borrow one more bit from Carroll’s article on placebo effect before sharing my thoughts on the matter.  Consider H. K. Beecher, who brought the concept of placebo into the modern age.  Indeed, he is credited with coining the term “Placebo effect” in his 1955 paper entitled “The Powerful Placebo.” Mid-twentieth century, he was intrigued by the fact that more than half of patients with certain conditions—common complaints like heart trouble and digestive disorders—could be significantly helped by doing nothing other than suggesting that they had been helped.  To explore the idea, he set up a number of studies.  Carroll comments on what happened next:

“Beecher started a wave of studies aimed at understanding how something (improvement in health) could be produced by nothing (the inactive placebo). Unfortunately, many of the studies have not been of particularly high quality. In fact, it has been argued by Kienle and Kiene (1997) that, contrary to what Beecher claimed, a reanalysis of his data found “no evidence of any placebo effect in any of the studies cited by him.” The reported improvements in heath were real but were due to other things that produced “false impressions of placebo effects.” The reanalysis of Beecher’s data claims that the improvements were due to:

“Spontaneous improvement, fluctuation of symptoms, regression to the mean, additional treatment, conditional switching of placebo treatment, scaling bias, irrelevant response variables, answers of politeness, experimental subordination, conditioned answers, neurotic or psychotic misjudgment, psychosomatic phenomena, misquotation, etc.”

(Now, it should also be noted that Beecher (1904-1976), who was born Henry Unangst in Peck, Kansas, took the name “Beecher” as a young man in order to align himself with the New England Beechers, perhaps with famed preacher Henry Ward Beecher (not the similarity of the names), although he had not actual relation to them.  And it should be noted that Beecher is known to conspiracy theorists internet-wide because of his alleged involvement with the CIA in human drug tests, most notoriously on post-WW II German prisoners.  Apparently no placebos were used in these tests.)

Moving forward, let’s try to find some meaning in this mess.

Let’s start from the place of agreement:  the placebo effect exists.  There may be some disagreement as to exactly what it is, how it works and how effective it is (what it’s limits are in terms of health and healing), but all sides agree that there is some validity connected with the idea of the placebo effect.

Now to get some sort of working definition.  My computer’s built-in dictionary defines the term as:  “a beneficial effect, produced by a placebo drug or treatment, that cannot be attributed to the properties of the placebo itself, and must therefore be due to the patient’s belief in that.”  Not the greatest definition, but what do you expect from the dictionary that comes built in on your computer for free?  Much as dislike definitions that use the term itself or any aspect thereof in defining the term, let’s use this, at least for now.

The key word, for me, in that definition is “belief.”

Which brings to mind something that Carroll wrote in this consideration of the topic:  “Patients suffering pain after wisdom-tooth extraction got just as much relief from a fake application of ultrasound as from a real one, so long as both patient and therapist thought the machine was on.”  While we are not given full information here and do not know the differential between those therapists who did not think the machine was one and those who did, the point is made.  For the pain to be relieved, both patient and therapist had to believe the machine was one. Again, belief seems to be the key.

This summons a scripture from some lobe or other.  Matthew 18:20.  “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”  There’s a great deal of power to be had in the gathering of twos and threes, especially when they gather in a state of belief.

I know that the Skeptics would be choking on their Saltines if they were reading where this is going, because I have noted how often the path of skepticism leads to atheism and have seen how many of the groups of Skeptics are connected with groups of atheists.  And I know the issue that many Skeptics have with medicine that will not stay in the box labeled medicine that they have constructed for it, but instead expands to include the idea of healing, even to the point of placing it over the concept of curing, a simple change that leads to huge consequences.  Especially as one looks again at medicine from the viewpoint of healing and not curing.  (More on that another day.)

Nearly two thousand words in and all we have so far is that we are all agreeing to one degree or another that the placebo effect exists, even if the scientific proof of its existence seems scanty at best (making your wonder why the Skeptics are so quick to grab hold of the phenomenon as the blanket explanation for why homeopathic and other “alternative” therapies work).  And the only other thing we have established so far is my own addition that, in the center of the concept of the placebo effect is the idea of belief.  But what the definition of “belief” is and the revelation as to exactly what that belief is based on and targeted to, well, that will have to wait until another day.

For now, I’ll stop here.  But I await hearing from some of you, to know what you think so far and what your beliefs are where the placebo effect is concerned.

Where Is Carlos Castaneda When You Need Him?

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Is it all right to admit to a certain sense of ennui when I hear that the old Flying Monkeys themselves, this time all dressed up as dragons, are back and stamping their assembled feet (some 400 strong, apparently, and so a total of 800 feet all told), all for the sake of maligning homeopathy?  Is it all right to feel a little irritated as well, as the Monkeys are apparently no better read, no more intelligent or honest or truthful in their work than they were a few months ago when the flew in the window here, kicked the furniture around a bit then then flew back out again with very little ventured and most assuredly nothing gained?  And is it just plain wrong of me to wish that the group would at least attempt to design better logos, posters and such, or is the homemade look all part and parcel with their “just plain folks attitude?”

 

I mean, as logos go, come on:

 

 

Flying Monkey in Dragon Drag

 

 

 

Ah, well, we must go back a bit in order to move forward.

 

Seems a while back a small group of irate folks in Great Britain decided that, because they themselves do not particularly like homeopathy–not that any of them have ever actually used it, studied it, gone to see a homeopathy or even read a book on the subject–that it should not be a legal alternative medicine in the UK.  They demanded that it be removed from the national health care.  When this project failed, the groups spend a little while meeting in its various cells–most of whom meet in pubs, apparently, and one met a while back in a member’s home, where he prepared a nice dinner for them of margaritas and fajitas (for which he kindly posted his recipe online).

 

You almost can’t help but like these guys.  I picture them as a gaggle of guys with the cliched pocket protectors and horn-rimmed glasses.  They seem overtly polite (except for the few who email threats of death to those who write kindly of homeopathy), and infinitely dedicated to homeopathy, unless, one assumes, the meeting is called for the same night as the next Dr. Who special is set to air.

 

So when I heard of their new and thrilling adventure, one in which all four hundred of them, scattered around the globe, would purposely overdose on homeopathic drugs in order to prove that, as far as drugs go, homeopathic drugs are nothing, nada and should, I guess, therefore be thrown in the sea, stomped into the ground, etc, etc.  Click here in order to get a look at the blog posting put up by the irrepressible Rhys Morgan advertising the event a few weeks back.

 

So the event came and went this week.  I had forgotten about it, until a friend on Facebook posted an article from NPR.  (Good to know that NPR is putting all its McDonald’s money to good use.)  To get a look at that, click here.

 

Note:  It’s fun to see the Amazing Randi again (or at least the Amazing Randi muppet that they seem to be using in place of the real thing these days).  Life would be a little sadder and duller a place without the Amazing Quackbuster Randi in it.  And don’t we all feel a bit safer knowing that he is out there busting quacks for our sake?

 

What the Monkeys have proven is that they have the ability, in the age of the internet, to manipulate the media and put their cause before the public.  For that they are to be congratulated.  But not for their experiment itself.  That was a faulty and as wrapped up in Bad Science as the Skeptics themselves usually denounce.  As the Skeptics are all about Good Science and insist that they are as upset about Bad Medicine (of the sort that I have been writing about recently) as I am, then it seems to me that, if they are going to test the perimeters of homeopathic medicine and its efficacy by setting out to willfully overdose, then the should actually set out to overdose and not to just pretend.  If we are all about Good Science, guys, then it seems to me that you should not substitute stunts for science.  If you respect science as much as you say you do, then your scientific experiments should be structured like actual scientific experiments.  At least if you want anyone to actually take you seriously.  Besides the Amusing Randi, of course…

 

Click here for a video from the NPR site that was put online as part of the 10:23 Campaign’s Day of Overdose.  Take a minute to watch the video.  It’s important.

 

Now first thing that you will see is that the Skeptic is most jovial.  A really nice guy, the kind of guy you’d like to have margaritas and fajitas with.  But, when it comes to testing homeopathy by creating an overdose, he has proven nothing except that he has not a clue as to what homeopathy is or how you overdose on it.  Here’s why:

 

First, he has selected a mixed remedy. As anyone who has attended the most basic homeopathic class or read the simplest book on homeopathy can tell you, Samuel Hahnemann, the Father of Homeopathy, railed against one practice more than any other:  polypharmacy.

 

 

"S. Hahnemann"

Samuel Hahnemann, The father of Homeopathy, author of the Organon

 

 

And in his Organon of the Medical Art, Hahnemann says again and again that polypharmacy is wrong, it is ineffective and it is dangerous–both in homeopathic and allopathic medicine.  Second of Hahnemann’s Three Laws of Cure is the principle that says One Remedy at a Time.  So when Mr. Skeptic in the dragon hat selected a substance that had more than one homeopathic remedy it in, he selected something that was NOT a homeopathic remedy at all.  I don’t care where he bought it or how much he paid for it, or what the label says, if it has more than one homeopathically prepared remedy in it, it is NOT homeopathic.  Not now, not ever.  So, before he even sprayed the spray in his mouth, he voided his own experiment because of his complete ignorance of the very thing that he was testing.

 

Now, you can’t blame him.  The concept of homeopathy has been so bastardized these days that some people confuse the word homeopathy for “herbal.”  Others use it interchangeably for “holistic” or even “natural.”  And yet, I assure you that the word homeopathy means something specific.  And that the practice of homeopathy is something quite specific, working from a well thought out philosophy and more than two hundred years of clinical practice.  Indeed, the principles of homeopathy date back far more than two hundred years.  Hippocrates, for instance, wrote about the homeopathic method of working more than two thousand years ago.  So you can’t blame the poor Skeptic for being confused.  What you can blame him for, however, is the fact that he was so ill prepared for his “experiment” that he set it up in such as way as to negate the findings.

 

Now, second, there is another glaring issue with this Skeptic’s “experiment.”  It has to do again with his ignorance of homeopathy.  He bought a bottle of some sleep potion.  I will not judge it one way or another, except to the degree that I already have (if it has more than one homeopathic remedy in it then it is bastardized homeopathy and not homeopathic in any real sense–therefore, I cannot speak for its efficacy).  What I will speak to is the method in which he “overdosed.”  If the bottle of a given homeopathic remedy says to take one pellet or one spray and you double it, you are not doubling the dosage.  The dosage stays the same.  You can drink the whole of the bottle in one sitting and it is still one dose.  What creates an overdose is a repetition of the dose.  Say he took it every half hour.  One spray.  Each new dose would work with the old and the remedy would begin to assert itself.  It is in the repetition and not in increasing the amount of the single dose that you create a “proving” or an overdose of a homeopathic remedy.  (And, let me restate that, as this was not a homeopathic remedy, but some combination of remedies put out by some company, I can’t be sure, not knowing what’s in it, what potency or remedies, whether you could EVER overdose on it or not, however much or however often it is taken.)

 

But what I can say is that, should the Skeptics ever really want to explore the nature of homeopathy and see for themselves whether or not it really works, then they need to go about it another way.  They need to take it as seriously as they would any other experiment.  They need to set it up correctly and to have it overseen and recorded correctly.  If, at that point, they want someone to tell them how they can really overdose on a remedy, they can ask me.  I will tell them, just as soon as they sign the “hold harmless” documents that will protect me if they are harmed in any way while conducting the experiment.

 

Now, for the real skeptics out there or for people who might actually be interested in learning more about homeopathy, I want to give you a link to my newest book.  It is available only as a Kindle download right now, but it will be available throughout the free world–including, however slightly, the UK at present–sometime this spring.  I’ll have to let you know the publishing date.  But here’s a link to the book, called What Is Homeopathy? Those wanting to really know the answer to that question (hint, it’s not “herbal”, “holistic”, “natural” or “quackery”) might want to take a look.

 

Quick Irate Comment

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Again?

How many of these articles are there going to have to be before there is some change to the way that we think about and practice medicine.

At least this time the drug in question, a heart medication called Natrecor, wasn’t found to be harmful, merely ineffective.  Which, in these days of deadly drugs, is beginning to seem like a blessing.

Take a moment, read this article in The New York Times.  It should alarm you.  It should make you mad.  It should make you want to do something so that this stops.

The most alarming part of the article for me is one simple little sentence:  “The drug, nesiritide, brand name Natrecor, was approved after small studies in carefully selected patients.”  Small studies with carefully selected subjects yield untrustworthy results.  Unsafe results.  Our lives are at stake and yet our government pays more attention to the demands of the pharmaceutical companies than to our needs as patients and as citizens.

When the drug was tested in a large unbiased study, the results were different.  The story states:  “Once again, small studies give us the wrong answers,” said Dr. Robert M. Califf, a Duke cardiologist who directed the large study.

Even the allopathic doctors are aware with the flaws in our medical studies.  Small studies give us the wrong answers.  They give us the answers that the drug companies have purchased in setting up the studies.  And they give us ineffective and unsafe drugs.
This needs to stop.

Do It Yourself: The Ten Best Remedies to Combat Fever During Cold and Flu season

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While I have posted in the past about homeopathic remedies for patients with colds and sore throats, I wanted today to consider patients with fevers. This is important information particularly for parents who have young children.  The following remedies are good to have on hand in the home (in 30C potency) for those times when the young child suddenly spikes a fever—usually in the middle of the night.

The parent who knows enough homeopathy to treat the simple things, earaches, sore throats, fevers and such, will rest more easily knowing that, in time of need, they stand ready to be of real help to their child.  Indeed, no group has better reason for studying the simple acute uses of homeopathic remedies than do parents who want the best, most effective and safest treatments possible for their little ones when they are ill.

As always, laypersons should consult with their medical professionals before giving any medicine to their child.

In general, fever can be said to have three features:  heat, cold and the sweat.  The sensation of cold usually begins with a feeling of exhaustion.  The patient may also feel pains in the back of the head or in the legs, and may stretch and yawn a good deal.  Coldness usually begins in the extremities and moves throughout the body.  Coldness may be extreme enough to cause chattering of the teeth.  The cold stage may last from just a few minutes to two or three hours.

The sensation of heat usually begins just as the chill ends.  The face flushes, the skin becomes hot, the pulse races.  Look for a dry tongue and mouth, much thirst, headache and restlessness.  The hot stage can last up to eight hours in an acute situation, in a constitutional situation, it can last much longer.

The sweating stage, when the fever “breaks,” ends the cycle.  The fever has burned out the toxins in the system and recovery begins, except in constitutional situations, in which the cycle may begin again.

You will find, however, that some fevers will have only hot stages, some only cold, and some will have no sweat involved at all.  And the balance of the stages will differ from person to person.

So, in selecting the right remedy, you are going to have to balance the three features of fever and place them once again within the context patient’s symptoms as a whole.

Consider the following remedies for treatment of patients with simple fevers:

ACONITE:  The Aconite patient first experiences a violent chill, followed quickly by heat, especially on the head and face.  Fevers associated with Aconite tend to have very little or no sweat.  The patient’s head is red, hot and dry.  Also:  listen for cough during fever.  The patient experiences shortness of breath.  Aconite is of great use in the first stage of fever, especially when the first symptom is chills that come on after exposure to a cold, dry wind.  The typical Aconite has violent thirst. Often a throbbing headache accompanies the fever, and the patient is worse from any motion.  And yet, patient is restless and wants to move about.  You may have great difficulty keeping the Aconite still and resting.  They want to get up, move about, pace the floor, especially during the night.

BELLADONNA—This is our other remedy, with Aconite, for high fevers that are quick in coming on.  Look for a light sense of chill with much heat during fever, or, less often, the opposite, with much chill and very little sensation of heat.  Some parts of the body are hot, while others are cold.  But it is a keynote that the patient’s face is flushed and bloated.  The patient’s skin, especially on his face, is red.  Look at the patient’s eyes as an indicator of the remedy:  his eyes are sparkling, pupils dilated.  Throbbing headache accompanies fever.  The patient cannot bear noise or light. The patient is sleepy and cannot sleep, or jumps and starts in the night, especially just on going to sleep. Unlike the Aconite, the Belladonna patient does not want to move about, but will usually want to rest in a cool, dark place.  The Belladonna patient will want to be left alone to rest.

FERRUM PHOSPHORICUM:  This is perhaps our most important remedy for patients with simple fevers, especially when the cause of the fever cannot be ascertained.  For fevers that appear suddenly in the middle of the night.  It is the keynote of this remedy is that there is no keynote.  There are no guiding symptoms.  There is simple a fever, for no apparent cause, with no guiding symptonms.  This is the general, acute fever remedy.  The fevers generally come on rather quickly, and without warning.  The patient is thirsty during the chill stage.  Look for swelling of the face, especially around the eyes.  Patient may have stomach upsets with fever, may vomit all food eaten before it is digested.  Any exertion flushes the face.  The patient is exhausted by the fever and tends to want to rest.

APIS:  It is keynote of this remedy type that the patient has chills at 4 p.m. (like Lycopodium).  The Apis patient is worse in a warm room.  He becomes chilly at the slightest motion, but this sensation is accompanied by great heat on hands and face.  Sweat alternates with dry skin. With high fever, patient may slip into unconsciousness and delirium (also true of Belladonna).  As fever is often accompanied by sore throat, the patient may be unable to talk.  The Apis patent’s tongue is cracked, ulcerated.  His mouth and throat are both very dry.  The Apis has great difficulty swallowing. He may be very thirsty for cold water, but may have difficulty swallowing it. Think of this remedy for fevers that come on suddenly and that are accompanied by constipation.  Or fevers in which constipation and  diarrhea alternate, when stool  contains mucous and/or blood.  This is an angry, exhausted patient.  He has not patience for others and wants to be allowed to rest.  He cannot bear light or noise (again, like Belladonna).

LYCOPODIUM:  It is keynote of the type that the patient’s fever begins at 4 p.m. and ends at 8 p.m.   The patient has a sensation of chill at the onset of fever.  The patient’s face is yellow.  His tongue is dry and black, or covered with thick mucus.  Fever is usually accompanied by sinus blockage and the patient must breath with the mouth open.  Look for fanning of the nostrils as patient tries to breathe.  Listen to the patient for an indication of the need for the remedy: the patient uses the wrong words when trying to express ideas.  Along with his fever, the patient has a constant sense of fullness in the stomach and abdomen.  He feels as if they will burst.  Fever accompanied by intestinal gas.  Obstinate constipation accompanies fever. The Lycopodium patient is fearful.  He does not want to be alone, and yet he does not want to be bothered.  The Lycopodium likes to hear the sounds of the house filled with people and activity, but does not want to have anyone too close to him.    The Lycopodium patient is irritable and demanding.  He feels he knows what is best for him and may direct his treatment.

ARSENICUM:  Is an excellent remedy to think of when the patient’s sensation of chill dominates.  Even when the fever is very high, the patient is cold—Arsenicum is the first remedy to think of when the patient exhibits internal chilliness with external heat—and seeks warmth (in warm blankets and bed, and, especially in warm drinks, which he sips a little at at time).  The Arsenicum patient also seeks to be taken care of and does not want to be left alone.  Usually, the illness begins with headache, and with yawning and stretching.  The patient will complain of a sense of general discomfort, often including nausea. During fever, the patient may have great fear, great anguish, and, especially, a fear of death.  The Arsenicum is given to great restlessness. This is another patient who you may have difficulty keeping still.  Even when they are in bed, they may thrash about.  This is a fussy patient, a demanding patient, a fearful patient.  The Arsenicum’s symptoms will tend to be at their worst from midnight until 2 a.m.

SULPHUR—Is the first remedy to consider when sweat and heat are the dominant symptoms.  Also, this is an excellent second remedy, one that may be used in fevers when the best-selected remedies have little or no effect.  A dose of Sulphur may be needed to help jumpstart the healing process.  Like Ferrum Phos, Sulphur is often used for patients with fevers of unknown origin.  It is especially called for in cases of chronic fevers.  The typical Sulphur patient is burning hot on the top of his head, with cold extremities.  His tongue is dry and brown.  The Sulphur patient is very thirsty, usually for cold or cool things.  He also tends to be hungry, especially for salty or greasy things, which he finds soothing.  The typical Sulphur patient sleeps during the day and is sleepless during the night.   Note that early morning diarrhea may drive patient out of bed. This is a keynote symptom of the remedy.  Also look for the patient to seem fairly strong during his illness, with brief spells of weakness.

BRYONIA:  Is an excellent remedy for fever, especially when is accompanies Flu.  The patient’s face is red and burning and swollen.  Chill predominates heat during fever. The patient’s lips are dry and cracked.  His tongue is coated with a thick, white fur.  He has the sensation of an oppressive headache, which troubles him more than the fever itself.  The headache pain is as if the head would split from the least slightest motion. The patient is worse in every way from motion.  He wants to be left alone to rest. He has a constant desire to sleep, with sleeplessness and tossing about.  Patient does not want to be moved or touched. This is one of our thirstiest patients.  And yet, because he does not want to move, he does not drink often, but drinks a great amount when thirsty. Constipation accompanies fever, with hard, dry stools.

GELSEMIUM:  An excellent remedy for simple fevers.  In the case of Gelsemium, the chill tends to come on in the evening and begins in the hands and feet.  When fever comes, the patient becomes anxious and is restless, although he is typically exhausted.  The fever may be accompanied by a sense of vertigo. Patient is sensitive to light and noise. Like Ferrum Phos, Gelsemium is a good general remedy for simple fevers.  When the patient is not very ill and the fever mild.  Especially when the fever is not too high, the patient is not very ill, but the illness lingers. As Gelsemium is one of our best remedies for those who suffer from chronic fatigue, consider this remedy first for fevers in those patients who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome.

MERCURIUS:  This is usually not the first remedy selected, because, in the early stages, the typical Mercurius patient may not be aware that he is sick.  He will not complain of any particular symptoms, but may simply feel very weak and want to go to bed.   Like Lycopodium, the Mercurius patient’s face typically is yellow.  His tongue is coated with yellow fur.  His breath smells very bad.  Look for ulcers on lips, gums and cheeks.  The patient experiences bitter, sour or sweetish taste in mouth.  Look for a great deal of saliva.  Look for a swollen tongue.  Tongue may be so swollen that it has teeth marks running along both sides. All symptoms are worse at night or during rainy weather.  Note that Mercurius is a remedy that may be needed when illness lingers or grows worse.

 

For more about the remedies that you should know about and have on hand this cold and flu season, take a look at Practical Homeopathy, a perfect home guide for new students of homeopathy.

Open Letter: Adam, Sam & Rhys

42 Comments

Well, the Flying Monkeys have come and gone.  And, funnily enough, they have decided that they like being called Flying Monkeys.  I think that’s because it stirs up happy memoirs of the Wizard of Oz.  All well and good.  Might as well be called Flying Monkeys as trolls.  Long may you fly, guys, have fun.

Here’s what I learned as a result of their “visit.”  First, that they tend to arrive en masse and see if they can intimidate and, if they fail to do so, they move right on to the next target.  (I read one Tweet that said that arguing with me was like arguing with an evangelist and advised his readers to “move on.”)  Oh, well.

Second, I learned that, in spite of the fact that they make a remarkable amount of noise, they have very little to say.

I did have some brief discussions with a few of them–those who weren’t just posting complaints or pejoratives without even bothering to read my actual blog–before they left.  I want to post here my comments to two of them, as they reflect my reasons for feeling disappointed in my experience in meeting them.  It doesn’t have to do with whether or not they are dedicated.  They are remarkably dedicated.  It doesn’t have to do with whether or not they are bright.  From my brief experience of them, the majority seem very bright.  Rather, it has to do with their actual life experience or lack of same.  From what I read in their comments, they seem remarkably naive.

In an answer to a comment from Sam, perhaps the most intelligent and thoughtful of the bunch, I wrote:

In all honesty, one of the things I have against debate (and, let me say this as an ex-debater is school, and a rather good one, especially when I was allowed to close the deal) is that it really only reflects manipulation of book learning. Of research. If there is one thing that I have learned in studying healing and health for three decades is that there is a huge gulf between what we learn philosophically, learn from books, and what we learn from life. Clinical experience trumps anything. Ask any doctor. What interested me were your actual ideas, were the things that you learned in your life, not the things that you have been trained to think by medical studies or by internet sites. That is why the Flying Monkeys bore me. They have nothing to say that comes from their own unique intellect and their own experience of life. It’s all, “you’re just taking water!” and never anything that requires direct experience or real thought and conclusions. I know that you consider all this anecdotal, and yet, I tell you, Sam, there is great importance in learning from actual experience and not from some study that will be overturned by another study in six weeks or six years. The things you learn yourself shape your reality. The things you learn from books and cling to become your “reality.” That’s the difference and that is largely why I don’t want this site to turn into a place of debate. Not because I hate free speech, but because, like that dreaded teacher who gave essay tests, I want to know what people really think–I don’t want them just to spit back what they have learned as if it were fact.

This links directly with something that I wrote to another commenter, one named Adam, who has written me several posts, all of which do two things.  First, they tell me what I am doing wrong.  Second, they ask for evidence of everything I say.  To him I wrote:

Here’s my wishful thinking, Adam. That you would do some research yourself. That you, as a thinking, reasoning person, would stop asking other people to do the work that you need to do. You want to know if homeopathy works as I say it does, do some real research, beyond just looking at a couple of web sites that have pre-digested the material for you. There are hundreds of books out there on both sides of the issue. Read them. I have. Go to interview a few homeopaths of different sorts with different levels of training. i have. Discuss the matter not with the Skeptics but with different allopaths. I have. You may be shocked to find that many of them are actually quite open to homeopathy and understand that the principles by which they, allopaths, treat conditions like chronic allergies are pure homeopathy. Talk to patients on all sides of the issue, listen to what they have to say.

You keep asking me to do the work that you need to do. If you are REALLY interested in medicine, in what works and why and for who and when it works and why it fails to work, then it is not enough for you to simply stand tapping your foot and asking me for evidence. You and SkepticCanary are guilty of the same thing and that is that you ask questions but you aren’t really interested in the answers. You won’t be until you become true skeptics. True Skeptics are people who doubt and are looking for reasons why they should or should not move from a place of doubt and believe or disbelieve. True skeptics don’t ask others to do their thinking or experiencing for them, they do it for themselves. Why is it that you have near infinite time and energy to come and ask me and ask many, many others the same tired questions, but you don’t have the time to do the research for yourselves? Adam, why don’t you take it upon yourself to spend the next year, or five years, or thirty years, as I have done, looking into the matter. Then why don’t you come back and tell us all that you found out. THEN I would be truly fascinated in hearing what you have learned.

To date, you have shared nothing of yourself with me, told me nothing of why you believe as you do. Instead, you repeat what has been repeated in exactly the same way again and again. How refreshing it would be if you were to actually show your humanity, reveal the Truth about health and healing as you believe it do be and allow yourself to enter into a discussion instead appearing, stamping your foot and then running away again. But I guess that that’s REALLY just wishful thinking.

Guys, my point is this:  if this really matters to you, if you are really concerned about medicine and about keeping medicine as safe and effective as possible–and by this I mean all medicine, not just allopathic or homeopathic–then you have not yet begun to do any of your homework.  Along with the Lancet study, which I am quite sure you can quote and recite to yourself a bedtime like a prayer, you need to read other studies.  Studies that have differing conclusions.  As I suggested to one of you who wanted me to explain to him how homeopathic remedies are made in factories by homeopathic firms, you need to contact Boiron and other pharma firms and ask questions, dig for answers.  Then you need to have actual experience of all sides of the issue, by researching as I suggest above.

No teacher would let you use Wikipedia as a source material for a test.  In the same way, the internet, entertaining as it is, is not a good platform for education.  Too much bad information.  To much slanted information.  So I don’t expect you to listen to anything that I write here.  Hell, from my experience of you, you don’t even bother to read anything I’ve written here.  You just comment and condemn, but don’t actually read or think.  So don’t, by all means, take my word for any of this.  Do the work yourselves.  Make yourselves truly responsible for finding out the facts.  Discover for yourselves the difference between homeopathy and allopathy and what is good and bad about each.  Neither is perfect, both have something to offer.  In the same way, try to figure out the difference between healing and curing. And about the fundamental meaning of the word “medicine.”  You will have to go way, way back to do that.  You will have to study the history of medicine.

If I can recommend a book on the subject–you all tend to get hostile when I recommend books, but this one is really good–I suggest you get your hands on Doctors, A History of Medicine by a brilliant man named Sherwin Nuland.  He is a professor  of clinical surgery at Yale University here in Connecticut.  So he’s no slouch in the education department.  And while he is an allopath, he is an amazingly insightful and intelligent writer.  I think that this book would be not only of great interest to you, but of great value as well.  Nuland has written several good books, including The Wisdom of the Body.  I strongly suggest that you read them all.

I close by suggesting that, while you have much to say, in all truth, at the present moment, you, my Flying Monkeys, have little to offer.  You need life experience in order for your arguments to carry weight.  At present you only amuse and annoy, depending upon the level of the melodrama.  To truly make a difference, you will have to each INDIVIDUALLY climb a mountain in life, explore all sides of the issue, not just the one that you hope is right.  Once you have done this, once you actually and individually have something to say on any of these inter-related subjects, then I hope you will fly back for a visit.  I’ll be here, blogging and waiting…

Homeopathic Babies/Allopathic Bath Water

4 Comments

So here’s the thing:  I have had so many comments in the past couple of days that ridicule homeopathy, denounce homeopathy and denounce me and say that, in advocating the my readers look into homeopathy, that I am a moral coward and that I have no conscience.

Sadly, in much that they say, the Flying Monkeys (as I call them when they assemble en mass) reveal a amazing lack of knowledge of just what homeopathy is.

Are they aware that the concept of homeopathy dates back, as does the concept of allopathy, to Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine?  Do they know that Hippocrates said that there are two streams of medicine (not eight, not ten–two) that flow side by side in opposite directions?  Do they know that Hippocrates said that the difference between the two streams was that one worked WITH a patient’s symptoms, thinking them a natural response on the body’s part to a threat to the system, while the other worked AGAINST a patient’s symptoms, thinking them invaders that, once eliminated would leave a healthy patient behind?

This is the basic difference between homeopathy and allopathy.  This fundamental disagreement has been in place for over two thousand years now.  Hippocrates was smart to identify these two basic forms of medicine for us.  All other medical modalities are offshoots of this.  All medical modalities are either homeopathic or allopathic.  Some systems, like Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, incorporate aspects of both homeopathic and allopathic medicines under the umbrella of their complete methodology.  Indeed, the Eastern word is far ahead of us when it comes to learning to take the best from both approaches.  Only in the Western world are the homeopaths and the allopaths at each other’s throats.

"S. Hahnemann"

Samuel Hahnemann, The father of Homeopathy, author of the Organon

The other important difference between homeopathy and allopathy has to do with something called polypharmacy.  Simply put, it means taking more than one medicine at a time.  Samuel Hahnemann, the father of homeopathy, writes about it at length in his Organon of the Healing Art.  In fact, the entire first portion of his book is about medicine in general, allopathic and homeopathic, and how medicine, in general, can most safely be practiced.

He had two issues with allopathic medicine.  First, that many things that the allopaths were using as medicine were toxic.  The medicines were actually killing the patients.  So Hahnemann started his process of diluting his medicines until they became benign.  This is still very controversial today.  But the fact remains that allopathic medicines are as toxic today as ever.  Just as the families of those who were unfortunate enough to have their loved ones with diabetes be treated with drugs that caused them to have heart attacks.  People still die today from allopathic drugs.  The FDA attempts to keep us all safe from that reality, but, in truth, our foods are not safe for consumption and our medicines are no safer.  The FDA is doing a terrible job.

So the argument still rages over the concept of dilution.  I will leave it at that for today, because this is something that we will NEVER agree on.  We can fight about it later.

It is the other aspect that I want to discuss.  The idea of one medicine at a time.  Allopathic medicine looks at an individual drug and studies what it does.  When the research is done, the primary action of the drug–the reason for its use–is identified, as are the “side effects,” all the other things that the drug also does.  Now, just because the rather benign term “side effects” is used does not mean that these effects are any less potent or potentially important than the primary action of the drug.  And yet, the allopath, in giving it, more or less tells the patient what to expect in terms of side effects and then it is a game of wait and see to find out if, in this particular patient, the impact of the side effects is bearable or not.  If the side effects are too toxic for the patient to bear or not.

In homeopathic medicine, drugs are looked at in another way.  They are studied and tested once again, and their complete actions are noted and categorized, just as in allopathic medicine, but, instead of having one action take out of the pack and identified as the primary action and the other relegated to side effects, the homeopathic medicine is then considered in terms of all the things that it does, its entire sphere of activity.  The complete actions of the drug are matched to the complete symptom picture that the patient presents.  Only one medicine is given at a time.

When you give more than one medicine, it is impossible to trace the changes that each is individually causing.  It is further impossible to know what the interplay between any two or more drugs will be in an individual patient’s system.  These are danger points in allopathic treatments.  Indeed, allopathic drugs so commonly  create their own unique disease states that the allopaths have a name for the category of illness that are actually caused by medical treatments–iatrogenic illness.  If allopathic medicine were safe and if Hahnemann did not have a point when it comes to polypharmacy, would there need to be a category of illness that is artificially created by medicine itself?

My point is this:  should you find the homeopathic remedies just to “out there’ to swallow, don’t.  But think for a moment of two about the rest of homeopathy.  About the philosophy.  About how a homeopath sees a patient as a completely unique being and tailors treatment specifically to that patient.  In standardizing treatments that allow for the use of many medicines at once and that continue to use toxic substances as healing tools, allopathic medicine continues to be dangerous medicine.  Were the allopaths to make use of the homeopathic philosophy, even to a small degree, the results could be an allopathy that is far safer and just as effective.

Remember, allopathic medicine makes use of homeopathic principles all the time.  Almost all allergy treatments, in which a minute amount of the allergen is injected into the body, allowing the patient to become more and more resistant to it, is pure homeopathy.  It doesn’t use homeopathic remedies, but the concept is completely homeopathic.  The same can be said of the original vaccines.  The idea again is the micro-dose in action.  Were vaccines tailored to the individual and not standardized as they are, they would be completely homeopathic.

It is just too simplistic to say that homeopathy is voodoo and bad and allopathic medicine is scientific and good.  Allopathic medicine has within it both good science and bad, good practitioners and bad.  The same can be said of homeopathic medicine.

The job, I should think, of intelligent people everywhere, would be to learn as much as possible about BOTH and learn to incorporate what works in both methods of treatment, so that both can be used as safely and effectively as possible.

Finally, for those of you who just can’t get past the idea that many homeopathic remedies are diluted to the point that no molecules of the original substance remain, I have great news.  Molecule fans rejoice!  There are many homeopathic remedies that are in low enough potency that PLENTY of molecules remain.  They are diluted and yet still based in their material substance as well.  There is a whole system of these remedies called the cell salts.  Before you dismiss everything about homeopathy because one aspect of it upsets you, read a book, do some thinking.  Evaluate.  You may be surprised by what you discover.

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