Saturday, June 28, 2014

A swig of common sense is the best medicine

Watercolour, Sand and Sea, Roslyn Ross, 2012.

I am increasingly convinced the first dose of medicine we need when contemplating health decisions is a swig of common sense.

Take supplements for instance. Or don't. I have always been interested in health, body/mind and natural ways of maintaining and restoring health and a very long time ago I was introduced to supplements.

Now, at an early point I will just say I am not so much opposed to supplements in natural, non-synthesized form, as I am questioning efficacy and potential for harm. There is also the cost factor - they are hugely expensive and one would need to feel assured that they are doing good and not doing harm to countenance that cost.

And for all those who take supplements and feel certain they 'make me feel better' all well and good. I suspect the reasons for that would be one  or a combination, of the following:

a. you have been fortunate to find, choose or be prescribed, the quality supplements which are right for you, which you are taking in the appropriate dose and which are suited to your particular body;

b. the placebo effect is powerful and placebo is involved with every pill we take, much to the chagrin of pharmaceutical companies where the placebo or 'sugar pill' consistently outperforms their drugs, so the supplements through the power of mind over body are actually doing you good - or at least no great harm;

c. you are robust and the supplements are not detrimental to your health and 'doing something' makes you feel better as does 'doing something which you believe is natural' makes you feel better.

Although one of the major problems with supplements, as with prescribed drugs, is that they are mostly not natural at all. Not only are they not natural in any true sense as a medical treatment, but mostly they are not at all natural in form or substance.

I did take some for a time and then, as is my wont, began researching them after a dose of common sense had me thinking: But how can these really work given that assimilation of nutrients from food is a complex process involving many different factors and a combination of ingredients in the food itself?

And, if someone is deficient in nutrients because of diminished physiological function then how will the body get nourishment from something so artificial and unnatural if it cannot get it from food? In other words, there is a lack of logic in the reasoning that says if your body cannot adequately digest and assimilate to get the nutrients it needs from food that it can get it from a supplement.

How, if the digestion and assimilation function is compromised anyway, can the body get the nutrients it needs from a pill where it must complete the even more daunting task of extracting 'nutrients' from something which is artificial in form and in application?

Or, if the reasoning is, I am too busy to care about what I eat or how I eat so I will just swallow a bucket-load of supplement pills every day, then good health is not a priority and you won't be reading this.

But, taking another swig of common sense, given that supplements, like any medicinal creation, are condensed and potentized versions of nutrients found in food, who is to say what impact they will have in and on the body? In addition, our body digests and assimilates to extract nutrients in a process involving foods that are more complex, and which contain more extensive combinations, than  will ever be found in any pill.

We have evolved over millennia, and no doubt were created in the first place, to get the nourishment we need from food, so, how can an artificially created and concentrated collection of vitamins and/or minerals be properly assimilated by the body and, in the doing, provide nutrition in the same way that food can?

Common sense would make us question the entire theory of vitamin and mineral supplements if we have some understanding of physiology and even more so when we understand that more than 90% of such supplements are made from synthesized materials.

So, not only are supplements asking your body to digest and assimilate materials consumed in an artificially created form, in ways alien to that which food would deliver or require, but it is also asking your body to do so with something synthetic, an imposter in essence, masquerading as something natural.

In recent decades the supplement industry has gone from strength to strength, riding on the back of lazy, indulgent, medically driven health practices sourced in a philosophy of, 'don't think about your body or your health in any serious or committed way, just pop a pill and get on with life.'

Or death as the case may be for it always seemed to me, applying liberal doses of common sense, that if vitamin and mineral supplements were artificial in form and in application then at best they might do little or nothing and be excreted in potent and expensive form,  and at worse they might do harm, if not prove deadly.

On this count, scientific research may be on the right track and many people may be literally flushing hundreds, if not thousands of dollars down the toilet every year. And no, I don't believe the supplement industry is a hoax, any more than the pharmaceutical industry is a conspiracy or fraud - both reflect attitudes of the times, sourced in a science/medical driven industry of 'quick fix,' 'one size fits all,' 'body as a machine or bag of chemicals' approach.

And yes, of course there could be funds directed toward discrediting the supplement industry by Big Pharma but I doubt it for the simple reason that supplements are really a part of Allopathic medicine, in form, function and theory and are really no threat either to modern medicine or Big Pharma. They fit very neatly indeed into the Allopathic system.

And because of this, supplements can be studied more easily within the limited paradigm of science/medicine in ways for instance that medical methodologies like Homeopathy and Acupuncture cannot. Supplements, therefore, can be studied with less distortion within the scientific system.

The reason why supplements are potentially dangerous is the same reason that prescribed drugs are potentially dangerous. So, scientific research, as always should be considered and weighed up along with all the rest, bearing in mind the distortions which are likely given the emphasis on the material and mechanistic.

Excerpt: On October 10, 2011, researchers from the University of Minnesota found that women who took supplemental multivitamins died at rates higher than those who didn't. Two days later, researchers from the Cleveland Clinic found that men who took vitamin E had an increased risk of prostate cancer.
These findings weren't new. Seven previous studies had already shown that vitamins increased the risk of cancer and heart disease and shortened lives. Still, in 2012, more than half of all Americans took some form of vitamin supplements.
In 1994, the National Cancer Institute, in collaboration with Finland's National Public Health Institute, studied 29,000 Finnish men, all long-term smokers more than fifty years old. This group was chosen because they were at high risk for cancer and heart disease. Subjects were given vitamin E, beta-carotene, both, or neither. The results were clear: those taking vitamins and supplements were more likely to die from lung cancer or heart disease than those who didn't take them -- the opposite of what researchers had anticipated.
In 1996, investigators from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in Seattle, studied 18,000 people who, because they had been exposed to asbestos, were at increased risk of lung cancer. Again, subjects received vitamin A, beta-carotene, both, or neither. Investigators ended the study abruptly when they realized that those who took vitamins and supplements were dying from cancer and heart disease at rates 28 and 17 percent higher, respectively, than those who didn't.
In 2004, researchers from the University of Copenhagen reviewed fourteen randomized trials involving more than 170,000 people who took vitamins A, C, E, and beta-carotene to see whether antioxidants could prevent intestinal cancers. Again, antioxidants didn't live up to the hype. The authors concluded, "We could not find evidence that antioxidant supplements can prevent gastrointestinal cancers; on the contrary, they seem to increase overall mortality." When these same researchers evaluated the seven best studies, they found that death rates were 6 percent higher in those taking vitamins.
In 2005, researchers from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine evaluated nineteen studies involving more than 136,000people and found an increased risk of death associated with supplemental vitamin E. Dr. Benjamin Caballero, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said, "This reaffirms what others have said. The evidence for supplementing with any vitamin, particularly vitamin E, is just not there. This idea that people have that [vitamins] will not hurt them may not be that simple." That same year, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association evaluated more than 9,000 people who took high-dose vitamin E to prevent cancer; those who took vitamin E were more likely to develop heart failure than those who didn't.
In 2007, researchers from the National Cancer Institute examined 11,000 men who did or didn't take multivitamins. Those who took multivitamins were twice as likely to die from advanced prostate cancer.
In 2008, a review of all existing studies involving more than 230,000 people who did or did not receive supplemental antioxidants found that vitamins increased the risk of cancer and heart disease.
On October 10, 2011, researchers from the University of Minnesota evaluated 39,000 older women and found that those who took supplemental multivitamins, magnesium, zinc, copper, and iron died at rates higher than those who didn't. They concluded, "Based on existing evidence, we see little justification for the general and widespread use of dietary supplements."
Two days later, on October 12, researchers from the Cleveland Clinic published the results of a study of 36,000 men who took vitamin E, selenium, both, or neither. They found that those receiving vitamin E had a 17 percent greater risk of prostate cancer.

It is entirely possible, that carefully prescribed supplements produced with natural ingredients could be of use as a medical treatment but that also applies to Allopathic medicines. The problem with both is that they are in the main synthesized and they operate on a premise that the body can be treated from a material and mechanical perspective which ignores the full complexity of body function, and never more so than when it comes to digestion and assimilation.

And yet people think nothing of buying over-the-counter supplements, just as they do over-the-counter medications when both are potentially doing more harm than good. Worse, some may also liberally dose their children with such experimental 'medicines,' if the multivitamins for children market is anything to go by.

And there is no doubt that with a long history of herbal medicine people equate the two and believe it is safe when the reality is that anything, in material form, can be dangerous. Herbal medicine can also be dangerous and should be taken on the advice of a professional or with caution but herbal medicines are at least natural and one is consuming a set dose of a natural product - although check this is so - in natural form. It is a concentrated essence of a natural ingredient. Or it should be. Here again though, proceed with caution because unless you consult a practitioner qualified in herbal medicine you may well be doing your body more harm than good.

Supplements like herbal medicines are not harmless and should be used with caution. And never more so than with children and those who are already taking prescribed medications.
In 2011, the Iowa Women's Health Study of over 38,000 women found the use of multivitamins was associated with a 2.4 per cent increased risk of death. 

Despite being labelled 'natural', over 90 per cent of vitamin supplements on sale are synthetic.
New evidence is emerging that these unnatural forms of vitamin could do more harm than good. 

According to the Organic Consumers Association in the USA, man-made vitamins cannot be used by the body in the same way as natural versions.
'In nature, vitamins come packaged with many other molecules including minerals and cofactors,' explains Dr Phillip Maffetone, nutritional researcher and author of 'The Big Book of Health and Fitness'.

'These enable the body to use them. Since synthetic vitamins are isolated and are not recognised by the body, they are often excreted in urine or stored in fat.' 

In addition, synthetic vitamins may produce harmful side-effects. The synthetic version of vitamin A, retinol palmitate, for example, is significantly more toxic than the natural form.
In a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2008, adults taking 1000mg of synthetic vitamin C (ascorbic acid) each day developed problems with energy metabolism.

While advances have been and are being made in science/medicine they often fall short because they are sourced in a materialistic and mechanistic paradigm. And yes, biology and physiology matter, but the complexity and interconnectedness of the human body is not going to be appreciated fully until science/medicine can expand its belief system beyond the purely material and mechanical.

The supplement theory industry is sourced in similar beliefs even though it often 'sells' itself under the label natural and seeks to make a case that it is different to pharmaceutical drugs. In some ways it is and in others it is not because while supplements may not be medication in the same way, they are medicinal, and they do use a similar methodology, resort to synthetic materials, and base treatment on taking an artificial 'food' in an artificial way where efficacy is questionable and a potential for harm must be present.

The question, as with so much of modern medicine, is 'how much harm.' And the answer, as with so much of modern medicine is, 'it is hard to say' because there is no generic human for which a generic treatment can be guaranteed either to help or not harm - everyone is different and just as one person is robust enough to take medication without too many problems, and another is not, the same applies to supplements.

In other words you don't know and you probably can't know and you won't know until knowledge develops enough to interpret when something has been detrimental. And never more so than with self-prescribing. Self-prescribing is always risky with any treatment which has an unknown capacity to effect, and no accountability to a practitioner with enough knowledge to monitor ongoing treatment and any effects.

And the less natural something is the more side-effects can be expected. They may not be as dramatic or recognisable as those from pharmaceuticals, but they will be there.

Excerpt: According to the Organic Consumer's Association, "at least 95% of all vitamins manufactured today contain some synthetic ingredients." This is important when you consider the fact that compounds work synergistically, interacting to produce benefits that are much more powerful than one nutrient working alone. Isolating a nutrient and reproducing it synthetically is not giving the body what it needs.
In his book, Supplements Exposed, Brian Clement, PhD states that science cannot create synthetic nutrients that exactly duplicate or replace naturally occurring nutrients.

Examples of single, synthetic nutrients causing potential health problems

Beta-carotene is one such isolated nutrient that may be actually made from acetylene gas. As this vitamin is part of the carotenoid family, it is never found alone in nature. It is not surprising that studies have sometimes found negative health results from using single vitamins in their synthetic form.
Vitamin E is another supplement where it is important to obtain the natural form (d-alpha tocopherol), made from vegetable oil. The synthetic version (DL-alpha tocopherol) is an inferior product and not as useful to the body as the naturally sourced one.

And while synthetic supplements are always likely to be problematic, don't kid yourself that natural and organic supplements are safe either. Because the fact is, we don't know!

Food is our best medicine but anything can be harmful if you consume too much of it. Even too much water can be bad for health and is capable of killing you, no matter how pure it might be. Moderation in all things is important for anything, even food.

As a supporter of anything which is closest to nature, I am also well aware that the word nature or natural has become a marketing tool par excellence and its mere presence makes people feel that a product cannot do harm. This is simply not true and never more so than in the case of supplements or even foods and dietary recommendations.

Used in the wrong way or to excess, even natural, organic foods are capable of harm. Extreme diets and excess amounts of fruit and vegetable juices, no matter how organic, can do more harm than good. Too much of one particular food, often a factor in diets, can be detrimental to health. 

'Variety is the spice of life,' is particularly crucial when it comes to food and good health.

Nature never planned for us to drink litres of wheatgrass juice; consume huge quantities of crushed fish or seafood in the form of oil or to ingest high potencies of any Vitamin or Mineral and particularly not in synthetic form. And what nature has provided, and that with which we have evolved through millennia, is going to be that which we are able to best digest, assimilate and absorb.

When the word natural appears, too many people seem to think that more is better, when as always, less is more is a wise and sensible approach to anything. Moderation in all things, is a maxim sourced in common sense and one which needs to be applied particularly in terms of our body and our health because in truth, while we continue to learn from both Allopathic and non-Allopathic medical methodologies, we really know so very little about how our body works.

People may have taken a small dose of herbs or even minerals in medicinal form throughout history, but only in recent times have we subjected our bodies to experimental forms of concentrated vitamins and minerals, both natural and synthetic. Common sense suggests that there must be a capacity to do harm, if taken in too high a dose, to lesser and greater degrees, depending upon individual physiology.

And perhaps never more so than in the most medicated age in history where more people than not take some supplements, from a few to many, and where, over the age of forty in the developed world at least, most are on one or more prescribed synthetic drugs, with the number increasing with every decade,  and no real understanding not only of the contra-indicative factors for supplements for each individual, or prescribed drugs for each individual, but the contra-indicative factors and possible side-effects for the combination of the two forms of medication.

If your body is having problems getting the nourishment it needs then there are a multitude of ways, more economical ways, less potentially dangerous ways, to change that situation. Less is more on all counts and the healthiest diet will remain, that which contains high levels of naturally produced, locally sourced, and varied across the board, freshly prepared foods...... served with a liberal seasoning of common sense.

Friday, June 27, 2014

When it comes to health take common sense in a large dose as needed.....

Common sense is a much under-appreciated and utilised quality. The more common sense the more sensible decisions will be.

I apply common sense to all things along with research if I feel it is needed. When science said margarine was better than butter it was just so ridiculous, I laughed. When science/medicine said children should be given fluoride tablets for their teeth, it was so ridiculous I laughed.

And while I started out fairly conventionally, and recall asking a doctor friend in the late 1970′s why could people not be checked annually for any and every possible disease to protect them and she replied: ‘Because it does not work and it would not work.’

But in essence, that became the progress of modern medicine and within a few years, with a great deal more common sensible pondering, and actually having spent a few years writing an internal newsletter for a major Perth hospital, I came to the conclusion that modern medicine, Allopathic, was brilliant at mechanical things, like surgery and trauma, although it would and will be better combining them with other methodologies like Homeopathy and Acupuncture, but it was often flawed on other accounts.

And one thing which never made sense were the numerous checkups for generic illness in generic human beings as a process through the material and the mechanical. I went along with some of them for a few years, women being more pressured, read subjected to more fear-mongering than men, and then thought, no, this really does not make sense and I felt it did more harm than good.

Now, if you are the sort of person who actively feels better having every test under the sun and happily take on the risks associated with each process because it gives you peace of mind, then go for it. But if such tests make you anxious and provide no peace of mind and the risks are of concern, then consider going 'cold turkey' and giving them up until you feel, think, or have reasons which make you decide that investigation is necessary or wise.

Every action has an effect and never more so than with invasive testing which involve all sorts of drugs and tinkering which will shock your body, at various levels, to lesser and greater degrees. If you opt for less is more and you have a doctor trying to terrify you into submission, and some do, as much as anything because they believe in what they are doing - after all they must - and because if you don't do as you are told and you get sick you might sue them, then find a doctor who will support you on your choice of health path.

Because scientists and doctors do get things wrong. Often. And what is considered wise, sensible or good medical advice at this point in time may be the opposite in months or years to come. Apply common sense in healthy dose and take as needed. Because, at the end of the day, most of us instinctively know what works best for us and doctors are simply part of a system which provides some answers some of the time.

Medical testing is largely experimental and seen to be increasingly not just non-productive but counter-productive. For, here we are decades on with scientific research saying the same thing in essence, which common sense told me a long time ago. And also told a lot of my friends.

After doing goodness knows how much harm in the meantime in the name of the extremely profitable field of fear-driven maybe medicine.

Of course it is different if you have problems or symptoms – I am talking about procedures done on, and medication prescribed for healthy people, for diseases they do not have and may never get.

Excerpt: 5. Don’t let your doctor… give you a general check-up
General health check-ups have long been popular in the US, where they may be carried out once a year. They have recently been introduced in the UK as a “midlife MOT” to be done every five years. The UK check-up is mainly focused on reducing people’s risk of heart and circulatory diseases. Doctors measure blood pressure, cholesterol levels and body mass index and give some general health advice.

Having a regular check-up sounds like common sense – the ultimate in preventative medicine – but they are surprisingly controversial among those who favour evidence-based medicine. That’s because they are a form of screening – in other words, looking for illness in people who have no symptoms. And screening has a nasty habit of doing more harm than good if it is brought in without large trials to back up its effectiveness.

The potential downsides of screening are that it can worry people unnecessarily, offer false reassurance, or trigger unneeded tests and treatments. That has been shown for other kinds of screening such as prostate-specific-antigen (PSA) testing, breast self-examination, and perhaps mammographies too.

Trials looking at the effectiveness of general health check-ups have been done and they have been overwhelmingly negative. The most recent, and one of the largest ever, looked at nearly 60,000 Danish people who were offered annual checks for five years. Five years after this period, there was no effect on heart attacks or overall death rates.

“The first thing we know about all screening is that it causes harms,” says Peter Gøtzsche, who heads the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark. “Sometimes the benefits are bigger than the harms, and sometimes they’re not.”

Blood transfusions were voted among the most common unnecessary surgical…

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A path to healing.....

Because every human being in the world is unique there is no one path to healing, but many, and this is no more than thoughts on one approach.

We all need to find The path to healing for ourselves, at some time or another, whether disease is physical, psychological or a combination of both,  but there is not one way, just the way which works for us.

The path to healing can be long or it can be short, but it always is a path and one on which we can find ourselves at any time and one which will be unique to us.

There is a phrase used for when we are unwell and that is, 'we feel out of tune.'

Dis-ease or a lack of ease in terms of bodily health is a sign that we are operating with a discordant tune, or rather, not with or through our natural tune or 'song.'

The belief that the universe has its own 'song' has been long-held, and if the universe has its own 'song' or 'songs' then why not we?

Pythagoras, the Greek mathematician and philosopher, is credited with saying, “There is geometry in the humming of the strings. There is music in the spacing of the spheres.” This idea of the “Music of the Spheres” has endured over the centuries, ultimately informing how Kepler visualized the movements of the planets, which led him to formulate his laws of planetary motion. The notion that the stars, planets and galaxies resonate with a mystical symphony is a rather appealing one.

Read more:

Depending upon how well, and there is a pun in that which is apt but not intended, we know ourselves - in other words, depending upon how 'in tune' we are with ourselves - then so is our health reflected. When we are 'at odds' with ourselves, for whatever reason, and whether it is inner forces or outer forces, or a combination of both, then our body, striving always for balance, will seek to create some level of order or harmony.  Many healing methodologies believe that this is what symptoms are: a language the body uses to communicate its dis-ease to us - to speak out and speak to us.

When we are unhappy about something we use words because we can. If we do not have words, like animals, we use expressions or actions. The body can use words in our dreams or in Freudian slips but generally it uses symbols. Psychiatrist, Carl Jung, said 'symbol is the lost language of our soul,' and when our body speaks it is often because our soul is calling.

The language of the body has been largely forgotten and ignored in this age of materialistic and mechanistic medicine, but seeking to understand what the body is saying and trying to communicate is not only a wonderful adventure, it is an invaluable practice for health.

You are not just your body and disease is never just physical. It does not matter what genes you have, the fact is that nothing is predetermined and as science now knows, a hundred people with the same predisposing gene might provide one person who actually develops the disease. Why that happens is not just physical or even environmental but is a combination of all that we are and all that we experience. Understanding as much as we can about that, is a part of this path to healing.

Nothing happens without good reason. Everything has a purpose and in terms of physiology, it is the purpose and meaning of the body function which says, to me anyway,  that it is pure common sense that whatever the body does, no matter how trivial, is important. We are, each and every one of us a universe in our own right and utterly unique. And never more unique than when we manifest symptoms or dis-ease.

More than one noted doctor writing about health and disease has remarked that 'in a strange way' diseases seem suited to people. In one cited instance it was noted that those suffering from Crohn's Disease were invariably difficult patients, irritable, testing and often annoying. Were they that way because of the disease or did disease manifest in this way because of who they were? The general view seemed to lean toward the latter. Who is to say but perhaps if the patients had studied their symptoms as symbol they would have both learned and healed. And no, it is not that simple and the comment is offered merely as reflection in terms of changing the way that we see our symptoms or condition.

I  also, suspect that such observations were more common in the days when doctors were physicians and actually took the time to study the patient and gather knowledge about the individual in ways which seem rarely to happen today. In other words, you were not just your symptoms or your disease, but your symptoms and your disease are expressions of your state and of who you are and the reason that they exist is because who you are is not who you are meant to be. There is dis-ease or a lack of harmony between who you 'are' at this time and who you really are.

An Australian doctor, John Harrison, wrote an excellent book exploring this in the late 80's called, Love Your Disease It's Keeping You Healthy. His book was controversial and he was in time brought 'down' by the medical establishment in questionable circumstances.

He was misinterpreted and misunderstood although reading the book at the time I never saw evidence of the charge later laid against him, that we were to 'blame' for our dis-ease. I saw it as him saying we had responsibility to lesser and greater degrees for our diseases, symptoms and dis-ease and that only in gaining understanding, could we play the necessary part in healing.

Questions we can ask ourselves in regard to our symptoms or disease are:

What does this prevent me from doing? It might prevent you doing something you like or something you hate.

What does this enable me to do? It might enable you to do something you enjoy.

What do I lose from this condition? Power, freedom, responsibility, obligation....?

What do I gain from this condition? (And surprisingly disease often provides positives as well as negatives.) Freedom, dependence, sympathy...

How does it make me feel? Depressed, powerless, peaceful, safe....

How does it make me think? More thinking, less thinking, time to think, fearful ....

How do I see myself as a person because of this disease? Ugly, crippled, unworthy, safe, free....positive or negative.

What could or would I do if I did not have this disease/condition? The answers are not dependent on possible, physically or financially, anything goes to show you what you would wish to be....

Who would or could I be if I did not have this disease/condition? Again, what does the condition prevent? It might be positive or it might be negative.

But Harrison would not be the first or the last person to be burned at the metaphorical stake for questioning the position science/medicine takes toward the body and disease. The scientific paradigm from which modern medicine emerges creates, almost by necessity, a 'war and battlefield' approach to illness where the body becomes a dangerous enemy, not to be trusted, often to be feared if not hated, and always the 'other.' The tragic irony of course is that it is this same 'enemy' that we need to be our friend, our healer.

How many friends would we keep if we mistrusted them and saw them as a dangerous enemy? Not many.

How many relationships would endure if we believed that we were in a 'war for survival' against our friend as so many believe about their body? Not many.

How many people would be crushed to be feared if not hated? Most.

And yet this is how many people react to their body frequently, and when they are ill, much of the time. As a position it is not only counter-intuitive, it is oxymoronic.

It is only in finding purpose and meaning in our symptoms and disease that we can convert them from enemy to friend, which was the core of what Harrison tried to say, and in the doing, create an alliance for health.

It is not that we are to blame for ill health or that we create it, although we can act in ways which compromise healthy body function,  but that the disease and its symptoms reflect perfectly who we are and why, and, as healers throughout history have believed, offer us insight into why we are ill and the path to health.

The better you know yourself the better choices you will make on a path to healing. And everything can be important. Not in an obsessive and agonising way, but in a self-aware, reflective way.

In the same way that compiling a list of the most common sayings in our family when we were growing up, often phrases we still use without thinking, can offer insight into what we believe unconsciously even if we tell ourselves we do not believe it consciously.

For example, a common one as I grew up was: 'It's a great life if you don't weaken, once you weaken you are gone,' is a belief that life is dangerous and unless you remain vigilant and strong you will be destroyed. It is often in the colloquialisms our parents used and which still litter our life unconsciously, that we can often pick our way through to the truth of who we really are.

And with that understanding you will better know if you are someone who should pursue a purely Allopathic path; someone who should pursue a purely non-Allopathic path through some or many of its various forms, or someone who should combine all medical methodologies as and when they seem suitable.

In a process of broadening options there is sense  in a position which holds that anything should be considered and possibly explored when it comes to health and no-one is going to deny the material/mechanical skills of modern medicine in surgery and trauma. Being open to anything and everything, which is actually the approach of the newly emerging field of Integrative Medicine, makes most sense to me. But we are all different and that remains the salient point.

There are a wealth of methodologies which can play a part in healing depending on what suits you, beyond a conventional Allopathic approach and most if not all of them, can work hand in hand with that anyway. Explore Nutritional Medicine, Homeopathy, Traditional Chinese Medicine including acupuncture, Ayurvedic Medicine, Herbal Medicine, Kinesiology, Reiki, Yoga, Aromatherapy - anything which works to comfort and/or heal the body.

One other reason to consider incorporating non-Allopathic treatments is that as treatments they are generally benign, not unpleasant, in fact often very pleasant and even a delight sometimes. Most Allopathic treatments involve clinical situations where you are more object than person, even when medical staff  are warm, caring and kind, and levels ranging from discomfort to pain. Some treatments are very painful or unpleasant and most involve levels of fear. Even Allopathic drugs are, more often than not, the source of unpleasant if not frightening side-effects.

While it is not always possible I have often thought no doctor should be able to order a procedure that he or she has not themselves experienced. More than one doctor on becoming seriously ill has gone on to write insightful books about their traumatic experiences as patienst in ways that they had never realised or appreciated until they experienced it. I am sure they came out the other side better doctors but the fact remains that Allopathic or modern medicine is one of the least patient-friendly methodologies ever created.

It is however, the way it is because it has come out of a scientific paradigm which believes everything, including the human body can be approached as if it were a piece of equipment and 'repaired' accordingly. This can work brilliantly with the mechanics of surgery and trauma but has a negative impact everywhere else. Some surgeons and nurses realise this, and use Homeopathy, Acupuncture, Reiki and other such methodologies to treat the negative impact associated with their procedures.

There is no doubt that modern medicine often involves high levels of fear and where there is fear there is resistance and with resistance comes separation and none of it is conducive to healing. That is why it is so important to change how you think about your body and your symptoms and/or condition.

In fact the military mindset of the Allopathic approach works against healing because the 'battlefield tactics' of 'destroying, removing, killing, or poisoning' the 'enemy' serves to trigger resistance in the object of the attack, which invigorates and stimulates a desperate response and bid for survival.

In years to come no doubt, both the 'battlefield mentality' of Allopathic medicine and the part the mind of the doctor plays in treatment and healing will be seen as major factors. Many patients both fear and dislike their doctors but 'do what they are told' because of fear. No doubt many doctors dislike their patients and fear failure and loss of 'prestige,' so the fear factor is present and often too powerful. The more you can do to remove fear from the equation, that of yourself and that of others, the better.

And for some people who are seriously ill, it might be a case of the less people you know the better because what they believe and think about you and your situation, no matter how many expressions of love there may be, and no doubt how sincere they might be, what they think will be felt, known, intuited and picked up by you. And the less people you tell then the less advice you will get and that is generally a good thing. It is one thing to pick up a book or an article to read of your own free choice, and quite another to have advice inflicted upon you by all and sundry once they know you are ill.

Having said that, some people like, need and want all the advice and sympathy they can get which really just takes us back to the core premise of what works for one does not necessarily work for another. But as a general rule, the more you can do to help you and your body feel good the better. Illness brings enough 'cold pricklies' as it is and they need to be countered with even more 'warm fuzzies.'

On the path to healing it helps you and your body to feel good as often as you can and many of the medical methodologies dubbed alternative, or complimentary, although they are medicine in their own right, are pleasant and comforting to experience. What comforts you comforts your body. What makes you feel better makes your body feel better. The more relaxed you and your body are, the better your health and the better your chances of optimum health.

And there may not be many of them but there are MD's who are open to or even trained in other medical methodologies and who work with them alongside conventional treatments. This is more common in Europe, those very sane and sensible Europeans, than it is in Australia or the US or UK for that matter and one of the things I loved about living in Europe was having an MD who was just as likely to recommend herbs, homeopathy or acupuncture as a FIRST step before more interventionist procedures and toxic drugs.

But more than anything what you do for yourself will bring the most dividends and understanding your symptoms and condition is crucial toward that end.

Every symptom has meaning and every symptom will manifest as a collection which is unique to you, although there are shared patterns. One medical methodology, Homeopathy, has combined art with science, and I use the word science in its pure definitive form, in using symptoms as a guide to healing.

This  is a medical methodology sourced in noting and working with these patterns to find a remedy, whose 'signature tune' will resonate best with your true 'signature tune,' and, in the doing, 'cancel out discordant frequencies' to re-establish order. In essence and in modern parlance to 'reboot' you back to a 'default' position which represents your own unique truth, or 'song.' Where there is harmony, then there is health.

A core premise in Homeopathy is that when healing is triggered, the body will move slowly backwards through various disease states until it reaches balance. This can happen quickly or it can take weeks, months or even years. Generally with chronic illness the longer you have had it the longer the healing process. And vice-versa for acute conditions. But basically Homeopathy treats the individual as opposed to the Allopathic focus which is the disease or the symptom or symptoms.

This is why with a hundred people consulting for the same presenting disease, or major health problem, there will be potentially a hundred different symptom patterns and a hundred different remedies selected. Homeopathy also believes that simply repressing or removing a symptom can serve to drive dis-ease deeper which is why the Allopathic approach often does not or cannot cure despite the enormous knowledge gained of the material mechanics.

Traditional Chinese Medicine takes a similar approach but symptoms, as a diagnostic tool, has been taken by Homeopathy  in particular, to brilliant levels. Acupuncture, which is 3,000 years old and which also works at the 'frequency' or 'energy' level can also be highly effective. Medicine is like any 'tool' where the right tool in the right circumstances used in the right way will bring the right results, and there is no one-size fits all, instant fix, or magic pill for everyone despite common belief.

Just as no two people have the same disease in the same way, so no one treatment will necessarily work for both. We are all different and finding the methodology which best suits us, or the combination of methodologies which best suits us, is a crucial stage on the process to healing.  But here again, everyone is different. Some people will do it quickly and instinctively or intuitively, and others will do it slowly and with painstaking analysis and consideration. Some people will need to believe in the methodology that they choose and others will not.

However, because all medicine has both placebo and nocebo factors, all people benefit from having a level of trust in the treatment that they choose. You do not need to understand how it works and most people have little understanding of how most Allopathic medicine works, they are just assured that it does and it can.  In truth, many doctors and drug manufacturers do not fully understand how or why something works either. So knowing, or not knowing,  how something works is unimportant in the scheme of things.

With Homeopathy for instance, there is no absolute theory of how it works, but work it does and neither is there for Acupuncture, but work it does. But it does help to have a level of trust - not faith, just the sort of trust which comes from having a treatment make sense to you - consciously or unconsciously and preferably both.

Which takes us back to knowing yourself as the Eleusinian Mysteries of ancient Greece forever admonished their initiates. If you believe in a rational approach at a conscious level but unconsciously hold the opposite view, no treatment is likely to work. And vice versa.

All of the faith, logic, reason, trust and belief at a conscious level,  in the world, will not bring cure from a particular course of treatment if you do not also believe the same at an unconscious level. And few if any of us know exactly what we believe unconsciously. Gaining insight comes through studying symptoms, dreams, feelings and even thoughts.

Likewise, if you are totally opposed to a form of treatment at a conscious level, and consider it cannot work, or is even a fraud, it can still bring cure if you believe differently at an unconscious level. And where a treatment does not work, particularly if the doctor believes it should work, it is an indicator that what you believe at a conscious level is not what you believe unconsciously.

This is why some people can believe powerfully at a conscious level the treatment will work and they will live, and yet they die and why some can believe powerfully there is no hope and the treatment will fail, and they live.

And because some of us may never truly know ourselves at an unconscious level and all of us will succeed to varying degrees, it is important, where healing is required, to keep an open mind. Perhaps even more important than trusting the healing process you choose is not just trusting your practitioner, but liking them. If there is no connection between you and your medical practitioner, whether Allopathic or not, then the chances of cure will be diminished. One of the most powerful factors in any medicine is nocebo and given the often toxic forms of Allopathic treatment, never more so than in modern conventional medicine.

At the end of the day the body heals and the body can heal anything. Any medical treatment is there to support and assist the body in doing what only it can do. Miracles of cure and healing are only miracles as a definition. Miracles are no more than that which we do not understand.

So, if you want to be healed from any disease and be 'singing your song' as robust health, bearing in mind that we are not all created equal and some people can attain levels of robust health which are a part of their physiology and nature in ways others will not, then the first thing is to make friends with your body.

Too much of modern medicine is sourced in a fear, if not hatred of the body and certainly in high levels of mistrust where symptoms and disease are seen as betrayal and the body as an enemy. If we treated our friends the way many treat the body we would have no friends.You only have one body and you and your body are in this for life.

Beyond you and your body there are the medical practitioners you choose as companions on the path.  You all need to get on and trust is the glue in that relationship. It is particularly important with Allopathic drug treatments because apart from often being toxic to varying degrees, they are generally synthesized versions of natural ingredients which are designed to 'trick' the body to bring about a desired effect. Many drugs work as 'imposters' and their effectiveness requires deceiving the body.

I happen to believe that consciousness exists at all levels, including cellular and that just as we become confused or fearful if we are tricked or if an imposter gets into our home, so too there is a similar effect for the body at micro and macro levels. The physiological and chemical deception needs to be countered with levels of trust elsewhere and that makes your relationship with your Allopathic doctor more important than it might be with natural and harmless and if you like, 'honest' medical methodologies like Homeopathy, Acupuncture or Herbal Medicine.

So, a few guidelines to be applied flexibly and as they suit because if you hate doing something even if you think it is good for you, or are told it is good for you, then it is not going to do much good for you. Every mouthful of tofu or swig of wheatgrass juice that you loathe is doing harm, not good.

And if you hate being told what to do, or being held to rules and regimen, then apply 'rules' in moderation. Use a 9-5 approach to it all and give yourself the night off, or, apply the rules during the week and forget about them at the weekend.

The only rule which is best applied in all circumstances is 'moderation in all things,' and for the rest, what works for you is all that matters. So, just some thoughts:

1. your body is your best friend and you are in this together. Whatever you can do to help your body needs to be done. That means eating food you enjoy but generally food which is as natural and freshly prepared as possible for this is where nutrition lies and nutrients are the true medicine which keeps and makes us well.Variety is important and if there are nutrient deficiencies then put some focus on foods rich in these.

Sleep is also crucial and with any illness sleep is even more important because this is when the body repairs and restores. Sleep is a habit and the habit you establish and maintain will bring better sleep. Again, everyone is different and sleep patterns range from five to nine hours a night. If you are ill you  will need more sleep so try to get seven hours solid sleep, keeping regular hours.

Drugs to help you sleep do more harm than good because they interfere with sleep patterns and therefore with the ability of the body to repair and restore. Study the functions of organs during different stages of sleep in Traditional Chinese Medicine and where you have identified organ dysfunction, then act accordingly.

Reduce toxins in food and drink and environment. Sleeping in a room with electrical equipment not turned off at the socket is a source for toxicity. It might not matter a toss when you are well, but everything can help when you are not. In fact, with any serious disease it can be a good idea to move your bed because where we sleep can involve detrimental factors in terms of feng shui principles.

2.  Symptoms are your body's attempt to establish some level of balance in ways you do not understand and also an attempt to 'get your attention' and communicate with you. If you do not listen they will get louder and louder and 'shout you down' in even more disturbing ways.

Listen contains the word List, so List your symptoms and try to understand them symbolically. That means all symptoms - emotional, psychological, physiological, circumstantial and if it applies, spiritual. When you take the time to ponder the meaning of a symptom you honour it and your body.  Everyone likes to be appreciated whether it is a heart murmur or dandruff. It all matters.

If you are creative then write or paint your most troubling symptoms. As with dreams, you don't have to interpret or even understand, you just have to record them which honours them. We all feel better when we are heard.

Write down your dreams for these also constitute symptoms and a language the body and psyche use to communicate with you.

3. Creative expression is more important for some than others but it helps everyone to express their feelings, thoughts and fears creatively. Music, painting, writing are creative but so too are  reading novels or poetry, gardening, cooking, meditating, knitting, embroidery, carpentry, furniture restoration and hobbies - even collecting barbed wire as some people do. Creative expression takes you out of yourself and beyond disease, at least for a time.

4.Resistance will always make things worse.  If something does not suit you then don't do it. Don't force yourself to meditate if you hate it or go on a diet which supposedly has cured other but which makes your life miserable. What you hate creates resentment and resistance and that is not the way to healing. If your dis-ease stops you from doing something you love, try to find something else you can do that you love or, sit awhile with your symptom and have a chat about what it is trying to tell you. Co-operate, or, as Dr Hamilton said, 'love your disease.' If your gall bladder or any organ is acting up, don't hate it, turn to it with compassion and send it love. Be kind.

5. Exercise is vital for some and a bore for others but again, moderation matters and if you are spending most of the day sitting then moving in some way is a good idea. Particularly outside. A walk around the garden is enough. Standing in the kitchen cooking for a few hours is exercise.  The idea that active, formal exercise is the only exercise is delusional. If you don't love jogging then don't do it. If you don't enjoy yoga then don't do it. But give them a try if you feel like it. If you don't then don't.

6. Find a medical practitioner you like and to whom you can relate and who can relate to you as a human being. Remain open to your choices for healing. And the reason you need to like them, although you don't have to 'take them home' or become friends, is because liking is a determinant of connection and it is only through connection that we find healing. At the end of the day connection is a form of Love and Love always heals.

Your medical practitioner may be charming, polite, even witty but their unconscious beliefs and their unexpressed conscious beliefs will also be major factors in your healing. The nocebo effect of doctors has prevented more cure than probably the placebo effect has ever aided it. You and your medical practitioner need to be on the same page. Every medical treatment involves placebo and nocebo effects.

7. Humour remains the 'best medicine.' Remember to laugh. If you don't know people who make you laugh find some. Watch comedies. Read humorous books and cartoons and try not to take any of it too seriously, even when it is serious.

8. Moderation in all things applies to all things including medical intervention. Less is more when it comes to subjecting your body to medication because all of them have side-effects and unless they are absolutely crucial and not a part of the 'maybe medicine' movement where you take a drug for a disease you do not have and may never get, try to keep them to a minimum.

The less your body has to deal with toxins of any kind the better. This also applies to vaccinations and if you believe they are useful then by all means have them but keep them to a minimum. Vaccines contain a variety of toxic chemicals along with synthesized diseases which challenge the body on many levels and increase the number of 'medical tricksters' which need to be dealt with.

9. If you can, then do your own research and as much as possible make up your own mind because this is not just informing it is empowering and it is also one of the most effective forms of 'preventative medicine.' Some people will research a lot, some a little and some none but given that few of us would buy a car or take out a mortgage without doing some research, when it comes to our health it makes sense to do some. In the internet age, while one needs to be cautious and read across the spectrum, there is little excuse for not finding out something about your condition. And even if you are committed to one approach or the other try to read across the spectrum to provide balance. No-one gets it all right and there are plenty of extremists on the non-Allopathic side of medicine as well. A large dose of the 'tonic' common sense will stand you in good stead and take as needed.

Beyond that, as with everything in life there are always other factors involved and plain old-fashioned fate and destiny. No medical practitioner can ever gaurantee cure and so, even doing all that you can there may be only partial cure or no cure. But, you will have done your best which is all any of us can do, and with any luck, learned a lot about yourself along the way and learned to love your body, whatever happens.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


I personally believe that God gave us bacon and eggs just as S/HE gave us alcohol because life was just too miserable to bear without them.

Bacon, eggs, baked beans, tomatoes, mushrooms and thick toast with lashings of butter for Sunday breakfast!! Delish.

And so we said, who first thought of this? Well, probably most people had bacon hanging from the rafters, and eggs from their own chickens and if nothing else was left then it was probably bacon and eggs and stale bread toasted over the fire. No doubt tomatoes, mushrooms and baked beans came later although my absolute favourite is black pudding which of course we do not have in Malawi but I can get at home from Barossa Delights.

For those who do not know Black Pudding is made from pork blood and oatmeal and must be incredibly high in nutrients, particularly iron. It is wondrous, sliced and fried. Those canny Scots. They also made White Pudding which is minus the blood and a bit tasteless with lots of pepper to make up for the guts which is lacking.

One presumes that in the days of yore, before fridges, and when food could and did run out, that often a meal was a fryup of whatever was left around and in desperation that included last night's vegetables as bubble and squeak which my father often cooked and which I always hated. However, I am sure like most things bubble and squeak could be prepared in more palatable form and it was probably the big lumps of pumpkin and the coarsely chopped cabbage which amounted to overkill in taste terms.

But what would we do without eggs or bacon? They say the hardest thing for vegetarians to give up is bacon and it makes you wonder why would you bother. Some it seems have 'bacon hits' on the side, which is perfectly understandable and I am sure is extremely good for them.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Why is there so much hysteria from the pro-vaccination group because others think differently?

I have just been pondering the emotional reaction so many seem to have to the issue of vaccination. One would think we were facing something akin to the Black Death, just because a minority are opting to limit or reject vaccination when the issue is raised.

I can understand why some people vigorously support vaccination and why others vigorously oppose it but I cannot understand why the supporters get so adamant if not angry about those who see it differently. I mean, if vaccination works then the only threat is to the unvaccinated. That is common sense and logic.

So why such passion? Why do some get hysterical at the thought that some people choose to limit or reject vaccination? What is the fear at the source of it because anger is always sourced in fear. And ignorance. It is as if those who believe in vaccination are too fearful to have compassion and understanding for those who question it and from my perspective, those who question it, particularly parents, do not do so lightly. And those parents who choose to limit or reject then have to live with the agonising question of whether or not they have made the right decision.

Most parents want what is best for their children and I think whatever position one takes on vaccination, for or against, that needs to be remembered.

For what it is worth most parents who question vaccination and decide to limit or reject it do so because previous child or children have either died or been damaged following vaccination.

And the group questioning vaccination is, research shows, the most educated in societies and therefore the best able to do the research before making up their mind.

Every parent wants the best for their child and it is oxymoronic to believe a parent chooses to limit or reject vaccination for their child without due cause, particularly when they will be villified and demonised and assured by most of society that they are risking their child's life.

Most parents are far too busy to add to their workload by making the effort and taking the time and increasing that burden by researching vaccination and choosing to limit or reject. It takes enormous energy to 'go against the herd' or the prevailing social views and why would anyone do that unless they really and truly believed it was necessary? They would not.

No parent would ever question vaccination without good cause and it is  intolerance and arrogance to villify those who do. Demanding that everyone follow the majority, or the prevailing science/medical view, particularly given how much science/medicine gets wrong, is what happens in tyrannies and dictatorships but in a democracy people take responsibility and accountability for their own decisions regarding health. That is their right.

And if people believe vaccination is not healthy they have as much of a right to put that belief into practice as those who believe it is healthy.

If one person is happy to believe that being vaccinated and medicated are what constitutes health then fine. But if another person believes that vaccination and medication make no sense as a health practice then that should also be fine.

The much touted 'herd immunity' provided by 100% vaccination has no substance. For one thing there will never be even 90% vaccination throughout the world, never, ever, ever, and for another, in an age of air travel it is impossible to ensure 100% vaccination in any given country at any given time. There is also a scientifically validated argument that 'herd immunity' when it occurs only does so through naturally incurred disease and not through artificial and synthesized disease as found in vaccines.

So, if herd immunity is impossible and the vaccinated are protected then why on earth does it matter if some people opt to limit or reject vaccination? Why such hysteria for no sound purpose?

Live and let live and never more so than when it comes to personal decisions about health.