Paul K. Branch, M.D. - Holistic Medicine and Classical Homeopathy


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The Alternative Healer

Archive for the ‘Alternative Medicine Basics’ Category


Menopause: What is the Best Therapy?

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Menopause is a time of transition, a crossing from one state to another. The key in all transitions is to find safe passage across what can be rough waters. From the point of view of traditional Chinese medicine, a key year in this transition lies in the 48-49 year range. When confronted with menopausal or peri-menopausal symptoms, there are three main paths that a woman can take:

▪ Conservative. This views menopause as a natural transition where treatment should be minimal. In my practice, women who choose this path use classical homeopathy and perhaps some nutritional and dietary therapy to manage symptoms.
▪ Energy Imbalance Perspective. This point of view reflects the understanding of Chinese medicine (TCM). From the point of TCM, hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms arise out of an energy imbalance that can easily occur at mid-life. The energy of the kidneys, which create cooling vital fluids, declines at menopause, and thus fall out of balance with the fire energy of the body. The water-fire balance tips in favor of heat and leads to hot flashes. In addition, when women stop menstruating, they may load extra toxicity which formerly was excreted through menstruation. If the body does not find a new balance, illness may develop. Women who choose the energy balance path can use herbal therapy to replenish their lost vital essence, and often hold this balance through the transition and beyond. They may or may not use classical homeopathy along with this approach.
▪ Hormonal Imbalance perspective. This is viewpoint of a segment of western doctors, particularly those involved in anti-aging medicine, and has been popularized by Suzanne Somers. In this view, the decline of hormones in mid-life leads to symptoms. To manage the symptoms, this view advocates replenishing the lost hormones with bio-identical hormones. The agreement among all doctors who work at the forefront of this field is that estradiol (estrogen) should not be taken orally. Doctors mainly prescribe transdermal (applied to skin) application for both estradiol and progesterone replacement, although many advocate taking the progesterone orally if there is insomnia. Within this group of doctors, there are many individual variations, but two main groups you should be aware of:

⁃ -Cyclers: This sub-group, whose chief proponent is Susie Wiley, maintains that        women should take hormones in a way that mimics the hormonal rhythms of a younger, menstruating women. In this method of hormone replacement, the first half of the cycle is an estrogen phase and the second half is a progesterone phase. When hormones are cycled in this way it will promote a menstrual period. The Wiley Protocol is the most extreme of the cycler group, because it advocates returning a woman to the higher hormonal levels of a young woman, attempting to exactly mimic the rhythm of young adulthood.
-Non-cyclers: This group usually gives static (i.e. the same dose each day) daily doses of hormones. If a diagnosis of “estrogen dominant” is given, then there will be a daily dose of progesterone alone. Other situations may call for giving both estradiol and progesterone. Some doctors always give a combination of estradiol and progesterone each day.

In reference, to the above three approaches, here is the approach of my practice:
1) If I had to choose only one therapy from the above three, I would choose classical homeopathy. The reason is that this treatment is so deep that it can manage most health problems. With a good homeopathic prescription, a woman feels better than using either Chinese herbal medicine or bio-identical hormone replacement alone, or together. I find that using bio-identical hormone replacement can be limited in cases where the health of the woman is not that good.
2) Treating with classical homeopathy and then supplementing with Chinese herbals to fine-tune and build the vital essence of the body is an excellent way to proceed.
3) Using all three approaches together. This has slowly been evolving into my treatment of choice. First I like to begin with classical homeopathy and see how things balance out. From there, if signs of deficiency exist, I will restore the balance with herbals. I find that then adding in bio-identical hormones optimizes how a woman feels, allowing her to move into a new and higher state of well-being.
4) Although I recognize arguments for both Cyclers and Non-Cyclers, my prescribing sides more with the Cyclers. Before prescribing a cycling regimen, though, a woman needs to be OK with the likelihood of menstruating beyond normal menopausal age. If you give bio-identical estrogen in the first half of the cycle, followed by progesterone in the second half, a woman will build up a uterine lining (assuming she has a uterus). When the progesterone is stopped at the end of the cycle, bleeding will occur. All doctors using bio-identical replacement therapy agree that taking some bio-identical hormones is healthier than not, even when given in a low-dose static way. I agree, however, with the Cyclers who argue that a static dose of hormones tends to “clog” the receptors, inhibiting them from regenerating.
5) Although I have seen no evidence, either in practice or in the literature, that bio-identical hormone replacement promotes cancer or any other disease, I have seen evidence that giving too much of either estradiol or progesterone can create toxicity. Thus, I do not want to say that bio-identical hormone replacement is without risks. It is important to tune in to how you feel when you start taking bio-identical hormones. If you do not feel better, you either need to change the regimen or stop them. When bio-identical hormone replacement works, this is reflected both in measurements (e.g. the Digimeridian I use) and in how you feel.

The above is a brief summary of an evolving field. Use it as general guidelines, asking questions to find answers that suit your individual needs and outlook. Trust that, for those in the know, there are profound interventions that can make the menopausal years healthy and joyful.

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Keeping the Liver Healthy

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

First some questions:

–Do you have a tendency to be fatigued?
–Do you have high blood pressure?
–Do you have high cholesterol?
–Do you have arthritis or any other auto-immune disease?
–Are you overweight?
–Have you had cancer?
–Have you had an injury to tendons in your shoulder or knees even though the trauma was actually not that substantial?

If you answer yes to any of the above, be suspicious that your liver is not working well.  Even if you answered no to the above, be suspicious that your liver is not working well.

Many problems in our physical, and even, emotional health, can stem from a sluggish, toxic liver.  The liver is like our internal processing plant. It metabolizes and transforms our food into different forms. It alters toxins into non-toxic forms or into a form that can be easily eliminated from the body. Anything that involves taking one substance and changing it to another substance likely involves the liver. It is the largest organ in our body, and it is like a giant factory where millions of chemical reactions take place.

When our liver is unhealthy, our internal processing plant gets sluggish. Toxins do not get processed efficiently. Hormones and blood sugar get out of balance. Food we ingest causes us to bloat instead of smoothly being digested and processed. This can set up lots of problems.

At this point in my career, I give a lot of respect to the liver.  This is in contrast to when I was in medical school.  At that point, if a patient did not have hepatitis, did not drink to excess, and did not overdose on Tylenol, I assumed everything was just fine. Now I think differently.   To give an idea of the depth of the problem, consider these words from a professor of anatomy, Richard Schulze.

Often in bodies of people over 60 the internal organs are in such a mess it is difficult for students to identify things.  They smell so bad students would run from the room and even vomit.  One time…almost every student started to vomit all over the laboratory.  After that incident I always tried to get the bodies of younger people  killed prematurely due to an accident so the internal organs would be more normal.

…What was surprising to me was how many young individuals would have fairly normal looking internal organs, but when you got to the liver and gallbladder, well, it was like an alien encounter.  Often the liver was shaped drastically different  swollen much larger than normal, filled with bloody fluids, pus, tumors, scar tissue and parasites.  Every student was shocked to see such advanced degeneration in such young, supposedly healthy people.

[From Dr. Schulze's Bi-Monthly Newsletter   Natural Healing Publications,  May 2002, with thanks to author Paul Pitchford for finding and quoting it in his book Healing with Whole Foods.]

Dr. Schulze’s comment may make you a bit queasy, but it makes you ask, what is going on? Why are the livers of young people so toxic? We can sum up the answer in two words:  the “American diet.”  Our diet, rich in meats, processed carbohydrates, and refined oils wreaks havoc on the liver.  This is before we factor in the pesticides we spray on plants and the toxic pharmaceuticals products we ingest.

What Dr. Schulze does not make clear is the consequences of having advanced degeneration in our liver.  After all, not everyone is running around with hepatitis. Teasing out the consequences of why this is such a problem is complex, and I plan to begin putting into words you can understand in future entries.  For now, here’s some initial advice on how to protect your liver:

–Avoid all processed carbohydrates, especially sugar.
–Avoid all refined oils. The clearer, the better-looking the oil, the more toxic it is likely to be to the liver. Look for “organic” and “unfiltered” oils. I stick to olive oil, flax seed oil, preferably from freshly ground flax seeds, and organic ghee. Trans-fats, a subject of much media attention, are especially toxic and difficult for the liver to process, but most other processed oils are close behind.
–As a rule, anything created in the laboratory, such as splenda and nutrasweet, is especially toxic for the liver.  Stay as close to natural food sources as you can.
–Avoid Tylenol, especially if you are over 50.
–If you were not breast fed a minimum of 6 months, your potential for a toxic, poorly functioning liver, are greatly increased. If you are in poor health and were not breast fed, your liver is highly suspicious for being the cause. This deserves a consult for a deeper look and advice. Email me.
–Be careful with taking multiple supplements in pill form, particularly if you are in ill health. A lot of these vitamins and supplements stress the liver, which is in charge of processing these and can cause more harm than good. Good guidance can be essential.

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On Preventing Autism: Lessons from a Recent Case

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Earlier this summer a new case of autism presented in my office, a young man in his late teens.  It is a case that demonstrates the power of classical homeopathy to help autistic children.  The story of this young man itself is instructive.  Here’s how his mother told it to me:

During his first year of life all of his development milestones were met, and he usually was a little bit ahead.  He had upper respiratory, ear infections and vomiting.  During this first year he had multiple courses of antibiotics….

I breast fed him between six and nine months.  I went back to work when he was three months, and after that we began to give some cow’s milk formula.  He had a reaction to the formula, so we switched to soy formula [because] he seemed to have a lot of reflux…

In was during his second year of life that he had multiple vaccinations in one day.  He had the the MMR, DPT, and polio.  After this he got high fevers and encephalopathy [inflammation and swelling of the brain].  He had a very very rapid loss of language and the autistic behavior started.  At 22 months he got the diagnosis [autism].

To sum up, this boy was fine during his infancy.  He had a tendency towards infections in his upper respiratory system along with allergies.  In his second year of life he got a strong stimulation to his immune system (multiple vaccinations) immediately followed by high fevers and brain inflammation.  He lost his language and became autistic.

We are told by the medical profession and FDA that there is no link between vaccinations and autism.  This story is a wonderful example of why there is a lot of anger over this.  First of all, most doctors have had experience with reactions to vaccines.  Like me, they may have watched a child having seizures in the ER, then hear from the mother that the child “just had vaccinations.”  Second, although I do not believe that high fevers need to be present for a vaccination to trigger autism, in this case there is a clear link between the post-vaccination fever and the slide into autism.  It does not take a medical degree to understand how inflammation and swelling in the brain could cause damage resulting in autistic behavior.  [For a deeper discussion on the nature of vaccinations see a previous blog on the HPV vaccine.

Here are my thoughts to parents on how to lower the risk of your child becoming autistic:

•  The first year of life is critical.  It sets up the immune system and a lays a foundation for growth and development.  The first step in doing this is to breast feed at least 12 months.   [See my blog on milk products and ghee.  This is where I detail why cow’s milk in particular sets up immune system problems. ]
•  If you did not breast feed your child for a full 12 months, I would add 1-2 teaspoons of colostrum daily to the diet (This can be cow source.  One source I like is from New Zealand  http://www.colostrumnz.com/colostrum_008.htm).
•  If you must leave off breast feeding for some reason, including adoption, do not use cow’s milk formula.  I would use goat’s milk and find a pristine source.  It is not perfect, but it is preferable.  If you want to use cow’s milk, I would find a source with a very small, organic herd of dairy cows.  This delivers a milk that is much less exciting to the child’s immune system.  Pasteurization is important so you know the milk is sterile.  Homogenization is to be avoided always.
•  Avoid vaccinations.  This will draw fire from the powers that be, nevertheless, vaccinations are problematic, and, unless you plan to be a neglectful parent, they can do more harm than good.  If you do choose to vaccinate your child, I recommend only doing one vaccination at a time, spacing them out preferably at least a week.
It is likely that the multiple simultaneous stimuli to the boy’s immune system in this case caused a certain “confusion” and helped ignite a damaging immune response.
•  Pay attention for signs of an over-reactive immune system.  It does not necessarily mean the risks of autism are high, but it does point to underlying problems.  In this case, the frequent ear infections and strong reaction to milk along with the reflux point to a compromised immune system.  [This reminds me that I need to write a blog on the gut and the immune system.  Stay tuned.]  Pay attention and eliminate the foods which are tying up the child’s immune system, e.g. cow’s milk products.  Be aware that any food other than human breast milk that is introduced too soon in the first year of life can provoke an immune response, because of the child’s undeveloped intestinal environment.
•  In reaching the second year of life, if your child is having issues with the immune system, i.e. allergies and/or frequent illnesses, it is important to have a consultation with a holistic doctor.  In my office, the following is on the table for discussion:

–dietary and nutritional factors that eliminate phlegm and reduce inflammation.
–classical homeopathic treatment to heal the immune system
–an isopathic remedy regimen to regenerate the gut flora and gut immune cells.

I plan on writing more about the treatment of this young man, because we have had success with classical homeopathy.  What is not clear yet is what is possible.  How much can he heal?

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On Milk Products…and Ghee

Monday, December 21st, 2009

I’m a big fan of clarified butter, or, as it is called in Ayurvedic medicine, “ghee”  (pronounced with hard g as in “go” and ee as in “glee”).   In working with people on weight loss, I am confirming that ghee is an excellent fat for weight maintenance.

Ghee is butter with the milk protein skimmed off.  Ghee is used extensively in Ayurvedic medicines.  Ayurvedic doctors consider this fat to have many health benefits, as follows:

▪    It maintains the lining of the stomach, protecting it from excess acid.
▪    It is very resistant to free radical damage, so it delivers fatty acids and cholesterol in a pure form that can be safely utilized by the body’s cells.  It is maintained that cholesterol is good for the body unless it is subject to free radical damage.   Unfortunately, we usually get cholesterol from very unhealthy sources.
▪    It is said to promote the functioning of the mind–learning, memory, and recall.  It is interesting to note that low stomach energy is associated with poor mental functioning in Chinese medicine..
▪    It is said that the cholesterol in ghee helps balance the bile.  A balanced bile helps prevent gallstones.  Moreover, cholesterol in its pure form supports the production of many important hormones.

Ghee can be used along with flax seed oil as a superb fat.  Any time I cook in oil using medium or high heat I tend to use ghee because it is extremely stable.  That is, it does not change into a toxic, liver clogging substance when cooked on high heat.  Get some!

Why skim off the milk protein?  To answer, I also need to discuss milk.  Don’t drink cow’s milk!

First off, milk is mostly sugar.  It is phlegm producing–i.e. it creates mucous, makes you sluggish, and promotes weight gain.  But there is a deeper problem.

If we were lucky, we were breast fed for well over a year.  Because a baby’s small intestine is not fully developed, the intestinal wall is very leaky and permeable.  This is how it’s supposed to be, because the mother’s breast milk reaches the small intestine and rushes into the blood stream.  This supports the baby’s need for lots of calories and nutrients during the first year of life.

Breast feeding has been unpopular in the US.  Thus, with a good percentage of infants, the mother quickly switches them to a cow’s milk formula, given by bottle, and problems begin.  The cow’s milk hits the baby’s small intestine…and goes rushing into the blood stream.  We are humans, not cows, and this is a shock for the baby’s undeveloped immune system, which overreacts by creating antibodies against the cow’s milk.  This is the reason such a high percentage of Americans have an allergy to cow’s milk.
There is a good chance that you have an allergy to cow’s milk.  This is true even if you have no obvious symptoms when you drink milk.  Nevertheless, if you have even a mild allergy, drinking milk will tie up some of your immune system.  Here are my recommendations:

▪    Avoid all cow’s milk
▪    Avoid as well cheese and yogurt made of cow’s milk.
▪    Cheese of goat or sheep is OK.
▪    Yogurt or kefir made of sheep or goat’s milk is good.
▪    If you have to drink milk, use goat’s milk or sheep’s milk.

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Myths about Weight Loss

Monday, December 14th, 2009

When it comes to dieting and losing weight, consider the following, and mark True or False:

1.  Overeating, i.e. taking in more calories than one needs, causes weight gain.   
2.  If you restrict your calorie intake enough you are guaranteed to lose weight or at least stay the same.   
3.  Exercise regularly and you will lose weight. 
4.  Eat a low-fat diet and it will help you lose weight. 
 
Let’s examine these in order.

First of all, many people overeat constantly and never gain weight.  Conversely, many people restrict calorie intake–even severely restrict it–and still gain weight.  Both #1 and #2 are false.  Overeating is not the cause of becoming overweight.  Under eating is not the cause of slimming down.

#3 and #4 are a couple of the more astonishing myths of the last-half century, only this time they have been spread by experts who are supposed to know–doctors.  Have you gone to your doctor recently, complaining that you want to slim down?  What does he tell you?  He tells you to eat non-fattening foods and exercise.  What has been the outcome of these recommendations?  All but the lucky few have gotten fatter.

So why do we persist in running the same old treadmill?  Why not call a failure a failure? 

It is difficult to argue against the obvious:  of course eating too much makes us fatter, particularly too many fattening foods.  Everyone knows this.  The only problem is that it is wrong. 

Money has to be another part of the reason.  Somebody has to be making money on these myths.  The first culprit is the food industry.

Let’s be accurate:  overeating does not cause weight gain, fat production does.  The two are different.  Some people can overeat like crazy and their fat cells don’t get very excited.  They stay slim. 

What causes fat cells to produce fat?  This is the billion dollar question, which no researcher has been able to exactly answer.  What can be said is that fat production and becoming overweight is a hormonal problem.  If you are more than 25 pounds overweight, you have a hormonal imbalance, and likely multiple hormones are involved.  

A major hormonal player is insulin.  Insulin has been called “the hormone of abundance.”  When abundance comes into your life you can become a “fat cat,”  and this is what tends to happen when your body produces a lot of insulin.  Once you get to be 25 pounds overweight, the insulin system gets stuck in overdrive.  Because you are fat, you produce more insulin.  Because you produce more insulin, you crave sugar, and because you answer the cravings with eating more sugar, you produce more insulin.  This vicious circle causes the fat to get fatter.

I have been working on treatment regimens to interrupt this vicious cycle and correct the underlying hormonal imbalances.  Patients are already doing it and finding success.  Feel free to talk to me about it.  For right now, just a few pointers about the protocol:

1.  Don’t buy any foods that say “low fat.”  Low fat means “high sugar.”  Avoid milk, but if you have to use it in your coffee, use cream instead.
2.  In general, avoid ALL processed flours and sugars.  In fact, avoid all processed anything.  That’s 80% of what is at your grocery store.   
3.  Get to sleep at night early and sleep long.  (Staying up too late aggravates the hormonal imbalances.) 
4.  Eat lots of good fats.  These include olive oil, ghee, coconut oil, avocado oil, and flax seed oi. Unless you take them with gobs of sugar, they will help you slim down.  When you fry foods make sure you match the oil to whether you are cooking low, medium or high heat.  And don’t be overly scared of butter, which although not in the category of “good fat,” it is in a neutral category, i.e. it won’t in itself cause you to get fatter. 
5.  Exercise in moderation.  Realize that it will cause you to become hungrier, but not thinner.  I prefer activities where deep, rhythmic breathing are key.  Yoga is a great example. 

 

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Cellular Memory–and its Relationship to Classical Homeopathy

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

I heard a true story recently that brings insight into life and healing.  It is about an eight year-old girl who had a heart transplant.  The story is related by members of her transplant team.  Malcolm Robinson has written about it, Case 6 in his studies of cellular memory. 

The donor heart for her transplant had become available with the sudden death of a woman.  The transplant went well.  The only hitch in her treatment came a few months later.  The girl began having vivid nightmares.  In these terrible dreams she was being attacked and stabbed to death by a man.  The dream would repeat, revealing a new detail.  The panic, and the being stabbed remained the same. 

This waking up at night in abject fear was traumatic for the girl.  Moreover, it was unusual–the girl had never had nightmares like this before.  They were entirely new and out of context.

Members of her team, which included psychiatric care, puzzled over this, and finally, as the girl continued to have these disturbing nightmares, one of them delved deeper into the matter.   What turned up is both astonishing and, in the end, the most “logical” explanation. 

The woman to whom the heart originally belonged was the victim of an attack and had died suddenly:  she was stabbed to death.  The dreams of the girl who had received the transplanted heart exactly reflected her violent demise.  Based on the details of these dreams, the attacker was caught and tried.  In some way, the cells of this woman’s heart carried the memory of her traumatic, violent end, and this cellular memory was transplanted with the heart.  

Cellular memory is some form of energy–an energy powerful enough to stir up intense fear and nightmares.  This energy is not yet measurable by any machine yet invented by biomedical technology–and without this “proof” many scientists would deny its existence.  Nevertheless, almost all of us have experiences that are difficult to explain in any other way.

Cellular memory has a close relationship to classical homeopathy.  The preparation of a homeopathic remedy involves extensive dilution and shaking of each dilution, leaving no trace of the original substance.  There is only the “memory” left in the triple distilled alcohol of the original substance.  This leads me to believe that homeopathy works on a similar energetic plane as cellular memory.  In the same way as the cellular memory from a transplanted organ can disturb a woman’s dreams, a small, infinitesimal dose of substance in a homeopathic remedy can energetically match and shift an ill patient to health.  

Classical homeopathy likely affords the deepest  energetic therapy we have. It is able to reach places and heal problems where everything else has failed.

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How In-Tune are You?

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

My practice has a new member:   a machine to measure the acupuncture meridians.  I have thought about naming him–or her.  I welcome any suggestions.

This machine, developed by a chinese medicine doctor,  gives an accurate read of how “in-tune” or “out-of-tune” the energy of your body is.  More than that, it will tell about what internal organs are imbalanced.

This, of course, has to do with chinese medicine, and it may make you wonder what is an acupuncture meridian anyway?  We could say, “It’s a pathway of vital energy that runs along certain points of the body.”  That’s true, but it doesn’t begin to answer what a meridian actually is or why they are important.  

When explaining a meridian, It is easier to take an entirely different approach.  Say for example, someone close to you dies.  You grieve, and this affects the energy of the lungs.  The vital energy of the lung emerges from the lung and runs  along a pathway of  points on each arm, ending at the thumbnail:  the lung meridian of chinese medicine.  

Why, you ask, does grieving affect my lungs?  It’s somewhat of a mystery, but not entirely.  There actually is a deeper reason too complicated for this newsletter.  For the moment, it is easier to convince you that it is true.  

If you think back to a time when you lost someone or something you loved, you may remember feeling a heaviness on the chest, needing to take deep breaths.  When you cry uncontrollably, your lungs are very much involved.  You breath irregularly, and if you tune in closely, you will feel a need to suck in air:  you sob.  

If, in dealing with a unexpected loss, you are able to sense a heaviness in your chest, you have just tuned in to a change in the vital energy in your lungs.  That change will be reflected in the energy of the lung meridian.  

But say, for some reason, the energy of your lungs is chronically low.  Feeling that way day in and day out, not having anything to compare it to, how would you ever know?  That’s the problem, you don’t know.  And it’s important.  

Why?  Because energy imbalances in your body have everything to do with the symptoms you are having–or about to be having.  By measuring the meridians with the machine, we can use this information to evaluate your current health as well as to track your progress and fine tune treatment.  

This is fundamentally different than the laboratory measurements we MD’s typically perform.  The problem with these lab measurements is that they only show up after the underlying energy has been messed up, and likely messed up for a significant amount of time.  

A vital energy pathway in your body can be messed up in one of two ways: It can have stagnant or toxic energy, or it can have too little, deficient energy.  

Perhaps you have heard of a case of someone who had lung cancer who felt a “coldness” in the chest.  People who are sensitive to energy could actually feel this lack of vital energy by putting their hands on the lung area and sensing that it is devoid of vitality.  What is this saying?  It is saying that the vital energy in the lungs is profoundly deficient in this case of lung cancer.  With the capacity to precisely measure, this lung energy deficiency would have shown up before the cancer actually emerged,  Now we are talking good medicine.  Why do you want a test to discover your lung cancer AFTER it is growing uncontrollably in you?  That’s the best you get right now.

My practice has always been an uncompromising devotion to the best medicine on the planet.  Almost four years in the planning, now I am taking another–vital–step in that direction.  Thanks for sticking around on the journey.  You will be rewarded for it.   

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How NOT to Get Cancer

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Recently, Newsweek published a sobering article about cancer. In spite of billions and billions of dollars spent on cancer research, the results were shown to be disappointing. The article found that although initial treatment has had an increased rate of success, cancer still tends to come back, often ravaging the system with renewed vigor.

I recently asked a patient to tell me about his cancer, a brain tumor diagnosed as Grade Three. This is what he told me:

I had conventional treatment and I believe it made it worse. It initially killed most of the cancer cells, but it came back as Grade Four. I hope whatever I’m doing holds it at bay. The headaches are definitely controllable with the steroids.

My reaction is to fight it. I know that there are people that survive this and I hope to join them. I’m not going to go down without fighting for it. I’m fighting for my life.

The way the Newsweek article described it, cancer cells act as if they have a strategic plan to outwit even our most ingenious treatments.

Now listen to the words of another patient, who had bladder cancer:

It was like I wanted to get out of here, but I can’t. It was just there constantly. I just wanted to empty myself out. It got increasingly hard and painful for me to urinate. I had to push a lot, to really try and get the urine out.

Even though these are entirely different cancers, you may sense a similar theme. Take the words of another patient with cancer; she describes this feeling again, but from an entirely different perspective:

I can’t seem to control my children. I was making them feel awful for their transgressions –not finishing food, not finishing homework. I would tell them, “I’m going to kill you. I’m going to kill you.” I didn’t know what was going on. I feel like I’m being run by these feelings.

I asked her where she thought these feelings originated.

I think that rage was pretty prevalent when I was little. Until I was 8 years old, I was definitely run by rage.

This woman had uterine cancer. Notice how her rage focused on her children, and then think about the childbearing function of the uterus. She got cancer of her uterus for a reason.

In my experience, cancer goes hand-in-hand with feelings that cannot be contained. I invariably see the attempt to maintain control in patients who have cancer. Everything about the disease leads to emotional turmoil, its relentless course, the pain, the loss of control that happens when one enters the medical system, the hair loss, struggling through exhaustion and so on. This does not mean that all patients struggling to “maintain control” get cancer, but my sense is that the risk goes up.

After I treated the patient with uterine cancer, this is what she told me:

I can still lose my temper, but it definitely doesn’t feel as out of control as it used to. I would say that even when I get mad, it feels like I quickly have a choice to back down or make my point. Internally, I feel much more in control when I have that choice.

It may not seem so dramatic, but exactly this “having a choice” is what I see as critical. She initially felt no choice, she simply lost her temper.

I cannot take credit for a cure of her cancer because it was conventionally treated. However, I do believe that if she would have been in the space where this remedy put her, she would have never gotten cancer in the first place.

This, in my understanding, is one reason why people should seek treatment with classical homeopathy. No other modality brings such inner peace and leads to such deep energetic balance. You need that before you end up getting cancer.

My homeopathic colleague, Dr. Alize Timmerman, gave an interview about cancer in 2006 in which she said that cancer was “a hardening of the body” in response to some emotional trauma the person was unable to handle. Although I am not convinced that this explanation covers all cases, 90 percent of cancers seem to fit this model.

I am also reminded of a quote from Dr. Yongli Ni, a Washington, D.C. acupuncturist: “Traditional Chinese medicine’s idea is that Western treatment blasts the cancer but fails to adjust the underlying qi or energy issues, thus leaving a potentially fertile field for future malignancies.”

The experiences of my patients provide clues of why the current chemotherapy craze is unlikely to lead us to the Promised Land.  Cancer is more than physical cells growing out of control. An underlying toxic energy drives the physical illness, and at the emotional level, this translates into tumultuous feelings.

Steering clear of cancer means also steering clear of toxic emotions – in particular it means dealing with traumatic emotions rather than burying them. That’s easier said than done, of course, because these feelings so often come at us from an irrational place that’s difficult to understand. Cancer, from one perspective, tells those who have it about their search for inner peace.

 

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Emotional Energy

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Recently I met a healer in New York who works in an unusual way.  She moves her hands above her client’s body, feeling its energy field.  She tunes into the energy of the person in a way that allows her to pick up on an emotional energy.  She described to me one case where, in moving her hands, she sensed a deep shame coming from a certain part of her client’s body.  She worked on this client to attempt to cleanse and remove this shame.  How do we go about understanding what she is doing?.

I think it’s easiest to think of this healer as working in the 3rd dimension — the Emotional Energy Body.  People familiar with my writing know that I have distinguished four dimensions in which healers work:

1) The Physical Body
2) The Vital Energy Body
3) The Emotional Energy Body
4) The Conscious Energy  Body

The 3rd dimension is the level I have had the hardest time understanding.  Nevertheless, I’m convinced it exists, as ancient traditions have suggested, and I would describe it as follows:

Emotions, rather than being an experience "in the brain," appear to run through every cell of our body.  The emotional energy body can exist separately from the body as a type of energy "cloud," and yet it exists within the physical body.

In some real way, this emotional energy carries memories which "lodge" in certain parts of our physical body.  Thus it holds memories of past trauma or pain as well as joy and contentedness.

This directly influences the energy of the acupuncture meridians.  For example, grief affects the vital energy (level 2) of the lungs.

Another example of the emotional body affecting the physical body:

Why, in times of relationship stress, do people often gain excessive weight?

It may be that the relationship stress triggers patterns of old memories at the level of emotion.  In turn, the Emotional Body stimulates the vital energy of the acupuncture meridians, and this triggers the physical body to aggressively store fat.

In such cases, an excessive weight gain may be, literally and metaphorically, the patient’s body responding to a call for protection – or increased insulation – in a time of emotional vulnerability.  Thus, to successfully treat the excessive weight gain, healers may need to address the Emotional Body.

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Stimulant Medications

Monday, February 25th, 2008

What are the long-term consequences of taking taking medications that alter our brain chemistry?  Taking mind-altering drugs such as Prozac, Xanax, and Ritalin has become almost as accepted as pouring milk on our breakfast cereal.  Recently I took the case of a sensitive, intelligent patient, and she spoke to me about taking stimulant medications:

The stimulants…are harsh.  It’s euphoria, that’s the feeling that people lock into.   You have to be very careful with people taking stimulants, they are so happy and so bigger than life; but it’s all a façade.  They stimulate that area of the brain that regulates pleasure.   They stimulate it so much it becomes trigger happy.  Try to taper it off these medications, and  it won’t let you.  It gets tired and it stops working well. 
Stimulants limit the highs and lows of feelings.   It’s important to be conscious, and to have differentiated levels of feelings, yet stimulant medications cut off those highs and lows, and you become indifferent to lots of things that you shouldn’t be indifferent to.  Dexedrine and Ritalin are related to metamphetimines.  Why are so many people hooked on cocaine?  It’s along that same thread, except these are probably a little more mild…When I was on them in 1991, I took the Dexedrine, and it took me 2 yrs to get off of them.

In another instance, a woman said this about her stimulant medications:

I really don’t know if I can undo what I’ve done to my brain.  So many years of this really messes with your brain’s set points for motivation, reward, goal-seeking, pleasure, sense of values, action, intuition… So many things.  I miss who I was before. How everything felt.  Before everything felt so warped.  Before feeling itself became so warped.

These two accounts are not the last word.  Nevertheless, reading them is enough to make us wary about psychiatrists or school teachers who tell you stimulants–or any mind-altering drug, for that matter–are "necessary."  As soon as stimulant medications are introduced, the child (or adult) has an issue that may grow into a long-term problem.  Taking a drug that alters one’s experience of pleasure may not come without a corresponding reaction of indifference.  Such a choice deserves careful evaluation and a plan for how to get off of them.

There is one other important consideration in taking stimulant medications.  I am reminded of a child with extreme hyperactivity that I saw during my residency training.  At the residency, we treated him with stimulant medications to bring down his hyperactivity and help him focus.  The stimulant medications perhaps helped some.  He still remained quite hyperactive.  Around the age of 10, this child died, devastating the family.  Cause:  heart failure brought on by taking high dosages of stimulant medications.  Stimulant medications do just that–they stimulate, and the heart is involved as well.

Stimulants complicate the relationship we have with our deeper self.  Because they act by numbing or cutting off feelings that are unpleasant, they interfere with how we strive for inner tranquility and spiritual wholeness.  This is likely true, to a greater or lesser degree, for all mind-altering drugs.  Stimulant medications, though, bring some of the more difficult issues in the treatment arena.  This makes their increased use, particularly in children, a matter worthy of our concern. 

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