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Newsletter v1n16

Newsletter v1n16
Back Issues

"How can I get thinner? Give up lunch and dinner." (Alan Sherman, Sarah Jackman, 1964 version)

The DOCTOR YOURSELF (SM) NEWSLETTER Vol 1, No 16 June 10, 2001 "Free of charge, free of advertising, and free of the A.M.A." Written by Andrew Saul, PhD. of , a free online library of more than 200 natural healing articles with over 3,000 scientific references.

When I was a little kid... ("Oh, no! There he goes again with one of his Abe Lincoln stories!")

Back in the 50's, comedians got a lot of mileage from jokes like the one that told of the person having a heart attack who manages to get a call in to their doctor. The doctor says, "Take two aspirin and call me in the morning." Everybody laughed at a doctor like that.

Now TV commercials for "Bayer" aspirin actually tell you to take aspirin DURING a heart attack. Incredible. But TV has said not a word about how taking 400 to 800 I.U. vitamin E a day can prevent heart attack. No mention of how magnesium orotate can stop a heart attack. Now word about how near-vegetarian diet, stress reduction and exercise can virtually eliminate heart attacks. And certainly no word about the physicians who made the above discoveries. In order, they were Evan Shute, M.D. and Wilfrid Shute, M.D., Hans Neiper, M.D., and Dean Ornish, M.D. Read about all of them at , and start laughing again at those who still think that myocardial infarction is due to a drug deficiency.

The Miracle Drug: PLACEBO!

"The placebo should not be given on demand or for unduly prolonged periods of time." (Jonothan G. Solomon, M.D. (1982) Placebo revisited: An update on a very useful agent. The Consultant. December.)

Don't you just love that statement? Exactly how many patients abuse their placebo prescriptions? And just how many people die from placebo overdose?

Ever since I first watched comedian Steve Martin do a Saturday Night Live routine about being "high on a new drug called Pla-cee-bo," I've questioned the scientific method a lot more often. The great majority of all illnesses are self limiting. About ninety percent of all sick people will either get better anyway or die anyway, no matter what the doctor does. So why have doctors? For the ten percent who need intervention, common sense would tell us. Just how much bias enters into medical practice? In so-called double blind studies, where neither experimenter nor subject know who got the active medicine and who got the sugar pill, there can be little doubt. Yet only about twenty percent of all medical and surgical procedures have ever been double-blind, placebo tested. Let's see if we've got this straight: Only ten percent can be helped, and only twenty percent of what will be tried is known to help. I haltingly say that twenty percent of ten percent is..., ah, is... is a small number.

As a visiting student at the Canberra Hospital in Australia, I attended a physician's seminar on a brand new treatment for migraine headache. The seminar was paid for by the drug company that, surprise surprise, made the very drug being reported on. Research on this particular medicine showed that it worked better than placebo. About 55 to 65% of patients taking it had relief, whereas only about 45% taking the placebo had relief. Consider the wonder of the real difference: 45 of one hundred had relief from thinking that they might possibly be taking an effective medication, whereas only 20 out of a hundred more actually got relief from definitely ingesting the active chemical. When we do placebo controlled, double blind studies, the pony to bet on is the sugar pill: it will be infinitely safer, unbelievably cheaper, and darn near as effective as the drug du jour.

Why, then don't we just go whole hog and just use placebos? Well, we have. In a little-publicized (and downright embarrassing) chapter of 19th century medical history, there was a movement among some physicians who had good reason to believe that the cures of the day were worse than the diseases. The very term "quack" was in fact first applied to medical doctors who gave their drug of choice, mercury, for almost anything. They were called "quicks," actually, for using "quicksilver," mercury's nickname. Some doctors rebelled against what we today would consider to be bona fide medical barbarism, such as bleeding by the pint, uterus removals for female hysteria, lower rib removals in woman so they could fit into corsets better, arsenic treatments for syphilis, and so forth.

So along come some dissident doctors who choose to give no medicines at all, just placebos. Their cure rate was high, their death rate unusually low, their popularity with patients very strong, their names today very much unsung. Just try to find information about them at you local medical library or museum. If you come across anything on this subject, please email links, articles, and especially references to


Isn't it amazing that there has been some recent media hoopla against soy foods... during a European epidemic of both Hoof and Mouth and Mad Cow Disease? I think moderate soy intake is healthful. My kids were raised with regular (but certainly not excessive) tofu (which they lovingly called "Toad Food") plus soy "hot dogs" and local Chinese restaurant bean curd. What follows is an interesting Doctor Yourself



by Monique N. Gilbert

Soybeans are the only plant food that has all of the essential amino acids our body requires, making it a complete protein. Soy foods do not have any cholesterol, and most are high in fiber. Soy also has many vitamins, minerals, and phytochemical compounds (like isoflavones) that work together to create numerous health benefits.

1. Soy's protein and isoflavones lower LDL (the bad) cholesterol and decrease blood clotting (thrombosis), which reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.

2. Soy's protein and isoflavones provide antioxidants, reduce artery clogging plaque, improve blood pressure and promote healthy blood vessels, which protects the body from free radical damage, boosts the immune system, and lowers the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), heart disease, and hypertension (high blood pressure).

3. Soy's soluble fiber protects the body from many digestive related cancers, such as colon and rectal cancer. Isoflavones may protect the body from many hormone-related cancers, like breast, endometrial (uterine) and prostate cancer.

4. Soy's protein enhances the body's ability to retain and better absorb calcium in the bones, while its isoflavones slow bone loss and inhibit bone breakdown, which helps prevent osteoporosis.

5. Soy's isoflavones help the body regulate estrogen when this hormone is declining or fluctuating, which helps alleviate many menopausal and PMS symptoms.

6. Soy's protein and soluble fiber help regulate glucose levels and kidney filtration, which helps control diabetic conditions and kidney disease.

I personally believe that anti-soy claims are largely exaggerated and erroneous. Many claims are based on one or two poorly conducted studies that make major leaps in their conclusions. Soy has been eaten by humans for thousands of years. These two articles address the questions and concerns many people are having about soy:

Don't avoid soy just because of scare tactics used by journalists that just want to sensationalize a story, or are actually biased about soy from the start.

(Monique N. Gilbert is the author of Virtues of Soy: A Practical Health Guide and Cookbook E-mail: .Her informational website is )

ASTHMA Taking a drug for asthma? You may want to look up your medication in the Physician's Desk Reference to read about their side effects, contraindications and drug-nutrient interactions. Your doctor's office, or any library, has a copy. Hold onto your inhaler, because it will not be pleasant reading.

For a natural, safer alternative, seriously consider the antihistamine properties of vitamin C at saturation doses. Try a search at using the keyword "antihistamine" and read what natural-minded doctors have to say. This you will like.

GETTING THE LEAD OUT What a beautiful animal the angelfish is. I killed a whole tankful of them with lead, and never knew it.

A Fish Story

I always wanted to breed angelfish. I had a number of really fine angels which I moved to a private tank furnished with some beautiful plants. The plants were held down with some metal "plant weights" that I bought at the local pet shop. Plants, you see, often get uprooted and float to the surface. So when I saw the package of nice, easily bendable, made-to-order soft metal strips, I bought it.

The weights held the plants down admirably.

All the angelfish died.

It was pretty awful. I woke up one morning bright and early to check on them, and half of the angelfish were dead. The rest were swimming erratically, in an unbalanced circling movement. It is sad to see sparkling silver angelfish swimming on their sides, upside down, and writhing in their death throes, and not being able to do anything about it.

It was not until I had taken chemistry at college that I realized what had happened. Those plant weights were made of lead. The lead leached into the aquarium water, and the angelfish died of lead poisoning.

Vitamin C Over the years, we have all heard about the hazards of lead. These include lead paint injestion by children, lead dust inhalation by miners and metalworkers, lead in solder used in plumbing, and leaded gasoline contaminating cattle. We know that lead poisoning can cause severe mental retardation. Lead has been clearly linked with Alzheimer's disease.

We have been told to avoid lead in the home and to stop lead pollution of our environment. But we have not been told how to remove it from our bodies at home. No drugs are needed; vitamin C megadoses will do the job efficiently. Saturation, or "bowel tolerence" doses of vitamin C will chelate lead right out of a person. That is good news for everybody.

Hair Analysis

I am a critic of hair analysis, as it is too often employed unscientifically (and for profit) by vitamin salespeople to prescribe supplements. Hair analysis is NOT a reliable method to determine your body's levels of nutrients. It is, however, a very good way to determine your body's levels of heavy metals. Forensic pathologists use hair analysis to measure lead, cadmium, mercury and other toxins. A "before" and a few "after" readings can be most useful for diagnosis and also most encouraging as they indicate improvement with vitamin C treatment.

Lead-Avoidance Checklist

Not using, and actively removing, lead remain the best ways to avoid problems with it. The good news is that enviromental lead pollution is way, way down, making it one of the great hippie Eco-freak contributions to world health. I was there, and saw it happen. The EPA and our much tighter envirnmontal laws are largely 1970's products of '60s activists. There is still more to do, though. Here's what is directly in your power:

1. Do not use lead solder for plumbing projects. Make sure your plumber doesn't, either.

2. Have lead paint and lead products taken away by your community's Hazardous Waste Disposal Unit. And you do have one; check the phone book's Government Listings, or call the EPA, toll-free, or hit their website, for help.

3. When a lead-painted room, house or barn is repainted, require that the contractor use all precautions, including collection and removal of all paint scrapings.

4. This next suggestion is pretty cool: plant Sunflowers. Yes, sunflowers, those giant yellow smiley-faces of the farm, will efficiently suck up lead from contaminated soil. Their roots silently clean the dirt as their huge blossoms follow the sun across the sky. I make it a policy to border house, garden, garage and barn with sunflowers. This is all the more vital if that barn is an old one, and most wood barns are.

When I was a kid, my Dad used lead-based barn paint on our house because it was a buck cheaper per gallon and, he believed, longer lasting than regular house paints. We had the only barn-red house in the neighborhood, and maybe even the city. Pop also made a large wood and metal star to display on our front door at Christmas time. He painted that with the red barn paint, too. Imagine, if you will, the overall patriotic effect of a bright-red house, with a bright red star on the white front door, during the McCarthy era. Dad (who was fortunately well-known as a very American WWII veteran) finally realized the humor of the whole thing, and painted a one-inch green border around the star. The house stayed red until I was old enough to paint it brown. I learned to paint at an early age. With latex paint.

But I digress, as usual. Back to the sunflowers. Each autumn, after the sunflowers dry and die, be sure to throw them out in the trash. Do not burn them or compost them; lead-laced sunflowers can be safely landfilled.

When in Rome... The ancient Romans used rot-proof, rustproof, cheap-to-make, easy-to-use lead pipe for their plumbing. In fact, "plumber" comes from the Latin word plumbum, and the chemical symbol for lead is Pb to this day. There is speculation as to whether the decline of the Roman Empire, complete with its civil wars, corruption and mad emperors, was the result of chronic lead poisoning.

Geologic cores in the arctic and elsewhere have shown that the ancient Romans polluted as much as half of the globe with lead many centuries ago. Smelting metal ores often drives off lead fumes, and they travel with the weather. And autopsies of the corpses of ancient Romans have revealed unusually high quantities of lead in their bodies.

They, like my angelfish, never knew what made them sick. Now we know, and we know what to do to get the lead out.


Medical Self Care Made Easy


A Thought or Two on "Wretched Excess"


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