"Learn and live. If you don't, you won't." (WWII U.S. Army training film)
The DOCTOR YOURSELF NEWSLETTER (Vol 2, No 22) September 20, 2002 "Free of charge, free of advertising, and free of the A.M.A." Written by Andrew Saul, PhD. of http://www.doctoryourself.com , a free online library of over 350 natural healing articles with nearly 4,000 scientific references.
CHARITABLE VITAMIN DISPENSARIES AND HOW TO OPEN ONE It all started 20 years ago at a soup kitchen. I was volunteering a small bit of time at St. Joseph's house of Hospitality in inner-city Rochester, NY. St. Joe's, as it is locally known, feeds about a hundred poor people daily. Not everyone who comes in for the free lunch is starving, but some are. At the beginning of the first sitting, I happened to see one little boy, about 6 years old or so, who really seemed to be looking forward to his meal that day. I saw what he had set in front of him: an enormous helping of a simple type of goulash (macaroni, hamburger, tomato sauce).
"Are you really going to eat all that?" I asked him, smiling.
"Yes I am," he answered, with a far bigger smile.
And he was right, too. Did that kid ever eat. He finished his first plateful so fast he must have inhaled it. He had seconds, and thirds, and quite possibly fourths that I wasn't fast enough to see. I had never witnessed a child eat that much before, and my own kids had hefty appetites of their own, let me tell you.
The impression this made on me was pretty strong. It occurred to me, yummy and filling though goulash might be, that this child's overall nutritional needs probably were not being met. He, and every other person off the street, needed a daily vitamin supplement as well as their daily bread.
The staff at St.. Joe's unhesitatingly agreed, and with the help of donations, I raised enough money to provide a high-potency multivitamin to each person who wanted one, served right along with their free meal.
This program was successful and expanded. In an interview with The Mother Earth News (Jan-Feb 1984, Issue 85, http://www.doctoryourself.com/motherearth.html ), I told of additional benefits of vitamins for transients:
"Simple, easily available vitamins can actually fight drug addiction. I've written to (then First Lady) Nancy Reagan and expressed my support for her fight against drug abuse in children. And I told her of our work with our vitamin dispensary that serves the poor in Rochester. We have seen substance abuse trail off when individuals get adequate vitamin supplements. . . especially B vitamins and vitamin C in substantial quantities. I suggested to Mrs. Reagan that she help develop a national vitamin supplementation program. Naturally, all I got in reply was a polite letter from her press secretary. Yet I've talked to street people who were so drunk they couldn't stand up without my holding them. We get such alcoholics on vitamin C and B-complex, though, and those individuals can get off the booze. And that means a lot."
Though funding eventually became a problem, we have recently decided to re-open the dispensary. As you read this, St. Joe's is not only feeding the hungry but is also helping each person to better health with free nutritional supplementation.
WHAT DOES IT COST: When money is tight, I get the cheapest, most basic "Centrum"-like generic multivitamin that I can find, which is about three cents per tablet at Wal-Mart. However, I greatly prefer to provide a high-potency multivitamin that has significantly larger amounts of the B-complex and vitamin C. This supplement costs about seven cents per tablet when I order it wholesale in quantity. (No, you cannot get it at Wal-Mart, and requests sent to me as to where to buy this or any other supplement will not be answered. My readers know I simply will not get involved in commercial issues.)
Seven cents per tablet for one hundred people is seven dollars a day, or approximately $200 each month. It is actually a little cheaper than that, since not every person chooses to take a vitamin.
IF YOU WANT TO HELP: This time, we want this program to continue uninterrupted. The best part of it is that it is very cost-efficient. This is an all-volunteer effort. Every cent we receive in donations goes to purchase vitamins for the poor. There is no overhead. Any donations we may receive are not tax-deductible. My address is at the bottom of this Newsletter if you would like to assist.
We have a waiting list of charities in other towns that would like free vitamins provided to them. There is no limit to how far this idea can go. For instance, you might want to start such a program where you live. Here's how:
GUIDELINES FOR CREATING A VITAMIN DISPENSARY IN YOUR COMMUNITY I personally follow the "Ready, Fire, Aim" approach: Just do it. There are no doubt other, more dignified ways to proceed, but this is how I would (and did) go about it.
1) Do not reinvent the wheel. Find the service organization(s) that already are feeding the poor. These may include public free-food shelves, civic groups, fraternal societies, clubs, community centers, outreach programs and churches. Call them up, find who is in charge, and pitch the idea. My experience is that either they will immediately like it, or they won't. It has never taken me more than five minutes to sell the idea or know that I can't.
2) Line up your sources. Ask health food stores, doctors' offices, retailers, vitamin distributors, and vitamin manufacturers to give you bottles of multivitamin tablets. Samples or nearly outdated supplements might be especially easy to get. If you do not get product donations, maybe you can at least get a special price. Ask. Comparison shop. Search the 'Net.
3) Keep it free and keep it volunteer. This is the secret to simplicity, efficiency, credibility, and legality. If all money raised is spent on vitamins for the poor, complications are very unlikely. Keep a simple record of cash donations received and save receipts for all supplements purchased. I am not a financial or legal authority; when in doubt, look up the law with the help of your public librarian.
4) Ask friends and family to help. Remember too that this is a newsworthy project. Most local newspapers and TV news programs run a special Thanksgiving feature on what the homeless are doing for their holiday dinner. Here is the perfect match up for such human interest pieces.
BOOK REVIEW: Syndrome X: The Complete Nutritional Program to Prevent and Reverse Insulin Resistance, by Jack Challem, Burton Berkson, M.D., and Melissa Diane Smith (NY: Wiley, 2000. Paperback, 250 pages plus appendices and index)
I have math anxiety, and you can thank the "New Math" for that. In elementary school, we were taught a completely different system of arithmetic every single year. As an innocent product of this confusion, I was still counting on my fingers in sixth grade. Sure, the class brainiacs could do problems in base seven, and took pride in doing homework that parents (and even older brothers) could not comprehend. The flip side was that the rest of us did not know even our basic multiplication tables, or what hillbilly scholar Jethro Clampett called "ciphering." I probably had more ability with imaginary numbers than with the real ones. I understood the binary system and Venn diagrams, yet routinely bungled even simple long division. That's the "New Math" for you. As musical satirist (and former Harvard math professor) Tom Lehrer says, "The important thing is to understand what you are doing rather than to get the right answer."
So we ended up with a lot of fairly useless knowledge and virtually no practical ability in getting the job done.
This closely resembles modern medicine.
In math, "X" generally indicates an unknown quantity. But there is nothing unknown about the quantity of Americans that die annually due to diseases discussed in Syndrome X: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer. The total is astounding: over 1.6 million dead. Per year. This actually exceeds the number of all American soldiers killed in all the wars we have ever fought, put together.
Pharmacological medicine has failed to stem this grim tide. What's worse, drug medicine has become a major killer in its own right. Syndrome X makes no bones about it, citing a 1998 JAMA study reporting that "106,000 hospitalized patients die annually because of adverse drug reactions and 2,216,000 other hospitalized patients have serious but nonfatal drug reactions. . . (A)dverse drug reactions could rank as the fourth leading cause of death, after heart disease, cancer, and stroke." (p. 55)
The extent to which physicians doggedly employ pharmaceuticals indicates the extent to which they are unfamiliar with a safe and effective alternative already right at hand: preventive and therapeutic nutrition. When their ever-sick patients trustingly line up for still more drug prescriptions, surely the blind have been led by the blind.
I value Syndrome X's appropriate and unhesitating criticism of drug-and-cut medicine. However, the book's outstanding feature is its straightforward what-you-can-do-about-it approach, complete with both preventive and therapeutic diet plans. I like practical, do-it-yourself advice that is clearly presented, well organized, and reference-filled. And I especially like books that recommend high doses of vitamins and low doses of sugar.
Syndrome X is such a book. It is based to a considerable degree on the pioneering work of Surgeon-Captain Thomas L. Cleave of the British Royal Navy. Half a century ago, Dr. Cleave stood virtually alone as he made one of the first strong scientific cases showing that sugar causes diabetes and a variety of other serious diseases. His classic book, The Saccharine Disease (all about sugar, not the artificial sweetener, and reviewed at http://www.doctoryourself.com/morebooks.html ) was among the first to rigorously condemn modern man's gross over consumption of refined carbohydrates. While dietitians (with the full support of the food processing industry) have relentlessly denied any such connection, time and research have proven Cleave right.
Syndrome X is written for those fed up with chronic illness. It wastes no words, promptly zeroing in on insulin resistance as a major cause of life-wrecking obesity, fatigue, and adult-onset (Type II) diabetes. Heart disease, still our number one killer, is presented by the authors for what it truly is: a nutritional disease that must be prevented with nutrition and cured by nutrition. And although it is by no means the book's emphasis, cancer's roots in malnutrition are also presented.
Everybody knows that reducing their intake of dietary fat is a good idea. Syndrome X presses further, urging people to cut down on, or better yet cut out, refined carbohydrates. To the extent that this means sugar and processed, useless white flour, I could not agree more. But Syndrome X also promotes the somewhat controversial Robert C. Atkins dietary ideal of a relatively high intake animal protein. Animal rights issues aside, I think this is not necessary, nor even a good idea. American diets are already high-protein, many of us eating three or more times the amount of protein we actually require. Long term heavy protein use overloads the kidneys and contributes to early membership in the dialysis-for-lunch bunch.
This may not have been a worry for high-risk, short-lived cave men. These original eaters of the Paleolithic Diet that (along with the Mediterranean and Atkins diets) forms the basis of the book's "Anti-X" diet, probably had enough trouble finding anything to eat. Certainly their diet was very low in sugar. It was probably low in all carbohydrates. For that matter, it was probably low in everything. Ancient hunters were not awash in meat. They were opportunistic and ate what they could get and were lucky to get it. Ever notice how skinny cheetahs are? Nine out of ten cheetah attacks fail to bring down a gazelle. I doubt if humans fared all that much better than could a 50-mile-per-hour sprinting set of claws.
As written, Syndrome X is not pleasant bedtime reading for vegetarians. Since my sympathy has been in the meatless camp for so long now (my now-adult children were raised vegetarian), I think a virtually-vegetarian version of the book might be a particularly good idea. It is also quite possible that the reader can make the necessary veggie adjustments. For instance, nuts and especially seeds are encouraged in the "Anti-X" diet, and they are very good protein sources indeed as long as they are well-chewed. The authors also correctly point out the special value of omega-3 "fish oils" which may, to many people's surprise, be obtained from green leafy vegetables and even walnuts (p. 94). For near-vegetarians, the book's support of eggs and low-fat dairy should go down easy. But I must say that, as a big fan of oriental cuisine, the how-to-eat-at-restaurants (Chapter 8) recommendation of having Chinese food with no rice was, for me at least, approaching the impossible.
Lest the wrong impression endure, I wish to praise Syndrome X's relentless sugar-bashing. THOSE carbos should go, and without a farewell kiss. But I remain a complex-carbo kind of guy, and I have something of an organic-brown-rice macrobiotic streak in me. Whole grains, oatmeal, sweet potatoes and especially legumes (lentils and beans) are high on my list but middle-to-low on the Anti-X diet plan (p.86). Yet the book's constant stress on whole, high-fiber, unprocessed foods is in general excellent. It is the protein-carbohydrate issue where I disagree.
And now for some unequivocal praise. Chapters 12 through 15 are superb discussions of the value of vitamins E, C, minerals, and other important nutrients, respectively. Recommendations of 400 to 800 International Units (IU) of vitamin E and 2,000 to 4,000 milligrams of vitamin C are right after my own heart (and very good for yours). I have never seen a better guide to purchasing vitamin E than will be found on pages 181-183. Chromium (up to 1,000 micrograms) and magnesium, zinc, selenium, manganese and even newcomer vanadium are all discussed, and discussed well. Coenzyme Q-10, the vitamin C-helping flavinoids, and a number of herbs are considered in brief. Alpha lipoic acid supplementation is singled out for detailed consideration in Chapter 11, a chapter that taught me a great deal. Exercise suggestions, recipes, resources, and guidelines for customizing the diet for your particular needs round out the book.
Syndrome X has a personal "talking to you" style that I enjoy very much. It is easy to read and nonetheless backed up with over 100 scientific studies. It is well designed and user friendly, with many summaries and boxes to highlight key information.
I may still have some residual math anxiety, but I have no hesitation in recommending Syndrome X. No, I am not going to stop advocating near-vegetarianism, because I do believe it to be the very best of diets. But, unlike the proponents of the New Math, I do not care a fig as to exactly how you get the right result as long as you do in fact get it. Syndrome X's message is close enough for me: improve your diet and you will improve your life.
That's an answer we can all agree on.
(Principal author Jack Challem responds: ) "I'll explain some of my/our thinking. The diet plan is not really an Atkins' style plan. Ours is protein rich, not high protein. Considerable anthropological evidence (papers by Cordain, Eaton) indicates that there have been no fully vegetarian societies. The majority of Paleo and modern Stone Age societies were animal protein dominant, a few were vegetarian dominant, and a few were pretty evenly divided. I think the Paleo hunter-gatherer diet is our evolutionary and genetic baseline, which orthomolecular health should build upon. Grains and legumes provide large amounts of carbs, and (a personal observation) many vegetarians don't eat much in the way of vegetables -- they're hooked on breads and pastas and muffins. Two new books that explore the health hazards of grains are Going Against the Grain, by Melissa Diane Smith (who actually conceived our "Anti-X" diet plan) and Dangerous Grains, by James Braly.
"I have had other vegetarians ask me about an "Anti-X" diet plan geared to vegetarians. Apparently, there are a number of vegetarians with insulin resistance. My feeling is this: if a particular diet is making someone sick, that is not the right diet plan for them. Again, the problem may be vegetarians who aren't really very smart. I think a vegetarian could construct a good diet high in veggies and low in grain-based carbs. But many vegetarians simply avoid animal products, and that does not ensure a good diet.
"I certainly agree that cutting out the junk may be the most important step; once that's done and adhered to, it almost doesn't matter what "good" foods a person eats. The bottom line is simple: you know the type of diet that makes you feel your best. Likewise for me. It's a testament to biochemical individuality."
(Jack Challem, aka "The Nutrition Reporter," publishes an excellent print newsletter of the same name. His website is http://www.thenutritionreporter.com )
READERS SAY 'ALLO, 'ALLO, ALOE! "You forgot to include aloe vera, squeezed fresh from the plant, among your burn remedies listed in the last issue (Doctor Yourself Newsletter, Vol. 2, No 21 http://www.doctoryourself.com/news/v2n21.txt ). I have used it for years and it works very well."
"You may wish to add aloe aera to your list of helps for esophagitis. Drinking some aloe juice really helps soothe and heal the esophagus."
Right you both are. Thank you for keeping me honest.
BE PREPARED How will you get your vitamins should CODEX restrictions become the law of the land? By eating lots of megadose munchies: the foods of the true health nut.
FOODS THAT ARE THEMSELVES SUPPLEMENTS * NUTRITIONAL or BREWER'S YEAST (Vitamin B-12, other B-vitamins, Chromium, Selenium) Like most foods, these won't fit into tablets. Try hiding the flavor in pineapple juice. You may prefer the taste of primary-grown nutritional yeast, as it is not a byproduct of beer making. Debittered brewers' yeast also offers a taste improvement.
* WHEAT GERM (Vitamin E, magnesium, B-vitamins, protein) If vacuum packed, one of the very best foods in the supermarket. Only buy very fresh, refrigerated wheat germ at the health food store. The nose knows: smell to tell if it is fresh.
* SPROUTED GRAINS, SPROUTED BEANS (complete protein, all vitamins and minerals, fiber) Eat raw and often. The best food at the salad bar. Probably the most complete food you'll find. Low calorie and cheap to grow at home. If I had only one food to recommend, it would be this.
* FRESH, RAW VEGETABLE JUICE (carotene, minerals and vitamins in general, fiber) Tastes great and is better for you than any beverage on Earth. Get a juicer, and use it! No bottled vitamins can compare to an uncooked, concentrated extract of veggies. Drink some daily.
* WHEATGRASS JUICE (Large quantities of vitamin C, vitamins and minerals in general, chlorophyll) Wheat is cheap. Sprout it in your kitchen! On a flat tray or two, under a bit of soil, you can have an indoor sprout farm. When several inches high, harvest with regular scissors. Add a bit of water while putting the wheatgrass through the juicer.
* YOGURT (calcium, phosphorus, beneficial acidophilus bacteria, protein, B-vitamins) About the easiest dairy food to digest and absorb. Dilute with water as an alternative to milk. Ever notice that over one-third of most "fruited" yogurts is sugar-laden jam? Buy plain and sweeten it yourself.
* LECITHIN Granules by the tablespoon beat those horse pills that contain only 1.2 grams of the stuff. Cheapest, best source of choline, linolenic acid, phospholipids and inositol. Totally vegetarian. Start small and gradually increase your daily lecithin.
* WHOLE WHEAT, BARLEY, OATS, BROWN RICE (fiber, vitamins and minerals, protein, complex carbohydrates) Who needs extra bran or laxatives when you can just eat the fiber-rich whole grain in the first place?
* NUTS are rich in magnesium and protein. They are not fattening unless they are salted and oiled such that you overeat and under-chew them. Slow down, eat them in their natural state, and consider them a meat-replacing main course.
* MOLASSES (iron, and more) Avoid bitter-tasting blackstrap and select a "primary" or sweet molasses as an alternative to junk-food snacks.
* FRESH FRUIT AND RAW VEGETABLES are loaded with fiber, potassium, and bioflavinoids, in addition to their well-known, if modest, quantities of vitamins and minerals. So eat a lot of them. My kids would, literally, make eight trips per meal to any all-you-can-eat salad bar that was fool enough to let us in. I was right behind them. So if you cannot megadose with tablets, megadose with low-calorie raw foods.
Do I eat this way? Sure do. Do I expect you to? Well, that depends. But if you do not like the idea of losing your options, let your demand for free access to high-potency vitamin supplements be heard immediately ( http://www.doctoryourself.com/write_now.html ).
READERS ASK ABOUT COUGHING "Now that school has started, how about some information on natural c ough remedies before the cold-and-flu season?"
COLTSFOOT herb (Tussilago farfara) leaves made into a tea remains one of the best cough medicines I know of. You can buy dried coltsfoot at any herb store and at many health food stores. It is not expensive and has a low likelihood of side effects with occasional use. (Not for use during pregnancy or nursing. I recommend a library or internet search for "coltsfoot herb toxicity." http://www.healthwell.com/healthnotes/Herb/Coltsfoot.cfm and http://www.ibiblio.org/herbmed/faqs/medi-3-12-cough.html are especially well-balanced resources.) As an alternative to even riskier patent or prescription cough medicines, herbal remedies deserve fair consideration.
Use a tablespoon or two of herb to each mug of hot water. For an adult, several mugs full can even stop the cough of pneumonia. I know, because I had pneumonia and was sick as a dog... a constantly coughing dog, that is. Prescription cough medicine WITH CODEINE did not touch it. Three mugs of coltsfoot tea eliminated coughing for hours. It is the only cough remedy we ever needed in our house.
Cough is generally a symptom of some other problem in the body. It is wise to "pull the rug out from under" the cough by helping the rest of the body get well. Vegetable juicing does that better than anything I know. ( http://www.doctoryourself.com/juicefast.html and http://www.doctoryourself.com/juicing_2.html ) Healthy bodies do not cough.
Whether it is a cold, flu, or pneumonia, strengthening one's immune system with extra vitamin can only help. I've written elsewhere about how to treat viral illness with vitamin C ( http://www.doctoryourself.com/colds.html , http://www.doctoryourself.com/ortho_c.html and http://www.doctoryourself.com/vitaminc2.html ). A simple reminder: "Take enough C to be symptom free, whatever the amount might be." That is usually just under the amount that would result in loose bowels.
When my daughter was four years old, she had a bad cough. We endured it for two nights while doing everything doctors suggest. Yes, she had strict bed rest. Yes, she even had codeine cough syrup. Yes, she still was coughing after 48 hours of this and yes, I'd had enough. While my wife escaped to go bowling, I was sufficiently sick of sickness to start my daughter on a teaspoon (about 4,000 milligrams) of vitamin C crystals in juice every hour. When my wife returned, the cough was gone. We continued to give this little girl vitamin C for the rest of the day, and she remained quiet and comfortable. She had a total of 36,000 mg of "C" since about 1 PM.
During the night the cough came back. We got up, gave her a teaspoon of Vitamin C, and everyone was shortly asleep once again. The next morning, the cough was back again, and we met it with vitamin C every hour. We kept that cough down by keeping her "C" up. It worked.
I tell you this to let you know that I've been there too. Those all-night battles for a sick child are really tough. Vitamin C and coltsfoot are tough, too. When you really need them, they really work.
And everybody sleeps much better.
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