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Newsletter v4n5

Newsletter v4n5
Back Issues

"For schizophrenics, the natural recovery rate is 50%. With orthomolecular medicine, the recovery rate is 90%. With drugs, it is 10%. If you use just drugs, you won't get well." (Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D.)

The DOCTOR YOURSELF NEWSLETTER (Vol. 4, No. 5 February 5, 2004) "Free of charge, free of advertising, and free of the A.M.A."

Written and copyright 2004 by Andrew Saul, PhD, of , which welcomes nearly a million visitors annually. Commercial use of the website or the contents of this Newsletter is strictly prohibited.

SHE SAT IN THE CORNER, silently. The 55-year old woman's face was in shadow, invariably turned down and towards the wall. And that's where she stayed, day after day. She had no appetite, and she never spoke to anyone. Her family had tried seemingly everything. Yes, she was under the care of a psychiatrist and yes, she was on medication.

"Actually, she's been on a whole lot of different medications," her daughter told me. "None of them has helped her, and several made her worse. She tried to kill herself several times. Now she seldom moves from her corner, and she never says a word. Is there anything you can do?"

At times like this, what you want is a wand to wave. But life so rarely resembles a Harry Potter story. This was all too real. Maybe the patient was past caring, but her family sure did. As I talked to one of her sons, the living room started to fill with relatives. I don't know where they all came from; the working-class neighborhood city house must have had a really big kitchen. Presently, all the relatives had created a semi-circle around me waiting to hear something profound, something encouraging, something good. That, or perhaps they were merely intending to hinder any quick escapes if I did not produce.

I felt uneasy, and who wouldn't? We all feel a little uncomfortable, don't we now, when face to face with the entire family in an unresponsive, if not downright despairing, situation.

But I had been called in to offer an opinion, and the time had come. I suggested the best orthomolecular therapy I knew of: megadose niacin, in multi-gram doses. Then, I mentally braced myself for their reaction.

There was no reaction. Nothing. But they didn't run off, either.

So I continued. "Because she is so sick, your mother might need an exceptionally large amount of some vitamins, especially C and the B-complex. But her foremost need is for niacin, really large quantities of niacin."

"How large?" asked a male relative on my left. That question you can count on.

"Thousands of milligrams a day, in divided doses," I answered. "Possibly even 10,000 milligrams or more, every day."

They all listened. I got the distinct impression that they were weighing the gravity of what must certainly have felt like a hopeless situation against what must have sounded like a pretty simplistic solution.

But they still did not run off. Some of the family now sat down, on chairs, the old sofa, and on the well-worn gray carpet. There were not enough seats for everybody.

The inquisition shall now begin in earnest, I thought.

Not at all. I was asked a series of intelligent, commonsense questions about the safety and administration of high doses of niacin. As best I could, I explained niacin's low toxicity and the need for large and divided doses. I told them to expect, at least initially, some pretty strong but harmless "niacin flush" side effects. And, I presented the need to educate their attending doctors as to what the family was now doing. Finally, I outlined a therapeutic trial based on starting with 1,000 mg/day of niacin, and gradually but steadily increasing the dose by an additional 1,000 mg every day.

"How will we know when to stop increasing the dose?" asked a son-in-law.

"When she responds," answered his wife. "Right?"

"Yes," I said. "The goal is to give enough niacin to see good results. You all will be the judges of that."

"Will she have to keep on taking the niacin forever?" asked a different daughter.

"Yes, but not necessarily as much as she'll need initially. We first need to see if she responds at all. But if it works, why stop it?"

Everyone nodded. Nobody smiled. Tough crowd.

I left with a distinct feeling that I had contributed precious little to that family's hopes.

Man, was I wrong. I got a call about two weeks later from a profoundly relieved, and positively delighted daughter.

"Mom is just fine," she said happily. "She's sits at the dinner table now. She talks to us, talks like nothing happened. It's incredible. She's off all medications. It's the niacin: it made all the difference in the world."

"That is wonderful news," I said. "How much niacin is your mother taking now?"

"11,000 to 12,000 milligrams every day."

"Do you happen to remember at what level she experienced a niacin flush?" I asked.

"That's easy to answer," replied the daughter. "She never flushed at all."

Wow. 11 or 12 grams of niacin a day and no flush. Makes you think, doesn't it? But results are what matters in any therapeutic trial. A huge amount of niacin, along with the other B-vitamins and vitamin C, had done the job. A very big job.

"This is great!" said the daughter. "We have our Mom back!"

That was a beautiful moment.

Sometime later that month, the family took the fully mobile and now positively talkative mother to see her psychiatrist. She didn't need to go, but they all wanted the doctor to see the recovery with his own eyes.

I was not there, but I heard about it afterwards.

"The doctor told all of us that there could be some side effects with that much niacin," said the daughter. "Especially changes in liver function. Also, he said that Mom's skin looked slightly darker to him. The doctor said she should not take niacin because of it."

"None? At all?" I said.

"Right: none. He told her, and all the rest of the family, that she should be on medication, not on some vitamin."

"It is medication that has the harmful side effects, not the niacin," I said. "And here is a quote from the world's expert on niacin megadose therapy, Dr. Abram Hoffer: 'Niacin is not liver toxic. Niacin therapy increases liver function tests. But this elevation means that the liver is active. It does not indicate an underlying liver pathology.' If your doctor wanted to do monitoring tests, that is one thing. But to take a successful, already working therapy away from a seriously ill patient is another."

It really mystified me then, and it still does today: just why are so many physicians prejudiced against vitamin therapy? Decades ago, Frederick Klenner, M.D., was so frustrated by his colleagues' flat rejection of megavitamin therapy that he wrote that some doctors would rather see their patients die than use vitamins.

I asked her what the family had decided to do now.

"We've already done what the psychiatrist said, and Mom no longer gets niacin. She is back on drugs, three of them."

The daughter then paused. I knew the worst was yet to come.

"And," said the daughter, with a choke in her voice, "Now my mom is back in the corner."

Indeed, this was no Harry Potter story. It was, I am sorry to say, much more like the medical tyranny illustrated in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." When doctors prefer patients to people, we have a problem.

We also have a solution: just say no. Fire your doctor. And take your vitamins.

For more information on niacin therapy for schizophrenia, psychosis, and related mental illnesses, please look at

Or, do a search for (Dr. Abram) "Hoffer" from the main page of the website.

CONFERENCE ANNOUNCEMENT: Dr. Abram Hoffer, Dr. Hugh Riordan, and other outstanding nutritional physicians and scientists will be speaking at the International Society for Orthomolecular Medicine's 33rd Annual Conference, "Nutritional Medicine Today." It will be held at the Fairmont Waterfront Centre Hotel, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, April 29 - May 2, 2004.

This year, I will be presenting a paper Friday morning, April 30. I also have the honor of being the master of ceremonies for the Inauguration of the Orthomolecular Hall of Fame, Saturday May 1 at 7 pm. May I have the envelope, please?

If you would like information on attending, please write to the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine office at 16 Florence Ave., Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M2N 1E9 (requires 60 cents postage if you are writing from the USA), or you can email .


770,000 hospital patients suffer adverse drug reactions from taking properly prescribed drugs in the prescribed doses. And this figure is just for one year, and just for the USA. Furthermore, there are 140,000 deaths attributable to properly prescribed prescription drugs, every year, say Dr. D. C. Classen and colleagues. (Classen DC, Pestotnik SL, Evans RS, Lloyd JF, Burke JP. Adverse drug events in hospitalized patients. Excess length of stay, extra costs, and attributable mortality. JAMA. 1997 Jan 22-29;277(4):301-6.)

If overdoses, incorrect prescription, and adverse drug interactions are figured in, total drug fatalities number over a quarter of a million dead. This means that every two years, prescription drugs kill about as many Americans as have died in total from AIDS in all years combined up to 2001. (

Prescription drugs are demonstrably one of the very largest causes of death in the United States. The authors say, "An adverse drug event is associated with a significantly prolonged length of (hospital) stay, increased economic burden, and an almost 2-fold increased risk of death."

There is not even one death per year from vitamins. ( Poison control center statistics prove it. Even critics of vitamins admit it. (Rosenbloom M. Vitamin toxicity October 23, 2001.) Search for yourself and see for yourself. For a definitive medical journal compilation of papers on the safety and efficacy of vitamin therapy, please look at .


"During the study period, there were 247 adverse drug events among 207 admissions . . . of which 60 were preventable." Preventable adverse drug events added 4.6 days to the hospital stay, with an average extra cost of nearly $5,000. "Moreover, these estimates are conservative because they do not include the costs of injuries to patients or malpractice costs." (Bates DW, Spell N, Cullen DJ, Burdick E, Laird N, Petersen LA, Small SD, Sweitzer BJ, Leape LL. The costs of adverse drug events in hospitalized patients. Adverse Drug Events Prevention Study Group. JAMA. 1997 Jan 22-29;277(4):307-11.)


If you wish to consider actual errors in prescribing, be absolutely sure you look at these important papers:

Leape LL. Error in medicine. JAMA. 1994 Dec 21;272(23):1851-7.

Wears R, Leape LL. Human error in emergency medicine. Ann Emerg Med. 1999 Sep;34(3):370-2. Comment on: Ann Emerg Med. 1999 Sep;34(3):373-83.

Leape LL. Institute of Medicine medical error figures are not exaggerated. JAMA. 2000 Jul 5;284(1):95-7.

Keep your eyes on Lucian Leape, M.D. He has righteously raised public awareness of what the medical profession sweeps under the rug every day. Based on Dr. Leape's research, it looks as if they are using a big, big broom.

Medical politicians (or political physicians) trying to discredit such whistle-blowing are in for a hard time. Dr. Leape is on the faculty of the Harvard School of Public Health. "Prior to joining the faculty at Harvard, he was professor of surgery at Tufts University School of Medicine and chief of pediatric surgery at the New England Medical Center. Dr. Leape was a founding director of the National Patient Safety Foundation, the Massachusetts Coalition for the Prevention of Medical Error, and the Harvard Kennedy School Executive Session. He led the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's first Breakthrough Collaborative on Prevention of Adverse Drug Events. He was a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Quality of Health Care in America Committee. . . Recent awards include the Distinguished Service Award of the American Pediatric Surgical Association (1997), the Robert Wood Johnson Investigator Award (1998), the Donabedian Award from the Medical Care Section of the American Public Health Association (1999), . . . and the Pinnacle Award from the American Pharmaceutical Association (2001). Dr. Leape is a graduate of Cornell University and Harvard Medical School." (Lucian Leape and healthcare errors. Interview by Pamela K Scarrow, Susan V White. J Healthc Qual. 2002 May-Jun;24(3):17-20.)

I find it especially interesting that neither JAMA, or Medline (the medical research index and search engine, has seen fit to include article summaries (abstracts) for much of Leape's most incisive work, nor is there easy access to the dialogue the controversy generated. Leape drew extensive heat from the medical profession. For a sampling of the brouhaha, please see JAMA. 1994 Dec 21;272(23):1867-8; JAMA. 1995 Aug 9;274(6):457-460; author reply 460-1.

Perhaps we are known by the opponents we make. The good news is that Harvard's Dr. Leape is on the side of truth.

POX, SPOTS, MEASLES & MUMPS When I was a boy, measles was nothing much more than a free ticket for two weeks off from school. Mumps, at least in the mirror, was kind of funny. And chicken pox? The worst thing about it was the name. All these illnesses were "cured" by doing nothing but staying home, eating chicken soup until it came out of our noses, and watching game shows such as "Concentration," "Password," and "To Tell the Truth."

Are kids today missing out on all this? Now that there is a vaccination for everything, I do not think absenteeism is any lower than when I went to school, and it may be higher. In fact, I think attempts at artificial immunity have denied children their birthright to a rough-and-tough natural immunity. Today's kids (and tomorrow's adults) are the weaker for it. No, I do not wish anyone sick.

But let's face it: First, real immunity does not come out of a needle. The recent and spectacular failure of massive flu vaccination illustrates this. And second, you simply cannot vaccinate everyone for everything. There are too many viruses, and they are differentiating all the time. A strong, general-purpose immune system is a necessary defense, a necessary preparation against a world of ever-new, ever-changing viruses. You need to temper the steel before you use the sword.

Speaking as an experienced parent and a multi-certified teacher who has taught pretty much every grade from first to post-doc, I think vaccinations fail to confer adequate protection. I do not think they ever did, and I do not think they do now. The recent whooping cough epidemic near New York City is a good example: over 80% of those with the disease had been vaccinated against it. (44 of 54 cases of whooping cough were in vaccinated persons.) Go ahead and get shots if you want to. But whether you get shots or not, I think our primary concern should be to make our children's bodies strong so they can fight off disease. We do this with good food, routine supplements, and lots of vitamin C. If and when they get sick, they will recover rapidly and without complications.

My kids were not immunized. They played daily with the neighbors' children during the week or two before their entire household broke out in chicken pox. Our kids were raised vegetarian-plus-dairy, and had every-meal megavitamin C doses. They each had a spot or two, which went away in a day or two. No other symptoms, period.

The best way to a strong immune system is through optimum nutrition and ample vitamin supplementation. Trying to exist in a vaccination-blown bubble is futile.

Clearly the State of New York disagrees, requiring some 30 vaccinations for a baby before it is even a year and a half of age. (Some are given together, but count 'em all up and see.)

New York, and most likely your state too, obediently follows the dictates of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy Family Physicians. Of course, those two guilds are made up of doctors who make their living from shots and are very well paid to administer them. But, compared to their overpowering emphasis on vaccination, (and on patent drugs when immunization fails), these doctor-trade-groups largely ignore vitamin supplements as prevention, and especially as treatment.

VITAMIN A FIGHTS MEASLES Let's consider measles and vitamin A supplementation. UNICEF says, "In three separate trials of children hospitalized with measles -- one as early as 1932 -- deaths among children given high-dose vitamin A supplements were significantly lower than among children not supplemented. The consistent results suggest that a change in Vitamin A status can rapidly alter basic physiological functions concerned with cellular repair and resistance to infection, thereby saving lives." (

Note that the therapy is described as both "supplemental" and "high dose." And that other word is "deaths." Unlike finicky vegetable-dodging children like me, third-world children commonly do not have the luxury of good food to refuse. The answer is to teach all third-world families to grow their own vegetables, and provide them with the land they need to do it. While vegetables are the ideal vitamin A source, the fact is that supplementation is cheaper. A malnourished child at risk of actually dying from measles constitutes an emergency. It is time to open a bottle of vitamin A; you cannot wait for the carrots to come up.

By the way, the source referred to above by UNICEF is "Vitamin A Deficiency: Health, Survival and Vision," by Alfred Sommer, Professor of Ophthalmology, Epidemiology and International Health; Dean, Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health; and Keith P. West, Jr., Associate Professor of International Health and Ophthalmology, Johns Hopkins University. (London: Oxford University Press, 1996.)

This book is described by its publisher as follows: "Vitamin A deficiency kills even more young children than the half a million it blinds. Over the past decade and a half, many studies have implicated vitamin A status as an important determinant of health. The World Bank now estimates that vitamin A intervention programs may be one of the most cost-effective health strategies in all of medicine."

I think the very same could be said for vitamin C. And Dr. Linus Pauling did say it, going as far as to say that all drug packages contain this statement on the front label:


Here follow the specifics on just how to do so.

TREATMENT OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES WITH MASSIVE DOSES OF VITAMIN C by Robert F. Cathcart III, M.D. (Reprinted with permission of the author, and excerpted from

"I want to emphasize first that the main reason that massive doses of vitamin C work against infectious diseases has little to do with the vitamin C functions as ordinarily understood. They work in massive doses because we are throwing away the vitamin C for the extra electrons carried. These extra electrons neutralize the free radicals (molecules missing electrons) that mediate all inflammations and cause the symptoms and deaths from these infectious diseases. It is not really a matter of medicine; it is a matter of chemistry. Doses of ascorbate which are massive enough to force a reducing redox potential into tissues affected by the disease will always neutralize the free radicals.

"For maintenance doses, take an amount of ascorbic acid that is comfortable for you about 4 to 6 times a day. Remember that the dose may vary depending on how you feel.

"The better you feel, you take less. The worse you feel, you take more.

"Always, always, always drink water with ascorbic acid by mouth! Never let yourself get seriously dehydrated which can happen if you are very nauseated from the illness or medications.

"Start with pure ascorbic acid crystals or powder. Then after you learn to read the needs of your body, switch over to capsules or tablets. Always take these with water. Over a long period of time ascorbic acid powder or crystals could cause topical damage to the enamel of your teeth. Capsules or tablets will not do this. (Editor's note: Buffering dissolved ascorbic acid powder with some sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) before drinking will render it pH neutral. Vitamin C as calcium ascorbate is also nonacidic.)

"If you are exposed to the flu, increase your doses to very close to bowel tolerance. If you feel a virus is threatening, take doses even as frequently as every hour during the day and take an extra dose in the middle of the night if you wake to urinate.

WHAT TO DO FOR THE FLU "If you get the flu, take doses every hour, or maybe even more frequently, until diarrhea is almost produced. Actually, the diarrhea is not that bad so it might be better to tolerate a little diarrhea at first. If the flu is causing diarrhea, this may be difficult but those with experience in taking ascorbic acid can tell the difference between the flu diarrhea (which is uncomfortable) and the loosening of the stools by ascorbic acid (which is not usually uncomfortable).

"If you are unable to take enough ascorbic acid by mouth to control the flu see an orthomolecular physician for intravenous sodium ascorbate. Ask the owners of a mom and pop health food store. They will probably know the names of physicians who will give intravenous sodium ascorbate in your area. (Editor's note: I do not maintain a database of such physicians, and am therefore unable to provide you with names or referrals. Trying a "Google" search may help you.)

INTRAVENOUS VITAMIN C "Sodium ascorbate intravenously can be given in bottles containing 60 grams of sodium ascorbate in 500 cc of water, lactated Ringer's or normal saline or half normal saline. D5W is OK but actually I like to avoid the sugar. By the way, do not eat sugar when you have the flu. It is best not to eat sugar anyway.

"If 60 grams of sodium ascorbate does not reverse the symptoms given over 3 to 4 hours, then 120 grams in 1000 cc or 180 grams in 1500 cc may be administered. When enough ascorbate is given rapidly enough, it will eliminate the symptoms because the symptoms are mediated by free radicals. If enough electrons are made available through massive doses of ascorbate it will eliminate the symptoms including all the inflammation. It is matter of chemistry, not medicine.

"Children take reduced doses IV. Usually a 10-year old takes adult doses. Sometimes you have to give chewable ascorbate by mouth in children. This does not work quite as well as ascorbic acid by mouth. Chewables are buffered of necessity to protect the teeth and are not quite as powerful, but better than nothing.

"People who cannot obtain sodium ascorbate by vein (remember insurance will not usually pay for this, because it works and therefore reduces the needs for drugs) and who cannot tolerate bowel tolerance doses of ascorbate will get some lesser benefit from more moderate doses of ascorbic acid by mouth or from buffered C by mouth. They do not work as well against acute symptoms but may prevent serious complications. Remember that those people who die of the flu mostly have acute induced scurvy. If you take moderate doses of ascorbates, they should prevent acute induced scurvy. With any physician who does not believe this, have them take your serum levels of ascorbate when you are sick.

"Children who are dying of the flu mostly have what I call "acute induced scurvy." Read the story about babies dying of acute induced scurvy in Dr. Archie Kalokerinos' book "Every Second Child." I, personally, treated one 2 year old who would not take the vitamin C I prescribed because of a viral disease and a temperature or 104 F. In the middle of the night during a snow storm, the mother called saying she thought her son was dying. I saw him immediately in the middle of the night. The boy was almost comatose with his back arched. I quickly gave him an intramuscular shot of one gram of sodium ascorbate in 4 cc of water without preservative. In a minute or so he was sitting up acting perfectly normal. The response was so dramatic that there was no question that the mother would have the child take the ascorbate subsequently."

I cannot overemphasize the importance of Dr. Cathcart's exceptional website, There you will find many more articles like the one you just read.

For example:



If your nose runs and your feet smell, you are probably built upside down.


CHICKEN KEESTERS There is so much colon bacterial contamination in chicken meat that there is now a product to close off the bowels of dead chickens. It is called "Rec-Tite," and it is essentially super glue for chicken anuses. And I am NOT making this up.

Superglue Advocated for Preventing Fecal Leakage in Poultry (Food Chemical News April 24, 1995, p 12) "Robert Cook, a consultant from Alexandria, VA, complained that processes exist that would allow the industry to improve the safety of its products, but that the regulatory agencies, governed by laws written generations ago, have not yet approved them. As an example, he talked about using Superglue to seal the vents on poultry before slaughter to prevent the birds from reflexively excreting fecal material at the time of death...."

And from the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Ontario, CA, May 16, 1995: "Jim Munn, president of Pacer Technology, Rancho Cucamonga, CA has been trying since 1992 to get government agencies to approve his company's superglue product "Rectite" for use in gluing shut the rectal cavities of turkeys and chickens to prevent fecal matter from contaminating meat and cut down on the number of birds required to be re-processed and re-inspected."

Evidently, the approval process was successful.

Bon appetite!


CHICKEN SHADES Hens by the thousands raised in such claustrophobic, crowded cages that the birds will literally peck each other to death. To reduce prison-yard aggression in chickens, red tinted contact lenses are now marketed for poultry workers to slip into the birdy's eyes. It takes a trained operator just a few seconds per bird, the manufacturer claims. I do believe I have my nomination for the World's Worst Job.


VIRUSES THAT VITAMIN C WILL **NOT** STOP This last virus outbreak (and I mean computer viruses, not the flu) has demonstrated how many people have not done their computer-care homework! Is there any clearer demonstration that everyone simply must have an UP-TO-DATE-THIS-WEEK antivirus running on their computer? Well, you can be sure that some won't, or just don't realize why. So we have to be certain our computers are protected.

FREE DOWNLOADABLE ANTIVIRUS software (not a trial edition, no ads, free updates, and I use it personally) is available from . (Select "Download AVG Free Edition.") Remarkably, the very frequent and very necessary updates from the Grisoft website are also free of charge. They are currently at update number 365, which I think illustrates the magnitude of the computer virus problem. Recently, they had three updates in two days.

FOR THE RECORD The ONLY mail I send out to my mailing list subscribers is this Newsletter and **nothing but** this Newsletter, twice monthly. It is always plain text, that is, it is NEVER in attachment form. If you receive anything else purporting to be from "" it is completely bogus, possibly a virus, and usually spam. It is most certainly not from me. Yes, spammers and viruses routinely make up phony return addresses to attempt to cover their cowardly tracks. I send NO advertisements, ever, and endorse NO products whatsoever.

ATTACHMENTS No, I never send "attachments" of any kind. You should never open attachments from anyone, even from your closest acquaintances. There is an increasingly high risk of computer viruses being contained in them, often unknown to the sender. Yes, even a sender you know very well may be quite oblivious to the fact that she or he is sending out viruses. It is up to us to check our mail if others won't check theirs.

If you absolutely must send or receive an attachment, here's a safer way to do it:

1) Make an appointment, by separate email, with the recipient. Announce and confirm that you are going to send an attachment, what type, and exactly when. (I will not accept any attachments.)

2) When you receive an attachment as described above, do not open it. Rather, save it to your "Documents" file or to your desktop. Then, locate it and scan it with AVG. You do this by right- clicking on the file and selecting "Scan with AVG." Other antivirus programs likely have similar capacity.

Please use them, and urge everyone you know to do likewise.



OR, IF YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST, READ THIS: A hiker goes to his psychiatrist because he can't sleep. "Doc," he says, "One night I try sleeping in a canvas lean-to, and the next night I try sleeping in a nylon dome shelter. I can't get to sleep in either. What's my problem?" "Easy," says the psychiatrist. "Your problem is your two tents."

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AN IMPORTANT NOTE: This newsletter is not in any way offered as prescription, diagnosis nor treatment for any disease, illness, infirmity or physical condition. Any form of self-treatment or alternative health program necessarily must involve an individual's acceptance of some risk, and no one should assume otherwise. Persons needing medical care should obtain it from a physician. Consult your doctor before making any health decision.

"DOCTOR YOURSELF" "" and "Doctor Yourself Newsletter" are service marks of Andrew W. Saul. All rights reserved.

Copyright c 2004 and prior years Andrew W. Saul . Permission to reproduce single copies of this newsletter FOR NON-COMMERCIAL, PERSONAL USE ONLY is hereby granted providing no alteration of content is made and authorship credit is given.