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Newsletter v2n17

Newsletter v2n17
Back Issues

"The physician should not treat the disease but the patient who is suffering from it." (Maimonides)

The DOCTOR YOURSELF NEWSLETTER (Vol 2, No 17) July 5, 2002 "Free of charge, free of advertising, and free of the A.M.A." Written by Andrew Saul, PhD. of , a free online library of over 350 natural healing articles with nearly 4,000 scientific references.


Ooh! Imagine that!

"" has posted a vitamin-bashing article at that is achingly typical of the old "foods only" nutritional paradigm. In addition to the article's blatant anti-vitamin editorial bias, it also contains factual errors.

First, there is no such thing as a "KIND-EY STONE." (Well, maybe Barney the Purple Dinosaur would get one of those...) Whoever checked this anonymous OPRAH article (and that's assuming anyone did) demonstrated their lack of scholarship by not even using a spell checker. The intended term was "kidney stone." But the error just begins with this. Vitamin C does not cause kidney stones. There is no scientific evidence that a stone has ever been caused by vitamin C. Actually, vitamin C dissolves calcium phosphate or struvite kidney stones. Vitamin C helps prevent the formation of calcium oxalate stones. These three constitute the vast majority of all forms of kidney stone.

The really big mistake is that this article does not merely seek to condemn megadoses. It clumsily attempts to trash the very, very basic idea of taking even a morning daily multivitamin and calcium, actually calling it a "daily fix." Such a nonsensical position is all the more embarrassing for the Oprah organization to hold, given the weight of medical journal articles that say precisely the opposite.

For example:

"Most people do not consume an optimal amount of all vitamins by diet alone. Pending strong evidence of effectiveness from randomized trials, it appears prudent for all adults to take vitamin supplements."

from "Vitamins for Chronic Disease Prevention in Adults: Clinical Applications" by Robert H. Fletcher, MD, MSc; Kathleen M. Fairfield, MD, DrPH. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2002;287:3127-3129 Corresponding Author and Reprints: Dr. Robert H. Fletcher, Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention, Harvard Medical School/Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, 133 Brookline Ave, Sixth Floor, Boston, MA 02215 (e-mail: ).

OPRAH, HOW ABOUT A REALITY CHECK? All megadosing included, there is one death from vitamin overdose a bout every ten years in the USA. (Townsend Letter for Doctors, April, 1992. Also: Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) Statistical Series I, Number 9, Annual Data 1989).

There are well over 100,000 pharmaceutical drug deaths annually in America. (Lucian Leape, Error in medicine. Journal of the American Medical Association, 1994, 272:23, p 1851. Also: John's Hopkins medical letter, "Health After 50," March, 1990). That's over a million deaths in ten years. Vitamins, while not 100% risk free, are literally one million times safer than medicines.

For more information: How To Spot Anti-Vitamin Bias in a Health Article:

Dr. Hoffer's Guide to Vitamin Myths (Factoids):

"IT'S GOOD FOR WHAT AILS YOU" That's how my great-uncle described the virtues of any food or edible plant he knew to be healthy. Quite a few had made his list, and as a result, I disliked nearly everything he'd put on the dinnertable when we came to visit. But I always remembered this saying of his, along with his standard greeting when he met us at his front door: "Come in and make your miserable lives happy!"

Recently, a lady wrote to me wanting a cure for eczema. I get a lot of letters like that, all of which I answer with a suggestion to do some reading. Not everybody likes a response like that. But I do not practice medicine by email, or any other way for that matter, since I am not a physician. And even if I were, I'd give the same reply. I mentioned that she could do a site search at using the keyword "skin" as a starting point. That will bring up 74 matches. She replied saying that that was too general to really help her, for she wanted a specific cure for eczema.

And therein lies the problem.

Most folks want to know how to treat a particular disease condition, but are not interested in how to treat their whole body. You cannot remove the first from the second. It sounds like a truism, but the way to get rid of a skin disease is to have healthy skin. Dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis or what have you generally have a common answer. Yes, I do address some individually at my website:

But this is mostly just to organize the material and make it easier to find for beginner "health nuts in training." ( contains over one million words now, and receives about 1,000 visitors a day.) Perhaps an article like best describes the overall approach that I believe we really need to take. I think a lot of eczema is caused by lousy diet, vitamin deficiency, and commercial chemical cosmetics.

Treating symptoms is allopathy (drug medicine). Natural healing is about treating the person with the symptoms. The quote at the top of this Newsletter is a good reminder for all of us. "Holistic" is more than a philosophy or catchy title. It is a way of life that is "good for what ails you." You can exclude illness by actively creating a healthy body every day.

READERS ASK: "It seems that whenever I take a zinc supplement, my stomach gets upset, sometimes to the point of nausea. Why is that?"

I know exactly what you are taking about; I have had the very same xperience. Zinc needs to be taken with food, preferably in the middle of a regular meal. To eliminate stomach upset and also greatly improve absorption, crush the tablet between two teaspoons and down the chunky bits with some liquid.

Men need zinc most and should make a point of taking zinc twice a day. Once is enough for the ladies. Zinc gluconate is effective and cheap to buy. If you can afford it, zinc monomethionine is even better.

Zinc and macular degeneration: Zinc and chronic fatigue:

TUBERCULOSIS SCARE DEBUNKED In the 1960's, my Explorer Post in Public Health met in a old sanitarium wing of a former TB hospital. There we learned how to propagate (harmless) bacteria, and to loop, stain and identify them. Sounds like at least as much fun as pitching a tent, eh?

Some years later, while waiting for a train at London's Euston Station, I was unavoidably involved in a conversation with a drunken derelict in search of an easy 50p. As he coughed virtually in my face, he told me he had recently gotten out of prison. He sought to prove his honesty by producing tattered but nonetheless official green H.M. discharge papers. I happened to note, as he continued coughing, that he also had been diagnosed with tuberculosis.

I gave him the 50 p to get rid of him and hopefully breathe clean air again.

For a long time afterward, I worried that I'd get tuberculosis. I mean, what an exposure!

Oddly enough, when I first taught college, the only job I could get was in jails. (No, I was not an inmate.) My "captive audience" also coughed a great deal. Back then, one in eight prisoners tested positive for TB. The current figure, I am given to understand, is better than one in four. I spent many hours in badly ventilated rooms with a lot of very unhealthy men and women.

As a condition of employment, prison faculty had to have TB tests. Mine remained negative.

More information on the naturopathic cure of tuberculosis will be found with a site search at for Max Gerson, M.D. "Gerson" as a keyword should do it.

Steve Ransom comments from Britain: "The TB health official at ground level genuinely believes that his diagnosis is above question. And as his patients, so do we. His diagnosis carries no intentionally scurrilous motive. He is merely acting upon the teachings he has received at medical school. Unfortunately, the term 'being taught what to think but not how' is no better exemplified than in our conventional schools of science and medicine. In so many areas of conventional health, rote learning has taken place - learning which in turn, is passed on to us as patients during the course of our surgery and hospital consultations. Official wisdom is always above question. We underlings must never dissent. We are just mere mortals awaiting the impeachable determinations of the god-like professional."

(Editor's Note: More on this at Steve's website, , Health controversy lives and breathes here. That's why I like it.)

"OH HAPPY DAY, I FOUND SOME COMFREY!" Lois writes: "Thanks for the information on comfrey (Doctor Yourself Newsletter Vol 2, No 15 ( ) A lady who had an herbal garden had just dug up a bunch of it and was going to throw it away. So I told her to please throw it my way. I am 80 years young. I dug a whole in a place where it can expand. That is one rugged plant; the leaves are beautiful. "I live in a small town and there are no good doctors here; all they know about is toxic drugs, which I refuse to take. I have been with alternatives since the 1950's. Here is an article that says the FDA thinks comfrey should not be available. Maybe they want to make it a prescription drug so the drug companies can make millions on it."

Thank you very much for sending me the FDA article, which I think applies to eating comfrey leaves, or comfrey leaves in supplements. But one should never ingest comfrey leaf in the first place; the leaves are for topical use only. and . It is the root, boiled, that has been used internally for hundreds of years. I am yet to see an FDA comment on that. The underlying assumption is that citizens cannot learn how to handle an herbal medicine properly; only doctors can. Baloney. The FDA document is excerpted below. For more on what the Agency thinks of dietary supplements, you can take a look (with the proverbial grain of salt, or maybe a pound of it) at "FDA Advises Dietary Supplement Manufacturers to Remove Comfrey Products From the Market (Issued July 6, 2001)"

"The use of comfrey in dietary supplements is a serious concern to FDA. These plants contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, substances which are firmly established to be hepatotoxins in animals. Reports in the scientific literature clearly associate oral exposure of comfrey and pyrrolizidine alkaloids with the occurrence of veno-occlusive disease (VOD) in animals... However, while information is generally lacking to establish a cause-effect relationship between comfrey ingestion and observed a dverse effects humans, the adverse effects that have been seen are entirely consistent with the known effects of comfrey ingestion that have been described in the scientific literature... This substance should not be used as an ingredient in dietary supplements."

It is easy for a profiteer to mow down a field of comfrey and toss the leaves into a pill machine. But that is NOT how it should be done. FDA would do well to educate people on how to do it right: Fresh leaves externally; boiled root decoction internally.

GET FABULOUSLY FIT WITH FIBER by Monique N. Gilbert Want to increase your vitality and improve your overall well-being? Then try eating more fiber every day. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), fiber is important for the health of our digestive system as well as for lowering cholesterol. Dietary fiber is a transparent solid carbohydrate that is the main part of the cell walls of plants. It has two forms: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber may help lower blood cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Insoluble fiber provides the bulk needed for proper functioning of the stomach and intestines. It promotes healthy intestinal action and prevents constipation by moving bodily waste through the digestive tract faster, so harmful substances don't have as much contact with the intestinal walls. Both the AHA and the National Cancer Institute recommend that we consume 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day.

Unfortunately, many people are not eating this much fiber. The reason is the conventional animal-based Western diet, which is high in saturated fat and low in fiber. This type of diet is causing serious concerns. Heart disease and stroke have become major health problems in most developed countries, and are rapidly increasing in prevalence in many lesser developed countries. This is mainly due to the global influence of the typical Western diet.

HEART ATTACK, STROKE, COLON CANCER Eating a high-fiber diet can significantly lower our risk of heart attack, stroke and colon cancer. A 19-year follow-up study reported in the November 2001 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine indicated that increasing bean and legume intakes may be an important part of a dietary approach to preventing coronary heart disease. Soybeans and legumes are high in protein and soluble fiber. Another study reported in the January 2002 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology also suggests that increasing our consumption of fiber-rich foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, can significantly lower the risk of heart disease. Additionally, results from recent studies at the American Institute of Cancer Research indicate high-fiber protein-rich soy-based products, such as textured soy protein and tempeh, help in preventing and perhaps in treating colon cancer.

Soybeans and other legumes (beans) are always excellent sources of fiber. An average serving of cooked dry beans contains about 10 grams of fiber. Whole soybeans and foods made from them, such as soy flour, textured soy protein (also known as TVP) and tempeh, are extremely rich in fiber. Tofu, on the other hand, leaves most of its fiber behind in processing. Reading the Nutrition Facts label to find out the amount of, and the type of, fiber contained in any particular food is always wise.

TRY THIS DELICIOUS HIGH-FIBER DIP RECIPE, which can also be used as a sandwich spread.

Hummus (Dairy-Free) 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans or white beans 2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste) 2-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 clove garlic 1/3 cup soymilk 1/2 teaspoon salt 1. Place beans, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic in a food processor. Blend for a full 1-2 minutes, until a paste is formed. 2. Add soymilk and salt. Blend until it's smooth and creamy. 3. Transfer to a container and refrigerate to chill. Serve as a dip with crackers, pita bread wedges or fresh cut up vegetables; or as a spread with pita bread or tortillas. Makes 2-2/3 cups (4-6 servings)

References: "Legume consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in US men a nd women: NHANES I Epidemiologic Follow-up Study." Bazzano, L. A., He, J., Ogden, L. G., Loria, C., Vupputuri, S., Myers, L., Whelton, P. K., Archives of Internal Medicine 2001 Nov 26;161(21):2573-2578.

"A prospective study of dietary fiber intake and risk of cardiovascular disease among women." Liu, S., Buring, J. E., Sesso, H. D., Rimm, E. B., Willett, W. C., Manson, J. E., Journal of the American College of Cardiology 2002 Jan 2;39(1):49-56.

Copyright © 2002 Monique N. Gilbert. Reprinted with permission.

Monique is the author of "Virtues of Soy: A Practical Health Guide and Cookbook" (Universal Publishers, 2001). For more information: or E-mail: .

CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE I have in my possession a real poster that proudly announced: "Come Visit the Fire Department Open House. Blood Pressure Clinic. Free Coffee and Donuts." For a slightly healthier approach on how to reduce high blood pressure, you might want to look at Congestive heart failure: Heart arrhythmia:

For Dr. Hoffer's important comments on heart disease:

Newsletter Ideas? To submit a question or suggest a topic for the newsletter, email me at

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.

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