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What’s New! – A Healthy Living Newsletter

November, 2002
My patients frequently ask my opinion about new health books on the market. And there's certainly no shortage of experts peddling their advice! While many of these books are excellent, others are written by people who don't have a clinical background in the subject. Simply put - they're inaccurate.

The people writing the books either don't regularly use the medicines they write about or they're presenting theories as if they are facts. Others can be valuable tools for improving the quality of your life.

If you find this newsletter useful, please forward it to a friend!

Headache Survival
The Holistic Medical Treatment Program for Migraine, Tension, and Cluster Headaches

Robert S. Ivker, D.O. and Todd Nelson, ND

Sufferers of migraine headaches are "probably the most misunderstood, misdiagnosed and mistreated group of patients in modern medicine" - and they constitute approximately 20 million people in the U.S. Add those who suffer from tension headaches and cluster headaches and the number grows to approximately 45 million. Dr. Ivker successfully presents many options for treating migraine from both conventional and natural medicine perspectives. And when he's done with the scientific, he throws in some "woo-woo" talk. But we can discuss that later.

Similar to his earlier books on asthma and arthritis, Headache Survival is a program or "how-to" book. There's a good chance that your headaches/migraines will decrease, if you follow Ivker's healing steps which include: 1) air and breathing, 2) water, 3) food and supplements, 4) exercise and rest, 5) play/passion/purpose, 6) prayer and gratitude, 7) intimacy and 8) forgiveness. For example, in the first section on air and breathing, he describes the optimal healthy air environment and what products to get to attain that healthy air. In fact, Ivker is so enthusiastic about healthy air he states that a " headache is usually the first physical sign of a lack of oxygen". One could successfully argue that yawning comes first.

Ivker is equally passionate about the other 7 steps. And perhaps, these issues of intimacy and forgiveness will strike a chord for some of his readers. I found it a bit overdone.

Along with his eight steps, Ivker presents a very nice explanation of tension, migraine and cluster headaches. Also well done is his section on conventional drugs. It gives the reader who is on conventional prescription medications a more complete idea of his/her options and the long-term side-effects of these drugs. Knowing the triggers and risk factors for headaches/migraines such as lack of sleep, depression, poor nutrition, dehydration, and food allergies is helpful in avoiding them. Dietarily, the "sickening six": caffeine, fats, salt, sugar, alcohol, and refined carbohydrates will also contribute to headaches/migraines - and virtually every other malady one can get.

I had trouble appreciating his less-than-scientific sections. For example, "The primary therapeutic modality in mitigating the multiple factors for causing headaches is love." This and other comments in the book could make the reader think that headache/migraine sufferers are members of some lonely-hearts club. In reality, I have seen many children with headaches that come from wonderful nurturing families. In those cases, plain old genetics is the cause and all the love in the world isn't going to change that. I'm not trying to discount the mental/emotional component of headaches/migraines, but I've seen this list (perfectionistic, trouble saying no, lack of joy, feeling of being overwhelmed, and lack of self-nurturing) in personality traits for many chronic illnesses such as lupus, arthritis and chronic fatigue. I mean, if anyone had migraines on a regular basis, feeling overwhelmed and a lack of joy would be fairly typical reactions to such debilitating pain.

While reading this book, I felt that Ivker was so focused on his program and theory of "deprivation of love" that he overlooked the simple things. For example, if a person gets tension headaches every afternoon at work, it is very helpful to take a vitamin B-complex at lunch. It can often stave off the headache - and it's inexpensive.

Ultimately, the best way to read this book is to pick and chose what makes sense to you and your individual situation. The book is a great starting point. However, in many cases, as the author admits, it's not the complete answer. Which is why he includes a list of complementary practitioners to provide more specific help to migraine sufferers. If you suffer from migraines or headaches, I strongly recommend at least half of this book.

 

Overcoming Allergies

Dr. Christina Scott-Moncrieff

 

If you have gone to a conventional medical doctor for allergies, received a prescription for a drug and wondered - "isn't there anything else I can do?"; then here's a book for you. Written in an extremely reader-friendly way with plenty of illustrations and boxes with additional explanations to the basic text, Overcoming Allergies is an excellent book - especially for these two reasons. First, Dr. Scott-Moncrieff expands the definition of allergic reactions and second, she acknowledges and treats allergic-type reactions that don't fall neatly into the allergy category. Let me explain.

Dr. Scott-Mancrieff, a British conventional medical practitioner who incorporates many natural medical protocols into her practice, expands the working definition of allergies. She includes not only the standard allergic rhinitis (runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing), as well as allergic skin reactions, but she also includes IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), asthma, fatigue, arthritis, candida, migraines, weight problems, chemical sensitivity and hyperactivity. What do migraines have to do with allergies? People are unique and can manifest allergic-type reactions in many ways, even as migraines. Is every case of migraines an allergic reaction? No, but if you suffer from migraines, you may want to rule it out. Common migraine prescription drugs can cause serious side-effects if taken over a long period of time.

In addition to expanding the definition of an allergic reaction, Dr.Scott-Mancrieff explains food intolerances to her readers. Conventional medicine tests for a specific set of immune responses to define an allergy. Natural medicine includes the clinical response as well with or without the immune response when treating "allergies". For example, if a few minutes after a person drinks orange juice, his lips swell and he becomes dizzy, this would only be considered in conventional medicine an allergy if blood test results reported it was an allergy. If the blood test came up negative, the patient would be assured that everything was fine, and it wasn't an allergy - despite the patient's reaction. And the doctor would be right - at least on one account - it isn't an allergy. However, instead of being treated, the patient would often be sent home, with a suggestion for an antihistamine and little other advice. It would have been better if Overcoming Allergies was sent home with the patient.

This book is filled with mostly practical recommendations for dietary and lifestyle changes to minimize the allergic reaction including the usual cleaning suggestions, a diet diary, relaxation exercises, and several variations on the hypoallergenic diet - including recipes. She does stray from practical recommendations at times to include options such as covering your head, mouth and nose when outdoors. That would work in the winter, but most people are not going to do that in the spring.

What didn't I like? Well - she's still a conventional doctor who thinks that long-term daily steroidal sprays are safe. Naturopathic physicians strongly disagree and finally have some support from scientific medical journals who are reporting that yes, the negative effects of steroids are absorbed through the nose along with the beneficial. I admired her honesty in writing that nasal decongestants are effective but hard to get off of because of the rebound swelling and nasal discharge when you stop them. I rarely see the downside of conventional medications mentioned in books.

I also thought her herbal and homeopathic suggestions were misleading. The herbal suggestions for asthma are mildly effective at best. There are many stronger and more specific herbs used to both control the symptoms and heal the passageways. This month, one of my asthmatic patients who opted to receive only natural medicine to treat her asthma reported that her conventional doctor could not find a trace of asthma remaining.

Similarly, I dislike the use of homeopathics for repetitive treatment of chronic "allergic" disease. I would rather a person receive a single homeopathic remedy that will stop the allergies, the sleep problems and the warts on the foot, than to take daily doses of a homeopathic remedy that will keep the allergies at bay, but will not resolve them. Still, it's better to use homeopathic remedies this way than to risk the side-effects of most conventional medicines.

Dr. Scott-Moncrieff recommends seeing a natural medicine practitioner if your "allergies" don't respond to the recommendations in the book. To help the reader make this choice, she describes various types of natural medicine practitioners who might help. She doesn't include the extent of naturopathic education (4 years in a conventional college premed program plus 4 years postgraduate) - but who's quibbling. Most importantly, she concludes with a wise caveat - "Any therapy that is powerful enough to heal is also powerful enough to harm, and just because a therapy is "natural" does not mean that it is safe when used incorrectly." Is this book filled with news-breaking information? No, but it is fairly complete and extremely well-done.

Health tip: Over a year ago, I wrote about chlorella and its success in returning graying hair to its natural color in dozens of my patients. Since then, one patient, one of my sisters and my husband have questioned its effectiveness as it didn't help their hair return to its pre-gray color.

Some possible reasons for this are the quality of the chlorella. My patients and I have used Greens+ from Orange Blossom, a company out of Florida that has a superior quality product. (You can find them online.)

Another reason could be a copper deficiency. I suggested my husband use 2mg a day of a copper citrate supplement for just one to two months (to avoid any potential copper toxicity). He tried this out -- in addition to taking the Greens + supplement + and one month later his hair was significantly less gray.

Herb Tip: Many people have read about the herb Astragulus and its strong support of the immune system. Recently, I saw a couple of herbal formulas in two health food stores that had Astragulus in cold and flu products. Astragulus is for long-term immunity only and should be avoided in acute illnesses such as colds and flus. The Chinese say that giving Astragulus when the person is acutely ill is like locking the doors with the thief inside the house. It can prolong the cold or flu. Instead, use this herb with depleted physical states and chronic illness.

To all the local readers, our office is located at 11825 SW Greenburg Rd., Ste A2, Tigard, Or. 97223.

Copyright 2002 Dr. Suzanne C. Lawton, LLC

 

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Snail Mail: Dr. Suzanne C. Lawton
11825 SW Greenburg Road, Suite A2
Tigard, Oregon 97223
503-443-2332