Archive for Alternative Medicine and Treatment

CT Scans Found to Cause Cancer

A recent news report has revealed the danger surrounding the risk of developing cancer from CT scans is real. For some years, the medical community has fallen under scrutiny from various people in surrounding communities – including patients and folks in the complimentary and alternative health communities – about the dangers of excess radiation sourced from procedures and “routine” tests.

Medical professionals are now admitting that even more radiation is present in these procedures than previously believed. They report that as many as 29,000 Americans will develop cancer from CT scans done in 2007, and 15,000 of those will die.

Whether these numbers are actual or not reaffirms what some people have suspected all along – that the threat of exposure to radiation from CT scans and other related medical procedures is a direct cause of cancer.

Although CT scans provide doctors with what some believe is an unobstructed view inside the body and enables keen diagnostic technology, these machines performing the procedure emit radiation in order to supply doctors with results they seek. In some instances, the results yield no additional information and/or are deemed unnecessary.

The National Library of Medicine released an article on November 30 of this year showing the number of people who receive unnecessary scans on an annual basis – according to the study:

“978 CT abdominal and pelvic series were performed on 500 patients aged 9 months to 91 years. Most of the patients were 30 to 50 years of age. The researchers concluded that 35.3 percent of the CT series in 52.2 percent of the patients were unnecessary, according to American College of Radiology Appropriateness Criteria.”

In addition, the study found the  following:

“Among the 500 patients in the study, the mean excess radiation dose per patient from unnecessary scans was 11.3 millisieverts. That’s equivalent to radiation exposure from 113 chest X-rays or three years of naturally occurring background radiation”.

Ever since I started becomig more aware of natural and organic foods and avoiding chemicals (about 10 years), I’ve also been wary of procedures like this. After my son was born and he became a toddler, everyone started asking why we weren’t taking him to the dentist to have his teeth cleaned, treated with fluoride, and x-rayed.  I’d tell them he got his teeth late and was very squeamish about even brushing his teeth, but also that I just didn’t believe children needed to start going to the dentist that early and proper habits and dental hygiene at home were just fine. My parents who are very conventional about a lot of things, were actually about the only people who agreed with me.

Even before I understood the importance of traditional diets in the formation and maintenance of bone and teeth, I knew x-rays at the dentist’s office were not only unnecessary but that repeated exposure to radiation was harmful to health. Every time I declined the x-ray, my dentist would ask, “are you sure?” Radiation is cumulative, and something that doctors don’t readily admit to – they usually emphasize the “small” amount of radiation to which you are being exposed versus how invaluable the information they can gather from the x-ray is.

But just consider how much radiation and other harmful waves we really are exposed to on a daily basis: cosmic rays from outer space, from all types of household appliances, from clock radios to microwaves, to eletro-magnetic waves from telephone wires, radio waves, television and satellite waves, computer and monitor equipment, wireless devices, and the ever-present cell-phone risk. You don’t even have to own a cell phone or use one to be exposed to the radiation from these devices.

The amounts of radiation from an x-ray at the dentist may seem insignificant alone – but when you add in all the other sources of radiation and electromagnetic frequencies we are exposed to, it’s a monumental amount. And even if you don’t have a precise tally of how much radiation is deadly to receive – which might be impossible – it’s pretty difficult to refute that we are exposed to more than our fair share of it in our natural environments – without having any medical procedures done.

About a year and half ago after we had gone out to dinner and were driving home, my husband started complaining of a pain in his lower right side. Having had acute appendicitis during pregnancy, I was sensitive to this issue and asked how long he’d had the pain. He said it had been coming and going for a few days but now was really bothering him.

After we arrived home the pain worsened, so we decided to go into the E.R. I knew that eating real food and living healthy as we had been doing for at least a few years should help to prevent something like this from happening – but our bad habits had gone on for much longer than our recent change in lifestyle – and maybe it had finally caught up with him.

We spent the entire rest of the night at the hospital. My husband underwent various tests – including a CT scan. After everything was concluded, the doctors could find no cause for his pain. They wanted to prescribe pain medication and recommended he watch himself and call them if things got worse again or changed. I was worried about the CT scan even before they did it – my concern about radiation, which I expressed to the doctor on call – was met with a statement that it simply wasn’t an issue. But I knew better and let them know it. My husband thought it was okay since he was in such pain and “wanted to get to the bottom of what was causing it”.

Healthy lifestyles can prevent illness

After no further information was gathered from this test, I knew in my heart that this was a digestive issue we would have to sort out with detoxification, sticking to a healthy diet, and exercise.  Also, my next door neighbor is a nutritional therapist and my husband had been putting off making an appointment with her to get his digestion straightened out anyway.

He finally admitted that he did need to go and see her to try and get his health back on track. It’s been over a year now since that incident. My husband followed our neighbor’s (and my) advice, and treated it with food and whole food supplementation, as well as detoxification activities. Although he’s still on the road to “full recovery” as I call it (sometimes he’s stubborn and eats things he shouldn’t), he’s doing fine and hasn’t had any recurrence in the pain.

Something else which was reaffirmed to me after our visit to the hospital is that the increase in medical procedures, prescription drugs, and disease in America is directly attributed to the way people in our culture eat – processed, industrially-produced, chemically-laden, and toxic foods. The way we eat and live only adds to our trips to the hospital and the amount of procedures performed like x-rays, CT scans, prescription drug use, and the amount of overall chronic illness we experience, which is exacerbated by more of the same.

Now, I’m not stating that CT scans are absolutely unnecessary in all cases, and that their use should be discontinued. The main concern is that these and other procedures are overused – much like antibiotics. When it becomes so routine to employ a procedure or drug to determine the cause of a problem, it behooves patients to be more cautious and do their own research – and to not just blindly accept a recommendation by a medical professional simply because it’s the most commonly done thing. I think it’s also important the acknowledge that a healthy lifestyle including minimizing exposure to toxins, radiation, and eating real food can go a long way toward keeping people out of the hospital and undergoing costly, unnecessary, and deadly procedures.

Another recent development in the mainstream medical community is that mammograms, another procedure using radiation, are now being cautioned for use until women are over the age of 50 due to the same risk – overexposure to radiation. To read more about the risks of mammography, read To Mammogram or Not.

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How I Cured a Raging Sinus Infection Naturally, with No Drugs

Over the last few months I’ve been hearing about a lot of people who have been ill with terrible head colds, bronchitis, pneumonia, flus, and sinus infections. It always seems strange to me when people are coming down with stuff like this in what is not typically considered the cold and flu season. But when you stop to consider the diet and subsequent state of health of people in general, it really shouldn’t be surprising.

In the summer of 2006 my husband, son, and I all became ill with a terrible sickness that I might have otherwise described as West Nile Virus – except for the fact that none of us had been bitten by mosquitoes or been around any areas where mosquitoes inhabit. Our symptoms were severe – extreme fatigue, malaise, body ache, and high fevers that lasted for over a week (in my son’s case he had a fever for 15 days!). From start to finish, the entire episode lasted for nearly two months. But our symptoms started subsiding immediately after we paid a visit to my acupuncturist and Chinese herbal doctor.

Since then I’ve been a devoted follower of natural treatments. This year, I was once again reminded just how useful natural treatments are when the sore throat and body ache I came down with turned into conjunctivitis and a horrible sinus infection. The sickness first came on in mid-June, and I figured it would just be a mild sore throat that would last a day or two…after all, I’m a pretty healthy person who eats a good diet and doesn’t get sick much anymore…but I was wrong. The sore throat, headache, body ache, fatigue and cough went on for about five days. Day six found me with a sinus headache and red, weepy eyes. I assumed these symptoms would go away without much consequence. Wrong again.

The normal course of action I take with a sinus infection is to use my neti pot and breathe hot steam with essential oils. Because at first my condition didn’t seem too severe, I didn’t irrigate frequently enough. Within a few days the infection became so acute I was in excruciating pain daily until afternoon when the congestion would subside and have me believing that it was on its way out. Then, the following day I’d wake up again only to be in agonizing pain within an hour or two.

Just two days before my sinus infection developed, I had paid a visit to my neighbor, a nutritional therapist. She said that I had strep in my body, and I tested positive for candida. I had performed a candida cleanse in 2007 which lasted about 14 weeks. I wasn’t too thrilled about having to do another candida cleanse, but knew from talking with her and my own research that both the sinus problem and the conjunctivitis could likely be caused by a candida overgrowth. After I put these things together in my head I decided to do another candida cleanse and went on a grain and sugar-free diet. My normal diet is pretty healthy anyway, so I just removed a few things and also began taking Candidase by Enzymedica. This is an outstanding product I’ve used before in the past, and is one of the most recommended products I know of for elimination of candida overgrowth in the body.

In the meantime, I was seeing little improvement. I tried everything my neighbor had suggested – I took an oil of oregano supplement and colloidal silver. My research revealed that goldenseal, apple cider vinegar, and various immune-boosting herbal products I already had in my house were effective natural treatments for a sinus infection. I also used hot compresses with oil of oregano, peppermint, lemon, melaleuca, and eucalyptus, breathed essential oils in hot steam several times a day, and used my neti-pot ’round the clock. I was drinking a lot of water and eating well, but nothing seemed to work.

During this time of course, everyone around me was urging me to go to the doctor and get a prescription for antibiotics. All I could think of was how this would wipe out my immune system – especially because I now had some kind of candida problem that would inevitably only get worse with antibiotics.

I’ve had enough!

Although I thought I’d lose my mind if I didn’t figure out a way to get over the sinus infection, this factor alone is what kept me from breaking down and going to a conventional doctor.  Finally, I decided to go see a naturopathic doctor who also has an M.D. working in her office. I decided that if she couldn’t help me with something natural, I’d have her do a culture to determine the cause of the infection – bacterial or fungal, as any sinus problem that goes on for that long is not usually caused by a virus. If the culture came out positive for something besides a virus, I was nearly resigned to taking antibiotics or an anti-fungal medication if necessary. From my experience and what others have reported, most medical doctors don’t think of sinus infections as being caused by fungal sources, they usually just tap on your head and write out a prescription for an antibiotic. I wanted to find out what was causing it and fix it. I didn’t want to be given some random medication and sent on my way.

The naturopath said she wasn’t sure that anything else she could do would cure my sinus infection since I had already been doing those things for three weeks and had not achieved results. But she was willing to try and wait to see if I felt any improvement the following day. We agreed that if what she did failed to work, I would come back and do a culture to find out what type of medication would be best.

The first thing she did was perform some manipulations (she knows chiropractic treatment) on my neck and head. Then she took four long cotton swabs and soaked them in essential oils and pushed them up into my nasal passages – yes, inside my nasal passages! It felt very odd, but once they were in it wasn’t a problem and she left them there for ten or fifteen minutes. While the swabs were in, she did some head and facial massage and manipulations on pressure points corresponding to my sinuses. After she was finished with these treatments, my head was almost completely pain free – for the first time in over two weeks! It was amazing. She also told me to go home and do alternating hot and cold compresses on my sinuses before bed, take an herbal tincture from her office, and perform a sinus rinse with colloidal silver in my neti-pot (I had tried the colloidal silver as a nasal spray already with no success).

Later that afternoon I talked to my neighbor again and she suggested putting a probiotic capsule in my neti pot. I take daily doses of probiotics, but had not yet tried breaking open the capsule and putting it in the pot. I used self-massage on my sinuses throughout the rest of the day, as shown by the naturopath. I also did the compresses and took the tincture as directed.

Now here’s the most amazing part – at bedtime, I emptied the contents of a probiotics capsule into the neti-pot and proceeded to pour the warm water, salt, baking soda and probiotic mixture into my nasal passages. Immediately I felt a terrible burning sensation that went on for a good ten minutes. It was quite painful, but as it subsided, I was filled with a peaceful calm, and then retired to bed and had a good night sleep. The next morning, I awoke and was surprised to find that even as time went on, my head remained pain-free throughout the day. The horrible “ice pick” sinus pressure which was normally in full-swing by 10 a.m. was completely gone. Whenever I felt like I was getting a slight ache, I performed the facial massage to my temples and sinuses I had done the day before. I also used the probiotics in my neti pot a few more times over the next five days, along with my Whole Body Defense from Gaia Herbs, and some grapefruit seed extract (about 5 drops in 6 ounces of water twice a day). I was cured! I really believe those probiotics did some magical trick – although I’m sure some of the other things I did helped as well – because the first time I did it, after the burning came and went, the pain was completely gone and has not returned since.

Some people might still be skeptical after reading this and say, “yeah, you got well naturally, but it took nearly 4 weeks!” Yes, that is true. But how many people do you know who take antibiotics and don’t get well for weeks…or become sick again after thinking they are cured? How many others take one antibiotic, only to have it not improve their condition, and then return to the doctor for one or two more rounds of other antibiotics? This is a pretty common occurrence, and I didn’t want to be one of those people.

Here’s something else important to remember: the first two weeks I assumed whatever I had would go away on its own and didn’t make much of an effort to treat it sufficiently. It wasn’t until at least week two where I realized it was a serious infection and decided to do something. In many cases, the first thing you try isn’t the thing that is going to work. Just as described above, medical doctors often try many different medications before something actually brings results…and still, sometimes, it doesn’t work.

The other factor in all of this that people fail to take into account is the natural immunity granted to your body when you allow it to recover naturally instead of using pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medications. These artificially-produced, toxic substances weaken the immune system by wiping out friendly bacteria and depleting the body of vital nutrients. They are also responsible for  a wave of resistant bacteria which could ultimately cause the death of mass numbers of our population in the not-so-distant future. These bacteria become impervious to medications when they are actually needed, and in some cases, cannot be killed at all or will only be taken down by certain medications which are dangerous to use and can cause damage to the human body. Ultimately, I claim victory in this situation because even though it took me awhile to get over this, I did it without compromising my immune system and I gained natural immunity to whatever was making me sick.

Are antibiotics useful?

Remember that the word antibiotic literally means “anti-life”. Antibiotics have their place in the world, but they shouldn’t be used every time you get a flu, cold, or respiratory infection that lasts longer than 7 – 10 days . I once heard a story from a friend who went to the doctor and was given a prescription for antibiotics. When she asked whether antibiotics were really necessary, the doctor replied that she didn’t want to mess around with a possible infection and antibiotics were the best thing. My friend asked whether she would die if she didn’t take the antibiotics and to which the doctor replied, “it’s possible”.  So what if she hadn’t taken antibiotics for her infection? What would be the likelihood of her dying because she did not follow the doctor’s recommendation? Most people have compromised immune systems due to diet and poor lifestyle anyway, but taking antibiotics when your health is compromised will only make the problem later worse – even if it temporarily stops an infection in its tracks.

If you become sick and take antibiotics, you are really only wiping out all the bacteria in your body. You are not dealing with the underlying cause of the illness, which is why you became sick in the first place. This is why people get sick over and over again, even though they have taken antibiotics.

Viewing health holistically

It goes without saying that maintaining wellness isn’t just about curing yourself. It should be viewed holistically through a  healthy diet to give your body the foundation with which to fight off viruses, bacteria, and fungal infections in the first place. It’s also about getting enough rest, drinking enough filtered water, staying active, and avoiding chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, preservatives, pesticides, and other toxins in the environment.

Would I do things differently in the future? I certainly would. But antibiotics still wouldn’t be part of my solution. Next time I feel something coming on, I’ll react more quickly to implement a natural remedy, and be more aggressive about treatment instead of waiting a week or two. After finding the right treatment, it worked to eliminate my sinus problem because the pain was still severe the day I went into see the naturopath, and when I left her office, the pain was almost 100 percent eliminated. Then, after following recommendations from the naturopath and my neighbor, the infection was gone and did not return. Nothing else I had tried up to that point made much difference.  So, never again will I believe otherwise – proactive measures are the best bet for staying healthy.

Update! Please take a few minutes to read Cheeseslave’s article about curing her bronchitis with Vitamin D (and also eliminating moles with iodine).

This article is part of Cheeseslave’s Real Food Wednesdays Carnival. Please visit her site and read the other great real food articles there.

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Do Mammograms Save Lives?

Breast cancer is a leading cause of death among American women between the ages of 44 and 55. Here is some startling and little-known information about mammograms you may not know – mammograms can actually increase your risk of developing cancer. Mammograms are an ineffective tool for early detection of cancer for the following reasons:

  • The use of radiation to create an image of breast tissue can only increase the risk of harmful exposure and heightens the risk of developing cancer.
  • Mammograms are historically well-known for delivering a noticeably high rate of false-positive findings. A Swedish study of mammograms concluded that out of 60,000 women 70 percent of tumors detected by this method were in fact, not tumors. False-positive findings cause unnecessary financial as well as emotional stress on the patient, family, and friends. Mammograms also come out with at least as many false-positives. In his book, Politics of Cancer, Dr. Samuel S. Epstein reports that 1 in 4 instances of cancer is missed during mammography. The rate is even higher according to the National Cancer Institute at 40 percent among women ages 40 to 49.
  • Compression of breast tissue can often lead to further development of mutated cells and cancerous conditions. As far back as 1928, warnings were issued to physicians to handle “cancerous breasts with care— for fear of accidentally disseminating cells” and spreading cancer (from D.T. Quigley, Some neglected points in the pathology of breast cancer, and treatment of breast cancer. Radiology, May 1928, pp. 338– 346). Mammography utilizes tight compression of breast tissue to complete its imaging, which can lead to the rupture of malignant cells and blood vessels near undetected cancers.

In 1978, Irwin J. D. Bross., Director of Biostatistics at Roswell Park Memorial Institute for Cancer Research remarked about the cancer screening program:

“The women should have been given the information about the hazards of radiation at the same time they were given the sales talk for mammography… Doctors were gung ho to use it on a large scale. They went right ahead and x-rayed not just a few women but a quarter of a million women… A jump to the exposure of a quarter of a million persons to something which could do more harm than good was criminal and it was supported by money from the federal government and the American Cancer Society.” (Excerpt from H.L. Newbold, Vitamin C Against Cancer, 1979).

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) was warned in 1974 by professor Malcolm C. Pike at the University of Southern California School of Medicine that a number of specialists had concluded that “giving a women under age 50 a mammogram on a routine basis is close to unethical.” (From “X-Ray Mammography Background to a Decision,” By Daniel Greenberg in the New
England Journal of Medicine, September 23, 1976).

Many women who have fibrous tissue or lumps deemed as benign and also are under the age of 40 – the age at which the American Cancer Society recommends annual screenings should begin – are coerced into having mammograms done repeatedly, even when no cancerous findings are located. This causes unnecessary exposure to radiation and compression. Most traditional practitioners also spend little to no time emphasizing natural treatments nor lifestyle and nutritional alternations which could largely reduce or entirely prevent carcinogenic development.

A good alternative to mammograms is a process called thermography, or “mammoscaning”. Thermography is an FDA approved procedure which does not use radiation nor breast compression, and has been used in European countries for many years. Thermography does not lose effectiveness due to denseness of breast tissue, as is the frequent criticism of mammograms – thus reducing chances of false-negative results. The process uses infrared imaging sensors to detect heat changes in the body that signal the presence of cancerous findings. This process can actually detect changes that could mean a precancerous condition even earlier than mammography, allowing patient and doctor to map out lifestyle changes and provide a much higher rate of survival and prevention of further malignant development.

The technology of thermography, then, should be great news to women everywhere for education and knowledge about a frightening medical issue that can bring information soon enough to implement necessary changes to prevent a problem from occurring in the future.

For more information on this exciting technology, visit the sites of Dr. Ann Huycke and  Dr. Rose Thomas.

New! Updated information on mammograms as a way to detect cancer and thermography:

To mammogram…or not

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