Posts Tagged ‘alternative health care’

Koreans seem quite calm despite living in a state of perpetual tension on the Korean peninsula. Maybe their huge consumption of Kimchi has something to do with it.

Koreans seem quite calm despite living in a state of perpetual tension on the Korean peninsula. Maybe their huge consumption of Kimchi has something to do with it.

Anxious about that big date, crucial meeting or family gathering?

You may want to prep with a cup of yogurt: a promising new study in Psychiatry Research has found that people who eat more fermented foods, including yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, miso, and kimchi, have fewer social anxiety symptoms. But note, some of these foods, such as kombucha – a fermented tea popular in the Far East and Russia – have had adverse health reactions in some people.

Researchers surveyed more than 700 people and found that the more fermented foods participants ate the less likely they were to experience social anxiety – anxious feelings of distress that interfere with daily social interactions. Even wilder is that this benefit was greatest among people who had the highest rates of neuroticism, a personality trait characterised by anxiety, fear, moodiness, worry, envy, frustration, jealousy, and loneliness.

What makes those foods so powerfully calming? Based on this study alone, the authors can’t say for sure, but previous research points the finger at probiotics, the good-for-you bacteria found in fermented foods. “Social anxiety has gastrointestinal symptoms,” says lead author Matthew Hilimire, assistant professor of psychology at the College of William & Mary, “and probiotics have been shown to reduce gut inflammation. So as the gut becomes less inflamed, some of those anxiety-related symptoms are reduced.”

Eating probiotics has also been shown to affect brain chemistry in a major way, triggering a neurotransmitter called GABA that calms the nervous system – the exact same neurotransmitter targeted by anti-anxiety drugs like Valium, Hilimire explains. The researchers hope that fermented foods could someday be a low-risk treatment for anxiety.

If you don’t want to live on yoghurt or plough through masses of sauerkraut (which wouldn’t be a problem for Mrs Wellthisiswhatithink, but Lord above it’s a problem for anyone sleeping in the same bedroom) the simplest solution might be to trial some of the many probiotics supplements now freely available.

We have long suspected that reducing “inflammation” in the system is a key way to not only improve mood but also defer illnesses like cancer. As in all things, a balanced diet seems the most sensible approach. The ancient Chinese concept of the body becoming “over heated” through the consumption of certain foods may end up being shown to be worthwhile.

chinese pharmacistChinese medicine is, indeed, interesting. On a business trip there many moons ago we were struck down with the most miserable dose of a cold or flu which then settled on our chest, and we ended up feeling very sick indeed.

Travelling alone we really didn’t have the faintest idea what to do, so wandered into a traditional Chinese chemist, full of herbs and potions and things that didn’t really bear too close an examination. The man in the white coat took one look at the hacking, sputum-fountain of a guailo in front of him and sold us a bottle of obscure liquid which as soon as we started quaffing it back at the hotel made us feel remarkably better.

So much better, in fact, that instead of discarding it when we recovered, we took it home and showed it to our GP, telling him how wonderful Chinese medicine is, and we should eat the stuff in Australia.

He asked his Chinese-speaking assistant to decipher the label, then turned back and smiled drily. He said it was hardly surprising that we felt on top of the world when quaffed it, as he strongly suspected the stuff was about 80% morphine. He quietly disposed of it in his office bin.

iris

I’m looking at you, Dear Reader. What do you make of this story?

So, it has recently been an interesting period, health-wise, for the Family Wellthisiswhatithink.

Fruit of One’s Loins and She Who Must Be Obeyed have been visiting a naturopath. A form of medical practitioner usually dismissed in my world as a “quack”. To say that I was skeptical would be like saying the Tea Party is mildly opposed to Obama’s economic spending. I was utterly cynical, warned them to watch for evidence of suggestions being implanted in their subconscious mind, to puncture open ended questioning and cold reading style enquiries, and above all not to deliver too much hard information in advance.

The process began with an Iridology session where the alternative health practitioner examined the eyes of the girls, and analysed them for various bodily flaws. I repeat, she was given virtually no prior medical information. Basically she takes a close up photo of the eye and looks at it.

Iridologists belive the eye reflects changes in the performance of the body over time, and that each place in the eye connotes a particular part of the body. They have a chart which lays out which bit of the eye relates to which part of the body.

Iridology chart

The Iridology chart – is it anything more than pretty colours?

Scientists, and the orthodox medical fraternity, call this nonsense. (Indeed, they claim the look of the eye is laid down at birth and never changes. In fact, that’s how eye recognition software can work.)

Anyhow, having examined their eyes she then took them through a re-setting of their chi, or electrical impulses, or whatever else one wants to call it, to address deficiencies or inflammations she had “spotted”.

This process involved holding in one hand a small impermeable glass vial with certain products inside it – grass seed, egg – and attempting to use the other arm to provide mild resistance to a pushing down motion from the practitioner. So the patient holds her arm out straight in front of them – the other one from the hand holding the vial – and tries to resist the naturopath pushing down on it.

Normally, the patient has no difficulty doing this. If the patient is sensitive to an item, for whatever reason, they find their arm weakened by the holding of the vial in the other hand, and the naturopath is able to push their arm down with little effort.

So far, so much utter nonsense, right? Well, yes. Except …

My wife is plagued by hay fever and this year is the second highest pollen count for the last 20 years. Usually she is a mess of running nose, itchy throat, weeping eyes and sneezing. Misery.

So far this year, she has had no hay fever. Not one sniffle. We await with interest the ever onward march of Spring which I have also been commenting on this week.

Not only that but also …

My daughter is anaphylactic to egg. That’s like the worst allergy you could possibly imagine. One allergist told us she was one thousand times more allergic to egg than the ordinary person.

cracked egg

Good morning. Fried, boiled, scrambled, or cooked with, I will kill you. Have a nice day.

As a result, she has carried an adrenalin-injecting pen with her since she was about 4.

Ingesting egg in any way produces a violent over-reaction from her body, including her breathing tube closing. In short, without prompt medical attention, and perhaps even then, egg is fatal for her.

Now, after a few treatments from the practitioner who we came to affectionately call “The Witch”, (which is a bit unfair, as she seems entirely sane and un-witch-like) she is virtually cured of her egg allergy. Certainly no longer in danger, it appears.

This diagnosis has been confirmed by a professional medical-doctor allergist. He simply cannot explain it, and nor can our GP.

She has been given egg under controlled conditions in hospital. Lots of it. She was fine apart from a mild remaining sensitivity to uncooked egg white.

(The naturopath believes she can fix that too.)

She has eaten, for the first time in her life, cakes, biscuits, pasta, pastries and other items all including egg or brushed with it. Her life is changed out of all recognition, and for the better.

I promised my family, if there was a good outcome, that I would investigate further. So, Dear Reader, I did.

Yesterday I went to said naturopath myself, dragging She Who Must Be Obeyed along with me for moral support. I gave her some basic medical information about me as I have one or two medical challenges currently which need fixing, and I didn’t want her operating in a vacuum. But I by no means told her my whole medical history.

She photographed my eyes.

She looked at my eyes.

And then she blew me out of the water.

“Have you ever experienced such and such?” she asked, pointing at what she called a lesion on the picture of my eye on-screen. It was her first question. Her first question.

Now without revealing the precise nature of what she spotted, let me just explain that Mr Wellthisiswhatithink endured, as a child, an extremely rare medical condition – less than 2% of children have it. And I repeat, this was the first thing she investigated. She didn’t start gently with “have you ever had bronchitis or shortness of breath?” or “do you get back pain?” (both of which, for a gentleman of some corpulent excess such as me would have been stone bonking certainties at some point).

No, she said “Have you ever experienced such and such?”

She had 98 chances to be wrong, and on top of that the question would also appear so bizarre as to create doubt and confusion in the mind of any patient. But she nailed it. And there was no way she could have known – none.

To my mind, the only possible conclusion is that there was something in my eye that indicated it to her.

Now if you go to Wikipedia or elsewhere and investigate iridology, you will find countless warnings, and many comments that no scientifically-valid trials ever prove it to be valid, and so on. I do not for one moment doubt the genuine-ness of those objections.

I do also know, however, that there is more to know about the human body that we know. And whether or not the reason that the process that this person goes works is what she thinks it is, nevertheless she is currently 3 for 3.

She then looked around my body – via the photographs of my eyes – and cheerfully reeled off a whole series of comments that made perfect sense given my recent medical history, and confidently predicted that doing this or that would help. At no stage did she argue I should reject or discontinue conventional medical treatment: in fact, very much the opposite, she offered to co-operate with my GP and insisted I carry on doing what he wants, too, although she did think that in due course some alternative therapies might make conventional ones less necessary.

So am I converted?

Well, I am certainly confounded. Astonished. Fascinated. Intrigued, and hopeful of good outcomes.

I will report back on my progress. Meanwhile, I’d love to know if you have experienced anything similar, or, indeed, the opposite.

Be assured: even as I write these words, I am shaking my head in bemusement that I would ever suggest that such “quackery” was seriously worth investigating. Perhaps some of you are too.

I can only confirm, everything you read above is true. I have no reason to exaggerate, or lie.

HORATIO
O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!

HAMLET
And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.