What GP’s don’t know about Natural Medicine
What GP’s don’t know about Natural Medicine
In a moment of weakness, I'd done one of the things I'd promised myself I'd never do - I'd bought a book written by a doctor, and an American, no less. Unthinkable. I hesitate to divulge its name or author lest you too have a moment of weakness, however, what I want to talk about this week is a bi-fold; stuff we know or strongly suspect to be good ideas which we don't practise, just because some academic says it might not be a good idea, and cellular intelligence. By the way, may I introduce to you an infallible principle that will never fail you (which is why it's infallible), namely that; all disseminated American information in respect to natural medicine should be comprehensively ignored. Since Americans dominate the net and hard copy, this isn't always an easy task. I should go yet further and make a similar statement in respect to American western medicine, but that might be labouring a point about which I'm unqualified. So then, I'll leave that bit out. Not another word.
Anyway, said book isn't about treating cancers, but is a biography of the disease and treatments down through the ages. It is a historical account.
Now, it probably goes without saying that one of the problems with evidence based medicine on both sides of 'the great divide', if I may borrow that phrase, is that there is hardly likely to be any evidence where there isn't a quid in it for some pharmaceutical company - again on either side of the great divide. Some of our pharmaceutical companies are very good - Mediherb is exemplary - but most of them are so so. It's their research which is taught in our universities, and the problem with going outside of this teaching is that if the treatment goes pear-shaped you might incur someone's wrath.
This happened to me twice early in my career. It mattered not that I was right. I also saw it happen to a colleague. There is a form of breast cancer called DCIS - ductile carcinoma in situ, and a friend of mine was very good at treating patients with it - note that I said treating the patient, not the disease. With cancer, we try to get the patient's own physiology to fight the disease. Anyway, this colleague had had much success with this, and was eventually pursued by an authority. To cut a long story short, he won, but it cost him his house, marriage, and a lot of money. This was all done by one GP making a phone call - nothing more. More to the point, my colleague never did any patient any harm.
There are many examples of knowing that you can do better that a drug, or better than conservative herbal treatment, despite the fact there is no study to support you. Four eggs ample, we strongly suspect that many antioxidant herbs and other anti-cancer herbs can safely be given during chemotherapy and there are several studies supporting this notion in respect to two or three medicines that I know of. In at least two of these studies the herb improved the cancer cell's susceptibility to chemotherapy and protected surrounding healthy cells. There are a number of good herbal medicines which do a better job of blood thinning than many, if not all, of the anti-coagulant drugs, but nobody's about to do any research on them. This is especially true of aspirin which to my mind is inferior to all the anticoagulant herbal medicines. How do we know this? Because some patients who are unable to take anti-coagulant drugs do very well, thank-you, on herbal anti-coagulants, as well as getting all the other benefits the herbal medicine is known for. Meanwhile, a cardiologist or vascular surgeon tells a patient 'never go off your Warfarin', but is this to their eventual detriment? These drugs aren't good for blood vessels, especially in the eyes, kidneys, and brain. Nobody wants to really find out with an animal study. Let me know if you're able to find one on the interweb and you shall be highly praised.
But, back to the book. We tend to view the brain as being the sole repository of somatic intelligence. I very much doubt this is so. There appears to be an 'artificial intelligence' in cells. The fact that you can safely give several herbal medicines during chemotherapy which hitherto we've been told you can't points to this. The healthy cells are unaffected, but the cancer cells have no protection. It's as if the healthy cells have some affinity for the herbal medicine, and equal aversion to the drug. I was never brave enough in the past to make the above statement despite my own observations, feeling a little Galilean as it were, until I read in the aforementioned book that this American professor of oncology had observed of cancer that it seems to have its own artificial intelligence. He has observed, as have I, that it goes away, but if it returns, it seems to have a whole new suite of battle tactics up it's sleeve. Using the medicines you'd used previously to get rid of it again doesn't work, even in huge doses. Other medicines with similar actions but differing molecular structures have no effect - it's already armed for that move too. The checkmate soon arrives. But, what might happen if we did what we're not supposed to do and used some herbal medicines in concert with chemotherapy?
Moreover, I recently heard an Australian oncologist make similar statements without going as far as saying cancer had a form of intelligence. He stated that cancers were turning out to be far more complicated than we'd ever thought, and without saying as much, he phrased his speech such that one could infer he was perhaps alluding to cancer having some form of independent or satellite intelligence, but he didn't want to say that.
And, when you think about it, why should this not be so? Science is now discovering that invasive bacterial colonies seem to think as one (and they are of course single celled). Why should a single celled animal, or groups of animal cells not have the same ability to a greater or lesser extent. We already know that within all animals, cells 'talk' to each other via the release of chemotactic messenger proteins, and this communication may be more advanced than we think. Yet, we can't work out what motivates them to release and receive these messengers. In the human gut, two thirds of all the matter is bacteria. There are about four hundred different species. We know very little of what they do. However, there sometimes comes a point where a colony of them will act as one.
Going back to my point about using herbal medicines in concert with chemotherapy (and other drug treatments); one study (albeit only a small one) comprising fifty children with a severe form of leukemia called acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) seemed to demonstrate that using Silymarin (a powerful antioxidant and detoxifier) improved outcomes quite significantly. By day 56 of this trial, the trial group had significantly lower liver damage and other advantages over the control group. These results, moreover, occurred despite poor compliance from the test group - ergo, the outcome is quite understated.
Well... any herbalist could have told you that!
Oncologists are not trained in herbal medicine. They simply are not qualified to tell patients what they should or should not do. Ditto for GP's. Yet, they all do this, and the patient assumes that an oncologist must know what they are talking about. However, if one of those children in that trial had had an adverse event, I'll bet London to a brick that no further research would have been carried out. Well, at least we know now that Silymarin can be used. However, what would happen if I used Silymarin in some other form of cancer in concert with chemotherapy and it had an adverse outcome - I'd have the bone pointed at me with the accusation that I can only use that type of treatment in ALL, because that's the only trial I have to support my treatment.
If theoretically it is more likely that you are doing no harm, then surely you should be not only given the opportunity to do so, but supported in your attempt, especially when the results can easily be monitored via enzyme or tumour marker tests. It's not irreversible. Yet, western practitioners, unqualified to do so, but under legal protection, advise patients on a subject about which they know absolutely nothing.
Over the years, I've had three GP's and one retired specialist (a haematologist) as patients, and been stunned at how little they know about natural medicine. They know less than my patients who they advise! One of them didn't know that we had our own dispensaries and assumed we sent patients to health food shops for medicines.
I've tended to focus on cancer in this article, but in many diseases it is common to see such things as drug resistance and changes in the behavior of the disease. It just piques one's curiosity in respect to cellular intelligence.