Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Garlic Oxymel repost

This is an easy at home recipe for a garlic oxymel. Ox´y`mel. A mixture of honey, water, vinegar, and plant, boiled to a syrup. This is great when used at the first signs of a cold or flu.

Needed: At least 1 bulb of garlic, Local honey*, Apple Cider Vinegar, Water.

Peel garlic cloves and cut in half.
Boil garlic in 4 cups of water until translucent.
Remove water from stove.
Add 1/4 cup of honey.
Add 1/4 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar.
Mix well.

Drink 1/3 to 1/2 cup of warm liquid, two to three times a day, eating at least 2 cloves of the cooked garlic with each serving. Oxymel may be kept covered in the refrigerator for 4 weeks.

*do not give honey to children under 1 year old. Feel free to share this with friends. Look for more at home immune support in the future.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Common Flu Remedies

Common Flu Remedies

This is general information only. These remedies should be used only under the guidance of a trained homeopath. Please call my office if you have any questions. 617-388-5126

Aconite – Acute conditions arising from shock, coming on suddenly and with great intensity. Often indicated during the early phase of respiratory infections, influenza, and pneumonia. There is a sudden, marked heat with fever alternating with chills. Heat and flushing to the face, pupils constricted, restlessness, thirst for cold drinks, cold extremities, and often with great anxiety and fear.

Baptisia – confusion, dullness of mind, tired, may fall asleep while talking. Sore, aching, and heavy muscles… bruised feeling where the patient is uncomfortable in any position. The bed feels too hard (Arnica). Can have red, inflamed throat that is painless.

Belladonna – Start suddenly with high fevers and great intensity of physical symptoms. The face is red and hot, eyes glisten, the pupils are dilated and the feet and hands are cold. Typically the patient is thristless. Pains can be throbbing. Symptoms may be worse on right side. May have fits of delirium with the fever.

Eucalyptus – Relapsing fevers. Profuse catarrhal discharges, foul and fetid. Vertigo with all stages of the fever. Stuffed up sensation in nose, feeling of mucus in throat. Irritating cough with flu. Odorous perspiration.

Eupatorium Perfoliatum – Tremendous bone pains accompanying fevers. Aching as if the bones are broken. Thirst for cold drinks during the chill. Influenza with high fevers. Patient is typically restless with the extreme pains. Pains worse lying down. Vomits water or food that has been taken in. Little or no sweat with fever, but perspiration typically improves symptoms. Restless, but worse with motion. Better with vomiting, better with conversation.

Gelsemium – Weakness on all levels- mental, emotional, and physical. Overall sense of heaviness. Thirstless. Dizzy, drowsy, dullness, and trembling. Better with urination. Fever with absence of thirst.

Rhus Toxicodendron – Influenza with much aching forcing the patient to shift around constantly. Great restlessness. Better with continued motion. Better with hard pressure. Better from heat or a hot bath.

Sanguinaria – Generally right sided complaints. Better from eructaion, flatus, or vomiting. Painful cough, colds often move to the chest. Cough better from vomiting. Feet hot at night, must put out from under the covers. Flushes of heat rising into the face and head.

Veratrum Album – Profuse cold sweat, especially on forehead. Internal coldness and much worse from cold. Weakness and collapse states, especially with vomiting or diarrhea. Sudden urging with vomiting or diarrhea. Emotionally haughty. Voracious appetite and thirst.

*synthesized from the Concordant Materia Medica, by Frans Vermeulen and from the Desktop Guide to Keynotes and Confirmatory Symptoms, by Roger Morrison, M.D.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Innate Healing and Naturopathic Philosophy

Once again, I was out on the town in Cambridge this past weekend visiting a local health food store. I enjoy these opportunities to talk to customers about their health and the potential for healing, often supported by the available herbs, homeopathics, and supplements. I am frequently amazed and sometimes impressed, by the customers own grasp of health and healing. And then there are the times I am amazed and not so impressed. This weekend provided a bit of both.
There was a woman that was in the store and we began to discuss her recently broken arm. She had fallen three weeks earlier and shattered her wrist. I am not sure which bones, but she said she required plates and the doctors were recommending that she attend physical therapy to support healing so that she would have continued use of the arm. She did not want to go, instead preferring to allow the body to heal itself. She shared her belief that the body should heal itself if given the right foods and listening to your internal instincts. She asked me what I thought.
I expressed my concern that fibrosis and adhesions that can form during the healing process can severely limit future use. It is not advisable to leave an injury totally immobile. I would use homeopathics and hydrotherapy in addition to the physical therapy to help facilitate the healing process in the body.
This answer was totally unacceptable to her. I was accused of being to "western" in my medical beliefs. When I tried to elaborate on Naturopathic philosophy, I believe she directed an expletive toward me and then walked off to allow her wrist to fibrosis as she wanted.
I am not sure what she wanted to hear. But I am sorry that we couldn't meet somewhere in the middle. I respect her desire to allow the body its own healing process. I too, desire to allow the body its own healing process. But as a Naturopathic Doctor, I believe we can support and enhance these actions with specifically selected treatments. The body does have an innate ability to right imbalance. We are striving constantly towards a state of equilibrium. I guess we could sit back and expect this all to happen despite the influences that are beyond our control. Or, we can make those little changes, do those little things to make it that much easier for the process to happen. Would using alternating hydrotherpy, hot and cold baths, to support circulation to an inflamed tissue area be an acceptable treatment? For me and the vast majority of my patients, Yes. But for the woman in the health food store this past weekend it would be too much.
I hope she heals well and finds the support she is seeking to validate her beliefs. I feel fortunate to already be comfortable with my healing philosophy and to share those beliefs with patients that are willing to pursue their own ideals.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

OVERDO$ED AMERICA by John Abramson, M.D.

I finished Doctor Abramson's book this past week. It is quite possibly one of the most important books this decade, yet too few individuals have been exposed to this book or the message that it conveys. My intention is to inspire all my friends, family, and patients to discover this book for themselves so that they too may then share the information with those important people in their lives. The American health paradigm has to change. It is broken, and it is our responsibility to fix it. Overdosed America may be just the tool we need to create a wave of knowledge and then reform the system that directly affects us all.

Doctor Abramson writes:

The American health care system keeps edging ever closer to the breaking point. Many factors are contributing, but in the eye of the storm is a single factor: The transformation of medical knowledge from a public good, measured by its potential to improve our health, into a commodity, measured by its commercial value. This transformation is the result of the commercial takeover of the process by which "scientific evidence" is produced. (p. 91)

The health care system is better described as a "health care industry". The industry as a whole is driven by its component parts. The primary parts of the health care industry are the pharmaceutical, insurance, medical supply and equipment, and hospital provider groups. These component parts are measured individually by the ability to generate revenue and profits. And when it comes to making money, these components are often an obnoxious success. But as a consumer, spending money on these products and services, success should be measured only by the quality of the product, not the cost or revenue it generates. If this is the case, then its the quality of health of the consumers that should indicate the overall measure of the industry. As a whole, we don't make the grade. Our health care system is absurdly over priced and the product does not stand up with the other industrialized nations. Something has to change. And I believe it is up to the consumer spark the shift.

I will write more about this book and topic during the next weeks.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

AANP 2007 Palm Springs, CA

I just returned from the AANP conference in Palm Springs, California. It is the annual conference for the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (http://www.naturopathic.org/). Naturopathic Doctors, Students, and supporters from all over the country come together to share the latest in research, product development, treatment methodologies, and general passion and love for Naturopathic medicine. It is an outstanding time.

I would like to thank all of the excellent speakers that put in vast amounts of time preparing for the various talks that help keep those in the naturopathic profession up to date. Research and continuing education is crucial so that we as physicians can provide the best possible care for our patients.

I also want to thank my colleagues and all of the Naturopathic students that attend the conference each year. It is inspiring to be surrounded by so many like minded individuals with a passion for the body's own innate ability to heal. To be surrounded by a cohort with such energy is rejuvenating for the spirit. My words can never fully convey the depth or breadth of my love for those with the hearts and courage to pursue this healing profession.

I want to send a heart felt congratulations to Dr. Paul Mittman, ND, DHANP, president of the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (http://www.scnm.edu/) for his award of Naturopathic Doctor of the Year. It is truly an honor and only slightly begins to recognize all of the hard work he has contributed to the profession as both a healer and diplomat in support of licensure and standards of education. I was blessed to spend time with Dr. Mittman on shifts at the SCNM teaching clinic.

I feel lucky every day to work with amazing patients. And it is so important to remember how fortunate I am to be part of this much larger healing community. The AANP conference is the perfect reminder.

See you next year in Phoenix!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Just look at us

Last week I spent two days at the National Conference for State Legislatures http://www.ncsl.org/, here in Boston. I was there representing the AANP, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians www.naturopathic.org , often confused with the American Academy of Nurse Practioners www.aanp.org.
This national conference is an opportunity for different interest groups to meet with state representatives and senators from all 50 states, talk briefly with them and give away free pens and pins. (my favorite pin is from the AANR... just visit the site http://aanr.com/, even though head or arm bands would have been a more appropriate give away.)
I heard something that seemed profound to me at the time from a 4th year naturopathic medical student. We were standing there discussing our lobbying efforts and the fact that most of the opposition for Naturopathic licensure is initiated by the American Medical Association http://www.ama-assn.org/. It just doesn't seem to make sense. Both groups want to help patients. Both groups want standards of practice within their professions to ensure patient safety. I just kept saying, "It is no brainer". And then here is where the brilliance came through. My soon to be fellow naturopathic physician said, "There is licensure for everything, from plumbing, hair cutting, to spraying for bugs. That is easy. The problem for the AMA is that once we are licensed, we can no longer be ignored. It will force conventional doctors to recognize us, and most of them aren't willing to do that... yet."
The environment is shifting and more and more conventional practitioners are becoming open to a more traditional, patient centered approach to health. I have a dream, that one day we will all heal together.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The eye of the storm

Life can often swirl around us like a hurricane. Stress from work, home, and family creating havoc all around. These forces are very real and significant, yet we need not be carried away with the storm. There is a area of refuge in the center of the storm, a place of safety and perspective where we can stand quietly in the midst of chaos and observe as a participant of our lives; yet slightly removed from the turmoil. This is a vastly different approach than fleeing from our problems. It often requires patience and mindfulness to be still while life unfolds around you and eventually opens to leave you in this center.

Our dis-ease can also can also come flying at us from all directions, creating a fear that our health will be swept away. Like the hurricane, there is a space of clarity and peace in the middle, when we are part of our illness, yet quiet enough to evaluate our options. This is where and when we should make decisions about our health and treatments to move us further back to that lofty goal of wellness. Too often, when significant health decisions must be made there is an urgency that creeps in. When "there is no time to think", we literally make choices for ourselves and our families without thought.

My hope is that during the next life catastrophe we can take one extra breath, close our eyes, and open them during the clarity that comes from giving ourselves just enough leeway to move free of all the flying debris.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Your finger or your health

I periodically visit local health food stores to answer questions for customers and allow myself an opportunity to become familiar with new products on the shelves. This past Saturday I was approached by a woman looking for advice for her husband. Her story went like this:
My husband has horrible eczema on the index finger of his right hand. It is so bad. It oozes all the time and it extremely painful. Nothing has been able to help him. We have been to all the specialists. And then he had pneumonia and was in the hospital, but that is better... but now he has a horrible ear infection. It never stops. And his finger hurts so bad. They have even suggested cutting off the finger because nothing else helps.
I quickly told her that I didn't think it was necessary. I showed her a few of the common remedies for ecezma and explained how based on the complexity of his health conditions he would benefit most from coming in and seeing me for a complete intake. Her response was that he wouldn't come in because he thought all this stuff was voodoo. Before I could stop myself, I said, "well then, tell him to cut his finger off."
I feel it was a bit of a harsh response, but it wasn't me that suggested cutting the finger off as a legitimate option for the painful eczema on his fingers. We truly do have options when it comes to our health. It is frightening that the overwhelming majority of the population will hardly consider seeking a second or alternative opinion when it comes to choices regarding their health. I do believe this trend is shifting and we are slowly recognizing the power we have in creating our own ideal life. I just hope it is not going to happen too late... 10 fingers seem like a lot to loose.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Appearance of Health

One must make a huge distinction between the appearance of health and the actual state of health. Too often, we become blinded to the true nature of illness and dis-ease, by the outward illusion of health. I was most recently thinking of this dilemma in regards to weight loss. The epidemic of eating disorders and diet mania is a prime example. Individuals starve themselves, deprive the body of essential nutrients, and generally spiral out of control toward an ever widening state of illness, under the guise of creating heath by being skinny. It is a sham. Health is independent of weight, and it is more important to live a healthy life at any weight than it is to be at the bottom of the BMI.
I do not mean to imply that we should be skinny or fat, that one is good while the other is bad. It is just as likely the case that a 220 lb woman is as healthy as a 150 lb counterpart. I have worked with patients that are "rail thin" with chronic aches and pains, and triglycerides and cholesterol off the charts. We can not, nor should we judge a book by its cover.
It is true that when we begin to move towards a more ideal state of health, we will often loose excess weight. This is an expected result and if the lifestyle changes are permanent, the weight loss should be too. So begin your journey to find the balance of health, internal and external, and enjoy a more complete way of living.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

No Surprise, but second-hand smoke damages Endothelial function in Children

I am not surprised by this statement recently disclosed in Heartwire, a professional service of medscape. This conclusion was based on the results from a study in Finland looking at the correlation between a metabolite of nicotine found in the urine of children and the ability of the same children's endothelial cells to dilate. It is no surprise that those children with a higher concentration of the urinary metabolite, had poorer functioning endothelial cells. What is significant, is that they began to notice these effects in children as young as 8 years old (the age when they first started to test), with levels indicating that their overall exposure to smoke was minimal.

It doesn't take much to start our children off in the wrong direction. This study illustrates just how susceptible children are to influences both within and beyond our control. It is vital to do what we can to minimize the unnecessary exposure to toxins that will effect our children down the road. This requires a strong degree of awareness on the part of adults because as the study illustrated, we may not observe the subtle damage that is taking place until it is too late.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Ready or Not, Here Health Comes

Today is my first day seeing patients in my new office location in Central Square in Cambridge. I don't feel ready. My printer/fax/copy machine isn't here yet. I don't have my credit card machine. And while filling my first homeopathic remedy in my new office I realized that I didn't have any labels to put on the vial. For the past two days I have been wishing for an extra day to pull things together, to catch my breath and get all the little things... and then I would be ready to begin seeing patients.
But you know what? Now is as good a time as any. This is an important lesson to learn. Especially concerning our health. Too often we want to wait to begin making those changes that will benefit us or others until everything is just right. We want it to be perfect. We have to first get through the holiday, or the weekend, or the project, or until the extra money is there. The problem is that there will always be another project, another distraction, just one more thing that you need until the time will be just right. When you keep waiting and putting it off, the time won't necessarily become right, too often it becomes too late.
Don't wait until tomorrow. We can start working these things out together, today.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Therapeutic Order

This is the direction healing should take from beginning to end.
1. Identify and Remove causes of disease
2. Establish a Healthy Regimen
3. Stimulate the Self Healing Mechansims
4. Support Weakened or Damaged Systems
5. Correct Structural Integrity
6. Address Pathology
7. Suppress Pathology

I like to check back in with the Therapeutic order once and awhile to make sure I am sticking to my ideals about healing and the philosophy central to Naturopathic Medicine. I beleive this order of healing transcends modalities, and is more about restoring balance to the patients underlying vitality than utilizing any specific treatment method. This is crucial as practioners. It is easy to get wrapped up in the newest herb, or procedure, or pharmaceutical drug... and then find oneself quickly prescribing it to every patient regardless of the individual imbalance from which each patient may suffer.
Hopefully this rememberence now and then will allow me to share this more clearly with my patients through my actions, thoughts, and words. I beleive it is crucial that the patient also grasps this understanding. Then they are more likely to embrace the changes necessary to support total healing. This is the ultimate goal.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Big change happening

I have not posted for almost 2 weeks. My life has been full of turmoil, as they often can be, and I just have not been able to get to my blog. But as I begin to see my way through the chaos, I am relieved and inspired by what my future may hold. New growth and possibilities are more vivid after the storm.
And my new future is bringing my Naturopathic/Homeopathic practice across the Charles River to Cambridge, which fortune has also made my home town. I am leaving the comfort of the Brookline location after one excellent year and embarking on my own journey. The time is right. So I have elected to take the necessary steps in order to continue to serve the patients I have grown so fond of with the kind of holistic care they are entitled to. I look forward to seeing faces, new and old at my new office starting in June, 2007. Thanks for everything.

Vital Force Naturopathy
46 Pearl Street
Cambridge, MA 02139

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Chocolate for Mother's Day

A gift from and for the heart.

Dark chocolate is rich in polyphenol antioxidants – phytochemicals found naturally in the cocoa bean. The antioxidant properties have been demonstrated in numerous studies, both in the laboratory as well as in human trials.

Dark chocolate has also been shown to inhibit platelet reactivity, which may reduce the formation of clots.

The polyphenol’s antioxidant activity is related to the foods with which it is consumed. Dairy has been shown in the lab to decrease the antioxidant activity of polypehnols at the cellular level. This likely explains why the health benefits of chocolate are observed in dark chocolate and cocoa powder, while not in milk chocolate and white chocolate.

Dark chocolate is not a health food. It is a delicious delight with some beneficial health properties. The health benefits are greatest in chocolate that is at least 60% cocoa. It is not recommended to look to dark chocolate to supply your needed antioxidants, any more than it is recommended to look to red wine.

Dark chocolate is an indulgence to enjoy in moderation.

Share some with mom, she deserves it.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Basic Naturopathy

The reasons why we want to be healthy are limitless. Naturopathic medicine answers how we can live, become, and maintain health.

Naturopathic medicine grows forth from two foundations, a science base and a philosophical base. The basic sciences mirror those of the conventional heroic practices such as allopathic and osteopathic medicine. Naturopathic Doctors are trained and licensed as primary care physicians with an emphasis in natural therapeutics and preventative medicine. (http://www.scnm.edu/admissions/degree.php)

The philosophy of Naturopathic medicine provides the distinction between this traditional form of healing and the newer conventional ideals. There are six underlying premises on which the philosophy is based:

· First Do No Harm - primum non nocere
· Support the Healing Power of Nature, “the Vital Force” - vis
  medicatrix naturae
· Discover and Treat the Cause - tolle causam
· Treat the Whole Person - tolle totum
· The Physician is a Teacher – docere
· Prevention is the best "cure"

To embrace this philosophy, Naturopathic Doctors treat every patient as an individual and personalize the treatment accordingly using homeopathic, botanical, nutritional, physical medicine, life-style counseling, hydrotherapy, and much more. This patient-centered approach is uniquely refreshing. Naturopathic principles apply across both acute and chronic illness, for young and old, male and female alike.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Basic Men's Health

To live and be healthy is generally simple. It is just not always easy. This is my attempt to share the straightforward things that can be done daily to have a pronounced impact in our life.

We are ultimately what we eat. Eat fresh and raw food in its most natural state. Build your meals and snacks around protein, vegetables, and fruits. In moderation enjoy whole grains, no more than 2 to 3 servings a day, and wheat should account for no more than one of the servings. Enjoy dairy moderately, it is acceptable to have low-fat dairy, as long as the fat is not replaced by sugar. Avoid processed and refined foods of all types at all times. Drink half of your weight in ounces of water daily. Limit or avoid completely all sweetened beverages.

Strive for gaining your essential nutrients from the healthy foods that you choose. In addition, supplement your healthy and complete diet with a quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement, a pharmaceutical grade fish oil providing at least 1000 mg each DHA and EPA daily, and an additional high quality B-complex. For an average male this should provide the necessary nutrients and co-factors to maintain optimal health.

Exercise will require a daily effort. It is too easy today to live our lives in a recumbent position. For at least 30 minutes go out of your way to support a healthy body. The thirty minutes need not be consecutive. The most crucial component for this exercise recommendation is variation. During the week there needs to be at least 1 day addressing each of the following: strength, balance, endurance, and flexibility. Too often we support our body in only 1 of these areas. It is acceptable to combine areas in one workout.

Stress Management
Stress will be present at work, at home, in relationships, pretty much everywhere we go. We need healthy and effective outlets for our emotional stress. Creating a meditative ritual is crucial to releasing this stress in a healthy manner. Aggressive sports and recreation do not qualify as meditative and in many cases promote stress in our lives.

Health requires balance, structure, and discipline. This formula is not secret, it is the same key to success throughout life.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A few more remedies to have at home

Other Important Homeopathic Remedies

Aconitum Napellus
The individual is beside herself, and frantic from the intensity of the pain. It is accompanied by intense fear. Pains are sticking, tearing, burning. Intense attacks of panic. Fears death and will often predict the time of impending death. Intense thirst during a fever.

Suffers from the effects of grief and worry. Mentally and physically exhausted by long concentrated grief. Sighing and sobbing. Can have incredible changes of mood, laughing to tears. The individual is worse with conversation and worse from consolation. May have the sensation of a lump stuck in the throat. Typically better when alone.

Left sided complaints, or things are worse on the left side, or when lying on the left side. Bright red hemorrhages. Anxious and fearful. Thirst for very cold water, ice cold. Craves ice cream. Will have ravenous hunger during a fever. Things are often worse in the morning.

An affinity for the skin where it produces heat, burning, and itching. Often has burning on the soles of the feet causing individual to kick them out of the covers at night. Slow, lazy and hungry, especially before noon. Indifference to personal appearance. Cravings for fats, beer, whisky, and sweets. Worse with bathing and becoming too hot.

*synthesized from the Concordant Materia Medica, by Frans Vermeulen

Friday, April 13, 2007

Authentic Health

Kenneth Proefrock, ND helped inspire this post during a Naturopathic philosophy talk he gave over 2 years ago at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona. The topic of the talk was legitimacy vs authenticity in the healing profession. Dr. Proefrock was specifically addressing insurance coverage in regards to alternative health care. While insurance reimbursement provides an instant dose of legitimacy to a given physician's practice, at what cost is this legitimacy acquired. Dr. Proefrock asserted that often this legitimacy is derived at the expense of authenticity. Authenticity here is used to represent the intention of the physician or practice. To be authentic, the intention must be real, genuine, and veritable; while lacking a falsehood or misrepresentation. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/authentic) Dr. Proefrock considered the example of physicians misrepresenting their treatments in order to secure reimbursement for the patient. This may allow certain patients to receive treatments that would not otherwise be available; but this also creates in the case of ND's an illusion that the Naturopathic Doctor is providing services that are no different than their conventional colleagues. This is a disservice to the profession and the authenticity at the heart of Naturopathic philosophy.
I think as beings striving to attain our ultimate potential, where good health must be a vital component of the overall picture, it is crucial to evaluate the legitimacy and/or authenticity of our beliefs about our own health. Conventionally, health is believed to be obtained when the symptoms of dis-ease are under control. There is no further thought given to the vitality of the individual. If we accept this notion as indicative of health, then we need to look nowhere else than the conventional paradigm of medicine. But, if health represents more than a symptom free existence... if we strive for "a state of health (in which) the vital force reigns supreme and governs the physical body to reach the lofty goal of human existence.” Paragraph 9 The Organon of Medicine by Samuel Hahnemann. Then we must constantly evaluate the authenticity of the healing practices we embrace and the healers that walk with us on our journey.
The beauty of authentic health is that we can define it at every given moment for ourselves. What will it be for you today?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Allergy Remedies Continued

Four more very common homeopathic allergy remedies.

Pulsatilla – Thick, profuse, yellow, bland discharges from the eyes, much better in open air. Lids will often become agglutinated. Eyes are typically itchy. Frequent sneezing with sore nostrils. Yellowish-green discharge from the nose, worse indoors and better in open air. Sinus congestion can often contribute to a frontal headache with a pale face. Nose can also be itchy. Typically thirstless with all complaints and wants to be uncovered.

Euphrasia – Profuse acrid lachrymation and bland nasal coryza. The eyes water all the time. Aversion to light. Most symptoms are worse during the night and in the morning. Symptoms are better in open air. Better with wiping the eyes.

Sabadilla – Eyelids red, burning. Lachrymation on going into open air accompanied by spasmodic sneezing and running nose. Persistent, violent sneezing and itching of the nose. Nose very dry. Nose sensitive to odors, like fresh flowers, etc.

Silicea – Painful dryness of eyes, may be worse in morning. Itching at tip of nose. Dry, hard crusts form in nose that bleed when loosened. Troublesome itching and feeling of dryness in the nose. Better from warmth.

*information synthesised from the Concordant Materia Medica, by Frans Vermeulen

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Homeopathy Awareness Week - Allergy Remedies

Here are 5 very common remedies and the allergic presentations that may indicate their use.

Natrum Muriaticum – Itchy eyes at the inner canthi, with lachrymation that is worse in the open air or wind. Thin and watery discharge from the nose, like raw egg whites. May have lots of sneezing. Loss of smell and taste. Cravings for salty foods and rich sweets. Typically worse with heat, especially of the sun.

Allium Cepia – Copious, acrid nasal discharge, irritating to the skin under the nose, and bland secretions from the eyes… Much better in open air. The nasal discharge is very profuse and watery, dripping from the tip of the nose. May have violent sneezing. Worse inside a warm room. Better with cool open air and bathing. Symptoms may have a tendency to present left sided.

Arsenicum – Burning hot lachrymation, with swelling around the eyes. Very sensitive to bright light and better with warm applications to the eyes. Nose may be stopped up or alternating with fluent coryza. The nasal discharge is thin and watery and excoriating, burning the skin below the nose. May be worse in open air and better indoors. Arsenicum characteristically has a burning sensation that is made better from warmth.

Gelsemium – Has a heavy, dull aching sensation of the entire head. Heavy eyelids, with red and watery eyes. Sneezing; thin, acrid coryza… sneezing early in the morning. Has a tendency to catch cold easily. Worse with humid weather. Better during urination.

Lycopodium - Dry, granular eyes and lids with photophobia. Inflammation of the eyes and itching in the canthi. With nasal coryza may have redness of the eyes and lachrymation. Even with the nasal discharge, there is a sensation of internal dryness. Discharge is often yellow. Better with warm drinks or foods.

* synthesised from the Concordant Materia Medica, by Frans Vermeulen

Friday, March 30, 2007

Homeopathic Arnica

Arnica is an amazing homeopathic remedy that is exceptionally easy to use at home for acute, first aid conditions. I have used it repeatedly to address the frequent bumps and bruises that are an inevitable occurrence of being a child... or the parent of a child.
Arnica is indicated with almost any trauma injury that threatens to cause a bruise or swelling. The injured area is always worse with touch or pressure, and commonly presents with black and blue discoloration. It can also be used for muscle soreness from over exertion, for example lifting weights or shoveling snow, etc. Arnica works very well when used in conjunction with ice over the injury.
It is great for a bump on the head. The sooner you can get the Arnica in the child's mouth the better.
Arnica is available in most health food stores in a 6, 12, and 30 C (or X) potency. Any of those will do. I typically give 3 pellets every 15 minutes for 3 doses.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Land O'Lake Cheese

I spend time at an assortment of the local and large chain heath food stores talking to the customers and checking out the new and old products on the shelves. Yesterday was my monthly outing to Cambridge Natural's in Porter Square. I thoroughly enjoy spending time at the store, and conversing with its owners, employees, and customers.
Yesterday morning, the first customer I spoke with shared a wealth of information with me regarding fluoride in our water supply, aliens landing at Roswell, and much more. Indeed this customer was an interesting character. The final information shared was the effectiveness of using a slice of Land O'Lakes Cheese topically on the affected joint for arthritic pain. Now I honestly can not say if this proposed treatment would offer any relief; and based on my medical school education I am not likely to recommend it to patients any time soon. But, it does provide a decent introductory into the subject of topical applications, or poultices.
I do want to repeat that I have no experience with topical cheese applications, well actually there was an incident in college involving a can of spray cheese that went drastically wrong. I don't remember any medical benefits from that disaster. But I can see how placing shredded carrots over a sore throat may sound just as strange as putting a slice of cheese over an inflamed joint. I can however assure you that the carrots have proven benefits.



· One medium sized carrot
· Cotton cloth (12” x 12”) - handkerchief, cheesecloth, etc.
· Wool scarf
· Plastic wrap


Grate the carrot and place it on the center one third of the cotton cloth. Fold the cloth on either side over the grated carrot and apply a single thickness side to the front of the neck. Wrap the plastic wrap over the exposed cotton cloth and use the scarf to tie it in place around the neck as comfortably as possible. As a variation, you can put a wool sock over the plastic wrap and tie it in place with an old nylon. Leave on for 15 minutes to one hour or as directed. For a hot application, you can apply a hot water bottle over the poultice or submerge the poultice in a hot water bath and wring out thoroughly before applying.

Acne, General Skin conditions, Sore throat, especially in young children.

*Dr. Swanz takes is not responsible for any discoloration of clothing that results from this procedure.

Monday, March 19, 2007

A little space to grow...

It sure seems crowded around here. Perhaps I feel this because I am quickly approaching my first full year as an urban dweller. But it is more than the close proximity I share with everyone in Boston, it is the overwhelming feeling of my own life crowding in on me. I imagine that others can relate to this feeling. We have work time crowding into our personal time. We have commercials crowding out our television viewing. Pop up adds crowd our web pages. I could go on and on. But what is significant as far as our health is concerned is the manner in which this crowding creates a chronic, maybe undetectable, claustrophobia that produces a formidable stress opposing our pursuits to grow and lead a healthy life.
Information rushes towards us daily, bulldozing through, minimizing our ability to absorb and process this wealth of stimulation. What is important? What is valid? Should I eat more protein? Should I eat more carbs? Organic or not organic? Vitamin E is good, or not so good? It all becomes overwhelming. Unfortunately, an all too often response to feeling overwhelmed, is to try and avoid the situation, to take no action at all. But this is no escape. Too many of us recognize that our health would benefit from a change, yet take no steps to make it happen. I think our fear from our past failures crowds the possibility of success. This is born of an all or nothing mentality. When the recognition comes that even the slightest change or shift in health can be beneficial, we can evaluate or efforts moment by moment instead of by an end result.
So first, take a step to the side and begin again. Create the space in your life to allow healing to happen. This is crucial. As a Naturopathic physician I worry that patients come to see me hoping that I can somehow heal their ills. This is a belief with roots in the conventional medical system, that somehow the "all knowing" doctor has the answer. This dynamic continues to erode at the conventional medical system right before our eyes. Fortunately, I can remind myself to step aside and create some space for the patient. Then their healing can begin.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


I have been reading "Man's Search for Meaning" by Victor E. Frankl. The book starts as a memoir of Frankl's experience as a prisoner during the Holocaust in a Nazi prison camp. It is an emotionally charged account of the near desperation that surrounded all those that had their basic freedoms ruthlessly stripped. Throughout the experience, somehow, Frankl manages to retain some shred of hope and humanity. This he attributes to the ability to retain the one freedom that can never be taken from an individual. That is the freedom to choose the perspective from which a situation is viewed. Maintaining this ability is enough to retain meaning in life, no matter how dire the circumstances. Frankl quotes Nietzsche, "He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How."
Like most things in life I read or encounter, I want to apply these life lessons to health and Naturopathy. I believe this last quote perfectly encompasses the mindset needed to begin that journey to health. It is the Why that is crucial. The Why, the reason, is what inspires. It is the meaning and the purpose, propelling one forward toward an ultimate goal. Why allows us to hang on, even when the obstacles seem to great.
Why do you want to be healthy? Is it for family, for quality of life, for more energy? It really doesn't matter to me, nor should it. It only matters to you. Find your Why, embrace your Why. The How will then work itself out.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Wheat, Wheat, What???

I haven't posted for a few days. I've been working on my new web site. http://www.vitalforcenaturopathy.com/ , still a work in progress.
This topic may agitate a nerve with a large number of people. Wheat has become a staple of the SAD (standard American diet) and is often a primary ingredient in many of the common comfort and convenience foods. Wheat itself is not a bad food. More and more whole grain wheat products are replacing those with nutrient stripped enriched white flour. This overall is an excellent trend to support, and certainly not a problem.
It is the sheer volume of wheat consumed daily that is of concern. Typically individuals are eating cereal or bagels for breakfast, a sandwich of some sort for lunch, and for dinner pasta or pizza or some other food served with a side of rolls. I would consider three servings daily a lot, but the average person eats more than a half cup of cereal for breakfast, or more than two pieces of pizza, and certainly more than one dinner roll. It is more than the frequency, it is the serving size that is of concern.
Wheat is a common food allergen, along with soy, dairy, eggs, and corn. These allergens can often slide silently under the surface contributing to inflammation without visible signs for years. Unfortunately for some individuals, the effects are more noticeable: GI distress, allergies, eczema, joint pain, etc. But too often the connection between the symptom and the contributing agent is never explored.
With the proper help, these foods can be found and eliminated successfully. I personally only eat wheat on special occasions. Maybe a couple slices of pizza every few months. I miss the food a little. But I don't miss those 10 extra pounds of water weight, or the nagging soreness in my left knee and right shoulder that just would never go away... until the wheat did.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Four legs to a chair

Health requires balance. Balance is the product of strength and stability. Strength results from practice and training. Stability comes from appropriately focusing our practice and training efforts. Balance and focus are vital to living a healthy existence.
The seat of a chair rests on four legs of equal length; so too our health depends on the stability of four pillars: physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional well being. Often individuals examine one of these pillars looking to improve health, while overlooking the other three. More often than not this single focus can actually potentiate the imbalance. There is no such thing as a single cause. Health is the sum of the totality of our being.
Becoming aware of the importance of our mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional well being is the first step towards understanding how to strengthen them completely. When we are aware, we can shift our focus appropriately to balance these aspects of ourselves to optimize our state of health. Then we can begin to rest comfortably with our entire being.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Simple in theory

Most Naturopathic recommendations are simple... drink more water, eat more whole foods, exercise daily, get a good nights sleep, manage stress effectively, etc. The reality is that these simple recommendations are not always easy to actualize. This type of change requires discipline, structure, and foresight. It can feel restrictive, and on the surface it initially is. Ultimately the result of the structure and discipline is liberation. No longer a prisoner to ill health; no longer struggling through the day while depleted of nutrients and energy; we are free to reach a state of health where "the vital force reigns supreme and governs the physical body to reach the lofty goal of human existence" (paragraph 9, "The Organon of Medicine" by Samuel Hahnemann). This is a divine state in which to live and grow.
There is an overwhelming reluctance for most to embrace this change and freedom. The reluctance is born of fear. A fear that it is all too difficult, or that I am not worthy of this change. How can we succeed against societal and marketing pressure constantly promoting a lifestyle void of health, balance, and meaning? It is scary! Internal and external, conscious and subconscious, we have much to overcome.
It is vital to remember that while striving to heal and grow there can be no failure. It is a journey with triumphs and setbacks. The cumulative progress is always forward, moving us toward our goals. We need only to take the first step. Embrace the opportunity now, and welcome health into your life.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Docere - Physician as Teacher

The word "Doctor" has its root in the Latin word "Docere"meaning teacher. Historically doctors have embraced this aspect of their profession. Spending time with patients, explaining the diagnosis, discussing treatment options, and just catching up, would all be part of a regular appointment.
Times certainly have changed. Now a visit to a typical doctor's office consists of a wait lasting longer than the actual appointment, face time with the doctor seldom lasting more than 15 minutes, and unfortunately because of the hurried appointment questions are often left unsaid. The result is a patient population feeling isolated, confused, and scared. The doctors, pressured by insurance quotas, are rushed and restricted. Ultimately, both sides are left longing for something more. Just a little more time, a little more listening, a little more understanding, could go a long way towards patients that are happy and hopeful about their health. And as a doctor, sleep comes easier when there is certainty each patient was given all the opportunity needed to ask questions, to have options explained.
Times have changed. But I have hope. I strive to be a different type of healer. Helping patients, empowering patients is not about me. It is not about my time. It is not about what I think is best. Teaching patients is about sharing knowledge and providing options. Then the doctor moves out of the way to let the healing take place. The healing happens on its own, with and through the patient. I am fortunate to be able to sit back and watch.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Path...

We go hiking, not to reach the end of the trail, but to enjoy the views, the challenge, the fresh air. It is not about the destination. The path is the key. Life and hence health is the same.

Life is a journey. Relationships are journeys.
Health is a journey. Health is a relationship.

Health springs forth from the relationships we nurture within ourselves. We cultivate relationships with our families, our friends, our food, our physique, our emotions, our spiritual practice, our addictions, our dreams, our diagnosis, and so much more. The challenge we will face over and over again is the stagnation that permeates our being when any of these relationships begin to become uncomfortable.
The quick solution is to do nothing. We may deceive ourselves into believing it is an attempt to embrace the stagnation. But this is merely a false acceptance. It is false because true acceptance acknowledges the discomfort for what it is... a hurdle along life's journey. Health is about our relationships, but it must be a continuous journey. If we are stagnant, we are dying. But if we are moving, we are growing. The growth itself so often is uncomfortable and challenging. We must face it all the same. We substantiate ourselves, our lives, our health, our worth through the courage displayed as we embody this challenge. This is inevitable. These events replay in various ways throughout our lives.
We always have the ability to continue to grow, to heal, to remain on the path, even right up to the moment of our last breath on this earth. It is not and should not always be easy, but our ability is always enough. We must remember that we always possess this ability, especially in the moments when it is easiest to forget. Health corresponds not to our life lived symptom free, but to our life experienced as we heal through the moments of dis-ease.
There are boundless directions in which we may pursue health. No one modality monoplizes the ultimate path. Most important is that we choose and perservere on a path that is right for us.

Happy Hiking

Saturday, February 10, 2007

To heal or not to heal, that is the option

"The physician's highest calling, his only calling, is to make sick people healthy - to heal, as it is termed." paragraph 1 from The Organon of Medicine by Samuel Hahnemann

What an incredibly brilliant and simple way to begin a book. Samuel Hahnemann in 1810 a.d. eloquently ignores the rhetoric that often surrounds those whom today consider their practice to be one of healing. When in all actuality, the majority of medicine today is palliative.

I am not ascertaining that palliation is negative. It is not necessary to apply a judgement to a word or practice. It is what it is. I personally believe that as a physician, the opportunity to facilitate the movement towards health in a patient is a gift and we have more to offer to the majority of patients than palliation.

Looking only to palliation views the patient's illness and symptoms as some problem beyond control. The way to survive is to exist independent of the problem. And to be independent one must fight, and the fight can be gruesome. It is the battle that is often waged with surgery and conventional pharmaceuticals. The battle proceeds indefinitely, while the patient is locked into a war which creates problems of its own.

A healing mindset embraces the illness and symptoms as they are without judgement. Any desired shift in health is a choice that is within our control. We grow and shift health as diplomats (Getting at the Root, by Andrew Lange N.D. p. 25), bringing balance and peace back to our life, accepting our existence as it is with every step along the way. Just recognizing the significance of the healing process is empowering and simultaneously liberating. Our health is not measured by an absence of symptoms, but by the presence of vitality.

Ultimately, the palliative or healing mindset is the choice of the patient, utilized in conjunction with the treatment options provided by their doctor. Naturopathy does not monopolize the ability to heal a patient any more than does herbal, chiropractic, allopathic medicine, etc. There is no such thing as a singularly healing or palliative treatment modality, just modalities that are used to palliate or to heal. In fact, intention and direction is vastly more important than the treatment method used.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Wet Socks - a must have hydrotherapy treatment

This sounds much more difficult to implement than it actually is. Most people worry about sleep quality, but then report that their sleep actually improves with the wet socks. It is an old folk remedy, tested and true. It is great for colds, sinus infections, sore throats, ear infections, coughs, and much more. I have personally used it to support healing in the legs after a sprained ankle. I know first hand how effective the treatment can be for infections and when sick, I am often discouraged that I did not put the wet socks on a day earlier and potentially avoid the later symptoms of the infection. It is great for kids. Surprisingly, they typically don't complain about having cold wet socks put on their feet.

1 pair white cotton socks
1 pair thick wool socks - as close to 100% wool as you have

1. Wet cotton socks and soak them completely with cold water. Be sure to wring the socks out thoroughly so they do not drip. If you desire, place wet socks in the freezer for 3 to 5 minutes (do not freeze if using this treatment on children).
2. While cotton socks are chilling, warm your feet. This is very important to increase the efficacy of the treatment. Warming can be accomplished by soaking your feet in warm water for at least 5-10 minutes, massaging the feet vigorously, using a heating pad, etc.
3. Dry the feet off completely.
4. Place cold wet socks on feet. Cover with thick wool socks. Go directly to bed. Avoid getting chilled.
5. Keep the socks on overnight. The cotton socks should be dry in the morning.

This treatment works by forcing an increase in circulation down through the legs at night to dry the socks from the inside. The increased circulation supports drainage in the sinuses and throat at night while you sleep. Typically during the night our circulation throughout the body is very stagnant. Wet socks changes that normal dynamic. It works. Try it sooner than later.

Garlic Oxymel for Immune Support - medicine in the kitchen

This is an easy at home recipe for a garlic oxymel. Ox´y`mel. A mixture of honey, water, vinegar, and plant, boiled to a syrup. This is great when used at the first signs of a cold or flu.

At least 1 bulb of garlic
Local honey*
Apple Cider Vinegar

Peel garlic cloves and cut in half.
Boil garlic in 4 cups of water until translucent.
Remove water from stove.
Add 1/4 cup of honey.
Add 1/4 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar.
Mix well.
Drink 1/3 to 1/2 cup of warm liquid, two to three times a day, eating at least 2 cloves of the cooked garlic with each serving.
Oxymel may be kept covered in the refrigerator for 4 weeks.
*do not give honey to children under 1 year old.

Feel free to share this with friends.
Look for more at home immune support in the future.