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. , 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.