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What’s New! – A Healthy Living Newsletter

April, 2001

My patients frequently ask my opinion about new health books on the market. And there's certainly no shortage of experts peddling their advice! While many of these books are excellent, others are written by people who don't have a clinical background in the subject. Simply put - they're inaccurate.

The people writing the books either don't regularly use the medicines they write about or they're presenting theories as if they are facts. Others can be valuable tools for improving the quality of your life.

This newsletters also includes a list of my classes in Natural medicine which offer highly effective ways to treat a broad range of illnesses. Learn practical and safe medical remedies you can use in your daily life. Natural Medicine Series at PCC Sylvania - Spring 2001

Your Drug May Be Your Problem
How and Why to Stop Taking Psychiatric Medications

By Peter R. Breggin, MD and David Cohen, PhD

Dr. Peter Breggin and David Cohen are on a crusade. The crusade is to educate patients and physicians about the effects of commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs (substances that affect brain function) and to give therapists more confidence in helping people through difficult times without the use of drugs. This isn't what you would expect from someone with a teaching fellowship at Harvard Medical School and training in the conventional use of psychiatric drugs, but Breggin -- author of Talking Back to Prozac, Toxic Psychiatry and Talking Back to Ritalin -- is on familiar ground here.

Breggin and Cohen start and end the book with a discussion of faith and trust and self-reliance. Their basic argument is that we have put our faith in drugs to solve or dull our conflicts rather than believing in ourselves and working them out with the help of our faith, therapists, and supportive family and friends. The conflict is still there, unresolved, only dulled by the drug. They question the diagnosis of biochemical imbalance and remind us that it is a theory only and modern medical research hasn't produced conclusive evidence to support it. They explain drug testing and what FDA approval means. If you think that meant the drug was safe - think again. They also imply the ease and cost-effectiveness to the insurance companies and some therapists to use drugs rather than work through the problem.

As I said, it is a crusade, so the book tends to make the situation black and white. Psychiatric drugs are bad; talking therapy and faith in yourself and spiritual belief is good. This almost seems a bit naïve to me as I know many circumstances in which a short stint of psychiatric drugs help people through a hurdle. On the other hand, I see people start on one psychiatric drug only to find themselves with additional diagnoses, possibly from side-effects of the initial drug, resulting in prescriptions of 3-4 psychiatric drugs for many years and leading very unfulfilled lives.

Then, after the authors complete their argument for stopping the drugs, they move onto step two - withdrawing from the drugs. They meticulously guide the patient through conversations with the prescribing physician, the recommended decreased doses to minimize the discontinuance effects, and ways to find an empathetic therapist that will work with the child or adult patient to help resolve his or her problems. They even list support Internet sites. And if the reader still doesn't feel secure, Breggin and Cohen have included a section on how to contact them to get additional help.

I'm not going to list all the gory side effects of the drugs - you can read that in the book. But I will say that the side effects can be permanent. Like those who have just been diagnosed with cancer, the psychiatric patient is very vulnerable. It is extremely important to find a trusted physician, therapist, friend, or family member who will sit down and discuss options and the pros and cons of each. Yes, there are more options than being prescribed a drug. If you are currently taking or considering taking a psychiatric drug, then Your Drug May Be Your Problem is a book you should read.
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Women's Moods

By Deborah Sichel, MD and Jeanne Watson Driscoll, MS, RN, CS.

Women's brains are structured differently than men's. That's why women cry at "chick movies" and men like The Three Stooges. Women's Moods explores the effect of female hormones on women's behavior. Before you decide that you know all about it, consider these two quotes from this book. "Fifty percent of women who use oral contraceptives will experience depression due to the effects of the hormones they contain." "The rate of depression in women is double that in men."

Sichel and Driscoll know firsthand what they are writing about. Both suffered severe postpartum depression and one, psychosis, following the birth of their children. Efforts to counter these effects with hormones lead to a worsened condition. Only a careful history that exposed earlier undiagnosed depression in both their families and in themselves, led to an effective treatment. So effective that Sichel has devoted her psychiatric medical career and Driscoll has developed a supportive tool called NURSE to help other women combat similar psychiatric conditions exacerbated by hormonal fluctuations.

NURSE is an acronym that stands for Nourishment and need (food and drugs), Understanding, Rest and relaxation, Spirituality, and Exercise. It's a great plan - except for one thing. Women's Moods clearly advocates the liberal use of drugs. They dismiss the use of natural therapeutics as supportive or ineffective, but if you really want to get well, talk to your therapist, eat well, meditate, exercise, but take your Lithium, Zoloft or Paxil or whatever is appropriate to the psychological condition. I found this an interesting conclusion after just having read the opposite opinion expressed by well-credentialed psychiatrists in Your Drug May Be Your Problem. Equally as puzzling was that there was no serious discussion of drug side-effects was mentioned except for avoiding breastfeeding or to discard the breast milk 8 hours after taking the Zoloft as that is the time that the drug will most likely pass from the breast into the infant. They euphemistically call Depakote a mood stabilizer. Tell that to some of my patients who developed liver problems, chronic stomach pains, gained 40 lbs., and felt in a fog while taking it.

Women's Mood draws a line in the sand - women don't need hormone balancing, they need drugs. And I agree, some women do. For instance, those who describe their menstrual cycle as "two weeks of crazy fury" may do well on a medication. As the two authors point out, some of the women serving time behind bars today had serious but ignored psychosis from hormonal imbalances. But do I think that 10% of all women who give birth and who will get postpartum mood and anxiety disorder should go on drugs, even temporarily. No way. I was one of those women after giving birth to my twin boys 15 years ago. And yes, it was no picnic. But I was fortunate enough to get help from natural medicine and the situation resolved.

The drug issue aside, Women's Moods is an important book as it recognizes that women with a personal or family history of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or PMS are likely to have a crisis after a major hormonal shift such as childbirth, miscarriage or abortion, or menopause. If you or your daughter or friend fit this description, get help - and read this book.
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Fight Fat After Forty
By Pamela Peeke, MD

Fight Fat After Forty is a great book with a bad title. This book will help people of all ages. In the first four chapters, Dr. Peeke sets out to explain the science behind the connection between stress and weight gain and for a few people, weight-loss. Some of it is theory; a lot is science - but all a bit tedious. |

Here's the gist of it. Increased and unresolved stress often leads to increase levels of stress hormones, especially cortisol. Cortisol is the hormone designed to replenish our strength after fight or flight situations. And guess how we were designed to replenish our strength - by eating! For those who lose weight with stress, the scenario is a bit different, but equally as serious.

After 90+ pages of reading about this and the health hazards of poor stress management and excessive weight, I had just about given up on the book, when I finally arrived at chapter 5. Then I realized why the book made the Amazon best seller list. Dr. Peeke has sound, practical advice. Not only does she present a very comprehensive and do-able plan on what to eat and when, but she also throws in a backup plan for those days when an optimal routine is just not going to happen. She eliminates the guilt of temporarily going off your diet.

Her food suggestions are excellent. Real food - not the low-fat and non-fat varieties of empty calories that tend to strip muscle mass instead of fat cells. Peeke discusses the pitfalls of drastic dieting and recommends a sensible gradual weight loss plan. And I chuckled at the way she diffuses all the excuses people tend to make on how it just won't work. Plus, she throws in a couple of chapters filled with pictures on easy exercises graduating into fairly challenging ones.

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Herb Tip - Buyer Beware

Herbs are medicine and it's important to know what you are putting into your body. Recently, I have seen some over the counter and multi-level marketing herbal products that make me concerned. One of them was called Metabozyme from Amazon herbs. It resulted in unexplained dizzy spells that were resolved only after the product was discontinued. The other was a formulation by a Dr. Whiting, an orthomolecular nutritionist who has his own line of products. One of the products for weight control contained Gymnema sylvestre. Gymnema is a very specific herb for diabetes that directly affects the pancreas. Herbalists know this and would never give it to a non-diabetic as it could harm them over a period of time. A third example was the prolonged use of Echinacea to ward off illness. Echinacea is an immune stimulant. It's not healthy to repeatedly push the immune system for months at a time.

I found all three incidences disturbing as it's not the fault of the herb but the prescriber. So, be careful, in this current health climate of herbs being safe. Don't assume that educational degrees make a person knowledgeable about herbs. Herbs, especially prolonged use, are only safe in the hands of an herbal practitioner.

Health Tip (Not a Prescription)

Going to the dentist? For shooting nerve pain following dental work, Hypericum 6x, 30x or 6c is commonly and safely used in natural medicine. Hypericum is a homeopathic medicine that is readily found in health food stores and some drug stores. It is for sharp, shooting upward pain that Tylenol and aspirin just don't touch. Homeopathic remedies like Hypericum are only used when the pain is present and not repeated until the pain returns.

Natural Medicine Series at PCC Sylvania
Spring 2001

PCC Sylvania campus

Natural medicine offers highly effective ways to treat a broad range of illnesses. This course will show you practical and safe medical remedies you can use in your daily life.

April 5, 2001
This course covers the basics: colds, flus, ear infections, sudden fevers, chicken pox, etc. It stresses when it is appropriate to self-medicate and when to get professional help. The participants are taught how to put together a natural medicine chest to treat these common conditions.

April 12, 2001
Learn about the cancer-fighting, ulcer and acid reflux-protective and immune-boosting properties of food. Full of strategies and good recipes, this course emphasizes a gradual transition from a Standard American Diet (SAD) to a more healthful and delicious one.

April 19, 2001
Starting with a brief explanation of what is happening in the body to cause allergies, this class discusses the diversity of allergic symptoms (from sneezing to anxiety to bloating). It will focus on treatment for airborne and dietary allergies by teaching the participants how to treat the conditions using nutrition, herbs, homeopathy and hydrotherapy.

April 26, 2001
The homeopathic industry has been growing exponentially - 300% yearly for the past several years. The consumers who are purchasing the remedies both in drug stores and health food stores often need advice. This course will cover the practical aspects of choosing a remedy, how often to dose, what to expect, when to change remedies, as well as to answer any questions that you may have.

May 2, 2001
Looking at women’s health as a natural cycle, we will talk about how to prepare for and minimize the discomfort of PMS, menses, and menopause. We will also cover common female conditions like fibroids, osteoporosis, and candida.

The Mind/Body Connection in Auto-Immune and Chronic Disease
May 2, 2001
This course explores the relationship between the increasingly common autoimmune and chronic conditions such as fibromylagia, systemic lupus, scleroderma, diabetes mellitus II, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc. and our state of mind. And while this course will not offer specific advice on how to treat these illnesses, it will discuss general holistic guidelines to live with and shorten the duration of these illnesses.

Information: 503-731-6618

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About the Doctor

Dr. Suzanne C. Lawton
11825 SW Greenburg Road, Suite A2
Tigard, OR 97223