My Blog

A Better Way to Protect Yourself

We have the power to heal ourselves. Such is the belief of the principle of holistic health and there is much evidence to support it. We also have the power to destroy ourselves and inflict considerable harm. When I saw a gunshot victim in the emergency room adjacent to where I take medical school classes, it started me thinking about the price of self protection. It causes vast numbers of people to possess lethal weapons. In the course of being constantly on the defensive, someone inevitably gets shot. Many die while some live with minimal damage. If you don’t believe in violence, by all means reject gun ownership, even if you fear for your life. There are other ways to practice self defense and to ward off a mugger or attacker. Whether you are out at night or in the privacy of your own home, there are many products vying for the title of best home defense weapon (not a gun). They are readily available and affordable.

Many men who don’t want to feel vulnerable practice one or more martial art like Karate, Tae Kwan do, Jiu Jitsu or other form of combat. Women are slowly gravitating in the same direction. There are numerous approaches involving kicking, punching, jabbing, and grabbing various parts of the body. Ideally, you can disarm someone without incurring retaliation. I doubt if the average thief is well versed in the martial arts. You can save yourself in a dire situation with a swift blow to the crotch or a poke in the eye. It is a matter of audacity rather than training. It seems grotesque.

I would feel more comfortable with various personal security devices like a stun gun, Taser, body alarm, brass knuckles or pepper spray. Any of these would give me the confidence to live normally without fear of attack. New on the market is a megavolt “zap” flashlight you can keep on a keychain or in your pocket. It can be used at close range in contrast to a stun gun (at fifteen feet) or a Taser at twenty or more. There is such a thing as a metal collapsible baton like the police use that packs a wallop and a zap cane. I would not be afraid to use any and all of this items. I am most familiar with pepper spray, noted for its quick and devastating pain to the eyes, nose and mouth. The burning sensation lasts for up to an hour allowing a victim to call 911 or escape.

I approve of these products as an alternative to a gun. While it may be every citizen’s right, I still prefer another choice. Come with me to the ER and you will see why. Even when the criminal is the victim, it pains me to witness the suffering. Holistic medicine has taught me compassion for all mankind. It has helped me focus on gun control rather than self defense at the extreme.

Peculiar and Interesting

I am interested in traumatic brain injuries, PTSD, and various rare mental disorders. These are not run-of-the-mill ailments that most people understand and even know a bit about. But you would be surprised how many people are afflicted in the average population. For example, have you heard of trichotillomania? I doubt it. It is a big fancy word that denotes a condition in which the patient pulls his or her hair out. This might even include the eyelashes and eyebrows. As a result, you can have unsightly bare patches of scalp, bald spots in your eyebrows, or a lack of eyelashes. It seems that once the person starts, it does become a “mania.” It is a habit that is hard to stop. It denotes a nervous disposition and perhaps can be treated with relaxation exercises rather than drugs for anxiety. Given the options, I prefer a holistic approach. Perhaps counseling with a therapist would help. It gets so bad in some cases that the afflicted need hair transplantation to fill the bare spots. Yes, this can even be done on eyebrows. The same hair taken from the back of a person’s head that is reused in the front can also be transplanted one by one in the eyebrow area. The only problem is that the hair grows out as it did in its original location and must be regularly trimmed.

As for eyelashes growing back, my search online delivered me to and discovered that they do grow back. I am told that some doctors will even transplant them, but it is rare. It is best to stop the practice of trichotillomania as soon as possible. Perhaps applying a solution to the lashes to make them soft would work. I know many women who remove their mascara by picking it off and the lash comes with it. This can start a cycle that is endless. Cleaning the lashes every night before bed is essential as a regular part of your bedtime regime. If it becomes a true mania, it is hard to deal with at any level, but I do believe that meditation and self-suggestion can help. No matter the solution, it is a peculiar and interesting mental disease.

If you can cure the bad habit, most often the hair grows back in all locations: eyelashes, scalp, and brows. If it doesn’t after a long siege, you can spray the bald spot on your head with a temporary powder that washes off. The eyebrows can be filled in with pencil that is waterproof and long lasting. As for the lashes, we all know that you can have false ones applied by a cosmetologist that will last for two or more weeks. Thus, the appearance problems associated with trichotillomania can be solved. But it would be best to halt the course of the mania permanently.

Now you know a bit on a misunderstood or ignored subject. I enjoy educating the public and also researching odd subjects just for my own personal interest. If you suspect you have this problem—and you now know its name—seek help immediately.

A Fond Farewell

Special people require special gifts when there is a celebratory occasion. Such is the case of one of my favorite professors who is retiring. I want to give him something appropriate, not too fancy or expensive, but shows that I care about this major life change. Certain milestones are rather significant and this one, while about a professional relationship, is nevertheless very personal to me. I want to send him off in style with a small party to which everyone brings a little token gift.

I thought of a book on holistic medicine. There is a new one on the market that he probably doesn’t own. I think this would be appropriate and I can write an inscription inside the cover. Something like this:

Retirement is a time of reflection and new beginnings. May you enjoy your moments of freedom with gusto and ease. I will miss your constant presence, but will always remember you fondly with esteem.

Then I will sign my name.

The last day of class, I brought the book wrapped in festive paper. There was going to be a party nearby to send him off in style. He took the book and said he would treasure the gift from a favorite student. I was so flattered, but not as much as I was when he bestowed upon me a surprise present. I was humbled that he had thought of me with a Flashlight Pro model – a very nice high-end rechargeable pen light. This was so useful, perfect, and a gift to cherish. This kind of consideration doesn’t always happen in an academic environment. As a matter of fact, I didn’t have a penlight, but it was more than that. The gift was symbolic of a long-standing, solid relationship. You welcome these moments in life as they are few and far between. It was a fond farewell and a bit sad.

I love the penlight. When I am out late at night and am trying to find my way or get the key in the car door, I can get it out in a second. For a small item, it has surprising range. I also like to use it to read menus in dimly-lit restaurants or a newspaper or book while on the bus. Some small practical devices become a staple of utility in your life. I will never regift it, but would consider buying a few for future presents. I know my colleagues and friends, even family, will enjoy it as much as I have. It comes in handy when you least expect it. Plus, who wants to carry around a giant flashlight. Where do you put it? I suppose in your backpack, but frankly mine is already full what with my wallet, keys, cell phone, bottled water, and appointment book. I have dark glasses, sometimes a snack, and a dictionary.

Thank you, professor, you were a good mentor and friend. It is hard to say goodbye. You made me enjoy your teaching subject and I will retain the information no doubt for life.

Holistic Alternatives

Holistic alternatives sometimes really do work better than the mainstream medications. Some mainstream medications really are not the product of sound science. Lots of the treatments that people take for their skin today, for instance, basically don’t do anything that petroleum jelly wouldn’t do, and yet people end up paying so much more for it all.

The modern medical industry is a big business. Holistic health remedies can be, but for the most part, there’s really no money in telling people to listen to their bodies and to try to find what works for them. There is also no money in really curing people. Keeping people sick or at least giving them stuff that is not going to keep them healthy is actually better from a business perspective. For these reasons and more, if people don’t really need to take the risks associated with the modern medical industry, they should try the holistic remedies first.

There are some holistic alternatives that are actually dangerous and that have their own side effects. I hope that most people know now that colonic irrigation is bad for you, even though it was one of the biggest holistic health crazes of the 1990’s. People could perforate their colons with that kind of procedure.

However, there are lots of other holistic health remedies for problems that can affect the lower bowel. People who use tea tree oil to address hemorrhoids, for instance, are going to be taking fewer risks than the people who try to address them using most other treatments. Tea tree oil can even work better than Preparation H and a lot of other over-the-counter remedies.

When you’re in reasonably good health, you can try to go for the holistic health remedies that are not going to tax the body too much in the beginning. Holistic health remedies can help you stay healthy. For a lot of people, that is really the most important part of the process.

If you think that herbal remedies are all bad, you should remember that lots of medicines that were made in a lab actually were based on herbal remedies to begin with, and you can still get a lot of use out of the herbal remedies that have not been altered in any way. Lots of herbs have medicinal effects and active ingredients. As long as there is some actual explanation for how the effect works and the studies that show that it works are not simply correlative, you can trust that the holistic remedy in question might work for you.

Lots of medical studies show correlative health benefits rather than causal health effects too, which is something that people should remember. Medical studies are not perfect either, even though a lot of doctors like to pretend that this is the case. People can never be sure that they’re going to be able to benefit from a particular medication or a particular herbal remedy. However, the side effects for most herbal remedies are pretty minor. You can’t usually say that about the side effects for a lot of medical remedies.

Don’t have faith in medicine. Always look at the evidence. Don’t have faith in holistic medication either. Look at the evidence. If you look at the evidence, you will be that much more likely to stay healthy long-term and to avoid medical problems and the new medical problems caused by side effects.

Nature’s Great Pesticide

No one likes the idea of chemical extermination, even for those nasty roaches that invade now and then. It does the job but it is hardly green. It can be toxic to others besides pests such as humans and pets. So why use this old-school process? You must deal with roaches and you don’t know what else to do. People feel that having them is a sign of lack of cleanliness although this may or may not be the case. Sometimes they just find their way in whether or not you leave food on your kitchen counter. Some regions are more prone than others, so you live with it and hire a service.

I am here to tell you that you need not depend exclusively on traditional spray control. People have been working on non-toxic products for years. I know—you don’t trust them or find them as effective. Once you obliterate a roach, you never want it to once again rear its ugly head. So, you bait them with traps that your pets get curious about. I would never leave a cat or dog in a house with them. Then there is the problem that people put them in roach hiding places such as under the sink and forget about them until they stack up and become unsightly. Or maybe they are in the bathroom and one night you step on one. It is not a pleasant thought.

It is time to get down to using the power of nature for roach control. I know of some holistic approaches and so should you. I also have experimented with making my own powders and solutions. I have a problem in my apartment building laundry room and have taken it upon myself to do something about it before the landlord starts chemical treatment. Of course, I am going to let him know if I am successful. Pets are not allowed in the laundry room so there isn’t fear of harming them, but nonetheless I still want to use a green solution to an age-old problem. I will then let people know about it and they can borrow my product for their homes.

It is simple to use plants and herbs for pest control. The Chinese use them holistically for medicine and they are quite effective for many ailments. Add acupuncture and you have a complete program for good health. I have found that oleander ground into a powder and mixed with white cider vinegar works well when applied to affected areas. You can sponge it around the baseboard of any room and come back in a few hours. You will then no doubt find a carcass or two that you can simply pick up with a bit of newspaper and toss it in the trash, preferably in a plastic bag so it won’t fall out.

I believe in holistic living and that means pest control for roach killing. Join me and avoid chemical contamination of your home.

Healthier Diet, Healthier You

There are lots of ways to eat a healthier diet and lots of ways to define a healthy diet. For one thing, people aren’t eating a healthy diet if they aren’t getting all of their nutrients. Healthy diets are also not full of a lot of unhealthy elements and chemicals. However, overall, eating a healthy diet is about keeping things in balance and moderation.

Eating some saturated fat is fine: saturated fat is not as bad as a lot of people think. You need to eat some cholesterol. You need some carbohydrates. You need some sodium. All of these macronutrients are maligned, and all of them are necessary in certain quantities. You only run into problems when you consume them in such high quantities that you’re not getting enough of other nutrients and you’re struggling to stay balanced in other ways.

I’m not one of those holistic health fans who believe that people should get rid of all processed foods. However, you do need to make sure that the processed food that you do eat is of a higher caliber than some of the stuff on the market today. There are healthier frozen meals, like Amy’s Frozen meals, and there is an entire Natural Foods section in most grocery stores today that is just full of fairly healthy processed stuff. You shouldn’t live on that. You need some stuff found in nature. However, there’s nothing wrong with processed food that’s basically made of the same stuff that people would cook for themselves anyway.

I want to say that having a healthier diet should not be about weight loss. Lots of people think about healthy diets purely in terms of weight loss, and they do themselves a really big disservice as a result. Lots of weight loss diets are really bad for you. People are still encouraged to go on processed food diets in order to lose weight, and they end up taking in a lot of salt, fat, and sugar as a result. That might make you thinner in the short-term, but you’re not going to get any healthier.

When people switch to a diet that is healthier, they really do usually feel better. The modern standard Western diet causes people to perk up and crash because of all the sugar. It’s so full of heavy meat that people feel overly full and bloated all day in many cases. The lack of important nutrients causes people to lose luster in their skin really early in the day.

An Interesting Conversation

I am interested in studying traumatic brain injuries as a medical student. I know some things about it, but not holistic treatments yet. I rely on traditional medicine for basic approaches but want to extend my research to new ways of coping and curing this malady. Few people think about TBI unless they know someone affected. I am interested in helping a young boxer my fellow students and I know from our gym. We see him at the punching bag every evening and he has shared the fact that he has the condition and enjoys a workout to alleviate symptoms. Thus, the first piece of the puzzle is in place: exercise. He also jogs for his training and this compounds are certainty that working out helps TBI in many cases. We will test our hypothesis. We have interviewed him extensively and also some of his friends, many of whom served in the armed forces in the Middle East.

We know that traumatic brain injury means that brain cells die from some kind of trauma such as might occur in combat, or from lack of oxygen. This is most common in children. Blood plasma seeps into surrounding brain tissue resulting in dangerous inflammation and a compromised blood flow. The damage area then can become dormant or fully non-functional. Hyperbaric oxygen is the recommended treatment and can bring out significant healing. I am going to suggest to the boxer that he seek this road to recovery.

With boxers, a TBI can happen after a sudden jolt which may occur after a fall or a wayward jab. This occurs as well with motorcycle and bicycle riders. The brain in effect hits the skull. It can cause TBI or a concussion, a mild version. Most of you have heard of this. If the jolt is strong enough, the afflicted may experience a reduction in cognitive abilities including loss of emotional control, limited mobility, and compromised speech and use of the senses. It is a serious illness. Fortunately, our boxer didn’t get this far and he can enjoy the sport at any time. It often then comes down to treating mental health.

People with TBI can have emotional outbursts, experience difficult sleeping, feel dizzy, have headaches or memory loss and confusion. They may have trouble concentrating and are sensitive more than normal to light and noise. Controlling one’s environment is part of holistic treatment. Every patient has a different combination of symptoms and so there is no one formula for a cure. Psychiatric treatment is in order in many cases since behavioral problems often are symptomatic. It was heartening to see that our young boxer is not an extreme case and that he copes quite well as a result of his favorite sport. Research shows that the cure rate can be high if the right methods are used for treatment. My fellow students and I have learned a lot from our frequent conversations and observations. There is much more to know.

Listen to Your Body

One of the most important things you can do is listen to your body. People today often don’t do that. It feels like we’ve lost the deep wisdom of the body, even though this is the sort of thing that healers understood for centuries. These healers managed to keep people away from the dangerous experimental treatments of their day.

People thought that humor theory was cutting edge science and that melancholics should definitely take potions that had a laxative effect in order to get healthier. It is true that the depressives who took those sorts of medications probably did get less depressed in the sense that they weren’t focusing on the depression anymore now that they had horrible digestive problems to worry about instead.

We don’t know how the future is going to react to all of the medications today, but it’s ridiculous to think that we know all of the answers now. We’ve learned a lot, but we still have a lot more to learn, and we shouldn’t put too much faith in our treatments today.

Dieting is one of the biggest ways that people screw around with the natural signals of the body. People are taught to ignore their natural signals. If you’re hungry, eat. Stop when you’re full. Do this, and you’re going to have a much better and more even energy level.

Modern life and the fact that people are expected to live an Industrial Revolution lifestyle is certainly a big part of the problem when it comes to listening to the body. People often feel as if they have to sleep even when they aren’t tired because they’re not going to get a chance to sleep later. People often have to eat even when they’re not hungry because they’re not going to have the chance to eat down the line. They drink coffee in order to wake up and they drink alcohol in order to calm down, and their bodies suffer over the course of years and years of this abuse.

You might not be able to find a job that allows you to have intuitive body cycles. You may always have to prioritize your job and your work schedule over your health. However, if you can find a way around it, you should, and that is what we encourage as doctors and medical health practitioners in any way. Try to eat when you’re hungry, sleep when you’re tired, and listen to your body. If you feel sick, you might be sick. If you feel that something is wrong, something might be wrong. Try to live a life that is as healthy as you can manage. Your body will thank you.

Antibiotics Aren’t for Everything

Don’t get me wrong: I love antibiotics. I couldn’t call myself a doctor in good conscience if I didn’t. Antibiotics have saved countless lives. They’re part of the reason why we live in an age where people don’t dread every single infection and people don’t have to live through certain diseases these days. Antibiotics have improved our lives.

However, doctors prescribe them too much. I’ve seen doctors prescribe antibiotics for a cold, even though colds are viruses and antibiotics are not going to do anything for a cold. I see people take antibiotics for everything. We do that, and we end up with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Researchers keep coming up with new antibiotics all the time. We’re always racing against the evolution of the bacteria. It is true that we keep on winning the race.

However, this is a race that isn’t fun, and your prize is that countless people don’t die from bacterial infections. I’d rather just not race to begin with, and doctors prescribing antibiotics less often is going to be part of the solution. We’re still going to need to keep on prescribing antibiotics for a lot of conditions. We’re also going to need to keep on coming up with new ones when the bacteria populations change.

If you have an infection, I don’t even think that antibiotics are always the answer. If it’s a minor infection, try treating it at home first. If you have a little paronychia on your fingers, for instance, you’re actually better off just soaking it in warm water, keeping the wound elevated, and trying to use some mildly salted water in order to kill all of the bacteria.

If the swelling goes down, you might be able to avoid the doctors altogether. If there’s some drainage, then you might not even need to get the wound lanced, which might just put you at risk for an additional infection. While some infections are more severe, many of them are also nowhere near severe enough to justify an immediate antibiotic prescription.

I mean, in addition to the fact that doing this is going to slow down the rate at which society at large gets a resistance to yet another antibiotic, you can save money and you can avoid putting yourself at risk for additional infections by going to the doctors.

Hospital-acquired infections are common these days, and hospitals don’t like to talk about them. Hospitals don’t want to admit that they’re not the safest places for people either, and people are usually better off staying home in some cases.

I want people to get antibiotics for those occasions where the body’s immune system is just not up to the task, and there are plenty of occasions where this is the case. However, sometimes you really can get by on your body’s own immunity and a few home remedies and if you can, save your money and make yourself feel better when you are still at home.

The Mysterious Brain

One of the most frustrating parts of all medicine is that we really don’t know much about the human brain yet. We know some things, but only the most basic outlines. We don’t know how modular the brain is. We don’t know how good the brain is at regenerating itself. We don’t know when cognitive decline starts and we don’t know all of the best ways to prevent it, and we don’t even know if it is an inevitable part of the aging process.

Since aging appears to be a function of damage and not just an inevitable and programmed process, it looks like cognitive decline is not completely inevitable. However, we really do not know the truth. The human brain is like quantum theory: if you think you understand quantum theory, you don’t understand quantum theory.

As such, the people who are looking for actual medication for their mental health problems are going to have a hard time when it comes to getting anything that is going to work. Lots of medications for depression and similar mental health problems are not even thoroughly tested on humans to begin with, and even if they are, the doctors are barely even going to take the most basic health precautions a lot of the time. Doctors sometimes don’t even check your weight in order to make sure that the dosage is correct, and this is the sort of thing that can really skew the behavior of the entire drug.

As such, I really don’t have any problem with the alternative methods of treating depression. Depression is just the sort of problem that can respond to a lot of different stimuli, and that includes the stimuli that can make people feel better in an instant. We know that food alters people’s brain chemistry to a certain extent, that exercise can do the same thing, and that pretty much everything related to a person’s experience has an effect on his or her mind. All of these related remedies can actually help a person more than some of the depression medication types on the market today, and that is partly a function of the mysterious brain.

The brain is very hard to people to understand because it changes so quickly compared to most other organs. The processes of the brain are also so difficult for people to comprehend using the imaging technology that we have today and everything else of that nature. So much is going beneath the surface with the brain, which regenerates and changes and alters itself constantly that it feels like you have to catch it at the right second in order to understand it, and our imaging technology does not make that easy.

People who have actual mental diseases are in bad luck, since they live in a time period where people know about as much about the brain as people did about the digestive system five hundred years ago. That’s tough to acknowledge if you are a person who is struggling with mental health disorders of any kind. However, it is important for people to remember that it is possible to become healthier mentally even in the age of the mysterious brain. Don’t feel like it’s your fault if you can’t, since the best scientific minds of your day don’t really know how to help you even if they say that they can.