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Rising Tide Natural Medicine
Liam McClintock, ND, MAcOM, DHANP
Naturopathic Doctor, Master Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine,
Board Certified in Homeopathy & Acupuncture

Rising Tide

Tailored treatment or “one-size-fits-all” medicine

by Liam McClintock, ND, MAcOM

At a time when people might be wondering about the risk of infectious diseases and their prevention or treatment, it pays to be a discerning consumer. Epidemics are likely as old as living beings, however it seems that as advanced as prevention and treatment techniques become, the variety of infectious organisms somehow manage to stay a step ahead. The astute practitioners and patients are those who are able to weight the risks and benefits of diseases and their treatments and learn from history when confronted with a paucity of current evidence. Some advances in vaccinations, hygiene, and public health have led to a dramatic decline in the incidence and severity of outbreaks. Though each mode of treatment may have its time and place, an advantage of natural treatment of diseases is that it draws upon the strength and wisdom the immune system has acquired to treat diseases as beings have emerged and grown stronger from each epidemic, infection, or illness. Historically, homeopathic medicine was used effectively for epidemics of diseases such as scarlet fever, typhoid fever and meningococcal meningitis and homeopathy continues to be useful to treat chronic and recurrent illness. Though one the surface, the dilution and attenuation of diseases that accompanies the production of vaccines seems similar to that of homeopathic medicines, classical homeopathic treatment remains highly individualized, treating each diseased person as they present rather than treating a disease despite it’s variable presentation in different persons.

One major difficulty with the use of vaccines is that their promoters tend to take a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Medical contraindications for vaccinations include the subject having a fever or illness at the time of administration, a known chronic illness or a previous severe adverse reaction to the vaccine. Although these exclusions admit that the vaccine is likely to have a large impact on the immune system, it ignores the fact that humans are all individuals and we can each react to any substance differently. What might be innocuous to one person could cause great damage to another, depending on their individual sensitivity and make-up, not merely the state of the immune system at the time of administration or a history of adverse reaction. The fact is, all individuals are not created equal nor are all vaccines. Families must be cognizant that each vaccination is a health care choice, and being pro-education, I strongly advise against an “all-or-nothing” approach. The risk of each disease and its potential results must be weighed against the potential risks and benefits of the vaccine for each disease and for each individual. The decision will be a complex evaluation with many unknowns, so the best method to tackle this decision is to educate one’s self as best one can and decide what seems proper in each situation.

To illustrate the process of making a risk/benefit analysis of a disease and its associated vaccine, I will take two extreme examples. One vaccine that has been used widely with much success it tetanus. Tetanus is caused by a bacterium that is ubiquitous (existing virtually everywhere) in soil and can be acquired through an open wound. The disease that can result from infection, commonly called “lockjaw”, causes severe spasms of the voluntary muscles and is severe, painful, and frequently deadly. Overall there is roughly a 50% mortality rate for people who contract tetanus. A person does not become immune to the disease if they have previously contracted it. The vaccine for tetanus is available by itself (Td) and as a combination with the vaccines for diptheria and pertussis (DTP or DTaP), all diseases that are caused by different bacteria. The Td vaccine by itself has historically caused little problem in humans and has been used the world over for many years. Currently there is a huge vaccination program in isolated areas of Africa where many people die of the disease each year. After establishing immunity, the Td vaccine needs to be given every 5 to 10 years to maintain resistance. The DTP vaccine, however, has caused many more adverse reactions that are most likely caused by the pertussis portion. More recently the high rate of adverse reactions from the DTP vaccine led to FDA approval for the vaccine containing acellular Pertussis (DTaP) that has been used in Japan for many years (albeit in older children) with a lower incidence of adverse reactions. Given the high rate of mortality, the high likelihood of contracting Tetanus at some point, and the relatively low rate of vaccine reactions, Td is typically ranked among the most beneficial and least potentially harmful of vaccines.

Varicella or “Chicken pox” is a common viral disease of childhood that is highly infectious and is believed to be caused by infected droplets and commonly causes a mild fever and rash. The most common complication of Chicken pox is a secondary bacterial infection caused by scratching the sores that appear before the resolution of the infection. The disease is much more severe in teens and adults who tend to have higher fevers and more incidence of pneumonia than school-aged children. Rarely, neurological conditions can occur in people as a result of infection. It is uncertain whether the recent vaccine confers life-long immunity, but it has been promoted from an economic perspective since, in the short run, it is likely to cut down on loss of work by adults who might have to care for a varicella-infected child. Though the vaccine is distributed widely, even some pediatricians question the wisdom of encouraging a vaccine for a rarely harmful childhood illness which is likely to be much more severe if contracted later in life after immunity dissipates.

Randall Neustaedter, OMD, author of The Vaccine Guide, recently put the controversy in the following perspective:

“The number of vaccines given to children is increasing. The sheer number of shots is making parents uneasy. And many more vaccines are planned for the public. Parents are questioning the advisability of shots to prevent diseases that present little threat to their children (chickenpox and hepatitis) and diseases they have never encountered. They are questioning the entire practice of vaccination because the rationale now seems faulty. Vaccine enthusiasts on the other hand are developing more advanced techniques for vaccine production at an astounding rate. Researchers are excited about the possibility of super-vaccines, alternate routes of administration through genetically altered foods and nasal mists… Adverse reactions have become more common and more dramatic with the increased number of vaccinations. This has led to more research into vaccine side effects, and the media has taken notice. Even magazines under direct control of drug interests have mentioned the possible link between autism and the MMR vaccine... Vaccines are getting other bad press. Two vaccines, for tick-carried Lyme disease and for viral diarrhea in children (Rotavirus), were withdrawn from the marketplace and all production was stopped because of associated deaths, disease, and lawsuits. The French government and French courts attributed the onset of multiple sclerosis (MS) to the hepatitis B vaccine and suspended vaccination.”

Although isolated studies have been done on the use of homeopathic medicines to prevent diseases during epidemics, there is little more than anecdotal evidence of homeopathic vaccinations being effective. However, history has shown that if an epidemic hits, it can be useful to have homeopathic remedies and knowledge available. Homeopathy also has a long history of treating individuals who have suffered insults to the immune system that have resulted in any myriad of syndromes. Homeopathic treatment is particularly adept at being able to elucidate the individual characteristics and symptoms that an individual expresses when they develop an illness, whether it was caused by a vaccination, treatment, trauma, stress, or other influence. The development of mental, emotional and physical symptoms generally follow a pattern that an experienced homeopathic doctor can recognize and reverse given an accurate history and enough healing time. Contrary to the “one-size-fits-all” approach described above, the homeopathic doctor must recognize what is individual, or peculiar, about a person’s disease presentation to be effective. In addition to being helpful in the treatment of infectious diseases and vaccinosis, homeopathy has been effective in treating various forms of autism (see Impossible Cure by Amy Lansky, PhD) ADD, ADHD, and other behavior disorders (see Ritalin-Free Kids or Rage-Free Kids by Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman, ND, LicSW and Robert Ullman, ND), depression (see Prozac-Free by Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman, ND, LicSW and Robert Ullman, ND) and a myriad of auto-immune and chronic diseases. The question is, do you want to be treated as a unique individual or as representative of all humanity? There is no “right” answer.


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