Thursday, 9 January 2014

"First do no harm". A test Conventional Medicine regularly fails

Primum non nocere, or "First do no harm" is supposed to be a central feature of medical practice, enshrined within the Hippocratic Oath. Regular readers of this blog will know that conventional, drug/vaccine dominated medicine flouts this rule all the time, often with disastrous effects on our health and well-being.

Yet "First do no harm" is also a film made in 1997, starring Meryl Streep. It is a film about a young boy who develops epilepsy, and the efforts of his mother to seek safer and more effective treatment for him after conventional medical treatment proves to be not only ineffective, but seriously harmful, dangerous and life-threatening.
This is a well-known, and oft-repeated situation. Most people will probably have witnessed something similar with people they know after the medical treatment. 

The patient starts with a simple, often trivial complaint, and they take conventional drugs to treat it (or vaccines to prevent it), and far from being a benefit, the 'side-effects' of the treatment actually causes more serious harm to health, and more serious illness. (See my ebook, Drug Induced Illness).

So it is interesting to follow the progression of this particular story, which is based on actual events.

The reason for Robbie (the child) developing epilepsy is not mentioned. Epilepsy is known to result from a simple Vitamin D deficiency. Or it can be caused by stress. But conventional pharmaceutical drugs, like cough medicines, anti-histamines, antidepressants and antibiotics, are also known to cause epilepsy!
Robbie is subjected to a variety of tests - a CT scan, a lumbar puncture, and an electroencephalogram, and he is diagnosed with epilepsy.
The problems with the diagnosis of epilepsy is that is is notoriously unreliable. The British Medical Journal reported in 2003 (326: 355) that epilepsy was misdiagnosed in about one-third of cases. It is interesting to note what what the magazine, What Doctors Don't Tell (WDDTY) said about this BMJ article:

"Neither report highlighted the terrible drug regimen that follows an epilepsy diagnosis.  So powerful are the anti-epileptics that some children have died while on them. To know that their child never had epilepsy in the first place may be too much for some parents to bear.

Antiepileptic Drugs
Immediately, drugs were prescribed for Robbie, beginning with Phenobarbital. This is an 'old' anticonvulsant drug with well known  Disease-Inducing-Effects (DIEs), including cognitive impairment and behaviour problems.
When this drug failed he is moved on to Phenytoin (Dilantin), a drug known to cause decreased co-ordination, mental confusion, and many other serious DIEs. For a list of the serious DIEs caused by this drug, click here.
Then, when this drug did not work, he was given Carbamazepine (Tegretol). The DIEs of this drug are probably even worse, and a list can be found by clicking here.
It is not just that these drugs did not work. Ineffectiveness is certainly one common feature of conventional medical drugs. But causing actual bodily harm, and serious harm to health, is another. After each drug it becomes quite clear that Robbie's health is actually getting worse, and that the cause of this deterioration was his medication. His epilepsy gets worse, and he develops a serious rash, known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome. 
The parents begin to understand that their son may become a vegetable as a result of the drugs he is being given, particularly when he goes into 'status epilepticus' - a continuous convulsive seizure that had to be stopped as a medical emergency. This was done by giving Robbie increasing doses of Diazepam (Valium) even though it does no good, even when given intravenously!
Eventually he is given Paraldehyde. In the film this drug is said to have possible fatal 'side-effects', and was seen to dramatically melt a plastic cup in which it had been placed! On this website, one of the DIEs is given as convulsions!

At some point we really should be asking what this medicine is all about, and whether the doctors who are using it really know what they are doing!
The failure of drugs led the neurologist in the film to suggest that Robbie should have surgery, involving the removal of the top of his skull, and inserting electrodes on the surface of the brain - to get a more accurate location of any seizure focus. His mother is aghast.
Meryl Streep, the mother, undertakes some library study, and through this discovers another treatment - the Ketogenic Diet. She suggests this to the neurologist, who says 'there is no evidence' to support it. By this the doctor meant that there have been no Randomised, Controlled Tests (RCTs) undertaken on it. The treatment, she said, was supported only by 'anecdotal' evidence - by which she meant that although individuals have been cured by the diet the drug companies had not carried out RCTs on it, and so, for the neurologist this was not 'evidence.

Later in the film, the neurologist was reminded of the uncomfortable fact that there were no RCTs on many of the drug treatments she had already used for Danny!
There is, of course, lots of money involved in peddling pharmaceutical drugs, but few profits, if any, for cures which involve diet. So such alternatives are not favoured by the conventional medical establishment.
Robbie's mother determines to get her son to the John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where the Ketogenic diet was being used.
First she tried to secrete him out of the hospital, but was stopped, and warned that by doing this she could risk losing custody of her son, as the courts (heavily influenced by 'conventional medical advice' of course, might believe she is putting her son's health at risk by refusing conventional medical treatment.
However, with the help of a retired doctor, and a sympathetic nurse (far more help than would be available to the average parent) she does manage to take Robbie to Baltimore, and he is given the Ketogenic diet. The seizures begin to improve, and are eventually eliminated, and his mental faculties are restored.
Apparently the factual basis of this story arises from the experience of the film's editor, and the main question is asked was why he was not told about this treatment. He was apparently outraged that nobody had informed him of the diet, even when it was clear that the drugs were not working.
The Ketogenic diet was first develop by Russell Wilder, at the Mayo Clinic, in 1921. Although it was initially popular, it decline when new, 'effective' drugs (like Phenytoin) were discovered in the later 1930s, early 1940's  - that is, the drugs that were used in the film with Robbie! 

Wikipedia claims that, since the film, the diet is now being used in 75 epilepsy centres, in 45 countries. However, NHS Choices have a different story to tell!
"Anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) are usually the first choice of treatment. About 70% of people with epilepsy have their seizures controlled with AEDs".
So let it never be said that the NHS, our doctors, and the Conventional Medical Establishment generally, do not use drugs whenever there is an opportunity to do so! Moreover, let us observe here that even when there are safer and more effective alternatives that can be used, drugs still remain the preferred option! Indeed, diet is mentioned on NHS Choices almost as an after-thought!

"Sometimes, a special diet is used for children whose seizures are difficult to control and do not respond to drug treatment.

Patients seeking treatment within the Conventional Medical Establishment - beware!