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Thursday 29 November 2012

Health Spending brings down Governments, and bankrupts the Nation?

Spending money on health care has become a major political objective for every British government since the inauguration of the National Health Service in 1947. In every election, political parties have positioned themselves carefully so that the electorate would see them as major investors in health care.
The result has been that each successive government has sought outbid itself, and its predecessor, with little appreciable improvement in national health outcomes, but leading to a situation that has brought down governments, and spending on health is now coming close to bankrupting the nation
1951 General Election
The Labour manifesto in 1951, 4 years after the creation of the NHS, appealed to the electorate by contrasting Britain in the inter-war years with the new situation, brought about by the NHS. It spoke about the people’s dread of doctor's bills, and good healthcare costing more than most people could afford. They criticised the Tory opposition, who had consistently opposed the scheme.
"Now we have a national health scheme which is the admiration of the post-war world".
For their part, the Tories stated that "In Education and Health some of the most crying needs are not being met. For the money now being spent we will provide better services and so fulfil the high hopes we all held when we planned the improvements during the war".
Clearly, Labour were not spending enough - so they lost, and went into opposition for 13 years!
1964 General Election
Under the Conservative government, expenditure on the NHS increased, although never sufficient to satisfy the Labour opposition. The Conservatives said this in their 1964 manifesto, entitled 'A Healthy Nation'.
"The past thirteen years have seen improvements in the nation's health greater than in any comparable period. These advances we owe to medical science and the skill of the healing professions. They could only have been achieved against a background of rising living standards and continuously expanding health services such as Conservative Government is providing".
They went on to promise that every man, woman and child in the country would have access to the best treatment, and that their aim was to build or rebuild some 300 hospitals. There was also a promise to "improve and bring up to date the law controlling the safety and quality of drugs".
These promises were not sufficient. The Conservatives lost the election, and Labour returned to power.
1970 General Election
Labour lost again, despite their promises on health. They claimed to have doubled expenditure on hospital building, whilst local health and welfare expenditure "is now running at three times the level of just ten years ago". They promised a continued expansion of training on doctors, nurses and other staff, the continuation of "our great building programme", and inevitably, more changes in the administrative structure of the NHS.
Again, it was not enough, and Labour lost again.
1974 General Election
There is little or no mention of the NHS in the Conservative manifesto of this outgoing Tory administration – so perhaps it is little wonder that they lost!
In comparison, the Labour opposition made many health promises - to revise and expand the NHS, to abolish prescription charges, to introduce free family planning, to phase out private practice from the hospital service, and to transform the area health authorities into democratic bodies.
1979 General Election
After 5 years in power, the Labour Manifesto for this election was called 'A Healthier Nation'. It stated that it would gave 'priority to health', and attacked the Tory alternatives.
"We reject Tory plans to create two health services: one for the rich, financed by private insurance with a second-class service for the rest of us. Labour reaffirms its belief in a comprehensive national health service for all our people. We oppose Tory proposals for higher prescription charges and charges for seeing a doctor or being in hospital. Our aim is to abolish all charges in the NHS".
And Labour tried to defend its record from Conservative claims that it was cutting NHS budgets.
 "For all the talk of cuts, the truth is that the Labour Government are spending over £600m a year more on health in real terms than the Tories. Labour will devote a higher proportion of the nation's wealth to the health service and the personal social services".
As usual, the problems of the NHS was also said to concern management rather than the medical treatment that was offered.
"We will streamline the bureaucratic and costly structure the Tories created and give a bigger say in running the NHS to the public and staff".
Needless to say, despite these promises Labour lost the election, and the Tories were destined to be in power for the next 18 years.  
1997 General Election
Despite the low priority that the 11-year Thatcher government gave to public spending, the Tory manifesto of 1997 was prepared to defend its record.
"Government spending has concentrated on priorities, not wasteful bureaucracy and over-manning. Despite tough overall public spending plans, real spending on the NHS has risen nearly 75% since 1979". The Health Service is treating over 1 million more patients each year than before our reforms. The number of people waiting over 12 months for hospital treatment has fallen from over 200,000 in 1990 to 22,000 last year. The average wait has fallen from nearly 9 months to 4 months".
The Conservative government lost the election, and Labour was in power for 13 years, embarking on the biggest increase in NHS spending ever seen.
2010 General Election
The New Labour government cannot be accused of scrimping on the NHS for the 13 years of its existence! Indeed, it virtually bankrupted itself, and the country, in an effort to make the NHS, now completely dominated by the Conventional Medical Establishment, work properly! When they were defeated in this election NHS spending had reached close to £120 billion per annum. But it did not save them! 
Nor could any political party admit at this time that NHS spending was a major factor in the nation’s financial difficulties! All the main parties campaigned to ‘ring-fence’ health spending even though it was known that massive government spending cuts would have to be enforced over the next few years.
The new Coalition Government decided to ‘ring-fence’ health spending, one of the few departments to be so privileged. And in order to do so the government is prepared to cut other departmental spending by as much as 40-50% over the life-time of the Parliament. 
Clearly, government spending on ConMed has become not just a priority. It is now a sacred cow!
This article was first published in the e-book 'The Failure of Conventional Medicine'.

Monday 26 November 2012

The Epidemic Of Mental Illness

"You can judge your health by your happiness"
Dr Edward Bach. 
Diseases that affect the brain, and reduce our mental capacity to cope with life, are becoming increasingly prevalent. Depression, for instance, is a problem that appears to be on the increase - not only in terms of numbers of people affected, but also the age at which people are now becoming affected. 
     * 1 in 4 British adults experience at least one diagnosable mental health problem in any one year and 1 in 6 experiences this at any given time (The Office for National Statistics Psychiatric Morbidity Report 2001).

     * It is estimated that approximately 450 million people worldwide have a mental health problem (World Health Organisation 2001).

     * Mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain, with almost 9% of people meeting criteria for diagnosis (The Office for National Statistics Psychiatric Morbidity Report 2001).

     * One in ten children between the ages of one and 15 has a mental health disorder (The Office for National Statistics Mental Health in Children and Young People in Great Britain 2005).

     * Rates of mental health problems among children increase as they reach adolescence. Disorders affect 10.4% of boys aged 5-10, rising to 12.8% of boys aged 11-15, and 5.9% of girls aged 5-10, rising to 9.65% of girls aged 11-15 (Mental Disorders more common in boys, National Statistics on Line, 2004)

     * Depression affects 1 in 5 older people living in the community and 2 in 5 living in care homes (Adults in later life with mental health problems, Mental Health Foundation, quoting Psychiatry in the Elderly (3rd Edition), OUP 2002.

     * Major (or clinical) depression is a huge and growing problem. "(It is) the No.1 psychological disorder in the western world, it is growing in all communities, in all age groups, with the greatest growth being seen in the young, especially teens".

     * Major depression is the 4th most disabling condition in the world, and 2nd in the developed world (the biggest consumers of ConMed drugs).

     * The escalation in the problem, and the recurring episodes of depression show that "while the first line treatment of depression by antidepressants may sometimes control the symptoms, it usually does little to give sufferers depression-free lives".

     * Clinical or major depression is growing at an incredible rate.

This website makes two important points about the reasons for the depression epidemic. First, it claims that there is 10 times more major depression in people born after 1945 than in those born before. Second, it says that this increase is not due to more people telling their doctor, and that misdiagnosis and undiagnosed cases would indicate the problem is much bigger. 
     * Depressive disorders affect approximately 18.8 million American adults or about 9.5% of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year (including major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder).

     * Everyone, at some time in their life, will be affected by depression - their own or someone else's, according to Australian Government statistics (its states that depression statistics in Australia are comparable to those in the US and the UK).

     * Pre-schoolers (children under 5?) are the fastest-growing market for anti-depressants, with at least 4% - over a million children being clinically depressed.

     * The rate of increase of depression among children is an astounding 23% per year.

     * In the developed countries 15% of the population suffers severe depression.

     * 30% of women are depressed. Men's figures were previously thought to be half that of women, but new estimates are higher.

     * 5% of depressed people will commit suicide.

So is this evidence of yet another ‘epidemic’ of illness that has occurred over recent decades? Or is there something else that needs to be understood about this increase in mental illness? Whilst the statistics found on these two websites demonstrates the size of this epidemic, an important question needs to be asked. Is it a real epidemic of real disease? Or is it an epidemic that has been constructed by a health industry that has come to see Mental Health as a source of income and wealth?

Mental Illness has become a big money earner for the Big Pharma drug companies, and in recent decades there has been a rapidly increasing supply of suitably diagnosed patients who are said to have a ‘Mental Illness’ of some kind. Indeed, where individuals show no sign of disease the ConMed Establishment appears to be willing to invent new mental disorders - see ‘Invented Diseases’!

The Conventional Medical  Establishment has developed, and relies upon the theory that Mental Health problems are caused by a ‘chemical imbalance’ in the brain, and that mental illness arises when someone has low levels of Serotonin in their body (see ‘Depression’). Naturally, the Big Pharma companies have just the drugs to correct this imbalance - unproven, and unsound, as the theory might be!

The sale of Antidepressant and Antipsychotic drugs have been, and continue to be, a major source of revenue for the Big Pharma drug companies for many decades.

The ability to persuade us that we are ill, and that, as a result, we need ConMed treatment, especially Big Pharma drugs, has been one of the main reason for the rise of our drug-dominated NHS. It is more difficult to persuade someone that they have the physical symptoms of illness, but not so hard to persuade them that they are not thinking properly. 

And it has been the ability of ConMed to persuade so many people that they are ‘mad’ or ‘sad’ or ‘bad’ has certainly proven to be a lucrative ploy. Who was it who said, with amazing insight, you have to be mad to be able to live in the modern world! It is certainly true that traditional communities are less susceptible to depressive. And major depression is apparently almost unknown in the Amish society in the USA. Perhaps it also needs to be noted here that one feature of such groups, including the Amish, is that ConMed drugs are not used or approved there.

Indeed, it can also be argued, very strongly, that Big Pharma drugs can contribute to to genuine Mental Health problems. The link between mental health and suicide is often sited, on the basis that depression leads to people taking their own life. For instance, it has been estimated that 80% of suicide victims suffer from major depression. But it is equally true that most people who suffer from ‘major depression’ are taking antidepressant drugs. The question arises, therefore, about whether it is the depression, or the drugs that is causing the massive increase in suicide. It certainly means that antidepressants are not stopping people from taking their lives!

This article was originally published in "The Failure of Conventional Medicine".

Wednesday 7 November 2012

BBC News supports drug taking (Ritalin) to enhance work performance!

BBC News appears to support drug taking! I have said before that the BBC rarely report evidence of the harm and damage Pharmaceutical drugs do to patients, or news about the fraud and corruption of the Big Pharma companies. I have also commented, many times, on their willingness to report the 'medical breakthroughs' reported to them by the Conventional Medical Establishment, without questioning them about the safety of these so-called 'breakthroughs' - which never seem to materialise!

Listening to BBC News would make it appear that all was well with the conventional medical world, and that all we have to do, as patients is to 'keep on taking the pills'.

But this morning, BBC News sank to new depths. In their flagship Radio 4 'Today' programme they discussed a wonderful idea. We could all be taking drugs in order to increase our mental and intellectual performance at work. Employers, and even employees, might even feel it necessary to take these drugs.

Lance Armstrong has just been stripped of 7 Tour de France victories because he took drugs to 'enhance' his performance. Yet, according to the BBC Today programme, it is okay to take so-called 'Mind Enhancing' drugs to improve our performance at work!

And just what drugs does BBC News suggest we should be taking to assist our work performance? The suggestion was ADHD drugs, including Ritalin.

Now, the question arises, is BBC News just ignorant about the disease-inducing-effects (DIEs) of Ritalin? Or are they taking their role as 'sales representative' for the Big Pharma industry more seriously than I have previously thought? Either way, it is unacceptable for a public service broadcaster.

So here is something I have published about Ritalin - in the vain hope, perhaps, that someone at BBC News will bother to read it, and understand that people are suffering out here because too many people are taking this drug that appears to have the support of the BBC.

          "Ritalin is an amphetamine drug used unsparingly for children with ADHD. But other costly and long-acting medications Concerta, Strattera, and Adderral and also used. Some statistics about the rise in the use of this and similar drugs to treat hyperactivity in children shows the soaring sales figures 
     * In the USA between 1993 and 2003, prescriptions of ADHD medications, including Ritalin, almost tripled (274%), with one in 25 children and adolescents in the USA now taking drugs for the condition

     * Global spending on ADHD drugs increased nine-fold, with 83% occurring in the USA

     * In the UK, use of the drugs grew by 12.3% between 1999 and 2003 and expenditure grew by 30.8%. Monthly prescriptions for Ritalin increased from just 4000 in 1994 to 359,000 in 2004. 

In 2000, NICE estimated there are around 400,000 under 16-year olds with ADHD in England and Wales. Richard Scheffler, an expert in health economics and public policy, who led the study said that "ADHD could become the leading childhood disorder treated with medications across the globe. We can expect that the already burgeoning global costs for medication treatment for ADHD will rise even more sharply over the next decade"

A 'What Doctor's Don't Tell You' (WDDTY) report dated 18th October 2007 stated that children as young as three were being given Ritalin, and similar powerful drugs to treat ADHD – even though they are not licensed for use with small children, and there had been no studies to see how safe the drug is in with age group. The report said that early studies suggested around a third of small children given Ritalin or similar drugs have had such a bad reaction that treatment had to be stopped.  The reactions included sleeplessness, irritability, repetitive behaviour or thoughts, and appetite loss. The drugs were also found to affect the child’s growth.  Children on an ADHD drug were around 20% shorter, and 55% lighter, for their age. The source was the Journal of the American Medical Association, 2007; 298: 1747-9).
Indeed, the disease-inducing effects of these drugs are staggering. In another WDDTY report dated February 2005, the following side-effects were listed, indicating how damaging the drugs can be to young children who are probably already suffering from a condition created by other Big Pharma drugs.
Rapid heart beat (palpitations, tachycardia)
High blood pressure (hypertension)
Unusual heart rhythm (arrythmia)
Heart attack (cardiac arrest)

Central Nervous System
Altered mental status (psychosis)
Depression or excitement
Convulsions / seizures (excessive brain stimulation)
Drowsiness or "dopey" feeling
Lack of sleep (insomnia)
Agitation, irritation, anxiety, nervousness
Unhappiness (Dysphoria)
Impaired mental abilities (cognitive impairment on tests)
Jerky movements (Dyskinesias, tics, Tourette's syndrome)
Nervous habits (such as picking at skin or pulling hair)
Compulsive behaviour
Decreased social interest
Zombie-like behaviour

Eating disorders (anorexia)
Stomach ache, cramps
dry mouth
Abnormal liver function tests

Growth problems (pituitary dysfunction)
Weight loss

Blurred vision
Hair loss
Inflammation of the skin (dermatitis)
Blood disorders (anorexia, leukoplacia)
* Involuntary discharge of urine (enuresis)
Joint pain
Unusual sweating

Withdrawal and Rebound
Sleep problems (insomnia)
Evening crash
Over-activity and irritability
Worsening of ADHD-like symptoms

So this is the drug that BBC News so casually thought might be capable of enhancing our work performance this morning. The Today programme made no mention whatsoever that it could cause innumerable health problems as a 'side-effect'. So perhaps we should all be avoiding listening or watching BBC News programmes? Or perhaps they should not be broadcast without a health warning - that listening to this programme could seriously damage our health!

Tuesday 6 November 2012

The Prevention and Treatment of Malaria with Homeopathy

The treatment and prevention of Malaria by Homeopathy has become a highly controversial subject, largely due to the nefarious activities of 'Sense about Science', a so-called 'charity' funded largely by large pharmaceutical companies. BBC News, who always meekly and cravenly support conventional, drug-based medicine, have broadcast several programmes attacking homeopathy for 'daring' to treat the disease! As a Homeopath (who incidentally has never been asked to treat malaria) I decided to look into the subject in order to compare what homeopathy and ConMed can offer the patient.

The first thing to say is that Homeopathy has been treating Malaria for a very long time. Sue Young has done research into this in her blog "A Homeopathic History of Malaria". Indeed, as she explains, it was Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of Homeopathy, who first looked into it. So it was Hahnemann

          "During the translation of a book by William Cullen, the leading physiologist of that time, Samuel Hahnemann noted that William Cullen asserted that Peruvian bark was an effective drug for malaria because of its bitter and astringent properties."

          "Samuel Hahnemann thought this a peculiar statement because he knew other bitter and astringent medicines that provided no benefit in the treatment of malaria. He then conducted an experiment upon himself, taking this herb twice a day until he developed symptoms of its toxicology, and here he discovered that it created a fever with chills as well as other symptoms that mimicked malaria".
So it was Hahnemann, in the very early days of homeopathy, who proposed that Peruvian Bark (which contains quinine) might be effective for treating people with Malaria. He did so, of course, on the bias of the principle tenet of Homeopathy - that "Like cures Like".
Sue Young's blog goes on to list a series of recorded events in which homeopathy was used to treat Malaria, including many individual cures, and its use in outbreaks in various parts of the world. It also traces the work of Homeopaths who developed the homeopathic treatment of Malaria from 1826 to the present day.

Theresa Partington, in her article in Homeopathy in Practice, Spring 2006, outlined some of the current projects that are using homeopathy to both prevent and treat malaria. One conclusion she reached, after speaking with several Homeopaths, involved in the practical, face to face treatment of malaria in coutries were the disease is rife, was as follows:

          "All our practitioners found that malaria responds well in the acute phase, the chronic state proving more difficult, often being complicated by other diseases, poor living conditions, reinfection etc. All will use support remedies for the liver and the spleen (generally recommending Chelidonium and Cean). Of the non-homeopathic treatments for prophylaxis and treatment of acute and chronic states, Neem tea was strongly recommended by the two Kenya practitioners.
Homeopathy is a practical rather than a theoretical medical therapy. It seeks to treat people suffering from disease on the basis of identifying a 'similar' remedy to the symptoms of an individual suffering from the disease, and then observing whether it is effective. Theresa's article demonstrates this well. Homeopaths are active in many parts of the world where Malaria is common, and its benefits are clear to those who can see what is happening on the ground. 

I am aware of several projects, doing practical work with people who live in parts of the world that has a high incidence of Malaria. One such project as asked that their work is not highlighted, fearing attack from Homeopathy Denialists, BBC News, the Guardian, and other supporters of conventional medical treatment, and Big Pharma drugs. The conclusion this project has reached, after working many years with Malaria, is simple:

          "Homeopathy does indeed work for malaria. Homeopaths should not be afraid of this disease, nor prevented from treating it".

This kind of practical, no nonsense treatment of disease is anathema to the opponents of Homeopathy, and the supporters of Big Pharma. In their craven support of ConMed treatment the Conventional Medial Establishment, and its Media allies, appear willing to summarily dismiss, without the least thought or consideration, any evidence that Homeopathy may work with sick people! This is particularly indefensible as there has also been research done into the homeopathic treatment of malaria too - which is usually studiously ignored!

"Effects of homeopathic medications Eupatorium perfoliatum and Arsenicum album on parasitemia of Plasmodium berghei-infected mice" was a study undertaken in 2006. It reached the following conclusion:

          "We found significant inhibitory effect on parasite multiplication with both medications with a level of 60% for Eupatorium perfoliatum at a 30 CH potency. Arsenicum album 0/6 gave 70% inhibition but this was less stable than Eupatorium perfoliatum. The number of schizonts was higher in animals treated with homeopathic medications.

Another 'open study' and 'double blind randomised clinical trial' was undertaken in Ghana in 1993, using just three homeopathic remedies, Arsenicum Album, Natrum Mur and Pulsatilla. I am not sure why the study was restricted to these three remedies. The conclusion was that the results obtained  were at least as good as the main conventional drug used, and probably better.

          "The only conclusion that can be drawn is that homeopathy has an effect, comparable with and slightly (non-significantly) better than chloroquine. The effect of chloroquine might be difficult to calibrate as the level of resistance against chloroquine is not known in the population studied". 

Another study was undertaken in Tanzania (after 2004, date unclear) using a single remedy made from the Neen tree, which was apparently known by local tradition in the area to be an effective treatment for Malaria. The conclusion of this study was as follows: 

          "The homeopathic neem preparation has shown to be effective for the reduction of malaria attacks in a highly endemic area for plasmodium falciparum. The treatment is safe in the short term and the low cost of manufacturing renders this treatment especially attractive for developing countries as the purchase cost is well within the range of an average household budget.

The success of homeopathy is treating Malaria is recognised in many parts of the world, less under the perverse influence of the Big Pharma companies. Earlier this year (2012), the Madhya Pradesh announced that it was initiating a major campaign to prevent Malaria. The Times of India announced the practical evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathy in the prevention of Malaria.

Under the campaign launched by the state government, homoeopathic medicines will be administered door-to-door. The decision to distribute homeopathic was taken as it has provided effective in prevention of malaria. (My emphasis).

So whilst I am aware that this evidence will be summarily dismissed by Homeopathy Denialists, and their colleagues at BBC News (and, indeed, the mainstream media generally), Homeopaths must insist that this evidence is taken into consideration before routinely condemning homeopathy. 

BBC News's unbalanced and biased coverage of anything to do with homeopathy is well known. This particular subject was dealt with in the now infamous Newsnight programme, broadcast on 4th January 2011. It began with someone approaching a Homeopath to ask what she recommended for travelling to a part of the world where Malaria was rife. It went on to attack the homeopathic treatment of Malaria because (they claimed) there was 'no evidence' of its effectiveness, and to drive home the point, BBC News asked a series of ConMed trained 'experts' to support the attack on homeopathy.

What the programme failed to ask was why people should want to ask a Homeopath about Malaria treatment - especially when they could access conventional advice, and get conventional drugs, free of charge from their NHS doctor.

People come to Homeopaths for treatment, including treatment related to Malaria, because they want an alternative to conventional, drug-based medicine. Indeed, when we examine what ConMed, and Big Pharma drugs, have to offer to people looking for Malaria protection (and what they will 'miss out' on if they choose Homeopathy) is quite awful, and does not make easy reading.

First, there is growing resistance to the Big Pharma drugs. In other words, they are no longer working as effectively as once they did (and how well they have ever worked is certainly highly debatable).

Second, the drugs give rise to quite horrendous adverse reactions. Conventional medication includes quinine based drugs, such as Chloroquine, and Artemisia-based drugs, such as Lariam. These produce severe adverse reactions, ranging from skin symptoms to organ failure. As I have said many time before elsewhere, the impact of these drugs are not 'side-effects' - the are fully blown, life-threatening diseases!

Lariam, for example, perhaps the most well-known Malaria drug, is known to cause adverse heart, kidney, liver, skin, and central nervous system problems, as well as causing serious psychiatric issues. Lariam was investigated by the FDA as long ago as 2003 when some returning US troops, who had received the drug, committed suicide or murder. In other words, Lariam shows the same kind of disease-inducing effects that are associated with most, if not all ConMed medication. In the same year, 2003, the magazine WDDTY said that Lariam "poses a serious and public health concern", and this, perhaps, is a good summary of most conventional Malarial drugs

Nor are any new Big Pharma treatments appearing on the horizon. WDDTY reported in August 2012 that two new Malaria vaccines, "medicine's great hope in combating the disease" have been found to make the disease worse. It reported that tests, undertaken at Pennsylvania State University, discovered that the Malaria parasite "changes rapidly to resist the vaccine - making the vaccine itself ineffective within days and encouraging the spread of an even deadlier forms of the disease"(Source given: PLoS Biology, 2012; doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001368).

The personal experience of people using these Big Pharma drugs can also be catastrophic. In an article published in The Times, on 22nd January 1996, it was reported that a group of travellers were seeking compensation over an anti-malaria drug "that produces serious psychological problems in some people,  and other side-effects , in almost a quarter of users". The article reported that a solicitor in Bristol was planning a 'group action' against the manufacturer, pointing out that not only were the DIEs serious, they were also long-lasting. He stated:

          "We have people who have serious psychiatric disorders because of Lariam. For some people the problems persist long after they have stopped taking the drug."

In another Times article, written by the well-known journalist Matthew Parris on 4th April 1998, entitled "I think I'd rather have Malaria", he described the mental and physical reactions he had to Lariam:

          "As soon as I began the course two weeks before leaving Britain my night-time dreams turned weird. Strange, grotesque dreams, often with a horrific edge. Monstrous hideous faces would loom at me waking me in the night."

Matthew Parris went on to describe the mental reactions he had to the drug, which included hallucinations, and the physical reactions that for him included itching skin and an odd taste in his mouth.

           "I think the chemical composition of my saliva must have altered. My mouth just tasted different. Some food seemed to taste strange too. Tea, in particular (and to a lesser extent coffee), took on a faint but discernibly bitter edge.

And for Matthew Parris too, the symptoms of these conventional Malaria drugs continued for a long time:

          "That was three months ago and only now is it beginning to fade. It was as though some small but discernible chemical change had occurred to the internal balances within my body. Amputation I can face, but this sort of thing really scares me".

So there is good reason for people looking for alternative medical treatment. And, contrary to the opinions BBC News and the Media generally wishes to impose on us, I believe that it is important that people know that about the possible disease-inducing effects ((DIEs) of conventional Malaria treatment, and are informed that there are alternative treatments, like Homeopathy, certainly safer, and probably more effective, available to them.

So what should be done for people wishing to protect themselves from Malaria? As Karin Mont, Chair, Alliance of Registered Homeopaths, stated when advising Homeopaths, following the BBC Newsnight programme, patients should seek the fullest possible advice.

          "..... ARH would encourage our members to ensure their patients are given all information available, so that they can make an informed choice. This would also be appropriate behaviour for all healthcare practitioners, including medical doctors. Perhaps we can encourage patients to start insisting that their doctors explain all potential adverse reactions of the drugs they prescribe (in easily comprehensible terms!), rather than relying on a slip of paper in minute font to do the job for them!

Postscript, August 2013
In an FDA Drug Safety Communication, it has been announced that the antimalarial drug, mefloquine hydrochloride is now known to cause "serious psychiatric and nerve side-effects". These can last for 'months to years' after taking the drug. The drug is not being withdrawn (of course) but the warning labels are to be strengthened! It is now going to have a 'Black Box' warning. Wow!

Patients and carers are asked to 'watch for these side effects' but 'should not stop taking' it before discussing symptoms with health care professional.

I wonder if the BBC will bother to tell us about this? Perhaps it will just have another go at Homeopathy instead. It is important that they try to stop all those foolish people who are looking for prevention and treatment that is safer!

Monday 5 November 2012

Ash Tree Die-Back. Can Homeopathy Help?

It would appear that our woodlands, indeed our entire countryside, is going to be devastated by a new disease facing our Ash trees. Just how devastating 'Chalara Die-Back' is going to be can only be imagined. I am part of a 'Friends' group to an area of Ancient Woodland close to where I live, and walking through the wood in recent days, I have taken noted the number of Ash Trees making up this wood, and they must make up well over 50% of it.

Dutch Elm disease has already destroyed most of our Elm trees, an estimated 25 million trees in the UK alone. The Elm was once one of our most distinctive trees, a single tree growing to almost 50 metres tall. Since a virulent form of the disease hit the UK in the late 1960s, they are now, mostly, gone. Is this now about to happen to our Ash Trees? And do I hear reports of similar diseases threatening our Oaks?

Is this a medical issue? It certainly is! Trees and plants generally are living organisms, and they live in the same environment as we do. And their health is probably as important to our health as the food we eat, and the exercise we do. Indeed, whilst we are busy polluting our environment, it is our trees that are working hard to undo the damage we cause.

Our response to Ash Die-Back, just as our response to Dutch Elm disease was several decades ago, appears to be little more than a 'scorched-earth' policy.

At the first sight of the disease, cut them down, destroy them, and then burn them.

This is certainly the policy of the Government. The discussion, at present, appears to revolve around the culpability of the Government (in not acting sooner), and whether, in view of this, Tree Nurseries need to be compensated. So is this all we know? Is this all we can do? Certainly, if it is than our Ash Trees are doomed, even now.

This is not an unfamiliar story for Conventional Medicine (ConMed). For instance, 'Foot and Mouth' disease was 'treated' in exactly the same way. In the UK outbreak of 2001 it is estimated that about 7 million sheep and cattle were killed, not just those with the disease, but those who may have come into contact with them (thought to be about 80% of the culled animals). In total the outbreak is said to  have cost the UK about £8 million.

This is surely the medicine of the mad-house? Indeed, should it really be called 'medicine' at all?

As usual, ConMed is good when it comes to diagnosing disease, and its cause (we apparently know what is causing Chalara Die-Back) - but short of destroying what we want to save it seems to have little or no effective treatment. I wonder if we would be happy to be told, when we are diagnosed with an 'infectious' disease, that we would have to be killed in order to save other people? Yet the failure of ConMed can be seen in medical treatment of humans. For instance, BBC News today has featured a report that a celebrity has, by choice, had a double mastectomy "as a precaution against further cancer".

This kind of response is the response of a medical system that has few successful, or effective treatments to disease, in either its prevention, cure, or transmission.

To cut down and burn a tree is not treatment - it is just a last-ditch attempt to stop the disease spreading. Ultimately, what this is going to means for our Ash Trees is that the prospect of their total destruction.

Vaikunthanath Das Kaviraj (Kav for short) is a Homeopath who has been leading developments in our knowledge and understanding of the homeopathic treatment of plants. In his book, "Homeopathy for Farm and Garden: toward a homeopathic agriculture" he has identified several remedies that can treat Die-Back in trees, notably Silicea (also known as Silica). This is a remedy made from flint, and I have taken parts of the description of this remedy straight from this book.

Clinical (what the remedy is used for). 
Die back. Premature flowering, herbicide, germination aid, general tonic, transplant shock, soil remedy, weak straggly plants, puny growth, bark and sheath diseases, chlorosis, aphids, bud worm, citrus mite, dried fruit beetle.

....... A large proportion of the Earth's crust is composed of Silica...... Silica is taken up by plants and is deposited on the interior of the stems as well as forming the sheath or bark that holds the plant upright .......Silicic acid is a constituent of the cells of the connective tissue. The epidermis forms the protective sheath around the cambium where silica gives strength to the long molecules of the bibre.  Silica will cripple bark in health trees causing death (remember, Homeopathy = 'Curing Like with Like')........... Its indication in dieback has been confirmed in practice with remarkable results. A sapling with dieback, which had only one quarter of the bark left, which was loose asnd drying out, was given one dose of Silica 6x and ther next day the bark was reattached to the cambium, and after one week, the top branches were growing new shoots and leaves.

I have absolutely no experience of using Silicea for Ash Die-Back but it seems, from what Kav, is saying here, is something the Government, the Forestry Commission, and the various Environmental Charities who manage woodland, and tree nurseries, should be examining seriously. It is certainly a much less destructive treatment. And if we can prove its value, perhaps initially in small pockets, it is something well worth considering.

I have asked Kav for guidance in this matter, especially as it relates to the 70 plus acres of Ancient Woodland close to where I live. He has recommended that Silicea, in aqueous form, is applied to the ground around each tree - about 1 litre of liquid for each tree. I am currently in the process of seeing whether we can get together sufficient people together to treat the Ash trees in this wood.

But more focused, and comprehensive trials need to be undertaken as a matter of urgency to see if Chalara Die Back can be successfully treated with Homeopathy, and I would certainly urge the Government, DEFRA, the Forestry Commission, and other Environmental Agencies to get involved in this process.