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From the Townsend Letter
December 2006


Letter from the Publisher
by Jonathan Collin, MD

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In my October 2006 letter, I asked a rhetorical question: why, I wondered, is it wrong for a husband to beat a wife, but okay for a sovereign nation to bomb apartment buildings and kill husbands, wives, and children? No one responded to this unanswerable question, although my brother thought my writing was decidedly effete, because I didn't identify my own position regarding the warring parties. For the record, I am critical of both sides, and I would prefer to handle animosities in the conference room or, better yet, in a tent with a powwow or a tribal dance. How ugly is it to handle our disputes with guns and explosives! Yet, here we are in the twenty-first century engaged in much the same aggressive behavior as that favored by Greek warriors and written about in such lyrical form in the Iliad. Why can't we evolve beyond the aggression and the bloodshed?

Speaking of philosophical writing, I usually think very favorably of someone who likes to read and share his or her opinions in a letter or article. I am even more impressed if such an individual is gifted enough to read a book every few days and write the occasional short story or poem. But what is one to think of an eight-year-old girl who reads two to three books per day and has authored 400 short stories and poems? Adora Svitak has now published a collection of her stories and poems. She loves to read books on history and fantasy, as well as on technology and education – the European Renaissance is of particular interest to her. She started to write at the age of four; her book's title,
Flying Fingers, refers to her own hands flying over the keyboard. This isn't natural medicine, but it's not every day you are asked challenging questions about life and philosophy by an eight-year-old, and such a remarkable collection is worth noting.

While we're on the subject of collections, the
Townsend Letter office maintains archives of every past issue since the magazine's inception in 1983. Occasionally, we receive a request from a reader who wishes to purchase all the printed issues of the Townsend Letter. Our website,, does index all articles, subjects, and authors in the archives but, unfortunately, does not offer access to all articles. We do offer select articles online; other articles are available only with purchase of the printed back-issue. Readers have requested that we offer an e-version of the Townsend Letter, and this is under consideration. In the interim, two electronic information resources – the Thomson Gale database ( and EBSCO Publishing ( – offer all our magazine content published after 1990. These sites charge a fee to subscribe to their services and a fee for access to the article, but they allow acquisition of Townsend Letter articles electronically, as needed. Look Smart's Find Articles offers access to most of our articles from 2001 to the present, at no charge.

Pub Med ( is an invaluable web tool for acquiring medical journal abstracts and articles for many medical and science journals. Regrettably, the
Townsend Letter is not archived by Pub Med. Reviewing medical literature for the past two decades is comparatively easy now with the Web; however, retrieving information from journals published prior to 1970 remains difficult.

Homeopathy and Hydrochloric Acid Therapy: Historical Perspectives
In this issue of the Townsend Letter, Steven Brynoff considers historical perspectives of homeopathy. During the 1800s, physicians did not have anti-biotics and corticosteroids to administer during acute infections. Homeopathic preparations of Belladonna were used prophy-lactically to prevent scarlet fever, while Aconite was used to treat a similar infection: scarlatina. Using homeopathy to prevent infectious illness ran counter to the prevailing medical interest, which favored administering newly invented immunizations to prevent infections. Brynoff reports that certain homeopathic physicians experienced a lower death rate during the flu pandemic of 1918 using homeopathic Gelsemium, Arsenicum, and Bryonia. Is there a role for homeopathy use in twenty-first-century medicine in preventing infection? Brynoff argues the case that homeopathic prophylaxis is a vital alternative to the flu shot and an important tool to consider during a flu p andemic.

Another historical perspective considers the physicians who, earlier in the twentieth century, were focused on using basic inorganic chemicals for treatment of infectious disease. Mercury, gold, and arsenic were considered important tools – albeit ones that produced somewhat limited results – for treating syphilis, tuberculosis, cholera, and malaria. Medical applications of chemistry did not always require poisons. In the 1920s, the use of hydrochloric acid, administered intravenously to treat infection, garnered considerable and developing interest. In this issue, we introduce a collection of papers describing the treatment of infection with HCl therapy. The papers were originally published in the Medical World, edited by Henry Pleasants, MD, and, this month, we will begin publishing the complete set of articles, Three Years of HCl Therapy, in a four-part series on our website,

World Trade Center Dust Inhalation Respiratory Disease
Five years after the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, a growing number of rescue workers and individuals living near Ground Zero are developing severe respiratory ailments. Largely ignored by federal authorities, many individuals who had been exposed to the dust of the World Trade Center site are suffering from chronic obstructive lung disease, secondary to particle inhalation. Dr. Paul Lioy, Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, has cited the presence of various materials, found in the dust, that were inhaled or ingested. The explosive jet fuel contaminated the dust with petroleum byproducts, hydrocarbons, and dioxin, as well as toxic metals including lead and titanium. The inhaled dust, according to Lioy, was 50% construction materials, 40% glass and fibers, nine percent paper cellulose, and one percent asbestos. Nearly 40% of the particulate matter measure d was found to be less than 50 microns in size, small enough to easily pass to the alveoli, the breathing sacs of the lungs. Unfortunately, the majority of the rescue workers and Ground Zero neighborhood residents have not been evaluated routinely for respiratory illness. The result is that most individuals developing respiratory illness have been seeking help from their primary care physicians and have received symptomatic treatment only.

One medical center in New York City, Mount Sinai Hospital, has set up a referral center with a federal grant, screening nearly 2,000 workers for respiratory illness. Diagnostic problems remain difficult in the primary care setting; a sinus infection may actually represent the aftermath of a chemical burn. Some workers have progressed from mild to severe respiratory disease. Mount Sinai Hospital has outlined typical features and diagnostic information for individuals who have sustained damage from severe inhalation of dust. A summary of resources is available at Medical treatment options should be supported by detoxification approaches offered by alternative practitioners. The April 2006 issue of the Townsend Letter discussed a detoxification technique for 9/11 rescue workers using the Hubbard Sauna regimen. (This article by Cecchini et al. is reprinted this month on

Natural Approaches to Preventing and Treating Colds and Flu
To many of us, a cold is an annoying short-term winter ailment, while the flu is a much more prolonged and debilitating illness. Theoretically, the cold virus (rhinovirus) and the influenza virus are distinctly different organisms, but the symptom presentation is not necessarily so distinct: colds with sore throats, flu with sinus infections, colds with bronchitis symptoms, and flu with lung infections. When is symptomatic support with so-called over-the-counter (OTC) cold formulas sufficient? When is an antibiotic and a corticosteroid important and necessary? Again, the diagnostic distinctions are not necessarily so obvious. Low-grade colds and ear infections are inappropriately treated with antibiotics, while serious sinus infections and pneumonia get treated with chicken soup and vitamin C. Only when there is full-system failure and we collapse do we end up hospitalized, receiving intravenous fluids, antibiotics, and other emergency medications. Preventing systematic, overwhelming infection is clearly a goal in treating colds and flu. Surviving the symptom distress of a moderate cold or flu process, although secondary, is still of major importance, yet rarely requires an antibiotic.

OTC cold formulas, chicken soup, vitamin C, and herbal support remain primary treatments in cold care. Saline irrigation or inhalation (nebulizer) is very useful in sinus care and preventing sinusitis. The big question is secondary care. Do we use herbal formulas and immune-supporting agents in moderation or intensively during the cold and flu process? Is there value in aggressively treating colds and flu with intravenous vitamin C, Myer's cocktail, and other nutrients such as hydrochloric acid or even hydrogen peroxide? In this issue of the Townsend Letter, we explore these different supportive strategies for cold and flu management and their complicating secondary conditions.

Of course, a few argue that prevention – not necessarily with the flu shot – is the best treatment. Natural preventive strategies include the use of homeopathy, increased vitamin and mineral nutrition, immune-support formulas, and herbal therapies. However, all prevention strategies require successful resolution of previous infections; too many individuals have low-grade infections and/or inflammation that are not satisfactorily treated. Colds and flu viruses favor opportunistic hosts who have ongoing, untreated, underlying infection.

Jonathan Collin, MD

Consult your doctor before using any of the treatments found within this site.

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