Vitamin C for the Bronchial Blues
I was quite shocked and nonplussed several weeks ago when I abruptly developed a cold and bronchial infection. Not only did I think that this was an unreasonable interruption and inconvenience, but I had the arrogance to think that I had developed some degree of immunity to this sort of thing. Yes, there were a few short-term colds over the last decade but to have a major cold, sinus drainage, sneezing, and coughing – I really thought that I would not come down with this, especially after surviving the winter season. You hate to do this – it's almost a national pastime – but everyone likes to assign blame for how you developed the cold. Not only is the infection going around, but when family members or friends have it, people are hasty to attribute their malaise to the sick party. In my case, one would rightfully blame my wife, who had been suffering with a cold and bronchial infection the week before. I had been travelling and out of the house, so I primly thought that I wouldn't be picking up her bug. But sure enough, I developed an infection with "all the extras" – and I was ill prepared for how I would transform into such a nasal drainage maker; I could hardly believe that my body could produce mucus faster than I could expel it. Needless to say, I bid goodbye to the working world and kept steadfast at home. I did begin the usual pharmacy of OTC cold remedies, oral vitamin C, herbal remedies, and homeopathics. None of these were effective in calming the maelstrom. My one solace was something that few patients or health professionals have access to or at least make available for themselves: intravenous vitamin C.
To me as a health professional, intravenous vitamin C is not a strange remedy to use only in extremis – it is a vital part of the office medical pharmacy and it is implemented in many patient situations routinely and frequently. I have seen vitamin C work miracles and I have seen it be just a routine member of a "team" of supports helpful in making the patient get better. We all have our amazing stories of how a remedy, such as vitamin C, played a crucial role in turning around a desperate health situation. I recall a patient who had a critical degenerative liver disease and had been scheduled for a liver transplant at the local university. After a lengthy number of intravenous vitamin C sessions, his condition turned around. When he was evaluated at the liver clinic, he was removed from the liver transplant listing. Vitamin C plays a key role in the short "Myers cocktails" touted by Alan Gaby, MD; Myers cocktails are terribly helpful for the fatigue, depression, and metabolic dysfunction of many patients with fibromyalgia and hypersensitivity.
While in the past I have availed myself of intravenous vitamin C on occasion, I became much more aggressive in receiving this treatment during the course of this cold and bronchial infection. Everything that I report here is "anecdotal," as the medical profession is apt to quip. However, I must admit that intravenous vitamin C is a terribly powerful agent, especially when one is gripped by a nasty infection. There is no comparison of intravenous vitamin C and oral vitamin C. First of all, one cannot tolerate 25-plus grams (25,000 mg) of vitamin C orally without setting one's bowels amuck. More importantly, intravenous vitamin C, especially in doses of 25 or more grams, is exerting a pharmacologic effect on the body that cannot be mimicked by the oral preparation. For me, the intravenous vitamin C seemed to invigorate the system when the infection most debilitated it. It definitely affected the body physiologically, diminishing the most stressful symptoms; but it also revitalized the brain functioning and energized the intense weakness. I would say that intravenous vitamin C strengthened every other treatment; it was as perfect a complementary therapy as I could imagine.
I think that every health professional needs to experience intravenous vitamin C to understand this tool – it is not something that one can just understand by reading pharmacology and physiology.
ICIM Washington Meeting a Blast!
ICIM (International College of Integrative Medicine) recently held its meeting in Washington, DC. ICIM is a small group of physicians primarily centered in the Midwest who typically arrange medical meetings in Cleveland, Chicago, or Nashville; but this spring they opted for the capital. Despite some unseasonably inclement weather, a contingent of physician members spent a day lobbying Congress – advocating for the implementation and acceptance of integrative and chelation medicine. Wendy Chappell, executive director of ICIM for many years, set up a solid academic program with Conrad Maulfair, DO, that was capped by a dinner boat ride on the Potomac sponsored by PERQUE Labs. This 56th Congress of ICIM focused on bringing together the best of "conventional" and "innovative" medicine. Dr. Terry Chappell, previous president of ICIM, noted that the twice-annual meetings offer physicians the opportunity to examine biologic and chelation medicine in a congenial setting.
John Parks Trowbridge, MD, reviewed and updated chelation therapy and the results of the TACT trial – his article was published in the May issue of the Townsend Letter. Trowbridge reminded us that metal toxicology is not predicated on strict measurement of individual toxicities. The chief concern is not whether one has either lead poisoning or mercury poisoning – it is whether one carries a subtoxic burden of lead and mercury on a long-term basis. Rodent studies reveal that when several toxic elements accumulate, rats are subject to greater physiological abnormalities than expected from lead or mercury individually. Toxic element screenings generally reveal that humans are frequently carrying subtoxic burdens of multiple elements. Removing toxic element burdens, the principal function of chelation therapy, is effective in improving organ physiology. Trowbridge reminded us that there has been substantial literature on the benefit of chelation therapy despite the fact that conventional medicine has ignored much of it. Ed McDonagh, DO, and Charles Rudolph, DO, published 31 papers in the 1980s demonstrating efficacy of chelation therapy. Chappell and Stahl published a meta-analysis in 1983 of 19 papers on IV EDTA chelation involving 22,000 patients; improvement was noted in 87% of patients. The recent NIH-sponsored TACT trial demonstrated a significant reduction in cardiovascular events, strokes, and myocardial infarctions in patients receiving IV EDTA. The results were even more dramatic in diabetic patients. Chelation therapy is a critical treatment for managing degenerative, aging-related disorders.
Ron Hunninghake, MD, medical director of the Riordan Clinic in Wichita, Kansas, made the case that IV ascorbic acid is critical in the management of inflammation, infection, and cancer. Dr. Hunninghake dedicated his speech to Hugh Riordan, MD, who pioneered orthomolecular medicine and whose work was memorialized with a professorship in orthomolecular medicine at Kansas University School of Medicine. Hunninghake reminds us of the clear relationship noted by sea captains centuries ago between scurvy and the absence of consumption of fruit containing ascorbic acid. Irwin Stone was the biochemist who introduced Linus Pauling to the use of ascorbic acid supplementation against disease. Remarkably, Frederick Klenner, MD, employed IV vitamin C to treat serious infections including polio, yet the medical profession ignored his successes. Hunninghake made the case that the use of IV ascorbic acid generates intracellular hydroxyl radical and hydrogen peroxide – a key step in establishing a pro-oxidative reaction against inflammation and cancer. Riordan's work demonstrated that IV vitamin C plays a pivotal role in countering cellular hypoxia in cancer; such a step is critical to restoring apoptosis in cancer management. Riordan's work supports the use of routine, repetitive IV ascorbic acid in managing cancer patients – to be used in conjunction with other conventional cancer therapies. The criticism that IV vitamin C would neutralize or reverse the effect of chemotherapy on tumor cells is unfounded. Hunninghake notes that the Riordan Clinic routinely measures serum vitamin C levels. It is not uncommon that patients require 60 grams of ascorbic acid intravenously to achieve a satisfactory level of serum vitamin C. Hunninghake cautions that all patients receiving ascorbic acid should have regular monitoring of their creatinine levels.
It would appear that Hunninghake makes the case for why IV ascorbic acid was so helpful for me personally when I had my bronchial infection. The ICIM lectures were recorded and are available for purchase from www.icimed.com. For those of you interested in participating with ICIM, the next meeting will be September 2013 in Columbus, Ohio.
Naturopathic Approach to Kidney Disease
If you are like me, you find kidney disease not only difficult to understand, but generally without many answers from an alternative viewpoint. Additionally, without good kidney functioning, it is risky to prescribe high doses of vitamins, minerals, and herbs. IV therapies, in particular, call for optimal kidney functioning when following protocols for administering chelation, vitamin C, and other nutrients. In the few cases that I administered chelation to a patient with definite abnormal kidney functioning, creatinine and BUN scores did increase. (Surprisingly, some physicians have claimed that their IV protocols have improved creatinine and BUN.) It is therefore with great interest that we present in this issue Dr. Jenna Henderson's article on diagnosing and managing kidney disease from a naturopathic perspective.
Dr. Henderson focuses on kidney disease not secondary to diabetes and hypertension. Instead she examines the condition frequently seen in children and young adults known as focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). Dr. Henderson reviews the common kidney disease pathologies and notes the relationship of FSGS to minimal change nephrotic syndrome (MCNS). She notes that FSGS is the most common cause of kidney failure in children and accounts for 5% of kidney failure in adults. FSGS is four times more common in African Americans compared with other causes of glomerulonephritis. Although FSGS is generally idiopathic, known causes include HIV and other infections, toxic exposure, and genetic abnormalities. Of interest is that vitamin D deficiency will increase the risk of development and progression of FSGS.
It is interesting that symptoms of FSGS appear to overlap symptoms of hypothyroidism including edema, low basal temperature, cold intolerance, and hypercholesterolemia. Of course, FSGS has symptoms quite unrelated to hypothyroidism, including foaminess in the urine, proteinuria, hypoalbuminemia, bone loss, muscle atrophy, decreased immunity, and increased platelet stickiness.
Dr. Henderson discusses in detail the conventional medical management of kidney disease and then reviews naturopathic supports for FSGS. It is important to note that herbal therapies are primarily used in addressing FSGS in kidneys that have not been transplanted – patients having transplants must not be given herbal therapies.
Naturopathic Approaches to Dermatology
Not too long ago, I worked with a gentleman who had a difficult case of leg eczema. He had been to a few dermatologists, who treated him with moderate steroid creams. The dermatitis did not improve – in fact, it worsened. I recommended the use of a number of nutritional supports, antifungal agents, and intravenous vitamin C. He made slow progress but the eruption persisted. When he saw a new dermatologist, he was prescribed a "super" steroid cream and the eruption abruptly improved. Was this a case in which the alternative therapies were not effective and all he needed was the corticosteroid cream? It would not appear that way, because the first round of steroid creams was not effective. In this issue of the Townsend Letter, two articles make the case for alternative approaches to managing skin conditions.
Debbie Whittington, ND, reviews the literature for the use of probiotics in preventing and treating eczema, noting that pre- and postnatal use is effective. Whittington argues that the risks are minimal, so there is good reason to use probiotics in prevention and treatment of eczema. Dr. Ulrike Winter and Prof. med. H. W. Kaiser discuss the effects and uses of sulfur in dermatology. Working with patients at Bad Wiessee, Germany's strongest iodine-sulfur springs, Winter and Kaiser have observed that the sulfur plays a key role in moderating dermatologic conditions.
Jonathan Collin, MD