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Alternative Treatment and Cleft Care
by Leigh Austin
Please be advised that the ideas and treatments expressed here should be confirmed by your doctor prior to use, and pregnant or lactating women are strongly advised not to take or perform any treatment unless prescribed for
you by your physician or a licensed Naturopathic doctor.
What if your body could be stronger and more resistant to infection than it ever had been before, very easily? What if you could prevent a cold from coming on before it happened? What if you could enhance your child's recovery process or lessen the scarring from surgery? What if you could have total control over your body and your illnesses? Wouldn't you want to know how? I am here today to get you thinking about how you can achieve all of those things.
Until the advent of modern medicine, medical diagnosis and treatment were based on four things:
· A general theory of health and disease and the nature of curative agents.
· An intuitive appraisal of the patient's condition
· Directing the patient toward making the changes necessary in their lives to promote self-healing.
More recently, however, the theory of health has been all but lost. Only pathology is studied. Intuition is often replaced by distant analysis. The role of "healing" is placed on the drug, or on some kind of physical intervention such as surgery, radiation, or antibiotics. Experience has been replaced by a continuous onslaught of new synthetic drugs and physical techniques that nature never counted on in the evolution of the human body.
Health is a reflection of the balance between the different aspects of ourselves - body, mind and spirit - and our environment, experiences, associations and food. There cannot be sickness in any of these aspects without its being reflected to some degree in all of the others.
Alternative treatment and Allopathic medicine are often seen as the antithesis of one another, and people assume that they are incompatible. On the contrary, the two systems of medicine can work very effectively together and in fact, complement each other. Representative of male and female energies, Yin and Yang, or right and left brain, they have much to learn from each other, but both are needed for harmonious balance. I firmly believe that alternative treatment is not only a viable source of treatment, but that it can and should be used to augment allopathic treatments. It shouldn't be a case of one or the other, but an integrated approach from both perspectives (more commonly known as Integrated Medicine). Healing should always take the holistic approach, and consider the patient as a being with all the power necessary to heal itself given the appropriate re-balancing treatment. If we take that approach, we can look at all sickness and disease from an entirely different perspective, and thus, have more control of our bodies and our illnesses.
As it relates to cleft care, my opinion is that Naturopathic doctors and body workers should be incorporated into the multidisciplinary craniofacial teams to augment the allopathic treatment, and offer a holistic perspective to the
There are many different types of alternative treatments. I will cover only a few today as they relate directly to cleft care, but I invite you to seek your own information and try some techniques yourself.
Herbal medicine and supplements
While chemical drugs are actively killing bacteria and viruses, herbal medicines build and restore the system. They build and strengthen the body's natural immunity and defense mechanisms. They nourish the deep inner ecology of our systems on a cellular level. Our bodies are comfortable with herbs; they recognize them and efficiently utilize them. While modern medicine provides symptomatic relief, herbs often provide the impetus for lasting change.
Among the systems most affected and relevant to cleft children are the endocrine and immune systems, the liver and the circulatory system and heart. It is important that people and children going into surgery prepare their
bodies and minds. Strengthening the systems with herbs and supplements, limiting stress and maintaining a positive attitude and will power to heal our bodies are the best ways to do that. My recommendations for herbal
treatment before surgery are:
1. Begin Wheatgrass (if not taking daily) 10 days prior to surgery.
2. Begin echinacea 10 days prior to surgery.
3. Begin Dandelion root and astralagus 7 days prior to surgery. (Women should use Nettle too.)
4. On the day of surgery, take Valerian root and skullcap, if desired and okayed by anesthesiologist. Chamomile tea following surgery, and continue Valerian and skullcap.
5. Post surgery, continue Echinacea for 5 days, also take Golden seal root for 5-7 days.
6. Continue Dandelion root and astralagus for 5-7 days.
7. Introduce garlic into the diet, where possible for children and adults. Lactating women can eat garlic and pass the benefit to the infant through the breast milk.
Cleft affected children and adults are prone to sinus and ear infections because of the poorly functioning Eustachian tubes. The best treatment is prevention where possible, by strengthening his or her immunity to infection by giving a whole food diet with plenty of vitamin rich fruit and vegetables, and extra vitamin C and zinc during the winter months. Avoid foods which contribute to the production of mucous, such as refined carbohydrates and dairy products. At the first sign of colds, or infection, I recommend beginning echinacea. If it is infection, Golden seal and/or Astralagus
should be taken as well.
What is it? Simply put, Aromatherapy means "a therapy using aromas." The term Aromatherapy was coined in the 1920s to describe the use of essential oils for therapeutic purposes, but could just have easily been called essential oil therapy, or plant essence therapy.
Therapeutic aromas come from the distilled essences of the plant kingdom - flowers, trees, herbs, and bushes. The relevant part of the plant (wood from the sandalwood tree, rind of the lemon and bergamot fruits, leaves of the rosemary bush) is put through a distillation process to become an essential oil. This process captures the volatile, odiferous oils (or essences) produced by the plant, and enhances them through steam and heat. The resulting essential oil is highly concentrated, and very potent.
There are many ways in which essential oils can be used - a few drops on a tissue, steam or vaporizer for inhaling, blended with nut or vegetable oils for massage, a couple of drops in your bath water or simply worn as a perfume. You can use them on your sheets, in your iron, in your shower, in your drawers. On potpourri, in candles, garbage cans and on the carpet. Our sense of smell, proven to be linked to our emotions, plays the largest part in recognizing the power of Aromatherapy, and here we can discover how certain oils have the power to lift depression, revitalize, or soothe and calm. When we breathe in an aroma, the aroma molecule is translated into a signal by the receptor cells in the nose. This signal is sent to the olfactory bulb and then on to the limbic and hypothalamus parts of the brain. The essential oil activates neurochemicals or neuropeptides within our brains which are the communicators between the brain and the other systems of the body. For example - the aroma of a calming oil would cause release of seratonin, a euphoric oil would release endorphins, and a stimulating oil would release noradrenalin. Pain relief and other physical effects are also experienced when these neurochemicals are released.
Let's go over the list I passed out to you. These are my favorite oils, and I have found most useful in parenting and treating my son's conditions.
Massage was once thought of only as a treat for relaxing oneself when the need arose. Today massage therapy is fast becoming a treatment of choice for many health problems. Research shows that the power of touch can be life saving. Studies measuring the stress hormone cortisol have found that when a person undergoes a massage, their cortisol production decreases, and their immune function improves. A study on HIV positive patients who received a 45 minute massage 5 times a week for a month revealed that the number of Tcells increased, and the psychological stress that accompanies the disease was significantly decreased.
A significant study at the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience at Rutgers University found that during a massage, endorphins - a form of neuropeptide - were released into the body. Neuropeptides are chemicals made up of two or more amino acids connected by peptide bonds. They serve as intercellular messengers between the brain and the body. Massage can stimulate circulation, helping to increase oxygen and hemoglobin, reduce scar tissue build up by spreading out collagen build up and correct energy orders and imbalances through out the body.
Massage and aromatherapy can also relax and calm a patient, reducing stress and creating a mental and physical state very conducive to healing.
The integrative approach to healing is fast becoming a hot topic, and is definitely the wave of the future. In 1994 Congress created the Office of Alternative Medicine as a branch of the National Institutes of Health with a $12M annual budget, and set 4 main goals for the agency:
1. to spur the evaluation of various alternative treatments.
2. To investigate possible benefits of alternative care
3. to establish a centralized resource that the public could come to with questions regarding alternative therapies
4. to support research and training in alternative medicine practices.
Many people don't realize the amount of research and documentation that has already been conducted or is currently underway to prove the viability of alternative treatments.
I encourage you to support the cause. Go out and have a massage, take an herbal supplement or remedy, try some lavender oil on your child's bed sheets or on his pillow, try echinacea for your cold or take a shot of wheat grass. With regular use your body will be healthier, stronger and more resistant to infection - surgery will be a breeze and by addressing the idea of disease holistically and with a mind/body connection, you will have total control of your body and illnesses.
-------Leigh Austin lives in Castro Valley, California.
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