Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Allergies: The Time to Start Treating Is Now

From Allergies Update, at Maloney Medical (all abstracts available there):

Deep winter is the perfect time to start treating for allergies in the spring.  We have a range of different plans that will down regulate the histamine response, but don't wait to start sneezing.  That's like waiting for a flat tire before you go out and get a spare. 

Currently the standard program to desensitize patients involves injections. But the state of the art is now drops under the tongue. “Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) has been proved to be effective in allergic rhinitis and asthma…New sensitizations appeared in 34.8% of controls and in 3.1% of SLIT patients.  ” But, you ask, is it as effective as the injections? “The mean peak expiratory flow result (how much air you can exhale) was significantly higher in the active group than in the control group after 10 years.

But can I go off my inhaler? Unfortunately, we don’t know, because: “when mild-moderate asthmatic children are optimally controlled by pharmacologic treatment and HDM (human dust mite) avoidance, SLIT does not provide additional benefit, despite a significant reduction in allergic response to HDM. Under such conditions, only a complete, but ethically unfeasible, discontinuation of inhaled corticosteroid would have demonstrated a possible benefit of SLIT.”  It could be dangerous to remove the inhalers, so we’ll keep people on them for life. Of course, the long term effects of steroids…

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gandhi: One of the Few Untouchables.

I mean untouchable in terms of personal integrity, not a reference to the caste system.

It is truly an extraordinary story, how a man went from being an English lawyer to the de facto leader of a non-violent revolution.  It was his mother who would fast if things displeased her, and his English law degree helped him understand what would push the English out.  But it is the moment when Gandhi was shoved off the train and fought back that I think is his most courageous moment.  He was no one.  To start a mad group willing to burn their registration papers, and to allow himself to be beaten senseless in trying to do so, without fighting back.

All the rest is history, but it is his time as a nobody fighting an impossible fight and winning that really inspires me.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Today, Don't Focus on the Bottom Line. Look Where That's Gotten Us.

One of the most disturbing things about the current economic problems is that no one is questioning the basic premises upon which the whole thing is founded.  The CEOs are still responsive to the stockholders, and the stockholders want the highest return.  So we all get to go down the tubes together with the responsibility spread among millions of small stock holders who individually don't feel like they can do anything.  But we can.  Direct your miniscule savings into things you really care about.  You may not be guaranteed the high returns of the past, but nothing can do that right now anyway. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

William Shakespeare: Would He Be Writing Now?

It is unfortunate to think, that were Shakespeare alive today, he probably be a speechwriter or an advertising executive.  He might even be in one of those high priced think tanks where they come up with catchy names for new pharmaceutical drugs.  But he most definitely would not be writing for some theater in England.  And he probably would have given up on iambic pentameter, because his editor would have given him heck for "making up words." 

Sometimes a man is perfect for his time. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Have You Been Chatting With God Recently?

I haven't read this book, but I really like the idea of silence as a spiritual practice. 

I'm also constantly amazed that God says very different things to different people.  In any major sporting event, is God really on both sides?

So here's an Evangelical look at when God doesn't talk to you.  Spread the word, sometimes silence is golden.

In Buddhist traditions, the whole point is not to fill your head with chatter.  Nobody knows better than a Buddhist that the chatter in your head is mostly that, chatter.  The still, small voice is not the clarion call to closemindedness that some seem to believe is God.

Friday, December 10, 2010

My Christmas Present: A Kindle.

My father, bless his stars and garters, bought me a kindle for Christmas.  Evidently a wide variety of books are free through Amazon, although I am prevented from checking out e-books from my library because my kindle is not compatible. 

So far, I like the non-glaring screen, and it is certainly light, but it's not a book.  I can't flip around like I'd like, check the back for a glossary, etc.  I got Da Vinci's Notebooks without pictures, which is a little like smelling a nice dinner from across the street while you're boarding a bus.  It's not the same as eating, or in this case reading. 

So I know I'm supposed to rave about my electronic gadget, and I do want to send my father heart felt thanks, but I'm waiting for my kindle to provide me with e-book checkout, which is something I can't get from a book (all the most recent titles for free, to be browsed and discarded after a week). 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Another Argument for Licensing Naturopathic Doctors.

One of the claims made by skeptics of Naturopathic Medicine is that licensing us will somehow endanger the public.  Au contraire.  Here's a case in Oregon where licensing N.D.s has resulted in at least one former N.D. being blocked from medical practice.  The case was pursued by the attorney general with the support and assistance of the Oregon Association of Naturopathic Physicians. 

The former N.D. in question is paying 50k as a fine and is permanently blocked from seeing patients.  I cannot remember many cases of an M.D. or a D.O. receiving a permanent injunction from his board.  Usually they are suspended, or take early retirement.  So we police our own strenuously.  Let's license all fifty states already.   

For those with a lot of reading time, the former N.D.'s complaint is online.  Compare this to an alcoholic surgeon's license removal six years after getting pulled over for a DUI while driving to the hospital to perform surgery.  While the former N.D. should have lost his license, the M.D. was literally operating under the influence for years.  There are numerous programs that protect addicted M.D.s from charges, getting them treatment while they continue practicing.  N.D.s just pull the license.  I guess we just have a different standard.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Da Vinci: Still Worth Reading.

While Leonardo Da Vinci wrote in mirror script, in Italian, lovely people have translated his notebooks for us.  I was reading one section from his discussions of perspectives.  Admittedly, I've never really thought about the color differences of distant perspectives in paintings, but I'm fascinated that we really haven't moved forward from the 15th century in terms of his discussion. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Terry Pratchett: Get Your Political Commentary Through Fantasy Novels.

I admit I love Terry Pratchett, despite/because of his ability to continue to write about criminals as real people doing goofy things.  His novels are like doughnuts, you enjoy them, think they are fluff, and yet find yourself craving more.  All of his heroes are flawed, his women strong, his criminals good hearted (or at least fair), and generally corruption is the norm.  You don't actually need to start anywhere with his novels, because each one is a variation on the others.  It's like reading a series of plays where the same characters show up in different roles.   Is Pratchett like Shakespeare?  Well, in the same way that the creator of Beavis and Butthead or any current sitcom is like Shakespeare, which is not at all.  But he is enjoyable, and that is rare enough.  He also occasionally makes you think about just how foolish our traditions (paper money, stamp collecting, football) can be.