Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Throw in a medical story . . . for a bit more than "fun" . . .

As you may recall, I've been using LDN (low-dose naltrexone) for several months as an alternative therapy in hopes of treating my rheumatoid arthritis.

(Report: I'm not sure it's really done all that much good. Actually, I'm not sure how much good anything I'm doing has done. . . . I am quite sure that wheat is bad for me. I'm getting the impression that heavy doses of sugar (as in soda pop) can trigger inflammation. By and large, my inflammation and pain has been kept down to a very dull roar. But is that because I would have experienced a very slow progression of the disease anyway? --I don't know.)


I am continuing on my various therapies, and I continue to read what I can and pursue potential remedies.

So this morning I came across a reference in my Yahoo RheumatoidArthritis-LowDoseNaltrexone group to an article by Dr. Joseph Mercola in The Huffington Post. The article was actually primarily about a Dr. Burt Berkson and Berkson's work with Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA).

I imagine the reason this article was referenced in the LDN group, however, was this statement:
Dr. Berkson uses ALA along with low dose naltrexone (LDN) for the reversal of a number of more serious health conditions such as:
  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Dermatomyositis (an inflammatory muscle disease)
  • Autoimmune diseases
Most of his patients normalize in about one month on this combination of ALA and LDN.
Whoa! I've been taking both LDN and ALA for quite some time. --I wonder how much ALA Berkson recommends?

So I did a search on burt berkson alpha lipoic acid rheumatoid arthritis and eventually came to Burt Berkson, MD, PhD, Talks With Honest Medicine About His Work and Our Medical System.

Mercola had summarized a bit of Berkson's story when he said,
Early on in his career, while an internist, he was given several patients who were expected to die from hepatitis C. His job was more or less to simply baby sit them in the ICU and watch them die.

But Dr. Berkson was a rebel at heart and he simply couldn't do that. Instead he called an associate at the National Institutes of Health and found out how he could treat them. He learned that alpha lipoic acid had some impressive experimental support. Remarkably, although these patients were expected to die within a few weeks, they all completely recovered!

However not all went well for Dr. Berkson. As he made his superiors look foolish, they simply could not tolerate that so rather than embrace his findings, they actively suppressed the results and made his life miserable for showing them up.

This was a pivotal moment in Dr. Berkson's career and caused him to make choices that eventually led to where he is at now. Since then, Dr. Berkson has lectured all over the world on this topic, and published a study on the use of antioxidants for the treatment of hepatitis C.

His first book, The Alpha-Lipoic Acid Breakthrough was published in 1998.
Well, the article I discovered--actually, an interview--told the whole story, in Berkson's words. Very much more interesting!
DR. BERKSON: I was a resident in internal medicine in a teaching hospital in Cleveland Ohio, and one day the chief of medicine came by and said, "I am very upset with you." And I said, "Why?" (I thought he was kidding.) And he said, "You have no deaths on your service. Most people have seen several deaths by now and you haven't seen any." And I told him that I really try to keep people alive. He said, "It’s very unusual. I’m going to give you two people who will surely die. They have acute and fulminant liver disease. They ate poisonous mushrooms, and the expert on liver disease said we cannot get a transplant for them, and nothing can save them. So I want you to go upstairs, watch them die, take notes and present this to grand medical rounds."

And I went upstairs and I looked at these two very sick people. And as a medical doctor, especially in internal medicine, you're supposed to follow the orders of the chief, just like a private would follow the orders of a sergeant. But I had six years of education above my medical training, for a masters and a PhD in microbiology and cell biology, and I was always looking for new things. So I called Washington and spoke to the head of the National Institutes of Health in Internal Medicine, Dr. Fred Bartter, and I asked him, “Is there anything in the world that he knew of that might regenerate a liver?” And he said he was studying alpha lipoic acid because he knew it would reverse diabetic neuropathy and other complications of diabetes. But when he gave it to people, it seemed to regenerate their organs. It seemed to stimulate their stem cells and to start growing and regenerating new organ tissue.

He sent the lipoic acid to me. I picked it up at the Cleveland airport about three hours later. The commercial pilot handed it to me. I ran back to the hospital and injected it into these two people for a period of two weeks. And in two weeks, they regenerated their livers fully. And they’re still alive and well, in their 80s, thirty some years later.

( NOTE: One of the people whom Dr. Berkson saved by "not following orders," Eunice Goostree, wrote a very personal review of The Alpha Lipoic Acid Breakthrough on Amazon.com.)

I was all excited. Washington was all excited. But the chiefs were not happy with me.

JULIA SCHOPICK: They were actually angry at you?

DR. BERKSON: Well, they seemed to be angry. They said, “We told the families that these people were going to die, that there was no hope. And now they’re alive and well. You know, it makes us look bad. And you did something without asking us for permission.” And I said, “You told me that these people were my responsibility, so I did what I thought was correct.”

I said, “Do you want to know what I did?”


JULIA SCHOPICK: They were not even curious?

DR. BERKSON: They said: “This is not an approved drug. And it’s not on our formulary. And you did not follow orders like a good internal medicine doctor.”

I was sort of depressed by this. You know, it was very different from what I had seen as a professor of biology. You know, when I discovered something new in biology, everybody would pat me on the back and give me awards. In medicine, it seemed to me that if you discovered something new, you were sort of thought of as an outlaw.

JULIA SCHOPICK: If I had not heard this story -- I heard you speak at NOHA so long ago, and of course, I read your book -– it’s too depressing.

DR. BERKSON: Well, anyway, more people came in, and I was told I should not do this again. They'd also eaten poisonous mushrooms, which really destroys the liver, and there’s not much you can do for these folks, except a transplant or, in this case, lipoic acid.

And the National Institutes of Health started supporting my work. I think because of that, the people at the hospital I was at had to go along with what I was doing, and eventually Dr. Bartter and I published a paper on 79 people with so-called terminal liver disease, and 75 of them regenerated their livers, with just intravenous lipoic acid.

There was no interest in the United States; almost nothing.

JULIA SCHOPICK: Where was your article published?

DR. BERKSON: My first short note was in the New England Journal of Medicine.

And they weren’t really interested in a big study. My own personal opinion was that it was because there was no large pharmaceutical company sponsoring the work. There was no one to take out ads in the magazines (i.e., the medical journals), or to buy reprints from them.

But, Dr. Bartter and I were invited to Europe to be visiting scientists at the Max Planck Institute and we published it in Europe.
I think you will find the rest of the article equally interesting.

Check it out!


Short political commentary.

Since it is only just over a week since our "representatives" in the federal government agreed to take over medicine in our country, I would like to ask you: do you really want people like the uninquisitive (but, I'm sure, truly compassionate--he was very concerned, for Dr. Berkson's benefit, that Berkson would become familiar with death and dying) . . . --Would you want such a man--the chief of medicine at the teaching hospital in which Dr. Berkson was working-- . . . Would you want such a man to be in charge of your medical care?

It's looking more and more as if that is exactly what you and I are in for.

(I spent many hours a couple of months ago writing a lengthy post about the problems associated with acquiring natural thyroxin here in the United States, but never quite finished it, due to the time it was taking me. --That's just one story, perhaps, that I should yet tell about how our medical options are, even now, and even without nationalized health care, being severely curtailed "from the top." . . . And now, with greater and greater centralization, I'm afraid the squeeze is going to become ever tighter.)

Maybe we're still the land of the brave. Maybe. But we are rapidly becoming the land of the very un-free.
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