a special program of the National Emergency Medicine Association (NEMA)

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Week: 574.6

Guest: Brian Sanderoff, Pharmacist, Holistic/Homeopathic practitioner
Topic: A different look at medications
Host/ Producer: Steve Girard

NEMA: Take two drops of St. Ignatius root, and call me in morning... Sounds a bit strange, but we could be hearing a lot more of that...and not only from the holistic medicine practitioners and herbalists, but from our doctors. It's all because many natural substances long believed to be medicinal and even preventative are being accepted by the medical mainstream, warily...and sometimes grudgingly. We thought we'd give you some background on thinking about health problems and treating them holistically....by talking with Brian Sanderoff, a pharmacist who lives and works in Maryland....but who has gained a new understanding of the human system, and some new tools to help us stay healthy.....

SANDEROFF: From pharmacy school, I went to work at a community pharmacy. After a couple years, I became a partner in that pharmacy...a couple more years, I actually owned that store, and had opened a second store. And did that for about ten years. And at some point, I realized that the people I was treating, the people who were coming in and getting prescriptions weren't getting any better...especially when they had chronic diseases, like blood pressure and high cholesterol and heart disease and cancer and diabetes, and that's when we started to explore herbs and homeopathy and acupuncture and chiropractic and iridology...and discovered that what I learned in pharmacy school was only half the story. And that there was a whole world of knowledge out there that we, in this country, don't get exposed to...and if we do get exposed to it, we get exposed to it in a negative way. Such that we don't believe there's any validity there as far as health care goes. And of course what I've found is that's not true at all.

NEMA: Most people don't understand homeopathy...heck, I don't really understand it...and there's a raging debate over whether it works. And I understand there are now some scientific tests showing homeopathy is effective. But tell me about the field and the process....

SANDEROFF: Homeopathy actually is a whole discipline of medicine that was very popular in this country a hundred years ago...a hundred and fifty years ago. Up until maybe 50 or 60 years ago, most of the medical schools in the country were homeopathic medical schools. And in homeopathy, there's a couple of rules, a couple of laws. One of the laws is "like cures like". And what that means, basically, is that if you have, say, poison ivy...the actual remedy for poison ivy would come from the poison ivy plant, but in such a dilute amount, that instead of causing a problem, it would spark the body's own defenses to fix the problem. So, when someone out there has poison ivy, and they go to the drug store or the health food store, and they get a homeopathic remedy called Rush-ox, it actually is a very dilute form of the poison ivy plant, and it causes the body to respond by fixing the rash, or making the rash go away. Hard core scientists look at homeopathy and they scoff, and they say, "that is so dilute, that there is not any of the active ingredient in there"...which is true. When you dilute homeopathic remedies, the way they get done, you actually have...you go beyond Avogadro's number, if you remember that from high school chemistry, and there's actually none - no molecules - of the active ingredient left in the diluted solution. However, the response you get from the body shows that something is going on there...whether it's working on an energetic or a vibrational level, we don't know. Now, when I was in pharmacy school, we were taught that homeopathy was nothing more than placebo. But one time, someone said to me, "You know that they use homeopathy successfully on dogs, on animals...and on babies"...and I said, "So...?" And they said, "How does a baby, how does a little infant know it's supposed to heal...how do you show a placebo effect with a baby"? Actually, it was at that point that I realized that my education was sorely lacking when it came to the other side of the coin...and there are actually some really good studies going on now - showing some great results. And I'm talking about the kind of studies that western practitioners like to see...those controlled, double blind studies.

NEMA: Tell me about your business...your practice...as it's working today...

SANDEROFF: Right now, I have what I affectionately call a holistic pharmacy. Where we don't dispense all those nasty chemicals, but what we do is have the herbs, the vitamins, the nutritionals, the phytochemicals, and a lot of homeopathy. And my practice is based on nutrition and holistic counseling. A patient will come into my office and they'll fill out a very extensive questionnaire that will let me know what's going on in their body, nutritionally, and from that, we'll be able to start to determine how we can make changes in their lifestyle...their diet and their exercise...and use other tools like meditation, like herbs and nutritionals...and homeopathic remedies, to get their body to start to heal itself. And being a pharmacist, I've got a real keen understanding about the chemicals that a lot of people are taking. So, when a patient comes into me and he's on 5 or 6 prescription medicines, we're able to work to get the body to change...so that eventually, they can - with the help of their doctor, get off of their prescription medicines...and we've been real successful with that. You know, sometimes it seems like I'm bashing western medicine, and I don't want it to sound that way, because I'm a product of western medicine as well. You know, when I'm in an accident, I'm not going to run to the homeopathist...I'm going to let them take me to the emergency room and sew me back up. Or if I have some sort of life threatening infection, I'm going to let them put me on an antibiotic. But when it comes to the chronic types of things: like the blood pressures, and the diabetes and the cancers, western medicine is just not doing the trick.

NEMA: And what kinds of problems do you see most often...?

SANDEROFF: Surprisingly, or at least surprising to me when I first started...my audience for my radio show and my patient population comes from average Mr. John Q. Public, who for the most part is suffering from chronic sorts of illnesses, and isn't getting cured by traditional... or what we're used to, western medicine practices. Let's take high blood pressure for example. If someone has high blood pressure in this country, they go to their doctor. The doctor may say, "all right, well you've got to lose some weight, you have to change your diet"...without then giving them any real way of doing that. You know, they try that for 3 or 6 months, or whatever...their blood pressure's still raised, and so now they get on a medicine. Well, that medicine may lower the blood pressure temporarily, but eventually the body is going to catch up, and the blood pressure starts rising again. And what happens is now you add another medicine to it...or you increase the dosage of the medicine that you're taking. And before long, people are on 2, 3, 4 different blood pressure medicines, which then have other effects in the body also. Without ever looking at what made that imbalance, what made that blood pressure go up in the first place...often times it's stress with people. So, instead of just treating the symptom, which is the blood pressure, what we do is treat what's causing the blood pressure to be up...and often times it's stress. Sometimes it's lack of exercise. Sometimes there are some organic problems going on in the body. Western medicine looks at the human body as a weak machine that needs the help of western medicine...and western medicine looks to control nature. Holistic or alternative or complementary or eastern...whatever term you use for that sort of care...has a different philosophy. And that philosophy is that the body is strong, it just needs to be in balance and then it can take care of itself. The things that bring us out of balance, unfortunately, are all the things we do in our western society: too much work, not enough play, lousy diet, not enough sleep...all of those things contribute to the body being out of balance.

NEMA: There seems to be a meeting of the minds on what's called alternative medicine...more doctors giving more time to learning and dispensing what they learn about the techniques and products. Do you think that will continue? What do you see for the future?

SANDEROFF: What we're starting to see is that the mainstream hospitals are starting to open up alternative clinics. They're starting to open clinics that offer meditation and therapeutic massage, and acupuncture and accupressure. And they're starting to realize that all of these traditions...these traditions that, by the way, are 5 and 6 thousand years old...do have some validity. You know, we used to think that acupuncture was kinda crazy. Didn't know anything about it...it was just complete voodoo, sticking needles in people. Until Nixon went to China, we really didn't know what acupuncture was...and then it started to become accepted. And what we found now through our sophisticated scientific means, is that there are physiological changes that happen in the body with that sort of treatment. When someone meditates, we can now measure that their brain waves change, their blood pressure goes down, their respiration changes, their heart rate decreases. Our microscope has finally gotten strong enough to look at these things, and notice that, scientifically, they do have validity. And that goes for a lot of these treatments that have been around for thousands and thousands of years. The prevention thing is a big key. The dental industry has done an excellent job of making prevention what they're about.

NEMA: We all seem to have the knowledge and method needed to keep out weight down, stay in shape, and head off disease at an early stage...but we're lazy...and a many of us just don't want to think about doing the things necessary to keep ourselves well. But practicing good nutrition and disease prevention can save us all so much pain and effort...

SANDEROFF: ....And look at just the savings, cost wise. Having to do a little preventive maintenance instead of doing an overhaul every couple of years is much less expensive. From a holistic approach, we look at the person, not the disease. We don't look at a diabetic...we look at a person with diabetes. And...no two patients are the same. I could have 5 patients in a row that have diabetes, and every one of them will be different because one of them will be caused by toxins in the body, and one of them will be caused by nutritional deficiencies, and one of them will be caused by a lack of enzymes in their food, and one of them will be caused by stress and things that happened early in life. And oftentimes, the patients know exactly what is going on in their body, and why it's happening....they just don't realize they know it...you see that light bulb go on, and we get to the real root of the problem. And once we change that, all of the symptoms go away.

NEMA: Brian Sanderoff believes that many of the so called alternative disciplines will continue to receive corroboration through medical testing, but hopes that the procedures and herbal medicines aren't westernized and restricted only to physicians. The body, mind and spirit...it makes sense that they are all related in creating total health. But in what measure? That's what many people are trying to discover through the use of centuries old techniques. Let's all keep an open mind as we sort it all out.

SPOT: 15 years in the prevention of heart disease, stroke and trauma - The National Emergency Medicine Association. This show is just part of what NEMA does. We send out millions of pieces of prevention information to people around the country, give grants to organizations in research, public information and emergency services, and have been instrumental in the creation and expansion of the Chest Pain Emergency Room movement. To play a role, call 800-332-6362.

NEMA: Thanks for joining us for today's program. If you have any comments or suggestions, contact this station. Or visit our home page at: www.nemahealth.com/ ...for a look at transcripts of this or past programs, or to find out more about the National Emergency Medicine Association. I'm Steve Girard at The Heart of the Matter.

NEMA: What are the most promising areas in holistic and herbal treatments? Are there things your excited about?

SANDEROFF: Yes, I think for us in this country, and for us of European background, the use of herbal medicines is what is going to be our savior. For those of Oriental descent, I think that acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine works excellently. I think for folks from Indian and that part of Asia descent, aryuvedic medicine is works the best for them. And all of the treatments are treatments that look at the person as a whole...look at diseases as only symptoms of something else that's going on. Mind Body medicine, as it's known now, is really expanding, and on a scientific basis, prove exactly what's going on...and I'm actually starting to believe that most of our problems are based, not in the physical world, but in the emotional and the spiritual world, and when we - one way or another - address those emotional an spiritual imbalances...then this physical thing we call a body starts to manifest itself in a much more healthy way.


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