Saturday, January 5, 2013

Wishing for a more tolerant and healthy new year

One of my patients was recently ridiculed by a physician for acknowledging taking supplements while being seen in her Emergency Room. Perhaps this physician was tired, exhausted from taking care of tough emergency cases all night. Thanks to Emergency Room doctors we are assured of competent care in our times of extreme duress. And as a doctor, thanks to her efforts I am able to lollygag at the computer writing blogs that only my mother reads.
Perhaps she is too busy to read about the emergent science of nutrition and its supplements and herb s, which often are the inspiration, if not a slightly altered molecule, inspiring the miraculous pharmaceutical agents she uses to rescue her struggling patients. Perhaps she has not read in our medical journals that, even though a physician may disagree with the supplements a patient may be taking, it is the duty of that physician to refrain from passing judgment, particularly when most supplements are harmless. This is especially the case when prescribed by a knowledgeable, well trained Integrative doctor.
Perhaps she has not read that the amino acid L-arginine, winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Medicine inspired the drug Viagra, that every patient taking her statin drugs to reduce cholesterol should be supplemented with CoQ10, a practice supported by the American College of Cardiology, or that the herb Curcumin, already a drug in India, will soon be a drug in America for blood thinning, and for potentiating the salutary effects of several chemotherapy agents.
Is she correct in “guessing” that natural supplements have little to offer in an emergency situation? For the most part the answer is yes. Perhaps she has not read about the Amino acid N-Acetyl Cysteine, NAC (a precursor to the antioxidant Glutathione,) which is practically the same as the drug she likely uses on a daily basis in her high-tech ER, Mucomyst. Anyone with a Tylenol overdose, the reason for most of the nation’s cases of liver failure, gets Mucomyst to detoxify that “innocent” over the counter remedy. Mucomyst is also used to thin mucous secretions on those struggling with pulmonary issues.
It is OK not to have a “NAC” for natural remedies. It is not OK to put down those who do. Perhaps reviewing the recent article that shows NAC synergizing the effects of Beta Blocker drugs (Carvedilol) in the treatment of Cardiac Atrial Fibrillation, no doubt another condition she encounters fairly often in her life-saving ER, may soften her heart towards those who choose to address chronic conditions a little more naturally, and like me, wish for a more tolerant and healthier new year.
Perhaps the Mayan thing was right after all: we may be at the brink of a new age where people with divergent points of view may sit at the same table to delight in what unites us, like our love and interest in taking care of patients.
Perhaps in 2013 we will be a little more like the “person of the year 2012” chosen by the Salt Lake Tribune in my hometown: the faithful Mormons who took to the streets to support their fellowmen and women in the LGBT community who live a little bit differently.