VISIT TO TORONTO
We recently returned from speaking at the Whole Life Expo '97 at the Toronto Metro Conventional Center, an event organized each year by Julia Woodford. The Expo was very well attended this year. Practitioners there inform me that "alt med" is booming in Canada, as it is in the United States. In particular, the Canadian public continues to be fascinated by alternative cancer treatments. We had about 350 people at each of our lectures (one on Alternative Cancer Treatments, the other on Herbal Remedies for Cancer).
Naturally, there is a great deal of interest in the treatments that were originated by Canadians themselves, especially the Hulda Clark parasite cleanse and "Zapper." One exhibitor told me that he sells ten times as much merchandise related to Dr. Clark's approach as all other books, tapes, etc. combined! When I started to dispute the accuracy and logic of the Clark approach, he just dismissed me with, "Look, I can't talk now, I'm busy." And he was! How can you go wrong with products entitled "The Cure for All Cancers," "The Cure for AIDS," much less "The Cure for All Diseases"? The real question is, Where does Dr. Clark go from here? "The Cure for Death"?
Essiac continues to be a presence at the fair, although the Flora company's product, Flor-Essence, was less visible than the trademarked Essiac brand. The woman who commercialized Flor-Essence as the "authentic" Essiac, Elaine Alexander, died last year. I have been told that she died of ovarian cancer. This may have dampened public enthusiasm somewhat for her product. There continues to be an enormous amount of gossip and backbiting involved in the Essiac field. I just wish that these squabbling companies would compete in doing research on the effects of Essiac, instead of trying to destroy each other in the competitive arena.
When I suggested in my lectures that there was an inadequate base of information on Essiac's effects I got the usual and predictable outrage from some individuals who were absolutely sure they had been cured of cancer by this remedy.
I ran into the same thing with shark cartilage. One person in the audience was devastated when I spoke in measured tones about this product. He was sure it was keeping his metastatic melanoma at bay. We hope so. But the facts have to speak for themselves.
The high point for me personally was that I had an acupuncture treatment with a doctor of Chinese medicine, Mary Wu. This was my first experience with the needles--maybe I was waiting for an N.I.H. consensus conference to tell me it was okay! In any case, I was quite astonished by the effect of about 10 well placed needles. Mary asked me, "Do you feel anything?" and I had to admit that indeed I did. I had a big grin on my face! I felt very calm, balanced, cheerful. Scientists ascribe this to the stimulation of beta endorphins. The Chinese apply different words to it. Whatever the cause, the fact is that it really helped me through my second two-hour lecture. In fact, the effects lasted about three days. Even a week later I feel slightly more "together" than I ordinarily would. If this is placebo, gimme more!
By contrast, we in the Moss family are suffering through a second unsatisfactory attempt to get on the melatonin bandwagon. I find the effects of melatonin disturbing. Intense dreams, which verge on being nightmares. The first night I had vertigo. True, I fall asleep readily after I take melatonin, but then I wake up even earlier than usual (I am writing this at 4 am). I am alert, but will be ready for bed at around 8 pm. No good!
Someone else in this household has had a worse crisis after taking melatonin. We later discovered that the antibiotic she had been prescribed caused some of these same symptoms. So we are not sure if they were due to the antibiotic, the melatonin, or a combination of these and other factors. But she experienced serious insomnia, as well as a creepy-crawly sensation in the skin, nightmares when she did finally fall asleep, some bone pain, intense nausea, etc.
The odd thing was that we only took 1.5 mg of melatonin per night--which is half of what most people take. But we took it in the form of a spray, with "activated microspheres." This is claimed to be more powerful--and how!
Don't get me wrong. I believe there is real value to melatonin and I'm still glad it is available to the average American consumer (unlike in Canada). However, I would suggest that readers proceed with caution in this area. Hormonal substitutes are riskier than the average vitamin or herb.