A leader in natural medicine tells County Council of better treatments
by Arthur C. Gorlick
A nationally known natural medicine guru told a Metropolitan King County Council committee yesterday that many ailments can be treated much better and at less expense than by conventional treatments.
Alan Gaby, a Baltimore physician and author of several books who has appeared on national television talk shows, said many ailments can be treated by eliminating sugar, caffeine and alcohol from the diet and by adding magnesium, zinc, vitamins or other alternative remedies.
Councilman Kent Pullen, chairman of the Law, Justice and Human Services Committee, said information from the hearing will be used in considering whether to expand services of the county's Natural Medicine Clinic in Kent, the nation's first public clinic devoted to natural medicine techniques.
Also one of the examples Gaby talked about was treatment for acute myocardial infarction, or heart attack. It is treated conventionally with drugs that cost up to $2,300 per dose, for a national annual cost of $500 million to $1 billion, he said.
But studies show that intravenous injections of magnesium, at about $5 per dose, reduce the death rate from heart attacks "as much as or more than (the more expensive drugs) and (have) fewer side effects."
Farming and food processing techniques have reduced the amount of magnesium in the American diet, Gaby added, and there is a national "epidemic of magnesium deficiency."
Reports on many of the alternative medicine techniques that he recommends have been studied for hundreds of years, reported in respected medical journals, "but ignored" for decades, he said.
"My purpose is not criticize conventional medicine," Gaby added.
Health care professionals should not feel threatened by techniques of alternative medicine because many treatments have to be administered or supervised by professionals, he said."But the health industry will be threatened," he said.
An audience of about 50, many of them advocates for alternative health care, heard Gaby tell council members that:
- Between 75 percent and 80 percent of all childhood ear infections are caused by allergic reactions to food, not from microbes, and can be cured by changes in the diet.
- Enlarged prostate, treated conventionally by surgery at a cost of $2 billion a year and by the medication Proscar at a cost of $1.08 million annually, can be treated more effectively and with fewer side effects by using extract of saw palmetto berries at 60 percent of the cost of Proscar.
- Significant improvement in asthma cases can be achieved by identifying allergenic foods and using nutritional supplements, including vitamin C, vitamin B6 and magnesium, at an annual savings of about $3 billion in fewer hospitalizations, emergency room visits and doctor's visits.
- Premenstrual syndrome can be eased through a regimen of exercise, proper diet and elimination of sugar, caffeine and alcohol.
- Diets should be tailored to the needs of individuals, and "a meat and potatoes diet" might be healthier for some.
In response to questions from Harborview's Manthey, Gaby said natural medicine could be used effectively in the hospital's renowned trauma center.Vitamin C is effective in treating hemorrhagic shock, he said, because it "promotes the healing of burns." The county's Alternative Medicine Clinic opened October 21 on Kent's Central Avenue and offers herbal treatments and acupuncture, as well as orthodox remedies including antibiotics. "It's been extremely well-received," said Nancy Weaver, King County natural medicine coordinator. " It is a very popular place for a lot of people."