Chronic Childhood Diseases, Spinal Curvature, Alcoholism

Dr. David Tulbert, B.Sc., D.C., F. I.A.C.A.

Dr. Tulbert is a chiropractor, homeopath and acupuncturist He is the resident wellness advisor for Lifestyle & Wellness.

Dear Dr. Tulbert:

My daughter is five and she has had a lot of problems with allergies and ear infections for three years. She has taken a lot of antibiotics. The doctor recently said that her middle ears are full of mucous, and he wants to have drainage tubes surgically inserted in her ear drums. Is there any alternative to this treatment? B.G.

Dear B.G.

This problem is quite common, and in my experience the best treatment is "constitutional" homeopathy. Homeopathy is non-invasive, very safe and very effective. It can balance your daughter's system so that she will no longer produce an excess of mucous, making the surgically implanted drainage tubes unnecessary.

It is important to understand that your daughter has a chronic disease. A treatment like drainage tubes deals only with the consequence of that disease, but it does not remove the underlying cause. The same is true of antihistamines and antibiotics —they deal only with the symptoms. In contrast, homeopathic doctors have studied a wide variety of chronic disease like your daughter's during the past 150 years. They have developed a theory to explain their causes as well as an effective treatment method.

Homeopaths have observed that humans are afflicted with a variety of "chronic disease tendencies" called "miasms". These tendencies are usually inherited, but can sometimes be passed on through close contact. They predispose an individual to certain types of health disorders, as well as to "weak areas" in their organ systems. For example, one person may have a chronically weak chest, and will suffer from frequent chest infections or asthma. Another will have poor digestion and will be forced to live on a highly restricted diet. Someone else may suffer from allergies, or constant head colds, or chronic skin rashes, or sleep disorders, or excessive menstrual bleeding.

Your daughter's problem is quite characteristic of one of these chronic disease tendencies. Homeopaths also recognize that sometimes the same chronic disease tendency can cause different problems at different times in the person's life. Perhaps the person had a lot of psoriasis when they were quite young. Then they had treatment with anti-inflammatory creams and the psoriasis disappeared, but a year or two later they started to develop allergies. Then they had allergy shots and the allergies disappeared, but a few years later they started to have a lot of chest colds, which became chronic and eventually turned into asthma.

A well-trained homeopath understands that there is a relationship between all these problems, that they are different manifestations of the same chronic disease tendency. He or she will also understand that successfully treating the tendency will not only solve the immediate problem, but will also improve the health of the patient in later years.
Homeopathy has discovered a series of special homeopathic remedies called "constitutional" remedies. The correct constitutional remedy should stimulate your daughter's self-healing system to remove the chronic disease tendency. As she begins to do so, her ear symptoms should disappear, and you should also notice an improvement in her allergies, her disposition and her general health.

Dear Dr. Tulbert:

My son is 11 years old. He is tall and slender and has had a lot of trouble with back pain in the past year, especially at gym in school. His doctor examined him last week and said he has scoliosis. Is there any treatment for this condition? R.Y.

Dear R.Y.:

There are several causes of scoliosis, or "spinal curvature", and the treatment depends on the cause.

One of the most common forms of scoliosis occurs when one leg grows longer than the other. This condition is called "leg length deficit". Most people have a minor leg length deficit, but their nervous systems automatically adjust the position of the hips and spinal bones to compensate for it. However, when the leg length deficit is greater than about 3/8", it can begin to cause symptoms. The body will still try to compensate by adjusting the position of its bones so that the person stands relatively straight, but the compensate results in significant spinal curves. These distortions can cause pain in various location in the back, which are usually worsened by physical stresses like running, jumping or heavy lifting. They can also cause problems in the back or neck, including headaches and degenerative arthritis.
The best treatment is to insert hard foam pads called "heel lifts" in the shoe of the short leg. Though very simple in principle, this treatment causes profound changes in the shape of the spinal curves, and the way in which the spinal bones move and bear weight. As the height of the lift is gradually increased, the patient will require constant monitoring by a doctor skilled in the use of heel-lifts. When the height of the heel life is increased, the position of the spinal bones will frequently shift, and they must be corrected through a "spinal manipulation" or "adjustment". Chiropractors are well trained in both the diagnosis and treatment of leg length deficits through heel lifts and spinal manipulation.

Another common cause of scoliosis is imbalances in the tension of the muscles that hold the spine erect. If the muscles are more tense on one side, then the spine will curve toward that side. Usually, there will be a second curve in the opposite direction higher up. This form of scoliosis can result from an accident or bad fall. The best treatment is a combination of spinal manipulative therapy and a series of stretching exercises carefully designed to imbalance the tension in the spinal muscles. Again, consult a chiropractor.

A third but more rare form of scoliosis is caused by an improperly shaped spinal bone. The bone is usually malformed from birth and is called a "congenital anomaly". If the bone is wedge-shaped rather than square when x-rayed from behind, then the spine will lean toward the side on which the height of the bone is smaller. If the bone is wedge-shaped when seen from the side, then there will be an abnormal forward or backward curve at that level. In severe cases of congenital anomaly, surgery is often the most appropriate treatment.

Probably your best bet is to begin by consulting a chiropractor. If the problem requires treatment by surgery, the chiropractor will inform you of this and may refer you to an orthopedic medical doctor specializing in spinal surgery. It is usually best to treat the problem aggressively before puberty to prevent further problems later on in life.

Dear Dr. Tulbert:

I think my boyfriend may have a drinking problem. He is 23 and we have been going together for 21/2 years. He has always drunk a lot of beer when he is with his friends, maybe once or twice per month. But in the last year, he has started to see them more often, pretty much every weekend. He comes home late at night and he is pretty drunk on beer. In the past two months, they have also been getting together once during the week. I talked to him about it, but he keeps saying it is only beer, not hard liquor. P.G.

Dear P.O.:

You may very well be correct. In fact more alcoholics are addicted to beer than to any other form of alcoholic beverage. Even though beer has a lower concentration of alcohol, people tend to drink more of it. A twelve ounce beer has the same amount of alcohol as a shot of whiskey. In addition, most beer is made with a herb called hops. Hops has a sedative effect (like a sleeping pill) and its effect combines in the body with the alcohol to produce a more intense intoxication.

Alcohol addiction frequently starts gradually and progresses. If your boyfriend has an alcoholic tendency, it is probably in an early stage. Some of the key things to watch out for are: (a) blackouts in which he later forgets what he did while he was drinking, (b) sneaking drinks or hiding alcohol around the home, (c) frequent consumption of more alcohol than he intends to, (d) guilt and/or rationalization in which he
denies entirely that there is a problem or has a lot of excuses for his excessive drinking, (e) drinking in the morning, and (f) binges during which he drinks excessively for several days while ignoring his responsibilities to his work or his family. If any of these patterns exist or start to occur, then he definitely needs help.

It is important to emphasize the denial aspect. Most alcoholics rationalize their drinking and refuse to admit they have a drinking problem. They frequently socialize with heavy drinkers because it gives them a good excuse. It is also important to remember that many of the points in this reply apply equally well to other forms of substance abuse as well.

In terms of treatment, there are many resources available to him. Psychotherapy is effective in most cases, as is behavioural therapy which teaches the alcoholic safer and non-addictive methods for relaxing. Alcoholics Anonymous has excellent community service programs which have helped millions of people over the years.

Acupuncture and homeopathy are also effective. To understand why, it is necessary to recognize that alcoholics are attempting to medicate themselves. Of course, their choice of medicines is poor, but they are basically attempting to soothe an over-active nervous system. Their minds may be constantly over-excited due to emotional causes (excessive drinking is a great way of avoiding feelings in an individual so inclined). Sometimes the nervous system is just naturally "high-strung", resulting in insomnia and anxiety. Both acupuncture and homeopathy can stimulate the person's body to re-balance its nervous over-activity. When this occurs, the need for alcohol will naturally subside, without a "withdrawal" phase.

The most important thing to remember is that the alcoholic's first step toward recovery is admitting there is a problem. If your boyfriend is in fact addicted, he will only be ready to accept help when he has admitted to himself that he needs it.

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