Saturday, January 02, 2010

Sterile is the Opposite of Fertile

It probably doesn’t surprise you that I’m not much for conventional medicine. It might surprise you that I’m not much for unconventional medicine/intervention either. I am appalled by how many drugs everyone is on for everything but I don’t figure my thoughts matter all that much.

I do believe in creating health. Which I think requires some sideways thinking.

And I have a lot of sideways thoughts about all things medical. At the barn, two horses recently tested positive for parasites. The vets told us at the last big horse vet meeting they’d been to, all the talk had been about built up resistance to wormers. Because I’ve tried to stay current, I know that the most common strategy is to worm every two months rotating wormers each time. But another line of thought is to use the same wormer every two months and do fecal tests a time or two a year and switch only when one type stops working. And then there are the fringe herbal wormer people who mostly want to sell you something just exactly like the drug companies want to sell you something.

So where do my thoughts come down on it? I think the basic mistake has been to try to eliminate worms entirely. I don’t know that my strategy works the best but the health of my herd seems ok. I worm once per year, in the early winter . . . unless I see evidence/reason to do more. When I have it available, I let them free choice wormwood which mostly applies to the goats.

On that same sort of reasoning level, I was reading an article about MRSA. My mom had MRSA before she died. This article said Norway had found a solution. A SOLUTION. Wow. What is that? To not prescribe antibiotics, particularly two classes of antibiotics known to provoke MRSA. However the article was very careful NOT to name what those two classes are (they are fluoroquinolones and cephalosporins if you are like me and have to know). They also tested and treated for MRSA (commonly harmless on skin, and easy to treat then too), and used isolation, in Norway and in Britain and in the US -- and it not only cut MRSA infections but all hospital acquired infections.

So I don’t know if my using radically less worming drugs works, but using radically less antibiotics does. And penicillin based antibiotics are the only ones that aren’t toxic too -- all the more reason to keep them effective. Think of all other antibiotics as insecticides. Antibiotics are great things -- used exceedingly sparingly.

I think the same is true of wormers. Some time ago (so I don’t have the link) I read an article that said having a few intestinal worms increased the efficacy of the immune system. Bet it works for horses too!


Jerry Critter said...

A couple of hours ago, I read the article about Norway and its avoidance of antibiotics, something the US drug companies would strongly oppose if it became popular here. After all, money is more important than health.

Kate said...

I'm going to try my best to use this approach with beekeeping. I'm starting this year. The major hurdle is that bees are so much under assault from so many directions that it's pretty scary to buck the trend to medicate, medicate, medicate.

I'm a total beekeeping newb, so maybe others have figured this all out. But every time I try to reason my way to a solution to one problem, I run smack into a different problem that negates my solution. Not giving up yet, but I only have a few short months to figure out my approach before the bees are here.

Mr. H. said...

I wonder how domestic and wild horses or any animal for that matter fared before worming medicine was available. Maybe all the open spaces helped prevent worms or they had access to natural wormers like your wormwood...hmm. Or like you said, perhaps a few worms are (or were) not that bad and all part of the process.

Madcap said...

The worming thing has been a question on my mind too, regarding this passle of cats that moved in. Because they're outdoors and living on mice in the summer, the vet's recommending that I worm every three months, but that seems awfully frequent for such a scouring medicine. A few worms can't be that bad, surely, if the wild animals are full of them?

And what you said about not favouring intervention no matter which side of the fence it comes from... I think you impregnated me with a post. Don't know what the gestation will be on that one!

CG said...

I'd actually trend toward medicating the bees -- most of the medicines are rather benign and the diseases deadly. But what do I know? We've lost all our bees at the moment.

With most of our animals (esp. me with my draft horse), we have to keep in mind that they (and to a large extent, we) are NOT natural animals -- nothing like a draft horse exists without human intervention. Nothing like a thoroughbred either. Or a Friesan. Nothing like them. Still, in our interventions, what are our unintended consequences *that we can SEE* and why do we ignore them so totally.

I know MadCap you can identify with people not wanting to hear to, say, not eat hydrogenated oils, particularly if they are having problems with their nerves. Lose weight, don't smoke, move A LOT, if there are two ways to do something do it the stretching way, eat wide variety colorful and whole (primarily -- a hotdog now and then ain't gonna kill ya), etc.


Wendy said...

I tend toward the "no intervention" school of thought. I value what modern medicine has taught us and the miracle that antibiotics truly are, but we've overused them to our detriment.

In fact, in my opinion, we overuse all medications. Most drugs have significant side effects, and the drug can, sometimes, cause more damage than the "dis"ease, especially if used long-term. In addition, as a medical transcriptionist, I've heard too many times the doctor say, "let's try ...." The fact is that they often don't know, exactly, what that drug might do. Personally, I'd rather not be a test subject while they figure it all out.

I think some things don't need to be "cured" with medicine, and all too often the cure is what kills us in the end.

CG said...

I'll sing a loud, long AMEN to that Wendy. Oh, I've got heartburn, let me take this drug, my toenail hurts, let me take this other one. People pop tylenol and advil no end and they are liver-toxic -- you need your liver folks! But I still think the biggest single thing is work -- movement yes but real, accomplishes something WORK. For physical health, mental health, spiritual health, the health of the small and large communities, chop wood, carry water work!

Wendy said...

Let me echo your AMEN! And express my complete agreement that it is "meaningful" work that keeps us healthy. We need the work, like carrying water and chopping wood, because it doesn't just strengthen us physically, but it alos gives us purpose, and without purpose, really, what's the point?

CG said...

perhaps I'm cynical? But people seem as adept at making up purpose as they are at making up everything else to me.

Wendy said...

Maybe we have been making up purpose, but can't disease be seen as a symptom of living that lie?

There's no denying that doing the simple tasks that keep us alive is purposeful work.

CG said...

oh yes, I think dis-ease is a symptom (with caveats). And I agree that some of us have found "real" purpose.

Alan said...

I've found Pat Colby's Natural Goat Book to have some particularly effective advice for parastites in goats. Mostly that the parasites are indicative of chemical (mostly copper)or nutritional deficiency. Fix the deficiency and the problem goes away. Haven't looked at it for horses, but I know that propper mineralization is key in goats and cows (and humans...)

Madcap said...

Really like the new profile photo, btw. Much more "you".