First 3 years back to school

My first year class had only 24 students. Probably that was the maximum number for first year Naturopathy program. There were only three male students including me. Most of them were working people returning  to school. I was the oldest of the pack. Only one lady was above 50, others were just above or below 30.

I hated biology at high school as it required too much memorising, something I was not good at. Now close to 70 age bracket, I had to study “Human anatomy and physiology 1 & 2” in the first year and pathophysiology in the second year. Luckily I passed all with good grades maybe because I now have the motivation to learn these subjects.

Five years of studying naturopathy has brought many benefits, one of which was to spare me from death by cardiovascular problems.  Duringa  Health Assessment class where we practiced heart examination one of my classmates said my heart had an unusual sound like murmuring. The tutor checked, agreed that I had heart murmur and advised me to see my family doctor for action.

A few weeks later I went to my family doctor She listened to my heart beat  it was normal the first time. I suggested longer listening. She listened again, this time longer and recognized that my heart pulse was irregular and a beat was skipped.  She gave me an electrocardiogram (ECG) and referred me to a cardiologist at Auckland Hospital.

The same thing happened when I had my first visit to the hospital cardiologist. Only after listening to my heart beat for a time longer than usual that  she agreed that my heart is not healthy. Using ultrasound scanning device she confirmed that my heart had a mitral valve leakage and enlargement issue. For almost a year, she went through a variety of examinations without finding out the cause of the situation. Finally, she consulted with a team of cardiologists and decided to schedule an operation replace my mitral valve.

If my mitral valve prolapse was not discovered and treated in time  I might have sudden death. There have been news that many people died suddenly because of  heart attacks due to heart enlargement. A colleague of my daughter, in her thirties, collapsed to death while playing sport. It was found out that she died due to undiagnosed heart enlargement.

The danger of this disease is that it does not show any alarming symptoms: no fatigue, no breathing difficulties, no shortness of breath, no high blood pressure, no high cholesterol or triglycerine … It is hard for the doctors to suspect any heart problem when there are no symptoms to worry and  when their heart examination does not last for than 10 seconds. It may require at least a minute of listening to the heart before any doctor can detect its problems.

On reflection, I actually had some warning signs but the doctors usually did not remember to ask. They include sleepiness during the day, left arm limited range of motion (ROM) along the back, and occasional shivering in warm weather. After the operation, my left hand’s ROM is as good as my right hand’s,  I am less sleepy during the day and no longer suffer cold shivering again.

I thank God for sending me back to school to have my heart disease detected in time. But I would also like to point out the important role of conventional medicine in providing surgical operation to save life and other services for acute or emergency situations. According to the principle of naturopathy, the patient is the centre of any therapy, conventional medicine and natural medicine can work together  and complement each other for the benefits of the patient. Naturopath must avoid prescribing foods, herbs and nutritional supplements that adversely interact with  prescribed conventional drugs. Instead they can help offset adverse effects of conventional drugs and strengthen the organs involved. Naturopaths are not to advise patients to stop taking or reduce prescribed medicine without consulting with their GPs.

Nguyen Van Tu – Auckland 2017

Amazing effects of Herbs and Healthy Food

 

When I started Herbal Medicine 1, I was  worried about how to remember the details of hundreds of herbs. Every herb has its own scientific name, constituents and various therapeutic effects. Each week we learned 5 new herbs and sat a test on 5 herbs learned in previous week. I could remember enough to pass the tests but not for very long . Each student was also given 4-5 herbs to study and submit a brief monograph of each herb. After finishing Herbal medicine 2, I had the opportunity to practice herbal prescriptions in clinical practice from year 4. Practice helped me remember the properties of some important and frequently used herbs.

At first I did not trust the effectiveness of herbs. But when put into practice their effects are amazing.

The first herb I studied and found potential application for Natalie is bacopa.

“Bacopa” or “brahmi” is a bitter vegetable I used to eat when I was little in the countryside, scientifically known as bacopa monnieri. Its actions include “anticonvulsion” and “nervine tonic.”, and therefore may be appropriate for Natalie.  I found a study comparing the anticonvulsant effects of “bacopa” versus the prescribed anti epileptic drug Tegretol Natalie has to take every day.  According to the report, the clinical trial showed that “bacopa” is as effective as Tegretol without the adverse side effects of Tegretol.

Natalie had taken Tegretol for many years, but still suffered seizures. Each time we told her doctor that she still had seizures, the doctor  increased the dose. This drug made her sleepy, tired and caused constipation, dried and cracked lips. Four years ago, Natalie had to take 12 ml Tegretol 3 times a day and could not participate any activity at school and continued having seizures. The prescribed dose went up to 13 ml making her condition worse.

I decided to raise my concern with her neurological paediatrician and informed him that I would give Natalie bacopa extract and cut down Tegretol dosage by 1 ml every two weeks until the dosage reduces to 6.0 ml and sent him the above mentioned research report as an explanation. I also sent a copy to Natalie’s GP.

With bacopa extract and reduced dose of Tegretol, Natalie’s condition improves continually . Her time of being awake and active increased. Her lips became less dried and less cracked. By the time the Tegretol dose was 6 ml, her lips were almost normal and seizures fewer.

After Natalie’s condition stabilized, I worried that if Natalie was hospitalized, the hospital would give him 13 ml Tegretol three times a day according to  her medication chart. That would be terrible for her. I raised this issue with our GP. She told me to write to the hospital and asked the hospital to administer only 6 ml of Tegratol to Natalie as needed with the affirmation that the responsibility would be mine if her seizures became out of control. I did it. My family and I have been very happy that Natalie only has had occasional seizures for the past 2 years.

Flaxseed Oil – Budwig Protocol

However, Natalie could be active for only a few hours a day at school and became exhausted after lunch. Upon arriving home, Natalie was so tired that we could rarely saw her smile for the rest of the day.

Last year (2016) around the middle of the year, I came across the Budwig Protocol formulated by Dr Budwig of Germany in 1950’s for treating cancer. The protocol purpose is to bring omega 3 in flaxseed oil directly to cell membranes to enhances their oxygen uptake. This would result in increased energy and dealth of cancer cells, as cancer cells do not survive in high oxygen environment. While we do not need it to kill cancer cells, it might help Natalie increase energy to be active.

The first day I blended 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil with 3 large tablespoons of kefir (fresh yogurt) added to her breakfast. The result was amazing. When she came home a note from the teacher said all day Natalie was alert and actively participated in all activities. And that night she smiled and laughed watching Tom and Jerry’s cartoon. What a magical food mix. Since then we continued to give her 2 -3 tablespoons of flaxseed oil mixed with kefir every day and she has been alert most of the time.

Amazing antipyretic Herb: andrographis

Over the past four years, we had been giving Natalie a capsule of  Kyolic garlic powder (formula 103) every day. She rarely had  flu. If she did it was light and no longer needed to go to the hospital.

The only time she had fever was in November 2016. Taking prescribed antibiotics and paracetamol could not lower her fever. Saturday evening, the temperature reached 40.6 degrees Celcius. With ice applied on her forehead, the temperature dropped a little bit but still around 40 degrees until the next day. At 10 am, when the shops opened I went to a chemist shop and bought a bottle  of herbal supplement called Go Vir-defense which includes powder extract of Andrographis, which is well known for its  antipyretic, antibacterial and antiviral actions. Giving Natalie a capsule, her temperature began to fall and within an hour it came down to 38, 5 degrees and gradually returned to normal during the day. My daughter had to say: “It is a magical medicine!.”

A simple natural mixture to prevent blockage of blood vessels

Naturopathy gives special attention to herbs and foods every one is familiar with. Garlic, onion, ginger, lemon, turmeric, honey, pepper, apple cider vinegar … are often used in naturopathic prescriptions.  A few years ago, my wife was introduced to a natural mixture that had helped many people with cardiovascular problems. It consists of garlic juice, ginger juice, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and honey and is easy to make. A friend of ours had  3 coronary bypasses 10 years ago but all the arteries are partially blocked again. After my wife told him about the mixture, he made immediately and took it every day. Before long he said he felt much better since taking 1 tablespoonful of  the mixture  a day. He said the artery without bypass is very healthy without any problems. I think this mixture can also clear all blood vessels and prevent strokes.

Fennel seed tea  for bloating and  stomach gas.

Fennel and Dill are very similar and both have the name “dill” in Vietnamese. But actually these two varieties are different, especially with different flavours. In NZ, fennel plants are easy to grow and difficult to eradicate. Dill plant however is difficult to grow and can not survive through winter in NZ.

Fortunately, naturopathy is interested mainly in fennel. I’m sure everyone experiences bloating.  Having heartburn and acid reflux is uncomfortable. Finding out  that the fennel is a carminative, so I tried fennel tea when I feel bloated. Just five minutes is all it takes to help you release the gas and made you feel relieved.  I have not seen any western medicine that is as that effective for this problem.  Any one who tried it agreed that it was  miraculous for bloating and acid reflux.

Bacopa monneri and mental health

Allow me to tell you my experience with bacopa monnieri. From high school, I used to suffer a condition like brain fog.  It always took me a while to be able to have clear mind to focus. When I learned that bacopa monnieri has cognitive enhancing or mind clearing actions, I tried it. The effect was great.  I regretted that I did not know the wonderful properties of this bitter vegetable earlier.

Even though the above herbs and nutrients showed miraculous benefits in my case, I can not assure that they have the same effects for you. You can only find out by trying them to see if they work for you.

Nguyen Van Tu – Auckland 2017