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Medical Nuggets

health-tipsIt was when I was a medical student, studying tropical medicine in Durban, South Africa, that I had the privilege of attending one of the best medical conferences I have ever attended. Over the course of the weekend, a number of medical specialists, especially those who had excelled in their field, each took about 30 minutes to share a nugget of wisdom with this group of aspiring young GP doctors. The point of the exercise was this: they wanted to share “tricks of the trade” with General Practitioners in order to improve their medicine by getting patients better in a shorter period of time, and to keep them from referring patients to specialists for conditions that could easily be dealt with in the GP’s office. It was the best medical conference I ever attended because it was so practical.

Experience has a way of depositing her nuggets of wisdom in your lap. Over the years, after practicing medicine all over the world, and sharing knowledge with so many good medical practitioners, I too have learned a number of “tricks of the trade”. I’d like to share just a few with you. (Please keep in mind, this is an academic exercise. Always check with your physician before you take any medication or employ any medical technique).

1. This one I learned from a well-known bio-chemist: If you have a sore throat and want rapid relief (in less than 15 seconds) – gargle with warm water (2-4oz), a pinch of sea salt and 5 drops of Biocidine (a natural collection of herbs which will kill harmful bacteria and viruses in the body without harming good bacteria). Gargle for 15-20secs and spit out the solution. Repeat as often as is necessary.

2. A pharmacist shared this one with me: for diarrhea take 2 Metamucil wafers and one Imodium tablet after each loose stool. This usually stops diarrhea in its tracks. If not, see your doctor.

3. Treating tennis elbow. Recently, a fellow physician came to visit. As we were talking, I noticed he was in some discomfort. He kept extending his arm and wrist as if he had a bad cramp. It turned out he was suffering from tennis elbow. This was a case of “physician heal thyself!” as he is an osteopathic physician who specializes in treating sports injuries. His own treatment was working but ever so slowly. It was then that I shared the nugget of medical wisdom I had gleaned from a Romanian physician: at the site of injury, inject 0.2ml of ozone gas, sub-cutaneously (just below the skin). I injected him in 4 places around his left lateral elbow, about 2 inches apart. If done correctly, you rarely draw but a drop of blood. After 2-3 minutes, I asked how he felt. He twisted and pulled, trying to find that familiar pain but was delighted to discover that the pain was gone. I saw him a month later and he reported that the pain had not returned. He had to admit that his way of treating tennis elbow was clearly not the fastest way! This simple procedure is also effective in offering relief for muscle strains in the back, ankle sprains, knee pain and hand pain. It usually stops, or greatly reduces the pain, about 60% of the time.

4. Treating migraine headaches. Standard treatments for migraines can be effective but some of my patients complain that the drugs are so strong they often have to take off the rest of the day because they are so groggy. This next nugget is one I learned from a neurosurgeon: rub a pea-sized amount of nitro-glycerin ointment (Nitro-Bid) into the calf muscle, and take 600mg of Ibuprofen. Wait 20-25 minutes. The headache should be gone or greatly diminished without that “hang-over” feeling. If the headache is on the left side of the brain, rub the ointment on the right calf, and vice versa.

Why does it work? If it is a vascular headache, the blood vessels are in spasm, causing pain. The nitro-glycerin is a vascular dilator. By placing it on the calf muscle, it is a safe distance from the brain and takes 20 minutes to gently dilate the spasmed blood vessels. The nitro keeps the vessels from closing down and the Ibuprofen keeps them from dilating too much. Never apply more that a pea-sized amount, as a larger dose can make the headache worse. Nitro-Bid is used in the hospital with people with heart disease. The doses they use are usually 1-2 inches – we are using a fraction of that.

Some parting thoughts: The wise man is a good listener. Have a teachable spirit and be open to learning new things. Nuggets of wisdom come at a high price – often a lifetime of experience – so treasure them and pass them on.

“We believe healthy cells and a properly functioning immune system form the foundation of the human body.”

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