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Women's Birthing Rights, Women's Bodies, Women's Health

Children’s Cold Medicines Pulled from the Market, or Why We Crones Stop Talking to People, and How to Raise Healthy Children

So I sat there watching the 10 o’clock news just steaming last night as the latest revelation was delivered from god on high, excuse me, the patriarchal medical establishment:  children’s cold medicines don’t work and sometimes they kill children.   So, at long last, they have been pulled from the shelves of the drug- and grocery stores throughout the land.   The “latest”  is that parents should let children’s colds run their course and should rely on natural remedies, i.e., vaporizors, lots of liquids. 

What a news flash.

For 35 years, over the course of raising 11 children, I have steadfastly rejected over-the-counter and prescription drugs for my children, along with the doctors who prescribe these toxic and (for the most part) useless substances.  I have steadfastly urged, in writing, in articles, in my magazine, that other mothers do likewise.   I realized very early on in my motherhood journey that the reasons doctors prescribe pills and drops and liquids for children is, parents think doctors possess magical healing substances which cure all and every malady.  I never understood this expectation and never trusted doctors who enable it, because they know better, which tells me, worst case, they are dishonest, slightly better case, they trust what their teachers have taught them, suspending disbelief when faced with clear evidence to the contrary.  The principles of feminist self-help when it comes to health care run deep in me, the most basic of which is that it is not going to work to put one’s faith and trust in the advice of a patriarchal medical establishment, particularly if you are a woman, and particularly if you are a mother.

When my kids developed colds or flu over the years, I did what I knew worked, ignoring, for the most part, whatever medical fads might be in vogue at the time.  If my kids were croupy, having a hard time clearing their lungs, had hacking, dry coughs and couldn’t sleep, I wrapped both of us in a towel or blanket, went into the bathroom, shut the door and turned on the shower full blast until the room was full of steam, their croup had subsided, their lungs had cleared and they could breathe again.   If they were coughing productively but so much that they couldn’t sleep, I propped them up on pillows because drainage, including of the sinuses, follows gravity.  If my kids were feverish, I washed them down with damp cloths, gave them a cool cloth for their forehead, brought on the popsicles and ice water, to be sipped slowly through a straw or by spoon.  If the fever hung on for too long and I began to fear they might get dehydrated, or if they were in pain with  headache or body aches, I gave them children’s aspirin.  (Aspirin is the one over-the-counter remedy I use and know to be effective, forget Tylenol, and don’t even talk to me about Reyes syndrome.   The minuscule chance of children developing Reyes syndrome from taking a couple of orange St. Joseph’s for Children doesn’t hold a candle so far as health risks go to Tylenol’s toxicity to the human liver.)   I watched my kids closely and could usually tell when they were coming down with something, often because of what they were craving, which I provided in abundance.  When they suddenly wanted to eat orange after orange after orange, for example, that was a very good sign to me that they were fighting off a cold or flu.  So I provided them with all of the oranges they could eat.  I have watched as my toddlers in their high chairs ate three, four oranges at one sitting.  For nourishment, in addition to the juice and popsicles, I provided Old Maid’s Tea (freshly-brewed hot tea with honey and fresh lemon  juice, sipped from a spoon) and, yep, you got it, homemade chicken soup which included dark leafy greens like spinach and a little extra pepper to clear their nasal passages. 

I breastfed my children until they weaned themselves (between 18 months and seven years of age, yes, that’s right, seven years of age).  When they began showing an interest in solid food (by reaching for it or bobbing their heads around when they saw it), I offered them whatever they showed an interest in, including fresh salad, fresh and cooked vegetables of all kinds.  The evidence is all anecdotal, but all of my children raised this way love all vegetables and salads, to include broccoli and spinach.  They ask for broccoli and spinach and salad.  They consider it a treat and turn their noses up at junk food and fast food. 

Finally, my children were taught to wash their hands after using the restroom, when their hands were dirty, after touching or playing with animals or children or adults.   This is the simplest thing in the world, to teach, to practice and to model, and I am convinced that it is often this practice that makes the difference between a child who picks up every cold going around and a child who is rarely sick.   I also taught them, or they taught themselves and each other, not to touch doorknobs, faucets, or toilet seats in public restrooms.  Don’t use your hands.  Use your foot (with the shoe on it), your elbow, or cover your hand with your sleeve or a paper towel.  Knowledge of how disease is transmitted via germs and how handwashing prevents it ended the epidemic of childbed fever and could end all sorts of other epidemics, as well. 

And, of course, I stayed away from doctors’ offices where all of the sick children were coughing and hacking away, exuding great streams of drool while teething, and chewing on the toys together!

Occasionally over the years I succumbed to the temptation to buy cold medicines for my kids when I was feeling like a bad mom for some reason, as when someone suggested that every good mother parked herself and her kids at doctors’ offices with regularity, that’s the mark of a good mother, you know, when the child sneezes, oh my god, call the pediatrician!  When the ears ache, get in line for tubes in the ears! (Another discredited “remedy” for childhood earaches which subjected children to unnecessary, costly and dangerous surgeries and pain and which never resolved the earaches.)  When the child coughs, demand antibiotics!  Teach your children young to line up, stick out their arms and let experts in funny clothes stick needles in them, no crying, buck up, be a big boy, be a big girl, it’s just a little stick!  Suspend all disbelief in patriarchal medicine when your constantly-examined-and-evaluated-and-medicated-and-stuck children develop all sorts of sicknesses, allergies, impaired immune systems, and so on. 

Anyway, I would occasionally begin to cave and would temporarily buy into all of this malarkey if I felt insecure, usually because some blowhard had given me (or one of my kids) a piece of his mind he could not afford to lose, and I would buy the pricey cold medications.  They didn’t work.   Of course, one reason they didn’t work is, they tasted so bad, children would not ingest them, and who could blame them? Why would anybody?!  This was horrible stuff, thick, green, red, orange liquids which tasted so bad there was no way to disguise it, and if it even made it past the tongue, usually the stomach would say “no way” and it would all come back up. 

Well, children will not have to suffer through some parents’ forced ministrations of these patriarchal elixirs any longer, because they are so removed from the shelves.  I can only wonder whether this decision might have come in part on the heels of the murder charges against the parents of Rebecca Riley, who died after having taken medicine prescribed for her “bipolar disorder” (diagnosed at age 2) and a variety of cough and cold medications.   According to the Consumer Health Association in the article linked above, from 1969 to 2006, at least 45 children died after taking decongestants, and 69 died after taking antihistamines.  This is likely just the tip of the iceberg, of course.  How many children’s deaths were attributed to complications of cold, flu, or influenza but were actually the result of these medications? 

In the ’80s I read Dr. Robert Mendelsohn’s books, bought them in bulk and distributed them to my friends.  Mendelsohn had been the chair of the American Academy of Pediatricians, had taught in medical schools, and was, of course, an M.D.  His consistent advice was to stay out of doctors’ offices unless you were deathly sick.  In his book, How to Raise Healthy Children In Spite of Your Doctor, he advocated against “well child” visits, against all over-the-counter and prescription medications for common illnesses like colds and flu, against tubes in the ears, against circumcision.  In his book Male Practice:  How Doctors Manipulate Women, he urged women to steer clear of obstetricians and gynecologists and commonly-prescribed tests and evaluations of all kinds.  Decades before angioplasty was recognized as ineffective following a heart attack, Mendelsohn was recommending against it and a host of other AMA-recommended procedures in his Confessions of a Medical Heretic.  Although I knew that feminist women had written similar books years before, books like Gena Corea’s, The Hidden Malpractice: How American Medicine Treats Women as Patients and Professionals, published in 1977, and Barbara Ehrenreich’s For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of the Experts Advice to Women, first published in 1979,  I was glad for Mendelsohn’s work, given that so many people seem only to trust white males with letters after their names.   I particularly valued his steadfast insistence that doctors need to listen more to mothers than mothers need to listen to doctors, that mothers are the ones who know when there is something really wrong, and Mendlsohn’s encouragement to mothers to honor our own insights as to our children’s health.  Mothers, he said, know when something is really wrong with their children.  Usually it is a change in behavior or appearance, Mendelsohn said, that tells a mother her child is ill:  strange or unusual crying, listlessness, sleep problems, the look on a child’s face, the glassy eyes, the flushed cheeks.  Mendelsohn urged mothers to believe what their eyes and ears were telling them, to have faith in their own observations and judgments about their children’s health.

Well, eight of my 11 children are grown now, with the oldest 35.  They are the very picture of health, as are the three still at home with me.    It’s been a very long time since any of the three still at home has even had a cold.  Each may have had the flu once or twice, and they are 9, 12 and 16.   I have steadfastly, as much as possible, avoided the institutions and advice of patriarchal medicine, as I have avoided all dangerous patriarchal institutions, for 35 years now.  Most of my kids grew up drinking clean well water from the wells on our property in the country and breathing clean air as well.  I refused to subject them to the intrusions and invasions and “sticks” and prods, pills and liquids, patriarchy insists are the mark of “good parenting.”   My opinion is, their good health is the result. 

But, what’s 35 years and 11 kids’ worth of experience anyway, when people can always turn to 20-something white guys wearing Nehru jackets and stethoscope necklaces for the latest and greatest patriarchal medicine has to offer?  It’s not just conservatives either, it’s not just the mainstream, feminists and progressives of all stripes consistently behave as though patriarchal medicine operates with the best interests of women and our children at heart, ignoring all  of the evidence to the contrary, as though it makes sense to offer up our blind trust and faithful obeisance.

If anybody wonders why crones and wise women are reticent to offer up their wisdom, their voice of experience, unless someone specifically asks them to — and often, even then — it’s because of this phenomenon I have just described.  As women, so often we do not even recognize, let alone honor, our own elders or their lived experiences.  Instead we institutionalize them, abuse them, mistreat them, treat them with disrespect, matronize them, ignore and dismiss what they have to say.  And so, each generation of women starts from scratch, reinvents the wheel, learns what needs to be learned too late, if at all, and the hard way, laments and boo-hoos that there are no trails to follow.  Well, the trails were there, it’s just that men and their apologists came right along after and covered them up.  And the next generation of women trusted what the men said, not what the women said, about those trails.  So long as this is true, there will be no real or meaningful challenge to the abuses of patriarchal medicine, or for that matter, to any of the abuses of patriarchy.




110 thoughts on “Children’s Cold Medicines Pulled from the Market, or Why We Crones Stop Talking to People, and How to Raise Healthy Children

  1. Sis, great comment moved to HPV thread. 🙂

    Posted by Sis | October 12, 2007, 6:45 pm
  2. “The “latest” is that parents should let children’s colds run their course and should rely on natural remedies, i.e., vaporizers, lots of liquids.”

    OMG!!!!!11!!!!111 STOP TEH PRESSES!!!!!1111!!!!!!!! 🙂

    heart, thank you so much for this piece. your writing is beautiful, heartfelt (no pun intended :)), and inspiring as always.

    as a woman coming up in the patriarchical medical system, i am constantly thinking about whether the path i’m on is true to who i am as a feminist. i have often wondered if it would be better for me to pursue nursing, or midwifery, or another field that is historically more woman- and feminist-friendly. however, what i always come back to is the fact that the current medical system needs people who think differently, who want to take health care in a different direction, who can offer a haven to patients who want something different but don’t have access to anything but traditional medical care, to educate women about their health and be a resource for them to navigate the system we have.

    there’s all sorts of arguments that can be made about working from inside the system versus working from the outside, and as i’ve said i go back and forth in my own thoughts all the time. i have seen so much in medicine that is absolutely horrible and heard so many atrocious stories, but each time i do i think about how much differently i’m going to do things.

    most importantly: don’t be silent, crones! many of us maidens are listening, learning, and changing. 🙂

    Posted by ladoctorita | October 12, 2007, 6:59 pm
  3. Rock on, La Doctorita! Go YOU. We HAVE to have woman doctors like YOU in the system or we are so freaking screwed. Who else is going to raise the kind of ruckus that needs to be raised? I know you will do us all proud.



    Posted by womensspace | October 12, 2007, 7:14 pm
  4. Please stay in ladoctorita. Our children, the old women of the future, will have need of physicians like you who are not only willing to rattle some cages, but will have the power to do so. Nurses have no autonomy as you must know. I don’t hear the nurses I respect saying they are sorry they became nurses, but do see the terrible toll constantly watching medical neglect and having to keep quiet about it takes on their mental health and careers. About 20 years ago here, nurses were urged to have master’s degrees in nursing. Now, they want most of the work done by 10 month diploma nurses who never finished high-school and can’t speak or read English (sorry but that’s a safety factor). The doctors think rinsing bed pans and carrying out *their* orders is all that’s really needed.

    Midwives are constantly under the gun here. For every inch they gain, they lose 10 because the obstetricians are insane with their power.

    Stay in. Sending cool clothes and warm hugs.

    Posted by Sis | October 12, 2007, 8:16 pm
  5. I give my son infant paracetamol if he has a very high temperature or is obviously in acute pain.

    When he gets sick, his father (we split up over a year ago) constantly asks if I have taken him to the doctor? When am I taking him to the doctor? Why haven’t I taken him to the doctor yet? I feel stupid and put upon every time.

    But my doctor is an intelligent person, a feminist and a genuinely nice woman. When I have taken my son in before, when he’s been sick, she always says the same thing. “Rest, fluid and love.” She doesn’t make me feel silly for bringing him in, but she does reaffirm my belief that I know what I am doing with my son.

    I refuse to pump him full of antibiotics simply because his father thinks that will be good for him, when I know that every illness runs its course, eventually. One day, I will manage to hold my head high and look him in the eye and tell him all of this, instead of lowering my face and muttering excuses as I do now. :o/

    Posted by Anji | October 12, 2007, 10:29 pm
  6. The more I read, the more I mistrust the medical establishment. This is just another nail in the coffin, in my little world at least.

    (Now I’m having second thoughts about scheduling my next pap like I had planned. I’ll do it I think…but geez its hard. Especially when you KNOW there is something they are gonna bring up, and you have already chosen not to worry about it…but have to defend that choice again and again)

    Posted by Atalanta0jess | October 12, 2007, 10:44 pm
  7. Just a note: My brother and I got ear tubes in the mid-1960s. While those tubes delayed our learning to swim until age eight and made bathtime a bit of a production (no water in the ears, please), I am grateful we got them.

    You see, without them I went deaf for long periods from the ear infections, wasn’t talking much at 2-3, and was missing out on so much. The hospital visits, ear tubes, and antibiotics were more than tough, and to this day I think about the lonliness of a hospital room when you’re just a wee bit of a thing. But all that travail led to my being able to hear again. That was worth it.

    Perhaps some of these medical innovations get over-prescribed, but it seems to me the key is to go into the physician’s office informed and uncowed about protecting yourself and your children. Take what makes sense, keep an open mind, and rely on a combination of old, handed-down knowledge and the words from white-coated ones.

    By the way, both bro and I now hear silent burglar alarms. We attribute this to the interventions done on our ears. The alarm business freaks people out, but the dogs love us. Maybe we should have become burglars, but alas, Jim became a family doctor and I something at least legal.

    Posted by twitch | October 12, 2007, 11:04 pm
  8. “And so, each generation of women starts from scratch, reinvents the wheel, learns what needs to be learned too late, if at all, and the hard way, laments and boo-hoos that there are no trails to follow.”

    this is so true. i wish i knew more of what i know now back when i was a new mom. there was this crushing force to get me to comply with all the standard practices and all the medical visits and all the antibiotics. it was if i heard this imaginary voice telling me that my time for rebellion was over and that it was time to comply like everyone else does…..

    but not everyone does. i just wish i had the self-esteem back then to trust my intuition more. when i think about all the cold medicine i tried to get my son to take…all the times he threw it up when he was smaller…and knowing now that the medicine was giving him an allergic asthmatic reaction… makes me want to scream! (and cry…) if only i was encouraged to trust my mothering instincts! i have the same reaction to cold medicine, of course, why couldn’t i figure it out sooner? but there were times when a sickness had me so out-of-it that i would go out and buy cold medicine that actually made it harder for me to breathe.

    when i started living my life more consciously and informed, i learned things that i can not un-learn. i have the feminist community to thank for that. thank you!!! i was picking up breadcrumbs, and stumbled across some serious nourishment. essentially, i found the trail at long last.

    i’m relieved that the cold medicines won’t be there anymore staring back at intimidated mothers. they will still be pushing these chemicals by prescription….which will cost more and do more damage, i suppose. i don’t want to seem pessimistic, but one step forward has me weary of the possible fall-backs.

    Posted by avril joy | October 13, 2007, 12:47 am
  9. This is very interesting. I have just read some articles (primary and secondary) about the medicalization of childhood and motherhood. It was sometime in the late 19th century, early 20th that suddenly women’s experiences aren’t useful for raising children anymore. Although I think it more started when male doctors tried to get an edge up on midwives because they wanted more business.

    Odd thing is I can’t really find any explanation for why women ate it up. Patriarchy, I guess, but I need a more in-depth answer. Either way I still think it’s a real tragedy. Women care for children, but somehow they aren’t fit to?? That and it seems nowadays women who DO go into doctors with a child who is very ill are treated like they’re just being hysterical.

    I also try to avoid antibiotics as much as possible, and my mother has raised me that way. Unfortunately there have been a few times I had to take them, mostly because my father is immunocompromised and we can’t risk him getting something from me. Best thing for being sick is SLEEP, though!

    Um. Hi. *wave* I’m not really new here, but this is my first time commenting. Keep up the great stuff!

    Posted by Kitteh | October 13, 2007, 1:34 am
  10. Over-prescribed, yes.

    I avoid doctors myself, perhaps good luck as much as anything – though for various reasons I don’t trust them. So I’m rather reliant on what little I have gleaned from reading and overheard conversation for self-health-care.

    Over the years. I’ve picked up a reasonably good understanding of animal health and what the various drugs are, and what they do. Increasingly the vets seem to prescribe them in higher doses, longer courses, and for more minor ailments, even while new regulations make their use more awkward for farmers.
    I’ve gone beyond trusting vets too, now. They make money from the drugs they sell. It seems in half of the research reported, there is a funder who has a vested interest in the results.
    It’s a heck of a lot of work for one person to make sense of this mine-field, since advertising is often dressed up as research reports or industry advice in the farming papers. Read widely, ask questions, watch and learn – that’s all I can do, and the fact that I can generally tell when the vets are bullshitting is only testament to the number of animals I’ve worked with – an ordinary person cannot rely on experience.

    I’ve held out on gyn-checks in spite of pressure (when I’ve had doctors, they’ll note that they don’t have a record of your last smear, make an appointment for you and send a note telling when the appointment is. That infuriates me so much I don’t even bother to contact them and cancel the appointment) with the ‘logical’ reasoning (aversion, of course, being illogical) that some doctors have lost their jobs over unnacceptably high error rates. What that meant was that women who had cancer had been missed at a point when they could have been helped – while others needlessly went through the stress of being diagnosed with, and treated for, a cancer that had never existed.
    The system’s got to be a damn sight more perfect than that before cancer screening is even worthwhile.

    Posted by Sophie | October 13, 2007, 2:52 am
  11. I read Corea too, then. And Seaman. I didn’t know about Mendelsohn. I intend to get his books, although I’m going to have to work at it.

    Seaman still works on women’s behalf and has a re-issue this fall of an edited collection of women’s health writings. I really need to read and hear a lot more about women taking control of their and their families health. I’d appreciate suggestions of books and articles in the same spirit as Heart, Mendelsohn and Seaman if you have any to share.

    Posted by Sis | October 13, 2007, 4:31 am
  12. While there is certainly overdiagnosis and over-relying on drugs, I have to disagree that cancer screening is not worthwhile, no matter how busted the system. In the vast majority of cases, the chance of a cure rests on early detection. I ran into too many people while I was taking Mom to chemo that were caught late, usually when coming in for something else. One man went in to see if they could fix his acid reflux, which he’d always had, but which had worsened. He was at stage 4 cancer of the esophagus.

    Second opinions, of course, are always worthwhile, when there’s a big diagnosis. At the moment, we’re in the belly of the beast again, because mr.miranda has a possible lymphoma, so we’re in the middle of a battery of tests. But I’d rather know than not.

    These days, when I get my physical, I make them test for CA-125 on my blood test. That’s the only semi-reliable early detection for ovarian cancer, because by the time symptoms present, it’s probably too late.

    Posted by Miranda | October 13, 2007, 12:40 pm
  13. I have to disagree Miranda. Early detection does not cure. It merely detects. This is the big lie told us by the cancer industry. Go for screenings and tests and you’ll be cured sooner.

    There are no cures for cancer, just treatments. Amputating part of someone’s body and putting them on a toxic chemical regimen for five to seven years until “recurrence” is not a cure. It’s a business.

    Posted by Sis | October 13, 2007, 3:22 pm
  14. One of my history professors interviewed Dr. Spock and learned that this famous man considered an expert on child rearing hated his mother. Mothers today are treated like they are hysterical and over nurturing, and at the same time don’t know what they’re doing. I know some of this attitude towards mothers comes from Dr. Spock.

    An article that appeared in a number of newspapers this week reported on a recent study that found that more than half of children who were taken to see a doctor were misdiagnosed.

    My son suffered from numerous ear infections when he was younger; one of which came on so fast his ear drum ruptured. I found a child’s echinacea tincture and gave him that regularly which helped cut down on the number of ear infections he had. One doctor told me he had narrow eustachian tubes but never suggested getting tubes put in his ears.

    There is a connection between dairy and how much mucus our bodies creates. Cutting down on dairy can do wonders with fighting off colds and respiratory infections.

    Posted by nike2422 | October 13, 2007, 4:09 pm
  15. Oh good. I found Mendelsohn’s books, in a musty university library archives. I have to make written request to get them, probably brought to me by someone wearing white gloves.

    It just astounds me how the medical industry can cover up the few instances of warning and truth that are published and which might cause people to think twice about the latest medical miracle heralded in the media. People should think about how all those same sounding media stories got there. Busy busy little public relations/marketing departments. There is no truth anymore, but many truths, depending on which one is going to benefit the truth-teller.

    I recently saw a study saying lap dancers “in heat” (yes, that was the term the writer used) get more tips. These are people with a decade or more of publicly funded education. This is what passes for medical science.

    Just keep your kiddies out of the effin public pool until they are about five. Please. And then teach them to pinch their nostrisl and blow gently. That opens and clears the eustachian tubes, natures little blowdryers for the ears.

    Posted by Sis | October 13, 2007, 6:10 pm
  16. Two years ago, maybe three, I had an infection in my leg. I tried several homeopathic and organic remedies and while it did seem to get better at first, it ended up at the point where my leg was twice its normal size and weeping fluid constantly. I made an appointment to see the doctor my job chose for me (thank Goddess at least she was a womyn.) She took one look at my infected leg and said “You need to go to the hospital now. Do you have a ride?” I said yes, my partner is here. She said “Go now. I’ll call ahead and meet you there.”

    So I (grudgingly) went and spent 10 days with a tube in my arm being filled antibiotics. I put up with this only because it seemed to work. I drew the line at the male nurse they tried to send in; I vowed many years ago to never let a man touch me. They relented when I threatened to leave AMA.

    Long story short, I spent 10 days in the hospital and another 6 weeks at home with the tube in my arm, injecting antibiotics twice daily. To this day I call it my trip to hell and in fact, my left leg is still larger than my right but I know that I’d be dead were it not for the medical establishment.

    And Heart, I understand your feelings towards western medicine and I share many of them, but I can’t think that if you or your children had an acute condition like mine, you wouldn’t do the same thing I did.

    Posted by Hecate | October 13, 2007, 7:12 pm
  17. Right on, Heart!
    I was raised with the same kind of home remedies you used with your children – my mom gave my brother and I apple cider vinegar mixed with apple juice to drink when we had sore throats, put drops of warmed olive oil in our ears when we had earaches, had us sleep propped up when we were coughing, etc. My brother and I have never been immunized, were breastfed until we self-weaned at about a year and a half, were taught creative visualization as another tool for maintaining good health, used vaporizors, herbal steams, and so on and so forth. We were given medicine very rarely. My dad went 30-ish years without even ingesting so much as an aspirin.
    Responding to illness in these ways was so natural and ingrained in me that when I was living on my own for the first time while attending college, and I got sick with a cold/earache, it didn’t even occur to me to go out and buy medicine. I slept more, and I bought more vitamin C, echinacea/zinc tablets, a pile of fresh fruits and veggies, and eucalyptus essential oil. I also filled a sock with salt, tied it, heated it in the microwave, then held it against my ear, as my parents had long ago done. This was years before the corn/rice heating packs that are now everywhere were available.

    Posted by Eeni B. Bella | October 13, 2007, 9:03 pm
  18. I love this thread. 🙂

    Hecate, yeah, there are times I think it’s right to go to emergency rooms/hospitals/doctors. If you’re bleeding and need stitches, if you think you have broken bones, if you have major trauma from an accident, if you have been badly burned, if you have a bad infection of the type you describe or something like, you have a cut with a line running up your arm or your leg (!) indicating blood poisoning, if you run a high fever for more than a day or so and can’t keep food down and you’re getting dehydrated, in other words, in emergency situations. Sixteen years ago I broke my leg all the way through both bones and had to go in and get plates, pins, screws, etc, to hold my leg together. That was horrible! Very painful. I had had a baby four days before (at home) and so the baby (now 16) had to stay with me at the hospital and I couldn’t be given much pain medication because I was breast feeding. Not to mention, I couldn’t shower for six weeks because I had a cast on. But no question, I had to get my bones screwed back together and I was thankful I had insurance that paid for it. I’ve also gone to the doctor the few times I had mastitis when I was breastfeeding, because that is extremely painful and can result in abscesses, so in those instances I knew I needed antibiotics. My dad, who is 81 now, had a stroke a few years ago and was completely paralyzed on one side. He was brought to the emergency room and given medicine which, if given within three hours of a stroke, can reverse the damage (although it is dangerous and risky medicine). He recovered completely and has basically no lingering effects from the stroke, whereas had he not gone to the hospital he would have been severely impaired for the rest of his life.

    So yeah, I agree there are times to go to the allopathic doctors — I just think we need to go far less often than most people think they should go.

    I think we believe doctors have saved us from this that or the other, or things happened right in the nick of time, or whatever, or that we wouldn’t survive without doctors’ help, because that’s what we are told. A friend I had for years before she died in her late 90s was an R.N., one of the first to be capped in one of the nursing schools here in the 20s. She had 11 kids. She told this amazing story about living up in the mountains with all of her children, most of them quite young, when her husband was out of the country for several months. They were poor, no cars, nothing like that. The snow was deep on the ground and she had gone out to feed the cows in the barn. She had hucked a bail of hay down from the loft, fell and badly injured her leg by falling onto something which cut it all the way to the bone. The cut became badly infected. She developed a fever which lingered for days into weeks and was horribly ill and knew the infection was in her bone. I can’t recall the name of that type of infection right now. Her nursing background told her she might not make it if she didn’t do something, and she couldn’t get help because of the snow and being way up in the mountains, so she forced all of the infection out of her leg with her own hands. She did some other things too which I can’t recall now. Anyway, she recovered completely, no permanent damage. Later when she was able to get to a doctor to take a look, she said he did not believe her and told her there was no way she could have survived what she described– but she did. I think there are so many times people do survive things doctors think people can’t survive, and that if doctors have treated them, doctors take the credit whether it’s due or not.

    eeni, all great remedies you’ve listed there! 🙂 The kids and I were always big on zinc tablets, too. Other things that come to mind: we have always used Vick’s Vaporub for coughs and colds, rubbed on the child’s back or chest to help with breathing. Works! And is very comforting, just rubbing it gently on. For earaches, we used onions: slice an onion in half and heat it to as hot as you can stand, then put the steaming cut side over the painful ear. Some kinds of stomach upset are helped by yogurt (with active cultures) as, of course, are yeast infections. Unsweetened cranberry juice really does work for bladder infections.

    My second husband was able to keep his diabetes under control via what was prescribed to us by the naturopath we went to for some time. His regimen included blueberry leaf tea, made daily, about a quart, from organic dried blueberry leaves, the tea sipped throughout the day, spirulina, and I think nettle tea as well, though I might be wrong about that. He also ate lots and lots of fresh garlic and exercised by walking/running half-hour to an hour a day. On this regimen together with maintaining a strict vegan diet, he was able to keep his blood sugar under control and remained in good health, although prior to consulting the naturopath, his blood sugar had been out of control. The D.O. we saw at the time prescribed diabetes medicine which did not work. After our divorce, my ex stopped taking care of himself, ate whatever he wanted, drank, too, and last I heard he had lost two toes to gangrene.

    I think that our gynecological needs as women can be taken care of via midwives or at women’s clinics if we’re lucky enough to have a women’s clinic nearby, like Aradia in Seattle which closed down this past year, after 30-some years, such a loss! Our other health needs can be addressed via naturopaths; the insurance I have through my employer covers naturopaths, and in Washington, a naturopath sits on the board of professionals which oversees medicine in our state, which is very positive, progressive, I think. Then again, Bastyr college, one of the oldest and most respected of the naturopathic colleges, is in Seattle. Naturopaths emphasize and focus on health, as opposed to treatment of disease, which is an entirely different approach to health care, just in general. My experience is that naturopaths will refer, including to allopathic medical practitioners, where that is appropriate as it sometimes is. They also refer to other kinds of alternative health care professionals. Allopathic theory is very different, in that the focus is on treating symptoms and diseases, as opposed, again, to focusing on getting people healthy and well.


    Posted by womensspace | October 13, 2007, 10:26 pm
  19. Yeh. I love this thread too. 🙂

    Heart I would agree with all you’ve said, but I’d eat the onion. Seriously, the disagreement I have with your post is taht allopathic medicine isn’t even focused on treating symptoms and diseases anymore; it’s focused on selling drugs, devices and procedures.

    Everyone should look for the book Selling Sickness by Ray Moynihan (Australian medical journalist who writes for the British Medical Journal) and Alan Cassels, a professor in public health policy at the University of Victoria. It will blow away any doubt that the medical profession is right off the rails.

    Posted by Sis | October 13, 2007, 10:57 pm
  20. Great thread. There is always a balance about going to doctors or getting modern medicines, certainly sometimes they are necessary, but for many minor things, not necessary.

    I would disagree with you (and my mother!) about giving ice or cold cloths to bring down fevers. Something I have done (for the last 25 years) when I get a cold/flu, is when the temperature starts getting significant, wrap up warmly, stay in bed, twice as many covers, and sweat it out overnight. It breaks it. My theory is that I think that the temperature is actually caused by the immune system going into overdrive to fry the invading bugs (not the actual bugs causing the fever). Of course lots of honey & lemon drinks, orange drinks, and inhaling eucalyptus oil. Unfortunately I do frequently suffer from post-cold/flu ear/sinus infections, so usually have to resort to a course of anti-biotics for the ear/sinus infections. And I only take asprin/ibuprofen on rare occasions.

    Posted by CrankyCrone | October 14, 2007, 11:27 am
  21. “Early detection does not cure. It merely detects. This is the big lie told us by the cancer industry. Go for screenings and tests and you’ll be cured sooner.”

    Right on! And specifically, with breast cancer, they fuck with the statistics to show that getting mammagrams and early detection saves lives. What they do is they include ALL types of breast cancer in their statistics. There’s a type of breast cancer that’s only in the milk duct. I think it’s called something like ductus in situ, or something. Those types of cancer don’t spread.

    But with other types of breast cancer, if it’s big enough to show on a mammagram, it’s already spread, if it’s going to. Laypeople think that what happens is a tumor gets bigger and bigger and bigger, and then at some point it metastasizes (spreads). But that’s not the case. It will start metastasizing even when it’s tiny.

    So, since some cancers will have already spread by the time they see it on the mammagram, they lump in the cancers that are contained within the milk ducts and won’t spread so that statistically it looks like mammagrams save lives.

    Posted by bonobobabe | October 14, 2007, 4:14 pm
  22. Oh, that reminds me that when I was at my doc’s for a pap, she was doing the breast exam, and she asked me how old I was. When I told her 37, she said, “We don’t recommend our patients start getting mammagrams until they’re 40.” I said, “I’m never getting a mammagram.” Hell, when I was a kid in school, we learned that two of the causes of cancer were radiation and trauma. Gee, mammagrams include both of those things.

    Anyway, my doc said, “Well, we believe that the patient has a right to do what she wants with her body.” What? I don’t care what they believe. I have a right to bodily autonomy, period, regardless of their beliefs. Fuck that. She said it like she was being magnanimous, like another doctor would hold me down and force a mammagram on me.

    I do get paps, but not as regularly as I used to because I’m 37 and I haven’t had sex for a long time, and since becoming a radical feminist, I don’t see my having sex any time soon, because truthfully, I haven’t met a man who was worth my time.

    Posted by bonobobabe | October 14, 2007, 4:20 pm
  23. I would disagree with you (and my mother!) about giving ice or cold cloths to bring down fevers. Something I have done (for the last 25 years) when I get a cold/flu, is when the temperature starts getting significant, wrap up warmly, stay in bed, twice as many covers, and sweat it out overnight. It breaks it.

    What I do is go by how I feel. Sometimes when I have a fever, I feel cold, and sometimes I feel hot. So when I feel cold, I bundle up, get in a hot bath, turn up the heat, whatever. When I feel hot, I try to get cool. I figure that thermometers are a recent invention, but our bodies have been fighting off viruses for millenia, with nothing to go by than how we feel.

    Here’s a page on the myths of fever:

    Posted by bonobobabe | October 14, 2007, 4:30 pm
  24. Mammography Is Dangerous Besides Ineffective, Warns Samuel S. Epstein, M.D.

    CHICAGO, Feb. 6 /PRNewswire/ — The following was released by Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition and Professor Emeritus of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, University of Illinois School of Public Health, Chicago:

    Recent confirmation by Danish researchers of longstanding evidence on the ineffectiveness of screening mammography has been greeted by extensive nationwide headlines. Entirely missing from this coverage, however, has been any reference to the well-documented dangers of mammography.

    Screening mammography poses significant and cumulative risks of breast cancer for premenopausal women. The routine practice of taking four films of each breast annually results in approximately 1 rad (radiation absorbed dose) exposure, about 1,000 times greater than that from a chest x-ray. The premenopausal breast is highly sensitive to radiation, each 1 rad exposure increasing breast cancer risk by about 1 percent, with a cumulative 10 percent increased risk for each breast over a decade’s screening. These risks are even greater for younger women subject to “baseline screening.”

    Radiation risks are some four-fold greater for the 1 to 2 percent of women who are silent carriers of the A-T (ataxia-telangiectasia) gene; by some estimates this accounts for up to 20 percent of all breast cancers diagnosed annually.
    Since 1928, physicians have been warned to handle “cancerous breasts with care — for fear of accidentally disseminating cells” and spreading the cancer. Nevertheless, mammography entails tight and often painful breast compression, particularly in premenopausal women, which could lead to distant and lethal spread of malignant cells by rupturing small blood vessels in or around small undetected breast cancers.
    Missed cancers are common in premenopausal women owing to their dense breasts, and also in postmenopausal women on estrogen replacement therapy.
    Mistakenly diagnosed cancers are common. For women with multiple risk factors including a strong family history and early menarche — just those strongly urged to have annual mammograms — the cumulative risks of false positives can reach as high as 100 percent over a decade’s screening.

    The widespread acceptance of screening has lead to overdiagnosis of pre-invasive cancer (ductal carcinoma in situ), sometimes treated radically by mastectomy and radiation, and even chemotherapy.

    As increasing numbers of premenopausal women are responding to aggressively promoted screening, imaging centers are becoming flooded. Resultingly, patients referred for diagnostic mammography are now experiencing potentially dangerous delays, up to several months, before they can be examined.

    The dangers and unreliability of screening are compounded by its growing and inflationary costs. Screening all premenopausal women would cost $2.5 billion annually, about 14 percent of estimated Medicare spending on prescription drugs. These costs would be increased some fourfold if the highly profitable industry, enthusiastically supported by radiologists, succeeds in replacing film machines, costing about $100,000 each, with the latest high-tech digital machines recently approved by the FDA, costing about $400,000 each, for which there is no evidence of improved effectiveness.

    The ineffectiveness and dangers of mammography pose an agonizing dilemma for the millions of women anxious for reassurance of early detection of breast cancer. However, the dilemma is more apparent than real. As proven by a September 2000 publication, based on a unique large-scale screening study by University of Toronto epidemiologists, monthly breast self-examination (BSE) following brief training, coupled with annual clinical breast examination (CBE) by a trained health care professional, is at least as effective as mammography in detecting early tumors, and also safe. National networks of BSE and CBE clinics staffed by trained nurses should be established to replace screening mammography. Apart from their minimal costs, such clinics would empower women and free them from increasing dependence on industrialized medicine and its complicit medical institutions.

    (For further details and supporting documentation, see “Dangers and Unreliability of Mammography: Breast Examination is a Safe, Effective and Practical Alternative,” by Samuel S. Epstein, Barbara Seaman and Rosalie Bertell, International Journal of Health Services, volume 31(3):605-615, 2001.)

    Source: Cancer Prevention Coalition

    Contact: Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., Professor Emeritus Environmental and Occupational Medicine, and Chairman, Cancer Prevention Coalition, University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health, +1-312-996-2297, fax, +1-312-413-9898,
    Web site:

    Posted by womensspace | October 14, 2007, 5:18 pm
  25. Too right. Treatments for most breast cancer are not effective, and not only that, radiology causes a certain percentage of cancers, as does mammography. Doh. It’s radiation. Then, there’s mastectomy; the cure for breast cancer that’s right out of 1952. Where’d all that running and fundraising get us you ask?

    It’s all one huge scam. Be sure to tell retailers why you won’t be buying something PINK.

    The bad girls of breast cancer: Breast Cancer Action

    Posted by Sis | October 14, 2007, 6:21 pm
  26. Oops. I was searching for the link with an open posting window while you both posted. So anyway, here’s something *else*:

    light pollution and breast cancer:

    Posted by Sis | October 14, 2007, 7:21 pm
  27. How did Womankind turn away from our own intelligence and one another in order to start trusting man-made medicine?

    By the way, before reading my assessment of how/why we found ourselves so misled by patriarchy, please know that today I count upon no medical doctors, see no medical doctors, have no sickness (misnamed health) insurance, but that I do: trade Reiki/ energy balancing for massage; walk aerobically at least 5 times a week; eat no killed animals; and pretend to be flying with pelicans.

    I’ll be 54 years old on 10-22-53.

    I haven’t had a speculum in my cunniculum since I was 40.

    Also that year, I had my first, last and only mammogram, aka breast torture.

    Not that I expect to live forever. Just that if I were sick or dying, I’d do it anywhere but in the company of the medical system or similar prison. Not that I’d fault women doctors trying to make it a better place. Professional training is a huge mental accomplishment. I understand, because at one time I was a practicing lawyer, trying to reform the legal system from within. Along the way, I helped some women in ways men might not have. But then it became impossible for me to stay inside the toxicity of patriarchy’s chronic hypocrisy.

    Who but the individual woman knows best where to put her talents? Feminism’s one big experiment, even if it’s the only hope for a human part to the solution of what’s wrong on the planet.

    So why did women cede power to the patriarchs?

    The patriarchal theology of “free will” (and our innate, natural, normal desire to have the free will impossible in patriarchy) has blinded us to the power of the unacknowledged global brainwashing posing as “cultural diversity” to which every girl on the planet is subjected from birth.

    Added to the brainwashing is patriarchy’s package of misogyny: “value-added” incest; physical reprimands for normal but “unladylike” self-assertion (posing as discipline and punishment); female sexual objectification on the spectrum from fashion to rape; terrors of economic loss, school violence and war (now brought to even the fast-food restaurant table and the “best” aka “privileged” living rooms by ubiquitous TV and mainstream movies); and witnessing of chronic in-the-home verbal derision if not downright battery by father figures against mothers.

    I’ve read that global pornography is a bigger mega-billion-dollar business than the entirety of the world’s non-porn movie market. None of it ever tells the truth: the biggest war is the global war by men against women. This week the movie megaplex, for the massed unwary, reinforces these themes with hot-medium brainwashing of high production values:

    The Kingdom [Action movie about an FBI fighting Islamic terrorists in Saudi Arabia (themes: it’s okay/culturally normal in the US for a high-ranking male to describe a meeting at the Department of Justice as a “circle jerk;” it’s okay/culturally normal for a State Department official to tell a female FBI agent to cover her workaday t-shirted “boobs” in Saudi Arabia; some Islamic men are good, because they are offended by porno-mouthed Americans and protect women and children in a violent world; children belong to fathers who head the family; women are incidental to the world men have made; sons are more wonderful than daughters; the father-son and the brother-brother bond is what counts as human relationship)].

    Michael Clayton [Action movie about a global law firm and rogue lawyers fighting on both sides, for and against evil big business (themes: it’s okay/culturally normal in the US for male law firm partners to refer to a named female reporter at the New York Times as that cunt; it’s okay/culturally normal in the US for the male litigator to reward himself with two young females sucking his cock; it’s okay/culturally normal in the US for the upwardly mobile careerist woman to be mentored by a higher-ranking man whose misdeeds against humanity she covers up as corporate chief counsel; children belong to fathers who head the family; women are incidental to the world men have made; sons are more wonderful than daughters; the father-son and the brother-brother bond is what counts as human relationship)]

    We Own the Night [Action movie about the NYPD fighting Russian drug lords in New York (themes: it’s okay/culturally normal for any man to expect his girlfriend to love him, desperately and romantically, while she acts like a home-based hooker inviting him to fondle her sexually at will; every man’s female sexual targets called girlfriend or wife — interchangeably in the film, Puerto Rican, black or white — will try to nag or want to talk about the male relationship to violence that only another man can understand about doing what a man has “to do;” men are expected to silence these women with sharp reprimands and/or physical restraint; children belong to fathers who head the family; women are incidental to the world men have made; sons are more wonderful than daughters; the father-son and the brother-brother bond is what counts as human relationship)]

    The Heartbreak Kid [Pseudo-comedy about a guy who marries the way-wrong woman, starring Ben Stiller and his real-life father (themes: it’s okay/culturally normal in the US for a dad to want his grown, unmarried son to be out there “crushing pussy;” it’s okay/culturally normal in the US for the wedding ceremony to conclude, “I now pronounce you man and wife;” it’s okay/culturally normal in the US for a honeymooning guy to take a porno movie from another married guy as payment to the MX concierge who will take care of the honeymoon trip; children belong to fathers who head the family; women are incidental to the world men have made; sons are more wonderful than daughters; the father-son and the brother-brother bond is what counts as human relationship)]

    The woman-erasure naming of the titles pack their own punch: The Kingdom; Michael Clayton; We Own the Night; The Heartbreak Kid.

    Faced with this, I daily resign my past investment in the stories (and the world) men make, and cast their evil out of my consciousness with the replacement of strong feelings of my true Being, where I live as the center of my own life radiating out to all of Life. Consciously unconnected to the great lie of patriarchy, I claim real Life.


    Posted by JB Sproull | October 14, 2007, 8:21 pm
  28. Thanks so much for that, JB. It is such a pleasure getting to know you by reading you here (and other places!). Everything you say is so true.

    My Grandmother Lillian used to heal all of the warts of anyone who came to her. If you had warts, you went to her, and she took the part with the warts in her hands, rubbed the warts with her own hand, looked at you and said, “There. Now they’re going to go away.” And they did go away. Her mother before her also rubbed the warts of her children, grandchildren, and they went away. Everybody in the family knew this about my grandmother and my great grandmother. But this and other kinds of knowledge of women as healers seems to exist as distinctly “other.” It’s that other stuff, over there. It’s kind of interesting and maybe cute and possibly a little scary. But it isn’t “real.” It’s not “real life.” It’s not the “real people.” “Real” in this world is all of that that you described in your comment. As female persons we are so familiar with this not-realness. As feminists we resist it and find ourselves sometimes raging, furious, lashing out. The “real” people don’t understand what it is to be cast amongst the not real. They can’t even hear what we say. It’s like the way you scream sometimes in a dream and no sound comes out, nobody hears.

    Posted by womensspace | October 14, 2007, 10:01 pm
  29. I agree with a lot of what you and others have said here, Heart. I was particularly glad to see the mammography study, as I just had my first mammogram this year. (I’ll have to bookmark that so I can do more of my own research on this issue before it’s time for another one.)

    But I had a strong reaction to the implication that if everyone simply did what you did, their kids would be healthy. For example, my mom did pretty much what you did, but when I got a cold, it would last two full weeks, and during that time, I would be seriously affected, moreso than anyone else I knew. I got really sick. It wasn’t until I started taking Zicam in recent years that I was able to get through a cold without losing the ability to breathe and think for two weeks. And I still can’t get through without taking Mucinex – nor can my son – to relieve chest congestion and subsequent coughing (I need to call his doctor to see if that’s still on the allowed list) – and this is WHILE I’m doing all the natural things and spending hours in the bathroom-turned-steamroom. My point: some of us have other health issues (like allergies and asthma, etc., which has made me susceptible to bronchitis, and which is why I always get a flu shot), and the natural route just isn’t enough.

    Posted by plainsfeminist | October 15, 2007, 2:47 am
  30. Yeah, plainsfeminist, I agree that things are not always cut and dried. Where people have impaired immune systems and chronic conditions of various kinds, they have to figure out what works for them and go for it.

    At the same time, then we have to talk about all of the things which many believe impair people’s immune systems or result in their overall poor health and difficulty resisting infection, like bad water, bad air, poor nutrition in general, whether because of poverty or lack of information and knowledge, immunizations, chlorination and other substances in the water supply, overuse or misuse of antibiotics, antibiotics in meat and dairy products. I think instead of looking at how all of these things contribute to health problems, there can be a tendency to treat symptoms. I think people should do whatever they feel they need to do; at the same time, I think we need a lot more discussion of *why*, particularly in the affluent United States, so many people are so sick and how that connects with Big Pharm, patriarchal medicine, sexism, racism, classism, all sorts of exploitation, including of the world’s most marginalized and vulnerable people.

    Posted by womensspace | October 15, 2007, 3:03 am
  31. I also think that although, as I said before, the evidence so far as my kids go is anecdotal, 11 kids is quite a few kids, having grown up over 35 years, every one the picture of health. One of my sons had a very severe reaction to immunizations when he was six months old. He still struggles with allergies and skin difficulties at times which I trace back to those immunications, 24 years ago. That was the last time any of my kids got the mandatory shots. Another son who is older has had similar skin problems, and those I also trace back to immunizations.

    Posted by womensspace | October 15, 2007, 3:11 am
  32. By choosing not to immunize your children you are putting them at a much greater risk of death and debility than any other proven risk. Autism is the main thing people fear now from immunizations. But there is no credible, scientific link between the two.

    I have been reading this thread with interest but also dismay. If enough radical feminists turn away from most allopathic medicine, we will not survive long enough to BE crones transforming the patriarchy. News flash today (AP wire): Cancer detection is bringing death rates down. I’ll take all the cancer screenings I can get.

    Now excuse me, I have to go exercise some weight off my middle, so I can keep out of the doctor’s office and keep on kicking another fifty years!

    Posted by twitch | October 15, 2007, 6:26 pm
  33. In fact, last year’s vaccine wasn’t for the flu virus that was prevalent that year, a fact that industry snowed us with by a deluge of bought media articles posing as journalism.

    As for the cancer detection story; where was this story? I’d like to check it out. I suspect it’s been planted by industry, that is the cancer “detection” industry, that posse of physicians and manufacturers who own the “detection” equipment.

    Shareholders rejoice.

    Posted by Sis | October 15, 2007, 10:03 pm
  34. The link I posted there about mammograms, if I’m not mistaken, gets into why it is that even though cancer is, in fact, not being detected, the spin is that it is. It has to do with the way mammograms diagnose a lot of cancers that are not treated– like the cancers in milk ducts which never metastasize. So when the figures are broken out, it looks like there is all of this detection going on when in fact, some of it doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t matter if cancers are detected if they are not ever going to be treated, won’t metastasize and so on. Also, there is this idea, according to the article, that if you detect tumors when they are small, you can cure the cancer, when in fact, tiny tumors and cancers are as likely to have metastasized as larger ones; metastasizing is not a function of the size of the tumor or cancer.

    That is probably not exactly right, because I didn’t read carefully and haven’t read about this for some time, but the reasoning is along those lines. The article about cancer detection is definitely worth reading.

    Posted by womensspace | October 15, 2007, 10:22 pm
  35. You got it right Heart. I don’t keep all this stuff, well, especially through hard drive crashes and wipes such as I HAD TO HAVE DONE again, recently. Anyway, if anyone is curious as to the science behind the marketing, they can google the Cochrane Collaboration on mammorgrams to find out why this internationally respected non-profit group of the world’s best scientists in their respective fields do not advise for mass screening mammograms.

    Posted by Sis | October 15, 2007, 11:30 pm
  36. For early detection of breast cancer, thermography is a noninvasive method which does not involve radiation:

    Posted by womensspace | October 15, 2007, 11:38 pm
  37. Here’s a link to the cancer death rate dropping.

    Posted by Miranda | October 16, 2007, 2:06 am
  38. I’ve had this. Shrug.

    Can you just imagine how long it would have taken them to find another method if the test for prostate cancer involved flattening their nuts between two freezing steel plates?

    Posted by Sis | October 16, 2007, 2:11 am
  39. The stats cited are for the two years following the Women’s Health Initiative finding that HRT was carcinogenic.

    “A turning point came in 2002, scientists conclude Monday in the annual “Report to the Nation” on cancer. Between 2002 and 2004, death rates dropped by an average of 2.1 percent a year.”

    Later on they surmise (but do not say they prove) that colon cancer screening and early detection of polyps contributed to this rate of cancer-death decline.

    This is typical fear-mongering and grabbing credit where none is due. They are conflating (hah!) the incidence of polyps with the incidence of cancerous polyps. They aren’t the same thing at all.

    Posted by Sis | October 16, 2007, 2:48 am
  40. Unhealthy Advocacy: Journalists and Health Screening Tests

    Journalists and news organizations sometimes seem to abandon their usual healthy journalistic skepticism when it comes to coverage of certain health screening tests. While the journalistic intent here may be benign, the practice may produce more harm than good..

    Read this interview of Gary Schwitzer of our sister site,

    Unhealthy Advocacy: Journalists and Health Screening Tests

    An interview with Gary Schwitzer

    Posted by Sis | October 16, 2007, 4:23 am
  41. plainsfeminist, I agree with you that natural remedies aren’t always enough.

    I have learned, and keep on learning, that what matters the most isn’t which form of healthcare a person uses, what matters is the degree to which a person is knowledgable about and in control of her own health and body and empowered to make informed decisions. (As opposed to blindly following the word of doctors/”experts.”)
    I re-learned this the hard way last year, when I was sick for 4 months with severe asthma. I tried treating it myself for over a month, with the usual natural remedies, and when nothing worked, I went to a naturopath. Her protocol didn’t help me at all, and it was very expensive, and I was now experiencing depression in addition to the asthma. She was convinced my asthma was almost entirely emotionally based, kept telling me I was in deep pain and needed even more expensive treatments, and I would just sit there and cry and do what she said. I was so stuck in the mindset of Western medicine = evil, alternative healthcare = the best. I resisted turning to Western medicine because I thought that would be “giving up” and thus wrong. But using natural remedies is just as wrong if I do it haphazardly or just because someone else tells me to. What’s most wrong is not trusting myself, respecting myself, and listening to myself.
    It took me over a month to “wake up” and take control of my own health again. Then, I stopped seeing the naturopath immediately, and read a 500-page book on asthma (and researched asthma online and talked with friends and family), and decided to go to a Western doctor and get an inhaler. Even then, I wasn’t happy with the extremely high dosage she prescribed, and decided to cut it in half, and only use it for a month, and then try things on my own, instead of making another appointment so she could adjust my dosage, as was her plan. (I know doctors hate it when patients do stuff like that, but oh well!)
    Simultaneously, I made major lifestyle changes to reduce my asthma triggers (mainly dust mites). I moved to a new apartment with no carpeting, got rid of everything upholstered in my room, wrapped my mattress and boxspring in heavy plastic, bought a new pillow and a better quality vaccuum, bought dust masks to wear when I cleaned, etc. I started taking yoga weekly, the kind that mainly focuses on correct breathing, and started weekly chiropractic care. I also quit my stressful, full-time job, and took an entire month off to rest and heal.
    When I first began seeing the naturopath and she asked what I’d already been doing, I mentioned that I’d recently started drinking daily Comfrey infusions, since my intuition told me it would be a good thing. She told me it wasn’t such a good idea, so I stopped. Now, I remembered my body’s response to the Comfrey – having just a sip made my whole body quiver, like it wanted gallons of the stuff – and this time, I trusted that! I began drinking 1-2 quarts of the stuff every day, and yep, that was a good thing.
    Yay for finally listening to/trusting myself.
    I didn’t at all regret my decision to include Western medicine/an inhaler in my treatment plan, nor did me “succumbing” to Western medicine cancel out all the other natural treatments I was using. The Western doc told me flat out that my attempts to prevent asthma through breathing exercises and dust-mite-reduction were pointless, and the naturopath was opposed to me getting an inhaler, but, whatever!! My body knew what it needed better than either of them did!

    Posted by Eeni B. Bella | October 16, 2007, 4:54 am
  42. Being relatively ignorant, I like to keep things simple.

    If the most likely prescribed ‘cure’ for a condition I have turns out, on research, to have side effects far worse than the condition, I ain’t touching it.

    Hence, I live with seriously painful fibrocystic breasts and PMS, because the ‘treatments’ currently available are worse than the original condition.
    When you go to the doctor, they don’t tell you that. It takes a lot of work to truly find out what your options are. And what they aren’t. In a climate of ‘doctor knows best’ the option of not accepting modern medical help becomes unacceptable.
    I told one employer about the PMS, because he’d encountered me several times when I was totally flipping out with it. After that, any time I had the least problem he’d say ‘have you seen a doctor, have you been back to the doctor?”
    Went once. She wanted to put me on the Pill. I said no way. I’d already researched the side effects.

    If enough radical feminists turn away from most allopathic medicine, we will not survive long enough to BE crones transforming the patriarchy.
    I think we’ll survive.
    But we need to help each other to do it – and that is what this thread is doing. The world has moved on from the days when rough food wore an adult’s teeth out so that they died of starvation in their late twenties. There is so much research, and so much information that it’s possible for most people to maintain good health – without invasive surgery or chemical interference.

    Posted by Sophie | October 16, 2007, 4:57 am
  43. The cancer industry wants us to focus on ‘screenings’, and fun running, instead of where cancer is coming from:

    October 15, 2007:

    Workplace Cancer Underreported

    Workplace Cancer Figures Found Underreported

    In a new study with broad implications for the U.S., UK researchers claim that their government’s 26-year-old figures on occupational cancer grossly underestimate both the numbers of workers exposed to cancer risks and the number who develop work-related cancers, the BBC reports.

    The existing figure, which estimates 6,000 work-related cancer deaths annually in the UK, are based on an influential 1981 study by Richard Doll and Richard Peto, commissioned by the now defunct U.S. Office of Technology Assessment.

    That study, later published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, has been cited in over 441 scientific articles to debunk claims that environmental causes are significant contributors to cancer.

    Critiques of the Doll and Peto study point to the authors’ sole reliance on epidemiologic studies of workers in large industries and their failure to consider exposures in smaller workplaces, as well as the limitation of their analysis to deaths in those under age 65.

    Last year a group of European researchers revealed that Doll had financial relationships with a number of industries that manufacture cancer-causing chemicals, including Monsanto, the Chemical Manufacturer’s Association, and Dow Chemical.

    The new study, led by Andrew Watterson of Stirling University in Scotland, estimates that UK work-related cancer deaths are between 12,000 and 24,000 every year. Watterson and one co-author have consulted with law firms representing workers involved in occupational cancer lawsuits.

    Posted by Sis | October 16, 2007, 5:37 am
  44. This is a delightful discussion. Allopathic medicine is one of the main topics of the news section on my blog. I slam it every chance I get. AFAIK allopathic medicine is the leading cause of death in USA, and is generally bad news for women. It is great at treating serious injuries, but as far as disease goes, I view allopathic medicine as the absolute last resort.

    FDA has been looking into the issue of safety of cold medicines for children for over a year. I wonder what prompted the manufacturers to pull them off the market. Their spin does not ring true to me. Nothing new in that, but “These voluntary actions are being taken out of an abundance of caution.” Yeah right.

    Posted by Aletha | October 16, 2007, 6:40 am
  45. eeni: What’s most wrong is not trusting myself, respecting myself, and listening to myself.

    YES! If there were such a thing as a radfem sampler, this should be included! What patriarchy in general, and patriarchal medicine in particular, do to us is, they *dis* courage us. They remove our courage. What we need is to be *given* courage, *en* couraged to follow our gut, follow our hunches, in all the ways we have been talking about here. If we pay attention to our feelings, sensations, bodies, a lot of the time, as women here have described, we’ll have an idea how to help ourselves. If we have courage, we may at times just wait things out rather than rush to the doctor or the drugstore. Many times, I’ve just waited things out. I think I might have fractured a bone in my foot, not this last Festival, but the Festival before. I had a back-breaking schedule of workshops I was facilitating and was all over the land in rotten shoes. I had intended to bring my birks but did not and really needed to have brought them or running shoes, but brought neither. Anyway, I went home with severe pain on the *top* of my foot, sort of to the right of center, near my toes. At times it was so bad I couldn’t sleep and had difficulty walking. I really did think I had probably fractured a bone in there, but what would a doctor have done? Given me x-rays, possibly wrapped it or put it in a cast, given me a prescription for pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs. And had I availed myself of the above, in all likelihood the result would have been no better, and possibly worse, than the the result of my following my own hunches: I babied my foot for about six months and then it was fine. It would hurt really bad, I’d take aspirin, prop it on pillows, favor it, it would get better, I’d overdo, bad again, then it became a thing of more good days than bad, then finally I was well. I knew what was wrong, sort of, and I also knew to just let it be, it would heal fine in the end. As opposed to rushing to the doctor fearfully and doing everything he said? At a likely cost of $$$$$$$$$? I’ve had other things at times. Once in a blue moon, for some reason, I have a really really severe pain in a very localized spot in my lower back. I’ve had it once every, I don’t know, five or six years for the past 30 years! But what helps is to get down in the knee chest position. I felt that immediately, that it was as though something was out of place and I just needed to get the pressure off. Of course, instead of that, I could rush to the doctor and get a buttload of x-rays and pain meds and who knows what, but why? When I can think about it, analyze the pain, and eliminate it by getting into a very strange-looking, but helpful, position! I think the difference is in trusting oneself, honestly, having courage, not being afraid, not believing that doctors have all the answers, because they do not.

    Aletha, I think the Rebecca Riley case is why cold medicines are off the market. I linked in my post up there.

    Posted by womensspace | October 16, 2007, 7:15 am
  46. Also, every woman here should get hold of the book Where There Is No Doctor.

    Posted by womensspace | October 16, 2007, 7:20 am
  47. You may have just injured your metatarsal bones, and there’s a nerve there which can become inflamed when that happens. Birkies are great for that problem. Apart from my orthotics which have that area built up, Birkies with their metatarsal bump are the only other shoe I can consistently wear.

    Let’s make a list of helpful publications and websites, for women-centred thinking on health.

    Posted by Sis | October 16, 2007, 7:30 am
  48. Twitch, I’m with you:

    “By choosing not to immunize your children you are putting them at a much greater risk of death and debility than any other proven risk. Autism is the main thing people fear now from immunizations. But there is no credible, scientific link between the two.”

    Aaaand immunizations are the reason we don’t have, say, polio and smallpox epidemics anymore.

    I love Pap smears — they tell me that all is up and running and boisterously healthy in my Area 51. How else can we know we’re free of PID, of chlamydia, of HPV and a dozen other things?

    Also, Zicam? It ROCKS.

    Posted by goldfish | October 16, 2007, 2:41 pm
  49. Hey, Goldfish. 🙂

    Immunizations are important and needed where there is no good or clean water, where raw sewage runs in the street and there is a lack of basic sanitation, where there is poverty and people are sick because they are malnourished, where there is overcrowding of various kinds, where people are sick because they lack for the basic necessities of life. In the U.S., the only polio we have is caused by the polio vaccine itself. The possible connections between vaccines and autism remain uncertain, and we can be sure that Big Pharm will pay big bucks for “research” and “studies” which ensure it will not be sued for billions of dollars for the harm its products might have caused. Such is the state of “health care” in this country. The disease theory taught and held by allopathic medicine is just that: a theory. It is not certain that immunizations are responsible, for example, for ending epidemics of various kinds. In all epidemics, some people get sick and die, some don’t. Even where no one is immunized, the epidemics have a natural life, a beginning and an ending.

    I think good pap smears, performed, for example, by midwives and woman-centered gynecologists, can give us information we need, as women, to protect our health. Certain sexual practices cause women to be at risk for HPV and other STDS. If women engage in those practices, then definitely, it’s important to have pap smears. The thing is, though, pap smears miss all sorts of stuff and can’t really be trusted. There are many indicators of gynecological health it’s important for women to pay attention to, and if they think they’re covered because they had their pap smear, they might miss them.

    Posted by womensspace | October 16, 2007, 3:51 pm
  50. Re sexual practices: I read a report recently that said that HPV is found and is transmitted by men’s hands and fingernails. Again, washing the hands is an issue. We can rely on pap smears to tell us when we’ve already contracted HPV (!) or we can do things like insist sexual partners carefully wash their hands and bodies, use condoms, we can create boundaries around the kind of sex we are willing to have, and so on.

    Posted by womensspace | October 16, 2007, 3:57 pm
  51. If you are so unconnected to your vulva and vagina, your labia, clitoris, anal and rectal tissues and health that you have to have a STRANGER tell you what’s going on, you are in trouble. Get yourself some modern day education Cinderella.

    Pap smears do not only find cancer, which is rare. They find cell changes which can be caused by hormone ups and downs, yeast infections, a new sex partner or eating or drinking or toking something new to you, or a sex partner who is eating or drinking or toking something new to you, a condom or spray or douche or spermicide you are reacting to. And it might not even be something new to you; something you’ve used for years might begin to react differently than it has done, and that will show a change on your PAP; And NONE of that is CANCER, and none of that needs to be treated by conization or some other procedure, that removes pieces of you, which is what the doctor will say you need. He needs you to do it, because one of his kids is studying post-modernism in a toney north western university.


    Posted by Sis | October 16, 2007, 4:00 pm
  52. Re polio vaccine: I just finished reading an autobiography, The Fortune Teller’s Kiss by Brenda Serotte. She was a “polio pioneer”, receiving the experimental Salk vaccine in May of 1954. Four months later, in September of 1954, she came down with polio.

    Posted by branjor | October 16, 2007, 4:06 pm

    Patriarchal medicine is such a sacred cow. If we even question it, it’s like people panic, without thinking about how sick everybody is, despite being surrounded by all of these “medical experts”.

    All any of us is saying is, it is foolhardy to rely on allopathic medicine as learned, taught and practiced by the patriarchs. Find someone like ladoctorita!

    Posted by womensspace | October 16, 2007, 4:08 pm
  54. Here’s a very good site for consumer (aka patient) information about breast health, breast cancer screening, and breast cancer:

    “The Canadian breast screening study is the best study mammographic study (sic) that has been done. In women age 40-49, five annual screening (sic) with mammography, breast examination and breast self-examination did not reduce breast cancer mortality compared with a single breast examination and breast self-examination instruction (References\104796.htm)”

    Posted by Sis | October 16, 2007, 4:21 pm
  55. Just to be clear: the breast health link I posted is not without patriarchal medicine thinking; but it helps with looking after your own health, to know what they are talking about, what they want to do if they find something. If you don’t understand you cannot research valid options if there is a problem.

    But most of all, I think it helps to ask women who have been there, and that means, women at or past menopause, because they have experienced and dealt with all these gyne issues, and know what shakes out and what doesn’t. Sometimes, you don’t know until you are in your 50s that the castration you had at 47 was a huge mistake, and you are now deep in osteoporosis and other diseases caused by losing your life-long hormone producing organs.

    Barbara Seaman has a new book on MENOPAUSE coming out in Spring 2008.

    Posted by Sis | October 16, 2007, 4:32 pm
  56. Re Brenda Serotte, who came down with polio four months after receiving the vaccine: I don’t know if this was true or not, but her doctors credited the Salk vaccine with preventing her from coming down with the more serious form of the disease, bulbar polio, in which the patient can’t breathe for herself. Serotte “only” came down with the milder paralytic type, crippling her limbs.

    Posted by branjor | October 16, 2007, 4:47 pm
  57. thanks for the endorsement, heart! 🙂

    one of the things that keeps me going is that whenever i talk to women about the kind of medicine i want to practice, even if they don’t identify as “feminist,” they get really excited and tell me they want a doctor like that.

    i’ll be open for business in about 3 years. 🙂 in the meantime, it’s so great to read discussions like this one, hearing about womens’ experiences and opinions. i’m hoping that in my clinical years i can find some radical places to do rotations as well . . . a women’s health center, shadowing a midwife, something along those lines.

    Posted by ladoctorita | October 16, 2007, 5:00 pm
  58. Somehow, I think that’s a case of taking credit where none was due, and grasping at straws that might be used in a courtroom defense. It sounds exactly like something the legal department of a pharmaceutical company would advise the physicians to say.

    Posted by Sis | October 16, 2007, 5:02 pm
  59. I’ve told this story before, but it fits here, particularly with what Sis is saying about us crones (i.e., the post title up there, why we crones stop talking to people). I had a pivotal moment so far as patriarchal medicine goes when I was probably 20, 21. I had had my first child and wanted to try an IUD for birth control because birth control pills made me sick. The doctor (white, male) prescribed a Dalkon Shield. I immediately said no, I didn’t want that, because I had read about women’s uterii being perforated by the Dalkon Shield and even of women dying. I mean, if you just looked at the thing you knew it was dangerous, this sort of shield shaped thing with a bunch of pointy things sticking out all around the sides. The doctor basically had a meltdown because I argued with him, insisting that the Dalkon Shield was perfectly safe, he had prescribed it for years, he was up on it, blah blah. I summoned my 20-year-old courage, and insisted that I wasn’t going to have the Dalkon Shield. Of course, courage was easier then– this was 1973 or so, and we had a flourishing feminist movement behind us, free clinics, women’s clinics, etc. Anyway, he finally begrudgingly prescribed the Lippes Loop. A few months later the Dalkon Shield was taken off the market, after one too many women had died.

    Once you’ve lived a while, you’ve seen this kind of thing happen so many times you want to scream. Over the past 30 years I’ve heard the AMA do 180-degree turns on things so many times, I’m dizzy. When I was 20, pregnant women were strictly forbidden to gain any more than 20 pounds during pregnancy, and overweight women were expected not to gain ANY weight; iow, to lose weight while pregnant. This was in the mistaken belief that pre-eclampsia and toxemia in pregnancy were caused by women being overweight. So, of course, you have women on these strenuous diets and fasting so they won’t get scolded when they get weighed at the doctor’s office, and of course, you then have women sick, anemic, low birth weight babies, and you STILL have pre-eclampsia and toxemia because women don’t get these because they are overweight when they are pregnant! So all of a sudden, as quickly as the boom got lowered, it gets raised again. No, no, no, gain weight! Pregnant women, heads up! All weight gaining all the time, at least up to 40 pounds! No worries! Erase that! That was a big fat “oops”! There is SO much stuff like this. I mean, when I had my oldest, who is now 35, hospitals prescribed evaporated milk and CORN SYRUP for use as baby formula for non-nursing mothers. Oops, cavities, and look at these really fat babies and digestive disorders, hmm, better re-evaluate. It took until the late *90s* for the AMA to unequivocally support breastmilk and breastfeeding!

    The rule was, when I first got pregnant 36 years ago, that you couldn’t have sex with your partner six weeks before your due date through six weeks after, and sometimes longer than that. Total nonsense. Now days, pregnant women are urged to have sex when they’re past their due dates to get labor started. The rule was that if your baby had neonatal jaundice, you had to stop breastfeeding. Also nonsense. Lots of breastfeeding is the best thing in the world for babies with neonatal jaundice.

    But you live through all of these about faces and you realize your health, ultimately, is up to you. Male doctors are not going to read everything they can get their hands on, from everywhere, about what affects your health. You have to do that for yourself. Male doctors are not going to be hearing what women tell each other about their own health, about sex, about how they are affected by all sorts of things. But *you* are going to hear this. And so you make your decisions accordingly, not following experts of any stripe as though they have the answers because they never do. And as women, we may not either, but one thing we do have that doctors do not in the same way is our own best interests at heart.

    Posted by womensspace | October 16, 2007, 5:04 pm
  60. I’m not even thinking of disagreeing with a woman who’s had 11 children, but I do want to add, I think what Heart is saying is have orgasms if you are near or past due date; which of course, doesn’t necessarily include penetration. It’s not the action of the thrusting that might bring on labour, it’s the contractions of the uterus during orgasm.

    Posted by Sis | October 16, 2007, 5:18 pm
  61. It’s a lot more attractive and appealing, in all sorts of ways, to emphasize drugs, immunizations, etc., as panaceas and cures for epidemics. If westerners actually started talking about the reasons for epidemics and pandemics — poverty. No clean or good water. No good food. No sanitation. Chemicals in the air, in the food, in the water — then we would have to take responsibility for all of the above. Why isn’t there any good water? Could it be in part because megacorporations in the U.S. have bought all the water rights to the wells so they can sell Americans their Dasani water? Why are the air and water that *is* available full of toxic chemicals? Any chance it’s because of American factories operating full bore unhindered by concern for people, air, anything but the profit motive? Why is there poverty? Could it be because, for example, the U.S. has an embargo in place? Could it be because the U.S. is supporting corrupt puppet regimes willing to protect U.S. interests while ignoring human beings and the land? Why is there no infrastructure, no sanitation, no housing? Maybe because the U.S. has made war on a country and destroyed the infrastructure, then left the people to fend for themselves?

    But we don’t want to look to closely at that because it isn’t in our best interests to. Far more appealing to hail ourselves as heroes, there to save the masses with our medicines and immunizations, half the time stuff that can’t be marketed in the U.S. so it gets dumped on impoverished populations because hey, Big Pharm has to make its bucks somehow, you know?

    Posted by womensspace | October 16, 2007, 5:18 pm
  62. ladoctorita be sure you let us Canucks know where you’ll set up shop. I’d travel. Of course, I guess I would have to pay in chickens, or maybe chocolate cinnamon bread?

    Not having U.S. insurance.

    Posted by Sis | October 16, 2007, 5:20 pm
  63. Yeah, Sis, it was the orgasms that were the worry, which are the very thing pregnant women need to get the ball rolling! Penetration is always optional.

    Posted by womensspace | October 16, 2007, 5:20 pm
  64. But, too, penetration isn’t a problem, unless the water has broken and there are concerns for infection. Otherwise, no worries.

    Posted by womensspace | October 16, 2007, 5:20 pm
  65. Yeah, ladoctorita! You go! 🙂

    Posted by womensspace | October 16, 2007, 5:23 pm
  66. sis- i’ll keep you posted on where and when i start accepting patients. maybe i can get you a travel voucher. 🙂 and OF COURSE chocolate cinnamon bread will be accepted as payment! not only does it sound delicious, but since i won’t be subjecting you to 3,492 pointless tests and treatments, it should cover the cost quite sufficiently.

    Posted by ladoctorita | October 16, 2007, 5:38 pm
  67. Deal.

    Here’s some sites I consult when I want to know what’s up with health issues. It’s a start.

    Women and Health Protection

    Red Flags

    No Free Lunch
    Physicians against pharmaceutical interference in medical education

    Integrity in Science

    Public Citizen

    Posted by Sis | October 16, 2007, 5:49 pm
  68. For Twitch, and especially ladoctorita. Now I’d better get to work.

    A Different Prescription:Considerations for Women’s Health Groups Contemplating Funding from the Pharmaceutical Industry , by Anne Rochon Ford, 1999.

    Generation Rx : How Prescription Drugs Are Altering American Lives, Minds, and Bodies by Greg Critser Houghton Mifflin (2005). ISBN: 0618393137

    Influence of Direct to Consumer Pharmaceutical Advertising and Patients’ Requests on Prescribing Decisions: Two Site Cross Sectional Survey , pdf version , British Medical Journal, by Barbara Mintzes,M.L. Barer, R.L. Kravitz, A. Kazanjian, K. Bassett, J. Lexchin, R.g. Evans, R. Pan, S. Marion, February 2002.

    The Marketing of Fear, Australian Financial Review, by Ray Moynihan, June 2000.

    Patient No More: The Politics of Breast Cancer by Sharon Batt, Gynergy Books/Ragweed Pr (1994). ISBN: 0921881304

    Selling Sickness : How the World’s Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All into Patients by Ray Moynihan and Alan Cassels, Nation Books (2006). ISBN: 156025856X

    The Truth About Drug Companies: How they Deceive Us and What to Do About It by Marcia Angell, Random House (2004). ISBN: 0375508465

    Posted by Sis | October 16, 2007, 6:17 pm
  69. I’ve been meaning to comment on this, adding an anecdotal “me too” to Heart’s post. My three boys, 19, 20, &21 are very healthy children/young men. I ate the good foods I craved when I was pregnant, I breast feed until they weaned, they had ample fruits and veggies (cold carrots are great for teething) when they started solid foods and unless they became very ill, I did not go to the Drs. office.

    but, I also want to echo Heart in that what we eat and how much weight we gain when we are pregnant also effects our children’s overall health. I know I just wrote about this in comments elsewhere, and it’s also anecdotal, but to make a long story short, while I ate good foods that I craved my pregnancies resulted in healthy children. In contrast, my friends daughter listened to her dr, who had made her stay on a strict schedule of weight gain, even putting her on a diet during the third trimeseter because she had gained more than 25 pounds (note: this was about 10 years ago). Her son was very sickly, with eating, intestinal, and other problems. Her second child (seeing a different OBGYN) she was not kept to a strict weight gain, and had a much healthier child.

    It was during my first pregnancy that I finally learned to listen to my body. Your body tells you what it needs, and we shouldn’t ignore it.

    Posted by archcrone | October 16, 2007, 7:55 pm
  70. I’d like to add a a book to Sis’s list:

    Money-Driven Medicine, Maggie Mahar. Harper Collins (2006) ISBN: 006076533
    (on the cost of health care and why health care cannot be market-driven — it is not specific to women’s health, per se, but to overall health care and why it’s not so accessible)

    Posted by archcrone | October 16, 2007, 8:06 pm
  71. I’m back with an ooops. Breast Cancer Action Montreal has a new website, still being re-designed.

    archcrone I just read a report saying private health insurers interfer…errr….help with Medicare in the States is costing the insured seniors over $15 million more this past year.

    Whew. That’s help they could do without.

    Posted by Sis | October 16, 2007, 8:53 pm
  72. Just the *thought* of => chocolate cinnamon bread! <= does *way* more for my mental health than an anti-depressant could ever do.


    Posted by Mary Sunshine | October 16, 2007, 8:59 pm
  73. This thread is full of such wonderful resources! Thank you!

    Adding another website – (herbal/natural healing, the Wise Woman tradition, etc)

    Posted by Eeni B. Bella | October 16, 2007, 9:08 pm
  74. This series (spirited spiral all around to our good health) is wonderful! Bravo to Heart who started it (and this blog) with her insight and intelligence, and everyone else who participates so wonderfully. Thanks for all the suggested resources; and Sis, you did make me laugh ruefully about sickness-paid dollars to the male allopathic docs funding the kids’ post-modernist university studies.

    The approach of sharing what works for each woman helps so much. We each have the dignity of finding our own way of self-respect and self-trust (for health and everything else) — as others here have stated so excellently — yet doing so in community (like this for information) may be what keeps us alive into the crone “wisdom” years. (Not that my 22-year-old only daughter, and other younger women, don’t have amazing wisdom to share. It’s mainly that I’m now wiser with the years of life experience than I was, and know it, so what astonishing goodness might our daughters bring to light for creative evolution given how wise they already are? They may want/need us around, too, and I like being here, so I’m really grateful for the connections and sharing of health info.)

    I’ve found a synchronicity of what helps for health in the context of where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing.

    For instance, I was in a thrift store looking for recyclables, and in front of me among the art supplies (not the book section) was a “misfiled” book about the healing property of clay. Animals apparently roll around in mud (elemental Mother Earth), for anecdotal example, to heal themselves. (I’d been feeling physically out of sorts, with an ankle that wasn’t quite right after stepping on a stone too hard during a barefoot walk on a beach.) The book was very old; I read it, recycled it, and still use clay today in the ways that experimentation showed me worked for my body in the time/space where I’ve lived.

    I went through menopause without noticing much but the heat at night; maybe I’m just lucky — or maybe it’s what I took out of the metaphysics of Christian Science (ignoring the “mortal” aka man-made ballyhoo) after leaving the biblical teaching and “mother church” behind. (C.S., and being “class taught” for healing work, was an adult experiment after being raised S. Baptist and going to Catholic High School.) Not that all of the bible is necessarily unuseful, particularly as a chronicle of patriarchy trying to steal some of womankind’s best ideas and make war around the rest. And not that it is ever okay to impose metaphysical approaches on sick children who are defenseless when their parents are religious zealots.

    But, hey, we’re adults, here to be whole, and strong, and wonderful. And we are.

    Blessings of Joy,

    Posted by JB Sproull | October 16, 2007, 9:51 pm
  75. It’s amazing the simple things that can bring comfort. Chocolate cinnamon bread is one of those things. Just plonk that into google and you’ll get several links all for a recipe from a place that shall remain nameless.

    Posted by Sis | October 16, 2007, 10:34 pm
  76. Sis, I’m am continually outraged over the MMA (Medicare Modernization Act), and the actual costs the elderly are being forced to bear, starting with how it was passed, and the lies about it’s cost, and the giveaways to the pharmaceuticals. Grrrrr!

    JB, here’s another tidbit on clay. The New World parrots in the wild visit several noted areas of clay cliffs in South America. One of the properties in this particular clay that they eat counteracts the toxicity in the nuts that they also eat.

    Posted by archcrone | October 16, 2007, 10:37 pm
  77. Here’s something else. It seems the only way we can avoid things like these is to stay away from hospitals and doctors, especially around birthing and gyne issues. Because see, no one is going to tell us, and no one is going to protect us, and THIS is just the ones we know about. THIS is just the tip of the iceberg. Doctors protect each other.,0,

    This woman, one of over 300 suing the same gynecologist/obstetrician only survived because she was a nurse, and near death in the hospital after her surgery, called her colleagues in another hospital, who sent an ambulance for her. Over 300 women who were hysterectomized, butchered, brutalized and castrated unnecessarily, and STILL the Ontario College of Physicians protects this man. The College (like the AMA in the States) said he just needed some “communications” help.

    Each woman said they were shocked to hear about the others. Each said they had no idea they hadn’t needed those surgeries; each said they had thought he was a wonderful doctor.

    Posted by Sis | October 16, 2007, 11:34 pm
  78. If you are so unconnected to your vulva and vagina, your labia, clitoris, anal and rectal tissues and health that you have to have a STRANGER tell you what’s going on, you are in trouble. Get yourself some modern day education Cinderella.

    Even a Ph.D wouldn’t tell me if I had HPV or any other number of symptomless conditions.

    Posted by goldfish | October 17, 2007, 12:30 am
  79. …although I am enjoying all of these websites! a very interesting thread.

    Posted by goldfish | October 17, 2007, 12:36 am
  80. Also! My radfem sisters! I wasn’t trying to be snippy with the Ph.D comment — but the Interwebs, they can create snip where there is no snip. I love you all.

    I just worry that, if one doesn’t have regular Paps, one will miss the kinds of things that really, truly have no symptoms. As careful as you can be about handwashing, you never know what you might contract and from where. And what about very early cervical cancer, before you notice that anything has changed in your body? What do we do with that concern?

    Posted by goldfish | October 17, 2007, 12:48 am
  81. So have regular pap smear; regular like clockwork every five years that you are sexually active.

    It takes approximately 25 years for cervical cancer to develop. But if someone keeps scrapping your cervix it might happen a lot sooner, don’t you think?

    Posted by Sis | October 17, 2007, 3:48 am
  82. From my girlfriend, a committed socialist anti-corporate type:

    “I think the pharmaceutical industry is evil and self-interested, and I think that many doctors are idiots, but I also think that we’re living 40 years longer than we used to and that’s not from drinking gooseberry tea and swimming with dolphins.”


    Posted by goldfish | October 17, 2007, 12:00 pm
  83. Greater life expectancy in the U.S. (and worldwide, where, in fact, life expectancy is greater than it was in the past) has very little to do with drugs, medicines or patriarchal medicine. It has to do with public sanitation/sewers, availability of good drinking water, and women surviving childbirth. Where life expectancy was much lower in the US in the past, it was because only 1 in 4 women survived childbirth and because children did not survive infancy. This, again, was mostly because of sanitation issues, infections, lack of good food and water. In areas of the world where there is no good water, food, sanitation, women still die in childbirth in huge numbers, children and babies die young, life expectancy is short. In the US life expectancy is short for the poor and people of color as well.

    Posted by womensspace | October 17, 2007, 12:48 pm
  84. here’s a cnn article about the child’s death that prompted the recall:

    Posted by ladoctorita | October 17, 2007, 4:05 pm
  85. Here is a WHO (World Health Organization) life expectancy table from 1997-1999.

    Note that in 50 of the 191 nations listed, life expectancy is less than 50 years. In 15 countries, life expectancy is less than 35 years of age.

    The U.S. is listed 24th life-expectancy wise, despite our wealth, affluence, drugs coming out our ears, doctors, hospitals, and so on. According to WHO, this is because:

    [In the U.S.] Native Americans, rural African Americans and the inner city poor, have extremely poor health, more characteristic of a poor developing country rather than a rich industrialized one.

    * The HIV epidemic causes a higher proportion of death and disability to U.S. young and middle-aged than in most other advanced countries. HIV-AIDS cut three months from the healthy life expectancy of male American babies born in 1999, and one month from female lives;

    * The U.S. is one of the leading countries for cancers relating to tobacco, especially lung cancer Tobacco use also causes chronic lung disease.

    * A high coronary heart disease rate, which has dropped in recent years but remains high;

    *Fairly high levels of violence, especially of homicides, when compared to other industrial countries.

    Horrifying life expectancies in sub-Saharan African nations are mostly a consequence of HIV/AIDS.

    Big pharm and patriarchal medicine have no meaningful answers, as of yet, for the above. They’d like us to think they do, though, because again, it’s what Americans like, the idea of the pill, the quick fix, take this and your troubles will be over.

    In the late 1800s, early 1900s in the U.S., if you were a woman and you survived childbirth, and if you were a child who survived infancy, you lived a long life. Mortality of birthing mothers and infants skews the perception, making it seem as though life expectancy was much shorter, when in fact, the issue was the health of birthing mothers and their infants, which had, again, to do with access to good water, good food, and sanitation. The most significant factor in changing life expectancy has been the creation of sewers and knowledge of how infection is passed from person to person, along with, again, access to good water and good food.

    Pills, medicines, doctors, have minimally influenced life expectancy anywhere, including in the U.S.

    This is important to think about and talk about because so long as people believe that the answers are in patriarchal/allopathic medicine and Big Pharm, the real problems, the real issues will go unaddressed.

    Posted by womensspace | October 17, 2007, 4:31 pm
  86. WOW, ladoctorita, thanks for that link. I wonder how many babies and children have died from cold medicines?

    Posted by womensspace | October 17, 2007, 4:35 pm
  87. We don’t know because physicians seldom fill out adverse event reports. They don’t have to. Adverse events up to and including death will be attributed to anything but the drug; mothers are a favourite. Something the mother did or did not do, soon enough or too soon…. .

    Death certificates will give the cause of death at time of death, ie) pneumonia, when actually the patient had been having a toxic reaction to a drug for several months.

    Posted by Sis | October 17, 2007, 5:19 pm
  88. Goldfish your friend needs to read Overdosed America. I don’t think she can have the opinion she has without doing some reading on the topic. One of the things she might like to know since she’s a good anti-coporate lefty, is that the board of directors of Big Oil, Big Tobacco and Big Pharma play musical chairs.

    Here’s an excerpt from Overdosed about a drug many of us will be advised to take. This is a tale could be for just about any drug that has come out in the past 15 years. No efficacy, marketed to the tune of millions if not billions but lightly researched. We’re the lab rats.

    Excerpts From Overdosed America
    Chapter 13

    In 1995, Fosamax, the brand name for alendronate, was the first of the new generation of drugs approved by the FDA for the treatment of osteoporosis. Fosamax works by attaching itself to the surface of bone, interposed between the osteoclasts and the bone the osteoclasts are trying to absorb. Randomized clinical trials of Fosamax published in medical journals show dramatic reductions in the relative risk of hip fracture for women with osteoporosis. In a study published in JAMA in 1998, for example, women with an average age of 68 and a T score of – 2.5 or less who took Fosamax for four years were 56 percent less likely to suffer a hip fracture than women in the control group.

    This sounds like very good news for women with osteoporosis, but how many hip fractures were really prevented? With no drug therapy at all, women with osteoporosis had a 99.5 percent chance of making it through each year without a hip fracture — pretty good odds. With drug therapy, their odds improved to 99.8 percent. In other words, taking the drugs decreased their risk of hip fracture from 0.5 percent per year to 0.2 percent per year. This tiny decrease in absolute risk translates into the study’s reported 56 percent reduction in relative risk. The bottom line is that 81 women with osteoporosis have to take Fosamax for 4.2 years, at a cost of more than $300,000, to prevent one hip fracture. (This benefit does not include a reduction of less serious fractures, including wrist and vertebral fractures. Most vertebral fractures cause no symptoms.)

    [. . . ]

    What about using these drugs to prevent osteoporosis? Fosamax and Actonel were approved by the FDA to treat women with osteopenia based on studies that showed that they significantly increase the bone density of these women. It is important to remember, however, that bone density is only a surrogate end point; the real reason for taking these drugs is to reduce fractures, and hip fractures in particular. The study of Fosamax published in JAMA in 1998 (mentioned earlier) also included women with osteopenia. Did Fosamax reduce their risk of fracture? The results show that the risk of hip fractures actually went up 84 percent with Fosamax treatment.* The risk of wrist fractures increased by about 50 percent (that figure may be statistically significant — but this can’t be determined from the data as presented in the article).

    How can it be that drugs approved for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis succeed in increasing bone density but have such limited impact on reducing hip fractures? The answer can only inspire awe at Mother Nature’s elegance. There are two types of bone. Eighty percent of the body’s bone is made up of the hard and dense outer layer called cortical bone. In some areas of the body, bones also have an internal structure of trabecular bone, which works like an organic three-dimensional geodesic dome, providing additional strength in the areas of the skeleton most vulnerable to fracture, such as the hips, wrists, and spine.

    The lacelike structure of trabecular bone creates a much greater surface area than the densely packed cortical bone and therefore allows the former to be more metabolically active when the body needs calcium. Its greater metabolic activity also makes trabecular bone more vulnerable than cortical bone to the changed balance between osteoclast and osteoblast activity. As a result, when bone mass starts to decline in women, trabecular bone is lost more quickly than is cortical bone. Once the architecture of these internal struts is lost, there is no structure left onto which calcium can be added. (See Figure 13-1.) The new bone, formed as a result of taking the osteoporosis drugs, is then formed primarily on the outer part of the bone, the cortical bone. This increases the score on the bone density test but does not necessarily contribute proportionately to fracture resistance.

    Posted by Sis | October 17, 2007, 5:28 pm
  89. Some chocolate cinnamon anything sounds good about now.

    Also enjoyed Archcrone’s comment about parrots eating clay to counter toxicity. Our creature-friends have much to show us. Love to imagine us evolving with wings …

    To follow Sis’s comment 88, death certificates, I’m told anecdotally, regularly use cardiac arrest or some other symptom of drug-death-dealing to cover up Big Pharma’s greedy harms. The US mass-tort plaintiffs’ lawyers form giant case committees (with hierarchies of male leadership) among the states, in those rare cases where large numbers of patients and their loved ones agitate for money as recompense, and then the case-settlement confidentiality agreements bar the public from knowing about the mega- millions paid out as hush money to the mega-billionaire drug industry.

    One of my fave patriarchal fun facts (told to me by a patient-educator M.D. who’d opted for relative poverty) is that the CDC morbidity and mortality statistics aren’t required to compile the psych-drug suicides within reported death categories. Culturally brainwashed women not even realizing how urbanization disrupts natural connection with their lunar cycle can be misdiagnosed by a male-biased DSM (whatever iteration) into receiving Big Pharma’s psych drugs. Then there’s no accountability for when suicide occurs by psych-drug agency from brain-damaging psych-drugs given to suicidal women. The usual patriarchal greed combines with woman-hating to damage and kill more women than men in the hideously misnamed biopsychiatry.

    Now, having identified this evil of cruel Big Pharma, time to erase the horror from my consciousness and replace it with the strength of our better ideas and our courageous actions of learning better and loving Self-Care and Care for One Another.

    Blessed Be,

    Posted by JB Sproull | October 17, 2007, 5:58 pm
  90. Sheesh, Sis, re Fosamax. I swear to the goddess on high, I am never taking any of this stuff that gets pushed on women. Ain’t happening.

    JB, once again, thanks for that and for that last paragraph as well. I have long believed women live longer, if we do, because we create lasting relationships with one another and with those relationships, hope, connection, community, a reason to continue.

    Posted by womensspace | October 17, 2007, 6:18 pm
  91. Re: clarification to my comment 90, the hush money from the mega-billion drug industry is used to shut up plaintiffs in exchange for the plaintiffs to get paid.

    When Hollywood makes a movie like Erin Brockovich, it creates the false impression that the legal system operates as a fair check on the corporate abuses that damage and kill people. Generally, only the most egregious of cases can even be brought (because of the plaintiffs’ lawyers standards for what will make them enough money). Once brought, most cases receive the confidentiality gag, sometimes from the beginning of the case by sealed record (in judicial discretion —and guess how that plays out?).

    Have you noticed (as I have at a local coffee shop, the place where I occasionally see TV) that the drug companies are now adding even lengthier disclaimers about risks and potential side effects in very fast speech (that the public doesn’t hear, having been brainwashed to trust authority figures like doctors who prescribe the drugs)? This should allow the drug companies an even better defense (at the motion to dismiss stage) to avoiding public jury trial and any possibility of having publicly to pay damages for hurting and killing people.

    So that’s why I stay away from the patriarchy’s supposed answers to anything involving my health. Having known decent doctors who despaired of the system, and having practiced among lawyers, I trust neither profession. The stars and the moon, however, only love and always bless Caring Womankind.

    Sometimes, when the night sky is very big in a place away from the city’s ambient artificiality, I feel so much part of it all, inside the windy sky, I realize that in the long archaic past we needed no rituals and no rationales for knowing our connection. When the patriarchy tries to get under my skin, the Cosmic Connection is where I go, to the memory of natural splendor, to the parrots who eat clay.


    Posted by JB Sproull | October 17, 2007, 6:28 pm
  92. The “normal” for bone density tests is set to a 25-30 year old woman. So that means according to those tests, just about all of us have osteoporosis. But for those who don’t, reasonably physically active to athletic women who do not diet, and who do not have osteoporisis, rest assured they’ve got a category for you.

    This woman without osteoporosis will be diagnosed with osteopenia; meaning, might have osteoporosis someday and be prescribed the drugs for prevention.

    If your mother didn’t have osteoporosis, you likely won’t. It’s primarily genetic, and caused by lack of exercise, dieting, and not getting out into the daylight. Think veal.

    Posted by Sis | October 17, 2007, 6:32 pm
  93. JB you speak the truth. That is all.

    Now I am going to a bakery owned by a woman who bakes real bread (as opposed to a loaf of cellulose). It’s going to cost just a bit more than the cellulose, but it’s going to nourish my body, the one that’s 65 that doesn’t have a lick of osteoporosis. With this real bread, made by a woman who used to be a professional of some kind in an office with lots of glass but got tired of that and went to France to learn how to make real bread, I’ll have homemade lentil soup, made with homemade chicken broth and chock full of vegetables. I can do this cooking here, now, because I only work part-time. I can do that, because I get what I need from Goodwill et al, or cast off from friends, and have a short list of wants. They always change anyway, so there’s no real satisfaction in that list.

    It’s a way better way to live. Then, with the time left over I’ll take a weight-bearing walk for my bones.

    P.S. broths made from bone have so much calcium, and it is for a scientifically verifiable reason I don’t have at the tip of my fingers this moment, almost perfectly absorbed by your body in a way that dairy or calcium supplements are not.

    Posted by Sis | October 17, 2007, 6:52 pm
  94. Sis said,

    “Think veal”

    Ewwww … 😦 😦

    Are you ever right!

    I love the way you put all this together.


    Posted by Mary Sunshine | October 17, 2007, 8:05 pm
  95. Yay! Real nourishment instead of drug poisoning – my mouth is watering!

    Posted by branjor | October 18, 2007, 12:56 am
  96. Heh – not my veal. One of them’s running about in pouring rain with my heifers right now…

    That was off-topic. But absolutely – this year I’ve been able to directly compare calves that are housed and fed in a dim shed with those left suckling their mothers. The difference is astounding – both physical and psychological (the housed calves are wary of bright light and new experiences).

    There’s a parallel here with our lives – the institutionalising that starts with school and continues with work, the millions of methods by which society clips a child’s wings and removes most of the self esteem she was born with.

    Calves that start off right rarely need medical intervention. I’ve bought in calves and raised them on reconstituted powder, and treated them for ear infections, abscesses, navel ill, cystitis, lameness, pneumonia. This year, not one has had penicillin. They have had rotagen (which as far as I can tell doesn’t make any difference) and everyone who learns that I’ve got rotavirus infection in the sheds asks, “How many did you lose?”
    None. Treat them right from the start. And yes, identify a problem early and do something about it. Not just rotagen and virucides either.

    My ‘veal’ calves (NZ-style veal) are outside so that they don’t come into contact with the rotavirus infection in the sheds. Similar to home-schooling – it keeps children away from the disease dens (public schools).
    I thought the heifers I’d reared were healthy, but the suckled calves are a good cut above them in physical strength and energy. Ironic, that the solution to the problem means going straight back to nature.

    Posted by Sophie | October 18, 2007, 4:14 am
  97. Just found this on the pages of the Star here in Canada:

    DNA test better than Pap tests, studies show – Canada – DNA test better than Pap tests, studies show
    October 17, 2007

    Two new studies suggest a DNA-based screening test is more efficient at identifying cervical cancer than the Pap test currently used.

    One of the clinical trials, done by researchers at McGill University in Montreal, shows the DNA test found 40 per cent more cancers than Pap tests did.

    The other reveals that Swedish researchers found 51 per cent more cancerous lesions in women tested with a combination of the two tests than with the Pap test alone.

    The newer test looks for DNA of HPV or human papillomaviruses on or around a woman’s cervix.

    Some experts suggest the new test will replace Pap tests within the next few years and may allow for longer intervals between tests.

    But one of the authors of the McGill study, Dr. Marie-Helene Mayrand, says it will take awhile for public health officials to figure out how to restructure screening programs to incorporate the HPV DNA test.

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | October 18, 2007, 4:59 am
  98. The thing with aspirin and children’s fevers having to do with Reye’s Syndrome? Actually, it depends on what’s causing the fever. I think the connection only applies to flu and chickenpox, IIRC. Even then, the chance is slim. So no, I’m not gonna yell at ya. 🙂 Frankly I’m amazed that these circumstances are not more widely known. Doctors just tell parents “not if your child has a fever.” That’s kind of irresponsible.

    I had tubes in my ears and, as it turned out, I did need them–I wasn’t as bad off as another commenter here but after they were in, my ears drained several times over the next several years. And then when I was an adult I got fluid behind my eardrums–which by then had closed–AGAIN. Instead of antibiotics, though, I was told to take Entex. So the next time I got the same symptoms I just grabbed a Sudafed and was done with it.

    However, another time after that when I had ear problems and was working in a nutritional supplement store, I bought a bottle of mullein extract and used it for ear drops. Would you believe it worked like a charm?

    I think, patriarchal or not, that modern medicine is good for heroics but the day to day staying-healthy stuff, not so much. I’m mad at myself for letting them bully me into giving my daughter varicella (chickenpox) vaccine. I’m worried now that she won’t get the boosters she needs when she gets older and will wind up catching it, and I have no way of knowing if it’ll be any easier on her as an adult simply because she got vaxed as a child. Then yesterday I read something in the paper about a whooping cough outbreak–did you know the protection from that wanes with age? And that older kids can get it? WTF? WHY DO WE BOTHER WITH VACCINES THEN?

    I don’t think I will be doing any more vaccines for my daughter. I think I will skip the doctor’s office entirely unless she’s sick with something. She’s old enough now, anyway, that she has a good chance of surviving whatever she might wind up with. Aside from varicella, maybe. Grr.

    The one good thing they did for her was diagnosing her urinary reflux. Unfortunately it meant she had to be on a low-grade antibiotic for the next year and a half of her life until she got it surgically corrected–if you have urinary reflux you are more likely to get a bladder infection, and because the urine sometimes runs backwards you run a fairly serious risk of kidney infection on top of that. She was four months old when diagnosed. Poor baby. On top of that, although the reflux is corrected now, she has caps on her top front teeth and fillings in several of her molars because nobody told me that antibiotic can wreck tooth enamel. I hope that only applies to the baby teeth. …

    On top of all that, the hospital system we use just renamed itself after–get ready for this–an insurance company. Not even health insurance. Why? Because the company’s charitable foundation gave them $50 mil. Just what I want, to see advertising on my goddamn daughter’s hospital every time we go.

    And that’s the other thing. She’s “not that far behind” in her speech but apparently needs speech therapy. Can you believe that? But if you don’t go along with this shit, then they want to peg you as a bad mother. I’m low-income on top of that, so at more risk of interference.

    And don’t even get me started about her birthing experience. I’ll be here all damn night. Let’s just say that since her reflux correcting surgery, we have matching abdominal scars.

    Posted by Dana | October 18, 2007, 5:01 am
  99. Oh, and somebody mentioned milk causing mucus production. I picked up an awesome book about traditional foods by a woman who was inspired by Weston A. Price. Did you know that raw milk is a ton healthier than the stuff they sell us in the grocery stores? Yep. They began pasteurizing it back in the early 1900s because dairies back then were filthy. It had nothing to do with the safety of raw milk in and of itself and everything to do with business practice. Now if you so much as suggest you might like to try raw milk anywhere but California and New York state they are ready to lock you up as a loony–but raw milk has more naturally occurring vitamins A and D, alpha lipoic acid, and other nutrients and its fat molecules are easier to assimilate–they haven’t been fused into unnatural shapes by the pasteurization process. I would be very surprised if the negative health effects vegans cite for grocery-store milk also hold for raw.

    Posted by Dana | October 18, 2007, 5:04 am
  100. Oh, and! Posty McPostPost! More recently I read that natural sourdough bread is better for you than even some of the artisan breads out there. The yeasts are wild, the culture includes friendly bacteria, and the whole shebang digests the wheat flour in such a way that some of the nasty stuff in it, like phytic acid, gets cut WAY down and you get what’s healthy left over. How do you make sourdough starter? There are recipes online; it basically involves leaving a flour-and-water mixture in an open jar by an open window. Pretty straightforward.

    Wheat or beans not properly prepared are going to be detrimental to health. What’s most wheat food made of these days? Raw flour. Baaad idea. Go with sprouted, digested, broken down with alkali, etc. Sprouted is probably best in the case of wheat. Hominy is best with corn. Soak the hell outta those beans. Etc. Better yet, as you’ve taught your kids, stick with the veggies most of all. That is the hardest thing in the world for me because I was raised on grain food and my well-meaning parents thought they were teaching me to eat “healthy.”

    Posted by Dana | October 18, 2007, 5:07 am
  101. Sophie I can just picture that little “veal” splashing around in the puddles. Long may she run.

    Posted by Sis | October 18, 2007, 5:18 am
  102. Amazing how much I’ve learned from this week’s series of comments about womankind’s health. Thank you, and thank you, too, all of you, for sharing (without going on the attack)even when we have differing opinions and theories — all part of learning to claim womankind’s mind in our time.

    This way of our sharing about health connects to Heart’s posting from Sonia Johnson’s chapter about the social conditioning of women to hate the power of other women (while honoring men), resulting in the horizontal psychic violence (and addictive thrill) of women doing social sado-masochism, aka patriarchy. Sonia from personal experience poignantly shared about the in-group/out-group dynamics that try to quash the ideas of the less popular (aka more radical) feminists. I am reminded of how many haters, male and female, lined up against Andrea Dworkin.

    May we all have fun, just not the patriarchal kind.

    How much might we expand our power for joy, I wonder, if we had occasion to meet, face to face, when our travels bring us into proximity?

    For anybody interested in at least considering (no obligation ever, certainly) what might be possible about meet-up, I have a yahoo address, not the main one (so I could take it down if spammers struck). You’re welcome to write me directly at

    Exuberant Blessings,

    Posted by JB Sproull | October 18, 2007, 9:17 pm
  103. I just started re-reading my old, worn copy of the Mists of Avalon last night, and the following passage made me think of this thread (the book revolves around the switch from Goddess worship to patriarchal Christianity, and in this passage Igraine, the daughter of a high priestess, is talking to a group of Christian women):

    (The women) asked about Igraine’s child, and talked about the efficiency of bronze amulets against winter fevers, and the charm of laying a priest’s mass book in the cradle against the rickets.

    “It is bad food which causes rickets,” Igraine said. “My sister, who is a healer-priestess, told me that no child who is suckled for two full years by a healthy mother ever suffers from rickets, but only if it is given to an ill-nourished wet nurse or weaned too soon and fed on gruel.”

    “I call that foolish superstition,” Gwenyth said. “The mass book is holy and efficient against all illnesses, but particularly those of little children, who have been baptized against the sins of their fathers and have committed no sins of their own.”

    And there you have it, folks! The beginning of thousands of years’ worth of patriarchal medicine!

    Posted by mekhit | October 18, 2007, 9:24 pm
  104. A new book on how we can PREVENT cancers.


    Cancer prevention largely forgotten in the race for a

    New book highlights the science behind cancer
    prevention strategies

    Finding a cure for cancer is the dream of so many
    researchers, health
    practitioners and patients alike – and much time,
    energy and money has
    been channeled toward this noble goal. However, what
    is often lost in
    the desperate search for the cancer ‘cure’ is the
    extensive body of
    scientific evidence that addresses cancer prevention.

    In their new book, “Cancer: 101 Solutions to a
    Preventable Epidemic”
    (New Society, 2007) Liz Armstrong, Guy Dauncey and
    Anne Wordsworth
    examine the complex relationship between the air we
    breathe, the food we
    eat, the water we drink, the products we use, and the
    health and
    well-being of our bodies, and of our planet.

    They outline what too many of us already know
    first-hand: that cancer
    has reached epidemic proportions. Annual cancer
    statistics currently
    indicate that nearly half of all North American men
    and close to 40 per
    cent of women will be diagnosed with a malignant
    cancer at some point in
    their lives, and that cancer is now – or soon will be
    – the number one
    cause of death in Canada.

    But the authors also provide hope – and concrete
    solutions that we can
    all undertake –to put us on the path to stopping the
    cancer epidemic.

    “Cancer: 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic”
    assesses the vast body
    of scientific literature tracking carcinogens in our
    water, air, soil
    and food, as well as our homes and workplaces,
    concluding that most
    cancers are preventable. We already know the links
    between smoking and
    lung cancer, or over-exposure to the sun and skin
    cancer, but the
    authors reveal that there are scores of other
    preventable risks for
    numerous cancers that do not involve ‘lifestyle

    We can look to evidence from cancers in animals and
    fish, for example,
    which do not smoke, drink or eat junk food. Between
    1975 and 1995 there
    was a six-fold increase in cancer in dogs examined at
    teaching schools in North America; and Scottish
    terriers whose owners
    used herbicides on their lawns were found to be four
    to seven times more
    likely to have bladder cancer than dogs whose owners
    did not. Likewise,
    during the 1990s, the Beluga whales in the polluted
    St. Lawrence Seaway
    were dying of cancer at the same rate as humans – one
    in four – while
    those which swam in the open Atlantic were not.

    The authors reject the standard approach that demands
    ‘proof positive’
    of causal links between toxic substances and cancer
    — a nearly
    impossible scientific task to achieve in a world
    contaminated with tens
    of thousands of man-made chemicals and radioactivity.
    Instead, the
    authors advocate the ‘precautionary principle’
    espoused by numerous
    medical, scientific and government bodies.

    “The precautionary principle states that when an
    activity raises the
    threat of harm to human health or the environment,
    measures should be taken even if some cause and effect
    relationships are
    not yet fully established scientifically,” says author
    Guy Dauncey.

    “Employing the precautionary principle from the 1960s
    on saved countless
    lives in the case of smoking, where human health
    studies had, for
    decades, demonstrated the connection between cigarette
    use and lung
    cancer. But, until 1996, there was no ‘proof
    positive’ of the causal
    link. Waiting for such proof would have been
    disastrous,” says Dauncey,
    adding that cancer deaths from asbestos, ionizing
    radiation, diesel
    smoke and many other toxic substances have soared
    because of failure to
    take precautionary action.

    With the precautionary principle in hand, the authors
    describe 101
    step-by-step solutions that can guide us toward
    healthier lives,
    lessening our toxic burden, and reducing the risks for
    cancer – through
    individual, governmental and community action.

    Solutions in the book include details on how to
    maintain ‘Green
    Schools,’ ‘Clean your home safely,’ ‘Create a healthy
    pregnancy’ or
    ‘Treat your garden with TLC, not 2,4-D.’ There are
    also helpful
    sections on how to ‘Minimize your exposure to
    radiation,’ and why we
    need to ‘Ban depleted uranium’ and ‘Ban asbestos.’

    But the solutions contained within are not only about
    what toxic
    substances to avoid, but also contains helpful
    sections on how to change
    public policy, such as ‘Become an activist’ and
    ‘Eliminate all hazardous
    chemicals by 2020’; and the authors also provide
    helpful ideas on how to
    improve the health of the planet directly, in sections
    such as ‘Tackle
    a local challenge.’ Finally, “Cancer: 101 Solutions
    to a Preventable
    Epidemic” contains a handy guide of ‘Cancer causing
    agents’ as
    identified by the International Agency for Research on
    Cancer –
    something no household should be without.

    “Until recently it was widely believed that cancer was
    caused mostly by
    our lifestyle and dietary choices, with a little bit
    of hereditary bad
    luck thrown in,” says Dauncey.

    “Yes, ‘lifestyle factors’ play an important role,” he
    adds, “but if you
    examine the burden of toxicity in the lives of
    Canadians, it becomes
    clear that there are many other factors contributing
    to Canada’s
    persistently high cancer rates, which we can do
    something about.”

    “Cancer: 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic”
    sends a wake-up call
    to regulatory agencies to take steps to control our
    exposure to
    carcinogens, and also provides pragmatic solutions for
    individuals for
    what we can do in the meantime to keep ourselves, and
    our families,

    Brief biographies of the authors:
    Anne Wordsworth is an environmental researcher and
    writer, and a former
    producer for CBC’s Health Show; Guy Dauncey is the
    founder of the
    Solutions Project and co-chair of Prevent Cancer Now
    (; Liz Armstrong is an
    activist and author of Everyday Carcinogens.

    To purchase a copy of “Cancer: 101 Solutions to a
    Preventable Epidemic,”

    Posted by Sis | October 19, 2007, 2:00 am
  105. The FDA hearing is getting interesting. I found this in an AP story

    The panel’s advice dovetails with a petition filed by pediatricians that argued the over-the-counter medicines shouldn’t be given to children younger than 6, an age group they called the most vulnerable to potential ill effects. The American Academy of Pediatrics and other groups back the petition.

    But FDA officials and panelists agreed there’s no evidence they work in older children, either. Still, panelists held off from recommending against use in those 6 and older.

    Posted by Aletha | October 20, 2007, 8:11 am
  106. This is very cynical. Why have they not acted years ago? I can recall these medication (under various brand names and permutations of mixture) being sold OTC and used so commonly, 30 years ago. They were even given by stewardesses to mothers flying with fussy children! Given to make children sleep, which they did of course, and calmed everyone down, child, parent, baby sitter. But they were thought of as nothing more than something good. And where did this idea come from? From the MEDICAL establishment.

    A physician of my aquaintance talks about how doctors use giving samples, medications, prescriptions and notes for OTC medications to END a time-wasting (in their opinion) appointment, so they can get on to the 100s of other $$ patients they are going to see. Here, Mrs P, get Sally some of this. And let me know if it doesn’t improve in four days (It will improve in four days, with or without the med, in most cases).

    They call this kind of appointment tactic “terminating”. And the doctor who does this all the time? The TERMINATOR.

    Posted by Sis | October 20, 2007, 3:35 pm
  107. once again, this discussion is fantastic. thank you to everyone who has been posting thoughts, experiences, and resources. after my 3 exams next week (!) i hope to do a lot more reading and thinking in regards to some of the issues addressed here.

    in a related note to the earlier discussion of pap smears, etc.: i’ve just blogged about a professor of mine who said in class that cervical cancer screening is possible because “the cervix is so easily accessible”!!!

    just TRY to access my cervix, buddy. i’ll show you how “easy” it is.

    Posted by ladoctorita | October 20, 2007, 4:17 pm
  108. I’d like to add “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You about Premenopause” by John R. Lee, MD, Jesse Hanley, MD, and Virginia Hopkins. Ironically, it was my doctor who suggested that read this book. It’s full of natural ways to get your hormones back in balance to feel healthier physically, mentally and emotionally during the perimenopausal years and to prepare yourself before menopause. The objective is to allow nature, not doctors and modern medicine, take you through perimenopause and menopause without all of the complications associated with an overabundance of estrogen and ultimately avoid the complications that prompt doctors to suggest life- and health-threatening remedies (ie hormone replacement therapy, removery of ovaries and uterus, etc.). All of this relies heavily on natural progesterone cream, vitamin supplements, diet (meaning the nutritional values of what you eat, not weight loss), and exercise (again, for good health, not weight loss).

    Since I bought the book several years ago, I haven’t consistently practiced what I’ve learned from it. What I can tell you, though, is that I feel better physically and I feel more centered or grounded emotionally when I stick to the vitamin cocktail and diet suggested for my situation and health (stressed out, overworked adrenal glands). It really does make a huge difference.

    I’m late to this party so if someone already suggested this book, then I apologize for the repeated suggestion.

    Posted by CoolAunt | October 20, 2007, 5:52 pm
  109. hi everyone,

    not to belabor this topic, but i’ve just blogged about a story i saw in the boston globe that i think is really relevant to this discussion:

    it concerns a mother who sought medical care for her infant daughter, only to be accused first of being an overanxious first-time mother and then of being a child abuser.

    like so many of the stories women have described on this thread, this case is yet another example of how women are not believed or trusted by the medical establishment and how insults, denigration, and abuse of women seeking medical care for themselves and their children is commonplace.

    (the globe site may make you log in to read the article. if so, i’ve summarized it pretty extensively on my blog [shameless plug 🙂 ].)

    Posted by ladoctorita | November 4, 2007, 9:35 pm

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