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Scarlet Fever Adventures ~ Revisited

Wow, who would have thought that my post “Our Scarlet Fever Adventure‘ would gain so much attention?!?!  More than 3,000 hits on that post alone.  More comments than any of my other 45 posts.  More criticism, congratulations and requests for more info than anything I have ever published. I’m still trying to figure out what it is about that post that stirred up so much controversy!

Regardless of the ‘why’, the fact is ~ it did.

Before I go further, please ~ if you haven’t already done it, read that post and the comments.  I’m going to be referencing it  a lot in this post.  You might as well just get it out of the way.  It’s cool…I’ll wait right here…

Okay, moving on.

I have a few things to point out.

1 ~ That post was by no means a DIY guide to treating Scarlet Fever.  It was simply me sharing a real-life story about how WE chose to treat it.  I did not go in-depth on who we consulted, why they said what they did or any other bits of medical wisdom from the Western Medicine Institution. It was written as a means to let others know that there are alternatives to prescription antibiotics, and as a platform for further research, should anyone find themselves in that situation.

2 ~ I made this statement in that post:

You know on those tv shows where they tell you this is being done by a professional and not to try this at home?  Well, you’ve reached that point in the program.  I’ve been studying herbs and their many uses for a very long time, but  I am not a doctor.  I can’t diagnose, treat or advise you on how to deal with any illnesses or diseases.  I don’t recommend doing this without the advice of a licensed medical professional.

I cannot make myself any clearer than that.  Don’t try this at home on your own.  I have been doing this for a very long time.  I am a TRAINED professional, though unrecognized by the USA, FDA, WHO, AMA, CIA, MBA, CBS, or any other initial-bearing agency.  In the United States, natural healing methods are nothing more than quackery, and those of us who choose to spend the years necessary to obtain certification are nothing more than simple-minded fools or diabolical con-men out to trick the stupid, unsuspecting public (translate=you) into running out to your nearest lawn and pulling weeds to eat in order to cure your ills.  Now that you understand this elaborate scheme that I’ve contrived to carry out over these last two decades, let’s move on….

3 ~ It seems that much has been left out when discussing the original post.  Honey and garlic were hardly the only treatment methods employed.  In fact, these were only two of many natural treatments that we used to help clear up the Scarlet Fever.  To suggest that these two items formed the basis of my daughter’s treatment is both wrong and ridiculous.  As the original post clearly states, there was much more to it than that, both during and after the symptoms were visible.

A couple of weeks ago I received a comment concerning that post from a General Practitioner that I answered in the comments section.  Please take the time to read both her comments and my response so I don’t have to cut and paste them here…they were kinda long on both parts.

Now, I will admit that I tend to come off sounding condescending.  I don’t mean to.  Really.  I’m just kinda naturally sarcastic, no matter how hard I try to keep it from happening.  Further, I have had to defend my medical stance so often that it has become habit to become defensive at times.  You don’t have to agree with me, but don’t treat me like I’m an idiot because I don’t buy into the status quo when it comes to modern medicine.  My experiences, and those of  thousands of others, have helped to form the basis of my knowledge.  If you don’t like what I’m saying, you are free to exit out of this blog.

That being said, I truly appreciate the discussion with Doreen.  She seems to be a sincerely concerned medical practitioner who believes in what she is saying and doing.  Her comments and insights are valuable, especially to the parent of a sick child who may be trying to decide on the best course to take when treating said child.  It is not my intention to belittle or ridicule her in any way and I am apologizing ahead of time if that is how any of my statements come off.

I digress, though…the comment I was speaking about….

After I responded to the GP comment, she commented back.  At first, I wasn’t sure of the best way to address the new comments.  Much of what she had to say is standard medical tactical maneuvers.  They are irritating, at best.  However, to the common person they do have validity.  So, this is my answer…Scarlet Fever Adventures Revisited.

Donetta says:

Your statement regarding her diagnosis confuses me. I did read your entire post and acknowledge that your daughter had a history of pharyngeal infections. My issue was that the diagnosis was reached without consultation with a medical practitioner. By consultation I mean one including a physical review including investigations (as appropriate) and a management plan discussed. My concern is that there are many infections and conditions that mimic your daughters symptoms. I don’t care about the qualifications of your ‘health professionals’ – no doctor can make a medical decision without seeing the patient.

Agreed.  No doctor should make a diagnoses without seeing the patient. In the last 5 years, I have had many opportunities to visit a doctor’s office.  My mother-in-law, who lived in our home and was under our care before she passed, suffered from Diabetes, heart disease, kidney malfunction, high blood pressure and depression.  We spent many long hours at various doctor’s offices.  Three teens who attend public school where illness sweeps through at regular intervals have often taken us to either an emergency room or doctor’s office, as have sports physicals and accidents, on a semi-regular basis. Interestingly enough, we have seldom spent time with a DOCTOR.

The procedure works like this ~ a nurse or nurse’s aide takes you down a long hallway to a large scale.  She takes your vitals and writes cryptic symbols on a piece of paper tucked into a manilla folder.  She then leads you to a small room and tells you to wait.  Occasionally, she will open the door to peek in at you and tell you the doctor will be with you in a minute.  The doctor comes in, reads the piece of paper in the folder, makes a few comments that have little to with your actual illness, writes out a prescription, then leaves.  Sometimes, he will repeat one of the nurse’s previous actions like looking in your ear or listening to you breath heavily. Only sometimes, though.  The accumulative total of the time he spends with the patient is less than 5 minutes. I don’t pretend to know the reasoning behind their actions, other than maybe a $50 office visit fee.

In the case of my daughter’s Scarlet Fever, I was offered a management plan. Prescription antibiotics. Lots of fluids. Call us again in 10 days or if things get worse.

You say… “This was not the point at which any decision was made. It was the point at which we figured out what, exactly, the problem was so that we could determine the best course of action” Isn’t “figuring out exactly the problem” the same as “a decision being made” on her diagnosis?.

No, it isn’t the same thing. For one, there was no decision to be made on her diagnosis, only on what treatment to provide her with.  This was simply the point when we understood WHAT we were dealing with. Then, we moved on to examining the different options available to treat it. Natural or synthetic antibiotics? Leave it to run its course and hope for the best? What are the benefits/risks of each option? What will produce the best long-term possibilities? Do I listen to doctors who have a vested interest in my daughter taking a series of antibiotics that haven’t helped in the past, or trust in my own years of training and study of natural healing methods? There were several options available at this point. It was then a matter of studying each one and THEN deciding on what to do.

I’m not trying to criticize here but I feel strongly about patients and parents self diagnosing. Not because I’m interested in drumming up business or pushing my own agenda – but because I am aware through my own training and experience how often we can be deceived by seemingly straightforward presentations

Again, a point we agree on. However, in my particular situation, I had the benefit of years of study and research concerning the human body, natural alternatives, previous medical history of this ‘patient’, etc. This blog post was not a diagnostic tool for others, simply a sharing of our experience and one more alternative to scrip meds and standard treatment. In this technological age it is impossible to prevent someone taking this info and twisting it, or using it inappropriately. I can only hope that anyone looking at all the options for treating something like Scarlet Fever is simply going to use this post as a starting point for further research. 

As for patients and parents self-diagnosing, consider this; Iatrogenic is defined as “induced inadvertently by a physician or surgeon, or by medical treatment or diagnostic procedures”.  While the medical community tries very hard to ignore statistics and tell us that the leading cause of death in the United State of America is either heart disease, stroke or cancer, depending on the year and the source, that is a blatant lie.  Here are statistics as reported by the CDC:

Deaths from heart disease in 2009 ~ 598, 607 

Deaths from cancer (malignant neoplasms)  in 2009 ~ 568,668

The CDC does, conveniently, leave out one cause of death from all of their statistics: iatrogenic deaths.  That is, death caused by physician or surgeon.  Death by iatrogenic causes: anywhere from 300,000 to more than 700,000 annually, making this either the 1st or 3rd leading cause of death in the United States, depending on who you believe.  And, that is only the REPORTED cases. Either way…what were you saying about the dangers of misdiagnosing…?

And, just in case you need more sources:

TREATMENT There are many healing properties in natural substances and I dare say we are just scratching the surface as to their potential benefits. I must admit, I would appreciate you posting some links to articles about how garlic and honey at a molecular level because being a science dork, I like knowing how things work. But what you didn’t answer is whether natural antibiotics/immune stimulants are as effective as penicillin at reducing the risk of rheumatic fever and other complications of Scarlet Fever? You say there are no studies due to big pharma and I agree that’s a shame, but unfortunately it doesn’t put you in a position to say that is AS EFFECTIVE as penicillin. Parents and patients need more than faith, they need facts. If a neutral mother came to me with her Scarlet Fever child – she would want evidence that the therapy I propose works and an objective measure of the risks of taking the medication. Each medicine we prescribe is made considering these two factors.

A goodly number of the prescriptions available today are derivatives of natural substances, so even modern medicine has recognized that natural substances have many potential benefits. One of the problems with science and medicine is that if you can’t take it apart and identify the exact factor that ‘makes it work’, it is cast aside as ‘useless’ and ‘possibly dangerous’.  This has been the case with nearly every medicinal herb in the herbalist cabinet.

Fortunately, both honey and garlic have been extensively tested. Often, results are seen then cast aside by science because they can’t explain WHY they work. Or, worse yet, they take it apart and see that none of the bits work on their own to heal/cure anything, then label it ‘ineffective’.  This process is equivalent to pulling a spark plug out of your car’s engine, trying to start the car, then taking it to the junk yard because it won’t start. All of the parts work together or not at all. It IS that simple.

I could copy and paste a whole list of studies and experiments done by both the medical institution and natural health institutions, but I am trusting that any of my readers are just as capable as I am.  A quick search in either the library or online will provide them more results that I am capable of handing them in my limited amount of space.

Lest I be accused of ‘copping out’, here are a couple of studies (done by scientific/medical institutions, not natural health practitioners) that acknowledge in small part what natural health advocates have been saying for centuries, as well as a few more resources to delve into:

Concerning Garlic~

(I recommend reading the entire article and following the links given) The researchers found the diallyl sulfide was as effective as 100 times as much of the antibiotics erythromycin and ciprofloxacin and often would work in a fraction of the time. ~~

Concerning Honey~

Add to these the fact that these two natural antibiotics have been used by civilized society since civilized societies developed. There are hundreds of years worth of research and experimentation, just none that modern medicine will acknowledge as valid because it wasn’t done using their criteria, which is faulty, at best.  This is not a system that any of us have the financial means to fight, even if we felt it was necessary to prove the efficacy of natural medicines to ourselves.

And, in truth, is medicine as a whole not an extreme act of faith? Even modern medicine recognizes the role faith plays in healing. Numerous studies have been done on this phenomenon and have frustrated scientists and doctors for years because they can’t figure out how the mind overcomes illness through positive thinking.

Let’s not leave out common sense. Let me give you a real-life example:

My daughter develops a sore throat. Her tonsils are grotesquely swollen and covered with white blisters. She is running a fever of 100+ degrees. We go to the doctor and he takes a throat culture, then comes back in the room with a prescription for the latest trendy antibiotic, hands it to me and says, “We will have the results from the culture back in a few days. In the meantime, take this antibiotic – just in case.” He does not mention that this problem will, in all likelihood, resolve itself by the time the culture comes back. So, my daughter takes the antibiotics. Within 24 hours, not only does she STILL have the sore/swollen throat and fever, but now she has a raging yeast infection, too. Jump ahead a week. Infection has been identified as strep throat, but those handy ‘just in case’ antibiotics have yet to get rid of it. Fast forward a few more days. The antibiotics are gone, but the infection is STILL present, as is the yeast infection. In frustration, we give the natural treatment a go…honey, garlic and cayenne. Within 24 hours, the pain is gone from both the yeast infection and the sore throat. Swelling has decreased, white lesions are disappearing. After 48 hours of this treatment all that is left is a couple of scabs on the tonsils. Within 72 hours, my daughter is pain, infection and swelling free. Common sense says the natural treatment worked while the prescription didn’t.

Fast forward appx 6 months. My other daughter develops the same symptoms. Instead of rushing to the doctor for a scrip and some lab tests, we start with the natural solution. Within 18 hours there is nothing to go to the doctor about. Swelling is gone, redness and inflammation is gone, pain is gone. A few lesions remain on the tonsils, but disappear within 24 hours.

Jump ahead again to my husband’s raging ear infection.  We aren’t talking about your run-of-the-mill ear infection.  We are talking about a bring-a-grown-man-to-tears ear infection.  Puss and blood oozing out the ear canal type ear infection.  Two trips to the emergency room, a week off of work, three rounds of prescription antibiotics and painkillers (oxycodone) type ear infection.  Finally, I convinced him that what he was doing wasn’t working and the antibiotics and pain pills seemed to be doing nothing and were, quite likely, making the situation much worse.  He set aside both the antibiotics and pain killers  (FINALLY)  and tried the honey/lemon/garlic/cayenne.  In less than a week of using this natural alternative, the infection and pain were both gone.  Not just ‘a little better’.  Gone.

Does any thinking person really attribute this to good fortune? Perhaps, if this was a one-time occurrence, we could pass it off as a fluke. However, when this same thing happens repeatedly, even those who are the most skeptical have to admit that it is more than a fluke.

In finding some compromise, perhaps the medical establishment could admit that trying a more natural solution BEFORE going to synthetic, dangerous drugs is prudent…?

The human body is an amazing thing, and it’s ability to heal itself when given the proper ingredients is astounding. Stimulating the natural immune system to work properly will always pay off in the long run, and this bout with Scarlet Fever is a prime example. While my daughter used to develop a case of strep throat at least once a year while it floats around every public institution in the county, in the past 2+ years, she hasn’t even been bothered by a sore throat. As far as I can tell, there is no explanation other than this one: Her immune system has learned to recognize and reject the bacteria that causes strep and has developed the capability to destroy it before it turns into strep throat. Or, to simplify – her immune system is working properly.

I”m not going to sit here and pretend that there are no risks associated with penicillin (which started off life as a mould I’m sure you know). You’ve cut and paste a very long list of side effects but neglected to state the frequency in which they happen. I don’t prescribe penicillin for every dribbly nose that walks in my door, but I follow a majority of patients I prescribe to, I’ve been at this nearly 10 years, and I am yet to see a hairy leukoplacia, hyperreflexia, bizzare behaviour, haematuria, blood in stools, coma (!), hallucinations, muscle pain, pale skin (how it reduces melanin in the skin I cant even conceive), vein swelling or worsening of skin lesions (if anything flucloxacillin is great for reducing staphlococcus colonisation of wound infections, especially in diabetics).

Thank you for the scientific terminology. Had I simply cut and pasted those reported side effects as you suggested, I, too, could have sounded sufficiently educated in medical terminology. The point of what I am trying to do is the make this understandable for those who aren’t versed in medical rhetoric, hence the reason I took those technical terms and made them less technical. And, just so we are clear, those reported side effects were taken directly from places like rxlist and FDAble , unbiased sources that lists side effects of prescription medications that have been reported from medical personnel/institutions – both of which list hospitalization and life-threatening reactions from Penicillin.  These are the side effects experienced by actual patients during both clinical trials and regular use. Whether you have seen theses side effects first hand or not, they are real possibilities because they REALLY happened enough times to make them a reportable side effect. As a side note, I’m not sure where you found the term ‘pale skin’, but it wasn’t in my reported list of side effects.  Must have been one I left out…

On the contrary I do occasionally see a range of allergic reactions – often in the minor spectrum (nausea/vomiting/rash) but only very occasionally in the moderate spectrum (facial swelling, breathing difficulty). Allergic reactions can occur with any medication – natural and synthetic. (I’ve seen allergies to Evening Primrose Oil and Black Cohosh for example). All patients with any new medications are counselled as to the risk of allergy and what to do in such a case. I digress but to circle back to my point, our patient will want to know what works in reducing their child’s risk. We are left saying “well honey and garlic are great natural antibiotics, so by extrapolation they should reduce your child’s risk of complications’”. But the problem is Tamara there is NO evidence that natural remedies like garlic and honey reduce the risk of complications from Scarlet fever (like Rheumatic Fever and glomerulonephritis). I have articles coming out of my ears that state that penicillin does. Yes, it has more potential side effects then garlic and honey but that alone does not make it the inferior treatment. Medicines must be chosen on a balance of efficacy and cost. On the balance, the risk of complications from penicillin is low whilst protecting against the high morbidity of Rheumatic fever.

Even if you discount the centuries of use by civilizations around the world, there are still innumerable accounts of this being a viable option. Again, they are nearly all discounted because a doctor or scientist didn’t report them and document them and lay them out on the examining table. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist. It just means that modern medicine has said they aren’t real. However, modern medicine has also firmly declared that a whole host of prescription drugs are ‘perfectly safe and viable treatments’, only to later have those prescription drugs pulled from the market because they were dangerous and/or deadly. Modern medicine has proved itself to be a liar on hundreds of occasions, but we should accept their view of natural medicine as law?  That is insane reasoning!

If your neutral mother wants to know what works in reducing their child’s risk, my argument is this: Give them ALL of the options. Explain that millions of people have used natural methods with very impressive results. Have you, as a GP, ever suggested using a single natural method, or have you followed the status quo and simply prescribed an antibiotic? Just because the medical industry (who stands to make HUGE profits from prescription drugs)says antibiotics are the only safe, viable choice doesn’t make it so. In fact, their financial interest in the sale of prescription drugs makes it far more suspect than natural solutions.

As far as cost vs efficacy, natural antibiotics are far more affordable, promote a strong immune system and work as quickly as, if not quicker, than standard antibiotic treatment. But, that statement brings us back to your earlier point…the scientific evidence isn’t there. Only personal experiences over hundreds of years. Furthermore, are the two slightly-possible risks you mention any worse than some of the side effects associated with antibiotics? And, for the record, penicillin is not the only – or the most frequently prescribed by doctors in this region- antibiotic for either Strep throat or Scarlet Fever. In fact, if you request penicillin, you are likely to be told that it is not effective enough to be prescribed.

I agree completely that leaving a condition like Scarlet Fever untreated is a really bad idea and leaves one open to a whole host of problems. Hence, my insistence that something of this magnitude should only be done under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. (Note, that does NOT translate exclusively to an MD) And, I reiterate, treating it naturally is not the same as leaving it untreated. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

I’m not contesting the worth of healthy living and natural remedies as an adjunct – and perhaps for different conditions it provides the complete solution, but in the case of Scarlet Fever, we just don’t have the evidence to support that it is effective at reducing the risk of complications.

Because the chasm that separates modern medicine from natural medicine is so large, perhaps this issue will never be resolved. I suppose, in the end, we each must decide who and what we trust with our medical well-being. I am a firm believer that every person should investigate all of the options thoroughly before deciding. I always suggest to my clients that they get a firm medical diagnoses before trying any natural remedies, if for no other reason than to be sure they are trying to fix the right problem. The truth is, in my experience many are turning to natural therapies because of the dangers and problems they have encountered in modern medicine. Whether it is arrogant, uninformative doctors, dangerous side effects from drugs, or simply a desire to attain a more natural life-style, many people are giving natural alternatives attention and finding they DO work when used properly.

I think I’ve covered everything, but I usually think of something else I have should have said after I hit ‘publish’.  I have no doubt that will be the case here.  As always, I enjoy feedback from my readers…even when it is in direct opposition to my own thoughts and beliefs. This is no exception.  Weigh in here…what are your thoughts/beliefs/feelings, not just about this particular illness and its treatment, but on the entire Natural vs Western medicine?

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