WHERE HAVE ALL THE AMISH GONE?
by Cindy Hasz
American Reporter Correspondent
San Diego, Calif.
SAN DIEGO -- I was out in the front yard of one of my patient's recently when an elderly couple out for a walk stopped to talk. They inquired about my patient's health and eventually began to tell me about theirs. They appeared to be in their early 70s and still very much enjoying life.
This affable man with a well-tanned face began telling me how he had such bad arthritis up until a few years ago that he was immobilized and in a wheelchair. When I asked what had helped to him, he replied that it was the radon mines of Montana.
I'd never heard of them. My only exposure to "radon" had been hearing about as a bad, cancer-causing gas that some houses emit undetected by the unsuspecting families who inhabit them.
They went on to tell me how they've gone to these mines in the mountains close to Boulder for one week a year for the past five years and that it had drastically changed their lives. They explained how a low dose of radon could cure arthritis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and other chronic diseases.
They told stories about busloads of Amish and Mennonites taking the elevators 85 feet down into the dark, damp earth where they lined the tunnels with lawn chairs and played cards for their allotted time of treatment. After several hours they came back up to the outer world where they could rest their lungs in preparation for the next trip down.
Seems hundreds of people make this pilgrimage every year to get rid of pain the "natural way."
Is there something to this, or is it just a placebo effect? We all know what a powerful part our minds can play in sickness and healing. Sometimes belief can change body chemistry enough to allow healing to "spontaneously" take place. More and more clinical research is being done to weigh the power of the mind on the human body, but quite honestly, strong and repeated anecdotal evidence is good enough for me.
Freedom from pain is all the evidence most people need.
It's funny the reaction the medical establishment has to such therapies. Alternative treatments are scorned and scoffed at as "hoaxes," and worse. Practitioners of non-Western healing arts are often viewed as charlatans and "quacks" - especially when patients die.
The irony of this was not lost on me as I sat in various oncology wards in hospitals during inter-disciplinary team meetings where it was acceptable to loose a significant proportion of cancer patients to the deadly side-effects of chemotherapy but shameful manipulation and fraud if someone died in an alternative clinic somewhere when treatment failed.
I have known too many people who've beaten cancer and other life threatening illnesses with unorthodox treatments and likewise too many people who have had terrible complications from medically sanctioned treatments to quickly dismiss the unusual.
There is speculation that the low levels of radon stimulate the body's natural corticosteroids and thus remove the inflammation and pain associated with arthritis et al. Could happen I suppose.20
Would I chance it or encourage someone I know to go into the center of the Earth to get relief? After seeing what Prednisone and other such drugs can do to patients who are on them for extended periods for relief of severe arthritis and other chronic autoimmune disorders, the answer would be yes.20
The co-morbidity factors associated with the incorrect or even correct usage of any number of widely-used medications for the elderly are such that whenever and wherever it is possible to get non-pharmacological treatments that will actually decrease pain, improve range of motion and independence and thus overall quality of life, they are worth a try - even if they seem a little "strange."