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Editorial Issue 63

by Sandra Goodman PhD(more info)

listed in editorial, originally published in issue 63 - April 2001

In the last issue I discussed how pivotal individual suffering and motivation can be in the development of important health treatments, particularly for chronic or intractable conditions which are not treatable using conventional approaches. I also described how influential the motivation of research clinicians often features in discovering better ways to help their patients.

Both these facets were dramatically highlighted in an extraordinary Horizon programme (BBC2 15 February) in which a 39 year old former stunt man, 'frozen' with Parkinson's Disease and suffering severely from uncontrollable twitching dyskinesia, serendipitously discovered that taking Ecstasy tablets, in addition to his usual L-dopa medication, enabled him to perform backflips, handsprings and other gymnastic feats, as amazingly shown on film.

Usually, news of a discovery by an individual might also be communicated to other sufferers; however on this occasion, two trailblazing neuro-scientist researchers at Manchester University heard about these effects and decided to perform research to test and attempt to verify the effects of Ecstasy upon Parkinson's in this man.

The even more intriguing background to these scientists was that, unlike the majority of other researchers in the Parkinson's field who believed that supplying more dopamine is the essential approach to progress in treatment, these two men, during the past 15 years of research, had discovered another centre in the brain, which appeared to be sensitive to another or multiple other neurotransmitters.

In the 2-day trial set up to rule out a placebo effect, which was shown on film, the man was given L-Dopa on each day, and an identically appearing tablet, except that on day one the tablet was a placebo and on day two it was the chemical present in Ecstasy. The research was set up properly, in that everyone was totally blinded as to the identity of which tablet was the placebo and which was the 'Ecstasy', and on both days the clinician asked the man to perform the same series of tasks, such as picking up a cup, putting on a sweater, walking, etc.

The results were incredible, in that the man, instead of having jerky, twitchy stiff movements, could move smoothly and in almost perfect co-ordination. It was obvious that he had received the real 'Ecstasy' on the second day. The scientists, who viewed the film afterwards, said that in all the 15 years that they had been researching treatments for Parkinson's, they had never seen such a dramatic improvement.

This experiment showed that this was a real effect, not down to placebo. Further research with brain scans demonstrated that the effects of the 'Ecstasy' were not down to dopamine, but to another neuro-transmitter. Much further research is required in order to replicate these effects in other individual Parkinson sufferers and identify and isolate the factor(s) in Ecstasy which caused these miraculous effects.

What was so inspiring about this story was that, unusually, the patient and the researcher were working together synergistically. So often, patients endure years, perhaps decades of misery, waiting for treatment progress, and clinicians are unaware of, or disinterested in potentially useful patient discoveries.

Other tragedies occur when, instead of nurturing, harnessing and furthering the energetic motivation of researchers, government or other forces stop research dead in its tracks by cutting off research funding, or even in effect banning certain research approaches. The effects that this can have on the researchers and eventually on the world as a whole can be devastating, as I discovered over a decade ago when I was attempting to fund research into the potentially therapeutic effects of organic germanium for AIDS.

As Positive Health readers will recall, during the mid to late 1980s, the world was reeling from the discovery of this lethal disease, which decimates the immune system, resulting in death in many cases. While reviewing the published research literature and simultaneously reading about news in AIDS research, I ventured across one of the most exciting 'Eureka' discoveries in my entire scientific career. Several of organic germanium's abilities to mobilize the host immune system, as shown in cancer research, included the augmentation of T-suppressor cells and natural killer cell activity, induction of interferon and activation of macrophages. Hence, it was an entirely reasonable hypothesis that organic Germanium might indeed have a therapeutic effect upon AIDS. Having published a review of the literature, including this hypothesis in Medical Hypothesis, in 1988, I then set about to raise funds to clinically test organic Germanium.

Next month I will divulge the results of these thwarted attempts, which had such devastating consequences both upon the attempted research, as well as possibly the course of treatment of AIDS, now killing millions in Africa.

This is the last column of Dr Sheldon Litt, who has enlightened us with his dry wit for many years. We bid him fond farewell and thank him warmly for his contributions, which you can read on our website. Starting in the next issue we will see new contributors – Beata Bishop, Vera Peiffer and Vivienne Silver-Leigh in rotation. We also say hello to Barbara Payne, who, along with Mary Martin and Anne McIntyre, will be rotating with Dr Angela Jones.


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About Sandra Goodman PhD

Sandra Goodman PhD, Co-founder and Editor of Positive Health, trained as a Molecular Biology scientist in Agricultural Biotechnology in Canada and the US, focusing upon health issues since the 1980s in the UK. Author of 4 books, including Nutrition and Cancer: State-of-the-Art, Vitamin C – The Master Nutrient, Germanium: The Health and Life Enhancer and numerous articles, Dr Goodman was the lead author of the Consensus Document Nutritional and LifeStyle Guidelines for People with Cancer and compiled the Cancer and Nutrition Database for the Bristol Cancer Help Centre in 1993. Dr Goodman is passionate about making available to all people, particularly those with cancer, clinical expertise in Nutrition and Complementary Therapies. Dr Goodman was recently featured as Doctor of the Fortnight in ThinkWellness360.

Dr Goodman and long-term partner Mike Howell seek individuals with vision, resources, and organization to continue and expand the Positive Health PH Online legacy beyond the first 27+ years, with facilities for training, to fund alternative cancer research, and promote holistic organizations internationally. Read about Dr Goodman and purchase Nutrition and Cancer: State-of-the-Art.  She may be contacted privately for Research, Lectures and Editorial services via:   and

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