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Letters to the Editor Issue 71

by Letters(more info)

listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 71 - December 2001

Health in a Global Context – Reverberations of 11 September

Tuesday 11th September 2001.

"What is the value of helping people with their headaches, when there is so much greater suffering happening?" A therapist posed this question to me in a supervision session, the day after the terrorist attacks on the United States. The images of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre collapsing into clouds of smoke and debris, the sheer horror and scale of the atrocity, have sent reverberations throughout the world, touching all of our lives in some way or other.

Perceiving Health.

In Cranial work the intention is to find the Health.[1] We do not narrow our focus onto the restriction or symptom pattern, nor do we try to fix things. Holding a wider perceptual field we listen to the inherent biodynamic forces of the system, to the Health that is never lost. If this is true of the individual system, how might it be true in the collective dynamic of our human consciousness? Health is a force inherent in our nature, inherent in all nature. Where is the Health within this particular shape; a shape that fulcrums[2] around death and destruction, economic instability and impending war?

Each of us will have our own particular way into perceiving the Health that is present, just as we will each have our own way of reading symptom patterns. Like most people I was deeply shocked by the events in America. As events unfolded and we learnt more about what had happened I found myself trying to comprehend the incomprehensible. Having travelled on a domestic flight from Boston Airport some few months earlier, I began seeing the faces of my fellow passengers that day, trying to put together in my mind the peaceful normality of our flight with the terror unleashed on those passengers on similar flights on Tuesday 11th September. As stories of people jumping from the windows of the World Trade Centre started to come through and the last phone messages to loved ones from those within planes and buildings were broadcast, I felt the pain and shock which rippled out through our collective humanity.

Yet, as I watched the twin towers of the World Trade Centre collapse and the Pentagon in flames I also felt a sense of hope. This was not despite my feelings of outrage and horror, but as well as having such feelings. For many decades the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon have stood as the untouchable bastions of global military and economic policies, which although benefiting some, may have contributed to the suffering and ruin of many throughout the world. These policies have established and supported undemocratic, repressive and totalitarian regimes when it has suited them and denounced them only when it has not. Such regimes as those in Chile, the Philippines, Argentina and El Salvador, which the US have supported, have employed violent and inhumane measures every bit as terrible as those of the terrorists who are now being denounced.

Perhaps this is where the possibility of Health lies. We have long known of the atrocities committed throughout the world in the name of many beliefs, and been shocked and horrified by them. But has the shock of mass murder in Africa or in the Balkans really touched us as deeply as when it happens in the suburbs of a large Western metropolis? This says something of our unspoken allegiances, our hidden racism and cultural elitism. Yet there is more global awareness today than there has ever been before and these questions, in particular regarding the effects felt by the rest of the world by the economic and military policies of powerful countries such as the United States and Britain, are beginning to be asked. For all the pain that America may be feeling at this time, the hypocrisy, with which it points a righteous finger at other quarters and accuses them of inflicting terror and pain, without examining its own conscience, has never been so transparent.

A Wide Perceptual Field.

If there is any Health in this situation, and I believe there is, then it is not in the rhetoric of warmongers, whatever their ideological persuasion, but in our examining of our own consciences. The carnage will probably escalate. There will be suffering as there has long been suffering. But there has been a shift. That which seemed to be solid and inevitable has been shown to be vulnerable and easily shaken. The state of balanced tension has changed. But only if we hold the wider perceptual field,[3] to include all that is implicit in this shift, as well as the explicit in all its destructive might, can we allow the Health to emerge. If any good is going to come out of this tragedy, it will not be in the form of retaliation, but in the form of a deeper global consciousness that embraces the well being of all people, of all beings and of the living planet itself. It often takes suffering close at hand to shake us into the awareness of the suffering that is all around us.

The Quiet Voice of Health.

Lofty sentiments are of little use in coming to terms with the ramifications of traumatic events. Equally, we can feel afraid, powerless and numbed by shock. We each, in our own way, need to process our own reactions. We each, in our way, need to delve into our own consciences, to recognise how we add to the suffering and ask how we can support the arising of Health. We cannot fix the situation. But we can support the arising of Health when we recognise that it is there, even within the trauma itself. Our own particular way of facilitating this may be minimal, but we have all seen how often it is when we do less, more happens. It is where we put our intention that is all-important; Health has its own power and momentum. To return to the issue raised by the therapist in supervision; even when we are working with a client who has come to treatment complaining of a headache, we are, by the very intention of bringing them into relationship with their inherent Health, helping them to connect with the deep Intelligence that is manifest in all Life. We are neither Arab, nor American, when we are in the Long Tide.[4] We are simply aware of the Breath of Life that breathes through all of us. As we connect with our deeper roots, our more destructive tendencies fall away.

This is not to escape from the conflicts and sufferings of everyday life, but to give them a wider context. This is not about thinking nice thoughts all the time, or denying our darker qualities, but of embodying a deeper and wider truth; a living truth, not an ethical idea. Truth, Health, Intelligence or whatever you might call it flows within us and around us. This is not what a client with a headache seeks when they come to treatment, but through their suffering they may begin to access it. The subtle ways in which this may affect changes in the lives of the people we work with we cannot know. But we can know that Health does not just work for individuals, it also works through individuals. When, in our treatment rooms, we are holding the intention of deepening into Health we are in some small way working for peace, through connecting with the living breath that animates all life. This is quiet and humble work that does not resound with the same thunderous fury of the warmongers and their weapons of destruction. Yet, in a certain way, it is as powerful and Health does have its own quiet fury, as it forces us to face ourselves through the manifestations of fevers, headaches and other symptoms.

In the wider context of global politics Health forces us to face ourselves through even greater symptoms. When we hold the wider perspective we can see that what has been described as 'unimaginable', has always been, in some way or other, inevitable. Sick societies manifest symptoms, just as sick organisms do, and in both instances there is inherent Health arising. We may see this in small acts of kindness or courage that would not have otherwise occurred, we may see this in the compassion that arises in the wake of suffering, we may see it in the consciousness of ordinary people around the world, who in their own way feel the living breath of all humanity within them and call for an end to terror and atrocity. In myriad ways Health is quietly arising and we may support this with our intention to work for Life, not against it. The real war that is being fought now is not between States, or governments and terrorists, but is the war that rages within each of us between our inherent capacity for compassion and awareness, which are synonymous with Health, and our identification with the symptoms of our sickness, which is both born of hate and fear and continues to perpetuate it.

1 In Craniosacral Therapy 'Health' is often spelt with a capital 'H' to denote it as an active, inherent force at work within the human system. Health is never lost, only obscured.
2 Fulcrums, in cranial work, are points of stillness around which life organises. Some of these are natural, whilst others arise in response to external events, such as a blow or an emotional shock. Thus we shape ourselves around experience as best we can.
3 Holding a wide perceptual field is a skill used by Craniosacral Therapists to be able to access the inherent Health that is implicit within the client, as well as the more explicit disturbances.
4 Craniosacral therapists work with several subtle tidal motions expressed by the Breath of Life, which is the Life Force around which our cells and tissues organise. The Long Tide is often experienced as spacious and peaceful. Our preoccupations with our personal 'stories' tend to fall away in the Long Tide.

Matthew Appleton
Craniosacral Therapist

Proposed Experiment: Potassium Supplements for Rheumatoid Arthritis

I would like to persuade you to get an experiment performed testing potassium supplements against rheumatoid arthritis which has never been done. In view of the extensive prescription of potassium these days for heart disease and hypertension, potassium would lend itself to epidemiological surveys as well.

I have discovered that when the low cell potassium always present in rheumatoid arthritis[1] is relieved, the disease is dramatically alleviated, perhaps cured.[2]

I believe that I have also figured out how and why potassium deficiency disrupts the copper metabolism such as to produce some of the most dangerous symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis via the elastin tissue.[3]

I also believe I have figured out how and why the immune system is inappropriately activated by decline of cortisol.[4]

The regulation of electrolytes by steroids is closely involved in the potassium metabolism and I am virtually certain that I have the main features in regard to how at least four steroids regulate potassium and sodium.[5]

Do not be mislead into thinking that potassium is seldom deficient merely because foods almost always contain some. It often is. Indeed most people eat less than barely enough to maintain optimum cell potassium even in young healthy adults who are under no stress (2000 mg), and Afro-Americans eat much less. If serum potassium is less than 4.8 meq/litre there is less than optimum and below 4.0 starts to get dangerous.

I have several case histories to back this up and one from the literature performed for other reasons than potassium,[6] but no one has ever performed a controlled experiment yet. You may also see a summation of potassium and copper nutrition[7] and a discussion which suggests ways of reducing too high a blood potassium level by diet for those who have damaged kidneys[8] which may prove useful to you. If the researcher would like to perform a preliminary experiment by increasing potassium intake by diet, it is suggested that he read the following reference.[9]

If you think that potassium could not be possibly having an affect on arthritis, I ask you this; is it possible that no intake of potassium from none at all up to overwhelming amounts could be having an affect on arthritis at all? If there is a possibility, then this long overdue experiment should be performed And if it turns out that low intakes are having deleterious effects, it will be a real feather in your cap to have helped establish it even if the effects were to prove to be only moderate. I have found the affects are so consistent that even increasing the potassium intake of only 2 or 3 patients 3,000 mg. per day to total 5,000 would be convincing. Please try to have this easy experiment performed. Just make sure that magnesium and maybe inositol is adequate at the same time.

Charles Weber

1. LaCelle PL et al. An investigation of total body potassium in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Proceedings Ann. Meeting of the Rheumatism Association, Arthritis & Rheumatism 7; 321. 1964.
2. Potassium in the etiology of rheumatoid arthritis and heart infarction. The Journal of Applied Nutrition 26:41. 1974. There is a more elaborate current version at
3. Copper response in rheumatoid arthritis. Medical Hypotheses 15:333. 1984. There is a more elaborate version at
4. Cortisol's purpose. Medical Hypotheses 51:289-292. 1998. There is a more elaborate version at
5. Corticosteroid regulation of electrolytes. The Journal of Theoretical Biology 104: 443-451. 1983. A more up to date version is at electrolyte.html
6. Clark WS et al. The relationship of alterations in mineral and nitrogen metabolism to disease activity in a patient with rheumatoid arthritis. Acta Rheum. Scand. 2;193. 1956.
7. potassium.html
8. blood.html
9. arthritis9.html

Cancer Complementary Treatment Ignored by the BBC

Have you seen the recent BBC1 series on Living with Cancer, Monday evenings at 10.35pm? The first programme looked at two patients suffering from leukaemia who were being treated at University City Hospital London. One of the patients, a 64 year old identical twin eventually struggled back to relative health after receiving stem cell transplant from his twin. For a brief moment we saw him receiving healing, which he said felt marvellous, but there was no context and no follow up. It was not referred to again and almost seemed like an intrusion.

This week's programme followed three teenagers with bone and/or lung cancer who were being treated at the Middlesex Hospital. One was very stoic, and accepted the chemo no matter how ill it made him. His lung tumours remissed, and he had surgery to remove the primary bone tumour in his arm. But at the end of the programme we were told that the lung tumours were returning. The other two were younger and in despair. One was a Catholic, which helped in the sense that if it was God's will that he should have cancer, then so be it, but he could not understand why God was doing this to him. We saw him in class where all the others were discussing A levels and their future careers, whereas he had no future and, as he said, there was really no point in being there. The other young lad was in complete despair as the scans showed that, despite previous chemo, his lung tumours were now growing again. As he said, the battle against cancer was being fought between the doctors and the cancer cells, with his body as the battleground. He, personally, had no part to play and was just a bystander. If the doctors won, he lived, if not, he died. Both refused any further chemo. One on the grounds that he would rather die at home, and the other because the Consultant felt that it would only add a couple of months to his life and there just wasn't any damned point prolonging the misery of his life.

When asked for the prognosis, the Consultant, as gently as he could, gave them the terminal news, and as he did so I realised that he had, in effect, programmed them to die just as effectively as any voodoo priest. Based upon the statistics, his clinical experience, and with the full weight of Consultant authority, he told the two lads, and their mothers, that there was no hope, so there was none. The only treatment that the Consultant, the patients and the family knew were chemo, radiotherapy, and surgery. There was nothing else. It was as if all the CAM literature on approaches to cancer treatment and centres such as the BCHC, didn't exist. Your excellent September issue might just as well not have been published. Imagine the effect on those families watching with similar diagnoses. The Consultants live in a world of hi tech medicine and specialist journals. Their particular expertise is all they have to offer.

I am writing to ask if you, with your vast knowledge of CAM therapies and Who-is-Who in the CAM world, think that there may be any mileage in asking the BBC to counteract this patient-as- passive-victim approach with a series exploring what CAM has to offer. If you are able to obtain a tape of this week's programme you will be moved and appalled. The problem is that readers of Positive Heath are the converts. It doesn't reach the consultants who need converting, nor their patients and families who naturally assume that if the consultant says 'no hope' there is none. By presenting CAM therapies and research, a BBC series with website debate could dramatically alter the perspective of cancer care.

With best wishes,
Robert A Charman FCSP Dip TP MCSP
Chairman Association of Physiotherapists
in Bioenergy Therapies
Tel/Fax: 029 2075 8998

The Editor Replies to Robert Charman

I totally concur with Robert Charman; ranting about the almost total marginalization of the huge clinical and research knowledge base comprising all the complementary therapies, particularly what they can offer cancer patients, is a familiar complaint to regular readers of Positive Health.

I challenge the BBC to right this serious omission and inform their viewers that there is a multiplicity of approaches – nutritional, herbal, healing to name but a few – which can and are complementing conventional cancer treatment.

It is, however, only responsible to note that certain cancers can be vicious, recurring and relentless and that no treatment – conventional or otherwise – may offer the ultimate cure. Despite this caveat, however, cancer sufferers ought to be informed of other approaches and given the option of trying to boost their immune system, detoxify their overloaded livers, enhance their comfort, restore their gut flora, and to lift their spirits.

It is disheartening for so many professionals to work for decades to research and put into practice viable treatments for cancer patients and then be totally ignored by those medical practitioners in power.

Sandra Goodman, Ph.D.

Inaugural Penny Brohn Memorial Lecture

Penny Brohn, Co-Founder of the Bristol Cancer Help Centre (BCHC), who through her own journey over many years of personal growth and healing was an inspiration for many tens of thousands people with cancer, sadly died in 1999. At the bequest of her family, a fund was established to promote a series of inspirational lectures about the mind body approach to health and life.

This august inaugural lecture, stunningly delivered by Dr Caroline Myss, was held at St James Palace in the presence HRH The Prince of Wales, Patron of the BCHC, Penny Brohn's family, BCHC Co-founder Pat Pilkington and many (more than 150) friends and former colleagues of Penny and BCHC.

Following a moving tribute by Pat Pilkington to Penny Brohn, expressing how much The Prince of Wales' patronage and personal encouragement (sending messages and outrageous flowers) had meant to Penny, Dr Caroline Myss, renowned American author, medical intuitive and theologian wove a magical, spiritual yet down-to-earth and, at times funny, lecture about what it means to be alive, replete with advice regarding staying in present time, forgiveness, and not permitting our soul energy to be scattered and bound up with events of the past, leaving us depleted and drained. This was a veritable tour de force!

HRH The Prince of Wales, stating the obvious about Dr Myss being a difficult act to follow, provided an eloquent, yet provocative retrospective about how comments he has made over the years (about how medicine ought to be more holistic, about how architecture needed to be more inspiring, about how modern agriculture was excessively chemical and destructive of our environment) had got him into enormous trouble in the media. He discussed passionately how medicine, architecture, agriculture and education were the pillars of our civilization.

The opportunity to assemble such a congregation of special friends on a beautiful sunny day provided a magnificent occasion, which Penny would have greatly enjoyed.

Sandra Goodman, Ph.D.


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