An M.D.’s suggestions for difficult to treat conditions

I typically offer more than a hundred recommendations in a given 12-hour shift at my local Urgent Care.

I would love to have a large clinical study to prove everything I recommend.  However, this is simply unrealistic.

But I do have years of both conventional medical experience and alternative medicine under my belt, so I’m confident in using an integrative approach to help my patients.

Even though people don’t always respond predictably to every kind of treatment, there are clear patterns of how our bodies work. Sometimes standard treatments and prescriptions work, and sometimes they don’t. If your doctor is open-minded, you’ll be lucky to know those avenues are not your only choices.

So, let’s look at how to safely manage conditions that are otherwise difficult to treat with mainstream medicine alone, using alternative means…

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A typical patient gets some improvement taking gabapentin (Neurontin), but it is short-lived. I may prescribe a muscle relaxer/pain reliever such as cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) 1-2 tabs three times daily, or tramadol (Ultram) twice daily to manage pain.

Meanwhile, I teach them how to identify and treat the underlying causes of the inflammation on the nerves. For example, inflammation on nerves is worsened by the stress of being over-worked or lack of sleep. That’s a problem that, if not fixed, no amount of pills will make better.

I begin with a discussion about the power of a liquid cleanse (water fasting, Lemonade Cleanse, or fresh juicing), which dramatically reduces inflammation to nerves. I have experienced a liquid cleanse and have taken many patients through it with dramatic reduction of symptoms relating to body inflammation and immune hypersensitivity.

Patients must also understand that a nutrient-rich plant-based, mostly whole food diet is anti-inflammatory. Likewise, certain foods may be triggering inflammation. I have them consider doing a simple targeted “food elimination” experiment. Begin by eliminating gluten (bread, pasta, cereals with wheat flour) for 3 weeks; then reintroduce gluten food products back into your diet for at least 3 days and watch for a recurrence of symptoms. You may have an answer quickly with the return of pain. If needed, do the same with foods containing dairy, peanuts, soy, eggs, corn, and even with refined sugar foods (the top 7 allergy-causing foods).

Then, there are nutritional supplements known to help heal nerves. These can take a couple of months to achieve their full effect. I would choose three of these:

  • Acetyl-L-carnitine 500 mg or 1,000 mg three times daily
  • Vinpocetine 20 mg twice daily with meals and increase as needed
  • α-Lipoic acid 300 mg twice daily
  • Inositol 500-1,000 mg daily
  • Omega-3 oil (Krill oil, fish oil, flaxseed oil) 6 grams daily.
  • Gamma-linolenic acid of evening primrose, borage, and black currant oils
  • Turmeric (curcumin) 800 mg three times daily is a safe pain reliever
  • Vitamin B12 (as methylcobalamin) and B complex help heal nerves

Anxiety-related conditions

Treatment for anxiety is multi-faceted. When anxiety is so far out of control that no amount of mental focus can get through, a simple prescription for a benzodiazepine (e.g. diazepam) or SSRI (e.g. fluoxetine or sertraline) can help but is only a quick fix.

There are non-prescription anti-anxiety supplements that have a milder effect, and also are quick fixes. These include Kava kava, valerian root, and passion flower – usually sold as a blend of herbs, which are relaxing and sedating. There is chamomile tea, L-theanine (an amino acid) 200 mg twice daily, Ashwagandha, Lemon balm, Brahmi, essential oils, and magnesium (aspartate, glycinate) 250 to 500 mg nightly.

More importantly, I like patients to understand the power of their thoughts on their body chemistry. When you continue with a distressing thought more than 17 seconds, your physical body chemistry changes and there are anxiety symptoms of some sort that develop. Prolonged distressing thoughts often begin to trigger panic attacks. Therefore, every moment is an opportunity to focus, trusting that all will work out fine as it always does; focus on what you like and dream about creating.

There are also a host of stress-reduction techniques which assist you to do this, beginning with simple exercises.

Intestinal pains

The diagnosis of intestinal dysbiosis does not exist among the more than 50,000 ICD-10 diagnosis codes in mainstream medicine. I have to simply call it “IBS” (irritable bowel syndrome) in my notes. But an imbalance of intestinal bacteria is the most common reason for intestinal pains I see in the Urgent Care.

After ruling out appendicitis and diverticulitis by physical examination, I ask patients to clean out their intestinal tract using Polyethylene Glycol (e.g. Miralax high dose) and make some simple dietary changes: clear liquid diet and no simple sugars that feed the imbalance.

If after two days no significant improvement is noted, I have them take Metronidazole, the antibiotic that cleans out the intestinal bacterial imbalance. Relief comes by day two or three of this week long treatment. Then a closer look at nutrient-rich foods is mandatory.

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Flu symptoms

If the influenza A or B rapid test is negative (more often than not), then Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) for five days is not indicated except in certain high-risk patients. Even when Tamiflu is prescribed, its effects weaken the longer after flu symptom onset that it is started, and after two days it will not work.

This is why I look to other ways to treat flu symptoms. I prescribe a strong cough suppressant and pain reliever. I also recommend the following:

  • Essential oils such as peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree), lemon, cardamom, ravensara, and laurel leaf (found in Breathe by Doterra) to the chest periodically
  • Sleep as much as possible
  • Fresh juice (carrot, apple, any fruit or vegetable that will juice) often
  • Minimize any refined sugar foods/bread/pasta intake until you are well
  • Vitamin C 3,000 to 5,000 mg every 6 hours
  • Fresh ginger tea (cut 6 coin-size slices and boil in 2C water, cool and flavor and sip throughout the day) or green tea with fresh lemon and honey (even butter!)
  • Minerals: Vital Earth fulvic-humic mineral mix liquid. Take a triple dose for 3 days
  • High dose Vitamin D2: 100,000 IU daily for 3 days.  In 1948, researchers reported near miraculous effects of vitamin D2 on influenza and viral pneumonia.
  • Garlic has anti-viral activity

Allergic rhinitis or urticaria

Allergy conditions are seen commonly in the Urgent Care. Sometimes I administer Solumedrol (potent injectable cortisone treatment) which lasts 3 days, followed by prednisone for another 5-7 days.

However, when it is a chronic recurring problem, this medicine is not safe. So, I turn to the power of the liquid cleanse followed by nutrient-rich foods to quiet the immune reaction. A topical triamcinolone (cortisone) cream works for contact allergic skin conditions (not for hives).

Then we need to look for the underlying cause. That’s when I strongly encourage a 3-week targeted food elimination diet (see neuropathy treatment above) from gluten (bread, pasta, cereals with wheat flour), dairy, peanuts, soy, eggs, corn, and refined sugar.

To feeling good by reversing disease,

Michael Cutler, M.D.

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Dr. Michael Cutler

By Dr. Michael Cutler

Dr. Michael Cutler is a graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine and is a board-certified family physician with more than 20 years of experience. He serves as a medical liaison to alternative and traditional practicing physicians. His practice focuses on an integrative solution to health problems. Dr. Cutler is a sought-after speaker and lecturer on experiencing optimum health through natural medicines and founder of the original Easy Health Options™ newsletter — an advisory on natural healing therapies and nutrients. His current practice is San Diego Integrative Medicine, near San Diego, California.