Julia Schopick on Effective, Affordable Medicine
photo by Keith Peterson
Following up on the success of her bestselling book Honest Medicine: Effective, Time-Tested, Inexpensive Treatments for Life-Threatening Diseases, Julia Schopick plans to spread awareness of the efficacy of low-dose naltrexone (LDN) in treating autoimmune and other ailments later this year with a new book co-authored with professional writer Don Schwartz.
Her first book, endorsed by many leading integrative health practitioners, earned the top National Indie Excellence Award for Alternative Medicine. It taps into nearly 200 scientific studies, with her research into innovative treatments driven by a quest that she and her late husband both believed added 15 years to his life after a terminal prognosis at age 40.
The former English teacher at Long Island University and Virginia State University, now an Oak Park, Illinois resident, has contributed to the American Medical Association publication AM News, writes online and print guest columns and shares her journey in media interviews.
What are some of the most significant natural alternatives you report on in Honest Medicine?
The ketogenic diet is one standout because it was the standard of care for children with epilepsy in the 1920s—until pharmaceutical companies began to produce lucrative anti-seizure medications; then its use diminished through a lack of proponents in the medical field. Its use was revived in the 1990s due to the efforts of Jim Abrahams, a Hollywood writer/director, father of a child with epilepsy and one of my heroes.
I found small studies that proved that the ketogenic diet successfully stops children’s seizures nearly 70 percent of the time. This highly effective alternative has none of the negative side effects of antiseizure drugs. Most doctors aren’t in favor of the diet approach and instead often prescribe affected children up to three or four meds as an easier option. The diet follows Hippocrates’ dictum, “Let food be thy medicine.”
Another standout is intravenous alpha lipoic acid, pioneered since the 1970s by Dr. Burt Berkson, who used it mainly for end-stage liver disease and diabetic neuropathy. He saved many people from needing liver transplants with infusions of this powerful, versatile antioxidant.
Did anything surprise you?
I chose to include effective treatments that are non-toxic and inexpensive. I didn’t realize that several of them were effective for many different conditions.
For example, LDN has been used since the mid-1980s to treat autoimmune diseases, of which there are more than 100; it also treats some cancers and AIDS. Research shows good results for conditions as varied as multiple sclerosis, lupus, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and Parkinson’s, because all of them have an autoimmune component if they are not directly autoimmune diseases.
Similarly, the ketogenic diet is now being studied as a treatment for cancers, especially brain tumors, brain injuries, autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Intravenous alpha lipoic acid is also used to address autoimmune diseases, some cancers and other conditions.
Are you finding that people are increasingly moving away from drugs and, if so, why?
Yes. The norm used to be that patients followed their doctors’ orders without question, which routinely entailed prescription drugs. Today, people are realizing that drugs often come with horrendous side effects. Consider, for instance, that ads for some injectible treatments for autoimmune diseases caution against side effects of cancers, including lymphomas. A side effect of some multiple sclerosis drugs is a serious brain infection called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, or PML. People are listening closely, reading and researching their health issues, and don’t want risky side effects, especially when safer options are available.
In dealing with chronic illnesses, how crucial is it for caregiver and patient to maintain a positive, optimistic attitude?
Multiple studies, like those referenced in Mind Over Medicine, by Dr. Lissa Rankin, and Radical Remission, by Kelly Turner, Ph.D., show that a positive state of mind is crucial to healing. One of the benefits I report in my book is that patients and caregivers will do even more research looking for alternatives when doctors tell them nothing else can be done. And many find healing treatments; there are many such cases reported in my book. I like the African proverb, “When you pray, move your feet.”
Randy Kambic is a freelance writer and editor in Estero, FL, and regular contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine.
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This article appears in the January 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.