Your source for natural health and alternative healing modalities

 

Home Up

 

 

Prior to the 1930's, more than 90% of all births in the U.S.A. occurred at home.  Then women were offered "pain free" birthing with medications in the hospital setting. It didn't take long for the concept of "better living through chemistry" to catch on, and less than a century later, 99% of all births are now performed in a hospital. With this 99%, the United States now has the dubious distinction of having the highest Cesarean rate ( 31%) and the highest infant mortality rate of any industrialized country.  The World Health Organization has declared that  NO country is justified in having a c-section that exceeds 10%.  Despite this, the American Medical Association (AMA) recently passed a resolution saying "the safest setting for labor, delivery and the immediate post-partum period is in the hospital, or a birthing center within a hospital complex."  According to the AMA, the reason for this resolution was due to recent media attention given to homebirths and their fears that more women would start to question whether a hospital really is the best option.

Statistically, there is plenty of data to support the choice to birth at home. The European countries that use Midwives and support decisions to birth at home have far fewer c-sections (under 5% in most cases), lower infant deaths, and lower death rates for the mothers due to complications of medical interventions.  

My mother was a labor and delivery nurse for over 30 years, and I've had the pleasure of being present at many births, both in the home and the hospital setting, myself.   We both agree that the hospital environment has turned birthing (the most natural process in the world) into a high-tech, high-intervention big business. Statistics support this as well.  Birthing is the number one reason for admission to a hospital in the US and it accounted for nearly four trillion dollars in health care costs last year, and these costs keep growing. No wonder the AMA and hospitals are afraid of women taking birthing back into the home. It would hit their pocket books... hard.  The average birth costs more than $8,000.00 not including all the pre- and post- natal care.  On the other hand, a midwife and a doula for a home birth is typically less than $3,900.00 and includes ALL the costs; prenatal, birth, and postnatal care. 

I have to say that I much prefer the home setting in most cases. I can list dozens of reasons why the home setting is better:  decreased risk of infection, little to no unnecessary interventions, freedom to choose any number of birthing positions, dad can delivery his child if he chooses, no rush to cut the cord (too soon, and the instance of jaundice and other nutritional issues increases), no whisking off the baby to be cleaned & blood typed and otherwise poked and prodded, quiet bonding time for mom, dad, baby and any other family members, the freedom to eat, the freedom from the mandatory saline lock or I.V., etc, etc, etc... I could go on for days.  But there is only one reason why I would want to be in the hospital; that very rare crisis. And I do mean rare, like a prolapsed cord - where the cord comes out ahead of the baby and gets pinched, cutting off the necessary blood and oxygen supply to the baby.  However, these kind of events only happen in less than 1 out of every million  births and in which case, given the mortality rate in the hospital setting, there is no guarantee that the outcome will be any better in the hospital than it would be at home. So, we are in full support of all the women who are looking at the option of a home birth.

 

 

MORE FROM EUROPE

Medical care in the United States is currently the most expensive in the world, but that doesn't mean it is worth every penny. The U.S. spends more than twice as much on each person for health care as most other industrialized countries, but it  has fallen to last place among those countries in preventing deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO), ranks the United States at number 37 for how healthy its citizens are.

Overall American health is lagging far behind other industrialized countries like France (#1), Italy (#2) and Spain (#7), but is also behind third world countries like Columbia (#22) and Costa Rica (#36). The reason is that the United States has a capitalistic money-driven health care system. In America, we don't treat people for the greater common good, we manage diseases for profit. American doctors, hospitals and other healthcare professionals receive payment based on how often they see patients and how many procedures they perform or drugs they prescribe. In other countries like France, doctors and other healthcare workers are paid based on how healthy their patients are, regardless of how often they see them or how many drugs and surgeries they prescribe.   

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over half of Americans under the age of 64 are taking at least one prescription medication every month. By age 65, more than 84% of Americans are taking three or more Rx medications each day. The percentages get even higher when you include over the counter medications like aspirin, sinus medications and anti-acid medications. Despite taking more drugs than our European counterparts, our death rate from disease is MUCH higher. The most common causes of death in the U.S. according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC are as follows:

  1. Heart disease  (650,000+ deaths each year)
  2. Cancer    (559,000+ deaths each year)  - this rate is going up in the US 
  3. Adverse Reactions to prescription drugs ( 350,000+ deaths reported annually with estimates for 2.2 million in unreported deaths related Rx medication - which would obviously put Rx Medications as the Number 1 cause of death, easily beating heart disease, cancer, stroke and accidents all combined!)
  4. Stroke (143,000+)
  5. Respiratory problems like Asthma and Emphysema (129,000+)
  6. Accidents (117,000+) 

Also, the infant mortality rate in the US is horrendous. More than 2 million babies die in their first 48 hours of life, giving the United States the dubious distinction of having the second highest death rate for babies in the world. Only Latvia has a worse infant mortality rate than the U.S.  (UPDATE: As of 2009, the US is now ranking behind Latvia... we now have the WORST infant mortality rate on the planet, despite having the highest number of births in a hospital setting.)

The leading causes of death in European countries like Italy and France?  The numbers vary slightly from one country to the next, but the general numbers, according to WHO and the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) are as follows:

  1. Accidents (107,000+)
  2. Heart disease ( 58,000+)
  3. Stroke ( 49,7000+)
  4. Cancer ( 35,000+)  

Infant mortality rates in Europe are less than 3 babies of every 1000 births.

Take a good look at those numbers.  Americans take more prescription drugs, have more surgeries and spend more money on health care, but are dying in much greater numbers than Europeans. Basically 12 Americans die for 1 European that dies from illnesses like heart attack, cancer or stroke.

So, who's health advise and doctor recommended guidelines are more effective; the FDA and American Medical Association (AMA), or France's Ministry of Health and the EPHA? The answer is pretty obvious.

With the above in mind, the following are some recent health attitudes from the Europeans:

STATIN DRUGS     -    2008

The European Society of Cardiology released the results of a four year study comparing fish oil to statin drugs (like Crestor ), to a high quality fish oil supplement.  3500 heart patients were given the fish oil and another 3500 were given the statin drug. The results were as follows:

  • Fish Oil group ~  1,981 died or had to be hospitalized for heart problems
  • Statin group ~ 2053 died or had to be hospitalized for heart problems

In another parallel study, 2,285 patients were given the statin drug and 2,289 were given a placebo. There was NO difference between the placebo success and the drug. Another interesting tidbit from the studies -  Very few of the fish oil recipients complained of side effects. However, more than half of the drug recipients complained of side effects like muscle weakness, exhaustion, memory loss, irritability, decreased sex drive, kidney problems and liver damage.

Omega-3 fatty acids from fish like salmon and tuna have long been proven to offer health benefits like protecting the heart and brain. As these studies show, a high quality fish oil supplement offers better overall health benefits than statin drugs.

What's  a "High Quality" fish oil? NOT the grocery store varieties like those found at Walmart and other big box stores. These are cheaply made supplements that are often rancid or loaded with heavy metals and may cause more problems than they help. Carlson and NutriWest make some of the best fish oils at a reasonable price. Depending on the person, we like the F- Complex or the Super EPA from NutriWest. They also make an excellent chewable variety for children. Carlson's lemon flavored Cod Liver oil is another high quality liquid option at a reasonable price.  

 

By the way - healthy total cholesterol in Europe is 170 to 220.  Cholesterol is necessary for making hormones. It has to be at least 160 for hormone production. European doctors are more concerned over all with CRP (c-reactive protein) which measures the rate of inflammation, than they are with cholesterol. The arteries and veins are moving blood through them. If inflammation is low, the walls of the arteries and veins are smooth. If the inflammation goes up, it scars the walls, making it possible for cholesterol and other materials (clots, calcium, etc) to collect on the walls.  If the inflammation is low, the cholesterol could be 500 and still never find a place to attach and clog the passageway.  If the inflammation is high, even those with very low cholesterol are still in danger of blockages. 

The biggest causes of inflammation:   

  1. Stress
  2. Soft drinks
  3. Diet sweeteners
  4. Refined foods, especially white sugar, white bread, and anything that comes in a metal can or plastic  (fresh or frozen foods are best!)
  5. Processed dairy foods - those that have been homogenized and pasteurized - raw milk is okay
  6. Viruses or bacterial and fungal infections

Natural options for reducing inflammation are cinnamon, tumeric, pineapple, garlic, any green leafy vegetable, barley, fish oils, eggs (yes .. eggs!), grapes and apples. Doing the liver cleanse monthly, green drink daily and getting adequate rest are also big reducers.

 

 

ENERGY DRINKS     -  2008

Many European countries have now banned the sale of energy drinks, like Red Bull and Hype, due to an alarming increase in heart attacks and strokes associated with their use. Teenagers and college students in particular, a group not known for these kinds of deathly events,  have been dying of strokes from drinking these dangerous drinks on a daily basis.  

These drinks contain a potentially deadly combination of high caffeine, sugar and carbonation, which causes rapid changes in the blood. Initially it causes a jump in adrenaline and an increase in energy, but shortly after, the stress to the body from this big kick to the adrenals causes the blood to become thick and sticky. This leads to rapid blood clot formation and dramatically increases the risk for sudden heart attack and stroke. Constant use of these drinks also depletes the adrenals leading to more exhaustion and a vicious circle of needing more and more of the energy drink to compensate for the adrenal crashes. As the adrenals become more stressed from this vicious cycle, they begin to put out some 30 different hormones that negatively impact heart, pancreas, liver, thyroid and brain.

There are better ways to increase energy without using high doses of sugar and caffeine. 

  1. Get at least 8 hours of sleep
  2. Support your immune system
  3. Avoid eating refined food. Eat lots of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, raw nuts or seeds and complex carbohydrates. Stick with the lower glycemic index varieties like lettuces, celery, cucumber, asparagus, zucchini, cauliflower, apples, grapes, pears, and peaches.      Instead of "instant" or "quick" packaged foods, consume more whole oats, brown rice and multi grain breads and pastas. Keep servings of these carbs to less than 3 per day. Carbs can give us energy, but too many can make us fat and sleepy.
  4. Green drink is instantly available LIVE nutrition. It's a huge healthy way to increase energy. 
  5. Clean your liver.  A clogged liver can make you tired, reduce your sex drive, cause blood sugar imbalances, make you depressed and pack on the pounds.
  6. Exercise at least 20 minutes daily.  If you are tired, keep it simple. Take a slow walk, do yoga or the Pilates 100.
  7. Breathe!   It's easy to hold your breath or breath shallowly when stressed or in pain.  Oxygen is critical to energy production.  Take several slow deep breaths anytime you feel the need for an energy boost.
  8. Bach Flower remedies:  Olive, Hornbeam and Centaury

  

 

 

 

Home ] Up ] Hummingbird Health Consultants ] HINT ]

Copyright 2005 HummingBird Health