Mar 12 2012
These last couple of weeks have been incredibly busy with complex patients. An experience that has happened a few times over the course of my career happened again last week. A new patient came in with her parents and the mother announced what the child’s problem was immediately after sitting down to discuss her history: “She has PANDAS.”
I had no idea what she was talking about. I’ve treated lots of people with CFIDS (Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome), many cases of women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). I’ve even treated 3 or 4 cases of children with PFAPA (Periodic Fever Aphthous Pharyngitis and Cervical Adenopathy). But PANDAS? Luckily, mom said the full name of the diagnosis within a couple of minutes, Pediatric Auto-immune Neurological Disease Associated with Strep.
Naturopathic doctors will often encounter “strange and rare” conditions because mainstream, or allopathic, medicine has little in the way to offer as far as lasting cure for chronic conditions. Naturopathic medicine relies more on understanding physiology, not pathology, per se. Luckily for me, the name of this condition told me enough to know where I needed to start in order to address this child’s health. The diagnosis of a syndrome is often descriptive and therefore gives more information about what aspect of the person must be addressed.
For example, if the mother had said my daughter has Crohn’s, or Alzheimer’s, or Hashimoto’s Disease, even though I may be more familiar with these common conditions, all they tell me is about a doctor that helped define the pathology. In some cases, like Lyme Disease, Coxsackie Virus and Legionnaire’s disease the name may only tell me about a location associated with disease outbreak.
So when the girl who became my patient last week had a chief complaint of Pediatric Auto-immune Neurological Disease Associated with Strep, I knew a number of things that had to be done. I knew that an anti-inflammatory diet was necessary and that I had to think about how I could best support her immune system, interfere with bacterial communication and overgrowth (if indeed there were any obvious signs of Staph bacterial overgrowth) and calm and nourish the nervous system. And that’s what I did.
Her diet was based on her blood type (A) and focused on adding in foods that would be like medicine for her: certain fatty fishes, vegetable proteins and organic eggs. I also recommended that she avoid pro-inflammatory foods for Type A like red meat and cow’s milk. She was given Aconite 5CH homeopathic to calm the nervous system along with UNDA compounds to cleanse the liver and gut. Additional support was given for her nervous system by supporting the mechanism of autophagy with a new formula from Dr. D’Adamo called Trehalose Complex. For more information please see here: http://n-equals-one.com/blogs/2011/12/22/1851/ I supplemented with 2 key nutrients that blood work had revealed deficiencies in, Vitamin B12 and Zinc. Lastly, herbs for immune health were given including Andrographis and Scutellaria. The patient will return in one month and we will see if she has made any progress. She was tremendously agitated during the visit.
One of the more frequent questions a receptionist in a naturopathic doctor’s office will be asked over the phone is whether the doctor has treated “x”, “y”, or “z” condition? In some ways, of course, experience with specific conditions is invaluable in terms of a taking a thorough history, doing a proper work-up and knowing a little about what to expect in terms of results. But in addition, a good understanding of physiology and the naturopathic interventions that affect those aspects of a patient’s physiology is probably far more critical. That allows for the creative application of all our therapeutics to address any person that walks through the door. And those people with conditions you’ve never heard of will walk through the door!
P.S. Coincidentally, last night I read this article in the NY Times about a mysterious illness affecting the girls of Le Roy, NY. PANDAS is one of the possible reasons for the outbreak of neurological problems being put forth: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/11/magazine/teenage-girls-twitching-le-roy.html?scp=1&sq=le%20roy&st=cse