Saturday, August 29, 2009

New Banner

I hope everyone likes the new banner I worked on today. The magnolia, fig, and pomegranate photos on the banner are some of the many shots that I have taken in France over the past few years. I love to get out and capture the varied fruits and vegetables that are flourishing each June that we visit. The photo on the left is an extreme close-up of a type of rosemary, and the one above is an abandoned henhouse -- I just loved the play of the light filtered through the trees against the old weathered boards. Enjoy!

The "Placebo Effect" -- Not Your Imagination?

The placebo effect has gotten a bad rap. The first line of the Wikipedia entry for placebo states that "[a] placebo is a sham medical intervention." The negative reputation of the placebo effect is based, in lay terms, on that idea that because something is "all in your head," it is a bad thing -- regardless of whether its effect is actually positive. A cynic might say that is because it is hard to bottle and sell the placebo effect.

However, more and more investigation of the placebo effect shows that placebos can have very powerful effects in healing. A recent article online at provides a useful history of the placebo effect and its impact on modern medicine. In fact, according to this article, the placebo effect seems to be getting stronger in pharmaceutical trials, which has resulted in more medications failing trials because they are not sufficiently outperforming placebos. Research is being conducted now to explore ways in which the placebo effect can be used therapeutically in the treatment of patients.

But for those interested in energy medicine, the power of the brain to help heal the body is nothing new. The idea that the mind and the body can harness energy to heal and to stay well has long been accepted by practitioners and patients who treat or are treated using energy medicine techniques. The basis of energy medicine is described by Donna Eden on page 1 of her book Energy Medicine: "The first practitioner of energy medicine is you, the one who inhabits the body being cared for. Using the principles of energy medicine, you can optimize your body's natural capabilities to heal itself and to stay healthy."

I am interested in energy medicine generally and I also am a certified Level I & II Reiki practitioner, so it is no surprise that I am a believer in these powerful healing modalities. I have described to many friends the first time that I did Reiki on Henry. Rather than give a "full treatment," I asked Henry where he thought my hands should go. He indicated that the he wanted one hand at the top of his back and one at the base of his spine, which is the area I had wanted to treat. When I placed my hands and began treating him, I felt a strong energy flowing up and down his spine. I did not say anything to Henry though. When I finished, he turned over and immediately said, "Wow, that was like lightening going up and down my back!" Pretty powerful stuff!

Similarly, the mainstream medical establishment is beginning to learn that placebos are powerful healing tools are well.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Fallacy of "Scientific Consensus" in Autism Causation

Fellow autism mom and blogger extraordinaire, Ginger Taylor, who blogs at Adventures in Autism, was featured today on Age of Autism. AoA reprinted her amazing, intelligent response to the LA Times article: Bringing science back into America's sphere on Chris Mooney's book, Unscientific America, in which Ginger takes to task those who claim that there is consensus on issues such as any connection between vaccines and autism. Ginger effectively challenges the condescending, paternalistic (my choice of words) attitude of those "scientists" who treat parents as child-like and in need of re-education -- regardless of how credentialed we may be or how carefully and intelligently we analyze and parse the allegedly air-tight (not!) studies upon which they rely. Frankly, those with this attitude and the inability to admit that science is not infallible, utterly lack the scientific curiosity that leads to new discoveries and that is open to changing hypotheses. Science is not static -- it evolves. Those who believe otherwise do science an injustice and are, in fact, the ones who imperil the future of "science." In this area, there is much research left to be done, including a large-scale vax'd vs. un-vax'd study. The failure of the scientific community to undertake this study is of grave concern. To claim that it would be unethical to not vaccinate children for the sake of this study is a red herring. There are significant unvaccinated populations that could be studied -- many parents choose to not vaccinate their children for religious, philosophical, medical reasons. Parents are not asking for a study designed to reach any particular result. Rather, they are asking that needed studies -- whatever the results -- be undertaken. The failure to do so speaks volumes. Hello? Flat earth anyone???