Nontoxic cancer treatment: Conversation between Emmett Miller, MD and Erik Peper, PhD

Listen to the conversation between Erik Peper, PhD and Emmett Miller, MD recorded January 7, 2012.

We will explore some of the powerful ideas from his latest book, Fighting Cancer: A Nontoxic Approach to Treatment, written with Robert Gorter, MD. The model presented here is science based, and appears to be effective, humane, nontoxic, and stunningly successful for a wide range of cancers. Supporting the immune system to fight cancer from within is critical to complete care for the patient, and Fighting Cancer encourages millions to take action and restore hope.”

If you, your patients, or any of those you love are dealing with cancer, this is an excellent opportunity for discovery, and to enjoy Dr. Peper’s always spellbinding presentation. If you haven’t yet encountered cancer in your life or community, this is an excellent way to prepare to deal wisely with its challenges. In addition, we explore some of the latest discoveries in biofeedback and tools for self-healing.

In a world where our health care system is actually a “sick-care” system that requires us to be ill in order to function Dr. Peper focuses on the inner potential we all have to respond to disease and illness.

To listen to this conversion, click on this link conversation between  Erik Peper, PhD and Emmett Miller, MD

Should I take meds for depression or anxiety? Read Whitaker’s book first!

The recent book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, by Robert Whitaker is a must read for anyone who is planning or taking medications to treat mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, or panic attacks. His in-depth evidence based book, which reads like a novel, suggests that psychiatric drug benefits are mainly a myth and contribute significantly to creating life-long dysfunction and worsening of the  symptoms. He cites study after study demonstrating this for depression, children with ADHD, biopolar disorder, panic attacks, anxiety and even schizophrenia. For example he cites a  Canadian study of  1,281 people who went on on short-term disability for depression. Only  19 percent of those who took an antidepressant ended up on long-term disability, versus 9 percent of those who didn’t take the medication.

More importantly, when people are treated for panic attacks with benzodiazepine such as Xanax,  the placebo groups does much better in the long term than the drug treatment group after medication is tapered off. Whitaker illustrates this concept  by showing the following research data that was part of the FDA approval for the medication.

This Upjohn’s study of Xanax, patients were treated with the drug or placebo for eight weeks. Then this treatment was slowly withdrawn (weeks 9 through 12), and during the last two weeks patients didn’t receive any treatment. The Xanax patients fared better during the first four weeks, which is the result that the Upjohn investigators focused on in their journal articles. However, once the Xanax patients began withdrawing from the the drug, they suffered many more panic attacks than the placebo patients, and at the end of the study were much more symptomatic. Source: Ballenger, C “Alprazolam in panic disorder and agoraphobia.” Archives of General Psychiatry 45 (1988): 413–22. Pecknold, C “Alprazolam in panic disorder and agoraphobia.” Archives of General Psychiatry 45 (1988): 429–36.

From: Whitaker, Robert (2010-03-31). Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America (p. 297).

This book and the scientific evidence suggests that non-pharmacological treatment approaches should be the first strategy for treatment–it may save your life.

Is there a link between stress and cancer?

Many factors contribute to the onset and progression of cancer such as exposure to carcinogenic agents, behavioral risk factors, compromised immune functioning or stress.  The stress most strongly associated with increased breast cancer occurrence is the stress caused by major life events such death of a husband, divorce/separation, personal illness or injury, death of a close relative or friend, and loss of a job.   Stress also increases the risk of re-occurrence and poorer outcome.

If stress can increase cancer risk then learning stress management techniques may reduce the risk and improve clinical outcome. In a superb eleven year long follow-up study, Professor Barbara Anderson of Ohio University showed that patients with breast cancer who had participated in a 14 week stress management program had significantly higher survival rates and lower re-occurrence rates as compared to the control group.

The findings that stress increases cancer risk  and stress management improves survival suggests that stress management should be part of cancer treatment and prevention.  For useful stress management techniques that patients can immediately do for themselves, see Part III-Self-care in the book,  Fighting Cancer.

Muscle biofeedback makes the invisible visible

“I feel much more relaxed and realize now how unaware I was of the unnecessary tension I’ve been holding”  is a common response after muscle biofeedback training. Many people experience  exhaustion, stiffness, tightness, neck, shoulder and back pain while working long hours at the computer or while exercising.  As we get older, we assume that discomforts are the result of aging. You just have to accept it and live with it–grin and bear it–or you need to be more careful while doing your job or performing your hobby.  The discomfort in many cases is the result of misuse of your body.  Observes what happens when you perform the following experiential practice Threading the needle.

Perform this task so that an observer would think it was real and would not know that you are only simulating threading a needle.

Imagine that you are threading a needle — really imagine it by picturing it in your mind and acting it out. Hold the needle between your left thumb and index finger. Hold the thread between the thumb and index finger of your right hand. Bring the tip of the thread to your mouth and put it between your lips to moisten it and make it into a sharp point. Then attempt to thread the needle, which has a very small eye. The thread is almost as thick as the eye of the needle.

As you are concentrating on threading this imaginary needle, observed what happened? While acting out the imagery, did you raise or tighten your shoulders, stiffen your trunk, clench your teeth, hold your breath or stare at the thread and needle without blinking?

Most people are surprised that they have tightened their shoulders and braced their trunk while threading the needle.  Awareness only occurred after their attention was directed to the covert muscle bracing patterns.

In many cases muscles are tense even though the person senses and feels that they are relaxed.  This lack of awareness can be resolved with muscle biofeedback–it makes invisible visible.  Muscle biofeedback (electromyographic feedback) is used to monitor the muscle activity, teach the person awareness of the previously unperceived muscle tension and  learn relax and control it. For more information of the use of muscle biofeedback to   improve health and performance at work or in the gym, see the published chapter, I thought I was relaxed: The use of SEMG biofeedback for training awareness and control, by Richard Harvey and Erik Peper. It was published in W. A. Edmonds, & G. Tenenbaum (Eds.). (2012), Case studies in applied psychophysiology: Neurofeedback and biofeedback treatments for advances in human performance. West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 144-159.

Pain in the neck—there is hope!

Neck pain affects more than 70% of Americans in their life time.  What treatment offers the best outcome: Drugs, spinal manipulation or neck and shoulder exercises? In a superb randomized control study in published Annals of Internal Medicine with 272 patients with acute and subacute neck pain, a few instructional sessions in home exercise with advise or twelve sessions of spinal adjustment was significantly more effective in the short or long term.

From a psychophysiological perspective, becoming aware of the covert neck and shoulder tension, identifying “who or what is the pain in the neck” (the neck and shoulders often reflect emotions), resolving emotional conflicts, practicing many movement and relaxation breaks during the days, and learning to relax the neck and shoulders with or without biofeedback can usually reduce neck and shoulder pains.

Even more impressive is the work by David Hubbard, MD and Richard Gevirtz, PhD. They have demonstrated that whiplash injury can healed very quickly by watching a 12 minute video in the emergency room and practicing simple neck and shoulder exercises, diaphragmatic breathing,  and possible use of biofeedback. It reduces symptoms and medical utilization by more than 80% as compared to the patients who did not see the video.