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The butchering of Barbara (crossed out) George Bush?

Recent news accounts report that our president's wife is suffering from Graves' disease, an ailment caused by an overactive thyroid that overloads the body with thyroid hormones. The symptoms include persistent fatigue, sudden weight loss (or gain), excessive sweating, palpitations, and a host of many discomforting reactions to food and activity. Sometimes untreated Graves' disease proves to be fatal.

Among treatment options are surgery, antithyroid drugs, iodine radiation, and less heroic measures that include rest, use of particular herbs, a nontoxic diet, relaxation therapy, and other measures that might restore the integrity of the thyroid gland.

Mrs. Bush's physicians evidently opted for radiation designed to erode thyroid functioning. By practically destroying the gland the body's need for the hormone would be limited to medication supplying a substitute.

One of the severe side effects of radiating tissues of the body is to make the patient radioactive. Mrs. Bush was advised not to embrace her grandchildren for a few weeks lest she contaminate them!

How prudent is it to destroly a gland that performs vital functions? The thyroid interacts with parathyroid glands in the metabolization of calcium and phosphorus. A derangement in the calcium-phosphorus balance could contribute to osteoporosis.

Other problems with radiation are mentioned in the medical literature. Two eminent sources, Frank Netter's Endocrine System (Ciba), and Wiley Medical's The Thyroid and Its Diseases, note that tissues exposed to radiation could become cancerous.

Apart from Mrs. Bush's personal discomfort, how can news of medically prescribed gland destruction contribute to general practice? Will the "quick fix" provided by thyroid radiation become popular because a famous lady's doctors thought it would be her best option?

Too many physicians dismiss the importance of a gland when artificial supplementation, such as medication, is available. Less than thirty years ago some practitioners considered the thymus gland unimportant because it diminished in size throughout adulthood. Consequently, incubator infants who had difficulty breathing were sometimes subjected to having their thymus destroyed. We now know that the thymus gland is an important part of the immune system.

Hippocrates, revered as the father of noninvasive medicine, admonished his proteges to "cause no harm." Has Barbara Bush been treated with the kindest and gentlest of procedures?
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:from 50 Nutrition Health Review; optional therapy for Graves' disease
Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Article Type:editorial
Date:Jun 22, 1991
Previous Article:Help for the Hyperactive Child.
Next Article:Illness as degradation.

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