Is neural therapy an alternative/complementary medicine? Or does it belong in "Schulmedizin" (the German term for conventional medicine)?
These questions were raised at a recent IFMANT (International Federation of Medical Associations of Neural Therapy) board meeting in Bogota. The reason for the discussion was that IFMANT had been invited to be part of a European Union alternative medicine group. Board members were divided on the subject because membership implied acceptance of neural therapy's position as an "alternative" form of medicine.
The question of where neural therapy belongs is not an idle one. The consequences of its position are educational, political and economic, depending on where it is practised. For example, in many jurisdictions where it is considered "alternative medicine" medical insurance does not cover it, and the patient is required to pay directly. However in Switzerland neural therapy has recently been classed as conventional and is now covered by medical insurance. In Colombia, neural therapy is still considered to be "alternative" but is accepted in the conventional medical system along with homeopathy, osteopathy and Chinese medicine. Training in all four categories leads to specialty designation. In Brazil acupuncture is a recognized medical specialty.
The downside to neural therapy (or any other non‐mainstream discipline) being accepted as conventional is that it then comes under regulatory control. Regulators can decide who practice, their qualifications and most importantly, fees. In an unfriendly medical environment (as exists in Canada) fees can be set very low and it is illegal to charge more than the government rate, even if paid privately. So Canadian physicians are happy to provide medical services that are not regulated, so that they can charge a reasonable fee.
In a perfect world, I suppose most neural therapists would prefer to see neural therapy within the conventional medical curriculum. Not only would it become more widely available, but the "alternative medicine barrier" that separates us from our colleagues, would fall. Hopefully a more rational examination of neural therapy would open their eyes to safer and more effective ways of treating their patients. Ultimately it is our patients who would benefit.
Letter to the editor:
Thanks for the update on the Bogota conference. I am hoping to make it to Ottawa next spring. Question: Is anybody talking about IV procaine for treatment of brain injury? I have been using this approach on a very limited basis with interesting results. I mentioned this at the Cranial Academy Conference a couple of years ago and got only blank stares in reply.
Perry M. Perretz, D.O.
There were lectures on intravenous procaine at both Heidelberg and Bogota this year, but I don't remember anything specific about its effect on brain injury. Would you like to say something about your experience for the benefit of our readers?
Of course, I'm happy to share my experience. My practice is focused primarily on the treatment of musculoskeletal pain, but I am residency‐trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation, so I have a basic introduction to the treatment of brain injury. I also serve on the board of a newly-created foundation for the promotion of more creative brain injury treatment called BART (Brain Alternative Research Therapies).
I had treated scars with neural therapy for years, as you all have, with great results, and used IV procaine sparingly, for headaches, fibromyalgia, and RSD. I had even investigated the IM procaine protocols of Dr. Aslan, finding the IM shots to be mild cognitive stimulants. One day, working with a man who'd suffered a pretty devastating head injury (and a near-death experience) it dawned upon me that I had neglected to consider using procaine, which penetrates the blood‐brain barrier quite well, as a treatment for SCARRING IN THE BRAIN. I rigged a simple 3mL IV push for him with 1% procaine that completely eliminated his headache and his brain fog in under two minutes! The effects of this infusion may last anywhere from a few hours to as long as a week or two. Seizure activity has been less frequent and less intense with regular infusions.
Such a small dose of procaine has had no ill‐effects that I have been able to witness, though there are a very small number of folks that have an allergic aversion to procaine. Lyme patients and other brain fog sufferers appreciate the instantaneous lifting of the veil, too. I assume that the procaine has a membrane-stabilizing effect on the dysfunctional nervous activity in the brain, just as it does elsewhere.
I'd be happy to hear from anyone else using similar approaches.
Perry M. Perretz, D.O.
Comments from readers would be appreciated.
Robert F. Kidd, MD, CM