Diplomate, Board Certification of Emergency Medicine
Chairman, Department of Emergency Medicine Ma'ayenei Hayeshua
Our readers write:
Rabbi P. asks how in medicine do we know what is "true?"
Since all humans differ from one another, it's hard to speak
in terms of a treatment that will help everyone. Doctors
start with a hypothesis, that is, an idea that seems to make
sense. They then test it rigorously by comparing it with
standard or no therapy to see if it's any better. Usually
these trials involve many patients and the researchers do not
know if they are giving the new medicine or a sugar pill
during these trials. Afterwards, complex statistical methods
are used to see if the treatment is indeed better, or it was
possible that it seemed better only by chance. Also, side
effects are evaluated at this time as well to see if the
treatment itself is dangerous. Only then is it made available
to the general public.
It should be pointed out that many "alternative" treatments
do not undergo these rigid trials, so danger to the public
could still exist even if the practitioner has never seen a
case go bad.
Mrs. G. asks for help for a smoking relative.
Smoking assistance is available through the American Cancer
Society, American Heart Association, and through the Kupot
Cholim system here in Israel. If your kupah does not
have such a program ask them to consider it or ask where the
nearest one is. Smoking is a terrible scourge that we have
discussed in this column before; I believe success in
stopping to smoke requires an individual approach including
behavioral therapy and medications such as the nicotine patch
or special chewing gum. Hatzlocho, Mrs. G. you are
saving a life.
Rabbi H. told me about his wonderful exercise program. Those
who attend my lectures know how much I am in favor of
exercise. Busy avreichim and mothers should consider
these forms of quick benefit exercise: calisthenics, jumping
rope, walking, swimming, and going up and down the stairs.
Exercise may not only lengthen your life, but also make it
more enjoyable. I know one rav who at age 90 still rides a
stationary bike in his house. May he have much
Mrs. P. asked me to mention the benefits of natural
childbirth. I will be glad to refer any of my readers to Mrs.
P. for more information on this subject, but I just want to
say the following about childbirth. The benefits of nursing,
and the negative aspects of episiotomy have been proven over
and over again in the medical literature. In Israel,
hospitals compete with each other for mothers to give birth
in their institutions by advertising various gifts and
special programs. Smart women should look beyond these frills
and choose hospitals that have nursing counselors that
encourage nursing, and have low episiotomy and Cesarean
Keep those letters coming. Additional note: If you would like
to have Dr. Leibman give a lecture in your community, please
contact him in care of the Yated.