Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

24 Cheshvan 5760 - November 3, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
Your Medical Questions Answered!
by Joseph B. Leibman, MD

Diplomate, Board Certification of Emergency Medicine

Chairman, Department of Emergency Medicine Ma'ayenei Hayeshua Hospital

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 koach!

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 section rates.

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.


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