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From the Townsend Letter
July 2008

Letter from the Publisher
Jonathan Collin, MD

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It didn't really hit me until the rabbi attached the black ribbon on my shirt and then briskly tore it from the bottom into fragmented halves. This ritual takes place privately before the Jewish funeral service for the intimately bereaved. My brother and I had known that this day would be coming, as my father had been gradually deteriorating over the past many months. He had made little rallies along the way – and like most medical victories that take place when one is aged, there are not always logical reasons as to why such things happen. Still, it had seemed very odd a few months back when after he had lost the strength in his lower extremities to walk down the hall to the bathroom, he regained overnight the power to walk anew without the chair. He had been quite agitated the previous night, so I gave him something to settle his nerves. Whether it had been what I had given him or just being able to see me for the first time in three months, he rallied. That was a happy memory to take away.

My father was a court reporter, and two of his brothers shared the same occupation. Their father had graduated from law school, but it was a tough business setting oneself up as an attorney in New York City before the Depression. So Grandpa became a business teacher in the city and proficient at shorthand instruction, passing this skill onto his children. Court stenography is challenging work, demanding attention to every word in the court and an ability to get those words recorded and eventually typed with 100% accuracy. My dad's work started at the UN in its early days, when its inchoate mission seemed uncertain. The Balkan Commission to explore Communism in Eastern Europe was largely unsuccessful with one exception – my father met a Bulgarian interpreter for whom he developed an immediately liking, and a wedding followed within two weeks. Mom and Dad shared nearly 50 years of marriage before she passed away prematurely from cancer.

My dad's work at the courthouse gave me a little sense of the legal system without studying law. Family get-togethers with his brothers meant not only a nice dinner, but also a sharing of court trial vignettes, which often meant very interesting stories – something not gleaned by watching TV law dramas. It was a little odd, then, when my uncle described a case he had been transcribing in federal court in New York that very indirectly involved the Townsend Letter. In the late 1980s, a controversy developed over a scientific counter-movement to the HIV theory of AIDS. The protagonists have argued that despite research relating the human immunodeficiency virus to the development of AIDS, the theory remains unproven primarily because virus is not cultured by standard methodologies. Those arguing that AIDS has other causations, including immune system destruction brought about by drug-related toxicity, have attempted to champion their work in a variety of writings, including some that have appeared in these pages. One of the authors of such theories was a Berkeley professor named Peter Duesberg. Apparently, Duesberg's research assistant helped Duesberg write a text about this counter-theory, and later, the research assistant attempted to publish such work under his own name alone. This led to a suit between Duesberg and the research assistant over who had the rights to the work. Regrettably, the judge determined the outcome without my uncle's involvement, so I cannot share the outcome.

Dad was a camera-bug, and when I was growing up, he had his own darkroom and spent many hours tweaking out black-and-white photos. He took up 16-mm camera photography, and now my memories of childhood are a blur between what I remember and what I remember watching through his movie recording. He enjoyed playing Gershwin and classical pieces on the piano – a hobby he only gave up when his eyesight deteriorated some years ago. Readers of the Townsend Letter know my father's work best from the cartoons he drew under his nickname, "Rums." He originally did the work for the national stenographer magazine. In what was perhaps his signature work, the claimant sitting in the witness chair offers evidence that he was injured severely in the motor vehicle accident: the elongated accordion-like tube required to attach the head to the claimant's body.

My father will be remembered as a friend to everyone, and his children, grandchildren, and family will miss him dearly. Goodbye, Dad!

Kerry Bone is a master herbalist who has been writing for us for more than ten years. His review of herbal experiments and literature has brought increasing respect to the field of herbal science and its application in naturopathic medicine. Unlike those who attempt to belittle herbal medicine by designing simple experiments treating an herb as just another drug, Bone has called for experiments that test herbs more broadly, considering patient outcomes. Bone challenged the two-sentence conclusions that reviewers made about herbs and often found data within the experiments that supported and justified herbal use. His reports in the Townsend Letter were clinically based. In a column written August/September 1999, he developed a treatment strategy for treating systemic lupus – a remarkable program designing herbal combinations for supporting different aspects of lupus.

Now, Bone has announced his retirement from writing for the T
ownsend Letter. We wish him the very best. Interested readers should consult the Townsend Letter Author Index to view Bone's extensive work for us. Additionally, please look for one of Bone's six books, including a revision of his text, Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy.

This issue of the Townsend Letter takes up travel and outdoor medicine. A number of years back, we wanted to review a book by Kathleen Meyer called How to Shit in the Woods. That was the inspiration for this theme: Travel Health and Wilderness Medicine. In this issue, naturopathic physician Steve Morris offers a look at the diversity of botanical plants and medicine from the Amazon. Over the years, he has had the pleasure of leading a group of students, professional and non-professional, on a very reasonably priced trek in the central Amazon, extending between Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru. Morris believes that the experience of working with indigenous healers and seeing them use plants in their own setting for healing is a remarkable education for both doctors and lay persons. Morris has brought the use of indigenous botanicals back to his practice in Edmonds, Washington and has also taught about their application locally. This June, Steve Morris is once again leading a group into the tropics and invites interested readers to consider participation in the years ahead.

Jonathan Collin, MD



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