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Open Letter from Dr. Larry Baskind

     Antibiotics have saved millions of people's lives, yet there is an alarming increase in drug resistant strains of bacteria because of the irresponsible overuse of antibiotics in situations where they are not necessary. One of the situations where antibiotic use may be unnecessary is for sore throats and noninfective ear aches in children.
    Here is an excerpt from a letter from Dr. Larry Baskind, MD written in 2001 regarding herbal alternatives:
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    I prescribe Chest Relief to a hundred or more children and used the product for every member of my family. There have been no averse effects reported to me. Iêm certain that there would have been because my patients parents are quick to call when, for example, they experience rashes or gastrointestinal upset while taking antibiotics. 
    On the contrary, I have found that Chest Relief, as well as other Chinese Modular Solutions products have been extraordinarily safe and effective. Here is my logic as a practitioner who cares deeply about his patients, deeply enough to spend many, many hours and late nights and vacations researching "alternative" medicines to offer what I consider the best and safest remedies to my patients and their families. I have great respect for conventional medicine and practice typical western pediatric medicine. I support immunization and ten to use antibiotics for acute, febrile ear infections.
    Last year the Working Group Advisory Committee to the CDC issued a statement about using restraint and discrimination in prescribing antibiotics for ear infections. The CDC the year before recommended a policy of "watchful waiting" suggesting that pediatricians not use antibiotics for uncomplicated ear effusions and non-strep pharyngitis. While this is prudent on scientific grounds, where does this leave the practitioner?
    "Well Mrs. Jones, I'm glad to inform you that Johnny doesn't have an ear infection, strep throat or any infection treatable by antibiotics today. Unfortunately, since studies have failed to demonstrate any benefit in using decongestants, antihistamines, or any other preparations for symptomatic relief, I can only recommend that you watch for the development of a more serious infection that I can then treat with an antibiotics." I know this sounds facetious, but it is not really. This is the clinical scenario of a policy of "watchful waiting". I would like to add that I think this if fine, and certainly safer than prescribing antibiotics promiscuously with the attendant complications.
    But I have to say that I would like to do more for my patients. I would prefer that they don't develop the bacterial complications of routine viral illnesses and I would like them to feel better as quickly as possible. To this end, I have researched herbs and other remedies, and sought out reputable manufacturers like Kan. I believe and have found that certain 'alternative' medicines offer a safe and effective therapeutic approach to what are considered mild and benign childhood diseases. We have used Chest Relief in a variety of clinical situations. As is the current standard of care, we provide them with nebulizers and peak flow devices and instruct them on using Albuterol, and when to begin steroids, but we would prefer not to have to start this sequence. We have found that giving Chest Relief early in the course of an upper respiratory infection may attenuate or prevent a serious asthmatic exacerbation.
    I have one last example about another formula, Windbreaker. A few weeks ago my associate consulted with one fo the ENT specialists at our hospital. He seemed to be a bit surly, and when asked about this, he blurted out: "why don't you send any of your (myringotomy) tube cases to us?" My associate was taken aback, but then searched his memory for recent cases of persistent otitis media that required myringotomy tube placement. He couldn't recall any, and I can only think of one child I've seen this winter who had tubes put in. This is somewhat unusual for a practice as large as ours (over 12,000 patients). I believe  that a good part of this is our adherence to the principle of restraint with antibiotics and our implementation of alternative medicine protocols like Windbreaker and garlic oil for chronic otitis and persistent middle ear effusions (as well as our policy of careful follow up and hearing testing in these cases).
Chest Relief and Windbreaker have proven to be effective and safe medicines in clinical use. I would like to add that they are some fo the few herbal medicines that children will actually take without a major protest. This includes my highly discriminating sons." Larry Baskind, MD, FAAP  


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