Taking a healthy view of holistic medicineAbout...


Taking a healthy view of holistic medicine

About ten years ago, Judith Campbell noticed that her vision was blurring. She started feeling numbness in her legs and "extreme lethargy."

Three years later, she was correctly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system. Some people with the disease become dependent on wheelchairs and have difficulty speaking.

"When the doctors told me, I asked, 'What do I do now?' " she recalls. "The doctor said there was nothing I could do."

Mrs. Campbell, a 43-year-old wife and mother of three, rejected that notion and began doing research. Before being diagnosed with MS, the Cockeysville resident had no interest in holistic medicine, she says, "But at this point, I had nothing to lose."

She found a doctor who specialized in nutrition. With his guidance, she discovered she was having an allergic reaction to sulfites, a common food additive. "I stayed away from sulfites and all my neurological problems ended," she says. "I have been very, very well."

Now, she's opened the Health Awareness Resource Center, a nonprofit information and support service in Cockeysville. The center is a free clearinghouse for people wanting information on alternative medicine.

It's not that Mrs. Campbell now disdains traditional Western medicine. It definitely has its place, she says. Nor is she claiming to have been cured or to have found a cure for MS.

"I am saying that by using holistic medicine, I have found out that I am sensitive to sulfites. And when I lay off eating sulfites, I am all right," she says. "But each person needs to follow [his or her] own path."

The Health Awareness Resource Center can be reached at (410) 560-6864.

@ Marisa Domino had no problem finding ways to occupy her time. As a doctoral student in health economics at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, she puts in 10-hour days on campus, returning home with just enough energy to walk her dog.

But the 26-year-old from Arizona wanted to be a volunteer, too. So she looked through the phone book until she found a nonprofit group serving the homeless.

Health Care for the Homeless proved to be the lucky agency in this impromptu lottery for a share of Ms. Domino's time. The clinic on Park Avenue in Baltimore was so strapped for funds when she first walked in that she filled in as a medical receptionist -- answering phones and filing records.

Three months ago, the clinic hired a secretary, freeing Ms. Domino to do some basic social work. She makes telephone calls for clients and sometimes finds them shelter. She also helped the staff set up a new computer system.

"Health Care for the Homeless challenges the notion of what you think [of] as health care," she says. "For a diabetic homeless person, the issue isn't just treatment. It may mean giving them syringes, or finding a place where they can wash their arms before giving themselves injections."

She is surprised to see how people move in and out of homelessness in Baltimore, as they find and lose jobs. Friends ask of her work: "Aren't most of them drug addicts? Aren't most of them mentally ill?" Ms. Domino says: "I really believe in access to health care, regardless of one's circumstances."

Laura Lippman

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