Alternative Health Care Showcase

Times Staff Writer

Alternative forms of health care were showcased this past weekend at the National Health Federation's annual conference at the Pasadena Convention Center. The gathering featured exhibits and seminars dealing with topics ranging from the unconventional (The Original Home Colonic Board) to the bizarre (Brain Formula herb pills).

The sponsors and participants in the three-day event characterize themselves as being in favor of "health freedom" and as having a more broad-minded approach to living than the traditional medical community. However, various health professionals and academics have described some of those in attendance in Pasadena as practicioners of "quackery."

Some of the 300 exhibits offered controversial preventives or treatments for cancer that involved herbal supplements, Laetrile and colonic irrigations. The speakers featured during the three-day event discussed such topics as "Healing Power of Words," "How to Eliminate All Dental Bills," "How to Live to Be 100 Plus," "The Power of Color for Better Health" and "Biblical Proof That We Should Not Use Drugs."

The National Health Federation philosophy was summarized in one presentation by its Washington-based lobbyist, Clinton R. Miller. The organization favors little or no government supervision of the medical industry and eliminating any requirements or licensing procedures for the health care industry.

"Anyone should be able to practice whatever they want short of surgery (without licensing)," Miller said at a "How to Prevent Dietitians From Outlawing Nutritionists" seminar. "The issue is health freedom," he added.

Miller went on to point out that if the Monrovia-based organization could fulfill its legislative agenda, then people could charge consumers for alleged arthritis cures, such as one he recently came across.

"You take five pounds of potatoes and five pounds of onions and grind them up like you would for potato pancakes. Then (place the mixture in a bag) and put your arthritic hand in. One woman did this for three days and her pain went away. This same woman had been using other treatments for 25 years with no effect," Miller said.

Some critics of the National Health Federation were not swayed by any of the information presented over the weekend.

"This organization is well known as a front for unproven methods of treatment and other nonsense," said William Jarvis Ph.D., health education professor at Loma Linda University's School of Applied Health. "They claim to be fighting for health freedom. Well, their idea of freedom is to sell nonsense to desperate and unwary consumers."

Making Pet Food--Consumer groups opposed to scientists using animals for chemical research may well be horrified to learn that a South American team is working to transform guinea pigs from their current status as household pets into meat-producing animals.

The objective of the work being conducted at National Agrarian University outside of Lima, Peru, is to help develop alternative sources of animal protein in hopes of alleviating the world's continuing shortage of this essential nutrient, reports International Wildlife magazine.

The researchers have no intention of marketing guinea roasts to affluent nations and instead are targeting their meat item toward the underdeveloped countries. The idea for the project came from Indians living in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador, who incorporate the animals into their diets.

The key to raising guinea pigs as food is increasing their average weight of 1 1/2 pounds. The Peruvians have been able to fatten this tailless member of the rat family to an apparently edible four pounds.

Future guinea pig farmers would have several advantages over other ranchers because the animals require little space and breed quickly.

" . . . a farmer starting with one male and 10 females could see his herd grow in one year to 3,000 animals. Guinea pigs can produce meat more efficiently than cattle, sheep, pigs or goats," the magazine reports.

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