It’s been quite some months since I’ve written anything here. But recently I received two comments on past entries and admittedly it moved me to write again, this coinciding with a successful and fascinating medical history a patient recently shared with me. So I will share it here.
I recently saw a new patient to the practice, an Asian male, who had the that’s-going-around respiratory ailment over the past few weeks. In taking his medical history he informed me that he had had asthma as a child. So bad were his attacks that he would collapse on the floor, feeling as if he were taking his last breath, taking an hour to recover. His mother took him to several doctors none of whom could give him any relief even with the proven conventional therapies, including inhalers, oral medications, mistifiers, etc. His problem continued and even intensified. He was eight years old living in the United States at the time.
His parents, in spite of having been Americanized, decided as a last resort, for lack of knowing what else to do, to contact a Chinese medical doctor in China near their place of origin. Having been apprised of the child’s serious asthmatic condition, the Chinese doctor mailed a charred gecko to the child’s parents with instructions on how to use it (no, that’s no typo; that’s 'gecko’, as in spidery lizard with fascinating sticky suction cups on it’s tiny little feet that allows it to defy gravity and crawl on ceilings, walls, and glass with the greatest of ease -- it also happens to be a wonderful mosquito-eater).
Upon receiving the good doctor’s charred lizard, they proceeded to follow his recommendations for its use. Every day they would take an amount equal to about the tip of a teaspoon of the charred lizard remains, mix it in Kool-Aid and have the stricken child drink it twice daily. After being attack-free for one month, the lizard remedy was discontinued.
The man who shared this story with me is now forty-two years old and states he has never had an asthma attack since imbibing the charred lizard remedy 34 years ago!
I can’t imagine eating a burned-up lizard for any reason, much more for health reasons, but then again there are probably others who couldn’t imagine anyone eating mullet gizzards, which I ate for the first time in my life this past summer.
Apparently the gecko’s healing properties are in great demand throughout Oceana and the Pacific Rim. They are also thought to heal AIDS, tuberculosis, and cancer, as well as serve as an aphrodisiac. In July of last year the Department of Health in the Philippines warned their citizens against using this ‘folklore’ medicine for treating asthma stating it has ‘no scientific basis’.
The Department of Health didn’t declare what, if any, the harmful effects are of taking this treatment, but expresses more concern about the possibility of an unsuspecting customer getting ripped off by fraudulent traders/dealers in the gecko market, as an 11-ounce gecko currently sells for $1,160 or more.
This price sounds astounding to a Westerner, but to me, the more astounding observation is the demand throughout Asia for this lowly lizard. It’s hard to believe that such a high demand and high price for a ‘health’ product would be foo-foo if it were not actually and consistently providing the results for which it was being used. This ‘folklore’ treatment has apparently been in use as long as the Chinese have been writing.
Contrary to the Philippines’ DoH claim on ‘no scientific basis’, a search on the Internet discovered a research paper in a July 2008 issue of the World Journal of Gastroenterology in which, to make a long story short, researchers dried and powdered geckos, and used a diluted solution to significantly halt the growth of cancer cells in rats by preventing the cancer cell from making protein, as well as inhibiting the growth of new blood vessels inside a tumor, both critical biological requirements for cancer cells to grow. This was also accomplished in the test tube. These anti-tumor effects of the gecko are most effective for digestive tract tumors.
I wouldn’t be surprised if, even as I pen these words, a pharmaceutical research department somewhere is attempting to isolate the asthma-treating or cancer-treating biological chemical of a gecko so that they can market it to those with the right insurance coverage, or perhaps to the very wealthy, so they can charge the sure-to-be-priced $1000 geckocillin tablet that will be the ultimate and permanent cure for asthma and or cancer or other conditions.
On second thought perhaps it is its use as an aphrodisiac that drives the demand and price of the gecko throughout Asia. But then again -- hey, if the demand and price (?free market) are sustained, then something must be working, yes? Combine this new gecko biochemical with Viagra -- call it GeckErect -- and
the truth be known there are more than a few men out there that would probably mortgage their houses to buy it.
It’s always interesting to hear stories about certain healing cures that are ‘without scientific basis’ only to have them actually proven scientifically sometime later. And hearing first hand accounts of such a remedy from patients makes it even that much more fascinating and interesting, as well as humbling. For dangerous is the healer who confines his or her treatment to a fixed and narrowed range of options, assuaging perhaps a deep insecurity that resides within, not to mention depriving his or her patient of a remedy that makes them whole again -- as the lowly gecko did with my new Asian friend.