Dr. Sanderson’s Miracle Insomnia CURE!

Learn about the groundbreaking new method that has helped ONE PERSON overcome sleep-onset insomnia!

by Alan B. Sanderson, MD

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One of our kids fell asleep with a plastic fish toy in his mouth.

Sleep is a fascinating topic for geeks like me. It turns out that scientists don’t have a satisfactory answer to the first question about sleep: why do we need to do it? It is very clear that we do need to sleep, as all sorts of bad things happen when sleep is disrupted, but its ultimate physiologic purpose remains a mystery.

During my residency I developed an effective way to shut off my mind and go to sleep when I was on overnight call assignments in the hospital. Those were sometimes incredibly stressful nights, and opportunities to sleep were precious and fleeting. There was no time to waste with insomnia. You never knew when that pager was going to go off, so you had to get your sleep while the getting was good.

Please note that this method has not been studied in clinical trials, and that I cannot guarantee its success in your particular situation (and that this post does not constitute medical advice, etc.). But it worked well in the crucible of my residency call nights, and I still apply it with good results today. Consider this post as a personal testimonial. Continue reading

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Confidence in Our Special Knowledge

Just as a physician develops special skills and knowledge through years of apprenticeship, all of us can become disciples of the Savior and be recipients of special light and knowledge.

by Rand Colbert, MD

A few days before graduation, my medical school arranged for a first year internal medicine resident to come and speak to our graduating class about the transition between medical school and residency. Of all of the bits of advice he offered us, one thing he said stood out above all others. He told us to “never let your patients discover that you are the fraud that you know you are.” Of course, this was supposed to be funny, but behind the humor there was a tongue-in-cheek reality that became very real over the next year for me and for every student in my graduating class.

One minute I was a student with a short white coat and the next minute, I wore a longer white coat with “Rand Colbert MD” embroidered above the pocket. It felt strange to actually be a doctor, and I felt like an imposter wearing the longer coat. I spent my one year general internship at the largest private hospital in Wisconsin, with over 700 beds at the time. I can remember my first night on call. There were only two of us interns in the hospital that night, covering all of the patients on our service. Our supervising physician was a brand new second year resident from Pakistan, who had completed her internship two years earlier, spoke English with a thick accent, and was more scared than we were. We didn’t see her all night (she hid in her call room).

I remember the first “code blue” that was called over the loud speakers that night. My pager went off simultaneously since I was designated to cover all emergency situations whenever a patient went into cardiopulmonary arrest. As I ran toward the room where the patient was dying, I wished I could go and hide with my senior resident. The advice given to us just prior to graduation by that wise internal medicine resident rang in my ears louder than the alarm sounding in the halls of the hospital.

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Help My Unbelief

Have you ever held a sick baby through the night? It makes you think about a lot of things.

by Alan B. Sanderson, MD

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One Saturday night I woke up around midnight to the sound of my baby crying. It was not his normal cry, and I could tell that something was wrong. When I got up I found my wife pacing around the house with him, and he was warm to the touch. She went back to bed while I took my turn holding him, and within a few minutes he was back to sleep. But it was a fitful sleep, and I knew that if I laid him down in his crib he would start crying again soon. It would be unfair of me to go back to bed and fall asleep, because my wife would probably wake up again and hold the baby all night. (I have this talent for sleeping through babies crying…) So I sat down in the recliner with the baby on my lap, pondering questions of faith and mortality for the next several hours. I did get a bit of sleep, but not much, and what I got was heavily interrupted. Every few minutes I was awakened again, trying to comfort a baby who would not stay comforted.

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The Crescent Moon

Remembering Christie Perkins

by Alan Sanderson, MD

On a cold morning a few months ago I walked from my car at the end of the parking lot to my office. I passed by the cancer clinic and the outpatient infusion clinic, and I thought about my neighbor Christie. I thought about the burden of her disease, and I imagined all of the times she has sat in that waiting room, and in those clinic rooms. I wondered how many times she had cried there in those rooms.

Then I looked up in the sky above the clinic and saw the moon, still shining in the early morning light before sunrise. It was a waning crescent, just days from the end of its cycle. I thought about Christie, approaching the end of her life on earth, and my heart was heavy.

Then I thought about the light of the moon, which is really just reflected light from the sun. Christie Perkins, in her own remarkable way, reflected the light of God in her life and words, guiding and inspiring thousands of other people.

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Medical Marijuana

I remain cautiously optimistic that cannabidiol will someday become another weapon in our arsenal of anti-seizure drugs, but we are not there yet.

by Alan Sanderson, MD

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Cannabis sativa (Image from Wikimedia Commons, public domain)

As a follow-on from my previous post about alternative medicine, I want to discuss the current state of medical marijuana. This is one of the hottest and most contentious topics in alternative medicine at present, and efforts to bring it under the umbrella of mainstream medicine are active and quite promising. Marijuana plants contain two chemical compounds of particular interest, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is thought to be the cause of most of the harmful effects of marijuana use, including its addiction potential, and is probably responsible for the low educational achievement of adolescent marijuana users. Most of the current medical research is focused on the potential therapeutic effects of CBD, which seems to have little of the baggage that comes along with THC.

The term “medical marijuana” means different things to different people. For medical professionals it means medicines derived from marijuana compounds, properly vetted through pharmaceutical research trials. I think it is fair to say that most doctors are in favor of this, in the same way that we are also in favor of properly vetted medicines derived from literally anything else (cone snail venom, leeches, Clostridium botulinum, human blood, etc.). “Properly vetted” is the key phrase, and I spent some time elaborating on this in my previous post.

Before we get too deep into things, let me share an anecdote. About a year ago an older gentleman, who is a member of the LDS Church, sat in my clinic complaining of a hand tremor (which was caused by an albuterol inhaler). His son had given him a bottle of CBD oil, which he had been using to quiet down the tremor. While we talked the man pulled the bottle of oil out of his pocket and sprayed it under his tongue, then we watched as his tremor markedly reduced over the next minute. After this very interesting demonstration, the man turned to me and asked, “So, is this against the Word of Wisdom?”

I was surprised at such a direct theological question in my medical clinic, and I didn’t feel comfortable giving a definitive yes or no answer in that setting, so I told him to ask his bishop. People shouldn’t come to my clinic for religious advice. He wasn’t satisfied with that answer, so I offered him the following discussion, which I often share with patients who ask about medical marijuana. Continue reading

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Alternative Medicine

Whether we turn to a medical doctor, a chiropractor, or directly to the Lord himself, our hope is that we will get better and feel well.

by Alan B. Sanderson, MD

I once had a patient in my clinic with intractable migraine headaches, who had tried all of the herbal remedies for migraine that I had ever heard of (including one that is not recommended due to liver toxicity) plus several more that I wasn’t familiar with. She was a practitioner of “naturopathic medicine” and was very distrustful and reluctant to try any prescription medications. After I spent half an hour or so describing all of the treatments I could offer her, she flatly refused all of them and left my clinic no better than she had been when she walked in.

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Capsicum annuum, commonly known as cayenne pepper, often used as an herbal remedy. (Image from Wikimedia Commons, public domain)

You might expect the topic of alternative medicine to be rather bland. After all, is it really in dispute that good nutrition is good for you, and that some natural products have medicinal properties? But this topic seems to be perpetually roiled in controversy, and I risk offending half of my readers (and half of my family) with this post. From the beginning of this discussion it should be obvious that I have skin in this game, as I am a practicing medical doctor, but I will attempt to take a fair approach as I explain why some doctors are reluctant to endorse or accept alternative therapies. There is much to praise and criticize in both mainstream and alternative medicine. I will also discuss the scriptural arguments which have been put forward by Latter-day Saints who are proponents of alternative medicine. My usual disclaimer applies here, which is that I am writing my own opinions which are not necessarily the official views of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or of my employer. Continue reading

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To be Learned is Good If…

Achievement and learning are a means to an end, not the end in itself.

by Rand Colbert, MD

As a child I developed a deep love of reading. As would seem natural for any boy with an inclination for the outdoors, I devoured the usual platter of fiction that targeted my demographic. Where the Red Fern Grows, My Side of the Mountain, Island of the Blue Dolphins and Farmer Boy were among my favorites. When my tastes matured during adolescence, I began to enjoy science fiction and fantasy, especially Tolkien, who I must admit, was something of an idol to me. Prior to serving a mission in the Baltic republics a couple years after the fall of the Soviet Union, I stumbled upon The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan. This began an obsession with World War II history that, ironically, was only interrupted because of my two year church service in a part of the world that was, itself, ravaged several times over by that great conflict.

Upon returning home from my mission, I found life to be much different than the carefree days of youth, where I could shamelessly idle away every weekend and late night curled up in bed with my latest discovery from the shelves of our local library. In high school I had been a good enough natural student to get by with decent grades despite hardly cracking a textbook, so there was little pressure on me to delve much farther in my reading than the imaginations of C.S. Lewis and Orson Scott Card. Once I began university studies, however, the reality of having to support myself financially and keep my academic head above water put an end to me having my nose in anything but biology, chemistry or physics manuals. I realized that I wanted more from my career than what my parents had experienced, and that meant I had to out-maneuver the hordes of other pre-meds that crowded the auditoriums of the University of Arizona. Continue reading

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