Life Extension Magazine November 2004
Ellen Kamhi, PhD, RN
By Dave Tuttle
|LE Magazine November 2004|
| Ellen Kamhi, PhD, RN |
“The Natural Nurse®” Promotes Traditional Medicine
By Dave Tuttle
F or more than 30 years, Ellen Kamhi, PhD, RN, also known as “The Natural Nurse®,” has been a pioneer in the field of holistic medicine, with interests ranging from nutraceuticals to indigenous herbs of the Amazon. In the process, she has become a catalyst for those who are passionate about finding natural ways to maintain optimal health and achieve disease-free longevity.
Early Interest In Natural Healing
“When I returned to the surgeon and told him what I’d done, he dismissed it and said, ‘Oh, those are just old wives’ tales.’ I was very interested in why doctors didn’t know about these methods. That’s why I’ve dedicated my life to seeking information about natural healing and educating everyone about it.”
Kamhi has found many ways to do this. Along with business partner Eugene Zampieron, ND, she runs Natural Alternatives Health Education and Multimedia, Inc. They have authored six books and appear on five regularly scheduled radio programs as well as cable television. They lecture widely to health-related organizations and hold workshops on various aspects of holistic health. They also research indigenous plants that are useful for healing and lead international “eco-tours” to explore their application. While doing all that, she still finds time to see patients for nutritional and lifestyle counseling. And for fun, Kamhi throws in motorcycling and professional belly dancing.
At the heart of this unusually bright and energetic woman is an unwavering dedication to finding and disseminating information about natural healing. “That’s what led to my travels around the world and immersion in traditional medicine,” she says. “Traditional medicine refers to medicine that has been used for thousands of years by indigenous cultures. I refer to modern medicine, which focuses on drugs and surgery, as conventional or mainstream medicine, and one of my main goals is to get all the organizations to which I belong to use the word ‘traditional’ appropriately.”
How did a curious 12-year-old eventually become a widely respected holistic practitioner? After growing up on Long Island, Kamhi took a teaching job in Arizona and studied nursing. Her interest in holistic medicine was evident early on, as she was already an herbalist and practicing midwife before earning her nursing degree.
“The doctors would shake and shiver when they saw me,” Kamhi laughs. “I would always point out when they were giving various drugs in combinations that, according to peer-reviewed literature, could cause adverse effects—in other words, drug-drug interactions, which are very much ignored in mainstream medicine.”
Kamhi went so far as to leave notes on the doctors’ lunches, pointing out that their bologna sandwiches and cola drinks were filled with toxic chemicals and had unhealthy side effects. And that is how she earned her nickname. “The doctors would see me and say, “Uh oh, the natural nurse is coming,’ in a derogatory way.” But Kamhi had the last laugh, turning a once-derisive label into one that today is entirely positive.
Noting that erectile dysfunction is caused as much by circulatory difficulties as by psychological problems, Kamhi says that herbs such as ginkgo biloba, cayenne, and ginger can all be helpful in increasing circulation. She emphasizes that it is important, however, to know the effects of these herbs before using them.
One reason Kamhi is so impressed with Life Extension’s program for blood and hormone level testing is that patients and their health care professionals can ascertain each individual’s exact needs and requirements. She cautions that some substances, such as yohimbe, have potentially dangerous side effects and should be administered only under professional guidance.
“A comprehensive program of eating mostly organic foods, avoiding pesticides and foods laden with hydrogenated oils, stress reduction through meditation or yoga, and supplements is a highly effective protocol for erectile dysfunction,” notes Kamhi. Based on her study of the scientific literature on improving circulation, Kamhi estimates that about 85% of men with erectile dysfunction would benefit significantly from a strict holistic approach.
Does Kamhi think a holistic program is always effective and should be the treatment of first choice? Most of the time, though not always. She points out that drugs and surgery are often necessary life-saving interventions when holistic approaches have been exhausted. In a life-threatening emergency, drugs and surgery are usually the best immediate options.
Arthritis is another of Kamhi’s major interests. As coauthor, with Dr. Zampieron, of the book Arthritis: The Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide, she has helped spread the word about natural approaches that, if followed carefully, can cure some sufferers.
“I’m very excited about arthritis,” Kamhi explains, “because it is one degenerative illness where I’ve seen holistic intervention and self-care methods really work. In 35 years, I have not seen one patient follow these methods and not get some kind of result—anything from less severe pain to a complete cure.” The program is not an easy one, however, and the results it produces are directly proportional to the determination and commitment people apply to it.
Kamhi’s arthritis protocol uses organic food, ginseng, fasting, colonics, massage, and testing for food allergies. Patients usually take a large amount of supplements—some for treating a leaky gut, some for heavy metal detoxification, and some for fighting infectious microorganisms, which are often a part of the arthritic process.
“It’s a two-to five-year program,” Kamhi notes. Some of the important supplements in the initial phases include omega-3 oils, turmeric, ginger, vitamins E and C, glucosamine, antioxidants such as resveratrol, and various kinds of carotenoids.
Kamhi advises arthritis patients to work with both a natural health care practitioner and a rheumatologist who is aware of holistic approaches and is willing to accept them. “Basically, if the rheumatologists won’t work with you, you fire them,” says Kamhi. “We need to remember that health care practitioners are our employees, and that we can always hire another one.”
Another of Kamhi’s books, Cycles of Life: Herbs and Energy Techniques for the Stages of a Woman’s Life, reflects her lifelong interest in women’s health and addresses issues such as PMS, infertility, sexual problems, and menopause. Here again, she stresses optimal nutrition, supplements, exercise, and stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and prayer.
Personal Life Extension Regimen
Kamhi also sees eye to eye with Life Extension on vital health care issues. “Life Extension has not only consistently offered high-quality products, but also has been a front-runner in the political arena in keeping supplements widely available,” she says. Kamhi believes such advocacy is especially important today, because new laws may end up severely restricting the public’s access to supplements.
“I believe much more strongly in education than in regulation,” she explains, adding that a 1998 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that prescription drugs, even when taken as indicated, are the fourth leading cause of death in the US. “Regulation does not lead to safety,” she points out, “and the pharmaceutical industry is the perfect example.”
Kamhi’s own self-care program is straightforward, though not always easy to follow, especially with her extensive travel schedule. She eats almost 100% organic food (“I eat very little; I think most people overeat”), takes supplements, exercises one hour every day, and does “spiritual work” (prayer and meditation) every day, first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
“I focus on all the things for which I’m thankful: my children, my loved ones, and my business. When things happen that aren’t great, I try to see what I learned from the experience and how I can do things differently in the future. I don’t blame other people when things don’t go to my liking. And I think all this has worked.”
For more information on Ellen Kamhi, visit her website at http://www.naturalnurse.com.