All in the Head?

While craniosacral therapists ["All in the Head," June 29] believe there is often an emotional component to physical symptoms, calling craniosacral therapy a "mental therapy" is not accurate -- the work is actually structural, having its roots in osteopathic medicine.

Using a gentle pressure, the therapist provides just enough kinetic energy to allow the body to overcome restrictions in connective tissue. Connective tissue is a one-piece, three-dimensional web that runs throughout the body, connecting, containing and supporting the structures within. Restrictions to the free movement of connective tissue can influence every organ and system in the body. Thus, freeing these restrictions can result in the successful treatment of a wide range of dysfunctions.

The article raises questions about the legitimacy of craniosacral therapy, citing the comments of self-proclaimed experts, Scott Lilienfeld, an associate professor of psychology, and Stephen Barrett, a retired psychiatrist. What is their expertise in an osteopathic-based therapy?

Irwin D. Hoenig

Washington

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) has been documented as one of the most effective treatments for post-traumatic stress by numerous well-designed empirical studies. Describing it in the same paragraph as the rebirthing/attachment therapy that caused the smothering death of a 10-year-old girl betrays a glaring lack of knowledge and familiarity with today's mental health landscape.

It is not the author's fault that thought field therapy was so poorly described and presented, however. This powerful treatment utilizes the body's energy system, which is also the basis of Chinese medicine and acupuncture.

Victoria Balenger

Bethesda

Echinacea: Nothing to Sneeze At

I notice you've cited yet another research study [Quick Study, June 29] showing the inefficacy of echinacea in treating colds. As a longtime echinacea user, I have to agree with these studies: I personally have found little or no value in the use of echinacea to treat colds.

So why do I keep on using echinacea? Because it's been amazingly effective in reducing my hay fever. Can I be the only one who has discovered how great echinacea can be for pollen allergies? Joyce Abell

Woodville, Va.

Proving the Value of Organic Foods

I thoroughly enjoyed the Lean Plate Club column on organic food [June 29]. You brought to light some perspectives on the issue I hadn't seen before. Also noteworthy is the balanced tone you brought to the column.

The topic of organic food has rarely seen such an even-handed treatment. Most columns I read about organic food are heavily biased one way or the other. Often the debate is entered with a critically flawed assumption. It is often stated that there are few studies showing that organic food is healthier than "conventional" farming. The burden of proof should not lie with organic farmers to prove that their foods are healthier. On the contrary, those who would chemically alter or treat foods or soil should demonstrate that their method is as healthy as letting nature take its course.

Jonathan Ross

Bowie

Interest in Infertility Is Growing

Thank you for "Hard to Conceive" [June 29]. As someone who has suffered from infertility, I was extremely pleased to see you chose to include this topic and provide such in-depth coverage. As president of the Washington metropolitan chapter of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, we have experienced a huge increase in inquires about alternative medicine practitioners and treatments just in the past two to three years, as well as interest in our alternative medicine programs.

I would like to point out one error in the article, however. Alice Domar is no longer with the Harvard Mind/Body Medical Institute. She is the director of the Mind/Body Center for Women's Health at Boston IVF.

We welcome visitors to our Web site at www.resolvedc.org, to learn more about RESOLVE.

Barbara Collura

Oak Hill, Va.

Back to Chiropractic

Thank you for your in-depth coverage of the NCCAM survey on complementary and alternative health care and the research behind CAM therapies [June 29]. For years, the American Chiropractic Association has advocated restraint against the use of excessive drugs and unnecessary surgeries, because safer, more conservative and more effective options exist -- and it appears the American public is taking note.

However, the Annals of Alternative Medicine meta-analysis on chiropractic research that you mentioned is certainly not the most recent or most definitive study on spinal manipulation. While researchers suggested that spinal manipulation was "no more effective" than other alternatives, an objective reader could correctly infer that spinal manipulation was shown to be no less effective than traditional treatment.

More recently, a study published in the July 15, 2003, edition of the journal Spine found that manual manipulation provides better short-term relief of chronic spinal pain than do a variety of medications. And a March 2004 study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that chiropractic care is more effective than medical care at treating chronic low-back pain in patients' first year of symptoms.

Donald J. Krippendorf, DC

President

American Chiropractic Association

Arlington

Correction

In the June 29 Calendar page feature about an asthma camp for kids, Advair Diskus was incorrectly described as a nasal spray. It is inhaled. Singulair was also misidentified as an antihistamine. It is a pill that blocks substances called leukotrienes.

Clarification

The June 29 article on "Shelf Help" indicated the anti-nausea ginger gum by Sea-Band could be ordered online at www.sea-band.com. At the moment, the gum cannot be purchased through the site's "U.S. Shopping" category, but it is available through the "U.K. Shopping" category.