You wouldn’t think that a 64-year-old decorated Marine Corps helicopter combat and rescue crew chief would have much in common with the millions of women who suffer from fibromyalgia.
And you also wouldn’t think that this war hero would become immersed in the world of Eastern medicine — teaching himself the art and science of traditional natural treatments like acupuncture, herbal medicine, and homeopathy — to the point where he could create and patent a topical pain reliever that has helped many fibromyalgia patients overcome their debilitating pain.
And you might not think that such a natural product would be manufactured locally, in Rhinebeck.
Well, all those things are true. And therein lies a tale.
The ex-Marine is Lou Paradise. He is the president and chief of research at Topical BioMedics, a company he founded in 1994. Thirty years prior, he was ending his second tour of duty in Vietnam. He was also suffering from a severe case of bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, which he developed from injuries sustained during the war.
“Before entering the Marines, I had done a lot of self study in physiology,” Paradise says. “I wanted to become a doctor. But I knew I wouldn’t like eight years of schooling.” When his military tour ended, he traveled to Hong Kong, where he met doctors trained in Eastern medicine and learned about homeopathy.
“I am not a believer in pharmaceutical medications, which only mask symptoms but don’t heal the problem, and I knew surgery wasn’t the answer for my pain,” he says. “I was impressed by homeopathy’s powerful healing potential, so I studied healing as the ultimate form of relieving pain.”
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Photograph courtesy of Topical BioMedics, Inc.
His own arm and hand pain was debilitating. “At its worst, I was lucky to get two or three hours of sleep,” he says. He began to experiment on himself, taking oral herbal medicines, which had little effect. Then he tried single-ingredient homeopathic medicines, again with little relief. He thought that maybe a combination of homeopathic medicines delivered in a cream base and applied to the specific site of the pain might be the answer. “This had never been done before,” he claims.
So he experimented with different combinations from the 3,000 choices of proven homeopathic medicines. During this time, he was working as a licensed financial planner and independent consultant, which gave him the flexible hours needed to perfect his formula. One mixture presented measurable improvement right away, and in just a few weeks he was able to get four hours of sleep, then five, then six. And that was no small thing.
“Sleep is crucial to the healing process, since the body does its primary repair while we are resting,” he says. He has been pain-free since 1981.
When others learned about his discovery, he gave medication to them, and they did well, too. In 1992, he put his ideas into motion and two years later started his company. He called the ointment Topricin. In 2009, he adjusted the formula and created two new products: Topricin Foot Therapy Cream, specifically formulated to treat and help heal foot and ankle issues; and Topricin Junior, created to address the safety issues and concerns of parents and doctors in pediatric pain relief.
He also saw how his product was helping patients with fibromyalgia. More than five million people — about 90 percent of them women — suffer from this syndrome, which is characterized by chronic, widespread pain in muscles, ligaments and tendons; multiple “tender points”; fatigue; and sleep disturbances.
The causes of fibromyalgia are unknown, but there are probably a number of factors involved. Many people associate the development of this condition with a physically or emotionally stressful or traumatic event, such as an automobile accident. Some connect it to repetitive injuries. Others link it to an illness. For others, fibromyalgia seems to occur spontaneously.
Whatever its cause, Paradise and others in the alternative-medicine field believe that Western medicine treats it all wrong. “The doctor primarily trained in pharmaceuticals for symptom control is going to prescribe medication for the patient,” he says. The most commonly prescribed medications include the antidepressant Cymbalta, the cholesterol drug Lipitor (for its immune-suppressing function), and the anticonvulsant Lyrica. “All of these have serious and potentially life-threatening side effects,” he says. And they don’t help the body heal itself, although many may feel temporary relief from these products. (As always, all patients should consult with their own physicians regarding any concerns they have about medications or other health issues.)
In fact, these and other medications, particularly antibiotics, throw off the bacterial balance in the digestive tract, which alternative practitioners believe is a root cause of many chronic health conditions. “This out-of-balance condition puts the body into a toxic state,” Paradise says, “so reducing or eliminating pain meds and antibiotics is key.”
That’s where his ointment comes in. As a topical cream, it eliminates the need for pain medicines. “We’re not just treating the pain, we’re looking at the causes of the pain and offering pain relief based on healing, not just deadening symptoms,” he says.
His proprietary concoction contains, among other elements, homeopathic arnica and Echinacea. It also contains four types of venom derivatives — which are not poisons, but highly concentrated digestive juices that help to excite the enzymes that promote healing. These ingredients are suspended in purified water and natural oil emulsions that protect and moisturize the skin, rather than in petroleum and paraben bases, which are linked to other health concerns.
“Our product helps detoxify the blood and get the body back in biochemical balance,” Paradise says. “We engineer things to work with the body, not against it.”
The company employs about 14 people between the Rhinebeck location and associates based in California. Other founders of the firm (besides Paradise) include his wife, Aurora — currently the COO — and Stephen Duricko, the VP of sales.
Paradise is proud of his autodidactic approach. “If I had been classically trained, I would never have made this discovery,” he says. “Prescription and over-the-counter oral medications are not the way to treat pain. We are bringing ancient health and healing practices to modern medicine so people can really get better and stay well.”
Topricin is available in local, independent pharmacies and natural food stores, as well as direct from Topical BioMedics. For additional information or to find a store near you, visit www.topricin.com.