By Lauren Dzura
Post-traumatic stress disorder and the infamous W.T.C. cough are among the many health problems believed to be associated with 9/11. Since February 2003, Serving Those Who Serve, a non-profit organization, has offered free herbal supplements for workers and volunteers who were involved in the rescue and clean up of the Sept. 11 attacks, as opposed to traditional Western medication. The program is now expanding to offer the over the counter pills to residents for $30 a month.
There were over 2,300 various toxins in the air following the collapse of the towers including such metals as mercury and chromium when the towers fell, according to Marshall Saul Stackman, chief operating officer of the program.
The herbal supplements are based on the ancient Indian holistic healing system, Ayurveda. There are four different supplement pills given out to patients. Herbal detox is used to cleanse the body of toxic mucus. Pulmo is an herb taken to improve the respiratory system and mento is a third herbal formula that is meant to relieve nervousness, fear and depression. The fourth tablet, immuno, is to improve the bodys immune system.
The herbal tablets do not work as quickly or as strongly as Western medicine, as they work to rid the body of toxins through digestion and elimination, said Jose Mestre, executive director of S.T.W.S.
The pills support the bodys own system to purify itself, said Nehemiah Bar-Yehuda, vice president of the group.
Participants of the program include firefighters from the N.Y.F.D., Red Cross volunteers, members of the Department of Design and Construction and sanitation departments. To date, the program has served between 150-200 people, with most staying on the program for three to six months, Mestre said.
People who decide to undergo this treatment must sign a release form with their understanding that this is not a medication and recommends participants to seek professional medical help as well.
A spokesperson from New York Downtown hospital declined to comment because there were no medical professionals with expertise on Ayurveda.
Once a month the organization meets at TRS Professional Suites at 44 E. 32nd St. on the 11th floor to pass out the herbs. Although there is no formal counseling service, there is an informational meeting for new members to find out about the treatment process. There is also a Hatha yoga class at the same location specifically designed for S.T.W.S. participants, as well as acupuncture treatments performed by licensed members of Community Relief and Rebuilding through Education and Wellness, who have worked with the volunteers of 9/11 for over four years. These programs are free of charge for S.T.W.S. participants.
To find out about the monthly meetings, yoga and acupuncture classes, contact S.T.W.S. by visiting www.stws.org or calling (212) 631-1144.