Thursday, March 20, 2014

Why Almost Half Of Americans Are Justified In Believing Medical "Conspiracies"

A recent study from JAMA Internal Medicine says that medical "conspiracies" are believed by half of Americans. The article starts out blaming television and celebrities for the general rise in conspiracy belief, calling them "uncorroborated". The study was conducted as an online survey by the University of Chicago that collected data from 1,351 adults for 2 months in 2013 (not a very big pool of the American population).

First, I'd like to say that their definition of a conspiracy theory is actually not a conspiracy at all. If you were to look over the history of FDA, AMA, or other alphabet agencies you would find numerous examples of conflicted interest and fraud. There is a history of the medical-pharmaceutical complex trying to suppress and even destroy inexpensive, safer natural therapies. I'll discuss these in more detail later on. The survey questions (which MNT does not allow article reproduction without permission) are a total of five. The first question goes along the line of "does the government block access to natural medicine?" The second question I'm not going to even bother answering as I admittedly am unknowledgeable on the topic and think it really is a conspiracy theory. The third question pertains to the autism-vaccine connection, which I also won't get into very heavily as this controversy has been addressed on many other sites. The fourth question pertains to the cell phone causes cancer topic. The last question has to do with the issue of water fluoridation.

So I'll address the first question and the last two (with a brief emphasis on number three). Before we go one, what was the response to the survey questions? Apparently, at least 49% of the people in the study agreed with one or more of the questions. People who believed in these "medical conspiracy theories" were more likely to take herbal supplements and avoid conventional medicine. Personally, I say the study doesn't acknowledge the still vast uncertainty in medicine and how it relates to human health and tries to blast people for believing that their not being told the complete truth by medical authorities. But people are not unjustified in their mistrust of medical authorities or the conventional medical establishment at all. Below I'll address the four questions.
  • "Does the government block access to natural medicine?" Actually yes or at least keeps it hidden from the public by favoring pharmaceutical medicine over natural medicine. The FDA for example requires billion dollar trials for a drug treatment to be considered "proven" and allowed for patent. Now vitamin supplements or natural therapies obviously don't make billions of dollars so they can't make up the cost of a billion-dollar trial. The FDA and conventional medicine has also persecuted alternative doctors repeatedly going back to the 20th century. Really the drug paradigm is what the FDA-medical establishment adheres to with its reductionary thinking (one-pill-for-one problem) instead of embracing a more open-minded approach to health. The use of supplements and natural therapies embraces a wider paradigm that addresses many symptoms not just one. The conventional medical establishment was actually built on racketeering and profit that all started with Rockefeller who gave large sums of money to the conventional medical schools of the time. This money is what led to conventional drug doctors monopolizing the whole American healthcare system while the safer therapies of the time, herbal medicine and homeopathic schools, didn't get large funding. The American Medical Association (AMA) was in the early 20th century led by a notorious medical authority, Morris Fishbein, who required payment for the AMA's approval for a product and he was the same authority who tried to destroy the Hoxsey therapy. Now we should never forget that the major medical journals used to advertise cigarettes without quarrel.

          The whole supposed "science-based medicine" is actually a code word for drug-only approach to health. The FDA regulates drugs and the medical monopoly only gives out drugs without ever paying attention to the vast fraud in the pharmaceutical industry that regularly skews studies in favor of the wanted positive result. They also declare that their drug medicine is the only way to "treat disease" and try to push out alternatives by either outlawing those alternatives or ruining the career of an alternative doctor. Not to mention the vast connections of the medical industrial complex to organizations and corporations that should never be trusted with reliable health information, think the quackbusters and chemical companies that produce known carcinogens. Really its no different than the witch hunts of the middle ages where those who cured people using herbs were declared witches while blood-letting barbers who never cured anyone were allowed to continue to practice "medicine".
  • Autism-vaccine connection. I'm not going to elaborate very much here as this topic is already addressed on many other alternative health sites. There are numerous theories on the cause of autism. However, one of the theories of autism is the epigenetic triggers such as environment and nutrition with one of the other triggers being vaccines (whether its the additives or the actual virus in the vaccine). Especially when you know that kids are far more susceptible to toxins than adults. Autism could very well be a multi-factorial condition thats environmentally-triggered.
  • "Cell phone causes cancer". Admittedly, I have never looked into this topic very deeply, however, there has been much controversy and conflicting reports on the theory of cell phones causing cancer. The mechanism behind the cell phone-cancer link is the electromagnetic radiation that goes into your head everytime you use a cell phone. Supposedly, electromagnetic radiation is a carcinogen due to its ability to disrupt cellular processes. Many in the alternative health community recommend either avoiding or minimizing electromagnetic exposure due to the studies showing higher rates of cancer with cell phone use.
  • Water fluoridation. The issue of fluoride in water comes from the very fact that inorganic fluoride is an industrial waste product and a member of the halide chemical family that competes with mineral absorption. Why the heck is it in the water supply then? Gary Null has an excellent article on the notorious history of fluoride as an industrial waste product that was originally dumped into public water supplies to save industry money on proper disposal. Not a conspiracy at all.
The takeaway is that the history of medicine and its vast political-economical connections are really the driving force for what people accept as normal and appropriate. A conspiracy theory is only a conspiracy if your too busy reading the conventional media to actually understand whats going on behind the scenes all these years. The fundamentalist pseudoskeptics would have you believe alternative medicine is useless yet so much of conventional medicine is full of corruption and fraud.

But then we hear the common argument that conventional medicine is the reason people live longer and make us healthier? Yeah, right. 200,000 Americans a year die from medical errors alone and probably more. What the medical mafia fails to realize is that many illness is actually caused by conventional medicine and the junkfood industries. Pharmaceuticals don't actually cure your illness they only cover up symptoms without addressing the real cause. How many illnesses are actually caused by years of junkfood addiction? Too many. While alternative medicine certainly isn't always perfect, its much closer to the truth than conventional as they actually get to the cause of the problem.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Symbiotic Bacteria and Viruses: Necessary For Good Health?

The contrary idea that germs like bacteria and even viruses can play a beneficial role in human health might slowly be gaining ground in the medical mainstream though its implications have already been applied in the natural health community. The consumption of healthy fermented vegetables and probiotic supplementation is the best example of this application. Other ways to maintain the healthy balance of microbes in the body is avoiding unnecessary antibiotic use either in medical or food area.

A recent article explains very well the connection between the gut microbiome and cancer susceptibility. The two biggest markers for cancer, inflammation and metabolism, are also associated with the gut microbiome and have the potential to influence overall health, too. Often the cancer susceptibility can be triggered by gut dysbiosis that allows harmful microbes to overgrow in the gut and with a few specific bacteria species that are linked to a cancer type (H. pylori in about 3% of gastric cancer cases for example).

Perhaps another important find from the research into gut microbiome and cancer association is that distant organs like the liver and pancreas are affected by gut microbes also. The most interesting question arises to how exactly the gut bacteria affects the susceptibility and development of cancer. When you consider that the human body contains trillions of more bacteria than it does human genes you realize how anything negatively impacting our microbe inhabitants also affects our health overall. The immune system, inflammation, and the importance of a healthy intestinal barrier that acts as a barrier between host and microbe interaction plays a role in cancer development. Similarly, these are the factors thought important in the area of alternative cancer therapies that seek to improve the immune system and its overall health.

Within the alternative health community there has long been the theory that colds and flus are the body's way of detoxing. When you get a cold or flu your body starts expelling toxic waste and a fever runs in an attempt to get rid of more toxic build-up waste. Perhaps the best way to manage these illness is to help the detoxing process along with vitamin C, herbs (licorice, lemongrass, burdock, etc.), and soaking baths that use epsom salt.

It does fascinate me to view an infectious disease as a method of bodily detox rather than some germ suddenly invading the body. The first is more of a symbiotic view of nature that may explain how humans evolved with germs for a reason. Even may explain the role of the immune system in overall health. In the 19th century a scientist by the name of Antoine Bechamp proposed that the inner terrain is actually more important than the germ. Looking back through history we find a few cures for infectious illness that have been buried or denied under the barrage of modern-day drug dogma. Many of these do not cause resistance like antibiotics do (less likely anyways) and are far less toxic.
  • Vitamin C. High doses of vitamin C can produce oxygen in the body making the inner terrain uninhabitable for germs of many kinds. Humans lack the ability to synthesize vitamin C.
  • Herbs. Licorice, lemongrass, yarrow, thyme all have antibacterial and antiviral properties and their essential oils.
  • Vitamin A. It was historically known as the "anti-infective vitamin".
  • Bacteriophage. A popular treatment used in Russia since WWll it utilizes beneficial viruses to attack a bacterial infection.
  • Colloidal silver. It does have a long history of use against bacterial and viral illness dating back to the middle ages.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

New Food Label Doesn't Actually Address Quality or Health

The new proposed food label by the FDA doesn't actually address food quality or the affect of the food on health. Not very surprising when you consider that foods needing a label are typically the processed, packaged type that contain little nutrition to start with. And why exactly did they take required listing of vitamin A and C off the label? Those are some of the most important micronutrients for health, but then again many labeled foods are extremely low or even void of vital vitamin A and C. Apparently potassium is considered more important than other minerals like magnesium and selenium. Americans are far more likely to lack in magnesium, which is essential to cellular function and nervous system, then to lack in potassium. Unfortunately, due to the lowfat dogma most people are avoiding foods high in vitamin A (animal foods).

The major issue with the new proposed food guidelines is they don't actually change anything. It tells you nothing about the quality of the food or how your body handles it. The calories section has a bigger font size in the proposed new guideline. However, calories aren't that important compared to food quality and the availability of important vitamins. The source of calories should be the central focus of attention not the quantity. Encouraging people to consume whole foods with plentiful nutrients would naturally lead to less calorie intake and would get rid of the need for a label at all.

Why are calories not that important? It depends on what your body does with the calorie that determines whether its good for you or not. The processed sugar found in packaged foods such as high-fructose corn syrup is very difficult for the body to actually handle. It goes straight to the liver instead of going through a second process by the metabolism like glucose does. Though humans have been consuming fructose in the form of fruit for thousands of years the immense changes in fruit growing over the last centuries has created fruit much higher in fructose than commonly wild fruit. Literally, we've bred fruit for its sweet taste while ignoring the beneficial compounds found in fruit like polyphenols. Though its still true that a store-bought apple contains important vitamin C and polyphenols.

One of the prominent authorities that advocates against sugar and the "calorie is a calorie" dogma is Robert Lustig, M.D. who makes it clear that sugar toxicity has nothing to do with calories. The consumption of fructose is harmful due to its ability to upset the metabolism by turning off appetite control and is actually the precursor to metabolic disorder.

I wasn't really expecting the FDA to make radical changes to food labeling and policy. Though some optimists say its a start towards a healthier change. The changes in the American food system need to start with playing less emphasis on the low-fat, low-calorie dogma and more on the quality of the food. Foods higher in nutrients and natural sugars like honey should be valued over the highly-processed, high-sugar pseudofoods today.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dealing With The Flu

The flu season is still going on so I thought this would be a timely post. I actually recovered from a brief bout of the flu myself a few days back and contrary to the harrowing reports of a "deadly" flu I got over it in two days. The first day I slept for long hours while by the second day I was running a fever. Despite the media and medical establishment pushing the dogma that "drugs/vaccines are only solution to the flu" there are other ways to lessen the severity and duration of the flu.

First, as with any illness stay away from sugar and refined carbohydrates (I had to cheat some as the house didn't have anything but crackers). But both foods can suppress immune functioning. It would be best to only consume bone stock.
  1. Take 2000mg of vitamin C at the first sign of an illness. Take it up to three times a day or more. Vitamin C is wonderful immune support that is necessary for the body to use in injury and inflammation. Check out the history of research on the use of vitamin C in infectious disease.
  2. Herbal teas such as ginger, licorice, and green tea can be important to preventing and overcoming the flu and other illness much quicker.
  3. I also took even more of a herbal formula that includes Reishi/Shiitake mushrooms, astragalus, olive leaf, and oil of oregano. 
  4. During any infectious illness you can drink lots of bone broth, which helps to nourish the body.
  5. I avoid flu vaccines. According, to Dr. Rowen the flu vaccine only worked 9% in the elderly for the year 2013. Another report says that flu vaccines have not resulted in a decrease of mortality from the flu. At that rate theres far superior strategies for dealing with the flu.
  6. On another note, an interesting article reveals why influenza is more prevalent during the cold months than other times. The adaption of the immune system to colder temperatures, lack of vitamin D-producing sunshine in Winter, and dry conditions associated with the cold season.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Vitamin A: A Health Necessity

Vitamin A was a widely celebrated and used nutrient both in traditional cultures and in the early 20th century.  Though traditional cultures didn't exactly know that vitamin A was present in the nutrient-dense foods that were such an integral part of their culture, however, such foods high in vitamin A like butter, eggs, and cod liver oil were revered. Research in the early 20th century saw the confirmation of vitamin A's healing properties and importance in the diet.

The modern research into vitamin A, called the anti-infective vitamin back then, began in the 1920s with Edward Mellanby who ran clinical trials to discover it's ability to reduce mortality from infectious disease. Indeed, the trials of the time showed that mortality from respiratory illnesses and childhood diseases could be lowered with intake of vitamin A. In the 1980s there was a resurgent interest in vitamin A, and today the WHO endorses vitamin A supplementation as a way to prevent night blindness and severe infection in children living in developing countries.

So why is it so important for you to consume enough vitamin A (scientific name is retinol) and what does it do in the body? According to the Linus Pauling Institute, some of the functions of vitamin A are:

  • Retinol, a provitamin A compound that is synthesized from food sources, is important to maintaining vision and the health of the retina
  • Retinoic acid plays a role in gene expression that ultimately affects the biological processes. Its affects on functioning may also have a role in cellular differentiation.
  • Vitamin A is required for a well-functioning immune system. It plays a role in the development of white blood cells.
While the importance of this vitamin can't be underestimated, its also a fat-soluble nutrient thats best obtained from animal food sources. The early clinical trials by Mellanby on this vitamin used cod liver oil, but many supplements today use the plant-based beta-carotene that needs to be converted by the body into a usable form. But the amount of vitamin A converted from beta-carotene is minimal for too many people. The retinol form of vitamin A is its original form while some of the derivatives are retinal and retinoic acid. The vitamin D along with magnesium and zince works in synergy with vitamin A to regulate gene expression. In order to most affectively absorb these fat-soluble nutrients we need to consume the fat from animal foods.