Thursday, December 23, 2010

Depressed Fish

Depressed Fish

I recently came across this quote from an article titled: Advances in How to Think About and Treat Depression.
A new way to identify medicines that might make it into the clinic is to use fish to screen rapidly through chemicals that act like existing antidepressants. When placed in stressful situations, zebrafish displayed *depression-like behavior, which was reversed when the fish were given Prozac. This finding not only shows that stress can lead to *depression even in fish, it provides a new model to test anti-depressants.(*notice the bait-and-switch in language from depression-like behavior to the definitive, depression)
This study clearly also supports the practice of flushing medications down the toilet so they can enter the ground water, rivers and streams. Apparently, fish need Prozac too. Have you ever seen a depressed fish? They look all glossy-eyed and green around the gills.
Suicide among depressed fish is way up. Many are knowingly swimming into fisherman’s nets, or taking the bait to get caught. The larger depressed fish, and some fish-like mammals, are even purposefully beaching themselves in large numbers. This has to stop. Now that we know fish display ‘depression-like behavior,’ it would be unethical to deny them anti-depressant drugs.
This begs several hard questions
1. What are the fish depressed about? Global warming? The BP oil spill?…the same stuff as us?
2. What is harder: to diagnose depression in fish, or depression in children as young as 2?
3. If fish are taking anti-depressants, do they still need to see their shrink?
4. Is Prozac alone enough, or should depressed fish also be taking Abilify as an ‘add-on to treat their depression?’
5. If anti-depressant use among Americans has doubled, is there a corresponding increase in use among American fish?
6. If fish suffer from depression, do they also suffer from Erectile Dysfunction? Restless Fin Syndrome? Overactive Bladder?
7. Would Ritalin help young fish do better in their schools?
8. Do fish abuse drugs in the water, or just drink them ‘as-needed’?
9. Where does PETA stand on all of this?
They call this ‘Advances in how to think about and treat depression’! Yikes.
Insanity, garbage science, and kidding aside, if you want the low-down and truth on the treatment of depression and ‘mental illness’ in America, Anatomy of an Epidemic by Robert Whitaker is a must read.
“We cannot trust psychiatry, as a profession. For the past twenty-five years, the psychiatric establishment has told us a false story. It told us that schizophrenia, depression and bipolar illness are known to be brain diseases, even though it can’t direct us to any scientific studies that document this claim. It told us that psychiatric medications fix chemical imbalances in the brain, even though decades of research failed to find this to be true. It told us that Prozac and other second-generation psychotropics were much better and safer than the first generation drugs, even though the clinical studies had shown no such thing. Most important of all, the psychiatric establishment failed to tell us that the drugs worsen long-term outcomes.
Psychiatry told us stories that protected the image of its drugs, and that storytelling has led to harm done on a grand and terrible scale. Four million American adults under the age of sixty-five years old are on SSI or SSDI today because they are disabled by mental illness. One in every fifteen young adults (eighteen to twenty six years old) is functionally impaired by mental illness. Some 250 children and adolescents are added to the SSI rolls daily because of mental illness. The numbers are staggering, and still the epidemic-making machinery rolls on, with two-year olds in our country now being treated (drugged) for bi-polar illness.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Coming of Age

Coming of Age

My son, Max, got his driver's license today!

At the age of 12 he stood before the North Adams City Council, a hostile group of elders, and asked for the impeachment of George W. Bush.

On that day, he became a man. Today, he can drive.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Counterpoint to Medical Mythology

Personal responsibility key to health
Letter to the Editor
Sunday December 5, 2010
The Nov. 25 article "Family history key to health" is misleading. While the family history can contribute to understanding the clinical picture and, in some cases, may help guide diagnostic and treatment decisions and protocols, it far from 'the secret to great health and longevity.'
This article strongly contributes to the outdated and false notion that "you are your genes," a notion that undermines the far more important, and true secret to health, personal responsibility in lifestyle choices. It has been estimated that genes account for only 25-30 percent of your health destiny, while lifestyle choices and exposures account for 70-75 percent.
The article falsely implies that "numerous health scourges, including cancers of the colon, breast and uterus; early coronary and vascular diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, arthritis" and more are genetic diseases, when in fact they are not. They are chronic degenerative diseases associated with lifestyle choices. Their strongest link with family history has way more to do with growing up in the family home, adopting the same family lifestyle choices (eating and exercise habits and coping skills), and having the same environmental exposures.
Way too often inaccurate and false media stories such as this perpetuate medical mythologies that support widespread public misconceptions and fears about health. Misguided beliefs, such as genetic pre-determinism, undermine health by short-circuiting personal responsibility and the positive actions people can take to optimize their health.
The fact is that genetic diseases are rare. The fact is that you have the ability to maximize your genetic potential for health by the decisions you make on a daily basis about what you choose to eat, how much exercise and sunlight you choose to get, and how you choose to think, interact and cope with people and your world.
North Adams

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Understanding The Brain

Understanding the Brain

Over the past several years I have read many fascinating books about the human brain, including: The Brain That Changes Itself, The Accidental Mind, Evolve Your Brain, Mapping the Brain, The Other Brain, The Mind and the Brain, Phantoms in the Brain, The Synaptic Self, and more. But, there is no better, more comprehensive, and concise summary of the structure and function of the human brain than that given here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Looking at LENS

Looking @ LENS Neurofeedback
I’ve been a chiropractor since 1986. Using the powerful combination of chiropractic and good advice, I have seen, and will continue to see, many wonderful and amazing patient responses and results with a wide range of body aches and pains.
I’ve been a LENS practitioner for about a month. I have never seen anything like it, in terms of how quickly, dramatically, and profoundly results are realized, often starting after the first treatment.
I can’t say it better than the patients themselves.
51 year old female: problem list: ‘post-traumatic stress, anxiety, grief, fibromyalgia, insomnia, vertigo, trouble organizing thoughts.’
Day after treatment: ‘no insomnia, slept through the night.’
Next day: ‘accomplished many errands in the morning, managed to pack for the weekend and leave at 1pm in order to drive an hour to the train station (on time)! This is a huge improvement for me because I’m a procrastinator and always running late. I even stopped in at my mom’s house for a visit.’ That night in NYC: ‘slept soundly all night. Next night in NYC ‘more difficult falling asleep, windows were open and city noises were disturbing. I sat up in bed to read and write—lots of creative ideas to get on paper---then fell asleep for the rest of the night.’
37 year old female: problem list: long term history ‘post-traumatic stress, anxiety, anger outbursts, no energy.’

Day after treatment: ‘less anger-that anger or anxiety knot that was in my stomach all the time seems to have went away….breathe much easier.’
29 year old male: problem list: confusion, general anxiety, being worried a lot to the point of frustration (behavioral outbursts), putting problems off…lifetime anxiety medication.
Day of 1st treatment: ‘tired/relaxed, calm, more clear thinking.’
Next day: ‘slept well, very energetic all morning and day…accomplished a lot around house/yard, still felt calm and clearer thinking. Wife was sick, so I took care of all the house/kids…played more with them and still was calm, quiet. In a situation late afternoon my friend did something to my wife (grabbed her arm)…in a matter of seconds I got angry..I went from a 1 to a 10 in seconds and back to a 1 and got it under control myself very quickly.
2nd day: very similar results…calm, quiet, sleeping well, getting more alert.
After 2nd treatment: as soon as I left Dr. May’s office for about 3-5 hours I felt so much laughter and humor it was unreal…the most I have felt in years. More confidence in self decisions and overall feeling more confident. My worriedness and anxiety have been great. The treatment has given me more confidence and less thinking time about decisions in my life, making it overall easier and much better to handle stressful conditions in work and home life.’
Next day:’My boss at work noticed changes in me…calmer and more focused. My kids have noticed changes.’
After 3rd treatment: ‘a more balanced lifestyle/mood..also my daily meds have become more stabile…my medication usage is minimal since I have been treated. I feel that my mind and thoughts are normal and balanced.’
60 year old female: problem list: chronic pain, fatigue, forgetfulness, restless leg syndrome
After 1st treatment: ‘I had decrease overall pain. I felt more aware, brighter.’
After 2nd treatment: ‘Pain continues to decrease.’
After 3rd treatment: ‘Pain still improving. Increase energy level.’
42 year old male: problem list: ‘problem falling asleep and sleeping, memory, fatigue, concentrating’
After 1st treatment: ‘I fell asleep with no problem 6 out of 7 nights. If I woke up, I was able to fall back to sleep with no problems. This has not happened in a very long time. No leg shakes at night.’
50 year old male: problem: Lyme Disease: ‘chronic muscle/joint pain and tightness, especially neck, shoulders and entire left side of body and knees…inconsistent energy levels and sleep patterns.’
After 1st treatment: ‘first 48 hours less pain and tightness in shoulders/neck….also, my body felt lighter. Muscles have mostly returned to previous patterns. Perhaps over time and with additional sessions, these changes will hold. 80% less pain and inflammation in right knee. This change has held to date.’
16 year old male: problem list: ‘anxiety, nervousness, OCD about appearance.’
After 1st treatment: ‘I felt more alert, easier to put thoughts together and more apt to do work in school…less rages of anger, but instead, rages of happiness. For some reason I haven’t thought about my neck pain as much and haven’t had any typical things that would put me in a bad mood over almost nothing. I stayed more focused on school work than normal. I woke up feeling alert.’
While there have been a few people with little, to no, response to LENS, these dramatic, life-changing results in most patients is an incredible beginning!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Certified LENS Neurofeedback Practitioner

Dr. Peter D May, Certified LENS Neurofeedback Practitioner

MINDbody Health

Dr Peter D May has completed training and is now certified as a LENS Neurofeedback practitioner.
LENS Neurofeedback is a revolutionary treatment. Whereas other forms of traditional neuro and biofeedback require active patient learning, and use some form of sensory feedback to specifically train the brain, LENS Neurofeedback’s remarkable success is based on a passively applied subtle, imperceptible low energy signal that frees the brain to fix and optimize itself.
Neuroscientists believe that the brain’s defenses against stressors, trauma and functional problems can create neural blockages, like traffic jams going from five lanes to one. The Low Energy Neurofeedback System’s (LENS) signal is so subtle that it can work around these defenses. Addressing the brain in its own electromagnetic language, LENS seems to open the way, getting traffic flowing again, allowing the brain to restore itself, and optimize function. This, almost routinely, results in patient reports of increased energy, focus and clarity in thinking.
Because LENS addresses and helps correct brain dysfunction, it works very well for a wide variety of conditions. LENS is very effective in treating the affective/emotional component related to anxiety, depression, insomnia, (PTSD) post-traumatic stress, impulsive or explosive behavior, anger, fatigue, and lack of motivation, among other things. It also helps with cognitive problems associated with ADD/ADHD, stroke, (TBI) traumatic brain injury, some learning disabilities, and more. It is also helpful in decreasing pain in brain-generated pain syndromes including some types of fibromyalgia and migraine headache.
Many people see broad improvements very quickly, often within the first 2 to 4 sessions: especially related to better focus, increased energy level and improved mood. Anxiety and depression lift. Insomniacs sleep better. ADHD kids regain focus. Athletes perform. Artists create. And, because the brain wants to be balanced and functional, once shown the way, the improvement, in most patients, is enduring.
For more information, a free consultation, and to receive introductory rates, call Dr. May at: 413.664.9050, or email at, Dr. May has offices in Northampton and North Adams.

Note: portions of the above have been used and modified (with permission) from a LENS brochure written by David A. Dubin, MD

Friday, October 8, 2010

My Journey Into LENS Neurofeedback

My Journey Into LENS Neurofeedback

In December of ’09 I began investigating LENS (Low Energy Nerve Stimulation) Neurofeedback by going to LA to shadow my friend, Dr David Dubin. He has been working with neurofeedback for over four years, and LENS, specifically, for the past two. His enthusiasm and stories of dramatic and fast results in treating patient with significant problems piqued my curiosity. And so, my journey into LENS began.
I followed-up my first trip with a second. Between trips I read two books, The Healing Power of Neurofeedback and The Symphony in the Brain. I also downloaded and read everything I could find on LENS. The more I read the more intrigued I became. I recall saying aloud; ‘If half of this is true, it is incredible.” The results far surpasses any medical, psychiatric, psychological and alternative treatments for conditions that are difficult to treat at best, and often remain refractory to all care; all, without drugs and barely with any active participation on the part of the patient.
How could that be?
On both trips I interviewed Dr Dubin’s patients. It was hard to believe, but 100% reported positive improvement in a very short time with problems that had been longstanding and resistant to a whole spectrum of lifetime therapies. I also interviewed two psychotherapists who referred patients for LENS. One even caught herself saying; “I guess I could say that I lost a long-term patient to David, as he got better.”
So, here I am in LA to begin my training, with Len Ochs, PhD himself (the creator of the technology) to become a certified LENS Neurofeedback practitioner. I really could not be more excited about the possibilities I will have to help people improve their lives by reclaiming their health.
This seems like a natural next step for me as my interest and reading, for the past 2-3 years has been focused primarily on the brain. And, while I am in awe of the human body as a whole, the brain is, perhaps, the most wonderful and extraordinary achievement of evolution.
While it is astonishing and fascinating for instance, that the stomach specializes in digestion and the lungs in oxygen exchange, the mechanisms are easily understood in terms of anatomy and physiology. The brain, on the other hand, composed of over 100 billion neurons with trillions and trillions of connections is far from easily understood, It is essentially ‘a three pound gelatinous hunk of thinking, conscious, loving, dreaming meat,’ the source of our humanness.
The brain undergoes a miraculous embryological development in only 9 months to a level of structural and physiological complexity that boggles the mind. Combined with its role in basal survival mechanisms, its capacity for limitless conscious and sub-conscious interpretations of its interactions with the environment and other beings, and its vulnerability to injury, it is nothing less than amazing that we’re not all dysfunctional. Perhaps we are, but to varying degrees.
As such, we can all benefit from LENS.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Redefining Quackery II

First it was Extreme Makeover, and now we have BridalPlasty; the marriage of medicine and reality TV. As hard as this is to believe, I am not making this up.
E! orders plastic surgery bridal competition
EXCLUSIVE: 'Bridalplasty' contestants vie to be 'perfect bride'
By James Hibberd Sept 16, 2010, 01:19 AM ET
In one of the most shocking reality TV ideas yet, E! has ordered a new series that crosses a wedding competition with extreme plastic surgery.
The network is set to announce "Bridalplasty," where brides-to-be compete in wedding-themed challenges to win extensive surgical procedures.

Each week, a group of women competes head-to-head in such challenges as writing wedding vows and planning honeymoons. The winner receives the chance to choose a plastic surgery procedure from her "wish list." She's given the procedure immediately, and results are shown at the start of the following week's episode.

One by one, the women are voted out by their competitors and, according to the show's description, "possibly walking away with nothing and losing [their] chance to be the perfect bride."

The last bride standing will receive a "dream wedding," where she will reveal her new appearance to friends, family and the groom. "Viewers will witness his emotional and possibly shocked reaction as they stand at the altar and he lifts her veil to see her for the first time following her extreme plastic surgery," E! said.
Could medicine debase itself more? Unnecessary medical care for entertainment is beyond quackery. It’s repugnant! What does this say about medicine, and what does it say about our American culture?
I think the article comments say it best:
Laura comments: I think this is awful, but I'll still totally watch it. Like a car crash.
Disgusted comments: Please tell me this is an Onion article. Wow, what a horrible idea.
bildungsroman comments: I used to have a teeny, tiny bit of faith in humanity. It's gone now.
unbelievable comments: What a terrible show this will be!! A complete low. Ha
C comments: Where is the Pride?
aney comments: This show is an all time low. How embarrassing.
Jesus comments: I wept.
And my personal favorite:
steve comments: No wonder terrorists hate us
When I think about it for a moment, I guess I am not all that surprised. After all, drug commercials that pervade television are nothing more than a fusion of medicine and entertainment posing as infomercials: actors portraying doctors, scripted and quoting corporate sponsored studies which amount to nothing more than science-fiction.

What’s next, medical family theme parks? I can see it now:
The Abilify (bi-polar) roller-coaster

The Pepsid (upset stomach) bumper cars
The Toviaz (overactive bladder) water slide
The Viagra (erectile dysfunction) tunnel of love
The Prozac (anti-anxiety/panic attack) house of horrors
The Alli (weight reduction) hall of mirrors
And, the Lunesta (sleep disorders) family rest areas

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Toxic Chemicals, A New Evolutionary Pressure

Toxic Chemicals; A New Evolutionary Pressure

Never having read Darwin in depth, I can only offer my simple summary of evolution as ‘natural selection and adaptation/descent with modification’ over long periods of time.
I recently finished reading Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things.
My primary walk-away point:
Nothing is solid, especially human epithelium; the layer of cells that line the cavities and surface structures throughout our bodies. The epithelium, in its protective role, is more of filter than a barrier, and not a great one at that.
The cornucopia of chemicals, many of them toxic, that we are routinely exposed to; that we inhale, ingest (chemical foods, pesticides, etc, and drugs), touch (chemical fire retardants and stain protectors in furniture, household cleansers, laundry soaps, etc), and apply to our bodies (personal hygiene products) are absorbed by our bodies and enter our blood. We all, including newborns, have circulating levels of toxic chemicals in our blood; including mercury (from fish), BPA’s (from plastics and linings of canned products, etc.), phthalates (in shampoos, shaving gels, household products and children’s toys, etc.), and more. As the authors succinctly say, “We’re all marinating in chemicals every day.”
One part of the book I found fascinating had to do with the ubiquitous chemical, triclosan.
We live in a germ-phobic world and any fear can, and usually is, exploited for profit: create and build fear and sell the antidote. In this case, triclosan is the chemical industry’s Holy Grail anti-bacterial. As such, and as you would imagine, chemical companies are putting it everywhere, from hand soaps and toothpastes, to toothbrushes.

The simple point being that the daily use of normal household and personal hygiene products result in personal pollution that spikes the body’s blood levels of triclosan, and other chemicals.
When the author asked a scientist if he should be worried about the extremely high levels of triclosan in his urine the response was: “It shows that your body is working properly in removing triclosan. It is high for the moment. But, you should know that the human body usually adapts in the metabolism of triclosan.”
The authors go on to say: “The concept that our bodies need to adapt to synthetic chemicals is an interesting one. Given that triclosan is a human creation, the metabolic pathways necessary to break it down and excrete it are indeed things that our bodies need to learn how to do.”
The authors continue” The huge number of synthetic chemicals that surround us every day of our lives is creating a new kind of evolutionary pressure, a new kind of natural selection every bit as powerful as the process that resulted in human populations developing lighter or darker skin pigments in response to prevailing climatic conditions. Because of the increasing evidence that many human illnesses—including fatal ones like cancer—are linked to exposure to chemical pollution and because some people’s bodies are better able to adapt to and cope with these new environmental stressors than others , perhaps the human population is being culled by toxic chemicals.”
Whoa, and whoa again!! This is the essence of evolution, adaption and descent with modification; that some of us are ‘genetically predisposed to deal with the daily assault of toxic chemicals and some are not.’
The idea of genetic adaptation, modification and selection for toxic chemical hardiness or ‘immunity’ for survival is mind bending. That this survival mechanism of evolution has been ‘built-in’ since the first life forms, to adapt to an ever-changing environment, is the epitome of perfection.
“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one: and that whilst this planet has gone on cycling according to the fixed laws of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.” Charles Darwin, The Origin of the Species.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tainted Eggs and Scrambled Tubing

Tainted Eggs and Scrambled Tubes
Two recent news stories caught my eye. Both are fairly common stories of public health hazards, but the results and reaction to both are stunningly different. Where do the real dangers lie? You decide.
Recall expands to more than half a billion eggs
“Investigation of nationwide salmonella outbreak expands to 2nd Iowa farm
A half-billion eggs have been recalled in the nationwide investigation of a salmonella outbreak that Friday expanded to include a second Iowa farm. More than 1,000 people have already been sickened and the toll of illnesses is expected to increase.” (so far, no deaths)
How many times have we heard this story of a ‘nationwide salmonella outbreak; be it hamburger meat, tomatoes, spinach, and now eggs? In any event, the response to this public health hazard, where occasionally a few people die and many are made ill, is swift, decisive and far-reaching. The meat-packing plant and/or farm producer is shut down, and there are massive nationwide recalls of the suspected tainted animal or plant product.
Headline #2: NYTimes 08-20-2010, by Gardiner Harris
U.S. Inaction Lets Look-Alike Tubes Kill Patients
“Thirty-five weeks pregnant, Robin Rodgers was vomiting and losing weight, so her doctor hospitalized her and ordered that she be fed through a tube until the birth of her daughter.
But in a mistake that stemmed from years of lax federal oversight of medical devices, the hospital mixed up the tubes. Instead of snaking a tube through Ms. Rodgers’s nose and into her stomach, the nurse instead coupled the liquid-food bag to a tube that entered a vein.
Putting such food directly into the bloodstream is like pouring concrete down a drain. Ms. Rodgers was soon in agony. They soon learned that the baby had died…And then Robin Rodgers — 24 years old and already the mother of a 3-year-old boy — died on July 18, 2006, as well.
Their deaths were among hundreds of deaths or serious injuries that researchers have traced to tube mix-ups. But no one knows the real toll, because this kind of mistake, like medication errors in general, is rarely reported(*1). A 2006 survey of hospitals found that 16 percent had experienced a feeding tube mix-up.
Experts and standards groups have advocated since 1996 that tubes for different functions be made incompatible — just as different nozzles at gas stations prevent drivers from using the wrong fuel. But action has been delayed by resistance from the medical-device industry and an approval process at the Food and Drug Administration that can discourage safety-related changes."
How many times have we heard this story of doctor/treatment-induced (iatrogenic) patient death; be it from unnecessary surgery, to hospital-acquired infections, to adverse drug reactions, and medical tubing mix-ups, among others?
However, contrary to salmonella outbreaks where many are sickened and few, if any die, medical mishaps, which are ‘rarely reported,’ are killing people, an estimated 800,000 people per year, and are, by far, the leading cause of death and injury in the U.S. To be fair, ‘to err is human,’ and many presenting patients are seriously ill requiring drastic measures that raise all risks. However, even if 800,000 deaths per year is a gross exaggeration by a factor of four, 200,000 (*2) deaths per year by medical error would still be one of the leading causes of death.
There just is no comparison between illness and death caused by salmonella and those caused by medical error.
However, unlike the reaction to a salmonella scare, the response to chronic widespread, systemic medical mishaps is dismissal, denial and obstructionism by the AMA, the pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers of medical devices, and the FDA.
They have us afraid of the wrong things.
Important Notes:
(*1) "More than 250,000 side effects linked to prescription drugs, including injuries and deaths, are reported each year. And those "adverse-event" reports by doctors and others are only filed voluntarily. Experts, including Strom, believe the reports represent as few as 1% to 10% of all such events. "There's no incentive at all for a physician to report [an adverse drug reaction]," said Strom, who has documented the phenomenon. "The underreporting is vast."
(*2) JAMA. 12-21-1994 Error in medicine: "180,00 people die each year partly as a result of iatrogenic injury, the equivalent of three jumbo-jets crashes every 2 days." This is what was acknowledged in 1994. In light of note (*1) above..."the under-reporting is vast," 180,000 represents only a fraction of the problem, perhaps as little as 1% to 10%. And, the problem has only gotten worse since then.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Redefining Quackery

Redefining Quackery
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a range of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness.” A noble standard, if only it was true.
Medicine, like so much in our society, has lost its way. And, in its wake, like that of the financial institutions that rig the markets and steal, and corporations that pollute our environment and our bodies, there is a very human toll.
But medicine, a business purportedly centered on ‘maintaining and restoring human health,’ as such, and unlike financial institutions and corporations, requires higher standards.
But, sadly, so much of its practice has devolved into pure ‘quackery’ (to borrow a word so often brandished by the AMA, in their never-ending war for market dominance).
Quackery is a derogatory term used to describe the promotion of unproven or fraudulent medical practices. The word "quack" derives from the archaic word "quacksalver," of Dutch origin, meaning "boaster who applies a salve." In the Middle Ages the word quack meant "shouting". The quacksalvers sold their wares on the market shouting in a loud voice.”
On TV, on any given evening, on any channel, the drug companies are ‘boasting’ their life-saving health elixirs that promise anything from safe 3+hour erections to thicker and longer eyelashes; from legal uppers and downers, to sleep aids, from prescription skin rejuvenators to prescription fish oils, to fast-acting pre-meal heartburn and upset stomach pills that encourage us to eat whatever we want, especially foods our bodies would otherwise reject.
All of these elixirs and more have several things in common: little, to nothing, to do with ‘restoring health or preventing disease’, all have side-effects, ranging from mild to lethal, all are generating huge profits for Big Pharma, and all require a prescription and a visit to the pharmaceutical companies’ sanctioned retailers and legal drug dealers, doctors.
Add to that medical quackery in the form of cosmetic surgery: lip and breast augmentations, vaginal labia reductions, hair implants and laser hair removal; not-to-mention, abdominal implants and ‘sketching’ for men.
Clearly these are drugs and procedures in search of markets and have virtually nothing to do with medicine, ‘as the art and science of healing.’ It is all part of a far broader problem, the medicalization of life: the expanding of diagnoses and narrowing of the definition of normal, using constant repetition and playing on our fears and insecurities, to convince us that our bodies are inadequate, and that every possible symptom, from headache, to shyness, sadness to stomach ache, anything and everything, are conditions that require cure, instead of say, introspection and change.
Combine all of that with the fact that only an estimated 15% of everything that doctors do is backed by hard scientific evidence. Most of the rest is supported by anecdotal evidence, perpetuated mythology (ie: chemical imbalances in the brain, cholesterol), or self-serving, fraudulent corporate-sponsored science fiction. Consider only the field of invasive cardiology: “the data from clinical trials are clear: Except in a minority of patients with severe disease, bypass operations don’t prolong life or prevent future heart attacks; nor does angioplasty.” And yet, as of 2005, cardiologists performed about 400,000 bypass surgeries and over 1 million angioplasties per year. In fact, the evidence, by far, supports lifestyle changes of a healthy diet and exercise to significantly decrease the risk, not only of heart attack, but of all diseases. But, doctors, hospitals and drug companies do not make money on patient health.
A model of health that shamelessly promotes disease and passive medical consumerism, creating lifetime career patients, is not only quackery; it is dangerous to our health, producing untold numbers of patient victims of that care.

Monday, July 26, 2010

First Do No Harm

First Do No Harm
On August 24th, 1987 US District Court Judge Susan Getzendanner ruled that the AMA (American Medical Association) and its officials “instituted a boycott of chiropractors. The purpose of the boycott was to contain and eliminate the chiropractic profession. This conduct constituted a conspiracy among the AMA and its members and an unreasonable restraint of trade in violation of Section I of the Sherman (Anti-Trust) Act.”
Does this represent an isolated case of the AMA’s persecution to ‘contain and eliminate’ a competing profession and/or effective alternative treatment outside of the medical drug paradigm? No way!
Case closed: has the AMA stopped this type of persecution? No way! It is woven into the very core of their history and their ongoing mission; a medical-pharmaceutical monopoly.
The history of the AMA is a compelling read of personal and political power and corruption entwined with corporate interests, profits and greed; the usual suspects.
In 1909, Abraham Flexner, a teacher ( with no other qualifications), backed by the corporate interests of the Carnegie Foundation, with personal family ties to the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Education, issued The Flexner Report. This superficial and prejudiced opinion paper launched a kind of “paradigm coup. It declared and established an orthodoxy of healing dominated by the medical, allopathic, model based in modern chemistry and the prescription of drugs by doctors.
All other modalities were to be shunned (and labeled as quackery), especially the vitalistic approaches that talked about working with the energy or structure of the body, rather than its chemistry. From the manipulations of chiropractors or osteopaths, to the use of energy devices in connection with the body, any healing approaches based on physics were rejected. In the new medical realm, chemistry was king.” (HP of LENS 335)
The goal was to eliminate the competition.
Along the way it inextricably linked medical practice and research, for better and worse, with corporate-sponsored science. Together, they made medicine/health-care an ‘industrial mass-market phenomenon’ and empire.
Along the way they betrayed their Hippocratic Oath: First, Do No Harm by subverting, in so many ways, any other possible effective treatments, or even cures, for anything from back pain to depression to cancer, sacrificing untold numbers of lives.
But the irony of it is laughable. Modern medicine uses the body’s energy and physics in almost all realms of diagnosis, including x-ray, CT, MRI, EKG, EEG, Ultrasound, functional MRI, PET Scans, chromatograpy, lasers, the electron microscope, etc,. At the same time, they continue to condemn, marginalize, and ridicule any treatment or modality that uses the body’s own energy/physics to restore homeostasis and health. All but one that is; the rather medieval EST (electroshock therapy) now known as ECT (electroconvulsive therapy). That one they like. It fits their paradigm that treatment requires ever more potent and powerful interventions; that the body needs to be shocked, drugged or operated on; that more subtle energy techniques could not possibly work.
They deny funding for research into other healing modalities, supporting their claim of the absence of evidence. Yet, of all they do in diagnosis and treatment, it is estimated that only 15% has the standard of scientific evidence that they hold all other alternative treatments to. Not to mention that ‘the absence of evidence is NOT evidence of absence. The fact that there are few rigorous studies of an idea doesn’t mean the idea isn’t powerful; it may mean that science refuses, for whatever prejudices, to study the concept.’ (symp p xii)
This is not meant to condemn all of medicine. Some drugs, emergency and surgical interventions approach the miraculous. It is simply a condemnation of their arrogant quest to maintain a disease-oriented, chemical-based medical monopoly at the expense of other efficacious health-nurturing, physics-based alternative therapies such as chiropractic, homeopathy, naturopathy, bio and neurofeedback, among others.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Swallowing Statins; Hook, Line & Sinker

Swallowing Statins: Hook, Line and Sinker
NewsFlash: “Nearly two years ago, a study known as the JUPITER trial hinted at a new era in the use of statins -- one in which the cholesterol-busting drugs could be used to stave off heart-related death in many more people than just those with high cholesterol.”
This study ‘changed the treatment guidelines;’ opening the floodgates for doctors to prescribe statins, such as AstraZeneca’s Crestor, to adults who do not have high cholesterol, and begin prescribing them to children as well.
Is it surprising to anyone that a study audaciously named JUPITER (Justification for the Use of Statins in Primary Prevention), a study funded by a drug company (AstraZeneca), performed by researchers with strong financial incentives and ties to the drug company, a study in which “the sponsor collected the trial data and monitored the study sites,” concluded the use of statins in primary prevention is justified?
Both are examples of self-serving, inhumane, corporate profit-driven science.
A second look at this study (2 years and multi-billions in corporate profits later),”turned up no evidence of the ‘striking decrease in coronary heart disease complications’ reported by investigators behind JUPITER.”
No surprise there!
This isn’t a 2010 newsflash. I wrote about how flawed and corrupt the JUPITER study is back in November of 2008 (Holy JUPITER Batman!), two weeks after the study was released!
The short of it is:
  1. High blood cholesterol is not a disease. While it can be secondary to many other diseases, it is mostly associated with poor lifestyle choices: poor diet and lack of exercise.
  2. According to Framingham Heart Study, people with an age greater than 50 years have no increased overall mortality with either high or low serum cholesterol levels.”
  3. Half of all heart attacks occur in people with normal cholesterol. That said, how can anyone ‘justify’ lowering cholesterol in any group to ‘normal?’
  4. The results of JUPITER were underwhelming: “the proportion of patients with hard cardiac events-cardiovascular death, MI, and stroke-was reduced from 1.8% in the placebo group to 0.9% in the statin group. That represents an absolute reduction of only 0.9%. Stated another way; ‘the data actually means that 120 people would need to take Crestor daily for 2 years to (possibly) prevent 1 heart attack or stroke. At a cost of $3.45 a day, that’s $300,000 for Big Pharma to (possibly) prevent one problem.
The red flags here are numerous and ominous.
  1. Drug companies are constantly creating new diseases and marketing their drugs as cures, seeking FDA approval for ‘cradle-to-grave’ blockbuster drugs. They are getting close to that goal with statins.
  2. Corporate profit-driven science is corrupt and cannot be trusted.
3. Medical treatment guidelines are being developed by doctors/researchers with financial ties to corporations. These guidelines determine ‘standards of care’ and doctors’ prescribing habits with legal ramifications. Stated another way: drug companies are writing guidelines that require physicians to prescribe their drugs or be open to malpractice suits.
4. For us to believe that we all need to take statins, or any other drug, to stave off disease, is to believe that we all inherently suffer from some drug deficiency syndrome. It disarms us from taking personal responsibility for our health and making simple lifestyle changes that, better than any drug, can help us reclaim our health.