Monthly Archives: April 2006

Fish Safety – Which ones are safe to eat and which are unsafe?

The Safe

Abalone – U.S. farmed, Anchovies, Arctic char – U.S. and Canadian farmed, Catfish – U.S. farmed, Caviar – U.S. farmed paddlefish & sturgeon eggs, Clams – butter, geoducks, hard, littlenecks, Manila, Crab – Dungeness, snow from Canada, stone, Crawfish – U.S., Halibut – from Alaska, Herring – Atlantic sea herring, Mackerel – Atlantic, Mahimahi/dolphinfish – U.S., from the Atlantic, Mussels – farmed blue, New Zealand green, Oysters – farmed Eastern, European, Pacific, Sablefish/black cod – from Alaska, Salmon – wild from Alaska: chinook, chum, coho, pink, sockeye, Sardines, Scallops – farmed bay, Shrimp – Northern from Newfoundland, U.S. farmed, Spot prawns, Striped bass  – farmed, Sturgeon – farmed, Tilapia – U.S. 

The Bad

Caviar – wild sturgeon, Chilean seabass/toothfish – mercury, Cod – Atlantic, Grouper, Halibut – Atlantic, Marlin, Monkfish/goosefish, Orange roughy, Rockfish – Pacific (rock cod/boccacio), Salmon – farmed or Atlantic, Shark, Shrimp/prawns – imported, Skate, Snapper, Sturgeon – wild, Swordfish – imported, Tilefish, Tuna – bluefin

Access, Compassion, Care and Ethics for Seriously Ill Patients Act. What could be so bad about that?

In a bill being proposed by Senators Brownback (R-KS) and Inhofe (R-OK), drugs being developed for serious life threatening diseases can be marketed based upon non-human, Phase I trial results.  This disturbing idea is a law which sounds good but has many really disturbing flaws.

While the idea is to rush a possible life saving drug to people with little hope of survival is noble, it also puts these same people at a higher risk of death, increased suffering, or false hope. Phase I trials are only used to test for a tolerable dose, not efficacy or toxicity. The risk is that there will be an increase in extremely expensive drugs that may have little or no efficacy at all. 

Bad science makes for bad medicine, which is a no win situation for everyone concerned.

Vinegar as a way to lower cholesterol?

Vinegar, aka acetic acid, has been used for millennium as an elixir to treat a number of disorders.  Life Balances, a company I once worked for many years ago, touted its use as a way to control systolic hypertension. Using just 1 tablespoon of organic vinegar twice a day in 8 ounces of water, blood pressure levels steadily went down on a number of clients we worked with.

Recently, in an article published in the British Journal of Nutrition, Fushimi T, et al, showed that the use of acetic acid helps in lowering cholesterol levels in mice fed a diet rich in this fat and triglyceride levels.  Its main effect seems to be that it inhibits production of fats in the liver, much the same way a number of drugs work. In my humble opinion, if you want to lower cholesterol levels with fewer side effects than statin drugs, try vinegar.  A little sourness may sweeten your outlook on health.

References used in Research Papers – More fraud going on than you think.

Working on my new book has forced me to go through thousands of papers looking for data to support ideas I want to talk about as well as uncovering new information to continually mold my scientific inquisitions. Over the past year or so, a number of highly respected journals such as Nature, JAMA, and Science, have had to write numerous articles about research fraud and how articles published in many different journals have had to be pulled. 

The most prominent of the cases is the work of South Korean cloning scientist Woo Suk Hwang and the papers he and his team published and all of the journals that have had to retract his work. This sadly, is not an isolated case.  Hundreds of papers have been retracted from numerous scientific and medical researchers over the past 10 years. Which makes you wonder how much more fraud has not been uncovered. Makes you wonder whether we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg.

Still, alternative health practitioners, who view the Vioxx issue as the obvious fraud of the pharmaceutical industry should be wise not to point and shake their fingers too violently in any one direction.  There are a number of those in alternative medicine who have made claims that don’t match the data and when asked about it, claim that they are being unjustly persecuted because of their new ideas.

I was at a conference last year and I questioned one of the speakers privately about his claim of a 100% cure rate of autism.  My skeptical side came out and wondered how he and his female counter could do something never before accomplished in medical history, a perfect cure rate.  His comment was, “We don’t accept failure.”  Astonished, I went to his website and found parents who complained that the treatment, which was exceedingly expensive, wasn’t working.  The company response was as I expected, “You must be doing something wrong because we don’t accept failure as an option.”

Another doctor making the rounds in the autism community has made so many different claims about cure rates from his chelation therapy that no one knows what to believe.  When listening to him rant and rave about how those questioning his claims were out to get him, I had to add him to the growing list of hype masters. 

One last so-called researcher was someone who once worked for me who, when my wife asked her for advice while she was writing her masters thesis said, “Just copy the material out of the book, it’s how I write my papers.”  Thankfully, Hillary has a higher ethical standard than that woman had.  Looking at one of that person’s other papers, I noted that she cited the same reference 24 times in a three-page paper and used herself for the rest of the references.

The bottom line is “Who and what can you trust?”  As my mentor, the late John Kitkoski once told me, “If it fails the laws of physics and chemistry, become suspicious.  If it fails the laws of common sense as well, it would serve you better to move on and look elsewhere. Being the first to embrace a new idea isn’t worth very much if it later turns out to be false.”

Serotonin – More than a Neurotransmitter, Possible aid to Liver Regeneration

Serotonin (aka 5-hydroxytryptamine) has long been known as an important neurotransmitter with implications in depression and sleep disorders but according to research published in the April 7th, 2006 issue of Science; it is also an important hormone that may be very important in regenerating damaged liver tissue. The use of tryptophan or 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) although not prominently mentioned in the article (they only talk about drugs to improve platelet carrying of serotonin), may be crucial in helping people with impaired liver function (excessive toxicity) or alcoholism. 

While there was some evidence that mice injected with 5-HTP received benefits the focus unfortunately was more on receptor agonists than natural agents. Further study is necessary on the benefits of 5-HTP on liver regeneration.

Mood Stabilization – Serious disorder or drug company marketing?

Before 1995, bi-polar disorders were diagnosed in 0.1% of the population and were typically treated long-term by the trace mineral lithium.  When the FDA granted Abbott Laboratories license to sell the drug Depakote to treat people mania, a new disorder popped up which needed treatment.  Mood stabilization became the new marketing mantra used by drug companies ever since to sell drugs such as olanzapine, risperidone (Risperdal), quetiapine (Seoquel) and others.

Of course, .01% of the population is too small of a market so they had to increase the diagnosis of bi-polar disorders to include people who normally would not be considered in need of treatment.  The new DSM IV diagnoses for the disease upped the market to 5% of the population. The conferences and papers to back this increase were heavily funded by the pharmaceutical industry but in reality, there are no randomized controlled trials that show that these drugs actually do better than placebo or no treatment at all.  How can this be allowed?  Is someone asleep at the regulatory wheel?  Or is it all about the Benjamins ($100 dollar bills and lots of them)?  Sorry Mr. Franklin, I think it’s about you.

The issue is also bigger than just the money being made; it is the issue of increased death rates among those using long-term antipsychotic medications.  When I was a kid, I remember going from what now would be considered a manic phase to a down phase many times during the day.  This is normal for developing children and has been for millennium.  Today, we deem it necessary to treat this normal condition because teachers and parents don’t want to deal with a typically active child.  Better to drug them than to deal with their energy.

What staggers me is that despite all of our supposed improvements in drug therapy, four times as many people are admitted to hospitals for bi-polar issues than 100 years ago. If it’s working, why are people getting worse?  Could it be that if a person stops taking the drug, the withdrawal symptoms are worse than the so-called disease was initially?  Pharmaceutical company’s profits are up and the mental health of our world is down.  Is this what we all really want?

A Novel Idea to Reverse Global Warming and Help 3rd World Nations Economies.

Back in the 1990’s a proposal, quickly dismissed by the United Nations, is now back in the mix may be making a much needed comeback.  What was proposed was that countries with vast forests of trees could swap not logging the trees, which protects the environment, with countries that exceed carbon dioxide emissions set under the terms of the Kyoto agreement. Basically for each ton of carbon saved by not cutting or burning the trees, you can sell that on the open market to companies or countries that exceed their carbon emissions.

Countries like Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica are in the forefront of this proposal. Indonesia, with vast forests could conceivably net $1 billion dollars a year by cutting back on their deforestation by 1/3rd. If the 3rd world countries would then return the money gained to the farmers who are most likely to cut down trees, then the incentive to not cut down the forest would be increased dramatically.

While there are major problems with this proposal, especially when you see that 80% of Amazonian deforestation is done illegally, it is a direction I believe we need to look into further.

Are Prions Really the Culprit in BSE and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease?

In a recent issue of the Journal of Pathology (volume 209, page 4), Dr. Martin Jeffrey of the UK Veterinary Laboratories Agency in Penicuik, Modlothian, proposes that prions ingested from the meat of infected animals is not a cause of Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis or CJD. 

His proposal, which is highly controversial, claims that the prions found in the infected meat are destroyed by stomach acids and never seem to make it into the body.  Still, out of the 50 sheep studied in his experiment, 3 developed scrapie (the ovine version of the disease) even though no prions from the stomach of the sheep survived.  This suggests another ingredient may be responsible and possibly that there is a genetic component that makes one person more susceptible than another to the disease.

More research needs to be funneled in this direction to get to the bottom of these puzzling diseases as it may help us understand other neurological disorders as well.

Pharmaceutical Created Diseases – This has got to stop!

In their drive to increase profits based on Wall Street pressure, the pharmaceutical industry has seen it necessary to create new diseases and redefine symptoms as diseases in order to get more people to use their drugs.  This is not only obscene, it borders on criminal and the government needs to step in.

Now I am not a big government interventionist but one of the things they should be doing for us is protecting us. The practice of medicine has become a lesson in marketing, not in getting or keeping people healthy. In my upcoming book, Achieving Victory over a Toxic World, I devote a chapter to this subject entitled “Medicine by Representation”. While many of us in the alternative and complimentary medical world have known about this for years, the media is beginning to catch on, although somewhat meekly.

To give you some examples of what is going on you just need to turn on the television and watch the endless commercials.  Restless leg syndrome is now a disease which, often times can be dealt with safely by taking magnesium or calcium supplements or a good electrolyte like KTS Products Peltier Water. We now have drugs to cure “social anxiety” also known as shyness.  While I understand that shyness is a problem that can be debilitating (I know I once was quite shy), to elevate it to the same level as coronary heart disease is abysmal. Premenstrual dysphoric dysfunction is another new “disease” being injected into the population of consumers being created by big pharma.

Another issue is the use of drugs that were normally only used for short-term treatment like manic depression, are now being given permanently, without any thought about long-term damage. We need to find a way to break the habit of the industry no longer viewing people as patients but purely as consumers. The bribery of physicians needs to stop immediately.

Since when does “increase shareholder value” have to trump “do your patient no harm?” Hippocrates must be feeling a great sense of shame looking down at the medical field today.

Walking on coals? Scam or mind over matter?

I always love to dispell myths and scams.  Here is one I wanted to post in today’s blog.

  • People like Tony Robbins, the self-help guru, has his people do the fire walk across hot coals.  He has them say cool moss, like it was supposed to show that the mind can stop the coals from burning their feet.  Now I don’t dispell the power of the mind, it does work (see the placebo effect). The reason why we can walk on hot coals is three fold – First, our calloused feet protect us to some degree, second, people walk across the coals like their in the midst of a track race and third, coal is a poor conductor of heat.  It’s like touching a cake in a 400 degree oven.  You can do it without burning your fingers but touch the metal pan and ouch!!!

I’d like to thank the journal Scientific American (May 2006) for the info on coal walking.