From the monthly archives: "June 2008"
More, more, more. We need more statins. What’s the delay: MORE STATINS! Is anybody listening?

Somebody must be, because statin use jumped 156% from 2000 to 2005. Woowee! Anybody, get the implications of this? Let me explain it this way. Either Americans are ignoring conventional wisdom and wolfing down cholesterol causing fatty foods like there’s no tomorrow–foods that we all know we should be avoiding (Don’t our doctors, and television commercials, and magazine articles, and New York City government, and Hollywood movies, and our neighbors, and the newspapers and radio stations all tell us endlessly that we should avoid fatty foods and trans fats and all the other cholesterol increasing substances, I mean, don’t we all know that?), yet cholesterol levels are spiraling out of control, and millions of us are on the verge of a heart attack or worse! right now–orrrr,  we are being duped like never before? Hmmm, let me think about this.

In 2000 15.9 million people were taking statins; in 2005, 29.7 million. That’s 10% of the entire population. Ten percent of the entire country has dangerously high cholesterol levels and needs to be on statins? Yeah. B.S.

OK, OK, let’s look at it this way instead: In 2000 Americans spent about $484 a year on statins for a total cost of $7.7 billion. In 2005, we spent $661 per year for a total of $19.7 billion.

So, let’s see, what makes more sense to you? Are the numbers of statin prescriptions going up because we are all so pathetically ignorant and weak-willed that we just can’t possibly stop our indulgences, despite pervasive dietary and nutritional information being pumped at us from all directions OR is somebody making a shipload of money from this crock of cow dung?

You decide.

Want to know what aspect of modern living contributes significantly to the spread of drug-resistant germs? Fast food health care, that’s what.

What’s fast food health care? It’s the churning out of patients from over-crowded hospitals to make room for new and ever-growing patients. Yow! They’re pumping ‘em out like Big Macs. Hold the bed sores, hold the lettuce…

According to Australian researchers, the overcrowding and quick turnover of hospital beds is leading to the spread of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, like the methicillin-resistant Staph aureus (MRSA) we saw spread to the general population at the beginning of the year. The problem seems to stem from super-busy doctors, nurses and other health care workers not washing their hands well and as frequently as recommended during busy times–that is, during times of understaffing and high workload. Eew! Yuck! Just what I want from my local fast food hospital. Shouldn’t we post letter grade ratings in the windows like we do with restaurants?

MRSA killed an estimated 19,000 Americans in 2005 and made 94,000 seriously ill. Wash your hands, McSceavyplease! MRSA infections can range from boils to more severe infections of the bloodstream, lungs and surgical sites. It is spread by the hands and on contaminated medical equipment. And last year nearly 5 percent of U.S. patients were infected or colonized with MRSA. Double Yecch!

So I’ll just say what I always do: Stay out of the American hospital system if you can help it (and British and Australian systems, too, while you’re at it). They are breeding grounds for filth. I’m the first one to trust in the strength of the environment of the human body with its immune system arsenal, but hospitals usually equal knocked ass-out on narcotics and left a bit immunocompromised. Under these circumstances, uh…I’ll put my dough on the germs. Stay healthy, practice the six keys, and wash your hands, arms, body and clothing profusely if you ever spend time in the fast food medical germ cafeteria. Makes a drive-through sound pretty darn good, now doesn’t it?

So let’s say there is a supplement company selling a weight loss product that has ephedra in it. Ephedra, as you may know, was banned by the FDA in 2004 due to a high rate of serious side effects and ephedra-related deaths. Now let’s say that said supplement company, full well knowing the adverse health risk of ephedra, goes ahead to manufacture and sell this product to the public anyway. Should this company be held liable for any harm done to the public health? Should they be fined, punished, or shut down? What are the necessary measures to be taken to assure this doesn’t happen again?

If you believe that the supplement company acted out of negligence and greed, and compromised public health, then you probably also believe that the company should be punished to the full extent possible. Now what if it wasn’t a supplement company at all, but a pharmaceutical manufacturer instead. And let’s say the compound in question wasn’t ephedra but Paxil, the popular antidepressant, what would you say then?

Well that’s exactly what happened to ephedra–can anyone say Metabolife?–and it’s happening now with Paxil. In the Metabolife fiasco, Metabolife International Inc. the manufacturer of Metabolife 356, at its height a several hundred million dollar a year product, pled guilty to filing fraudulent tax returns and was sentenced to pay a criminal fine of $600,000, and more than a billion dollars in personal injury claims. Along with the banning of its most popular product, the monetary penalties buried the company which filed for bankruptcy in 2005.

So what will happen to GlaxoSmithKline PLC, makers of the mega best-selling antidepressant Paxil, which was the fifth-most prescribed antidepressant in the United States as early as 2006? A U.S. Department of Justice investigation is being conducted into whether the drug maker withheld data about the suicide risks of Paxil. Just another day at the office for antidepressant manufacturers. I’ve already reported on this and similar stories in earlier posts (and here, and here)–seems to be par the course with these massive money making meds. According to recent reports, the Justice Department is looking into GlaxoSmithKline’s marketing practices, pushing their product despite having information that the antidepressant increased the risk of suicidal tendencies in its takers.

So what will happen to GlaxoSmithKline? My guess, probably not much. They’ll fight the allegations professing the high road. They’ll lie and say they didn’t know about the risks. And when they eventually found out, they’ll say, they then took appropriate measures. I mean, what else could they possibly say? They’ll get slapped with a fine and warning. For a multi million dollar company like Metabolife that might cause ruin. But for a multi billion dollar company like Glaxo, well…it won’t do much. And I’m sure GlaxoSmithKline will be just fine. They’ll go on, business as usual.

What’s the difference between a huge and heavily populated industrialized nation and a group of smaller, more traditional countries that band together and take great measures to protect their publics’ health and their environment? What’s the difference between a country whose system sometimes encourages profiteering, even at the risk of public safety, and a de facto confederation that refuses to embrace “modern” food processing practices without question? If you answered, “a whole heckuva lot,” you’d be right.

Take for instance poultry preparation. In the U.S. it is common practice to wash freshly butchered chicken carcasses in a chlorinated wash to disinfect them of Salmonella, E. coli and Campylobacter, common causes of food poisoning. Salmonella and E. coli are particularly dangerous to humans, so this practice seems prudent, right? Add to that the cost effectiveness of using chlorine (it’s cheap!) and what you’ve got is a nifty little tool for mass chicken consumption. That’s what makes this country great. Everybody eats and somebody profits. Nice.

In that old fashioned land of Europa they do things a little differently. For instance, they refuse to use chemicals to clean and disinfect a carcass. Cave people. They believe instead that hygiene controls throughout the hatching and rearing cycle to better ensure that the bacteria does not develop in the first place. How yesterday. And they are very adamantly rejecting a proposed lifting of a decade-old import ban on poultry products from the U.S.

Of course, some people and some groups are muy pissed off, like, for instance, American poultry farmers. You don’t say. And a couple European folk are PO’d, too. Like EU Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen, who promised his buds in the U.S. that he would work to get the ban lifted. Hey, wouldn’t you be a bit annoyed if you were losing $180 million a year? I would. So, why can’t those sore sports just buck up and buy our chickens?

According to British lawmaker John Bowis, lifting the ban would be “outrageous and unacceptable, and would degrade EU citizens to guinea pigs.” Most vocal against lifting the ban is Europe’s biggest poultry producer, France. According to French Agriculture Minister Michel Barnier, “The Americans don’t have to buy our chickens (and) we don’t have to accept theirs.” Amen, mon ami, and you don’t have to accept American genetically modified foodstuffs, either.

We shouldn’t be so brazen about using chemicals (or molecular biology) to disinfect our foods; not until we understand all the risk involved, anyway. I’m all for progress, and lord knows, the risks of infected poultry isn’t something to play around with.* But I’m of the opinion that cleanliness starts in the chicken coop, and in this matter, American poultry farms are severely lacking (I talk in depth about this subject in my book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health). Further, there appears to be other options with regard to disinfecting carcasses which are supposedly a little safer. Whether or not this is true, I still tend to side with the Euros on this one: When it comes to the health and safety of my family’s foodstuffs, I rather not mess with chemicals if I don’t have to. Keep food production plants clean to the highest standards, and never, ever, ever let profits dominate public policy when it comes to our health.

*To be fair, here is an excellent piece on the risk cost-benefit analysis in favor of using chlorine to disinfect poultry and poultry preparation stations in production houses–pretty hard to argue with this writer’s reasoning.

What’s the best thing you can do for a loved one suffering from dementia? Open the shades and let the light shine through during the day, and give them melatonin supplements at night. This according to a recent study out of the Netherlands this month. The research, conducted at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience in Amsterdam, showed that increasing light exposure, either from the sun or from fluorescent lights, along with nightly melatonin supplementation, helped elderly people suffering from dementia improve their sleep, mood, and overall well-being.

The study looked at 189 elderly Dutch women who were split into groups according to whether they were exposed to bright lights, given melatonin supplements, or both. Other groups were given standard Alzheimer’s medication, while others were given nothing at all. They then looked at various mental factors such as cognitive function, mood (as in depression and agitation), and sleep function. The researchers found that the group receiving bright lights and melatonin fared as well as those on the Alzheimer’s medication. Considering the side effects which usually accompany the medication (nausea mostly), these findings offer a great deal of encouragement.

I find this study especially interesting as I believe we can extrapolate these observations to the general population. I highly advocate both regular sun exposure and melatonin supplementation for overall health and well-being. Think about it: the source of all energy in the solar system is our sun. Every plant, animal, microbe, fungus or algae needs energy either directly from the sun, or by consuming another energetic life form. Either way, the energetic chain begins with the sun. Nothing could survive without the life-giving force of our primary star. So why would anybody avoid it? Yes, I know: skin cancer propaganda is at its highest–dermatologist need to market too–but we all need sunlight, plain and simple.

Melatonin is a naturally produced hormone that helps regulate our circadian rhythms, or our sleep cycles (you’ve read about it in my book, right?). It is also a great natural remedy for insomnia. Melatonin has many other non-sleep related benefits. For instance, it has antioxidant properties. It has also been studied as a therapy against certain cancers. And it has also shown promise as an agent to boost memory and learning ability. Throw this in with the current findings on dementia, and what you’ve got is a very useful little substance.

One does need to be careful with both sun exposure and melatonin, though. Obviously, too much sun-worship can cause serious health problems. And taking melatonin every day can cause dependence, nasty withdrawals, and sluggishness when taken in too large a concentration. So I recommend taking it a couple time a week only, and then laying off completely for longer stretches, like say a month or so. Other than that, both practices should be highly beneficial and therefore done by everyone.

Weight loss is all in the mind, you know. Well maybe not all in the mind, but mostly in the mind, it’s true. According to some fascinating new research, your nervous system, not your eating habits have the biggest role in determining whether you are fat or thin.The study conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, looked at serotonin levels in the nervous systems of worms. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, which means it conducts messages across and among nerve cells. The researchers found that serotonin regulates feeding and calorie burning independently of each other. In other words, serotonin regulates not only how much you eat and want to eat (your appetite), but also what your body does with food once it has been consumed.

In worms, serotonin levels are a function of food availability. When resources are low, serotonin levels decrease and the worms go into fat storage mode. Interestingly, low serotonin also leads to decreased appetite in worms. Makes sense, when food availability is tight, worms get less hungry–after all, no food, no need to eat. They also become more efficient at storing energy as fat for the long haul. A perfect feat of optimized neural regulation. On the other hand, when food resources are high, serotonin levels increase and worms get hungrier and become more efficient at burning fuel. If we could only all be so lucky. Humans actually experience the opposite effect: when food resources are low, serotonin levels decrease, which causes appetites to go up and, unfortunately, fat to accumulate.

So why does this matter? This study shows is that although our eating behaviors–what we eat and how much of it–are important, they do not tell the whole story. The body actually has a very sophisticated neurological regulatory system which is more instrumental in our propensity to take in and store fat. The nervous system gauges nutrient availability (really folks, you’ve got to read my book, it’s all in there) and determines whether to burn when in excess or hold on to when deficient in nutrients. In plain language, you can starve yourself on tofu shakes all you want, if you are not getting the right nutrients in the proper amounts, your body will increase your appetite–through lowered serotonin levels–to ensure that more nutrients come in.* And low serotonin means increased fat storage.

What makes these findings interesting to me is that I am certain that we have direct control over our neurology. And we have this control through our minds. How is uncertain right now, but findings like these only strengthen my convictions. If the nervous system is the information superhighway between our brains and our bodies**, and if we can find a way to influence serotonin regulation–and I don’t mean through the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, either–through specific mental processes, then weight management could be under our individual control in the near future. I do believe it’s possible, naysayers. Just a matter of time before we figure out how. Findings like these always get my intellectual juices flowing, and I can’t help but imagine what future innovations lie ahead in this regard. Whatever that may be sure looks promising to me.

*Your body just wants nutrients; it can only get those nutrients from food, and doesn’t know whether you’ll be feeding it broccoli or Cheetos; all it can do is increase the appetite and wait.

**And don’t forget that the ultimate way to optimize and maintain your delicate nervous system is through safe, natural chiropractic care.

Spent the day in downtown L.A. fulfilling my civic duty. Jury duty called and I was promptly selected–aargh!

While having lunch in the local food court, I couldn’t help but notice a very interesting observation: about 90% of the people in my view were drinking soda. I am certain that I saw a couple hundred people, so that’s a heck of a lot of soft drinks. I counted a few water bottles, but mostly I saw people drinking out of waxy soda cups, the kind you typically find at fast food restaurants. True, it might have been water, but since I know the national soda consumption numbers, which are astronomical, I’m sure these people were drinking what most Americans choose–good ol’ fashioned candy pop.

I couldn’t help but think about the weight loss industry too; about how it’s booming, and about how promising its future looks. How many people in this country are trying to lose weight right now? How many of you reading this are?

Well I’ve got a real buzzkill for you: You are never going to lose weight if you don’t give up your sodas. I know, I know–eff you, Campos!–because people feel strongly about their soft drinks. Never have I received so much resistance when suggesting a habit kick than when suggesting people stop drinking soft drinks–not from smokers, not from heavy drinkers, not from heavy sushi eaters. Nope, soda drinkers beat them all. They come up with all kinds of reasons why everything but soda is bad for them. Soda is not that big of a deal. Yeah, right.

I used to drink soda, I get it. You can pound these things all day long. Some people nail six or more in 24 hours! That’s pure, unadulterated liquid sugar. No nutrients, no vitamins–pure calories, pure sludge. I’m telling you, you can watch every other thing you eat. You can work out seven days a week. You can get liposuction and a stomach staple. But if you keep drinking sugar, you’ll never lose weight. I’ve been there, done that. Believe me soda is the first thing you must kick if you’re ever going to drop pounds. Next is booze, but that’s another story (don’t worry, I’ll get to it one day).

Here is the scary thing: Most people I observed at the food court seemed to be employees of the legal court. I know because I followed a bunch of attorneys down there; figured they’d know the best place to grub. They did. But no way I could eat that way every day. However, as I clearly saw, many people in downtown L.A. do. I didn’t see many other places to eat in the area. Funny, but my pompous L.A. arse always assumes that we know better in this town, but clearly we don’t. I can’t even imagine what it’s like in other less health-conscious cities like Houston, Oklahoma City or Vegas.

So here’s the skinny: If you wish to lose weight, drop the sodas, man; it’s the only way. But if you love your sodas so much that you can’t kick the habit, then don’t be so hard on yourself–enjoy your coke and your smile, and just be content with the extra 20 pounds.

Will the madness ever end? The latest in the battle between the Just Say No!ers and Legalize Pot heads has opponents of marijuana use blazing: The potency of pot is peaking, they say, and this can lead to increased toxicity and mental impairment.

According to the latest analysis from the University of Mississippi’s Potency Monitoring Project (crazy where our money goes, isn’t it?), marijuana potency has increased over the last year to the highest level in more than 30 years. Maui Wowee!!! Researchers have found that the average amount of THC (the stuff that gets you high) reached 9.6 percent in 2007. Compare this to 1983 when it averaged just under 4 percent. 1983 was a bad year.

So I have to ask: is this supposed to be a bad thing? According to opponents, it is. John Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, says, “Marijuana potency has grown steeply over the past decade, with serious implications in particular for young people.” He cited the risk of psychological, cognitive and respiratory problems, and the potential for users to become dependent on drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Holy scheisse! Cocaine and heroin?

But leave it up to the Legalize Pot advocacy to fight b.s. with b.s. According to Dr. Mitch Earleywine, psychology professor at State University of New York in Albany, and trusted adviser for marijuana advocacy groups, marijuana users generally adjust to the level of potency and smoke it accordingly. He says in his most convincing b.s. bravado, “Stronger cannabis leads to less inhaled smoke.” Anybody else enjoying this as much as I am?

But the White House isn’t buying it. They point to the latest unsubstantiated claims that marijuana use can increase one’s risk for suffering depression and suicidal tendencies. Add to that the risk of developing other mental disorders, they say, and our nation is likely on the brink of moral collapse. Opponents gravest concerns are that higher THC contents are likely to increase addiction by triggering changes in the brain. Forget the scientific data to support these claims, they are inconveniently nonexistent.

Well, if I’ve said it once I’ll say it a thousand times: It’s gonna be a bloody battle between these two bovine scat slingers; and who’ll come out on top is anybodies guess. But I still think it’s pretty hard to defend the criminalization of marijuana use when a far more malignant mind-altering substance is legal and pretty much found everywhere. Add to that ethyl alcohol’s limited use medicinally and you’ve got to expect some resentment from the Rastafarian Resistance.


Whichever way you stand on this issue, I think we can all agree: If we are to judge marijuana in it’s proper context, then we probably need some cold hard facts, and not the baloney the anti-marijuana camp has been feeding us on rye bread.

I love readers’ comments. It shows me people care and think about their health. And I’ve received many since starting my blog last year. Thank you to all who have contributed in this manner.

But there is something I will absolutely not tolerate on this blog, and that’s offensive, baseless insults that spew from ignorance or worse. Don’t get me wrong, I welcome differing opinions and I just love it when somebody disagrees with me. How else are we to develop insights into this fascinating and ever dynamic world of human health and healing?

But when a reader posts an insulting absurdity with no backing whatsoever; no reference, nothing, nada, nunca, I have to simply say see ya: I delete the post right away. There’s no place for that here. Feel free to disagree, tell me I’m an idiot or whatever. I’m man enough to take it. But you better back your sh&* up, or the post is gone. I will even entertain keeping up ignorant, baseless drivel if the writer has the balls to post contact info along with the post (Yogi Bear, Darth Vadar and the like don’t count); if you can live with your words for all the world to see, then who am I to deny you the embarrassment? But the same posts written by Anonymous are simply unacceptable. Sorry.

So there you have it. Feel free to post, feel free to disagree, feel free to call me a jackass. Sometimes I am. But don’t even bother posting insults that have nothing to do with the subject at hand. Nobody will ever see it.

Probiotics may be beneficial for more than just digestion, a new study shows. The good bacteria that make up probiotic drinks and supplements may actually change the immune system’s response to grass pollen–the cause of hay fever. And even better it may help balance antibodies reducing allergies in general.

Oh, blessed be the Lord, I say! If these findings are correct, then those of us who suffer from seasonal allergies (which in L.A. means year round) can breath a sigh a relief. One in five Americans suffers from some sort of allergy. That’s fifty million sniffling, snorkling, and stuffed-up people suffering on a daily basis. The allergy remedy industry is booming, as people try to find relief from this maddening malady.

Enter probiotics. Probiotics are supplements containing various strains of beneficial bacteria–bacteria that reside naturally in our gut; symbiotic squatters, if you will. Everyone has heard of acidophilus. The probiotic strain used in the study, however, was Lactobacillus casei. Volunteers were given a milk drink–some with the bacteria and some without–which they imbibed daily for five months. Researchers took blood samples before the grass pollen season, at its peak, and after the end of the season. They found that people who had been drinking the probiotic drink had lower levels of an antibody that help produce allergy symptoms. And the people receiving the probiotic drink had higher levels of the antibody IgG, which protects against allergy symptoms.

I’ve been taking probiotics regularly myself for a couple of weeks now and I feel amazing. I started my regimen for digestive purposes and they have definitely delivered. Can’t recommend probiotics enough. Our modern lifestyles leave us susceptible to diminished gut bacterial colonies and we need to replenish regularly. Probiotics are it. Yes, you can eat yogurt, and you can certainly drink kefir, but for my money I want the biggest bang, and that comes from supplementing with probiotics. This is the brand I like and carry in my office. Great company, great product. And now great news for allergy sufferers. You heard it here first: supplement with probiotics for optimal digestive, immune and respiratory health.

Flash! Breaking news: Baby boomers are not invincible. That’s right, recent reports disclose that baby boomers, like every generation before them, wear down.

Is that news?

According to Dr. Jeffrey A. Ross, foot and ankle podiatrist from Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, who spoke at the recent annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, an increasing number of baby boomers are suffering wear and tear injuries as a result of living active lifestyles. As the middle-aged generation continues to play hard and exercise balls to the wall, they are developing an inordinate amount of repetitive use injuries of the feet, ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and elbows. These numbers seem alarming because this is the first generation to take a highly active lifestyle into older age. Despite these facts, I say bravo!

These types of headlines might make some people think that active lifestyles are hazardous to the health, but it’s important to put it all into perspective. Previous generations tended to decline in physical activity as a sort of “natural process”. During the 1st half of the 20th century, medical science even saw increased physical activity in the elderly as detrimental. Pshaw, I say. We know now that staying physically active is more than just good for you–it’s essential.

The problem happening with baby boomers is one of faulty form, poor biomechanics, and ignoring the need to establish parameters. Many baby boomers have jumped into physical fitness without taking the time to be properly trained, and the result is an increase in injuries. No problem. It’s never too late to learn to do it the right way.

Poor biomechanics can be a simple issue of poor form or it might be due to biomechanical dysfunction. Chronic subluxations, poor flexibility, and funky feet can all exacerbate the problem…and eventually lead to injury. Gotta get your stuff worked out. See a chiropractor. Take yoga classes. Get fit for orthotics. You can get back to normal functioning; I see it happen every day in my practice.

And establishing parameters just means always reevaluating your limits. You can do this by keeping records of your current physical abilities–how far you run, how quickly you lap Runyon Canyon, how much weight you push, and so forth. If you wake up one morning feeling beat to hell, take note: you might need to change that current parameter and work back up to where you were. Wisdom is listening to your body. You will slow down eventually, but that doesn’t mean you have to hang ‘em up at fifty. Keep going, just listen to your body when it tells you to bring it down. That way, you will be able to enjoy all the benefits of an active lifestyle for years to come.


In the fight against dementia, a rich social life may be just as important as cognitive calisthenics. According to a recent study, staying connected with family and friends may delay memory decline among the elderly.

This month’s issue of the American Journal of Public Health features a study conducted out of the Harvard School of Public Health, which looked at the effects of social integration on memory. Almost 17 thousand older adults were followed for a six year period and their memory tested over time. The people were categorized by marital status, volunteer activity, and frequency of contact with children, parents, and neighbors. Memory was assessed by immediate and delayed recall of a 10-word list.

Researchers found that highly social people had less memory decline (all participants had some memory decline) than their less social counterparts. And people with the least social integration had twice the rate of decline than the most socially integrated. Gives you something to think about when considering whether to let that ol’ crotchety pal of yours go, doesn’t it?

What wonderfully pleasant results coming out of the social and psychological sciences. Yes, we are social organisms. We thrive when interacting with others. Socialization is one of the seven major areas of life (along with physical, mental, spiritual, familial, financial, and vocational aspects) and it’s a fact that each one effects the others enormously. And now we know just how much socialization effects our mental and physical health.

As energetic organisms we need to have energetic exchanges regularly with other life forms. The most obvious is with our own species. However, I do believe that people can receive this necessary exchange with nature too. And some people can get all their energetic interaction needs fulfilled through nature–you know, the Dr. Doolittles of the world, Euell Gibbons, and such. But the social recluse who sits at home, watching T.V. and cursing the world is doomed to a later life of rapid mental decline.

Bottom line is this: If you want to stay sharp into old age, increase your social life. It’s fun. It’s healthy. It’s happenin’. Socializing is a great way to stay young.

Just went to my favorite hippie store today–it’s been a long time. Erewhon, that natural-foods icon located near CBS on Beverly Boulevard, is the best place to go for natural foods and products, period. There have been a few imitators–good try all–but none live up to quality of Erewhon Natural Foods.

I’ve been going to hippie stores for as long as I can remember. I hail from the hippie capital of the world, you know–San Francisco. Anyway, I love the atmosphere at hippie stores and I love the natural products. They’re real natural products, not simply labeled as such like in some of the other fake hippie/yuppie stores that are popular right now. Back in the day–1970s-80s–you were a real freak if you shopped at hippie stores. Not anymore! It’s super-hip. But that’s cool–I think health is hip, too.

So something I really love about Erewhon is their juice bar. I usually like a big carrot juice with a shot of wheatgrass (my mom used to shove this stuff down our throats when my siblings and I were kids, but now I love it), but today I tried something new that I want to turn you all on to. Today I had a shot of wheatgrass juice with a shot of ginger juice and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. Woowee! Was that ever the schwizzle! You have got to try it–it’ll knock your socks off.

Carrot juice is high in vitamin A (Beta carotene) and vitamin B. It’s high in minerals like calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium, sodium, phosphorous, chlorine, sulfur, and iron. It’s great for the eyes (great remedy for night blindness), the mucous membranes (think lining of nose, mouth, throat, digestive system, and eliminatory organs), the bones and the teeth.

Wheatgrass is high in chlorophyll, amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes. It is good for:

  • improving the functions of the digestive system
  • preventing cancer, diabetes and heart disease
  • curing constipation
  • detoxifying heavy metals from the bloodstream
  • helping to make menopause more manageable
  • promoting general wellbeing.

Ginger is known as a digestive aid, increasing the production of digestive fluids and saliva. Ginger helps relieve indigestion, gas pains, diarrhea, and stomach cramping. Ginger has also been known to treat nausea, reduce inflammation, increase blood circulation, improve respiratory function, promote sweating (to break fevers), and detoxify the body.

Cayenne pepper has digestive benefits, circulatory benefits, and is used as a topical analgesic in many sports creams (it contains capsaicin–the chemical that causes heat). So all three together in a drink is…Booyah! Good stuff.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of checking out Erewhon, please do. As far as hippie stores go, it’s one of the best.

This story caught my eye the other day, and seeing it on the front page of the L.A. Times today, I just couldn’t resist. The Times reports that the University of California-Los Angeles Medical Center and its most accomplished liver surgeon provided a life-saving transplant to one of Japan’s most powerful gang bosses. Additionally, three other men barred from the U.S. for criminal activity also received liver transplants at UCLA.

What? How could that happen? Easy. Can you say money talks? That’s right, money talks and why not? Doesn’t money make the world go round? Oh, settle down you of such disillusioned idealism. Doesn’t money buy a bigger house? a better car? a vacation home in Singapore? Why not a liver transplant? According to the report, the Japanese crime boss, Tadamasa Goto, was given a visa to enter the United States despite being barred for criminal activity. The FBI helped Mr. Goto obtain the visa in exchange for leads on illegal activity in the United States by Japanese criminal gangs. Apparently none of those leads led to anything substantial. Suckers!

But wait! More deserving people–Americans even–are waiting for liver transplants!

Sorry–doesn’t work that way, and it never will. Even if our medical system becomes socialized (and it won’t) there will still be people looking for advantages–and advantages will be found. It might be an advantage of race, color, sex, social contacts, political affiliations–you name it. Right now the biggest advantage goes to those with the desire and ability to pay for what they want. Take that aspect away and I assure you something else will come and takes its place. Because whenever there is competition for anything of scarcity, there will be people trying to set themselves apart to get it. So hold on to your disillusions if you want to, but that’s just the way it goes, man.

And to ruffle even more feathers: Expect much of the same when that holy grail of modern medical science, stem cell research, blossoms into a whole host of new genetic engineering possibilities. It’ll be all about the money then too. That’s right, we all want to believe that stem cell research is going to be the panacea for all ailments. Uh huh. And I’m willing to bet $1 billion dollars right now that that ain’t ever gonna happen. But we will get plenty of designer babies and very expensive cloned replacement parts (you have just gotta check out The Island–what a fantastic movie, I loved it!).

So, if you’re sore about liver transplants being doled out to the highest bidders (Mr. Goto and the other foreign criminals that received liver transplants at UCLA donated $100,000 each to the university), just put it all into perspective. Either keep yourself as healthy as you possibly can–you know, not too much saki, sister–or make lots of money. But don’t waste your time getting pissed. Simple as that.

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