From the monthly archives: "October 2009"

In part three of theSecond Chance–Break Free From Addiction DVD clips, I discuss using exercise an an alternative to using drugs. Before you shake this concept off as absurd, consider this: Exercise releases endorphins–the body’s natural opiates.

Endorphins, like narcotics, feel good. So you can really achieve very similar pleasurable feelings (remember, no pleasure without pain) that you get from using drugs. The same? No…but similar, for sure. And the benefits of exercise are enormous–increased strength, stamina, endurance, balance, weight loss and natural anti-aging–all the while feeling as good as an orgasm! Without the crash of drug withdrawal.

So there you have it. If you or a loved one is struggling with drug addiction, please visit the Second Chance website, and get a copy of the DVD today–and then watch it–you’ll be happy you did.

In this clip I talk about how drugs are neutralized and removed from the body. That process, like all processes–including physical stresses, pleasures, thoughts, ideas, experiences–have a shaping effect on the nervous system. Drugs (this includes the “good” drugs your doctor gives you) and alcohol, then, reshape your nervous system in a way that leads to drug tolerance, which essentially means you need more and more to get the desired effects (getting high, pain relief, loss of anxiety, sleep, whatever). No such thing as “minor effect’ for this reason. Doesn’t mean people shouldn’t take medications–they are useful and necessary at the right time–but they are definitely not benign. And this clip shows why.

Please visit the Second Chance–Break Free From Addiction website if you or a loved one are struggling with drug addiction.

Get those kids in the sun, parents–one out of every five American children aged 1 to 11 is vitamin D deficient. Dang! And the numbers are worse for blacks and Hispanics. Almost 90% of African American children and 80% of Hispanic children could be vitamin D deficient. Double Dang! All this coming from a new analysis at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital in Boston.

Vitamin D deficiency can lead to many illnesses including infections, diabetes and even some cancers. Even the severity of asthma symptoms has been shown to be increased in children with low vitamin D levels. But the most common ailment attached to vitamin D deficiency is bone weakness, or rickets, common a century ago but still happening today with all to often frequency. D-D-D-Dang!

The RDA for treating and preventing rickets is 400 IU vitamin D daily, which can be obtained by drinking four glasses of fortified milk. Vitamin D can also be obtained from sun exposure, which unfortunately may be lacking in children residing in northern climates and those with darker skin tones. The explosion of computers and video games is also a risk factor for children that do not spend enough time outdoors. Further, many kids are not getting enough milk, cheese or fish–all good sources of vitamin D.

So what’s the answer? How about a good vitamin D supplement for junior? Can’t get them off the Madden 2010 and playing outdoors??? (many children found to be vitamin D deficient were also overweight or obese–D-D-D-Duh!). Then you’ve got to pick up a good supplement, period.

Then slap yourself across the noggin AND GET JUNIOR RUNNING OUTDOORS D-D-D-DANGIT! I mean, what’s the major malfunction??? It’s not rocket science: Kids need to be outdoors running, playing, wrestling, carousing, whatever–it’s the natural order of things. Video games–and that includes the Wiisorry–are for “sometimes“. That’s it, d-d-d-dagnamit! Vitamin D deficiency is no joke–don’t treat it like one.

Have I caught your attention? Good. You’re gonna like this post, either for its usefulness or its sheer absurdity. Either way, listen up–there’s something in it for everyone.

First things first, doctors urge the use of erectile dysfunction drugs. According to a clinical practice guideline issued by the American College of Physicians, men with erectile dysfunction should be on oral phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE-5) inhibitor drugs, such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra, unless, of course, they are on nitrate therapy for cardiac conditions.

OK, no surprises there. This news in the face of another study that discloses that “hardness is the way to happiness.” Men have known this forever, but now science confirms it. Here’s the scoop: Pfizer, the makers of Viagra, surveyed men and women from twelve European countries. They found that 95% of respondents believe that a man’s sexual confidence is the essential ingredient for a good sex life. And 84% of men surveyed believe that the most important element of a man’s sexual confidence is his ability to please his partner sexually, while almost three quarters of women questioned agreed. So, guess what? More vi–agra, Olé!!!

The humor lies in the fact that when it comes to erection hardness, Spaniards are the least confident, while Germans are the most. This is in complete contrast to another survey in which women rated German men as the worst lovers, and Spanish men the best. Hmmm…either Spaniards are modest, Germans are dense, or women prefer men who lack confidence in their erections. Let’s see, happy women, unhappy men….yeah, that sounds right.

Anyway gents, dont worry about long-term Viagra use for now. It appears that scientists can’t find any long-term risks at the moment. There are, however, plenty of short term reactions. Dr. Alexander Tsertsvadze, from Ottawa Health Research Institute, Ontario, Canada, and colleagues report that men who took Viagra were 56% more likely than those given a placebo to experience any side effect, like headache, flushing difficulty breathing, and vision problems. The way I see it, most Spanish men would gladly endure flushing and gasping for a few hours of good wood.

But women–Aussie women primarily–beware the British male tourist travelling Down Under (now stop!). According to a recent report, Englishmen backpacking through Australia are speading sexually transmitted diseases like wildfire through risky behavior (unprotected sex with multiple partners). That’s right, “liberal” Aussie girls are foolishly practicing “no glove-love” with British travelers. And, well…you know that’s dumb.

American truckers ain’t doin’ much better. But I’ll spare you the dirty details. Check here if you’re interested.

Finally, in Detroit, one liquor store was busted trading Viagra, liquor and pornography for food stamps. U.S. Agriculture Department officials are pissed. I don’t get why. Don’t they understand it’s the key to happiness? Why, just ask a Spaniard.

Does evolution apply to human health? Why do we so conveniently forget about the evolutionary process when evaluating 21st century health and disease? I mean, I know modern medical science is familiar with the concept, so why throw out evolutionary reason when analyzing today’s health issues?

Well here comes a branch of medicine, known as Darwinian medicine, dedicated to applying reason to rationale. Darwinian medicine is not your typical Cartesian philosophy–the one that says the human body is simply a machine, with various parts and systems, much like a clock; and that all processes can be understood by breaking the whole down to it’s most basic components–but instead see the human body as evolving through time to environmental factors the way all living organisms do.

A key area of focus in Darwinian medicine is the emergence of modern epidemics like asthma and obesity–modern diseases resulting from changes in the environment which our bodies cannot evolve quickly enough to. And these rapid changes in our environment can also be the result of human activity, and even caused by efforts to eradicate other diseases.

According to Randolph Nesse, a pioneer in the field from the University of Michigan states, “The epidemic of asthma worldwide may be directly related to our very effective world health efforts to eliminate worms from people.”

Another scientist explains that improved standards of hygiene could explain why societies in the rich world have become more susceptible to asthma, to allergies and to auto-immune diseases. Our push to eradicate diseases, and especially our attempt to protect ourselves via vaccination might be one cause of lowered resistance to some illnesses. Humans in less developed, poorer societies, “where parasites and microbial infections are high,” have lower instances of such ailments, Barnes said.

I’ve been pushing this idea since I started this blog, especially as it relates to the influenza virus and accompanying vaccine. If the influenza virus is rapidly mutating–that is, changing it’s makeup every year–doesn’t make sense just to encounter it and develop natural immunity? I mean it isn’t tuberculosis, for heaven’s sake. Yes, flu kills people–so do aligators. It’s not like we haven’t evolved in a way to outrun those grisly gators. This is true for microorganisms to. They have been around for milennea, and they’ll keep evolving. As living organisms, human beings need to keep up with the times, too.

Very interesting information coming out of the swine flu watch today: More educated, higher earners are opting out of the H1N1 vaccine, while less educated, poorer folk are more likely to get the vaccine. Hmm, I wonder why.

According to a recent Thompson Reuters survey of more than 3000 people, almost 50% of people with lower education (nothing more than high school) were very concerned about H1N1, compared with only 29 percent of those with at least a four-year college degree. And 45% of the less-educated said they and their families were likely to vaccinate, while only 36 percent of college-educated people expected to be immunized. Almost half of all respondents said they were unlikely to immunize.

Well hallelujah! This news put my faith back into educated people–they actually do use their smarts sometimes. Let me repeat, hallelujah. I appreciate that so many people see right through this fear campaign being levied against us. The push for mass inoculations is absolutely ludicrous. And it’s not just individuals coming to their senses: Today the state of New York suspended its policy that all health workers are to be vaccinated against the H1N1 or risk discipline. Imagine the swine flu hysteria threatening our civil liberties. Geezus!

The hysteria is so widespread that our uber-progressive neighbors to the north are miffed and frustrated that Canadians are also rejecting the swine flu vaccine. According to a similar Canadian poll, Canucks will be avoiding the untried and untested H1N1 vaccine at about 50% themselves. Bravo Canada–you are progressive.

All this in the face of regular flu vaccinations being at their highest level ever at this time of year. Hmmm…you don’t say. My regular readers know that last year flu shots were at their lowest levels in the U.S. in years, and flu cases were also way down. Could the swine flu be a marketing maneuver? The ol’ bait and switch? Nah…just coincidence, I’m sure. Ha, ha, ha, ha…sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one who see the absurdity in health policy and practice.

According to experts, the swine flu has people contemplating the deadly dangers of the regular flu. Oy vey! Listen people: Most of us have already had the swine flu. I’ve been saying this for months. Listen! Stop freaking out! You’ve probably had it. I know I’ve have, and so has my daughter. If you were sicker this year than you can long remember–YOU PROBABLY HAD THE SWINE FLU. It has been confirmed by Centers of Disease Control Director Dr. Thomas Frieden: “Many millions” of Americans have had swine flu so far, he said. No kidding.

Flu is flu is flu, and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Words to live by. Or you can freak out–it’s up to you.

Listen up: Get an MRI, get a surgery–that’s the way it works. According to a new study published in the journal Health Affairs, researchers found that the greater the accessibility to MRI machines, the more likely a low back pain sufferer would receive one. And here’s the kicker: Those people getting MRIs were more likely to be recommended and receive low back surgery. Nice.

For the layman, let it be known that low back surgeries are notorious for not doing diddly squat. That’s right, they are useless in a large number of low back pain cases. As I point out in my book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health, low back surgeries are one of the two most unnecessary surgical procedures prescribed today (the other one is hysterectomies). You should also know that MRIs are waaaay overused by medicos. MRIs are not definitive: plenty of asymptomatic people (no pain) have disc bulges showing on MRI, while plenty of people with low back pain (symptomatic) have normal MRIs. What can we conclude? Bulges are not the end-all-be-all of low back pain causes; or in other words, that $5000 (I’m probably under-estimating here) scan your ortho is sending you for might be rather useless within the big picture.

I don’t think this is merely a money game, not at all. What I really think this is a case of is modern medicine’s having a severely limited arsenal when it comes to treating low back pain. When it come to the lumbago, your medical options are:

  • the drug triad: pain killers, anti-inflammatories, and muscle relaxants.
  • physical therapy
  • low back surgery

The biggest problem in this whole mess is not the exhorbitant cost of this most-prdominant treatment protocol (these are the treatment options of choice for the majority of Americans), but instead how it’s crippling people. I speak from experience as my father has had two failed low back surgeries. I say failed because, after two times under the knife, guess what he still has? You’ve got it–low back pain! Oh he can walk alright, but we paid for that–you and me, suckers–because it also put him on early retirement and permanent disability. The surgeries…not the low back pain…just want to make that clear.

Notice you don’t see chiropractic referrals on that list of treatment options. That’s right, because god-forbid you should take that MRI $5000 and put it toward something useful. No, no, harumpfff, never. Good word, son…chiropractors hurt people. We’re better off maiming the poor bloke, wouldn’t you say? Keep it all in the family, you know.

Yes, we know.

Good news for medical marijuana patients: The Feds won’t be closing legal dispensaries anytime soon–as long as they comply with state and local laws. A fortunate development for cancer, AIDS and glaucoma patients, as there was some uncertainty on President Barack Obama’s stance on medical marijuana clinics. However, before all you plantar fasciitis suffering hippies and skaters get too overjoyed–the Justice Department says it will have no problem prosecuting dispensaries conducting illegal operations. DOH!

According to Justice Department officials, formal guidelines were sent on Monday in a policy change reflecting President Obama’s views that federal money should not be spent closing down medical marijuana dispensaries in states where it’s legal–which includes Alaska, California, Colorado, and Hawaii among the thirteen states in total. Patients and dispensaries were recently holding their breath as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) conducted a raid on a dispensary in Lake Tahoe, California earlier this year. This coupled with the Bush Administration’s opinion that it could enforce federal law against marijuana, even above and beyond state laws had many in the industry worried. But President Obama said during his campaign last year that intended to halt raids of medical marijuana facilities operating legally under state laws. Hail Obama!!!

My regular readers know how I feel about this issue. Not only do I think Cannabis sativa (Mary Jane for you non-botanists) should be available for medicinal purposes, I think it should be legalized all the way around. As a recreational mind-altering substance, marijuana is bengn. The revenue that could be generated from the legal and controlled sales and distribution of this currently illegal drug would be highly useful. But hey, I’m odd–I also think prostitution should be legalized, you know? Go figure.

Anyway, Attorney General Eric Holder did make it perfectly clear that certain illegal activities revolving around the current medical marijuana industry will not be tolerated. These include:

  • drug trafficking
  • unlawful use of firearms
  • violence
  • illegal sales to minors
  • money laundering
  • or other violations of the law.

Which I interpret to mean that the average citizen will eventually be unable to walk into a clinic, claim nagging elbow pain, and walk away with a scrip for Weed Brownies eaten once every 12 hours for the rest of your life. Sorry stoners, but I think that lid will be closed very soon…for now. But who knows–the way things have been going, my blueprint for a smoke-legal nation may just be on the horizon.

Finally, something to get excited about selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)–they might just have a future in spinal cord injury rehabilitation. That’s right, your regular ol’ run-of-the-mill antidepressants have been shown to get people with spinal cord injuries walking faster. Now that’s exciting!

A study conducted at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago built on previous studies showing that giving animals serotonin-like drugs after spinal cord injuries promoted recovery of walking when paired with an intensive training program. It looked at 50 patients with partial spinal cord injuries, 34 of which could walk, albeit slowly, previous to the study. All 50 went through an eight-week rehabilitative walking program on a treadmill, assisted by a robot or physical therapist. Up to 40 percent of their body weight was supported in a harness.

Five hours before training, some were given 10 mg of Lexapro, and some a placebo. Although both groups showed overall improvement, the Lexapro group did so faster. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors–like Prozac, Lexapro, Luvox and Zoloft–work by preventing the reuptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin by the nerve cells of the brain. In so doing, they allow the concentration of serotonin to remain elevated in the neural synapses, regulating mood (debatable but the reigning theory, anyway).

In this case, the drugs appear to work by increasing muscle spasms that people with spinal cord injuries typically experience, says George Hornby, a research scientist involved in the study. Most doctors consider these spasms negative, but Hornsby and colleagues believe that they mimic reflexes, which spinal cord injury patients “rely on [to walk].”

The volunteers only received the antidepressants on the day of training, yet the benefits continued long after the drug was out of their systems. Hornby thinks the drug is strengthening the residual connections between the brain and the spinal cord. “It helps you drive that muscle harder, and it’s easier for the brain to activate the muscle,” he said.

I find this research exiting because, along with the obvious, I pretty much think antidepressants are more hype than help. Oh, they change brain chemistry, no doubt; and these changes lead to mood alteration, but is this type of mood alteration ultimately what’s best for the person taking them? Not as far as I can see.

But I also acknowledge that all coins have a flip side; and in the gold-standard antidepressant therapy, we now have a tails to the “we cure depression” heads of the biochemical theory of mental “illness”. With these latest findings, I hail the possibilities of helping people with spinal cord injuries walk again–sooner, and maybe even better than the current recovery rate and results. So hang on tight people because you may never hear this out my brain again, but bravo! to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

I want to share with you a personal story about my health, which I think will be a great illustration of the conundrum facing the modern medical paradigm.

I just got my annual physical results from my doctor. He told me that my numbers all came back perfect. All except one: You have high cholesterol. Yawn. OK, how high. 270. This is high despite your HDL being pretty high also. And your LDLs, which are your bad cholesterol are 181. In the absence of other factors–like you are not 40 lbs overweight, and your blood pressure is good, and you don’t smoke–it probably won’t go down with diet and exercise alone, so…you’ll probably want to get that treated.

And my HDLs are at what number? 89.

And my total/HDL ratio? Oh…hmmm….well, that’s actually pretty good. It’s 3.1.

For those who don’t know, HDLs are “good” cholesterol; they remove the so-called “bad” cholesterol (don’t know how a substance produced by the body, and needed to break down and digest fats can be considered bad, but, whatever). HDLs in the 40 range are considered “normal”. 89, might I say, is outstanding…thank you very much.

The total cholesterol to HDL ratio is a good determinant of the risk for cardiovascular disease. Just for a little perspective, 5.0 is “average” risk. Anything under 3.4 is “very low” risk. I’m 3.1.

Here’s the problem: My caring doctor–bless his heart–knows damn well that I’m at a low risk for cardiovascular disease. I’m 41-years-old and in the best shape of my life. I’m 155 lbs, have stellar blood pressure (120/70), don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t do drugs; I’m on no medications; I do not partake in risky behavior. Why the bleep is he recommending treatment* (which is prophylactic statin medication, if you didn’t know)?

I’ll tell you why–for liabilities sake. He knows that if he doesn’t tell me that I have high cholesterol, and he doesn’t recommend “treatment” (frickin’ treatment, lol), and I drop dead of a heart attack, even if it’s because I snort a gram and a half of cocaine! he’s liable. That’s right–tort litigation! Just ask Billy Mays’ doctor. Coroners found cocaine in his system; but nooo, his family insists it was high blood pressure that killed him. Not saying that they are seeking damages; but it’s the potential I’m talking about. Every doctor is afraid of being sued. Medical malpractice insurance is one of the highest costs facing doctors today. So what do they do to keep their premiums down? Order every frickin’ test humanly possible. Cha-ching.

And they “treat” 41-year-old males in great health with statins, otherwise known as, “the best selling drugs of all time.

It’s not doctor greed, I tell you–it’s attorney greed. And public ignorance. There I’ve said it. Nobody is talking about that part of the health care crisis.

*Just so you know: I’m not taking them.

If you are not fully aware of the amazing intelligence of the human body, let me fill you in: A 40-year-old woman who fell into a coma while 13-weeks pregnant gave birth to a healthy baby 22 weeks later in a German hospital, sources disclosed this week. The incident occurred one and a half years ago, but was withheld until Friday to keep the astounding results from setting off a media circus.

The mother suffered a heart attack early in her pregnancy and remained in a coma throughout. Doctors did not disclose whether the baby was birthed naturally or by cesarean section. The baby is now 1 1/2 years old and healthy. Matthias Beckmann, a director at the hospital in Erlangen, Bavaria, said: “We wanted to keep the spectacular case secret for as long as possible to demonstrate that we’re not experimenting on people and that the child is still healthy.”

Anyone else in awe of the body’s incredible innate intelligence? The body knows what to do and when to do it. The current medical/physiological paradigm perceives the body as highly fragile and fallible. There are some, it believes, that have “good genes,” and are therefore strong and resilient. But for some poor folk–those cursed with “bad genes” or those that have simply gotten the short end of the stick (whatever that’s supposed to mean)–medical science believes their bodies can’t produce proper amounts of cholesterol, or that their brains are dysfunctional in their regulation of neurotransmitters; and that somehow they needs a lifetime of medical intervention to function properly and sustain life.

You know, if this was the rationale behind some medical cases, then I might not scoff. But this paradigm is the prevailing belief system in nearly all of health care and medicine. It’s false.

The human body has an innate intelligence governing it, and the source is not simply genetics. The body knows what it needs and to what degree in development, maintenance and healing. It produces enough cholesterol, serotonin and dopamine for its particular host, even if that amount is outside “medically determined” norms. The innate intelligence of the body is smarter than man; it knows how to regulate a system better, within a wider range of variabilities, than man-made pharmacology does.

Don’t believe me? Ask a German-born child who spent 22-weeks developing in the womb of a comatose mother, who was delivered healthy, and remains alive and well one and a half years later. In a few years ask that child what he or she thinks about innate intelligence.

Let me know what you find out.

Think sex isn’t health? Think again. New research suggests that sexually satisfied women have greater well-being. On the flip side, sexually dissatisfied women had lower well-being and lower vitality. You don’t say…hmmm. Tell me more.

Australian researchers at the Women’s Health Program at Monash University studied 295 women, aged 20 to 65, who were sexually active more than twice a month. They wanted to explore the links between sexual satisfaction and well-being in women, and if there was any difference between pre- and postmenopausal women. According to Dr. Sonia Davison, one of the scientist on the study, “This finding highlights the importance of addressing these areas as an essential part of women’s health care, because women may be uncomfortable discussing these issues with their doctor.” She went on to say,

“It is impossible to determine if dissatisfied women had lower well-being because they were sexually dissatisfied, or if the reverse is true, such that women who started with lower well-being tended to secondarily have sexual dissatisfaction. As such, pharmacotherapies aimed to treat sexual dysfunction may have secondary effects on well-being, and the reverse may be true.”

More than 90 percent of the women in the study said their sexual activity involved a partner, and that sexual activity was initiated by the partner at least 50 percent of the time. This means that the sexual activity of the study participants may have been affected by partner presence/absence, partner health and sexual function–factors that weren’t addressed in the study, the researchers noted.

Well, really, no surprises here: Sexuality is a part of being human; we are sexual beings. Healthy sexual contact is necessary in the way all human touch is. A person deprived of touch can become isolated, ill or whither away and die (study done on children in orphanages). So go figure that sexually satisfied women have greater well-being.

All I can say is that if you, woman or man, are repressing your sexuality for any reason other than having no interest, you’d better rethink your philosophy there. I know, I know, living in a puritanical society makes it tough on everyone, but try to figure it out anyway. I mean, it is for wellness’ sake, isn’t it?

Let’s see what you think of this one: In nearly one-third of states, drug deaths now outnumber traffic fatalities. You heard right–16 states now list drug overdoses as their number one killer. And it’s not just illicit drug use causing the increase in fatalities, but the rise of prescription painkillers.

According to experts at the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the drug-related death rate roughly doubled from the late 1990s to 2006. Although traffic accidents have been the top killer in America for the last several decades, drug deaths have been slowly inching by–leading in only eight states in 2003, they crept to 12 in 2005, and then 16 in 2006. Ouch! The states: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

Experts say that the increase in drug deaths is not just due to usual heroin and cocaine overdoses, but to increases in narcotic painkiller prescriptions like methadone, Oxycontin and Vicodin. From 1999 to 2006, death rates for such medications climbed for every age group. Deaths from methadone alone increased sevenfold, according to the CDC.

And mind you, these are not just of the black market variety, either: About half of the opiate medication deaths in King County, Wash., which includes Seattle, involved people who got their drugs through legal prescriptions, said Caleb Banta-Green, a University of Washington research scientist. Some experts believe that doctors’ prescribing habits changed in the 1990s when they found chronic pain overwhelming (to them*). Although most of the 39,000 drug deaths in 2006 were sudden, due to overdose, the numbers also reflected those due to organ damage from chronic use and abuse.

Here’s my issue with this situation: While many people have been crying for more medicine recently, this country’s obsession with drugs has been causing a large portion of the untimely deaths we are now seeing. Great–give us more drugs. More medicine. Not enough people have it, right? Let’s make drug deaths the top killer in all 50 states. Yeah. If some people have their way, we’ll be there soon enough.

*God forbid these doctors should refer some of these patients to alternative practitioners like chiropractors, acupuncturists or others. It might be simply disastrous to admit that perhaps these practitioners have a safe non-drug solution. Simply archaic.

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