|Issue #15 - December 2003|
Welcome to the last 2003 issue of Naturopathic News, issue #15. It’s my goal to help you find natural solutions to health problems. This newsletter is one way to do that. The more educated you are about your health options the better able you will be to take control of your health. Any feedback in the form of comments, letters to the editor, success stories, etc., is appreciated.
If you think any of your friends or family would be interested in this material, just send me their email address. For all those who have told me how much they appreciate this newsletter, thank you for the kind words.
FLU AND THE FLU VACCINE: REALITY CHECK
Influenza, or flu, is due to a contagious influenzavirus infection that recurs in either minor or more major epidemics every year. It is seen in the summer in Asia and Australia, comes to North America and Europe in the late fall, winter, and early spring. Most of the cases of flu that I see are usually in January and February. Though I will see cases from December to March.
The vaccine industry makes vaccine dosages for the population many months before the flu actually hits. Besides the topic of vaccine harm, there is a big problem with this system. There is a certain amount of guesswork involved in determining which of the virus strains will come to the US, and therefore which vaccine to make. There are many types and subtypes of each virus as the virus has a tremendous ability to adapt. As a result, a vaccine that is not made specifically to protect against a particular subtype, will be less effective.
About 30,000-40,000 people die annually of the flu. The strain variant that is by far the most common this year is named influenza A/Fujian/411/2002, which is a H3N2 strain. This subtype is somewhat more lethal than other types we have seen in the States for a few years. However, it has not been a greatly larger number of deaths than seen in other years. In any given year, one in five or one in ten people get the flu. In general, even though tens of millions get the flu, less than a fifth of one percent of the affected people die.
As with any other infection, some people are more vulnerable to the virus itself. People that we would expect to be more sensitive to the flu are; the very young, the old, those with chronic ailments, and pregnant women. They may develop some extreme symptoms, such as severe dehydration. The more serious problem however, is that the virus weakens the immune system, which then allows for secondary infections. These viral and bacterial infections cause the mortality of the epidemic, via pneumonia, meningitis, or encephalitis.
This is the backdrop to all the dramatic stories of depleted stores of injectable vaccine and the long lines of people waiting to get their shots before the supply runs out. Or, they can pay 3x as much for the new FluMist nasal spray. What’s important to realize is that both forms of these vaccines are full of poisons like mercury, aluminum and phenol.
Remember, susceptibility plays a large part in any illness. Adding these metabolic toxins to your body does not make you healthier. The very thing that is supposed to prevent illness—the vaccine—is actually weakening your immune system and making you more likely to get ill.
The same lifestyle issues that help you prevent other illnesses will help prevent the flu as well. Good nutrition is the foundation of health. If you are eating more sugars, refined carbohydrates, processed foods, and fast foods, sleeping too little, drinking alcohol, etc., you will be more likely to get ill. Patients tell me all the time of people they know that got the flu shot and still got the flu. Getting the flu vaccine does not let you abdicate the need to feed your body healthfully. No shot, no pill is a substitute for a strong immune system. As long as we focus on the symptom and not the cure the only ones that will do well are the drug companies.
To prevent the flu start eating better now. Stop the junk foods, the fast foods, the sugar treats, the processed grains, and the trans-fats. Increase the essential fatty acid foods, organic vegetables, and free-range, grass-fed organic meats. Only the diet that is specific to your needs will truly address your health. There is no one size fits all.
If you focus on healthy food, proper rest, and holiday moderation, there is one effective generic flu preventive that I have mentioned before. It is a homeopathic remedy sold under 2 different names by 2 different companies. Whether called Oscillococcinum or Flu Solution, that is what you want. The symptom picture of this homeopathic medicine happens to match the most common symptom picture of the flu. Like any other homeopathic remedy, if the symptoms fit, you will get better. If the symptoms don’t match, you won’t improve. At the first sign of being ill—sore throat, cough, energy drop, etc., take 1 pellet. (IGNORE the label instructions on the remedy that tell you to take a half tube of pellets as one dose. One pellet=one dose.) Sometimes another pellet 4-6 hours later is helpful. In my experience if 2 doses don’t improve the symptoms it’s not the right remedy for your illness. Taking any more doses will be ineffective. Taking this homeopathic medicine after you are already quite ill is not usually helpful. If it is the correct remedy for your symptom picture you should be better within 12 hours of the first dose. You may not get the flu at all or you may only get a mild form. If you are getting worse over the succeeding 12 hours after dosing you may want to consult your friendly neighborhood homeopathic ND.
A SPOONFUL OF CINNAMON KEEPS THE DIABETES AWAY?
In this study, diabetics who incorporated one gram -- equivalent to less than one-quarter teaspoon -- of cinnamon per day for 40 days into their normal diets experienced a decrease in levels of blood sugar, cholesterol and blood fats.
Type 2 diabetes arises when the body loses sensitivity to insulin, a hormone that shuttles the sugars from food into body cells to be used for energy. As a result, the amount of sugar, or glucose, in the blood remains high, leading to fatigue and blurred vision. Over the long term, excess blood glucose can increase the risk of heart disease, kidney failure and blindness.
The current findings suggest that a small amount of cinnamon can help protect diabetics from these and other potential complications of their condition, told Reuters Health.
Diabetics could add a dash of cinnamon to their morning breakfast foods, study author Dr. Richard A. Anderson of the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center in Maryland noted. "You can also make cinnamon tea by simply boiling water with cinnamon sticks," he suggested. Anderson noted that cinnamon might also help stave off the onset of type 2 diabetes in people at risk of the condition.
During the study, Anderson and his colleagues asked 60 people with type 2 diabetes to consume 1, 3, or 6 grams of cinnamon each day for 40 days, or the equivalent amount of wheat flour, as a placebo. Both the cinnamon and wheat flour were administered in capsule form.
Reporting in the journal Diabetes Care, Anderson and his team found that all cinnamon-takers experienced a drop in blood levels of glucose, fats and cholesterol by up to 30 percent. No change was seen in the people taking placebo capsules. Anderson explained that cinnamon contains compounds that help make insulin more efficient, improving the hormone's ability to bring glucose to the cells that need it.
Cinnamon contains less than 3 calories per gram. One gram per day would not be too much to take.
Previous research has shown that cinnamon appears to help fat cells recognize and respond to insulin. In test tube and in animal studies, the spice increased glucose metabolism by about 20 times.
Diabetes Care, December 2003.
DRUGS DON’T WORK
A senior executive with Britain's biggest drug company has admitted that most prescription medicines do not work on most people who take them.
Allen Roses, worldwide vice-president of genetics at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), said fewer than half of the patients prescribed some of the most expensive drugs actually derived any benefit from them.
It is an open secret within the drugs industry that most of its products are ineffective in most patients but this is the first time that such a senior drugs boss has gone public. His comments came days after it emerged that the Britain’s National Health Service drug bill soared by nearly 50 per cent in three years, rising by 2.3 billion ponds a year to an annual cost to the taxpayer of 7.2 billion pounds. GSK announced last week that it had 20 or more new drugs under development that could each earn the company up to 1 billion pounds a year.
Dr. Roses, an academic geneticist from Duke University in North Carolina, spoke at a recent scientific meeting in London where he cited figures on how well different classes of drugs work in real patients.
Drugs for Alzheimer's disease work in fewer than one in three patients, whereas those for cancer are only effective in a quarter of patients. Drugs for migraines, for osteoporosis, and arthritis work in about half the patients, Dr Roses said. Most drugs work in fewer than one in two patients.
"The vast majority of drugs - more than 90 per cent - only work in 30 or 50 per cent of the people," Dr. Roses said.
Dr. Roses said doctors treating patients routinely applied the trial-and-error approach that says that if one drug does not work there is always another one. "I think everybody has it in their experience that multiple drugs have been used for their headache or multiple drugs have been used for their backache or whatever.
London Times 12/19/03
GP: So why do tens of millions of consumers take drugs? For less than a 50% chance that they might work? Pretty poor odds when billions of dollars (or pounds) are being spent.
DIETARY FAT AND MACULAR DEGENERATION
Certain types of dietary fat are associated with an increased risk of progression to advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD), whereas nuts and fish are protective, according to the results of a prospective study published in the December, 2003 issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.
"We found that higher levels of certain dietary fat intake were associated with the progression of AMD to the advanced stages associated with visual loss," write Johanna M. Seddon, MD, ScM, from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues.
The 261 patients in this study were at least 60 years of age and had some sign of AMD and visual acuity of 20/200 or better in at least one eye. Average follow-up was 4.6 years.
Based on food frequency questionnaires reflecting dietary patterns in the previous week, consumption of particular dietary fats increased the risk of progression to advanced AMD. Trans fats, animal fats, and baked goods were some of the worst offenders. Fish and nut consumption reduced the risk.
"Thus, dietary intake of fat, including specific types of fat as well as fat-containing foods, is a potentially important behavior that can modify the outcome for patients who already have the early or intermediate forms of AMD."
Arch Ophthalmol. 2003;121:1728-1737
GP: Remember, most fish is too toxic to consume these days. There are a couple of Alaskan salmon brands that test out as pretty clean but not much else. As far as nuts go, raw, unsalted almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds are the best.
U.S. PROPOSES EASING RULES ON MERCURY EMISSIONS
The Bush administration is proposing that mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants should not be regulated in the same way as some of the most toxic air pollutants, reversing a stance on air pollution control taken by the Clinton administration in 2000.
The change in planned regulations for mercury emissions from power plants is summarized in documents from the Environmental Protection Agency and is the first big policy decision by Michael O. Leavitt, who took over as the agency's administrator last month.
The agency is suggesting that mercury emissions be removed from the most stringent regulations of the Clean Air Act that have been used to limit the most toxic air pollutants. Among those are asbestos, chromium and lead, which have been known to cause cancers and neurological disorders.
The administration proposal would make legally mandated mercury regulation fall under a less stringent section of the Clean Air Act that governs pollutants like those that cause smog and acid rain, which are not as toxic to humans.
Currently mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants are not yet regulated under federal law. These power plants release about 48 tons of mercury into the air each year, or about 40 percent of the total human-caused mercury emissions in the country, the agency estimates.
The upcoming regulations have been the subject of intense lobbying by utilities that argue the rules would force them to install costly equipment on power plants to reduce the amount of mercury being spewed into the air.
Under the proposal submitted to the White House, power plants would be able to buy and sell the rights to emit mercury into the air. A similar trading of emission credits is currently in use to handle sulfur dioxide, the pollutant that is a component of acid rain. In addition, the agency's proposal would push back the effective date of the new regulations to 2010 at the earliest.
Environmental groups criticize this market-based proposal, saying it would allow hot spots of mercury contamination to build up. Mercury, a known neurotoxin, accumulates in the environment and builds up in the tissue of fish and the species, including humans, that eat them. It is considered particularly hazardous for pregnant women because of the developmental effects on fetuses.
"Mercury is a serious public health threat," said Carol M. Browner, who served as E.P.A. administrator under President Bill Clinton. "We were regulating it; we were on track to keep it regulated. This reverses that and puts the public health at risk."
GP: One in 12 women of childbearing age have mercury levels in their blood that exceed levels that the EPA says is safe for fetuses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nursing babies whose mothers eat contaminated fish can ingest Mercury. We don’t need any more Mercury in our environment or further delay in limiting our exposure. We know what it does to children—just ask the residents of Minamata, Japan, site of the one of the worst Mercury contaminations in the world.
Wishing all of you a healthy and prosperous New Year,
Gregory Pais, ND, DHANP