Month: May 2016

Gluten in Your Thyroid Drug?

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A major drug maker does not even know what is in its drug.

A major drugmaker may be adding a new ingredient to their thyroid medication that will make many patients sicker. What is behind this ignorant or thoughtless move? Two Action Alerts!

Hypothyroid patients, take note: your medicine might now include gluten as an ingredient. A representative from Pfizer has said that the source of the starch in Cytomel cannot be verified and could come from corn, potato, or wheat.

Pfizer does not seem to know or care that this is not just a problem for those with general gluten sensitivity or, worse, Chrohn’s Disease. It may also make thyroid conditions worse, even much worse, totally defeating the purpose of the drug in the first place.

Cytomel contains the T3 thyroid hormone, one of five hormones produced by the thyroid (the others are T1, T2, T4, and calcitonin). Most thyroid medications for hypothyroid patients (those who cannot produce enough thyroid hormone) contain the T4 hormone, which the body is supposed to convert into T3. But not everyone can convert T4, and some must take the T3 hormone instead. Since Cytomel is the only mass-marketed T3 medication, if it is tainted with gluten, many patients (even if they understand the problem) will have nowhere to turn—especially if compounded T3 is eliminated, which is exactly what the FDA and drug companies seem to want. More on this below.

Why is gluten a problem, particularly for hypothyroid patients? The cause of hypothyroidism for 90% of people is Hashimoto’s disease, where the body’s own immune system attacks the thyroid. Many patients are unaware that they have Hashimoto’s, however, because conventional doctors don’t test for it. Why? Because there is no drug to treat it, thus they don’t think it can be treated. They too don’t “get it.” With proper nutrition and a strict gluten-free diet, as well as addressing underlying causes such as toxic exposures, it can be completely reversed. We have seen this because an ANH-USA staffer had Hashimoto’s disease and was able to cure it with this approach. (See our companion article in this issue.)

Doctors are finding that those with Hashimoto’s disease benefit greatly from a gluten-free diet, likely because gluten triggers the autoimmunity that is the root cause of their hypothyroidism. If a hypothyroid patient with Hashimoto’s takes a pill that contains gluten, the autoimmunity that flares up as a result could cause systemic inflammation and additional problems with autoimmunity.

That this critically important connection is lost on pharmaceutical companies making thyroid medications is not that surprising, but no less concerning for patients who will become sick taking these drugs. This is one more instance of the conventional medical paradigm focusing on treating symptoms while taking no interest in the root cause of disease. We hate to say this, but curing patients once and for all is not profitable medicine.

There are, of course, alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs for treating hypothyroidism. Compounding pharmacies can make customized, natural medicines that give hypothyroid patients the hormones they need. Unfortunately, as we’ve been reporting for some months, the FDA has been passing draconian regulations on the compounding industry, severely limiting the natural medicines they can produce. We’ve seen natural medicines rejected from the Bulk Drug list, and delivery systems such as time-release medicines nominated to the “Difficult to Compound” list (not to mention the bioidentical hormones such as estriol and progesterone that have also been targeted for extinction so that drug companies can have a monopoly). We’ve also recently reported that new FDA guidances are making it even harder for traditional compounding pharmacies to do business—and without compounding pharmacies, there can be no compounded thyroid medicine.

These restrictions make the inclusion of gluten in thyroid drugs even more concerning. If the FDA eliminates access to compounded thyroid medicines, the only alternative will be the gluten-containing drug. We believe that this is by design. The goal of the FDA’s war on natural medicine is to eliminate competition for drugs—even if those drugs will make people sicker.

Action Alert! Tell the FDA to maintain access to compounded thyroid treatments and other natural medicines. Please send your message immediately.

 

Benefits of Coconut Oil Are Undeniable

May 30, 2016

By Dr. Mercola

It seems that coconut oil has been getting a lot of press lately and for many different reasons. It has a number of surprising uses, as a food, certainly, but for many other health-related benefits. Some of them are quite surprising.

That’s why coconut oil seems to have moved from “What is it?” to “It’s a superfood!” as people all over the world take stock of what it can do for them.

Nutritionally speaking, the fatty acids in coconut oil lend several health benefits, including improved brain function, stimulating your body’s metabolism, generating energy and helping you shed excess body fat, as has been shown among people from populations that regularly consume high amounts of coconut oil. Here are several of the best benefits of coconut oil.

Coconut Oil Has Fatty Acids That Are Good for You

You may have heard that while saturated fat was once thought to be a leading cause of heart disease, it’s now known to be not just beneficial but crucial for good health. The good news: coconut oil is one of the best sources of saturated fat on the planet. In fact, about 90 percent of the fat content in coconut oil is saturated fat.

Rather than clogging your arteries, damaging your coronary system and putting you on the fast track to a stroke, new information has emerged in a significant meta-analysis,1 which showed no significant evidence that saturated fat causes any of the above, but is in fact very good for you.

Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides that can have therapeutic benefits for people with certain brain disorders, epilepsy, and may even help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.2

Where Coconut Oil Has Been Used, People Thrive

As you look at the civilizations around the world that have consumed coconut oil for decades and even centuries, it’s clear there’s a difference, medically speaking, between those individuals and those of the so-called “enlightened” first-world countries.

They seem to be healthier! As an example, individuals in Polynesian populations such as those in Tokelau and Pukapuka, where people tend to eat a lot of coconut, were examined in light of their high saturated fat intake and low cholesterol and sucrose levels.

Researchers found that “vascular disease is uncommon in both populations and there is no evidence of the high saturated fat intake having a harmful effect.”3

Another case in point is the Kitevan people in New Guinea, whose collective diet is untarnished by the food habits of the Western world. Besides eating a lot of tubers, fruit and fish, the people also consume coconut as a prominent staple.

None of the people involved in the study4 reported stroke, sudden death, weakness, brain diseases, or chest pain related to heavy lifting. Coronary artery disease was nowhere to be found.

The only inference that can be made is that, rather than being sick, weak and diseased, many populations around the world have managed much better than more “progressive” parts of the world on their traditional diets with the plentiful addition of coconut oil.

Triglycerides, Fat and Where It’s At

No matter where you travel, practically every place has been influenced by theWestern diet, and not in a good way.

Where there’s obesity in large amounts of the population, there’s a very good chance you’ll find misguided and destructive eating habits such as low-fat diets along with too much processed, CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) meat and not enough vegetables and healthy sources of fat.

Some believe it’s all about calorie intake; however, people who have been paying attention to which foods are actually healthy and which are not understand this isn’t really the case. It’s about the substance behind the calories.

Medium-chain fatty acids or triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut oil amount to about two-thirds its total fatty acids. In explanation:5

“Dietary fats are molecules composed of individual carbon atoms linked into chains ranging from two to 22 carbon atoms in length. Long-chain fatty acids (LCTs) ranging from 12 to 18 carbons long are the predominant form of fat in the American diet.

MCTs, by contrast, are composed of only six to 10 carbon links. Because of their shorter chain length, MCTs have a number of unique properties which give them advantages over the more common LCTs.”

The bottom line is, when you eat foods high in medium-chain triglycerides, your body benefits.

Case in point: when seven healthy men were tested for metabolic function in relation to triglycerides, scientists determined that long-term substitution of medium-chain foods for long-chain “would produce weight loss if energy intake remained constant.”6The potential benefit is significant weight loss.

Microorganisms Are Destroyed by Coconut Oil

Lauric acid in coconut oil makes up about half of the fatty acids. In the digestion process, coconut oil morphs into a monoglyceride called monolaurin. Both substances can exterminate harmful pathogens such as fungi, bacteria and viruses.

Staphylococcus aureus and a common cause of yeast infection, Candida albicans, were two of the most notorious pathogens these coconut oil compounds were able to eradicate in one study7 and candida in another.8

Coconut oil also works on fungal infections such as athlete’s foot and ringworm. The European Journal of Pediatrics even reported research showing that blending coconut oil and anise was almost twice as effective as the commonly prescribed (and toxic) permethrin lotion for treating head lice. According to the review:9

“The spray was significantly more successful (41/50, 82.0 percent) cures compared with permethrin (21/50, 42.0 percent … ).Per-protocol success was 83.3 percent and 44.7 percent, respectively.”

Want to Lose Weight? Coconut Oil Reduces Your Appetite

Many people pay good money in search of a substance that would truly curb their appetite so they would eat less and lose weight. How serendipitous that coconut oil can actually do that for you! The actual process has to do with how the fatty acids you consume are metabolized.

Ketone bodies, created when your body breaks down fat for energy, are an alternative fuel for your brain. They’re produced as you digest coconut oil.

Studies on men consuming the most MCTs at breakfast found they ate less overall at lunchtime.10 Those eating the most MCTs consumed an average of 256 fewer calories on a daily basis.11

The ketogenic diet, featuring low carb and high fat intake, has applications in relation to treating a number of other health problems. Significantly, it’s been shown to reduce epileptic seizures in drug-resistant children12 as well as other individuals with epilepsy.

At the New York Obesity Research Center at Columbia University, researchers reported:13

“Consumption of medium-chain triglyceride oil as part of a weight loss plan improves weight loss compared with olive oil and can thus be successfully included in a weight loss diet. Small changes in the quality of fat intake can therefore be useful to enhance weight loss.”

Coconut Oil Can Upgrade Your Blood Cholesterol Levels

As previously discussed, coconut is loaded with healthy saturated fat, but it does nothing to diminish the health of your blood lipid profile as the food and medical industries has for decades tried to tell you. In fact, saturated fats raise your HDL (good) cholesterol while transforming your LDL. According to the data:14

“A high saturated fat intake … is associated with increased concentrations of larger, cholesterol-enriched LDL and this occurs in association with decreased HL [hepatic lipase] activity.”

Consuming coconut oil helps you to maintain optimal cholesterol levels. One study involving 40 women showed that when put up against soybean oil consumption, coconut oil increased HDL and lowered LDL to HDL ratio while decreasing waist circumference. On the other hand, soybean oil led to decreases in beneficial HDL.15

Coconut Oil as a Toiletry, a Cleaner — Even an Insect Repellent

If you haven’t had a chance to explore all the extraordinary uses for coconut oil, you may be in for a pleasant surprise. Besides its ability to promote heart health and squelch the risk of stroke, it’s been shown to strengthen your immune system even as you attain soft, supple skin.

Coconut oil works well as a facial cleanser and makes a great shaving lotion. Slathering it on dry, lifeless hair for 15 minutes helps restore lost moisture and shine.

While it doesn’t impart the minty aftertaste that most toothpastes pride themselves on, using it before bed helps not only freshen your breath, but kills bacteria that cause plaque and other problems, without the fluoride (and if you miss the minty taste, just add a drop of peppermint essential oil). If you’re looking for a natural deodorant that will last and won’t pose potential health risks from added aluminum, thoroughly mix:

  • 3 Tbsp. organic coconut oil
  • 3 Tbsp. non-GMO cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • 3 Tbsp. baking soda
  • 2 drops of essential oil of your choice, or a pinch of clove powder

As for the insect repellent, a good recipe combines coconut oil with a high-quality essential oil such as peppermint, lemon balm, rosemary, tea tree or vanilla, which may help keep insects from biting, as opposed to applying toxic sprays like DEET.

What You Don’t Know CAN Harm You

In spite of all the clinical verification to the contrary, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)16 still maintains there’s “no good evidence” that coconut oil performs any of the above functions. CSPI even contradicts recommendations that people switch from vegetable oils, including canola oil, to coconut oil for better health.

In another decidedly ignorant move, CSPI fell in lock-step with the biotech industry for profit with the announcement that “fear” of GMOs is “irrational” and that GMO foods are “safe to eat.”

At the same time, a statement signed by 300 scientists, researchers, physicians, and scholars was published contending that claims of GMO safety have been “falsely perpetuated.” Clearly, somebody is not telling the truth or has not done their due diligence to figure it out.

That’s not the only discrepancy in the world of pseudo science that purports to be in the interest of human health. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) came forward with a declaration that, as of 2018, partially hydrogenated oils (aka trans fat) would no longer be allowed in food unless authorized by the agency because of potential health risks. Yet the FDA was in the forefront of getting trans fats into the marketplace in the 1980s.

In the 1980s, CSPI actually spearheaded a highly successful campaign against the use of healthy saturated fats, touting trans fats as a healthier alternative, so take their official stance against coconut oil with a (big) grain of salt. In spite of the naysayers, the real science speaks. Coconut oil has undergone the trials that prove its benefits are, indeed, undeniable.

[+] Sources and References

Many Prescribed Antibiotics Are Unnecessary and Cause Damage

 

May 17, 2016

By Dr. Mercola

Despite warnings that we’re quickly approaching a post-antibiotics era in which bacterial infections once easily cured by the drugs become resistant and life threatening, doctors are still prescribing too many antibiotics.

The finding comes from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which found 262 million people received prescriptions for antibiotics from their physicians from 2010 to 2011. Of these, about 30 percent were unnecessary.

The report, which was published in JAMA, assessed data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) and the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS) to estimate the current rate of U.S. antibiotic prescriptions.1

A group of experts then determined whether the antibiotic prescriptions were appropriate based on national guidelines. There were an estimated 506 antibiotic prescriptions per 1,000 population annually, but only 353 of those were appropriately prescribed.2 The researchers wrote:

“Collectively, across all conditions, an estimated 30% of outpatient, oral antibiotic prescriptions may have been inappropriate.”

A 15-Percent Reduction in Antibiotic Use Recommended to Combat Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

The White House National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria set a goal to reduce at least half of inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions by 2020. In order to meet this goal, the JAMA report found a 15 percent reduction in antibiotics use is needed.

According to the report, antibiotics prescriptions for acute respiratory conditions were most often inappropriately prescribed, and children aged 2 years and younger were the most frequent recipients of antibiotics prescriptions.

Across all age groups, such drugs were most often prescribed for sinusitis, ear infections and inflammation of the throat (pharyngitis). As for why so many unnecessary antibiotics are being prescribed, sometimes doctors do it to appease their patients.

Other times they may be misguided in when the drug’s risks outweigh their benefits. According to the study, “no data suggest worse outcomes … in low-prescribing regions due to undertreatment.”3 Meanwhile, there’s still a great deal of misunderstanding among the public.

A 2015 World Health Organization (WHO) survey found, for instance that one-third of people surveyed believed you should stop taking antibiotics when you start to feel better as opposed to finishing the entire course.4 Stopping early can lead to resistant bugs by allowing stronger bacteria to survive and thrive.

Further, 64 percent of those surveyed believed antibiotics could be used to treat influenza and colds, both of which are caused by viruses, which cannot be killed by antibiotics. As WHO reported, there are also misconceptions about who is at risk of drug-resistant infections:5

“Two thirds (66%) of respondents believe that individuals are not at risk of a drug-resistant infection if they personally take their antibiotics as prescribed.

Nearly half (44%) of people surveyed think antibiotic resistance is only a problem for people who take antibiotics regularly. In fact, anyone, of any age, in any country can get an antibiotic-resistant infection.”

Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs Kill Millions Every Year in the US Alone

In the U.S., at least 2 million people are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteriaevery year, and at least 23,000 die as a result.6 This is already a staggering number, but the problem is slated to get worse.

A 2015 report commissioned by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron estimated that by 2050 antibiotic resistance will have killed 300 million people, with the annual global death toll reaching 10 million, and the global cost for treatment reaching $100 trillion.

By the year 2030, antibiotic-resistant disease — if left to spiral out of control — is expected to have killed 100 million.7 The problem is that antibiotic’s primary target — bacteria — is smart. Even under the best circumstances, bacteria can eventually adapt to resist and overpower once-effective antibiotics.

In recent decades, however, the overuse and misuse of antibiotics has greatly sped up this process, and we’re now seeing what it’s like to live in a post-antibiotic era.

For instance, from 2013 to 2014, cases of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea doubled, with rates reaching 0.8 percent. WHO already recognizes drug-resistant gonorrheaas “an emergency,” with several countries, including Australia, France, Japan, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, experiencing increasing infections.

Further, up to 50 percent of pathogens that cause surgical site infections, and 25 percent of those that cause infections following chemotherapy, are already resistant to common antibiotics.8

If antibiotic effectiveness drops by another 10 percent, it could result in 40,000 more infections and 2,100 additional deaths following surgery and chemotherapy each year.

Antibiotics Disrupt Your Gut Bacteria by Creating an Oxygen-Rich Environment

In your gut, beneficial microbes grow in an anaerobic (no oxygen) environment while pathogenic bacteria like salmonella need oxygen to thrive.

One way antibiotics may promote disease is by creating an oxygen-rich environment that favors that growth of pathogens, according to a recent study published in Cell Host & Microbe.9

The study involved the antibiotic streptomycin, which first reduces populations of beneficial microbes in your gut. Among them are Clostridia, which help break down fiber into an organic acid called butyrate.

Cells lining your gut use butyrate as an energy source, but if Clostridia, and thereby butyrate, are reduced, the cells ferment glucose to lactate for energy, and this is what causes an increase in oxygen.

Study author Andreas Bäumler, professor of medical immunology and microbiology at the University of California-Davis, told Medical News Today, “In essence, antibiotics enabled pathogens in the gut to breathe.”10

In addition, by killing off the bacteria in your gut, antibiotics have a detrimental effect on your overall immune system, as about 80 percent of your immune system resides in your gastrointestinal tract.

Research published in MBio even found just one course of antibiotics negatively alters your microbiome for up to a year.11 This is precisely why it’s crucial to only use antibiotics when absolutely necessary.

And when you do use them, be sure to “reseed” your gut with beneficial bacteria, either in the form of a probiotics supplement or fermented foods. If you don’t, your immune function, and more, can remain compromised for some time.

Antibiotics in Sewage Sludge

The use of antibiotics is concerning not only on an individual level but on a much larger scale as well.

For instance, in studies of sewage sludge from municipal wastewater treatment plants, which allow researchers to get an idea of chemical exposures on a citywide basis, antibiotics (and other pharmaceuticals) are often apparent. As noted in Environmental Health Perspectives:12

“ … it was becoming clear that … contaminants of emerging concern — those chemicals that are being detected for the first time or in increasing amounts — tend to elude treatment and remain in treated water and sewage sludge, returning to the environment and in some cases accumulating in living organisms, including humans.”

Antibiotics Carry Risks, Including Sudden Cardiac Death

Part of the problem with antibiotics’ overuse and misuse is that some people, including even some physicians, assume it can’t hurt to take a course just in case. But many people aren’t aware that antibiotics have a risk of serious side effects.

Macrolide antibiotics (azithromycin (Zithromax), clarithromycin (Biaxin), quinolone, and erythromycin), for instance, increase your risk of sudden cardiac death. In a meta-analysis of nearly 21 million people, the drugs were linked to a small but significant increase in the heart risk.

For every 1 million treatment courses, the use of macrolide antibiotics resulted in an additional 36 sudden cardiac deaths.13Macrolides are widely used in the treatment of bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infections, and sexually transmitted diseases. Past research has also highlighted their risk of side effects. Azithromycin, for instance, increases your chances of dying from a cardiovascular event by a whopping 250 percent within the first five days of usage compared to taking amoxicillin.14

Industrial Agriculture Is One of the Worst Offenders

While reducing unnecessary use of antibiotics in humans is important, one of the worst offenders is industrial agriculture. Eighty percent of the antibiotics used in the U.S. are used by industrial agriculture for purposes of growth promotion and preventing diseases that would otherwise make their concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) unviable.

In 2011, the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) issued a policy paper that recommended significant reductions in the use of antibiotics for growth promotion in agriculture.15 In 2015, the federal Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria was created. Part of its role is to evaluate the implementation of the National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria.

One of the latter’s goals is to slow the emergence of resistant bacteria, which will require “judicious use” of the drugs. According to the National Strategy, “Judicious use of antibiotics in healthcare and agricultural settings is essential to slow the emergence of resistance and extend the useful lifetime of effective antibiotics.”16

By 2020, the plan calls for the elimination of the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion in food-producing animals. It also calls for veterinary oversight for use of medically important antibiotics in the feed or water of food-producing animals. But is this going far — and fast — enough?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked drug companies to remove indications for “feed efficiency” and “weight gain” from the labels of their antibiotic products. They also require veterinarians to oversee any addition of these drugs to animal feed and water.

However, no benchmarks have been set to reduce antibiotic use on CAFOs, and there is no system in place to collect data on how agricultural antibiotics are being used. Without any baseline data, monitoring any process toward reduction will be difficult it not impossible.

As it stands, CAFOs remain hotbeds for breeding antibiotic-resistant bacteria because of the continuous feeding of low doses of antibiotics to the animals, which allows pathogens to survive, adapt, and eventually, thrive.

How to Avoid Becoming Another Victim to Antibiotic-Resistant Disease

You can help yourself and your community by purchasing only antibiotic-free meats and other foods and using antibiotics only when absolutely necessary. This is an important step that I urge everyone to take, even though ultimately the problem of antibiotic-resistance needs to be stemmed on a global level. That said, your lifestyle choices are the most critical factors in determining the health of your immune system, which determines your ability to resist infections.

The stronger your immune defenses, the less chance a microbe — antibiotic-resistant or otherwise — will have of gaining a foothold in some part of your body. Below are some basic strategies for supercharging your immune system. You may also want to download my free special report about how to protect yourself from super germs.

Optimize your diet. Avoid foods that tax your immune system such as synthetic trans fats, fried foods, processed foods, sugar and grains; reduce carbohydrates (sugar, grains, fructose) and protein, replacing them with high-quality fats. Fifty to 70 percent of your total intake should be fat.

Most of your diet should be fresh, whole foods, like organic vegetables and grass-pastured meats and dairy, and beneficial fats, such as butter and fermented dairy from grass-pastured animals, cheese, egg yolks, and avocados. A great portion of your immune system resides in your GI tract, which depends on a healthy, balanced gut flora.

One of the best ways to support this is by incorporating naturally fermented foods into your diet, working up to 4 to 6 ounces per day. One large serving of several ounces of fermented foods can supply you with around 10 trillion beneficial bacteria, which is about 10 percent of the population of your gut. You can take a high-quality probiotic supplement, but the actual fermented foods offer the greatest benefit.

Exercise regularly. Exercise improves the circulation of immune cells in your blood. The better these cells circulate, the more efficient your immune system is at locating and eliminating pathogens in your body. Make sure your fitness plan incorporates weight training, high-intensity exercises, stretching and core work.

Get plenty of restorative sleep. Recent research shows sleep deprivation has the same effect on your immune system as physical stress or disease, which is why you may feel ill after a sleepless night.

Have good stress-busting outlets. High levels of stress hormones can diminish your immunity, so be sure you’re implementing some sort of stress management. Meditation, prayer, yoga, and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) are all excellent strategies for managing stress, but you’ll have to find what works best for you.

Optimize your vitamin D levels. Studies have shown that inadequate vitamin D can increase your risk for MRSA and other infections, which can likely be extended to other superbugs. Your best source of vitamin D is through exposing your skin to the sun or using a safe tanning bed. Monitor your vitamin D levels to confirm they’re in the therapeutic range, 50-70 ng/ml. If you can’t get UV exposure, consider taking an oral vitamin D supplement.

In addition to the basic lifestyle measures listed above, there are natural agents that science has shown to be naturally antibacterial. The following deserve special mention.

Vitamin C. Vitamin C’s role in preventing and treating infectious disease is well established. Intravenous vitamin C is an option, but if you don’t have access to a practitioner who can administer it, liposomal vitamin C is the most potent oral form.

For more information on vitamin C, listen to my interview with Dr. Ronald Hunninghake, an internationally recognized vitamin C expert. If you choose to use supplement vitamin C, liposomal C seems to be the best form to use.

Garlic. Garlic is a powerful antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal. It can stimulate your immune system, help wounds heal, and kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria (including MRSA and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis), plus has shown more than 100 other health promoting properties. 17 For highest potency, the garlic should be eaten fresh and raw (chopped or smashed.)

Olive leaf extract. In vitro studies show olive leaf extract is effective against Klebsiella, a gram-negative bacteria, inhibiting its replication, in addition to being toxic to other pathogenic microbes.

Manuka honey. Manuka honey, made from the flowers and pollen of the Manuka bush, has been shown to be more effective than antibiotics in the treatment of serious, hard-to-heal skin infections. Clinical trials have found Manuka honey can effectively eradicate more than 250 clinical strains of bacteria, including resistant varieties such as MRSA.

Tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic proven to kill many bacterial strains (including MRSA).18

Colloidal silver. Colloidal silver has been regarded as an effective natural antibiotic for centuries, and recent research shows it can even help eradicate antibiotic-resistant pathogens. If you are interested in this treatment, make sure you read the latest guidelines for safe usage of colloidal silver as there are risks with using it improperly.

Copper. Replacing fixtures with certain copper alloys can help kill bacteria, even superbugs. Installing copper faucets, light switches, toilet seats and push plates in germ-infested areas such as hospitals and nursing homes could potentially save thousands of lives each year.

Sulfur Does Your Body Good

May 16, 2016

By Dr. Mercola

Sulfur may be referred to as a somewhat “forgotten” mineral that you don’t hear mentioned very often, but it’s very important for optimal body function. Scientists are now saying it’s possible you’re not getting enough sulfur in your diet, in spite of the fact that it’s found in so many foods.

Some of the most excellent sources are high-protein foods such as organic, pastured eggs, grass-fed meats, nuts and wild-caught Alaskan salmon, and it’s also found in leafy greens like kale, spinach and broccoli, as well as in onions and garlic. Why is sulfur important? Weston A. Price noted:1

“Sulfur is known as a healing mineral, and a sulfur deficiency often leads to pain and inflammation associated with various muscle and skeletal disorders.

Sulfur plays a role in many biological processes, one of which is metabolism. It is present in insulin, the essential hormone that promotes the utilization of sugar derived from carbohydrates for fuel in muscle and fat cells.”

Sulfur: the Third Most Abundant Mineral in Your Body

Six chemical elements — oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus — make up 99 percent of your body mass. The next five — potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium — kick in that last 1 percent in slightly varying degrees.

But while sulfur seems to be relatively inconsequential in this list, the fact is it’s the third most abundant mineral in your body. One of its most vibrant functions is as an antioxidant.

Sulfur is present in all living tissues. It’s a component in two important amino acids:methionine (mainly from egg whites and fish), which is essential, meaning your body doesn’t synthesize and must be obtained from an outside source, and cysteine, which needs sulfur at a steady rate and is synthesized by your body.

Your skin, muscles and bones contain about half the sulfur in your body. Your hair and nails, made of the sturdy protein keratin, contain a large share of sulfur, while your cartilage and connective tissues are a more flexible form, which changes and breaks down over time, leading to recognizable signs of aging.

Some of these indicators include wrinkles, sore muscles and joint pain, which may be an indication of a sulfur deficiency.

What’s so Special About Sulfur?

Sulfur plays a critical role in detoxification, as it is part of one of the most importantantioxidants that your body produces: glutathione. Without sulfur, glutathione is rendered ineffective. That’s significant because glutathione is your body’s built-in detoxifier.

One study explained that significance in a report about how sulfur and some of its compounds may protect against exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, X-rays and radiation, and can be used for detoxification.2

Scientists concede that a sulfur deficiency may be a base cause for Alzheimer’s disease, which is growing exponentially every year. One article discussed the association between dementia and other prevalent problems and a shortage of sulfur in the body:

“Interestingly, sulfur is a very potent Aluminum Antagonist, which should satisfy those who maintain that aluminum is a significant factor with Alzheimer’s disease.

Likewise, a majority of younger and older patients who were suffering from a “foggy mind,” concentration problems, and/or poor memory, showed below-normal sulfur levels, including many children or adults diagnosed with ADD / ADHD …”3

Another article outlined reasons why sulfur and sulfate shortages within the body may explain the prevalence of heart disease. Research scientist Stephanie Seneff at MIT called cholesterol sulfate a “mysterious molecule” that fluctuates in the blood and causes instability that may help cause cardiovascular disease.4

Research backs up traditional remedies pointing to topical remedies using sulfur and MSM as an effective treatment for acne and other skin conditions, such as acne, rosacea, scabies, seborrheic dermatitis and parasites.5

The Science Behind the Healing in Sulfur-Containing Foods

Several beneficial compounds containing sulfur express themselves with healing in your body. Glucosinolates are one of them, found primarily in crucifer vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli and cabbage, and leafy green veggies like kale, collard greens and arugula.

When you cut or bite into cruciferous vegetables, you’ll detect a pungent odor, caused by sulfur-infused glucosinolates being released. The George Mateljan Foundation explained how this phenomenon has dual benefits, taste-wise and in healing:

“The cutting process may actually increase certain health benefits since some of the newly formed (and transformed) sulfur-containing molecules have been shown to have cancer-preventive properties.

This includes the sulfur-containing glucosinolates, which are formed when an enzyme called myrosinase is activated.”6

Interestingly, scientists suggest that if you plan to cook your crucifer veggies you chop them then allow them to rest for a few minutes beforehand so that the maximum benefit can be released. Cooking them too soon after cutting prevents the myrosinase enzymes from forming, so the benefits are lost.

The Significance of MSM and DMSO

MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is a naturally occurring sulfur compound in your body that’s well known for supporting your joints, but it’s also useful in other areas of your body. The make-up of MSM is 34 percent sulfur by weight, but it also affects sulfur metabolism.

Perhaps the best way you know if you don’t have enough MSM in your system is by symptoms that may include fatigue, prevalence in experiencing high stress, physically and psychologically, depression and even degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, arteriosclerosis, osteoarthritis and cancer.

MSM metabolizes dimethyl sulfoxide, a controversial anti-inflammatory and analgesic compound known as DMSO, which, unfortunately, is approved for use in veterinary medicine only, not in humans. One article7 explained that DMSO:

“ … holds promise in managing a wide range of debilitating health conditions. DMSO is an approved pharmacological agent in more than 125 countries, and its safety and therapeutic effects are backed by nearly 50 years of research and more than 10,000 scientific articles on its biological implications.”

One article discusses Dr. Stanley Jacob’s research on DMSO and its benefits in many applications, including the treatment of head trauma. According to Dr. Jacob, its ability as a free-radical scavenger and diuretic is part of the key to improving the blood supply to the brain, which reduces swelling:

“This improves blood oxygenation to brain tissue. Injured brain cells often aren’t dead. When these cells get increased blood supply and more oxygen, and when the free radicals are scavenged, dying cells can recover, and brain swelling is reduced very rapidly.”

Sulfur Deficiency in Regard to Obesity

It’s no secret that obesity has overtaken an alarming percentage of the American population, but it’s also an epidemic worldwide. One reason is because so many countries have embraced the Western diet. What does that have to do with sulfur deficiency? According to the Weston A. Price Foundation:

“A diet high in grains like bread and cereal is likely to be deficient in sulfur. Increasingly, whole foods such as corn and soybeans are disassembled into component parts with chemical names, and then reassembled into heavily processed foods. Sulfur is lost along the way, and so is the awareness that this loss matters.”8

The problem with this type of diet is that it’s heavy on grains, such as bread, hamburger buns, and cereal, where the sulfur content is low. Developing “fast” food and convenience food was actually a brilliant marketing ploy. But in the rush to polish off the fuel needed to keep functioning, important things like nutrition have gone by the wayside.

Additionally, food manufacturers that “fortify” foods, such as breakfast cereals, with a dozen or so vitamins and minerals have misled many consumers to believe they’re feeding their children a “complete” breakfast that’s not only good for them but alsoconvenient!

Mineral Deficiencies Sometimes Cause ‘Mystery’ Symptoms

Weston A. Price has a few theories:

“Sulfur is known as a healing mineral, and a sulfur deficiency often leads to pain and inflammation associated with various muscle and skeletal disorders. Sulfur plays a role in many biological processes, one of which is metabolism. It is present in insulin, the essential hormone that promotes the utilization of sugar derived from carbohydrates for fuel in muscle and fat cells.

However, my extensive literature search has led me to two mysterious molecules found in the blood stream and in many other parts of the body: vitamin D3 sulfate and cholesterol sulfate. Upon exposure to the sun, the skin synthesizes vitamin D3 sulfate, a form of vitamin D that, unlike unsulfated vitamin D3, is water soluble.

As a consequence, it can travel freely in the blood stream rather than encapsulated inside LDL (the so-called “bad” cholesterol) for transport. The form of vitamin D that is present in both human milk and raw cow’s milk is vitamin D3 sulfate (pasteurization destroys it in cow’s milk).”9

A few other minerals that you may not be getting enough of are magnesium and sulfate (which soaking in an Epsom salts bathmay help alleviate). A shortage of these could lead to high blood pressure, heart problems, high blood pressure and symptoms like leg cramps, muscle twitches or spasms.

Eating more vegetables, nuts and seafood is a good way to avoid deficiencies in these minerals, which could help you avoid developing serious diseases and disorders.

How to Increase Your Sulfur Intake Naturally

One of the most basic ways to obtain sulfur is by drinking water. In fact, you get about 10 percent of the sulfur in your body in this way. Hard tap water may contain more sulfur than soft water, and studies indicate that the incidences of heart disease are greater for those who drink soft water.10

If you want to increase your sulfur intake, one of the best things you can do is eat more sulfur-rich foods. Eating foods like garlic, for instance (as opposed to taking a garlic supplement), is an example; a good amount would be three cloves per day — raw and crushed or chopped before eating.

There are individuals who don’t care for garlic. If this applies to you, gazpacho and pesto are good ways to enjoy garlic in the raw, since mixing it with complementary foods dissipates the odor compounds and backs them off a bit. Another delicious and easy way to do that is to sprinkle garlic with olive oil and roast it, especially with sweet potatoes, carrots and onions.

Allium Vegetables Contain Disease-Preventing Sulfur Compounds

Clinical studies have identified organic sulfur-containing compounds (OSCs) from allium vegetables (such as garlic and onions) as potentially beneficial in preventing many diseases, including “infections, cardiovascular and metabolic affections, cancers and related indispositions.”11

One study observed that garlic has been used for treating infections for thousands of years in many areas of the world, including Egypt, India, China and Greece. Its antibacterial, antibiotic, antiseptic, antiviral and antifungal benefits are due, at least in part, to the sulfur. As reported in the Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal:

“Garlic has historically been used to treat earaches, leprosy, deafness, severe diarrhea, constipation and parasitic infections, and to lower fever, fight infections and relieve stomach aches.

The most compelling evidence [is] that garlic and related sulfur constituents can suppress cancer risk and alter the biological behaviour of tumors. Experimentally, garlic and its associated sulfur components are reported to suppress tumor incidence in breast, colon, skin, uterine, esophagus and lung cancers.”12

UV Light Provides a Multitude of Health Benefits

May 16, 2016

By Dr. Mercola

If there’s one thing we require to thrive it is sensible exposure to the sun. Sure, sunlight is needed for growing food, but you also need direct sun exposure to thrive, just like plants.

The video above features a 2014 lecture by German doctor Alexander Wunsch, M.D. In it, he provides a historical perspective on sun exposure, explaining why current sun avoidance recommendations may be doing far more harm than good.

For starters, spending time in bright mid-day sun helps anchor your circadian rhythm, helping you sleep better.

Surprising as it sounds, scientists have even found vitamin D deficiency raises your risk of obstructive sleep apnea.1 In one study, 98 percent of patients with sleep apnea had vitamin D deficiency, and the more severe the sleep apnea, the more severe the deficiency.

Vitamin D is produced in your skin when exposed to direct sunlight, and the importance of vitamin D has become increasingly well-recognized.

The overall health benefits of vitamin D are so significant, a Swedish research team recently warned that “avoidance of sun exposure is a risk factor for death of a similar magnitude as smoking.”2,3

A growing number of studies also reveal there are benefits to sun exposure that are completely unrelated to vitamin D production — findings that clearly support the notion that the human body evolved to not only survive, but to thrive, in sunlight.

May Is National Sunshine Month

To boost public awareness of the importance of sunshine to human health, GrassrootsHealth has declared May as “National Sunshine Month.” According to a May 5 press release:4

“Missing sunlight puts us at serious risk of a multitude of dangerous health problems,” said Carole Baggerly, Director of GrassrootsHealth. “It is essential that we improve public understanding of the need for sunshine exposure and health outcomes.”

Over the next four weeks, GrassrootsHealth’s experts within the medical and scientific community will educate the public and those in the medical and healthcare fields on why the sun is essential for public health.

This will include the launch of GrassrootsHealth’s newest program “Harness the Power of the Sun for Health,” which will provide software for individuals to assess their current situation, set sunshine goals and track vitamin D levels and health outcomes.

“Advice from some within the medical community, and even our own government, encouraging Americans to avoid the sun is an immense threat to human health,” said Baggerly. “We expect National Sunshine Month will raise awareness of the sunshine, its many health benefits and ways to take advantage of it.”

Vitamin D Slashes Cancer Risk

The evidence now clearly shows that once you reach a serum vitamin D level of 40 ng/ml, your risk for cancer plunges by 67 percent, compared to having a level of 20 ng/ml or less.5,6,7,8,9,10,11

Even the Health and Medicine Division (HMD) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (formerly Institute of Medicine, IOM) has reported an association between vitamin D and overall mortality risk from all causes, including cancer.12,13

Vitamin D also increases your chances of surviving cancer if you do get it,14,15 and this includes melanoma patients.16,17

Higher Vitamin D Improves Body Composition

Vitamin D is also important for your bone health, cognitive function, immune function, and healthy pregnancy and infant development.18 According to Canadian researchers, there’s a “clear correlation to adequate availability to vitamin D and body structure in babies.”

Besides boosting bone density, which was expected, they were surprised to discover that infants given up to 1600 IUs of vitamin D per day during the 12 months of life also had greater muscle mass and less fat at age 3, compared to those who received the daily amount of 400 IU’s a day.19,20

Despite their surprise, several other studies have confirmed the link between vitamin D deficiency, abdominal obesity and visceral fat, and vitamin D levels tend to be low in obese individuals of all ages.

Sun Exposure Increases Nitric Oxide Production

As recently reported by The Daily Mail,21 “Even taking the skin-cancer risk fully into account, [scientists] say that getting a good dose of sunshine is statistically going to make us live longer, healthier and happier lives.”

Research has shown that when sunlight strikes your skin, nitric oxide (NO) is released into your bloodstream.22 NO is a powerful blood pressure lowering compound that helps protect your cardiovascular system, cutting your risk for bothheart attacks and stroke.

According to one 2013 study,23,24 for every single skin cancer death, 60 to 100 people die from stroke or heart disease related to hypertension. So your risk of dying from heart disease or stroke is on average 80 times greater than your risk of dying from skin cancer.

While higher vitamin D levels correlate with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, oral vitamin D supplements do not appear to benefit blood pressure, and the fact that supplements do not increase nitric oxide may be the reason for this. According to researcher Dr. Richard Weller:

“We suspect that the benefits to heart health of sunlight will outweigh the risk of skin cancer. The work we have done provides a mechanism that might account for this, and also explains why dietary vitamin D supplements alone will not be able to compensate for lack of sunlight.”

To understand how UV light affects your cardiovascular function, you can also review Dr. Weller’s paper “Sunlight Has Cardiovascular Benefits Independently of Vitamin D.”25 One of the key messages presented in this paper states that:

“All-cause mortality should be the primary determinant of public health messages. Sunlight is a risk factor for skin cancer, but sun avoidance may carry more of a cost than benefit for overall good health.”

Sunlight Modulates Genetic Expression Related to Inflammatory Response

Dr. Weller has also pointed out that sunlight appears to alter genetic expression, noting that: “Last year, Cambridge University scientists showed that the expression of 28 percent of our entire genetic make-up varies from season to season.”26

Some of those genetic changes affect your inflammatory responses. During winter months, inflammatory immune-system genes are activated, which helps combat infectious microbes, and during the summer the activity of anti-inflammatory gene activity increases.

In essence, during the summer your body begins to combat the damage incurred by the inflammation produced when your immune system is on red alert. But for that, you need sun exposure.

UV Light Is a Potent Anti-Infective

Both UV light itself and the vitamin D produced when your skin is exposed to it have potent antimicrobial  effects. Vitamin D from sun exposure increases your body’s production of naturally occurring antimicrobial peptides that destroy the cell walls of viruses and bacteria.

Sun exposure also increases blood levels of infection destroying lymphocytes (white blood cells). Besides boosting rates of cardiovascular disease, widespread sun avoidance may also be responsible for the reemergence of tuberculosis (TB), which now kills about 4,100 people every single day.27

In 2014, there were 1.5 million TB-related deaths worldwide, making it the No. 1 infectious disease out there. Compare that to the 55,100 who die from melanoma each year (worldwide).

Studies have shown that metabolizing vitamin D can restrict the growth of tuberculosis within cells,28 and Indonesian scientists found that treating tuberculosis patients with 10,000 units of vitamin D daily led to a 100 percent cure rate!29 There’s even evidence to suggest vitamin D may be effective against drug-resistant TB.30

UV light, especially blue light, also acts as a potent disinfectant of your environment. Research has found UV light can reduce the spread of tuberculosis in hospital wards and waiting rooms by 70 percent,31, 32 and helps kill 90 percent of drug-resistant bacteria in hospital rooms.33 Data suggests UV light at 254 nm can kill drug-resistant strains of S. aureus and E. faecalis in as little as 5 seconds.34 UV light can even be used to disinfect water without the addition of other harsh chemicals.35

The Importance of Vitamin D for Health, Disease Prevention and Longevity

The list of conditions that benefit from vitamin D and/or UV light exposure is long enough to fill several books, but here are a few more examples from the scientific literature. I also recommend reading through “Sunlight: For Better or For Worse? A Review of Positive and Negative Effects of Sun Exposure,”36 published in the journal Cancer Research Frontiers earlier this month.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) A pilot study by Johns Hopkins researchers suggests vitamin D3 supplementation is a safe way to regulate hyperactive immune responses.

MS patients with higher levels of vitamin D tend to experience less disabling symptoms.37

Hypomethylation Hypomethylation — an epigenetic abnormality found in tumors,38 cardiovascular disease and impaired immune function — is more prevalent among those with low vitamin D levels.

In one study, a once-monthly dose of 18,000 IU, 60,000 IU, or 120,000 IU’s of vitamin D was administered to vitamin D deficient African American teens with low methylation levels.

The higher the vitamin D dose, the higher the subsequent methylation activity.39,40

Eye health Australian researchers have found that kids who spend most of their days indoors have significantly higher rates of high degree myopia (short-sightedness).

As reported by The Daily Mail:41 “The researchers believe that the neurotransmitter dopamine is responsible. It is known to inhibit the excessive eyeball growth that causes myopia. Sunshine causes the retina to release more dopamine.”

Uveitis, eye inflammation that affects the middle layer in your eye wall, is also more prevalent among those who have low vitamin D levels.42

Among patients with uveitis, mean vitamin D levels were just over 26 ng/ml. Patients without this condition had a mean level of nearly 36 ng/ml.

Overall, the odds of developing uveitis declined by 6 percent for each one unit increase in vitamin D.

Psoriasis Recent research suggests psoriasis shares genetic factors with metabolic syndrome and obesity. Psoriasis is nearly twice as prevalent among diabetics as non-diabetics.

People with these conditions all tend to have systemic inflammation and higher levels of certain inflammatory markers, including tumor necrosis factor. They also tend to have lower vitamin D levels.

Although psoriasis appears as a skin condition, it is actually an autoimmune disease. Part of the reaction occurs when a type of white blood cell called a T cell mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells.

If you have psoriasis, it is imperative that you have your vitamin D levels tested and maintain levels in the therapeutic range of 40 to 60 ng/ml year-round.

Vitamin D is a potent immune modulator, making it very important for the prevention of autoimmune diseases.

Mood and mental health Sun exposure boosts the feel-good brain chemical serotonin, which is in part why you feel better after spending some time in the sun.

Light therapy has long been the go-to treatment for seasonal affective disorder, and more recent research suggests it can be useful in the treatment of major depression as well.43

Schizophrenia has also been linked to maternal lack of sun exposure during pregnancy.44

Sexual health Sunlight helps boost men’s libido, by affecting testosterone. Australian research reveals that men’s’ testosterone levels rise and fall with the seasons, peaking during August, and hitting their lowest levels in March.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have also linked low vitamin D levels with an increased risk for erectile dysfunction (ED).45

Recent research also warns that use of sunscreen may harm male fertility, courtesy of the endocrine disrupting chemicals found in them.

Scientists tested 29 of 31 chemicals approved for use as UV filters in sunscreens in the U.S. and European Union, and found that 45 percent of them inhibited sperm activity by mimicking the female hormone progesterone.

These findings held even when the chemicals were used at very low levels.46,47 If you need to use sunscreen, opt for a zinc-based version, or use clothing.

All-cause mortality One 20-year long study48,49 concluded that “avoiding sun exposure is a risk factor for all-cause mortality.

Following sun exposure advice that is very restrictive in countries with low solar intensity might in fact be harmful to women’s health.”

Women who avoided sun exposure had double the all-cause mortality rate of those who got regular sun exposure.

Another 54-month long study50 published in 2013, involving more than 422,800 healthy adults, found that those who were most deficient in vitamin D had an 88 percent increased mortality risk.

Benefits outweigh melanoma risk A study published in Public Health Nutrition 2012 concluded that: “The overall health benefit of an improved vitamin D status may be more important than the possibly increased cutaneous malignant melanoma risk resulting from carefully increasing UV exposure.”51

While many fear the risk of melanoma, it may be worth pondering the actual magnitude of that risk.

As noted by the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ),52 an oft-repeated quote is that “use of sunbeds before the age of 35 is associated with a 75 percent increase in the risk of melanoma.”

That 75 percent figure is based on an analysis of several studies, the strongest of which found that “less than three-tenths of 1 percent who tanned frequently developed melanoma while less than two-tenths of 1 percent who didn’t tan developed melanoma.”

That’s amounts to a 55 percent increase, but when pooled with other studies, the average increase came to 75 percent. While this sounds ominous, remember that we’re still talking about a risk that is well below one percent.

Instead of having a 0.2 percent risk for melanoma, your risk rises closer to 0.35 percent with frequent sun exposure.

So when contemplating the risks of sun exposure to optimize your vitamin D, compare and balance that 0.35 percent risk for melanoma with a 67 percent decreased risk of cancer, and an 88 percent decreased risk of dying from any cause.

How to Reduce Your Risk of Skin Cancer While Benefitting From Sensible Sun Exposure

An important risk factor for melanoma is overexposure to UV radiation either from direct sunlight or tanning beds/lamps. Frying yourself for several hours on the weekend here and there is not a wise choice. You want to take precautions to avoid sunburn at all cost. If you’re going to the beach, bring long-sleeved cover-ups and a wide-brimmed hat, and cover up as soon as your skin starts to turn pink.

Realize that unless you have very dark skin you don’t need to spend hours in the sun. For lighter-skinned people, optimizing your vitamin D may require mere minutes in the sun with minimal clothing.  To minimize risk while maximizing benefits of UV exposure, here are a few factors to consider. If you pay close attention to these, you can determine, within reason, safe exposure durations.

  • You should know your skin type based on the Fitzpatrick skin type classification system, which has been around for decades. The lighter your skin, the less exposure to UV light is necessary. The downside is that lighter skin is also the most vulnerable to damage from overexposure.
  • For very fair skinned individuals and those with photodermatitis, any sun exposure may be unwanted and they should carefully measure vitamin D levels while ensuring they have an adequate intake of vitamin D, vitamin K2, magnesium, and calcium.
  • For most individuals, safe UV exposure is possible by knowing your skin type and the current strength of the sun’s rays. There are several apps and devices to help you optimize the benefits of sun exposure while mitigating the risks. . Also be extremely careful if you have not been in the sun for some time. Your first exposures of the year are the most sensitive, so be especially careful to limit your initial time in the sun.

Study: Tylenol Affects Brain and Clouds Judgment

Acetaminophen Tylenol Around the World

Study: Tylenol Clouds Judgment

by Dr. Mercola

Physical pain and the distress that comes with social rejection have been traced to the same area of the brain. This intriguing connection may shed some light on how acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol) may also affect the brain.

Accumulating research suggests that, along with inhibiting physical pain, acetaminophen may also act on emotions and have other neurological effects.

One of the latest studies, conducted by researchers from the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia, suggests the popular painkiller may even inhibit the brain response associated with making errors.

Acetaminophen May Make It Harder to Recognize Errors

Sixty study participants were asked to complete a fast-moving target-detection task while hooked up to an electroencephalogram (EEG), which measures electrical activity in the brain.

When the letter F flashed on a screen, they were asked to press a Go button. When the letter E flashed on the screen, they were told to refrain from hitting the button.

Half of the participants took 1,000 milligrams (mg) of acetaminophen (a typical maximum dose) prior to completing the task, and notable changes were displayed on the EEG.

The researchers analyzed brain waves called Error Related Negativity (ERN) and Error Related Positivity (Pe). Both ERN and Pe increased when the participants made errors, but Pe was smaller among those who took acetaminophen.

This suggests the drug inhibits the brain’s ability to detect the error or, more specifically, may reduce the distress associated with errors so you’re less likely to pay attention to them. Lead author Dan Randles, a postdoctoral fellow in the Psychology department at University of Toronto, said in an interview with Forbes: [1]

“Very recent work in the last few years has suggested that acetaminophen not only affects physical pain, but also feelings of social rejection, uncertainty and evaluative processing.

… This study is the first to provide compelling evidence that acetaminophen is affecting all of these symptoms by reducing the distress associated with any kind of cognitive conflict; whether the source is physical, social or more abstract.”

The study also revealed a surprise finding — that those taking acetaminophen also made more errors. The researchers are planning to look further into whether the drug may increase distraction or mind wandering, thereby leading to increased errors.

Tylenol May Dull Feelings of Personal Distress and Social Rejection

Past research has also unveiled subtle cognitive effects associated with acetaminophen. In 2010, for instance, research found that acetaminophen reduces the pain of social rejection. [2]

Compared to those taking a placebo, those who took acetaminophen daily for three weeks had reduced neural responses to social rejection in brain regions associated with distress caused by social pain and physical pain (dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, anterior insula).

Then, in 2013, a prior study by Randles and his colleagues found acetaminophen led to changes in the way people made moral judgments, which was used as a measure for personal distress. [3]

In addition to social rejection, acetaminophen may blunt distress associated with more abstract concepts. The researchers told Live Science: [4]

When people feel overwhelmed with uncertainty in life or distressed by a lack of purpose, what they’re feeling may actually be painful distress … 

We think that Tylenol is blocking existential unease in the same way it prevents pain, because a similar neurological process is responsible for both types of distress.”

Acetaminophen Might Dull Your Happiness, Too

Acetaminophen’s apparent dulling effect on your emotional responses might work for better or for worse, watering down not only negative emotions but also positive ones. Researchers showed emotional photos to college students who had either taken a 1,000-mg dose of acetaminophen or a placebo.

Those who took the painkiller had more muted emotional responses to both negative and positive images. [5] According to the researchers:

“Participants who took acetaminophen evaluated unpleasant stimuli less negatively and pleasant stimuli less positively, compared with participants who took a placebo. 

Participants in the acetaminophen condition also rated both negative and positive stimuli as less emotionally arousing than did participants in the placebo condition … 

These findings suggest that acetaminophen has a general blunting effect on individuals’ evaluative and emotional processing, irrespective of negative or positive valence.”

As for why the drug might dull your emotions, the researchers suggested it might alter brain activity, such as the activity of serotonin, reduce inflammatory signaling or decrease activation in brain areas linked to emotional processing. [6]

Although they weren’t tested, the researchers believe other pain relievers, including aspirin or ibuprofen, might have similar emotion-blunting effects.

Acetaminophen Poses a Risk to Your Liver Health

Acetaminophen’s brain effects are only beginning to be understood, but this medication’s risks to other areas of your body are well known.

Acetaminophen overdose is the leading cause for calls to Poison Control Centers across the U.S. — more than 100,000 instances per year — and acetaminophen poisoning is responsible for nearly half of all acute liver failure cases in the U.S. [7]

Acetaminophen overdoses are also responsible for more than 150 deaths each year in the U.S. [8] A major problem is that while acetaminophen is considered safe when taken as recommended, the margin between a safe dose and a potentially lethal one is very small.

Taking just 25 percent more than the daily recommended dose — the equivalent of just two extra strength pills per day — can cause liver damage after just a couple of weeks of daily use. [9]

Previous research has also shown that taking just a little more than the recommended dose over the course of several days or weeks (referred to as “staggered overdosing”) can be more risky than taking one large overdose. [10]

This happens more often than you might think. Your risk of severe liver injury and/or death related to acetaminophen increases if you:

  • Take more than one regular strength (325 mg) acetaminophen when combined with a narcotic analgesic like codeine or hydrocodone
  • Take more than the prescribed dose of an acetaminophen-containing product in a 24-hour period
  • Take more than one acetaminophen-containing product at the same time. Make sure to read the list of ingredients on any other over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription drug you take in combination.

Acetaminophen Should Not Be Taken With Alcohol

You should not drink alcohol while taking an acetaminophen product. Research suggests this drug significantly increases your risk of kidney dysfunction if taken with alcohol — even if the amount of alcohol is small. [11]

Combining alcohol with acetaminophen was found to raise the risk of kidney damage by 123 percent compared to taking either of them individually. Besides alcoholics, young adults are particularly at risk as they’re more likely to consume both. [12]

This means you should avoid using acetaminophen to treat a hangover as well, a common yet potentially dangerous practice.

Serious Skin Reactions Linked to Acetaminophen

Unbeknownst to many, acetaminophen may also cause three serious skin reactions, two of which typically require hospitalization and can be fatal. What is particularly alarming is that it can occur at any time, even if you’ve taken the medication in the past without issue. The skin reactions linked to acetaminophen include:

  • Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS): This reaction begins with flu-like symptoms that progress into a painful purple or red rash that blisters and causes the top layer of your skin to slough off. This can lead to serious infections, blindness, damage to internal organs, permanent skin damage and even death.
  • Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TENS): TENS also typically begins with flu-like symptoms (cough, headache, aches, and fever) and progresses into a blistering rash. Layers of the skin may peel away in sheets, and hair and nails may fall out. TENS is often fatal, typically as a result of infection.
  • Acute Generalized Exanthematous Pustulosis (AGEP): This skin eruption causes numerous pustules to appear on the skin, often accompanied by fever. This condition typically resolves within two weeks once the acetaminophen is stopped.

NAC Is an Antidote to Acetaminophen Overdose

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is an antidote for acetaminophen toxicity and is well worth knowing about if you ever use acetaminophen or keep it in your house. NAC is administered as part of standard care in cases of acetaminophen overdose.

While I generally do not recommend using acetaminophen-containing drugs for minor aches and pains, they are sometimes necessary to temporarily suppress severe pain, such as post-surgical pain. For those instances, I recommend taking it along with NAC.

It is believed the liver damage acetaminophen causes is largely due to the fact that it can deplete glutathione, an antioxidant compound secreted by your liver in response to toxic exposure. Glutathione also helps protect your cells from free radical damage. If you keep your glutathione levels up, the damage from the acetaminophen may be largely preventable.

NAC is the rate-limiting nutrient for the formation of the intracellular antioxidant glutathione, which is why it’s such an effective antidote. Mortality due to acetaminophen toxicity has been shown to be virtually eliminated when NAC is promptly administered in cases of acetaminophen overdose. So whether you are taking Tylenol in prescription or over-the-counter form, I strongly suggest taking NAC along with it.

And, if you have children and keep acetaminophen in your home, I strongly recommend keeping a bottle of NAC as well in case of accidental overdose. NAC therapy should be initiated within eight hours of an acute overdose for best results. If you suspect an overdose has occurred, seek medical help right away. If this isn’t an option, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the following protocol: [13]

“Oral administration is the preferred route for NAC therapy unless contraindications exist (e.g. aspiration, persistent vomiting). The usual recommended loading dose is 140 mg/kg followed in four hours by a maintenance dose of 70 mg/kg orally given every four hours.

This dosing is commonly recommended to be continued for 72 hours; however more recent clinical experience supports tailoring the duration of therapy to the patient’s clinical condition.”

Does Acetaminophen Even Work to Relieve Pain?

Acetaminophen is one of the most commonly used pain relievers in the world, but research has shown it may only be mildly effective compared to placebo. It’s been suggested that regular doses of up to 4,000 mg a day of the drug might be needed for optimal therapeutic benefits, but this could pose a risk of serious side effects. [14]

Meanwhile, in 2015 a systematic review of randomized trials found acetaminophen works no better than a placebo. [15] The review of 13 studies found “high-quality evidence” that acetaminophen is ineffective for treating low back pain and had only a small effect in patients with osteoarthritis.

That small effect was “not likely to be meaningful for clinicians or patients,” the researchers wrote. In addition, acetaminophen use increased the risk of having an abnormal result on liver function tests by nearly four-fold. [16] Considering the risks, both those that are known and the brain effects that are currently being unraveled, and the lack of clear effectiveness, you may be better off seeking alternative forms of pain relief.

Top Natural Acetaminophen Alternatives

Acetaminophen and related products are familiar household items for many, but they are not the only option when you need relief from pain. For instance, the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) works very effectively for relieving pain and can be used for children as well.

The Advanced Muscle Integration Technique (AMIT) helps treat muscle injuries and pain as well, while these simple exercises may work wonders for treating back pain. No matter what your reason for taking Tylenol, type it into the search box above and you’ll likely find a natural alternative. If chronic pain is your problem, the following options provide excellent pain relief without any of the health hazards that acetaminophen and other pain relievers carry.

  • Astaxanthin: One of the most effective oil-soluble antioxidants known. It has very potent anti-inflammatory properties and in many cases works far more effectively than many NSAIDs. Higher doses are typically required and one may need 8 mg or more per day to achieve this benefit.
  • Ginger: This herb is anti-inflammatory and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea or grated into vegetable juice.
  • Curcumin: Curcumin is the primary therapeutic compound identified in the spice turmeric. In a study of osteoarthritis patients, those who added 200 mg of curcumin a day to their treatment plan had reduced pain and increased mobility. [17] In fact, curcumin has been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory activity, as well as demonstrating the ability in four studies to reduce Tylenol-associated adverse health effects.[18]
  • Boswellia: Also known as boswellin or “Indian frankincense,” this herb contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which have been prized for thousands of years. This is one of my personal favorites, as I have seen it work well with many rheumatoid arthritis patients.
  • Bromelain: This protein-digesting enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form, but eating fresh pineapple may also be helpful.
  • Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO): This oil, found in fish and dairy butter, acts as a “joint lubricant” and an anti-inflammatory. I have used this for myself to relieve ganglion cysts and a mild annoying carpal tunnel syndrome that pops up when I type too much on non-ergonomic keyboards. I used a topical preparation for this.
  • Evening Primrose, Black Currant and Borage Oils: These contain the fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is useful for treating arthritic pain.
  • Cayenne Cream: Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting the body’s supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to your brain.
  • Therapeutic modalities such as yoga, acupuncture, meditation, hot and cold packs, and even holding hands can also result in astonishing pain relief without any drugs.

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Sources and References

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Mumps Being Spread by and Among Vaccinated People

 

May 10, 2016

By Dr. Mercola

Vaccines are a very lucrative business. Pfizer’s vaccine Prevnar, which targets 13 strains of pneumococcus bacteria, generated $6.25 billion in revenue last year. And that’s just one vaccine.1

Even ineffective vaccines allow vaccine makers to make a mint. One of the most obvious vaccine failures is the mumps vaccine (part of the measles, mumps, rubella, aka MMR).

Again and again, outbreaks among vaccinated populations occur, yet rarely is the truth of the situation addressed, namely the fact that the vaccine is ineffective and doesn’t work as advertised.

In 2010, two virologists filed a federal lawsuit against Merck, their former employer, alleging the vaccine maker engaged in improper testing and data falsification to artificially inflate the efficacy rating of their mumps vaccine.

For details on how they allegedly pulled this off, read Dr. Suzanne Humphries’ excellent summary,2 which explains in layman’s terms how the tests were manipulated.

Just about every media outlet reported the lawsuit, and the hundreds of millions of dollars Merck was said to have defrauded from the U.S. government by selling a vaccine of questionable effectiveness.

As reported by Reuters3 last year, Merck’s behavior in and of itself suggests they’re trying to cover up fraud:

“Attorneys at Constantine Cannon, who represent the scientists, asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Lynne Sitarski of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to compel Merck to respond to their discovery request, which asks the company to give the efficacy of the vaccine as a percentage.

Instead of answering the question, the letter said, Merck has been consistently evasive, using ‘cut-and-paste’ answers saying it cannot run a new clinical trial to determine the current efficacy, and providing only data from 50 years ago.

‘Merck should not be permitted to raise as one of its principal defenses that its vaccine has a high efficacy, which is accurately represented on the product’s label, but then refuse to answer what it claims that efficacy actually is,’ the letter said.”

So why are people still surprised when mumps outbreaks occur? And why are the unvaccinated still blamed for most disease outbreaks, even when most of the infected are vaccinated?

Vaccinated People Are Spreading the Mumps

Recently, 41 students at Harvard University came down with mumps and, according to the Public Health department in Cambridge, every single one of those students had been vaccinated.4

Four other campuses in Boston are also starting to see cases, as have four universities in Indiana. About 13 cases of mumps have also cropped up in California.

One ridiculous explanation offered by Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Center for Health Security, is that the vaccine only works if the exposure to the virus is low; it can’t be expected to work if there are high amounts of exposure, such as in dorms:5

“The exposure that they have to mumps is so high in these situations that it overcomes the ability of the vaccine to protect them,” Adalja told Live Science. “It may be that, in these special situations, a much higher level of antibodies [against mumps] is needed to keep the virus at bay.”

In 2009, more than 1,000 people in New Jersey and New York contracted the disease. At the time, questions arose about the effectiveness of the vaccine because 77 percent of those sickened were vaccinated.

A similar scenario occurred in 2006, when mumps infected more than 6,500 people in the U.S. Most of those cases also occurred among the vaccinated population, primarily among college students who had received two doses of MMR vaccine.

Now, if a vaccine is indeed highly effective, and avoiding the disease in question is worth the risk of the potential side effects from the vaccine, then many people would conclude that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks.

However, if the vaccine is ineffective, and/or if the disease doesn’t pose a great threat to begin with, then the vaccine may indeed pose an unacceptable risk. This is particularly true if the vaccine has been linked to serious side effects.

Unfortunately, that’s the case with the MMR vaccine, which has been linked to at least 98 deaths and 694 disabilities between 2003 and 2015. Considering the fact that only 1 to 10 percent of vaccine reactions are ever reported, those numbers could actually be closer to 980 deaths and 6,940 disabilities.

Meanwhile, death from mumps is “exceedingly rare” according to the CDC,6 and no one has died from mumps during any of the recent outbreaks.

The Myth of Vaccine-Generated Herd Immunity

Vaccine promoters typically stress the importance of compliance with the federally recommended vaccine schedule in order to create and maintain vaccine-induced “herd immunity.” This may require multiple doses of certain vaccines, the MMR included, because no vaccine is 100 percent effective.

However, they never quite seem to be able to explain why the majority of outbreaks occur in areas that are thought to HAVE herd immunity status, i.e. where the majority of people are fully vaccinated and “should” therefore not be able to be infected or transmit infection.

The problem stems from a mix-up of terms. While there is such a thing as natural herd immunity, vaccine-induced herd immunity is a total misnomer. Vaccine makers simply assumed that vaccines will work in the same way as natural immunity, but the science clearly shows that this is not the case.

Vaccination and exposure to a given disease produce two qualitatively different types of immune responses. To learn more, I urge you to listen to the video above, in which Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), discusses the concept of herd immunity. As explained by Barbara:

Vaccines do not confer the same type of immunity that natural exposure to the disease does … [V]accines only confer temporary protection … In most cases natural exposure to disease would give you a longer lasting, more robust, qualitatively superior immunity because it gives you both cell mediated immunity and humoral immunity.

Humoral is the antibody production. The way you measure vaccine-induced immunity is by how high the antibody titers are. (How many antibodies you have.) The problem is, the cell mediated immunity is very important as well. Most vaccines evade cell mediated immunity and go straight for the antibodies, which is only one part of immunity.”

Ineffective Vaccines May Pose an Unacceptable Health Risk

In essence, vaccines are designed to trick your body’s immune system into producing the antibodies needed to resist any future infection. However, your body is smarter than that.

The artificial stimulation of your immune system produced by lab-altered killed bacteria or an attenuated live virus is not the same as your body experiencing a natural viral or bacterial infection, which may or may not make you clinically ill but will confer a longer lasting immunity compared to vaccine acquired artificial immunity that is qualitatively inferior and far more temporary.

So the question is, is it well-advised to protect children against a large number of infectious diseases early in life throughtemporary artificial immunity from vaccines, or might they be better off contracting certain contagious infections in childhood, thereby attaining longer lasting natural immunity that may even last them for the rest of their lives?

And, do vaccine complications ultimately cause more chronic illness and death than infectious diseases do? In the case of the MMR vaccine, this question seems particularly pertinent. While there are 98 reports of death following vaccination between 2003 and 2015, only one child has died from acute measles complications in the decade between 2005 and 2015.7

Democrats Seek Taxpayer Money for Zika Vaccine

While millions suffer from government subsidized diseases caused by obesity and diabetes, and tens of thousands die from prescription opioids and antibiotic-resistant diseases — all of which stem from ill-advised government policies, the White House is now seeking $2 billion of your tax dollars to create yet another vaccine, this time against the Zika virus, just like they did for bird flu,swine flu, SARS, and so many other very profitable false alarms. According to The Daily Caller:8

“Democrats in Congress and the White House say they’re convinced the virus could wreak havoc in the U.S. if the nearly 2 billion dollars isn’t appropriated right now to keep the virus from spreading …

The proposal would direct the bulk of the funds to the Department of Health and Human Services, and a much smaller portion to the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Department of State, to fund increased research on the virus, development of a vaccine and an effort to control mosquito populations.”

The problem is, while the Zika virus transmitted by mosquitoes was originally blamed for reports of microcephaly among infants born in Brazil, it quickly became apparent that Zika was among the least likely contributors to this birth defect. The Brazilian government also admitted that overly generous parameters resulted in dramatic over-reporting of the condition.

As details started emerging, it became clear that a number of environmental factors could be at play — all of which were far more convincing than the Zika virus. Yet our politicians are still pandering this fear mongering in order to continue lining the chemical and pharmaceutical industries’ pockets.

Is Zika Virus Really Responsible for Birth Defects?

For starters, large amounts of banned pesticides are in use in the area where most of the microcephaly cases have occurred in Brazil.9,10,11 This includes heavy regional use of the pesticide Atrazine. According to research12 published in 2011, small head circumference is one potential side effect of prenatal Atrazine exposure.

Lack of sanitation and widespread vitamin A and zinc deficiency are also potential contributing factors to microcephaly increases in Brazil. Vitamin A deficiency has actually been linked to an increased risk of microcephaly specifically,13,14 and zinc is known to play an important role in the structure and function of the brain.15 Even the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists malnutrition and exposure to toxic chemicals as two of the three known risk factors for microcephaly.

A report16,17 by an Argentine physician’s organization called Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns also challenges the theory that Zika virus is responsible for the microcephaly cases in Brazil. They point out that a chemical larvicide that causes malformations in mosquitoes (pyriproxyfen) has been applied to the drinking water in the most seriously affected area of Brazil.

Pyroproxyfen, which has been linked to birth defects, is manufactured by Sumitomo Chemical, a Japanese subsidiary of Monsanto, and has been used in a state-controlled program to eradicate mosquitoes.

Imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid, has also been shown to produce skeletal malformation18,19 and, as it turns out, Brazil lifted its ban on aerial spraying of neonicotinoids in October 2012, right around the time the women who gave birth to infants with microcephaly would have become pregnant.20

Addressing these human health issues would mean taking a long hard look at the use of toxic chemicals contaminating the environment, and coming up with more rigorous restrictions on what chemical companies are allowed to pander.

Instead, the government turns a blind eye to the obvious, and comes up with a plan to increase the use of chemicals, both internally and externally, in the form of vaccines and mosquito treatments. In my view, this is a highly irrational decision. It’s also a dead giveaway that public health is not their primary focus.

Chinese Parents Question Vaccine Safety

In China, where government mandated mass vaccination programs are a more recent intervention, suspicions about vaccine safety have grown rather quickly, and many parents, whose children have been injured by vaccines, have taken to the streets in ongoing protests. Dong Xiaoxin, whose 4-year-old daughter contracted polio after receiving a polio vaccine, spoke to an NPR reporter, saying:21

“Our daughter has made a great sacrifice for the nation’s inoculation program, and we’re not afraid to fight for the legal rights she deserves. We had no idea that vaccines could produce this kind of result. We felt that any vaccination given by the state had to be a good thing. We were completely unprepared. The state needs to provide us parents with some sort of safeguard. Only then can parents feel assured and fully trust the government.”

In her book “Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten History,” Humphries addresses the polio vaccine specifically, noting that through her research, she became convinced that the polio vaccine had very little if anything to do with the eradication of polio.

In fact, the successful “eradication” of this disease was accomplished by changing the diagnostic criteria of the disease. What’s worse, the initial vaccine actually led to more cases of paralysis than would have developed naturally.

To save the vaccine, they had to make it appear as though it was working, even though it was causing more problems than it solved. The answer they came up with was to change the diagnostic criteria. The original criterion was two examinations within 24 hours. This was changed to two examinations within 60 days. This artificially decreased the polio rate, because within 60 days, most people recover from their bout with poliomyelitis.

They also began using serological testing, and if the polio virus was not found, the patient was not considered to have polio. Since then, virtually every type of polio vaccine has had some kind of issue, including the propagation of mutated strains of the polio virus.

In 1999, when public health officials admitted that the only polio cases in the U.S. were vaccine-induced, there was a switch from the live oral polio vaccine that can cause vaccine strain polio paralysis to the inactivated, injectable polio vaccine that cannot. However, in some developing countries the oral polio vaccine is still used and those vaccinated can become silent carriers of a highly virulent strain of polio that can infect others and cause paralysis

[+] Sources and References