Month: June 2016

The Importance of Daily Flossing

June 22, 2016

By Dr. Mercola

Your dental health is an important component of your physical health. It’s a frequently underappreciated aspect that can have a profound systemic influence. In fact, thousands of studies have linked oral disease to systemic disease.

Your mouth is like a window to your health; the soft tissues and your teeth reflect what’s going on in the rest of your body. Inflammation is well-known as a “ravaging” and disease-causing force, and gum disease and other oral diseases produce chronic low-grade inflammation.

When the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease enter into your circulatory system, it causes your liver to release C-reactive proteins, which have inflammatory effects on your entire circulatory system.

Health Risks Associated With Poor Oral Health

People who fail to brush their teeth twice a day may be putting themselves at risk of heart disease,1,2 and advanced gum disease can raise your risk of a fatal heart attack up to 10 times.

There’s also a 700 percent higher incidence of type 2 diabetes among those with gum disease, courtesy of the inflammatory effects of unbalanced microflora in your mouth. Other health effects associated with poor oral health include an increased risk of:3

  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Dementia: failing to brush twice a day increases your risk of dementia by as much as 65 percent, compared to brushing three times a day
  • Pneumonia: good oral hygiene has been shown to lower your risk of pneumonia by about 40 percent. Other research has shown that people with periodontitis have a 300 percent greater chance of contracting pneumonia
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED): ED is more than twice as common among those with periodontitis than those without ED
  • Kidney disease and more

Overall, your diet is the most significant determinant of your oral and dental health, but how you clean your teeth can also make a big difference. Flossing, for example, is an important strategy, yet one-third of American adults never floss. If you’re one of them, I’d encourage you to reconsider.

The Importance of Flossing

Flossing is perhaps even more important than brushing because it removes bacteria that are the precursors of plaque, which if left to fester will turn into tartar that cannot be removed by regular brushing or flossing.

Tartar is what eventually causes the damage that leads to decay and tooth loss. Most people are aware that flossing is a recommended practice for optimal oral health, yet nearly one-third of Americans never floss.

Remarkably, 1 in 5 Americans also does not brush their teeth twice a day.4 According to a recent investigation:5

  • 32.4 percent of U.S. adults over the age of 30 never floss
  • 37.3 percent floss, but not daily
  • 30.3 percent floss on a daily basis
  • More women than men never floss
  • Low-income participants are less likely to floss than those in higher income brackets

Flossing Guidelines

Use a piece of floss that is about 15 to 18 inches long, wrapping each end around your index fingers. Slide the floss between your teeth and wrap it around the side of the tooth in the shape of a “C.”

Scrub the area by moving the floss up and down, and back and forth. Make sure you scrub both sides of the adjacent teeth before moving on to the next set.

If you have wider spaces between your teeth, use Super Floss, which is thicker.6 If dexterity is an issue, use soft plaque removers. Similar to toothpicks, they allow you to clean between your teeth with one hand. A double-pronged floss holder is another option.

While flossing, you can get telltale signs of potential health problems. For example, bleeding gums is a warning sign that you have bacteria in your mouth causing damage, which can easily spread through your blood stream and cause chronic inflammation elsewhere in your body.

The answer is to gently floss and brush more often, until your gums no longer bleed from brushing or flossing. If bleeding persists longer than a week, see a dentist.

Keep in mind that a Waterpik cannot replace flossing. These types of irrigation tools can also be hard on your gums. The truth is, if you brush and floss, you have no need for a Waterpik. That said, it can be beneficial if you have braces.

Tooth Brushing Guidelines

Research suggests the ideal brushing time is two minutes, and the ideal pressure is 150 grams (gm), which is about the weight of an orange.7 Brushing your teeth too hard and longer than necessary can cause more harm than good.

Researchers found that brushing longer than two minutes, and/or using pressure greater than 150 gm does not remove any additional plaque, so there’s a “Goldilocks’ zone” when brushing, and there’s no reason to keep going past that point.

When it comes to toothpaste, I recommend using non-fluoridated versions. There are a growing number of such toothpastes on the market these days, as more people are becoming aware of fluoride’s downsides and dangers.

Other toxic toothpaste ingredients to avoid include triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), propylene glycol and diethanolamine (DEA).

Alternatively, you could make your own toothpaste8 using ingredients such ascoconut oil, baking soda (which acts as an abrasive and helps with whitening), and a pinch of Himalayan salt. High-quality peppermint essential oil can be added for flavor and cavity prevention.

The Case for Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice. When combined with the antimicrobial power of coconut oil, I believe it can be a powerful tool to improve your oral health. The high lauric content of coconut oil makes it a strong inhibitor of a wide range of pathogenic organisms, from viruses to bacteria to protozoa.

However, it also helps promote oral microbiome homeostasis, which is really important, as you don’t want to kill all microbes.

Oil pulling is thought to improve oral and physical health by reducing your toxic load. By swishing and “pulling” the oil between your teeth, it helps draw out pathogens that might otherwise migrate into other areas of your body. When done correctly, oil pulling has a significant cleansing, detoxifying and healing effect.

Naturopathic physician and coconut oil expert Dr. Bruce Fife has compared the benefits of oil pulling to changing the oil in your car:9

“It acts much like the oil you put in your car engine. The oil picks up dirt and grime. When you drain the oil, it pulls out the dirt and grime with it, leaving the engine relatively clean.

Consequently, the engine runs smoother and lasts longer. Likewise, when we expel harmful substances from our bodies our health is improved and we run smoother and last longer.”

Sesame oil is traditionally recommended, but it has a relatively high concentration of omega-6 oils and the large amounts of unsaturated fats make it particularly sensitive to oxidation and going rancid.

I strongly believe coconut oil is a far superior option. I also think it tastes better. Coconut oil has a lipophilic effect, helping to eliminate unhealthy biofilm from your teeth. As noted by Authority Nutrition,10 it’s particularly effective at killing Streptococcus mutans, an oral bacterium responsible for a majority of tooth decay.

Coconut oil also contains a number of valuable nutrients that help promote oral health. That said, from a mechanical and biophysical perspective, either oil is likely to work.

So how do you do it? It’s quite simple, actually. You simply rinse your mouth with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, much like you would using a mouthwash. Work the oil around your mouth by pushing, pulling, and drawing it through your teeth for about 15 minutes. This process allows the oil to dislodge and neutralize pathogens and other debris.

When done, spit out the oil (do NOT swallow it) and rinse your mouth with water. I typically spit mine out on the soil outside of my house, being careful to avoid any plants. If you want, you could dissolve a pinch of Himalayan salt in the water and rinse with that. Himalayan salt contains more than 85 different microminerals, so this is another all-natural strategy that can help promote strong, healthy teeth and gums.

Poor Oral Health Is a Risk Factor for Oropharyngeal Cancers

Poor oral hygiene has also been linked to an increased risk for head and neck cancers. As noted in a recent analysis of 13 studies that were part of the International Head and Neck Cancer Epidemiology (INHANCE) Consortium, lack of tooth brushing and low frequency of dental visits consistently raised the risk of head and neck cancers.11,12

Poor oral health is also an independent risk factor for oral human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which could contribute to oral cancers such as cancers of the throat, tonsils, and base of tongue, if left untreated for long periods of time.

In one 2013 study,13,14 participants with poor oral health had a 56 percent higher rate of HPV infection than those with healthy mouths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates about 60 percent of oropharyngeal cancers are related to HPV,15 but according to this study it could be as high as 80 percent.

The researchers speculate that good oral hygiene could help prevent HPV infection, thereby lowering your risk for oropharyngeal and other cancers associated with untreated HPV infection.

The Importance of Nourishing Your Oral Microbiome

Part of oral health is attending to your oral microbiome — the colonies of beneficial microbes residing in your mouth. Achieving oral health is really about promoting balance among the beneficial and pathogenic bacteria in your mouth.

And contrary to popular belief, antimicrobial agents and alcohol mouthwashes designed to “kill bad bacteria” actually do far more harm than good in this regard, as they can be indiscriminate killers. The key is to nourish the beneficial bacteria, so they can naturally keep the potentially harmful ones in check.

Your oral microbiome, while connected to your gut microbiome, is quite unique. By promoting oral microbiome homeostasis, you can improve your digestion and salivary immune system, the latter of which helps protect you against disease, such as the common cold and flu. Your oral microbiome even plays a role in making vitamins.

Interestingly, probiotics do not work in the mouth, so it’s not as simple as adding more beneficial microbes into your oral cavity. Instead, as an initial step, you need to cease killing too many microbes in your mouth. Scientists are now starting to recognize that many of the same bacteria that perform beneficial functions can have pathogenic expression when disturbed. So avoiding disrupting the microflora in your mouth is typically more helpful than trying to kill everything off.

Even natural antimicrobial herbs can disrupt your oral microbiome. This includes tea tree oil, tulsi oil and oregano oil. The problem stems from the fact that beneficial bacteria end up having less of a chance of developing a healthy and balanced microbiome when you disturb them too much.

Promoting Oral Health Through Nutrition and Homeopathy

So what are your alternatives? While probiotics do not have a direct effect on your oral microbiome, addressing your gut flora can make a big difference. Fermented vegetables and other traditionally fermented foods are an ideal source, but if you don’t eat fermented foods, then a high-quality probiotic is certainly recommended.

I used to be severely challenged with plaque, but once I started eating fermented vegetables on a daily basis, and doing oil pulling with coconut oil, the plaque buildup was dramatically reduced. Your diet can also make or break your teeth, as it were, by influencing inflammation. Avoiding the following dietary culprits can go a long way toward reducing or preventing inflammation in your mouth and body:

  • Refined sugar/processed fructose and processed grains
  • Oxidized cholesterol (cholesterol that has gone rancid, such as that from overcooked, scrambled eggs)
  • Foods cooked at high temperatures
  • Trans fats
  • Damaged omega-6 fats found in processed vegetable oils

Certain nutrients are very important for optimal gum health. Vitamin C is one. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is another. CoQ10 is a critical cofactor in the Krebs cycle, which is how energy is created in your cells. Bleeding gums, for example, can be a sign of CoQ10 deficiency. There are also a number of homeopathic tissue salts that can be beneficial for oral health, including:

  • Silica
  • Calcarea fluorica (calc. fluor.) or calcium fluoride
  • Calcium phosphate
  • Calcium carbonate

4 Strategies That Can Improve Your Oral Health

Research revealing the connection between the microorganisms in your mouth and cancer (as well as many other health problems) makes it clear that oral hygiene is a necessary prerequisite if you want to be healthy. Major problems can result from the overgrowth of opportunistic oral pathogens, including oropharyngeal cancers. In addition to avoiding fluoride and mercury fillings, my top four recommendations for optimizing your oral health are as follows:

  1. Eat a wholesome diet of real food: fresh fruits and vegetables, grass-pastured meats, poultry, eggs and dairy; nuts and seeds. Minimize consumption of sugar and processed food
  2. Add in some naturally fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, pickles, kimchee or kefir
  3. Brush your teeth twice daily, and floss every day
  4. Oil pulling

When it comes to oral hygiene and preventing cavities, please remember, drinking fluoridated water and brushing your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste is not the answer because fluoride is more toxic than lead. Rather it’s about your diet, and about proper dental care: brushing and flossing.

By avoiding sugars and processed foods, you prevent the proliferation of the bacteria that cause decay in the first place. Following up with proper brushing and flossing, and getting regular cleanings will ensure that your teeth and gums stay healthy naturally.

[+] Sources and References

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Supplements Proven Beneficial for Your Mental Health

 

June 02, 2016

By Dr. Mercola

Vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements not only have a significant amount of evidence supporting their use for the prevention and treatment of mental health problems typically treated with drugs, they also have an admirable safety record.

The same cannot be said for antidepressants, the side effects of which run the gamut from sexual dysfunction to lack of emotions or “emotional flatness,” sleep disturbances, brain damage, and even to suicide and homicide.

Antidepressants have also been shown to increase your chances of worsening depression, turning what is often a temporary condition into a lifelong struggle. One in 20 Americans over the age of 12 struggles with depression1 and 11 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 12 are on antidepressant medication.2

Considering the prevalence of depression and the risks associated with antidepressants, we really need to reevaluate how we approach this problem. Depression is undoubtedly a serious issue that should not be dismissed, but I urge you to consider your options before taking the drug route.

 Antidepressants Are Not Science-Based Medicine

If you believe in following the recommendations of science-based medicine, you wouldn’t take an antidepressant. Studies have repeatedly shown that these drugs work no better than a placebo. As noted in a 2014 paper on antidepressants and the placebo effect:3

“Antidepressants are supposed to work by fixing a chemical imbalance, specifically, a lack of serotonin in the brain. Indeed, their supposed effectiveness is the primary evidence for the chemical imbalance theory.

But analyses of the published data and the unpublished data that were hidden by drug companies reveals that most (if not all) of the benefits are due to the placebo effect …

Analyzing the data we had found, we were not surprised to find a substantial placebo effect on depression. What surprised us was how small the drug effect was. Seventy-five percent of the improvement in the drug group also occurred when people were give dummy pills with no active ingredient in them.

The serotonin theory is as close as any theory in the history of science to having been proved wrong. Instead of curing depression, popular antidepressants may induce a biological vulnerability making people more likely to become depressed in the future.”

FDA Data and Unpublished Trials Show Antidepressants Don’t Work

That 2014 paper is well worth reading if you still doubt the claim that antidepressants’ effectiveness is on par with placebo. The author, Irving Kirsch, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist who has performed a number of analyses on antidepressants.

In 2002, his team filed a Freedom of Information Act to request to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), asking for the trial data provided by drug companies as part of the drug approval process. There were several benefits to using this data:

FDA requires drug companies to provide data on all clinical trials they’ve sponsored, including unpublished trials. As it turned out, nearly half of all clinical trials on antidepressants had never been published.

Only 43 percent of trials (published and unpublished) showed a statistically significant benefit of drug over placebo. In the majority of trials — 57 percent — the drug showed no clinical benefit over placebo.

Moreover, the placebo response actually accounted for 82 percent of the beneficial response to antidepressants. These results were reproduced in a 2008 study4 using another, larger, set of FDA trial data. According to Kirsch, “once again, 82 percent of the drug response was duplicated by placebo.”

All of the trials used the same primary measure of depression, the Hamilton depression scale — a 17-item scale with a possible score of 0 to 53 points. The higher your score, the more severe your depression.

This made the drug-placebo differences easy to identify, compare and understand. Importantly, the mean difference between drug and placebo was less than two points (1.8) on this scale, which is considered “clinically insignificant.”

To illustrate just how tiny a difference this is, you can score a six-point difference simply by changing sleep patterns without any reported change in other depressive symptoms.

As noted by Kirsch, “thus, when published and unpublished data are combined, they fail to show a clinically significant advantage for antidepressant medication over inert placebo.”

The drug company data sent to the FDA is the basis upon which antidepressants were approved, which makes these trials particularly important.

If there were significant flaws in the studies — which is a common complaint when someone doesn’t agree with the results — the FDA should never have approved them in the first place.

Vitamins and Supplements Boost Effectiveness of Antidepressants

Considering the fact that antidepressants have the clinical effectiveness of a placebo, is it any wonder that nutritional supplements can “boost” their effectiveness? That’s exactly what a recent study found.

The meta-analysis, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, looked at 40 clinical trials in which supplements were added to the drug regimen.5,6,7

The following four supplements were found to improve the impact of the medication — which included serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants — compared to medication only:

Fish oil

Vitamin D

Methylfolate (an effective form of folic acid)

S-Adenosyl methionine (SAMe)

Fish oil — specifically the fat EPA — produced the most significant improvement, which isn’t so surprising if you understand the importance of animal-based omega-3for brain health.

In fact, it would have been far more interesting to see how these supplements might have fared without the use of medication, as the supplements could very well have been the true benefit.

After all, studies have shown that both omega-3 and vitamin D can help improve mental health all on their own, and if the medication doesn’t add anything of real value, why risk your health and wellbeing by taking it?

Lowering Inflammation Is Important for Mental Health

Studies have linked depression to chronic inflammation and dysfunction of the gut-brain axis.8 Depression is often found alongside gastrointestinal inflammation, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

One likely theory as to why certain nutrients work so well for depression is because they are potent anti-inflammatories. Indeed, many studies have confirmed that treating gastrointestinal inflammation helps improve symptoms of depression.9 The gut-brain connection is well-recognized as a basic tenet of physiology and medicine, so this isn’t all that surprising, even though it’s often overlooked.

A previous article10 titled “Are Probiotics the New Prozac?” reviews some of the supporting evidence. For example, animal research has linked changes in gut flora to changes in affective behaviors, and in humans, probiotics (beneficial bacteria) have been shown to alter brain function.11 According to lead author Dr. Kirsten Tillisch:12

“Time and time again, we hear from patients that they never felt depressed or anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut. Our study shows that the gut–brain connection is a two-way street …  When we consider the implications of this work, the old sayings ‘you are what you eat’ and ‘gut feelings’ take on new meaning.”

Previous research has also shown that certain probiotics can help alleviate anxiety. For example, the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility13 reported the probiotic known as Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 normalized anxiety-like behavior in mice with infectious colitis by modulating the vagal pathways within the gut-brain.

Other research14 found that the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus had a marked effect on GABA levels — an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is significantly involved in regulating many physiological and psychological processes — in certain brain regions and lowered the stress-induced hormone corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety- and depression-related behavior. (It is likely other lactobacillus species also provide this benefit, but this was the only one that was tested.)

Important Brain Nutrients

Part of the reason why depression is so rampant may well be linked to the fact that vitamin D and omega-3 deficiencies are rampant as well, and both of these nutrients are really important for optimal brain function and mental health. Consider this: your brain is made up of about 60 percent fat,15 and vitamin D receptors appear in a wide variety of brain tissue, suggesting vitamin D has an important role to play in your brain.

Omega-3 fats are important for mental clarity and focus. The 2001 book, “The Omega-3 Connection,” written by Harvard psychiatrist Dr. Andrew Stoll, was among the first works to bring attention to and support the use of omega-3 fats for depression. Omega-3s have also been shown to improve more serious mental disorders, including schizophrenia, psychosis, and bipolar disorder.16

There is no set recommended standard dose of omega-3 fats, but some health organizations recommend a daily dose of 250 to 500 milligrams (mg) of EPA and DHA for healthy adults. If you suffer from depression, higher doses may be called for. In one study,17 an omega-3 supplement with a dose range of 200 to 2,200 mg of EPA per day was effective against primary depression.

As for vitamin D, researchers have suggested vitamin D may play a role in depression by regulating brain chemicals called monoamines, which include serotonin.18 As a general rule, depressed individuals have lower vitamin D levels than non-depressed people.19

Having a vitamin D level below 20 ng/ml can raise your risk of depression by 85 percent compared to having a level greater than 30 ng/ml.20 Among seniors, low vitamin D levels have been shown to raise the risk of depression by as much as 1,100 percent!

A double-blind randomized trial21 published in 2008 also concluded that: “It appears to be a relation between serum levels of 25(OH)D and symptoms of depression. Supplementation with high doses of vitamin D seems to ameliorate these symptoms indicating a possible causal relationship.”Vitamin B12 deficiency can also contribute to depression, and affects about 1 in 4 people.

The Importance of Exercise

Besides nutrition, exercise is one of the most potent anti-depressants at your disposal. Research has confirmed it actuallyoutperforms drug treatment. It’s also a key treatment strategy for anxiety disorders. Exercise combats depression in a number of different ways, including by:

Helping to normalize your insulin levels, which reduces inflammation

Boosting “feel-good” hormones in your brain

Eliminating kynurenine, a harmful protein associated with depression.22 (Confirming the link between inflammation and depression, your body metabolizes kynurenine primarily via a process activated by stress and inflammatory factors)

Increasing brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), which tends to be critically low in depressed individuals

Activating mitochondrial biogenesis

Putting Treatment Options for Depression Into Proper Perspective

If you suffer from mental health problems, be it depression, anxiety, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or any other mental or emotional disturbance, it’s really important to reassess your diet and general lifestyle. Your body and mind are closely interrelated, and physical dysfunction can easily take a toll on your mental health. Your gut health, especially, can play a significant role.

One thing’s for sure. Antidepressants fail miserably in addressing the cause of people’s mental health problems. The booming market of “booster” drugs or “antidepressant add-ons” like ABILIFY (originally developed to treat schizophrenia and mania23) is just another sign that antidepressants really don’t work as advertised.

While adding one or more supplements to the treatment protocol would be a step in the right direction, it still falls short, as the side effects of these drugs can be worse than the original complaint. For these reasons, I recommend avoiding drug treatment unless absolutely necessary.

There are instances where they can be useful and lifesaving, especially when dealing with more serious psychological disorders like schizophrenia and psychotic episodes, but for run of the mill depression, the long-term answer is more likely to be found in your kitchen than in your medicine cabinet.

Remember, studies show antidepressants are on par with placebo in terms of effectiveness, so by forgoing them you’re not turning your back to a science-based cure.

It’s really unfortunate that psychiatry has been so resistant to changing its treatment recommendations based on the scientific evidence, because if it did, antidepressants would no longer be among the top selling drugs in the U.S. (ABILIFY nabbed second place among the top 10 best-selling brand name drugs in 2015, with a total of 8.3 million total prescriptions written that year.24)

Overcoming Depression Without Drugs

Research tells us that the composition of your gut flora not only affects your physical health, but also has a significant impact on your brain function and mental state, and your gut microbiome can be quickly impacted by dietary changes — for better or worse.

Research has also revealed there are a number of other safe, effective ways to address depression that do not involve hazardous drugs. So if you suffer from an anxiety- or depression-related disorder, please consider addressing the following diet and lifestyle factors before you resort to drugs:

Eat real food, and avoid all processed foods, sugar (particularly fructose), grains, and GMOs High sugar and starchy non-fiber carbohydrates lead to excessive insulin release, which can result in falling blood sugar levels, or hypoglycemia.

In turn, hypoglycemia causes your brain to secrete glutamate in levels that can cause agitation, depression, anger, anxiety, and panic attacks. Sugar also fans the flames of inflammation in your body.

In addition to being high in sugar and grains, processed foods also contain a variety of additives that can affect your brain function and mental state, especially MSG, and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.

Gluten sensitivity is also a common, hidden cause of depression, so going on a gluten-free diet can be part of the answer.

Recent research also shows that glyphosate, used in large quantities on genetically engineered crops like corn, soy, and sugar beets, limits your body’s ability to detoxify foreign chemical compounds.

As a result, the damaging effects of those toxins are magnified, potentially resulting in a wide variety of diseases, including brain disorders that have both psychological and behavioral effects.

Increase consumption of traditionally fermented and cultured foods Reducing gut inflammation is imperative when addressing mental health issues,25 so optimizing your gut flora is a critical piece.

To promote healthy gut flora, increase your consumption of probiotic foods, such as fermented vegetables, kimchee, natto, kefir, and others.

Get adequate vitamin B12 Vitamin B12 deficiency can contribute to depression and affects one in four people.
Optimize your vitamin D levels Vitamin D is very important for your mood. Remember, Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression related to sunshine deficiency, so it would make sense that the perfect way to optimize your vitamin D is through UV exposure.

Be sure to check your levels (via blood test) at least once or twice a year. You’ll want to be within the therapeutic range of 40 to 60 ng/ml year-round.

If you cannot get sufficient sun exposure to maintain this level, taking an oral vitamin D3 supplement would be advisable. Just remember to also increase your vitamin K2when taking oral vitamin D.

Get plenty of high-quality animal-based omega-3 fats Your brain is 60 percent fat, and DHA, an animal-based omega-3 fat, along with EPA, is crucial for good brain function and mental health.26,27

Unfortunately, most people don’t get enough from diet alone, so make sure you take a high-quality omega-3 fat. I recommend krill oil, which has a number of benefits over fish oil, including better absorption.28

Beneficial herbs and  supplements: SAMe, 5-HTP and St. John’s Wort SAMe is an amino acid derivative that occurs naturally in all cells. It plays a role in many biological reactions by transferring its methyl group to DNA, proteins, phospholipids and biogenic amines.

Several scientific studies indicate that SAMe may be useful in the treatment of depression.

5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is another natural alternative to traditional antidepressants. When your body sets about manufacturing serotonin, it first makes 5-HTP. Taking 5-HTP as a supplement may raise serotonin levels.

The evidence suggests 5-HTP outperforms a placebo when it comes to alleviating depression29 — more than can be said about antidepressants.

One caveat: anxiety and social phobias can worsen with higher levels of serotonin, so it may be contraindicated if your anxiety is already high. St. John’s Wort has also been shown to provide relief from mild depressive symptoms.

Evaluate your salt intake Sodium deficiency actually creates symptoms that are very much like those of depression. Make sure you do NOT use processed salt (regular table salt), however.

You’ll want to use an all natural, unprocessed salt like Himalayan salt, which contains more than 80 different micronutrients.

Get adequate daily exercise Studies have shown there is a strong correlation between improved mood and aerobic capacity.

There’s also a growing acceptance that the mind-body connection is very real, and that maintaining good physical health can significantly lower your risk of developing depression in the first place.

Exercising creates new GABA-producing neurons that help induce a natural state of calm. It also boosts your levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which help buffer the effects of stress.

Get enough sleep You can have the best diet and exercise program possible but if you aren’t sleeping well you can easily become depressed.

Sleep and depression are so intimately linked that a sleep disorder is actually part of the definition of the symptom complex that gives the label depression.

Energy psychology Energy psychology techniques such as the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), can also be very effective for reducing symptoms of depression or anxiety by correcting the bioelectrical short-circuiting that causes your body’s reactions — without adverse effects.

Recent research has shown that EFT significantly increases positive emotions, such as hope and enjoyment, and decreases negative emotional states.

EFT is particularly powerful for treating stress and anxiety because it specifically targets your amygdala and hippocampus, which are the parts of your brain that help you decide whether or not something is a threat.30,31

For serious or complex issues, seek out a qualified health care professional that is trained in EFT32 to help guide you through the process.

[+] Sources and References

How Industry Money Keeps Unsafe Products in Wide Use — and the Public in the Dark

June 01, 2016

By Dr. Mercola

The recent federal lawsuit filed against former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg again highlights industry influence at the highest government levels.

Hamburg, her husband, Peter Brown, and Johnson & Johnson are charged with conspiracy, racketeering and colluding to conceal the dangers of the antibiotic Levaquin, made by Johnson & Johnson.1

The suit was filed by Larry Klayman, a former federal prosecutor, who claims the parties concealed the drug’s dangers for financial gain. Peter Brown is an executive in the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, which held hundreds of millions of dollars of Johnson & Johnson stock. The suit charges that:2

“While Defendant Hamburg was FDA Commissioner, her husband, Defendant Brown’s annual income, not coincidentally, increased from a reported $10 million in 2008 to an estimated $125 million in 2011 and an estimated $90 million in 2012, due in whole or in part to Defendants’ racketeering conspiracy to withhold information about the devastating, life threatening, and deadly effects of Levaquin.”

Did Hamburg Conceal Drug Dangers for Financial Gain?

Many safety questions arose after Levaquin’s 1996 approval, including the drug’s role in tendon ruptures (like its fluoroquinoline cousin Cipro), possible cell damage, links to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Huntington’s, and permanent peripheral nerve damage.3

Only after Hamburg left the FDA did the agency put clearer warnings on Levaquin’s label says the complaint.

This is not the first time there have been questions about the relationship between the FDA’s drug decisions and Hamburg’s financial interests. In 2013, Hamburg verbally supported approval of the extreme opioid Zohydro despite its rejection by an FDA advisory board.

It is very rare that the FDA does not accept and follow an advisory board’s decision. Subsequently, 28 state attorneys general, reeling under their states’ opioid epidemics, urged the FDA to reverse the Zohydro decision.

Hamburg defended the Zohydro approval by saying that “100 million Americans” suffer from severe chronic pain, a fact that most public health experts not linked to drug companies dispute.

Yet Renaissance Technologies, the hedge fund, also held significant stock in Alkermes, the maker of Zohydro, at the time, giving the appearance of a financial conflict of interest.4

Hamburg Has a Long History of Conflicts of Interest

Questions about financial conflicts of interest clouded Hamburg’s entire tenure. To be appointed, she had to agree to sell her stock and stock options in Henry Schein Inc., the largest seller of dental amalgam (mercury fillings) and a flu vaccine seller, and to recuse herself from regulatory matters affecting Schein.

While Hamburg sold her stock, she retained her stock options, which in a few weeks gained from being “under water” (no value) to having market value.

Under Hamburg’s leadership, the FDA refused to acknowledge the health dangers of mercury fillings in direct opposition to positions taken by the Department of State, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and a worldwide treaty addressing mercury dangers.

Under Hamburg’s leadership, the FDA rolled out pathetic, “voluntary” measures to control the use of antibiotics on farms, despite their clear link to antibiotic resistant bacteria and thousands of deaths a year.

In a Frontline News documentary, Hamburg contended that a voluntary approach is the most effective way to stop the excess use of antibiotics.

She was wrong. Voluntary measures have resulted in more antibiotics used by livestock operators who routinely use the drugs because they make livestock gain weight with less feed.

According to the FDA’s 2014 Summary Report on Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food-Producing Animals5 domestic sales and distribution of cephalosporins for food-producing animals increased by 57 percent between 2009 through 2014.

Lincosamide antibiotics like clindamycin increased by 150 percent and aminoglycoside antibiotics like gentamicin by 36 percent. (Aminoglycosides can have such serious side effects in humans, they are considered a last resort drug. It is shocking they are even considered for use in livestock.6)

Other Questions About Hamburg’s Tenure

Hamburg also moved to loosen the traditional conflict of interest rules that govern participants on advisory panels who are supposed to be independent.7 While waivers are sometimes issued, if an expert receives $50,000 or more from industry he or she is generally barred from the agency’s 50 or so expert panels.

But in 2011, Hamburg said the FDA was having trouble finding experts not taking money from industry, even though lists of conflict-free medical professionals were and are readily available from health watchdog groups.8

Finally, before leaving the FDA, Hamburg named Duke University’s Dr. Robert Califf as FDA Deputy Commissioner for Medical Products and Tobacco,9,10 despite his thicket of financial links to the drug industry. He later succeeded Dr. Hamburg and became the new FDA Commissioner.

According to author disclosures listed in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology,11 between 2010 and 2013, Califf received grants that partially supported his salary from no less than 13 drug companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Bayer, and Roche.

He also did consulting work for an even longer list of drug companies and drug research organizations. The naming of Califf as FDA Commissioner despite at least 40 industry financial links including board positions12 is the end of any pretense of a firewall between industry and the FDA.

Yet, when Hamburg was asked if she was surprised by Democratic opposition to Califf’s nomination she said, “I was a little surprised by that because he’s in fact never actually worked in industry, but his programs have been supported by industry dollars.

The world is changing and most academic research centers get money from companies to do clinical trials.”

Hamburg is right that clinical trials, contract research organizations, and institutional review boards are increasingly for-profit and run by industry. That’s precisely why we need a conflict-free FDA to regulate the lucrative but often dangerous drugs that arise from such arrangements.

Califf, for example, is known for defending the safety13 of Vioxx and leading trials for the blood thinner Xarelto, linked to 379 subsequent deaths.14

Duke University, where Califf directed clinical research until he moved to the FDA, is still recovering from a major research fraud scandal that resulted in terminated grants, retracted papers, and a 60 Minutes special.15

Former CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding had a similar history of industry collusion. The CDC is charged with overseeing vaccines and drug companies and after her tenure there, she took a job as president of Merck’s vaccine unit.

Industry Conflicts Are Also Invading Media

Most people trust mainstream news outlets more than the FDA to tell them the truth about the safety of drugs and foods — but should they?

In a recent article for the magazine Undark, Paul Raeburn, former science editor at BusinessWeek and the Associated Press notes the increasingly popular “partnerships” between industry and news outlets. A recent conference at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. for example:16

“[T]itled ‘Lost in Translation: Is Science Explained Fairly in the Media?’ was the product of a partnership between Scientific American magazine and two commercial sponsors: Johnson & Johnson, and GMO Answers, a public information agency funded by members of The Council for Biotechnology Information, which includes the industry powerhouses BASF, Bayer, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Syngenta, and Monsanto.

‘The conference was an example of what is now a widespread and growing practice in the publishing industry: the use of ‘branded partnerships’ to extended publishers’ reach and boost their income. While these arrangements might generate revenue, they also raise important questions about journalistic credibility.

After all, how can news outlets like Scientific American, a respected — even revered — source of science news, maintain the appearance of impartiality while accepting checks from companies they cover? And should respected journalists lend their names and reputations to such conferences by participating on the panels?'”

Scientific American has also helped “Celgene showcase its leadership in cancer innovation,” writes Raeburn, and has reviewed Caterpillar’s communications, including assisting “them in revamping their overall strategy.” The magazine has also partnered with the Biotechnology Industry Association on various projects says Raeburn.

While some participants at the conference told Raeburn the presence of respected journalists they knew would not be swayed by industry dollars reassured them the industry would not “taint” the conference, others expressed reservations. For example, GMO Answers is a slick organization created by the PR firm Ketchum for the Council for Biotechnology Information to “sell” the nation on the safety of GMOs. Is Scientific American now a Monsanto bedfellow?

Industry Money Squeezes Out Valuable Products From Smaller Companies

Clearly, the FDA’s big bucks, pay-to-play approval system buoys the agency’s budget with the drug industry’s seven-figure fees. Most people realize “pay-to-play” is how drugs like Zohydro and Xarelto get approved. But the corrupt system also prevents new and innovative products from getting to the market. Companies without deep pockets and crony links seldom if ever negotiate the FDA’s approval system.

New and exciting research is also suppressed through an academic and publications system that favors the status quo, says William A. Wilson in the magazine First Things.17

“In many fields, it’s common for an established and respected researcher to serve as ‘senior author’ on a bright young star’s first few publications, lending his prestige and credibility to the result, and signaling to reviewers that he stands behind it.

In the natural sciences and medicine, senior scientists are frequently the controllers of laboratory resources — which these days include not just scientific instruments, but dedicated staffs of grant proposal writers and regulatory compliance experts — without which a young scientist has no hope of accomplishing significant research.

Older scientists control access to scientific prestige by serving on the editorial boards of major journals and on university tenure-review committees. Finally, the government bodies that award the vast majority of scientific funding are either staffed or advised by distinguished practitioners in the field.”

Fraudulent Research Threatens Entire Field of Science

The same system can also encourage misleading or even fraudulent research when so many paychecks and egos are affected, notes Wilson, and it may explain why so much published research proves non-reproducible.18

“The ‘bad’ papers that failed to replicate were, on average, cited far more often than the papers that did! As the authors [a group of cancer researchers] put it, ‘some non-reproducible preclinical papers had spawned an entire field, with hundreds of secondary publications that expanded on elements of the original observation, but did not actually seek to conform or falsify its fundamental basis.’

What they [the researchers] do not mention is that once an entire field has been created — with careers, funding, appointments, and prestige all premised upon an experimental result which was utterly false due either to fraud or to plain bad luck — pointing this fact out is not likely to be very popular. Peer review switches from merely useless to actively harmful.”

From Vioxx to Paxil, to hormone replacement therapy and flame retardants, many dangerous products have rested on faulty research.19 Worse, much research discovered to be fraudulent, including instances where researchers actually went to prison, has never been retracted and still stands to mislead future generations.20

For example, Dr. Richard Borison, former Psychiatry chief at the Augusta Veterans Affairs medical center and Medical College of Georgia, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for a $10 million clinical trial fraud conducted on unsuspecting veterans but his “U.S. Seroquel® Study Group” research is unretracted and cited over 300 times21 in subsequent research, including in medical textbooks.22

It is not surprising that both the FDA and mainstream media have become industry captives failing to perform their sworn duties of protecting and informing the public because of their lucrative partnerships with industry. Unless there is a major system of reinvigoration, the spiral of compromised ethics will only continue.