You have seen them . . . the chemtrails. I see them being sprayed almost every morning in the Eastern sky when I go for my morning walk. Most evenings I see them being sprayed on the Western horizon. Every time I see the trails being sprayed I ask myself what? and why? The government won't tell.
Independent tests have been conducted over the past five years at various locations around the country and they indicate that barium, cadmium, nickel, mold spores, yellow fungal mycotoxins, radioactive thorium, and mostly aluminum are now found in our atmosphere. I would not expect to find metals, and especially heavy metals, in the atmosphere. See UN testimony here.
If you worry about what you may be inhaling then here are a few herbs that detoxify the body.
Selenium -- This trace mineral is vital to the optimal functioning of the body, and has excellent antioxidant properties which protect against the damaging effects of exposure to pesticides and heavy metals. Selenium can specifically bind to mercury and pull it from your tissues so it can be excreted.
Chlorella -- This is a single-cell microalga that binds to heavy metals in the digestive tract, purifying the body from toxins absorbed through breathing contaminated air — including air contaminated by chemtrails — and from drinking impure water.
Spirulina -- Is a microalgae that detoxifies the digestive system in a similar way to chlorella, and it alkalizes the body, protecting against acidic environmental toxins that cause disease.
Milk thistle -- This plant contains the compound silybin that supports the functioning of the liver, the organ responsible for detoxification. Supporting healthy liver function is absolutely essential when you’re exposed to large amounts of harmful substances on a daily basis. If the liver gets overwhelmed and sluggish then a toxins are more likely circulate through the body and damage it.
Zeolite -- Zeolite is a natural chelator mineral. When ingested toxins and heavy metals bind to the mineral and are then eliminated from the body. I use liquid Zeolite. If you purchase the powdered form then make sure it is ultra fine (less-than 20 µm).
Dr. Dave, ND
I discovered the book, Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas, a 2001 novel by James Patterson, this morning while on my morning walk. The audio book I am listening to during my walk quoted the following passage from Patterson's book. "Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, friends, health and integrity. And you are keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls . . . are made of glass. If you drop one of these it will be irrecoverably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered."
It doesn't really matter how you name your five balls. I named mine mental, social, spiritual, career and money, and physical. You can give your five balls any set of names that you wish. Just remember that we are trying to keep all of the balls in balance, all moving from one hand to the other, up into the air, and then back down to the first hand to repeat the cycle again and again.
All of the balls are important, but some are probably more important than the others. Over twenty years ago, after being a bit out of balance, I decided that family, the most important part of my relationship ball, was the One Thing and that no matter what, that was the ball that I would never drop. I could catch one of the other balls if I dropped it and it bounced. I could even pick up the pieces if the dropped ball shattered, but family, no, it had to stay in the air never to be dropped.
We all have a limited amount of time every day and it seems like most days there is an almost unlimited list of things we need to do. That means that we have to make decisions about where to allocate our time and energy. Some activities will receive a smaller time/energy allocation one day than they really need. In most cases that can be made up in the future. There are, however, some activities that can't be made up. That's why my wife and I never miss our son's activities, be they school or university concerts, sporting events, or time when one of them needs to go for a long walk with one of us to talk something over. Those are the kinds of activities that can't be made up.
I have learned that some activities can sustain a longer time between a time/energy deficit and that deficit being repaid. It is sort of like drawing down a battery. Some batteries, deep-cycle batteries, can be used for a long time and their energy level can be depleted to a fairly low level before they need to be recharged. The same is true of some of your five balls. Other batteries, like a AAA rechargeable battery, have shorter draw-down and recharge cycles, so do others of your five balls.
For example, inside my career and money ball I have a goal to publish at least one paper a year in an academic journal. I have already met that goal this year and just submitted my second paper to a journal for review. However, not all years are like this year. I have had some years when the combination of my teaching, administrative duties, and committee assignments have made it impossible for me to research and write during the normal academic year. Research, for me, is like a deep-cycle battery. Those years I recharged the battery, did my research and writing, during the summer and usually during the month when my boys were still in school but my academic year had ended.
Today I challenge you to do two things, and I really hope that you do it. First, give names to your five balls and write them down on the back of a business card you can keep in your wallet or in your journal. Then decide which ONE of those balls is your One Thing that you will never drop. I hope that you can find ways to keep your five balls in the air while never dropping the One Thing ball that is most important to you.
To your wellness,
Dr. Dave, ND
In my last blog I wrote about the simplest and surprisingly research-proven, effective treatment for UTI . . . water. In this blog, as promised, I’ll give you a bit of information about herbs and supplements that have traditionally been used with UTI.
Cranberries and Blueberries prevent bacteria from attaching to the lining of the urethra and bladder and are thus effective at keeping the urinary tract healthy. Current research suggests that proanthocyanins in the cranberry fruit keeps bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract. In theory at least this helps urine wash any harmful bacteria away. A study published in 2002 showed significant effect of cranberry juice and tablets on the reduction of the urinary tract infections in 150 women. Currently, the NIH and NCCAH have begun further research of the health benefits of Cranberry.
If you have a UTI or want to help prevent it then please don’t drink the sugary Cranberry drink sold with all the other bottled drinks in the grocery store. Go to the organic section and get high-quality, no-sugar-added cranberry juice. It may not taste as good but it is better for you. Some research indicates a possible interactions between cranberry juice and Warfarin that can lead to bleeding so don’t drink cranberry just if you take a Warfarin blood thinner.
D-Mannose is a simple, naturally occurring sugar that is related to glucose. Bacteria love sugar and so when you take D-Mannose the bacteria are attracted to the sugar and E. coli attaches to it rather than the bladder wall. This makes it easy for the bacteria to be flushed out you urinate. Scientific studies have indicated that D-mannose helps to improve the health of bladder cells in general. You can get D-Mannose at your local health-food store or from Amazon.
Uva Ursi contains the active component, arbutin, which appears to have antiseptic properties once it is broken down and excreted in the kidneys. Although this is a gentle herb individuals with liver disease or pregnant or nursing women should not take it. It should only be used short periods of time, usually a week or less and no more than 2 grams per day because it may cause the same complications as a prescribed antibiotic. If you experience nausea, vomiting or greenish-brown urine then discontinue use. High doses and/or long-term use can cause eye problems, respiratory issues, liver damage, convulsions, and death.
Goldenseal is a root that possesses natural antimicrobial properties and assists in eliminating harmful bacteria in your system. Goldenseal contains berberine, an alkaloid which is believed to prevent urinary tract infections by stopping harmful bacteria sticking to the wall of the urinary bladder. Goldenseal can be taken in a capsule form or drink it as a tea.
Juniper berries have long been used to treat both kidney and bladder conditions and they are my herb of first resort for UTI because they have both antibacterial and antifungal properties. Juniper Berry seem to be most effective if taken as a whole berry instead of a tea, although capsules seem to also work well. You can find juniper berry at your local health food store. We collect ripe juniper berries in the Fall and make a tincture of Juniper. They are also a natural diuretic which helps the body flush the bladder and urethra in order to aid in clearing an infection.
A number of health conditions can be prevented or corrected by adequate daily intake of vitamin D, and UTIs are one of them. A 2011 study published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers found that vitamin D helps increase production of special antimicrobial peptides in the body that prevent infection from harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses, including those which trigger UTIs.
Live well, be well,
Dr. Dave, ND
It has been reported that about 40 percent of American women will experience a urinary track infection (UTI) and more women than men because of anatomical differences. These infections can affect any part of the urinary system, including the kidneys, bladder, and urethra, and they can be very painful. UTIs are preventable and one of the simplest ways to prevent UTIs is to drink more water. Duh. A team of American and French researchers reports that drinking an additional six glasses of water a day can cut the risk of acquiring UTIs.
A team a researchers from the United States and France studied a group of 140 premenopausal women (mean age 35.7 years old) who experienced recurrent cystitis (UTI) and who reported drinking less than 1.5 L of total fluid daily. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men and about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women. In addition The Office on Women's Health recommends that pregnant women drink about 10 cups (2.4 liters) of fluids daily and women who breast-feed consume about 13 cups (3.1 liters) of fluids a day. So women who were drinking less than 1.5 liters per day were way below guidelines.
In this low fluid intake group cystitis episodes were significantly more frequent than in the group of women who drank more water for 12 months. There were 327 reported UTI episodes over the course of the study. Of those, 111 were from the higher fluid intake group group and and almost twice as many, 216, were from the low fluid intake group, the control group. The average time interval between UTI episodes in the high fluid intake group was 142.8 days and it was 84.4 days in the control group. In addition, when women drank more water than usual, their need for antimicrobial treatments or antibiotics was reduced. So how much more water did the high fluid intake treatment group drink? The members of the control group reported that they drank less than six glasses of water a day. The high-fluid intake group was asked to drink six more glasses of water per day than they usually drank. That's all.
The take-away from this study is a duh . . . drink more water.
If you experience frequent UTI there are some common natural preventive measures that you can use to avoid UTIs in the first place. I'll write about them in my next blog.
Drink (water) for your health,
Dr. Dave, ND
When I was in high school and college I played high impact sports. I guess I figured that I was young and strong and that I would be that way forever. No that I'm older and wiser I have started to pay a lot of attention to research about the effects of aging and what we can do about it. I recently came across this 2017 article that was published in the European Journal of Epidemiology.
The authors of this study tracked 2,245 middle-aged men for a long time, the follow-up time in the study came an average of 25.6 years later. They were interested in the effect of magnesium levels on the rates of bone fractures. You know that as we age we tend to lose muscle mass, well we also tend to lose bone mass and our bones become more brittle. This study found that "In middle-aged Caucasian men, low serum magnesium is strongly and independently associated with an increased risk of fractures." Got that? The research team reported that men with lower levels of magnesium had an increased risk of fractures, particularly of the hip. On the other hand, men with higher levels of magnesium in their blood had their risk of fractures reduced by 44 percent. In addition, only 22 of the 2,245 men had very high magnesium levels (more than 2.3 milligrams per deciliter) and this small group had no bone fractures at all.
So now the big question. Are you eating foods or supplements that will maintain or increase your serum magnesium level? Many foods contain magnesium and if you eat a diet rich magnesium-rich foods like leafy green vegetables, fish, meat, dairy, nuts, brown rice, and whole grain bread then you may be getting enough. However, I prefer to be on the safe side so I try to reach the recommended daily allowance of magnesium (300 milligrams for men and 270 milligrams for women) with a calcium/magnesium supplement that also has vitamin D. This is important because Magnesium supplements taken on their own have little effect. Therefore, it is important to combine magnesium supplementation with calcium and vitamin D supplements to maximize the beneficial effect.
Magnesium is one of the seven essential macro-minerals that our bodies need. Magnesium plays a widespread, critical role in the body. Low magnesium levels can throw many of the body’s functions off course, and raise risks for chronic health problems. Healthy magnesium levels protect metabolic health, stabilize mood, keep stress in check, promote better sleep, and contribute to heart and bone health. However, more (as in too much or more than 400 milligrams a day) of it can have serious adverse effects for people with existing kidney issues.
Watch what you eat and if you are not eating enough magnesium-rich foods than think about a cal/mag supplement. Want to be sure, have your doctor check for serum Mg level the next time you go in for a physical.
To your health,
Dr. Dave, ND
I have a list of articles that I have read and about which I want to blog. Unfortunately the list seems to grow faster than I am able to blog. I went through the list last night and highlighted articles that I thought were more interesting or important than most. This blog is from that shorter (not short, but shorter) list.
If you have been reading me for long then you know that I am a proponent of a whole-food-plant-based diet. Fruit is one of the whole foods that doesn't get as much attention as it should and especially citrus fruits. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition written by a research team from Tohoku University in Japan demonstrated that citrus those who eat citrus fruits are less likely to develop age-related cognitive impairment and dementia. In the study, found that older people who eat oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and limes, among others, can reduce their risk of developing dementia by about 25 percent. The older I get the more I appreciate that risk reduction.
Here are more details . . . the study followed 13,000 older adults for up to seven years. The researchers monitored diet, including the frequency of citrus fruit consumption, and brain health. They found a positive relationship between the consumption of lemons, limes, and oranges and improved memory and brain health. Those who ate lemons, limes, and oranges daily had decreased their chances of developing dementia by at least 23 percent, compared to those who just ate it less than twice a week. In addition, those who did not regularly eat citrus fruits were at risk of experiencing age-related cognitive decline. The researchers attribute the effect to nobiletin, a brain-boosting, neuroprotective flavonoid mainly found in the peels of various citrus fruits. Earlier animal studies reported that nobiletin slowed down and even reverse the signs of age-related cognitive impairment and memory loss.
Here are a few other reasons to eat citrus fruits with nobiletin:
Eat Healthy, Live Healthy,
Dr. Dave, ND
Last year the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research published their 2018 Recommendations and Public Health and Policy Implications report as part of their Continuous Update Project. This is a big project, it looks at data from 51 million people. I scanned the report when it first came out and finally got around to reading all 92 pages of it this past weekend. You can download the report here. If you don't want to read the entire report then I suggest spending a little time with the table on page 13 that does of good job of summarizing their findings. Here is an even quicker summary.
What not to do:
Make a wellness plan, take small steps and stick to it. Need help? Use the contact form to get in touch with me.
To your health,
Dr. Dave, ND
Guggul is a nutritional supplement made from the oily sap, gum resin, of the Guggul tree, which is native to the Indian subcontinent. This supplement has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries and Ayurvedic texts dating back to 600 BC recommend it for treating atherosclerosis. So does it work?
To find out if it works we are going to have to look at animal studies. So let's start with a bunch of rabbits, Hyperlipidemic rabbits, rabbits that had been feed cholesterol for three weeks were randomly divided into a control group and three treatment groups receiving. The control group was untreated. The experimental groups were given atorvastatin, a statin drug used to treat high cholesterol, guggul, or both atovastatin and guggul combined for three weeks. We should expect that the statin drug would be the star treatment, and maybe that the combination of the statin drug with guggul would have done a little bit better. Well guess what? The authors conclude that, "All treated groups had significant reduction in cholesterol, triglyceride, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) in comparison to pre-treatment values and control group, and had significant increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in comparison to pre-treatment values. Conclusion: Combination of atorvastatin and guggul was comparable to their monotherapies in improving lipid profile." It looks like guggul performed about as well as the statin drug.
Table 1 in their study reports a significant decrease in LDL, HDL and triglyceride levels for the three treatment groups when compared to the same group's initial value and when compared to the control group levels after the three week treatment period. The authors failed to perform statistical test of the between-treatment group measurements. This is a significant weakness in their statistical methodology and leads me to question whether or not it was an intentional oversight. Nor do they discuss between-treatment-group results.
Other studies of Guggul have shown interest and promising results. For example, Lata et al., (1991) reported that Guggul had anti-hyperlipidemic activity. Sinal & Gonzalez (2002), Den (2007), and Shields & Moranville (2011) all reported that guggulsterones are antagonists of the farnesoid X receptor (FXR) and the bile acid receptor (BAR), nuclear hormone receptors involved in bile acid regulation and cholesterol metabolism. This is good news because the long-term use of commonly used hypolipidemic agents like statins have many potential adverse effects like myopathy (muscle disease and weakness) which may result in rhabdomyolysis, myoglobinuria, renal failure and even death. Thus natural alternatives without stain side effects provide a ray of hope.
To your health,
Dr. Dave, ND
Den R. Therapeutic effects of guggul and its constituent guggulsterone—Cardiovascular Benefits. Cardiovas Drug Rev. 2007;25(4):375–390.
Lata S, Saxena KK, Bhasin V, Saxena RS, Kumar A, Srivastava VK. Beneficial effects of Allium sativum, Allium cepa and Commiphora mukul on experimental hyperlipidemia and atherosclerosis - a comparative evaluation. J Post Grad Med. 1991;37(3):132–135.
Shields KM, Moranville MP. Guggul for hypercholesterolemia. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2011;62(10):1012–1014. (Online). Available from: http://www.medscape.com/ viewarticle/505754 3 (Last accessed on 12/09/2013).
Sinal CJ, Gonzalez FJ. Guggulsterone: An old approach to a new problem. Trends in Endocrin Met. 2002;13(7):275–276.
When I get home from the gym every day one of the first things that I do is make myself a protein smoothy. It usually has a scoop or two of chocolate-flavored, whey-based protein powder, a handful of blueberries, 1/2 cup of almond milk, a 1/c of ice, and a cup of water. You know, at least from one of my old blogs, that resistance training destroys muscle cells. Yup, sad but true. However, because of the resistance training they grow back stronger and better. To help the new muscle cells grow you need protein and a recovery day or two. Now there is more good news about Whey protein.
Muscle loss is accelerated during physical inactivity and hypoenergetic states in all people and especially in older people. Protein supplementation has been thought to be a good strategy to offset the loss of muscle during inactivity and enhance recovery on resumption of activity.
Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, conducted a study with 31 participants in their late 60s (16 men, mean age: 69 and 15 women, mean age: 68 ). The experimental subjects consumed a diet containing both protein from food and from supplements (either whey protein (WP) or collagen peptides (CP) at 30 grams, two times per day). During the first week of the study the participants were in energy balance (EB). In the second week they were energy restricted (ER) through calorie restriction (a 500 kcal per day restriction). During the third week the subjects were both energy restricted (the same500 kcal per day restriction). and movement restricted (ER + MR) ( they took 750 steps per day than they did in week 1). The final week was a recovery week where the subjects returned to their initial diet and exercise levels.
As you might expect, the subjects lost lean leg mass (LLM) during the ER and ER+MR phases of the study. There were significant reductions in leg lean mass (LLM) from EB to ER, and from ER to ER + SR in both groups. In addition, protein suplementation did not reduce the LLM loss during phases 2 and 3 of the study. However, during the recovery phase the subjects who were on whey protein supplementation experienced an increase in LLM when they transitioned from the ER+MR phase (week 3) to the recovery phase. The whey protein supplementation also increase muscle protein systemsis during the recovery phase. No such effects were noted among the subjects who took were on collagen peptide supplements.
Being healthy is a choice, make it.
Dr. Dave, ND
Did you know that getting out of your comfort zone is good for your health? Most of us spend our lives in homes and building where the temperature only varies a degree or two between 69.8 and 71.6 degrees F. That seems to be the programmed comfort zone. At least for most people, but not for me. I lived in La Paz, Bolivia for about four years where November is the hottest month of the year with an average temperature of 48 degrees F (9 degrees C) and the coldest is June at 41 degrees F (5 degrees C) with the most daily sunshine hours at 9 hours in August. That is my comfort zone. But even I need to get out of my comfort zone.
Recent research indicates that mild cold and variable temperatures may have a positive effect on our health. The researchers found that moderately warm and cold environments, outside of the usual comfort zone, increased metabolism and energy expenditure. Subjects experienced “mild passive-warmth-acclimation tests (without exercise)” over 10 days to six weeks. The researchers determined that the cold encouraged activity in brown fat, which burns glucose and fatty acids, to increase the amount of body heat. In addition, passive exposure to higher temperatures resulted in improved resilience to heat. Moreover, changes in interior temperature were also shown to effect glucose metabolism. Ten days of intermittent mild cold exposure in Type 2 diabetes patients increased insulin sensitivity, and thereby glucose handling by more than 40 percent, that is about as good as the best available pharmaceutical or physical activity therapies.
My take-away . . . don't spend your entire life indoors. It's cool right now in the Northern hemisphere so get outside and enjoy the cold. Turn the thermostat down in your office and if you get chilled put on a sweater.
Personal story . . . When I lived in Bolivia I was invited to the home of the one of the professors that I was working with. It was June, the middle of the winter, and it was cold. My flat didn't have central heat so I would crawl into bed every night to read right after I cooked and ate my dinner. My bed had a sleeping bag on it with three or four blankets on top and I slept with a stocking cap on my head. Anyway, this evening I walked to my colleague's home, knocked on the door and he opened the door wearing his top coat, scarf, hat, and gloves and looked like he was getting ready to go out. I apologized for getting the date wrong, I assumed I had come a day early, but he said, oh no, come in, this is how we dress at home in the evening. Like me, he just had a small electric space heater that he moved from room-to-room.
You get use to the cold and I love it. Now it turns out that it is even good for us.
To your health,
Dr. Dave, ND
Time for another wheel-of-wellness post. I thought that I would write about relationships this time. I came across a nice meta-analysis paper, “Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review”. I enjoy meta-analyses because, if they are well done, they summarize a lot of different research. This paper summarized the results of 148 studies that involved over 308,000 participants.
The three researchers looked at studies that looked at the effect of social relationships on individuals' mortality and that extracted an “effect size” from each study. An effect size quantifies the size of a difference between two groups. In this study the effect size was the difference in the likelihood of death between groups that differ in terms of their social relationships. They used an odds ratio (OR), the ratio of the chances of an event happening in one group to the chances of the same event happening in the second group. A ratio of 1:1 would indicate that there was the same chance that an event would happen with the same frequency in both groups. They report that the average OR was 1.5. This means that people with stronger social relationships had a 50% increased likelihood of survival than those with weaker social relationships. Another way to look at this is that by the time half of a hypothetical sample of 100 people had died there would be five more people alive with stronger social relationships than people with weaker social relationships.
I found it fascinating that the influence of social relationships on the risk of death is comparable with well-established mortality risk factors like as smoking and alcohol consumption and exceed the influence of other risk factors such as physical inactivity and obesity. Let’s be clear about this, low social interaction is:
What if you have always been a loner? What can loneliness do you to? A 2018 study published in the journal, Current Directions in Psychological Sciences, looked at the quantity of the hormone epinephrine in subjects' bodies. You might recall the epinephrine is the fight/flight/freeze hormone and its presence in the body indicates a heightened stated of arousal (no, not sexual). The subjects who were classified as lonely had higher levels of epinephrine flowing through their bodies, they were under more stress than the subjects who were not lonely. As we have seen before, constant stress is not conducive to wellness.
We are social animals. Find ways to increase your sphere of friends, not just acquaintances, but real friends that you care about, and that care about you. According to Jeffery Hall, an associate professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas, our brains can manage about 150 friends so if you only have two or three its time to expand your circle. Don't expect acquaintances to turn into good friends right away. Hall contents that it takes about 40 to 60 hours to form a casual friendship, 80 to 100 hours to be upgraded to being a friend, and about 200 hours to become "good friends." So, it takes time, but it’s good for your health so do it.
Let's all grow old together,
Dr. Dave, ND
You know that Magnesium is an element and probably remember its chemical symbol, Mg, from your last chemistry class. But do you know why your body needs it? Magnesium is facilitates a great number of important chemical reactions in your body. For example:
If you experience any of the above then ask yourself how often you eat any of the following foods that are high in magnesium. If the answer is “I don’t eat that stuff!” then you might think about taking a calcium/magnesium supplement. Anyway, these foods are high in magnesium:
Most of the vegetables that we eat have been grown on corporate farms on with depleted soil. This means that your vegetables are probably mineral deficient. Consequently I take a mineral supplement every day ( I use the NOW Full Spectrum Mineral Caps). Supplements are never as good, in my mind, as a WFPB diet but given that our whole foods are short on minerals I do it anyway.
Eat well . . . live well,
Dr. Dave, ND
Our health care system is broken. We have the most expensive health care system in the world, but not the best, just the most expensive. If our health care system was a country it would have the fifth-largest GDP on the entire planet. At this point only the United States, China, Japan and Germany have a GDP that is larger than the 3.5 trillion dollar U.S. health care market.
Here are a few indications from the first chapter of my wellness coaching book about just how broken our health care system is:
To get an idea of just how expensive our health care system is, here is a graph that was published by The Economist, using data develop by Eurostat:
Note that the U.S. has the biggest bubble for health spending. Be proud, our bubble is really big (sarcam intended). The pharmaceutical companies want to make sure that they get their share of $3.5 trillion pie. According to an article in JAMA medical marketing expanded substantially from 1997 through 2016. It increased from increased from $17.7 to $29.9 billion and direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising for prescription drugs and health services accounting for the most rapid growth. The pharmaceutical companies spent more on advertising than they did on R&D. This article by NBC highlights both the marketing expenditures by the pharmaceutical companies and also how they “compensate” doctors.
I see a couple of big, as in glaring, problems with the current structure of our health care system. The first is that the primary objective of a corporation is to make money for its shareholders. Everything else is secondary. The second problem is that pharmaceutical companies, and to a lesser extent medical equipment and supply manufactures, have taken over control of medical school curriculum. Finally, the FDA, which should be the government watch dog to ensure the safety of drugs is funded and thus controlled by the pharmaceutical companies. I’ll give you a quick summary of why I think these are big problems.
I just checked the 2017 10-K reports filed by five of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the United States. The following shows the selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses and their R&D expenditures as reported on their 2017 income statements.
Obviously it costs a lot of money to run a company (the SG&A expenses) but only Merck spent more on R&D than they did on selling (marketing), and general and administrative expenses. The most common theory that describes the responsibility of a corporation (corporate governance objective) is shareholder wealth maximization. The objective of a corporation, no matter what they may say in public, is to maximize stock prices to maximize the shareholders’ (owners’) wealth. Everything else is secondary. In fact, if curing a disease doesn’t maximize shareholder wealth then it is not a good business decision.
That spending hints to a deeper problem. When was the last time your MD gave you good nutritional or complementary therapy advice? Probably never, because those subjects weren’t part of the curriculum. The medical education system is designed to teach doctors to prescribe pharmaceuticals or perform surgery, and not much else and the DTC advertising sends them a steady supply of patients who think that they can self-diagnose and want the latest drug that is being pushed on TV.
To learn more about the takeover of medical education I suggest you look into the takeover of the AMA and medical education by corporations in the early 1900’s. Here is a good introduction with some information you probably didn't know, and you might enjoy this.
The Fox Guarding the Hen House
In Fiscal Year 2015, the FDA spent about $1.1 billion on prescription drug oversight, its activities as part of its “process for the review of human drug applications.” Congress delivered 29 percent of that money, $331.6 million. Drug companies provided the rest, $796.1 million. Since the enactment of PDUFA in 1992 the FDA’s spending from user fees has generally increased, both in absolute terms and as a share of FDA’s total budget. In FY2018 user fees paid by “regulated” companies accounted for for 45% of the agency’s total program level budget. (See page 6 of this for a summary graph.)
The bar chart below, produced by the FDA and available here, documents by FDA activity, where funding is sourced. Note that the second data set, human drugs, is the activity that is mostly funded by user fees. Pharmaceutical companies fund 70 percent of the regulatory action that leads to the approval of their drugs. Something seems wrong with that picture. Note that the tobacco industry, by law, funds 100% of the anti-smoking educational efforts undertaken by the FDA.
Every five years the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, or “PDUFA”--expires. The law requires that the FDA negotiate with industry before Congress renews the law. It appears that the FDA has interpreted that to mean negotiate over how it spends the money and assesses drugs. The FDA/drug company negotiations produce recommendations for Congress and an FDA “commitment letter” that specifies the goals for the agency. This arrangement gives the pharmaceutical industry extraordinary influence over its government overseer. It leaves the regulator beholden to the regulated because the regulated fund the regulator and it has the potential to compromise consumer protection.
Daniel Carpenter, a Harvard professor of government and the author of the book, Reputation and Power: Organizational Image and Pharmaceutical Regulation at the FDA has said that the system at the FDA is “unique in the degree to which industry sets the terms of the agenda”. He has also described the relationship between the drug companies and the FDA as “regulatory capture” and that is the process by which special interests gain influence over their regulators.
So what can you do? Expect more and demand more. We are all paying too much for too little.
Dr. Dave, Ph.D., CPA, and ND
I almost missed this article, “Methyl jasmonate enhances memory performance through inhibition of oxidative stress and acetylcholinesterase activity in mice” but the word “jasmonate” gave it away and got me interested. Methyl Jasmonate is one of the main odor components of jasmine. Methyl Jasmonate (MeJA) makes up some 2-3% of jasmine oil and 10,000 blossoms are needed to give 1 gram of the oil which makes MeJA essential oil expensive. Methyl Jasmonate is also a flavor ingredient of semi-black (oolong) and black tea, and it is one of the active compounds in Lemon Grass, which also makes great tea. If you have lived in Perú then you know that Lemon Grass gives Inca Cola it's distinctive flavor.
The research team tested lemongrass for its ability to protect memory functions. They gathered the leaves of the plant and processed it to form an aqueous extract, which is different (less concentrated), than the essential oil. A control group of mice were given a placebo in the form of a saline solution. The three treatment groups received either 25, 50, or 100 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) body weight of lemongrass extract. The treatment lasted for seven consecutive days.
The research team reported that the lemongrass extract, when administered to mice with scopolamine-induced amnesia, significantly decreased the amnesia in the mice. They also reported that lemongrass extract was suppressed acetylcholinesterase activity in the brain. Acetylcholinesterase breaks down some of the important neurotransmitters required for forming and maintaining memories. They harvested and analyzed the mice brains and found that the brain tissue of the treatment group mice showed both malondialdehyde and glutathione levels that were much lower than that in the brains of the control group animals. Lower levels of these biomarkers correlated to reduced levels of oxidative stress that could damage brain tissue
So if you enjoyed a cup of oolng tea this morning, know that you did something good for your brain.
To your health,
Dr. Dave, ND
Remember Steve Jobs? He was famous for wearing the same clothes every day, a black mock turtleneck, jeans, and New Balance sneakers. Why? Because it simplified his life. And we all do this. Someone once estimated that we make about 35,000 decisions everyday. Right now I'm making decisions about what to write next and how to phrase the sentence. Part of my brain is making decisions about how to move my hands and fingers so that I can type, and do it quickly and smoothly.
The advantage of running our lives on autopilot is that it frees our minds from making repetitive decisions. The downside is that we quit using our minds, and our minds are like our muscles . . . they get weaker when we quit using them. We like to think that we have free will, but if 95 percent of our thoughts and actions are programmed then how much free will are we really exercising.
I spent about ten years as a computer jock. I graduated from college the first time with a minor in computer science and spent most of the next ten years designing and coding computer programs. I was a great COBOL and RPG II programmer on mainframe systems. When minicomputer were developed in the late 1970s I started converting COBOL programs to BASIC Plus for clients so that their software would run more efficiently on their new DEC VAX minicomputer system. Early in my programming career I learned that no one can write a program with a million lines of code. Consequently programs are broken down into modules, a data input module for example. That module is subdivided again, and the modules continue to be broken down into smaller pieces of the larger puzzle until a single module or subroutine can be written in no more than about 60 lines of code or one typed page. That process, BTW, is called "structural decomposition".
What does that have to do with your mind? Well it seems that by the time we are 35 years old we have developed and programmed enough subroutines to run about 95 percent of our lives. Our subconscious mind finds and activates the needed module or subroutine in response to our environment. I would like to think that the subroutine calls (computer talk) are executed in response to logical processes but it appears that most of them are called and executed as emotional responses.
For example, I'm a chocoholic and have thought of starting an new organization, CA or Chocoholics Anonymous. Can you image the meetings? We would sit around in a circle and introduces ourselves by saying, "Hi, I'm Dave and I'm a chocoholic." Of course I would end the meeting with a chocolate buffet. When my wife comes home with a Godiva bar I don't go through a logical thought process and analyze the sugar and fat content of the bar and compute the calories in each square and how far I would have to walk to burn those calories. No, my little boy mind thinks, "I love chocolate, I want a piece of that chocolate bar, I need a piece of that, I MUST HAVE IT NOW."
I have discovered a way to keep that "I must have chocolate" subroutine from running. My approach is based on insight mediation. This is the form of mediation where we look at our thoughts as they happen and rather than getting caught up in the thought, we think about the thought. I call this approach the RAIN method. Here it is:
R Recognize what is happening
A Allow life to be just as it is
I Investigate inner experience
Here is how this works when my wife comes home with a Godiva chocolate bar. I Recognize that I am having an emotion response to the presence of chocolate. I don't beat myself up for the emotion response, I just say, "I notice that I am responding with emotion, lust, for a piece of that chocolate." Then I Allow that feeling to exist. If I try to push it away then it will probably come back stronger in the future. Instead I just let the feeling abide without acting on it. This leads me to Investigate my inner experience; I start to question what it is about chocolate that makes me respond with chocolate lust, how those emotions have translated into action in the past. Finally, and this a core Buddhist practice and according to the Buddha the cause of suffering, I don't attache to the feeling of lusting after chocolate or the chocolate bar itself. I practice non-attachment. my thoughts towards chocolate are not me, the chocolate bar is not me, I am not my thoughts.
What else can we do to "expand" the use of our minds? Learn something new. My wife decided to learn German and has been taking online classes through the Lingoda Language School. I decided to learn Italian. I have started brushing my teeth with my left hand. If you are right handed like me and have brushed your teeth your entire life with your right hand then trying with the left hand will be a new and slightly amusing experience. For months my morning walk has been the same two-mile trek through my neighborhood. I recently changed paths to add another half mile and this morning I took a completely different route and then came home and plotted it using PlotARoute.com and discovered that I had walked three miles.
If you don't want every day to be like every other day then it is up to you to find ways to change them . . . but don't do the same thing, the same way that you have always done it. Leave for work 15 minutes earlier and try a different route. If you eat out for lunch every day then make a plan to try a new restaurant every day, or maybe to eat different foods at the same restaurant. I remember deciding to work my way down the lunch menu at my favorite Mexican restaurant and to try a different dish every time I had lunch there and to not repeat a meal until I had tried all the items on the menu. We get into programmed ruts. Find simple ways to get out of your ruts and discover the joy of being different and really using your mind and not living your life on autopilot.
That's all . . .
Dr. Dave, ND
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.