Food and Chemicals

Lynne McTaggart’s blog this morning, citing the work of Dr. Grace E. Jackson, highlights the increasing volume of evidence linking some pharmaceutical medications to dementia.

The list of medicines cited as the biggest offenders against our brain matter:

  • Cholesterol lowering or blocking
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Anti-depressants
  • Sleeping pills
  • Certain Medications for ADHD

All have been shown to have debilitating effects on our grey matter, often resulting in some form of dementia.

Now I know why the recent elections in my area went the way they did.

Silly me, I thought people were just too lazy to research – turns out, they are probably suffering from some stage of dementia.

I feel bad about my previous harsh thoughts towards my fellow citizen voters.

Sick people deserve compassion.

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I’m also concerned about Dr. Jackson’s career.   History tells me she’s on a path that ends in being ostracized from the Lodge of Modern Medicine.  I’m awaiting her being added to the Quackwatch list.

(No, you don’t get a link for quackwatch.   This guy doesn’t do his homework.  I only know about him because he came out with egg on his face when the Weston A. Price foundation refuted his findings on a point-by-point basis.   Those folks know how to research and footnote, therefore are link-worthy. )

Maybe I should send her Mr. 11 Dimensions’ address – they can hang out in seclusion together.   Although I think he may be currently enjoying genius status….his status in the world of Physicists has changed frequently – so not sure if he’s in seclusion or not.

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I’ve always held that modern medicine has gotten very good at keeping the body alive while what’s wrong is figured out.   Broken bones, gun shot wounds, blocked airways…hey!  Modern is where it’s at.

I’m still convinced that daily health and quality of life comes from ingesting properly prepared, nutritious food and seeking assistance from a holistic provider when you’ve gotten yourself ‘jacked up’ (Politely referred to as ‘out of balance’ by the holistic circle.)

And taking supplements if you’re not getting nutritious food.

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When I first entered the Traditional Diet world, I ran my mouth to friends, family and neighbors nearly 24 hours a day.   The changes I observed in my own body were so significant I could hardly wait to share.   So many things became clear on why I had suffered from various health problems for so long.

I turned my back on USDA and FDA guidelines.   My new guidelines were: “Was this available to my ancestors who lived 40,000 years ago?  In this form?  If not, how much would they have to eat in order to get that amount?”

(Did you know that to get a cup of corn oil into your system, you would need to ingest 1/2 bushel of corn or more, at one sitting?)

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I’m a big fan of ‘experiential data’ – I’ve seen what happens to data when the graph doesn’t look just like someone wants it to…especially if that graph is directly tied to that someone’s paycheck.

I’m also a big fan of ‘natural selection’ – even though completely adhering to that would mean I would be dead by now…and wouldn’t have lived long enough to procreate….

My brain full of history tells me that if physical bodies evolve slowly to survive in new conditions, our bodies haven’t had enough time to catch up with all the wondrous food products that come to us via the Industrial Revolution.

I can trust my brain – I’m not on pharmaceuticals.

I can go crazy all by myself, thank you very much…

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I have my own set of data on whether to believe Modern medicine or Age-Old practices.   I’m not afraid to experiment on myself.   And I’m not afraid to say, “oops!  that didn’t go well, let’s try something else”.

I think my ‘all or nothing’ personality combined with a healthy skepticism of anyone who makes grand promises with a similarly attached price tag, along with personal mishandling by both modern and holistic practitioners,  has placed me in a position to be rather open to views that go against the majority consensus.

I also refuse to knowingly purchase anything with Aspartame in it.   My son sorely misses chewing gum.    We haven’t been able to find one that doesn’t contain aspartame.

If you do a search of Aspartame, you’ll find plenty of people crying “Poison!” and about the same number shouting, “Shut up, quacks!  It’s fine!”

My deductive reasoning says, “If it’s ‘fine’ then why do your footnotes (if you have any) contain studies 20 years old and dissenters cite numerous studies conducted almost non-stop for the last 10?”

Until proponents indicate to me they are willing to back up their claims with current, 3rd party performed, non-grant funded research, then I’ll stick with avoiding it.

(Maybe they are suffering from dementia and can’t remember to put footnotes in….)

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I changed over to ‘good fats’ in 2006.   As of January, 2010, blood tests revealed my Cholesterol (good, bad and trigs) to be in normal ranges.   2 modern medicine doctors, a chiropractor and an acupuncturist all stated they couldn’t see any problems there. (although one of the modern medicine folks suggested I should start medicine, to keep the number good…arggghhh!)

I’m over 40, my exercise entails typing and doing housework, I’m a smoker with a kitchen devoid of ‘fats’ except for the following: homemade lard, real butter, coconut oil, olive oil, tea oil and a smidge of peanut oil.

I’ve stubbornly ingested in large quantities the very fats the FDA, USDA, AHA and AMA have all told me to avoid like the plague.

Hmmm….still here.    Good Cholesterol levels.   Brain functioning (okay, maybe not to your standards, but I do not leave my house only to be found 6 hours later, wandering around in the woods, unable to tell you what my name is or where I live…)

I don’t take my blood pressure.   I don’t have any scales in my house except for those to weigh food (Uniformity in homemade dinner rolls necessitates this piece of equipment….)

I look over each day and ask: “Did my health prevent me from doing something I wanted to?  Do I have clothes that fit?” (I hate to shop – I still have the nightgown I wore on my wedding night…and yes, it still fits….)

I check in with my body after I eat.   Is my tummy happy?   How’s the digestive process going?  Painful?  Loud?  Smelly?

I also analyze my sleep patterns and dreaming.   If those are unusual, then I know something has gone astray either in my brain or my body.

(day 2 of no coffee…. day 3 of no Tylenol pm…..tummy is happier, body still not sure how to sleep 8 hours straight, on its’ own…but I did get to 4 last night….)

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In short, I come back to the same thinking.   I’m not particularly afraid to die, nor am I trying to extend my life as long as I can.   I instead am trying to enjoy whatever time I do have.

Home cooked meals with Hubby and son, made from food purchased direct from farmer/rancher satisfy my nose, heart and tummy in a way McDonalds can’t.

Pain pills, anti-depressants, and hormone therapy side effects made me decide the original symptoms were the lessor of two evils.

Extra Vitamin C, various Chinese herbal blends and aromatherapy make me feel better when I’ve overindulged in thoughts or substances I should have left alone.

Day after day, I practice medicine on myself…

Some things are just better left out of the hands of ‘experts’.

X-ray, Anyone?

Do you really need that extra test?

I was so happy to stumble across this article this morning.  Well-written and full of information with sources that can be independently researched, it questions the benefits of ‘over-testing’, states the reasons why x-rays and CT scans have become so common, gives an overview of the studies and dangers of receiving to much radiation and provides some common sense advice regarding what to ask your doctor when tests are recommended.

Doesn’t blindly accuse western medicine of incompetence, (yes, I am biased against some tenets of western medicine practitioners, but they do have their good points!) The author, while obviously concerned about the overuse of some radiation-based tests and the dangers of higher than necessary radiation dosages, didn’t, IMHO, give in to unrestrained bias.

According to AP writer, Marilyn Marchione, doctors have become more dependent upon x-rays and CT scans, due to accuracy and ease of use, fear of malpractice suits, time crunches, insurance chaos, patient pressure and in rural communities, lack of alternative resources.

What has been discovered is that many patients receive more tests than were needed.   And preliminary studies show radiation doses could be reduced by as much as 66% and still provide accurate images.

Having experienced pneumonia last fall, I have empirical evidence on the common use of chest x-rays.   Thinking I had the flu, I didn’t go to the doctor until rather late in the illness, thereby affording them the opportunity to be able to detect exactly what was wrong, just using their stethoscope.   However, the pain in the ribs, shoulder blades and sternum area never completely went away.   A chest x-ray and blood test last fall did not show any reason for the pain.

A recent trip to the Urgent care facility when the pain escalated again over the course of a week (rest and extra nourishment via herbs were not making any inroads), resulted in another chest x-ray and blood test, which told the doctor……..Absolutely Nothing, except that nothing is wrong.

It was suggested I go to larger facility 40 miles away and get a CT scan.   I asked what it would show that the x-ray hadn’t.   The answer given did not really provide any new information and under closer questioning, the provider was hard pressed to advise what the benefits of the additional test would be, as his examination had already ruled out several possibilities.

Had I not questioned and just blindly followed the advice given, I would have ended up with a long drive, an expensive scan, another radiation dose and for what?   Confirmation of what the first two tests had already indicated.

We’re all familiar with the saying, “the cure was a success, but the patient died from the treatment.”

Perhaps we should look closer at the consequences of excessive testing too.

Medical Practioners and Master Plumbers

“The fear of malpractice suit” is often stated as an excuse or reason for a wide range of behaviors from those in the medical community.   Suits are also cited as the one of the leading reasons for the high cost of medical care, insurance costs, etc.

Why?   From all I’ve heard it is very hard to win a medical malpractice suit.  Guess a lot of money gets spent on attorneys – (perhaps more than it does on payouts?)

I will also draw your attention to licensing verbiage – a health care provider usually is licensed to, “Practice Medicine in the State of..” (whatever state you live in, barring, of course, insanity)

If someone is pretty open they are ‘practicing’ and we still choose to use their services, then why are we screaming like smashed cats when they mess up?

Both they and our local governing body told us from the outset they are practicing…………………….

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My Dad got quite a kick out of that.   He once said, “Sis, attorneys practice law and doctors practice medicine, but as a plumber, by gawd, folks expect me to know what the heck I’m doing when I show up.”

He held a Master Plumber license in Colorado for over 40 years.

Most trades that are licensed have steps: Apprentice, Journeyman, Master.  Supposedly, by the time you get your Master’s license, you are pretty durn good at what you do.

Which led me to speculate on why those who provide services for our life and liberty, are “Practitioners” and those who make sure our water is heated, drains properly and our toilet doesn’t overflow must be “Masters” of their trade.

(Although Dad did his part for the health of his customers.   You really don’t want your kitchen faucet to be drawing water from your septic tank or your toilet emptying into the dishwasher……..)

I also think of him when I go to the Urgent Care facility listed on my insurance card (I just can’t seem to figure out that I need help until after hours).

The first question is, “Do you have Insurance?”

The next question is, “Do you have a primary physician”, to which I give the name of my acupuncturist – (not a crowd pleaser).   And then I have to explain why I don’t have a Primary Provider who is a MD in western medicine.

I don’t remember anyone calling Dad and saying, “Hey, can you run over here every year and give our plumbing system a check-up?   We want to make sure it’s still working well.   No, I don’t mind the $379 consultation charge.  I just want to be a responsible citizen and be proactive in my preventive-plumbing-problem activities.”

And I never remember the following scene taking place in our household:

(Dad answers phone on a Saturday evening at 9:30)

Dad (firm): “Your toilet is overflowing and water is all over your bathroom floor?  Okay.  Who’s your Primary Plumber?   Does he have records of the last time your toilet overflowed?”

Customer (stammering): “Well, I don’t really have a Primary Plumber.   Didn’t think I needed one cuz everything was working okay and then, bam!  This happened.  I tried plunging it, but that didn’t work and now I’m not sure what else to do.   But I got your name from a friend and thought you could help……………”

Dad: (sarcastically)”You know, plunging by a non-licensed person such as yourself is a waste of time and probably made things worse.  And now you want me to come fix it when I have no idea who you are and I’ve never heard or seen your toilet?   How am I supposed to properly figure out what’s wrong if you can’t provide me with the installation and service records of your toilet?”

Customer (sheepishly): “You’re right.  I should have been more proactive in having the records of my toilet available.  But I’m sort of desperate, there is urine and crap all over my bathroom floor and I really need some help.”

Dad: “Well, I can run over and look at it; do you have cash or a certified bank check or some other form of collateral, so I know I’ll get paid for my service call?”

Customer (proudly): Oh yes!  My insurance agent recommended I purchase a ‘in-case-your-plumbing-goes-to-hell’ policy three years ago.   I’ve kept up the premiums and in fact, that’s how I found out about you.   His website states you take that insurance.”

Dad: “Well, okay.   But I’m not sure I’ll be able to do anything.   I may need to refer you to a Specialty Plumber.   But, if that is the case, I can at least give you the phone number of a 24-hour emergency clean-up crew, turn off the water and give you a list of various chemicals you can go purchase to baby your system along until the Specialty Plumber can fit you into his schedule.   They usually book appointments about 6 weeks out, so we’ll have to do what we can until he can get to you.”

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My dad experienced battles with COPD, lung cancer and brain cancer before he passed away.   In the early days of his failing health, when he first started seeking help, he was frustrated by the response, “We can get you in at 10:15 a.m. six weeks from today – will that work for you?”

His thoughts?  “Hell, I’ll either be better or I’ll be dead by then….what’s the point?”

He, like me, didn’t call the doctor until he was pretty certain what was wrong was more than a passing flu or cold, or just a result of too much work and not enough sleep or play.  Which means when he did call, he was in the same place as those emergency customers who called him…..”Some Help, Soon Please?”

And even when his failing health made it impossible to continue his life long career full-time, he was still serving his community in the role of adviser, mentor and overseer of the plumbing projects of others.  It was so awe inspiring to hear of customers that said, “Hey, I admire and respect your knowledge and expertise.   If I get the parts and do the labor, would you be willing to provide specialty tools and guidance while I do the work?”

And he did many a phone consultation – very few which were ‘billed for’ and when they were, were billed at the insistence of the customer, not because Dad thought a morning consultation on what a homeowner could do for themselves, since he could no longer do it for them, was something to be billed for, especially since he couldn’t guarantee the results.

My Dad passed away at home in the early morning.   As the funeral truck bearing him pulled out of our driveway (appx. 6:30 a.m.), the phone rang.

“Could I speak with Dallas?   He did some plumbing work for me years ago and I’m in need of some assistance.”

Mom and I thought it a fitting farewell.

Which Expert To Believe?

Science and technology have given us the ability to test, study and pick-apart to the nth degree what affects our health and what supports it.

If you’re the type that likes to follow health trends, you’re also probably pretty cynical  by now – no salt/low salt, well you do need some sodium, no eggs, only egg whites, nope, we got it wrong, eggs are okay, it’s fat you should worry about……… and on and on.

The diet that made your friend look smashing gave you headaches and depression.

The wonder drug for unexplained muscle pain worked, but now you have severe digestive problems.  You’re wondering if you need to get a bigger medicine cabinet.

Everyday further studies debunk what we thought we knew yesterday – Trying to keep up on it all is overwhelming even for doctors, let alone for the average joe who has work to do, a family to support and a community to contribute to.

It’s no wonder I see some version of the following at least once a day as I troll the articles and comments of health related internet verbiage:

“I would like to fix (insert problem) but there is so much information and a lot of it is contradictory…….how do you know who to believe?”

Sorry, I don’t have any cut and dried answers – I’m still on the path to health myself, but I will share with you a story from a book my acupuncturist loaned to me, Sun Zi’s Art of War and Health Care:

Two men came to a doctor with similar symptoms.  The doctor prescribed two totally different remedies for each and they both recovered.  His apprentice, astonished at the wide variation in the prescriptions asked his mentor why he was treating them differently, when it was obvious they suffered from the same malady.   The doctor told him that though the outside symptoms appeared the same, the imbalance within the patients was different – he sought to restore the balance in each, (heal) not just alleviate the symptoms (cure).

This approach was known, understood and effectively implemented over thousands of years  in a variety of traditional health care systems.

(Did you know that in some areas of ancient China, a physician had to hang one lantern outside of his home for each patient he lost?   Read it years ago and when I worked for a Doctor of Chinese Medicine, I asked if it was true.   She said yes.

She also said that in small rural villages, such as the one her grandmother still lives in, the village physician is still held responsible for the health of all in the community.   The physician observes the environment and directs his charges on what to do regarding cleansing their homes, teas to drink and foods to eat when weather patterns, bacteria or viruses indicate a need for extra protection.   Villagers are expected to follow the directives.  If they do and still become ill, the fault is laid at the physician’s door.  If they disregard the preventative measures, then they are on their own.   I will say this approach is focused on bolstering health, not curing illness.

I also think western medicine has tried to adopt this approach, but has been corrupted by our fascination with one-miracle-pill-fits-all mentality……….)

My rules of thumb for healing?

  • Yes, I’ll take temporary relief when it’s offered, but I’m more concerned with finding the root cause of the discomfort.  Sometimes that’s easier than others.  Sometimes that means contacting one more provider when you’d rather just take to your bed and give up.  Sometimes that means exploring a new kind of healing modality you haven’t tried before.  And if you’re really sick, it means asking family or friends to fight/search for you.
  • I only allow providers to “practice medicine” on me when the following caveat is given: “I’m not completely sure what is causing these symptoms.  We will try this, if it doesn’t work, it will not do further harm.  And if it does work, then we will know we found the cause.”
  • I only work with providers I respect and trust.  If I think you sound like a condescending baboon (and trust me, I’ve ran into just as many in the holistic health care field as in western medicine), and patronize me from your holier-than-thou pedestal, I’m probably not going to be very cooperative. No matter how good you are, if I can’t follow your directions, then we aren’t going to be successful in healing me.
  • I also only work with providers who honor the fact that I want to be informed and participate in my own health care regimen.  If they tell me taking extra vitamin C when I feel I’m coming down with a cold is a waste of time and money, I’m out of there.   Doesn’t matter who is right – for now, our views on what heals are too different for a successful partnership to emerge.
  • I only choose health care regimens that:
    • a.)I can sustain, given my current time and money budget,
    • b.) do not promise miracles,
    • c.)are not greatly restrictive or border on the insane (drastic purges, regimens including extreme variances in body temperature, etc.  If you’re already ill, extreme treatments may cure the disease but kill the patient…meaning you.)
    • d.)do not require life-long maintenance from an outside source in the form of sessions, herbs, prescriptions or buying into auto-delivery every month.
  • I try to get references whenever I can before visiting a new provider or trying a new self-care technique.  If I can’t get references, then I write or call.  If the provider is too busy to talk to me and answer some general questions over the phone, I surmise they are too busy to have another client.
    • (Many holistic health care providers provide a Free Consultation (usually about 15 minutes).   That is their gift to you.   Please return the gift by coming prepared to the consultation with your health concerns, your questions about them and above all, be honest with them on what you are willing and not willing to do to support and participate in your healing.   Honor the gift of time they have given you.)

In the end, I’m okay with practicing on myself – but I’ve gotten very picky about who I allow to engage in that practice with me.

If your response to this list is, “Duh – that’s just common sense!” I will state that when you are ill and trying to find answers, it’s all too easy to get distracted from common sense and lured in by those who may very well have a service or product that helped them and others, but may not necessarily be right for you.  If you’re too ill to restrain from blind belief in whatever anyone tells you, get a family member or friend to assist you in your quest.

If you’re interested in more information regarding modalities/nutritional guidelines I’ve utilized in my health care, here are informational links from the sites/providers who have helped me over the years:

Here’s to Your Health!

Miracle Cure?

Still searching for the Miracle Cure?

New Miracle Cure!

(Warning: During trial reviews, some participants who read this article experienced nausea, insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, decreased sex drive, dizziness, weight gain or loss, tremors, sweating, sleepiness, fatigue, dry mouth, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, suicidal thoughts, severe muscle pain, chest pain, a decrease in white blood cells, resulting in lowered immune defense, strokes, heart attacks, schizophrenia, bi-polar symptoms, osteoporosis, joint pain, temporary memory loss or full-blown amnesia, an increase in uncontrollable rage, and thoughts of hurting themselves or others.)

What, you’re still reading?   Are you kidding me?   Well, okay.

I don’t really have the miracle cure.   I just wanted to know if after reading the warning label if you would still read.

Nasty trick, I know, but the quiet, quick spoken voice that rattles off all the possible side effects of different medications on commercials has got me to wondering how the pharmaceutical companies stay in business.  Not only are they in business, but they are doing well enough to offer to help you with the cost of their product, if you cannot afford it.

How is this possible?

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Years ago, while suffering from phantom joint and muscle pain, a host of diagnoses were tossed at me: chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, lupus – – – so home I go to research these ‘diseases’.   After finding out that 3 or more of the listed symptoms could be experienced by just about anyone at some time or another, the fact that it still is unknown for certain what causes these and the medicines prescribed for treatment had worse side-effects than what I was already experiencing, I chose to forgo the tests and look elsewhere for assistance.

After working with a nutritionist, an acupuncturist and changing to a Traditional Diet, I found the health I was looking for.

Nope, it wasn’t fast and it wasn’t always easy.   I had to take a hard look at my lifestyle and how I was spending my time and money.   I sometimes gave up things I really liked to gain the results I desired.

I’ve had to get better at planning ahead for the meals I prepare and try not to give into the urge to do take-out on the days I immersed myself in some other project and forgot to lay out something for supper or get bread baked.

In my enthusiasm to share with others what worked for me, I’ve endured sarcastic comments from those who think organic eating is a bunch of hoo-haw and condemnation from those truly organic, locavores who recycle, vote in every election, own an electric car and solar home and are offended that I, in my transitionary lifestyle, dare to count myself as part of their group.  I also have to explain why yes, sometimes you can find me in the check-out aisle at Wal-mart.

I’ve teetered between the mindset of, “wow, I’m really making progress” to “what the heck am I doing?  I know better………..”

I’ve offered my ear and thoughts to those struggling with grief and in turn, been drowned in it myself.

I’ve come to know that what worked yesterday will not always help me today.

And I know that if I am to be well in mind, body and spirit, I cannot give up when what used to work doesn’t anymore.

In short, I’ve quit looking for a miracle cure and hoping that if I do ’such and such’ my life will be on an ever-even keel and I can just enjoy it with no further researching, experimenting, growth or changes needed.

Instead, I enjoy when it’s good and when it’s not, well, I slug around for awhile in the muck, then try to figure out how I got sucked into that quagmire in the first place.   If I can’t figure it out, or fix it, I yell for help.  And wait to see what shows up.

Sometimes assistance magically appears.   Sometimes, it does, but I don’t recognize it.   And other times, nothing shows up and I figure that’s the Universe’s way of telling me, “Growth Opportunity!”

I’ve quit believing in miracle cures, but I do experience the miraculous.   I’ve switched my focus from finding a ‘cure’ to finding ways to ‘heal’.

Nope, I don’t have all the answers and there are days when a glimpse into my life would make anyone wonder why I put so much time and energy into the things I do.

Fortunately, I’ve also given up the need to convince others I’m right.

(Though I still cannot resist sharing the journey…………..)