A Place of Healing

Articles and thoughts from Dr. Walt Thompson.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Archives
    Archives Contains a list of blog posts that were created previously.
  • Login

Health Smart

The articles on this blog relate to the publications "Health Smart"

Posted by on in Health Smart

Science and Sex

 

            There is debate in the scientific world whether or not sexual disorientation is a curable disorder--some professional health care givers even claiming that the practice of attempting to convert LGTB persons is harmful and misleading, and should not be practiced. The recent ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court granting homosexual couples to marry may please the LGDB community, but does not resolve all the problems associated with sexual disorientation.

Babies are sometimes born having both male and female reproductive organs and physical characteristics—true hermaphrodites (the term, Intersex, is sometimes the preferred term when referring to humans). Others (pseudo hermaphrodites) may be born with normal reproductive organs but with secondary physical characteristics of the opposite sex. Example: A girl with enlarged clitoris resembling a penis, or a boy with enlarged breast tissue.

In addition to hermaphrodites and pseudo hermaphrodites there is an almost limitless variety of other possible combinations of sexual expressions resulting from both genetic and non-genetic deviations from normal.

Any of these individuals (individuals with normal male or female reproductive organs and secondary sexual physical characteristics, or those with any other of the possible exceptions) may be naturally inclined to identify themselves as either male or female, or as interchangeable between the two.

While modern science is now able to identify the true sex of an individual by genetics and to account for most deviations from normal secondary sexual characteristics by chemical and other testing, it has been more difficult to identify a definite structural or functional area in the brain to account for the sexual orientation identity.

Many of the millions of living organisms in nature, both of plants and animals, are hermaphrodites by nature and able to function as either male or female in reproduction. In fact, the sexual function a given species may express may be determined by external or internal environmental influences such as temperature, light, and other factors—changes now being observed in plant and animal species as global warming progresses. Similar alterations are occurring secondary to many environmental pollutants, manmade and naturally occurring genetic changes, hormones present in medications, cosmetics, pesticides and other chemicals now commonly found in the world about us. These same factors must certainly influence the human animal in the similar way—undoubtedly contributing to sexual orientation.

Common, too, and undoubtedly a very important contributing factor to the increasing sexual disorientation of the present generation is the rapid disintegration of the family unit as established by God at the time of creation. It was not by accident that God created male and female with different sexual structures and functions, but with different rolls in society as well (Genesis 2:18-25; 3:16-20). And it is not by accident that society crumbles as the original family unit disintegrates. While that original design began to weaken with the conquest of Eve and Adam by the serpent at the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden, it is only in recent generations that we may witness its near total collapse--with the consequences now becoming so very evident (Revelation 11:18). Without a strong and healthy male presence fully united by genuine Christian love, with his female “helpmeet,” offspring are robbed of the positive influence each of their parents might provide to them in developing into mature, sexually oriented children (Ephesians 5:21-33; 6:1-4; Colossians 3:17-22).

There can be no serious question but that the fifth and seventh Commandments of the Decalog were designed by God to protect the integrity of the family and its influence upon the greater society. And most certainly, this near total disregard for these Commandments in our generation is a major contributing factor to the sexual disorientation dilemma. Interesting, too is the fact that society (even most Christian Churches) tolerate it’s “believers” living in adulterous relationships—“in good standing--” even while condemning the sexually disoriented. I wonder if any of us could dare to cast the first stone!

Closely related to the positive influence of a strong family united by love upon the healthy development of the next generation is the local environment in which the family dwells. More than one half of the world’s people now live in cities. There is nothing in a city of any size that can compare with a home in a rural environment where children have both opportunities to enjoy and study the beauties of creation and the responsibilities of helping with the chores necessary to supply the needs of that family. This is not to assert that a child cannot be raised in a city, but almost certainly that child will be deprived of many of the positive influences provided by a healthy family in a natural world.

While marital infidelity and broken homes developed in the early centuries after creation, and though violence is described in the Bible as one of the primary reasons God found it necessary to destroy the world by the Flood in the days of Noah, sexual disorientation was almost certainly a factor contributing to that violence (Genesis 6:11-13), just as at the time of Sodom and Gomorrah when widespread sexual disorientation again necessitated cleansing by fire (Genesis 18:19-25; 19:4-17).

Skipping down the centuries, we arrive at our time in history when the accumulation of the evil of the intervening centuries is again challenging the law of God’s love and reaping the terribly consequences—this in spite of the price love paid by Him on a wooden cross on Golgotha’s hill.

God is love personified (1 John 4:7-10). He is not willing for any to die, either temporally or eternally, yet, He will not deprive either an individual, or an entire society, of their free choice to believe, follow, and live, or to reject all of His overtures of love and to experience the consequences of their choice (2 Peter 3:1-15). In fact, the Commandments concerning sex and families were given by God specifically to avoid and/or prevent the terrible consequences of broken relationships, whether bisexual or homosexual. In both instances it is those forbidden, intimate, sexual relationship that are the most destructive to both the individuals practicing them and the larger society in which they are permitted and/or encouraged.

And while religious people may condemn the practices of the sexually disoriented among us, true Christians, themselves transformed by the power of God working through the sacrificial death of Jesus and the agency of the Holy Spirit, will reach out to these hurting ones with deep and earnest love and understanding, ceaselessly pleading and working for their healing and restoration. There is NO limit to the power of God to heal and restore any and all that will truly believe and ask.

As God must sometimes exercise “tough” love in His effort to restore the lost and hurting, so we, when seeking for healing to occur among the sexually disoriented among us, must sometimes administer “tough” love. This must certainly always be mixed and delivered with an extra abundance of sympathy, understanding, and tenderness when dealing with those in our society today that are entangled in the devil’s web of lies and sexual deception.

We are ALL, after all is said and done, sinners, saved by grace. We are all contributing partners to the sick and hurting world in which we now live. Can we, in love, ignore or disregard a brother or sister imprisoned by sexual disorientation or any other similarly destructive behavior without interceding on their behalf? Nor can we condone and support those destructive behaviors practiced by many of the sexually disoriented, in whatever form it exists—if we truly love them in our hearts as God loves us.

As exciting, satisfying, and tempting as intimate sex may be, it is not the most enjoyable and most satisfying of possible human experiences—and certainly not the most fulfilling! While it may be true that in today’s culture “sex” may seem to be “everything,” many of all ages, all nations, and all religions have enjoyed a long, happy, and most rewarding celibate life in service to their hurting fellow men throughout all ages. Just a mention of the name, Mother Theresa, immediately brings to mind just one classic example of such dedicated and rewarding service.

A similar statement might be made for those living in adulterous relationships, ignoring the original plan of God for the family--faithful to the roles He designated for each (chastity), and to the care of the entire family. Fortunately, the Bible is also clear that NOTHING is impossible for God within the one who believes and earnestly seeks healing (Mark 9:23; 10:27).

As noted in the News report at the beginning of this writing, it is indeed difficult or impossible to convert sexual malorientation by psychiatric practices alone. The same IS NOT true for applying the healing power of the prayer of faith and the ministration of love to the one in need. While many caught in the sexual dilemma of disorientation do not, and have not, had any choice in the matter entrapping them, all do have a choice regarding how they will react to their “malady,” just as those suffering many other inherited or environmentally related conditions must choose how they will deal with the terrible challenges forced upon them.

Fortunately, there is hope for the one, whatever the sexual orientation, that will ask in the name of Jesus and is willing to submit his/her life into the hand of our loving God. None that will do so need miss out on the His blessings in this life, nor fear of missing out of eternal life in a new world in which sin and evil will never arise again.

That hope is founded upon the Sacrifice Jesus made on Calvary’s hill 2,000 years ago. It will NEVER fail.

Hits: 543 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

Eternal, Everlasting

These terms, eternal and everlasting, appear in a number of places in the Holy Bible. In all instances except when referring to God, they refer to the future. In no place do we read of any being except God as existing from everlasting (past)

Note: When referring to life, these terms, eternal and everlasting, involve a time element, but without a specified end point. Apart from life, these terms have no intelligible meaning. Only when life is involved do eternal and everlasting have application. It there is no life, time is meaningless. For time to be a factor there must be a life that may be affected by the time element.

The Bible describes God as existing from everlasting past to everlasting future. On the other hand, human life has a definite beginning. It does not exist from everlasting past, as the life of God does (Psalms 90:2; 103:17; Isaiah 63:16).

The bible tells us that death is as the unconsciousness of sleep for both believers and unbelievers. Following the resurrection, the faithful ones will awake from sleep to spend eternity with God. After the resurrection of the unbelieving, the second death will be accompanied by eternal death from which that will never be another resurrection. By implication then, time has also ended along with the life. Eternity and everlasting life end at that point for the person dying the second death.

Therefore, when the fires of hell have done their thing and all living things have been destroyed in what is described as the “second death,” time no longer has meaning and eternal and everlasting no longer apply.

When Sodom and Gomorrah burned themselves out, life ceased to exist for them--as for all who die the first death. Eternity for them will come to an end following the resurrection and the second death. (Genesis 18; Jude 7)

On the other hand, though death for the righteous followers of Jesus is the cessation of life until their resurrection at the return of Jesus, following that resurrection life will never end—is eternal.

Some argue that, “yes, this may be true for the physical body, but it does not apply to the soul.” This is a “cute” argument, but the above quote (and others in the Bible) clearly states that the fire that swept through Sodom and the cities of the plane destroyed the people. It makes no distinction between a body and a soul. Just as at the end of creation week God breathed life into the body of Adam, so at death that life ceases to exist.

In fact, the concept of a body and a soul is not a biblical concept at all. Rather, it is a carry-over of Satan’s lie to Adam and Eve in Eden in telling them that they would not die. While it is true that in many translations of the Bible erroneously interpret the original texts as some living thing that departs the body at the time of death, a careful study of the Bible confirms the creation account of a body coming alive by the breath of God breathed into it. There is no such thing as a living entity apart from the body. Modern Bible translators agree. Where the word, soul, is used in the Bible, both old and new Testaments, it refers to a living being, a person.

 

Hits: 534 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

Gifts of the Spirit

Prophecy

All through Biblical history God has been faithful in keeping His family of followers informed. That He is serious about His desire to rescue human kind from disaster and destruction by evil has been amply demonstrated on a hill called, Calvary, two thousand years ago.

Furthermore, Jesus, as He made final preparation to return to heaven after His resurrection, commissioned the Holy Spirit to fulfill a role that He could not in human form perform (John 14:16, 17; 16:7). Fifty days later, the Holy Spirit entered into the midst of the waiting yet to be organized church with power that could not be hidden or contained. It was called, Pentecost (Acts 2:1-10).

The prophet, Joel (Joel:28-32), had foretold this unprecedented demonstration of divine, Holy Spirit power hundreds of years before Pentecost while clearly indicating an end-time application to its fulfillment as well.

By all indications, we are now living during that designated end-time.

How should we judge Joel today? Was (is) his prophecy true—or false?

Now, at what must certainly be one of the most critical times in the history of Planet Earth, it would seem strange if God should see fit to limit or curtail the potential power of the Spirit. Yet, where is the evidence? Some might ask.

In answer to this question, please permit me to share a few personal experiences.

It was October, 1987. I was in Gdansk, Poland with Evangelist Mark Finley. We were there to help people stop smoking, to help free them of alcohol, to instruct them regarding health-promoting life style change, and to preach the everlasting Gospel to a people that had been deprived of the Bible for far too long. Each day at the Fisherman’s house we held clinics and small group meetings to help people quit smoking, deal with alcohol abuse, and to learn improved health practices. Twice each evening for 3 weeks the people filled the Cine’ to overflowing as we shared the gospel with them. Their rush to receive the Bible offered to them only served to confirm the working of the Holy Spirit on their thirsty hearts. There was no question in our minds but that we were experiencing a repeat of Pentecost.

A few years later we had the privilege of witnessing a similar, even more spectacular response to the gospel in Moscow, Russia. Before our very eyes, a gathering of Communists determined to capture the beautiful Kremlin Hall and prevent our scheduled meetings fizzled, just in time to make way for thousands of eager gospel-hungry Russians searching for a better, more meaningful life to enter the hall to attend our meetings, undisturbed. Our hearts thrilled, again, as following the first session, Pastor Kulakov, president of the Russian Adventist Church, came back stage accompanied by two other gentlemen, one, Professor Sotz, an educator and an aide to Mr. Gorbachev, and a former military officer present during the invasion into Afghanistan a few years earlier. The professor spoke first, saying something to this effect. “I have sat in this hall and listened to all of the great ideologists of this country describe their plans for success. Tonight I have witnessed the victory they only talked about.” The officer agreed.

I might mention similar miraculous, Spirit-filled experiences in Ghana, West Africa; Papua New Guinea; Karachi, Pakistan; and many other challenging places around the world--all overwhelming evidence indicating to me that, yes, indeed, the Spirit of God is working with Pentecostal power in our world today, preparing a people for the final battle between Christ and Satan preceding the return of Jesus and the end of this present world.

As I have considered these personal experiences and have been witnessing the rapid spread of Biblical truth around the world in recent years, I have realized that none of this would have been possible without the work and witness of one, Ellen White, an end-time prophetess of the highest order--passing all of the tests described in the Holy Bible for determining the authenticity of spiritual gifts.

Truly, there can be no other explanation for the phenomenal spread of the Everlasting Gospel around the world today except for the foundation laid by visions and dreams given to this modern prophet of God beginning at the very time foretold by the prophet, Daniel (Daniel chapters 8 and 9) nearly 500 years before Christ.

Some might question my sanity, first, for describing Ellen White as a prophet (prophetess), and, second for making such an all-encompassing statement about the import of her role in the end-time ministry of the Holy Spirit--for, indeed, White has not added to the truths already present in the Bible, the Holy Word of God. Rather, what she has done under the influence of the Spirit has been to bring Bible truths to relevance in preparation for the fulfilment of end-time events as we are witnessing them today. Please permit me to explain.

One hundred and fifty years ago life expectancy was hardly a fraction of what it is today. We now recognize that the primary reason for that shortened life span was related to the high mortality of mothers and babies at or near the time of child birth, and to the rampant spread of contagious, infectious, diseases (including tuberculosis). Diet, intemperance, and other unhealthy life-style practices added to the high burden of disease and premature death.  

Under such conditions, it was virtually impossible to take the gospel to the ends of the earth in keeping with the gospel commission in preparation for the return of Jesus, as promised. It should not seem strange, therefore that some of the very first visions given to White detailed life-style practices especially designed to improve the health of the gospel workers responsible for the transmission of the gospel--as well as for the benefit of all men.

Anyone familiar with the health ministries of the Seventh-day Adventist Church today will recognize the influence and impact those visions have had on, not only on length and quality of life in our world today, but upon their import in taking the gospel to the ends of the world.

But, of course, the health messages in and of themselves would have been of little or no value had there not also been a clear understanding of the gospel and its role in resolving the war between good and evil (God and Satan) as so carefully portrayed throughout the pages of the entire Bible. Nor was this need overlooked in the many revelations of the Spirit given to Ellen White.

The timing of her calling is most interesting, coming very shortly after the terrible disappointment brought about by the failure of William Miller’s (and others) prediction of the end of the world and the return of Jesus in 1844 in keeping with his understanding of the prophecies of the book of Daniel in the Bible.

Was this timing by accident? Had God been taken by surprise? Or is it all a hoax, or, mistake, as most of the Christian Church believed?

I find it most interesting that God began to act during the middle of the 19th century, at a time when the important truths of the Holy Bible (many of which had been recovered by the Protestant reformers at great cost) were being largely overlooked or forgotten. In their absence or distortion, other ideas, teachings and philosophies arose to take their place. We might consider, for example, the names of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud; Charles Darwin, and, yes, Christian theologian, Jonathan Edwards, among others. Indeed, the world was crying out for truth.   

It is in this setting that Ellen White, a mere teenager at the time, began to receive visions and dreams redirecting thought to the true importance and beauty of Biblical principles and concepts relating to the conflict between God and Satan (as first revealed to Adam and Eve following their fall, Genesis 3:15).

The Bible quotes Jesus’ words recorded in John 13:19, indicating that one of the primary purposes of prophecy is to confirm in the minds of believers the truths of the Bible.

In the case of Ellen White, as with the prophets all through the ages, most people rejected her, her visions and her writings, and disparaged the Seventh-day Adventist Church that arose out of the revelations she described.

Time has now passed, and it is getting more and more difficult to ignore those messages and to deny the validity of her Source. Her descriptions of the controversy between good and evil, her writings describing the symbolic representations of the ancient Sanctuary system including the various stages of judgment leading up to the eventual dividing of the faithful followers of God and those joining the devil’s rebellion, are all finding fulfillment in the events of the world all around us just as revealed to her. It is difficult for an honest person to look at her writings and fault them anymore—despite her most determined critics.

The Bible tells us to “Despise not prophesying,” but warns us to “test the spirits for many false prophets are gone into the world” (2 Thessalonians 5:19-21) (1 John 4:1). It also instructs us how to conduct the tests (Deuteronomy 13:1-6; 18:21, 22; Isaiah 8:20; Jeremiah 28:9; Matthew 7:20). But how much easier it is to accept the critical opinions of Satan’s agents than to follow the Biblical counsel and check the alleged prophet for ourselves! And what could be more effective in destroying the message and influence of a messenger of God at a time of crucial need than the ire of Satan expressed through the negative voice of leaders of the religious world?

Who is the loser but he/she that fails to receive the truths God seeks to convey to His people through His messengers! Who is the loser except the one that refuses to hear words of counsel drawing us back to the truths of the Holy Scriptures; words of instruction regarding safeguarding our homes and families from evil influences; words of warning of the judgments to come and the need for sincere repentance and words of encouragement, health and strength so as to better endure the attacks of the adversary upon us and our entire society?

If God has indeed spoken through such a messenger, wouldn’t we be fools to ignore His/her voice—or at least put serious effort into checking it out by the standards He has established?

Though like John the Baptist who was not afraid to call sin by its right name, and as Jesus held His generation guilty for Israel’s past history as noted in the following passage, so Ellen White has reported the faults and failures of the Christian Church through the centuries, but not with evil intent. For we who take the name, Christian, whatever our separate “tribe” are all part of this Church from the beginning until now and must all accept responsibility for its foibles along with its expressions of deep faith.

Jesus said it this way as He spoke to the rulers of the “Church” of His day, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your father’s guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37)

 

Yes, we are as guilty for our history as were the Jewish leaders, but fortunately Jesus died to take away our guilt and cast it into the depths of the sea. Yet, He can only do this if we acknowledge our fault, come to Him in honest repentance and submit to His transforming power in our lives. May every reader of this reading find room in his/her heart to take these steps and choose Him Who has chosen them!

The following passage from Ellen White’s book, The Great Controversy, describes the final separation for the true followers of God from those that remain bound to Satan and the world’s ways. Watch to see if it matches with what we see happening around us today.

“The Bible declares that before the coming of the Lord, Satan will work ‘with all power and signs and lying wonders and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness;’ and they that ‘received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved,’ will be left to receive ‘strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.’" 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11. Not until this condition shall be reached, and the union of the church with the world shall be fully accomplished throughout Christendom, will the fall of Babylon be complete. The change is a progressive one, and the perfect fulfillment of Revelation 14:8 is yet future. Notwithstanding the spiritual darkness and alienation from God that exist in the churches which constitute Babylon, the great body of Christ's true followers are still to be found in their communion. There are many of these who have never seen the special truths for this time. Not a few are dissatisfied with their present condition and are longing for clearer light. They look in vain for the image of Christ in the churches with which they are connected. As these bodies depart further and further from the truth, and ally themselves more closely with the world, the difference between the two classes will widen, and it will finally result in separation. The time will come when those who love God supremely can no longer remain in connection with such as are ‘lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.’"

“Revelation 18 points to the time when, as the result of rejecting the threefold warning of Revelation 14:6-12, the church will have fully reached the condition foretold by the second angel, and the people of God still in Babylon will be called upon to separate from her communion. This message is the last that will ever be given to the world; and it will accomplish its work. When those that ‘believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness’ (2 Thessalonians 2:12), shall be left to receive strong delusion and to believe a lie, then the light of truth will shine upon all whose hearts are open to receive it, and all the children of the Lord that remain in Babylon will heed the call: ‘Come out of her, My people’" (Revelation 18:4). (White, E.G., Great Controversy, 389, 90.)

We are engaged in a war between good and evil that will eventually lead to victory for God and good over Satan and evil. Those of us living on the planet will be among one of these two groups (good or evil) when the victory is complete. It is our choice which that will be. The Bible indicates that the final battles in this war will be increasingly intense as God gradually releases His restraints upon Satan and permits him to make his final statement of who he is and what he stands for (Revelation 7:1; 8:1, 2). Only then when the full and final consequences of sin and rebellion from God have been fully revealed will the universe be eternally guaranteed secure from any similar occurrence.

We are now entering into those final battles. The Bible warns us that those days will be most difficult and trying, stretching the faith of each of His followers to the limits as the true and faithful are separated from all others.

Just prior to the return of Jesus the final generation of the Family of God will experience a short period of time when the Holy Spirit will be finally and completely withdrawn from a world that has resisted and rejected its influence one too many times and is no longer able to respond to its pleas, (Revelation 16:9).

As the people before the flood (Genesis 6:11-13), the Canaanites before Israel (Genesis 15:16; Numbers 14:9), the Jewish nation that rejected Christ (Matthew 23:37, 38; 27:25) and other peoples of other times have filled their cup of iniquity completely separating themselves from any and all attempts of God to reach them and save them (Isaiah 59:2; Jeremiah 51:7-9), so is the time we are entering into (Revelation 18:2-5).

“And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ,” Revelation 12:17. In this text we are given a brief overview of where we stand in history. The devil is angry. He will leave no stones unturned in these, his final battles against God and those who choose to follow Him.

In the following Bible texts we are given a little picture of what to expect in the days ahead—indeed are already occurring among us.

“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken,” Luke 21:25, 26.

“For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be,” Mark 13:19. (See also Jeremiah 25; Isaiah 13; Revelation 16 & 18.)

And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them. But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.”

Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But not a hair of your head shall be lost,” Luke 21:8-18.

It is well to consider that these prophecies are not limited to disasters of nature and wars and political upheaval, but to trouble in all areas of life, not the least of which will be to affect one’s faith.

As John the Baptist was raised up by God to call the world to repentance and a return to the principles of the Law of God’s love (Matthew 3:1-12) so Seventh day Adventists believe they have been raised up—again, to call the world to repentance and a return to the principles of the Law as exemplified by Jesus and fulfilled by the ultimate expression of Love when he yielded His life to the Cross at our hands for our sake.

Hits: 575 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

Global Health Paradox

Access to health care is not equivalent to high quality health care. In the year 2005, India implemented a program designed to improve the high death rate occurring during child-birth. In spite of paying mothers to deliver their babies in health care institutions, and in spite of the fact that mothers took advantage of the opportunity, there was no detectable improvement on the nation’s maternal mortality (death rate during child birth). How could this be? Many wondered.

In analyzing the data in an attempt to understand this paradox (not only in childbirth), the WHO suggests that adverse events arising from medical care “are most likely a major cause of disability and death throughout the world, and especially so among people living in low and middle income countries.” From the analysis, WHO estimates that these health-care related disabilities and deaths result in 43 million injuries each year, probably representing one of the twenty major causes of death and disability around the world each year.

The paradox (a substantial increase in access without measurable improvement of outcomes) becomes even more troublesome considering present proposals by the World Health Organization (WHO) to make health care coverage a universal goal.

From available evidence it seems quite apparent that there are serious deficiencies in the first three of six measures of high quality care, i.e. safe, effective, patient centered, efficient, timely, and equitable.

The reasons one might suggest to explain these deficiencies (being basically related to human frailties) are numerous and not easily resolved with power or money. And though the nature of these deficiencies may vary from country to country based upon economic and social differences, one observation applies to all. That is, attention to the utilization of the eight natural laws of health: proper nutrition, regular exercise, fresh air, pure fresh water, adequate rest, sunlight, temperate life practices, and reliance upon a generous portion of divine power. Even considering the present condition of our world, these natural remedies, used wisely, far exceed in benefit some of the best of modern health care.

In view of this, health education, provided by the spoken word, delivered via the electronic media, and, especially, modeled in health-care institutions, public and private--is beyond doubt the best answer to the global health paradox.

Because our world is so broken and hurting, there is one place where modern health care seems especially indicated and helpful in addition to the natural remedies. That is in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, polio, and malaria. 

Hits: 723 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

Preparation for the Crisis Ahead

Today as I sit before my computer composing this blog Russia’s Vladimir Putin is playing a very frightening tug-of war with the E.U and the U.S. over the Ukraine. Political unrest in Venezuela is boiling over to affect Cuba and other S.A. nations as well. Tensions remain high in the Middle East and much of Africa. Almost the entire world is in political distress.

The Eastern United States is experiencing one of the longest, coldest, most damaging winters in recent history while drought, fires and floods are plaguing the West. But not in America alone! Unprecedented natural disasters of all sorts are shaking the world.

Social change, financial instability, unemployment and multiple other insecurities continue to mount at home and abroad.

All of these things have been foretold in Bible prophecy to occur before the end of the world, but there is one other specific prophecy that is also rapidly finding fulfilment. That is the growing “unity” now occurring within the universal Christian Church (Catholic) and its increasing influence in international politics.

One might wonder what could be better for the world society than for everyone to be drawn together by a bond of common faith, made possible by resolving doctrinal “hang-ups” as now occurring among Catholics and other Christians and bringing an end to the Protestant Reformation. What is not being mentioned, however, in this amalgamation of faiths is the means that will be “necessary” to bring “evangelization” about--to bring conscientious dissenters into the unity fold.

More importantly, perhaps, is the physical, mental and spiritual strength that will be necessary for these dissenting ones to endure and remain faithful witnesses for Biblical truth through the predicted and certain time of persecution.

While we have ample Biblical assurance that God will care for His own, we are also counseled to prepare ourselves for the anticipated trials and tribulation.

In view of this, a recent blog that came across my desk caught my interest (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-rock/healthy-mind-platter_b_870664.html).

For several years, Daniel J. Siegel M.D. and David Rock, M.D., have been doing scientific research designed for developing optimal mind and brain health and well-being. From this research they have identified seven daily essential mental activities one must apply if he/she would experience optimum brain health and function.

They appear hear with some intentional modification on my part so as to emphasize the spiritual component of mental health:

Focus Time – a time to focus on our goals and objectives for the day. Communication with God through Bible study and prayer serves to establish “deep connections” in the brain. Undoubtedly, for the earnest Christian, this must be the most important and most guarded of the seven.

Play Time – New synaptic connections are established in the brain by allowing God to lead one in discovering new and novel ways to fulfill one’s established goals and objectives, to eliminate old and ineffective methods and explore other exciting possibilities.

Connecting Time – We activate and reinforce the brains relational circuits when we connect with other people and with the natural world around us—most effectively accomplished in personal by face to face and physical contact with friends and neighbors.

Physical Time – Physical activity is as good for the brain as it is for all other body organs and functions.

Time In –Time to reflect, debrief, explore one’s thoughts, feelings and sensations--serves to integrate brain function.

Down Time – Time to just let the mind relax, diverge, and enjoy the blessings of God, free of guilt and the burdens of the day and permit the brain to recharge.

Sleep Time – Resting in the promises of God and trusting one’s self to His care, quality sleep permits the brain to recover and consolidate the lessons learned during the day.

There is one important addition to these seven activities, i.e. a well-balanced nutritional plant-based diet.

We do not know the day or the hour when Bible believers will be called to stand firm for truth against the most severe opposition, but the signs around us everywhere shout that now is the time of preparation.

Hits: 775 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

February 15, 2014

Doctor Walt,

I am 52 years old, overweight, and have swollen feet and ankles. What can help to reduce my weight and reduce the swelling of my feet and ankles?

Dear ------,

Your question is a very common one among women of your age in America today. Furthermore, it is also becoming a problem around the world as Western lifestyles become the norm in other lands.

Since there are many possible causes for your problem and since I do not know anything more about you I will respond to your question in general terms. This should be helpful to you and be helpful as well to almost anyone with similar problems.

One becomes overweight when one takes in more calories than one uses. These extra calories are stored in the body as fat. What is commonly overlooked is the fact that not everyone uses the calories they eat at the same rate. Some people have a difficult time gaining weight while others seem unable to avoid it. There are many possible reasons for this, the most common being the kind of foods we eat and the kind and amount of activity we do. Therefore, for one wishes to lose weight, or avoid gaining weight, one must increase activity while reducing the number of calories eaten. This is true irrespective of the cause of the problem. More about this later.

Swelling of the legs and feet is generally due to retention of water by the body. This, too, may have a variety of causes. Hormonal changes associated with menopause are commonly associated with swelling of various parts of the body including the legs and ankles. Such changes seldom have serious consequences. On the other hand, swelling of the feet and legs may be a sign of abnormalities in the heart, kidneys, liver and sometimes other organ systems. It may also occur in the presence of high blood pressure, diabetes and other illnesses. Therefore, when swelling of the legs and feet is persistent and increasing, it deserves medical evaluation.

Excessive weight and obesity are rarely caused by serious illness, but, uncontrolled, certainly do predispose one to a wide variety of diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis and many other illnesses. Problems with the thyroid gland resulting in low levels of thyroid hormone in the body may sometimes contribute to both excessive weight and to swelling of legs, feet and other body parts. While this is true, it is not a common cause for these complaints.

Whether one has excessive weight simply because of taking in too many calories for the amount of exercise one gets, or as a result of some illness, adjustments in the diet and activity practices can almost always alleviate or resolve the problems of both weight and swelling.

Change is never easy. It will not happen unless one’s desire and motivation exceeds the discomfort and hard work necessary to produce the desired result. On the other hand, even a week of two of compliance with the following outlined program will result in significant benefits and improved feelings of well being.

Here are my recommendations:

Diet:

Eat 3 meals daily--the largest of these early in the day should include about ½ of your total daily food intake. The other half should be divided between a mid-day meal and a light, early evening meal.

Limit your diet to unrefined foods of plant origin. You may have any kind of whole grains, any kind of vegetables; greens; legumes (beans, peas, lentils, etc.); fruits of any kind; seeds; olives, avocado, and nuts. Cooking of these foods is permitted, but many of them may also be used in the uncooked, raw state. It is generally not necessary to be concerned regarding the size of serving of these foods, but one should make an effort to obtain a wide variety of foods including all of the food groups (Fruits, vegetables, etc.). Oils, dressings, juice, sugar, breads and pastas, etc. that are made of refined grains should be avoided or used very sparingly.

(Note: Juicing of plant foods is an alternative way to begin your lifestyle change. Before beginning this process, it is important to give study so as to do it safely and effectively. I do not recommend this as a long term solution to your problem, but it may be a very effective way to begin.)

No food products of animal origin are permitted. No meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs, cheese, etc. Including any of these foods will interfere with the effectiveness of your program.

Salt is necessary for health, but should be carefully limited.

Drinks:

Pure, clean water is essential to health. One should drink sufficient water to have clear or very light yellow urine. The amount of water necessary will vary depending upon environmental temperature, activity level, etc., but should generally be at least 6-8 eight ounce glasses per day.

Please avoid all other drinks.

Activity is mandatory. Walking is undoubtedly the most universally available and beneficial. But when this is impossible, other body exercises may substitute. Upper extremity exercise with or without weights can be quite effective in persons that are unable to walk. Whatever exercise is necessary or chosen, it must be done daily at least 5 days per week. Always begin very slowly and increase daily until exercising an hour or more daily. This may be continuous or interrupted into various length segments.

Medications:

Your medication needs may change rapidly once you have begun this program. Diabetics and persons with other potent medications should work with their health care professional in regulating dosage. In many instances, most or all medications may eventually be able to be discontinued if the above dietary and exercise recommendations are carefully followed.

Vitamin B12 supplement is recommended for all persons avoiding animal food products.

While these recommendations are generally very safe, medical supervision/monitoring, is advised.

Change is never easy, but for those that will give the above recommendations full compliance will begin to experience significant benefits within a week or two, and will continue until one reaches one’s desired objective.

I know of no medication that will even begin to compare with the benefits to be expected from the recommendations noted above.

The above recommendations approximate the lifestyle established by God for our health and happiness at the time of creation. They are still effective.

Note: The God who created us and provided everything necessary for health and long life has also provided access to the power necessary to make lifestyle change. The Bible tells us to “ask” in the name of Jesus, and He will hear and answer our prayers. If you do not yet know this God, this is a good time to become acquainted with Him and to experience His love and concern for each one of us.

Hits: 874 2 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

Silent Brain Killers & Healers

In a recent interview posted on Medscape, Dr. David Perlmutter, M.D., author of a new book entitled, Grain Brain discussed with Bret. S. Stetka, M.D. his claim that wheat, carbs and sugar are damaging to the brain and are the apparent cause of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders.
Dr. Perlmutter, a board certified neurologist and member of the American College of Nutrition, expressed his frustration with the tendency of the healing professions to search for pharmacological ways to treat neurological and most other disease rather than seeking to discover the cause of the problem and to correct it. Many readers of this blog likely experience similar frustration.
In this interview, Perlmutter describes some of his discoveries.
In his search he noted an apparent connection between blood sugar levels and dementia. Further research pointed to glycated hemoglobin as the culprit. (Note: glycation links a sugar molecule to the protein of hemoglobin found in red blood cells to create glycated hemoglobin. We can measure this product produced naturally in our bodies, and use it as a measure of the average level of glucose in the blood of diabetics.) (Note: a similar glycation process occurs when we carmelize sugar, fat and protein with the heat of a fire.)
According to Perlmutter’s research, glycated hemoglobin is not only a measure of average blood sugar, but itself increases inflammation and production of free radicles within the body. These, and similar glycated molecules are apparently a contributing cause of the dementia noted in patients with elevated levels of blood sugar.
A recent article in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine (August 2013) suggested that even mild elevations of blood sugar of 105 and 110 mg/dL increased the risk of dementia even in the absence of diabetes. Research was then presented by Dr. Perlmutter suggesting that blood sugars and weight could be reduced with diets high in fat and low in carbohydrate. Other studies were found that demonstrated significantly higher incidence of impaired brain function among patients with a high carbohydrate diet as compared to a high fat diet.
The issue of glycemic index was next touched upon in the interview. Glycemic index is a measure of blood sugar levels occurring between 90 and 120 minutes following ingestion of a given food. Since many grains, even whole, unrefined wheat and other grains have a high glycemic index, meaning that they tend to raise one’s blood sugar. Therefore, according to Perlmutter’s conclusions, those foods with high glycemic index should be curtailed or avoided while increasing the amount of “healthy” fats such as found in virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, etc. in the diet.
When asked about gluten and its relationship to dementia, Dr. Perlmutter noted that gluten causes an inflammatory reaction in about 2% of the population, many of which do not have symptoms of celiac disease of the bowel. While gluten sensitivity apparently can cause neurological problems at times, Perlmutter expressed much greater concern for carbohydrates as the greatest contributor to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. He noted that the present craze of gluten-free foods flooding the grocer’s shelves are still very high sources of high glycemic index carbohydrates. While permitting small amounts of chicken, meat and fish, primarily as a garnish, he made this statement. “Lots of above-ground leafy green vegetables, colorful vegetables, and good fats, that's what the brain is desperate for.”
When asked about other factors that might contribute to dementia, Perlmutter noted that there are many other lifestyle factors that affect brain function and may be beneficial for dementia. Among these he stressed the benefits of exercise and mental and social stimulation.
The human brain retains the ability to grow new neurons (brain cells) in the hippocampus portion of the brain (the center of long and short term memory and spacial navigation) throughout life, a process referred to as neurogenesis. Furthermore, this ability may be enhanced through a process known as epigenetics (a change in function of a given gene without changing the DNA sequence of the gene).
Perlmutter then refers to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2011, demonstrating that simple aerobic exercise among healthy elderly people over a one year time period increased production of a neuron growth factor, increased the size of the hippocampus by 1%, and improved memory function.
Summing it all up, rather than spending billions of dollars searching for a pharmacological agent to treat dementia, he asks, why not, rather, apply the research in preventing and treating dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease by keeping blood sugars consistently low by proven lifestyle practices, measuring success by Hemoglobin A1C levels and fasting insulin levels, and by maintaining healthful levels of vitamin D.
I believe it is difficult to fault Perlmutter’s conclusions and recommendations though much more research will be necessary before we can know this for certain. I am not sure the eating of grains are as detrimental as he has suggested (or as some on the low carb, high fat diets may passionately promote), but I would suggest that whole grains be wisely used as just one of a wide variety of natural, unrefined foods of plant origin. I personally do not believe the debate regarding the proper kinds and amounts of fat in the diet has yet been settled, though the evidence seems almost overwhelming that fats from plant sources used freely in their natural, unrefined form must be the most beneficial.
After all, this is the diet God prepared as the diet designed for human consumption at the time of creation. It is interesting that even the “Paleo diet as is presumed by some to have been the diet of Paleolithic humans is really not much different than the plant based diet of Eden.

Hits: 943 1 Comment
0

Multiple Sclerosis, Hope for the Afflicted?

Multiple Sclerosis is a devastating disease of the brain and nervous system. It appears most frequently among women aged 30-50, but may occur in people of either sex or at any age. It is estimated that 300-400 thousand people in the U.S. have the disease with about 200 new cases occurring annually. There are estimated to be 150-200 million cases worldwide. Symptoms of the disease may come and go or be continuously progressive, but generally, even relapsing cases become continuous and progressive.

There is no known cure, leading to a wide variety of treatments that have been recommended through the years. Some have claimed improvement with exposure to sunlight and/or vitamin D. Others have recommended dietary measures and supplements. In addition, there are presently more than 10 prescription medications available, all with very significant side effects and, that, with very limited proven benefit. Until now none have proven very effective in preventing either relapse of progression.

For more than 5 decades Dr. Roy Swank, M.D. Ph.D. has published peer-reviewed articles demonstrating that Multiple Sclerosis is related to the dietary intake of saturated fat, most of which comes in meat and other animal food products, and that strict adherence to a diet essentially free of these products provides very effective control of relapses and progression, both on the short and long term.

In spite of Dr. Swank’s research results, his recommended treatment has been essentially ignored by the medical profession until now. In an attempt to convince a doubting profession that Dr. Swank’s research is valid, effective, and demonstrable, Dr. John McDougall, a protégé of Dr. Swank, has completed a soon to be published study utilizing MRI imaging of the brain in patients suffering from M.S.

Assuming that this study will confirm Dr. Swank’s research, one must wonder how much effect it will have on the management of patients with Multiple Sclerosis.

There are two primary reasons for my skepticism. 1.) Physicians are generally reluctant to recommend and/or prescribe lifestyle treatments (for a variety of reasons) and, 2.) Patients are almost never willing and able to make the “rigorous” necessary lifestyle changes. Yet, interestingly, patients are often willing and compliant in the use of prescription “drugs” that may or may not have proven effectiveness and that often have serious and life-threatening side effects. And physicians, desiring to please, are often all too willing to comply.

Yes, there are many, many other dynamics involved in the management of illness, and perhaps, especially, such serious illness as M.S., but the bottom line remains: Human beings are prone to prefer the uncertain and deceptive in preference to the tested and tried true remedies provided by a loving God for His creatures at the time of creation. The present epidemic of obesity and diabetes is just one current example. We now have ample evidence to indicate that obesity and most type 2 diabetics can be successfully managed by lifestyle practices--but that those patients that are willing to consistently apply those lifestyle practices effectively is most rare indeed.

Will it be different with M.S. following the publication of Dr. McDougall’s MRI research? It will be interesting to see!

And I wonder, will the “saints” granted endless life in heaven be as reluctant and impotent to glorify their God in their bodies?

Hits: 889 1 Comment
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

Silent Victims of Domestic Violence

In America alone, more than 15 million children live in family settings in which intimate partner violence occurs, and 7 million of these are direct or indirect witnesses to severe violence of an assault (often with a weapon) by one of the other partners against the other. This according to an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Oct. 13, 2013. (Megan Bair-Merritt, M.D. M. S. C. E. et. al - N ENGL J Med 369:18 Oct. 13, 2013)

Yet, for the most part their plight is overlooked when the abused partner undergoes screening or receives help. It is these children that Dr. Bair-Merritt describes as “silent victims” in the growing epidemic of domestic violence.

Facts are, though silent, these young victims are not free of serious health consequences, many of which appear to be related to the way the human body responds to stress. There is that immediate response that we all experience from time to time when faced with a dire emergency—much like a mouse being pounced upon by a cat. Once the attack is over (if it survives) the mouse rapidly returns to its non-stressed state. The response is much different when one is under a constant state of stress, fear, pain, etc. These chronic, on-going stressors affect the autonomic (automatic) nervous system that may reach a point where they may actually become “embedded” in a person. Hormones produced in the brain stimulate the various hormone producing glands throughout the body (neuro-endocrine response) are then responsible for many of the mental, social and physical manifestations that afflict the stressed child. One carefully studied example is that of asthma. Chronic stress of this nature may actually cause asthma to develop in a person, with each stress event aggravating the asthma, bringing on or worsening an attack. In time, such attacks may become resistant to help by the usually recommended medications.

In addition to causing and/or aggravating physical health problems, social and emotional health are also affected, with more than half of such “silent victims” suffering from below average emotional health, and often resulting in social challenges as well.

The development of the human brain from beginning to end consists of the growth and “Pruning” (removing) brain cells (neurons) in response to the need as it arises. One such example is that the nerve cells that normally give vision to a person. These nerve cells develop as the eye develops. If perchance the eye fails to develop normally, the nerve cells may not develop, resulting in blindness. This is true with all of the functions of the human body. So, nerves that might normally develop in these “silent victims” may be impaired and thus preventing these children from developing into normally functioning individuals--often instead leading to the over-development of fear driven, and underdevelopment of reason and objective functions. In this way, a person’s lifelong health history, physically, mentally and socially, may be affected.

While some of these malfunctions may be prevented, lessened, or aided by screening children of abused parents and giving attention to correcting the abusive environment while providing loving support for the victims, it will not happen unless health care providers are aware of the problem and the need for attention to the problem.

Unfortunately, our entire world is broken and hurting. Intimate Partner Violence is not about to go away, but, rather, is self-replicating with each subsequent generation.

Fortunately, the Holy Bible gives hope for the future. It is in this we must trust while doing the best we can with present conditions.

Hits: 853 1 Comment
0

I have a painful boil on the leg that is getting worse in spite of using antibiotics for the past 5 days. My entire leg from the ankle to above the knee is very swollen and fluid is draining from my lower calf area. Please advise.

Dear Tommy,

Of course it is impossible to manage your condition remotely by e mail, nor to take responsibility for the outcome.
I do not know your age, other medical problems, medications you are on, and so many other things, but in general I may give you the following recommendations.
Whatever the cause and situation, you need to be under the careful care of a physician. I cannot over-emphasize this.
If you have diabetes or other medical problems, they need to be managed carefully and very soon. Containment and healing will likely be a problem until that happens.
There should be no danger of wrapping the foot and leg snugly with an elastic ACE bandage or something similar, changing it several times daily.
Keep the leg elevated above the level of your heart as much as possible.
If you do not have diabetes or problems with circulation of the legs and feet, alternating warm and cold leg baths may be very helpful. To do this, you will need two large buckets, one filled about half to three quarters full with very warm water. Test the temperature. You should be able to place your elbow into it without discomfort.  (very hot water may cause more harm than good in the event your circulation is not good). Fill another bucket partially full with ice cold water.
Place the leg into the warm water for 3 minutes, then into the cold water for 1 minute. Repeat this procedure 2 or 3 times. Dry well. Wrap with dry, elastic bandage evenly from the toes to the knee. Keep the leg elevated as much as possible. Repeat this treatment 3 or 4 times daily.

I would also suggest that you eat two or three good meals daily consisting of a wide variety of unrefined foods of plant origin only. Avoid snacks, junk food, all food products of animal origin and all refined and processed foods. This will give you the optimum vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to encourage healing. If you are diabetic or have other health problems, even dietary changes should be done with your doctor's OK. (Note: if you are diabetic and on medications, watch your blood sugars very closely because they may drop rapidly on this diet.)

Of course, all forms of tobacco, alcohol, all drinks except water must be avoided.
Response to these suggestions will depend upon your overall health status and the cause and nature of the "boil."
Do Not wait for further complications before seeking professional help.

And don't forget, God hears and answers prayer--often aided by nature's remedies.

Hits: 3768 0 Comments
0

Caffeine, The world’s favorite picker-upper

Caffeine is the world’s most commonly used mood altering drug. Many studies have shown that caffeine sharpens one’s performance, memory, attention span, etc. While this is true, recent research suggests that for regular users, the caffeine boost simply represents a reversal of caffeine withdrawal. In other words, as the effect of caffeine wears off, both mental sharpness and mood decline. Of course, this requires another caffeine boost, and before long, one is hooked—enslaved by a drug that has little if any positive long term benefit to either happiness or health.

While not every caffeine user will recognize the apparently minor effects of withdrawal noted above, nearly every regular user is aware of certain unpleasant effects when they cannot obtain their usual “fix.” But headaches are only one of the many health problems accompanying the use of caffeine, in whatever form it is “enjoyed.” The truth is, caffeine is not as free of adverse effects as has often been claimed.

The following scientifically verified effects represent just a few of these. High blood pressure, rapid pulse, arrhythmias (Irregular heart rhythm’s), dehydration, elevated levels of cholesterol and lipids contributing to heart attacks, cancer, anxiety and panic attacks and other psychiatric illnesses, sleep disturbances, allergies, digestive problems, and, yes, accidents. In fact, every organ system of the body is subject to the adverse effects of caffeine. Additionally, Caffeine is almost always accompanied by other similarly unhealthful chemicals such as sugar, alcohol, etc.

Combining energy drinks with substances of abuse raises the risk for serious, even life-threatening, injury and the likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors, such as driving under the influence, road rage, etc.

It is true that the harmful effects are somewhat dose dependent. Certainly the person drinking a cup of tea or coffee per day is not going to realize the same degree of adverse effects as is the one drinking the popular “energy drinks” like Monster, Red Bull, Rock star, or one of more than 500 others on the rapidly expanding market worldwide.

The caffeine content of various beverages ranges from 0 to more than 700 mg/fluid ounce. 7 Up and A&W root beer are free of caffeine, but most sodas and colas contain about same amount as tea and coffee; On average, tea, coffee, sodas, etc. contain from 50 – 150 mg. caffeine / 8 ounce cup, depending upon many variables, even within the same brand, source of beans or leaves, method of preparation, etc.

Caffeine is present in numerous plants. Coffee, tea, cola nut, cocao pod, guarana, and maté are the ones most widely consumed.

“Energy drinks” are all the rage today. Caffeine content may be many times higher than the usual cup of coffee, tea, or cola. In fact, they may contain up to 700 mg of caffeine per once, or more. In addition to caffeine, many of these drinks contain a multitude of ingredients thus permitting them to be classified as dietary supplements and subject to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act rather than the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) which restricts caffeine to 72 mg per 12 fluid ounce serving.

In addition to high fructose corn syrup and various sugars, additives include such things as taurine, L-carnitine, creatine, inositol and DMAA (1,3-dimethylamylamine) (an amphetamine-like compound) as well as a number of herbs; ginseng, and milk thistle and others.

Unfortunately, promotional advertising often focuses upon young people and significant amounts of caffeine are now consumed by up to 50% of children, adolescents and young adults.

Not only may these additives increase the physical energy, but may also be major contributors to the most dangerous health risks accompanying them, and are, in fact, responsible for rapidly increasing emergency department visits. When used in combination with alcohol of other drugs the risks are compounded.

The bottom line is this. The risk is high for all caffeine containing substances, a risk that is accompanied by very few possible benefits. They have no place in the life of one desirous of presenting one’s best to the cause of benefiting humanity or of glorifying the God who created and redeemed us at such high cost.

Hits: 882 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

This is a copy of an e mail letter I sent to a prominent scientist after reading a blog posted on LinkedIn praising the power and accomplishments of science while poking fun at God, Christians, and other religious people who believed in the Bible.

Dear -----,

I read with interest your post on LinkedIn, (2013). I can tell that you have put a lot of thoughtful effort into this article. I thought it was well written.

I thought it most interesting the way you described the accomplishments of modern science. Truly, we live in an interesting age in which it is easy to be convinced that there is apparently nothing that we humans cannot do, it being only a matter of time before it will be possible. Already in the literature I read in the field of general surgery about research seeking to utilize induced hibernation in place of anesthesia for surgery, and after that the very real possibility that suspended animation may become a reality.  And Yes, Science has done wonders with diagnostic instrumentality, therapeutic options, successful eradication of many various once fatal diseases, etc. (In fact, my father died of Tuberculosis in the days before effective drugs against the bacillus.) I also enjoy reading reports and projections by Dr. Eric J. Topol suggesting that we will soon be doing all of our diagnosing and much of our therapy digitally and in the "clouds." So, I believe I understand how you might easily conclude that we don’t need God anymore.

Since I did not find a place to comment on your blog, ----------, I would like to pose a few questions for you to ponder.

Throughout your blog you emphasized the amazing accomplishment that we humans have been doing, demonstrating potential to do most anything, given sufficient time. But the question I have for you is this. Who came up with the idea of the laws of science by which one is able to do all of these wonders? Have you ever seen a law created by humans that was perfect in every sense--that was always dependable, effective, universally applicable and intricate in the minutest detail? I know of no such human law, anywhere. In fact, were our scientific discoveries and accomplishments dependent upon human laws, we would still be walking or riding bareback. Since your discussion related to science, my question relates to the laws that govern the scientific universe. But there are also other laws that are just as pure and dependable as the laws of science.

It is true that modern science is winning over many Bible believing Christians to its orthodoxy, but science stands mute in the presence of the wisdom and knowledge of God. It is true that science is beginning to copy some of the things God created, but science has no power to give life to the things it “creates.” You say, “Just wait!” But science is not even able to restore life to the dead, and, in fact, cannot explain what happens to us when we die—even though all of us sense instinctively that there is life after death.

Science has discovered nothing equivalent to the breadth and power of self-renouncing, unconditional love. It knows not the source of true happiness, peace, joy, humility, or the meaning of life. It is stymied and unable to resolve the social issues that exist at the roots of many of the world’s problems. It has no solution for selfishness, pride, greed, lust, or any of the other destructive elements that are even now destroying our world. Do you have an answer to these challenges?

Please consider, too, moral law and the concept of justice. Can you imagine a community of people of any size existing without moral law? How long could it exist? We have seen a pretty classic example of anarchy in Somalia, but what if our entire world was lacking a moral standard. Where did this moral standard come from?

You noted that if God is all powerful as Christians claim, then He (she) would have been able to create the world just as well during the space of eons of time as well as instantaneously. True, He could! But there is just one major problem with that suggestion. The Bible describes a scenario in which man was created perfect in every sense, similar to his Creator. The Bible also describes an enemy and a war going on beyond the vision of human beings that succeeded in messing up that perfect state, a state governed by self-renouncing love that guarantees life. Absent that love, life could not long exist. But through the gift of God, that original perfect status could be re-established. Evolution or long periods of time for life to develop is just the opposite of the Bible claim, for by this reckoning, there never was a “fall” from grace, and hence no need for a Savior, and the entire Christian story nothing but myth. .

It is true that the Christian walk is a walk of faith, accepting and believing things that are often beyond the realm of scientific testing, but it is also true the much of science is also a walk of faith, dependent upon theories that are impossible to prove.

As you can see, science and God are not polar opposites, but are in fact just two different perspectives from which to view truth and apply it. A true Christian will also be a true scientist, and a true scientist will soon learn to appreciate the wisdom and knowledge and power of God. In fact, science and Scripture, when each is fully understood, are never contradictory, but merely confirming the other—while acknowledging the fact that there are many things neither the scientist or the follower of God may ever understand.

So my recommendation, ------ to take that old Book off the shelf and dig into it with the intensity with which you study science. But do it on your knees in acknowledgment of the God you may not yet know. You may be surprised how well the two interrelate.

And I have one suggestion, and one it would seem to me, every scientist would quite naturally apply spontaneously. Open your blogs to discussion. Yes, you may need to establish careful guidelines, but a good scientist certainly cannot expect to discover truth if he/she closes the mind to even one source of unexplored truth.

Thanks for listening, -------,

Sincerely,

Walter C Thompson, M.D, FACS, ACLM, AOA

 

Hits: 971 1 Comment
0

I recently had opportunity to watch a video in which Dr. William Li discussed his convictions about angiogenesis (blood vessel formation) and its role in cancer growth and treatment. In that video, Dr. Li graphically compared the effects of some of the modern drugs used to treat cancer with the effects of many natural foods in preventing and possibly also treating some cancers. In fact, he suggested that some foods were more effective than some of the new chemotherapy drugs.

This got me thinking. We already know from many studies that lifestyle practices (diet, exercise, sunlight, stress control, etc.) are very effective in reducing the risk of various cancers. And I wondered. Why, knowing this, are we so prone to ignore beneficial lifestyle practices in favor of drugs?

But it is not only the effects of lifestyle upon cancer that aroused my interest. For in a recent Journal of the American Medical Association I read that Cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease is the major cause of death and disability in the world, and that in America alone, we spend more than $40 billion annually in treating heart failure (just one aspect of the disease). In this same issue of The Journal, there was discussion regarding the creation and worldwide distribution of a “combination pill” (one pill combining aspirin, a medication to lower blood pressure, another to lower cholesterol and lipids, and perhaps a couple more things) designed to reduce the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease worldwide.

Another study in that issue of The Journal reported that when compared to even our pour western example, the prevalence of health promoting lifestyle practices is low in other countries, and even lower is the poorest countries. Which is just one more reason for the creation and distribution of the combination pill referred to above—or so one might reason.

Of course one of the risk factors for premature death around the world is tobacco. It is responsible for one in every 5 deaths in the U.S. each year, or about 440,000 deaths. That is more than the number of deaths caused by HIV, illegal drugs, alcohol use, motor vehicle accidents, suicides and murders combined. And the use of tobacco worldwide is even greater. (N Engl J MED 386:15, April 11, 2013)

Knowing the risk of smoking, it would seem everyone would do whatever might be necessary in order to stop. Yet, few actually do so.

But let us not pass over alcohol (another major killer) to lightly. Based upon 2005 Canadian research it is estimated that worldwide in 2010, 40.6% of adults consumed alcohol (45.8 do not) and 13.6% had quit. (Shield KD et al, Addiction.doi:10.1111/add.12112 [published online January 24, 2013])

Nor should we overlook those diseases transmitted sexually. I will mention here only one of these, syphilis. This article caught my attention because the first patient assigned to me for evaluation as a medical student at the San Bernardino County Hospital in California more than 50 years ago was a patient with tertiary (third stage) syphilis. It made an impression on me. Penicillin was in widespread use for the disease by then and I have heard little about advanced syphilis since. That is until a recent article from the World Health Organization (Newman L. et al. PLoS Med. 2013;10[2]:e1001396). In spite of widespread screening and treatment, an estimated 1.36 million pregnant women experienced an estimated 250,000 adverse pregnancy outcomes from syphilis in 2008 (fetal deaths, still births, deaths after delivery, preterm or low birth weight babies or congenital disease related to syphilis). Of course, this number is as nothing when compared to the death and disability of HIV and other STD’s.

I will mention just one more significant health challenge facing the world today. It is the problem of antibiotic resistant microbes. Because of the widespread use and abuse of these “wonder drugs” most microorganisms have now developed resistance to them.

Even knowing this very real problem, we continue to place medications at the top of our agenda in our efforts to prevent and treat even minor infections (and those viral infections that we know do not respond to drugs intended for bacterial infections) rather than to place our dependence upon health promoting lifestyle practices.

Just based upon the above recent articles in the medical literature, it is easy to see that by far the majority of our illnesses and deaths worldwide are related to lifestyle practices that we know very well are destructive to health—not to a deficiency of medications. And instead of making positive, health promoting changes, for some unknown reason we continue to try to find other ways to stop our scourges.

Why should this be? There is only one answer I can find to this dilemma. And it is not solely the problem that physicians are failing to recommend those positive changes—or modeling them! Rather, it is something about human nature that resists positive life practices. As a general rule, people are unwilling and unable to do what they are admonished and encouraged to do.

What seems to have been lost in health care discussion is the role of the God that created us, provided everything we need for health, happiness and long life, and has promised to hear and answer prayer of faith we offer up to Him. From my observations it appears that we have made science and technology our god and ignored the One who has the only answer to our real needs.

No! It is not science and technology that are bad, but rather, our prioritizing them at the expense of trusting the simple and natural things of the earth and our primary dependence upon the One who created and loves us.

 

Hits: 896 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

Sixty years ago the molecular structure of DNA was worked out. Ten years ago the human genome project was completed. And today, the new era of genomics is rapidly changing our understanding of the natural world, including the world of medical research and care. One interesting facet of this is the study of the microbes (bacteria, viruses) normally inhabiting our bodies—many of which cannot be cultured or identified except by their individual genetic code.

We are all familiar with such disease causing microbes as salmonella, E. coli, and botulism, and we recognize that there are many other microorganisms on and in our bodies that we have assumed are just innocent bystanders. We are now learning that these “innocent bystanders” may not be either innocent or bystanders but active participants in determining our overall health or disease. Science now refers to these millions of microscopic organisms as the Human Microbiome.

It is interesting that human beings have only 21,500 genes that are responsible for giving and sustaining life, but that our microbiome includes millions of additional genes that contribute to our health and wellbeing. We are not, as previously assumed, isolated individuals, but composite communities of living cells and microorganisms.

Recognizing this phenomenon, the U. S. National Institute of Health is engaged in a major initiative designed to discover the roles of these microbes and their interaction with our bodies in health and disease. As might be expected, the composition of each community of microorganisms varies depending upon its location in the human body. Accordingly, those microbes inhabiting the nasal passages are different than those living in the gastrointestinal track, those upon the skin, in the genitourinary system, and other sites. Believe it or not, there is even a community of microorganisms, a microbiome, present in the womb, placenta, and birthing canal of a normal pregnancy, likely serving to establish the microbiome of the newborn baby.

What is the significance of these millions of genes functioning in these microbial communities throughout our bodies? That is the question researchers are seeking to find out. Some things are already evident. For example, microbes in the digestive track are apparently involved in some way with the metabolic syndrome responsible for high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and possibly even cancer. Already, Gregory Storch, MD, of the Washington University School of Medicine has been able to identify 4 previously suspected viruses responsible for fevers in children. Recognizing this will now reduce the use of antibiotics for many such febrile illnesses. This is important as some studies suggest that antibiotics may alter the gastrointestinal microbiome and its functions.

While these things are interesting, the truth is, this is a new science that raises many more questions than it answers. We really do not yet know very much about how all of these microscopic organisms affect our bodies, either positively or negatively, or how our lifestyles and environment impact them. What is becoming pretty clear is this. They are part of us, and wisdom dictates that we do our best to work together with them if we would enjoy the best of health and happiness. Furthermore, we may wisely assume that those lifestyle practices that we already know to be health promoting will also beneficial to our micro biomes.

(Ref. JAMA, April 10, 2013, Vol. 309, No. 14, p.1447)

 

 

Hits: 1050 2 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

A little alcohol is apparently good for the heart.

Good news!

Right?

Yes, some statistics seem to confirm that the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes is reduced a bit by a daily drink or two of red wine and perhaps some other alcoholic drinks. But did you know that when one compares this apparent benefit of lives prolonged by alcohol with those shortened by cancer and other causes that are reduced by a drink or two of alcohol, those benefits all of a sudden disappear.

In fact, according to a recent article in the Journal of Public Health, February 14, 2013, alcohol results in 10 (ten) times as many deaths in the United States as it prevents.

For example: Alcohol (just 1.5 drinks or less per day) is responsible for one of every 30 cancer deaths that occur in the U. S. every year, and 15% of breast cancer deaths.

Dr. David Nelson, Director of the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program of the  U.S Cancer Institute and author of this study had this to say, “Alcohol is a cancer-causing agent that's in ‘plain sight,’ but people just don't see it.”

He noted, also, "As expected, people who are higher alcohol users were at higher risk, but there was really no safe level of alcohol use."

The exact mechanism by which alcohol raises the risk of cancer is not clear, but the facts that it does significantly increase the risk is clear. Therefore, the less one drinks, the better, and best of all is not to drink alcohol at all.

Many years ago, a study was done with laboratory rats and alcohol. One group of rats was fed the typical American diet with unlimited access to an alcoholic drink. Another group was fed a diet high in unrefined, plant based foods with unlimited access to alcohol. The first group of rats all became alcohol dependent in a relatively short period of time. The second group did not elect to drink the alcohol. Upon then switching the two menus around, the alcoholic rats were relieved of their addiction and the non-drinking group became alcohol dependent while eating the American diet that humans consumed.

While rats are not human, and humans are not rats, most physiological functions of the two are very similar. From this, we may safely assume that not only will a well- balanced diet of natural plant based foods reduce the desire for alcohol, but when included in a total health promoting lifestyle, also markedly reduce the risk of both cardiovascular disease and cancer.

And this study did not even mention the many, many other risks and effects of alcohol upon society, and especially upon the family and personal well being.

Hits: 893 0 Comments
0

Ground beef, chickens and eggs, and other food products of animal origin have been recognized as the primary foods contaminated with salmonella and other toxic bacterial infections. Knowing this, most people used caution when preparing these food items for eating. That caution is no longer adequate. In recent years we have experienced bacterial contamination (most frequently, salmonella) of numerous food products of plant origin including such foods as sprouts, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, peanuts and cantaloupe, to name a few. For a number of reasons, not the least of which is the relatively short shelf-life of fresh produce and the vast number of producers in this nation and beyond, it has been difficult to determine the origin of the contamination so as to warn possible users. When discovered, that source has almost always been found to be contamination by animal waste.

Until now, we have assumed that contamination was limited to the surface of well preserved produce and could be cleaned with water and some mild antiseptic.

Recent research has put a different twist on things relative to food safety. We now know that the plant substance itself, roots, leaves, fruit, and seeds may all become contaminated with toxin producing bacteria, including salmonella. When this occurs, merely washing the fresh produce will not eliminate the problem.

All of which now presents a real dilemma to the consumer, including the vegetarian consuming “organically grown” foods.

When speculating about the reason for this apparently new phenomena one is forced to consider the relatively recent birth and development of giant mega-farms and the challenge of animal waste management.

I have read no scientific evidence to suggest that genetic engineering may also be a factor in this apparently recent development, but based upon limited inspired writings I believe this must be considered.

What then is a body to do? What are we to eat? How can we eat with confidence knowing that our food is safe?

The following suggestions may prove useful for all of us:

Maintain a healthy immune system by practicing optimum lifestyle practices

Place on high priority a home where safe, health promoting food production may be utilized.

We have the promises of the Bible that assure us that God takes care of those faithful to Him. We can trust Him!

Ref. Jeri D. Barak, Lara C. Kramer and Ling-yun Hao, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 2011, 77(2):498. DOI: 10.1128/AEM.01661-10

Hits: 938 0 Comments
0

A recent article published in the U.S. medical journal, “Pediatrics” seems to confirm the suspicion many have had for a long time regarding a relationship between the hours spent with the television and electronic media and the rising tide of violence and anti-social behavior in society.

The study done at the University of Otago in New Zealand, tracked the viewing habits of 1,000 children between the ages of 5 and 15 that were born in the early 70’s until they were 26 years old.

In reporting the findings, the researchers noted that “the risk of a criminal conviction by early adulthood increased by about 30 % with every hour that children spent watching television on an average weeknight.”

In addition, “excessive television viewing was associated with aggressive personality traits and increased tendency to experience negative emotions.”

Other studies comparing educational programming with programs depicting violence suggest that the type of programming does make a difference in the lives of the viewing children but does not eliminate the problem. Because of the findings of this and many other studies, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children should not watch more than 2 hours of quality programming daily.

While the evidence is quite clear that the type of programming watched is very important, there are many other factors that likely contribute to the negative effects of excessive time viewing television and participating in other electronic media activities. In addition to the truism that we become like the things we behold, there is the concern about social isolation for those that spend many hours before the television screen or hand-held devices. Perhaps of even greater importance than the things one becomes by spending time with the electronic media are the things one cannot become for lack of involvement in those types of activities that build character, give meaning and purpose to life and satisfy the deepest longings of the soul.

Hits: 926 0 Comments
0

Now We Know! It is Virgin Olive Oil and Walnuts! Or is it?

Yes, for decades we have been looking for the perfect diet to prevent heart attacks, strokes, and numerous other related and unrelated diseases leading to untimely deaths. No longer--or almost! The results of an 8 year clinical trial presented at the 6th International congress on Vegetarian Nutrition at Loma Linda, California and published in the February 25, 2013 “on-line” edition of the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrated that the Mediterranean diet was associated with an amazing 30% reduction of deaths from cardiovascular disease.

In this trial, 7, 447 men and women between the ages of 55 and 80 were studied. All of these people were at high risk of cardiovascular disease (but without proven disease), had type 2 diabetes, or had at least 3 of 5 other risk factors including smoking, high blood pressure, overweight or obese, high cholesterol, or a family history of heart disease.

Participants were then divided into 3 about equal sized dietary groups unrestricted for number of calories. Group one, the control group, followed a low fat diet and was additionally encouraged to avoid nuts and oils.

A second group followed the traditional eating habits of people living around the Mediterranean Sea (The Mediterranean Diet).supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil (about one liter per week).

The third group also followed the Mediterranean diet supplemented with 30 grams of mixed nuts per day (15 grams of walnuts, 7.5 grams of almonds and 7.5 grams of hazel nuts) instead of olive oil.

Note: A traditional Mediterranean diet is characterized by a high intake of olive oil, fruit, nuts, vegetables, cereals, a moderate intake of fish and poultry and a low intake of dairy products, red meat, processed meats, sweets, and wine in moderation.

The groups were followed for a median time of 4.8 years, somewhat short of the intended follow-up period because of the highly significant differences in outcome between the control group and the other two groups.

Compared to the control group consuming a low fat diet, the risk of having major cardiovascular events (primarily stroke and myocardial infarction) was reduced by about 30% in each of the two groups on the Mediterranean diet. An additional finding of interest was an apparent benefit of walnuts over the other nuts used in the trial. Fish and legumes, but not other food groups tended to provide additional benefit.

These findings are consistent with other previously reported benefits of walnuts and olive oil.

This is a landmark study that will undoubtedly result in dietary lifestyle changes among many interested in better health and longer life.

David Jacobs, a public Health researcher at the University of Minnesota described this study as providing “A-level evidence.”

While the study indicates a real benefit of virgin olive oil and walnuts above and beyond the benefits of the typical Mediterranean diet, common sense would suggest that one seeking optimal health would recognize the benefit of the Mediterranean diet per se rather than emphasizing only the intake of olive oil and nuts.

Hits: 1008 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

Just 3 weeks ago a friend who was suffering from a bout with the flu mentioned a painful rash he had on the right side of his chest that had been present for a week or so. This man had lost his job a few months earlier and had not yet been able to find another. And, yes, he was under a lot of stress regarding it.

Upon taking a brief look at his side, it was immediate evident that he had a bad case of herpes zoster (shingles).

Shingles is an interesting disease. It is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox and generally occurs in people that have had chicken pox during childhood. The virus resides in the cells of the nervous system until something happens to reduce one’s normal immune system. This may be some mental or emotional problem causing depression or stress of some sort. It may be another infection that suppresses immunity. HIV (AIDS) is a classic example. Even the flu! Shingles may sometimes signal the presence of as yet undetected cancer somewhere in the body. There are also many medications that may predispose to shingles by interfering with normal immune functions. These include medications for treating cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and many other autoimmune diseases, as well as others.

Shingles is a common disease with an estimated number of one million cases annually in the U.S.

Typically shingles involves only the area enervated by just one nerve, whether of the head, neck, trunk or extremities, and hence, is usually present on just one side of the body. Likewise, the disease usually affects only the sensory (nerves causing pain), but may rarely also involve nerves to muscles (resulting in weakness or paralysis in the involved area). Rarely shingles can involve both sides, and rarer yet, with severe immune suppression, it can involve the entire body.

It is typical for shingles to begin hurting (usually described as severe burning pain to just one localized area of the body) for several days before the rash develops. Knowing this, many astute health-care givers may make a tentative diagnosis of shingles days before the rash shows up to confirm the diagnosis.

Also, fairly typical of shingles is the fact that pain can persist for days, weeks, months or years after the rash has healed. Early effective treatment may lessen the likelihood of this prolonged complication.

There are no known effective non-pharmacological treatments to significantly reduce the severity or duration of the acute phase of shingles. Ice packs to the nerve area may give temporary relief.

Acyclovir, available by prescription, if begun early in the course of the infection, may reduce the extent of and duration of the symptoms. It is especially valuable for infections that occur around the eyes.

Chronic pain that may persist after the rash clears may often be improved or controlled by applying preparations of capsicum (chili pepper) to the area of pain. This must be used several times daily, and may take several days before it relieves the pain. An cream is available by prescription, or one may make one’s own preparation. Capsicum powder may be mixed in a vehicle such as petroleum jelly or prepared as a tea. (This and many other suggestions for pain management may be found in the book, HEALTH SMART, available from this web site.)

Careful cleansing of the blisters and use of antiseptics to prevent secondary bacterial infection is very important until the rash subsides completely.

Note: The incidence of shingles increases with age. It is therefore generally recommended that persons older than 65 years receive vaccination against shingles. To do so may prevent the disease, or at the least, lesson its severity.

Note: Vaccination is not as effective among people that are depressed or presumably otherwise emotionally disturbed. This suggests that untreated depression emotional stress may possibly lesson the effectiveness of other immunizations as well, but this is at present unproven.

 

Hits: 1074 1 Comment
0

Following a few days vacationing on the beautiful Palau Islands I decided to return to our home on the Island of Guam by ship rather than by air. The ship was scheduled to stop at the Island of Yap to pick up a load of cargo and I thought it would be nice to spend a few hours there. While we were in Palau we had visited a small island from which the ancient people of yap had mined their money, and I wanted to understand a little more about the culture and practices of the people living there.

The trip to Yap was uneventful. Upon arriving I disembarked and began my exploration. Yes, I saw the money that had been brought from that little island of Palau perhaps hundreds of years before and several hundred miles away, transported home by dug-out canoe. Each piece of money was composed of limestone. It was shaped round like a cart wheel and had a hole in the center. Some pieces were a foot or less in diameter, and others four or five foot or more. Pieces of the money were standing along the side of the road, positioned around their homes or near public buildings. I was told the value of each piece was determined by the cost (risk involved) in mining and transporting it home. While it apparently did not often change hands, it did change ownership.

Having explored the area near the port I returned to the ship to see how things were going--only to discover that they had not yet begun to load the copra that we were scheduled to pick up. Furthermore, the story was the same each day that I checked. And I was supposed to be back in Guam caring for my patients. So to kill time, I visited with the Islanders, watched as they guided their outrigger canoes loaded with copra into port, spoke with the missionaries, and waited.

I discovered that the copra was the dried fleshy part of coconuts. It was collected by the islanders from trees throughout the local islands, removed from the shell, dried, and then brought to the port by canoe and out-rigger. Periodically, ships would come by to carry it to other lands for processing.

Though I enjoy the taste of fresh coconut, this stuff did not look the least bit appealing.

A number of years later it was my privilege to spend a few weeks serving as the surgeon and medical director of a mission hospital in West Africa. There I had opportunity to observe how the local residents extracted the oil from palm nuts. Though I did not have opportunity to observe the actual heat extraction, I had ample opportunity to observe the end result. As we traveled along the highways, we could see gallon bottles filled with orange and yellow liquid for sale along the way. It did not look appealing. At the time I did not realize its value on the international market.

Based upon my experience on these two occasions and understanding the process by which they got to market, I must say that I never developed an un-resistible craving for tropical oils.

During my intern year, serum cholesterol and triglycerides were under constant discussion by the medical profession. The incidence of heart attack was skyrocketing at the time. And, yes, many dietary changes were recommended. Among these was the need to eliminate eggs, dairy products, fatty meats and saturated fats of both plant and animal origin from the diet. Of course this included the tropical oils of coconut and palm. In their place we were recommended to use polyunsaturated oils. We did not immediately see a drop in heart attacks, but since that time, there has been a significant decrease in the incidence of heart disease which we believe is related to dietary and other lifestyle practices.

In the early 70’s we discovered that polyunsaturated oils (recommended to replace saturated fats) were related to some cancers. Reducing these has apparently begun to alter those statistics also. So, yes, there is still much that we do not understand about diet and disease, but we have come a long way. Unfortunately, we have not done well in applying the beneficial practices we know to be beneficial

Today some are promoting coconut and palm oils for their alleged health benefits. Is the enthusiasm substantiated?

There is an old adage that applies here. Be not the first on whom the new it tried, not yet the last to lay the old aside.

I do not profess to know all of the answers. From the things I see and read, I do not find the evidence supporting the claims touting the benefits of the free use of saturated fats in the diet, whether of plant or animal origin. Yes, we know that inflammation plays a role in atherosclerosis, but we know very little about the specific causes of this inflammation.

In scanning the available scientific literature, I have discovered that palm nut oil is very high in beta carotenoids--coconut oil, much less. Carotenoids are vital to good health. They have antioxidant and immune enhancing properties among many other health benefits. Both palm oil and coconut oil are highly saturated oils, but a grate difference in thd fatty acids composing them. There continues to be much debate in scientific circles regarding the relative benefits and risks of these oils to health, thought red palm oil (obtained from the nut) and coconut oil do demonstrate healing properties. In both instances, processing is complex and undoubtedly affects their possible health benefits. What is not as clear is how best to realize the health benefits while avoiding the risks. While it is true that the highly saturated fat is less prone to oxidation (becoming rancid) than are unsaturated oils, repeated heating, as in deep frying, etc. contrary to some claims, appears to be carcinogenic (cancer producing).

Following study of the science behind these oils, I am left with more questions than answers. For those that in spite of convincing evidence wish to use these oils, it would seem advisable to use only red palm oil as derived from the palm nut, and “virgin” coconut oil as extracted from fresh coconut meat rather than that extracted from dried coconut (copra).

Much better known for its health benefits is a lifestyle that includes a wide variety of mostly unrefined foods primarily of plant origin combined with a total lifestyle program of faith, balanced exercise, rest, sunlight, fresh air, lots of water and moderation in the use of all good things while avoiding all things known to be harmful to health.

Oh! And one other observation! Neither the people of West Africa nor of the Pacific Iles where tropical oils grow and are used regularly exhibit an extra low incidence of disease or increased life expectancy—either today, or in more primitive times!

 

Hits: 1048 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

Did you know that the frequency of catastrophes such as recently occurred in Sandy Hook is not increasing and account for only a small portion of firearm related deaths?

But, that the frequency of firearm related deaths and injuries are increasing!

During the year, 2011, an average of 88 Americans died of firearm violence every day and another 202 were seriously injured.

Though statistics are not yet in for 2012, it appears that for the first time ever there will be more deaths (homicides and suicides of all ages) from firearms than died in motor vehicle accidents.

Did you know that though Americans compose less that 5% of world population, we own more than 40% of all firearms belonging to civilians—270 million guns (that is 88.8 guns for every  100 people).

Yes, and our “social and policy decisions provide, with some important exceptions, the widest possible array of firearms, to the widest possible array of people, for use under the widest possible array of conditions.”

Interestingly, U.S. law enforcement officers only have 897,400 firearms; the military, 3.1 million.

Gun related injuries are the greatest threat to children accounting for 6570 deaths of children and young people between ages of 1 and 24 in 2010. That is twice as many as died of cancer, 5 times as many as died of heart disease, and 15 times the number dying of infections.

Teenagers, who are high risk for suicide, are successful in 5% of attempts with drugs, but in 90% of the time when firearms are used.

In keeping with his high risk, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a policy statement saying that the absence of guns in the home and communities is the most effective measure to prevent suicide, homicide and unintentional injuries to children and adolescents.

Yet, Congress has restricted the research activities of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by stipulating that no funds that it receives for injury prevention and control may be used to advocate or promote gun control. And in Florida, doctors are prohibited from asking families about guns!

No question, we are having much discussion regarding gun control in the aftermath of Sand Hook and other similar casualties in recent years, but we are giving little attention to the “seductive, powerful subculture that celebrates and advocates violent and antisocial behavior” in our society.

Yes, we may recognize the fact that there are within our greater society those that, for a number of reasons, may exhibit violent behaviors, yet fail to recognize the extent of our spiritual depravity primarily responsible for the culture that leads to violence.

Our nation was founded upon the principles of Christianity, and because of those principles it has been honored to flourish and bless the entire earth. Today, we are not only ignoring those principles, but have gone so far as to legislate them out of our public and private lives. It should not seem strange that we are beginning to pay the price.

We might find ways to restrict exposure of vulnerable youth to scenes of violence, but this would likely have little effect in resolving our growing dilemma. Unless and until we privately and collectively, in humility return to those Ten powerful principles of love defined in the Holy Bible--love for God and man--we need expect little improvement of our present status. (NEJM, Jan. 31, 2013)

Hits: 1007 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

Early in my professional life I was joined in the institution I was employed by with another physician. I soon discovered that he and his family were strict vegans, and all looked sickly. When given occasion to see the youngest child, I saw what is often described as “failure to thrive.” Unfortunately, suggestions for improved dietary practices were rejected. He did not remain at the institution long, and some time later I heard that the baby had died. Thought this baby’s failure to thrive was undoubtedly more than just B12 deficiency, that was almost certainly a very important contributing factor.

Since that time I have had opportunity to learn of other friends and colleagues that have suffered serious consequences from vitamin B12 deficiency—some of whom should have know better than to permit this to happen.

Knowing this, I have long been an ardent advocate of B12 supplementation for all vegetarians. Though B12 deficiency does not develop in all vegetarians, the consequences of it when it does occur are often devastating, and therefore worthy of supplementation--or at the very least of undergoing laboratory testing periodically to determine need.

Symptoms of B12 deficiency may be variable, but most commonly arise from  impaired function of the brain (and nervous system) and the bone marrow where blood cells are made. Paresthesias (various abnormal sensations, numbness, tingling or burnings in the legs, hands and feet), and difficulty walking are common. Memory loss, confusion, dementia and mood changes are common and frequently attributed to other causes. Palor, palpitations, tiredness, sore or red tongue, and other signs of anemia deserve consideration of B12 deficiency. Realistically, since symptoms may be so variable, B12 deficiency should always be considered when evaluating any symptoms not otherwise easily accounted for. This is especially true among vegans and strict vegetarians.

Causes of vitamin B12 deficiency are also many, but are generally related to dietary deficiency and/or failure of absorption of the vitamin from the gut. Vitamin B12 is synthesized by microorganisms primarily on foods of animal origin. It is generally not present on foods of plant origin.

B12 absorption occurs in the intestinal tract, but is dependent upon intrinsic factor (a chemical produced in the normal stomach or a portion of the small bowel) When this intrinsic factor is missing, (usually from autoimmune inflammation of the stomach or from previous surgical removal of those portions of the GI tract, the absorption of B12 is faulty, resulting in pernicious anemia and other problems.

When B12 deficiency occurs, one must suspect both the type of food being consumed, and the possibility of abnormalities of the GI tract.

Almost all animal food products contain ample amounts of B12.

Dietary deficiencies occur primarily among vegans and strict vegetarians that consume no animal based food products. Sometimes, however, vegetarians do not become deficient, and not uncommonly people consuming animal food products (most commonly senior citizens) may become deficient

B12 deficiency may be very subtle in onset, sometimes with advanced symptoms before suspected or diagnosed. Therefore, people at risk (vegans and vegetarians) and others with unaccounted for symptoms should have laboratory studies assessing adequacy. Deficiency diseases, if treated early are generally reversible, but may not be if B12 replacement is delayed.

Serum vitamin B12 levels may be checked, but, unfortunately may frequently be misleadingly within “normal” range even in the presence of B12 deficiency disease. Therefore, testing of methylmalonic acid and total homocysteine levels may be indicated wherever B12 serum levels do not explain the symptoms of illness, and before treatment with B12 is begun.

Illness related to B12 deficiency may be effectively treated by the administration of vitamin B12 either by injection, or by mouth. Very adequate amounts may be obtained by either route sufficient to prevent and correct most deficiencies if discovered early enough to prevent irreversible injury to the brain and nerves.

For prevention of deficiency among vegans and vegetarians, B12 tablets are available and effective in 500 ug and 1500 ug doses without prescription in the U.S.

Besides oral tablets, vitamin B12 is available as a sublingual tablet, oral and nasal sprays and gels, and by transdermal patches. No data is available regarding the absorption and efficacy of these alternative forms.

I believe that all vegans and strict vegetarians should take supplemental B12 tablets of a regular basis or have regular periodic laboratory testing to be certain to avoid deficiency.

All patients with onset of symptoms of unknown origin should also be checked for B12 deficiency, and if present, begin prompt treatment under the care of a physician competent in dealing with the deficiency.

Ref. Sally P. Stabler, M.D. N Engl J Med 2013; 368:149-160January 10, 2013DOI: 10.1056/NEJMcp1113996

Hits: 1213 2 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

Today the makers of Coca Cola are spending big bucks in an attempt to reverse a trend of declining sales beginning in 1998. Billed as a television campaign to reduce obesity, the company will emphasize its smaller portion size, its better taste, its lower calorie content, and to top it all off, it will demonstrate various activities that will burn off the “140 happy calories” in a can of Coke.

No! That’s not the good news I’m talking about. It is this. Spiros D. Ladas, MD, from the Gastroenterology Division, First Department of Medicine—Propaedeutic, Medical School, Athens University, Laikon Hospital, Greece, and colleagues have discovered that Coco Cola is an effective agent for treating gastric phytobezoars! Yea!

Phytobezoars are tightly tangled balls of hair or some other type of fiber that sometimes develop in people who eat stringy foods like mangos, or who pull and eat their own hair. If large enough, phytobezoars can obstruct the outlet of the stomach or fill the entire stomach and interfere with digestion of food, sometimes necessitating surgical removal.

In their study, Ladas et, al found that Coca Cola is effective in treating the condition in 50% of cases, and when assisted by endoscopy, in 91% of cases.

Hits: 1117 0 Comments
0

We are now living in the midst of one of the most deadly flu seasons of recent years. Already many deaths have been reported resulting from it, at least some of which may have been prevented. The following suggestions are of well proven benefit for both preventing the flu and dealing with it once one has “caught” it.

The “flu” is a viral disease that is technically caused by influenza viruses, type A or B. Both are active in the present epidemic. In reality, many different viruses produce symptoms that are identical to, or very similar to the illness caused by influenza type A and B. For purposes of our discussion, the word “flu” here refers to all of those viral infections presenting with “flu” symptoms. While this is the case, it should be remembered that each virus does have its own characteristics and requires a slightly different immune response on the part of our bodies in order to fend it off.

Preventing the Flu:

The very best prevention is to maintain a healthy body and efficient immune system. This is best accomplished by a well balanced diet based primarily upon mostly unrefined foods of plant origin (avoid all “junk” foods).; a regular exercise program composed of both strength and endurance types of exercise; avoidance of extremes of physical stress, i.e., over-exercised, chilled, over-tired, etc; begin drinking sufficient water to keep urine colorless or pale yellow (other fluids are generally not as effective).

The flu viruses are spread primarily by air droplets produced by coughing, sneezing, etc. Cover your nose when sneezing or blowing, and your mouth when coughing to prevent spreading the virus. Wearing a face mask may help to prevent exposure to the virus.

For one who is healthy, exposure to other people with the flu should not ordinarily cause great distress. In fact, one’s immunity may be stimulated by recurrent exposure to the flu virus. On the other hand, persons whose health is compromised by any means must be more cautious, since even brief exposure can sometimes end up with severe illness.

Flu shots may be helpful in reducing severity of the flu and usually average about 65% effective in preventing infection. For high risk people, the benefit is generally considered to be greater than any risk.

Treatment:

One’s success in treating the flu will depend to a large extent in beginning treatment during the early phase of viral multiplication and before the body’s defense systems are overwhelmed.

Avoid stress and over exhaustion.

Be sure to get full nights of sleep. It is essential.

A little walk in the fresh air and sunlight out-of-doors with warm and comfortable clothing may work wonders.

Many viruses are very heat sensitive. This includes the flu viruses. Raising the body temperature to 102 degrees or more for a short period of time may work wonders. There are various ways of doing this. A hot tub bath, a steam bath, or sauna are a few examples. These should be begun at the first sign of the flu and may be done daily for a few days. The use of heat in preventing and treating illness is not entirely without risk and must be done properly. (HEALTH SMART, available on this web site, provides extensive instructions re: safe and effective ways of utilizing the benefits of heat).

Cold and flu virus infections begin in the nose and throat where the virus multiplies rapidly before spreading out to the remainder of the body. Therefore, the sooner one begins therapy with hot salt water gargles and nasal irrigations, the better the opportunity for preventing or reducing the severity of illness. Saline irrigation may be accomplished by snuffing saline solution, using a bulb syringe, a nebulizer, or with steam inhalation.

Avoid all drugs, caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, and soft drinks and sweets.

Be careful not to expose others to your flu, especially those who may be immune suppressed.

Be patient—nature may be slow by our standards, but she is an effective healer.

Many medications may seem to relieve symptoms, but they are expensive, have side effects and do not heal the flu. Most are no more effective than the suggestions listed here.

Foods and herbs to enhance the immune system may be helpful. (This includes most fresh plant foods.)

Black Elderberry is an ancient folk remedy for influenza that has been tested and proven in the laboratory to have an excellent effect in reducing the intensity and duration of infection by all viruses causing the “flu,” including “bird flu.” A number of commercial products are available. (Elderberry is a common bush in many parts of the world. Juice from the berries, or tea made for leaves contain the effective agent.)

Garlic and many other herbs are also valuable in managing flu symptoms

Virus infections themselves weaken the immune system and make a person more susceptible to other infections. It is thus very common for one to develop secondary bacterial infections as complications of a cold or flu. These may present as inner ear infections (common in infants and children), sinus infections, infections of the tonsils or the lower respiratory tract, the windpipes and lungs. More serious complications causing infections of the lungs (bronchitis and pneumonia), coverings of the brain (meningitis), abscesses around the tonsils, or other serious disease may occur in those with weak immune systems.

God still hears and answers the prayers of His children for healing

Signs of secondary infections may include any of the following:

Fever: Especially children may have fever with the onset of viral infections, but recurrence of fever or development of fever after passing through the initial symptoms must alert one to a more significant infection.

Pain and fussiness with high fever in infants and children should alert one to possible middle ear infections.

Pain in the face may indicate sinus infection. (Because sinuses are normally undeveloped in children, they seldom have sinus problems.)

Treating early complications

Treatment of early complications follows the same patterns as for the flu itself, except to increase diligence in applying lifestyle practices.

Use specific treatments to symptomatic areas—for example, use hot and cold packs over sinuses if sinus infection suspected

Indications for professional help:

Whenever symptoms fail to improve in reasonable time, or begin to worsen rather than improve, professional help is indicated.

Severe headaches, seizures, disorientation, or changes in level of consciousness. If present, csheck the ability of the neck to bend and touch the chin on the chest. If the patient is alert and oriented and easily able to bend the neck, infection of the brain coverings is unlikely, but it is wise to continue frequent checks on those patients that are not rapidly improving.

Shortness of breath: Shortness of breath or significant worsening of breathing problems, especially when accompanied by productive cough and fever.

Prostration (severe weakness, dropping blood pressure and rapid pulse or low urine output) is an indication for prompt professional help.

There is much more information available in the book, HEALTH SMART, available On line or in print format from this web site

Hits: 1035 2 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

Milk! A perfect food?

Well! It all depends! Mother’s milk is certainly the perfect food for human babies. Cow’s milk is the perfect food for baby cows and bulls (calves). But would anyone dare to claim that Mother’s milk would be the perfect food for baby cows and bulls? Or would anyone possible claim that cow’s milk is the perfect food for human babies? Some might!

“Ridiculous!” You say? Yet we do it all the time.

Let us ask one more set of ridiculous questions. Would anyone claim that Mother’s milk is the perfect food for mature cows? Or would anyone claim that cow’s milk is the perfect food for mature people? Yet we do it all the time.

Should we?

The milk from both sources looks the same. But they are not the same. Mother’s milk is designed to nurture and grow human babies to become healthy men and women. It has exactly the correct mix of nutrients needed for human babies. Cow’s milk is designed to nurture and grow baby cows and bulls consistent with their rapid growth and maturity and has exactly the correct mix of nutrients to accomplish this.

Yes, they might be interchangeable for a short while, but it certainly is not a perfect match. It will get by in a pinch! And indeed cow’s milk is sometimes life-saving for nutrient deprived babies and children. In those circumstances it may not be the perfect food, but it may the perfect solution to an otherwise impossible situation.

Though very much less likely there may even be circumstances when cow’s milk might be the perfect solution to a difficult challenge for adults.

Should cow’s milk therefore be considered the best food for sustaining optimum health for adult men and women? Most nutritionists would likely agree that it is not. Many nutritionists and health conscious scientists would go so far as to claim that a diet based on a wide variety of mostly unrefined foods of plant origin is the ideal diet. Just such a diet was established by God at the time of creation for human beings. Extensive epidemiological studies seem to confirm this claim—and I do not disagree. There are many reasons why this may be so, but for those exceptions where milk may indeed be the preferred food I would like to compare my childhood experience with my observations during a recent visit to a modern dairy farm.

Our herd of about 30 milking cows was pastured on wild grass during the warm months of the year. During the cold months they lived their lives locked in stantions that permitted them to stand and lay down, but the only other movement available to them was a brief run in the freezing weather to the water tank and back daily. Their liquid and solid waste accumulated in a gutter behind or under them. Once daily this was removed and clean oat straw was placed where they would lie down. They were fed once or twice daily with dried hay and corn silage (fermented ground up corn stalks and ears) and oats or corn ground into grain and sometimes mixed with nutrient supplements.

Twice daily we milked our cows. We did not have running water in the barn and did not wash their udders and teats before manually expressing their milk into buckets held between our legs while sitting on a 3 legged stool at their side. If a bit of manure or dirt fell into the bucket we were not concerned, for we placed all of the milk through strainers into ten gallon metal cans. The cans were then placed in a tank of fountain water (about 50 degrees F.) where they were held until picked up and taken to the factory in town the next day where the milk was then condensed, canned, and sold nationally as condensed milk, and some pasteurized and made into ice-cream, or bottled and distributed to the doorstep of homes throughout the city. Incidentally, our cats loved to lick the strainer pads through which the milk had been filtered, but they liked even better being squirted in the mouth with the milk directly from the cow’s teat while we were doing the milking.

Sometimes the cows would get an infection of the udder and the milk might be curdled thereby. Of course we expected (certainly incorrectly) those thick parts to be filtered out by the strainer pad!

Often, in the morning, our mother would go out to the tank where the milk was being held, take the cover from the can, and carefully skim the thick cream off the top before dipping into the can and collecting a generous quantity of milk for drinking, placing on our cereal or in cooking. If you have never tasted fresh dairy cream on hot oatmeal, you can’t begin to know what you are missing. Or have you ever had fresh whipped cream on strawberry shortcake, or prune pie?

We were never short of milk, cream, fresh dairy butter or aged cheddar cheese, for our milk-man (the one who took our mild to town) always had some with him in his truck.

While attending the local high school, I took a class in agriculture. There I learned many things about caring for the cattle as well as other things. Through the years since I have forgotten some, but one thing I have not forgotten. One day our teacher told of a conference he had attended designed to resolve a complaint of many farmers that pasteurizing their milk was changing its flavor and making it less marketable. Each farmer was then given two glasses of milk and asked to taste and see which one was pasteurized and which one not. Unbeknown to the farmers was the fact that both glasses contained pasteurized milk, but to one a bit of fresh manure had been added. Without exception, we were told the farmers chose the milk containing the manure as the best one.

After we began selling our milk as Grade A for distribution to the big City of Chicago, our dairy was frequently inspected for cleanliness and compliance with certain required regulations. We also received a monthly report of the amount of sediment in our milk when it arrived at the processing plant. I suppose that ended the days of good tasting milk!

I was one of nine children. My dad died of Tuberculosis at the age of 56 while I was still a small child. Tuberculosis was rampant among our relatives at the time. Though I had been very close to my dad, I never developed a positive skin test indicating infection. While we had more than adequate food, we were all skinny and frequently ill with aches and pains, colds and, of course, all of the childhood diseases of the time. In her effort to “put some weight on our bones” mother made a point of making sure we received enough “good food”. In fact, there was a time when she was buying ice-cream almost every week in her effort to fatten us up a bid. It didn’t work!

I found the dairy I visited recently most interesting. Instead of our thirty cows, this dairy ad 5200 cows. Unlike our cows that during the winter months were confined to their stations continuously except for a brief run for a drink each day, these cows had free range of their barn where they had continuous access to fresh water and a carefully formulated diet of many of the same feeds we had used. Unlike in our barn, the cows had clean sand to lie down upon whenever they desired. Their barns were cleaned daily and three times each day the cows  were walked to the milking chamber that had been thoroughly washed down before their arrival. Their udders were then washed and the milking machine cups placed on their teats. The machines were electronically controlled to stop and drop off the teats as soon as the milk had all been expressed. From the machine the milk went directly into sterile stainless steel tubing where, after filtering, was rapidly cooled to near freezing temperatures and piped into a waiting tanker truck where the cold temperature was maintained until it arrived at the processing plant a few hours later.

Cows are about 3 years old when they bear their first calf and begin producing milk. Milking continues about 9 months when they are given a rest for about 3 months while pregnant and awaiting birthing. During this time they are fed a specially prepared formula. They are kept for an average of 4 such cycles and then sold for beef. I was assured that no hormones are used to enhance milk production or for other reasons. Various chemicals are used for maintaining cleanliness in and around the barns and in the milking chamber to maintain sterility. I was told that a small wasp is utilized to destroy the eggs of flies, and I saw no flies in the facility during my unscheduled visit.

As the reader might imagine. I was impressed with the quality of the six tanker loads of milk that was trucked out each day. By the way, I was not offered a taste test!

During every step of the process the milk was treated as the food it is intended to be. Its cleanliness, sterility and quality are carefully and constantly monitored.

I am a vegetarian by choice, but after visiting this dairy, it is not for fear of transmission of infectious disease or hormones that I do not use or recommend dairy products.

Hits: 1205 2 Comments
0

Do you remember the last time your doctor told you the risk of having a diagnostic X-ray? Have you ever been told? Probably not! Rarely have I cautioned a patient about the risks of radiation exposure when suggesting or ordering a diagnostic study, and then only when specifically asked. I think because as new imaging techniques have developed we have been led to believe that the benefit of the study far outweighed the risk of any radiation resulting from the study. We have been even less concerned as techniques to reduce the dose of radiation for each procedure have been improved. We just have not had the data to cause us to think otherwise.

While this is probably still true for certain high risk health problems, present evidence is forcing us to re-examine the indications and risks more carefully.

In a recent On-line medical education article, Dr. Eric Topol, Director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute and Editor-in-Chief of Medscape Genomic Medicine, warns us that we are behind the times in applying the information now available regarding our use of diagnostic studies utilizing ionizing radiation. In fact, he is adamant that we correct this deficit.

During the past few decades nuclear scans, CT scans, and PET scans have become readily available and are often being used as screening tests for cancer, heart disease and many other acute and potentially high risk health problems. While the amount of radiation from a chest X-ray or two is probably safe enough, the same may not be so true of a single CT angiogram of the heart that delivers about as much radiation as 800 chest X-rays (in spite of attempts to keep levels as low as possible). A single nuclear scan of the heart, a procedure that may be repeated annually, may give the equivalent of 2,000 chest X-rays. Knowing this, many patients should think twice before agreeing to undergo these high radiation procedures without awfully good convincing evidence, and certainly so when recommended repeatedly.

Topol notes that there are more than 10 million nuclear scans done in the US every year. Such technology is not only very expensive to our total national health-care bill. He tells us that present evidence indicates that medical imaging and ionizing radiation (as may be used in treatment of cancer, etc.) may be responsible for contributing to 2% to 3% of cancers in this country.

Dr. Topol correctly admonishes health care providers to consider these risks when recommending both diagnostic studies and treatment regimens. Furthermore, he believes patients should be advised regarding the potential risks when high radiation studies are deemed to be indicated. To take the issue one step further, Topol recommends that practices be established whereby all patients, during testing, wear the same type of radiation exposure badges as used by X-ray technicians, radiologists and others working in the presence of radiation exposure, and that the cumulative dose of radiation should be made part of each patient’s electronic medical record.

Dr. Topol’s concerns and recommendations certainly deserve careful consideration by both patients and health-care providers. But, now is not the time to toss these diagnostic tools out the window. In every case, one must carefully weigh the anticipated benefit against the possible risk (when these things can be known). Though there are now other diagnostic procedures available (Ultra Sound MRI, needle biopsies, and others) that may give much of the same information, they cannot usually be considered equally helpful.

In my own practice, I will frequently recommend Ultra Sound imaging before other imaging studies, just because it is generally less expensive and available for the population I serve. On the other hand, though CT scans do subject one to more radiation exposure, when considering that a single CT scan may give me significantly more valuable information more quickly than a combination of U.S. and other studies, the benefit may often exceed the likely risk. Though I might expect an MRI to give me excellent quality information, the higher cost is often prohibitive to my patients.

The take away message from Dr. Topol’s work, I believe, is this. There is still a place for those imaging studies and those treatments that expose one to significant levels of ionizing radiation, but all of us, professional health-care providers and patients must carefully weigh the benefit against the risk in every situation. Medical care is still not an exact science and in any one situation it may not be possible to judge perfectly the benefit verses the risk. Still, we certainly need to try.

Hits: 1123 0 Comments
0

On August 24, 2012, the U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that FDA regulations requiring certain very graphic warnings on cigarette packages are unconstitutional. According to the court, such mandated packaging violates the cigarette company’s right of free speech by compelling them to provide anti-tobacco messages--and that at their own expense.

It is interesting that the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Heart Association (AHA), the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Association had all urged the Circuit Court to uphold the mandate as a “vital public health strategy.” Yet, thinking Americans  cannot help but wonder, as bad as smoking is, is the danger of smoking really more dangerous to our national health than the loss of free speech, however strongly we may feel about the high cost of smoking on the public health?

Some may suggest that there is a difference between individual free speech and the freedom of commercial enterprises to market products proven to be harmful to the health of individuals and society at large. This is an important point. Do we as a national society wish to permit any person or commercial enterprise to market anything that makes them a “buck” without respect to the public good? Most of us would probably agree with some of the laws that we already have in place limiting such activities, including those preventing companies from selling tobacco and alcohol and drugs to minors, and certain “recreational drugs” to anyone.

The reason the FDA gives in fighting for graphic pictures and a telephone number (for getting help to quit) is that people need to be fully informed so as to make a rational choice whether to smoke or not. While the dangers of smoking have been known and warnings given for decades, the FDA argues that current warnings on cigarette packages are “invisible” and “ineffective.” It makes a further point that there is a distinction between “simple cognitive awareness and true comprehension.” While this is a valuable principle, the question here is, does it apply to this issue?

The tobacco industry, the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Advertising Federation and the Washington Legal Foundation disagree, claiming this is not an information issue. They argue that the American public is indeed well informed and the only evidence to the contrary is that Americans exercise their freedom and continue to smoke.

The Tobacco industry claims that, “The true purpose of the graphic warnings is, not to inform, but to use emotionally charged graphics to browbeat ‘irrational’ consumers into adopting the government’s preferred course of action … Some researchers may think this approach is good policy, but it is at war with the First Amendment.”

A statement by the Institute of Medicine in 2007 seems to agree.  “It is time to state unequivocally that the primary objective of tobacco regulation is not to promote informed choice but rather to discourage consumption of tobacco products, especially to children and youths, as a means of reducing tobacco related death and disease.”

Two things seem very clear. The tobacco industry has a product to sell and has no intention of permitting public health concerns to interfere. Contra wise, the Obama administration, the FDA and many powerful health care providers are concerned about the negative effect tobacco products are having on the high cost of health care and are united in the need to find ways to regulate it.

Already many states have laws prohibiting smoking in public places. Perhaps there is opportunity to expand these prohibitions in some places yet, but total prohibition has not worked too well with alcohol in the past and with marijuana and other recreational drugs at the present time.

Taxes are high on tobacco products hoping thereby to reduce their use. Unfortunately, while often increasing the poverty level of the families involved, taxes have done little to limit tobacco use.

So what is the answer? While it seems reasonable that society place limits on commercial enterprises and industries when the public good is concerned, to do so may properly be viewed as one more step toward totalitarianism in a nation many believe has already gone too far in controlling individual rights. And while we may cut our own proverbial throats by unduly restricting free commercial enterprise, we already see many examples of gross abuse of the privilege. Given the significance to this public dilemma we may be well advised to permit our courts to work, and when their work is done to accept their decision. So it must be in many of the complicated issues existent in our world today. However, we should not do so naively. Freedom came to this nation at a very high cost. Certainly we should think twice before sacrificing even a little bit of it.

One more comment is indicated. Centuries ago the prophets of the Bible predicted the fall of America and a time when even our religious practices would be curtailed and eventually controlled. And although tobacco is not particularly a religious issue, it has implications for our religious freedom as well. A new culture is being created. Already tensions are rising over policies regarding Bible reading and prayer in schools and the rise of alternative sexual practices and emphasis on evolution among other teachings. At some point we may expect a back-lash by concerned conservative believers—not for the preservation of our personal freedom, but for policies in favor of returning the nation to God, even if legislation is needed to accomplish it.

 

Hits: 1242 0 Comments
0

 

There is probably no word that carries more angst than the word, CANCER. And there is certainly no cancer causing greater angst than Breast cancer. In an honest attempt to relieve a bit of the fear of breast cancer the medical establishment has instituted various recommendations for screening for cancer with the anticipation that by early detection, cancers might be found and treated before they have spread and become incurable. Accordingly, it has been my practice through the years to recommend periodic self breast examination for all of my female patients. Likewise, I have encouraged screening mammograms in accordance with the recommendations of the experts. More recently Ultra Sound, MRI and other imaging studies have been recommended depending upon the estimated risk based upon family history, genetic profile, lifestyle practices, etc. (Note: Screening refers to examination of apparently normal breasts. Doing mammograms for abnormal of suspicious symptoms is not considered screening!)

Interestingly, some of the experts are now wondering if all of this effort and expense may be in vain. Recent studies by Archie Bleyer, M.D. and H. Gilbert Welch, M.D. MPH as reported in the New England Journal of Medicine (11/22/12), are telling us that while with mammography we have doubled the number of early cancers that have been found and successfully treated during the past 30 years, the incidence of late stage breast cancer has been only modestly reduced by 8%. According to these findings, it appears that in the year 2008, breast cancer may have been over-diagnosed (breast cancers detected that apparently would have never grown or become life-threatening) in 70,000 women, or about 31% of all breast cancers diagnosed. If this is true, then one might conclude that screening mammograms have had only a minimal effect on reducing death from breast cancer.

The dilemma would be of less concern if treatment of these “over-diagnosed” cancers was free of consequences. It is not. Most of these patients underwent one or more of the following: Surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy for 5 years or more and chemotherapy—each with its own set of potential problems.

While it is true that there has been a definite reduction in death from breast cancer in recent decades, screening mammography has apparently played only a minimal role in this beneficial trend. Rather, improved treatment regimens are believed to be a much greater factor.

So what is the take home message? I must say that the “jury is out.” Much more study is needed. I believe there is still a place for careful self-examination of the breasts on a regular (monthly) basis, taking note of certain changes that persist or are progressive. Screening mammography is still indicated for certain high risk women. Mammography, Ultra Sound and other diagnostic imaging studies are still indicated for evaluation of abnormal breast findings and some high risk groups without symptoms.

Until better information is available, one must be content to find a care-giver that one trusts, and to work together in managing one’s personal breast care. One may find a bit of consolation in knowing that treatment of breast cancer has improved and death from breast cancer is on a downward trend--though still a bad disease.

Nor should one fail to recognize the proven benefit of health promoting life style practices in reducing the incidence of breast cancer as described in the materials available on this web site.

Hits: 968 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

It was about 1980 when I first met a tall, lean, man in my examining room that had been referred for evaluation for weight loss and large lymph nodes in his arm pits and neck. AIDS was then an unknown entity. I suggested a biopsy of his nodes hoping to find the cause and be able to offer him effective treatment. He did not return for the suggested procedure.

It was a year or two later when we discovered AIDS and learned that it was a very contagious, infectious disease caused by a virus that attacked the human immune system given. It was given the name, Human Immunodeficiency Virus, now commonly referred to as HIV. Then, we were scared to death to touch or get too close to persons suspected of having the disease lest we accidentally get blood splattered in our eyes, cut with a scalpel while exploring their bellies, or poked with a needle while sewing up their wounds. Some recommended wearing double pairs of gloves. One innovative company even tried to sell us gloves made from some “needle proof” fabric that I could not even imagine using to do delicate surgical procedures. But what does one do when a sick patient has a need? Even if there is no known help for a disease that then carried 100% mortality.

The funny thing that I could never understand was this. We were not permitted by law to check our patients (at least not without their signed consent) to see if they might indeed have the HIV virus. Unbelievable to me! For the first time in history the well recognized means of preventing the spread of contagious disease was then being curtailed by legal constraints. Even in Bible times, people knew enough to isolate lepers and others with contagious disease—but not us!

Untold millions from all over the world have since died prematurely from HIV/AIDS—and many of these, innocent spouses, mothers, children, and yes, dedicated care givers.

Twenty or more years have passed since then. The “impossible” has been accomplished by the most expensive and comprehensive human campaign ever assembled to solve this, the greatest plague in all of history. We now have medications that are effective in reducing the viral load sufficient for many patients to live nearly normal lives. If given early in the course of the disease, these medications markedly reduce the risk of spreading the virus to other intimate contacts as well.

Other things, too, have changed during the past twenty years. Sex is no longer the secretive topic it once enjoyed. It is no longer necessary to be embarrassed by labels such as HIV or AIDS. Sexual practices, whatever those practices, may now be openly discussed (and practiced) in almost any society. It is no longer a stigma to be tested for HIV, and indeed, tests by which to check ourselves are now available from our pharmacies.

And, FINALLY, public health authorities are amenable to testing not only suspects of HIV, not only those suspected of having HIV, but are now recommending testing for everyone between age 13 and 65 as a means for controlling the spread of the disease.

The “funny” thing about this entire saga is that HIV/AIDS is a disease made possible by our disregard for the principles of life given to us by a loving God for our personal and corporate health and happiness. We were provided with the only certain prevention from the very beginning of human history when God created Eve from a rib of Adam and declared them ONE as man and wife. From the very beginning of time, we have known the rules, one man for one woman for as long as they both should live. How strange that it should require six thousand years for man to find a much less effective way of preventing such a serious disease!

Unfortunately, that rule of God is no longer 100% effective even with perfect compliance. We can no longer be certain that the one we marry is free of the HIV virus. People do sometimes still try to keep secrets. And indeed, though rarely, it is possible to be infected with HIV without having a clue, having contacted it inadvertently while caring for or being cared for by infected individuals

And testing for HIV! Should we have universal testing? Perhaps! As is often true of so many things, it is better late than never. Every newlywed should have absolute assurance that his/her life-mate is clean. Every baby born into the world should have the right to be treated in time to prevent HIV if mother is infected. Every health care worker should have the privilege of knowing the HIV status of his/her patients so as to exercise proper precautions. Every patient should know so as to seek treatment in its earliest stages for optimum survival.

No question about it. HIV/AIDS is a disease resulting from sin. Sin, disregard for the law of God, always has terrible consequences, either sooner or later. Thank God, He has provided a way whereby “If we confess our sins, He (Jesus) is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” 1 John 1:9. As good as this news may be for out eternal welfare, in this world, thought forgiven, we may still suffer the consequences of our actions.

It is never too late, by the grace of God, to follow the rules!

Hits: 1102 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

As never before in the history of the world we can now look at the human heart with Ultra sound, angiograms, C T. scans (with or without contrast), MRI’s and a multitude of other imaging studies that reveal in amazing detail the anatomy and function of this fantastic organ within us. Today there are stents to keep our arteries open and to repair aneurisms (blow outs) of our aortas, artificial valves to replace damaged ones in our hearts, and when all systems fail, artificial pumps and transplanted hearts donated by those who no longer have a need. Nor should we overlook a vast armamentarium of drugs available to control rate and rhythm, adjust blood pressure, lower cholesterol and lipids, or do many other phenomenal things.

All of these marvels are a response to the statistics of the mid twentieth century when heart disease was the leading cause of death in the United States and much of the Western world. In fact, these inventions when coupled with life style changes have had a very significant effect on reducing (by almost 1/3) the high toll of heart disease on Western society. Sad to say, those positive trends are now again slanting downward in spite of continuing advances in technology.

Worldwide, Heart disease, cancer, diabetes mellitus and strokes have replaced communicable disease as the leading causes of death, and of these, heart disease constitutes about one half. Nationwide, healthcare costs now account for more that 17% of our gross national product with 16% of this coming from heart and blood vessel disease. Contributing to this is the fact that heart surgery is now among the most costly and commonly performed surgeries.

Focusing in on high blood pressure (hypertension) we discover that worldwide, nearly one of every seven people is affected. Hypertension alone contributes to 51% of strokes and 45% of heart attacks.

What all of these things are telling us is that about one in three of us is going to die of heart related disease. What they do not tell us is that many of us will die prematurely, and many more will live out large shares of our lives at less than optimum levels, dependent upon expensive technological procedures and medications to keep us alive.

One other point! These statistics need not affect us, for we know how to prevent most of the causes of heart diseases, strokes and related premature killers. Furthermore, recent studies now confirm that people with low risk factors at middle age will live substantially longer and with much less morbidity than those that do not.

For those readers that may not be aware of those optimal life style practices contributing to minimal lifetime risk of heart disease, the following guidelines may prove helpful.

Diet: The closer one can come to consuming a diet based primarily upon mostly unrefined foods of plant origin with limited processing, the better. Variety, quality, amount, taste and appearance are also important.

Exercise: The ideal exercise is that which occurs nearly daily, encourages development of both strength (weight) and endurance (movement) of all parts of the body, and is preferably done in the out of doors where sunshine and fresh air are abundant.

Water: Nothing contributes more to good health of heart and body than drinking sufficient pure, clean water to keep one’s urine clear or very light yellow most of the time. No other drink comes close to matching the benefits of drinking ample amounts of water. Cleanliness of the outside of the body and the environment all around is equally important.

Temperance: There is no other word that includes both moderation to the exposure and use of all good things, and the total abstinence of things that appeal only to our desires but contribute nothing to our wellness. Tobacco, alcohol, drugs, and illicit sex are a few such examples.

Rest: Ample sleep beginning in the early part of the night to provide interest, energy and vitality for the following day, periodic periods of diversion from prolonged or repetitive activities, and the weekly Sabbath spent in fellowship with both God and one’s fellow men provide many scientifically proven benefits to heart and health.

Faith in the God of creation: Faith, when real, establishes God as our very best friend and the first to whom we turn in time of joy, temptation, trial, consternation, and every other need and concern—all of which benefit our hearts.

When applied faithfully, these principles will not only improve one’s life expectance, but also reduce one’s risks of heart disease as well as most other health problems. While in this world we all die, Faith give assurance of one day receiving a heart that will never cause pain, disappoint or fail.

Hits: 1104 1 Comment
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

No dietary measure has ever been as effective in lowering blood pressure as flax seed, according to a study reported at the 2012 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Los Angeles, CA recently.

The reduction of Systolic blood pressure of about 10 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure of 7 mm Hg after 6 months use of flax seed is about the same as one might hope to see with anti-hypertensive medications, lifestyle modifications, low salt diet and weight loss. Though still to be proven, one might anticipate a 50% reduction in strokes and a 30% reduction of acute heart attacks by improving the blood pressure by this amount.

Even better yet, the benefits of flax seed may not end here. Animal studies also suggest that flax seed lowers cholesterol and trans-fatty acid levels, reduces inflammation, helps to regulate irregular heart rhythms, and reduces the accumulation of atherosclerosis in the arteries.

30 grams (2 Tablespoons full) of milled flax seed was eaten daily baked into bagels, bread, etc. Fortunately, flax seed has little flavor and is not at all unpleasant to the taste. And though in this study it was mixed with other grains into breads, etc. there are many innovative ways of enjoying it.

The impressive results of this study at six months contrasts with zero changes in blood pressure among those using a placebo. It will be interesting to see if these results hold up in the long term, and if similar findings are obtained by other researchers. Based upon many other studies confirming the health benefits of flaxseed, and the known constituents of flax seed, including alpha-linolenic acid, enterolignans, and fiber, there is reason to expect positive results.

Flax seed is inexpensive when compared to medications usually used for treating high blood pressure. It keeps well in its natural form before milling. It has wide availability, and appears to have few risks—all of which may one day make it a treatment of choice for managing blood pressure and preventing heart attacks and strokes.

 

 

 

 

 

www.medscape.com

Hits: 1085 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

One day while serving as a physician in the country of Rwanda I stopped by the mission orphanage for a visit with the kids living there. They, of course, were intrigued by my straight white hair and just had to run their fingers through it. I had been told that the orphanage was having a real problem with lice infestation among the children, so I did not think it strange when almost immediately upon leaving their company I began to feel lice all over my body—yet, I never saw a louse, nor did I take any home with me. Sometimes the power of imagination can be pretty convincing!

But head lice are a major problem worldwide. Infestation occurs among children of all socioeconomic levels and may be accompanied by bacterial infections secondary to itching and scratching. In the United States alone, the total estimated direct and indirect costs of head lice infestations is about $1 billion.

Because head lice infestations are often perceived to be most prevalent among the poor and over-crowded, there is often a certain stigma associated with having an infestation of lice.

A common female head louse, Pediculus humanus, variety capitis, survives by feeding on blood sucked from its host 3-6 times daily. She will live about a month and lay as many as 300 eggs. They hatch to become nymphs that mature into adults in 7-10 days. Successful eradication of lice then requires simultaneous elimination of all stages of development, adults, nymphs and eggs, not only in the recognized victim, but among all other likely victims as well, including family members, schoolmates, etc.

Because adult females are so very dependent upon frequent blood feeding and die within a few hours of separation from their food source, spread of lice via clothing, linens, etc. is generally not a major problem. Where there is concern, machine laundering at a temperature of at least 1220 F kills all stages.

Still, lice infestations may pose serious problems once established in schools, homes, etc. The first line of treatment as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics is 1% permethrin or pyrethrin insecticide. This insecticide is a neurotoxin to lice that acts rapidly to kill all stages of the lice by paralysis. While it is very toxic to honeybees and fish, it is essentially free of toxicity to animals including humans. Even in high experimental doses, this chemical has shown no toxicity to the developing fetus and does not lead to development of cancers. Unfortunately, lice sometimes develop resistance to it. Therefore, in those places where resistance occurs, 0.5% malathion is sometimes still recommended.

More recently, a single application of 0.5% Ivermectin lotion has been approved for patients 6 months or more of age having lice that are resistant to other agents. The same drug at a dose of 200 micrograms per kilogram has been used safely and effectively by mouth by more than 45 million people for the treatment of other parasites and will likely eventually find a place in treating head lice infestations in homes and schools.

For those that prefer to avoid these chemicals, Vaseline (one of many other time-tested therapies) is still an effective agent for eliminating head lice. To be effective, it must be combined the removal of all nits with a fine toothed comb, and will require re-treatment in 10-14 days.

Presently available also for eliminating head lice without chemicals of any kind is the application of dry heat that allegedly kills the lice by dehydrating them. A commercial device that goes by the name of Louse Buster claims high cure rates. Whether the same thing may be accomplished with a hair dryer and brush has been denied by the maker of Louse Buster, but may be worth trying.

Hits: 1171 2 Comments
0

Would you agree to chemotherapy if you had cancer?

Would you agree to chemotherapy if you had cancer and knew that it might give you some time, but would probably not cure your disease?

If you had cancer, would you want to know if your doctors knew that it was not curable by any known means? Or would you prefer to live as long as possible, blindly believing and hoping for a cure?

A recent study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, October 25, 2012, when patients taking chemotherapy for metastatic lung or colon cancer (already spread) were asked if they understood that they would not be cured by their chemotherapy, 69% of those with lung cancer and 81% of those with colon cancer said they did not know. According to the study this lack of understanding regarding outcome was not affected by their confidence (or lack thereof) in their doctor, their level of education, their present functional status or whether or not they had been involved in making the decision whether or not to take the chemotherapy.

One might wonder how it could be that patients with incurable disease would not have this knowledge? Had their doctors failed to inform them? Had they been told while still under the effects of anesthesia or heavily medicated for pain and? Had they truly been told in the correct setting, but blocked out the news they were not psychologically able to accept? Had their friends or family members over-ruled the doctor’s normal practice of informing his/her patients? Or is there some other explanation?

Studies have shown that two thirds of doctors tell their patients on their first visit that they have incurable disease but only about one third actually explain the terminal nature of their diagnosis. For most doctors it is very difficult to share this information with their patients—perhaps sometimes for reasons mentioned below!

Other studies show that when patients are informed of the expected outcome, about one third refuse to believe.

From my own personal experience I have found that there is nearly always a suitable opportunity to share this important information with my patients. Even so, many patients hang on to hope until their dying day. A greater problem for me has been dealing with close family members that insist that their loved one could not tolerate the news and must not be told.

But realistically, the problem is not so simple. The truth is, we almost never know for certain that a patient is going to die of their cancer. There are very rare instances of spontaneous regression, and there are sometimes miraculous recoveries in response to answered prayer. Furthermore, some cancers do respond to treatments that we expect to be palliative, but actually occasionally result in long remissions or apparent cure. And it is true that scientific research has made some significant progress in treating some cancers, sometimes offering hope that if palliation can keep a cancer under control for a year or two, it is possible something new may be available then. It is also true that hope is a powerful coping mechanism for dealing with bad news.

And though we may sometimes reasonably expect some extension of life by our palliative therapy, it is very difficult to know for sure or for how long—and almost always there are side effects of our therapy that may be very disabling and uncomfortable. In these situations, when palliative therapy is mentioned as a possibility most patients will request it, often with unrealistic expectations.

There is another aspect that must be considered. Chemotherapy continued beyond the time of benefit to the patient is an expensive waste of resources and a significant contributing factor to our skyrocketing national health care costs. 25% of Medicare funds are spent in the last year of life—a significant, but unknown portion of which is providing no benefit to the patient, and may actually be contributing to patient discomfort. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to know the cost or benefit until after the fact. .

Given the many unknowns regarding the behavior of many cancers with or without chemotherapy and other modalities, it should not be surprising that physicians as well as patients might be frustrated and uncertain as to how to proceed when advanced cancer is diagnosed. For this reason it is important that patients seek care by physicians with whom they can communicate freely so as together chart the course

And always, in those instances in which patients have a living, vibrant faith, trusting in the goodness of God, management of difficult health care decisions is much easier for both patient and physician. Indeed, this web site exists to provide resources designed to facilitate quality of life, faith and trust in God, and hope in His loving goodness.

Hits: 1088 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

Are you troubled with varicose veins? You are not alone if you are. About 1% of our world population has varicose veins. Fortunately, there are some things one can do to prevent their development and other effective ways of managing the symptoms and complications that may develop with them.

Let us briefly review our anatomy. Blood pumped from our heart is carried in tubes known as arteries to all parts of the body. After delivering its contents of oxygen, nutrients and other materials to the tissues, returns to the heart via thin-walled tubes (veins) for re-circulation over and over again. Because the heart is a long distance from the feet, and when standing the trip back to the heart is all up-hill, God created us with valves in those veins that enhance the flow of blood up to the heart. Muscle activity during standing and walking gives a further boost to this flow. When these veins in the legs and thighs returning blood to the heart become damaged in any way, the blood tends to pool in them where high pressures may develop. As pressures increase, the valves tend to lose their effectiveness and the veins themselves tend to dilate and get bigger, and sometimes very torturous. We call these large irregular veins varicose veins.

For some people, this elevated pressure causes significant discomfort when standing for periods of time. Temporary relief may be obtained by lying down or sitting with legs elevated, or by wearing elastic compression hose when standing. In time, continues high pressures may cause some of the blood cells to leak out through the wall of the small blood vessels (capillaries) and enter the tissues of the feet and legs. The pigments from these broken red blood cells may then darken and discolor the skin of the lower legs. White blood cells may also release enzymes that tend to destroy the soft tissue of the legs. Fibrin and other substances also seep out and trap growth factors that under normal conditions keep the tissues of the legs healthy and would help to heal a wound under normal conditions. With all of these factors working against healthy leg tissues, sometimes just the minutest injury to the area may result in a painful sore and deep ulcer formation. Ulcerations occur most commonly on the inside portion of the lower leg, just above the ankle, though they may be on the outside of the leg or rarely at some other location.

Varicose veins are often inherited and run in families. There are many other things that also contribute to their formation, especially in susceptible individuals. These include such things as a diet of refined food, constipation, tight clothing at the waist or thigh, pregnancy, excessive weight, and perhaps working for long hours standing with little leg movement. Occasionally blood clots or infections of the veins destroys the valves and results in high pressures and varicose veins.

While it may be difficult for one with a strong family history of varicose veins to prevent their formation, one may reduce symptoms and complications by following a health promoting life-style practice consisting of a diet based primarily on natural, mostly unrefined foods of plant origin with very limited use of refined foods (sugar, white flour, pasta, white rice, oils, etc.) and animal food products (meat, milk, eggs, cheese, foul, fish, etc.). Other health promoting activities include the intake of ample quantities of just plain water, daily exercise and exposure to the rays of the sun, adequate rest and avoidance of all harmful chemicals, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, etc. Incentive and power to live by these principles may be enhanced by dependency upon help from our loving God--available just for the asking!

Other helpful practices may include the wearing of well fitting elastic support hose when standing or sitting for extended periods of time.

Successful treatment of ulcers once formed requires careful attention to all of the above practices. In addition continuous compression with elastic support hose or wrapping with elastic bandages whenever standing or sitting is very important. These measures may be combined with treatments of alternating hot and cold applications to the legs several times daily. While there are various ways to do this, perhaps the easiest is to obtain 2, 5 gallon buckets; partially fill one with hot water (103 degrees F maximum, and much less if diabetic or disease of the arteries in the legs) and one with cold water. Place the leg (s) in the hot water for three minutes and then into the cold for one minute and alternate between the hot and cold water several times. Repeat this a few times each day and be certain to keep compression stockings of dressings in place at all times between soaks. Medicated compression bandages are very commonly used by doctors treating these problems. They, too, are quite effective, but since they are left on for a number of days at a time, preclude the healing effects of the contrast hot and cold water treatments.

Varicose veins may also be treated by health professionals by injecting them with chemicals to cause them to scar down, or by removing them surgically.

Hits: 1101 1 Comment
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

As of this morning 14 people have died and another 170 have been diagnosed with fungus infections introduced by the injection of contaminated medications. Since fungus infections are generally relative slow in progression, we may expect many more infections and deaths before this catastrophe is over.

Evidence at this point indicates that the contamination occurred as a result of problems at the New England. Pharmaceutical compounding center located at Framingham, Mass. With the skyrocketing demand for pharmaceutical compounds in recent decades, mainline pharmaceutical companies have been incapable of meeting market demand. Other companies have arisen to help fill this void, but without adequate over-site for quality.

While we may expect much passing of the “buck” and certain legal action from this tragedy, hundreds of people continue to die daily in America from medicines produced by major pharmaceutical companies under the watchful eye of the Federal Drug Administration. In fact, medications are one of the leading contributing factors to death in America and elsewhere in the world—yet, receiving almost no public attention, and certainly, no major out-cry.

Matter of fact, were we the least bit interested in living according to present scientific evidence regarding health-promoting life-style practices, most of these drugs would not be “needed” in the first place. Most of the major illnesses and disabilities of modern society are completely preventable by well known means. Furthermore, numerous studies have been reported indicating failure of many drugs, both those obtainable by prescription and those purchased over-the-counter, to perform any better than placebos of home remedies utilized for centuries, most of which are void of side effects of any kind.

Nearly everyone is aware of the harmful effects of tobacco, alcohol and street drugs. Nearly everyone is aware that serious life-threatening disease is spread by sexual relationships. Most of us have been adequately apprised of the relationship between Western dietary practices and certain cancers, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and innumerable other diseases.

Not only do we know the cause, we also know many of the things we may do to prevent or delay the onset of pain and illness Yet, for the most part we remain content to depend upon so many things that do little if anything to help us while often threatening our health.

Why should this be?

Science has no satisfactory answer! Politics has no answer! Even the medical profession has no answer! In fact, there is only one answer and that answer is found in a Holy Book that most of us carefully hide in our bookcase or in our bed stand, and seldom bother to open in search for the answers it provides inside.

The resources available from this web site have been designed to help readers in their search for healing of so many of the ills of this world.

Hits: 1119 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

Since New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg’s action to limit the size of sugar sweetened soft drinks in his efforts to improve the health of his citizens, and hence the cost of health care, we have been hearing and reading much about the relationship of these soft drinks to the rapidly escalating epidemic of obesity and related diseases.

Through the years I have often worked hard to get my patients to reduce or eliminate soft drinks and “junk foods” from their diets--but with only measured successes. I often attributed my failure to their unwillingness to exercise their choice to discontinue them. Therefore I found a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine (Oct. 11, 2012) most interesting.

This article seeks to debunk the idea that “food choices are consciously and deliberately made.” It goes on to note that the food we eat often has little or nothing to do with our actual food preferences. Rather, it is more often cunningly devised “impulse marketing” that determines what we put into our mouths and stomachs.

Many of us are aware of the big bucks paid by advertisers to make their product known on television and other public media, but did you know that the placement of products in stores is the single most important determinant of sales?

For example, did you know that:

Goods placed in prominent end-of-aisle locations account for about 30% of supermarket sales?

Vendors pay a “slotting fee” to guarantee that their products will appear in these and other prominent store locations?

Shoppers may increase their purchase bill by as much as 5 times with products prominently displayed approaching the check-out counter?

Of course, most of us shoppers believe that we are not much influenced by strategies such as the above—that it is only those that lack self-control that are taken in by “impulse marketing.”

Not so! Research using sophisticated eye-tracking equipment dispels such self-confidence. In fact, because display techniques have been demonstrated to be able to overpower the goals and capacities of individual shoppers, marketers pretest their promotional displays, often using the same eye-tracking equipment to do so.

Interestingly, people lack the capacity to completely control eye gaze. What they can be enticed to look at the longest time is the strongest predictor of what they will buy. Also interesting is the fact that decisions to purchase highly attractive “junk foods” (foods high in fat and sugar) are made more quickly than decisions to purchase fruits, vegetables and other health promoting produce.

As influential as the above factors are in determining the food we eat, there in another very important factor that also negatively affects our food choices. Cognitive capacity, the ability of the brain to manage our choices and actions, is often depleted by stress, tiredness, “burn-out,” etc. Lacking full capacity, we quiet naturally drift toward “comfort foods” containing high levels of sugar and fats, even while recognizing the impulsive nature of such decisions.

This article in the New England Journal of Medicine goes on to suggest ways society might be able to fight back against such effective marketing strategies which are contributing so powerfully to many of the most prevalent health problems of our society. Certainly there is a place for a concerted societal effort to exact change.

As important as such efforts may be, I believe the problem has deeper roots than here appears. It is one thing to attempt to alter behaviors, but how much better to improve our cognitive capacity to the point that it is the master of our thoughts and actions—even our unconscious actions! There are many good resources designed to facilitate this, some of which may be found on the web site, www.aplaceofhealing.info.

Hits: 1065 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

Two recent studies investigating the presence of HIV in mother’s milk and its effect on nursing babies reveal some interesting findings.

In one study, researchers at Duke University in Durham, NC have isolated antibodies to HIV-1 in the colostrum of an HIV-1 positive lady in Malawi, a finding that may explain why only one in 10 breast fed babies of HIV-1 positive mothers become infected with the virus. Of greater interest is the hope that from these studies scientists will be able to enhance the production of HIV antibodies in the milk of all infected mothers.

The other study reported from sub-Saharan Africa by Chantry CJ et al notes that the HIV virus in HIV positive mothers may be inactivated by flash-heating of the milk before feeding it to the baby. While this necessitates expressing the milk and heating it to the boiling point in a glass jar placed in a pan of water, it is something that is fairly easy to do and quite effective. While antiviral prophylaxis is the best available option for preventing mother to baby transmission of HIV, heat treatment is also recommended by the World Health Organization.

Much progress has been made in the prevention and treatment of HIV infections since first identified a little more than 30 years ago, yet there are still millions of HIV infected patients world-wide that do not have access to recommended prevention of treatment. Heating the milk for these is certainly an important means of reducing transmission of the disease from mother to baby where other measures are lacking.

How much better would it be to avoid getting HIV in the first place. Making effective medications available everywhere in the world would be nice, and attempts are being made to accomplish this. But better yet would be a return to the traditional near universal practice of refraining from sexual relations until marriage of one man united to one woman for the life time. While there are many, many factors in society and the various cultures of the world today that make this simple answer nigh impossible, the closer one can approach that God-given ideal, the happier we would all be, not the least of which would be mother and baby.

Hits: 1113 2 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

Julia came to me for an amputation of her right leg. She had been through the entire gamet of modern medical care and arrived at a point where it had nothing more to offer her. The leg must go.

I examined Julia’s leg. It was dark in color with a large deep ulcer over the lower shin area. The foot was cold and dusky in color. The great toe was totally black and the second toe partially black. There was no pulse below the groin. Yes, I agreed! It was obvious that there was no other alternative for Julia. She needed an amputation—and soon. But she begged me, “please to not cut off my leg.” Over and over again she pled with me.

Julia was way overweight. She was diabetic. Cigarettes were as a noose around her neck.

On a hunch, I Said, “I’ll make a deal with you, Julia. If you will do what I tell you to do, I will give you a week or two to see what happens.”Whereupon I outlined the things she would need to agree to.

She was willing to do anything to save her leg. At least that is what she told me. We would see. We had a prayer together, asking God to give her the power to follow the plan.

That was more than 9 years ago. The battle lasted for about a year and half with near weekly visits, much encouragement, sometimes chiding, often praying--before healing was complete. She continues to walk on feet that are now warm and pink, though with a couple shorter toes.

I was reminded of this experience when reading a recent article in the 200th anniversary of the publication of the world renowned, New England Journal of Medicine (N Eng J Med 367:12 p 1027) that reviewed the “Therapeutic Evolution and the Challenge of Rational Medicine” from 1812 until today.

The article began with an account written in 1812 by John Warren, a founding member of Harvard Medical School, in which he described the management of what is today recognized as angina pectoris (chest pain due to obstruction of the arteries supplying blood to the heart).

I quote from that account of his treatment of one of his patients. “One patient, a ‘plethoric’ clergyman, (was treated) with stimulants, bloodletting, and topical ether, then with more bloodletting, opium, powerful laxatives, and caustic agents that blistered the skin over his sternum. As the patient’s angina attacks increased in frequency and intensity, Warren tried asaferida—a botanical resin known as ‘Devil’s dung’ for its sulfuric, excremental smell—and additional caustics such as silver nitrate to provoke draining blisters on his thighs and arms.” Sometime later, Warren added arsenic, another “vigorous” bleeding and finally the use of tobacco. Should we be surprised by the deadly outcome?

Some even then recognized the lack of knowledge of the laws of health and healing. One, Dr. Benjamin Rush, noted that if these laws could be found, one might expect to live the three score and ten years allotted to man as mentioned in the Bible (life expectancy 200 years ago was in the 40 year range).

By the middle of the nineteenth century medical doctors were beginning to recognize that their treatment outcomes were little different than doing nothing and letting nature take her course. It was Oliver Wendell Holmes who in 1860 (about the time of the visions of Ellen White regarding health) made this classical comment, “if the whole material medica, as now used, could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be all the better for mankind—and all the worse for the fishes.”

In their ignorance, competition by homeopaths, naturopaths, hydropaths and other practitioners began to force the medical profession to examine other options. But it was not until the discovery of anesthesia and surgery, and bacteria and aseptic techniques that things began to change a bit.

By the middle of the 20th century a revolution in health care as well as in all the sciences had begun in earnest. Bible prophecies describing an increase in knowledge were suddenly beginning to be fulfilled. We see the results of that phenomenal increase in knowledge in every aspect of life today.

The question we might pose is this. Are we better off today than 200 years ago? Oh, yes! We have nearly conquered the terrible childhood infections that until recently maimed and killed so many children, holding down our life expectancy statistics. Modern diagnostic instruments; technical skills and equipment that permit us to remove or repair almost any part of the human body (even while inside the womb), or to transfer it from one person to another and an understanding of genetics, biochemistry and physiology down to the sub-molecular level, have permitted us to meet and exceed the proverbial three score and ten years, but the question remains. Are we better off? Have all of these technical wonders made us happier? Have they given us greater meaning and purpose in life? Have they strengthened our family, our interpersonal relationships and our sense of personal worth?

I think once again about Julia. She is alive and walking still today, not because of our high tech (that failed her) but because she applied the principles prepared for us by a loving God during creation week, i.e. a nutritious natural, unrefined, plant based diet; plenty of fresh air and sunlight; ample supplies of fresh, clean water; regular exercise in the out of doors; and freedom from nicotine, caffeine, alcohol and other poisonous substances. She was able to do this only by power received from the One in heaven who created us.

Yes, these things were made for us to maintain life and health, but more! They also have the power to heal. High tech is nice for its ability to control some of our symptoms, patch up some of our broken bones, and perhaps give us a few more days of sometimes troubled life, but only the things God created for us have the capacity to give us healing—healing of body, mind and spirit.

Why, I wonder, do we avoid applying these healing agents until the last resort—if at all?

Hits: 1110 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

We are not mostly “junk” after all!

I was in my second year of medical school taking a class in biochemistry when I first heard about the then recent discovery of DNA. If now DNA seems to be a complex, then it was really confusing. Things have changed a lot since then.

More than ten years ago scientists were able to sequence the genes of the entire human genome, but were unable to understand how it worked. Only about 1% of the entire genome appeared to have any useful function. Unable to understand the remainder, scientists began to call this material, “dark matter,” sometimes known as “junk.”

All of that is changing after years of intense study. Now it is known that about 80% of this “junk” is actually biologically active material, apparently instructing the functions of the nearby genes and serving as switches turning them on and off.

ENCODE (Encyclopedia Of DNA Elements) is a challenging 5 year project currently underway designed to discover how this all works and to then create a control schematic and instructional manual of the human genome explaining how genes turn on and off.

It is believed that when this has been accomplished scientists will be able to manipulate these switches and genes in ways to influence many inherited and/or acquired genetically related diseases and health challenges of our society.

It will be interesting to watch to see how this all plays out in the weeks and years to come. Will our investment actually result in longer, healthier lives, or possibly backfire and become the means for destroying ourselves. The Bible paints a pretty dim picture of our future. Is it possible that our interest in genetics might be one of the factors that refute the Bible picture? Or, perhaps, confirm it?

Hits: 1098 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

When we adopted our daughter it was the policy of the adoption agency to withhold any information about the biological parents. While she was a pretty normal appearing little girl, she did exhibit a few features consistent with fetal alcohol syndrome. It was only a short time before the end of a very troubled life that she was able to obtain some information from the agency that confirmed our suspicions. Yes, alcohol had very likely contributed to both her troubled life and her premature demise.

A recent study funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development adds credence to our family’s experience. In the study done in Chile, children of 101 pregnant mothers who drank at least 4 drinks of alcohol per day were compared with the children of 101 mothers who did not drink alcohol. 44% of the children of mothers imbibing alcohol had functional brain abnormalities compared to only 13.6% of the children of the alcohol free mothers. In addition, 27% of children of the drinking mothers experienced growth restriction compared to 12.5% of the non drinking mothers. Facial features were also abnormal in many of the children of mothers using alcohol while pregnant. (JAMA, August 22/29, 2012—Vol 308, No. 8, p.753)

It is not at all uncommon to read in the daily news of the benefits of a little alcohol each day. Many of these claims are later discovered to be unfounded. Moreover, when one compares even the most reliable of these claimed benefits with the heavy burden alcohol use places upon society, all potential benefit suddenly disappears. Alcohol consumption always costs more than it gives. Certainly, this study demonstrating the effects of the use of alcohol during pregnancy upon the children of drinking mothers reinforces this truth.

What is the take away message? Don’t drink alcohol, and certainly mom; please do not drink if there is any possibility that you may be pregnant.

Hits: 1115 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

Something seems to happening in our world that has never happened before. Never before in recorded history has this world suffered so many disasters, natural, and other. So much so that in America we have created a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to deal with the ever increasing problem.

Unfortunately, these organizations have had difficulty arousing the public to the direness of the situation such that ordinary citizens would make some effort in preparing for an emergency disaster should such an event occur in their locale. That is until the CDC came up with the idea of using Zombies to arrest the attention of the public, and especially the young people of our nation.

And the trick has worked! In fact, it has worked beyond all expectations. (Please check with the CDC and FEMA websites to learn about their efforts and activities.)

Contributing to the success of this year’s emergency planning activities is the apocalyptic ending of the Mayan calendar on December 21, 2012. While that date is now being interpreted by some as the beginning of a new age rather than the end of the world, it has succeeded in generating much attention regarding the times in which we live and the need to be prepared.

While it is not the intent of this blog to discuss the application of zombies for this purpose, it does represent another opportunity to remind our readers of the times in which we are living and the wisdom of being prepared – not if they come, but when they come. In fact, there is no place on the surface of our world that is exempt from the possibility of disasters.

Among the most important preparatory measures all should be advised to attend to are the following obtained with slight modifications from the CDC web site.

First of all, you should have an emergency kit in your house. This includes things like water, food, and other supplies to get you through the first couple of days. It will buy you some time until you are able to make your way to an evacuation shelter or utility lines are restored. Below are a few items you should include in your kit. For a full list visit the CDC Emergency page.

  • Water (1 gallon per person per day)
  • Food (stock up on non-perishable items that you eat regularly)
  • Medications (this includes prescription and non-prescription meds)
  • Tools and Supplies (utility knife, duct tape, battery powered radio, etc.)
  • Sanitation and Hygiene (household bleach, soap, towels, etc.)
  • Clothing and Bedding (a change of clothes for each family member and blankets)
  • Important documents (copies of your driver’s license, passport, and birth certificate to name a few)
  • First Aid supplies to treat basic cuts and lacerations that you might get during a disaster.

Once you’ve made your emergency kit, you should sit down with your family and come up with an emergency plan. This includes where you would go and who you would call if there is a flood, earthquake, or other emergency.

Family members meeting by their mailbox.

You should pick two meeting places, one close to your home and farther away

  1. Identify the types of emergencies that are possible in your area. This may include floods, tornadoes, or earthquakes. If you are unsure contact your local Red Cross chapter for more information.
  2. Pick a meeting place for your family to regroup in case your town evacuates. Pick one place right outside your home for sudden emergencies and one place outside of your neighborhood in case you are unable to return home right away.
  3. Identify your emergency contacts. Make a list of local contacts like the police, fire department, and your local emergency response team. Also identify an out-of-state contact that you can call during an emergency to let the rest of your family know you are ok.
  4. Plan your evacuation route in case you need to get out of town fast! Plan where you would go and multiple routes you would take ahead of time!

You will find further information beginning on page 957 of HEALTH SMART, available from this web site in book form, as an E-book, or on-line.

Hits: 1077 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

According to Victor Sidel, MD, cofounder of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), the risk of nuclear disaster is greater than ever before. He notes that there are now more than 10,000 nuclear warheads in the world, each having a destructive magnitude of 200,000 times that of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. Furthermore, thousands of these warheads are on hair-trigger alert and could be launched within moments.

Countries now known to have nuclear warheads and the capability of delivering them include besides the United States and Russia, the UK, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel. It is expected Iran will soon be included.

Of course, it is easy to become complacent. Nuclear bombs have been available for more than 75 years and have never been used since that initial experience that ended the war with Japan. More than this, recognizing the immediate and widespread destruction of a nuclear attack, many people fail to consider that while many would die instantly in the immediate area of the attack, there are many things that can be done to prevent or diminish the effect of the nuclear fallout among those that survive the full impact of the attack.

In addition to nuclear war, we have already witnessed the deadly effects of nuclear accidents, earthquakes and tsunamis as have occurred in Harrisburg, Chernobyl, and Fukushima—and the number of nuclear power plants continues to increase world wide. While we have yet to experience the use of fissionable materials by terrorists, that possibility assumes an ever present risk.

All of which is to say that we would all be advised to be prepared.

The following comments from the book, HEALTH SMART (available from this web site) provide a few basic suggestions everyone would be wise to keep handy and in mind.

One sustaining a direct hit by a nuclear weapon will not realize anything hit them as they are instantly vaporized, but for everyone else, there are precautions to be taken if one is to avoid some of the serious consequences of nuclear pollution.

Three factors determine one’s fate when confronted with nuclear

contamination—barriers separating one from the source of contamination, the distance from the source and the amount of time exposed to the nuclear contamination.

1.)  Protection then includes shielding: Go inside your home or place of shelter at once. Remove all clothing before entering if already exposed to radioactive fallout. Stay inside with as much barrier wall as possible between yourself and the source—below ground level if possible. The more things one can pack around him/her self to create a barrier, the better—books, concrete, water, wood, etc. Close doors, windows, fireplace damper, and all other air intake sources (furnace, air conditioners, ventilation fans, etc.), Keep battery operated radio tuned for directions regarding staying or evacuating. If in a car, close all vents and drive away from source.

2.)  Distance: The farther one can be from the source, the better. Therefore, listen to public alerts on radio and television for possible need to evacuate. If one is far from home, he/she must decide whether to seek to get home or not. DO NOT let yourself get held up in traffic. It is probably better to find shelter where you are than to risk getting caught in traffic.

3.)  Time: The less time one spends in a radioactive area the better. Fortunately, radioactivity weakens rapidly. Within 7 hours after the blast it is only 1/10th as strong, and within 2 days more it is only 1/100th as strong (or deadly). Most people will only need to stay in shelter full time for a few days.

Note: There are many risks of radioactive materials, but one of those serious risks is the risk of cancer of the thyroid caused by radioactive iodine taken up by the thyroid gland. The risk is especially great in children. The ingestion of potassium iodide (KI) as soon as possible after exposure will fill the thyroid with non-radioactive iodine, thus preventing this danger. Potassium iodide is available over the drugstore counter for this purpose.ne sustaining a direct hit by a nuclear weapon will not realize anything hit them as they

Hits: 1156 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

We have all had them. No one is exempt. In fact, they are so frequent we often view them as “just a common cold.”

The facts are that acute respiratory infections, “colds” and “flu,” are among the most costly of human illnesses. In the U.S. there are more than 500,000 hospitalizations for “flu” (influenza) with about 36,000 deaths each year. At the same time, there are 20 million doctor visits for the “common cold” resulting in 40 million lost days of work and school for a total economic impact of more than $40 billion annually. Thus it is that the “common cold” and “flu” are our most costly illnesses.

It has often been said it takes seven days to cure a “cold” if it is treated, and a week if it is not. There are no specific medications or immunizations available to prevent the common “cold.” While we do have antiviral medications to help prevent influenza, they are often of only minor benefit even if begun early in the onset of the illness. Immunizations likewise are often not effective, especially in the elderly.

Fortunately, the picture is not all negative, at least not if we may believe the findings of a recent study done at the University of Wisconsin. As researchers recently reported in the Annals of Family Medicine (Ann Fam Med. 2012;10 (4):337-346. © 2012 Annals of Family Medicine, Inc.) regular exercise and training in the management of stress and negative emotions actually significantly reduced the duration and severity of these common diseases.

This study is interesting and important not only because of the evident benefit of exercise and stress management, but suggests as well, that if these are effective, other lifestyle practices might also be beneficial. Indeed, many practitioners of lifestyle medicine have been very much aware of these benefits and have been applying them successfully for years at very little cost.

As a world society, we are now struggling with the high cost of medical care. in the United States alone, $40 billion dollars is not just "peanuts!" Just think of the positive effect we might realize to our bottom line if we could reduce the burden of these diseases even a little

For information and instructions for utilizing some of these lifestyle practices, please see HEALTH SMART, A RATIONAL NO-NONSENSE PRACTICAL APPROACH TO HEALTH, page 415 – 421, available on this web site (Section IV, chapter 5, A).

 

 

Hits: 1093 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart


Tonya was referred to our clinic complaining of painful lumps in her arm pits. She told me that this has been going on for years, flaring up and getting worse from time to time. I was not able to detect anything specific in her history that might give a clue as to why she was suffering with the problem. She was not diabetic, and had no other problem with infections.

On exam, there were a lot of scars and several tender lumps in her axillae, some of which had been draining purulent material.

I explained to Tonya that her problem was related to obstruction and consequent infection of the glands under her arms, a condition known in technical terms as Hidradenitis suppurativa. It is a rather common condition, and can occasionally be very severe and chronic, lasting many years and causing a great deal of discomfort.

Generally recommended treatment consists of applications of hot moist compresses, hot running water in the shower, etc. for relief of pain in the acute phase. Occasionally surgical incision and drainage is necessary for relief. It is generally recommended to avoid the use of antiperspirants that occlude the glands. Daily bathing with the use of antibacterial soap is important. Because bacteria contribute to the odor of sweat, clothing must be changed frequently and kept clean. Always it is important to eat an optimal diet composed primarily of natural, unprocessed plant foods. Occasionally, in severe situations with extensive, uncontrolled abscesses in spite of the best of care, surgical excision of the entire axillary skin is necessary.

A recent article published in the scientific journal, Archives of Dermatology (Dr’eno B Khammari A, Brochard A, et. al. 2012:148(2) 182-186) reported evidence of deficiency of immune markers in the axillary skin. 3 months of treatment with Zinc gluconate at 90 mg/day improved the immune marker status.

While this research does not promise that the use of zinc supplements by mouth or by topical application will cure the problem, it would seem to be something worth trying in combination with an optimum natural plant based diet and the other above described measures.

Hits: 1146 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

Ruth Ann was referred to me last week for evaluation and management of recurrent painful “boils” that had recently developed on her abdomen and thighs. Whenever I see boils, knowing nothing happens without a reason, I ask those questions that might help me determine why one has developed them. This is especially true in the case of recurrent boils.

Ruth Ann was a little overweight, but not morbidly obese. She looked healthy enough. She told me she was not diabetic. But when I asked her if there was diabetes in the family she told me, “yes, there is.”

What is not commonly known is the fact that one may be a type 2 diabetic for years before one develops sugar in the urine or elevated sugar in the blood—at which time we may make the diagnosis of diabetes. In medical circles, this state of being diabetic with normal blood sugar levels is known as pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes is sometimes described as the “silent” phase of diabetes.

Unfortunately, though it is true that there may not be sugar in the urine, or elevated blood sugar, the disease is by no means silent! Ruth Ann is just one example. Long before (sometimes a number of years) one develops clinical diabetes many of the health-destroying effects of diabetes are already taking place. Ruth Ann is demonstrating just one of the more visible effects, but there are many other unseen changes occurring in her blood vascular and other systems, predisposing her to heart disease, kidney disease, weakened immune system with consequent infections of many types, including boils, and many other health problems.

The U. S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention numbers the number of diabetics at 25.8 million, but estimates that there are 79 million more with pre-diabetes.

Family members of diabetics, people that are overweight, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and those with first time unusual or recurrent infections, deserve to be tested for pre-diabetes before symptoms of diabetes appear. According to the American Diabetes Association, a fasting blood sugar of 100-125 mg/dl, a 2 hour glucose tolerance test of 140 – 199 mg/dl, or a Glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) of 5.7-6.4 indicate the presence of Pre-diabetes. Higher values of any of these tests indicate active diabetes.

There is now good evidence that treating pre-diabetes may prevent or delay the development and complications of type 2 diabetes. This may be successfully accomplished with life style modification. Some medications may also help, but all have side effects and none are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for this indication.

Ample evidence suggests that optimum lifestyle management consists of, 1.) a natural plant based diet composed of a wide variety of unrefined foods of plant origin from all food groups, i.e. fruit, vegetables, greens, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, etc. prepared in tasty, attractive ways and eaten in 2 or 3 meals daily, beginning with a hearty breakfast; 2.) 30 minutes of exercise (aerobic and resistance types) most days of the week, done out of doors in the sunlight and fresh air when possible.  3.) Water as the preferred beverage taken in sufficient quantities to maintain light colored or clear urine most of the time; 4.) avoidance of tobacco, alcohol, caffeine and all other drugs and, 5.) a growing faith in our loving God.

Further discussion of diabetes prevention and management may be found in the book, HEALTH SMART on this web site, and from many other sources.

 

Hits: 1272 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

There is hardly a day that goes by in my clinic that I do not see at least on patient with venereal warts. I see them on men and women, and on children and babies. They seem to be almost as common as the common cold. All evidence is that this is a disease that is “caught” only by direct sexual contact (babies may become infected during childbirth though the warts may not show up for as long as 18 months)(Infection by any other way is theoretically possible but must be very, very rare).

Venereal warts are caused by a virus (Human papillomavirus – HPV). This sexually transmitted disease is now more prevalent in the U.S. and around the world than Gonorrhea, Chlamydia or any other sexually transmitted disease.

HPV types 16 and 18 have a causative role in nearly all cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina anus penis and mouth and throat. Each year there are more than 33,000 of HPV related cancers diagnosed in the U.S. (HPV related cancers rarely occur in lungs and other organs).

Smoking tobacco or chewing betel, pregnancy, young age, and any condition interfering with one’s immune system increases one’s risk of developing cancer among those infected with HPV.

Vaccines are now available to prevent HPV infections if used before exposure. For this reason they are often recommended for administration at age 10 – 12 for both boys and girls, before the age of anticipated sex.

Since venereal warts and its related cancer are sexually transmitted diseases, the only certain way to prevent them is by life-long, monogamous, heterosexual relationships (or strict sexual purity). In fact, the more sexual partners one has, the greater the risk of developing either or both warts and cancer. Condoms may help prevent the spread but are no guarantee. (Note: one may have and spread the HPV virus without ever having warts.)

Though no one expects to be the victim of HPV related disease, preferring rather to “enjoy” present cultural sexual practices, those that come to the clinic for treatment, or end up with miserable and life-threatening cancers are seldom rejoicing any more. And unfortunately, our young people are at the highest risk.

It may be considered “old fashioned” by some to be faithful to the Biblical model of marriage and family, but few can argue from records such as this but that such a practice has had and continues to have some real advantages in providing both fullness and meaning of life as well as health and longevity. (After all, this was and still is God’s plan for us!)

(Ref. JAMA, August 1, 2012—Vol 308, No. 5)

Hits: 1327 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

It’s a small world after all!

Unfortunately, that small world is not always the dream world Walt Disney has made it out to be.

As of the latest statistics (2008, 2009), 7.7% of U.S. Children under the age of 18 have an activity limiting mental health disability. This is a 4 fold increase during the past 50 years, making mental health disabilities more prevalent than physical problems (infections, injuries, etc.).

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, as reported in the July 18, 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, these disabilities include speech problems; learning disabilities; attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); other emotional, mental, or behavioral problems; and other developmental problems. Asthma, accounting for 8% of childhood disabilities, though primarily an allergic disease, is also included as a mental health disability.

While it is true as one might expect, the highest incidence of disability is among the poor and disadvantaged, the rate of increase is actually higher among the well to do.

There are undoubtedly many contributing factors to this new epidemic. Certainly, prematurity, environmental toxins (including pharmaceutical preparations); robbing children of close and attentive family support by the “necessity” of mothers working; trauma of divorce with its often associated bickering between parents, or being shifted back and forth between parents; single parent families; the push to get our children to mature faster and to achieve; long hours spent being programmed by the media instead of regular exercise; poor eating habits and dietary choices; and many more. You, the reader have your own understanding of yet other contributing causes, but there is one more that must be mentioned. That is the loss of a traditional, God fearing family where children are loved and trained to love and serve God and their fellow men according to principles carefully outlined in the Holy Bible and other inspired writings.

We might wonder what we might do to curb this rapid rise of mental health related disabilities in that most of the above proposed causes are very difficult or impossible to change overnight. New York Mayor Bloomberg is to be acknowledged and encouraged for his attempts to improve both the physical and mental health of the citizens of New York by his efforts to eliminate tobacco, trans-fats, soft drinks and, the latest, to entice and even coerce mothers to nurse their babies at the breast in high preference to the bottle. But, as good as these things are, they are only the very beginning.

And yes, it’s a small world after all, and our Loving God has provided us with all of the necessary instructions and tools to resolve most of the factors contributing to the growing epidemic and give our kids something so very much greater than the tantalizing music and mystique of the entertainment world. Only we must available ourselves of them and apply them faithfully in our lives. You will find a number of helpful resources on this web site.

 

Hits: 1169 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

Mothers in India, China, and other lands today are selecting the sex of their babies by Ultra Sound. Last year a test went on the world market that makes it possible to tell from a vial of mom’s blood whether or not her baby has Down’s Syndrome. No longer is it necessary to stick a long hollow needle into Mom’s pregnant belly to identify this abnormality. Now scientists have announced that it is possible to sequence baby’s entire genome, all by examining tiny DNA fragments present in Mom’s blood during the first few weeks of fetal life. Within a couple years when that test becomes available on the market, she may know her baby’s sex, whether it has Down’s Syndrome or any one of thousands of other known inherited disorders. Yes, soon, she may even know the color of her baby’s eyes and hair.

Knowing these things, what is a mom to do?

If we look to the mom’s in India or China for the answer, we will discover that they abort an estimated 1.3-1.6 fetuses each year—primarily to select the desired sex of the baby. In fact, our professed faith aside, it has become very easy for the moms and dads of this generation everywhere to rationalize almost any behavior. Seldom do we fail to find a “good” reason to justify our desired actions, even if it means aborting an unwanted baby—or millions of them!

Isn’t modern technology great?

Yes, it would seem to be a very positive thing were there no genetic mutations and sick and deformed babies for families and society to deal with. It seems very reasonable that parents would like to have something to say about the sex of their children. And there are places on earth where the population exceeds the ability of the land to support it thus making population control an attractive consideration. And wouldn’t it be neat to be able to genetically design our babies to our specifications?

So why should anyone object?

Actually, the answer to this question is pretty simple! It is wrong! It is sin! One need only take a thoughtful look at the world all around us to see what our practice of playing God has done to our world. We have nearly destroyed this entire creation--and have the tools to finish the task. The fact is, sin kills. It kills the individual spirit, and it kills nations. God gets the blame, but it is sin that destroys—our sin!

We may deceive ourselves into thinking that we are wise enough to improve upon God’s creation and His law of life-giving commandments, but as in the days of Noah and Sodom and Gomorrah, there will be a day of reckoning. In Noah’s day it was violence and genetically intermingling of the species that called God into account and caused the waters to rise above the mountain tops. For Sodom and Gomorrah it was preoccupation with sex and neglect of the orphan and widow that got His attention and caused the fire to fall from the heavens.

Is it possible we are smart enough to avoid the accountability of God? Can we be so naïve as to believe that God does not see?

Hits: 1073 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

 

This question was recently posed to the LinkedIn group members of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, “We all know lifestyle modification is a must in the new millennium yet we fail to achieve that objective. Why?”

This question is one that might generate a vast number of good and thoughtful responses, but, really, why should anyone wish to put themselves through the effort necessary to significantly modify their lifestyle practices?

It is not easy to reduce one’s weight in a healthy way and keep it off for a life-time. Taking the time and putting forth the effort to establish a whole new way of eating or to create a useful exercise program costs plenty. It is never easy to give up such addicting things as tobacco, alcohol, other drugs, gambling, illicit sex, and so many more “enjoyable” habits and addictions. Whatever the change from one’s present practices that must be made, it will take some serious effort. So why should one try?

Sure! It would be nice to wake up feeling fit every morning after a good night of rest. Who would not like to be able to purchase and wear comfortable and nice-fitting clothes? Surely, no one enjoys spending hours waiting in the doctor’s office, emergency department--or lying in a hospital bed with IV’s in each arm, repeated vena-punctures, uncomfortable X-rays and other imaging studies. Yes, good health would seem to be adequate incentive to pursue these necessary changes—but, for most people, it is not.

Some might consider significant lifestyle practice changes with the hope or anticipation of winning in some competition, obtaining a position in some enviable position, win a bet, or to comply with the demands of a family member, friend or boss—or even to calm a guilty conscience! If any of these should succeed, the likelihood of creating lasting change is pretty slim.

It is true that legislation, tax incentives, extensive public service campaigns and other public pressure are sometimes able to change some lifestyle behaviors. For example, cigarette smoking has been significantly reduced in the public sector. Trans-fats have been essentially eliminated from “fast” and packaged foods. There are other examples of such successes and there are sure to be more. Unfortunately, we humans are prone to destroy ourselves, and if our present habits should perchance be improved, we will undoubtedly find other ways to kill ourselves prematurely.

What is often forgotten in the mix is the fact that we are spiritual beings as well as physical. We were created by a God of love who designed us to live and thrive by His rule of love. Love is the only incentive, and the only power sufficient to enable us humans to be restored from our fallen self-serving, self-destructive lives into lives governed by God’s kind of self-renouncing, unconditional love. God is the only source of such love and He will use it to transform us to be like Him if we will invite Him to do so.

When love governs there is no more powerful incentive to follow those well proven lifestyle practices that will assure optimum health for one’s self for the sake of one’s spouse and children, one’s neighbor and one’s God.

Mary was in her mid 50’s when she was referred to me to have her leg amputated. Her leg was pale and cool to touch. There was a large, deep ulcer on the shin. Her great and second toes were black and dead. Mary was obese, diabetic and a smoker. She attended church, but was not aware of the full spiritual power of love either to enable lifestyle change or to heal. She had had everything modern medicine can do for one with such problems—and all had failed.

Mary pled with me not to take her leg off. Yes, she begged me to do something to save it.

Finally, hearing her cry, I decided to offer her an option. “Mary,” I said, “if you will do exactly what I tell you to do, I will give you a week or two to see if it may be possible to save you foot and your leg.” After hearing a description of my demands, Mary reluctantly agreed to try. Before leaving we had a prayer together, asking God to give her the power to follow the necessary recommendations and to give His healing power to her need.

That was about ten years ago. Mary is still walking on that leg. She was healed, not suddenly as a recognized miracle, but over about a year and one half to two years of hard work and much prayer. Today Mary is an example of the power of love to enable lifestyle change in combination with our loving God’s healing grace.

No! It is probably too much to expect the entire nation, or world, to choose to give their love and their lives to this God of love and see a reversal of the present health concerns, but for those who will believe, all things are possible.

The resources of this web site, a place of healing, are designed to assist its readers in establishing this spiritual revitalization with our God of love.

Hits: 1175 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

 

Yogurt has been around for a long, long time. Yes, for thousands of years. No! Perhaps not the sweetened, jam and jelly varieties, but just plain yogurt. In fact some of the healthiest and longest living people groups have attributed their longevity to yogurt.

Now we know that it is the micro-organisms naturally present in raw milk, or added to pasteurized milk, that creates the yogurt. We believe they are also responsible for the apparent health benefits of consuming yogurt and other fermented dairy products. The word, “probiotics” describes these life supporting micro-organisms.

What is not so well understood is how these micro-organisms work once they arrive within our digestive organs. The healthy digestive track is normally loaded with an almost infinite number of micro-organisms, all of which play a role in keeping it healthy. We believe the micro-organisms of yogurt in some way complement the normal function of these micro-organisms already present in our guts (digestive tracks). While those functions are poorly understood they include such things as producing vitamins, digesting food and helping to maintain a healthy environment within the gut.

When the gut becomes ill, the normal flora (micro-organisms) is often disturbed and incapacitated from doing its job. It now appears, based upon modern scientific study that the micro-organisms obtained from consuming yogurt (or in capsule or pill form) may help to bring healing to the troubled gut.

And this is the place where things really become complex because there are so many different kinds of micro-organisms in the gut with functions we do not clearly understand. Likewise, there are many types of micro-organisms in yogurt and many other food sources with functions we do not know. Thus, while studies suggest benefits in some types of illness, it will be many years before we understand the real benefits and risks of probiotics and how to use them to optimum advantage.

It is interesting also that the health of the gut has an impact upon our brains. Recent studies on animals and people demonstrate that by changing the flora of the gut one also changes the way the brain works. We have known for years that the brain and the gut interact via nerves and hormones, but this emerging science adds another dimension to this gut-brain interaction. Already some physicians are using dietary changes as part of a lifestyle program to manage various illnesses, including even major depression.

What is the take-home message regarding probiotics based upon this discussion? Just this! Probiotics appear to be useful in the management of some intestinal track illnesses, and very possibly a number of illnesses seemingly unrelated to the intestinal track as well. Which probiotics for which illness in most instances remains a mystery!

We know that a natural, plant-based diet has many health advantages, both in quality and length of life. One might wonder if the particular flora present in the gut of vegetarians might help to account for these health benefits! Furthermore, it may just be possible that the gut flora of people consuming a mostly unrefined plant-based diet may be as good or better than supplemental probiotics when it comes to one’s health.

Hits: 1117 1 Comment
0

Once upon a time there was a grasshopper and an ant living next door to one another. To the ant’s disgust, each day as he went about his business preparing for the coming winter, his friend, the grasshopper wiled away the days playing on his fife. Of course, the grasshopper had many excuses for his irresponsible behavior.

The ant was not impressed!

Today, the world faces a health care crisis of major proportion. Our health care costs gobble up an ever greater portion of our national expendable income—or should I say our national debt?

Yes, we see the lesson taught in Aesop’s fable, but, like the foolish grasshopper, the 5,000 waking hours we have each year during which to fill our storage barns with health, we spend playing on our fifes, being unmindful of tomorrow.

It is not because we do not know. Everyone knows that regular exercise is necessary. We all know what foods promote health and what foods wreck havoc with our health. Even the dumb animals seem to know. We are all aware of the disastrous effects of tobacco, alcohol, and hundreds of other harmful drugs and lifestyle practices. Yet, in spite of our knowledge, we find we are powerless to change. So we continue blithely on indulging our lusts.

We might wonder! Why should this be?

Ignorance may be a factor, but certainly not for most educated people. Poverty may preclude obtaining pure clean water, adequate amounts of health promoting foods, access to immunizations and other health benefits, but for most of us it is just plain lack of will power. We are not able to do what we would like to do to stay healthy and to enjoy a long and meaningful life.

You may have wondered as you have accessed this web site, a place of healing, why the attention to spiritual topics. The answer is simple and straight forward. Love is the answer. There is no greater power in the universe than the power of love. Love is the power of God that created our little world, and it is the power that gives us meaning, purpose and a reason to live.

Love for family, friends and to God enables us to do such “impossible” things as quitting health destroying habits as smoking, drinking, indulging in unhealthy foods and other harmful practices.

God is love, and its only source. It is by connecting with Him that He is able to infuse it into us, turning that 5,000 waking hours of frivolous fifing into the joy of meaningful living.

Hits: 1151 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

 

The Homeopathy Comeback

Next time you go to the store to purchase an over-the-counter medication make note of how many of the available items have the word, homeopathic, somewhere on the package. Somewhere, too, you will likely find phrases such as non-habit forming; no known drug interactions; non-drowsy, etc. Now examine the list of active ingredients. Look, too, at the list of inactive ingredients. When you have opportunity, go to your computer and find a description of the various active and inactive items. Note what you find.

Homeopathy is founded upon several interesting theories, one of which claims that the more dilute an ingredient is, the more potent and effective it is—just the opposite of what we normally expect for our medications. Let us use garlic as an example of a remedy for treating a cold. Those who use garlic this way will likely use quite a number of cloves during the course of the illness. Were garlic to be made into a homeopathic remedy, it would not be unrealistic to have as little as 1 drop of actual garlic juice diluted in a thousand gallons of water, or even more.

Knowing this about homeopathic theory, is it any wonder that the package may say it is not habit forming and without drug interactions? Sounds good, does it not—to feel better without the risk of side effects!

Just a little more than 100 years ago yellow fever was rampant in the southern states and the Caribbean and many were dying. Interestingly, it was discovered that patients treated with homeopathy were surviving at a higher rate than those treated by medical doctors. Largely as a result of this finding, homeopathy began to thrive and soon homeopathic schools were becoming as common as medical schools. This trend lasted for some time before homeopathy began to fall by the wayside. Now once again we see it rise in popularity.

Historians, looking more closely, have concluded that the reason homeopathy was surpassing medical care at that time was because of the toxicity of the drugs then being used by medical doctors. Rather than helping patients get better, they were actually doing them harm. On the other hand, homeopathic prescriptions, being infinitely dilute, could do no harm, thus permitting at least some of their patients to survive the terrible scourge without interference.

With this bit of history we may consider our situation today. Though most drugs prescribed by physicians today are not as toxic as in ages past, EVERY drug has potential side effects—some very serious with significant complications and deaths. Considering this and the fact that we have become a nation, and a world, demanding a pill for almost any ill or discomfort-- even while knowing that, like a cold that lasts for 7 days if treated and a week if not treated, it is understandable that a safe alternative might be sought. Though the risk of most over-the-counter medications may not be great, there is some risk. For illnesses that are more serious and life threatening, the risk to benefit ratio of many of the modern therapies is often questionable.

Given our present dependence upon the pharmacy to get well when sick and the known risks of even “simple over-the-counter” medications, it should be no wonder that homeopathy with its “no-risk” promise should be doing so well in the market place. Add to this the placebo effect of “no-risk” therapies and one would seem to have a real winner.

Before one gets too excited about the benefits of homeopathic remedies, however, there is something else that should be understood. Because FDA approval is not required for homeopathic remedies, there is no close scrutiny of the ingredients. Knowing that the dilute “active” ingredients are probably not going to do harm, one would be wise to consider the “inactive” ingredients list. What you find there may not be as “inactive” as you might have thought.

In HEALTH SMART, you may find many safe and effective ways to care for most common ills and often without the high cost of either medicine or of homeopathic remedies. Something to consider!

Hits: 1150 2 Comments
0

 

A new epidemic threatening the world

Brenda was in her mid twenties when I first saw her in consultation for a badly infected foot that required extensive surgical debridement. Brenda’s blood sugars were sky high in spite of high doses of insulin for her type 2 diabetes. Until then, I had seldom seen type 2 diabetes in such a young person.

Now, about ten years later, our world society is beginning to see an epidemic of obesity and obesity related diseases, including type 2 diabetes, in children and young adults. While reports in the public press regarding the actual incidence of this disease and the rate of increase are difficult to decipher because of the various ways used to gather and present the evidence, it is clear that we are indeed experiencing something significant. Obesity, diabetes type 2, hypertension, and heart attacks are now definite health concerns even in children, and not alone in the western world.

What was most interesting with Brenda was the fact that within 24 hours after changing her diet and placing her on a natural, unrefined, plant based diet, her blood sugars dropped significantly, as did her insulin requirements. Unfortunately, it was not long before she could no longer resist the temptation for her favorite food and “escaped” to the cafeteria where she consumed several giant burgers and soft drinks. It was all down-hill after that. She soon left the hospital and my care. A few weeks later I received news that Brenda had died from complications of her diabetes.

It need not have been so!

There is now very ample scientific evidence indicating that type 2 diabetes is not only preventable, but also often curable by life style change. Interestingly, the same life style practices preventing type 2 diabetes are also effective in preventing many other medical problems including such diverse diseases as heart attacks, many cancers, high blood pressure and some forms of arthritis, to name a few.

These health promoting life style factors are well described in HEALTH SMART, A RATIONAL NO-NONSENSE PRACTICAL APPROACH TO HEALTH and include a natural, unrefined, plant based diet; a regular exercise program; ample time for sleep and various forms of rest; ample amounts of fresh drinking water rather than other drinks; regular exposure to sunshine and fresh air and the avoidance of all known unhealthy items.

Unfortunately, like Brenda, we human beings are not able of ourselves to make the kinds of changes necessary for optimum health. In fact, there is only one reliable source of the power necessary to do so. That source is Jesus. On this web site one will find various instruments aiding one to connect with this source of power and the healing He can afford. Please place them to the test. You will not be sorry you did!

 

 

Hits: 1199 1 Comment
0

 

President Obama supports same-sex marriage

Whether for personal belief or political gain, President Obama’s thought processes have “evolved” to the point of supporting same-sex marriages.

This is a blog about health! What does the president’s conclusion about same-sex marriage have to do with health?

Just this! One cannot speak about same-sex marriage without recognizing the sexual disorientation that pervades all of modern society. And one cannot think seriously about sexual disorientation without considering the health risks, both individually and corporately, associated with it.

Sexually transmitted disease, gonorrhea, Chlamydia, syphilis, genital herpes, genital warts and a host of other sexually transmitted diseases are among the most common infections in today’s world, approaching the prevalence of the common cold. But these are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There are in our world today an estimated 400 million people infected with hepatitis B virus, an incurable disease, and 33 million with HIV/AIDS, together posing a major international health care challenge.

None of these diseases would exist in a society faithful to the biblical model of one man for one woman for life (with the possible exception of hepatitis B). Yet, one seldom if ever sees this fact discussed in the public media.

As problematic as is the spread of infectious disease by modern sexual practices, these hardly compare to the devastating social ills experienced by children born into the world devoid of a stable family in which love reigns supreme. I refer to single parent homes, latch-key kids, homeless children living on the streets. But it is not the children alone who suffer, for so, too, do the men and women of society lacking meaningful, loving, stable life-long commitments and the support they may provide—all closely related to sexual disorientation. In fact, few living in this world today have not themselves felt a bit of that sting. We are all victims, if not ourselves, at least among our family and friends.

No! It is not just sexual disorientation that is destroying our society. Sex, any sex, occurring apart from a life-long monogamous, heterosexual commitment founded on self-sacrificing love is socially devastating to individual and societal health, or so it seems to me as I take a critical look at our world today from a health perspective.

Some of us respond to this problem judgmentally, blaming those involved in such “unacceptable” practices (about the same proportion of us accept it as the norm in our modern progressive society).

Whatever our thoughts regarding this issue it may be well to look at a few important considerations regarding sexual disorientation. The birth of a true hermaphrodite is a very rare event. To be born with mixed sexual organs such that it may be difficult to determine the gender is not as rare. More common still are those born with the physical characteristics on one gender but the mind of the other—even sometimes, with evidence of actual changes in the brains of those so oriented (while this latter evidence may be difficult to prove, it must enter into our consideration). All of these together account for only a fraction of the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, trans-gendered) community, most of whom lack definite physical characteristics consonant with their feelings, desires and drives.

We know that the human body is powerfully influenced by our hormones. Sex hormones, whether produced in the body in deficient or excessive quantities, or in unbalanced proportions, may change physical characteristics and mental responses. Sex hormone levels may be altered by many factors including stress, whether emotional or physical; prescribed as pills or injections or obtained from a contaminated environment. That such environmental influences actually exist is easily demonstrated by gender changes present in some lower animal species.

Modern society itself may have a powerful effect upon one’s identity, including one’s sexual identity. A mother, no matter how capable and determined, cannot provide the role model of a strong father to a child – or a father a role model for a missing mother. The problem is even greater when that single parent is busy making a living and unable to provide quality time and guidance to the child. While not limited to single parent homes, sexual abuse, from any source often functions as a powerful influence on sexual orientation and expression.

Epi-genetics, a rapidly developing new science, may help to explain the influence of the GLBT community in confusing the gender of so many in our society. From these studies we learn that the expression of our genes may be modified by external influences. Almost certainly the attention the activist GLBT community is receiving from the press is having its effect upon the present generation.

Nor should we forget the powerful influence of the media on the thoughts and acts of our children—and ourselves!

Considering all of these influences it should not seem strange that so many are confused regarding their true sexual identity. Nor should any be judgmental regarding those struggling with sexual identity problems. We all have a part in this. We are all part of the matrix of society responsible for its origin and progression. Yes! Even those of us who claim to be Christian! All of us are sinners saved by grace!

While some of us may be quick to point fingers at the GLBT community, our heterosexual practices are nothing to be proud of when compared to the standard for families established by the God who created us. Few in today’s society can claim purity of thought, word and deed in our sexual experiences, whether GLBT or “Straight!”

The truth is, we live in a terribly sin-sick world. And while this might seem bad enough, we seem to be content with the state we are in.

In many ways we differ little from those times in the past during which our loving God looked down upon the earth and concluded the necessity to do something. As it was before the flood, before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, before Israel was destroyed and captives taken to Babylon and so many other little known or unrecognized times in history, so is it in our world today. When a society, any society, becomes so sick that there is no remedy and no desire for a remedy, a loving God must respond for the sake of the faithful, the repentant and the innocent members of His family.

Though President Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage is certainly an indicator of the status of our entire society and of our rejection of God’s plan for the preservation of the human family it is not yet the law of the land. When same-sex marriage and the exchange of the first day of the week for God’s Holy Sabbath day are finally written into the law of the land—evidence of our rejection of both pillars of His law--love for God and love for man--the doom of planet earth will have been sealed. No longer will God be able to hold back the consequences of our irresponsibility in regards to respecting His laws that guarantee life.

As in ancient Nineveh God gladly withheld judgment in response to city-wide repentance, He must long to do so again for us. There is still time for us, corporately and individually. Will we observe the warning signs all around us and turn to Him in repentance and reform? Or will we blindly continue our obstinacy unto total destruction? It is our call!

Hits: 1171 1 Comment
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

 

May 9, 2012

Can we be too clean?

We use antibacterial soap to wash our hands, to bathe, to wash our dishes and our fresh food before eating it. We are careful to prevent the baby’s pacifier from falling on the floor or being shared with Pixie, the pet dog. And surely our little ones should not play on the dirty floor. Our family physician insists that the kids get all of the recommended immunizations. And we, ourselves, are encouraged (or required) to use hand cleansers most every time we turn around--or so it seems.

For a number of years we have observed an apparent increase in the incidence of asthma and other chronic diseases in the children of this generation. This has led some medical professionals to suggest that it was because our children today are too clean.

A recent report from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School demonstrates that mice raised in a germ-free environment accumulate a certain type of white blood cells (invariant Natural Killer Cells) in the lungs and colon that result in an increase in inflammation in these organs. Similar accumulation of these cells in humans is linked to asthma and ulcerative colitis.

Interestingly, when these germ-free mice were exposed to bacteria soon after birth, they did not accumulate the inflammation causing white blood cells in the lungs and colon, and did not get asthma or colitis later in life—But this was true only if they experienced exposure to bacteria very early in infancy.

While baby mice and baby humans may not look alike or act alike, the findings of this research certainly suggests that something similar may occur in humans, and that perhaps we should worry a bit less about cleanliness and sterility with our babies.

In fact, other studies in children have suggested that the many immunizations that we are giving to our children may also have an adverse effect on the development of the immune system and thereby reducing their ability to fight off infectious--and possibly some other diseases.

Oh! That life might be so simple! Unfortunately, even as I write a report in another medical journal expresses concern about a world-wide increase in measles cases and associated deaths. This in spite of the fact that just a very few years ago measles was almost completely eliminated by an aggressive world-wide immunization campaign.

So it seems as if we are between the devil and the deep blue sea! We are doomed if we protect our kids, and doomed if we don’t—or so it seems sometimes. And while it is true that we live in a very complex world alive with many aggressive and antibiotic resistant microorganisms, there are many things we can do to avert or markedly reduce our health concerns, whether from infectious diseases or other causes.

In addition to health promoting lifestyle practices nearly everyone knows (but few follow), we may keep out bodies and the bodies of our children healthy and disease resistant. Furthermore, water, inside and out, is still one of the best medicines we possess to prevent and treat illness. Furthermore, it has almost no dangerous side effects. A bit of vinegar or lime juice works very well for cleansing those natural foods that can’t be obtained from our own gardens. And while we concentrate upon living a simpler and more natural life style as described in HEALTH SMART (and many other good sources), it is always good to keep open wide the communication channels with heaven where our dearest friend stands ever ready to hear and answer our honest and sincere prayers.

Hits: 1170 0 Comments
0

 

A few years ago I was covering for a surgeon in a mid west rural hospital, taking emergency surgical calls from the Emergency Department and seeing some of his follow-up patients in the out-patient clinic. One of these patients had been bleeding from some unknown place in the gastrointestinal track—always a challenging diagnostic problem. But thanks to developing new technology, this patient had been given a small capsule to swallow within which was a very small camera that continuously broadcast a digital view of the inside of the gut from the stomach all the way to the anus to a censor on the abdominal wall. At the time, the medical community viewed this as a very important advance in health care.

During my surgical training we still checked blood pressure and pulse rate during anesthesia by the now old fashioned blood pressure cuff and a finger on the pulse. Oxygen levels were checked by watching the color of the eyelids, lips and fingernails and most everything else was done by nothing more than a bit of a “hunch” and a lot of experience. Today with the help of digital technology we continuously monitor blood pressure, pulse, oxygen and CO2 levels, electrical activity of the heart and brain as well as blood sugar levels and many other things. It is a different world than it was even ten years ago—and not just in the operating suite.

I remember the night I walked into the hospital emergency department to see a patient and requested an emergency X-ray and reading by a radiologist. While waiting for the radiologist to arrive and view the completed films, a report of the findings was placed in my hand—read by the radiologist from home on his computer. No longer is it necessary for him to come in the middle of the night to interpret critical X-ray findings on ill or injured patients. Even now we are developing robotic techniques that permit the surgeon to operate from a computer console on a patient in another room, a different city, on the open sea, or yes, even potentially, in space.

Digitization is rapidly opening up new horizons of medical care, but it is not the only new tool that is also beginning to make serious inroads to new ways of doing health care. Genomics is now the eye catcher in the daily news. It all began with the discovery of DNA only about 60 years ago. It was given a mighty boost with the mapping of the human genome. It is now already changing the way we create and administer medications and prevent and treat many chronic diseases, matching our genes to the available medications, or designing medications to match our genes. But the day is not far hence when we will be able to plant tiny sensors in various places in the body that will be able to detect the very beginning of a disease process, whether the first cell of a potential killing cancer, the first sign of developing diabetes, the first indication of developing arthritis and who knows what else. It is coming, and many of its possibilities are already here.

Yes, medical care is changing rapidly. Is this a good thing? Can we afford it? Who stands to benefit?

Already the cost of our health care is bankrupting our entire economy while nearly one third of the citizens in America are without regular access to it. Perhaps even more disconcerting is the fact that as a society we are becoming progressively more and more dependent upon expensive high tech care while largely ignoring the knowledge we have for preventing illness in the first place.

Perhaps equally disconcerting is the high rate of complications and mortality associated with high tech pharmaceuticals and procedures when compared to simple, well tested lifestyle practices and simple home remedies in preventing and treating many common ills. Yes, life expectancy has until recently been increasing, a fact we often attribute, though mostly erroneously, to our high tech capabilities. While it may be true that high tech contributes to even the longest living societies among us, a health promoting life style seems to be a vastly greater contributor to long life than high tech affords.

Nor have we even mentioned quality of life! For of what value are a few extra days, months or years void of health, a loving family and the blessings of faith in the One who created us, redeemed us, sustains us and is ready and waiting to save us from this world of disappointment, sickness and often unimaginable pain?

Should these not take priority in our lives to day?

Hits: 1274 0 Comments
0

 

Do you have kidney stones? Recent research tells us you need to increase your dietary calcium intake. While it doesn’t seem to make sense to take more calcium when your body already has too much and is turning it into stones, Dr. Matthew D. Sorensen, assistant professor of Urology at the University of Washington says that is the right thing to do.

Dr. Sorensen and colleagues discovered that as one increases the calcium intake (whether in food or from supplements), less calcium is absorbed into the body. Likewise, the lower the intake, the more calcium is absorbed that may contribute to stone formation .

Therefore, if you have had kidney stones or are at high risk of developing them it is recommended that you increase your calcium intake (whether from food or supplement, but always taken with food), increase fluid intake, decrease salt intake and reduce animal protein intake (dairy, eggs and flesh foods).

Some may be concerned that these recommendations may have a negative effect on osteoporosis. This does not appear to be a problem. Management of osteoporosis includes adequate calcium intake; Vitamin D supplementation is essential; exercise; stop smoking if a smoker and eliminate alcohol.

These findings and recommendations are based upon careful studies on more than 5,000 post menopausal women with osteoporosis.

Hits: 1186 0 Comments
0

An aspirin a day decreases risk of heart attacks, prevents cancer and even reduces the risk of distant spread. And of course, we all know that aspirin relieves pain. Aspirin, the magical medicine! Or is it?

Peter M. Rothwell, MD, PhD, of the United Kingdom recently reported on observational trials in the Lancet Medical Journal demonstrating that patients that took an aspirin daily had significantly fewer deaths from cancer compared to patients that had not used aspirin.

But not so fast! An editorial in the same journal written by Andrew T, Chan, MD, MPH and Nancy R. Cook, ScD, of Harvard Medical School in Boston write that though the British study is “compelling,” there are some problems that may very well negate the apparent benefit of the aspirin.

Furthermore, they note that in two other much larger studies covering a longer period of time, the Women’s Health Study and the Physicians’ Health Study, failed to show a lower risk of either cancer of the colon and rectum or a decreased incidence of mortality.

Never-the-less, and even when considering the significant risks of daily aspirin use, other  randomized trials by the same British researchers report significant reduction in occurrence, metastases  and mortality from colon and a number of other cancers.  All of which is to say that it is too soon to recommend that everyone begin taking an aspirin a day, but the day may come when that may very well  be the case. 

But I would be amiss to end the discussion here for there is ample evidence that a plant based diet may be even more effective for preventing heart disease and cancer (as well as a number of other common diseases) than aspirin--and without the dangerous side effects.

Hits: 1152 0 Comments
0

 

Better Care, Better Health, Lower Costs!!!!

It sounds great! Better care, better health, and this at a lower cost! Who could fault this aim? As reported in the March 1, 2012 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, the largest health care insurer in the U.S., The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, believe this may be accomplished by a plan known as “Goal-Oriented Patient Care.”

The aim of the plan is to create an environment where the patient and the doctor identify the patient’s preferences, needs, and values and then work together to find the most effective way of fulfilling the identified objectives. While many physicians would claim to be doing this already, with the ever increasing complexity of modern high-tech health care, patients often feel left out of the decision making process. The thing a physician might suggest, urge, or sometimes even push a bit to convince a patient to accept for a given diagnosis is not necessarily the thing the patient might choose were he/she to know and understand all of the options.

A goal-oriented approach provides for giving sufficient information to the patient that he/she can express their desires to the health care provider who then helps the patient choose those measures that best fulfill the patient’s desires. The example might be given of a patient that chooses not to have surgery for a potentially curable cancer rather than to face a significant risk of dying (or long term disability) as a complication of the operation. Some physicians would have difficulty accepting this decision, knowing that the patient might very well recover without experiencing the feared complications and live a long and useful life. A goal-oriented approach ideally would yield to the patient’s desires, needs and values.

It is assumed that such a goal-oriented approach will also reduce costs as many patients will presumably choose to forego many of the procedures and regimens presently contributing to the health-care crisis occurring in this country and elsewhere around the world.

But there are problems. There is often a monumental rift between the desires of the patient and the better judgment of the physician who understands the cost benefit ratio of the expressed desires (demands) of the patient. Does every sprained knee require an MRI or every chest pain need an angiogram and stents, as some patients might request? The problem becomes even more difficult when the physician (or other care giver) is “controlled” by the demands of his/her employing organization, or because of the heavy patient load does not have the time required to fully answer the patients questions and deal the their indecisions.

While the goal-oriented approach to health care sounds great, it is in reality a “pie in the sky” so long as society continues to demand that everything that can possibly be done is done for every ill whether small or large, rather than to make those life-style changes that have the proven potential of preventing or significantly delaying illness and premature death.

“HEALTH SMART a rational no-nonsense practical approach to health” was published to help people take control for their own health through lifestyle modification and by applying simple but practical self-care measures at home—thus avoiding many unavoidable risks associated with modern health care—and much of the cost.

Please feel free to comment or to ask questions of common interest subjects.

Hits: 2798 2 Comments
0

 

Sugar! A poison like alcohol and nicotine?

Is sugar a poison?

Is water a poison?

Our world (not only the western world) is suffering from obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and many other diseases at the same time that the per diem intake of sugar and high fructose corn syrup are increasing. Many scientists studying this relationship are convinced! And many are making the case that sugar is a significant poison contributing to both acute and chronic disease processes.

In fact, given the evidence, it is difficult to refute the concerns!

But is it true?

Undoubtedly it is true! Truth be known, every substance known to man is poisonous—if taken in sufficient amounts. It is a matter of degree. Poisons such as cyanide, ricin, nicotine and mushroom toxins may kill with a very small dose, but even water, if given enough, will kill its victim.

Americans are now consuming 90 pounds of refined sugars per person per year. That is a lot of sugar! And America is not the only place where huge amounts of sugar are consumed.

But sugar is not the only item of food in our diet used in excess. Refined oils and fats are also consumed (often combined with sugar) in large amounts.

There seems little question that these food items taken in the quantities presently consumed in America and many other places around the globe must be a major contributor of the present epidemic of obesity and metabolic syndrome and related diseases.

The answer! It is well known! Whole, unrefined foods of plant origin; fruit, nuts, vegetables, greens, legumes (peas, beans, etc.), whole grains, seeds and similar foods provide the very best balance of vital nutrients available for human health.  These when combined with a regular exercise program balanced with proper rest and sleep, ample quantities of pure water, exposure to an abundance of fresh air and sunlight and stress control made possible by faith in our loving God are practices of proven value in realizing the very best of health and happiness for the longest possible time.

Rather than fretting about the poisonous properties of excessive intake of sugars, fats and other refined foods, why not begin now to educate and apply for yourself and your family those practices that give one the very best?

You will find an abundance of information for making the transition within the pages of HEALTH SMART, and helps for dealing with other health care needs that may arise along the way.

Hits: 1280 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

The challenges of palliative care

I was recently contacted by the social worker of a rehabilitation center informing me that I had been named as having the Power of Attorney for a former patient (and friend)’s end of life health care. This call came as a surprise to me since, if I had ever been requested to perform this role, I had lost it from my memory bank.

In responding to the trust the patient placed in me, I have been brought face to face with some of the dilemmas confronting one’s decision to claim the right to choose those measures to be applied when one is no longer able to act as one’s own agent. Please permit me to describe some of the more difficult one’s.

1.     Was I truly the intended power of attorney?  Another couple believed they were assigned this responsibility, claiming a more recent legal document declaring same. What role therefore must I play while sorting through the legal papers and finding no reference to the “more recent” directives. Meanwhile, care givers struggle to know how to proceed with care appropriate to the patient’s wishes.

2.     Who indeed had the final authority for executing the patient’s directives when opinions vary: the care givers who have been providing the care until this point (doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, rehab centers, etc. each of whom have taken vows to render the best care possible to those patients coming under their care!) or the person legally (probably) authorized to perform this role.

3.     Though many people are beginning to recognize what they consider the futility of attempts to extend vital functions long after meaningful life has ended not everyone nor every care giver is able to do so. For these it may be considered a serious sin, or at the least, a moral concession to permit one to die without the latest technological advances possible. If in responsible leadership positions, this may pose a serious challenge to overcome.

4.     This dilemma becomes even more trying when the closest family and friends are required to execute directives with which they may not agree, or even if in agreement, watch helplessly by without acting when aggressive medical care could very possibly extend vital functions for an indefinite length of time.

5.     Even when there is complete agreement with family and caregivers, very difficult challenges remain in judging when a new problem should be treated aggressively (for comfort) or ignored and let nature take its course even thought that might be a prolonged and uncomfortable experience.

6.     While healthcare decisions as noted above may prove real challenges, the issues may become even more difficult when dealing with uncertain financial directives. Who pays the bills, authorizes services and keeps the creditors at bay until such time as it may be determined who has the authority to gain access to any financial reserves that may have been intended for this purpose?

7.     Most of us are not aware of the work involved when accepting the role of Power of Attorney when asked. What happens when they discover the extent of involvement required and are unable or unwilling to fulfill the role?

Important lessons we all need to learn!

1.     Everyone should have carefully prepared directives for end of life care.

2.     These directives must be legally and properly prepared, signed and notarized.

3.     They must be reviewed periodically and, if changes are desired, these changes must again be legally and properly signed and notarized.

4.     Some responsible person, a relative, a current friend or the assigned Power of Attorney, must know where to find all documents necessary to fulfill his/her obligation and have legal access to those documents. Ideally, the person designated to fulfill these directives should be kept informed regarding the location of all documents and contact information for all attorneys or others who have advised and drawn up the documents.

5.     If more than one legal counsel has been involved in preparing the various documents, these, with current contact information must be readily available.

Hits: 1177 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

Response to a letter from Shin

Good day! I just have some questions about charcoal medicine.
These are my questions:  What are the different types of woods that can be used for charcoal medicine?
How can charcoal treat illnesses?
Is there any side effects in taking charcoal medicine?
Thank you so much! your answers will help me a lot.
God bless.

Dear Shin,

Your questions about charcoal are appropriate and timely for a number of
reasons. Modern high-tech health care is expensive and often not available
to those that need it most. Nor is it free from complications. Furthermore,
we are living in troublous times when modern high-tech health care is often
unavailable for many reasons. One needs to know what useful alternatives are
available and how to use them.

Though charcoal is not the ONE simple answer to every healthcare need, it is
a very effective agent with many applications as may become more evident by
the answers to your specific questions given below.

Charcoal may be made from many different kinds of wood, but hardwoods work
the best. Oak, hickory, and eucalyptus are commonly used, but cocoanut
shells, grape vines and other woody materials also work. The charcoal is the
carbon that remains after most of the other components are removed by
burning or heating. It is the hard, black material (not the ash!) that
remains when a hot fire is quenched (put out). While charcoal thus obtained by
scraping it from partially burned wood may be crushed or ground up and used
as medicine, "activated" charcoal is much more effective. Activated charcoal
is produced by a controlled burning process of wood that is then "activated" at high
temperatures in the presence of oxidizing gas, steam, etc. It is available
from many pharmacies, health food stores, etc, in various preparations and
in bulk-sized containers.

Charcoal "works" by attracting many kinds of molecules (including toxins or
poisons) to its surface and capturing them there by a process known as
aDsorption (not aBsorption!). The illustration is sometimes given of a sheet
of paper that may be crumpled up into a tight wad. It surface area will
adsorb the molecules to it. Now, if you open up that wad of paper so that
the molecules can come into contact with its entire wrinkled surface you
have a picture of activated charcoal. Whereas the wad of paper may have a
surface area of about 200 square centimeters it may be expanded to about
1,000 when opened up. So with the activation of charcoal.

The primary function of charcoal as medicine is to draw toxins (poisons) out
of the body and bind them to the charcoal. This is why charcoal is the
standard first treatment used in emergency departments for people who have
ingested poisonous substances, either accidentally or intentionally.

Many highly toxic substances are effectively treated with charcoal including such
things as narcotics, caffeine, nicotine, aspirin, mushroom poison, most
poisonous plants, and many other substances. It is not very effective for
petroleum products, caustic agents, iron, salt and a number of other
troublesome substances.

In addition to toxins one may eat, drink or in some other way introduce into
the body (bites and stings of poisonous creatures), they may also be
produced in the body by bacteria and other infections as well as by normal
body processes such as in digesting food, breaking down medications for
elimination, etc.

Cholera is a good example of an infectious agent. The cholera bacterium produces a toxin that reacts upon the intestine causing
diarrhea and the loss of huge quantities of liquid (water). Treatment of
cholera then consists of eliminating the toxin and replacing the lost fluid.
While antibiotics may kill the bacteria and stop toxin production, charcoal
will help to eliminate the large amounts of toxin already present. While
cholera may be an extreme example, most infections are associated with
toxins that cause or contribute to the symptoms. Because of the many kinds
of toxins, the many sources of toxins, and the power of charcoal to
eliminate these toxins better than any other substance known to science, it
is often recommended for medical care.

Charcoal is not poisonous. There is no significant risk of overdosing,
though too much given too rapidly might cause vomiting and possible
aspiration into the lungs of a very sick or obtunded patient, so caution
must be exercised. Large doses may also cause constipation and should be
used cautiously if the bowels are obstructed by any cause. Given for
inappropriate indications (iron, gasoline, etc.) it may prevent the use of
the appropriate medical care with possible fatal consequences.

Charcoal may be used as a medicine given by mouth, by enema, by charcoal
compresses, charcoal baths and by many other imaginative ways.

As great as charcoal is as a medicine, everyone should have ready access to
the telephone number of the poison control center in your area ( U.S. 800
222 1222) and should consult the center promptly when there is any question
at all about the effectiveness of charcoal for the toxin in question. In
addition, professional help from trained medical personnel is always to be
recommended for any poisoning or possible poisoning.

For further discussion and instructions regarding use, please refer to the
chapter in HEALTH SMART about charcoal. Access to this material may be
obtained by registering at
www.aplaceofhealing.info for a suggested donation
for a copy of the book that includes unlimited On-line free access to the
entire contents of the book, or by one time access to the On-line material
for a suggested donation. It is the intent of the sponsors of this web site
that the material in this book be available to anyone anywhere regardless of
one's economic status. Some will not be able to make the full suggested
donation. Others will be able to give much more.


Hits: 1313 0 Comments
0

Vitamin and mineral supplements kill!

A report in the October 10, 2011 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine concludes that supplemental vitamins and minerals may not be all they are trumped up to be. In fact, according the study leading to this report, women between the ages of 55 and 69 that used supplements of multivitamins, vitamin B6, folic acid and the minerals of iron, magnesium, copper and zinc were at increased risk of death as compared those that did not use these supplements. Calcium was an exception associated with reduced risk of death.

While this news may appear disconcerting, it is not new news. Medical literature has demonstrated for years the potential harmful effects of supplemental micronutrients. For example, diets high in natural levels of beta carotene are beneficial in preventing lung cancer, yet, when beta carotene was given to patients with lung cancer, it had a negative effect on the cancer.

While we need not, and should not condemn all supplements based upon studies such as these suggesting a negative effect on health, it should cause us to exercise wise caution in using them. Experience and medical research confirm the vast benefits of lifestyles that include ample amounts of natural, unrefined foods of plant origin. This is believed by many of us to be the ideal. But there are exceptions for even these. Availability, food intolerances, certain medical conditions and many other lifestyle factors may require supplemental vitamins, minerals and other supplements in order to experience optimum health. But as a rule, the closer the diet comes to the ideal, the less need for most supplements. Vitamin B12 is an exception to most vegans, vegetarians and many elderly. Such high risk groups should at the least obtain periodic blood levels if not using B12 supplements on a regular basis. Vitamin D is probably correctly recommended by those people who live in northern climes where sun exposure to the skin is limited and those spending most of their lives indoors—and perhaps some others. In spite of the above reported findings, women of child bearing age should be certain they are obtaining ample amounts of folic acid, a deficiency of which is very detrimental to early fetal development.

While the evidence that supplemental vitamins and minerals are detrimental must still be considered somewhat limited, wisdom indicates that would we wish to live long and healthy lives, we will emphasize beneficial lifestyle practices over supplements in most instances.

Hits: 1136 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

Who need to be immunized?

            Few health care issues of modern society create more heat and less light than the issue of immunizations. On one side of the debate we find public health officials responsible for the health of society. On the other side are those individuals that express deep concern for the risks associated with vaccines used in immunization.

            Undoubtedly, there are valid concerns from both positions. Immunizations are not risk free, and even in a free society there is a role for defenders of the common good.

            It is not my intent to enter into this conflict in this blog, but I believe it is important that a few essential bits of information be kept in mind.

            There was a day when small pox killed millions, often wiping out almost the entire communities. That was before my day, and as a child, I was glad to get scratched and needle pricks on my left arm to prevent ever contracting that dread disease. And though immunizations were available for whooping cough, diphtheria and tetanus (lock jaw) we were poor people and did not have them until some years later. We were the victims of whooping cough. I can still remember my dad dipping the spoon deep in the jar of skunk grease--the remedy he provided to try to quell the incessant cough—and asking me to open my mouths! Yes, the fat gleaned from those smelly little animals. Dreadful! All of us brothers and sisters suffered with mumps, measles, rubella, chicken pox, and scarlet fever—and have experienced some of the life-long consequences of those dread diseases. And though we were among the fortunate ones to escape the devastating effects of polio, many of our friends and extended family members were not so fortunate. And no one living at the time will forget the sigh of relief that ascended heavenward when it was announced that a vaccine was finally available to prevent it.

            We were fortunate, too, to escape ever getting lock jaw (tetanus), though we often stepped on nails and received injuries having high risk. Whenever we received any high risk wounds, our mother poured ‘Lysol’ into a pan of hot water and soaked and scrubbed until we were clean. Perhaps that helped. But it was while serving in Africa that I saw the real burden of tetanus—among both new-born babies, children and adults.

            So while I claim to have an open mind about immunizations, you can see that my experience has colored my thinking. This I will not deny—while, yes, recognizing some risk from the immunizations themselves.

            There is one other comment that must be made in defense of the Public Health responsibility. In order for a contagious disease to be controlled in a society, a certain percentage of that population must be immunized. In general, that number is about 80%, for some contagious diseases a bit less, and for others, a much higher percentage. Because of an extensive worldwide vaccination program small pox has been completely eliminated. Because of the work of the World Health Organization, polio was nearly wiped out—except for some areas in Africa where superstitions prevented cooperation with the program. As a consequence, polio is again ravaging the lives of children and adults in Africa, India and some other areas of the world.

            Have we gone overboard with our immunizations? Perhaps yes! Perhaps no! But though I may not sense the need to be vaccinated for a particular serious disease, love and concern for my fellow men may “drive” me to accept to protect a brother or sister, neighbor or friend from crippling illness or premature death. Sometimes it is a debt of love I owe.

 

Hits: 1150 0 Comments
0

12/10/11

2011 is going down in the record books as the most costly in terms of dollars and lives maimed and lost by natural disasters that America has ever experienced. During every month of this past year there has been at least one major disaster including winds, rain, snow and floods, drought, fires, earth quakes and all the rest. Many other areas of the world have suffered similar events.

So far this year in America alone there have been more than 1,000 weather related fatalities and innumerable injuries and medical emergencies. The Red Cross has responded to 131 disaster relief operations and opened more than 1,000 shelters.

According to the national Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the total cost from the damage of these disasters exceeds an unprecedented $50 billion.

Global warming is only one of the many theories attempting to account for this apparent increase in Nature’s fury. Certainly we cannot discount our relative disregard for caring for this world we live in as a contributing factor. Unfortunately, there is no indication of a lessening of this trend for the future. Nor does Bible prophecy support such optimism. In fact, we have been forewarned of just such events toward the end of earth history. (See the 24th chapter of the Bible book of Matthew as one important example.)

Our disaster relief agencies have done an excellent job of responding to these emergencies. They cannot be faulted. Yet, even they have not been able to prevent and care for much of the suffering and many of the fatalities that have occurred.

Knowing the times in which we are living and the increasing trends of not only natural disasters but of violence and various other forms of unexpected illness, injury and death, we would all be well advised to prepare as best we can to prevent and/or reduce the effects of such unpredictable events knowing that medical facilities and personal will not always be available to care for our needs.

It was for times just such as these that the book, HEALTH SMART was published. It is a handy guide for caring for oneself, one’s family, neighbor and friend when health care is not available, not affordable or for some other reason inaccessible. Every family would be wise to not only keep a copy on hand for emergencies, but to actually study and learn to apply its contents for ready application when the need arises.

Hits: 1142 0 Comments
0

As a physician, I have been educated and trained to relieve pain and save life, utilizing whatever tools may be available to do so. With the development during the past 5 or 6 decades of super high tech capabilities, we, as physicians, and you, as patients, have sometimes deceived ourselves into thinking that nothing is more important than to sustain life until the last cell of our bodies has died. Believing this, we have come (both we the caregivers and you the patients) to the place where we feel obligated to do whatever might extend that life for even a few days or moments more of life—with no consideration of cost, whether of finances or of suffering and pain. As a consequence, a large share of our health care costs occur in the last month of life; they account for the majority of bankruptcies in America and are one of the major contributors to our out-of-control national debt. But even worse is the degree of pain and suffering experienced during those end-of-life experiences, what with innumerable vena punctures, endless invasive diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, trips back and forth for X rays, MRI;s, PET Scans, etc., etc.

A few years ago, some, noticing the futility of some of our practices, introduced the concept of Hospice care for those that were obviously going to die in spite of our best efforts to prolong life. It has been and continues to be a blessing to the dying and their families and loved ones. For good reasons, it has been limited to the last few weeks or months of life. But as great as it is, Hospice has nothing to offer those who may or may not have a terminal disease, but in spite of endless pain and suffering do not qualify for short term Hospice care.

Hence, today, Palliative Care has been given birth and is seeking to fill that void. According to recent statistics, 85% of hospitals with 300 or more beds and a lesser number of smaller hospitals have Palliative Care services, with these numbers increasing rapidly.

The objective of Palliative Care is to replace those practices and procedures that do nothing to contribute to quality of life with those primarily designed to relieve pain and suffering without so much focus upon length of life. Interestingly, an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Dec. 7, 2011) describes a study of 151 patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer with which life expectancy is usually less than one year that were given Palliative Care beginning early in their illness. These patients experienced less depression, higher scores on quality of life scale and lived longer than those patients given the usual treatment.

As a physician who has too often experienced first person witness to the use and abuse of end of life technology, Palliative Care is long overdue. Yes, for financial savings, but more importantly, for reducing what I have long viewed as something (though well intended) just a bit less than torture in our attempts to give a dying patient a few more days of life.

And, yes, there is certainly the potential for abuse to Palliative Care, too. In the interest of cost cutting, it will be easy to deceive ourselves into believing that our Palliative Care is benefiting the sick when, indeed, we are more interested in cutting our costs, forgetting the value of life.

Vigilance must be the “other” new buzz word of our day!

Hits: 1339 2 Comments

Posted by on in Health Smart

Strokes impair immune functions

More than 40% of people who have a stroke will die within a few weeks of the stroke or have long term disabilities. 20% of hospital deaths and serious complications following stroke are due to pneumonia caused by bacteria.

Recent scientific studies evaluating this problem suggests that injury to the brain (stroke in this instance) is associated with suppression of the immune system. In other words, injury to the brain interferes with those normal functions of the body that prevent infections, including pneumonia.

Most strokes are caused by uncontrolled high blood pressure, an embolus (blood clot) formed in an irregular beating heart that travels to the brain or atherosclerosis (blocked arteries to the brain by cholesterol deposits and associated inflammation)

Prevention is usually possible by controlling the blood pressure, controlling the rhythm of heart or by lifestyle factors and perhaps medications to lower damaging lipids (fats) in the blood.

What is most interesting in this research is the effect of injury to the brain on the immune processes of the body. If stroke has such detrimental effects, one must also consider that other injuries and affections of the brain might similarly interfere with one’s resistance to infections in the lungs and other parts of the body. These studies would seem to suggest this.

Two lessons are evident from this research.

1.       Lifestyle factors are very important in preventing stroke

2.       If one wishes to reduce the frequency and severity of infections, one would give attention to keeping the brain as healthy as possible by positive lifestyle practices and by avoiding (or managing) high stress levels and other forms of brain injury.

Hits: 1199 0 Comments
0

Posted by on in Health Smart

I'm excited to announce that we will soon have the addition of an active blog here at A Place of Healing.  Stay tuned, and subscribe to the blog (above) to know when we begin blogging.  Thank you for your support!

Hits: 1303 3 Comments
© Copyright 2010 by A Place of Healing.