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The Fatal Truth About Lyme Disease: What Everyone Should Know

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You have heard, and will hear, it time and time again: “Lyme disease is cured with a few weeks of antibiotics.” If this is the case, why are hundreds of thousands –if not more- suffering for years on end from the disease? According to the CDC, they are not, because chronic Lyme disease does not exist:

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“Approximately 10 to 20% of patients treated for Lyme disease with a recommended 2–4 week course of antibiotics will have lingering symptoms of fatigue, pain, or joint and muscle aches. In some cases, these can last for more than 6 months. Although often called “chronic Lyme disease,” this condition is properly known as “Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome. [1]”

For people suffering from Chronic Lyme, this statement is infuriating because they feel they are being told they are crazy; and also because pain, fatigue, and joint/muscle aches are often the least of their worries. Much more serious health complications arise from Lyme, and it is important that the public is aware of these symptoms. When looking at the bigger picture, the infuriating part is just how dangerous this statement is. If left untreated, Lyme disease can and will be fatal. That is the sad and often ignored truth.

Furthermore, it is estimated that only one out of every ten cases of Lyme disease is actually reported and that numerous individuals are misdiagnosed. In 2010 alone, state health departments reported 22,561 confirmed cases of Lyme disease and 7,597 probable cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The actual number is believed to be much higher than the yearly number of cases reported. One reason for this is due to the fact that reporting criteria varies from state to state; and most states take time to report only the minimum amount required. Still, the number of reported cases has increased 25-fold since national surveillance began in 1982 [4].

Of course it is three years later, but unfortunately 2010 is the most recent year researched. So if the number of reported Lyme cases was only continuing to increase at that time, and since there has been no evidence of a decrease in cases, it can only be assumed that the number of people with Lyme disease is appallingly higher at the present moment. There are so many angles to touch on this topic, so let’s start with the very basics because there are many, many people who do not so much as know what Lyme disease is, much less how you contract it.

What is Lyme disease?

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  • According to ‘Wikipedia’, “Lyme disease, Lyme borreliosis is an infectious disease caused by at least three species of bacteria belonging to the genus Borrelia [2].”
  •  In lay terms, Lyme disease is an infection from a tick bite.
  • Eloquently put by ‘Tired of Lyme’, “the non-technical term is what can truly depict Lyme disease best.  It involves aspects ranging from every angle of the lives of those affected including physical, mental and social. [3]”

Initial Symptoms

  • Bulls-eye rash is a definite positive of Lyme disease. However, only 50% of people with Lyme disease recall having a bulls-eye rash. The rash can also appear in bruise form depending on a person’s pigmentation. For example, a bruise that is blue/black on the outside, with a lighter color circle in the middle is a clear indication of Lyme disease. If you get to the doctor while you still have the rash, you have a better shot of getting treated right away and not having to deal with Chronic Lyme disease. As I will discuss later, testing is not always accurate, so getting to the doctor when you notice a bulls-eye rash is imperative.
  • Fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Muscle and joint aches/pain

The above symptoms describe the typical initial onset of Lyme disease. But what if you, or someone you know, miss the crucial time period in which those are the only symptoms? Unfortunately, there are over thirty other symptoms, each of which can mimic other diseases. This along with the fact that standard testing is only 30% percent accurate is why it is of the upmost importance for the public to be informed on, at the bare minimum, the basic truths behind Lyme disease.

Other Symptoms

  • Low grade fevers, “hot flashes” or chills
  • Night sweat
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen glands
  • Stiff neck
  • Migrating arthralgia’s, stiffness and frank arthritis
  • Myalgia
  • Chest pain and palpitations
  • Abdominal pain, nausea
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Poor concentration and memory loss
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Depression
  • Back pain
  • Blurred vision and eye pain
  • Jaw pain
  • Testicular/pelvic pain
  • Tinnitus
  • Vertigo
  • Cranial nerve disturbance (facial numbness, pain, tingling, palsy or optic neuritis)
  • Head aches
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Mysterious migrating symptoms that seem to come and go

Testing

A few blood tests are available for Lyme disease, but none are 100% accurate. The standard test is called an ELISA test. Oddly enough though, the ELISA is not based on the specific Lyme bacteria strain that is most beneficial for diagnostic testing. Therefor, the ELISA has a mere 30% accuracy rate. A negative reading can be meaningless, because false negatives are more common than not. A false positive is basically unheard of, so if you are lucky enough to test positive in the early stages it is a clear indication that you have the infection and need to start treatment right away. I use the term “lucky” here not because you are lucky if you have Lyme, but because you are lucky if you have Lyme and test positive early on. For many, it takes one pain-staking year after another before they are so much as introduced to the idea that they may possibly have Lyme disease. Another available, yet less administered, Lyme test is the Western Blot. While this test is slightly more reliable than the ELISA test, it is still faulty.

Doctors should not rely on test results alone to make a Lyme diagnosis because to date, a reliable test for the diagnosis of Lyme disease ceases to exist. Lyme doctors make a diagnosis based on a patient’s symptoms, medical history, and exposure to ticks –although that last one is not required, since ticks know no boundaries. Contrary to the popular statement that ticks are prevalent only in certain areas, the truth is you can walk outside your own front door and get bit.

If it all possible, it is best to get to a Lyme literate doctor if you believe you may have Lyme disease. This too also proves to be a difficult task, as many do not publicize that they specialize in Lyme disease due to legal reasons. To receive a list of Lyme literate practioners closest to you, email the ‘Tick Borne Disease Alliance’ at medicalinfo@tbdalliance.org.

Resources:

  1. http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/postLDS/
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyme_disease
  3. http://www.tiredoflyme.com/
  4. http://tbdalliance.org/getinformed/overview2

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Awareness

Some Doctors Claim Babies Should Share Their Mother’s Bed Until The Age Of 3

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A study involving 16 infants monitored the babies while they slept in their mother's bed. It's not the only study examining the benefits of close contact between mother and child shortly after birth.

  • Reflect On:

    How much of what we do today in a conventional way, especially with regards to childbirth, is the best way to do it?

When it comes to parenting, everyone seems to have an opinion, and rightfully so, especially if you are yourself a parent. But what about controversial topics? Is there a right or wrong way to raise your children? Are there certain things that you should or should not be doing? Of course, some things are more important than others. But new advice given by a paediatrician suggests children should sleep in bed with their mothers until they reach the age of three. 

Dr. Nils Bergman, from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, argues that for optimal development, healthy newborns should sleep on their mother’s chest for at least their first few weeks. After that, he believes they should stay in bed with mom and dad until they are three or even four years old.

Because there has been a lot of fear propaganda created around the risk of cot death — the notion that a parent might roll over and suffocate their child — co-sleeping is generally not advised, and in fact, a recently published British study found that almost two-thirds of the cases of SIDS occurred when the bed was being shared.

But, according to Dr.Bergman, “When babies are smothered and suffer cot deaths, it is not because their mother is present. It is because of other things: toxic fumes, cigarettes, alcohol, big pillows and dangerous toys.”

A study involving 16 infants monitored the babies while they slept in their mother’s bed. It found that the baby’s heart was under three times as much stress when he or she slept alone. While sleeping in a cot, they had a more disrupted sleep and their brains were less likely to cycle and transition between the two types of sleep, called active and quiet.

In the cots, only 6 of the 16 babies had any quiet sleep at all, and their sleep quality was much worse.

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Dr. Bergman continued to explain how changes to the brain that are brought on by stress hormones can actually make it more difficult to form relationships and close bonds later in life.

Another study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry monitored results from 73 premature infants receiving Kangaroo Care, or skin-to-skin contact with their mothers, and another three premature infants received standard incubator care. The subjects of the study were monitored over a 10-year period, and the results were as follows:

KC increased autonomic functioning (respiratory sinus arrhythmia, RSA) and maternal attachment behavior in the postpartum period, reduced maternal anxiety, and enhanced child cognitive development and executive functions from 6 months to 10 years. By 10 years of age, children receiving KC showed attenuated stress response, improved RSA, organized sleep, and better cognitive control. RSA and maternal behavior were dynamically interrelated over time, leading to improved physiology, executive functions, and mother–child reciprocity at 10 years.

The National Childbirth Trust supports bed sharing provided the parents have not been drinking, smoking, or using drugs, or if they are obese, chronically ill, or suffer from chronic exhaustion, all of which could cause them to roll over onto the baby or otherwise impact their health.

Overall, it’s a very controversial issue. Many swear by bed sharing, and it certainly used to be standard practice before cribs became so common and affordable. There are many upsides to this, but it is also important to be aware of and consider the potential dangers.

We all know babies need to be snuggled and cuddled and given love; they need to feel safe and secure, and how could they possibly feel this all alone in another room in a crib? When you actually think about it, it seems pretty backwards.

Every parent is just doing what they feel is best for their baby, but the opinions of others tend to get in the way. We’ve all heard those comments like, Oh you shouldn’t pick up that baby, you need to let them cry, they are going to have attachment issues, how are they going to develop their independence? Well, they are babies; they can’t care for themselves and they need to be taken care of. It is a natural urge for the mother to take care of her child.

What are your thoughts on this? Did you co-sleep with your child? Did you ever feel it was unsafe? Do you prefer your child to sleep in a crib? Let us know!

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Awareness

Yale Study Reveals 1 in 3 Drugs Have Safety Issues Even After FDA Approval

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association conducted by a team of researchers from Yale University discovered that nearly one in three drugs that the that the FDA tests and approves ends up having safety issues.

  • Reflect On:

    Are prescription drugs as safe as they're marketed to be?

In 2014, Harvard University stated that prescription drugs are the 4th leading cause of death, yet pharmaceutical companies continue to hide behind their profits and promote their products as safe. Doctors and even their patients are willing to turn a blind eye to many of the adverse side effects of drugs, opting for the “bandaid” effect they provide instead of seeking alternative treatments and preventative methods.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and conducted by a team of researchers from Yale University studied the effectiveness of the FDA’s drug approval process. The team discovered that nearly one in three drugs that the FDA tests and approves ends up having safety issues.

Research Finds Serious Issues With FDA Drug Approval Process

In order to establish whether or not pharmaceutical drugs are safe for consumers, the FDA implements drug testing and clinical trials. These trials typically test fewer than 1,000 patients over a short timeframe, usually around six months or less. The Yale researchers suggested that safety issues could only truly be detected if more patients were studied over a longer period of time, speaking to the ineffectiveness of the FDA’s testing.

To identify how to effectively determine any safety issues with pharmaceutical drugs, the Yale researchers studied data on new drugs approved between 2001 and 2010, with follow up through 2017. Their findings proved that approximately 32% of new drugs approved by the FDA had notable safety issues.

A shocking 71 of the 222 drugs approved within this timeframe were withdrawn, had a “black box” warning regarding the side effects, or required a safety announcement to the public about newfound risks. This begs the question: Why are these drugs being approved in the first place if they warrant so many safety concerns?

“That is very rarely a drug withdrawal, but more commonly a black box warning, or drug safety communication issued by the FDA to let physicians and patients know that new safety information has been determined,” explained Associate Professor of Medicine and Public Health Dr. Joseph Ross, who led the research team.

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The researchers also specified characteristics of pharmaceuticals that were more likely to pose a higher risk of safety issues to patients, including biologic therapies and drugs that were approved through the FDA’s accelerated approval pathway. The accelerated approval process often uses surrogate endpoints, which means that the researchers measured a factor other than survival, such as tumour size, to figure out whether the drugs should be approved.

“This [finding on surrogate endpoints] has the greatest relationship to policy today,” Ross further elaborated. “In the 21st Century Cures Act, there’s a push to have the FDA move to further support the use of surrogate markers … [but] they’re more likely to have concerns in the post-market setting.”

“While the administration pushes for less regulation and faster approvals, those decisions have consequences,” Ross stated. The Yale team’s previous studies exposed that the FDA approval process for drugs is much faster than that of other government organizations in Europe, which is interesting given the nature of the business in both countries. Prices of drugs are far higher in America than they are abroad, and Americans take a lot more drugs, meaning U.S. pharmaceutical companies make a lot more money.

The timing of this study is interesting too, as the FDA has been facing increased pressure lately to quicken the drug approval process. “It shows that there is the potential for compromising patient safety when drug evaluation is persistently sped up,” said Ross. “At the very least, the study should inform ongoing debate about premarket drug evaluation,” the researchers concluded.

Dr. Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness, weighed in on the study, commending the researchers for their work. “It’s important to keep in mind that the post-approval safety issues cover the spectrum from relatively minor to serious,” Alexander said.

“A good next step would be to dig into the extremely serious safety problems, determine whether the FDA could have flagged them sooner and how they might have been missed,” he continued.

“All too often, patients and clinicians mistakenly view FDA approval as [an] indication that a product is fully safe and effective,” Alexander explained. “Nothing could be further from the truth. We learn tremendous amounts about a product only once it’s on the market and only after use among a broad population.”

Dr. Alexander makes a great point: Just because a drug is approved by the FDA, doesn’t mean it’s safe. In an ideal world, FDA approval would mean that the drug is entirely safe to use, but the reality is that the testing is not extensive enough to even determine the safety of the drug, let alone guarantee it.

Far too often, people place their doctors and health care practitioners on pedestals and fail to conduct their own research. Though I am not qualified to professionally advise anyone on their health, I certainly do not trust everything that my doctor recommends, which is largely because no doctor knows everything there is to know about health. It’s up to you to figure out your own health, not your doctor.

Though doctors can provide wonderful advice and can help immensely when diagnosing and treating illnesses, they can also drastically hinder your health. However, that’s not necessarily their fault, it’s often yours. The onus is on you to conduct your own research, get multiple professional opinions if need be, and ensure you are making informed decisions.

Further Proof of Misconduct at the FDA

In journalism, embargo refers to a “back-room deal” in which journalists and their sources agree not to publish an article prior to a specific date or time. The FDA goes one step further by implementing a “closely held embargo,” which gifts the organization complete control over all new FDA information privy to exposure for the American public.

The FDA’s use of the “close embargo” reveals that the institution likely wants to prevent reporters from leaking information. The biggest concern seems to be that, when officials begin giving the go-ahead for this special access, it makes it much easier for the agency to prevent stories they don’t like from being exposed.

The FDA hinders the public’s right to know about scientific fraud and misconduct as well. In an article for Slate wrote:

For more than a decade, the FDA has shown a pattern of burying the details of misconduct. As a result, nobody ever finds out which data is bogus, which experiments are tainted, and which drugs might be on the market under false pretenses. The FDA has repeatedly hidden evidence of scientific fraud not just from the public, but also from its most trusted scientific advisers, even as they were deciding whether or not a new drug should be allowed on the market. Even a congressional panel investigating a case of fraud regarding a dangerous drug couldn’t get forthright answers. For an agency devoted to protecting the public from bogus medical science, the FDA seems to be spending an awful lot of effort protecting the perpetrators of bogus science from the public.

You can read more about that in the following CE article:

FOIA Investigation Unearths Documents Showing How The FDA  Manipulates Media & Science Press

The FDA also works hand-in-hand with pharmaceutical companies, which you can read about in the following CE article:

Merck & The FDA Caught ‘Fast Tracking’ The Approval Of HPV Gardasil Vaccine Without Scientific Approval

To make matters worse, pharmaceutical companies also hold close ties to doctors, which you can learn about here:

This Website Tells You How Much Big Pharma Pays Your Doctor To Prescribe Drugs

To be clear, 128,000 people die every year in the U.S. from drugs prescribed to them, which is being done under the approval of the FDA and doctors. The reality is, drug companies make a lot of money from selling prescriptions, and so do those involved with them, including doctors.

At the end of the day, the medical industry is a booming business, one that thrives off sick people. These companies actually benefit when their drugs cause adverse effects, because they then have additional reasons to sell you even more drugs. The system is designed to help you in one way, and then disadvantage you in another. In essence, they want you healthy, but not too healthy, and until we educate ourselves and take control of our health, we will continue to perpetuate this cycle.

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Awareness

Intermittent Fasting Is Great, But Alternate-Day Fasting Is Having A Big Impact On My Body

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    I started alternate day fasting a few months ago. I've lost a healthy chunk of fat from my body and my weight has stabilized. Fasting is a great way to boost your health and help your body utilize its fat stores.

  • Reflect On:

    The science of fasting is very interesting, and it shows that fasting can be used as a therapeutic intervention for multiple diseases and/or to simply be healthier. Is it ignored by medicine because it doesn't generate a profit?

Several years ago I remember coming across an old study from 2013 about caloric restriction, emphasizing how it extends life span and prevents as well as helps to reverse several age-related diseases in a variety of species. This was very intriguing to me, especially given the fact that humans have been bombarded with the idea that we need to eat at least three meals a day, plus snacks in order to be healthy and fit. Fast forward to today, and fasting has become quite popular, and this is thanks to a wealth of research that’s emerged showing that not only caloric restriction, but fasting, has a number of health benefits.

Fasting has been shown to extend life, protect against neurodegenerative and age-related diseases, ‘starve’ certain cancer cells, reverse and manage type two diabetes, trigger new stem cell generation and help people lose weight. If done for a long enough time, although we don’t quite know exactly how long, fasting also actives autophagy, the body’s self-cleaning system, which allows the cell to get rid of old cell machinery, breaking them down into smaller parts to be reused by the cell. Fasting stimulates the production of ketone bodies in the blood, which have also been shown to have a number of benefits and is one of many mechanisms by which fasting benefits the body.

Fasting Is Beneficial

When you eat food, that food is converted into glycogen which your body then burns. When you fast, your body uses up stored fat for energy after its glycogen reserves are depleted, and the process of the body switching from burning glucose to efficiently burning fat is something that seems to have been built into our biology, meaning we are designed to go short, or even prolonged periods of time without any food, and that this ‘stress’ on the body actually benefits us in many ways.

There is absolutely no evidence that, for the average person, fasting can be dangerous. In fact, all evidence points to the opposite. If you’re on prescription medication, or experience other medical problems, then there are obviously exceptions. But it’s quite clear that the human body was designed to go long periods of time without food, and that it’s completely natural.

If you want to learn more about the science of fasting, there is plenty of research out there. Sifting through scholarly articles on the subject will yield many interesting results. You can find a number of lectures on Youtube as well. The main takeaway for me after studying fasting and its mechanisms for fifteen years now is that it’s an extremely healthy and safe practice with a number of health benefits, and I wanted to share my current experience instead of simply diving deep into the science of it all.

My Alternate-Day Fasting Experience

I have found that the research directly correlates with my experience of fasting on a regular basis, and it’s something I’ve been doing for fifteen years. I have done a lot of prolonged fasts in my life, weekly fasts, as well as many periods of intermittent fasting where I condense my eating period to a time of 5-8 hours. But only within the past few months have I tried alternate-day fasting, and so far it’s the fasting method that’s been the most successful for me. Everybody is different, and at the end of the day you just have to find what works for you.

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I’ve always put on weight quite easily, and have had no problem storing food. Perhaps it’s genetics, my family has a strong and long history of type two diabetes, hinting to the idea that insulin levels in my family can remain high, thus making it impossible to access my fat stores. Obviously, fasting drops your insulin levels, allowing your body to access and burn its fat reserves which, again, has been shown to have a tremendous amounts of benefits.

Alternate-day fasting has given me something consistent to go with when it comes to maintaining and stabilizing my weight. For me, intermittent fasting just wasn’t doing it, I found I could not eat what I enjoy without packing on extra fat and slowly increasing my weight. I also did many prolonged fasts, which helped me drop my extra fat, but then I’d put it back on. This was true for me even whilst eating a healthy, whole grain fully plant-based diet.

With alternate-day fasting, I do not gain weight, and my energy levels have increased to the point where I am now working out at the end of every fast. I’ve never experienced so much energy an I’ve never felt so alert. I had a glimpse of it with intermittent fasting, but the period without food just wasn’t long enough for me, I feel, to really tap into the benefits of fasting.

Simple Schedule

So what does alternate-day fasting look like? It’s when you eat one day, and then fast the next. Simple.

So, for example, what I do is I will eat on a Monday, and then have my last meal in the evening. Then, I wait until Wednesday morning to eat again. So, I am doing 36-40 hour fasts, quite often. What recommended alternate-day fasting looks like is eating on Monday, and then not eating until 24 hours after, or Tuesday night. Or, eating on Monday, and then restricting your calorie intake the next day to only 500 calories., and then repeat throughout the week.

I’ve been fasting for a quite a long time, so my body is quite fat adapted. It’s not difficult for me to fast and when I do I do not feel hungry at all, which means my body has adapted itself to ‘consuming’ it’s stored energy. I am at the point where alternate-day fasting for me usually means not eating for at least 40 hours and after a workout, and every now and then I will extend my fast to 72 or more hours and throw in a workout at the end those fasts as well. The food I eat during my eating periods is, again, a whole foods plant-based diet.

Related CE Article going into more detail: What Working Out In A Fasted State (Not Eating) Does To Your Muscles

Weight Loss

That’s how I do it, and doing it this way I dropped nearly 20 pounds before eventually stabilizing my weight. I usually do alternate-day fasting, but every now and then I will eat two days in a row here and there. So I am not extremely strict on myself, but then again, my fasting periods are longer and I believe it’s easier for me simply because I am well adapted to the practice, and my body type and perhaps my genetics helps me have an easier time with it.

If you’re looking to shed some fat from your body, it’s something I recommend you try, it’s great because it forces you to enter into a fat period for a longer state than intermittent fasting, and allows you to utilize more of your fat reserves.

You can look at alternate-day fasting as an ‘extreme’ form of fasting, although there is nothing extreme about it and it’s completely safe. If you’re someone who has never fasted before, I recommend you start off with intermittent fasting, as fasting alone for someone who has never practiced it can be quite difficult at first until your body gets used to it.

Resources

If you’re looking for some great resources on this topic beyond simply reading and searching for scholarly peer-reviewed publications on the subject via online journal databases (there are lots), you can visit Dr. Jason Fung’s website blog here. There are a lot of great informative articles on the subject there.

Another great resource is Krista Varady, PhD, a Professor of Nutrition at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Her research focuses on the efficacy of intermittent fasting for weight loss, weight maintenance, and cardio-protection in obese adults. Her work is funded by the NIH, American Heart Association, International Life Sciences Institute, and the University of Illinois. She has published over 70 publications on this topic, and is also the author of a book for the general public, entitled the “Every Other Day Diet”.

Her “book for the general public,” The Every-Other-Day Diet: The Diet That Lets You Eat All You Want (Half the Time) and Keep the Weight Off is a great place to start.

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