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How Pharmaceuticals Came To Be The 4th Leading Cause Of Death In America

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lisaPrescription drugs are the 4th leading cause of death in America. (1) People know this to be true, they know it to be appalling, but it’s still seen as incomprehensible and absurd. How could medicine hurt so many people? We all know that side-effects happen, but they are thought to be rare. They must be rare, right? We all know some good, kind, generous, thoughtful doctors who want nothing more for their patients than health and happiness, so they certainly aren’t giving their patients drugs that hurt them, are they? We know that the FDA is a federal bureaucracy, so it must be too restrictive of the pharmaceutical industry, right? And the FDA is supposed to protect consumers, so we’re as safe as we can be, right? And people can sue, so the legal system must be keeping the bad aspects of the medical system in check, right? All of these questions, and many more, bring up some cognitive dissonance for people when they’re faced with the fact that prescription drugs, used as prescribed, kill an inordinate a number of people. It brings up the questions –

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How do prescription drugs get to be the 4th leading cause of death in America? How does that happen?

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Here is a tale of how prescription drugs, used as prescribed, kill people.

Kerstin (age 30) comes down with a urinary tract infection. It’s a Saturday so her regular doctor’s office is closed. Urinary tract infections are painful so she knows that she can’t wait ‘til Monday to get treatment. She goes to an Emergency Services Clinic close to her house. She tells them that she has a urinary tract infection and they write her a prescription for Cipro (Ciprofloxacin – a fluoroquinolone antibiotic). They do not culture her urine because they don’t have the time or capacity to do so. It doesn’t matter what kind of bacteria is in her urine though, they know that Cipro will kill it because Cipro is a broad-spectrum antibiotic and it will kill all the offending bacteria in her urinary tract, plus some.

Kerstin is relieved. Her painful urinary tract and bladder are about to be healed.

Kerstin takes two 500 mg. pills of Cipro two times a day for a week. On the 5th day of taking Cipro, Kerstin starts to feel a bit off. Her bladder feels full even when it isn’t, she has dark “floaters” interfering with her vision and she feels anxious. She doesn’t think anything of these things. They’re strange, but not too worrisome. She doesn’t think for a second that they could be due to the antibiotic that she is taking. Kerstin finishes the seven day course of Cipro. Her urinary tract infection is gone and she is pleased about that. Her bladder fullness, floaters and anxiety come and go and she doesn’t think much of them.

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Ten days pass in which Kerstin feels fine. On the eleventh day after she has finished taking Cipro, she starts taking ibuprofen to treat menstrual cramps. On the thirteenth day after she has finished taking the Cipro, it feels as if a bomb goes off in her body. Her hands and feet swell to twice their normal size. It becomes painful for her to walk or to do anything with her hands. Her knees are burning as if every tendon in them is inflamed. She is weak. She develops hives all over her body. Her anxiety levels are sky-high.

Kerstin goes to the doctor. The doctor says that the hives are a result of an allergic reaction and tells her to take Benadryl. Kerstin asks the doctor why she can barely walk when she was going to the gym daily just a few days earlier. The doctor says that she doesn’t know, but that she will run tests.

Kerstin takes Benadryl but it doesn’t seem to help. She goes back to the doctor for something stronger. She is put on prednisone.

The swelling in her hands and feet goes down, but her other symptoms worsen. She develops insomnia. She sprains her wrist while opening a jar. Intermittent pain throughout her body, but especially in her legs, begins. She loses her memory and has trouble concentrating.

Her test results come back. They are all “normal.”

Her pain worsens. She is diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. She asks the doctor who diagnoses her with Fibromyalgia how she could have gone from being healthy and active to being disabled and in pain, now with a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. The doctor mutters something about mysterious diseases and unexplained symptoms. Kerstin asks if her symptoms could be related to any of the medications that she took – Cipro, ibuprofen and prednisone. The doctor says no. More tests are run to see if there are other causes of Kerstin’s symptoms.

Kerstin is put on Lyrica to help her with her Fibromyalgia pain.

The Lyrica seems to help some of her pain but her mental symptoms get worse while she is on it. In addition to her already existing memory and concentration problems, Kerstin develops brain-fog. She feels slow, stupid and like she is living in a dream. She gains 15 pounds in two months. Her hair starts to fall out. She feels suicidal. She is taken off of Lyrica by her doctor.

Kerstin continues to have problems in her joints, especially her wrists, knees and ankles, so she is not surprised when she is diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. She starts seeing a Rheumatologist who puts her on Humira. Humira decreases some of her inflammation symptoms but many of her other symptoms remain. She receives Humira treatments for 2 years.

After two years of Humira treatments, Kerstin is diagnosed with hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma – cancer. She dies on the operating table when her surgeon attempts to remove the lymph nodes on her neck that had been affected by the cancer. She is 34 years old when she passes away.

Kerstin’s story is fictionalized, but it is far from fantasy. Stories like hers happen every day. A large portion of her story is my own and it was both true and horrifying to experience. Stories that are significantly worse, where a doctor’s injection site turn into a staph or MRSA infection to start the whole process, or where anti-psychotic medications that the patient are put on drive her to homicide or suicide. And I didn’t delve into the PAIN that comes with Fluoroquinolone Toxicity (Cipro is a fluoroquinolone and the others are just as bad, if not worse), so it’s a light fictionalized version – with the hope that you’ll find the horror to be believable, because it is very, very real for too many people.

The Explanations, Journal Articles and Facts behind Kerstin’s Story

I don’t expect you to accept the story above as fact without some thorough explanation. Here is the information behind my assertions:

The antibiotic that Kerstin took is Cipro (Ciprofloxacin). Cipro is a fluoroquinolone antibiotic, along with Levaquin, Avelox, Floxin and a few other less commonly used drugs in the fluoroquinolone class. Fluoroquinolone antibiotics are the “big guns” of antibiotics. They are broad spectrum antibiotics that will kill all bacteria in their path. (2) They are frequently prescribed to treat urinary tract infections (3) because they penetrate kidney tissue well (4).

Cipro, and all the other fluroquinolones, have terrible side-effects. Many of the awful side-effects that can be experienced, often all at once, are listed on the Cipro Warning Label. However, many things are left off of the warning label, they are listed on http://www.ciproispoison.com/.

Additionally, here are articles backing up Kerstin’s symptoms:

  • Vision Floaters – The JAMA article entitled “Oral Fluoroquinolones and the Risk of Retinal Detachment” notes that fluoroquinolones increase the incidence of Retinal Detachment (5). If the connective tissue in your eye is damaged, visual disturbances, including floaters, can result.
  • Anxiety – The Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practices’ article entitled “Levofloacin-induced Acute Anxiety and Insomnia” notes that Levofloxacin (another fluoroquinolone – Levaquin) can induce anxiety and insomnia (6) Cipro/Ciprofloxacin can do the same.
  • Bladder fullness – This is a symptom that I experience, along with many other people suffering from Fluoroquinolone Toxicity. I’m not completely sure what it stems from, but here are a couple of possibilities. This article in the Journal of Urology entitled “Role of Mitochondria in Ciprofloxacin Induced Apoptosis in Bladder Cancer Cells” notes that Cipro disturbs the mitochondria in bladder cells and causes apoptosis (cell death) (7). It is also possible that the feeling of bladder fullness is a result of dysglycemia as it is noted in an article in Medscape Medical News that fluoroquinolones increase the risk of severe dysglycemia in diabetics. Additionally, “one fluoroquinolone antibiotic, gatifloxacin (Tequin, Bristol-Myers Squibb), was already withdrawn from the US market in 2006 due to the risk for severe dysglycemia” (8)
  • Pain and swelling in hands and feet – This symptom can be more succinctly described as peripheral neuropathy. The FDA issued an update to the labels for fluoroquinolones noting that PERMANENT Peripheral Neuropathy is a possibility in August, 2013 (9). This neuropathy may stem from destruction of the Myelin caused by the fluoroquinolone.

There are likely other causes and reasons for Peripheral Neuropathy being a result of Fluoroquinolone Toxicity, including the production of neurotoxins caused by the drugs (10) and the fracturing of DNA (11).

  • Skin problems like hives/uticaria/rashes are listed on the warning label
  • Tendon pain/tear/strain/rupture – This adverse effect is so well documented that fluoroquinolones carry a black box warning about the danger of rupturing a tendon on the top of the warning label. An article in Musculoskeletal Medicine entitled “Musculoskeltal Complications of Fluoroquinolones: Guidelines and Precautions for Usage in the Athletic Population” notes that young, healthy, athletic people’s muscles and tendons are adversely effected by fluoroquinolones (12)
  • Fibromyalgia – Mysterious, sometimes intermittent, sometimes constant, pain is common among those with fluoroquinolone toxicity. The information above about peripheral neuropathy should ring a lot of bells for those diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.  Additionally, Carboxylic Acid is attached to the quinolone molecule (13). It is a known neurotoxin. (14 and 15) Also, a quinolone studied in the article “Cytotoxcicity of Quinolones toward Eukaryotic Cells” notes that quinolones “kills cells by converting the (topoisomerase) type II ezyme into a cellular poison.” (16) Cellular poisons can lead to pain.
  • A diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis – Per Toxicologist, Professor Joe King, “when a cell is malfunctioning (due to a mutation caused by a toxin or radiation) the body deems it alien and begins and autoimmune response as a defense mechanism. Thus producing positive autoimmune antibodies in lab tests, but in actuality you don’t really have the disease, it is bad cells. For example I test positive for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but I don’t have RA, I have Fibrillan Connective Tissue destruction upon biopsy. But the doctor reads the lab report for RA and recommends anti-inflammatory steroids. Bad diagnosis, because the problem is not RA but Fibrillan and steroids will dissolve the Fibrillan faster.” Also per Professor King, “the cells in your tissue, organs, etc. are not functioning correctly, there is a mutation in there somewhere and the body is reacting to this weird cells as alien, thus producing an inflammatory process (which is painful).” Additionally, it should be noted that Cipro was found to cause chromosomal abnormalities in immune system cells. (17)

I mentioned NSAIDs and steroids. Both NSAIDs and steroids are contraindicated with fluoroquinolones (18 and 12). Please note that Kerstin didn’t take NSAIDs or steroids at the same time as the Cipro. Both NSAIDs and steroids are contraindicated for any person who has ever experienced an adverse reaction to a fluoroquinolone, likely because of the production of acyl glucuronides, “which are chemically reactive electrophiles formed by carboxylic acid-containing drugs” (15) and/or because of the depletion of the CPY450 enzymes by quinolones/fluoroquinolones that leave the body unable to metabolize other drugs (19 and 20).

How do fluoroquinolone ANTIBIOTICS cause all that harm? The harm that they cause is in the essence of the way they work. They are the “first antibacterial agents that efficiently inhibited DNA replication.” (21) Antibiotics in the penicillin and cephalosporin classes, by comparison, work by disrupting bacterial cell walls, not by doing anything to bacterial, or human, DNA. Fluoroquinolones also form “a poisonous adduct on DNA” (21). Fluoroquinolones cause chromosomal abnormalities in human cells (17) and also have tumor killing qualities (22). While that might sound great on the surface, if you read between the lines you’ll note that if these drugs kill tumor cells, they kill human cells. Fluoroquinolones cause apoptosis, programmed cell death, at a massive rate (23). Patient studies have shown, through a DNA Adduct Mass Spectrogram Analysis, that quinolone molecules have adducted to their DNA. Adducting to and breaking human DNA can cause every single one of the problems that Kerstin experienced, all of the problems listed on the FDA warning label for these drugs, and more. It’s a bad idea to mess with human DNA and chromosomes – a look back at the history of Agent Orange will tell you why this is true.

The consequences of the DNA destruction done by fluoroquinolones is yet to be established. An article was published in Nature in September, 2013 connecting topoisomerase inhibiting drugs (fluoroquinolones inhibit topoisomerases II and IV (24)) with triggering the expression of autism related genes. I wrote about this on CE – http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/09/18/a-horrifying-cause-of-autism-dna-damage-from-synthetic-antibiotics/ Of course, more studies need to be done to determine the implications of this study.

Studies of the DNA make-up of Gulf War Veterans and their children may also be revealing as all 1991 Gulf War Veterans were given Cipro prophylactically because of fear of anthrax (25). Likewise, in 2001 United States Postal Workers who took Cipro prophylactically, also to prevent anthrax, and any ensuing health issues that they have (57% reported side-effects –26) may be related to their exposure to fluoroquinolones.

Fluoroquinolone antibiotics are dangerous drugs that have been used recklessly since their introduction to the market as a first-choice broad-spectrum antibiotic. They are likely responsible for many of the “mysterious” illnesses that have been on the rise since the early 1980s when Cipro was patented by Bayer and Levaquin was patented by Johnson & Johnson. Everyone who has Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Thyroid Dysfunction, any Autoimmune Disease, Gulf War Syndrome, Leaky Gut Syndrome, Dysautonomia, etc. should look at their medical records to see if they have ever taken a fluoroquinolone. If a fluoroquinolone is in your past, fractured genes may have resulted, and thus your pain and suffering. Please note that adverse reactions to fluoroquinolones are often delayed for weeks or sometimes months or years after administration of the drugs has stopped and there is a tolerance threshold for metabolism of these drugs (20) so most people do not react to their first dose.

Lyrica and Humira

Here is the warning label for Lyrica – (link – Source 27) Please note that suicidal ideation is one of the acknowledged adverse effects caused by this drug. Weight gain, difficulty concentrating, etc. are also listed on the warning label. Patient reports (these people aren’t lying) can be found on askapatient.com – Lyrica.

Humira, Enbrel and other TNF inhibiting drugs CAUSE CANCER. This is well documented and known. The warning labels for both Humira and Enbrel state in a big black box warning that various cancers are associated with use of those drugs. In case it needs to be spelled out, cancer can be deadly.

Here is an excellent blog post about how Humira can kill, and how it is marketed – http://davidhealy.org/welcome-to-the-humiraverse/

Conclusions

It is often noted as people are bemoaning the unwillingness of the pharmaceutical industry to create more antibiotics, that there isn’t enough money to be made from antibiotics to encourage their production. (28) While there may not be much money to be made in selling antibiotics directly, there is a whole lot of money to be made in treating autoimmune diseases. Humira reached $7.9 Billion in sales (29) in 2011 despite the undisputed fact that it causes cancer. If a class of antibiotics can cause the body to react as it would if it had an autoimmune disease for an extended period of time (the ill effects of fluorouquinolones can be permanent but they typically last from 6 to 36 months), and therefore a person gets diagnosed and treated for an autoimmune disease, though they don’t actually have the autoimmune disease, they actually have an autoimmune reaction to a poisonous drug, the pharmaceutical industry has effectively taken an acute problem, an infection, and converted it into a chronic problem, an autoimmune disease. Chronic conditions mean repeat customers and the pharmaceutical industry makes billions. (I doubt that this process is a conspiracy or even planned on the parts of the people in the pharmaceutical industry. Rather, I think that it is caused by willful ignorance among those in the medical professions, encouraged by greed and a complete lack of checks and balances on the pharmaceutical companies, those that have the most to gain in creating repeat customers.)

People are being hurt by their medicine and it is unacceptable. If harm is impossible to avoid completely, it should be minimized. There is zero effort on the part of Doctors, Pharmacists, the FDA or anyone else to minimize adverse effects of drugs. If an effort were being made, we would not be in the tragic situation that we’re in, with the pharmaceutical industry being the 4th leading cause of death of Americans.

The mantra of “all drugs have side-effects” has been so ingrained into the collective consciousness that we have come to think of it as acceptable that drugs have side-effects, and for drug side-effects to be devastating. In accepting this “better someone else than me” / “it can’t happen to me” attitude, we have given permission to the FDA to be inept, incompetent and lazy. In their ineptitude, they have ignored 15 years of research noting that commonly prescribed ANTIBIOTICS are damaging our DNA. We can only hope that this oversight caused by laziness and incompetence is not consequential to us all. Because I can accept the possibility that it may be worth it for society for me to be sacrificed so that we can have powerful antibiotics, but no drug of any sort, no matter what good it does, is worth sacrificing our collective DNA.

Post Script:  The author’s web site, with more information about fluoroquinolones, is www.floxiehope.com

Sources:

1.Donald W. Light, “Risky Drugs: Why the FDA Cannot be Trusted,” Harvard University, The Lab @ Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. http://www.ethics.harvard.edu/lab/blog/312-risky-drugs?layout=default#stay-informed

  1. Jane E. Brody, “Popular Antibiotics May Carry Serious Side Effects,” New York Times, September 10, 2012. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/10/popular-antibiotics-may-carry-serious-side-effects/?_r=1
  2. Web MD, Antibiotics for Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/antibiotics-for-urinary-tract-infections-utis
  3. DANA E. KING, M.D., ROBB MALONE, PHARM.D., and SANDRA H. LILLEY, PHARM.D., East Carolina University School of Medicine, Greenville, North Carolina, “New Classification and Update on the Quinolone Antibiotics” American Family Physician http://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/0501/p2741.html
  4. Mahyar Etminan, et. al., “Oral Fluoroquinolones and the Risk of Retinal Detachment” JAMA, April 4, 2012—Vol 307, No. 13 http://211.144.68.84:9998/91keshi/Public/File/40/307-13/pdf/joc25028_1414_1419.pdf
  5. Arun Kandasamy and D Srinath, “Levofloxacin-induced acute anxiety and insomnia” J Neurosci Rural Pract. 2012 May-Aug; 3(2): 212–214. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3410005/
  6. OLIVIA ARANHA, et. al., “ROLE OF MITOCHONDRIA IN CIPROFLOXACIN INDUCED APOPTOSIS IN BLADDER CANCER CELLS” The Journal of Urology
Volume 167, Issue 3, Pages 1288-1294, March 2002 http://www.jurology.com/article/S0022-5347(05)65283-4/abstract
  7. Lisa Nainggolan, “Fluoroquinolones Up Risk for Severe Dysglycemia in Diabetes” Medscape Medical News, http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/809442 Based on this article http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2013/07/23/cid.cit439.abstract
  8. 08/15/2013 FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA requires label changes to warn of risk for possibly permanent nerve damage from antibacterial fluoroquinolone drugs taken by mouth or by injection http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm365050.htm
  9. David A. Jernigan, “Lyme Toxins The Primary Cause of Your Symptoms” Townsend Letter. April, 2007. http://www.benbrew.com/lb/lyme5.pdf
  10. G. Palu, et. al., “Quinolone binding to DNA is mediated by magnesium ions” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA Vol. 89, pp. 9671-9675, October 1992 Biochemistry http://www.pnas.org/content/89/20/9671.full.pdf
  11. Mederic M. Hall, MD, Jonathan T. Finnoff, DO, Jay Smith, MD, “Musculoskeletal Complications of Fluoroquinolones: Guidelines and Precautions for Usage in the Athletic Population” 2011 by the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Vol. 3, 132-142, February 2011 http://www.levaquinadversesideeffect.com/wp-content/uploads/Documents/Hall-2011.pdf
  12. NAI-XUN CHIN AND HAROLD C. NEU, “Ciprofloxacin, a Quinolone Carboxylic Acid Compound Active Against Aerobic and Anaerobic Bacteria” ANTIMICROBIAL AGENTS AND CHEMOTHERAPY, Mar. 1984, p. 319-326, 1984, American Society for Microbiology http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC185508/pdf/aac00192-0027.pdf
  13. José Antonio Vázquez, et. al. “Evaluation of toxic effects of several carboxylic acids on bacterial growth by toxicodynamic modelling” Microbial Cell Factories2011,10:100 http://www.microbialcellfactories.com/content/10/1/100
  14. Urs A. Boelsterli, “Acyl Glucuronides: Mechanistic Role in Drug Toxicity?” Current Drug Metabolism (v.12, #3) p. 213-214 http://www.chemweb.com/journals/journals?type=issue&jid=13892002&iid=12003
  15. Sarah H. Elsea, et. Al, “Cytotoxicity of Quinolones toward Eukaryotic Cells: IDENTIFICATION OF TOPOISOMERASE I1 AS THE PRIMARY CELLULAR TARGET FOR THE QUINOLONE CP-115,953 IN YEAST,” The Journal of Biological Chemistry, Vol. 267, No. 19, Issue of July 5, pp. 13150-13153 http://www.jbc.org/content/267/19/13150.full.pdf+html
  16. PS Ambulkar, et. Al, “Genotoxic and cytotoxic effects of antibacterial drug, ciprofloxacin, on human lymphocytes in vitro” Nepal Med Coll J 2009; 11(3): 147-151 http://www.nmcth.edu/images/gallery/Editorial/xRZVmps_ambulkar.pdf
  17. S. Mannino, et. al., “NSAIDs, Quinolones and Convulsions: An Epidemiologic Approach” Post Marketing Survellance 1992 p. 119-128 http://213.4.18.135:48080/10.pdf
  18. HJ Xie, et. al., “Alteration of pharmacokinetics of cyclophosphamide and suppression of the cytochrome P450 genes by ciprofloxacin” Bone Marrow Transplantation (2003) 31,197–203. http://www.nature.com/bmt/journal/v31/n3/abs/1703815a.html
  19. Dean P. Jones, et. al., “Mechanisms of Pathogenesis in Drug Hepatotoxicity Putting the Stress on Mitochondria” Mol Interv. 2010 April;10(2): 98–111. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2895369/
  20. Arkady B. Khodurskyand Nicholas R. Cozzarelli, “The Mechanism of Inhibition of Topoisomerase IV by Quinolone Antibacterials” October 16, 1998 The Journal of Biological Chemistry, 273, p. 27668-27677.http://www.jbc.org/content/273/42/27668.full
  21. Yi Xia, et. al., “Recent Advances in the Discovery and Development of Quinolones and Analogs As Antitumor Agents” Current Medicinal Chemistry, 1999, p. 179-194 http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=SJoxUN91vK4C&oi=fnd&pg=PA179#v=onepage&q&f=true
  22. V Talla and PR Veerareddy, “Oxidative Stress Induced by Fluoroquinolones on Treatment for Complicated Urinary Tract Infections in Indian Patients” J Young Pharm. 2011 Oct-Dec; 3(4): 304–309. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249743/?report=printable
  23. 2013 FDA Warning Label for Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) – http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2013/019537s082,020780s040lbl.pdf
  24. Patricia Kime, “New FDA warnings on Cipro may tie into Gulf War illness” Air Force Times, November 1, 2013. http://www.airforcetimes.com/article/20131101/NEWS/311010018/New-FDA-warnings-Cipro-may-tie-into-Gulf-War-illness
  25. “Postal Workers Sue Bayer Over Cipro” http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/title/postal-workers-sue-bayer-over-cipro
  26. Lyrica Label http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2009/021446s013s014lbl.pdf
  27. Garcia Rey-C, “The role of the pharmaceutical industry. Why aren’t new antibiotics being marketed?”  2010 Nov;28 Suppl 4:45-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21458701
  28. Ben Comer, “Brand of the Year: Humira” PharmExec.com February 1, 2012 http://www.pharmexec.com/pharmexec/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=757392

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Awareness

3 Powerful Tools to Help Overcome the Emotional Toll of the Pandemic

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The pandemic has had a significant effect on our lives. Possibly without realizing it, many are suffering from a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

  • Reflect On:

    If you feel stressed or feel that you have PTSD resulting from this pandemic, try these suggestions before resorting to medication or maladaptive coping strategies.

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

The pandemic has had a significant effect on our lives. Possibly without realizing it, many are suffering from a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Every news cycle paralyzes us with fear of a new variant. Some feel grief over who or what they have lost or continue to have feelings of social disconnectedness. Despite what we have all been through, we need to start moving forward with our lives and truly live again. We must recognize that we have more control over our physical and mental health than advertised. The truth is that there are many helpful things that we can do.

PTSD is a stress-related disorder that may develop after exposure to a traumatic event or ordeal in which death or severe physical harm was a threat or occurred. Those with PTSD may experience agitation, irritability, hostility, hypervigilance, self-destructive behavior, social isolation, flashbacks, fear, anxiety, depression, attention difficulty, loneliness, insomnia, or nightmares.

Trauma can lead to feelings of powerlessness, but powerlessness can also keep us trapped in a PTSD cycle. The psychological imprint of trauma rewires the brain. There’s an old saying in neuroscience: “neurons that fire together wire together.” Our brain neurons begin firing in the amygdala, the emotional part of our brains, during a traumatic event. People can get stuck in an emotional loop, and the rational voice in their heads does not weigh in. This looping can cause a person to respond disproportionately to stress – freezing, panicking, or acting out in anger. Some dissociate or enter a trance-like state. Maladaptive coping skills can sometimes develop. Cutting, burning, overeating, drinking, drugs, overspending, etc., is all an attempt to dampen our painful emotional feelings. So, to avoid getting stuck in a PTSD cycle, we must act and take our power back.

Time to seek out the most effective help so that we can feel calm and in control again. What can we do?

1. Boost Your Immune System

If you fear getting sick, it’s time to live a healthier lifestyle and boost your immune system. Sadly, we are taught (with the help of pharmaceutical dollars) that health comes from a needle or a pill. Our “experts” recommend masks, hand-washing, social distancing, and mRNA vaccines. Still, they seldom suggest a healthy diet, supplements, and other natural remedies to help improve our health and support the body to fight off illness and disease. Click here for my article that includes 16 Tips on Boosting Immunity.

2. Embrace Spirituality

Over the last 20 years, I have been honored to have worked with many great therapists, healers, spiritual leaders, and trauma survivors to witness the power of Spirituality in healing. Spirituality is an inner belief system providing an individual with meaning and purpose in life. Whether it involves a higher power, nature, religious rituals, meditation, mindfulness, or prayer, the premise is to stay connected to the core of who we are. That place of stillness within us holding the memory of wholeness, peace, inner strength, and balance – despite what has happened. A spiritual philosophy or practice can provide us with a bigger context for our experiences and clarify our purpose. Spiritual methods also connect us with a sense of community and support. Finding our tribe is essential in the face of trauma and loss. The spiritual journey often allows us to go inside ourselves and listen to our inner guidance and “knowingness.” The inner voice may know, for instance, that the virus will not hurt us, or what we are being told by the media is untrue. Spirituality also helps us shift our perspective from “why me” to “what can I do about it. It brings us a sense of power and control.

3. Guided Imagery & Bilateral Stimulation

Both tools are essential for the trauma therapy toolbox. They are noninvasive and helpful for overcoming the effects of trauma. Guided imagery can help us alter the negative or stressful pictures and thoughts in our minds and help us create new, more peaceful ones—a form of instilling positive affirmations. Before you read on, I thought you might like to download my 10-minute exercise. This science-based, comprehensive video will help you to cultivate a sense of inner peace and give you a way to help overcome the effects of this pandemic – GET IT HERE

Is There Science Behind This?

Science, yes. Magic, no. This method requires regular practice if you want to make lasting, long-term changes to the ways that you think and feel. The good news is that both guided imagery and bilateral stimulation are widely practiced and well-established practices. However, I recommend that if you are still struggling after repeated listening, you find a qualified trauma therapist to continue the work you have already started.

A Look At The Research

Guided imagery is a behavioral technique using a series of verbal suggestions to guide oneself or others in visualizing an image in the mind to bring a desired response in the way of a reduction in stress, anxiety, or pain. A growing list of empirical literature supports the use of these techniques in various physical and emotional conditions. Guided imagery resulted in a clinically significant reduction in PTSD and related symptoms in a returning, combat-exposed active-duty military population. Positive affirmations can positively affect the brain’s circuitry. There is MRI evidence suggesting that specific neural pathways are increased when people practice self-affirmation tasks.

Numerous research articles have established that bilateral stimulation is one of the most effective treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some therapists practice Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), a combination of psychotherapy and bilateral stimulation. EMDR is very effective for treating a wide range of mental health issues due to emotional and physical trauma. During bilateral stimulation, patients tend to “process” the memory in a way that leads to a peaceful resolution. And, often results in increased insight regarding both previously disturbing events and long-held negative thoughts about the self.

“Bilateral Stimulation induces a fundamental change in brain circuitry, similar to what happens in REM sleep. It allows the person undergoing treatment to process and incorporate traumatic memories into general association networks in the brain. This therapy helps the individual integrate and understand the memories within the larger context of their life experience.” – Robert Stickgold, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School

Takeaway

If you feel stressed or feel that you have PTSD resulting from this pandemic, try the above suggestions and download my helpful video before resorting to medication or maladaptive coping strategies. Also, you can discover the many mind-body practices you can do at home to help manage stress more successfully and so much more. SIGN UP HERE to receive your free download today. To purchase my book Healing Without Hurting, click here.

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Awareness

Boosting Your Mood and Improving Your Health With Vitamin D

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Vitamin D is essential for proper immune functioning and alleviation of inflammation.

  • Reflect On:

    Are you or someone you love suffering from depression or an autoimmune disorder? When is the last time you checked your Vitamin D levels?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Are you or someone you love suffering from depression or an autoimmune disorder? It appears vitamin D deficiency may be to blame.

Vitamin D is essential for proper immune functioning and alleviation of inflammation. The beneficial effects of vitamin D on protective immunity are due in part to its impact on the innate immune system and has numerous effects on cells within the immune system. Vitamin D is also involved in maintaining the proper balance of several minerals in the body. And, it helps to ward off the flu and many viruses and treat them. The latest research links vitamin D deficiency to many disease states. These disease states include cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, depression, arthritis, and just about every other degenerative disease.

 “Vitamin D reduces depression. In a randomized, double-blind study, People with depression who received vitamin D supplements noticed a marked improvement in their symptoms.” – Journal of Internal Medicine

According to the Nutrition Research Journal, as many as 80% of people are deficient in vitamin D. Inadequate exposure to sunshine, poor eating habits, malabsorption, the VDR genetic mutation, and accelerated catabolism due to certain medications, dark skin pigment color, and too much sunscreen can be to blame. 

A doctor can check vitamin D levels with a simple blood test. Many mainstream doctors will suggest that you are within normal limits if your levels are 20-30ng/mL. However, for optimal health, the Endocrine Society and many functional medicine M.D.s and naturopaths will recommend levels of between 40-70 ng/mL for both children and adults. These doctors will also recommend a more aggressive replenishment program. For example, at age five, my son’s level was 24. The pediatrician recommended 500iu daily of supplementation, while our naturopath recommended 5,000iu daily for six months before retesting. Six months later, his levels were almost normal. 

“Through several mechanisms, vitamin D can reduce risk of infections. Those mechanisms include inducing cathelicidins and defensins that can lower viral replication rates and reducing concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines that produce the inflammation that injures the lining of the lungs, leading to pneumonia, as well as increasing concentrations of anti-inflammatory cytokines” – PubMed

How to Increase Your Vitamin D Levels

Get enough sun. Vitamin D3, “the sunshine vitamin,” is the only vitamin your body that is made, with the help of the sun. So be sure to get enough sun exposure to help the body make this essential nutrient. Hold off trying to protect ourselves from the rays of the sun at every turn by slathering sunscreen. Allow yourself to play outside, garden, and enjoy the rays in moderation.

If you must use some sunscreen, avoid chemical sunscreens made with toxic chemicals that cause thyroid dysfunction, endocrine disruption, allergies, organ toxicity, reproductive toxicity, skin cancer, development, brain, and metabolism problems. Shop for natural mineral-zinc-based certified products instead. When exposed to scorching climates or in the sun for extended periods, we use sunscreens by Babyganics, Badger, Babo Botanicals, and Goddess Garden products.

Eat a well-balanced diet, with foods higher in vitamin D. Although it is believed that we only get twenty percent from the foods we eat. Some foods higher in D include cod liver oil, fish, oysters, eggs, and mushrooms. 

Get checked for the VDR mutation. A blood test will determine if you have mutations in the vitamin D receptor. The consequence can be lower vitamin D levels and the inability to absorb vitamin calcium and many other minerals properly. According to a 2020 scientific report, supplementation of vitamin D can help improve VDR gene expression, so more supplementation may be necessary if you have this mutation.

“Something so simple. Vitamin D supplementation could improve the health status of millions and so becomes an elegant solution to many of our health problems today.” – Carol L. Wagner, MD – Medical University of South Carolina

Supplementation 101. Supplementation is often critical if you cannot properly metabolize or absorb enough vitamin D or not get enough sunshine. In areas with long winters and specific populations of people with darker skin color, supplementation may be even more critical. There are many supplements on the market. However, many tablet forms are not as bioavailable and harder to absorb. Therefore, it has been recommended that liquid forms are better. In addition, liquid D is often suspended in olive oil, which helps the vitamins to absorb more easily since it is fat soluble. One of my favorite brands is by Seeking Health. It does not contain any impurities or allergy-inducing ingredients. 

Final Thoughts

Boosting the immune system naturally works on your body’s innate wisdom. It supports the body to operate like a well-oiled machine, protects it from unwanted pathogens and disease, and helps ensure a healthy body and mind.

To receive more info on how you and your family can overcome ADHD, apraxia, anxiety, and more without medication SIGN UP HERE or purchase my book Healing without Hurting.

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Awareness

Most Diabetic, Heart Disease & Alzheimer’s Deaths Categorized As “Covid” Deaths (UK)

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    According to professor of evidence based medicine at Oxford Dr. Carl Heneghan , who is also an emergency GP, most diabetic, heart disease & alzheimer's deaths were categorized as COVID deaths in the United Kingdom.

  • Reflect On:

    How many deaths have actually been a result of COVID? Why is this pandemic surrounded with so much controversy? Why does mainstream media fail at having appropriate conversations about 'controversial' evidence/opinions?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

 Dr. Carl Heneghan has an interesting view on the pandemic, not only is he a professor of evidence-based medicine at Oxford University, he also works Saturday shifts as an emergency GP. This allows him to see healthcare from both the academic perspective as well as the healthcare experience, more specifically, it allows him to see COVID from both perspectives.

What Happened: In a recent article he wrote for The Spectator, he writes the following,

It’s hard to imagine, let alone measures, the side effects of lockdowns. The risk with the government’s ‘fear’ messaging is that people become so worried about burdening the NHS that they avoid seeking medical help. Or by the time they do so, it can be too late. The big rise in at-home deaths (still ongoing) points to that. You will be familiar with the Covid death toll, updated in the papers every day. But did you know that since the pandemic, we’ve had 28,200 more deaths among diabetics that we’d normally expect? That’s not the kind of figure they show on a graph at No. 10 press conference. For people with heart disease, it’s 17,100. For dementia and Alzheimer’s, it’s 22,800. Most were categorised as Covid deaths: people can die with multiple conditions, so they can fall into more than one of these categories. It’s a complicated picture. But that’s the problem in assessing lockdown. you need to do a balance of risks.

Evidence-based medicine might sound like a tautology — what kind of medicine isn’t based on evidence? I’m afraid that you’d be surprised. Massive decisions are often taken on misleading, low-quality evidence. We see this all the time. In the last pandemic, the swine flu outbreak of 2009, I did some work asking why the government spent £500 million on Tamiflu: then hailed as a wonder drug. In fact, it proved to have a very limited effect. The debate then had many of the same cast of characters as today: Jonathan Van-Tam, Neil Ferguson and others. The big difference this time is the influence of social media, whose viciousness is something to behold. It’s easy to see why academics would self-censor and stay away from the debate, especially if it means challenging a consensus.

This is something that’s been a concern since the beginning of the pandemic. For example, a report published during the first wave in the British Medical Journal  titled Covid-19: “Staggering number” of extra deaths in community is not explained by covid-19″ has suggested that quarantine measures in the United Kingdom, as a result of the new coronavirus, may have already killed more UK seniors than the coronavirus has during the months of April and May.

According to the data, COVID-19, at the time of publication, only accounted for 10,000 of the 30,000 excess deaths that have been recorded in senior care facilities during the height of the pandemic. The article quotes British Health officials stating that these unexplained deaths may have occurred because quarantine measures have prevented seniors from accessing the health care that they need.

Fast forward to more recent research regarding lockdowns, and these concerns have grown. Professor Anna-Mia Ekström and Professor Stefan Swartling Peterson have gone through the data from UNICEF and UNAIDS, and came to the conclusion that at least as many people have died as a result of the restrictions to fight COVID as have died of COVID. You can read more about that here.

These are just a few of many examples. You can read more about the hypothesized “catastrophic” impacts of lockdown, here.

When it comes to what he mentions about academics shying away from debate, especially if their research goes against the grain, we’ve a seen a lot of that too. Here’s a great example you can read about from Sweden regarding zero deaths of school children during the first wave despite no masks mandates or lockdown measures. Jonas F Ludvigsson, a paediatrician at Örebro University Hospital and professor of clinical epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute is quitting his work on COVID-19 because of harassment from people who dislike what he has discovered.

Why This Is Important: Heneghan’s words are something that many people have been concerned about when it comes to the deaths that are attributed to COVID-19. How many of them are actually a result of COVID? The truth seems to be that we don’t really know. But one thing we do know is that total death toll caused by COVID doesn’t seem to be quite accurate.

That being said, we do know that people with comorbidities are more susceptible to illness and death from COVID, and that’s something to keep in mind. For people with underlying health conditions, covid, just like flu or pneumonia, can be fatal.

Ontario (Canada) Public Health has a page on their website titled “How Ontario is responding to COVID-19.” On it, they clearly state that deaths are being marked as COVID deaths and are being included in the COVID death count regardless of whether or not COVID actually contributed to or caused the death. They state the following:

Any case marked as “Fatal” is included in the deaths data. Deaths are included whether or not COVID-19 was determined to be a contributing or underlying cause of death…”

This statement from Ontario Public Health echoes statements made multiple times by Canadian public health agencies and personnel. According to Ontario Ministry Health Senior Communications Advisor Anna Miller:

As a result of how data is recorded by health units into public health information databases, the ministry is not able to accurately separate how many people died directly because of COVID versus those who died with a COVID infection.

In late June 2020, Toronto (Ontario, Canada) Public Health tweeted that:

“Individuals who have died with COVID-19, but not as a result of COVID-19 are included in the case counts for COVID-19 deaths in Toronto.”

It’s not just in Canada where we’ve seen these types of statements being made, it’s all over the world. There are multiple examples from the United States that we’ve covered since the start of the pandemic.

For example, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health stated the following during the first wave of the pandemic:

If you were in hospice and had already been given a few weeks to live and then you were also found to have COVID, that would be counted as a COVID death, despite if you died of a clear alternative cause it’s still listed as a COVID death. So, everyone who is listed as a COVID death that doesn’t mean that was the cause of the death, but they had COVID at the time of death.

Also during the first wave, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment had to announce a change to how it tallies coronavirus deaths due to complaints that it inflated the numbers.

As you can see, we’ve struggled to find an accurate way to go about tallying COVID deaths since the start, creating more fear and hysteria around total numbers that are plastered constantly in front of citizens by news stations. That being said, a lot of people who are dying of COVID do have co-morbidities as well. But as the professor says, “it’s a complicated picture” and hard to figure out, and probably something we will never figure out.

There’s been a lot of “fear mongering” by governments and mainstream media, and some believe that lockdowns and masks are simply being used as a psychological tool to keep that fear constant, which in turn makes it easier to control people and make them comply.

Meanwhile, there are a lot of experts in the field who are pointing to the fact that yes, COVID is dangerous, but it does not at all warrant the measures that are being taken, especially when the virus has a 99.95 percent survival rate for people over the age of 70. There are better ways to protect the vulnerable without creating even more chaos that lockdown measures have created, and are creating throughout this pandemic.

That said, it’s also important to note that some calls for lockdown measures are focused on stopping hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. Why do some places with very restrictions see no hospital capacity issues? Why do some places with a lot of restrictions see hospital capacity issues? Why do we also see the opposite for both in some areas? These questions appear to be unanswered still. That being said. Hospitals have always been overwhelmed. This is not a new phenomenon.

The main issue here is not who is right or wrong, it’s the censorship of data, science, and opinions of experts in the field. The censorship that has occurred during this pandemic has been unprecedented.

Science is being suppressed for political and financial gain. COVID-19 has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale, and it is harmful to public health. Politicians and industry are responsible for this opportunistic embezzlement. So too are scientists and health experts. The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency—a time when it is even more important to safeguard science. –  Dr. Kamran Abbasi, recent executive editor of the prestigious British Medical Journal (source)

This censorship alone has been an excellent catalyst for people to question what we are constantly hearing from mainstream media, government, and political scientists. Any type of information that calls into question the recommendations or the information we are receiving from our government seems to be subjected to this type of censorship. Mainstream media has done a great job at not acknowledging many aspects of this pandemic, like clinically proven treatments other than a vaccine, and therefore the masses are completely unaware of it.

Is this what we would call ethical? When trying to explain this to a friend or family member, the fact that they are not aware of these other pieces of information, because they may be avid mainstream news watchers, has them in disbelief and perhaps even sometimes labelling such assertions as a “conspiracy theory.” This Brings me to my next point.

The Takeaway: As I’ve said in a number of articles before, society is failing to have conversations about “controversial” topics and viewpoints. This is in large part due to the fact that mainstream media does such a poor job at covering these viewpoints let alone acknowledging them. The fact that big media has such a stranglehold over the minds of many is also very concerning, because we are living in a time where independent research may be more useful. There seems to be massive conflicts of interest within mainstream media, and the fact that healthy conversation and debate is being shut down by mainstream media contributes to the fact that we can’t even have normal conversations about controversial topics in our everyday lives.

Why does this happen? Why can’t we see the perspective of another? To be honest, I still sometimes struggle with this. When it comes to COVID, things clearly aren’t as black and white as they’re being made out to be, and as I’ve said many times before when things aren’t clear, and when government mandates oppose the will of so many people, it reaches a point where they become authoritarian and overreaching.

In such circumstances I believe governments should simply be making recommendations and explaining why certain actions might be important, and then leave it to the people to decide for themselves what measures they’d like to take, if any. What do you think? One thing is for certain, COVID has been a catalyst for more and more people to question the world we live in, and why we live the way that we do.

To help make sense of what’s happening in our society today, we have released a course on overcoming bias and improving critical thinking. It’s an 8 module course and you can learn more about it here.

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Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

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