We live in a paradox. Our lives are easier, more convenient and abundant, but yet we suffer from serious and growing degenerative diseases. Our abundant lifestyles do not support the physical bodies we have inherited from our Paleolithic ancestors. In Part 1 I discussed the role fitness plays in combating modern illnesses. Here I will discuss the role proper nutrition plays in regaining our ancestral health.
What Is The Current State Of Our Health?
The situation is not good.
According to the CDC:
- About half of American adults (47%) have at least one of the following major risk factors for heart disease or stroke: uncontrolled high blood pressure, uncontrolled high LDL cholesterol, or are current smokers.
- Seven of the top 10 causes of death were chronic diseases. Two of these chronic diseases—heart disease and cancer—together accounted for nearly 48% of all deaths.(1)
According to the American Autoimmune and Related Disease Association some 50 million Americans suffer from autoimmune diseases like Hasimoto’s, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease.(2) About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. (3)
The International Diabetes Federation has declared “the battle to protect people from diabetes and its disabling, life-threatening complications is being lost.”(3)
Seduced By Our Instincts?
Rather than looking for some new scientific solution to our predicament, it may help to look back at our Paleolithic history. Evolution has provided us with all that we need to thrive. Oliver Selway in his Instinctive Fitness – A Re-evolutionary Approach to Diet and Exercise (4) puts it this way way:
“We shouldn’t be vainly searching for something ‘new’ to fight heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Instead we should simply look back to where we came from and re-discover what made our ancient ancestors supremely fit, healthy and disease free.” (p.276)
Unfortunately, the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions, while giving us so much, have thwarted essential human instincts. These instincts include craving sweet, salty and fatty foods. Humans evolved to seek out these rare foods and store them as energy. Most foods eaten by our ancestors were fibrous and bitter. In contrast, sweet, salty and fatty foods are now super abundant.
We are eating the foods evolution intended but in amounts beyond the body’s ability to cope. Food manufacturers discovered this inherited tendency and exploited it fully. Obesity rates, as a consequence, are soaring in the United States and throughout the world.
The result of this overabundance is a vast increase in lifestyle diseases. Daniel Lieberman, Professor of Biological Sciences at Harvard, in his seminal book The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease (5) gets at the root causes:
“Chief among these is that what matters is not only how much we eat but also what we eat and that our bodies are inadequately adapted to cope with relentless supplies of excess energy…” (loc. 4231)
Fat, Salt, Sugar & Abundance
What food manufacturers discovered is that people desire foods high in sugar, fat and salt. We are stimulated by these foods and want more. This creates a vicious cycle of craving valueless foods that displace the natural foods needed to supply the macro and micro nutrients essential for health.
David A. Kessler, the Harvard-trained doctor, lawyer, medical school dean and former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, in his book The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite (6) holds that “…when the mix is right, food becomes more stimulating. Eating foods high in sugar, fat and salt makes us eat more foods high in sugar, fat, and salt.” (loc. 238)
A serious consequence is that we overeat. Junk food activates the brains reward system (the hypothalamus), initiating an addiction like process. Processed foods are designed to awaken our need to seek gratification through food. What this has this led to, according to Dr. Stephen Guyenet, (7) a neurobiologist and obesity researcher, is Americans eating 363 more calories each day than in 1960 with a dramatic increase in obesity and chronic disease.
Simply put, we have two problems: eating too much food and eating the wrong kinds of food. This is not related to a lack of individual will power, it’s based on our seduction and manipulation by industrial food manufacturers.
What Can We Do To Alleviate The Situation?
One possible solution is to take Oliver Selway’s (4) advice and look at our Paleolithic ancestors’ diet. But how can we know what people ate so long ago?
Archeological research has demonstrated the content of ancient diets through bone analysis. A review of archaeological evidence by M P Richards of the Department of Archeological Sciences at the University of Bradford in the UK has demonstrated that “bone chemistry, especially isotope evidence provides direct evidence of diets…” and “…studies of Upper Paleolithic modern humans in Europe have…indicated the significant importance of animal products in the diets…” (8)
Where Does This Leave Us?
Current nutritional research is supporting the idea that eating a diet that is lower in carbohydrates and has ample amounts of animal protein and fat is healthy and can stem the development of obesity, cardiovascular disease and potentially other degenerative diseases. Many media outlets, including Medpage Today (9) and the New York Times reported recently on a randomized trial by Dr. Bazzano of Tulane University that showed cutting down on carbs was more effective in reducing cardiovascular risk and promoting weight loss than eating a low fat diet. This was a ground breaking study. The low carb group had a reduction in nearly every marker for cardiovascular disease. Those eating low carbs:
- Lost more weight
- Had higher HDLs
- Lower triglycerides
- Greater decrease in C-reactive protein
What Might A Healthy Diet Look Like?
Given the current state of scientific nutritional research and the archaeological record, it seems safe to say that a relatively low carbohydrate diet with high protein and fat levels is healthy for us. Although we can’t mimic exactly what our ancestors ate, the low carb diet comes close enough.
Let’s look at what we need to eat.
Low glycemic vegetables, fish, meat (not processed meats), eggs, nuts and seeds, dairy products (full-fat), non-gluten grains and some tubers (sweet potatoes, etc.), some fruits such as berries and apples. Legumes can be eaten in moderation. Use olive oil for salads and light sautéing with avocado oil for frying. Sesame oil is also a good choice.
Make every attempt to purchase grass fed meat and organic vegetables and fruits. The nutritional quality of organic foods is far superior to those conventionally grown. Be mindful of mercury and other toxicities found in available fish supplies (Salmon and sardines are perfect).
What To Consider Avoiding
Eliminate processed foods to the extent possible. If it was made in a factory, don’t eat it.
Cut down or stop eating high glycemic foods, such as low quality fruit juices, sodas, etc., gluten based grains (wheat, barley and rye), Omega-6 vegetable and seed oils, trans fats, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils (read the labels). I would eliminate artificial sweeteners and low fat products (skim and low fat milk).
Keep in mind that you need to experiment with foods to find out which are good for you and which are not. Each of us is an individual. One size does not fit all. Not everyone can flourish on a low carbohydrate diet.
No need to diet!
By eating low carb you will decrease the number of calories you take in and decrease the processed and high glycemic carbs that induce weight gain. You will not have to count calories while using this approach. There will be no need to diet. Coupled with the fitness plans discussed in Part 1, you will have begun the process of regaining robust and dynamic health naturally.
For a complete discussion of this issue access Chris Kresser’s blog: http://chriskresser.com/7-things-everyone-should-know-about-low-carb-diets.
Here are some good nutritional resources for low carb lifestyles and losing weight:
Please consult your health provider before making changes in your diet or activity levels.
In Part 3, I will discuss how modern stress compromises our health and the steps that can be taken to secure our genetic well being.
- Selway, O., Parker, C. Instinctive Fitness – A Re-evolutionary Approach to Diet and Exercise. (2013). Columbus Publishing Ltd.
- Lieberman, D. The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health and Disease. (2013). Pantheon Books.
- Kessler, D. A. The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite. (2009). Rodale Books.
- Guyenet, S. [Ted,HarvardLaw – Stephan Guyenet – The American Diet.(2012, February 4). The American Diet. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HC20OoIgG_Y
- Richards, M.P. (2002) Meat Consumption: Evolution and Progress. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 56 (12). 1270-1278. Retrieved from: http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v56/n12/index.html
- Walsh, Nancy. “Low Carb Beats Low Fat for Weight Loss, CV Risk.” Medpage Today. 2 September 2014. Retrieved from http://www.medpagetoday.com/Cardiology/Prevention/47447
Try This DIY Foot Reflexology Before Bed For The Best Sleep Ever
- The Facts:
A DIY foot reflexology technique that promises to help you have a good nights sleep.
- Reflect On:
Are you sleeping as well as you want to be sleeping? If not, try out this quick technique to see if you can improve your sleep.
A good night’s sleep? Do you even remember what that feels like?
When my partner and I agreed to move into a newly remodelled loft condo in the historic Hudson’s Bay building in downtown Victoria, we were thrilled by a few interior features: double bathroom sinks, heated tile floors, west-facing (hello sunsets!) and massive floor-to-ceiling windows that were original to the condo’s historic structure.
But while we were busy celebrating our brag-worthy new pad (we might have danced, once or thrice..), there was a nasty secret waiting to reveal itself – those god-forsaken windows.
Being historic, the gigantuous glass panes were nowhere near soundproof, and to make matters worse, we happened to be 4 stories above the busiest road in Victoria, as well as the busiest bus stop *bangs head on desk.* Of course, we found out the hard way, awakening every morning at 7:30am to the abrupt sounds of monster trucks revving, hydraulic squeals, and other obnoxious, penetrating traffic clatter. Even tightly jammed ear plugs proved futile against the noise.
Long story short, quality sleep is few and far between for me these days, so when I came across a Mind Body Green article titled “DIY Foot Reflexology For Your Best Sleep Ever“ by world-renowned Holistic Reflexologist Laura Norman, I was ecstatic, to say the least.
For all of you insomniacs, light sleepers (me), stress cases, caffeine addicts, and overthinkers out there, here is something you can try before bed tonight, outlined by Laura Norman, to help you get a more rejuvenated night’s sleep. Enjoy!
DIY Foot Reflexology By Laura Norman
“By stimulating reflex points on your feet, hands, face and ears, reflexology subtly impacts the whole body, affecting the organs and glands. A simple reflexology routine that works on just the feet can help you or a loved one to drift off to sleep naturally. There are nearly 15,000 nerves in your feet alone, one of many reasons that foot reflexology is so calming, soothing and effective.
Reflexologists use a map of the feet where all the organs, glands, and corresponding parts of the body are laid out. The toes reflect the head. The ridge beneath the toes on the top part of the ball of the foot is a natural shoulder or neck line. The ball of the foot reflects the chest. The arch mirrors the digestive organs, and the heel and ankles contain reflexes for the reproductive system. The inside curve of each foot (where we find the spinal reflex) corresponds to the actual curves of the spine.
Using the chart above, here’s a 15-minute routine in four easy steps that you can incorporate into your bedtime ritual:
1. Relax the feet, one at a time, with simple relaxation techniques: pressing and squeezing, lightly slapping, or gently kneading — whatever feels good. Finish by pressing and holding your thumb on the solar plexus point of each foot for 5-10 seconds each.
2. On the bottom of each foot, “walk” your thumb up from the base of the heel to each toe (imagine your thumb is a caterpillar inching its way up your foot), then press these reflex points with the outer edge of your thumb or tip of your forefinger:
- Head/brain (top of each toe) promotes clarity and positive thinking.
- Pituitary or “master gland” (center of big toe) stimulates/balances hormone secretions of all other glands.
- Pineal gland (outer side of big toe) secretes melatonin which controls our circadian rhythm/sleep cycle.
- Thyroid (base of big toe) balances metabolism.
- Neck/shoulders (ridge of toes) releases tension.
- Chest/lungs (ball of foot) calms breathing.
- Solar plexus/diaphragm (under ball of foot in the center) encourages profound relaxation and peacefulness.
If you have other particular areas of your body that are stressed, you can press the corresponding reflex area or point.
3. Apply the relaxation techniques again, and finish with another thumb press on the solar plexus point on both feet.
4. End with “breeze strokes” — lightly running your fingertips down the tops, bottoms, and sides of each foot in a feathery motion, barely touching the skin. Repeat this several times. It is very soothing to the nerves.
Reflexology transports you into a state of deep relaxation where you are open to suggestions you give yourself. This is a good time for a pre-sleep affirmation such as, A kind and forgiving world sings me to a peaceful sleep.
Also count your blessings and appreciate all of the good times in your day. Envision how you would like your next day to be.
Your bedtime ritual can include a nurturing exchange of reflexology mini-sessions with your partner. You can even use these same techniques to help your child go to sleep more easily. Sweet dreams!
Give Laura’s practice a try and let us know how it worked for you in the comment section below!
Real Salt, Celtic Salt and Himalayan Salt
- The Facts:
This article was originally written by Dr. Mark Sircus, Ac., OMD, DM (P) (acupuncturist, doctor of oriental and pastoral medicine) and published at Greenmedinfo.com. Posted here with permission.
- Reflect On:
Do you know the difference between refined salt and unrefined salt?
This is what real salt looks like—we all know what regular white salt looks like—and we mistakenly think it is real salt when it is not. The fact is that refined white salt, such as commercial table salt is bad, very bad stuff. Unrefined natural salt on the other hand is good, very good stuff providing many health benefits.
Unrefined sea salt is healthy. The blood-pressure-raising effect of table salt can be due to its high content of sodium with not enough magnesium to balance it. This has a magnesium-lowering effect that can constrict the arteries and raise blood pressure. Real salt (of various kinds) contains plenty of magnesium and other important minerals, which is why it usually does not affect blood pressure in a negative way.
Sodium is an essential nutrient required by the body for maintaining levels of fluids and for providing channels for nerve signaling. Some sodium is needed in your body to regulate fluids and blood pressure, and to keep muscles and nerves running smoothly.
Without appropriate amounts of sodium, your body may have a difficult time cooling down after intense exercise or activity. When the body is hot, you sweat. If you do not have enough sodium, your body may not sweat as much and you may then become overheated. This could result in a stroke or exhaustion as well as dehydration.
Sodium is an energy carrier. It is also responsible for sending messages from the brain to muscles through the nervous system so that muscles move on command. When you want to move your arm or contract any muscle in your body, your brain sends a message to a sodium molecule that passes it to a potassium molecule and then back to a sodium molecule etc., etc., until it gets to its final destination and the muscle contracts. This is known as the sodium-potassium ion exchange. Therefore, without sodium, you would never be able to move any part of your body.
Excess sodium (such as that obtained from dietary sources) is excreted in the urine.Most of the sodium in the body (about 85%) is found in blood and lymph fluid. Sodium levels in the body are partly controlled by a hormone called aldosterone, which is made by the adrenal glands. Aldosterone levels determine whether the kidneys hold sodium in the body or pass it into the urine.
Dr. David Brownstein weighs in heavily on this matter saying, “Nobody makes a distinction between unrefined and refined salt. They ‘lump’ all salt together as a bad substance. This is a terrible mistake. There are two forms of salt available in the market place: refined and unrefined. Refined salt has had its minerals removed and has been bleached to give it the white appearance that we are accustomed to seeing with salt. It is the fine, white salt that is available at almost any restaurant or grocery store. Refined salt has been bleached and exposed to many toxic chemicals in order to get it to its final product. It has aluminum, ferrocyanide, and bleach in it. I believe this refining process has made it a toxic, devitalized substance that needs to be avoided.”
“Unrefined salt, on the other hand,” Brownstein continues, “has not been put through a harsh chemical process. It contains the natural minerals that were originally part of the product. Its mineral content gives it a distinct color. The colors of unrefined salt can vary depending on where it is taken from. This is due to the changing mineral content of the various brands of salt. It is the minerals in unrefined salt that provide all the benefits of this product. The minerals supply the body with over 80 trace elements needed to maintain and sustain health.
Furthermore, the minerals elevate the pH (correct acidity) and lower blood pressure. Our maker gave us salt to use in our diet—unrefined salt—with its full complement of minerals. It should be the salt of choice. It is a vital ingredient that needs to be part of everyone’s diet.”
Dr. Brownstein says, “Years ago salt manufacturers decided that pure white salt is prettier than off-white salt and that consumers prefer pretty white salt. So they started bleaching it. They also added anti-clumping agents to increase its shelf life. The problem is that the chemicals added to keep salt from absorbing moisture on the shelf interfere with one of salt’s main functions: to regulate hydration in your body. The sodium chloride in table salt is highly concentrated, denatured, and toxic to your body. Ever put salt on an open cut? It burns!!!
Refined salt has the same effect on internal tissues and causes a negative reaction: your body retains water to protect itself, and your cells release water to help dilute, neutralize, and break down the salt. This loss of water dehydrates and weakens your cells and can even cause them to die prematurely. Natural sea salt is far superior to chemically-treated iodized table salts as it contains all 92 trace minerals, and it’s only 84% sodium chloride while table salt is almost 98%”.
All this adds up to one thing. Table salt, whether marine or not, is toxic—it’s poisonous to the body and is responsible, in great part, to the onset of many terrible diseases including thyroid and metabolic dysfunction.
In addition to sodium and chloride, Celtic Sea Salt® provides other nutrients that naturally occur in salt beds, including trace amounts of calcium, magnesium potassium, iron and zinc.
In accordance with standards set by The World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization, independent analysis indicates that levels of heavy metals are non-detectable (e.g. arsenic, cadmium, mercury) or well below published safe limits in Celtic Sea Salt®. Perhaps most importantly, Celtic Sea Salt® is not exposed to refinement and bleaching used to manufacture typical table salt and there are no additives. Celtic Sea Salt® is harvested from the ocean using the sun, the wind and shallow clay ionizing ponds, a method passed down through the generations.
Many Americans over consume refined salt by eating processed foods, fast foods and canned foods with salt added. Celtic Sea Salt® is a good alternative as part of a healthier diet. Recommended use is a half teaspoon per day.
Himalayan crystal salt that is mined 5,000 feet deep below the Himalayan mountain range was subject to enormous pressure over millions of years and is over 99% pure. The higher the amount of pressure the more superior or excellent the state of order within the crystalline structure of salt. Many Himalayan salts are sold cheaply but are collected from higher up near the tops of the Himalayan Mountains instead of from the deeper mines. These salts contain more impurities, do not have the same structure and are not as easily assimilated by the body.
Himalayan salt contains 84 minerals and trace elements in ionic state and is a delightful pink color. People often state that they use less of this salt than of other types. Many sizes are available from 3 oz in a salt grinder to larger 1-kg bags (2.2 lb). Salt chunks are also available for making your own “sole,” which is a saturated solution of purified water with Himalayan salt. A specific recipe (see below) must be followed to make sole and results in a solution that has much less sodium than just adding salt to water would have. Daily use of sole is believed to stimulate the peristalsis of the digestive organs, balance the stomach acid, support the production of digestive fluids in the liver and pancreas, regulate the metabolism and harmonize the acid-alkaline balance.
Start Each Day with a Healthy Sole
The ideal way to use Himalayan Crystal Salt is in the form of a sole (so-LAY). Drinking the sole when you awake each morning is like getting up on the right side of the bed. It provides the energizing minerals you need daily to recharge your body, and it helps set the stage for a day of vitality.
Essentially, a sole is water saturated with Himalayan Crystal Salt. The sole contains about approximately 26 parts of salt to 100 parts of water. Prepare the water and salt combination in advance (see directions to the right). Each morning place a teaspoon of the sole mixture in a glass and fill with 8 ounces of pure spring water. Drink it immediately or sip it while getting dressed, checking emails or preparing breakfast. The water helps transport the electrolytes throughout the body to all the many places they are needed.
How to Prepare Sole
Sole is a mixture of water and salt. The object is to saturate the water with dissolved salt so it can’t hold anymore. You’ll know that you’ve created sole when there are undissolved salt crystals in the water. You can’t oversaturate the water with salt. The crystals will simply drop to the bottom of the container.
Place several Himalayan Crystal Salt stones or Himalayan Crystal Salt granules about an inch deep in a glass container. (A canning jar works well.)
Cover the salt with two to three inches of pure, spring water. Let the salt dissolve for 24 hours.
If all the salt dissolves in 24 hours, add more salt to the container. The sole is finished when the water can no longer dissolve the salt and the salt crystals drop to the bottom of the container. There will always be salt crystals in the jar. It doesn’t matter if you have only a few crystals or many. The water is saturated and is now sole.
Cover the container to prevent the water from evaporating. Since salt is a natural preservative, the sole will keep forever. It can’t spoil or go “bad.”
The vibrational energy of the Himalayan Crystal Salt remains in your body for 24 hours.
A teaspoon of sole contains 480 mg of sodium, or 20% of the Daily Reference Value of 2400 mg based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet.
Redmond Real Salt is mined in the United States and is another good unrefined salt that I also recommend. It can be used as a table salt and for cooking and is available in coarse and fine grinds and in a variety of sizes.
Real Salt comes from a mineral rich salt deposit formed by an ancient sea in Utah. It contains 62 trace minerals, and is without additives, chemicals, or heat processing of any kind. Real Salt’s unique pinkish appearance and flecks of color come from the more than 60 naturally occurring trace minerals. The result is a delicate “sweet salt” flavor that you may not have experienced before.
Special Note: I was very disappointed to hear Dr. Max Gerson’s daughter Charlotte Gerson saying, “That sodium is never good, never in any form!” I have put Gerson in the best light in my writings and his organization does hold the high ground for organic raw juicing but there are some things they say that have no grounding in medical science or clinical reality. Talk to Dr. David Brownstein and he will tell you that often the first thing a patient needs is water and salt but its real salt not table salt he is talking about and prescribing for his patients.
I have written a full essay addressing this communication from Charlotte. And I have another essay on using seawater as a medicine and that will be seen in my Treatment Essentials book that is now finished and ready for publication on the 15th of February. To even think of discounting the medical miracles from the sea, which Charlotte is clearly doing, makes me shudder.
-  These processes in the body, especially in the brain, nervous system, and muscles, require electrical signals for communication. The movement of sodium is critical in the generation of these electrical signals. Too much or too little sodium therefore can cause cells to malfunction, and extremes in the blood sodium levels (too much or too little) can be fatal – http://www.medicinenet.com/electrolytes/article.htm
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AMA Says Mature 12-Year-Olds Can Consent to Vaccination Without Parents
At the recently concluded annual meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA) in Chicago, AMA delegates adopted a doozy of a new policy. The powerful trade group agreed to develop model legislation that pressures state legislatures into allowing minors to “override refusenik parents on vaccination.”
In 2000, the Supreme Court reasserted the fundamental right of parents to oversee the care, custody and control of their children, a right recognized by states until children reach age 18. Where vaccines are concerned, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act—passed in 1986—legally requires health care providers to distribute vaccine information materials to the parent or legal guardian of any child to whom the provider intends to administer a vaccine “prior to the administration of such vaccine” [emphasis added].
Does it trouble the AMA that its pronouncement goes against legal precedent as well as social custom? Apparently unconcerned about “chipping away at parental rights,” AMA representatives are gung-ho about the organization’s new policy position. Not only do they want minors as young as 12 to be able to consent to vaccination regardless of their parents’ “flawed beliefs”—while still expecting parents to pay for the vaccines—they also believe that doctors should be the ones declaring a child “mature enough” to consent to vaccination. A question that anyone familiar with the AMA’s history should be asking is, why would we trust the AMA to make such vital decisions in parents’ stead?
… one-fourth of the AMA’s total revenues were CPT-related [the medical services coding system]—representing double what the organization received from membership dues. This gigantic conflict of interest, according to the Forbeseditorialist, makes the AMA more a tool of Washington’s interests than those of doctors.
The AMA’s membership has been plummeting in recent decades. A 2011 analysis of its membership “woes” estimated that the Association captures just 15% of practicing doctors, down from 75% in the early 1950s. The AMA’s membership challenges do not mean that the organization lacks clout, however. In fact, the AMA has a variety of potent tools at its disposal to ensure that it “remain[s] relevant at the national level.” These include a political action committee and a vast lobbying war chest (with upwards of $20 million spent in 2018), all of which translates into outsized influence over both health care policy and public perceptions.
A 2016 report on Capitol Hill lobbyists rated the AMA one of the top “movers and shakers” in Washington, ranking among the “select few [that] have shown an ability to get things done.” A former AMA president modestly admitted as much, stating that “What the AMA does, and does best, is in the advocacy arena.” An analysis of the top 20 health care lobbyists found that the AMA ranked the highest in terms of “all-time spending” and ranked number five in spending “among all lobbyists, regardless of industry.”
The lobbying firms that the AMA hires are often the same as those used by the pharmaceutical industry. The AMA Foundation’s roster of high-level Corporate Roundtable members consists almost entirely of pharmaceutical industry members—including the four companies that manufacture all childhood vaccines in the U.S. (Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Sanofi). Drug company advertising also dominates the pages of the AMA’s flagship journal JAMA, even though many are “the very same drugs that are…killing tens of thousands of Americans each year, according to senior drug safety researchers at the FDA.” Nor does the AMA hesitate to provide a “seal of approval” for products and drugs—earning sizeable advertising fees—“despite the fact that the organization has no capacity to test such drugs.”
In 2011, Forbes pointed out that the AMA reaps huge financial rewards through its Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) medical services coding system, used by health care providers, payers, and facilities across the U.S. Given the CPT system’s importance to large public programs such as Medicare, the system essentially amounts to a “government-granted monopoly” and AMA “windfall.” In 2010, one-fourth of the AMA’s total revenues were CPT-related—representing double what the organization received from membership dues. This “gigantic conflict of interest,” according to the Forbes editorialist, makes the AMA “more a tool of Washington’s interests than those of doctors.”
The AMA also has a sordid history of racketeering. Economist Milton Friedman wrote some years ago of the AMA’s concerted attacks on chiropractors and osteopathic physicians, and in a 1987 antitrust lawsuit brought by chiropractors, the judge agreed that the AMA had conspired “to contain and eliminate a profession that was licensed in all fifty states.” The judge also decried the Association’s “long history of illegal behavior.” In the early 2000s, the courts again found the AMA (along with managed care companies) guilty of racketeering through manipulation of the AMA’s coding software.
Did the zealous school nurse who recently administered a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to an 11-year-old boy without parental consent—while telling the mother that all he got was an ice pack—follow “legal, ethical, and professional guidelines”?
Efforts to circumvent parents’ involvement in their children’s health care have been underway for quite some time, notably in the reproductive health arena. For services related to contraception and sexually transmitted infections, health providers are only too happy to shout down parental objections, arguing that young people’s need for confidential medical services is “more important” than parents’ right to be informed of their child’s condition.
Now, researchers are laying down the train tracks to make the same case for vaccines. In 2014, top-tier adolescent health experts described parental consent as a “barrier to vaccination” and called for “strategies that increase the ability of unaccompanied minors…to receive vaccines within the context of legal, ethical, and professional guidelines.” Did the zealous school nurse who recently administered a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to an 11-year-old boy without parental consent—while telling the mother that all he got was an ice pack—follow “legal, ethical, and professional guidelines”?
AMA critics argue that the organization has spearheaded a push for a “totalitarian medical pharmaceutical police state” almost since its inception in the mid-1850s. While such rhetoric is strong, it seems clear that on vaccine issues, the AMA is only too willing to stake out a draconian policy position. After the AMA announced its intent to ignore parents’ wishes, one conservative writer underscored the contradictions: “So while individuals need to be 21 years old before they are allowed to drink, and 18 years old before they are allowed to purchase cigarettes and elect a president, children at any age can make a decision to partake in vaccinations, regardless of the associated risks, of which there are enough to warrant the need for a National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.” Legislators tempted to jump on the AMA’s bandwagon might want to think twice before throwing parental rights under the bus in such a cavalier manner.
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