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The Truth About Stress & Its Cure

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Some years ago, I had the opportunity to teach stress management to students in my role as a personal counselor at a New York City public college. While there, I established a stress management program that emphasized relaxation training, diaphragmatic breathing, hypnosis, cognitive restructuring and procrastination training. These techniques were helpful to those who took the time to be trained. But over the years, I came to see that stress management is not only about learning techniques.

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This came home to me while taking a training course in group therapy. I presented one of my stress groups as my course project. I still remember the comments of the instructor: “This is all well and good, but you aren’t really dealing with the people in the group and what’s troubling them.” After a bit of anger on my part, I came to realize that I had missed an essential point in successful stress management.

Managing stress is more than learning a few breathing techniques or yoga poses or even how to think positively. These things can certainly help treat the symptoms of stress, especially in times of need and challenge. But stress management is really about discovering what makes us happy.

Martin Seligman, a positive psychology researcher, in his book Authentic Happiness, laments the scientific neglect of life’s positive dimensions:

“Relieving the states that make life miserable, it seems, has made building the states that make life worth living less of a priority.” (1)

Happiness is a center piece to any life that is meaningful, lived with purpose and fully engaged with the world. In this article, I will explore how happiness is the foundation for living a life that is whole and satisfying.

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What is stress management not about?

The media is filled with information about managing stress, losing weight, getting fit, finding the right career, making money and gaining status.  We hear of techniques to cure every ill. We’re told how to breathe, what to eat, which careers are the best, and what exercises to do for a flat stomach. In spite of this, many of us are still stressed out, overweight, out of shape, in jobs we hate and somehow discontent with our lives.

It’s even worse for the not so fortunate among us who are working two or three jobs just to survive and provide for their families, for the single parent looking for day care and decent employment at decent pay, or the homeless trapped in a vicious downward cycle. Deep breathing may not be up to the task of relieving this kind of stress.

There is a much broader vision involved in managing stress than we might at first imagine, such as knowing ourselves , our values and virtues, having a supporting and loving community of family and friends, and working for the good of others. These are the things that help create well-being and happiness. If it were as easy as trying a stress management technique to cure us, we would all be happily relaxed. Let’s take a closer look at the extraordinary contribution happiness can make in our lives.

What is happiness about?

The answer may be that it was never about abundance or techniques. It may be more about coming to know who we are and recognizing the importance of our relationships with others and our community.

There is a dynamic balance between inner peace and healthy loving relationships that serves us well. One might say it’s a yin and yang of inner happiness and outer happiness. For example, a loving relationship helps us feel secure and accepted. If that relationship should end or be temporarily interrupted our sense of inner worth and peace should still survive. Or if we are feeling inner distress, having a loving relationship to get us through helps immensely.

Being happy is about learning to flourish in the midst of life’s conundrums, of being resilient in the face of uncertainty, and of experiencing the great pleasure of being alive.

Let’s look into how inner peace and loving relationships intertwine to produce personal happiness.   

Inner peace – “He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened.” ― Lao Tzu

greedyA mistake nearly all of us make is to over emphasize the importance of external objects as the source of our happiness. We come to see happiness as something added to us. If I just can just get that job, a spouse, more money, a bigger house, then I will be happy. Our sense of happiness becomes overly acquisitive. Our economic system fosters this attitude. Black Friday is the quintessential symptom of our seduction. If the world gives me what I want, I’m happy.  If not, I’m angry and discontent. The Dali Lama put it this way:

I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy.  From the very core of our being, we desire contentment…it is a mistake to place all our hopes for happiness on external development alone. The key is to develop inner peace. (2)

Perhaps it’s about following the Greek Socratic exhortation to “Know Thyself.”

How do we cultivate inner peace and happiness?

First, we need to recognize that happiness heals. Happiness can influence how long we live, the diseases we contract, and how we recover from illnesses. Lissa Rankin, MD in her book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself says that,

Happiness…effects life expectancy. People with higher levels of “subjective well-being” live up to ten years longer than those who don’t. Happiness also affects some health outcomes, including success rates of stem-cell transplantation, control of diabetes, rates of full-blown AIDS…and recovery from stroke, heart surgery, and hip fracture. (3)

Having a positive psychological stance in life lowers overall mortality, extends longevity, and reduces the severity of most degenerative diseases.

Second, reducing or removing the obstacles to happiness allows happiness to emerge. Similar to dieting, knowing what not to eat is as important as knowing what you should eat. Knowing what makes you unhappy and working to remove or diminish those things helps immensely. Gretchen Rubin is the author of The Happiness Project, (4) a book and a blog about her adventures learning to be happier. In a Psychology Today article she says:

Although it’s helpful to focus on the positive, to count your blessings, and to remind yourself of what makes you happy, it’s also very important to pay attention to what’s undermining your happiness. (5)

Rubin strongly suggests that you ask yourself what the obstacles are to your happiness. When you identify an obstacle be specific. What exactly is bothering you? Why is this having such an impact? And finally, what do your need to do to change your behavior?

Obstacles could include:

  • Equating success with money and status
  • Blaming others for your unhappiness, it’s always someone else’s fault
  • Being afraid
  • Staying in toxic relationships
  • Not being honest with yourself and others
  • Focusing your life obsessively on making good impressions
  • Neglecting introspection and awareness of yourself, of your values and beliefs
  • Needing to make everyone else happy
  • Thinking life should always be wonderful.

Healthy, Loving Relationships – “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” – Lao Tzu

loving coupleThe quality of our personal relationships can foster deep contentment and happiness.  Paradoxically, the degree to which we accept ourselves, the more rewarding our relationships can become.

One of the elements commonly overlooked in both medicine and stress management is the quality of our loving and supportive relationships. When our relationships are poor or the community in which we live is isolated and unsupportive our own level of happiness suffers. Lissa Rankin notes that:

The reality is that loneliness causes stress, while loving community relaxes you. The effects of stress and relaxation don’t just affect the mind; they affect the body and the mind. (3)

Rankin goes on to underscore how important loving relationships and supportive community are in our lives:

In fact, this factor alone may affect your body more profoundly than what you eat, how much you drink, whether or not you smoke, or how much you exercise. (3)

Research (6) demonstrates clearly that supportive relationships and community, as well as belief in a higher power extends longevity and brings deeper levels of happiness. This extends to helping the sick and the poor and unemployed. Pope Francis puts it succinctly:

When we are generous in welcoming people and sharing something with them—some food, a place in our homes, our time—not only do we no longer remain poor: we are enriched. (7)

The modern ideals of total autonomy and radical self-reliance are profoundly misplaced. It is incumbent on us to either change or move away from toxic personal and social relationships. Our happiness and health depend on it.

Remember, happiness comes from the inside and manifests itself in loving personal relationships and our connection with the world.  It is of the utmost importance that we seek out people and communities that offer us love and understanding and to which we can offer the same. It is important that we work to see that all people regardless of ethnicity, race or sexual orientation have the opportunity to live without fear and enjoy the fruits of loving relationships. All of us flourish in love.

References 

1. Seligman, Martin, Authentic Happiness. (2002). Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc.

2. Architects of Peace. His Holiness the Dalai Lama Reflects on Working Toward Peace. Retrieved from http://www.scu.edu/ethics/architects-of-peace/Dalai-Lama/essay.html

 3. Lankin, Lissa, Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself. (2013). Hay House, Inc.

4. Rubin, Gretchin, The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun. (2009). Harper Collins e-book.

5. Rubin, Gretchin. Happiness Question: What’s an obstacle to your happiness?. Psychology Today Oct. 27, 2010. Retrieved from: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-happiness-project/201005/happiness-question-whats-obstacle-your-happiness

6. Pursuit of Happiness. Relationships. Retrieved from http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/science-of-happiness/communicating/

7. Visit to the Community of Varginha, (2013).  Address of Pope Francis, Rio de J2neiro. Retrieved from http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2013/july/documents/papa-francesco_20130725_gmg-comunita-varginha.html

 

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Health

An Indigenous Perspective About Being A Vegan

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Below is a video from of Margaret Robinson, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, talking about indigenous culture and its relationship with animals.

  • Reflect On:

    Have we been mislead with health, an desensitized to cruelty?

Indigenous wisdom is something that resonates with many people. Despite the fact that this way of life was almost completely erased all over the world by the ruling class, it lives on today, and there is a big movement to grow it and share its vital message, which necessary for the preservation of our planet.

This kind of cultural genocide began during the Roman Empire, when Roman culture, institutions, and beliefs were pushed upon the citizenry, and consequences were doled out for those who didn’t follow them. The aristocracy controlled the people, and went on a global mission to conquer other parts of the world. Through this conquest, many cultures, beliefs, and wisdoms were lost, all so the ruling power at the time could assimilate others into their way of life.

Moving forward, we saw this type of ideology pushed by the Church, which condemned those who offered new ideas, science, and alternate views about the nature of our reality. Despite history moving forward, very little had changed; the powerful group of people who control politics, finance, and most aspects of our lives today were still pushing a certain way of life upon the citizenry.

And it remains so today. The destabilization of many countries, especially in the Middle East, and the whole process of globalization in general, is proof of that. We now live in a corporatocracy, which thrives on making the “American Dream” the primary focus of all global citizens. War and corrupt politics are the main tools used to carve out this new way of life for others.

As far as indigenous peoples go specifically, scholars have estimated that, prior to the ‘discovery’ of the Americas by Europeans, the pre-contact era population could have been as high as 100 million people. In very recent history, indigenous assimilation, forced by church and state, has continued, as the residential school system in Canada makes clear.

And because these cultures pass down beliefs and teachings orally, a lot of wisdom held by the elders was lost. Fortunately, some remain to preserve it.

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The world has changed a lot, but much of their teachings, meant to serve as a guidebook for a way of life that respects and honours all beings, still applies today. One great example would by the modern day food industry. Several different cultures within the first nations of America preach deep respect for all life and the animal kingdom, and a recognition that all life is connected. Imagine travelling back in time and showing footage of modern day factory farms — animals being raised and tortured en mass, in the billions, solely to be killed for our increasing greed.

I would be surprised if you could find one elder today who wasn’t appalled and heartbroken, or an elder in ancient times who would allow their people to participate in such barbaric acts.

There is no question about it — the modern day meat industry and the way we eat meat today would not have been accepted by the First Nations of recent history. But don’t take my word for it.

What Would Indigenous Wisdom Say? 

Rita Laws, Ph.D., published an article explaining how among her own people, the Choctaw Indians of Mississippi and Oklahoma, vegetables were the traditional diet, and homes were constructed of wood, mud, bark, and cane — not skins.

“The principal food, eaten daily from earthen pots, was a vegetarian stew containing corn, pumpkin and beans.”

She explains how meat in “the form of small game was an infrequent repast” and how their clothing was even derived from plants.

Perhaps one of the most interesting revelations shared by her experience and research is the fact that “more than one tribe has creation legends which describe people as vegetarian, living in a kind of Garden of Eden. A Cherokee legend describes humans, plants, and animals as having lived in the beginning in ‘equality and mutual helpfulness.’ “

She goes on to explain how “the needs of all were met without killing one another. When man became aggressive and ate some of the animals, the animals invented diseases to keep human population in check. The plants remained friendly, however, and offered themselves not only as food to man, but also as medicine, to combat the new diseases.”

Laws also points out how many other Indian tribes were like hers, subsisting primarily on plants, but those who did hunt did so sparingly and with care. A special bond existed between them and the animals whose lives they took, or, according to many legends, these animals who offered themselves freely. The animals were also seen as a gift from the great sprit, spiritual warriors who were there for the protection and well-being of the people, to provide in several ways, almost like guardian angels.

“In the past, and in more than a few tribes, meat-eating was a rare activity, certainly not a daily event. Since the introduction of European meat-eating customs, the introduction of the horse and the gun, and the proliferation of alcoholic beverages and white traders, a lot has changed.”

Laws also explains how meat consumption was not revered, and there was nothing ceremonial about it. It was always plants and fall festivals centred around the harvest that were most celebrated.

Meat-eating was a rare activity, certainly not a daily event. Since the introduction of European meat-eating customs, the introduction of the horse and the gun, and the proliferation of alcoholic beverages and white traders, a lot has changed. Relatively few native peoples can claim to be vegetarians today.

“What would this country be like today if the ancient ways were still observed? I believe it is fair to say that the Indian respect for non-human life forms would have had a greater impact on American society. Corn, not turkey meat, might be the celebrated Thanksgiving Day dish. Fewer species would have become extinct, the environment would be healthier, and Indian and non-Indian Americans alike would be living longer and healthier lives. . . . Now we, their descendants, must recapture the spirit of the ancient traditions for the benefit of all people. We must move away from the European influences that did away with a healthier style of living. We must again embrace our brothers and sisters, the animals, and ‘return to the corn’ once and for all.”

You can read her full article here, where she goes into more detail and gives many more examples. It definitely gives you something to think about, doesn’t it?

An Excellent Video Discussing The Topic In More Detail

“If, as our Mi’kmaq legends suggest, animals are our siblings, then how can we justify their treatment as objects within the hunting, fishing and agricultural industries? What alternative do Mi’kmaq legends offer to the Christian colonial models of stewardship and domination, in which animals are our property? This workshop examines Mi’kmaq cultural values as an indigenous grounding for vegan practice while offering a critical standpoint on issues such as the indigenous fishing industry.”

Below is a video from of Margaret Robinson, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  She’s a member of the Lennox Island First Nation. You can learn more about her and view some of her publications here.

In the lecture, she brings up several points regarding food and indigenous culture, and the current issues that surround the modern day perception of a vegetarian/vegan diet according to various indigenous cultures. She focuses primarily on the barriers for aboriginal veganism.

Personally, I believe our world is experiencing a dramatic shift in various areas, and compassion is one of them. As a result, along with all of the health benefits outlined in the articles linked below the vide, this is precisely why more and more people are switching to vegan/vegetarian diets.

 
Related CE Articles:

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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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