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The 12 Best Foods To Eat When You Are On Your Period (Reduce Pain)

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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.

Aside from child bearing, the biggest thing that separates men from women is, of course, menstruation.

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And if you’re a woman, well… it really sucks. There’s no other way to put it. Between the cramping, the mood swings, and the bloating (not to mention the mess), women are forced to endure discomforts that would probably make most grown men cry — Every. Single. Month.

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Of course, no one woman is the same.

Some can start menstruating as early as 11 years old and some might hit menopause as late as 60 years old. Some have longer cycles than the 28-day average, while others have much shorter. Despite these differences, we all share in the misery of our monthly companion to some degree or another. Certainly, most women can relate to the horrific emotional roller coaster that comes before, during, or after our periods. And an estimated 85 percent of women experience at least one symptom of PMS per month, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Bloating
  • Breast Tenderness
  • Weight Gain
  • Swelling in face, ankles, feet, and hands
  • Aching in the back
  • Cold sores (sometimes recurring)
  • Heaviness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Gaseousness
  • Light and noise sensitivity
  • Food cravings
  • Acne
  • Diarrhea and constipation
  • Lack of coordination
  • Muscle spasms

What most woman don’t know is that experiencing terrible PMS doesn’t just signal that your hormones are temporarily out of whack; it can also reveal energy stagnation (or Qi stagnation) in the body.

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I know what you’re thinking: “I’m a woman! Duh! It’s supposed to hurt.” Well actually, no, it’s not. If you are fighting bad cramps every month, your body is telling you that something is going on that NEEDS your attention.

(Check out this awesome article by Organic Olivia that explains Qi stagnation in depth and how it is related to your liver.)

So aside from addressing the emotional component of terrible cramps, there are also physical ways we can ease the pain when PMS does strike.

I put together a list of food below with examples of how to help alleviate the stress your body experiences during this time. Not everything on this list will work for you, but a process of trial and error with each can certainly help you to be more self aware of what you consume and how your body reacts to it.

Water

Nature’s gift to wo(man)! It comes as no surprise that water is essential to easing us through the most natural time in our life. It may sound counterintuitive, but drinking more water will actually help to release water retention and alleviate bloating. As health and fitness consultant Tari Rose explains, “Your body is retaining water because it’s afraid of not getting enough. So, if you give it what it needs (more water) it will release the water it’s holding onto.” Also, our bodies are losing copious amounts of liquids (or so it feels), so replenishing ourselves with pure water is our best bet; not to mention, water promotes regular and smooth bowel movements, which helps reduce stagnation in the abdominal area – a common concern before and during menstruation.

Vegetables

Women lose about 30-80ml of blood and 15-25ml of iron during each menstruation, so it’s important we replenish the iron we are losing with iron rich foods. But as with most things in life, it’s important not to overdo it, because too much of these foods can cause bloating.

Parsley contains apiol, a compound that has been shown to be highly effective at stimulating the menstrual process and relieving menstrual cramps.

Spinach contains an ample amount of nutrients like Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, and Magnesium, which have been shown to fight menstrual cramps.

An iron supplement could also help here, but you may have to try a few before finding one that doesn’t cause constipation.

Foods: parsley, spinach, kale, celery, collards, dried prunes, dried peaches, pumpkin seeds, raisins, brussels sprouts, beans, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, artichokes, legumes, and more.

Calcium

Women need at least 1,200 mg of calcium every day, according to certified holistic health counselor and nutritionist Latham Thomas. In one study, women who took 1,200 mg per day for 3 months experienced a 48% reduction in their PMS symptoms. Compare that to a 30% reduction for those taking a placebo (hello, power of consciousness!), and increasing your calcium intake starts to seem like a worthwhile endeavour. Further studies were conducted to prove the benefits of calcium in combatting PMS, especially during the luteal phase of your cycle. 

Kale is one of the best plant-based sources of calcium and has the highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) rating, which measures a food’s ability to scavenge free radicals — unstable molecules that can damage your body at the cellular level.

Broccoli is 91 percent water by weight, this helps eliminate bloating (fibre helps with this too) while getting rid of puffiness, gas, and fatigue. Broccoli has calcium, vitamins A, C, B6, and E, potassium, and magnesium — nutrients that help alleviate PMS symptoms.

Foods: kale, spinach, collard greens, broccoli, edamame, bok choy, figs, almonds, and more.

Fruit

Sugar cravings are especially common during this time so it’s important we go for the right kinds of sugar and avoid the overly-processed sweets we often turn to. “Fruits, vegetables and whole foods are your friends always, but especially during menstruation. The fruit from sugar may help alleviate sugar cravings,” explains health and fitness consultant Tari Rose. The great thing about fruit, particularly at this time, is its high fibre content, which can help improve regularity.

Bananas can also help regulate your bowels, which is important for women who experience diarrhea during their period. Bananas are also known to help with cramps, thanks to nutrients like vitamin B6, but potassium is the real star here, as it reduces water retention and thus bloating as well.

Pineapple also helps to combat cramping because it contains bromelain, an enzyme that is thought to help relax muscles. However, most of the bromelain in pineapple is located in the stem, which is not as tasty as the flesh (but edible nevertheless).

Foodscherries, blueberries, rasberries, apricots, oranges, plums, pears, cucumbers, and more.

Nuts & Seeds

The little guys are energy-dense little fuel sources, packed with concentrated protein, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients unique to the specific varieties.

Walnuts are rich in the healthy omega-3 fatty acids which are known to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. Additionally, walnuts are loaded with magnesium and with vitamin B6 — one cup of chopped walnuts provides 31% of the recommended daily intake of B6.

Sesame seeds are full of nutrients that have been shown to reduce cramps affiliated with menstruation. They are a great source of vitamin B6, zinc, calcium, and magnesium, and contain certain healthful fatty acids that may help relax muscles.

Sunflower seeds are loaded with vitamin E, as well as the key anti-cramping minerals zinc and magnesium. These seeds also contain pyridoxine (vitamin B6), which helps relieve pain through its role in the synthesis of the neurotransmitter dopamine. In addition, pyridoxine has been shown to promote the absorption of zinc and magnesium.

Fenugreek seeds are little seeds with a pungent-sweet flavour that are also a popular remedy for menstrual pain.

Foods: almonds, brazil nuts, pecans, cashews, flaxseeds (ground), peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and more.

Tea

Cold and raw foods can be difficult for our bodies to digest, and warmth at this time serves our bodies tremendously. Herbal teas are the best to go for because caffeine can worsen cramps and PMS significantly.

Chamomile tea contains properties that relieve muscle spasms, and it helps reduce the tension that leads to anxiety and irritability. It is also a natural anti-inflammatory, reducing prostaglandin production and relieving menstrual cramps.

Peppermint is a natural muscle relaxer and appetite suppressant.

Cinnamon contains anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties that ease menstrual cramp symptoms.

Basil contains caffeic acid which has an analgesic or pain-killing effect.

Thyme also contains high caffeic acid properties which prevent menstrual cramps.

Ginger can help with nausea and bloating, and is an age-old remedy for menstrual cramps in China.

Green tea promotes lowers estrogen levels and this can help the endocrine system to function more efficiently. 

Sage has active properties that regulate sweating and blood clotting. It’s great in baths, too, and rubbing sage oil on your abdomen can help with cramps as well.

Wheat Germ

Wheat germ is a nutrient rich powerhouse which contains a concentrated source of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), with a mere cup of crude wheat germ providing a whopping 75% of the recommended daily intake for this important vitamin! Wheat germ is also an excellent source of other B vitamins, as well as zinc, and contains high amounts of vitamin E and magnesium.

Oats

Oats contain magnesium, which improves nervous system functioning, and this is particularly important during times of mental or physical stress. Magnesium can also help you sleep, can increase your energy, lower anxiety, assist in regularity, and prevent aches and moodiness. Oats are also one of the best sources of dietary zinc, fantastic for women who suffer from painful periods, and they provide adequate carbs to replenish lost glycogen in the body. This promotes energy and prevents moodiness. Oats are also full of easily digestible fiber, which will assist in eliminating excess estrogen in the body to help even out your mood even further.

Dark Chocolate

It’s important that you consume either raw organic cacao powder or organic plain cocoa so your body can readily digest the proper nutrients — nutrients which milk chocolate cannot provide. Dairy is highly inflammatory and promotes unhealthy hormone levels, and chocolates with dairy often contain excess sugar as well. The processing this kind of chocolate goes through also kills most, if not all, of the beneficial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Raw organic cacao powder is lower in fat, higher in antioxidants and fibre, an excellent source of iron, and combats cravings. Having a small piece of dark chocolate with 60 percent or higher cacao bean content every day on your period can help manage sugar cravings.

Cacao is a natural mood elevator because it boosts serotonin in the brain and contains magnesium, a mineral which helps regulate mood (see below). It’s important to choose organic, non-GMO, and raw varieties to avoid contaminants that can develop during cacao’s fermentation process. Cacao powder is an affordable superfood and a terrific source of beauty-promoting and mood-lifting nutrients including magnesium, sulfur, potassium, iron, Vitamin C, zinc, copper, and even some B vitamins.

Magnesium

As mentioned with oats, magnesium is a vital mineral to add to our daily diet to help with a variety of normal health functions. Magnesium deficiency can lead to headaches, insomnia, irregularity, moodiness, fatigue, general sadness or a lack of motivation, and even cramps or joint pain. Consuming magnesium rich foods or supplements can help lower anxiety, promote regularity, prevent aches and moodiness, and increase energy levels.

Foods: beans, tofu, leafy greens, bananas, nuts and seeds, whole grains, cacao.

Blood Nourishing Food

It’s important that women replenish their blood and iron during menstruation.  Normally women lose about 30-80ml of blood and 15-25ml of iron each cycle. When the blood is strong, it can promote radiant skin, normal menstruation, and vital energy. And when blood is deficient, women may experience dizziness, blurred vision, fatigue, scanty or delayed periods, anemia, or even premature aging.

Foods: organic red meat, liver, egg yolks, spinach, collards, dried prunes, raisins, oysters, clams, scallops, turkey, chicken giblets, beans, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, artichokes, carrots, peanuts, dates.

Vitamins + Supplements

Vitamin E can help eliminate some PMS symptoms; you’ll find it in avocado, hemp seeds, and egg yolk.

Vitamin B6 can help relieve bloating and boost your mood; find it in potatoes, bananas, and oatmeal.

Vitamin C and zinc support the health of a woman’s eggs and reproductive system. Find vitamin C in grapefruits and lemons and zinc in pumpkin seeds and squashes.

Bioflavonoids are vitamins which help regulate hormone levels, leading to a more regular period. Ever notice the color of the membrane between slices of an orange or the stem of bell peppers? These are made up of bioflavonoids. Basically, they show up in foods that contain vitamin C, and they can decrease the amount of blood lost during your period as well as protect your capillaries.

Sabina can be referred to as a miracle cure, as it alleviates some of the toughest menstrual symptoms you can face, even for people with endometriosis, who are no stranger to the dark blood clots which seem to increase cramping and leave you feeling debilitated. This homeopathic remedy can even help with the most severe pain that spreads to the thighs.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids can help significantly with menstrual pain which was shown in a 1996 study published in Obstetricians and Gynecology. Women who received a daily dose of 6 grams of fish oil, providing 1,080 milligrams (mg) of EPA, and 720 mg of DHA, had experienced significantly less menstrual pain while taking the fish oil supplements.

These aren’t magical cures and it’s unlikely your body will respond immediately, but if you maintain this daily intake before and during your period, you have a good chance of lessening both pain and discomfort. Natural remedies take time, but they are worth the investment. In 2000, a study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology found a low-fat, vegetarian diet that emphasized the consumption of plant-based foods, significantly reduced pain and PMS for many women. The symptom effects could be due to the dietary influences on estrogen activity.

As mentioned earlier, a painful period can be caused by a number of emotional issues or physical distresses (liver) in the body, so it’s important to be proactive with your research, digging deep to look at your body as a whole. Our bodies have a unique intelligence and its various signs and responses are its way of telling us when something requires our attention. It’s quite fascinating!

If you have any yummy recipes that incorporate some of these foods, please share them below!

Sources

http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/816186/best-foods-to-eat-while-on-your-period-1

http://www.cycleharmony.com/healthy-living/nutrition-and-recipes/what-to-eat-before-during-and-after-your-period

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/natural-health/foods-that-make-pms-more-bearable/

http://www.lovelivehealth.com/the-8-best-vitamins-to-take-during-your-period/

http://www.naturalremedies.org/pms/

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Lebanese Hospital Becomes The World’s First To Go 100 Percent Vegan (Food)

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CE Staff Writer 7 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A hospital in Lebanon has become the first in the world to adopt a completely vegan menu.

  • Reflect On:

    Are people aware of the physical and emotional torture the majority animals we eat go through? Are people aware that a diet free of animal products can be very beneficial for human health. Are people aware that animal agriculture is destroying Earth?

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.

At the beginning of March, Hayek Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon became the first hospital in the world to serve 100 percent vegan only meals. Prior to this change, patients had a choice between animal based meals and vegan meals, and included with that was information about the health benefits of choosing plant-based foods versus the dangers of consuming animal products. The hospital made the announcement via their Instagram page, stating that “Our patients will no longer wake up from surgery to be greeted with ham, cheese, milk, and eggs…the very food(s) that may have contributed to their health problems in the first place.”

When the World Health Organization classifies processed meat as a group 1A carcinogenic (causes cancer) same group as tobacco and red meat as group 2A carcinogenic, then serving meat in the hospital is like serving cigarettes in a hospital. When the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) declare that 3 out of 4 new or emerging infectious disease comes from animals. When adopting a plant based exclusive diet has been successfully proven not only to stop the evolution of certain diseases but it can also reverse them. We then, have the moral responsibility to act upon and align our beliefs with our actions. Taking the courage to look at the elephant in in the eye.

Their various statements also point to the role that animal agriculture plays in spawning infectious diseases, citing the Centers for Disease Control’s estimate that 3 out of 4 new or emerging infectious diseases come from animals. “We believe it’s well about time to tackle the root cause of diseases and pandemics, not just treat symptoms,” they note.

This was a great statement. The modern day medical industry only seems to be focused on medications, and only medications that can turn a hefty profit, to treat and cure disease instead of addressing root causes. It’s good to see things changing, but a big problem remains. If a plant that grows in abundance, for example, has the potential to cure a disease, will we ever hear about it? Will the medical industry be interested in it? Probably not, but when a drug is made and patented from that plant in a specific way, that’s when we will. This is not to say that modern day medicine is useless, but today now more than ever a big problem exists, and this problem may be killing more people than it’s helping.

Arnold Seymour Relman (1923-2014), a Harvard professor of medicine and also a former Editor-in-Chief of NEMJ, was frustrated that “the medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.” (source)

According to Forks Over Knives,

While Hayek is the first hospital to completely purge animal products from its menu, a number of hospitals have begun offering more plant-based options in recent years. Both New York and California have enacted laws requiring hospitals to offer a plant-based option with every meal. In 2018 NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue launched the Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program to help patients transition to a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle.

The American Medical Association passed a resolution in 2017 calling on U.S. hospitals to provide healthful plant-based meals to promote better health in patients, staff, and visitors. The American College of Cardiology has issued similar recommendations.

In my opinion, “veganism is a very fine form of nutrition” (Dr. Ellsworth Wareham, heart surgeon), and as mentioned above, there is plenty of science to back up that statement.  I’ve written about it many times before from a health perspective.

Here’s an article that goes into more detail and science if you’re interested, it also addresses history, and how our teeth and guts are designed and more. Here’s another one regarding a study that found a strong association between eating animal protein and a premature death from all causes, including multiple cancers and type 2 diabetes.

The studies cited in that article note that meat eating is strongly associated with up to a 75 percent increased chance of early mortality, and that protein from animals may cause harm, while protein from plants may help reverse disease and have a protective effect.

There are hundreds of these studies, and the ones I cite are just a few examples.

This is obviously a very controversial topic in the eyes of many, and it’s not hard at all to find conflicting information on the subject. I am no doubt bias in my beliefs and opinions here.

One thing is for certain, the way we treat animals on this planet is extremely heartbreaking and unnecessary. Animals are separated from their families, raised for slaughter and are kept in torturous conditions on a daily basis. It’s truly unbelievable and horrific. It’s the biggest genocide and example of both physical and emotional torture the world has ever seen. I don’t think anybody can witness what really goes on in most slaughterhouses can come out not being impacted.

On top of this, animal agriculture is one of, if not the greatest contributer to environmental degradation and pollution on our planet. Animal agriculture is actually the leading cause of deforestation. Every single day, close to 100 plant/animal/insect species are lost because of this practice.

Final Thoughts: At the end of the day it seems that, from a health perspective, processed meats, and other meats are no doubt harmful to human health. People can make the argument that other animal products may not be and that we are meant to consume them. People can also make the complete opposite argument. One thing that can’t be argued is, again, the torture, physical and emotional abuse that comprise the source of where animal products come from for the majority of people who eat them.

There is a big split, as with many other topics, amongst people on this issue. There are even vegan influencers who are creating splits within the ‘vegan community’ itself, which is unfortunate. I personally believe that, from a health perspective, animal products are not at all required for anybody and are again, overall, harmful to human health.

The more pressing issue, again, is the treatment of our animal brothers and sisters, and how we are constantly using and abusing them. It’s indicative of world that lacks empathy, compassion, understanding and love, as well as our inability to see ourselves in another. This can be seen in many aspects of the current human experience, be it war, human trafficking and more. That being said, it’s great to see human consciousness shifting towards a more compassionate, empathetic type of awareness. This is evident by the “vegan” movement alone, as it’s become quite large over the past few years and will continue to grow. Some of the biggest animal food producers have already gone out of business, and it’s great to see more people in the health community as well recognize that it’s a win for health, a win for environment, and most importantly, a win for the very emotional, intelligent, animals, who are similar to us in so many ways. We have so much to learn from them.

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Caloric Restriction vs. Fasting: Why One Can Result In Weight Gain While The Other Helps Burn Fat

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CE Staff Writer 3 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    In the video below, Dr. Jason Fung explains the difference between caloric restriction and sending the body into "starvation" mode compared to fasting.

  • Reflect On:

    Fasting has been used as a health intervention for thousands of years, and is being used today by doctors who are educated on the topic. Why is it completely ignored by mainstream medicine? Is it because "big pharma" can't make any money off of it?

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.

Some would say that the best solution to weight gain is eating right and exercising. I couldn’t agree more. Obesity is one of the deadliest problems humanity faces today, and just as important as diet and exercise is for addressing this issue, even more important are the emotional and personal reasons as to why so many people damage themselves and make themselves more prone to serious disease.

Apart from diet and exercise, initiating a proper fasting regimen can have tremendous health outcomes, especially for overweight people. It wasn’t but a decade ago when fasting to lose weight was considered unhealthy and dangerous. Today, we have a tremendous amount of science that’s been published clearly showing that fasting can be an effective health intervention for people of all body types, especially for people who are overweight and suffer from certain diseases. It’s an excellent way to help your body burn fat. Fasting has been used and is currently being used as an intervention for type two diabetes, cancer and more. Fasting has been shown to trigger stem cell regeneration, autophagy, which in turn can help clear out toxins and damaged cells, repair DNA, improve metabolism, lower blood sugar, boost brain function, reduce the risk of age related disease, lessen inflammation which improves a wide range of health issues from arthritic pain to asthma and more. It’s no wonder why so many ancient cultures from different parts of the world used fasting as medicine and as a health intervention.

As shown in the science, fasting is generally safe for everybody. This many not be true if you already have underlying health conditions or are taking certain medications. This is why it’s important to consult a health professional about it, but the issue is, the majority of health professionals are not well educated in fasting interventions. Those who have educated themselves have been treating their patients with fasting and are drawn to it due to its ability to provide so many benefits.

One of these doctors is Dr. Jason Fung, who on his blog and his YouTube channel, as well as the books he’s written provides a wealth of information and science regarding fasting. I often refer people to the work of Fung, or others like Dr. Valter Longo if they want to begin their own research about fasting. Again, there is a wealth of science and “scholarly” articles available on the subject for anybody who wants to search for it as well. It’s not heard to find.

In the video below, Fung explains why fasting is much different from caloric restriction or having your body go into “starvation mode.”  You can also check out his article, “The difference between calorie restriction and fasting” for some great information as well.

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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

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The Deeper Questions Behind The “Lab Origins” Debate

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    It is being slowly accepted that SARS-COV2 originated in a laboratory. The delay in this admission has not been due to media "spin" alone but from scientists themselves.

  • Reflect On:

    How can we "trust the science" if the scientists are being disingenuous?

Before you begin...

Coherent icon

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.

As the majority of Americans gather around the prevailing voice of our trusted medical institutions, those opposing it seem to be digging in their heels as well. Why is this happening? After all, we are not arguing over religion or political ideology (or at least we shouldn’t be). This pandemic and its management falls squarely in the realm of science, something that should be objective and indisputable. How is the layperson supposed to make sense of the growing polarity concerning this issue? Unless one has related training in virology, epidemiology, statistics and a decent understanding of the history and the sequence of investigations that have led scientific opinion to consensus positions before this pandemic, there is no way to be “scientific”. How are we to know whether the edicts coming from our leaders are reasonable and founded? This puts us in a difficult position, one that we are unable or unwilling to acknowledge: we have to trust someone else. The question is, whom?

Mainstream Media is beginning to acknowledge that SARS-COV2 originated in a lab

There has recently been a shift in the mainstream narrative. Some of these mainstream sources have been willing to take a hard look at where this virus came from: the “lab origins” thesis. In this recent interview with evolutionary biologists Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein, popular satirist and political commentator Bill Maher admits that “it would almost be a conspiracy theory to think it didn’t start in a lab.” The reasons for this are clear to anyone who has looked beyond the veil of simplistic statements and abjectly poor investigative journalism coming from mainstream sources. Gain of Function studies on SARS viruses were being conducted in publicly funded laboratories in this country for years prior to 2014. One could argue this was part of bioterrorism research just as easily as it was part of a pandemic preparedness effort. It is not so hard to see that in order to be prepared to combat a highly contagious and virulent pathogen we must be able to study the pathogen itself. Pandemic preparedness and bioterrorism research are basically the same thing.

As the story unfolds in the mainstream narrative, it is becoming apparent that the wet market hypothesis will soon be jettisoned for its sheer implausibility. Is it likely that this virus could survive in a bat or pangolin for generations while mutating in such a way that it could not only immediately survive in a human body but be so virulent as well? What are the factors that would be involved in allowing this new strain to behave unlike previous SARS viruses in terms of its copious presence in our nasopharyngeal cavities, apparent transmissibility in the asymptomatic and enduring pathogenicity when floating around in the air or lurking on surfaces? The answer is far more than one, making this wet market to global pandemic story all the more unacceptable.

As establishment science comes to its senses, we are left with the reality that the pandemic has most probably been the consequence of a laboratory research that got out of control. It may not be excusable or forgivable but at least we can take comfort that our attention has been refocused on what is plausible. However simply acknowledging the high probability of lab origins and moving forward with all the same initiatives to combat this virus is not enough. There are more questions that need to be posed first.

How did some Scientists “spin” the science?

This argument over SARS-COV2 origin is not new at all. It was being hotly debated a year ago for some of the same reasons I mentioned above. The lab origin thesis was effectively (and prematurely) purged from “acceptable” discussions when a paper entitled “The Proximal Origin of SARS-COV2” (KG Anderson et al) appeared in Nature Medicine (March 17, 2020). This piece served as the foundation of a wall of scientific opinion that was rapidly erected to contain the dangerous “conspiracy theory” that the virus was a product of human intention and ingenuity. If you were to read the piece it would be hard to not end up shrugging your shoulders and going along with the authors’ thesis. The authors are well-respected and published scientists that include W. Ian Lipkin, pathologist, neurobiologist and epidemiologist at Columbia University,  internationally recognized for his work around W. Nile Virus and SARS. They are assured in their conclusions and offer the reader, among other things, a comparative study of the peptide structure and genetic sequence of this virus and closely related variants. 

I am a physician and was led to this piece months ago in my research into this topic. I admit that I was left scratching my head. It wasn’t until I tuned in to a blog surrounding this and other issues hosted by Dr. Meryl Nass, a respected and dutiful researcher of pandemics and bioterrorism, that l was able to grasp where the misdirection was introduced. Dr. Nass correctly points out that it may not be possible to irrefutably prove that the virus was of lab origin or not, however it is the erroneous assumptions and unsound logic the authors of the Nature Medicine article use that point to the obscuration of the facts in a manner we could reasonably deem as deliberate.

After presenting us with a thorough description of the structure of SARS-COV-2 and analysis of its means of entering human cell lines via the Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor, the authors introduce their challenge to the lab origins position. The authors state:

“While the analyses above suggest that SARS-CoV-2 may bind human ACE2 with high affinity, computational analyses predict that the interaction is not ideal and that the RBD sequence is different from those shown in SARS-CoV to be optimal for receptor binding. Thus, the high-affinity binding of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein to human ACE2 is most likely the result of natural selection on a human or human-like ACE2 that permits another optimal binding solution to arise. This is strong evidence that SARS-CoV-2 is not the product of purposeful manipulation.”

Anderson et al are presenting their first line of attack on the Lab Origins hypothesis. Because their computational analysis predicts that a different and more “optimal” receptor-binding domain (RBD) portion of the spike protein on SARS-COV-2 could have been built, they say, it must have arisen naturally. The authors are assuming that if the virus was the product of bioterrorists they would have designed it differently. Is this sound logic? It is not. First, the authors are presupposing that their computational method is the only one available for use. Second, there is no reason to assume that a bioterrorist would choose the genetic solution that was “optimal”. Moreover, picking a “solution” identical to a computationally derived genetic sequence would leave an obvious clue that human hands were involved. This is in fact what the authors are correctly pointing out. 

This line of reasoning sheds light upon their foundational assumptions about the sophistication and intentions of would-be bioterrorists. Are they experimenters in laboratories building a novel coronavirus to a computer model’s specs to study it? Or are they true bioterrorists seeking to design a bioweapon that has no trace of human manipulation? Obviously one cannot know. Making either assumption cannot be part of any rigorous forensic analysis.

The authors go on:

“It is improbable that SARS-CoV-2 emerged through laboratory manipulation of a related SARS-CoV-like coronavirus. As noted above, the RBD of SARS-CoV-2 is optimized for binding to human ACE2 with an efficient solution different from those previously predicted. Furthermore, if genetic manipulation had been performed, one of the several reverse-genetic systems available for betacoronaviruses would probably have been used. However, the genetic data irrefutably show that SARS-CoV-2 is not derived from any previously used virus backbone.”

Here the authors are introducing yet another unfounded assumption: If the virus was designed as a biological weapon, why would a known coronavirus backbone necessarily be used as a basis for genetic manipulation? Certainly that option would be entertained by a team of bioterrorism researchers, but it is illogical to begin with that assumption. There are undoubtedly coronavirus backbones that have been genetically manipulated and remain behind closed doors and outside of public databases, i.e. unknown. It is equally logical to conclude that because no known backbone was used the virus was purposefully manipulated.  

In any case, genetic manipulation is not the only way to create a backbone of a virus. The oldest way is to use passage, a laboratory technique where a virus is cultured through a series of cell lines from different species resulting in a viable product that will survive in the target species. Other techniques are also readily available: exposing a known virus to mutagenic factors, collecting those that survive and repeating the process or simply mixing related viruses together to see what recombinant products result. None of these methods will result in a “solution” that would be in any way predictable at the outset. Indeed, that is the advantage of using such techniques. This is a fact that is well known to virologists, making the authors’ analysis all the more suspicious.

It is undeniable that the authors were using poor logic and unfounded assumptions to make unsound conclusions. This should have been obvious to the scientific community at that time, and this paper should not have made it through the editorial process of such a respected publication as Nature Medicine. The disquieting thing is that quite the opposite occurred. The article instead served as the seminal piece to squelch all arguments for the lab origin hypothesis once a flurry of subsequent publications cited it. Who should be held accountable for this? The authors? The editorial committee of Nature Medicine? The cadre of scientists that chose to use this publication to “manufacture consensus”? The mainstream media for failing in their responsibility to offer a balanced view of the debate around this article? None can be held solely responsible and all were required to perpetuate the distortion. The implications here are very serious and impossible to ignore.

Who can we rely upon to faithfully report “the science”?

Are there no stops to the dissemination of baseless “scientific” opinion? This is a question that rarely gets asked because we tend to assume that in the end, scientific consensus will be reached without the need for oversight. We are talking about science and scientists here, not policy makers or private industrialists with conflicts of interest and personal gains that hang in the balance. Yet the lines between science, industry and policy-making are blurrier the closer we look. In any case, who can we rely upon to ensure that the scientists are doing their job in formulating sound approaches to the problems at hand? There isn’t anyone, other than the scientists themselves. So what went wrong here? How did the Anderson paper end up deftly hamstringing a viable theory about the origins of SARS-COV2 a year ago using specious logic and unnecessary assumptions? Why didn’t anyone say anything? Despite what is generally known, many did.

Here’s where things get hopeful, depending on how you look at them. It would be wrong to dismiss all virologists, epidemiologists and researchers as slaves to corporate funded research institutions and group-think. Behind the veil of headlines that tout the rigor of the data and fuel the “trust the science” mantra there are collections of perspicacious and tireless researchers and journalists that have been pushing back against the established opinion and raising valid concerns about the hijacking of the narrative by members of their own ilk. Notably RFK Jr.’s Children’s Health Defense and Dr. Joseph Mercola have published an excellent paper that comprehensively summarized the ongoing work of Dr. Alina Chan of MIT’s Broad Institute who has documented the timeline and significance of how the spin has been manufactured by the scientific community themselves. Of course, many are familiar with Mr. Kennedy and Dr. Mercola not because of what they are bringing to complex discussions but because of their stigmatization as purveyors of “anti-vax” and “pseudoscience” opinions. Once so marked they are felled by the mainstream media machine with all the efficiency and discrimination of a logger’s chainsaw in an old-growth forest.

There are others that are broadcasting the same signal of reason. DRASTIC (Decentralized Radical Autonomous Search Team Investigating Covid-19) is a group of independent scientists, journalists and researchers that have been bringing attention to the suspicious ways that the debate surrounding the origin of SARS-COV2 has been marginalized within the scientific community itself (more about their work here). For example, “A Statement in support of the scientists, public health professionals and medical professionals of China combatting Covid-19” appeared in the correspondence section of the esteemed medical journal Lancet in March of 2020. In this letter the authors explicitly characterize any dissent to the natural origins hypothesis as “rumour, disinformation and conspiracy theories”. 

What are we to make of such accusations leveled against scientists by scientists? This sort of rhetoric has no place in any scientific discussion of any kind and should be a matter of real concern for everyone. Has science been corrupted by the same forces that are undeniably turning investigative journalism into a means of promulgating propaganda in some instances? If that were the case, how then are we to “trust the science”?

The Predicament that we are in

We are in an uncomfortable situation. Unless we can independently dismantle the arguments like those in the Anderson paper, or can understand the significance of the appearance of a mysterious 12 nucleotide sequence in the SARS-COV2 genome that confers the virus with a polybasic furin cleavage site (resulting in a substantial increase in virulence described here), or can appreciate the implications of a situation where scientific journals publish papers without requiring authors to supply the raw data required for independent genomic confirmation, we are stuck. If the science is being spun or misrepresented or poorly reported, there would be no way to know it.

Determining the origin of SARS-COV2 is an important question that still needs to be answered definitively. Attempting to answer this question has brought light to more disturbing questions. We cannot expect the layperson to comprehend the scientific studies that underpin our approach to this pandemic, let alone critique the logic and assumptions made by the authors of these papers. Expecting that a news correspondent, mainstream or otherwise, is anymore capable of dissecting such information is not realistic either. Until we come to grips with this we will not be able to grasp the enormity of the crisis we are facing.

The Takeaway

An honest examination into the origin of SARS-COV2 suggests a danger more pernicious than the virus itself. How much of scientific opinion is dictated by non-scientific interests? How many other “consensus” positions are rooted in inexcusably poor reasoning and assumptions? If we can only rely on independent researchers to bring clarity to these topics, who is going to give them a voice? If there is a fact that can be extracted from this debate it would be that “trusting the science” and trusting what a media source says about “the science” can be two very different things. 

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