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How Condensing Your Eating Time Period To Just 8 Hours Per Day Can Transform Your Health

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*Edit Feb. 12 2015: I added a list of studies supporting the benefits of IF at the end of the article, be sure to read further for more information.

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You can also find more links to the science behind fasting in the articles below we’ve written on the subject:

Neuroscientist Shows What Fasting Does To Your Brain & Why Big Pharma Won’t Study It

Scientists Discover That Fasting Triggers Stem Cell Regeneration & Fights Cancer

Intermittent fasting can provide many important health benefits, including improving your insulin/leptin sensitivity, helping your body more effectively burn fat for fuel, increasing mental clarity and overall energy levels, and more. 

For years I agonized over finding the diet, eating schedule, and workout routine that best suited my goals and lifestyle. It took up a ton of mental energy and time. However, it didn’t matter what I tried or how enthusiastic I was about a new plan of attack for my diet and fitness, sooner or later I would fall off track for various reasons, with much disappointment.

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I tried the ‘six small meals a day’ plan, I tried a 100% whole-food diet, I blended, I chopped. I tried numerous workout plans as well, but nothing seemed to be truly resonating with my body. I found myself lethargic most of the day, sick of always planning my meals, and frustrated that with how much effort I was putting into planning my diet and workouts, I still wasn’t seeing or feeling the results I had hoped for.

But this all changed when I discovered intermittent fasting (IF). I had heard a few things here and there, but I’d never fully entertained the topic.

After reading about the incredible health benefits of IF, something finally clicked within my brain. Call it my intuition or my ‘aha!’ moment, but something was telling me that this new approach to eating and fitness was the one I had been waiting for.

Why So Many Struggle With Their Weight

As Dr. Mercola explains,

The reason so many struggle with their weight (aside from eating processed foods that have been grossly altered from their natural state) is because they’re in continuous feast mode and rarely ever go without a meal.

As a result, their bodies have adapted to burning sugar as its primary fuel, which down-regulates the enzymes that utilize and burn stored fat. Fasting is an excellent way to “reboot” your metabolism so your body can start burning fat as its primary fuel, which will help you shed your unwanted fat stores.

Once your insulin resistance improves and you are normal weight you can start eating more frequently, as by then you will have reestablished your body’s ability to burn fat for fuel—that’s the key to sustained weight management.

The amount of research around fasting and particularly intermittent fasting is growing exponentially. Let’s explore what the research is saying.

How & Why Intermittent Fasting Works

One 2013 review found a broad range of therapeutic potential in intermittent fasting, even when total calorie intake per day did not change, or was only slightly reduced. Studies included in the review produced evidence that intermittent fasting may:

  • Limit inflammation
  • Improve circulating glucose and lipid levels
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Improve metabolic efficiency and body composition, including significant reductions in body weight in obese individuals
  • Reduce LDL and total cholesterol levels
  • Help prevent type 2 diabetes, as well as slow its progression
  • Reverse type 2 diabetes
  • Improve pancreatic function
  • Improve insulin levels and insulin sensitivity
  • Reproduce some of the cardiovascular benefits associated with physical exercise
  • Protect against cardiovascular disease
  • Modulate levels of dangerous visceral fat

The reasons for these health benefits relate to the fact that the human body appears to be designed to thrive in a cycle of “feast and famine.” By imitating the ancestral conditions of cyclical nourishment, your body enters into a state of optimal functioning. Three major mechanisms by which fasting benefits your health include:

  1. Increased insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial energy efficiency – Fasting increases insulin sensitivity along with mitochondrial energy efficiency, and thereby retards aging and disease, which are typically associated with loss of insulin sensitivity and declined mitochondrial energy.
  2. Reduced oxidative stress – Fasting decreases the accumulation of oxidative radicals in the cell, and thereby prevents oxidative damage to cellular proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids associated with aging and disease.
  3. Increased capacity to resist stress, disease and aging – Fasting induces a cellular stress response (similar to that induced by exercise) in which cells up-regulate the expression of genes that increase the capacity to cope with stress and resist disease and aging.

The Benefits Of Exercising In A Fasted State

We’ve often been told to make sure we are well fed before a workout, but this notion has been a hot topic of debate in recent years.

When we think about the cyclical eating patterns of our ancestors, we know that there were many cases in which they would perform rigorous physical activity on an empty stomach, such as during their hunt for food. Today, research confirms the biological benefits of this type of eating schedule.

John Rowley, Wellness Director for the International Sports Science Association (ISSA) elaborated on this concept to the Huffington Post:

Exercisers with weight loss goals might find an advantage in waking up and exercising first thing in the morning before eating breakfast or fasting for a few hours before a mid-day or evening workout. ‘The less glucose you have in your system the more fat you will burn,’ says Rowley. However, if your goals are performance related (e.g. to improve strength or speed), working out without fueling up probably isn’t your best bet because a lack of available energy might prevent you from putting forth your best effort.

What About Gaining Muscle While Intermittent Fasting?

Results from one of Martin Berkhan's clients using the intermittent fasting 'lean gains' approach.

Results from one of Martin Berkhan’s clients using the intermittent fasting ‘lean gains’ approach.

For men or women who are looking to stay lean while gaining muscle mass, Martin Berkhan from Leangains.com has the optimal solution for this goal.

His methodological approach to intermittent fasting has helped so many achieve their fitness goals that he can easily be considered the expert in the realm of intermittent fasting and muscle gain.

Berkhan offers various types of fasting schedules so that people can choose which one works best with their lifestyle. Personally, I chose his recommended 12pm-8pm eating window followed by a 16-hour fasting period. So far I’ve found this schedule fantastic for a few reasons.

For one, I don’t have to worry about making breakfast as soon as I wake up which to me was becoming a hassle. This goes for late night eating, I know that my eating window stops after 8pm which is convenient in that I know exactly when to eat and when not to.

Another one of Berkhan's client results.

Another one of Berkhan’s client results.

One important note that Berkhan stresses is that if you are going to be lifting heavy weights or training hard, make sure to ingest either a scoop of protein powder or a scoop of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) 5-10 minutes before your workout. Doing this sidesteps the increased protein breakdown of fasted training while still reaping the benefits of the increased anabolic response as seen in this study.

Another important factor to remember is to make sure you are eating lots during your 8 hour eating window. Starving yourself combined with fasting while exercising regularly is sure fired way for exhaustion and nutrient depletion.

Here is how my schedule looks on a heavy workout day (taking into account my goal is to be building muscle):

7:30-8:00 am: Wake up and ingest 10 grams of BCAAs.

8:30 am: Workout. 

10:00 am: Another scoop of BCAAs or protein powder. Cup of coffee and then work or errands before I break the fast.

12:00 pm: Post-workout meal/Fast-breaking meal. (Should be the biggest meal of the day. Keep protein and carbs high.)

3:00 pm: 2nd post-workout meal. 

7:30 pm: 3rd meal of the day. Again, keeping protein and carbs high. 

9:00 pm: Tea and water galore!

Repeat daily.

*Remember, you can create the type of fasting schedule you want based on your lifestyle. Some people fast for 14 hours, while others fast up to 24+ hours. That is why IF can work for anyone.

Is IF For You?

intermittent-fasting-diet1-600x315

The results thus far have been very pleasing. I’m finally seeing my abs for the first time in years, I have overall increased muscle definition and composition, my energy levels are through the roof, and my hunger levels have subsided for the most part.

Tea, coffee, and water are allowed as much as you like during the fasting state so long as you don’t exceed 50 calories in sugar or milk.

There is so much more information available regarding intermittent fasting that it is difficult to explore within this single article, so stay tuned for more articles regarding IF in the very near future.

For now, I recommend reading more about the amazing benefits of IF to see if it is right for you.

More CE articles discussing IF:

This Is Really What Happens To Your Body When You Practice Intermittent Fasting

Scientists Discover That Fasting Triggers Stem Cell Regeneration & Fights Cancer

Studies:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22425331 (IF and lower cases of diabetes/heart disease)

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18805103 (IF and reducing coronary heart disease, one of the biggest killers of our time)

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21410865?dopt=Abstract (Why IF is the best for fat loss)

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15699226 (Why skipping breakfast is good for your health)

 Have you had any success with intermittent fasting? Share with us in the comment section below!

 

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Joe Rogan May Take Down The Original Criticism Of “The Game Changers” Documentary

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Joe Rogan recently had James Wilks, the maker of "The Game Changers" documentary on to discuss the benefits of a plant base diet and to refute a previous episode where Chris Kresser debunked it.

  • Reflect On:

    When it comes to health, it's important sometimes to suspend what we believe and have been made to believe, and simply look at the information from a neutral perspective.

Joe Rogan has long ‘criticized’ vegans in various ways, and has also emphasized his belief that one cannot be optimally healthy on a vegan diet. He’s done this a number of times, which was hard for some onlookers to watch and listen to who have educated themselves on plant-based diets. Until recently, Rogan mainly focused on guests that were geared towards promoting meat-eating as optimal, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but a balance of understanding and information can go a long way to educating people.

One of the most recent examples of Joe Rogan and his guest ‘”debunking” a plant-based diet came from a critique of a recent documentary that is now airing on Netflix, called “The Game Changers,” made by filmmaker, James Wilks – a retired English mixed martial artist. The film was executively produced by James Cameron, and features interviews with the top scientists and doctors in their field who present an abundance of research and publications showing the benefits of a plant-based diet.

Not long ago, health coach and author Chris Kresser came on the “Joe Rogan Experience” after the documentary received a lot of attention, and the title of the podcast was titled: “Chris Kresser Debunks ‘The Game Changers Documentary.’

For someone like my self who has done a lot of research into the topic, it was frustrating to listen to it given the fact that it was quite clear, for me and others who had actually done thorough research from a neutral standpoint, that Kresser wasn’t really addressing all the facts, and was simply a big believer in what he was saying without even examining the information on the other side.

The challenge is, Rogan’s podcast was listened to by millions of people, and many came away actually believing the information that was said in the original debunking episode – information we later find out was completely incorrect. These types of episodes that massively mislead people are not just an issue with people who have large followings discussing vegan diets and health, but it’s a big issue with many other topics. This is why it was great that Rogan decided to have James Wilks on for a chance to defend his documentary, and the truth is he absolutely destroyed Kresser’s claims that were presented as facts in the previous podcast with Rogan. The best part was Kresser was on the show as well so he had a chance to truly make sure everyone was on the same page.

Wilks addressed every single criticism made by Kresser in the previous episode, from topics such as B12, protein amount, and protein quality, among many others. He also brought up the fact that we shouldn’t be listening to people like Kresser on such topics, but should be relying on properly published peer reviewed research that’s repeatable, non-industry conflicting research, as well as information that comes from the world’s leading scientists in the field of biology and nutrition, many of whom were presented in the Game Changers documentary. Or, people like Wilks, who have throughout done their research.  This episode really exposes how Kresser is not accurate or factual in his position on this topic, an important note for his followers.

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It’s important to keep in mind that not everything Kresser said previously had time to be addressed in this podcast, but it could have been. 100 percent of Kresser’s criticisms that were addressed were 100 percent completely debunked by Wilks, so much so that this is what Joe Rogan had to say via an Instagram post:

If interested, you can watch The Game Changers documentary on Netflix, and check out the podcast in question below.

Some Quotes From The Game Changers Documentary

One of these experts is Dr. Christina Warinner, who earned her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2010 and received her postdoctoral training at the University of Zurich (2010-2012) and the University of Oklahoma (2012-2014). She became a Presidential Research Professor and Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma in 2014, and is currently a Leader in Microbiome Sciences at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

Her work has led to some very interesting findings and conclusions:

“Humans do not have any specialized genetic anatomical or physiological adaptations to meat consumption. By contrast, we have many adaptations to plant consumption.” (The Game Changers documentary)

She goes deeper in her presentation at the 2016 International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine, and in this TEDX talk she gave a number of years ago.

Gradual increases in brain sizes of early humans have also been attributed to meat, but research is showing that “because there is not a very strong match between meat consumption and gradual increases in brain size, scientists have looked to other options. And given that plant foods are such an important part of modern humans that hunt and gather foods, the money is on plant foods and shift in the kinds of plant foods as being the major driving factor in increasing brain size.” – Nathaniel J. Dominy

“We have a brain, that just is desperate for glucose. It’s such a fussy organ, that’s the only thing it really takes in for energy. Well, meat is not a very good source of glucose, to have a big brain like this you need to eat something different. And the most efficient way to get glucose is to eat carbohydrates.” – Dr. Mark Thomas, geneticist, University College, London (The Game Changers documentary)

With overwhelming scientific evidence to many of the most common deadly diseases, I discovered that the meat, egg, and dairy industries have been engaged in a covert response, funding studies that deny this evidence while burying their involvement in the fine print. One of the hired guns paid to conduct these studies is Exponent, INC. A company whose research was used by the Tobacco industry to deny the connection between second hand smoke and cancer. For more than 50 years, Exponent has generated studies that challenge the health-risks of everything from asbestos, arsenic and and mercury, to animal foods.” – James Wilks,  “The Game Changers” documentary

“The formula, works beautifully for people selling food, it works beautifully for people selling drugs to treat the diseases that bad food causes, and it works beautifully for the media, which can give us a new story about diet, everyday. But despite the appearance in our media of confusion, there’s massive global consensus about the fundamentals of a health-promoting, and it’s a diet that every time… In every population, every kind of research, it’s a plant food predominant diet, every time.” – Dr. David Katz, Founding Director of Yale University Prevention Research Center (The Game Changers documentary)

A Related CE Articles With More Information: 

Humans Are Not Designed To Eat Meat – Leading Microbiome Scientist Explains

12,000 Doctors Urge The FDA to put Cancer Warnings on Cheese 

Scientist: Milk From Cows Has “The Most Relevant Carcinogen Ever Identified” & “Turns on Cancer”

Scientist Explains How Cow’s Milk Leeches Calcium From Your Bones & Makes Them Weaker

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The Real Agenda Behind The Paris Climate Accord – Besides The Actual Climate

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The efforts to ratify the Paris Climate Accord of 2015 and put a Carbon Tax/Carbon Credits scheme in place continue, amidst growing resistance.

  • Reflect On:

    If we were to clearly understand that the greatest beneficiaries of the Paris Climate Accords would be a small global elite, would we start to question this "solution" to Climate Change and even question the legitimacy of the Climate Change movement?

Greta Thunberg is quite upset. Yes, even more than she normally is. The reason? Because the wave of climate change school strikes over the past year has “achieved nothing” since greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, apparently by 4% since the Paris Climate Accord was signed four year ago. And here is why she thinks this has happened:

People want everything to continue like now and they are afraid of change. And change is what we young people are bringing and that is why they want to silence us and that is just a proof that we are having an impact that our voices are being heard that they try so desperately to silence us. (source)

The notion that the global political establishment is trying desperately to ‘silence’ Greta Thunberg and her young friends verges on the absurd. If anything, the global political establishment has done everything in its power to give voice to her ongoing strikes, marches, and protestations, and the global media has been fully accommodating by keeping her and her demands on the nations of the world in a bright spotlight.

While we have seen a physical maturation in Greta Thunberg before our eyes, her message has not grown accordingly and is getting stale. It’s not just the monotonous timbre of her outrage. Her unquestioning advocacy for the only establishment “solution” to climate change–mapped out by the controversial Paris Climate Accords of 2015–is starting to make people ask questions. As a girl growing in intelligence and discernment, would she not at any point challenge the ‘official’ solution handed to her on climate change, and wonder if some of the problems are actually contained therein? Would she not give at least a cursory glance to other solutions that have been proposed that might be more palatable to nation states?

How About Hemp?

Solutions like, for example, growing large amounts of hemp all over the planet. Hemp is a super-strong and fast-growing crop that pulls carbon out of our atmosphere like nothing else:

Hemp begins sequestering carbon the moment it is seeded; conservatively, hemp cultivation yields a sequestration ratio of about 1.5 units of sequestration per unit produced. In Layman’s terms, one ton of harvested hemp fiber should sequester 1.62 tons of CO2. Hemp can also sequester carbon back into the soil through a process called, biosequestration. In this process, hemp captures carbon emissions from the atmosphere. (source)

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If we took this efficiency rate and calculated the cost of using a worldwide hemp-planting initiative to meet IPCC carbon-reduction guidelines, we would find not only that the cost to nation-states would be a fraction of what is being proposed by the Paris Climate Accord, but if this was done wisely and efficiently then countries would probably be able to actually profit from the enterprise by harvesting the hemp for its many uses.

Still skeptical? Longtime hemp activist Jack Herer is offering $100,000 to anyone who can disprove his hypothesis that hemp is a silver bullet for climate change. Here’s what he says at the end of his challenge, which was put up on his website in 2002:

No one has taken the $100,000 challenge to prove me wrong. Why? Because I am right. The U.S. government has been lying to us since the early 1900s. Do economic interests have more to say than the people about the future of our planet?

So to be clear–I am not even broaching the subject as to whether or not Carbon emissions are causing global warming, or if the planet is even warming, both matters that are also deserved of serious investigation and analysis. All I am saying in this article is that an examination of the only solution to ‘Climate Change’ being proposed by the global establishment–and parroted by activists like Greta Thunberg–will help us discern whether or not the goal here is actually to improve conditions on the planet for humanity.

The Paris Climate Accord Explained

I have come across a video put together by health freedom advocate Dr. V. A. Shiva, who ran for the Senate in Massachusetts, in which he gives a clear and concise explanation of what would happen if the Paris Climate Accord was fully implemented today, and why it was a good thing that the U.S. pulled out of the accords. Here is a basic summary of his points:

  1. Today, one of the basic mechanisms of our economy is that manufacturers take raw materials and turn them into products, which we pay for as consumers.
  2. Those manufacturers are cumulatively emitting a certain amount of Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere as a result of the manufacturing process.
  3. By 2030, the total amount of Carbon Dioxide emitted into the atmosphere will have INCREASED based on the regulations of the accord (e.g. China will be allowed to double their carbon emissions without penalty).
  4. The only change is that manufacturers will have to pay money to the “IPCC” (a global elite “science” group that includes Al Gore, the Bushes, and others) in exchange for ‘carbon credits’ that this group somehow magically ‘owns’ and can therefore sell. 2030 will be the big payday for them as China will have to start buying credits.
  5. Naturally, these payments for carbon credits will ultimately be felt by consumers who will have to buy their consumer goods at a proportionately increased cost.
  6. In addition, the “IPCC” will allow these carbon credits to be bought and sold on a commodities market, which will actually enable the “IPCC,” current ‘owners’ of most of the carbon credits, to make TRILLIONS since the mechanisms in place will make the finite credits infinitely more valuable over time.
  7. As part of the agreement the U.S. had to agree to create a $100 Billion “Green Fund” which was actually being used to pay off (bribe) top “influencers” in each of the 190 signatory countries in order to get them to persuade their country’s leaders to sign on to the accord.

In effect, When the U.S. pulled out of the Paris Accord, the “Green Fund” payouts were withdrawn and a wrench was thrown into these plans. Many countries, especially developing nations, are now hesitant to become involved in a scam to enrich the global elite to the detriment of their own economy.

Vladamir Putin’s line to Greta Thunberg sums up the current hesitation by some signatories of the Paris Accord:

No one has explained to Greta that the modern world is complex and different and…people in Africa or in many Asian countries want to live at the same wealth level as in Sweden. Go and explain to developing countries why they should continue living in poverty and not be like Sweden.

Greta Thunberg is dead wrong in saying that the problem is that people, or countries, are ‘afraid of change.’ The majority of humanity is aching for change. But the most important change for us to make first is to take back our power, and recognize which so-called ‘movements’ are designed to once again enrich a small elite at the expense of humanity.

The Takeaway

Our ability to move forward and make positive changes for the benefit of humanity is contingent on our discernment of the activities of the global elite, especially those activities which pretend to be in service of humanity. We have to stop giving away our power to carefully orchestrated movements that seem appealing but, when looked into more closely, turn out to be vehicles of our continued enslavement.

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Research Suggests Many Diagnosed With ADHD May Not Actually Have A “Disorder”

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The fact that ADHD is diagnosed strictly on behavioural characteristics and not brain imaging or other science means that many who have this label don't formally have a neurodevelopmental disorder.

  • Reflect On:

    Why is medication the only resort to combating the symptoms of ADHD? Why are other interventions, like meditation, dietary changes, a change in lifestyle/environment never really discussed or emphasized?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD, has become an epidemic. According to the Centres for Disease Control (CDC), ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviours (may act without thinking about what the result will be), or be overly active.

They go on to state that it’s normal for children to have trouble focusing and behaving at one time or another. “However, children with ADHD do not just grow out of these behaviours. The symptoms continue, can be severe, and can cause difficulty at school, at home, or with friends.”

The CDC claims that children with ADHD might daydream a lot, forget or lose things a lot, squirm or fidget, talk too much, have a hard time resisting temptation, have trouble taking turns, and make carless mistakes or take unnecessary risks. But are these really symptoms of a serious “neurodevelopmental disorder?”

Is This Science-Based?

It’s not as if children are taken into the lab and have their brains scanned to determine if serious brain abnormalities exist. ADHD is diagnosed purely off of behaviour, and there may be something very wrong with diagnosing someone with neurological abnormalities simply baed on observation, instead of actual science. Who is to say that the behaviours listed above are not those of a normal child, or even a normal adult, especially within a school or work environment that does not seem to be foster a human being’s natural state? Perhaps the person or child in question doesn’t actually have neurodevelopmental problems, but is simply responding appropriately to the environmental that they find themselves in?

There is hardly any evidence suggesting that there is a neurological problem, as is often expressed by the medical industry. There are studies, however, that do show differences. For example, one of the largest imaging studies of ADHD to date recently identified differences in five regions of the brain, with the greatest differences seen in children rather than adults.

It’s important to note here the the brain of a child is still developing, and that the structure is not permanent and continues to develop until early adulthood.  More than 3,000 people diagnosed with ADHD had an MRI compared to controls, to measure the volume and the size of seven regions of the brain that were thought to be linked to ADHD–the pallidum, thalamus, caudate nucleus, putamen, nucleus accumbens, amygdala, and hippocampus. The study found that overall brain volume and five of the regional volumes were smaller in people with ADHD — the caudate nucleus, putamen, nucleus accumbens, amygdala and hippocampus.

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“These differences are very small — in the range of a few percent — so the unprecedented size of our study was crucial to help identify these. Similar differences in brain volume are also seen in other psychiatric disorders, especially major depressive disorders.”–Dr Martine Hoogman, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.(source)

Smaller brain regions do not equate to a neurodevelopmental disorder or a lack of brain functioning though. This is simply an assumption. As with depression, where 6 decades of research that serotonin (or norepinephrine, or dopamine) deficiency is the cause of depression and anxiety, scientific credibility has not been achieved. This is well known. A New England Journal of Medicine review on major depression stated:

” … numerous studies of norepinephrine and serotonin metabolites in plasma, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid as well as postmortem studies of the brains of patients with depression, have yet to identify the purported deficiency reliably.”

Despite this fact, drugs are being prescribed that alter brain chemistry based on the prevailing unsubstantiated ‘theories’ regarding several ‘mental disorders.’ Here is an eye opening quote regarding the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders:

“[DSM-V] is a wholesale imperial medicalization of normality that will trivialize mental disorder and lead to a deluge of unneeded medication treatment – a bonanza for the pharmaceutical industry but at a huge cost to the new false positive patients caught in the excessively wide DSM-V net.”–Allen Frances, DSMIV Taskforce Chair (source)

Financial Ties With Big Pharma

Speaking of the DSM, American psychologist Lisa Cosgrove and researchers have investigated financial ties between the DSM panel members and the pharmaceutical industry. She published her research in the journal Plos OneThe study found that, of the 170 DSM members who sat on panels of ‘mood disorders,’ ‘schizophrenia’ and other psychotic disorders, most of them had financial ties to drug companies. The connections were especially strong in those diagnostic areas where drugs are the first line of treatment for mental disorders:

The revised Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), scheduled for publication in May 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), has created a firestorm of controversy because of questions about undue industry influence. Some have questioned whether the inclusion of new disorders (e.g., Attenuated Psychotic Risk Syndrome) and widening of the boundaries of current disorders (e.g., Adjustment Disorder Related to Bereavement) reflects corporate interests. These concerns have been raised because the nomenclature, criteria, and standardization of psychiatric disorders codified in the DSM have a large public impact in a diverse set of areas ranging from insurance claims to jurisprudence. Moreover, through its relationship to the International Classification of Diseases, the system used for classification by many countries around the world, the DSM has a global reach.

Psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Carlat has said:

“And where there is a scientific vacuum, drug companies are happy to insert a marketing message and call it science. As a result, psychiatry has become a proving ground for outrageous manipulations of science in the service of profit.”

Questioning The System

Dr. Marcia Angell, a physician and longtime Editor-in-Chief of the New England Medical Journal (NEMJ), also considered one of the most prestigious peer-reviewed medical journals in the world, said the following:

It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine. (source)

Here is another great quote:

“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.”–Arnold Seymour Relman (1923-2014), Harvard professor of medicine and former Editor-in-Chief of The New England Medical Journal  (source)

A very interesting and uncharacteristic article in the New York times titled The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder raised awareness about this issue in 2013. The article discusses efforts to expose the manufacturing of a “profit driven machine into which our children are being fed.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the diagnosis had been made in 15 percent of high school-age children, and that the number of children on medication for the disorder had soared to 3.5 million from 600,000 in 1990.

Behind that growth has been drug company marketing that has stretched the image of classic A.D.H.D. to include relatively normal behavior like carelessness and impatience, and has often overstated the pills’ benefits.

According to Kelly Brogan, MD, psychiatrist:

Psychiatric studies funded by pharma are 4x more likely to be published if they are positive, and only 18% of psychiatrists disclose their conflicts of interests when they publish data.

Psychiatry is particularly susceptible to industry corruption because of the highly subjective, non-biological, impressionistic nature of diagnostic criteria. With our “governing body” the American Psychiatric Association heavily funded by pharmaceutical companies, the temptation is all too great to open the diagnostic umbrella to encompass behavioral criteria like “makes careless mistakes” or “often has difficulty waiting his or her turn.”

Looking At ADHD Differently

What about other aspects of ‘ADHD’ that are never really emphasized? Recent work in cognitive neuroscience shows that people with an ADHD diagnosis and creative thinkers have difficulty suppressing brain activity that comes from the “Imagination Network.” This suggests people with ADHD might have differences in parts of the brain that actually makes them ‘superior’ in many ways, but it’s information that pharmaceutical companies can’t make a profit off of.

Currently, there are no school assessments to evaluate creativity and imagination. The fact remains,  people who show characteristics of ADHD are more likely to reach higher levels of creative thought and achievement compared to those who don’t show these characteristics.

“By automatically treating ADHD characteristics as a disability– as we so often do in an educational context– we are unnecessarily letting too many competent and creative kids fall through the cracks.”–Scott Barry Kaufman, Scientific Director of The Imagination Institute in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. (source)

Scrutinizing ADHD Treatment

A longitudinal NIMH study, the only one of its kind, demonstrated that after an initial decrease in ADHD symptoms, at three years, there was deterioration in the medicated group, and by six, worse attentional and behavioral symptoms than unmedicated controls, and increased functional impairment. Despite claims that stimulant side effects are “generally mild,” data accumulated by psychiatrist Dr. Peter Breggin has demonstrated quite the opposite. He cites studies that demonstrate concerning risks for:

  • Motor and vocal tics
  • Addiction, withdrawal and rebound
  • Growth suppression
  • Adverse cardiovascular effects
  • Mania, suicidality, psychosis

A study by Nasrallah et al in which more than 50% of young adults treated with ADHD medication experienced PET-confirmed brain atrophy, concluding “cortical atrophy may be a long-term adverse effect of this treatment.” In rhesus monkeys, Wagner et al demonstrated long-term changes to dopamine levels and receptor density, related to compensatory changes the brain undergoes in the setting of chronic intoxication. Subjects abstinent from stimulants for three years were found to have persistent dopamine-related brain changes on PET scans, related to Parkinsonian pathology.

That being said, many people have reported success with medications, but could this be placebo?

Alternatives

Dr. Kelly Brogan sees pharmaceutical intervention for symptoms of ADHD as very harmful for a child’s development:

When we interfere with behavior and brain growth, when we force children to conform to our needs as busy, distracted, and often chronically ill adults, we may be fundamentally compromising their expression of self, as Breggin cites Greenough et al.

Spontaneous or self-generated activities–play, mastery, exploration, novelty seeking, curiosity, and zestful socialization-are central to the growth and development of animals and humans and necessary for the full elaboration of CNS synaptic connections. (source)

She looks at other ways to treat these symptoms, and feels the first line of defense is dietary solutions. 

Some studies have, indeed, emerged that show a link between a gluten/casein free diet and improvement in autistic symptoms, and some parents have already seen the benefits of implementing this research.

The Mayo Clinic claims that certain food preservatives and colourings could increase hyperactive behaviour in some children. It would be best to avoid these, regardless of whether they are linked to ADHD or not.

It has also been suggested that EEG biofeedback (electroencephalographic) could help. It’s a type of neurotherapy that measures brainwaves. You can read more about that here.

In 2003, a study published in the journal Adolescence looked at how regular massages for 20 minutes twice a week could improve behaviour in the classroom. This is interesting because studies have also suggested that tai chi and yoga may also help improve ADHD symptoms. According to the studies, children with ADHD that practiced tai chi became less anxious or hyperactive. (source)

Other safe interventions are out there, you just have to look for them.

The Takeaway

I hope this article provides insight for people as well as parents who are considering using medications if their child is labeled as having ‘ADHD’. This article is not meant ignore symptoms of ADHD, but the idea of administering drugs so someone can better fit into a regimented environment should be questioned.

A challenge to convention like this can often be vilified, and that’s ok. We are going through a period of time where it’s best to keep an open mind, as new information is emerging in various areas that challenge our long-held belief systems.

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