When people come to me for holistic health advice, my main objective is to provide evidence-based health information supported by the scientific literature. One of the quintessential pillars of my mission is to share those practices with empirical validation in order to elevate therapeutic nutrition to the same perceived mainstream legitimacy as any other science-based discipline.
Oftentimes, however, people thank me and say that they will see what their primary care physician, or worse yet, their specialist, has to say about it. Although I always advocate that you run any intervention or modality past a licensed physician for contraindications and medical advice, I can’t help but flat-out cringe when they tell me they will solicit natural health advice from their allopathic doctor, due to the shortcomings of biomedical education in true lifestyle- and diet-based preventative medicine.
Truth be told, anything other than the provision of surgery or drugs is simply not the wheelhouse of a conventional provider. More often than not, an endocrinologist will not be versed in the use of selenium with myo-inositol to return TSH to normal concentrations in Hashimoto’s patients with subclinical hypothyroidism (Nordio & Raffaella, 2013). It is similarly unlikely that a neurologist will prescribe cannabis, which is supported by the literature for migraine headaches, before resorting to more dangerous triptans, muscle relaxants, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Baron, 2015). Nor will a cardiologist be familiar with the use of berberine from goldenseal to lower cholesterol, reduce hypertension, mitigate oxidative stress, and improve cardiometabolic parameters (Hunter & Hegele, 2017).
A rheumatologist is unlikely to be acquainted with the literature demonstrating that fasting ameliorates the manifestations of systemic lupus erythematosus by enhancing populations of regulatory T cells, which invoke peripheral immune tolerance (Liu, Yu, Matarese, & La Cava, 2012). Likewise, most dermatologists will be unfamiliar with findings that high dose vitamin D in concert with a calcium-restricted diet results in dramatic clearance of skin lesions and significant re-pigmentation in psoriasis and vitiligo, respectively (Finamor et al., 2013). You would also be hard pressed to find a psychiatrist aware that a multi-center double-blind human study elucidated that passionflower extract reduces anxiety in generalized anxiety disorder as well as mexazolam, a benzodiazepine, or that rose oil exerts anxiolytic properties comparable to diazepam in an animal model (Mori et al., 1993; de Almeid et al., 2004).
Over the years, before my foray into functional medicine, I saw a revolving door of specialists, each compartmentalized into their respective silos, as a consequence of the Cartesian dualism and reductionism that prevails in conventional medicine. This isn’t my first time at the rodeo.
I have been dismissed, demeaned, and downright disparaged when I have implicitly questioned the culturally constructed authority of the man in the white coat, who we anoint with almost religious reverence as the guardian of a sacred body of privileged knowledge. When I have brought abstracts from the scientific literature to their attention, I have at times been greeted with frank hostility if the findings presented contradicted their pre-existing beliefs, formulaic treatment algorithms, and literal indoctrination.
I have heard medical physicians attempt to masquerade misinformation as fact, stating that autoimmune disease is just luck of the draw and that it is un-related to diet and lifestyle variables, when in fact the scientific literature, such as an article published in the prestigious Public Library of Science One (PLoS One) entitled “Genetic factors are not the major causes of chronic diseases,” directly contradicts this claim. In fact, research has revealed that chronic disease is only 16.4% genetic, and 84.6% environmental (epigenetic and exposome-related) (Rappaport, 2016).
I have witnessed gastroenterologists tell patients with severe inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to eat whatever they want, and claim that ulcerative colitis is unrelated to the commensal gut flora, when studies have demonstrated that high potency, multi-strain probiotics such as VSL #3 used in conjunction with standard therapies result in remission in 93% of subjects compared to 36% of controls (Miele et al., 1999). I have had neurologists tell me straight-faced that Lyme disease is exceedingly rare, when in actuality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the number of new cases each year is approaching 300,000, a number rivaling that of breast cancer (CDC, 2013).
Although medical doctors worship at the altar of evidence-based standards of care, they frequently engage in cognitive dissonance and confirmatory bias, as the mantle of science upon which they hang their hats and derive their legitimacy is anything but objective fact (Morris, Wooding, & Grant, 2011). This is underscored by studies which have demonstrated that there is an average 17 year lag time between what is illuminated in scientific research to be translated into clinical practice (Morris, Wooding, & Grant, 2011).
As catalogued in psychiatrist Dr. Kelly Brogan’s seminal book, A Mind of Your Own, a 2013 article from the Mayo Clinic Proceedings advocated that 40 percent of current medical practices should be completely discarded (Prasad et al., 2013; Brogan, 2016). Similarly, she cites how an analysis of Cochrane reviews, one of the highest forms of research, arrived at the conclusion that 62 percent of medical treatments were negative or had no evidentiary support for efficacy (Berman et al., 2001).
Likewise, Dr. Brogan (2016) highlights how a 2011 meta-analysis performed by theBritish Medical Journal of 2,500 medical treatments found that only 36 percent of treatments were likely to be beneficial (Garrow, 2007). Thus, when you receive care from a licensed medical physician, there is a 64 percent chance that you will receive a treatment that is neither scientifically supported to be beneficial nor likely to be beneficial (Garrow, 2007).
The flawed premise of the allopathic model is exemplified by a public statement Dr. Brogan unearthed from Dr. Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of the esteemed scientific journal, the Lancet, who stated, “The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness” (Horton, 2015; Brogan, 2016).
The Fallacy of the Serotonin Theory of Depression
Especially culpable are the oncologists, profiteering off of the carcinogenic therapies of radiation and chemotherapy in the cancer industrial complex; however, the vast majority of allopathic physicians with whom I have interacted are peddling the silver bullet wares of Big Pharma and demonstrate little receptivity to deviance from their uniformly applied, algorithmic treatment approaches. I have encountered doctors within the medical fraternity with open minds, but by and large, due to the protocols and lenses through which they are trained to operate, medical doctors do not stray from their quick fix philosophies and magic bullet approaches.
For example, although there is no scientific validity to the serotonin deficiency hypothesis of depression, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac and Zoloft are administered like candy, with flagrant disregard for their long-term ramifications and adverse side effects (Brogan, 2016). In 2010 alone, 254 million prescriptions were written for antidepressants, and according to the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 10 Americans over age 12 takes antidepressants (Insel, 2011).
But everyone knows that depression is a chemical imbalance, right? Wrong. If you are wondering why everybody mindlessly repeats this mantra, engendering an echo chamber where everyone is thinking alike, yet no one is thinking—look no further than Big Pharma direct-to-consumer marketing.
According to Lacasse and Leo (2015), “Such advertisements [do] not accurately reflect the scientific status of the serotonin theory in the psychiatric research community” (p. 206). For instance, psychiatrist and historian Healy (2004), states, “Indeed, no abnormality of serotonin in depression has ever been demonstrated” (p.12). Instructor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Joseph Glenmullen, similarly articulates, “A serotonin deficiency for depression has not been found” (Glenmullen, 2000, p.197).
Further, biochemist and Nobel Prize Winner Julus Axelrod concluded that, “Whatever was wrong in depression, it was not lowered serotonin” (Healy, 2004, p. 12). Another Nobel Prize winner, Avrid Carlson, likewise advocates abandonment of the over-simplified theory where a neurotransmitter excess or deficiency leads to mental illness given the lack of evidence to this effect (Shorter, 2009). In fact, as Dr. Brogan underscores in A Mind Of Your Own, animal studies, imaging studies, and human studies have never confirmed a link between neurotransmitter levels and depression (Brogan, 2016).
Northwestern University hospital psychiatrist David Kaiser states this most eloquently with, “…Patients have been diagnosed with ‘chemical imbalances’ despite the fact that no test exists to support such a claim, and there is no real conception of what a correct chemical imbalance would look like…Yet conclusions such as ‘depression is a biochemical imbalance’ are created out of nothing more than semantics and wishful thinking of scientists/psychiatrists and a public that will believe anything now that has the stamp of approval of medical science” (Kaiser, 1996).
In 2011, Ronald Pies, psychiatrist at Tufts University and former editor of the prestigious trade journal Psychiatric Times, explained that over-booked psychiatrists employ the chemical deficiency explanation to justify their dispensation of medication, knowing full well the inaccuracy of this theory (Lacasse & Leo, 2015). Pies states, “In truth, the ‘chemical imbalance’ notion was always a kind of urban legend—never a theory seriously propounded by well informed psychiatrists” (Lacasse & Leo, 2015). In 2014, Levine named this phenomena, “Psychiatry’s Manufacture of Consent”.
“My impression is that most psychiatrists who use this expression feel uncomfortable and a little embarrassed when they do so. It’s kind of a bumper-sticker phrase that saves time, and allows the physician to write out that prescription while feeling that the patient has been ‘educated'” (Pies, 2011).
The pharmaceutical industry has taken advantage of this erroneous serotonin deficiency theory in order to promote patient compliance with antidepressant medication regimens and to acquire lifetime users. Studies have shown that when depressed individuals are told that they have a confirmed deficiency of serotonin underlying their depression, they find the idea of antidepressant medication more credible than psychotherapy and also anticipate its effectiveness, ushering in a placebo effect (Deacon & Baird, 2009). However, outcomes suffer, as “They also had more pessimism about their prognosis and a lower perceived ability to regulate negative mood states, yet experienced no reduction in self-blame” (Lacasse & Leo, 2015, p. 208).
From a medical anthropology perspective, when you lift the veil on psychiatry, you discover the irreproducibility of diagnoses and their arbitrary nature, in that they are not based on objective biochemical biomarkers. The famous Rosenhan experiment, where subjects feigned hallucinations and then were admitted into psych wards, concluded that we cannot differentiate the sane from the insane in psychiatric hospitals, revealed the subjective nature of psychiatric diagnostic categories, and also illuminated the dehumanization produced by psychiatric labels (Rosenhan, 1973).
A Novel Model of Depression
Instead of being a discrete disease entity, depression is a symptom, like nausea, tremors, sweating, or a cough. The evidence points to an inflammatory cytokine model of depression, whereby inflammatory intercellular signaling molecules like interleukin-1 (IL-1), IL-6, interferon (IFN) gamma, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, produced by the innate immune system, penetrate the blood brain barrier and create mood disorders including anxiety, panic attacks, and depression—which are symptomatic of systemic inflammatory processes (Dantzer, 2008).
In fact, elevations in inflammatory cytokines are observed in subjects with major depressive disorder, and a concomitant “resolution of a depressive episode is associated with normalization of levels of circulating inflammatory cytokines” (Hannestad, DellaGioia, & Bloch, 2011). Likewise, administration of the cytokines, such as IFN-gamma, which is given as a treatment for hepatitis C, induces a predictable major depressive episode in one fourth of patients (Udina et al., 2012).
The inflammatory model of depression is further buttressed by studies demonstrating that the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNF-alpha are significantly higher in depressed patients compared to controls (Dowlati et al., 2010). Further, inflammation, as indicated by elevations in serum high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), is an independent risk factor for de novo major depressive disorder in women, which researchers posit, “supports an aetiological role for inflammatory activity in the pathophysiology of depression” (Pasco et al., 2010, p. 372).
Another line of evidence is that the intravenous injection of Salmonella abortus equi endotoxin is accompanied by increased circulating levels of cytokines such as IL-6 and TNF-alpha, the levels of which are significantly correlated with transient escalations in anxiety and depression (Reichenberg et al., 2001.
Beck et al. (2013) submits this and several other lines of evidence in his ground-breaking paper where he discusses that, “Depression is associated with a chronic, low-grade inflammatory response and activation of cell-mediated immunity… It is similarly accompanied by increased oxidative and nitrosative stress (O&NS), which contribute to neuroprogression in the disorder”. Rather than a Prozac or Zoloft deficiency, Beck (2013) provides scientific proof that depression is induced by systemic inflammation related to factors such as vitamin D deficiency, psychosocial stressors, smoking, obesity, nutrient-poor diets, a sedentary lifestyle, leaky gut, atopy, dental caries, and impaired sleep (Beck et al., 2013).
Cytokine induced sickness behavior—a more accurate description of clinical depression—is a phenomenon characterized by relapsing-remitting aches, pains, lethargy, apathy, loss of appetite, attenuation of parasympathetic tone, altered thermoregulation, flattening of diurnal rhythms (adrenal ‘fatigue’), and social withdrawal, which evolved as an adaptive mechanism to facilitate the retreat from society required for the body to slow down and heal (Dantzer, 2008).
This is the evolutionary reason behind the depression and self-imposed social isolation that frequently accompanies autoimmunity and other chronic illnesses. It is also one of the contributory factors behind the comorbidity of autoimmune disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and infection with depression, and the reason why depression often accompanies acute, inflammatory illnesses such as colds and flus (Dowlati et al., 2010; Reichenberg et al., 2011).
Cytokine induced sickness behavior leads to endocrine, autonomic, perceptual and behavioral changes which enable ill individuals to better cope with infections (Dantzer, 2001).
Depression is now being re-conceived of as a decompensation of the mechanisms that regulate sickness—and because a pathogen is often behind chronic, dysregulated immune responses in autoimmunity—some researchers such as Turhan Canli are suggesting depression be re-branded an infectious disease.
In the opinions of many researchers, however, a neuro-inflammatory model, with pathologic neural microglial activation in the brain, better characterizes depression (Brites & Fernandez, 2015).
The Implications of the Flexner Report for ‘Alternative’ Medicine
Most of us can acknowledge the historical malfeasance of psychiatry; however, limitations exist when it comes to diagnosis and treatment of traditionally somatic diseases as well. The knowledge deficit when it comes to anything other than pill-for-every-ill Big Pharma-driven, conflict of interest-ridden medicine is exemplified from a passage extracted from my recent piece, ‘How Functional Medicine can Reverse Your Autoimmune Disease’:
“Any historian of the evolution of medicine understands the inextricable marriage between the pharmaceutical industry and the conventional medical establishment.
Business magnate and philanthropist, John D. Rockefeller, funded the earliest American medical schools on the condition that synthetic, petroleum-based drugs from which his businesses would profit be the cornerstone of disease treatment.
He also hired Abraham Flexner to submit his famous early twentieth century report to Congress, which made illegal the practice of medicine by ‘itinerant healers’ such as hydropaths, chiropractors, naturopaths, and herbalists. This produced a climate of warring practitioners and fostered “sectarian antagonism,” “internecine hatreds,” and “mutual hostility” in the medical profession, and led to the concerted dissemination of propaganda dismissing their healing modalities as “quackery” (McKeown, 1979).
The American Medical Association sponsored a massive smear campaign such that natural medicine practitioners were marginalized and barred from inclusion in orthodox medical societies, forbidden from formal licensure, and stripped of prestige and legitimacy. For instance, “A committee of the AMA recommended that the Massachusetts Medical Society, which continued to harbor homeopaths among its members, lose representation until it purged itself of heretics” (McKeown, 1979).
Thus ushered in the era of chemotherapy and synthetic pharmaceutical drugs, the magic bullet solution to all of humanity’s ills.
As a consequence, here we stand today, in the largest chronic disease epidemic in human history, where only one third of medical doctors receive a single course in nutrition during their professional training (Adams et al., 2006). Among that third who receive nutrition instruction, the average time spent learning nutrition-related material is a mere 23.9 hours (Adams et al., 2006).
Thus, if you are seeking advice on therapeutic nutrition and holistic lifestyle interventions from your conventional physician, you’re barking up the wrong tree.”
Where Conventional Medicine Fails, Functional Medicine Succeeds
Dr. Sidney Baker, one of the founding fathers of the functional medicine paradigm, employed a metaphor of a tacks in one’s foot to describe how functional medicine removes the tacks, one by one, that are allowing disease to manifest, whereas biomedicine ignores the tacks and administers xenobiotic poisons, or prescription pharmaceuticals, in a symptom-suppressive manner to mask the ache. In another metaphor, functional medicine looks to the origins of the “check engine light” that appears on your dashboard, rather than putting masking tape over it to conceal the harbinger of malfunction.
Our health care system is, in at its essence, a disease management system, entangled and enmeshed with corporate agendas and conflicts of interest. During one of my extended hospitalizations, during a massive health crisis, it struck me that one of the nurses attending to my care said, “You don’t go to the hospital to get better”. By the same token, I’ve learned over my three decades of escapades with chronic illness, that you don’t go to the [regular] doctor to get well.
This is revealed by studies which have found that at least 44,000 and up to 98,000 Americans die in hospitals each year as a result of medical errors. Deaths due to iatrogenesis, or harm inflicted by the medical establishment, kill more people than motor vehicle accidents (43,458), breast cancer (42,297) or AIDS (16,516), and exceed the number attributable to the 8th leading cause of death (Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Quality of Health Care in America, 2000). Moreover, the total national costs of adverse events are between $37.6 billion and $50 billion dollars (Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Quality of Health Care in America, 2000).
Worse yet, is that conventional medicine belittles nutraceuticals as unsafe and unproven and relegates natural medicine to realm of make-believe, despite the litany of high quality peer-reviewed literature supporting their use. Of the 136 million emergency room (ER) visits each year, only 23,000 (0.019%) are attributed to dietary supplements, whereas 731,000 (thirty one times that number) are associated with adverse events resulting from the correct, prescribed use of medical drugs—not overdoses (Geller et al., 2015).
Of these ER visits resulting from supplement use, 20% were owing to accidental ingestion by children under the age of four, and 60% of the 3000 visits attributed to people over age 65 were due to swallowing issues (Geller et al., 2015). Products responsible for 42% of the total ER visits were supplements advertised for energy and weight loss, many of which contained stimulants and ingredients that were undeclared active pharmaceuticals rather than dietary supplements (Geller et al., 2015). Hence, authentic, high-quality, professional-grade nutraceutical supplements have excellent safety profiles, whereas the medical use of pharmaceuticals is a major source of morbidity and mortality.
In addition, whereas Western medicine excels at acute, emergency care, it fails when it comes to the burden of non-communicable disease, with an infant mortality rate higher than 27 other developed countries, and a fifth-time ranking as the worst health care system among all industrialized nations (Helman, 2014; Ingraham, 2014). Although the United States has the most expensive health care system in the world, it ranks lowest in terms of “efficiency, equity and outcome” (Helman, 2014).
Further, the marriage between the pharmaceutical companies, insurance carriers, and medical system dictates the treatments offered to patients, which are patentable and profitable pharmaceutical drugs. The file drawer phenomenon, where publication bias favors the reporting of positive findings, means that negative drug trials which yield unfavorable results can be permanently shelved and never revealed to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the process of drug approval.
For example, a 2008 article published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed how 37 out of 38 positive studies on antidepressants were published, whereas only 3 of 36 negative studies, demonstrating no benefit, were published as such (Turner et al., 2008; Brogan, 2016). The author states, “Selective publication of clinical trials, and the outcomes within those trials, can lead to unrealistic estimates of drug effectiveness and alter the apparent risk–benefit ratio” (Turner et al., 2008).
Thus, for those who can afford it, I recommend embarking on your healing journey with a functional medicine practitioner for a revolutionary operating system in which antecedents, or predisposing factors, triggers, or instigating factors, and mediators, also known as perpetuating factors, are systemically addressed in order to remove each proverbial tack that is contributing to dysfunction and pathology. Contrary to my dismal experience within Western medicine, all of the functional medicine doctors I have encountered have had a genuine desire to engage in an egalitarian therapeutic partnership and to systematically unearth the root causes of my diseases.
Anyone with training through the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) should be well acquainted with the root cause resolution, bio-individualized approach that can help you reverse your autoimmune condition, mood disorder, or other chronic illness.
Ali Le Vere (the author) holds dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Human Biology and Psychology, minors in Health Promotion and in Bioethics, Humanities, and Society, and is a Master of Science in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine candidate. Having contended with chronic illness, her mission is to educate the public about the transformative potential of therapeutic nutrition and to disseminate information on evidence-based, empirically rooted holistic healing modalities. Read more at @empoweredautoimmune on Instagram and at www.EmpoweredAutoimmune.com: Science-based natural remedies for autoimmune disease, dysautonomia, Lyme disease, and other chronic, inflammatory illnesses.
Adams et al. (2006). Status of Nutrition Education in Medical Schools. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 83(4), 941S–944S.
Baron, E.P. (2015). Comprehensive review of medical marijuana, cannabinoids, and therapeutic implications in medicine and headache: What a long strange trip its been. Headache, 55(6), 885-916. doi: 10.1111/head.12570.
Beck et al. (2013). So depression is an inflammatory disease, but where does the inflammation come from? BMC Medicine, 11. doi: 10.1186/1741-7015-11-200
Berman et al. (2001). Reviewing the reviews. International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care, 17, 456-466.
Brogan, K. (2016). A Mind Of Your Own: The Truth about Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives. New York, NY: Harper Wave.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Press Release: CDC provides estimate of Americans diagnosed with Lyme disease each year. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2013/p0819-lyme-disease.html
de Almeida et al. (2004). Anxiolytic-like effects of rose oil inhalation on the elevated plus-maze test in rats. Pharmacology and Biochemistry of Behavior, 77(2), 361-364.
Dowlati et al. (2010). A meta-analysis of cytokines in major depression. Biological Psychiatry, 67(5), 446-457. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2009.09.033.
Finamor, D., Sinigaglia-Coimbra, R., Neves, L.C.M., Gutierrez, M., Silva, J., Torres, L.D.,… Coimbra, C. (2013). A pilot study assessing the effect of prolonged administration of high daily doses of vitamin D on the clinical course of vitiligo and psoriasis. Dermato-Endocrinology, 5(1), 222-234.
Garrow, J.S. (2007). What to do about CAM: How much of orthodox medicine is evidence based? British Medical Journal, 335(7627), 951.
Geller et al. (2015). Emergency department visits for adverse events related to dietary supplements. New England Journal of Medicine, 373, 1531-1540
Glenmullen, J. (2000). Prozac backlash. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Hannestad, J., DellaGioia, N., & Bloch, M. (2011). The effect of antidepressant medication treatment on serum levels of inflammatory cytokines: a meta-analysis. Neuropsychopharmacology, 36(12), 2452-2459. doi: 10.1038/npp.2011.132.
Healy, D. (2004). Let them eat Prozac: The unhealthy relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and depression. New York: New York University.
Helman, M. (2014). U.S. Health Care Ranked Worst in the Developed World. Time Magazine. Retrieved from http://time.com/2888403/u-s-health-care-ranked-worst-in-the-developed-world/
Horton, R. (2015). Offline: What is Medicine’s 5 Sigma? Lancet, 385, 1380.
Hunter, P. & Hegele, R. (2017). Functional foods and dietary supplements for the management of dyslipidaemia. National Reviews in Endocrinology, [Epub ahead of print].
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Insel, T. (2011). Post by Former NIMH Director Thomas Insel: Antidepressants: A complicated picture. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/directors/thomas-insel/blog/2011/antidepressants-a-complicated-picture.shtml#_edn2
Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Quality of Health Care in America. (2000). To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System. Washington D.C.: National Academies Press (US). Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK225187/
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Liu, Y., Yu, Y., Matarese, G., & La Cava, A. (2012). Cutting edge: fasting- induced hypoleptinemia expands functional regulatory T cells in systemic lupus erythematosus. Journal Of Immunology, 188(5), 2070-2073. doi:10.4049/jimmunol.1102835
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Your life path number can tell you A LOT about you.
If Your DNA Information Is Being Sold, Shouldn’t You Make The Profit?
- The Facts:
Companies like 23andMe, Ancestry.com and others are collecting your DNA data and can sell the data to third party companies. Timicoin is a blockchain based ecosystem that allows you to monetize your health data.
- Reflect On:
Shouldn't you have the option to sell your own data? Is your DNA data safe with some of these companies? The blockchain is helping to create further security and consumer-based monetization of personal data.
Amidst the rise in popularity of companies who take samples of our DNA in order to provide us with information about our ancestry and health risks, there are growing concerns that are not immediately apparent to the average consumer. While most are just happy to be getting exotic information about where they came from and what they should be watching out for health-wise, all for little more than a few hundred dollars, not many consumers are seeing this as a threat to their privacy, and more specifically, as a threat to their control over the most essential information about their unique personal identity–their DNA sequences.
“The key thing about your genetic data … it is uniquely yours. It identifies you, so if you are going to entrust it to a company, you should try to understand what the consequences are,” said Jennifer King, director of consumer privacy at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, whose research on the issue and interviews with individuals shows a lack of consumer knowledge.
Of course, companies who deal in such services will do all they can to convince consumers that their data is safe and secure. But as this CNBC article notes,
Companies in this space, including 23andMe, Veritas Genetics and Ancestry, have a good reason to protect your DNA — their business future depends on maintaining the trust of consumers. But there are thorny issues related to genetic privacy that still today don’t have easy answers or iron-clad legislative protections. And regulators aren’t convinced they are doing right by consumers. A recent Fast Company report indicates that 23andMe and Ancestry are being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission over their policies for handling personal info and genetic data and how they share that info with third parties.
All of these companies say they have clear policies that they will not share your DNA with any third-party unless you explicitly consent to it:
23andMe provides consumers the choice of opting into research conducted on behalf of academic, nonprofit and industry organizations. They also offer an option to consent separately to specific disease studies in which their DNA is used in conjunction with for-profit drug companies, such as the Parkinson’s disease research conducted with Genentech and the lupus and IBD research conducted with Pfizer.
Abuse Of Private Data
Hearing about research conducted on behalf of ‘academic, nonprofit and industry organizations’ reminds me of the article I wrote on Cambridge Analytica’s fraudulent effort to characterize themselves as an academic organization while mining people’s private Facebook information to target them with ads for the 2016 U. S. Presidential Election. Facebook knowingly sold the information to Cambridge Analytica demonstrating that, when it comes to big companies and corporations, the only thing we know for sure is that money and profit will eventually trump respect for the privacy of people’s information.
If there is money to be made by selling our personal information, corporations will do whatever they can to skirt around privacy agreements. They may even flat-out change their policy and inform us in a pages-long letter that they know no one reads and will simply click the ‘accept’ button. In the current environment, it is wise to be extremely cautious when deciding to consent to having one company share our information, especially our genetic information, with third parties.
Think about it. As technology evolves, surely there will be ways our DNA codes could be used in the future that we would not agree with. But once we have given our consent to the use of this most private information, we can no longer guarantee what happens with it. Wouldn’t it be great if WE had control over our genetic information, encrypted and only accessible by us, to use and share in a manner of OUR choosing?
If we so choose, we may even be able to profit from it. Did you know that health information is a commodity that is already collected and sold via third-party companies? Selling health data around the world is already a multi-billion dollar industry, much like how your data collected from Facebook is. But how do we get back control of our DNA information, which could be our most valuable resource about who we are?
Think outside the box. Think blockchain. Think Timicoin.
Timicoin is a platform bringing together a crypto token and the blockchain and is pioneering the tokenization of health information, including your DNA sequencing and other genetic information, through a decentralized blockchain ecosystem. They promise to allow users to monetize their own data, have access to their health information whenever they need it and verify that it is accurate.
The Timicoin platform is built on their own custom blockchain and it’s already fully functioning. This means that in a short time, you will be able to begin using Timicoin’s blockchain to monetize your health data. For more information, please refer to this earlier CE article. You can also read Timicoin’s White Paper here.
Shift In Business Paradigm
Analysts believe that Healthcare information on the blockchain will grow aggressively in the coming years given the global need for ease of sharing healthcare information. Secure storage of our DNA information is only one part of Timicoin’s larger endeavor to make your healthcare information available globally and instantaneously as needed, but only with your personal consent.
It represents a new business paradigm, whereby information is centralized in terms of permitted access but decentralized in terms of who has the power over the information. No longer will masses of valuable personal information be owned and controlled by large corporations, but rather will be owned and controlled by each individual, not only giving the individual the ability to monetize their personal information themselves, but also securing the validity of that information through personal verification and safeguarding against fraud. Supporting blockchain technologies is supporting individual empowerment in our society, a move that undoubtedly scares the power structure at top levels of our current corporatocracy.
Your life path number can tell you A LOT about you.
The Damaging Effects Of 5G Wireless On Your Health
Wireless radiation is a huge health problem that continues to be ignored and another opportunity for us to gaze into the past of similar occurrences and learn from our mistakes. Take tobacco for example, at one time in history you were considered a fool and ‘crazy’ for speaking up against the big tobacco companies and letting people know that cigarettes compromise our health. Today, science has spoken, and it has spoken for a long time, despite what the corporations put out into the public and the “science” they used to approve these things in the first place.
There doesn’t seem to be much more of a difference between communication companies that sell and manufacture wireless products and services, which, according to hundreds of scientists and countless amounts of publications, are urging authorities to pay closer attention to what wireless radiation is doing to human health.
This is one of the multiple examples where corporate control rules and dictates government policy, policies that favour big corporations at the behest of planet Earth and the rest of the human population. But it’s more so apparent in North America.
In Europe, multiple countries have restrictions on WiFi and have pointed out some disturbing things. France passed a law in 2015 banning WiFi from all nursery schools, the law states that WiFi must be turned off in all elementary schools when it’s not in use. W wired connection if possible, is preferred. Advertisements directing cell phone use towards young children are banned.
An example from Namibia states quite clearly that current so-called “safety” standards don’t protect citizens from long-term health effects, and that the guidelines governing their use do not guarantee adequate protection against the effects of long-term exposure.
Other countries include Belgium, Spain, Israel, Australia, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, India, Finland, Cyprus and more.
Why are they saying no to WiFi? See for yourself:
You can access hundreds of these scientific papers and read more here, just click on the science section and under each heading, there are links directly to the research. If you click on the drop-down tab, a list of scientific references as documentation appears.
Related CE Article with more information:
Yes, we are making progress, and awareness is being created and steps are being taken, but the corporate take over of North America and almost the entire planet is simply brushing our health under the table, because, unfortunately, they have the power to do so.
At the same time, we are the ones using this technology. It’s becoming so useful, and so easy to just rely on the corporation like we do with everything else. How ironic is it that we raise money and advocate for cancer, yet support the very things that are contributing to it, on grande scales?
Millions of children and adults in schools around the world spend significant amounts of time around wireless devices and Wi-Fi. Many schools are introducing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies and installing industrial wireless routers for tablets. However, wireless devices expose students and staff to microwave radiation that can impede learning and overall health. Studies have shown that microwave radiation can damage reproductive systems, impact the immune system, alter brain functioning, and may increase cancer risk. Tablets have up to 5 antennae that are constantly emitting short intense bursts of radiation even when not connected to the Internet. Wireless devices in classrooms thus result in multiple sources of wireless radiation exposure. – Environmental Health Trust
The 5G Health Concerns
So, what about 5G? Science already indicates that the current wireless technologies of 2G, 3G and 4G – in use today with our cell phones, computers, and wearable tech. – creates radio frequency exposure which poses a serious health risk to humans, animals and the environment. 5G is the term used to describe the next-generation of mobile networks beyond the 4G LTE mobile networks used today. 5G is intended to be the technology that allows the “Internet of Things” (IOT) to exist and connects all internet connected devices together.
Scientists have been studying the health effects of 5G and wireless radiation and are deeply concerned with their findings and are calling for a stop to the rollout of 5G, as well as a halt to the proposed increase in radio frequency radiation exposure to the public.
Thanks to all of the efforts by various researchers, scientists and more, the world is waking up to this information and it’s actually starting to become talked about within the mainstream. It always seems like such a long process from the point where something is known, to actually mass consensus and action steps being created.
A CBS news report recently emphasized:
The wireless industry is in a race to roll out. The network is supposed to be up to 100 times faster than current data speeds, but it requires cellphone tower equipment to be closer to users than before. Wireless companies in the U.S. say they’ll have to install about 300,000 new antennas – roughly equal to the total number of cell towers built over the past three decades. That’s causing outrage and alarm in some neighbourhoods, as antennas go up around homes.
5G requires the installation of new equipment across the U.S. Every wireless company is working to build its own 5G network. This is worse than cell phone use, and yet, according to government health authorities, “a limited number of studies have shown some evidence of statistical association of cell phone use and brain tumour risks… but most studies have found no association.”
Waiting for high levels of scientific and clinical proof before taking action to prevent well-known risks can lead to very high health and economic costs, as was the case with asbestos, leaded petrol and tobacco.
“Putting it bluntly they are damaging the living cells in our bodies and killing many of us prematurely” (source)
Melissa Arnoldi, who leads AT&T’s efforts, said “if it’s not already in your neighbourhood, it’s coming.” This is quite concerning, she told CBS news that “5G uses high-frequency waves that support faster speeds but don’t travel as far as current wireless frequencies. So instead of relying on large cellphone towers spread far apart, they need “small cell” sites that are much closer together.”
Sometimes I wonder, how is this even allowed to happen? Who are the people which control what type of information with regards to our health gets emphasized, and what doesn’t?
This new 5G equipment is currently being installed in a neighbourhood near you.
I’ll leave you with this TED talk by a Silicon-valley engineer turned technology health advocate, Jeromy Johnson.
Related CE Article:
You can use a wired connection, which is very fast and in most cases faster than a wireless connection. Minimize your cell phone use, and perhaps look into some devices that may be used to block the biological effects this stuff is, does, and can have on us.
Your life path number can tell you A LOT about you.
This Super Simple Breathing Technique Can Help Alleviate Anxiety & Depression
- The Facts:
Small study finds breathing technique can help treat major depressive disorder and anxiety.
- Reflect On:
The answers to our challenges are much simpler than we thought, we have everything we need inside of us. Great alternative to prescription anti-depressant medication, or other substances.
The breath is one of the most underrated and under-utilized methods of healing. Breathing comes naturally to us, we do it without thinking, which is why it is not something we generally think of as a way to connect deeply with ourselves, calm our anxieties or even reach higher levels of consciousness. Something as simple as breathing can help those who suffer from severe mental conditions and those who have survived global disasters.
There are many forms of breathwork, there is the well-known Holotropic Breathing, made popular by the Iceman himself, Wim Hof. There is another technique known as transformational breathwork and the featured practice of breathing that will be featured in this article, resonant breathing or Coherent Breathing, which is a trademarked term.
This specific style of breathwork came from years of studying the ancient breathing practices of indigenous people all over the world including those from African, Hawaiian, and Native American traditions.
Assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College, Patricia Gerbarg, studies the technique with her husband, Richard Brown, associate professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. “We wanted to identify a short program that could be given quickly to people, that they would have immediate relief within five or ten minutes, and that over time would produce long-term changes,” Gerbarg told Vice.
A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary medicine in 2017 led by researchers from Boston University asked 30 people with major depression to practice the breathing technique regularly as well as Iyengar yoga. After 3 months, results from a standard depression inventory test showed how the depressive symptoms had significantly declined.
Even though the study size was very small, it is comforting to know that something as simple as breath alone could help to alleviate symptoms of severe depression. No pills needed. This technique is especially powerful because it can be practiced anytime, anywhere. The process involved taking regular breaths in and out of the nose, at a pace of 5 breaths per minute, each breath in and out taking around 6 seconds. When starting out, it is recommended that this be practiced with the eyes closed, but once you get it under control you can easily do it with your eyes open, meaning while you’re driving, while in a meeting, anytime during the day that you may find yourself feeling anxious, stressed or down. Gerbarg says, “It’s totally private. Nobody knows you’re doing it.”
The breath should be calm and gentle because the goal is to balance the sympathetic — fight or flight with the parasympathetic — rest and digest areas of the nervous system. Interestingly, when the couple first began looking into the power of the breath, the first thought was that this must send extra oxygen to the brain that we may have otherwise been lacking. However, they knew that there must be more to this to explain the profound effects they had been seeing in those who practiced the breathing technique. Not to mention, some types of breathwork actually decreases the amount of oxygen going to the brain.
Why Does This Work?
Gerbarg and Brown believe that the reason this technique works is thanks to the vagal nerves, those connecting the brain to the body and what tell the organs when to beat, digest, breathe and all other functions, have been found in recent years to send even more messages in the opposite direction from the body to the brain. “These ascending messages strongly influence stress response, emotion and neurohormonal regulatory networks,” stated in a book written by the couple, Yoga Therapy: Theory and Practice.
According to Gerbarg, “Respiration is the only autonomic function we can voluntarily control,” it’s easy to see how changing the breathing pattern can shift the messages received by the brain.
The calm and even breaths send messages of safety, according to Gerbarg, this can reduce anxious or depressive thoughts and makes way for more loving and connected emotions to be felt. Adverse reactions are generally rare, but those with asthma or other breathing conditions should only try this practice under the guidance of a trained professional.
We really do have everything we need inside of us. Our human bodies are magnificent, and if something as simple as breathing can help alleviate symptoms of depression, then we should certainly be studying this more. If you are skeptical about this information and feel it’s too good to be true, give it a shot next time you find yourself feeling down or anxious and see if it helps!
Your life path number can tell you A LOT about you.
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