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16 More Reasons Black Seed Is ‘The Remedy For Everything But Death’

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Peer-reviewed research published over many years has shown the tremendous health benefits one can achieve from consuming black seed.

  • Reflect On:

    Imagine if the same resources that are poured into chemical medicine were put into natural medicine. Food interventions have shown great results, far greater than some of our most commonly prescribed drugs, so why isn't the doctor prescribing food?

Before you begin...

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This article was written by Sayer Ji, founder of Greenmedinfo.com where it originally appeared, it’s posted here with permission. For more information from Greenmedinfo, please sign up for their newsletter here

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A year ago, we wrote an article about nigella sativa (aka black seed) titled, ‘The Remedy For Everything But Death.’ It described the research on the many ways in which black seed (nigella sativa) is a potentially life-saving medicinal food, and is one of our most popular articles, with over 700K social media shares.

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Opening with, “This humble, but immensely powerful seed, kills MRSA, heals the chemical weapon poisoned body, stimulates regeneration of the dying beta cells within the diabetic’s pancreas, and yet too few even know it exists,” the article summarized the peer-reviewed and published research on 10 of the seed’s remarkable health benefits:

  • Type 2 Diabetes: Two grams of black seed a day resulted in reduced fasting glucose, decreased insulin resistance, increased beta-cell function, and reduced glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) in human subjects.[ii]
  • Helicobacter Pylori Infection: Black seeds possess clinically useful anti-H. pylori activity, comparable to triple eradication therapy.[iii]
  • Epilepsy: Black seeds were traditionally known to have anticonvulsive properties. A 2007 study with epileptic children, whose condition was refractory to conventional drug treatment, found that a water extract significantly reduced seizure activity.[iv]
  • High Blood pressure: The daily use of 100 and 200 mg of black seed extract, twice daily, for 2 months, was found to have a blood pressure-lowering effect in patients with mild hypertension.[v]
  • Asthma: Thymoquinone, one of the main active constituents within Nigella sativa, is superior to the drug fluticasone in an animal model of asthma.[vi]Another study, this time in human subjects, found that boiled water extracts of black seed have relatively potent antiasthmatic effect on asthmatic airways.[vii]
  • Acute tonsillopharyngitis: characterized by tonsil or pharyngeal inflammation (i.e. sore throat), mostly viral in origin, black seed capsules (in combination with Phyllanthus niruri) have been found to significantly alleviate throat pain, and reduce the need for pain-killers, in human subjects.[viii]
  • Chemical Weapons Injury: A randomized, placebo-controlled human study of chemical weapons injured patients found that boiled water extracts of black seed reduced respiratory symptoms, chest wheezing, and pulmonary function test values, as well as reduced the need for drug treatment.[ix]
  • Colon Cancer: Cell studies have found that black seed extract compares favorably to the chemoagent 5-fluoruracil in the suppression of colon cancer growth, but with a far higher safety profile.[x] Animal research has found that black seed oil has significant inhibitory effects against colon cancer in rats, without observable side effects.[xi]
  • MRSA: Black seed has anti-bacterial activity against clinical isolates of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus.[xii]
  • Opiate Addiction/Withdrawal: A study on 35 opiate addicts found black seed as an effective therapy in long-term treatment of opioid dependence.[xiii]

Since then, the biomedical research on black seed has continued to flourish, with another 78 studies published and cited on the National Library of Medicine’s biomedical database MEDLINE over the past 11 months.

Here are 16 additional potential health benefits to add to the growing list:

  1. Prevents Radiation Damage: Nigella sativa oil (NSO) and its active component, thymoquinone, protect brain tissue from radiation-induced nitrosative stress.[i]
  2. Protects Against Damage from Heart Attack: A thymoquinone extract from nigella sativa has a protective effect against damage associated with experimental heart attack.[ii]
  3. Prevents Morphine Dependence/Toxicity: An alcohol extract of nigella sativa reduces morphine-associated conditioned place preference, an indication of morphine intoxication, dependence and tolerance.[iii]
  4. Prevents Kidney Damage Associated with Diabetes: A thymoquinone extract from nigella sativa has protective effects on experimental diabetic nephropathy.[iv]
  5. Prevents Post-Surgical Adhesions: Covering peritoneal surfaces with Nigella sativa oil (NSO) after peritoneal trauma is effective in decreasing peritoneal adhesion formation in an experimental model.[v]
  6. Prevents Alzheimer’s Associated Neurotoxicity: A thymoquinone extract from nigella sativa has protective effects on experimental diabetic prevents neurotoxicity and Aβ1-40-induced apoptosis in the cell model.[vi]
  7. Suppresses Breast Cancer Growth: : A thymoquinone extract from nigella sativa inhibits tumor growth and induces programmed cell death (apoptosis) in a breast cancer xenograft mouse model.[vii] [viii]
  8. Exhibits Anti-Psoriasis Properties: The alcohol extract of nigella sativa seeds exhibit anti-psoriatic activity, consistent with its medicinal use in traditional medicine.[ix]
  9.  Prevents Brain Pathology Associated with Parkinson’s Disease: A thymoquinone extract from nigella sativa protects cultured neurons against αSN-induced synaptic toxicity, a pathology observed in the brains of patients with Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies.[x]
  10.  Kills Highly Aggressive Glioblastoma Brain Cancer Cells: A thymoquinone extract from nigella sativa exhibits glioblastoma cell killing activity. [xi]
  11.  Kills Leukemia Cells: A thymoquinone from nigella sativa induces mitochondria-mediated apoptosis in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in vitro.[xii]
  12.  Suppresses Liver Cancer Growth: A thymoquinone extract from nigella sativa prevents chemically-induced cancer in a rat model.[xiii]
  13.  Prevents Diabetic Pathologies: A water and alcohol extract of nigella sativa at low doses has a blood-sugar lowering effect and ameliorative effect on regeneration of pancreatic islets, indicating its value as a therapeutic agent in the management of diabetes mellitus.[xiv]
  14. Suppresses Cervical Cancer Cell Growth: A thymoquinone extract from nigella sativa exhibits anti-proliferative, apoptotic and anti-invasive properties in a cervical cancer cell line.[xv]
  15.  Prevents Lead-Induced Brain Damage: A thymoquinone extract from nigella sativa ameliorates lead-induced brain damage in Sprague Dawley rats.[xvi]
  16. Kills Oral Cancer Cells: A thymoquinone extract from nigella sativa induces programmed cell death (apoptosis) in oral cancer cells.[xvii]

Why is such a powerful seed not yet on the radar of most medical and nutrition communities? We know sesame seed can beat Tylenol in reducing arthritis pain and can reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors in a manner that makes statin drugs envious, and we know flaxseeds shrink breast and prostate tumors, but black seed’s benefits are still largely under reported and underutilized.

Interestingly, despite this blind spot, and as if to confirm black seed’s immense potential as a healing agent, Nestlé, the Switzerland-based global food giant, filed a patent on patent on the use of nigella sativa to “prevent food allergies” in 2010 (Nestlé’s international patent publication WO2010133574). This obvious attempt to appropriate traditional knowledge and use claimed the plant seed or extract should be Nestlé’s intellectual property when used as a food ingredient or drug.  According to a Third World Network Briefing Paper from July, 2012:

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“The Swiss giant’s claims appear invalid, as traditional uses of Nigella sativa clearly anticipate Nestlé’s patent application, and developing country scholarship has already validated these traditional uses and further described, in contemporary scientific terms, the very medicinal properties of black seed that Nestlé seeks to claim as its own “invention”.

“Nestlé claims any use of an opioid receptor-stimulating compound to treat or prevent allergies, specifically thymoquinone and, more specifically, administration of thymoquinone in the form of Nigella sativa plant material (seeds).3 The type of food allergy of greatest focus is upset stomach and diarrhea.”

The good news is that no such patent has yet to win approval, and for now, this food is still freely available. For additional research updates, simply go to Pubmed.gov, and sign up for an automatic email update for the keyword “nigella sativa,” and you’ll be one of the first to learn about the new research being done on this amazing seed as it comes directly through the biomedical research pipeline.

References

[i] Adem Ahlatci, Abdurahman Kuzhan, Seyithan Taysi, Omer Can Demirtas, Hilal Eryigit Alkis, Mehmet Tarakcioglu, Ali Demirci, Derya Caglayan, Edibe Saricicek, Kadir Cinar. Radiation-modifying abilities of Nigella sativa and Thymoquinone on radiation-induced nitrosative stress in the brain tissue. Phytomedicine. 2013 Nov 21. pii: S0944-7113(13)00432-7. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2013.10.023. [Epub ahead of print]

[ii] Mohammad Akram Randhawa, Mastour Safar Alghamdi, Subir Kumar Maulik. The effect of thymoquinone, an active component of Nigella sativa, on isoproterenol induced myocardial injury. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2013 Nov;26(6):1215-9.

[iii] Milad Anvari, Atefeh Seddigh, Mohammad Naser Shafei, Hassan Rakhshandeh, Amir Hossein Talebi, Mohammad Reza Tahani, S Mohsen Saeedjalali, Mahmoud Hosseini. Nigella sativa extract affects conditioned place preference induced by morphine in rats. 2012 Oct;32(2):82-8. doi: 10.4103/0257-7941.118537.

[iv] Ola M Omran. Effects of Thymoquinone on STZ-induced Diabetic Nephropathy: An Immunohistochemical Study. Ultrastruct Pathol. 2013 Oct 17.

[v] Ahmet Sahbaz, Firat Ersan, Serdar Aydin. Effect of Nigella sativa oil on postoperative peritoneal adhesion formation. J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2013 Oct 7. doi: 10.1111/jog.12172.

[vi] Norsharina Ismail, Maznah Ismail, Musalmah Mazlan, Latiffah Abdul Latiff, Mustapha Umar Imam, Shahid Iqbal, Nur Hanisah Azmi, Siti Aisyah Abd Ghafar, Kim Wei Chan. Thymoquinone Preventsβ-Amyloid Neurotoxicity in Primary Cultured Cerebellar Granule Neurons. 2013 Nov;33(8):1159-69. doi: 10.1007/s10571-013-9982-z. Epub 2013 Oct 8.

[vii] Chern Chiuh Woo, Annie Hsu, Alan Prem Kumar, Gautam Sethi, Kwong Huat Benny Tan. Thymoquinone Inhibits Tumor Growth and Induces Apoptosis in a Breast Cancer Xenograft Mouse Model: The Role of p38 MAPK and ROS.  2013 Oct 2;8(10):e75356. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0075356. PMID: 24098377

[viii] Shashi Rajput, B N Prashanth Kumar, Kaushik Kumar Dey, Ipsita Pal, Aditya Parekh, Mahitosh Mandal. Molecular targeting of Akt by thymoquinone promotes G1 arrest through translation inhibition of cyclin D1 and induces apoptosis in breast cancer cells.  2013 Nov 13;93(21):783-90. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2013.09.009. Epub 2013 Sep 15. PMID: 24044882

[ix] Lalitha Priyanka Dwarampudi, Dhanabal Palaniswamy, Muruganantham Nithyanantham, P S Raghu. Antipsoriatic activity and cytotoxicity of ethanolic extract of Nigella sativa seeds.  2012 Oct;8(32):268-72. doi: 10.4103/0973-1296.103650. PMID:24082629

[x] A H Alhebshi, A Odawara, M Gotoh, I Suzuki. Thymoquinone protects cultured hippocampal and human induced pluripotent stem cells-derived neurons againstα-synuclein-induced synapse damage. Neurosci Lett. 2013 Sep 27. pii: S0304-3940(13)00873-2. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2013.09.049. PMID: 24080376

[xi] Ira O Racoma, Walter Hans Meisen, Qi-En Wang, Balveen Kaur, Altaf A Wani. Thymoquinone inhibits autophagy and induces cathepsin-mediated, caspase-independent cell death in glioblastoma cells. 2013 Sep 9;8(9):e72882. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0072882. PMID: 24039814

[xii] Landa Zeenelabdin Ali Salim, Syam Mohan, Rozana Othman, Siddig Ibrahim Abdelwahab, Behnam Kamalidehghan, Bassem Y Sheikh, Mohamed Yousif Ibrahim. Thymoquinone induces mitochondria-mediated apoptosis in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in vitro. . 2013 Sep 12;18(9):11219-40. doi: 10.3390/molecules180911219. PMID: 24036512

[xiii] Subramanian Raghunandhakumar, Arumugam Paramasivam, Selvam Senthilraja, Chandrasekar Naveenkumar, Selvamani Asokkumar, John Binuclara, Sundaram Jagan, Pandi Anandakumar, Thiruvengadam Devaki. Thymoquinone inhibits cell proliferation through regulation of G1/S phase cell cycle transition in N-nitrosodiethylamine-induced experimental rat hepatocellular carcinoma. 2013 Oct 23;223(1):60-72. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2013.08.018. Epub 2013 Sep 3. PMID:24012840

[xiv] Samad Alimohammadi, Rahim Hobbenaghi, Javad Javanbakht, Danial Kheradmand, Reza Mortezaee, Maryam Tavakoli, Farshid Khadivar, Hamid Akbari. Protective and antidiabetic effects of extract from Nigella sativa on blood glucose concentrations against streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic in rats: an experimental study with histopathological evaluation. PMID: 23947821

[xv] Cagri Sakalar, Merve Yuruk, Tugba Kaya, Metin Aytekin, Salih Kuk, Halit Canatan. Pronounced transcriptional regulation of apoptotic and TNF-NF-kappa-B signaling genes during the course of thymoquinone mediated apoptosis in HeLa cells. Mol Cell Biochem. 2013 Nov;383(1-2):243-51. doi: 10.1007/s11010-013-1772-x. Epub 2013 Aug 14.PMID: 23943306

[xvi] Khaled Radad, Khaled Hassanein, Mubarak Al-Shraim, Rudolf Moldzio, Wolf-Dieter Rausch. Thymoquinone ameliorates lead-induced brain damage in Sprague Dawley rats. PMID: 23910425

[xvii] Ehab Abdelfadil, Ya-Hsin Cheng, Da-Tian Bau, Wei-Jen Ting, Li-Mien Chen, Hsi-Hsien Hsu, Yueh-Min Lin, Ray-Jade Chen, Fu-Jenn Tsai, Chang-Hai Tsai, Chih-Yang Huang. Thymoquinone induces apoptosis in oral cancer cells through p38β inhibition.

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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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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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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...

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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.

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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