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How the CDC Uses Fear to Increase Demand for Flu Vaccines

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The CDC continues to use fear of hospitalization & death to increase demand for flu vaccines. Their "Recipe" calls for encouraging medical experts and public health authorities to “state concern and alarm.”

  • Reflect On:

    Is the flu shot necessary? It's becoming hard to trust health professionals regarding this, especially given the fact their knowledge on vaccines isn't up to par. Independent research might be more effective. It's OK to question vaccines.

The CDC claims that its recommendation that everyone aged six months and up should get an annual flu shot is firmly grounded in science. The mainstream media reinforce this characterization by misinforming the public about what the science says.

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New York Times article from earlier this year, for example, in order to persuade readers to follow the CDC’s recommendation, cited scientific literature reviews of the prestigious Cochrane Collaboration to support its characterization of the influenza vaccine as both effective and safe. The Times claimed that the science showed that the vaccine represented “a big payoff in public health” and that harms from the vaccine were “almost nonexistent”.

What the Cochrane researchers actually concluded, however, was that their findings “seem to discourage the utilization of vaccination against influenza in healthy adults as a routine public health measure” (emphasis added). Furthermore, given the known serious harms associated with specific flu vaccines and the CDC’s recommendation that infants as young as six months get a flu shot despite an alarming lack of safety studies for children under two, “large-scale studies assessing important outcomes, and directly comparing vaccine types are urgently required.”

The CDC also recommends the vaccine for pregnant women despite the total absence of randomized controlled trials assessing the safety of this practice for both expectant mother and unborn child. (This is all the more concerning given that multi-dose vials of the inactivated influenza vaccine contain mercury, a known neurotoxin that can cross both the placental and blood-brain barriers and accumulate in the brain.)

The Cochrane researchers also found “no evidence” to support the CDC’s assumptions that the vaccine reduces transmission of the virus or the risk of potentially deadly complications—the two primary justifications claimed by the CDC to support its recommendation.

The CDC nevertheless pushes the influenza vaccine by claiming that it prevents large numbers of hospitalizations and deaths from flu. To reinforce its message that everyone should get an annual flu shot, the CDC claims that hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and tens of thousands die each year from influenza. These numbers are generally relayed by the mainstream media as though representative of known cases of flu. The aforementioned New York Times article, for example, stated matter-of-factly that, of the 9 million to 36 million people whom the CDC estimates get the flu each year, “Somewhere between 140,000 and 710,000 of them require hospitalization, and 12,000 to 56,000 die each year.”

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…the average number of deaths each year for which the cause is actually attributed on death certificates to the influenza virus is little more than 1000.

On September 27, the CDC issued the claim at a press conference that 80,000 people died from the flu during the 2017 – 2018 flu season, and the media parroted this number as though fact.

What is not being communicated to the public is that the CDC’s numbers do not represent known cases of influenza. They do not come directly from surveillance data, but are rather controversial estimates based on controversial mathematical models that may greatly overestimate the numbers.

To put the matter into perspective, the average number of deaths each year for which the cause is actually attributed on death certificates to the influenza virus is little more than 1,000.

The consequence of the media parroting the CDC’s numbers as though uncontroversial is that the public is routinely misinformed about the impact of influenza on society and the ostensible benefits of the vaccine. Evidently, that’s just the way the CDC wants it, since the agency has also outlined a public relations strategy of using fear marketing to increase demand for flu shots.

In other words, the CDC considers it to be a problem that people are increasingly doing their own research and becoming more adept at educating themselves about health-related issues.

The CDC’s “Problem” of “Growing Health Literacy”

Before looking at some of the problems with the CDC’s estimates, it’s useful to examine the mindset at the agency with respect to how CDC officials view their role in society. An instructive snapshot of this mindset was provided in a presentation by the CDC’s director of media relations on June 17, 2004, at a workshop for the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

In its presentation, the CDC outlined a “‘Recipe’ for Fostering Public Interest and High Vaccine Demand”. It called for encouraging medical experts and public health authorities to “state concern and alarm” about “and predict dire outcomes” from the flu season. To inspire the necessary fear, the CDC encouraged describing each season as “very severe”, “more severe than last or past years”, and “deadly”.

One problem for the CDC is the accurate view among healthy adults that they are not at high risk of serious complications from the flu. As the presentation noted, “achieving consensus by ‘fiat’ is difficult”—meaning that just because the CDC makes the recommendation doesn’t mean that people will actually follow it. Therefore it was necessary to cause “concern, anxiety, and worry” among young, healthy adults who regard the flu as an inconvenience rather than something to be terribly afraid of.

The larger conundrum for the CDC is the proliferation of information available to the public on the internet. As the CDC bluntly stated it, “Health literacy is a growing problem”.

In other words, the CDC considers it to be a problem that people are increasingly doing their own research and becoming more adept at educating themselves about health-related issues. And, as we have already seen, the CDC has very good reason to be concerned about people doing their own research into what the science actually tells us about vaccines.

One prominent way the CDC inspires the necessary fear, of course, is with its estimates of the numbers of people who are hospitalized or die each year from the flu.

…many if not most people diagnosed with ‘the flu’ may not have actually been infected with the influenza virus at all, given the large number of other viruses that cause the same symptoms and the general lack of lab confirmation.

The Problems with the CDC’s Estimates of Annual Flu Deaths

Among the relevant facts that are routinely not relayed to the public by the media when the CDC’s numbers are cited is that only about 7% to 15% of what are called “influenza-like illnesses” are actually caused by influenza viruses. In fact, there are over 200 known viruses that cause influenza-like illnesses, and to determine whether an illness was actually caused by the influenza virus requires laboratory testing—which isn’t usually done.

Furthermore, as the authors of a 2010 Cochrane review stated, “At best, vaccines may only be effective against influenza A and B, which represent about 10% of all circulating viruses” that are known to cause influenza-like symptoms. (That’s the same review, by the way, that the Times mischaracterized as having found the vaccine to be “a big payoff in public health”.)

While the CDC now uses a range of numbers to describe annual deaths attributed to influenza, it used to claim that on average “about 36,000 people per year in the United States die from influenza”. The CDC switched to using a range in response to criticism that the average was misleading because there is great variability from year to year and decade to decade. And while switching to the range did address that criticism, other serious problems remain.

One major problem with “the much publicized figure of 36,000”, as Peter Doshi observed in a 2005 BMJ article, was that it “is not an estimate of yearly flu deaths, as widely reported in both the lay and scientific press, but an estimate—generated by a model—of flu-associated death.”

Of course, as the media routinely remind us when it comes to the subject of vaccines and autism (but seem to forget when it comes to the CDC’s flu numbers), temporal association does not necessarily mean causation. Just because someone dies after an influenza infection does not mean that it was the flu that killed him. And, furthermore, many if not most people diagnosed with “the flu” may not have actually been infected with the influenza virus at all, given the large number of other viruses that cause the same symptoms and the general lack of lab confirmation.

The “36,000” number came from a 2003 CDC study published in JAMA that acknowledged the difficulty of estimating deaths attributable to influenza, given that most cases are not lab-confirmed. Yet, rather than acknowledging the likelihood that a substantial percentage of reported cases actually had nothing to do with the influenza virus, the CDC researchers treated it as though it only meant that flu-related deaths must be significantly higher than the reported numbers.

The study authors pointed out that seasonal influenza is “associated with increased hospitalizations and mortality for many diagnoses”, including pneumonia, and they assumed that many cases attributed to other illnesses were actually caused by influenza. They therefore developed a mathematical model to estimate the number by instead using as their starting point all “respiratory and circulatory” deaths, which include all “pneumonia and influenza” deaths.

In his aforementioned BMJ article, Peter Doshi reasonably asked, “Are US flu death figures more PR than science?”

Of course, not all respiratory and circulatory deaths are caused by the influenza virus. Yet the CDC treats this number as “an upper bound”—as though it was possible that 100% of all respiratory and circulatory deaths occurring in a given flu season were caused by influenza. The CDC also treats the total number of pneumonia and influenza deaths as “a lower bound for deaths associated with influenza”. The CDC states on its website that reported pneumonia and influenza deaths “represent only a fraction of the total number of deaths from influenza”—as though all pneumonia deaths were caused by influenza!

The CDC certainly knows better. In fact, at the same time, the CDC contradictorily acknowledges that not all pneumonia and influenza deaths are flu-related; it has estimatedthat in an average year 2.1% of all respiratory and circulatory deaths and 8.5% of all pneumonia and influenza deaths are influenza-associated.

So how can the CDC maintain both (a) that 8.5% of pneumonia and influenza deaths are flu-related, and (b) that the combined total of all pneumonia and influenza deaths represents only a fraction of flu-caused deaths? How can both be true?

The answer is that the CDC simply assumes that influenza-associated deaths are so greatly underreported within the broader category of deaths coded under “respiratory and circulatory” that they dwarf all those coded under “pneumonia and influenza”.

In his aforementioned BMJ article, Peter Doshi reasonably asked, “Are US flu death figures more PR than science?” As he put it, “US data on influenza deaths are a mess.” The CDC “acknowledges a difference between flu death and flu associated death yet uses the terms interchangeably. Additionally, there are significant statistical incompatibilities between official estimates and national vital statistics data. Compounding these problems is a marketing of fear—a CDC communications strategy in which medical experts ‘predict dire outcomes’ during flu seasons.”

Setting aside pneumonia and looking just at influenza-associated deaths from 1979 to 2002, the annual average according to the NCHS data was only 1,348.

Illustrating the problem, Doshi observed that for the year 2001, the total number of reported pneumonia and influenza deaths was 62,034. Yet, of those, less than one half of one percent were attributed to influenza. Furthermore, of the mere 257 cases blamed on the flu, only 7% were laboratory confirmed. That’s only 18 cases of lab confirmed influenza out of 62,034 pneumonia and influenza deaths—or just 0.03%, according to the CDC’s own National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Setting aside pneumonia and looking just at influenza-associated deaths from 1979 to 2002, the annual average according to the NCHS data was only 1,348.

The CDC’s mortality estimates would be compatible with the NCHS data, Doshi argued, “if about half of the deaths classed by the NCHS as pneumonia were actually flu initiated secondary pneumonias.” But the NCHS criteria itself strongly indicated otherwise, stating that “Cause-of-death statistics are based solely on the underlying cause of death … defined by WHO as ‘the disease or injury which initiated the train of events leading directly to death.’”

The CDC researchers who authored the 2003 study acknowledged that underlying cause-of-death coding “represents the disease or injury that initiated the chain of morbid events that led directly to the death”—yet they fallaciously coupled pneumonia deaths with influenza deaths in their model anyway.

At the time Doshi was writing, the CDC was publicly claiming that each year “about 36,000 [Americans] die from flu”, and as seen with the example from the New York Times, the range of numbers is likewise presented as though representative of known cases of flu-caused deaths. Yet the lead author of that very CDC study, William Thompson of the CDC’s National Immunization Program, acknowledged that the number rather represented “a statistical association” that does not necessarily mean causation. In Thompson’s own words, “Based on modelling, we think it’s associated. I don’t know that we would say that it’s the underlying cause of death.” (Emphasis added.)

Of course, the CDC does say it’s the underlying cause of death in its disingenuous public relations messaging. As Doshi noted, Thompson’s acknowledgment is “incompatible” with the CDC’s “misrepresentation” of its flu deaths estimates. The CDC, Doshi further observed, was “working in manufacturers’ interest by conducting campaigns to increase flu vaccination” based on estimates that are “statistically biased”, including by “arbitrarily linking flu with pneumonia”.

…there are otherwise significant limitations of the CDC’s models that potentially result in spurious attribution of deaths to influenza.

More “Limitations” of the CDC’s Models

While the media present the CDC’s numbers as though uncontroversial, there is in fact “substantial controversy” surrounding flu death estimates, as a 2005 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology noted. One problem is that the CDC’s models use virus surveillance data that “have not been made available in the public domain”, which means that its results or not reproducible. (As the journal Cell reminds, “the reproducibility of science” is “a lynch pin of credibility”.) And there are otherwise “significant limitations” of the CDC’s models that potentially result in “spurious attribution of deaths to influenza.”

To illustrate, when Peter Doshi requested access to virus circulation data, the CDC refused to allow it unless he granted the CDC co-authorship of the study he was undertaking—which Doshi appropriately refused.

While the number of confirmed H1N1-related child deaths was 371, the CDC’s claimed number was 1,271 or more.

In the New York Review of Books, Helen Epstein has pointed out how the CDC’s dire warnings about the 2009 H1N1 “swine flu” never came to pass, as well as how “some experts maintain that the CDC’s estimates studies overestimate influenza mortality, particularly among children.” While the number of confirmed H1N1-related child deaths was 371, the CDC’s claimed number was 1,271 or more. To arrive at its number, the CDC used a multiplier based on certain assumptions. One assumption is that some cases are missed either because lab confirmation wasn’t sought or because the children weren’t in a hospital when they died and so weren’t tested. Another is that a certain percentage of test results will be false negatives.

However, Epstein pointed out, “according to CDC guidelines at the time”, any child hospitalized with severe influenza symptoms should have been tested for H1N1. Furthermore, “deaths in children from infectious diseases are rare in the US, and even those who didn’t die in hospitals would almost certainly have been autopsied (and tested for H1N1)…. Also, the test is accurate and would have missed few cases. Because it’s unlikely that large numbers of actual cases of US child deaths from H1N1 were missed, the lab-confirmed count (371) is probably much closer to the modeled numbers … which are in any case impossible to verify.”

As already indicated, another assumption the CDC makes is that excess mortality in winter is mostly attributable to influenza. A 2009 Slate article described this as among a number of “potential glitches” that make the CDC’s reported flu deaths the “‘least bad’ estimate”. Referring to earlier methods that associated flu deaths with wintertime deaths from all causes, the article observed that this risked blaming influenza for deaths from car accidents caused by icy roads. And while the updated method presented in the 2003 CDC study excluded such causes of death implausibly linked to flu, related problems remain.

As the aforementioned American Journal of Epidemiology study noted, the updated method “reduces, but does not eliminate, the potential for spurious correlation and spurious attribution of deaths to influenza.” Furthermore, “Methods based on seasonal pattern begin from the assumption that influenza is the major source of excess winter death.” The CDC’s models therefore still “are in danger of being confounded by other seasonal factors.” The authors also stated that they could not conclude from their own study “that influenza is a more important cause of winter mortality on an annual timescale than is cold weather.”

Once the CDC has its estimated hospitalization rate, it then multiplies that number by the ratio of deaths to hospitalizations to arrive at its estimated mortality rate. Thus, any overestimation of the hospitalization rate is also compounded into its estimated death rate.

As a 2002 BMJ study stated, “Cold weather alone causes striking short term increases in mortality, mainly from thrombotic and respiratory disease. Non-thermal seasonal factors such as diet may also affect mortality.” (Emphasis added.) The study estimated that of annual excess winter deaths, only “2.4% were due to influenza either directly or indirectly.” It concluded that, “With influenza causing such a small proportion of excess winter deaths, measures to reduce cold stress offer the greatest opportunities to reduce current levels of winter mortality.”

CDC researchers themselves acknowledge that their models are “subject to some limitations.” In a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Public Health, CDC researchers admitted that “simply counting deaths for which influenza has been coded as the underlying cause on death certificates can lead to both over- and underestimates of the magnitude of influenza-associated mortality.” (Emphasis added.) Yet they offered no comment on how, then, their models account for the likelihood that many reported cases of “flu” had nothing whatsoever to do with the influenza virus. Evidently, this is because they don’t, as indicated by the CDC’s treatment of all influenza deaths plus pneumonia deaths as a “lower bound”.

For another illustration, since it takes two or three years before the data is available to be able to estimate flu hospitalizations and deaths by the usual means, the CDC has also developed a method to make preliminary estimates for a given year by “adjusting” the numbers of reported lab-confirmed cases from selected surveillance areas around the country. The “80,000” figure claimed for last season’s flu deaths is just such an estimate. The way the CDC “adjusts” the numbers is by multiplying the number of lab-confirmed cases by a certain amount, ostensibly “to correct for underreporting”. To determine the multiplier, the CDC makes a number of assumptions to estimate (a) the likelihood that a person hospitalized for any respiratory illnesswould be tested for influenza and (b) the likelihood that a person with influenza would test positive.

Caveats such as that, however, are not communicated to the general public by the CDC in its press releases or by the mainstream media so that people can make a truly informed choice about whether it’s worth the risk to get a flu shot.

Once the CDC has its estimated hospitalization rate, it then multiplies that number by the ratio of deaths to hospitalizations to arrive at its estimated mortality rate. Thus, any overestimation of the hospitalization rate is also compounded into its estimated death rate.

One obvious problem with this is the underlying assumption that the percentage of people who (a) are hospitalized for respiratory illness and have the flu is the same as (b) the percentage of those who are hospitalized for respiratory illness, are actually tested, and test positive. This implies that doctors are not more likely to seek lab confirmation for people who actually have influenza than they are for people whose respiratory symptoms are due to some other cause.

Assuming that doctors can do better than a pair of rolled dice at picking out patients with influenza, it further implies that doctors are no more likely to order a lab test for patients whom they suspect of having the flu than they are to order a lab test for patients whose respiratory symptoms they think are caused by something else.

The CDC’s assumption thus introduces a selection bias into its model that further calls into question the plausibility of its conclusions, as it is bound to result in overestimation. In a 2015 study published in PLoS One that detailed this method, CDC researchers acknowledged that, “If physicians were more likely to recognize influenza patients clinically and select those patients for testing, we may have over-estimated the magnitude of under-detection.” And that, of course, would result in an overestimation of both hospitalizations and deaths associated with influenza.

Caveats such as that, however, are not communicated to the general public by the CDC in its press releases or by the mainstream media so that people can make a truly informed choice about whether it’s worth the risk to get a flu shot.

Conclusion

In summary, to avoid underestimating influenza-associated hospitalizations and deaths, the CDC relies on models that instead appear to greatly overestimate the numbers due to the fallacious assumptions built into them. These numbers are then mispresented to the public by both public health officials and the mainstream media as though uncontroversial and representative of known cases of influenza-caused illnesses and deaths from surveillance data. Consequently, the public is grossly misinformed about the societal disease burden from influenza and the ostensible benefit of the vaccine.

It is clear that the CDC does not see its mission as being to educate the public in order to be able to make an informed choice about vaccination. After all, that would be incompatible with its view that growing health literacy is a threat to its mission and an obstacle to be overcome. On the other hand, misinformed populace aligns perfectly with the CDC’s stated goal of using fear marketing to generate more demand for the pharmaceutical industry’s influenza vaccine products.

This article is an adapted and expanded excerpt from part two of the author’s multi-part exposé on the influenza vaccine. Sign up for Jeremy’s newsletter to stay updated with his work on vaccines and receive his free downloadable report, “5 Horrifying Facts about the FDA Vaccine Approval Process”.

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Alternatives To Viagra That May Treat Erectile Dysfunction

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Erectile dysfunction is something that affects man men. It seems the only solution is medication, but their maybe other alternatives available.

  • Reflect On:

    Why is there such a lack of resources when it comes to the research of alternatives methods for treat certain health problem?

For many men experiencing erectile dysfunction, a little blue pill known as Viagra can be a quick fix thanks to modern medicine. However, like many other quick fixes developed by the pharmaceutical industry, those benefits don’t come without some added risks. Pharmaceuticals often impose the “bandaid effect” on our bodies, covering up the problem rather than actually solving it through addressing the root cause of the health issue. 

When it comes to Viagra, choosing to take this little blue pill is sort of like choosing the blue pill in the Matrix. Sometimes we can become so blinded by the advantages of something that we forget about its potential side effects, and ultimately fail to address the real issue at hand. So, in hearing that this blue pill could seemingly fix your sex life again, many men choose to take it, while simultaneously ignoring the risks.

In reality, there are some pretty serious health risks associated with Viagra. Like many other pharmaceutical products, by ‘fixing’ one area of the body, you could be harming another.

The Viagra website states it can potentially cause some serious side effects, including:

  • Priapism, otherwise known as a long-term erection that can permanently damage your penis
  • Loss of vision in one of both eyes
  • Hearing loss, damage to hearing, or ringing in ears
  • Headache
  • Upset stomach or nausea
  • Back pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Rash
  • Heart attack or irregular heartbeat
  • Stroke
  • Death

Despite these potential risks, over 23 million men have been prescribed Viagra. This indicates there’s a huge number of men who experience erectile dysfunction, and it’s understandable they’d turn to Viagra given how normalized pharmaceuticals are in our society and how cruelly men who suffer from this problem are portrayed in the media.

Instead of going deeper and asking ourselves why our health problems occur, we tend to go to the pharmacy for a quick fix or ask our doctors to prescribe us some pills. However, just like any other health problem, erectile dysfunction is simply a symptom of your current state of being. Our health issues don’t just “happen to us,” they manifest as a result of our past and current health and wellbeing.

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Erectile dysfunction can occur due to high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, high cholesterol, hormonal problems, alcohol abuse, smoking, cocaine use, pelvic injuries, spinal issues, radiation therapy around the pelvic region, obesity, and more.

These underlying causes of erectile dysfunction may explain why some of the side effects of Viagra can be so life-threatening in the first place. When men take those blue pills, they can get lost in the excitement of the experience and end up exerting themselves beyond their physical limitations. If these men already have preexisting conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure (which could all be the root causes of their erectile dysfunction), they could already be at risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.

Though the root problem could be considered more difficult to identify and treat than taking that little blue pill, it’s ultimately the only sustainable, long-term solution, and it could save your health (or even your life)!

However, if you are in need of a quick fix while you’re trying to figure out what that root cause could be, there are plenty of alternatives to Viagra that don’t pose the same health risks.

Here’s a list of all-natural alternatives to Viagra:

L-arginine and Pycnogenol

L-arginine is a non-essential amino acid that is important during times of trauma or stress. During these times, the body is unable to produce as much as it needs, and so taking this supplement while you’re stressed is often beneficial. What’s more, studies have found that taking this amino acid supplement can treat erectile function.

It has been found to perform well when taken in combination with pycnogenol. One study involving men experiencing erectile dysfunction found that taking these two supplements together restored participants’ sexual ability to 80% in about a month. After only a few months, 92.5% of the men experienced a normal erection.

Red Ginseng

This incredible herb has been used to improve erectile dysfunction for centuries, and as it turns out, there’s now science to support the herbal wisdom behind it.

2012 study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research concluded that red ginseng can be used as an alternative to erectile dysfunction medication, and another review published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) determined that red ginseng could improve erectile dysfunction and sexual performance, though further research is required.

Maca

Maca is well-known for being nature’s own powerful aphrodisiac. In a study on patients with mild erectile dysfunction, maca was found to produce a “small but significant effect” on both the participants’ general and sexual wellbeing.

You could try adding some maca to your morning smoothies or beverages, or even take a supplement. Plus, maca is an excellent source of vitamin C, iron, potassium, and copper, so you’ll be loading up on nutrients in addition to boosting your sex drive.

Saffron

That’s right: That expensive member of your herbs and spices cabinet can also aid men who suffer from erectile dysfunction! One study found that saffron works surprisingly quickly, showing “a positive effect on sexual function with increased number and duration of erectile events seen in patients with ED even only after taking it for ten days.”

Tribulus terrestris

Tribulus terrestris is a plant often used in Ayurvedic medicine, as the root and fruits are said to benefit both male virility and general wellbeing. A study published in NCBI suggests that tribulus terrestris can be beneficial in treating men who experience erectile dysfunction.

Studies in primates, rabbits, and rats have yielded some promising results, with Tribulus terrestris being found to increase some sex hormones and effectively treating mild and moderate cases of erectile dysfunction.

Reduced Intake of Meat and Fried Foods

Some of the worst foods for your heart include meat and fried foods. Foods high in animal fat, sodium, and unhealthy oils pose serious risk to your heart and can also worsen your blood circulation, a necessary aspect of getting an erection in the first place.

As it turns out, erectile dysfunction could signify underlying heart problems, so eating “heart healthy” foods is a necessary component of good sexual health as well. Try swapping the animal protein for some plant-based protein, cutting the dairy, and ditching the fast food!

Essential Oils

There are a number of essential oils that can be used to reduce stress, increase sex drive/libido, and lower blood pressure, all of which could potentially affect erectile function. Ylang ylang, rose, and lavender essential oils are all really great at reducing stress and in some cases lowering blood pressure, too.

Spicier scents like cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove can aid in increasing sex drive and improving sexual function, and nutmeg can also improve blood circulation, an important part of getting an erection.

Final Thoughts

As with many other pharmaceuticals, taking Viagra clearly has its advantages and disadvantages. Sure, it might improve your sex life in the short term, but at what cost? Maybe you’ll take Viagra and never experience any negative side effects, but at the end of the day, there’s no guarantee of that.

Any ailment or disease that manifests in the body is always a sign of sickness or stress, and this includes erectile dysfunction; if everything is operating well in your body, then you will not run into any operational issues.

This applies for many health issues, and I encourage you to continue on your journey in searching for the root cause of all of your health problems!

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Scientists Share Facts About Vaccines At World Health Organization Conference For Vaccine Safety

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Many scientists presented facts about vaccines and vaccine safety at the recent Global Health Vaccine Safety summit hosted by the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.

  • Reflect On:

    Why are so many people fighting against each other? Why are there "pro-vax" and "anti-vax" groups? Are these terms not useless? Do they prevent us from having discussions that need to be had and moving forward appropriately?

According to organizations like the American Medical Association as well as the World Health Organization, vaccine hesitancy among people, parents, and, as mentioned by scientists at the World Health Organization’s recent Global Vaccine Safety Summit, health professionals and scientists continues to increase. This is no secret, as vaccines have become a very popular topic over the past few years alone. In fact, the World Health Organization has listed vaccine hesitancy as one of the biggest threats to global health security.

The issue of vaccine hesitancy is no secret, for example, one study (of many) published in the journal EbioMedicine outlines this point, stating in the introduction:

Over the past two decades several vaccine controversies have emerged in various countries, including France, inducing worries about severe adverse effects and eroding confidence in health authorities, experts, and science (Larson et al., 2011). These two dimensions are at the core of the vaccine hesitancy (VH) observed in the general population. VH is defined as delay in acceptance of vaccination, or refusal, or even acceptance with doubts about its safety and benefits, with all these behaviors and attitudes varying according to context, vaccine, and personal profile, despite the availability of vaccine services (Group, 2014,Larson et al., 2014Dubé et al., 2013). VH presents a challenge to physicians who must address their patients’ concerns about vaccines and ensure satisfactory vaccination coverage.

At the conference, this fact was emphasized by Professor Heidi Larson, a Professor of Anthropology and the Risk and Decision Scientist Director at the Vaccine Confidence Project. She is referenced, as you can see, by the authors in the study above. At the conference, she emphasized that safety concerns among people and health professionals seem to be the biggest issue regarding vaccine hesitancy.

She also stated,

The other thing that’s a trend, and an issue, is not just confidence in providers but confidence of health care providers, we have a very wobbly health professional frontline that is starting to question vaccines and the safety of vaccines. That’s a huge problem, because to this day any study I’ve seen… still, the most trusted person on any study I’ve seen globally is the health care provider, and if we lose that, we’re in trouble.

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She also brought up her belief that safety studies are incomplete, and that to continue to refer people to the same old science on safety is not adequately addressing their new concerns because better studies need to be done. Furthermore, she recommended that doctors and professionals forego name-calling with ‘hostile language’ such as “anti-vax”. She recommended encouraging people to ask questions about vaccine safety. After all, it makes sense–in order to make our vaccines safer and more effective, you would think everybody would be on board with constant questioning and examination. After all, that’s just good science, and it’s in everyone’s best interest.

Another interesting point that caught my attention was brought up by Dr. Martin Howell Friede, Coordinator of Initiative For Vaccine Research at the World Health Organization. He brought up the topic of vaccine adjuvants like thimerosal or aluminum, for example. In certain vaccines, without these adjuvants the vaccine simply doesn’t work. Dr. Friede mentioned that there are clinical studies that blame adjuvants for adverse events seen as a result of administering vaccines, and how people in general often blame adverse reactions to vaccines being the result of the vaccine adjuvant. He mentioned aluminum specifically.

He showed concern given the fact that “without adjuvants, we are not going to have the next generation of vaccines.”

He also stated that,

When we add an adjuvant, it’s because it is essential. We do not add adjuvants to vaccines because we want to do so, but when we add them it adds to the complexity. And I give courses every year on ‘how do you develop vaccines’ and ‘how do you make vaccines’ and the first lesson is, while you are making your vaccine, if you can avoid using an adjuvant, please do so. Lesson two is, if you’re going to use an adjuvant, use one that has a history of safety, and lesson three is, if you’re not going to do that, think very carefully.

Furthermore, he criticized the assumption that if an adjuvant like aluminum appears to be safe for one vaccine, that it should be not be presumed to be safe for other vaccines. Dr. Friede said that current safety surveillance is quite effective at determining immediate effects (such as immediate injury to the arm at the injection site), but not as effective in identifying “systemic” long term adverse events.

When I heard him mention lesson two, that “if you’re going to use an adjuvant, use one that has a history of safety,” it instantly reminded me of aluminum because it’s an adjuvant used in multiple vaccines like the HPV vaccine, for example, but has no history of safety.

A study published as far back as 2011 in Current Medical Chemistry makes this quite clear, emphasizing that,

Aluminum is an experimentally demonstrated neurotoxin and the most commonly used vaccine adjuvant. Despite almost 90 years of widespread use of aluminum adjuvants, medical science’s understanding about their mechanisms of action is still remarkably poor. There is also a concerning scarcity of data on toxicology and pharmacokinetics of these compounds. In spite of this, the notion that aluminum in vaccines is safe appears to be widely accepted. Experimental research, however, clearly shows that aluminum adjuvants have a potential to induce serious immunological disorders in humans. (source)

The key sentence here is that “their mechanisms of action is still remarkably poor.” Based on what Dr. Friede said at the conference, it really makes you think.

A study published in BMC Med in 2015 found that “Evidence that aluminum-coated particles phagocytozed in the injected muscle and its draining lymph nodes can disseminate within phagocytes throughout the body and slowly accumulate in the brain further suggests that alum safety should be evaluated in the long term.”

This brings me to another point made at the conference by many scientists in attendance, which was that according to some of them, vaccines seem to lack the appropriate safety testing. This is another big reason why people are so confused and have voiced their concerns about safety, as mentioned above by Professor Larson.

Marion Gruber, PhD and Director of the FDA Office of Vaccines Research and Review, questioned the scope of vaccine safety surveillance and monitoring during pre-licensing vaccine trials as well during the conference.

One source of confusion might be that ‘high-ranking’ health authorities sometimes making conflicting statements. For example, Soumya Swaminathan, MD and Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization, stated at the conference,

I don’t think we can overemphasize the fact that we really don’t have very good safety monitoring systems in many countries and this adds to the miscommunication and the misapprehensions because we’re not able to give clear cut answers when people ask questions about deaths that have occurred due to particular vaccines… One should be able to give a very factual account of what exactly is happening, what the cause of deaths are, but in most cases there’s some obfuscation at that level and therefore there’s less and less trust then in the system.

Prior to this statement, in a promotional video released just days before the conference began, she stated that “we have vaccine safety systems, robust vaccine safety systems.”

She completely contradicted herself.

If you’d like access to the entire conference, you can do so at the World Health Organization’s website.

The Takeaway

The scientific community should never stop questioning, especially when it comes to medication. Based on the information that’s come out at this conference, it’s quite clear that there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to the development of vaccines and vaccine safety overall. Discussion is always encouraging, as long as it’s peaceful and facts are presented like they were at this conference. It’s better to understand the reasons why a lot of people are hesitant about vaccination and appropriately respond, instead of simply using ridicule and hatred because that’s never effective and both parties cannot move forward that way. At the end of the day, scientists should never cease to question.

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Gulf War Illness Tied To Cipro Antibiotics

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Civilians suffering from Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome (an adverse reaction to a fluoroquinolone – Cipro/Ciprofloxacin, Levaquin/Levofloxacin, Avelox/Moxifloxacin, Floxin/Ofloxacin and others) have noted the similarities between Gulf War illness and Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome for years.  It is beyond likely, it is probable, that they are one in the same.

The Symptoms

The VA defines Gulf War Illness as “chronic, unexplained symptoms existing for 6 months or more” that are at least ten percent disabling.  The CDC case definition of Gulf War Illness “requires chronic symptoms in two of three domains of fatigue, cognitive-mood, and musculoskeletal.”

Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome is a chronic, unexplained illness with symptoms lasting for months, years, or, as the updated warning label notes, permanently.  The symptoms of Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome are too numerous to list, but a cursory glance at the warning label for Cipro/Ciprofloxacin will tell you that the effects include musculoskeletal problems and central nervous system issues.  Additionally, as  pharmaceuticals that damage mitochondria, the energy centers of cells, severe fatigue is often induced by Fluoroquinolones.

A 1998 study entitled, “Chronic Multisymptom Illness Affecting Air Force Veterans of the Gulf War,” found that the most commonly reported symptoms of Gulf War Illness are sinus congestion, headache, fatigue, joint pain, difficulty remembering or concentrating, joint stiffness, difficulty sleeping, abdominal pain, trouble finding words, (feeling) moody or irritable, rash or sores, numbness or tingling and muscle pain.

A 2011 study conducted by the Quinolone Vigilance Foundation found that the most commonly reported symptoms of Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome are tendon, joint, and muscle pain, fatigue, popping/cracking joints, weakness, neuropathic pain, paresthesia (tingling), muscle twitching, depression, anxiety, insomnia, back pain, memory loss, tinnitus, muscle wasting.

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The symptoms are similar enough to raise a few eyebrows.  It should be noted that when a chronic, multi-symptom illness suddenly sickens a patient or a soldier, and he or she goes from being healthy and active to suddenly being exhausted and unable to move or think, it is difficult to pinpoint and describe exactly what is going wrong in his or her body.  Thus, even if the symptoms are identical, they may not be described in an identical way because of context and differing areas of focus.

For victims of fluoroquinolones, it is as if a bomb went off in the body of the victim, yet all tests come back “normal” so in addition to physical pain and suffering that the soldier/patient is going through, he or she has to suffer through dismissal and denial from medical professionals as well.  Neither Gulf War Illness nor Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome are detected by traditional medical tests and thus both diseases are systematically denied.  All blood and urine markers come back within the normal ranges, yet the patient or soldier is suddenly incapable of 90% of what he or she used to be able to do.  When a large number of patients or soldiers (nearly 30% of the soldiers serving in the Gulf reported symptoms.  Exact numbers of civilian patients suffering from Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome are unknown because of delayed reactions, misdiagnosing the illness, tolerance thresholds, etc.) experience adverse reactions that are undetectable using the tests available, there is something wrong with the tests.  The patients and soldiers aren’t lying and their loss of abilities isn’t “in their heads.”

Exposure to the same Poison

Another glaring similarity between Gulf War Illness and Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome is that everyone with either syndrome took a Fluoroquinolone.

Per a Veteran of the Marines who commented on healthboards.com about the use of Ciprofloxacin by soldiers in the Gulf:

“The Ciprofloxacin 500 mg were ordered to be taken twice a day. The Marines were the only service that I know for sure were given these orders. We were ordered to start them before the air war, and the order to stop taking them was giver at 0645 Feb 28th 1991 by General Myatt 1st Marine div commander. We were forced to take Cipro 500mg twice a day for 40 plus days. so the Marines were given NAPP (nerve agent protection pills) or pyridiostigmine bromide to protect us from nerve agent, and We were ordered to take the Cipro to protect from anthrax. We were part of the human research trial conducted by the Bayer corporation in the creation of their new anthrax pills. At that time they had no idea of the side effects of flouroquinolones. That’s the class of medications that Cipro falls into. After the Gulf War the FDA and Bayer co. started releasing the list of side effects.  You do need to know what was done to you so you will have to do your own research. Good luck to all of you and Semper Fi.”

By definition, everyone who suffers from Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome has taken a fluoroquinolone – Cipro/Ciprofloxacin, Levaquin/Levofloxacin, Avelox/Moxifloxacin or Floxin/Ofloxacin.  Civilians are also part of the “human research trial conducted by the Bayer corporation” as well as Johnson & Johnson, Merck and multiple generic drug manufacturers who peddle fluoroquinolones as “safe” antibiotics.

The Case Against Fluoroquinolones

Of course, there were multiple chemicals and poisons that Gulf War Veterans were exposed to in the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War and thus it has been difficult to pinpoint an exact cause of Gulf War Illness.  The ruling out of the following possible causes should certainly be questioned thoroughly, but “depleted uranium, anthrax vaccine, fuels, solvents, sand and particulates, infectious diseases, and chemical agent resistant coating” have been found not to cause Gulf War Illness.  Other potential causes of Gulf War Illness include oil fires, multiple vaccines, pesticides, and, of course, fluoroquinolone antibiotics (Cipro).  (It should be noted that non-deployed military personnel who served during the Gulf War period, but who were not deployed in the Middle East, have also been afflicted with Gulf War Illness and thus toxins that both deployed and non-deployed personnel have been exposed to should be the focus of investigations into the causes of Gulf War Illness.)

The Air Force Times article is one of the first official mentions of the relationship between Cipro and Gulf War Illness.  Officially, the link hasn’t been examined (though some very smart researchers are building a case as you read this).  Why Cipro hasn’t been looked at as a potential cause of Gulf War Illness is a question that I don’t know the answer to.  Perhaps it’s because most people think that all antibiotics are as safe as penicillin.  Perhaps it’s because most people have a tolerance threshold for fluoroquinolones and don’t react negatively to the first prescription that they receive.  Perhaps it’s because even today, more than 30 years after Cipro was patented by Bayer, the exact mechanism by which fluoroquinolones operate is still officially unknown (1).  Perhaps it’s because it is unthinkable that a commonly used antibiotic could cause a chronic syndrome of pain and suffering.  Perhaps it’s because the tests that show the damage done by fluoroquinolones aren’t used by the VA or civilian doctors’ offices.  Perhaps it’s because fluoroquinolones are the perfect drug – they take an acute problem – an infection, and convert it into a chronic disease-state that is systematically misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, an autoimmune disease, leaky gut syndrome, insomnia, anxiety, depression, etc. and turns formerly healthy people into lifetime customers of the medical establishment / pharmaceutical companies.  Perhaps it is simply widespread ignorance about the way these dangerous drugs work.

The Cliffs Notes version of how fluoroquinolones work is as follows:

The fluoroquinolone depletes liver enzymes that metabolize drugs (CYP450) (2).  When the enzymes are depleted sufficiently, the fluoroquinolone forms a poisonous adduct to mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) (3, 4), which destroys and depletes mtDNA (5).  While the mtDNA is being destroyed, the fluoroquinolone is also binding to cellular magnesium. (6, 7)  The mitochondria reacts to being assaulted by producing reactive oxygen species (ROS) (8, 9).  Some of the ROS, specifically hydrogen peroxide, combines with the excess calcium (there is a balance in cells of magnesium and calcium and the binding of the magnesium results in an excess of calcium) to induce the expression of CD95L/Fas Ligand (5) which then causes cell death (apoptosis) and immune system dysfunction (10) which leads the body to attack itself – like an autoimmune disease.

Damage is caused by every single step in the process.  Additional damage may be done by the fluorine atom that is added to fluoroquinolones to make them more potent.  It should be noted that the complexity of these cellular interactions is too vast to write up in this article.

Every symptom of Gulf War Illness is consistent with mitochondrial damage and oxidative stress (11), both of which have been shown to be brought on by fluoroquinolones.

Though the tests used in typical medical practice show no reason for victims of fluoroquinolones to be ill, that fact simply shows that the wrong tests are being used.  Tests of mitochondrial function, antioxidant/oxidant ratios and DNA will show the damage that is done by fluoroquinolones.  The way to determine whether Cipro is the cause of Gulf War Illness is to conduct a DNA mass spectrogram analysis on afflicted Gulf War Veterans.  If the DNA mass spectrogram analysis shows that quinolone molecules have adducted to the DNA of the Veterans, that’s a smoking gun of damage done by Cipro.

Millions of civilians have also been hurt by fluoroquinolones.  I can connect fluoroquinolones to almost every chronic disease that has increased in prevalence since the introduction of fluoroquinolones to the mass population in the mid-1980s.  Additionally, DNA is damaged and thus the effects are intergenerational and many of the chronic diseases that plague children can be linked to fluoroquinolone use by parents.

Some very well-respected researchers are working on more furthering  the case that Cipro is responsible for Gulf War Illness.  If any Gulf War Veterans want to take on Bayer before those studies are released, the way to do so is through obtaining a DNA mass spectrogram analysis and having it analyzed by a toxicologist.  It is proof of damage and it is necessary.  When that proof is obtained, I encourage all Gulf War Veterans to use it to fight those who poisoned them – Bayer and their corroborators in the DOD and the FDA.

To any Gulf War Veterans who read this – you are soldiers and you are warriors.  I know that you have been weakened, but you are still alive and those of you who can fight, should, because a grave injustice has been done to you.  It is an injustice that is also being inflicted on innocent civilians.  There is nothing okay about the poisoning of our military men and women, or the American public, with chemotherapy drugs masquerading as antibiotics.  I encourage you to fight Bayer and their corroborators like what they are – domestic terrorists.  It is a fight that you can win.  The truth, and a significant amount evidence, are on your side.

Post Script:  The author’s web site, with more information about fluoroquinolones, is www.floxiehope.com.  Further information about fluoroquinolones can be found through the Quinolone Vigilance Foundation – www.saferpills.org.

Numbered Sources:

  1. Inorganic Chemistry, “New uses for old drugs: attempts to convert quinolone antibacterials into potential anticancer agents containing ruthenium.
  2. FDA Warning Label for Ciprofloxacin
  3. The Journal of Biological Chemistry, “The Mechanism of Inhibition of Topoisomerase IV by Quinolone Antibacterials.”
  4. Findings of Toxicologist Joe King
  5. The Journal of Immunology, “Mitochondrial Reactive Oxygen Species Control T Cell Activation by Regulating IL-2 and IL-4 Expression: MechanismN of Ciprofloxacin Mediated Immunosuppression
  6. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, “Effects of Magnesium Complexation by Fluoroquinolones on their Antibacterial Properties
  7. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, Biochemistry, “Quinolone Binding to DNA Mediated by Magnesium Ions”
  8. Science Translational Medicine, “Bactericidal Antibiotics Induce Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Oxidative Damage in Mammalian Cells
  9. Journal of Young Pharmacists, “Oxidative Stress Induced by Fluoroquinolones on Treatment for Complicated Urinary Tract Infections in Indian Patients
  10. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, “Ciprofloxacin Induces an Immunomodulatory Stress Response in Human T Lymphocytes
  11. Nature Precedings, “Oxidative Stress and Mitochondrial Injury in Chronic Multisymptom Conditions:  From Gulf War Illness to Autism Spectrum Disorder

 

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