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Why Santa May Have Originally Been a Eurasian Shaman Who Used Psychedelic Mushrooms

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The origin of "Santa Claus" might have something to do with psychedelic mushrooms if we look at interpretations that pre date Christianity.

  • Reflect On:

    Santa today has become a figure that's used for massive amounts of profit. Is Christmas really about giving? Or is 'giving' simply used to sell a number of products? Christmas should have nothing to do with buying anything, or should it?

CE by no means promotes eating wild amanita muscaria, at all.

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As a child, the Christmas season always represented great things. The holiday cheer, the familial celebrations, and most exciting of all, presents. But as I grew into adulthood, the sparkling veil of the Christmas season soon revealed it’s true form – a religious-based, commercial lie meant to perpetuate consumerism and materialism.

I eventually let go of my jaded view of Christmas, and created my own meaning for the holiday season, which now saw the end of the year as a dedicated time to spend with the ones I love, and to reflect on the experiences and lessons of the previous year. Not that Christmas is the only time to do this, but let’s face it, life has a tendency to otherwise keep us preoccupied.

But recently my views on Christmas were challenged once again, after reading up on the pre-Christian history of Santa Claus and his ‘magical’ reindeer. I was shocked to hear a proposed theory of the story’s origins, which explained how Santa may have originally been a northern Eurasian shaman who used the psychedelic mushroom amanita muscaria, and that many of the well known Christmas symbols, such as the tree, the star, and the gifts, were actually inspired by esoteric practices involving the red and white magic mushroom.

A Siberian Shaman With A Bag Of Special ‘Gifts’

ShamanClaus

Could the story of Santa actually be inspired by Shamanistic practices out of Northern Europe and Asia during the pre-Christian era?

In his articleMagic Mushrooms May Explain Santa & His ‘Flying’ Reindeer, author Douglas Main explains how the story of Santa and his flying reindeer can be traced to an unlikely source: hallucinogenic or “magic” mushrooms. Speaking with John Rush, an anthropologist and instructor at Sierra College in Rocklin, California, Main learned more about Santa’s story.

“Santa is a modern counterpart of a shaman, who consumed mind-altering plants and fungi to commune with the spirit world,” said Rush.

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According to the theory, the legend of Santa derives from shamans in the Siberian and Arctic regions who dropped into locals’ teepee-like homes with a bag full of hallucinatory mushrooms as presents in late December.

As the story goes, up until a few hundred years ago these practicing shamans or priests connected to the older traditions would collect Amanita muscaria (the Holy Mushroom), dry them, and then give them as gifts on the winter solstice,” Rush told LiveScience. “Because snow is usually blocking doors, there was an opening in the roof through which people entered and exited, thus the chimney story.”

The Christmas Tree Connection

In his book, Mushrooms and Mankindlate author James Arthur points out that amanita muscaria, also known as fly agaric, lives throughout the Northern Hemisphere under conifers and birch trees, with which the fungi —which is deep red with white flecks — has a symbiotic relationship. This partially explains the practice of the Christmas tree, and the placement of bright red-and-white presents underneath, which look like Amanita mushrooms, he wrote.

From Northern Antiquities, an English translation of the Prose Edda from 1847. Painted by Oluf Olufsen Bagge.

Was the Christmas tree tradition based off of ancient Northern European symbology? Painted by Oluf Olufsen Bagge.

Why do people bring pine trees into their houses at the Winter Solstice, placing brightly colored (red and white) packages under their boughs, as gifts to show their love for each other … ?” he wrote. “It is because, underneath the pine bough is the exact location where one would find this ‘Most Sacred’ substance, the Amanita muscaria, in the wild.”

Author Dana Larsen elaborated on the pre-Christian symbology of the Christmas tree in her article, The Psychedelic Secrets of Santa. She explains how the ancient northern European people, including the Lapps of modern-day Finland, and the Koyak tribes of the central Russian steppes, believed in the idea of a World Tree. The World Tree was seen as a kind of cosmic axis, onto which the planes of the universe are fixed. The roots of the World Tree stretch down into the underworld, its trunk is the “middle earth” of everyday existence, and its branches reach upwards into the heavenly realm.

The North Star was also considered sacred, since all other stars in the sky revolved around its fixed point. They associated this “Pole Star” with the World Tree and the central axis of the universe. The top of the World Tree touched the North Star, and the spirit of the shaman would climb the metaphorical tree, thereby passing into the realm of the gods” wrote Larsen.

“So Up To The House-Top The Coursers They Flew”: Breaking Down The ‘Flying’ Reindeer

Perhaps one of the most memorable aspects of Santa Claus mythology are his co-pilot counterparts, his flying reindeer.

Reindeer are rampant in Siberia, and are also known to include various fungi in their diet, as seen in the BBC Weird Nature video below.

Donald Pfister, a biologist who studies fungi at Harvard University, suggests that Siberian tribesmen who ingested fly agaric (amanita muscaria) may have hallucinated into thinking that reindeer were flying.

At first glance, one thinks it’s ridiculous, but it’s not,” said Carl Ruck, a professor of classics at Boston University. “Whoever heard of reindeer flying? I think it’s becoming general knowledge that Santa is taking a ‘trip’ with his reindeer,” Ruck said.

Controversy Over Linking The Pre-Christian Santa To The Modern Day Version of St. Nick

As convincing as the theory may be, many historians and anthropologists disagree with the Amanita shamanic version of Santa Claus, and claim that our current depiction of the jolly old man has in fact evolved from a 4th century Greek-Christian bishop named Saint Nicholas, who was known for his generous gifts to the poor.

Then, in 1823, a New York City aristocratic academic by the name of Clement Clarke Moore wrote the infamous poem, “A Visit From St. Nicholas” (which later became “Twas The Night Before Christmas“), which was thought to have been inspired by the Christian bishop, and which envisioned an entirely new portrayal of St. Nick.  Throughout the next few centuries, the image of Santa Claus became ubiquitous throughout Western culture, and was re-sculpted and refined by clever marketing organizations such as Coca Cola. Hence the fat, bearded character we know today.

But Germanic folklore tells an even different story of the true origins of Santa Claus. Prior to Christianization, the Germanic peoples celebrated a midwinter event called Yule. With the Christianization of Germanic Europe, numerous traditions were absorbed from Yuletide celebrations into modern Christmas. During this period, supernatural and ghostly occurrences were said to increase in frequency, such as the Wild Hunt, a ghostly procession through the sky. The leader of the wild hunt is frequently attested as the god Odin, who bears the Old Norse names Jólnir, meaning “yule figure” and the name Langbarðr, meaning “long-beard.”

In this later 1881 illustration by Thomas Nast named “Merry Old Santa” the modern Santa character really begins to take shape. Present is the jolly rotundity and the all important red of the suit.

James Arthur wrote that at the very least, Santa’s sleigh and reindeer are references back to various related Northern European mythology. For example, the Norse god Thor (known in German as “Donner”) flew in a chariot drawn by two goats, which have been replaced in the modern retelling by Santa’s reindeer.

So Where Does Santa Really Come From?

The true origins of the pre-Christian Santa are convoluted to say the least, however, one can only consider that the version we see of Santa today is a conglomerate of folklore and mythology from multiple Eurasian cultures of the past. Therein lies the issue of tracing Santa’s true beginnings.

That being said, investigating Santa’s past is amusing at the very least, and I think the shamanic version of the story stands as the most fascinating of all. What are your thoughts on the origins of Santa and his reindeer? Do you think the Amanita muscaria legend could be true?

The Takeaway

Ultimately, the real origins regarding the story of Santa may be virtually untraceable, but it’s interesting to look at just how many versions of the story there are. Today, society has drifted far from any real meaning during Christmas, as it seems to have become a time of mass marketing, extreme buying, and nothing but gift giving. That being said, every year at this time we are reminded that giving is receiving, and service to others is what really fulfills us and makes us happy on the inside. Let us feel this way, everyday, and strive to live our lives recognizing that we are one part of a massive whole, and we’re all in this together.

Changing the world starts with you, with your life, how you treat others and overall just being a ‘good person.’ Our human experience today is one where many are still suffering needlessly, there is much we need to change about our planet and Christmas time is a great reminder for everybody that it’s great to think about others. This shouldn’t be practiced once a year, but every single day. To be perfectly honest, Christmas should have nothing to do with presents.

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Alternative News

12 Reasons Why Even Low Levels of Glyphosate Are Unsafe

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Decades of research have shown how Glyphosate is toxic in any amount, both for human and and the environment. This is not debatable.

  • Reflect On:

    Glyphosate is illegal in several dozen countries around the world due to health and environmental concerns. How can this product be approved for use when it's abundantly clear it's extremely unsafe, just like DDT was?

By Zen Honeycutt, Founding Executive Director Mom’s Across AmericaChildren’s Heath Defense Coalition Partner

Proponents of GMOs and Glyphosate-based herbicides and staunch believers in the EPA have long argued that low levels of glyphosate exposure are safe for humans. Even our own EPA tells us that Americans can consume 17 times more glyphosate in our drinking water than European residents. The EWG asserts that 160 ppb of glyphosate found in breakfast cereal is safe for a child to consume due to their own safety assessments, and yet renowned scientists and health advocates have long stated that no level is safe.  Confusion amongst consumers and the media is rampant.

Glyphosate is the declared active chemical ingredient in Roundup and Ranger Pro, which are both manufactured by Monsanto, the original manufacturer of Agent Orange and DDT. There are 750 brands of glyphosate-based herbicides.Glyphosate based herbicides are the most widely used in the world and residues of glyphosate have been found in tap water, children’s urine, breast milk, chips, snacks, beer, wine, cereals, eggs, oatmeal, wheat products, and most conventional foods tested.

The detection of glyphosate in these foods has set off alarms of concern in households and food manufacturers’ offices around the world. Lawsuits have sprung up against companies that make food products that claim to be “100% Natural” and yet contain glyphosate residues. These lawsuits have been successful. Debates, using the argument that “the dose makes the poison,” have been pushed by media. Speculation is that these media outlets are funded by advertisers that make or sell these chemicals or have sister companies that do, and threatening their profits would be unwise for all involved – except the consumers.

It is time to set the record straight

Here are 12 reasons why there is no safe level of glyphosate herbicide residue in our food or beverages.

  1. Babies, toddlers, and young children have kidneys and livers which are underdeveloped and do not have the ability to detox toxins the way adults doTheir bodies are less capable of eliminating toxins and therefore are particularly susceptible. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has stated that children, especially, should avoid pesticides because, “prenatal and early childhood exposure to pesticides is associated with pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function and behavioral problems.”
  2. Glyphosate does not wash, dry or cook off, and has been shown to bioaccumulate in the bone marrow, tendons and muscle tissue. Bioaccumulation of low levels over time will result in levels which we cannot predict or determine; therefore there is no scientific basis to state that the low levels are not dangerous, as they can accumulate to high levels in an unforeseeable amount of time.
  3. “There is no current reliable way to determine the incidence of pesticide exposure and illness in US children.” -AAP  Children are exposed through food, air, contact with grass and pets. How much they are being exposed to daily from all these possibilities is simply not something that we have been able to determine. Therefore no one is capable of assessing what levels are safe from any one modality of exposure because an additional low level from other modalities could add up to a high level of exposure.
    1. Ultra-low levels of glyphosate herbicides have been proven to cause non-alcoholic liver disease in a long term animal study by Michael Antoniou, Giles Eric Seralini et al.  The levels the rats were exposed to, per kg of body weight, were far lower than what is allowed in our food supply. According to the Mayo Clinic 100 million, or 1 out of 3 Americans now have liver disease. These diagnoses are in some as young as 8 years old.
    2. Ultra-low levels of glyphosate have been shown to be  endocrine and hormone disrupting.Changes to hormones can lead to birth defects, miscarriage, autoimmune disease, cancer, mental and chronic illness.
    3. The  EPA Allowable Daily Intake Levels (ADIs) of glyphosate exposure were set for a 175-pound man, not a pregnant mother, infant, or child.
    4. Glyphosate alone has been shown to be chronically toxic causing organ and cell damage. Glyphosate herbicides final formulations, have been shown to be acutely toxic, causing immediate damage at low levels.
    5. The detection of glyphosate at low levels could mean the presence of the other toxic ingredients in glyphosate herbicides on our food. Until studies are done, one must practice the Precautionary Principle. The label on glyphosate herbicides does not specify the pesticide class or “other”/“inert” ingredients that may have significant acute toxicity and can account for up to 54% of the product.
    6. Regarding the label and low-level exposure: “Chronic toxicity information is not included, and labels are predominantly available in English. There is significant use of illegal pesticides(especially in immigrant communities), off-label use, and overuse, underscoring the importance of education, monitoring, and enforcement.” – AAP. Exposure to low levels of glyphosate herbicides can occur through pregnant wives or children hugging the father who is a pesticide applicator.  The chronic health impacts such as rashes which can, years later, result in non-Hodgkin lymphoma, are often ignored, especially by low income or non-English speaking users dependent on their pesticide application occupation for survival.
    7. The EPA has admitted to not having any long-term animal studies with blood analysis on the final formulation of any glyphosate herbicides.  The EPA cannot state that the final formulation is safe.
    8. For approval of pesticides and herbicides, the EPA only requires safety studies, by the manufacturer who benefits from the sales, on the one declared active chemical ingredient—in this case glyphosate. Glyphosate is never used alone.
    9. The main manufacturer, Monsanto, has been found to be guilty on all counts by a San Francisco Supreme Court Jury in the Johnson v Monsanto. This includes guilty of “malice and oppression” which means that the company executives knew that their glyphosate products could cause cancer and suppressed this information from the public.

    Clearly, it is time for food and beverage manufacturers to have a zero tolerance for glyphosate residue levels and for the US EPA and regulatory agencies everywhere to stop ignoring the science and to revoke the license of glyphosate immediately.

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    Moms Across America is a 501c3 non profit organization whose motto is “Empowered Moms, Healthy Kids.”

Sign up for free news and updates from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the Children’s Health Defense. CHD is planning many strategies, including legal, in an effort to defend the health of our children and obtain justice for those already injured. Your support is essential to CHD’s successful mission.

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Cannabis Oil Was Used To Treat Epilepsy 176 Years Ago

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Cannabis has been used to treat people with Epilepsy for more than 100 years. Numerous people including children have had tremendous success with it, but it's not disclosed within the mainstream as much as it should be.

  • Reflect On:

    The medicinal properties of cannabis have been known for a long time, so why is it so difficult for patients to access? Today, things are changing, but big pharma is taking it over for themselves. How will they grow it? What will they spray it with?

Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of a wide variety of oxidation associated diseases such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic issues such as strokes and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia. Non-psychoactive cannabinoids such as cannabidiol are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention. A particular disclosed class of cannabinoids useful as neuroprotective antioxidants is formula (I) wherein the R group is independently selected from the group consisting of H, CH3, and COCH3. (Source)

The statement above comes from a patent owned by the United States government, which was assigned decades ago. Since then, countless amounts of studies have shown how the active constituents within cannabis, like cannabidiol for example,  completely obliterate cancer cells in the lab in vitro. As illustrated above, it has a wide variety of health applications, which begs the question when it comes to various diseases, why have we not seen any clinical trials? There are so many published studies warranting clinical trials when it comes to using cannabis to treat cancer, among several other diseases.

When the development of a drug shows even a quarter of the potential that cannabis has over the years, it seems that funding for clinical trials becomes instant. But when it comes to cannabis, which has obviously shown huge potential, we’ve seen nothing. I am more so referring to clinical trials with regards to cancer. Just imagine if we funded studies using natural remedies with the same amount of money we invest into pharmaceuticals. Would certain cancers be cured? Again, we don’t know, because the resources haven’t been adequately dished out, and if it did turn out that cannabis could obliterate multiple cancers in vivo (full living biological organisms), it would be against corporate interests.

However, this will likely change now that medical marijuana is being legalized across the world, the most recent example being Canada. This has brought up multiple concerns from citizens, as Big Pharma is now taking over the medical cannabis industry. How it’s grown, what pesticides are being put on it, and whether or not it’s genetically modified is still unknown. The truth is, pharmaceutical marijuana will not at all compare to marijuana that’s grown naturally in nature. If one were to study the medicinal properties comparing the two, I bet there would be a significant difference.

Big pharma is taking over the medical marijuana industry. Legalization in Canada and various US states was largely done in order to profit these big corporations who don’t really seem to care about our health at all. The main reason why cannabis has been illegal for so long is that powerful corporate interests have had a huge hand in keeping cannabis off the market. Cannabis can eliminate the need for many prescription drugs, for example, and these alone kill approximately 100,000 people a year, and that’s in the United States alone.

Cannabis & Epilepsy

Children and people with epilepsy have had a very hard time accessing medical marijuana to treat their condition. Again, this is largely because the use of it threatens corporate interests. This became even more evident a couple years ago when 12 year old Alexis Bortell sued Attorney General Jeff Sessions and The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). She needed access to clean, pure, natural cannabis for the treatment of her illnesses and medical conditions. The family had no choice but to relocate from Texas to Colorado and uproot their entire lives just to treat her severe epilepsy.

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The crazy thing about cannabis and epilepsy is the fact that it works, and that’s something that has been known for a number of years. Sure, it might take a lot of time to find the right strand, make it into oil, and get the dosage amounts exactly right, but that’s only because parents and doctors who are actively engaged in using this as medicine don’t have the resources to figure this out in an efficient way.

Cannabis and its ability to treat epilepsy has been known for a long time, probably much longer than we are aware of. Prior to Rockefeller creating medical education, it was probably used a lot. Rockefeller and other ‘philanthropists’ played a large role in shutting down all medical schools before they began funding and building their own medical education and treatment methods. During this process, an enormous amount of knowledge was lost, and the treatment methods that were most profitable became mainstream.

The first detailed modern description of cannabis as an anti-seizure medication was published in 1843 by W.B. O’Shaughnessy, a physician in the Bengal Army and Late Professor of Chemistry and Materia Medica at the Medical College of Calcutta. A perfect example of what I just referred to above with regards to medical education.

After testing the behavioural effects of various preparations of Cannabis indica in healthy fish, dogs, swines, vultures, crows, horses, deers, monkeys, goats, sheep, cows, and military assistants, he investigated the potential value of extracts of the plant in patients with different disorders, and reported remarkable anti-seizure effects in a 40-days-old baby girl with recurrent convulsive seizures. These observations were taken up by other physicians, including Sir William Gowers, who described the effectiveness of Cannabis Indica against seizures resistant to bromides. (source)

In the twentieth century the use of cannabis declined somewhat because cultivation of the plant was made illegal in many countries.

Below is a graph of  the number of articles retrieved in PubMed by using the search terms ‘cannabis and epilepsy’, grouped by year of publication.

One of Many Real World Examples

Alex Repetski, father of three year old daughter, Gwenevere, has spent a long time reading through studies and medical journals and researching CBD and its healing properties to help her with the tonic, myoclonic, and clinical seizures she was having — sometimes up to 50 a day. She was diagnosed with epilepsy and, as her EEGs revealed, was experiencing constant subclinical seizure activity throughout the day. It may not have looked like she was having a seizure from the outside, but at the brain level there were neurons firing constantly, and such activity can produce significant brain damage.

Gwenevere had a team of doctors that were trying an array of treatment methods to reduce the number of seizures she was having each day. At one point she was on 9 different medications. They kept hoping each subsequent medication would work, but nothing did. That’s when Alex decided to look into cannabis oil. “At that point, we really didn’t have anything to lose,” he said, as he recalled the struggle of trying to help his daughter achieve a better quality of life.

After acquiring the cannabis and reducing it down to its oil form, Alex proceeded with many rounds of trial and error, trying to find just the right dosage for Gwenevere. After five days, they noticed no seizures. Then another week went by, and then a month, and then two months of no seizures. Two Januaries ago, she went in for her 17th EEG after being on cannabis oil for 5 weeks.

This EEG was strikingly different from her previous ones. It seemed the cannabis oil had helped straighten out her brainwaves, working at the subclinical level. This was a huge moment for the Repetski family.

The Takeaway

Corporations have amassed so much power that plants and natural substances with unbelievable healing properties are being made illegal. Furthermore, many doctors are brainwashed to believe that this is still a controversial topic. And with legalization comes the takeover of this medicine by big pharmaceutical companies. If you want to know about the healing properties of cannabis, you don’t have to look far. It’s also important to acknowledge that theses benefits typically do not include smoking the plant, since that completely changes its chemical composition.

It’s very hard to find pure, healthy, and properly grown cannabis today. It requires a lot of research and a lot of work to find, which is in large part due to government regulations and big pharma. Anything that threatens corporate interests, no matter how helpful it can be for humanity, is often hidden from us or made illegal.

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The demand for Collective Evolution's content is bigger than ever, except ad agencies and social media keep cutting our revenues. This is making it hard for us to continue.

In order to stay truly independent, we need your help. We are not going to put up paywalls on this website, as we want to get our info out far and wide. For as little as $3 a month, you can help keep CE alive!

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Awareness

Tylenol Damages The Brains of Children, Research Reveals

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Tylenol has a wide range of toxic side effects you should be aware of, especially if you are pregnant or use it with your children. Article written by William Parker, Ph.D for Greenmedinfo.com, published here with permission.

  • Reflect On:

    Why do we keep taking Tylenol and other over-the-counter drugs when it's unquestionable that they do more harm than good? Why don't we ever look into healthy ways to alleviate our symptoms?

Original Article Link

A number of non-peer-reviewed articles have been written and published on the web claiming that there is literally nothing to fear from acetaminophen during pregnancy. There are two types of articles that fall into this category. First, reputable watchdog organizations have weighed in on the issue, declaring acetaminophen use during pregnancy and during childhood to be proven safe. In particular, the National Health Service of the UK and the Center for Accountability in Science have both strongly criticized the Spanish study from 2016 showing a link between acetaminophen use during pregnancy and ADHD/autism.

The second type of article is generally written by a science writer working for an organization that runs a website. Often quoting one to three experts who claim that is perfectly safe and that pregnant women and families should not be concerned, many of these articles are published by reputable sources that are generally trustworthy. Typically, an expert is being asked to comment on one particular publication showing a link between acetaminophen use (usually during pregnancy) and some sort of neuropsychiatric problem (autism, lowered IQ, hyperactivity, and/or social/behavioral problems, depending on the study). There are several important things to consider when evaluating these articles:

1.  There are a number of University Professors who have studied the use of acetaminophen on the developing brain and who are keenly aware of the potential dangers. A partial list of these individuals is provided below.

2.  Being an expert in acetaminophen neurotoxicity during development means that considerable time has been invested in studying the issue. Any true expert in this issue will be aware of basic facts regarding acetaminophen neurotoxicity. These facts include the following:

(a) Studies in animal models (both in mice and in rats) demonstrate that acetaminophen use during a sensitive period of brain development causes long-term alterations in the brain and is manifested as problems with social function.

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(b)  Margaret McCarthy, Chair of Pharmacology at the University of Maryland, has worked out the probable mechanism by which acetaminophen-induced brain damage occurs. Her research team has found that the male brain is considerably more sensitive to acetaminophen than the female brain, possibly accounting for the gender bias in autism.

(c) There are (as of January 2017) a total of 8 published studies evaluating the long terms effects on children of acetaminophen use during pregnancy or during childhood. Two of these (one in 2014, one in 2016) were published in JAMA Pediatrics, one of the most highly respected pediatric journals. All studies point toward acetaminophen use being associated with long-term problems with neurological function. Each study design has included some attempt to control for indication. In all studies, acetaminophen use rather than indication has been identified as the key factor associated with cognitive problems. A formal meta-analysis is not currently possible because of the varied outcome measures and study designs, but all 8 studies point in the same direction: Acetaminophen is neurotoxic to the developing brain. The studies are not “cherry picked”, selecting only those which find an effect. All studies point toward a neurotoxic effect of acetaminophen in the developing brain.

(d)   Acetaminophen substantially alters brain chemistry and temporarily impairs awareness of social issues in adult humans.

(e)  Testing of acetaminophen safety in children did not include any evaluation of brain function, and no long-term studies were ever conducted. The primary manufacturer of acetaminophen in the US acknowledges that the drug has never been shown to be safe for brain development when used during pregnancy or in childhood. All safety tests were performed with the assumption that any side effects would be acute in nature (e.g., bleeding or acute organ damage). This assumption was based on observations made with acetaminophen in adults and with aspirin in children. It was not based on any experience with acetaminophen use in children.

3.     Having prescribed tens of thousands of doses of acetaminophen does not make anyone an expert on the neurotoxicity of acetaminophen, any more than eating thousands of pounds of chips makes somebody an expert in the effects of an inflammatory diet. Credentials and certifications that allow physicians to prescribe acetaminophen do not make them experts, and elevated positions in the medical community do not qualify anybody as an expert on the effects of acetaminophen. If somebody does not know those basic facts listed above, then they are not an expert on the neurotoxicity of acetaminophen. Usually, the experts will have published one or more peer-reviewed manuscripts on the topic. Those are the people to ask when an expert is needed.

4.     It is tempting to point accusing fingers at physicians who say that acetaminophen is safe when they literally have no grasp whatsoever of the relevant scientific literature. However, this would be a mistake. I have tracked down a few of these individuals who were quoted in a very public format, and one individual, in particular, didn’t even remember having made a comment on the topic. The most likely explanation is that a reporter asked them if acetaminophen was safe, and their response based on their training (not on the knowledge of the literature) was that it is safe. After all, if they didn’t think it was safe, they would not be administering it dozens of times per day. So, if a reporter asks a physician if something is safe, and they provide their knowledge based on what they have been taught and how they practice, then it is hard to blame them. The reporter didn’t ask them to spend days or even weeks reviewing the literature in detail, but rather assumed that any physician administering something dozens of times per day would know the literature. (This is a false assumption. No physician has the time to study all current literature on every drug they administer.) So, in a nutshell, a tragic propagation of incorrect information is occurring despite the best of intentions of all parties involved.

5.     Unless an organization such as the National Health Service has the time to review a topic thoroughly, they should remain silent on an issue. It took a team of us two years to put together our summary of the evidence, both direct and circumstantial, regarding the potential neurotoxicity of acetaminophen during development. It took the NHS only days to publish their recent criticism of the 2016 Spanish study. Offering questionable criticisms of a single paper without reviewing the literature to see how that publication fits into the big picture is a disservice to the public being served.

6. Reading the published quotes from many “experts” who exonerate acetaminophen, it is apparent that the logic falls into one of two categories.

(a) Everybody is doing it, so it must be OK.

(b) This single study is not perfect, so no change in practice should be made.

Neither of these criticisms is logically sound, of course. These two criticisms are often combined and were, in fact, part of the critical comments directed toward the first paper showing that acetaminophen probably has substantial neurotoxicity during development (published in 2008 by Steve Shultz). Further, the evaluation of study weaknesses is usually skewed and not entirely valid. Since the idea that acetaminophen is safe is being embraced, then any merit in the paper is often undermined to make the case. This is certainly true of the published (peer reviewed) criticisms of the 2008 Shultz paper.

7.     Many on-line sources support the view that acetaminophen can be very dangerous to the developing brain. Probably the most reliable source, the FDA, is remaining silent on the topic until something more definitive is done. The FDA knows that this is extremely urgent, but unfortunately, our FDA is not linked well (in a practical manner) with our NIH, and thus they can’t dictate research priorities.

8.     Here is a list (not comprehensive) of experts regarding the neurotoxicity of acetaminophen during brain development.

a) First, I’ll thank the wonderful team of individuals who helped put together our comprehensive review on this topic. Shu Lin, a professor with me in Duke’s Surgery Department, is a very dear and long-time friend of mine who has supported me through countless projects over the past 22 years. Staci Bilbo, director for research on Autism at Harvard, is a friend and collaborator who has helped me understand what causes inflammation and the role of inflammation in brain dysfunction. Chi Dang Hornik, a pediatric pharmacist at Duke, contributed greatly to our understanding of the frequency of acetaminophen administration and the available formulations of the drug. Many thanks to Martha Herbert. As a Harvard professor and clinician, she has a great appreciation for the clinical data obtained from patients with autism. Cindy Nevison, a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, rounds out our team, providing critical information about the epidemiology of autism. (Thanks also to our interns (Rasika Rao and Lauren Gentry) and research analyst (Zoie Holzknecht) who were a tremendous help in compiling information and preparing that information for publication.)

b) Margaret McCarthy, chair of Pharmacology at the University of Maryland, it the most knowledgeable person I know regarding the biochemistry of the human brain and how that is affected by acetaminophen and other drugs in that class.

c) Chittaranjan Andrade, Chair of Psychopharmacology at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, India, has written a peer reviewed paper on the topic of acetaminophen induced brain damage. He nicely summarized a number of studies looking at the connection between acetaminophen and neurological damage. His final conclusion is that the drug is probably more associated with ADHD than autism, but the conclusion was limited to exposure during pregnancy and his work was conducted before some critical studies were published in 2016.

d) Henrik Viberg is a professor in the Department of Organismal Biology at Uppsala University in Sweden. He has studied how exposure of mice to acetaminophen during development can cause long term brain damage.

e) In 2015, a group of scientists working with Laurence de Fays at the Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products in Brussels acknowledged the clinical studies and the studies in animal models which indicated that acetaminophen could be dangerous to the developing fetus, but concluded that paracetamol is “still to be considered safe in pregnancy”. At the same time, they state that “additional carefully designed studies are necessary to confirm or disprove the association (between acetaminophen and brain damage to children)”, and that “care should be taken to avoid raising poorly founded concerns among pregnant females”. We very strongly agree with the conclusion that more studies are needed, but very strongly disagree with the conclusion that women should be kept in the dark about the matter. It is important to point out that several more studies have come out since Laurence de Fays’ report. One of those is a 2016 manuscript in JAMA Pediatrics(see the next expert), a highly reputable peer reviewed journal, which addresses the concerns raised by de Fays, so it is possible that de Fays’ group may now have a different opinion.

f) A team of scientists and doctors working with Evie Stergiakouli at the University of Bristol analyzed data from a prospective birth cohort, and concluded that “children exposed to acetaminophen prenatally are at increased risk of multiple behavioral difficulties”. They found considerable evidence indicating that the association was not due to the confounding factors that concerned de Fays’ group (previous expert).

g) Jordi Julvez at the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona, Spain worked with a team of a dozen clinicians and scientists to publish their 2016 study linking acetaminophen with autism and ADHD.

h) Amany A. Abdin, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Tanta University, Egypt, wrote a review of the acetaminophen/autism connection and published it in the journal Biochemistry and Pharmacology: Open Access. Her conclusion in 2013 was that the drug is not safe and that the acetaminophen/autism connection should receive attention.

i) The original paper that identified a connection between neuropsychiatric disorders and acetaminophen was published by Steve Shultz while at the University of California at San Diego. Coauthors on the paper included Hillary Klonoff-Cohen, currently an Endowed Professor and Director of the MPH program at the University of Illinois.

j) Four scientists, including research scientist Ragnhild Eek Brandlistuen and professors Hedvig Nordeng and Eivind Ystrom in the Department of Pharmacy at the University of Oslo, coauthored a study showing a connection between adverse neurodevelopment and acetaminophen use during pregnancy.

k) Jorn Olsen, Professor and Chair of the Department of Epidemiology at UCLA, published one of the more recent papers (2016) showing a connection between autism and acetaminophen use during pregnancy.

l) Five professors (John M. D. Thompson, Karen E. Waldie, Clare R. Wall, Rinky Murphy, and Edwin A. Mitchell) from four different departments at The University of Auckland published their findings in PLOSone in 2014 which “strengthen the contention that acetaminophen exposure in pregnancy increases the risk of ADHD-like behaviours. Our study also supports earlier claims that findings are specific to acetaminophen.”

For evidence-based research on the dangers of acetaminophen, visit the GreenMedInfo.com Research Dashboard.\

Read their related article on Tylenol: 

Tylenol Kills Emotions As Well As Pain, Study Reveals

Sign Up For The Greenmedinfo Newsletter HERE.


William Parker is an Associate Professor at Duke University, where he has worked in the Department of Surgery since 1993.  William is currently investigating a number of issues associated with inflammation and Western society, including vitamin D deficiency, heart disease and alteration of the symbionts of the human body (“biota alteration”). He has been interested in “natural” immune function for some time, which has led him down a path that includes the first studies of immune function in wild rats and the discovery of the function of the human appendix.

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