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Potential Causes of Self-Harm & Psychiatric Disorders That Should Be Considered

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Policymakers and mental health providers are convinced that mental illness is organically formed or genetic. But there are 11 other proven contributors to the development of mental illness that we can no longer overlook.

  • Reflect On:

    What have you been led to believe about mental illness? And how many of these 11 hidden causes are embedded within your life or the life of a loved one?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Every day in the headlines we hear about another school shooting or another teen suicide. What is going on? Why aren’t we getting to the bottom of this? What are we doing to help prevent the next tragedy? As I learn about another, I get more and more frustrated that nothing is changing.

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We need to start taking a more in-depth look at why our children are so depressed, anxious, and angry – our lives depend on it. If not properly treated, obsessive thoughts turn into compulsive behavior, and we will hear about the next suicide or mass shooting when we turn on the news tomorrow.

-->Watch a free sneak peek of our new course: Our latest course focuses on how to improve your critical thinking and become more aware of bias. Click here to check it out!

What Is OCD?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is categorized by the DSM-5 (the diagnostic manual and bible of psychiatry) as an anxiety disorder. However, it is a maladaptive coping skill that develops as a result of trying to manage the overwhelming fear or worry one feels. A person may start obsessively feeling nervous about a home intruder, so may check the alarm system or door locks fifty times before bed. One may fear the flu, so may wash their hands 50 times.

As an attempt to quiet the sense of alarm, the compulsion provides a “quick fix” for the negative intrusive thoughts.  It gives a temporary sense of power over the problem and helps someone feel like they are doing something about it. But it’s a trap because it just feeds into a vicious cycle. The more one follows the rituals, the more they need to do them.

The Darker Side of Obsessive Thoughts & Behaviours “Harm-OCD”

Intrusive thoughts can be benign, like song lyrics that continuously play in one’s head or obsessive behaviors like overly tidying one’s apartment. However, if paranoia, feelings of isolation, anger, and depression are already brewing it could lead to sinister thoughts like harming themselves or others.

Some believe that OCD can masquerade as psychosis as it closely mimics the symptoms of the psychiatric disorder schizophrenia. When a person gets lost inside their depressed and chaotic mind, they become infatuated with their depressive thoughts, violent video games, building bombs, guns, and revenge. Some begin planning their suicide, while others start stockpiling weapons to carry out the next mass shooting.

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A newer study published in the Journal of Molecular Psychiatry, concluded that “those with OCD are ten times more likely to commit suicide and patients with OCD are at significant risk of suicide, even in the absence of other psychiatric conditions.” Others with OCD have brutally violent thoughts of hurting others that consume one’s mind making it difficult separating visions from reality.

According to a study published in the Industrial Psychological Journal, anger attacks are associated with a surge of autonomic arousal. Symptoms include tachycardia, sweating, flushing, and a feeling of being out of control were present in half of the patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and they correlated with the presence of comorbid depression.

The Problem

Policymakers and mental health providers are so convinced that these individuals have an organic or genetic mental illness. They have called off the search for a better understanding of these conditions.  When they start recognizing the epidemic of teen suicide and teen violence, they call for more psychiatric labels and more psychiatrists to prescribe medication. However, they don’t acknowledge that medication does nothing to address the conditions that derail the mind in the first place. And, drugs often only mask symptoms without considering dangerous side-effects. Antidepressant medications are driving people to psychosis. In fact, Americans are admitted daily to psychiatric institutions as a direct result of psychosis caused by the drugs themselves.

The 11 Hidden Causes of Psychiatric Disorders Almost No One Considers

1. The Standard American Diet (SAD)

Neurotoxic chemicals and foods are void of essential nutrients and can lead to obsessive thoughts, depression and violent behavior.  There are extreme amounts of refined sugar/salt and thousands of chemicals allowed in the American food and drink supply. Many of them are harmless, but others such as artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, emulsifiers, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oil, and glyphosate (GMOs) are not compatible with human bio-chemistry. They are destroying our immune system and causing many mental health symptoms. A CSPI report, Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks, further concludes that the nine artificial dyes approved in the United States are carcinogenic, cause hypersensitivity reactions and behavioral problems. Also, our food supply is so processed and refined that they do not contain adequate healthy protein and they strip away many vitamins and minerals that are essential to our health and replace it with synthetic substitutes.

In a 2014 article in the American Journal of Public Health, the relationship between diet and mental health in children and adolescents was evaluated. “There are numerous potential biological pathways by which diet quality may have an impact on mental health in children and adolescents.” First, a poor-quality diet that is lacking nutrient-dense foods may lead to nutrient deficiencies that have been associated with mental health issues. For example, the dietary intake of folate, zinc, and magnesium is inversely associated with depressive disorders, whereas dietary long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are inversely related to anxiety disorders.

2. Gut Dysbiosis

The gut microbiome has become a topic of major interest as of late, with a new focus specifically on psychiatric disorders. The human body hosts an enormous abundance and diversity of microbes, which perform a range of essential and beneficial immune and metabolic functions. In a June 2016 edition of the Journal of Molecular Psychiatry, the authors take a look at how microbes in the gut affect brain function, and how imbalances of gut bacteria can lead to mental illness. “Evidence is now emerging that, through interactions with the gut-brain axis, the bidirectional communication system between the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract, the gut microbiome can also influence neural development, cognition, mood, and behavior.”  Functional medicine M.D.s recognize how poor diet, pesticides, antibiotics, steroid use and other factors are influencing brain function by destroying healthy gut bacteria and negatively shaping the gut microbiome.

3. Food Sensitivities

Often not recognized in the mainstream mental health model, food allergies and sensitivities can wreck-havoc on mental health. The antibodies produced when a person consumes food that they have an intolerance to can cause intestinal permeability and trigger inflammation in the brain which can lead many mental health symptoms, including increased anxiety/OCD, insomnia, brain fog, hyperactivity, impulsivity, irritability, and rage. Overaggressive behaviors are provoked by an immune reaction to every-day foods. Reactions range from irritability to  aggression to psychosis. Some of the more common food intolerances are gluten, dairy, corn, soy, and nuts.

4. Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders (PANDAS or PANS)

PANDAS is associated with an unresolved strep infection. It wreaks havoc on the immune and neurological system, causing brain encephalitis/inflammation. Symptoms associated with this autoimmune disorder are facial tics, OCD symptoms, anorexia, depression, paranoia, irritability, hyperactivity, sleep disturbances, and psychosis. Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders (PANS) can be triggered by other infectious agents as well, including Epstein Barr and Lyme Disease. Many physicians who treat a large number of Lyme patients acknowledge that Lyme Disease can cause “Lyme Rage,” which includes psychosis and violent behavior. There are more than one hundred peer-reviewed medical journal articles linking tick-borne diseases to mental symptoms and quite a few that reference Lyme-induced rages.  As Dr. Kenneth Bock, MD points out in his book, “Healing New Childhood Epidemics,” PANDAS/PANS cook the brain of these kids.  The infection attacks the brain’s basal ganglia, causing severe thought malfunctions and maladaptive behavior. The affected person could fly into uncontrollable rages and violent behavior.

5. Genetic Mutations

Our genetic profile is not the end of our story. The environment in which we live and breathe, genetically modified foods and the chemicals we eat and inject have a direct influence on the expression of our genetic code, by altering the expression of genetic information. In the study of disease, researchers in the field of epigenetics are increasingly finding that the “turning on or off” of our DNA is affecting our mental health.

The MTHFR gene mutation inhibits the body’s ability to transform vitamin B12 into vital folate enzymes. A healthy MTHFR gene converts vitamin B12 to folate (B9), an essential vitamin for brain, spine, and nerve health. Deficiencies of essential B vitamins can lead to developmental problems, mood disturbances including increased anxiety and depression.

Faulty expression of the COMT gene can also cause a variety of problems including irritability, hyperactivity, mood swings, OCD, sleep issues, and lower frustration and pain tolerance.

The “Warrior Gene” MAO-A (Monoamine oxidase A) is one of the two genes that encode mitochondrial enzymes. It is responsible for catalyzing the oxidizing amines, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and adrenalin. Mutation of this gene results in Brunner syndrome. MAO dysfunction (too much or too little MAO enzyme activity) is thought to be responsible for many psychiatric and neurological disorders including depression, mood swings, OCD, schizophrenia, substance abuse, migraines, irregular sexual maturation.  It is also associated with behaviors associated with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and autism.

6. Heavy Metal Toxicity

Brain damage and inflammation can also be caused by heavy metal toxicity – like mercury, aluminum, and lead. They can promote aggressive, antisocial and violent behaviors. Lead exposure is known to cause learning and behavioral problems. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry published a study that demonstrates the strong relationship between high levels of lead levels in blood and hyperactivity, aggressive and antisocial behavior in children.

7. Emotional Wounds & Trauma

Heightened anxiety due to upsetting life events in a person’s life can lead to OCD and depression. The lower a person’s resiliency, the higher level of sensitivity and dysfunctional thinking is believed to make a sufferer more vulnerable to developing it. Stressful situations and traumatic event(s) that can lead to OCD include but are not limited to a death of a loved one, divorce, an accident, a move, school pressure and bullying, as well as an upsetting or abusive home environment.

8. Video Gaming & Too Much Screentime

Screens are being used more and more as a method of escaping from the stress of life. However, it may be backfiring. Disassociating in this way is taking teens away from the dealings of everyday life and is creating an alter reality where they are not learning how to foster real or meaningful relationships. A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychological Science finds that “increased time spent with popular electronic devices — whether a computer, cell phone or tablet — might be contributing to an uptick in symptoms of depression and suicidal thoughts.” The study established a correlation between long hours of daily screen time and symptoms of alienation. A 2016 article in the New York Post, “It’s Digital Heroin: How Screens Turn Kids into Psychotic Junkies” discussed how addicting these screens are and how they are affecting our kid’s mental health. “Brain imaging research is showing that they affect the brain’s frontal cortex — which controls executive functioning, including impulse control — in exactly the same way, that cocaine does. Technology is so hyper-arousing that it raises dopamine levels — the feel-good neurotransmitter most involved in the addiction dynamic — as much as sex.”

9. Too Much Caffeine

Teens are lining up at coffee shops and consuming an alarming amount of caffeine-loaded energy drinks. Highly concentrated caffeine aggravates obsessive/upsetting thoughts and can set anxiety out of control. This central nervous system stimulant can cause dependency and withdrawal and cause insomnia as well. Although some studies point to the positive mental effects of caffeine, it makes sense that energy drinks could be a contributing factor for kids and teens feeling both homicidal and suicidal. Caffeine intoxication keeps the body in “fight or flight” mode. This can leave people feeling very frightened and threatened. According to the Journal of BJPsych Advances, “In psychiatric in-patient facilities, caffeine has been found to increase anxiety, hostility and psychotic symptoms.”

10. Sleep Deprivation

In a 2011 pediatric OCD study published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, researchers found a strong correlation between insufficient sleep and severe compulsive behavior. While kids with OCD sometimes only exhibit compulsions (without the obsessions), the study reflected children with both the mental and behavioral symptoms. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, implicated obsessions are a likely culprit behind disturbed sleep. Based on patients’ self-reported assessments, researchers found a link between insomnia symptoms and obsessive thoughts. Shorter sleep and delayed ability to get to sleep are associated with repeated negative and distressing thoughts that are repeated over and over again, such as “my life is not worth living.”

11. Psychostimulant Medication

It has been known for the last 35 year that stimulants have the potential to induce psychosis-like or manic-like symptoms in children. Psychotic symptoms from Ritalin can include hearing voices; visual hallucinations, urges to harm oneself, urges to harm someone else, suicide, severe anxiety, euphoria, grandiosity, paranoid delusions, confusion, increased aggression, and irritability.

Preventing Future Tragedies

Could future suicides and homicides be prevented? I believe so, and it starts with taking better care of our children.  We need to start acknowledging that people committing suicide or murder are medically ill; not mentally ill. And these causes of psychiatric symptoms need more attention.  We need more doctors to be trained in functional medicine to get to the root of the mental dis-ease. We need our insurance companies to pay for testing and treatments that will actually help our children.

We need more due diligence in our healthcare system.  And we need to stop the pharmaceuticals from leading us away from the truth. Just handing out medications to address symptoms and hoping the client follows through with recommended weekly individual psychotherapy appointments, is simply not enough. And quite honestly, these medications can be the final trigger in a homicidal or suicidal event.

I Am On A Mission

In 2012, I began counseling family members and first responders after the devastating tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. This led me to finish my book Healing Without Hurting. I consult with thousands of moms through social media and conduct workshops for medical professionals to teach them about holistic and natural solutions for healing mental illness and spectrum disorders.

I know from experience that addressing underlying medical issues significantly enhances the life, the health and the happiness of our children and our family.  Also, I know my mission has been successful in helping to prevent such tragedies.


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Lebanese Hospital Becomes The World’s First To Go 100 Percent Vegan (Food)

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CE Staff Writer 7 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A hospital in Lebanon has become the first in the world to adopt a completely vegan menu.

  • Reflect On:

    Are people aware of the physical and emotional torture the majority animals we eat go through? Are people aware that a diet free of animal products can be very beneficial for human health. Are people aware that animal agriculture is destroying Earth?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

At the beginning of March, Hayek Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon became the first hospital in the world to serve 100 percent vegan only meals. Prior to this change, patients had a choice between animal based meals and vegan meals, and included with that was information about the health benefits of choosing plant-based foods versus the dangers of consuming animal products. The hospital made the announcement via their Instagram page, stating that “Our patients will no longer wake up from surgery to be greeted with ham, cheese, milk, and eggs…the very food(s) that may have contributed to their health problems in the first place.”

When the World Health Organization classifies processed meat as a group 1A carcinogenic (causes cancer) same group as tobacco and red meat as group 2A carcinogenic, then serving meat in the hospital is like serving cigarettes in a hospital. When the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) declare that 3 out of 4 new or emerging infectious disease comes from animals. When adopting a plant based exclusive diet has been successfully proven not only to stop the evolution of certain diseases but it can also reverse them. We then, have the moral responsibility to act upon and align our beliefs with our actions. Taking the courage to look at the elephant in in the eye.

Their various statements also point to the role that animal agriculture plays in spawning infectious diseases, citing the Centers for Disease Control’s estimate that 3 out of 4 new or emerging infectious diseases come from animals. “We believe it’s well about time to tackle the root cause of diseases and pandemics, not just treat symptoms,” they note.

This was a great statement. The modern day medical industry only seems to be focused on medications, and only medications that can turn a hefty profit, to treat and cure disease instead of addressing root causes. It’s good to see things changing, but a big problem remains. If a plant that grows in abundance, for example, has the potential to cure a disease, will we ever hear about it? Will the medical industry be interested in it? Probably not, but when a drug is made and patented from that plant in a specific way, that’s when we will. This is not to say that modern day medicine is useless, but today now more than ever a big problem exists, and this problem may be killing more people than it’s helping.

Arnold Seymour Relman (1923-2014), a Harvard professor of medicine and also a former Editor-in-Chief of NEMJ, was frustrated that “the medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.” (source)

According to Forks Over Knives,

While Hayek is the first hospital to completely purge animal products from its menu, a number of hospitals have begun offering more plant-based options in recent years. Both New York and California have enacted laws requiring hospitals to offer a plant-based option with every meal. In 2018 NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue launched the Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program to help patients transition to a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle.

The American Medical Association passed a resolution in 2017 calling on U.S. hospitals to provide healthful plant-based meals to promote better health in patients, staff, and visitors. The American College of Cardiology has issued similar recommendations.

In my opinion, “veganism is a very fine form of nutrition” (Dr. Ellsworth Wareham, heart surgeon), and as mentioned above, there is plenty of science to back up that statement.  I’ve written about it many times before from a health perspective.

Here’s an article that goes into more detail and science if you’re interested, it also addresses history, and how our teeth and guts are designed and more. Here’s another one regarding a study that found a strong association between eating animal protein and a premature death from all causes, including multiple cancers and type 2 diabetes.

The studies cited in that article note that meat eating is strongly associated with up to a 75 percent increased chance of early mortality, and that protein from animals may cause harm, while protein from plants may help reverse disease and have a protective effect.

There are hundreds of these studies, and the ones I cite are just a few examples.

This is obviously a very controversial topic in the eyes of many, and it’s not hard at all to find conflicting information on the subject. I am no doubt bias in my beliefs and opinions here.

One thing is for certain, the way we treat animals on this planet is extremely heartbreaking and unnecessary. Animals are separated from their families, raised for slaughter and are kept in torturous conditions on a daily basis. It’s truly unbelievable and horrific. It’s the biggest genocide and example of both physical and emotional torture the world has ever seen. I don’t think anybody can witness what really goes on in most slaughterhouses can come out not being impacted.

On top of this, animal agriculture is one of, if not the greatest contributer to environmental degradation and pollution on our planet. Animal agriculture is actually the leading cause of deforestation. Every single day, close to 100 plant/animal/insect species are lost because of this practice.

Final Thoughts: At the end of the day it seems that, from a health perspective, processed meats, and other meats are no doubt harmful to human health. People can make the argument that other animal products may not be and that we are meant to consume them. People can also make the complete opposite argument. One thing that can’t be argued is, again, the torture, physical and emotional abuse that comprise the source of where animal products come from for the majority of people who eat them.

There is a big split, as with many other topics, amongst people on this issue. There are even vegan influencers who are creating splits within the ‘vegan community’ itself, which is unfortunate. I personally believe that, from a health perspective, animal products are not at all required for anybody and are again, overall, harmful to human health.

The more pressing issue, again, is the treatment of our animal brothers and sisters, and how we are constantly using and abusing them. It’s indicative of world that lacks empathy, compassion, understanding and love, as well as our inability to see ourselves in another. This can be seen in many aspects of the current human experience, be it war, human trafficking and more. That being said, it’s great to see human consciousness shifting towards a more compassionate, empathetic type of awareness. This is evident by the “vegan” movement alone, as it’s become quite large over the past few years and will continue to grow. Some of the biggest animal food producers have already gone out of business, and it’s great to see more people in the health community as well recognize that it’s a win for health, a win for environment, and most importantly, a win for the very emotional, intelligent, animals, who are similar to us in so many ways. We have so much to learn from them.

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Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

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Caloric Restriction vs. Fasting: Why One Can Result In Weight Gain While The Other Helps Burn Fat

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CE Staff Writer 3 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    In the video below, Dr. Jason Fung explains the difference between caloric restriction and sending the body into "starvation" mode compared to fasting.

  • Reflect On:

    Fasting has been used as a health intervention for thousands of years, and is being used today by doctors who are educated on the topic. Why is it completely ignored by mainstream medicine? Is it because "big pharma" can't make any money off of it?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Some would say that the best solution to weight gain is eating right and exercising. I couldn’t agree more. Obesity is one of the deadliest problems humanity faces today, and just as important as diet and exercise is for addressing this issue, even more important are the emotional and personal reasons as to why so many people damage themselves and make themselves more prone to serious disease.

Apart from diet and exercise, initiating a proper fasting regimen can have tremendous health outcomes, especially for overweight people. It wasn’t but a decade ago when fasting to lose weight was considered unhealthy and dangerous. Today, we have a tremendous amount of science that’s been published clearly showing that fasting can be an effective health intervention for people of all body types, especially for people who are overweight and suffer from certain diseases. It’s an excellent way to help your body burn fat. Fasting has been used and is currently being used as an intervention for type two diabetes, cancer and more. Fasting has been shown to trigger stem cell regeneration, autophagy, which in turn can help clear out toxins and damaged cells, repair DNA, improve metabolism, lower blood sugar, boost brain function, reduce the risk of age related disease, lessen inflammation which improves a wide range of health issues from arthritic pain to asthma and more. It’s no wonder why so many ancient cultures from different parts of the world used fasting as medicine and as a health intervention.

As shown in the science, fasting is generally safe for everybody. This many not be true if you already have underlying health conditions or are taking certain medications. This is why it’s important to consult a health professional about it, but the issue is, the majority of health professionals are not well educated in fasting interventions. Those who have educated themselves have been treating their patients with fasting and are drawn to it due to its ability to provide so many benefits.

One of these doctors is Dr. Jason Fung, who on his blog and his YouTube channel, as well as the books he’s written provides a wealth of information and science regarding fasting. I often refer people to the work of Fung, or others like Dr. Valter Longo if they want to begin their own research about fasting. Again, there is a wealth of science and “scholarly” articles available on the subject for anybody who wants to search for it as well. It’s not heard to find.

In the video below, Fung explains why fasting is much different from caloric restriction or having your body go into “starvation mode.”  You can also check out his article, “The difference between calorie restriction and fasting” for some great information as well.

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

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The Deeper Questions Behind The “Lab Origins” Debate

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    It is being slowly accepted that SARS-COV2 originated in a laboratory. The delay in this admission has not been due to media "spin" alone but from scientists themselves.

  • Reflect On:

    How can we "trust the science" if the scientists are being disingenuous?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

As the majority of Americans gather around the prevailing voice of our trusted medical institutions, those opposing it seem to be digging in their heels as well. Why is this happening? After all, we are not arguing over religion or political ideology (or at least we shouldn’t be). This pandemic and its management falls squarely in the realm of science, something that should be objective and indisputable. How is the layperson supposed to make sense of the growing polarity concerning this issue? Unless one has related training in virology, epidemiology, statistics and a decent understanding of the history and the sequence of investigations that have led scientific opinion to consensus positions before this pandemic, there is no way to be “scientific”. How are we to know whether the edicts coming from our leaders are reasonable and founded? This puts us in a difficult position, one that we are unable or unwilling to acknowledge: we have to trust someone else. The question is, whom?

Mainstream Media is beginning to acknowledge that SARS-COV2 originated in a lab

There has recently been a shift in the mainstream narrative. Some of these mainstream sources have been willing to take a hard look at where this virus came from: the “lab origins” thesis. In this recent interview with evolutionary biologists Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein, popular satirist and political commentator Bill Maher admits that “it would almost be a conspiracy theory to think it didn’t start in a lab.” The reasons for this are clear to anyone who has looked beyond the veil of simplistic statements and abjectly poor investigative journalism coming from mainstream sources. Gain of Function studies on SARS viruses were being conducted in publicly funded laboratories in this country for years prior to 2014. One could argue this was part of bioterrorism research just as easily as it was part of a pandemic preparedness effort. It is not so hard to see that in order to be prepared to combat a highly contagious and virulent pathogen we must be able to study the pathogen itself. Pandemic preparedness and bioterrorism research are basically the same thing.

As the story unfolds in the mainstream narrative, it is becoming apparent that the wet market hypothesis will soon be jettisoned for its sheer implausibility. Is it likely that this virus could survive in a bat or pangolin for generations while mutating in such a way that it could not only immediately survive in a human body but be so virulent as well? What are the factors that would be involved in allowing this new strain to behave unlike previous SARS viruses in terms of its copious presence in our nasopharyngeal cavities, apparent transmissibility in the asymptomatic and enduring pathogenicity when floating around in the air or lurking on surfaces? The answer is far more than one, making this wet market to global pandemic story all the more unacceptable.

As establishment science comes to its senses, we are left with the reality that the pandemic has most probably been the consequence of a laboratory research that got out of control. It may not be excusable or forgivable but at least we can take comfort that our attention has been refocused on what is plausible. However simply acknowledging the high probability of lab origins and moving forward with all the same initiatives to combat this virus is not enough. There are more questions that need to be posed first.

How did some Scientists “spin” the science?

This argument over SARS-COV2 origin is not new at all. It was being hotly debated a year ago for some of the same reasons I mentioned above. The lab origin thesis was effectively (and prematurely) purged from “acceptable” discussions when a paper entitled “The Proximal Origin of SARS-COV2” (KG Anderson et al) appeared in Nature Medicine (March 17, 2020). This piece served as the foundation of a wall of scientific opinion that was rapidly erected to contain the dangerous “conspiracy theory” that the virus was a product of human intention and ingenuity. If you were to read the piece it would be hard to not end up shrugging your shoulders and going along with the authors’ thesis. The authors are well-respected and published scientists that include W. Ian Lipkin, pathologist, neurobiologist and epidemiologist at Columbia University,  internationally recognized for his work around W. Nile Virus and SARS. They are assured in their conclusions and offer the reader, among other things, a comparative study of the peptide structure and genetic sequence of this virus and closely related variants. 

I am a physician and was led to this piece months ago in my research into this topic. I admit that I was left scratching my head. It wasn’t until I tuned in to a blog surrounding this and other issues hosted by Dr. Meryl Nass, a respected and dutiful researcher of pandemics and bioterrorism, that l was able to grasp where the misdirection was introduced. Dr. Nass correctly points out that it may not be possible to irrefutably prove that the virus was of lab origin or not, however it is the erroneous assumptions and unsound logic the authors of the Nature Medicine article use that point to the obscuration of the facts in a manner we could reasonably deem as deliberate.

After presenting us with a thorough description of the structure of SARS-COV-2 and analysis of its means of entering human cell lines via the Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor, the authors introduce their challenge to the lab origins position. The authors state:

“While the analyses above suggest that SARS-CoV-2 may bind human ACE2 with high affinity, computational analyses predict that the interaction is not ideal and that the RBD sequence is different from those shown in SARS-CoV to be optimal for receptor binding. Thus, the high-affinity binding of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein to human ACE2 is most likely the result of natural selection on a human or human-like ACE2 that permits another optimal binding solution to arise. This is strong evidence that SARS-CoV-2 is not the product of purposeful manipulation.”

Anderson et al are presenting their first line of attack on the Lab Origins hypothesis. Because their computational analysis predicts that a different and more “optimal” receptor-binding domain (RBD) portion of the spike protein on SARS-COV-2 could have been built, they say, it must have arisen naturally. The authors are assuming that if the virus was the product of bioterrorists they would have designed it differently. Is this sound logic? It is not. First, the authors are presupposing that their computational method is the only one available for use. Second, there is no reason to assume that a bioterrorist would choose the genetic solution that was “optimal”. Moreover, picking a “solution” identical to a computationally derived genetic sequence would leave an obvious clue that human hands were involved. This is in fact what the authors are correctly pointing out. 

This line of reasoning sheds light upon their foundational assumptions about the sophistication and intentions of would-be bioterrorists. Are they experimenters in laboratories building a novel coronavirus to a computer model’s specs to study it? Or are they true bioterrorists seeking to design a bioweapon that has no trace of human manipulation? Obviously one cannot know. Making either assumption cannot be part of any rigorous forensic analysis.

The authors go on:

“It is improbable that SARS-CoV-2 emerged through laboratory manipulation of a related SARS-CoV-like coronavirus. As noted above, the RBD of SARS-CoV-2 is optimized for binding to human ACE2 with an efficient solution different from those previously predicted. Furthermore, if genetic manipulation had been performed, one of the several reverse-genetic systems available for betacoronaviruses would probably have been used. However, the genetic data irrefutably show that SARS-CoV-2 is not derived from any previously used virus backbone.”

Here the authors are introducing yet another unfounded assumption: If the virus was designed as a biological weapon, why would a known coronavirus backbone necessarily be used as a basis for genetic manipulation? Certainly that option would be entertained by a team of bioterrorism researchers, but it is illogical to begin with that assumption. There are undoubtedly coronavirus backbones that have been genetically manipulated and remain behind closed doors and outside of public databases, i.e. unknown. It is equally logical to conclude that because no known backbone was used the virus was purposefully manipulated.  

In any case, genetic manipulation is not the only way to create a backbone of a virus. The oldest way is to use passage, a laboratory technique where a virus is cultured through a series of cell lines from different species resulting in a viable product that will survive in the target species. Other techniques are also readily available: exposing a known virus to mutagenic factors, collecting those that survive and repeating the process or simply mixing related viruses together to see what recombinant products result. None of these methods will result in a “solution” that would be in any way predictable at the outset. Indeed, that is the advantage of using such techniques. This is a fact that is well known to virologists, making the authors’ analysis all the more suspicious.

It is undeniable that the authors were using poor logic and unfounded assumptions to make unsound conclusions. This should have been obvious to the scientific community at that time, and this paper should not have made it through the editorial process of such a respected publication as Nature Medicine. The disquieting thing is that quite the opposite occurred. The article instead served as the seminal piece to squelch all arguments for the lab origin hypothesis once a flurry of subsequent publications cited it. Who should be held accountable for this? The authors? The editorial committee of Nature Medicine? The cadre of scientists that chose to use this publication to “manufacture consensus”? The mainstream media for failing in their responsibility to offer a balanced view of the debate around this article? None can be held solely responsible and all were required to perpetuate the distortion. The implications here are very serious and impossible to ignore.

Who can we rely upon to faithfully report “the science”?

Are there no stops to the dissemination of baseless “scientific” opinion? This is a question that rarely gets asked because we tend to assume that in the end, scientific consensus will be reached without the need for oversight. We are talking about science and scientists here, not policy makers or private industrialists with conflicts of interest and personal gains that hang in the balance. Yet the lines between science, industry and policy-making are blurrier the closer we look. In any case, who can we rely upon to ensure that the scientists are doing their job in formulating sound approaches to the problems at hand? There isn’t anyone, other than the scientists themselves. So what went wrong here? How did the Anderson paper end up deftly hamstringing a viable theory about the origins of SARS-COV2 a year ago using specious logic and unnecessary assumptions? Why didn’t anyone say anything? Despite what is generally known, many did.

Here’s where things get hopeful, depending on how you look at them. It would be wrong to dismiss all virologists, epidemiologists and researchers as slaves to corporate funded research institutions and group-think. Behind the veil of headlines that tout the rigor of the data and fuel the “trust the science” mantra there are collections of perspicacious and tireless researchers and journalists that have been pushing back against the established opinion and raising valid concerns about the hijacking of the narrative by members of their own ilk. Notably RFK Jr.’s Children’s Health Defense and Dr. Joseph Mercola have published an excellent paper that comprehensively summarized the ongoing work of Dr. Alina Chan of MIT’s Broad Institute who has documented the timeline and significance of how the spin has been manufactured by the scientific community themselves. Of course, many are familiar with Mr. Kennedy and Dr. Mercola not because of what they are bringing to complex discussions but because of their stigmatization as purveyors of “anti-vax” and “pseudoscience” opinions. Once so marked they are felled by the mainstream media machine with all the efficiency and discrimination of a logger’s chainsaw in an old-growth forest.

There are others that are broadcasting the same signal of reason. DRASTIC (Decentralized Radical Autonomous Search Team Investigating Covid-19) is a group of independent scientists, journalists and researchers that have been bringing attention to the suspicious ways that the debate surrounding the origin of SARS-COV2 has been marginalized within the scientific community itself (more about their work here). For example, “A Statement in support of the scientists, public health professionals and medical professionals of China combatting Covid-19” appeared in the correspondence section of the esteemed medical journal Lancet in March of 2020. In this letter the authors explicitly characterize any dissent to the natural origins hypothesis as “rumour, disinformation and conspiracy theories”. 

What are we to make of such accusations leveled against scientists by scientists? This sort of rhetoric has no place in any scientific discussion of any kind and should be a matter of real concern for everyone. Has science been corrupted by the same forces that are undeniably turning investigative journalism into a means of promulgating propaganda in some instances? If that were the case, how then are we to “trust the science”?

The Predicament that we are in

We are in an uncomfortable situation. Unless we can independently dismantle the arguments like those in the Anderson paper, or can understand the significance of the appearance of a mysterious 12 nucleotide sequence in the SARS-COV2 genome that confers the virus with a polybasic furin cleavage site (resulting in a substantial increase in virulence described here), or can appreciate the implications of a situation where scientific journals publish papers without requiring authors to supply the raw data required for independent genomic confirmation, we are stuck. If the science is being spun or misrepresented or poorly reported, there would be no way to know it.

Determining the origin of SARS-COV2 is an important question that still needs to be answered definitively. Attempting to answer this question has brought light to more disturbing questions. We cannot expect the layperson to comprehend the scientific studies that underpin our approach to this pandemic, let alone critique the logic and assumptions made by the authors of these papers. Expecting that a news correspondent, mainstream or otherwise, is anymore capable of dissecting such information is not realistic either. Until we come to grips with this we will not be able to grasp the enormity of the crisis we are facing.

The Takeaway

An honest examination into the origin of SARS-COV2 suggests a danger more pernicious than the virus itself. How much of scientific opinion is dictated by non-scientific interests? How many other “consensus” positions are rooted in inexcusably poor reasoning and assumptions? If we can only rely on independent researchers to bring clarity to these topics, who is going to give them a voice? If there is a fact that can be extracted from this debate it would be that “trusting the science” and trusting what a media source says about “the science” can be two very different things. 

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