Tag Archives: human rights

Evidence based medicine: is the evidence to support the use of patent medicine?

The underlying problem with a for-profit health care industry is that a primary focus has to be on finding medicines and surgical devices that can be patented and sold for a profit rather than focusing exclusively on finding out how to prevent disease or restore healthy function. Finding out how the body works during health and sickness and finding out how to restore health using natural strategies is not as profitable because natural strategies are usually not something that can be patented and sold at a steep mark-up.

Natural processes of the body are studied in health and sickness with the stated goal of learning how to restore health but too often there is also an underlying and unspoken goal to restore health but only with a product that can be patented and sold at a markup. Foods and vitamins and natural hormones can not be patented and therefore it is less profitable to use them as treatments — there is less of a price mark-up.

As most people involved with primary prevention in public health know all too well, prevention is often under-resourced in public agency budgets and virtually non-existent in the private for-profit sector.

The President of the Institute of Medicine, Dr. Harvey Fineberg, addressed this in a 2006 lecture at the UCLA School of Public Health entitled “Why Prevention is a Hard Sell.”146 He listed some of the reasons as follows: “There is no drama in prevention; non-events are not counted; statistical lives don’t have immediacy; prevention is not profitable; prevention often runs against commercial interests; it may conflict with personal preferences or religious beliefs; and there is declining trust in leaders and institutions, challenging people’s willingness to follow guidelines.”

A Forbes magazine story in 2004 quoted a clinician at a cancer treatment center in New York as saying that ten years earlier, he could extend the life of one of his patients by 11.5 months on average with a drug that cost $500; in 2004, he could extend the life of a patient with the same diagnosis 22.5 months, at a cost of $250,000. The goal of many current cancer treatment protocols is to repeat this experience with more and more types of cancer. [1 

Vegetarian and vegan diets have also been associated with fighting cancer — but by reducing the amount of cancer promoting chemicals (IGF-1) in the person’s blood. Vegans had less of the cancer promoting chemical than vegetarian diners, who had less than people eating a meat based diet.

“Women placed on plant-based diets for just two weeks, for example, were found to suppress the growth of three different types of breast cancer (see images of the cancer clearance).” “Similar results were found for men against prostate cancer (as well as against prostate enlargement).” [2]

Fighting cancer by preventing it from happening in the first place could extend a person’s lifespan far more than 22.5 months and without causing severe vomiting or hair loss, and at a much lower price than $250,000, and without potentially causing cognitive decline. The bad news is that cognitive decline is common among breast cancer survivors and the good news is that the decline tends to improve somewhat between 18 months and 36 months after treatment, (less of an improvement was seen in survivors with multiple diagnoses). [3]

However news that a vegan diet stops production of a cancer causing chemical from forming in a person’s blood would probably not be good news for the person who would rather be told that their cancer was a complete mystery which probably had nothing to do with the person’s lifestyle or their food preferences and that some medication, or surgery, or radiation, or a combination of all three, would take care of the problem without the person having to change a thing about themselves — except that that isn’t really true. Some of the treatments might make all food taste metallic, and some may cause severe vomiting which might leave the person not wanting to eat anything at all and may leave them with some lasting food aversions depending on what they were eating before the severe vomiting stage was reached — the dietary recommendation is to plan ahead for the nauseous stage and to eat something anyway because nutrients are still important but choose nutritious foods that aren’t also favorite nutritious foods for meals that are likely to be coming back up again in a short while. A vegan diet, on second thought, probably tastes better than having a metallic taste in the mouth, or worse.

And it doesn’t even have to be a vegan diet — vegetarian diets that include fish have also been found to reduce cancer risk, [7] — but the information about either study wasn’t in mainstream news outlets. I found the information on virtual news websites — so this is basically top secret news — the cure for cancer has been in the grocery store this whole time — just avoid the meat aisle and maybe the egg and dairy cases and spend more time in the produce section.

It can be a career risk to write about less profitable health treatments. The paragraph about cancer treatments and the 50,000 percent increase in price that occurred over ten years, that was excerpted earlier in this post, concludes with the following statement: “Those who seek to prevent or reduce the magnitude of these profits risk being swept aside by industry representatives and their political and scientific spokespeople.” [1]

Ginger has over 400 active phytochemicals and humans have been enjoying it for thousands of years — the long term evidence is in on ginger – people keep growing it because they like it — either they like its flavor or its effects or both. [4] Some of the active phytochemicals in ginger have been found to help reduce arthritis pain as much as the anti-inflammatory pain-killing medication ibuprofen (approximately a 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger powder per day). And even better pain control was found when ginger was used in combination with ibuprofen. Ginger also helps protect against ulcers while long term ibuprofen use can be damaging to the GI tract. And more recently another phytochemical found in ginger, 6-shogaol, has been found to help kill breast cancer cells while at the same time not being harmful to surrounding healthy cells. This is early research rather than clinical trials. [4, 5] The negative side effects from most cancer treatments are usually because the treatments are harmful to both cancer cells and to health cells that grow rapidly.

Ginger has few negative side effects compared to chemotherapy or even ibuprofen. The two risks that I am familiar with: 1) Eating large amounts on a daily basis may increase risk of bruising and  bleeding too easily as ginger has blood thinning activity. A half teaspoon of dry powdered ginger per day was the dose found helpful for reducing arthritis pain. I have experienced easy bruising when I was using more than the half teaspoon of powdered ginger on foods, I was also eating chunks of candied ginger regularly and was also using raw ginger in cooked dishes in large amounts. I haven’t had problems with easy bruising when eating only the half teaspoon per day dose.   2) Small amounts of ginger during pregnancy is probably fine and active phytochemicals in the root vegetable may be helpful for reducing nausea, (Folk wisdom example: Gingerale for nausea), but very large quantities of ginger on a regular basis during pregnancy  may increase risk of miscarriage.

I didn’t find the ginger powder/ibuprofen study citation when I looked for it, but while looking I did find a more recent study done on cell cultures that found ginger extract effective for reducing cytokine production in Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Osteoarthritis (OA). [6]

In a for-profit industry too often the goal of research is to find a chemical that is effective for some health condition, like 6-shogaol, and then to find a way to chemically make it unique and therefore able to be patented and sold at a larger markup than would be possible for a produce item like ginger root, but without ruining the original chemical’s effectiveness and without making the new chemical too toxic. That can be a risk when fluoride or bromide is added to a medication; the heavy metal can help the medication enter cells — which can make it a more effective or a faster acting medication — but then the atom of fluoride or bromide is not easy for the body to remove from the cell and the heavy metals may be increasing long term health risks. [8]

My goal in sharing health information is twofold —

— For the general reader who is interested in science and alternative health information: writing easy to read summaries of health information for the individual reader is where I have training and experience. As a patient I am looking for health guidance for my own conditions but as a dietitian I also am interested in learning more about all aspects of health and illness. The entire body needs balanced nutrition in order to function and therefore a dietitian specializes in understanding all of the body’s systems and how they interact.

— For the open-minded science reader: some people read summaries and other people read reference lists. Frequently cited papers or books would be immediately recognized by some readers and they might be interested in clicking on other links that they hadn’t seen yet, or hadn’t seen in relation to the rest of the list. Some readers might read the summary in seconds and skim through the links in a few minutes — and gain ideas for their own research — that is my hope. In some places there may be more funding, and more academic freedom, and more interest in preventative health care, and more interest in the use of natural products for restoring natural function, — I can dream and read and share. Some comments that I’ve received do suggest that at least a few people appreciate my posts for providing research ideas.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. Information is not a substitute for individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

  1. Richard W. Clapp, DSc, MPH, Molly M. Jacobs, MPH, and Edward L Loechler, PhD, Environmental and Occupational Causes of Cancer New Evidence, 2005–2007, Rev Environ Health. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2009 Dec 10., [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2791455/]
  2. Kathy Freston,  A Vegan Diet (Hugely) Helpful Against Cancer, 12/09/2012 [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathy-freston/vegan-diet-cancer_b_2250052.html]
  3. Zheng Y, et. al., Long-term cognitive function change among breast cancer survivors., Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2014 Aug;146(3):599-609. doi: 10.1007/s10549-014-3044-1. Epub 2014 Jul 9. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25005574]
  4. Ginger: 10,000x Stronger Than Chemo (Taxol) In Cancer Research Model, Nov. 7, 2015, [http://healthimpactnews.com/2015/ginger-10000x-stronger-than-chemo-taxol-in-cancer-research-model/]
  5. Anasuya Ray, Smreti Vasudevan, Suparna Sengupta, 6-Shogaol Inhibits Breast Cancer Cells and Stem Cell-Like Spheroids by Modulation of Notch Signaling Pathway and Induction of Autophagic Cell Death., PLOS One, September 10, 2015, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0137614 [http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0137614]
  6. Søren Ribel-Madsen, et al., A Synoviocyte Model for Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis: Response to Ibuprofen, Betamethasone, and Ginger Extract—A Cross-Sectional In Vitro Study., Arthritis. 2012; 2012: 505842. 2012 Dec 31, [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3546442/]
  7. Jennifer Lea Reynolds, Vegetarian diet reduces cancer risk by up to 43% in new study., Nov. 6, 2015,   [http://www.naturalnews.com/051856_vegetarian_diet_colorectal_cancer_fish.html#]
  8. by me, “Private: Eicosanoids are made from eCBs from the membrane,” *This is one of my older posts with more excerpted material and a messier format so I have it closed to public view. The post does include more information on the health benefits of ginger for preventing colorectal cancer and prostate cancer. Ginger extract seems to help prevent cell membrane/endogenous cannabinoid breakdown and reduce the release of metabolites of endogenous cannabinoids (eCBs) — which include eicosanoids and arachidonic acid. The pharmaceutical industry charges $2,945 for 1 mg of eicosanoids which we would be able to make for ourselves in the amounts that we need if we are healthy and well nourished. Eicosanoids are also a natural chemical so I’m not sure why it can be sold or how the patent process works in the pharmaceutical industry.


Babies have dignity too; Magical Child Matures, a book review

Babies should have the right to human dignity too. The recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage was based on a human right to dignity. The decision has brought up the question of whether polyamory, marriage between more than two people, should be the next human rights question to discuss. [2] Before broaching that topic I would suggest that the infant’s and birth mother’s right to a good delivery and breast feeding experience need to be clarified legally. The legalization of same sex marriage may lead to an increase in the number of infants born to surrogate mothers or other contracted parenting arrangements which may not allow for a normal amount of time for breast feeding. Ideally an infant would nurse for at least 3 to 9 months and in nature primate species tend to nurse their infants for two to three years. Research into artificial womb incubators also exists which might greatly impact the infant’s right to a dignified (ie close to natural) prenatal and birth experience.

I found the book Magical Child (1977) by Joseph Chilton Pearce to be very helpful during my first pregnancy. It is the precursor to the book Magical Child Matures, (E. P. Dutton, Inc., 1985, New York), which I had mentioned in a previous post and again in my last post where I mentioned that it is now selling used for one penny. I posed the question of whether it is worth a penny and answered that, yes, to me it is worth it specifically because of the third chapter which is titled “Bonding and Attachment.”

The author has written twelve books in all and has focused on child development and the importance of the child-parent bond and breast feeding relationship and also on topics of spirituality and the heart-mind connection or  the “compassionate mind.” [1]

In the third chapter of the book Magical Child Matures labor is described from the infant’s perspective. The stress of delivery causes an increase in an infant’s stress chemicals and establishing a breast feeding relationship as soon as possible after delivery helps bring the levels back down to normal levels.

The chapter titled Bonding and Attachment (1985, page 24-40) first describes an ideal delivery experience for the infant and then describes how disturbing delivery could be in an over-crowded and rushed hospital in the 1970s. The baby and mothers from the over-crowded setting are described as black people receiving care at an inner-city hospital and my impression is that he included the information because he’s not racist, because he felt that #Blacklivesmatter and that all mothers and infants deserve a low stress delivery with a positive bonding experience. Bringing up traumatic history reminds us to investigate routine practices and evaluate them for fairness, effectiveness, and safety risks. He includes in the chapter that the old practice of holding a baby upside down and smacking it on the bottom to stimulate their first breath may also have caused some infants to have internal bleeding in the upper spinal column and die prematurely from silent crib death (found in 80% of autopsies of infants who had died of silent crib death in one study) (Magical Child Matures1985, page 35).

He also described a practice that may have been commonly used to save time after delivery in some busy hospitals. The medical professional would just yank the laboring mother’s placenta out by the umbilical cord instead of allowing her body to progress through the final stage of labor at her own pace.

Never discussing uncomfortable history may be more comfortable for us but it doesn’t promote learning from our mistakes or lead to our making changes in routine practices. Holding a baby upside down and smacking it always seemed like a horrible practice to me so finding information that suggests it might indeed have caused traumatic injury was disturbing and revealing. We do many things each day because that is just the way things have always been done but if we never stop to evaluate procedures for their effectiveness or safety then we may be causing harm on a routine basis without realizing it.

Having a baby, for me, was painful and amazing and euphoric and joyful and beautiful, and kind of sweaty and gross, and just as wonderful as the author describes for the well bonded, good delivery experience.

So is the book Magical Child Matures worth a penny (plus shipping and handling)? Yes I think so. The author discusses development of consciousness during the different stages of the lifespan along with his interpretation of how thinking might occur in a triune brain but that speculative discussion of consciousness could be skimmed and the reader may find the developmental information helpful on its own. The author also describes some personal experiences with psychic phenomenon and meditative practices. So that might be a reason for some potential readers to avoid the book or it might be a reason to seek out the book because they are topics that are infrequently discussed.

I’m expecting my first grandchild this month so I made a copy of the chapter on bonding and attachment for the expectant parents just in case they also would find it helpful. However the discussion of bonding and attachment may also be helpful for any age person to read because early childhood experiences might impact our behavior throughout life – a well bonded infant may grow up to be a more trusting adult while a stressed out infant may have more delayed development during early infancy and grow up to be more focused on collecting things and being dominating within relationships rather than being trusting.

The newborn’s first lesson in life is trust. The fetus had warmth and a constant swishing heartbeat and soothing amniotic fluid and suddenly they are forced out into a cold bright noisy world. Newborns certainly don’t deserve to be held upside down and smacked as their first experience in life whatever their skin color may be. And mothers deserve time to labor at their own pace, rather than have the process rushed for the convenience of the medical professional. Hormonal changes occur for the infant and mother during different phases of labor and delivery, rushing the process may interfere with the infant’s health and development and with the development of the mother’s mammary glands and ability to make an adequate supply of breast milk.

Growing a baby isn’t rocket science – it’s much more complicated than that – but worth it. Thanks for sharing your experience in Magical Child Matures, Joseph Chilton Pearce.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a lactation educator and Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./


A very important book, “Half the Sky”

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (2009is a book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Nicholas D. Kistof and Sheryl WuDunn. The book has also been made into a PBS series. The authors shares stories and statistics from around the world about women and girls and men and boys. Women’s rights are human rights and frequently the stories show that helping women helps the whole family and even the whole community. [halftheskymovement.org]

“Women hold up half the sky.” -Mao Zedong

Women are certainly holding up their half of the sky in China where some of the world’s richest women now work and live.

The following quote makes me glad I wasn’t forced to get braces for my crooked teeth and that I wasn’t expected to have my body cut in sensitive areas in order to suit the marital expectations of my cultural group. The speaker has helped groups of women and families work together to change long held customs.

“Everybody has to change together, or you will never be able to marry your daughter,” Molly says. “My mother put me in braces, and I bled and I cried for two years, and an African woman could have come over and said: ‘How can you do this to your daughter?’ And my mother would have said, ‘I saved from my little salary to straighten my daughter’s teeth, so she can get married. How dare you say I am cruel!'” – Molly Melching, Tostan program, page 227

The book Half the Sky  presents the painful issues that women and girls and their loved ones are facing around the world on a daily basis. The book covers adult topics, uncomfortable but better to face and discuss than to suppress and hide behind closed doors. Women with education and income tend to spend more on the health and education of their children. Girls with more education tend to have children later which is also safer for their bodies.

Women can hold up their half of the sky better when they have skills and confidence and are allowed to speak about their concerns. Half the Sky is a doorway to some of their stories, both painful and hopeful. Contact information is included for the organizations that are described in the book. (2009)

Kidney dialysis may be a side effect of sugarcane production in Nicaragua; a link

Chronic kidney disease has become a problem for almost half of the adult men in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua. The disease seems to the linked to the men’s work cutting sugar cane. The exact cause of the problem is unknown but it is suspected that dehydration is a factor due to the hot working conditions with limited time for breaks. Read more: [1] Chronic kidney disease might be less of a risk associated with their jobs if sugarcane workers were allowed enough time to take breaks to prevent dehydration from occurring, as dehydration itself can cause long term harm to the kidneys. [2]

As a consumer of sugarcane products I care about whether sugarcane workers are allowed their right to protect their health during their workday. As a human I care about the worker’s pain and shortened lifespans and about their families. Chronic kidney disease and kidney dialysis treatment require the patient to follow a very restrictive diet and the treatment requires the patient to stay attached to the dialysis machine for hours every few days.  Providing adequate breaks to the workers now seems like an easier strategy in the long run, to me.

There is also a question of gender representation — Why aren’t half of the women suffering from chronic kidney failure too? If the disease was caused by something in the environment it would show up in a more even distribution, men and women would be sick in equal numbers. If the disease is associated with cutting sugarcane then maybe women aren’t getting it because more men then women are working as sugarcane cutters. Likely cutting sugarcane is very physically demanding work and male skeletal structure and muscle mass on average simply is stronger and larger than female anatomy. Machines able to navigate sugarcane fields might be invented to do the job but that solution would be taking away yet more jobs from humans and a risky job, unfortunately, is better than no job for many people because, unlike corporations, people have to eat to survive.

Working in hot conditions causes a loss of fluid and electrolytes contained in sweat and overheating may further increase the amount of sweat that is produced. Evaporation of sweat can have a cooling effect on the body. Intense physical exercise in hot and humid conditions may cause losses of up to three liters of sweat which is almost equivalent to the water content of the body’s blood supply.  [3] Workers need to have enough time to drink, eat and cool down to help prevent the risk of acute dehydration and the risk of it causing lasting damage to the kidneys.

Allowing workers frequent breaks in the shade might give their bodies time to cool down and slow down the loss of nutrients caused by excessive sweating, and allow them enough time to drink water and have a salty magnesium rich snack to replace the nutrients that were lost in sweat or used by the kidneys. The water and potassium in a piece of fruit and a salty magnesium rich snack like tortilla chips would help replace the water, sodium, potassium, and magnesium that are essential for the kidneys function. [4] The kidneys have to have enough nutrients to be able to filter out the toxins that are produced daily as a normal part of physiology and any extra toxins created by a job with hard physical labor and then still have enough nutrients to filter out any additional toxins that may have been absorbed from working around the agricultural chemicals.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes and is not intended to provide individual health care. Please see a health professional for individualized health care./

A right to a fair hearing and trial

A right to a fair hearing and trial by one’s peers was not upheld in Ferguson, Missouri in August when a police officer shot and killed a young black man. More recently a second death occurred as a result of police action prior to any arrest or fair trial.

Students from a nearby university led some of the activists onto their campus grounds as guests for the night. The remaining group set up a small number of tents and remained on campus for the night. Read more: “How ‘Ferguson October’ Ended Up Occupying a Plaza on Saint Louis University’s Campus,” by Kevin Gostola, Oct. 13, 2014, [The Dissenter].

A friendly neighbor in a different community also stood up to police regarding the rights of a neighbor who happened to be black to remain free from police interrogation in his own neighborhood. Read more: “Incident Shows Importance of Standing Up For Each Other,” by John Vibes, Oct. 11, 2014,  [popularresistance.org]