Saturday, 30 April 2016


Take Back Your Power
 

With this article, I sign off from this blog. I will not be posting any more articles here, but I will keep the blog alive for reference purposes. I have started a new blog for my new business called Jennifer Wilson, Life Coach.. My strap line for this business is "Take Back Your Power". Please follow the link for further details.

I take this opportunity to say that my Simple Food Remedies business has also ended. However, I will continue to give advice and guidance on food, diet and other related matters as requested under my new life coaching business remit.

I thank you, all my readers and followers. I hope you have enjoyed my articles and found something of interest in them. I welcome you to my new blog where I have a gadget to sign up for emails when I post new articles. The new blog will cover similar topics to this one, but the focus of it will be to explain and expand upon what I do in my life coaching business.

So far, I have two articles, WYSIWYG, and Visually Oriented which as the titles imply are about our vision.

In May, I will be posting a series of 20 short articles which explain and set out the Tai Chi Qigong Shibashi movements that I teach. These movements are used in martial arts training, but are also beneficial to health and easy to do.

Thank you again and I hope to see you on my new blog, Jennifer Wilson, Life Coach. Maybe I'll even see you in person!

My new blog address: http://jenniferwilsonlifecoach.blogspot.co.uk/

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

The Eyes Have It - How to Care for Eyes Naturally

This article is about the importance of our eyes to our overall health, my recent personal experience with my eyes, and some tips on improving eyesight naturally. The importance of our eyes is a point that is often overlooked, and many health books don't even mention eyes. Some people are unaware of how eyeglasses fit into the so-called health care program and I explain more about this program in my article called Our Vision is to Control Yours. (1) I hope that this article will be helpful in filling in the gap between natural eye care and the so-called conventional eye care.

I'm sure everyone has heard that once eyeglasses are obtained and used regularly, they don't work so well after say one year, at least according to the optometrist. In addition, optometrists may not be able to achieve "normal" vision with eyeglasses for the patient. In many cases, the patient ends up going blind in one eye or both. In addition, many people are diagnosed with astigmatism as am I, although not consistently in one eye or the other. Although the prevalence of astigmatism is  now said to increase with age, (2) I am skeptical about this because my left eye was perfect until I started wearing eyeglasses, even when I was young. So these are the underlying reasons I became interested in improving my eyesight with natural techniques.

I also experienced seeing perfectly without glasses and my premise is that if I can do this even for one second, I can do it for longer. This is the mode of operation for oculists too. Because if you can see better with prescription lenses during your test (in dim artificial light), your eyes can adjust to them. But, of course, this destroys the eyes natural behavior and weakens them. Whereas, practicing to see better without glasses restores and improves eyesight.

I have found that wearing glasses causes eyestrain and may contribute to a stiff neck and headaches, the opposite of what is usually said. Eyeglasses frequently cause pressure on the bridge of the nose although they are made lighter nowadays, They also may cause pressure on the temples and sinus cavities. In addition, they easily get dirty and steamy. All these factors may contribute to eyestrain which can become so ingrained that it is hard to notice and after becoming aware of it, may seem impossible to shift. But it is likely that it can be shifted because the body always works to return to its natural balance and relaxed state. It just needs a little help from the owner.

Better Sight Without Glasses

I started on my mission to improve my eyesight in earnest this summer (2015) after reading a book by Harry Benjamin, Better Sight Without Glasses. (3) It was pure chance that I had this book from a library that I used to run at a bio-dynamic organic farm. It is a slim book, but it ended up changing my life.

This book had excellent information about the eyes, how they work and how to help eyesight by relaxing, but also by diet and exercises.  I took up some of these techniques and I describe a little below.

Like having constant stress in the neck which is common, causes pain and restricts movement and circulation, stress in the eye muscles can be constant, restrict movement of the eyes and decrease circulation in this area which inhibits the natural ability to see. It just so happens that similar things that can improve the neck, can help to improve eyesight. Relaxing the neck muscles will help the eye muscles to relax as they are closely connected. Plus it is easier to notice when neck muscles are tight and this can give an indication of the condition of the eye muscles. All the techniques below can help with relaxation.

Fasting and Diet
In the summer of 2015, I did a 12-week program of fasting which I enjoyed so much I actually did it a few more times at the end of the summer. I simply did a water fast one day a week. For 12-weeks, I did this on the same day every week and I started to look forward to it. It was easier to fast on the warmer days and a few times when it was cooler, I did not stick to the water only, but did a restricted diet instead.  However, most times, I enjoyed the water only.

Fasting helps improve circulation and allows the body to clean up unfinished business including removing toxins, debris and unwelcome visitors. This is a general health measure, but the eyes benefit in particular.

A word of caution: too much fasting my cause the eyes to sink into the head. This also happens naturally as we age because of orbital fat reduction. (4)

On my non-fast days, I had a lot of cleansing fruit for my breakfasts. I also had lots of vegetables and ate them raw and cooked together with the usual nuts and seeds, meat, fish, eggs, and chicken. I love eating lots of carrots which are supposed to help with night vision. I already restrict my starch and chemical intake and do not have any refined sugar, alcohol or caffeine, all of which are helpful for this program.

Palming
I actually learned about palming when I took yoga classes a few years ago. I knew it is relaxing but hadn't realized how good it is for the eyes. It is done by putting the palms over the eyes (without pressing on the eyeballs) with the fingers crossing over the forehead so that all the light is blocked out from the eyes. I do this for long periods sometimes, but at least a little every day. This can be done sitting, standing or lying on one's back. For longer sessions, it helps to have the elbows supported.

A Quick Palming
Rub the hands together to generate a little heat (and energy) and place over the eyes for a minute or two. Breathe in deeply hold a second and breath out slowly and hold a second. Continue the deep breathing.

Swinging
Swinging entails moving the arms gently at the sides of the body from side to side. Stand with the feet hip-width apart. Stand tall and imagine a string pulling upwards from the top of the head to the ceiling or sky. Arms are relaxed at the sides with palms facing inwards. Gently swing the arms together from side to side along with the body in the upright position and alternately lift the heel of the foot opposite the arms. It helps to do this in front of a window or windows and look outside because this enhances the optical illusion of the window frame moving in the opposite direction, which is relaxing.

Cold Water Splashes
Splash the eyes while they are closed with cold water.  Cup the hands, fill with cold water from the tap or basin (or brook or spring) and bring close to the eyes and then gently splash onto them 20 to 25x. Then scrunch up the eyes. I usually do this in the morning and evening. I put oil on my face first and after splashing, I use a cotton cloth to blot and pat my face dry. This is good for increasing circulation to the eyes and benefits the skin too.

Steam Treatment
This is not in Benjamin's book, but a good tip as well. Put a handful of eyebright in a pot with a couple of liters of water and heat until steamy. Put a towel over the head with the face over the pot. Steam the face and eyes gently for about 10 minutes. Open and close the eyes for more benefit but ensure that the steam is not too hot while doing this.

Neck Exercises
I try to do the series of relaxation exercises for the neck as suggested in Benjamin's book plus one or two others once or twice every day. First thing in the morning is probably the best time but before going to bed is my favorite. These help to relax the neck muscles which in turn help eyesight. Together they take only 5 to 10 minutes to complete. Practice deep breathing while doing them.

1. Slowly bend the head down, chin moving to the chest and slowly bring it back up. 10x
2. Look up to the ceiling and return. 10x
(1. and 2. can be done together alternating looking down and looking up)
3. Look over one shoulder and then the other by moving the head only. 10x each way.
4. Tilt the head so that the ear moves closer to the shoulder and hold for a count of 5 to 10. Alternate 10x each way.
5. Rotate the head in a circle 10x one way and then 10x the other.
6. Rotate the shoulders front 10 to 25x and then the other way 10 to 25x

Benjamin referred to another book which intrigued me and I borrowed it from a mainstream public library. I liked it so much that I read it cover to cover twice and then purchased a copy in order to obtain a Snellen Chart and have the book as a reference. I also read the 1920 version in pdf format. That book is described next.

The Bates Method
"No effort is required to let go."

The Bates Method is a natural treatment program designed by an eminent American ophthalmologist, Dr William H Bates (5) which he described in his book Better Eyesight Without Glasses. (6)  Not only did Dr Bates practice treating patients to improve their eyesight naturally, he also did experiments with animals. He reached the conclusion from his work and explained how perfect eyesight is not even possible with glasses. I would recommend this book for anyone interested in improving or maintaining their eyesight, whether they wear glasses or not.

The underlying premise of the Bates Method is simply relaxation. Dr Bates proved during his career that mental strain which is the root of all other strains is the basis of imperfect eyesight. He experimented with and wrote about many mental and physical exercises directly associated with eyesight and had excellent results with many patients.

Snellen Chart
In his book, Dr Bates recommends practicing with a Snellen Chart such as the one in the photo above (7) (and the one that comes with the book). I can also think of a reason other than improving eyesight to support the suggestion of practicing with a Snellen Chart, and that is, if you know what your eyesight is like, you will less likely be duped by a person who has a strong interest in trying to sell you eyeglasses. I don't think the Snellen Chart was designed to help with improving eyesight; it just so happens that it can serve that function very well.


I hang my Snellen chart so that it is 10 feet away from my dining table and use it while I am eating. I read the lowest line I can see easily and move from one line to the other and practice focusing. Sometimes, I start out not seeing clearly and by the end, I can see much better, especially with my lazy eye.

Reading
As explained by Dr Bates, reading the finest print possible is like an exercise for the eyes. Read the smallest possible print without glasses. Read in dim light too. The eyes are actually more relaxed in dim light so it is not a strain on them to do this contrary to the 'old wives' tale of needing good light to read. However, do not strain if the light is too dim. Also, take breaks by closing the eyes and blinking them often. Reading with the print as close to the eyes as possible, especially if myopic (near sighted) is good for improving vision too.

Swinging
The swinging that Dr Bates describes in his book comes from yoga. Stand with feet hip-width apart, arms hanging naturally by the sides and body erect. Gently swing the arms around the body and look over the shoulder. Lift the heel of the foot opposite the arms. Go from side to side and gradually swing the arms gently higher and then back lower again. Do this for a count of 10 each side and then longer if desired.

Sunshine
Dr Bates said that you can't get enough sunlight on the eyes and even used it as a tool in some of his treatments. I take every opportunity to get out whenever there is some sunshine to put my face towards the sun with my eyes closed for as long as possible, but even if it is only for a minute. Ten minutes is a good session and the longer the better as long as sunburn is not an issue and one builds up to it. In the summer, I put coconut oil on my skin to avoid burning, but one needs to be sensible about exposure to the sun and know their own limits.

I've also started sun gazing as a practice and Dr Bates discussed this in the 1920 edition of his book. This entails looking at the sun. What I do is actually more like sun glancing than gazing when the sun is weaker, such at sunset. I will see how it goes and build on this as long as I have no side effects. Where I live, this is easy to do in the autumn and winter when the sun is naturally weaker.

Sunlight is very relaxing generally, but especially for the eyes. Sunlight stimulates the pineal gland as well which is reputedly good for overall health.

Imagination and Memory
Dr Bates discussed how images are interpreted by the mind. He suggested a mind over matter approach to improving eyesight by using imagination and memory techniques. For example, he suggested trying to remember a perfect black period (full-stop) to improve eyesight as well as memory. He claims that eyesight, memory and imagination are coincident so that if one improves one's eyesight then memory and imagination will also be improved.

It is claimed in the academic arena nowadays that the intelligence level of humans as a species is decreasing. The bell curve has moved over and downwards they say. We have lots of data in books and on the computer, but along with our eyesight, we have lost the ability to think. Dr Bates mentions a little about indigenous peoples who had  extremely sharp minds and "eagle-like" eyesight. In a way, improving eyesight naturally is actually a necessity to stop the "brain drain" occurring before our very eyes.

Today many are familiar with the technique called visualization which is another way of describing the memory and imagination part of the Bates Method which can be extended. For example, when doing the eye exercises described below or the neck exercises described above, take deep breaths in and out and visualize the blood flowing to and from the area to repair it. Another one is to visualize the muscles relaxing and becoming more supple. The bottom line though is to put one's mind to what one is doing. Focus and concentration can be powerful tools.

When I try to imagine a perfect period (full-stop), my eyes feel like they are crossing. This brings me to other areas Dr Bates covered which is central fixation.

Central Fixation

Central fixation is a term devised by Dr Bates for the process of concentrating and focusing. It entails seeing best what one is looking at and making this area of best eyesight as small as possible until it is like a black full-stop (period) in a newspaper. He used exercises for honing in on what is seen by using a black image which resulted in sharpening vision centrally. This is how the eye works naturally because the most sensitive part of the eye is the fovea of the macula in the middle of the retina. When eyeglasses are worn, this area becomes less sensitive and flexible and the retina often becomes approximately equal in every part which Dr Bates explained is similar to how a camera operates.

If you think about it, the loss of central fixation from wearing glasses makes sense because looking through prescription lenses requires the eyes to see the area covered by them the same across that area. Bifocals, for instance, simply have two such areas, near and far. Contact lenses and implant lenses cause the same effect as well. In the short term, the magnification causes the illusion of improved eyesight, but the reality is that the vision has become distorted and weak. The lenses do the work for the eyes, but in an unnatural manner because they are designed like the lense in a camera.

Convergence

Dr Bates briefly mentions crossing the eyes as a mode of improving eyesight when there is squint which is a common cause of amblyopia (lazy eye), but another optician uses this technique more fully especially to help overcome presbyopia (old age difficulty with near vision). This type of crossing the eyes is also called convergence. It is not crossing the eyes any old way though. It is crossing them slightly and this is facilitated with a chart and instructions which can be printed from Dr Ray Gottlieb's website.  (8)  It includes dots for holding the eyes in a certain position which can help improve central fixation.

Lowering the eyelids halfway while converging and consciously relaxing the eyes can improve eyesight immediately. To strengthen the eyelids, lower them to the halfway point, hold a few seconds and then close them slowly in a controlled manner. This is relaxing and a helpful thing to do to induce sleep (conscious dropping off).


Another exercise to improve convergence comes from yoga and is an asana called the Eagle Pose. As shown in the photo, (9) it entails crossing the legs, arms, and hands. But it is also about crossing the eyes. Look straight ahead (in a mirror is helpful) at the thumbs and the eyes naturally cross so that, if using a mirror, you will see your reflection doubled. It is a very relaxing feeling when this is done with good balance. I like to hold the posture for at about a count of 30 each side.



Pupil Dilation

The ability of the pupils to dilate and let in light (which affects vision) is said to decrease as we age so that the world seems a bit grayer. However, I came across information that this can be controlled by the mind quite easily. I think the trick is to have control of the mind and not move in the direction of dementia.

One mental technique that can be used to make the pupils dilate to improve vision is to think kind, loving thoughts. It is well known that if you look at someone who has amorous feelings for you, you can see that their pupils have become enlarged. On the other hand, if someone is angry, full of hatred and even just nervous, their pupils will become constricted.

Another tip is to use less artificial light so that the eyes have more experience of seeing in dim light.

Muscle Memory

Our eyes use muscles to see. When a movement is repeated enough times, it is registered in the subconscious. Exercising can retrain muscles as well as make them stronger. By relaxing with various methods, one can facilitate the muscle memory reprogramming. So, there is a two-prong approach here:

1. Undoing the muscle memory pathways for the motor neurons which have become ingrained and unconscious, such as with wearing eyeglasses that force the eyes to perform in fixed parameters; and

2. Consciously learning to see better by building up new pathways as well as strengthening the muscles. This takes practice before the execution of the motor task, in this case seeing, becomes smoother with a decrease in stiffness and muscle activity.  In time, there will naturally be less stiffness and muscle activity and seeing better will then be done without conscious effort. But that is the trick - to keep up the practice of seeing better by doing exercises and consciously making efforts to improve.

Practice makes perfect is the well-known saying. I came across a reference to Malcolm Gladwell's claim in his book Outliers, that 10,000 hours is the magic number to make someone an expert. Repetition is certainly key. This is probably one reason why eye care professionals want people to wear glasses all the time. I've been asked to do this since I first got glasses (even though one eye was perfect as was my eyesight with both eyes together, just because of a minor shortcoming in the other eye!), Luckily I always resisted this. At any rate, to undo all the time that eyeglasses have been worn may be quite a challenge, not only to decode the artificial sight parameters imposed by eyeglasses, but to undo the damage caused by them. For example, I can see better on occasion such as with bright sunlight, while converging or after stretching my eyes a certain way, but it is the consistency that is lacking and what I am working towards. To this end, I do eye exercises every day.

Eye Exercises

Some good eye exercises also come from yoga. These movements are all done with the eyes only while the head is held still.

1. Look from side to side. 10x
2. Look at one corner and the opposite corner and then other corners, 10x each.
3. Look up and then around as if looking at the numbers on a clock and then the reverse. 6x.
4.  Look up as if to a spot in the middle of the forehead and hold a few seconds.
5. Look at the tip of the nose and hold a few seconds.
6. Look down and inwards (the navel gaze, although not with the negative connotation). Hold for a few seconds.
7. Move back and forth between the central views with small and large movements.
8. Move the eyes in a figure eight pattern.
8. Blink the eyes rapidly.  Look in different directions and blink while stretching the eyes.

To finish, rub the eyes with the heels of the hands moving from the centre outwards.

Eye Patch

Quite a few people have a weaker eye as I do. This condition is called amblyopia and it is also called a lazy eye.

I made a luxurious eye patch with bits and bobs I had for free with black silk, stuffed with natural lamb's wool and lavender and with two cotton ties. I use it to cover one eye at a time but especially my better eye (without glasses of course) to build up the lazy one. I do this for as long as I can in the house and reading sessions. Using an eye patch was suggested to me by an optometrist when I was young, but I never did it much then. It is difficult sometimes not to see very well with my good eye covered, but I am optimistic and this keeps me doing it.

Sleep

I need to briefly add a bit about sleep. Bright-eyed and bushy tailed is a good description for someone who has had a good sleep. Tired people often develop dark circles under their eyes and put a strain on their eyesight by being tired which will decrease visual acuity. Sleep is also a time for repairing any damage in the eyes.

Concluding Remarks

Dr Bates gave evidence that eyesight is better without eyeglasses. However, it is disconcerting not to be able to see, especially when one thinks they should be able to see better. I would first ask anyone considering this issue whether the magnification in their prescription glasses is really beneficial or something that has become a habit. Of course one can see better with a magnifying glass, but that doesn't mean it is a good idea to walk around with binoculars or a microscope on the eyes! (Funnily enough, I saw this in a picture in a booklet from Specsavers for parents: a child with big binoculars on his eyes.  In addition, magnifying glasses are straightforward magnification, whereas eyeglasses (even plain reading ones) affect refraction and may cause astigmatism in the unaided eyes.

Next I would ask whether that person has patience, perseverance and time to practice.  A little faith thrown in is helpful too.  Even with normal eyesight, it is beneficial to engage in a program to strengthen the eyes just the same as any other exercise program, especially because of all the unnatural conditions we impose on our eyes (e.g., computers, artificial light, etc).  But if the eyesight is defective, TLC (tender loving care) and a dietary, lifestyle and exercise program to cater for eye health would soon improve the situation if not remedy it entirely. Wearing glasses will only make it worse.

There are plenty of stories out there of people ditching their eyeglasses and improving their eyesight enough to get along without them. Well, here is another one.  "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can."!!!  If you think you can, you can. (Positive Affirmations are helpful too!)  For more inspiration, please read my article called Our Vision is to Control Yours. (10)


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Footnotes

(1)       Our Vision is to Control Your Vision on my B'org Food Chain blog

2)        Wiki on Astigmatism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astigmatism; and  Ageing changes in the eye, by S M Salvi, S Akhtar, and Z Currie: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2585730/

(3)       Better Sight Without Glasses by Harry Benjamin (a Naturopath) (1929): http://www.scribd.com/doc/264931163/Better-Sight-Without-Glasses-Harry-Benjamin#scribd

(4)      Ageing changes in the eye, by S M Salvi, S Akhtar, and Z Currie: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2585730/

(5)       Information about Dr WH Bates on Visions of Joy: http://www.visionsofjoy.org/AboutBates.htm and Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Bates_(physician)

(6)      Bates' book, Better Eyesight without Glasses in pdf, original 1920 version available to download free: http://cleareyesight-batesmethod.info/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/thecureofimperfectsight.pdf

(7)       Snellen Chart downloaded with thanks: http://www.disabled-world.com/artman/uploads/snelleneyechart.jpg

(8)      Presbyopia Reduction by Ray Gottlieb, O.D., Ph.D.: http://www.i-see.org/gottlieb/presbyopia_chart.pdf 

(9)      Eagle Pose: http://static1.squarespace.com/static/5008a3c6c4aa6450352d2303/t/5315e565e4b01d80b7be46f3/1393943911278/how-to-do-eagle-pose.jpg
(10)     Our Vision is to Control Yours, Borg Food Chain blog.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Health Care Serves the Pharmaceutical Industry

 
Health care in the context of this article comprises nursing homes that care for the elderly and care homes for people with neurological disorders due to birth defects, serious accidents, other violent injuries and crippling degenerative diseases.  They care for people who are expected never to recover and cannot care for themselves, and often have no mental capacity to make any decisions about their life at all.  However, other types of health care are likely to be the same to varying degrees.  In other words, health care services ... the pharmaceutical industry.

Here is an excerpt from a health care corporation that I will allow to remain anonymous for the purpose of this blog article because it is not unusual and I don’t want to single out any one company.  I make comments to the excerpt by using numbers as reference points to the discussion afterwards.

The pharmaceutical industry has greatly aided medical progress (1), and many new drugs have been discovered and produced in industrial laboratories (2). Identifying new drug targets (3), attaining regulatory approval (4), and refining drug discovery processes (5) are among the challenges that the pharmaceutical industry faces in the continual advancement of control (6) and elimination (7) of disease.

At (the company) we are proud of the direct links we have with many of our industry sponsors (8) and with our collaboration (9) in the development of new medicines (10). Through their sponsorship, we are able to add our expertise and facilities in the trialling of new drugs and medicinal products (11).

We welcome further links and invite enquiries from all prospective industry partners involved in the development of medicinal products for the mental health sector (12).

(1)  What is Medical Progress?

When I searched for ‘medical progress’ I came up with a definition of ‘progress’ in the Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012 which seems to be fitting although maybe unexpected.

Medical definition of Progress

1.  An advance; the course of a disease.

2.  To advance; to go forward; said of a disease, especially, when unqualified, of one taking an unfavourable course.

Most people would not guess that progress in the medical world means that a disease gets worse.  But it is an unfavourable course only for the patient.  It is favourable for the pharmaceutical industry and the health care industry.  After all, if patients recover or die, business declines.

(2)  What are Industrial Laboratories?

Industrial Laboratories is actually a US corporation that specialises in food and drug analysis that believes in human interaction!  That’s what they say on the front page of their website!  But industrial laboratories are all over the world and test chemicals on animals in cages, many of whom are genetically modified and cloned in the name of medical progress (as explained above).

(3)  Identifying New Drug Targets?

There are three likely drug targets:

(i)  new microbes

(ii)  new diseases

(iii)  financial goals

(4)  Attaining Regulatory Approval

The pharmaceutical companies attain regulatory approval (to some degree) with the evidence provided by the health care industry.

(5)  Refining Drug Discovery Processes

This involves mixing chemicals together to produce drugs faster and cheaper.

(6)  Advancement of control of disease

Going back to the definition of medical progress, this means that the rate of deterioration due to diseases is controlled. A good example is cancer.  The World Health Organisation predicts a 50% increase to 15 million new cancer cases on Earth by 2020. In the US Cancer Facts and FiguresThe 5-year relative survival rate for all cancers diagnosed between 2003 and 2009 is 68%, up from 49% in 1975-1977.”  It is well known that more people are surviving serious diseases such as cancer and heart attacks, as well as traumatic accidents, but more people are experiencing these diseases.  This is control, but not cure.

(7)  Advancement of elimination of disease

If the disease cannot be controlled, it is to be eliminated.  This entails total annihilation of targeted microorganisms from the face of the earth that are identified as causing diseases.  It is called eradication and so far only one for humans comes under this heading and that is smallpox that was caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor (as of 1977).

(8)  Industry Sponsors

The pharmaceutical industry is clearly a sponsor, but the government makes many contributions, such as financial and legislation.

World-wide organisations such as the World Health Organisation also contribute with a lot of propaganda.

(9)  With Collaboration

Considering the definition of medical progress above, the health care industry is an accomplice to the pharmaceutical industry in this control exercise called medical progress.

(10)  Development of New Medicines

Now, we flip over from ‘drugs’ in the discovery stage to ‘medicines’ in the administering stage.  Many people do not realise that they are the same thing.

(11)  Through their Sponsorship ... in the Trialling of New Drugs and Medicinal Products

What is the sponsorship from the pharmaceutical companies?  Do they give drugs and medical products for free or just greatly discounted prices?  Are there other financial incentives?

Residents of care homes never pay for any medications, including PEG formulas (for those who cannot eat).  Medications are given for free through the National Health Service (NHS).  The taxpayer pays for them.  However, what I am still wondering is whether pharmaceutical companies ever approach care homes directly to supply unauthorised drugs for testing purposes.

(12)  Medicinal Products for the Mental Health Sector

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, there are over 800,000 known cases of dementia in the UK most of which are Alzheimer's with an additional 43% more unreported cases.  But there are lots of other mental problems in care homes such as aggressive behaviour.  Again, it’s all about control without cure or death.  It’s about control in the care home environment.  After all, the care home industry cannot afford to have its staff attacked by unruly mental defectives.  They must be kept under control and strait jackets and padded cells are not available in care homes and nursing homes (anymore).  The pharmaceutical industry is the reality of the modern health care industry.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Antibiotics

I was recently admonished by my employer for not contributing to a multibillion dollar industry by taking a course of antibiotics that was prescribed by my GP doctor.  I recovered from the suspected infection fine, but was told that I would have recovered sooner with the antibiotic treatment.  Not only would I dispute that taking antibiotics would have improved my recovery time, I believe that in the long run, they would have compromised my health.
 
What does the name “antibiotic” mean?
The drugs that are called antibiotics are called this for a reason.  So I think it is a good place to start in understanding this treatment to look at the meaning of the name.  After all, at first instance, these drugs are not called antibacterial or antimicrobial.
 
We all know that anti means against.  But what about biotic?  Here are a few definitions:
 
Biotic             - pertaining to life,
                        - of or relating to living organisms
                        - in medicine: relating to life or living organisms
 
It seems pretty clear then that antibiotics are against life, but especially the life of living organisms.  We are told that antibiotics are prescribed by doctors to kill one living organism in particular, that is, a targeted bad bacteria (pathogen).  But as we are living organisms, one could argue that antibiotics are against us as well.  Because we rely on a microbial environment in our guts for health which antibiotics disrupt, antibiotics actually do put our well being at risk.  For those new to this idea, a recent Horizon television program called Allergies: Modern Life and Me, is a good place to start for information, except that the reference to babies having sterile microbiomes before they are born is false (see Study Sees Bigger Role for Placenta in Newborns’ Health).
 
The Microbial Environment

The human gut carries about 100 trillion microorganisms in it which is about ten times more than the total number of human cells in the body and can weigh up to 2kg.  Greater than 85% of the total bacteria are beneficial to human health such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria and the pathogenic bacteria coexist in a complex symbiosis.  Some of the bacteria that are called actinomycetes even produce antibiotics such as streptomycin and nocardicin.
 
Some estimate that 80 to 85% of the immune system is regulated by the gut.  At any rate, the gut microbiota profoundly influences the development of the gut mucosal immune system.  The microbes are crucial in preventing exogenous pathogen intrusion by stimulating the immune system as well as directly interacting with pathogenic bacteria.
 
Therefore, attacking bacteria in our gut with antibiotics is an attack on our immune system.  This side effect, which is generally not mentioned as such, is called immunocompromised.  When the immune system is deliberately dismantled, it is called immunosuppressant.  It is also an attack on the inter-related energy metabolism and trophic functions.
 
Why would the medical profession casually prescribe something that is so clearly against our life and well being?  And they do, as I proved by getting a prescription for a very mild infection that easily cleared up in a week without taking the drug.  Perhaps information from the $100 million Human Microbiome Project on the health effects of gut bacteria that was launched in 2013 has yet to filter through.  What follows is a discussion about antibiotics and how they are not good for one's health.  At the end, I set out some natural ways to recover from an infection or avoid it in the first place.
 
How Do Antibiotics Work?
Antibiotics kill bacteria by interfering with the formation of their cell walls or contents (bactericidal antibiotics), or by stopping bacteria from multiplying (bacteriostatic antibiotics).
 
Most bacteria are prokaryotic organisms while humans are eukaryotes.  The difference is in the cells.  Most bacteria have a cell wall macromolecule called peptidoglycan, which is not found in human cells.  This is why antibiotics do not affect human cells.  The bacteria are classed as gram positive when the walls are thin, easily permeable and single-layered.  Gram negative bacteria have thicker, less penetrable, two-layer cell walls.  Also, the protein-making cellular machinery of bacteria is different than that of human cells.  Popular antibiotics such as penicillans and tetracylines kill bacteria by targeting peptidoglycan and the proteins in bacterial cells.  Another type of antibiotic interferes with the bacterial cell’s ability to copy its DNA in order to replicate.
 
Doctors, with a little help from scientific researchers, have to determine which antibiotic to prescribe by considering the cellular characteristics of the bacteria that is suspected of causing the illness.  Unfortunately, they do not consider the other possible 300 to 1000 different bacterial species that live in the gut and comprise the gut flora many of which are bound to be negatively affected by taking antibiotic tablets.  They also do not address why the gut flora became out of balance in the first place.
 
How are Antibiotics Made?
Antibiotics for medical purposes are made on an industrial scale by the process of fermentation. Microorganisms are grown in a growth medium and what exactly is in the highly processed growth medium I will not dwell on here.  This is done on a very large scale (100,000–150,000 liters or more) in order to optimize profits.  To ensure maximum yield before the cells die, everything is controlled from oxygen concentration, temperature, pH and nutrient levels.  Then the antibiotic is extracted and purified to a crystalline product.
 
The microorganisms are often genetically modified to improve yield.  I do not believe that genetically modified organisms, big or small, are good for health.  Another technique used is mutation which is encouraged by introducing mutagens such as ultraviolet radiation, x-rays or certain chemicals.  In addition, gene amplification may be applied.  This entails inserting copies of genes coding for enzymes that are involved in antibiotic production back into a cell, via vectors such as plasmids.  Antibiotics are rarely, if ever, what one would find in nature.  In fact, new antibiotics may be laboratory synthesized.
 
As an example of the composition of the tablets that the antibiotics come in, let’s take a commonly prescribed one called Trimethoprim (for chest and urinary tract infections).  This antibiotic is a synthetic antibacterial which in the US may have these inactive ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide, crospovidone, FD&C Red No. 30 aluminum lake, hypromellose, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, polyethylene glycol, sodium starch glycolate, and titanium dioxide.  The ingredients list of inactive ingredients in the UK is slightly different: colloidal silicon dioxide, lactose, macrogol, magnesium stearate, povidone, sodium starch glycollate, stearic acid, microcrystalline cellulose (E460). It would take a small book to describe how all these substances are made, but some people would rather not ingest them regardless, and others would rather not know.  Let me just conclude that all this industry is not exactly good for the environment, never mind human health.

Wiki has compiled an impressive list of antibiotics here.
 
What are the Side Effects of Taking Antibiotics?
Diarrhea, stomach upset, feeling and being sick and fungal infections of the mouth, digestive tract and vagina are commonly cited as side effects of antibiotics.  Being sick may include vomiting, having a loss of appetite, unpleasant changes in taste, and headache.  Older patients may develop inflamed bowels (a type of colitis) which can lead to severe diarrhea. (I actually know of an elderly lady who has been dealing with this lately.)
 
Researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine (for one) have found that the sugar level in the gut rises following antibiotic treatment and this allows harmful bacteria to proliferate because they thrive on sugar.  Not only will this upset the stomach, it will negatively change the intestinal microbiota environment.  Undisturbed, this intestinal microbiota provides protection from bacterial infections.”  It would follow that disturbing this flora would lead to an increased occurrence of infections.
 
Although claimed to be rare, there are other possible side effects though and anyone taking them would be taking a risk of their occurrence.
§   Formation of kidney stones (when taking sulphonamides).
§   Abnormal blood clotting (when taking some cephalosporins).
§   Sensitivity to sun (when taking tetracyclines and trimethoprim).
§   Blood disorders (when taking trimethoprim).
§   Deafness (when taking erythromycin and the aminoglycosides).
 
More specific side effects for the antibiotic Trimethoprim include signs of infection (such as fever, persistent sore throat), easy bruising/bleeding, unusual paleness, mental/mood changes, tiredness with fast/pounding/irregular heartbeat, dark urine, persistent nausea/vomiting, stomach/abdominal pain, yellowing eyes/skin, stiff neck, persistent headache, muscle weakness, extreme drowsiness, signs of low blood sugar (such as nervousness, shakiness, sweating, hunger) and even seizures.
 
Besides contradictions with some medications (see long list here), antibiotics can have adverse effects when there are deficiencies and diseases present, such as a certain types of anemia (due to folate deficiency), kidney disease, liver disease, vitamin deficiency (folate or folic acid), blood disorders (such as bone marrow suppression, G6PD deficiency), mineral imbalances (such as high level of potassium or low level of sodium in the blood).  Older adults are more likely to have mineral imbalances (e.g., high potassium blood level) and allergic reactions such as a rash, swelling of the tongue and face and even difficulty breathing.  Allergic reactions to antibiotics may be immediate or delayed hypersensitivity reactions.
 
What are the Long-term Consequences of Taking Antibiotics?
With repeated courses of antibiotics, antibiotic resistant bacteria may develop.
 
The disruption to the microbiota makes the reoccurrence of infection more likely.  Using antibiotics may even lead to dysbiosis which is a serious microbial imbalance on or inside the body, but especially in the digestive tract.  With dysbiosis, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, obesity, cancer and colitis are more likely to develop.
 
The patient will develop a compromised immune system.
 
Energy metabolism and trophic functions will be upset.
 
Alternatives to Antibiotics?
There are alternatives to taking antibiotics for many of us.  They will serve to rid one of an infection, but also never cause super bugs to develop or antibiotic resistance with prolonged use.  Rather than cause more frequent infections, they will help keep infections at bay.  I will mostly just set out a list here.  For more information on antibacterial foods, these articles are a good start:  Young and Raw, and Care 2.
 
Cabbage
 
Carrots
 
Coconut Oil
 
Honey
 
Roquefort Cheese
 
Lots of Herbs and Spices
 
Onion and Garlic:  Although raw garlic is best, a good antibacterial recipe is Baked Garlic with Roquefort and Rosemary made with coconut oil and butter.
 
Tea Tree Oil
 
Yogurt and Kefir made with Raw Milk
 
Other Fermented Foods
 
Pineapple
 
Lemons
 

Vinegar
 
No Sugar or Starch in the diet to starve the undesirable bacteria.

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Photo 1 credit with thanks to CVS Pharmacy in the US

Photo 2 credit with thanks to National Geographic
Photograph by Martin Oeggerli, with support from School of Life Sciences, FHNW
INTESTINAL BACTERIA
The human gut teems with bacteria (microorganisms), many of their species still unknown. They help us digest food and absorb nutrients, and they play a part in protecting our intestinal walls. Gut bacteria may also help regulate weight and ward off autoimmune diseases
 
Photo 3 Credit with thanks: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacteria

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Some References for Further Reading
 
Antibiotic-associated diarrhoea by Laurent Beaugerie and Jean-Claude Petit, Best Practice & Research Clinical Gastroenterology Volume 18, Issue 2, Pages 337–352, April 2004.
 
 

Gut flora in health and disease, by Dr Francisco Guarner MD and Prof Juan R Malagelad MRCP, The Lancet, Volume 361, Issue 9356, Pages 512 - 519, 8 February 2003.

 
How do antibiotics work? by Maria Trimarchi, How Stuff Works
 
How Do Antibiotics Work to Kill Bacteria? by Tami Port, Biology Beyond the Lab, 22 October 2008.
 
Microbiota-liberated host sugars facilitate post-antibiotic expansion of enteric pathogens (Authors: Katharine M. Ng, Jessica A. Ferreyra, Steven K Higginbottom, Jonathan B. Lynch, Puma C. Kashyap, Smita Gopinath, Natasha Naidu, Biswa Choudhury, Bart C. Weimer, Denise M. Monack and Justin L. Sonnenburg) in Nature, International Weekly Journal of Science, published online on 1 September 2013.
 
Study Sees Bigger Role for Placenta in Newborns’ Health, By Denise Grady, New York Times, 21 May 2014.
 
The Role of Intestinal Microbiota and the Immune System, by F. Purchiaroni, A. Tortora, M. Gabrielli, F. Bertucci, G. Gigante, G. Ianiro, V. Ojetti, E. Scarpellini, A. Gasbarrini, Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Gemelli Hospital, Rome, Italy, European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences, 2013; 17: 323-333.
 
What Are Antibiotics? How Do Antibiotics Work?, MNT, last updated 24 November 2013.