Thursday on the VSRF Weekly Update: FDA Whistleblower, Dr. David Gortler

VSRF Weekly Update
Thursday, March 16
7pm Eastern | 4pm Pacific

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I am very excited this Thursday to be speaking with Dr. David Gortler, an FDA insider who has spent the last several years raising the alarm about the relationships between the pharmaceutical companies, the media and the Federal Health Agencies. Dr. Gortler also worked extensively on the regulatory framework for Operation Warp Speed. This will be a Q&A show, so we will spend more time than usual on your questions, which you can ask in the comments below, or LIVE on Zoom and Rumble during the broadcast. 

Dr. Gortler is a former Yale University professor of pharmacology and biotechnology and a former Pfizer investigational medicine research scientist. While teaching at Yale, he accepted a position as an FDA medical officer and was later appointed senior advisor to the FDA Commissioner for drug safety, science policy and regulatory affairs. In this role, Dr. Gortler was personally in charge of reviewing and approving new drugs, labeling changes based on safety and efficacy findings, and making final FDA regulatory recommendations to the FDA Commissioner. He has also revised official FDA guidance documents based on sanctified scientific findings. Dr. Gortler has approximately two decades of experience in drug development and drug safety epidemiology.

Join us this Thursday and tell a friend.

Today, Facebook took our Covid Litigation Conference advertisement down for review for “unacceptable content” and “vaccine discouragement” even though nowhere in the video does it say vaccine or vaccine injured except in the list of panels. Twitter is also not accepting our promoted ad. Which I find interesting indeed.  

Please continue to tell lawyers you may know in the Atlanta area about the Covid Litigation Conference on March 25-26.  They can learn more or register at 

Please help us get the word out about the conference by sharing these socials. Thank you!

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Susan Northrup, FAA’s federal air surgeon, should resign: Part II

An AOPA op-ed is heavy on ad hominem attacks and false claims. The truth is that the Federal Air Surgeon is not doing her job in protecting the pilots, the flight crews, or the public.

On Jan 23, 2023, I wrote an article calling for FAA’s Federal Air Surgeon Susan Northrup to resign. It called out 22 different reasons, even though many of the reasons cited, on their own, were sufficient to justify the call.

Instead of responding to my requests for comment to their press office, on February 22, 2023, the AOPA published a hit piece written by Dr. Brent Blue entitled “LEAVE DR. NORTHRUP ALONE IN DEFENSE OF THE FEDERAL AIR SURGEON” accusing me of making false statements and ascribing my motivation in writing the article as an attempt to get more subscribers. Wow.

Their article deliberately misses the point of my article: that the FAA isn’t investigating the pilot incidents. The article never talks about this. This is the elephant in the room.

I was alerted to the AOPA article today. I wrote the author back immediately asking for a civil dialog to resolve any misunderstandings. I doubt I’ll hear back because these people seem to never want to be held accountable for anything that they write.

This article addresses each of Brent’s allegations towards me (and selected misinformation he’s propagating) and shows that they are false.

When I want to increase my subscription revenue, I write articles with a paywall in them. Not a single article I wrote relating to Susan Northrup has, or has ever had, a paywall.

Dr. Blue has simply provided no evidence to back up his opinion. He just made it up.

If he wanted to know why I wrote the article, he should have called Captain Bob Snow. After my initial call with Susan Northrup where she said she agreed to call Captain Snow, I called Captain Snow and discovered that nobody from the FAA has ever called him about his incident. It was right after that call that the article was written and the article highlights that event. It’s item #1. It can’t be any more clear than that.


From the Fraiman paper which simply re-analyzes the “gold standard” phase 3 trial data:

Combined, the mRNA vaccines were associated with an excess risk of serious adverse events of special interest of 12.5 per 10,000 vaccinated (95 % CI 2.1 to 22.9); risk ratio 1.43 (95 % CI 1.07 to 1.92). The Pfizer trial exhibited a 36 % higher risk of serious adverse events in the vaccine group; risk difference 18.0 per 10,000 vaccinated (95 % CI 1.2 to 34.9); risk ratio 1.36 (95 % CI 1.02 to 1.83).

This is hardly as close to statistically non significant as one can get. These values are all statistically significant harm.

In addition, Table 1 from the Claussen paper comes to mind. p=.00001 is about as statistically significant as you’ll ever see in a paper.

That paper says:

“Results prove that none of the vaccines provide a health benefit and all pivotal trials show a statistically significant increase in “all cause severe morbidity” in the vaccinated group compared to the placebo group. 

Based on this data it is all but a certainty that mass COVID-19 immunization is hurting the health of the population in general. 

Scientific principles dictate that the mass immunization with COVID-19 vaccines must be halted immediately …”

If this paper got it wrong, I’d love to hear from Dr. Blue so we can get the paper corrected. Again, this is just analyzing the Phase 3 trial data.


My primary attack on Northrup is that nobody called Snow or any other injured pilot. That’s the only thing that matters. She never called. If Dr. Blue shows the she “half called” Snow (whatever that means), he needs to cite evidence of that. But he completely ducks the main point.

Instead, Blue zeroes in on the most unimportant detail. He wrote:

For instance, he states that airline pilots are 40 times more likely to get blood clots than nonpilots, and without any attribution. That is like me saying airline pilots are 40 times more likely to be cheapskates than the general population. Not scientific data but just another personal observation.

Dr. Blue is just making this stuff up out of thin air. The article itself says (and has ALWAYS said) that “Pilots are 60% more likely to suffer blood clots than the general public and blood clots are a known side-effect of these vaccines.”

Last time I checked, a “60% increase” is a factor of 1.6X and is not the same as a 40X increase. I’m excited to hear how 1.6=40. This must be “doctor math” which is not taught at MIT.

He’s right. I didn’t attribute it. My mistake. I should have added a hyperlink and now I can’t find the reference. So a simple request to ChatGPT of “Are pilots more likely to develop a DVT? By how much?” gave the response:

According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, pilots and cabin crew had a slightly higher risk of developing DVT compared to the general population. The study found that the incidence of DVT was 0.47 cases per 1,000 flight years among pilots and 0.12 cases per 1,000 flight years among cabin crew, compared to 0.07 cases per 1,000 person-years in the general population.

So .47/.07= 6.71, which is a 571% increase, not 60%.

But I couldn’t find the reference that ChatGPT referred to, so I’ll take it out to eliminate points of attack.

Dr. Blue should demand to see the vaccine death-vax record data before he advises his patients. That’s what good doctors do.

It’s crystal clear that the health authorities are, as usual, keeping the data hidden. v-safe was kept under lock and key for years before Aaron Siri finally pried it loose from the CDC. The Medicare death/vax records have NEVER been released by the CDC. The BEST system death-vax records? You aren’t allowed to see those either. The VSD records? Nope, those are under lock and key. The US vax-death records? Not being shown to anyone. The UK records? Not going to release them. The New Zealand death-vax records? Nope. Not going to release them even if I pay all the costs.

Do you see a pattern here? World governments keep the data hidden and tell doctors that the COVID vaccines are safe and effective and to ignore the death-vax records. Heck, the CDC even keeps all the hundreds of events generating safety signals in VAERS hidden from public view as well.

Any doctor not calling for full data transparency of the death-vax records for the COVID vaccine is not your friend.

Dr. Blue is not your friend. He isn’t calling for data transparency. And he supports people like Dr. Northrup who willfully look the other way when a pilot is injured or killed by the COVID vaccine. This isn’t keeping the pilots or the public safe.

I’ve invited Dr. Blue to a live discussion where we can talk about these issues. He did not reply to my request. Why can’t we talk about it?


Chlorine dioxide makes chickens healthier, study finds

Image: Chlorine dioxide makes chickens healthier, study finds

(Natural News) There is a whole lot of fear being peddled right now about the world’s chickens succumbing to so-called “avian flu,” this being one of the many cover stories politicians and the media are using to explain away skyrocketing inflation and the deliberate mass murder of poultry. Even if it really was true that bird flu is a serious threat, there is already a simple solution for it that science discovered nearly a decade ago.

Researchers out of Pakistan, publishing their work in the Pakistan Veterinary Journal, found at the time that chlorine dioxide (ClO2), a water-acidifying agent, heals a damaged gut. Poor digestion, just in case you did not know, is a common entry point for diseases like bird flu to form.

For the study, researchers randomly assigned 160 day-old Cobb-500 male broiler birds to four different treatments using a ClO2 product called Dutrion. The first group, DW-0, served as a control group while DW-0.3, DW-0.4, and DW-0.5 were given 0.3, 0.4, and 0.5 parts per million (ppm) of ClO2, respectively, in their drinking water.

After collecting and analyzing lower ileum tissue and digestive system samples from the birds, the team found that ClO2 is a powerful immune-supportive agent in chickens – especially at higher doses. At levels of 0.5 ppm, ClO2 was seen in relative liver and gizzard weight among the different animals, the study found.

“It can be concluded from present findings that addition of chlorine dioxide (Dutrion) can serve as an effective tool to improve broiler performance by reducing the load of harmful pathogens and improving gut health of birds,” reads the paper’s conclusion. (Related: Chlorine dioxide also cures covidwatch as Dr. Manuel Aparicio explains more about it.)


Just like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, the establishment does not want you to know about chlorine dioxide

Because ClO2 is not a high-dollar, blockbuster drug from the money-grubbing pharmaceutical industry, it is being completely ignored by the establishment in its quest to eliminate chickens and their meat and eggs from the consumer marketplaces.

The powers that be want you to believe that chickens everywhere are dropping dead from incurable bird flu – the type of bird flu that only a novel mRNA (messenger RNA) “vaccine” can keep under control. This is the latest narrative to hit the headlines, if you can believe it.

Just like with covid, the establishment is creating an imaginary “problem,” so it can “cure” that problem with another new form of pharmakeia. Meanwhile, natural remedies like ClO2 exist that are affordable, easily accessible, and do not cause harmful side effects.

Much like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), ClO2 is rarely talked about in a positive light – if it is even talked about at all – because to do so would be to cut into Big Pharma’s bottom line. If they can stop you from finding and taking ClO2, then the chances of you desperately resorting to some new Big Pharma concoction increases.

In 2020 at the height of the manufactured Wuhan coronavirus (Covid-19) “pandemic” scare, the mainstream media did briefly mention that ClO2 was being used as a cleaning agent on surfaces at Sacramento-area hospitals. At the very same time, however, federal regulators were hounding the public not to try ClO2 themselves, and to instead wait for an Operation Warp Speed “vaccine.”

“ClO2 is a gas in a solution,” one of our readers explained in the comments. “It is cheap and simple to produce. It is being suppressed by Big Pharma as it cures more things than cannabis!”

Want to keep up with the latest news about natural cures the establishment does not want you to know about? Be sure to visit

Sources for this article include:

Investigation shows taxpayers may have been DOUBLE BILLED by US government for projects in Wuhan

Image: Investigation shows taxpayers may have been DOUBLE BILLED by US government for projects in Wuhan

(Natural News) The United States government may have duplicated payments for projects at labs in Wuhan, China, including the lab where the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) was engineered and subsequently leaked to the public.

Catherine Herridge and Analisa Novak of CBS reported that these labs may have billed both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), according to records they reviewed. (Related: America spent $11 TRILLION on COVID-19 but nearly NOTHING on compensating those injured by the vaccines.)

“What I’ve found so far is evidence that points to double billing, potential theft of government funds,” noted Diane Cutler, a former federal investigator with over 20 years of experience handling cases of white-collar crime and healthcare fraud. “It is concerning, especially since it involves dangerous pathogens and risky research.”

Taxpayers may have paid twice for gain-of-function research

While reviewing evidence of possible double payments, Cutler found that U.S. government grants may have gone to support “high risk research” that was ongoing in China right before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cutler was hired by Republican Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas, who took her discoveries to USAID and the agency’s internal watchdog, which launched a new probe regarding the possible double payment.

According to Cutler, she poured through over 50,000 documents proving that the U.S. government, using taxpayer funding, may have made duplicate payments for everything from Chinese employee salaries and travel expenses to medical supplies and equipment.


Sources told Herridge and Novak that these payments may be worth tens of millions of dollars. These same sources familiar with U.S. government grant records were given by Herridge and Novak with ample opportunity to contest the reporting but chose not to dispute it. This strongly suggests that the reporting is accurate.

Furthermore, spokespersons from USAID and NIH have declined to comment. A USAID inspector general spokesperson declined to comment “on the existence of a specific open investigation.”

Novak and Herridge noted that any independent investigation into the possibility of double billing could take at least six months to complete.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Energy believe COVID-19 originated from a lab leak. Specifically, these agencies believe it is highly likely COVID-19 originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which was conducting viral research on coronaviruses when SARS-CoV-2 first emerged.

Given the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the U.S., Marshall believes a 9/11-style commission needs to be established to figure out whether American taxpayer dollars were used to fund research on the coronavirus.

“I think there are 1.1 million reasons that American taxpayers should care,” he said in a statement, referring to the number of Americans who have supposedly died due to COVID-19. As of press time, the U.S. is listed as having 1,111,342 cumulative deaths caused by COVID-19.

“You’ll have a plane crash. We want to find out why the plane crashes,” said Marshall. “We go to any lengths to do that. And the hope is we don’t have another plane crash for the same reason.”

Learn more about COVID-19, including its origins, at

Watch this clip from “The Bottom Line with Dagen and Duffy” on Fox Business as hosts Dagen McDowell and Sean Duffy interview Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who is certain that COVID-19 came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

This video is from the News Clips channel on

More related stories:

Leaked emails show Fauci commissioned Feb 2020 paper designed to disprove Wuhan lab leak theory for COVID.

Fauci “prompted” scientists to fabricate COVID-19’s natural origin in a paper.

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel admits company made 100K COVID-19 vaccine doses in 2019 before the pandemic even started.

EcoHealth Alliance whistleblower Dr. Andrew Huff spills the beans to Mike Adams about DARPA, bioweapons and their ties to Wuhan.

GREED GALORE: Pfizer CFO tells investors that COVID will continue to be a “multi-million dollar franchise for many years to come.”

Sources include:

Surprising Health Benefits of Using a Sleep Mask

  • By using a sleep mask at night, your memory and alertness may improve

  • Study participants were better able to recall events and experiences, and had improved reaction times, when they wore a sleep mask at night

  • Wearing a sleep mask enhanced participants’ ability to learn new information and form memories

  • Use of sleep masks, as well as ear plugs, by ICU patients significantly improved subjective sleep quality

  • Exposure to light at night may increase your risk of cancer, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes

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Sleep masks provide an economical, DIY solution to get the darkness your body requires for optimal sleep, and just by wearing one nightly your memory and alertness may improve. The finding came from research published in the journal Sleep,

which underscored that sometimes the simplest interventions have the most powerful effects on health.

This certainly seems to be the case for sleep masks. Blocking out ambient light at night is essential to a good night’s sleep — and all of its related benefits — but it can be difficult to make your bedroom pitch black. Sleep masks provide a different means to the same end — a dark environment that’s conducive to restful, restorative sleep.

In the first experiment of a two-part study, 89 adults aged 18 to 35 wore an eye mask while sleeping at night for seven days, followed by a period of not wearing an eye mask during sleep and then wearing an eye mask with holes in it, which allowed light to pass through.

The participants slept with the eye mask for five nights to get used to it before researchers conducted cognitive tests on the sixth and seventh days.

“Superior episodic encoding and an improvement on alertness”

was noted when the participants wore the light-blocking sleep mask. They performed better on a word-pair association test, which measures the ability to recall events and experiences, as well as a test to measure reaction times.

For the second part of the study, 33 people aged 18 to 35 slept with an eye mask one night followed by an eye mask with holes the next night. They also wore a headband to measure brain activity and used a device to measure light upon waking. The cycle was then repeated, with researchers again conducting cognitive tests.

Not only did the light-blocking sleep mask enhance participants’ ability to learn new information and form memories, but it was associated with more slow-wave sleep (SWS), which may be beneficial for memory.

The researchers explained:

“The synaptic homeostasis hypothesis posits that SWA [slow-wave activity] (0.5–4 Hz), a hallmark of SWS, promotes the global down-scaling of synapses that have become saturated during preceding periods of wakefulness and thus restores capacity for the encoding of new information.”

After a night of wearing the eye mask, the participants received higher scores on the Psychomotor Vigilance Test, the most widely used test for alertness and attention. The researchers noted the importance of this finding, since staying alert is crucial for a variety of everyday tasks, such as driving, while educational benefits could also be achieved:

“Overall, our findings suggest that a simple manipulation — the use of an eye mask during sleep — can lead to superior memory performance and higher alertness the next day.

These findings have broad implications for the performance of the many daytime tasks that require learning in educational and cultural contexts, in which particularly effective encoding will determine opportunities for growth, as well as a fast response to external stimuli.

Given the current climate of life-hacking, sleep monitoring, and cognitive enhancers, our findings suggest the eye mask as a simple, economical, and noninvasive way to get more out of a night of sleep.”

The featured study is unique in that it measured the effects of sleep masks on an ordinary night at home. However, it’s not the first to look at how sleep masks may influence sleep. A 2017 systematic review published in the Journal of Sleep Research analyzed the use of sleep masks for patients in an intensive care unit (ICU).

ICUs are filled with bright lights and noise, and sleep deprivation in ICU settings can lead to worse outcomes, including longer ICU stays and increased complication rates.

The study revealed that use of sleep masks, as well as ear plugs, by ICU patients significantly improved subjective sleep quality.

In another example, ICU patients who used a sleep mask and earplugs slept more hours and reported their quality of sleep significantly improved, compared to their own experience of not using a sleep mask in the ICU, as well as to other control group participants, who received routine care only.

Humans have always been exposed to light from sunlight during the day and near-complete darkness at night, except for light from the moon, stars and fire. Now, light exposure at night is virtually inevitable, not only from cellphones, TVs, computers and artificial lighting indoors but also from streetlights and outdoor light pollution.

Light serves as the major synchronizer of your master body clock, which is composed of a group of cells in your brain called the suprachiasmatic nuclei. These nuclei synchronize to the light-dark cycle of your environment when certain wavelengths of light enter your eyes. As noted in the featured study:

“In mammals, the sleep–wake cycle is regulated by the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) of the anterior hypothalamus. SCN activity is strongly synchronized by the light–dark cycle via intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells. The tight interaction between light and sleep regulation is, therefore, clear, with a large body of evidence supporting the impact of light on sleep timing, macro-architecture, and duration.”

Not only does exposure to light at night affect your sleep quality, but it’s implicated in a number of chronic diseases. This is where simply wearing a sleep mask may be so beneficial, as simply closing your eyes isn’t enough. Even light that shines through closed eyelids can suppress melatonin,

which can cause circadian disruptions that play a role in cancer.

It’s previously been shown that higher exposure to outdoor light at night may increase the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer,

and evidence suggests light at night may increase thyroid cancer risk, too,

as thyroid function is regulated by circadian rhythm.

I’ve long stated that making a conscious effort to eliminate light in your bedroom — and if you can’t, wearing a sleep mask — can go a long way toward protecting your health. In March 2022, a study of 20 healthy young adults revealed that even one night of sleep with moderate light exposure increased nighttime heart rate, decreased heart rate variability and increased next-morning insulin resistance.

“These results demonstrate that a single night of exposure to room light during sleep can impair glucose homeostasis, potentially via increased SNS [sympathetic nervous system] activation,” the researchers noted.

A 2019 study, involving 43,722 women, also found that exposure to artificial light at night while sleeping was significantly associated with an increased risk of weight gain and obesity.

In another study, exposure to any amount of light at night was linked to detrimental effects on the health of older adults, increasing the risk of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Compared to adults who were not exposed to light at night, those who did experience light exposure at night were significantly more likely to be obese or have high blood pressure or diabetes. Specifically:

  • 40.7% of those exposed to LAN were obese, compared to 26.7% of those not exposed

  • 17.8% of those exposed to LAN had diabetes, compared to 9.8% of those not exposed

  • 73% of those exposed to LAN had high blood pressure, compared to 59.2% of those not exposed

Those exposed to light at night were also more likely to wake after falling asleep, and the researchers suggested more studies should be conducted to understand the long-term effects of light exposure at night on cardiometabolic risks.

Even during sleep, your body has a rhythm. It cycles through light sleep, non-REM (rapid eye movement), multiple additional sleep stages and REM sleep in 90- to 110-minute intervals. Ideally, this cycle will repeat four to six times a night.

Each sleep stage is beneficial, but REM sleep, during which dreaming occurs, is being recognized as increasingly important — and it’s also affected by light. One study found that earlier exposure to light increased SWS “at the expense of” REM sleep.

During REM, your brain is as active as it is during wakefulness, but your body is paralyzed, which prevents you from acting out your dreams.

Hormonal changes and both memory reconsolidation and emotional processing occur during REM, which Matthew Walker, a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, told The New York Times is “like a form of overnight therapy.”

Further, getting less REM sleep is linked to an increased risk of death. In a study of 4,050 people, a 13% increased risk of all-cause mortality was found over 12.1 years for every 5% reduction in REM sleep.

In the video above, Andrew Huberman, a neuroscientist and tenured professor in the department of neurobiology at Stanford University School of Medicine, details how to effectively harness light and darkness, as well as other factors, to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Huberman recommends viewing bright light, ideally from sunlight, within the first 30 to 60 minutes after waking to stimulate wakefulness throughout the day and help you fall asleep at night. Later in the day, there’s research showing that if you view light in the early evening hours, it may help mitigate some of the consequences of light exposure later in the evening.

However, from around 6 p.m. or 7 p.m., into the hours when you get into bed and throughout the night while you’re asleep, it’s important to avoid bright artificial lights of any color.

Once the sun goes down, you should dim the lights in your environment and use as little artificial light as possible, including dimming your computer screen and avoiding overhead lights — opting for desk lamps instead. Better yet, use candlelight or moonlight after sunset.

If your bedroom is affected by light pollution, be sure to use blackout shades to keep light out and remove all sources of light from your bedroom, including a digital alarm clock or cellphone. You can also use a sleep mask for this purpose. Avoiding light at night will go a long way toward getting a great night’s sleep, but it’s not the only factor.

Toward that end, I’ve compiled 33 tips to optimize your sleep routine, which include not only paying attention to light and darkness, but also to sleep hygiene, temperature, lifestyle choices and more.

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Study: Exercise Should Be First Treatment for Depression

  • An overview of 97 systematic reviews and meta-analyses found exercise is 1.5 times more effective for mental health than top medications or counseling, and benefits were seen in 12 weeks

  • The authors of the umbrella review call on mental health professionals and doctors to start prescribing exercise as a first line of treatment

  • Another systematic review, which analyzed the association between physical activity and the risk of depression, found there’s a dose-dependent response. Compared to those who did not exercise, people who got half the recommended volume of physical activity lowered their risk for depression by 18%. Those who got the recommended amount lowered their risk by 25%

  • Most health authorities recommend getting 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise each week

  • Previous research has also found that people who met or exceeded the weekly exercise recommendation lowered their risk of death. Men can lower their risk of cardiovascular disease death by as much as 34% and their all-cause mortality by up to 36%; women can lower their CVD death risk by as much as 44% and their all-cause mortality by as much as 55%

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I’ve been a long-term advocate for exercise as a primary treatment option for depression, and now, an overview of systematic reviews

shows just how well-reasoned this advice has been.

In all, 97 systematic reviews with meta-analyses of controlled trials assessing the effects of exercise on adult depression, anxiety and psychological distress were included (amounting to a total of 1,039 trials involving 128,119 participants).

Populations included healthy adults, people with mental health disorders and people with chronic diseases. It’s the most comprehensive review of research to date, and clearly demonstrates that exercise can rapidly alleviate mild to moderate symptoms of depression, anxiety and other forms of psychological distress. As reported by the University of South Australia, which performed the umbrella review:

“University of South Australia researchers are calling for exercise to be a mainstay approach for managing depression as a new study shows that physical activity is 1.5 times more effective than counselling or the leading medications …

[The study] shows that physical activity is extremely beneficial for improving symptoms of depression, anxiety, and distress. Specifically, the review showed that exercise interventions that were 12 weeks or shorter were the most effective at reducing mental health symptoms, highlighting the speed at which physical activity can make a change.

The largest benefits were seen among people with depression, pregnant and postpartum women, healthy individuals, and people diagnosed with HIV or kidney disease … Lead UniSA researcher, Dr Ben Singh, says physical activity must be prioritized to better manage the growing cases of mental health conditions.

‘Physical activity is known to help improve mental health. Yet despite the evidence, it has not been widely adopted as a first-choice treatment. Our review shows that physical activity interventions can significantly reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in all clinical populations, with some groups showing even greater signs of improvement.

Higher intensity exercise had greater improvements for depression and anxiety, while longer durations had smaller effects when compared to short and mid-duration bursts.

We also found that all types of physical activity and exercise were beneficial, including aerobic exercise such as walking, resistance training, Pilates, and yoga. Importantly, the research shows that it doesn’t take much for exercise to make a positive change to your mental health.'”

Another systematic review,

published in April 2022, which analyzed the association between physical activity and the risk of depression, found there’s a dose-dependent response. This review included studies from around the world published up until December 2020. In all, 15 studies were included, with a total of 191,130 participants.

“Compared to those who did not exercise, people who got half the recommended volume of physical activity lowered their risk for depression by 18%. Those who got the recommended amount lowered their risk by 25%.”

All studies included assessed the effects of at least three different exposure levels and had a follow-up of at least three years. Compared to those who did not exercise, people who got half the recommended volume of physical activity lowered their risk for depression by 18%. Those who got the recommended amount lowered their risk by 25%.

“… if less active adults had achieved the current physical activity recommendations, 11.5% of depression cases could have been prevented.” ~ JAMA Psychiatry

The World Health Organization recommends getting 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise each week, and that is the exercise volume they’re referring to. According to the authors:

“… if less active adults had achieved the current physical activity recommendations, 11.5% of depression cases could have been prevented … Health practitioners should therefore encourage any increase in physical activity to improve mental health.”

In this short video, Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D., a biomedical scientist and researcher formerly with the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences in La Jolla, California, discusses the science behind the mood-lifting effects of exercise.

One of the ways exercise promotes mental health is by normalizing insulin resistance. Mechanistic studies, several of which are highlighted in Patrick’s video, have also linked the antidepressant effects of exercise to molecular mechanisms involving:

  • Kynurenine, a neurotoxic stress chemical produced from the amino acid tryptophan — As explained by Patrick, tryptophan is an essential amino acid required for the synthesis of serotonin, melatonin, vitamin B3 and kynurenine. While kynurenine is associated with stress and depression at higher levels, higher levels of serotonin are associated with improved mood.

    To a degree, exercise will allow you to control what the tryptophan will be synthesized into. By allowing for more tryptophan to be transported into your brain, exercise raises your serotonin and inhibits conversion into kynurenine, thereby boosting mood and preventing depression.

    Animal research

    has also shown that well-trained muscles have higher levels of an enzyme that helps metabolize kynurenine, thereby ridding the body of it.

  • Myokines — Myokines are cytokines produced by your muscles, and while cytokines are typically inflammatory, myokines are anti-inflammatory. They also increase your insulin sensitivity by improving glucose utilization inside your muscles and, acting as chemical messengers, they help inhibit the release of inflammatory cytokines produced by body fat.

  • Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a growth factor that regulates neuroplasticity and new growth of neurons.

  • The endocannabinoid system — While runner’s high is typically attributed to the release of endorphins, running also dramatically increases anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid, in your body, which influences your opioid and endorphin receptors.

    The higher your anandamide level, the better you feel. Research

    shows people engaging in moderate intensity running or cycling increase their anandamide levels, and that the greatest increase occurs when you’re exercising at 70% to 80% of your maximum heart rate.

  • Beta endorphin, an endogenous opioid neuropeptide and peptide hormone.

Exercise also has a significant impact on longevity. Several studies have confirmed that people who get at least 150 minutes — 2.5 hours — of exercise live significantly longer than those who don’t exercise.

For example, one 2014 study

found men who met or exceeded the recommendation of at least 150 minutes of moderate‐intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous‐intensity activity lowered their risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) death by as much as 34% and their all-cause mortality by as much as 36%. Women who met the guidelines lowered their CVD death risk by up to 44% and all-cause mortality by as much as 55%.

Interestingly, when it comes to the question of which intensity is most beneficial, this study found the answer must take your gender into account. As reported by the authors:

“When comparing different combinations of moderate‐ and vigorous‐intensity activity and all‐cause mortality rates, we observed sex‐related differences.

Holding constant the volume of moderate‐ to vigorous‐intensity physical activity, men experienced a modest additional benefit when expending a greater proportion of moderate‐ to vigorous‐intensity physical activity in vigorous‐intensity activities, but women did not.”

Oftentimes, people complain they can’t carve out 30 minutes a day to exercise. Some try to make up for it by exercising for longer periods on the weekend. But does this still provide the same benefits? According to a 2022 study

of 350,978 individuals, the answer is yes.

There was no significant difference in mortality between those who squeezed in their exercise on the weekends and those who stayed active on a more daily basis. Both had lower all-cause mortality and cause-specific mortality rates.

Since exercise extends your life span, it makes sense that it helps sustain health and reduces diseases that lead to premature death. A paper

published in the Journal of Sport and Health Science in January 2023 reviews the many ways in which exercise accomplishes this.

As noted in this paper, “The health benefits of exercise lies in the remarkable integrative adaptation of multiple tissues and organs,” and “Regular exercise is considered a non-pharmacological polypill for patients with certain comorbidities.” Importantly, it also helps protect your health when you’re under stress.

The authors review how moderate-intensity exercise affects the major hallmarks of health, including the following. For more information about each one, please see the original paper:

  • Barrier integrity (mitochondria, plasma membranes, nuclear envelope, blood-brain-barrier, gut, intestinal, skin and respiratory tract)

  • Containment of local perturbations

  • Recycling and turnover

  • Integration of circuitries

  • Rhythmic oscillations

  • Homeostatic resilience

  • Hormetic regulation

  • Repair and regeneration

Unfortunately, many people still equate “exercise” with aerobic-type exercise only (such as walking, jogging, swimming and biking, for example), forgetting about or ignoring the importance of strength training. Having muscle mass is incredibly important for optimal health, and only grows in importance as you age.

For an in-depth review of the benefits of maintaining strong muscles, see my January 2023 article “How to Stay Fit for Life,” and my April 2022 interview with Dr. Gabrielle Lyon.

As explained in that interview, muscle mass is the key to longevity as it helps address such a wide range of health problems, from obesity and diabetes to heart disease and Alzheimer’s. In short, the greater your muscle mass, the higher your survivability against all diseases becomes.

One of the reasons for this is because you need protein reserves to survive serious disease, and most of your protein reserve is stored in muscle. If you have very little muscle, you’re going to pass away prematurely because you have no amino acid reserves.

Your muscle also interfaces with your immune system, which is your first line of defense against most diseases, including cancer, and plays a major role in metabolism, circulation and cognition.

While you would ideally engage in all four types of exercise — endurance, strength, balance and flexibility

— if you’re short on time, your best bet is to focus on strength training. In “How to Stay Fit for Life” I explain the unique benefits of blood flow restriction (BFR) training, which can be done using just your bodyweight or very light weights. This makes it ideal even for the elderly.

There are loads of ways to increase your muscle mass but they mostly involve moving, pushing or pulling heavy weights or resistance bands. The problem with this strategy is that if you are not in good shape, and especially if you are elderly, there is a very high likelihood that you will get injured.

BFR or KAATSU is the answer to this problem. As the name implies, BFR involves modifying the arterial inflow and venous outflow while you’re working the muscle by placing an inflatable band around the extremity. It is not like a tourniquet that stops all your blood flow, which is dangerous.

For clarity, KAATSU refers to the original method of BFR and uses a device that inflates your cuffs at specific intervals. The inflation and deflation that you get when using the KAATSU device not only makes it safer but also triggers physiological stimuli that are very difficult to reproduce without it.

Conventional resistance training typically uses resistance at 70% to 85% of your one-rep max, i.e., the maximum amount of weight you can lift only one time. Since this weight is relatively heavy and close to your limit, injuries are almost guaranteed.

BFR, on the other hand, is a low-intensity resistance training, using weights that are just 20% to 35% of your one-rep max. With weights this light, your risk of injury is largely eliminated. In many elderly and frail individuals, weights of just 1 or 2 pounds, or no weight other than your body, are all that is needed to achieve the benefits.

BFR’s ability to achieve such remarkable physiological benefits is directly related to slowing venous blood flow from the muscle group being engaged and creating a relatively hypoxic environment or low oxygen pressures in the exercising muscle.

With very light exercise, and in about 15 to 20 minutes, you get an exhaustive workout that sends a signal to your brain that says, “Hey, I’ve done something really hard here — you better help me recover and adapt to it.”

Your brain then sends out hormonal responses that cause your muscles and blood vessels to grow. Most would think that such light weights would be insufficient to provide any muscle strength improvements, but studies show a 36% to 40% increase in muscle strength after only 12 weeks,

depending on your load and health. For further details on how to do BFR and use the KAATSU system, see “How to Stay Fit for Life.”

To end where we began, on the issue of improving mental health with exercise, research favors BFR here as well, when compared to conventional strength training. As explained in a 2018 paper,

while resistance training has generally been shown to be less effective than aerobic exercises when it comes to improving cognitive performance on the behavioral and socioemotional level (e.g., decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety), BFR is different.

BFR, especially when you’re using the KAATSU device, triggers a series of physiological responses that do not occur during conventional strength training, and several of these have a direct impact on cognition. As explained by the authors:

“… systemic hypoxia leads to an oxygen deficit directly in the brain which is to a certain extent the decisive stimulus triggering positive neurophysiological adaptations …

Based on the first hint that localized hypoxia is beneficial for cognition, we want to outline several reasons why localized hypoxia during a resistance training (e.g., trough BFR) might be a promising intervention strategy which is likely to increase the efficiency of resistance training regarding the enhancement of cognitive functions in the following:

On the cellular and molecular level: Some investigations showed a significant higher release of hormones which is associated with positive neurophysiological adaptations, such as serum IGF-1, growth hormone (GH) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), in response to acute resistance activities with BFR when compared to resistance training without BFR.

Regarding the IGF-1, also a long-term intervention (two weeks) of low-intensity BFR training which was provided twice a day led to a higher basal level of IGF-1 in comparison to the same resistance training without BFR … IGF-1 plays an important role in synaptic functioning and cognitive processes.

Because of the link between a deficiency in serum GH level and a cognitive impairment, increases in GH are associated with benefits for cognitive performance … VEGF is involved in angiogenesis and it is speculated that a decrease in angiogenic factors (e.g., serum VEGF) might be associated with cognitive impairments …

Furthermore, there is a robust body of evidence suggesting that the blood lactate concentrations are higher after an acute bout of resistance activities with BFR as compared to a resistance exercise without BFR. The levels of post-exercise blood lactate concentration are associated with acute improvements in cognitive functions such as short-term memory and executive functions.

This phenomenon occurs because peripherally expressed lactate can cross the BBB by monocarboxylate transporters (MCTs) and will be utilized as fuel for cognitive processes due to oxygenation.

Moreover, lactate is associated with changes in peripheral brain-derived neutrophic factor (BDNF) … BDNF is a member of neurotrophins and contributes to neuroplasticity which, in turn, facilitates cognitive performance.

In addition, systemic hypoxia as well as local hypoxia increase the hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) which is the master regulator for adaptions of oxygen homeostasis. An increase of HIF-1α in response to systemic and/or localized hypoxia (e.g., induced by BFR) might be meaningful for cognition or the integrity of the brain considering the following two aspects:

Firstly, the HIF-1α has a neuroprotective effect and secondly, this transcription factor triggers the increase of neurotrophic factors such as the VEGF and IGF-1. Therefore, the HIF-1α may be also a crucial factor for neurocognitive adaptations following a resistance training with BFR.”

On the functional level, BFR has also been shown to increase cortical activity to a greater degree than resistance training without BFR, and this too is a sign of improved cognitive performance. So, in closing, if you struggle with depression, anxiety or stress, I hope you will consider implementing a regular exercise routine as your FIRST line of treatment, rather than your last.

To learn more about KAATSU, join Michael Pupillo’s free KAATSU Q&A Zoom sessions at the following times and dates (time shown is Pacific Time):

  • Mar 14, 2023 09:00 AM

  • Mar 16, 2023 09:00 AM

  • Mar 21, 2023 09:00 AM

  • Mar 23, 2023 09:00 AM

  • Mar 28, 2023 09:00 AM

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