The Republicans introduced a bill into U.S. Congress titled “H.R.490 – Heartbeat Protection Act of 2017” in January of this year. Set to be deliberated at the beginning of November, if passed, it will effectively prevent many women from having abortions before they even find out they’re pregnant.
The Heartbeat Protection Act strives to protect every heartbeat in existence, which includes those within the wombs of pregnant women. However, many women do not even know that they’re pregnant before a heartbeat can be detected, which means abortion would not be an option available to them.
Think about it: What if you didn’t know you were pregnant until your next period, which could already be four weeks away? Heartbeats are often detected at the six week mark, meaning you have a “two weeks grace” period to go to your doctor, make an extremely important decision, and get a medical procedure performed, all within that 14-day timeframe.
Plus, many women experience irregular bleeding during the first trimester, so they may not even realize they’re pregnant within that six week period. So, you could essentially find out you’re pregnant and, even if it’s within the first trimester, be denied the right to have an abortion.
We have come a long way since the days in the U.S. when women (and other minority groups, and even many men, for that matter) couldn’t enjoy basic human rights, but it’s bills like these that threaten our legal freedom. Why should we have to base our decisions on the opinions of others, or be subjected to their judgement?
So, what is the “Heartbeat Bill,” and how could it affect abortion rates in the States?
The Heartbeat Bill Could Ban Abortions Before Women Even Know They’re Pregnant
This Wednesday, November 1, Republicans will be holding the first hearing on a bill that would ban abortions after the six week mark, or whenever the heartbeat can be detected. There would be no exceptions for rape or incest, and physicians who break the law by performing abortions for their patients could go to jail for an astonishing five years.
“Since Roe v. Wade was unconstitutionally decided in 1973, nearly 60 million innocent babies’ lives have been ended by the abortion industry, all with a rubber stamp by the federal government,” said Rep. Steve King, who is sponsoring the bill. “My legislation will require all physicians, before conducting an abortion, to detect the heartbeat of the unborn child. If a heartbeat is detected, the baby is protected.”
Sure, many unborn fetuses have never seen the outside world because of the abortion industry. However, the abortion industry has also helped many women (and men) who weren’t ready or simply didn’t want to be a parent, and has reduced the number of children living on the streets or in the foster care system.
Abortion is not as black and white as many people seem to think it is, and at the end of the day, it’s a very personal decision, one that women should never be scrutinized for. If many of the people who identify as “Republican” don’t support abortion, then that’s okay; but, they shouldn’t force others to share that opinion or strip women of the right to an abortion just because they don’t support them.
The term heartbeat in this context is also misleading. As Bustle explains it:
One could argue the Republicans are simply misleading the public by using this type of wording to play on their heartstrings, drawing inaccurate parallels between a fetus and a person. Encouragingly, however, most news outlets say it’s extremely unlikely that a bill like this would ever be passed at a national level.
Although heartbeat bills similar to this one have gained traction at a state level in the past, most of them weren’t this extreme, and very few ever passed. North Dakota and Arkansas were the first states to ever pass them in 2013, but Arkansas prevented abortion after 12 weeks, not 6.
Federal courts have also recognized that this bill directly violates the constitution and Roe v. Wade,a landmark decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court in favour of abortion and purporting that women should have the right to make their own medical decisions. Other heartbeat bills have been proposed at the state level but most haven’t passed due to their controversy.
Given the fact that this particular bill is far more strict than most, as it would effectively prevent many women from having abortions after the six week mark, it is unlikely that it will be passed or supported by the American public.
Even if it is passed, despite odds being stacked against it, the fact of the matter is that most Americans are pro-choice. Pro-choice doesn’t necessarily mean pro-abortion, it just means you believe women should have the right to decide whether or not they want to have one.
Regardless of your own personal beliefs or lifestyle choices, we should not judge one another. Placing judgement on someone is simply a reflection of how you feel, and it says a lot more about you and your inner beliefs than it does about the person you’re judging.
If we’re placing judgement on another human being, then we’re not coming from a place of love or neutrality. Though it’s important to stand up for what you believe in and do what you feel is right, you can do so without stripping away the rights of other people.
If you are anti-abortion, then don’t have an abortion. Be the change you wish to see in the world, but don’t inflict your hatred and anger onto others and then expect they’ll make those changes with you.
Though this bill is unlikely to pass, perhaps it will spark a conversation society so clearly needs to have. Abortion still incites much rage in many people, but we need to somehow work together, as a collective, to transmute that negativity and show a little more compassion for one another’s decisions.
Outside of abortion clinics, it’s not uncommon to see people holding signs covered with hateful words and expressing unkind sentiments to the people walking in. Can you imagine being a woman about to get an abortion, already a stressful and emotional experience, and you have to deal with the added stress of hateful protestors? Getting an abortion can be an extremely difficult decision for a woman to make, and we shouldn’t be making that experience even harder for her.
Perhaps this “heartbeat bill” will remind us that we all need to live a little more from our hearts and be more compassionate toward one another. Regardless of our personal opinions, it’s important that we all respect the choices each one of us makes, because we’re all on our own journeys.
You may not like the way someone is living their life, but at the end of the day, it’s their life to lead. Odds are that someone out there dislikes the way you’re living yours, but they’re probably not preventing you from living it the way you’d like to. With that, let’s all try to be a little more compassionate, and perhaps one day we won’t be debating controversial bills like these because they won’t even be proposed in the first place.
If you’re wondering what spiritual teachings, even outside of conventional religions, state about abortion, it used to be seen entirely as a negative thing because a life was “being taken.” This was a predominant perspective found in Buddhist and ancient Vedic teachings, for example. But the world has changed, and the wisdom has evolved with us. Even the Dalai Lama has said: “I think abortion should be approved or disapproved according to each circumstance.”
This shift can be seen throughout many religions, as the veils that once separated us thin and more people become accepting of others. Even Christianity is evolving and adapting their belief systems regarding topics that used to be more controversial like abortion and sexual preference.
When it all comes down to it, we’re all living very different realities as each one of us lives out our human experience. There is no universal answer to whether or not abortion is right or wrong for each individual soul because each person is unique, and each situation differs greatly from one another.
As a result, we shouldn’t try to govern each other’s decisions pertaining to abortion, but rather support one another on our journeys. As the world evolves toward a more loving, peaceful state, it’s important that we learn to accept one another and the paths each soul takes, regardless of our own personal beliefs.
India has made it easier to secure to procure construction permits, according to the World Bank report [Xinhua]
India has moved up 30 places from the World Bank’s last year’s ease of doing business rankings.
Starting a business in India is now faster, says the World Bank report.
This jump is “a very clear signal from India to the rest of the world that not only has the country been ready and open for business, as it has been for many decades, it is now competing as the preferred place to do business globally,” Annette Dixon, World Bank’s vice president for South Asia said on Tuesday in New Delhi.
The report lauds India for boosting access to credit system and making it easier to secure to procure construction permits.
However, a majority of economists forecast a broad and marked slowdown expected in economic activity in India.
A currency ban last year and the new goods and services tax (GST) have disrupted India’s business activity and dampened consumer demand. The World Bank report said it has excluded the impact of both these measures.
The Indian economy grew at 5.7 percent annually in the April-June quarter, its lowest level in more than three years.
Opioid-related statistics reveal the U.S. has an enormous problem on its hands. Americans use 80 percent of all the opioids sold worldwide.1 In Alabama, which has the highest opioid prescription rate in the U.S., 143 prescriptions are written for every 100 people.2 A result of this over-prescription trend is skyrocketing deaths from overdoses.3,4
As recently reported by CNN, the Manchester, New Hampshire, fire department responds to more calls for drug overdoses than fires these days.5 In 2015, 52,404 Americans died from drug overdoses; 33,091 of them involved an opioid and nearly one-third of them, 15,281, were by prescription.6,7,8
The following graph by the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows the progressive incline in overdose deaths related to opioid pain relievers between 2002 and 2015.9 This does not include deaths from heroin addiction, which we now know is a common side effect of getting hooked on these powerful prescription narcotics. In all, we’re looking at just over 202,600 deaths in this 13-year time frame alone.10
Meanwhile, kidney disease, listed as the ninth leading cause of death on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) top 10 list, killed 48,146.11 The CDC does not include drug overdoses on this list, but if you did, drug overdoses (63 percent of which are opioids), would replace kidney disease as the ninth leading cause of death as of 2015. As if that wasn’t bad enough, recent statistics reveal that in Americans under the age of 50, opioids are now the LEADING cause of death.
In a sadly ironic twist, research reveals many other nations struggle with a dire lack of pain relief for end-stage, terminal patients. As reported by The Atlantic:12 “Some 45 percent of the 56.2 million people who died in 2015 experienced serious suffering, the authors found. That included 2.5 million children. More than 80 percent of the people were from developing regions, and the vast majority had no access to palliative care and pain relief.”
Drug Enforcement Agency Whistleblower Speaks Out
In a recent episode of 60 Minutes,13 whistleblower Joe Rannazzisi lays the blame for the opioid crisis squarely on the shoulders of the drug industry — especially the drug distributors — and Congress.14
It was well-known that drug distributors were sending extraordinarily large shipments of opioids — hundreds of millions of pills — to pharmacies across the U.S., and that people were dying from their misuse; yet, rather than taking steps to stop the massacre, industry lobbyists and Congress made it virtually impossible for agents at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to take any action at all.
Rannazzisi should know. He led the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control, which specifically regulates and investigates the drug industry. According to Rannazzisi, “This is an industry that’s out of control. What they want to do is do what they want to do, and not worry about what the law is. And if they don’t follow the law in drug supply, people die.” As reported by CBS News:15
“His greatest ire is reserved for the distributors — some of them multibillion dollar, Fortune 500 companies. They are the middlemen that ship the pain pills from manufacturers, like Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson to drug stores all over the country. Rannazzisi accuses the distributors of fueling the opioid epidemic by turning a blind eye to pain pills being diverted to illicit use.”
Drug Distributors Acted With Full Knowledge
The three largest drug distributors — Cardinal Health, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen — control as much as 90 percent of the opioid distribution in the U.S., and according to Rannazzisi, they were most certainly aware of the fact that the suspiciously large orders they filled were killing tens of thousands of people each year. The drug makers facilitated these killings as well, by falsely testifying to their safety and low risk of addiction when used for pain.
This lie allowed hundreds of thousands of Americans to become addicted and tens of thousands die over the past two decades. As addiction rose, so did “pill mills” — so-called pain clinics that did little more than distribute narcotics. In Rannazzisi’s words, the rapid rise in opioid abuse “made the whole crack epidemic look like nothing.” The main difference was that opioids were distributed by medical professionals rather than street gangs.
Rannazzisi was in charge of prosecuting doctors and pharmacists caught pandering the drugs to addicts, yet as soon as one was taken off the street, another would take his or her place. It did nothing to quench the epidemic. So, he decided to “move up the food chain” and go after the distributors who, by law, are required to report and stop suspicious orders. Unusually large or excessively frequent orders both fit the bill of a suspicious order, and such orders were being routinely filled without ever being reported to the DEA.
Jim Geldhof, who worked at the DEA for 40 years, attests to the fact that distributors shipped thousands of suspicious orders. One of the more obvious examples include a pharmacy in Kermit, West Virginia, which ordered 9 million hydrocodone pills over the course of two years. With a population of just 392 people, no one in their right mind could possibly mistake this for anything but a drug distribution ring.
Between 2007 and 2012, more than 12 million pills were also shipped to McDowell County in West Virginia, a county with a population of 28,000 — enough for nearly 86 pills per capita per year.16 According to Geldhof, the DEA kept looking for “a good-faith effort” by drug distributors “to do the right thing,” but there was none. “Greed always trumped compliance,” he says. DEA efforts to improve compliance also came to naught. “They just flat out ignored us,” Geldhof says.
Chump Change Fines Levied
In 2008, the DEA levied a $13.2 million fine against McKesson for the filling of hundreds of suspicious orders totaling millions of pills. Cardinal Health was also fined $34 million that same year. Such fines did nothing to stem the tide, however. Earlier this year McKesson again agreed to pay a $150 million settlement for the same violation — the largest fine ever levied against a drug distributor.
The settlement also prevents McKesson from selling controlled substances from distribution centers in Colorado, Ohio, Michigan and Florida “for multiple years,” and imposes “new and enhanced compliance obligations on McKesson’s distribution system,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice.17 Still, when you consider the enormous profits made by these companies — in 2008, Cardinal Health was reporting $3.4 billion in annual revenue — even fines in the tens of millions amount to chump change.
Drug Distributors Took Aim at DEA
In all, distributors have been slapped with fines in excess of $341 million over the past seven years,18 with little effect. On the contrary, distributors started complaining to Congress saying the DEA was “treating them like a foreign drug cartel.” In 2011, Cardinal Health took aim at Rannazzisi personally. Four years later, after having his authority greatly reduced, he resigned. As reported by CBS:
“The companies’ attorneys went over his head and called his bosses at the Justice Department, who called in Rannazzisi to have him explain his tactics. ‘And it infuriated me that I was over there, trying to explain what my motives were or why I was going after these corporations?
And when I went back to the office, and I sat down with my staff, I basically said, ‘You know, I just got questioned on why we’re doing … what we’re doing … [N]ow this is war. We’re going after these people and we’re not going to stop’ …
Rannazzisi says the drug industry used [industry] money and influence to pressure top lawyers at the DEA to take a softer approach. Former DEA attorney Jonathan Novak said it divided the litigation office. He said in 2013, he noticed a sea change in the way prosecutions of big distributors were handled.
Cases his supervisors once would have easily approved, now weren’t good enough … Novak prosecuted cases brought to him by Joe Rannazzisi’s investigators. He said his caseload started to slow down dramatically … [Jonathan Novak said:] ‘These were cases where the evidence was crystal clear that there was wrongdoing going on.’ He said his bosses started to bog down the system, demanding ever more evidence.”
Several Dozen DEA Officials Have Taken Drug Industry Jobs
According to Novak, one of the primary reasons for the slowdown in cases was the exodus of DEA lawyers that took high-paying jobs working for the drug industry. At least 56 former DEA and Department of Justice officials have been hired by the drug industry since 2000.19 Once on the industry’s side, they lobbied against the DEA, arguing the agency’s cases were weak and didn’t stand a chance in court — even though they’d consistently won most of their cases so far.
In other words, these attorneys levied their insider knowledge of potential weak points against their former employer to protect the industry — all while prescription rates, addiction rates and opioid-related overdoses kept increasing. But the industry wasn’t satisfied with slowing the DEA down to a crawl. They wanted the agency off its back permanently. So, lobbyists started working on Congress to enact legislation that would effectively eliminate the DEA’s powers of enforcement.
DEA Stripped of Its Enforcement Powers
Just such a law was passed in April 2016. The Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act severely restricts the DEA’s ability to track and charge pharmacies and wholesalers who are expanding the opioid epidemic.
As noted by Rannazzisi, if you really wanted to harm the U.S. with drugs, “the only thing I could think of that would immediately harm is to take the authority away from the investigative agency that is trying to enforce the Controlled Substances Act and the regulations implemented under the act. And that’s what this bill did.”
As a result of this legislation, the DEA no longer has the power to freeze suspicious distribution of prescription narcotics. The law also effectively prevents people at the top of the chain from being held accountable. Overall, the DEA’s ability to go after wholesale distributors peddling narcotics to pill mills is now nearly nonexistent. As noted by Novak, the Justice Department has been rendered “toothless; I don’t know how they stop this now.”
The main sponsor of the law — and a staunch advocate for the drug industry in general — was Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., a former county and federal prosecutor nominated by President Trump to become the next drug czar. Fortunately, this particular fox was not entrusted with the hen house. In mid-October, Marino withdrew his name from consideration.20
Marino No Longer in the Running for Drug Czar
Marino’s decision came right on the heels of this joint investigation by 60 Minutes and The Washington Post — which identified Marino as a key player in getting the bill passed21 — and President Trump’s announcement that his administration would look into the allegations against Marino.22 As noted by Charlie Brown, president of Consumers for Dental Choice and the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, in a private email to me:
“Now the real battle begins. More important than the fate some Congressman from rural Pennsylvania who works secretly against his own constituents is this bad law, which Congress created hence only Congress can repeal. The handcuffs must come off DEA’s power to act against heroin drug kingpins in the corporate suites wearing their three-piece suits and lab coats — and the local distributors whose names end in M.D. and DDS and MHA (Masters in Hospital Administration).
A campaign to show Congressional complicity in heroin must get to the grassroots; accountability must begin. Congress is not tough on illegal drugs, passing laws that put a pathetic drug user in prison for life; Congress is tough on drugs by cutting off the supply and putting in prison the kingpins.”
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told The Washington Post23 he was “horrified” by the revelations of the investigation, saying the true intent of Marino’s bill was “camouflaged,” such that no one understood the effect it would have on the opioid epidemic. “That bill has to be retracted, has to be repealed,” Manchin said. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., has announced she will in fact introduce legislation to repeal it. Manchin has also suggested Rannazzisi would be a good candidate to head the DEA.
It’s worth noting the bill was actually written by former director of DEA litigation and compliance practice, Linden Barber, one of the several dozen people who swapped sides to work on behalf of the drug industry. His deep understanding of the internal workings of the agency’s enforcement strategies is part of what makes the law so effective in its ability to hinder DEA action against drug companies and distributors.
President Renews Vow to Address Opioid Epidemic
Drug companies, distributors, drugstore chains and drug manufacturers also spent $102 million lobbying for the bill, claiming the DEA was impeding patients’ ability to receive “needed medication.” With statistics clearly telling a different story, it should have been easy to see through this ruse. Clearly, it was (and is) far too easy to get your hands on these pills. Yet the drug industry won, and when they win, they typically do so at the patients’ expense.
October 16, after the 60 Minutes interview aired, President Trump announced his intention to declare opioid addiction a national emergency, thereby securing much-needed funds and policy initiatives to address the burgeoning epidemic.24,25 He had initially supported such a move back in August, and has defended accusations of foot dragging by saying it involves a lot of time-consuming work.
CVS Takes Affirmative Action
In related news, CVS Pharmacy recently announced it will limit opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply for certain health conditions26 — nearly one-third of the average supply prescribed by U.S. doctors. As of 2015, the average prescription for an opioid was 18 days’ worth.27 By doing so, CVS becomes the first pharmacy chain to restrict doctors’ ability to overprescribe the drugs. CVS pharmacists will also be required to:
Discuss the risks of addiction with patients
Instruct patients on secure storage and proper disposal
Use immediate-release formulations before dispensing extended-release versions, to lower the patient’s risk of building tolerance
The initiative is scheduled to roll out as of February 1, 2018. CVS is also expanding its drug disposal collection program, adding an additional 750 kiosks at pharmacies across the U.S., for a nationwide total of 1,500, and is pledging an additional $2 million donation to medication-assisted treatment programs offered by community health centers. Another previous noble action they did was to refuse to sell cigarettes in their stores.
Despite Epidemic of Opioid-Related Deaths, Doctors Are Still Being Paid to Increase Opioid Sales
Clearly, to really rein in the problem of overprescriptions and addiction, doctors need to change their prescription habits. Patients need to take greater responsibility for their own well-being as well. More than 33,000 Americans were killed by opioids in 2015, and nearly half of them involved a prescription for the drugs.
Knowing that these drugs carry the serious risk of addiction, abuse and overdose, they should be prescribed sparingly and only for the most severe cases of pain, for which no other options are available. Instead, they are often prescribed widely to treat milder cases of chronic pain, such as that from osteoarthritis or back pain, the latter of which has turned into a major “gateway condition” that traps unsuspecting patients in the grip of addiction.
Unfortunately, the current medical system heavily discourages doctors from making much-needed changes in their prescription habits. Patient pain assessment plays a significant role in a doctor’s quality of care indicator, and nothing will eliminate pain as effectively as a narcotic. In other words, if patients report not getting pain relief, a doctor’s rating will go down. On top of that, and in the midst of this epidemic of opioid overdose deaths, drug companies are also still paying physicians to boost opioid sales by writing more prescriptions.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health,28 between August 2013 and December 2015, more than 375,000 nonresearch opioid-related payments were made to more than 68,000 physicians, totaling in excess of $46 million. This amounts to 1 in 12 U.S. physicians collecting money from drug companies producing prescription opioids.
The top 1 percent of physicians received nearly 83 percent of the payments, and the drug fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that can be anywhere from 500 to 1,000 percent more potent than morphine, was associated with the highest payments. Many of the states struggling with the highest rates of overdose deaths, such as Indiana, Ohio and New Jersey, were also those showing the most opioid-related payments to physicians. This suggests there’s a direct link between doctors’ kick-backs and patient addiction rates and deaths.
It’s also worth noting that a significant amount of people get their first opioid prescription from their dentist.29 This is particularly true for teenagers and young adults.30 Half of all opioids are also prescribed to people with mental health problems.31
Nondrug Solutions for Pain Relief
It’s extremely important to be fully aware of the addictive potential of opioid drugs, and to seriously weigh your need for them. There are many other ways to address pain. Below is a long list of suggestions. Clearly, there are times when pain is so severe that a narcotic pain reliever may be warranted. But even in those instances, the options that follow may allow you to at least reduce the amount you take, or the frequency at which you need to take them.
If you are in pain that is tolerable, please try these options first, before resorting to prescription painkillers of any kind. If you need a pain reliever, consider an over-the-counter (OTC) option. Research32 shows prescription-strength naproxen (Naprosyn, sold OTC in lower dosages as Aleve) provides the same pain relief as more dangerous narcotic painkillers. However, while naproxen may be a better alternative to narcotic painkillers, it still comes with a very long list of potential side effects,33 and the risks increase with frequency of use.
? Eliminate or radically reduce most grains and sugars from your diet
Avoiding grains and sugars will lower your insulin and leptin levels and decrease insulin and leptin resistance, which is one of the most important reasons why inflammatory prostaglandins are produced. That is why stopping sugar and sweets is so important to controlling your pain and other types of chronic illnesses.
? Take a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat
Omega-3 fats are precursors to mediators of inflammation called prostaglandins. (In fact, that is how anti-inflammatory painkillers work, by manipulating prostaglandins.) Good sources include wild caught Alaskan salmon, sardines and anchovies, which are all high in healthy omega-3s while being low in contaminants such as mercury. As for supplements, my favorite is krill oil, as it has a number of benefits superior to fish oil.
? Optimize your sun exposure and production of vitamin D
Optimize your vitamin D by getting regular, appropriate sun exposure, which will work through a variety of different mechanisms to reduce your pain. Sun exposure also has anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects that are unrelated to vitamin D production, and these benefits cannot be obtained from a vitamin D supplement.
Red, near-, mid- and far-infrared light therapy (photobiology) and/or infrared saunas may also be quite helpful as it promotes and speeds tissue healing, even deep inside the body.
? Medical cannabis
Medical marijuana has a long history as a natural analgesic and is now legal in 29 states including Washington, D.C. You can learn more about the laws in your state on medicalmarijuana.procon.org.34
Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is another plant remedy that has become a popular opioid substitute.35 In August 2016, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration issued a notice saying it was planning to ban kratom, listing it as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. However, following massive outrage from kratom users who say opioids are their only alternative, the agency reversed its decision.36
Kratom is likely safer than an opioid for someone in serious and chronic pain. However, it’s important to recognize that it is a psychoactive substance and should not be used carelessly. There’s very little research showing how to use it safely and effectively, and it may have a very different effect from one person to the next.
Also, while it may be useful for weaning people off opioids, kratom is in itself addictive. So, while it appears to be a far safer alternative to opioids, it’s still a powerful and potentially addictive substance. So please, do your own research before trying it.
? Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)
EFT is a drug-free approach for pain management of all kinds. EFT borrows from the principles of acupuncture in that it helps you balance out your subtle energy system. It helps resolve underlying, often subconscious, and negative emotions that may be exacerbating your physical pain. By stimulating (tapping) well-established acupuncture points with your fingertips, you rebalance your energy system, which tends to dissipate pain.
? Meditation and Mindfulness Training
Among volunteers who had never meditated before, those who attended four 20-minute classes to learn a meditation technique called focused attention (a form of mindfulness meditation) experienced significant pain relief — a 40 percent reduction in pain intensity and a 57 percent reduction in pain unpleasantness.37
Many studies have confirmed that chiropractic management is much safer and less expensive than allopathic medical treatments, especially when used for pain such as low back pain.
Qualified chiropractic, osteopathic and naturopathic physicians are reliable, as they have received extensive training in the management of musculoskeletal disorders during their course of graduate health care training, which lasts between four and six years. These health experts have comprehensive training in musculoskeletal management.
Research has discovered a “clear and robust” effect of acupuncture in the treatment of back, neck and shoulder pain, and osteoarthritis and headaches.
? Physical therapy
Physical therapyhas been shown to be as good as surgery for painful conditions such as torn cartilage and arthritis.
? Foundation Training
Foundation training is an innovative method developed by Dr. Eric Goodman to treat his own chronic low back pain. It’s an excellent alternative to painkillers and surgery, as it actually addresses the cause of the problem.
A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the journal Pain Medicine included 60 high-quality and seven low-quality studies that looked into the use of massage for various types of pain, including muscle and bone pain, headaches, deep internal pain, fibromyalgia pain and spinal cord pain.38
The review revealed massage therapy relieves pain better than getting no treatment at all. When compared to other pain treatments like acupuncture and physical therapy, massage therapy still proved beneficial and had few side effects. In addition to relieving pain, massage therapy also improved anxiety and health-related quality of life.
Astaxanthinis one of the most effective fat-soluble antioxidants known. It has very potent anti-inflammatory properties and in many cases works far more effectively than anti-inflammatory drugs. Higher doses are typically required and you may need 8 milligrams (mg) or more per day to achieve this benefit.
This herb has potent anti-inflammatory activity and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea or grated into vegetable juice.
In a study of osteoarthritis patients, those who added 200 mg of curcumin a day to their treatment plan had reduced pain and increased mobility. A past study also found that a turmeric extract composed of curcuminoids blocked inflammatory pathways, effectively preventing the overproduction of a protein that triggers swelling and pain.39
Also known as boswellin or “Indian frankincense,” this herb contains specific active anti-inflammatory ingredients.
This enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form but eating fresh pineapple, including some of the bromelain-rich stem, may also be helpful.
? Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO)
This oil, found in fish and dairy butter, acts as a joint lubricant and anti-inflammatory. I have used this for myself to relieve ganglion cysts and carpal tunnel syndrome. I used a topical preparation for this.
These contain the essential fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is particularly useful for treating arthritic pain.
? Cayenne Cream
Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting the body’s supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to your brain.
? Methods such as hot and cold packs, aquatic therapy, yoga, various mind-body techniques and cognitive behavioral therapy40 can also result in astonishing pain relief without drugs.
Walking barefoot on the earth may also provide a certain measure of pain relief by combating inflammation.
? Mind-Body Therapies
Methods such as hot and cold packs, aquatic therapy, yoga, various mind-body techniques and cognitive behavioral therapy41 can also result in astonishing pain relief without drugs.
Naltrexone is an opiate antagonist, originally developed in the early 1960s for the treatment of opioid addiction. When taken at very low doses (LDN, available only by prescription), it triggers endorphin production, which can boost your immune function and ease pain.
Iodine is essential to your health. Unfortunately, data collected by the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey has revealed a significant drop in median urine iodine values.1 The median iodine level measured in urine samples was 320 micrograms per liter (mcg/L) between 1971 and 1974. By 1988, it dropped to 145 mcg/L. Surveys taken in the years since show levels have stabilized, except in pregnant women whose median urine level dropped further to 125 mcg/L.
Many people don’t know they need to consume a little iodine each day to maintain healthy levels of this essential micronutrient. Your body uses iodine across several organ systems, but it is most commonly known to synthesize thyroid hormones that regulate nearly every bodily system. Several thyroid hormones secreted by your thyroid gland are transported throughout your body where they control your metabolism and energy production.2
This means that every cell in your body depends on the production and function of thyroid hormones. Your thyroid gland is under the control of your pituitary gland that is located at the base of your brain. In turn, the pituitary gland is under the control of your hypothalamus. In other words, there are several steps needed to identify low thyroid hormone levels and to tell your thyroid gland to begin secreting more.
A recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition3 evaluated the iodine levels of cow’s milk and milk alternatives in search of a potential reason for this growing iodine insufficiency.
Milk Substitutes Are Low in Iodine
Researchers from the University of Surrey evaluated the iodine content in 47 milk alternatives and compared those levels to cow’s milk. The researchers included almond, soy, coconut, rice and hazelnut milk alternatives, but excluded products marketed specifically for infant consumption.4 They discovered the majority of brands did not have adequate levels of iodine as compared to cow’s milk. Most contained only 2 percent of that found in cow’s milk.
Only three milk alternatives were fortified with iodine.5 This means that opting for a milk alternative may increase your risk of developing an iodine deficiency, as the milk alternatives tested only provided 2 mcg per serving,6 while 2 cups of cow’s milk will cover your recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of iodine.7
Statistically speaking, you may have difficulty absorbing milk products, which means you would have a negative reaction when you drink cow’s milk. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, approximately 65 percent of all people have difficulty digesting lactose after infancy.8 Lactose is the sugar found in cow’s milk. This intolerance or allergic reaction to the milk sugar is the reason some turn to milk alternatives. Margaret Rayman, professor of nutritional medicine at the University of Surrey, said:9
“Many people are unaware of the need for this vital dietary mineral and it is important that people who consume milk-alternative drinks realize that they will not be replacing the iodine from cows’ milk which is the main UK source of iodine. This is particularly important for pregnant women and those planning a pregnancy.
A glass of a milk-alternative drink would only provide around 2 mcg of iodine which is a very small proportion of the adult recommended iodine intake of 150 mcg/day. In pregnancy, that recommendation goes up to 200 mcg/day.”
Iodine: Essential Micronutrient
Iodine is an essential micronutrient that helps alkalize your body’s pH, provides your thyroid with the necessary nutrients to produce thyroid hormones, protects against cancer and is a natural antibacterial agent. In this short video, iodine expert Dr. Jorge Flechas explains how iodine affects your health well beyond your thyroid gland.
Your thyroid hormones are essential for normal growth and development in children, neurological development in babies before birth and in the first year of life, and in regulating your metabolism.10 Deficiency may be most damaging to the developing brain and could result in miscarriage, preterm birth or neurological impairment in a newborn.
Before moving forward, let’s clarify the difference between iodine and iodide. Iodine is the molecule that is taken up by cells in the body. However, iodine is not very available in food and supplements. Iodide, having greater stability, is the form typically found in supplements. In your body, the Iodide molecule is converted into Iodine, which is the active form needed by your thyroid gland.
The RDA is 150 micrograms (mcg) per day for adults, 220 mcg/day for pregnant women and 290 mcg/day for women who are breast-feeding.11 However, as evidenced by dropping levels of median urine levels, most adults are not consuming enough iodine each day to meet the minimum levels required for health.
The American Thyroid Association (ATA) defined iodine deficiency in large populations as urine levels of 50 mcg/L or less.12 These low levels of iodine would likely result in visible symptoms, such as a goiter (swelling of the thyroid gland), hypothyroidism or pregnancy-related problems. More insidious are problems with subclinical deficiency, or levels that can’t support optimal health but are not low enough to create immediate life-threatening problems.
Your Risks of Subclinical Iodine Deficiency
Risks of subclinical iodine deficiency are not limited to pregnancy and infant neurological development or weight gain. Nearly 2 billion people worldwide don’t get enough iodine in their diet, and 50 million suffer from brain damage caused by the deficiency.13 This may very well be the most preventable cause of brain damage in infants and children, and yet 36.5 percent of children are estimated to have an iodine deficiency.14
Even a small deficiency in an adult’s iodine level may reduce your IQ by up to 15 points,15 which may affect your ability to get a job and keep it. Subclinical iodine deficiency is also known as iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) that are subtler than a goiter and may be more dangerous.
Iodine helps prevent oxidative stress that may lead to chronic diseases, such as diabetes, atherosclerosis and arthritis.16 When your thyroid is not fully functional it can also lead to heart disease. Other tissues in your body also use iodine in appreciable amounts, including:
Low levels of iodine may lead to dry mouth
Your body uses iodine in the development of skin, teeth, nails and bone. Low levels of iodine may lead to acne17
Iodine is an antioxidant that naturally protects your eyes against ultraviolet radiation18
Iodine is a scavenger of free hydroxyl radicals and stimulates the activity of other antioxidants19
Iodine deficiency may lead to pain, fibromyalgia and muscle weakness20
Radioactive iodine therapy is a common therapy in thyroid cancer. Studies demonstrate the radioactive iodine is also absorbed by the pancreas and predisposes you to glucose intolerance21
Iodine is used by the cells lining your stomach to concentrate chloride to produce hydrochloric acid used in digestion of your food22
Iodine Protects You Against Cancer
Iodine functions in a protective role against the growth of cancer cells. Although the exact mechanism is unknown, researchers have found that cancer cells shrink after injection with iodine and some die and are then replaced with healthy cells.23 Iodine is also involved in apoptosis, or programmed cell death necessary for the development of new cells and removal of malignant or diseased cells.
The incidence of thyroid cancer has increased worldwide, driven in part by better screening that may pick up small benign tumors, which otherwise would not have caused a medical problem. However, this has also coincided in the U.S. with a reduction of iodine intake.24 Some studies have suggested that prophylactic iodine in deficient populations may reduce the diagnosis of more aggressive forms of thyroid cancer.
Iodine is also vital to breast health in women who are breast-feeding and in older women. A deficiency may lead to fibrocystic disease or breast cancer.25 Human breast tissue and breast milk contain higher concentrations of iodine than your thyroid gland, as iodine is essential to the development of a newborn’s brain.
However, it also plays an important role in the health of the breast tissue as it exerts a powerful antioxidant effect. Breast tissue deficient in iodine has elevated markers of lipid peroxidation, one of the early signs of cancer development.26
Breast tissue that is iodine-deficient also demonstrates increases in estrogen receptor proteins and alterations in DNA.27 When a woman’s iodine levels are low it stimulates the ovaries to produce more estrogen, which stimulates growth in breast tissue. Iodine also helps regulate cortisol, which is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer.28 When you compare Japanese and Western diets against the incidence of cancers, these differences become even more apparent.
Breast cancer rates for women living in Japan and eating a diet high in iodine are 66 percent lower than for American women.29 However, once a Japanese woman moves to the U.S., her breast cancer rate rises to the level of American women.30 Cells that line your stomach also capitalize on the antioxidant effects of iodine.
Those living in iodine-deficient populations have a higher incidence of goiters and stomach cancers.31 In recent research an increase in iodine intake has been strongly correlated with a reduction in the incidence of stomach cancer.32
Iodine Deficiency Affects More Women Than Men
Women are much more likely to develop symptoms of hypothyroidism.33 Edward Toromanyan, chief endocrinologist of the Ministry of Health of Armenia, notes,34 “According to different research, women are having problems with thyroid gland three to 10 times more than men. This also applies to toxic goiter and insufficiency of thyroid hormones.”
In the U.S., hypothyroidism disproportionately affects women more than men, likely because the female hormone estrogen inhibits the absorption of iodine, while testosterone may promote the absorption of iodine.35 Therefore, what little iodine you consume from your diet is absorbed and used differently based on your gender.
According to Flechas, hypothyroidism is associated with 80 to 90 percent free estrogen levels. This means the lack of iodine increases free estrogen levels that stimulate growth in breast tissue. The normal value of free estrogen is 40 to 60 percent. On the other hand, hyperthyroidism is associated with only 20 percent free estrogen. The interplay of estrogen, thyroid hormone and iodine is a complex mechanism and increases a woman’s risk of iodine deficiency.
Chemicals in Your Environment Also Block Iodine Absorption
While women have a greater incidence of iodine deficiency related to their hormone production, everyone experiences poor absorption and utilization related to environmental contamination. Some contaminants that compete with iodine include:
Fluoride is a halogen that has an atomic weight lighter than iodine and can grab receptor sites more easily, thus taking the place of iodine resulting in a deficiency in your thyroid, stomach cells, ovaries and other organs.
Iodine used to be used in processing flour. However, manufacturers have replaced it with bromide, another halogen with a lower atomic weight than iodine.36 This switch effectively reduced your consumption of iodine and injected an element that competes with iodine in your body.
This is a contaminant found in the groundwater across the U.S. and in measurable amounts in milk, fruit and vegetables.37 In high doses, perchlorate may inhibit the function of your thyroid gland, but even in low doses, it inhibits the uptake of iodine by your thyroid gland, leading to hypothyroidism.38
This may interfere with the uptake of iodine in your thyroid.39 Avoid added nitrates you find in processed meats, such as lunch meat, sausage, bacon, hot dogs and some packaged seafood.40
There is evidence that iodine may help detoxify your body of toxic mercury,41 found in fish, dental amalgams and consumer products such as antiques, electronics, batteries, light bulbs and pharmaceutical products.42
Before the 1920s, the Great Lakes, Appalachians and Northwestern regions of the U.S. were known as the “goiter belt,” as 26 to 70 percent of children suffered from goiter.43 An iodine prophylaxis program was begun in Ohio in 1917 with over 2,100 school girls. In the following years, the researchers found a significantly decreased frequency of goiter in the girls who received the iodine supplement over those who did not.
It wasn’t until 1924, after a successful iodination program in Switzerland and spurred by a series of reports, that table salt was fortified with iodine. However, recent research has found varying degrees of iodine in salt labeled iodized, and 53 percent of the samples had much less iodine than was listed on the label.44 Experts believe the declining levels of iodine in the U.S. population may be the result of several factors, including:
Eating less salt in the mistaken belief it is bad for your heart
Consuming more dairy substitutes low in iodine, such as almond, hazelnut or hemp milk
Snacking on junk foods that are not salted with iodized salt
Eating foods grown in iodine-depleted soil
Drinking less dairy, which is often a primary source of iodine
Eating little to no iodine-rich sea plants, such as kelp
Foods that contain higher amounts of iodine include sea vegetables, such as kelp, kombu and wakame.45 Kelp has the highest amount of any food and just one servings gives you four times the RDA. You can read more about the restorative benefits of kelp in my previous article, “Kelp or Kale: Is Seaweed a Superfood?“
Organic, grass fed butter is another source of iodine and healthy fats in your diet. Grass fed butter is also high in vitamins, glycosphingolipids and conjugated linoleic acids that are important to support your overall health. You can read more about the benefits of grass fed butter in my article, “Butter: This Vilified Daily Food Slashes Heart Attack Risk in Half.”
Refined sugar was not consumed on a daily basis until the past 100 years. Before that, it was a treat afforded only by the very rich as sugar cane was a difficult crop to grow. In the past 100 years, rates of obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and numerous other chronic diseases have skyrocketed.
When sugar and tobacco were introduced by Native Americans to Europeans as they began to settle America, the average life span was relatively short.1 This meant health consequences from sugar and tobacco were easily buried in the myriad of other life challenges the early settlers faced.
As early as the 1920s, research documented the damage sugar does to your body. To this day, tobacco continues to be a leading a cause of premature death.2 Unfortunately, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) call tobacco the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., that title may well belong to sugar. Yet people who would never consider smoking may have little concern over the amount of sugar and starch eaten each day.
From a nutritional standpoint, your body does not need refined sugar. Although you need glucose, your body manufactures the glucose it needs in your liver through a process called gluconeogenesis. If you never ate another morsel of candy, sugar or starch again, you would live quite comfortably and likely in far better health.
Sugar Feeds the Growth of Cancer Cells
Recent research reported in this short news video demonstrates that the amount of sugar you eat each day should be an important consideration in your nutritional plan. In 1926, German biochemist Otto Warburg observed cancer cells fermented glucose to lactic acid, even in the presence of oxygen (known as the Warburg effect), and theorized it might be the fundamental cause of cancer.3 This led to the idea that tumor growth could be disturbed by cutting off the energy supply, namely sugar.
For decades, scientists and researchers dismissed the idea, and the sugar industry backed them up. Warburg received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1931 for his work in cellular respiration and energy production. His life’s mission was to find a cure for cancer, but his findings were largely ignored by the conventional medical community as they were considered simplistic and didn’t fit the genetic model of disease that was widely accepted.
Recent research from Belgium4 shows there is indeed a strong link between glucose overstimulation and mutated proteins often found inside human tumor cells, which make the cells grow faster.5 The study began in 2008, triggered by the researchers’ desire to gain a greater understanding of the Warburg effect.
The rapid breakdown of glucose in tumor cells is not seen in healthy cells, making glucose the primary energy source for cancer. Researcher Johan Thevelein, Ph.D., a molecular biologist from LU Leuven in Belgium, commented on the results of the study in a press release, saying:6
“Our research reveals how the hyperactive sugar consumption of cancerous cells leads to a vicious cycle of continued stimulation of cancer development and growth. Thus, it is able to explain the correlation between the strength of the Warburg effect and tumor aggressiveness.
This link between sugar and cancer has sweeping consequences. Our results provide a foundation for future research in this domain, which can now be performed with a much more precise and relevant focus.”
Cell Mutation Not Limited to Sugar Consumption
They’re quick to point out that while they believe the presence of added sugar in your diet may increase the aggressive growth of cancer cells, their research does not prove it triggers the original mutation.7 That said, previous research has shown that the genetic mutations found in cancer cells are actually a downstream effect caused by mitochondrial dysfunction, not the original cause, and excessive sugar consumption is one of the things that triggers mitochondrial dysfunction. I’ll discuss this more in a section below.
Granted, there are thousands of manufactured chemicals in your home, car and workplace that may cause or contribute to cell mutations. Air pollution, personal care products, plastics and chemical treatments often contain chemicals with carcinogenic properties, and such exposures also play a role.
The mutation of a cell, fed by your daily sugar habit, may grow into cancer. Cell mutation from sugar consumption occurs after mitochondrial damage. However, sugar also provides nutrition to cells mutated by contaminant exposure, and is required for these mutated cells to grow and multiply. As such, your sugar intake becomes an important factor, and one that you have a great deal of control over.
Normally, energy is drawn from glucose through a process of oxidation that requires the presence of oxygen.8 But, cancer cells use a process of fermentation, even when oxygen is present, to create energy. The process, called glycolysis, extracts less energy during the process, but requires less energy and fewer steps to get energy from glucose.
This means that even in the absence of oxygen, tumor cells can extract energy from glucose molecules. Rapid cell division of cancer cells to fuel growth requires the presence of a lot of sugar. Warburg believed a defect in the mitochondria of cancer cells allows the cells to use glycolysis to fuel growth, which suggests cancer is actually a metabolic disease that is affected by your diet.
Research Supports Cancer Is a Metabolic Disease
In the U.S. an estimated 600,000 people will die from cancer this year, costing over $125 billion in health care expenses.9 The World Health Organization finds cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide, responsible for nearly 8.8 million deaths in 2015.10 Imagine if that many people were dying each year from the flu or polio. This would be headline news each day. Have we become so used to the idea of cancer that 1.6 million new cases every year in the U.S. is old news?
Conventional cancer treatment focuses on surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. However, many of these treatments have only been successful at lengthening lives by months and not in curing the disease. The basis for these treatments is that cancer is a genetic problem and not one triggered and fed by mitochondrial dysfunction. As a result, the nutritional link is typically overlooked.
The featured study exposes the flaw in using only pharmaceutical, surgical and radiation treatments on tumors and other cancer growths. Warburg postulated that by cutting off the food supply cancer cells rely on for survival, you effectively starve them.
Research has also shown that genetic mutations are not the trigger for cancer growths but rather a downstream effect resulting from defective energy metabolism in cell mitochondria. This defective energy metabolism changes the way your cells function and promotes the growth of cancer cells.
In other words, if your mitochondria remain healthy, your risk of developing cancer is slim. Thomas Seyfried, Ph.D., author of “Cancer as a Metabolic Disease: On the Origin, Management and Treatment of Cancer,” has received many awards and honors through his long and illustrious career for the work he’s done expanding knowledge of how metabolism affects cancer.
He is one of the pioneers in the application of nutritional ketosis for cancer. While in nutritional ketosis, your body burns fat for fuel instead of starches and carbohydrates. By eating a healthy high-fat, low-carbohydrate and low- to moderate-protein diet, your body begins to burn fat as its primary fuel. Research from Ohio State University demonstrates athletes who eat a ketogenic diet experience significant improvements in their health and performance.11
Nutritional ketosis is also showing great promise in the treatment of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease,12 Type 2 diabetes13 and seizures14 that are unresponsive to medications. This recent research from Belgium confirms the work Warburg, Seyfried and others have done, and supports the hypothesis that cancer is a metabolically-based disease and not a genetic problem.
Chemotherapy May Not Be the Answer
Traditional administration of chemotherapy may increase your risk of metastasis (the spread of cancer cells through your body) and may trigger additional tumor growth. Chemotherapy is sometimes recommended prior to surgery to help shrink the size of the tumor, increasing the likelihood a woman could have a lumpectomy instead of a full mastectomy.
Recent research reveals that giving chemotherapy prior to breast cancer surgery may promote metastasis of the disease, allowing it to spread to other areas of your body.15 This greatly increases the risk of dying. The study found that mice had twice the amount of cancer cells in their blood and lungs after treatment with chemotherapy. The researchers also found similar results in 20 human patients whose tumor microenvironments became more favorable to metastasis after chemotherapy.
Other studies in men with prostate cancer have demonstrated chemotherapy may cause DNA damage in healthy cells that boosts tumor growth and helps the cancer cells resist treatment.16 Research continues to reveal the effect chemotherapy has on your body and the devastating effect it has on healthy cells. At least as far back as 2004, researchers have known that “chemotherapy only makes a minor contribution to cancer survival.”17
Your Healthiest Choice Is to Avoid Sugar
Sugar is a primary factor driving the development of a number of different health conditions and chronic diseases. Sugar contributes to several of the leading causes of death in the U.S., including:18
While all forms of sugar are harmful when consumed in excess, processed fructose — the most commonly found sugar in processed foods — appears to be the worst. Manufacturers use the addictive property of sugar to drive sales, and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) allows them to achieve their goals at a lower price. Although it tastes like sugar, HFCS gives your body a bigger sugar jolt. Dr. Yulia Johnson, family medicine physician with The Iowa Clinic, comments on the use of HFCS:20
“Your body processes high fructose corn syrup differently than it does ordinary sugar. The burden falls on your liver, which is not capable of keeping up with how quickly corn syrup breaks down. As a result, blood sugar spikes quicker. It’s stored as fat, so you can become obese and develop other health problems, such as diabetes, much faster.”
It stands to reason that if you want to live a healthier life and reduce your health care costs and your risk for cancer, you’d be wise to avoid refined sugar as much as possible, if not eliminate it from your diet entirely.
If you do pick up packaged foods, read the labels carefully so you can make an informed decision about the sugar you’re adding to your diet. Sugars may masquerade under several different names on food labels. Some of the more common names are listed below, but there are more than are listed here.
Labels list ingredients in order of the amount in the product. In other words, there is more of the first ingredient than the second, and so forth. When evaluating sugar, remember if it is listed in the fourth, sixth and ninth positions, the combined total may put it in the first or second position.21
It’s that magical time of night when we turn off the lights, tuck ourselves in, and prepare for a restful slumber. But wait — what’s that flashing light? Oh, it’s an email notification on your phone and you can’t avoid it because it’s visible even through your closed lids. Did you know that every light on in your bedroom affects your sleep? Even a light outside creeping through your window can disrupt your sleep cycle. Let me explain.
At night, particularly between the hours of 11 p.m. and 3 a.m., our brains produce a chemical called melatonin, also known as the sleep hormone. (You may have seen this being sold as a natural sleep aid at your local drug store.) The problem is, even the slightest ray of artificial light can disrupt its release. Now, think about all the things that light up in your room — your computer, chargers, cell phones, tablet, alarm clock, nightlight, the hall light outside your door, and yes, even your beautiful Himalayan salt lamp — all disrupt your body’s melatonin production.
Let’s Take It Back to the Stone Age
Long before your or my time, or the time of our parents and grandparents, for that matter, humans were only exposed to a few kinds of light: light from the sun during the day and light from the moon and stars, or campfires, at night. These regulated our circadian rhythm, and this binary pattern of day followed by night was all we knew. Naturally, our biological programming adjusted to this reality.
Comparing Light Sources
As you can see, there is a considerable difference between the light given off by the sun and the light reflected by the moon, even when it’s full. The issue here is, virtually all sources of artificial light give off more illuminance (LAN) than moonlight, and we use these most often when the sun goes down and our bodies should be being exposed to less light, not more. What’s more, we aren’t exposed to the light from the moon unless we are outside, which is less likely to happen once the sun goes down.
Melatonin does a lot more for us than just help us sleep. Produced in the pineal gland, when released appropriately it helps to lower blood pressure, glucose levels, and body temperature, all key components of a restful night’s sleep.
Can Total Darkness Help Us Spiritually?
The pineal glad is also known as “the seat of the soul,” and many believe it to be the gateway to the afterlife, connecting us to our spirit and other realms outside of this dimension. While we dream it also emits a chemical compound, which also happens to be the most potent psychedelic substance known to man, called dimethyl-tryptamine. Many believe our pineal glands have been polluted by exposure to various environmental contaminants and that an effective way to cleanse it is to expose it to max sunlight and total darkness.
Is Light a Drug?
Neuroscientist George Brainard thinks so, claiming “Light works as if it’s a drug, except it’s not a drug at all.”
LAN unnaturally raises cortisol levels, and if you know anything about cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, then you know it does a lot of harm. It can lead to inflammation, insulin resistance, and excess body fat, and can contribute to sleep debt, which affects your mood, productivity, hunger, and focus during the day.
Is There a Simple Solution?
There is, sort of. You can start by eliminating all sources of artificial lighting from your room at night, and covering those you can’t remove, such as your alarm clock. If you live in a city with streetlights, then you may also want to consider purchasing some blackout curtains. If this not an option, consider buying an eye mask instead.
Simple enough so far, but there’s more. Returning to our ancestral sleeping habits for a moment, we know prehistoric people went to sleep when the sun went down and woke up when the sun rose. Our modern sleeping habits, by contrast, ignore the natural rhythms of the Earth and our bodies, thanks to the wonders of artificial light and the increased productivity it afforded us. We are up late, sleeping in well past sunlight, and sitting in bright artificial light once the sun goes down. It is important that we limit this behaviour as much as possible, however, because studies have shown that exposure to room light alone before bedtime shortens the production of melatonin by about 90 minutes compared to dim light exposure. In addition, exposure to room light during usual hours of sleep suppresses melatonin levels by more than 50%.
If you can avoid using technology for two hours before bed (a difficult task, I know), you will have an easier time falling asleep. During this time you could read a book by candlelight, have a bath, journal — anything that doesn’t rely on artificial light. You may also want to consider adding a bluelight filter to your devices, as this type of light in particular delays melatonin release.
Have you tried sleeping in total darkness? What benefits have you noticed?
“1. Biological Warfare Reminiscent of Monsanto… We’ve all heard of the chemical warfare being waged by Monsanto that’s left crops decimated, but many years ago, the CIA was already engaged in the practice. Described as “agricultural sabotage”, the agency plotted methods of terrorizing Cuba by “producing crop failures by the introduction of biological agents which would appear to be of natural origin.”
“2. CIA Hitlists… Governments aren’t supposed to be creating and actualizing hitlists, yet that’s essentially what the CIA did, according to the new files: “Leaflets will be designed to indicate phases. “For example, the first leaflets will contain only names of communist leaders; the next leaflets will revise the names by job; i.e. cell leader, informer, party members, etc.; any of the above or subsequent leaflets will announce the amount of the reward, how and where it may be collected. “One final leaflet may be deemed advisable and that one announcing a .02c reward for the delivery of Castro.”
“3. CIA Colluded With the Mafia… In what should earn it the new title “Criminal Intelligence Agency,” the CIA also appears to have colluded with the mafia to get Fidel Castro killed. The first page of the archived files reveals two important documents referencing “plans involved a number of bizarre schemes and, in at least one instance, involved some contact with organized criminal elements.”
“4. CIA’s Mind Control for “Influencing Human Behavior”… MK ULTRA is nothing new to conspiracy circles, but the JFK files make direct reference to the CIA’s use of what sound like mind control techniques. In a document titled “Commission on CIA Activities Within the Unites States,” there is a direct admission to the “involvement in research on techniques for influencing human behavior and on methods of protecting Agency personnel against hostile use of drugs or ‘brain working’ techniques.” Other references to “testing of equipment measuring physiological responses in human subjects” make the implications much more sinister.
“5. CIA’s Operation Mockingbird Hijacked The Media… As reported by The Free Thought Project: “However, in two separate documents within the JFK files, the CIA admits to the program and a Congressman confirms that he is worried about their influence”…”
Although decades of independent research — in spite of endless government gag orders — revealed a litany of information about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the newly-released “JFK Files” have nonetheless brought some damning facts to light.
And beneath the spotlight is — you guessed it — the Central Intelligence Agency, implicated in executing mind control operations, colluding with the mafia, assassinations, and outright terrorism.
The 2,800 files still require much combing over, but independent researchers have already discovered plenty, including the following 5 damning revelations.
1. Biological Warfare Reminiscent of Monsanto
We’ve all heard of the chemical warfare being waged by Monsanto that’s left crops decimated, but many years ago, the CIA was already engaged in the practice.
Described as “agricultural sabotage”, the agency plotted methods of terrorizing Cuba by “producing crop failures by the introduction of biological agents which would appear to be of natural origin.”
Called “Operation Mongoose,” the intention was to inhibit food supplies, an effort that could have left countless Cubans in famished.
The documents even describe a willingness to create a widespread chemical outbreak, insofar as “they could be completely covered up.”
2. CIA Hitlists
Governments aren’t supposed to be creating and actualizing hitlists, yet that’s essentially what the CIA did, according to the new files:
“Leaflets will be designed to indicate phases.
“For example, the first leaflets will contain only names of communist leaders; the next leaflets will revise the names by job; i.e. cell leader, informer, party members, etc.; any of the above or subsequent leaflets will announce the amount of the reward, how and where it may be collected.
“One final leaflet may be deemed advisable and that one announcing a .02c reward for the delivery of Castro.”
The “hitlists” acted like bounties, giving financial incentives to locals to rat out others—a tactic employed by the US in Afghanistan.
3. CIA Colluded With the Mafia
In what should earn it the new title “Criminal Intelligence Agency,” the CIA also appears to have colluded with the mafia to get Fidel Castro killed.
The first page of the archived files reveals two important documents referencing “plans involved a number of bizarre schemes and, in at least one instance, involved some contact with organized criminal elements.”
Of the contacts, one of them was the infamous Chicago mob boss Mooney Sam, aka Salvatore Giancana:
4. CIA’s Mind Control for “Influencing Human Behavior”
MK ULTRA is nothing new to conspiracy circles, but the JFK files make direct reference to the CIA’s use of what sound like mind control techniques.
In a document titled “Commission on CIA Activities Within the Unites States,” there is a direct admission to the “involvement in research on techniques for influencing human behavior and on methods of protecting Agency personnel against hostile use of drugs or ‘brain working’ techniques.”
Other references to “testing of equipment measuring physiological responses in human subjects” make the implications much more sinister.
“However, in two separate documents within the JFK files, the CIA admits to the program and a Congressman confirms that he is worried about their influence”:
“In regard to what Congressman Walter E. Fauntroy was talking about at that time, the above-mentioned document, titled Commission on CIA Activities within the United States, may provide that answer — Operation Mockingbird:”