Pope Accepts Embattled DC Cardinal’s Resignation

Abuse survivors angry over Pope’s praise for fallen cardinal

By Daniel Burke | 12 October 2018

CNN — Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the embattled archbishop of Washington. But the Pope’s high praise for Wuerl in the wake of two clergy sexual abuse scandals angered some abuse survivors.

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the embattled archbishop of Washington and one of the church’s most powerful Americans. But the Pope’s high praise for Wuerl in the wake of two clergy sexual abuse scandals angered some abuse survivors.

Wuerl is the most prominent American Catholic to step down since the abuse scandal reignited this summer.

But Francis has asked Wuerl to remain as the archdiocese’s apostolic administrator — akin to an interim manager — until a successor is named. And in a letter released Friday, the pope praised Wuerl for his “nobility” in handling the criticism against him.

The Pope wrote that Wuerl has “sufficient elements to ‘justify’” his actions “and distinguish between what it means to cover up crimes or not to deal with problems, and to commit some mistakes.”

“However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defense. Of this, I am proud and thank you,” the pope wrote.
Significantly, while Wuerl is resigning as archbishop of Washington, he will remain a cardinal. He is still part of the powerful College of Cardinals and is one of only 10 American cardinals who could choose the next Pope. […]

Electronic Cigarette Maker Juul Gets Raided

Electronic cigarettes go by several different names. While the most common name has been e-cigarettes, the brand name Juul not only has taken over the market, but also has become a commonly used verb.1 E-cigarettes or vaping devices heat a liquid solution to a temperature high enough it produces vapor.

The liquid typically contains nicotine and a variety of different flavors. Although some of the flavors have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for oral consumption, they have not been for inhalation.2 The lack of approval is based on a lack of research into the safety of the compounds once they reach your lung tissue.

The design of the product may resemble a regular cigarette, cigar, pen or a USB flash drive. The most recent designs have a sleek, high-tech appearance and are easily recharged, sometimes on your computer. The most recent device, Juul, appeared in 2016 and has been the leading e-cigarette product since early 2018.

As you might expect, other companies wanting to take advantage of this meteoric rise in popularity have created similar products to follow Juul’s high-tech look and high nicotine delivery.3 However, while skyrocketing sales have been financially profitable for the company, it may come at the price of health.

Government Agency Seized Thousands of Document Pages During Surprise Inspection

Across the country, parents and regulators have been wrestling with the growing problem of teenage e-cigarette use. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey went public with her concerns that teenagers are the target of Juul e-cigarette advertising and focused her investigation on whether the California-based company adequately monitors its website to prevent minors from accessing products.4

The FDA launched what they called the5 “largest coordinated enforcement effort in FDA’s history” against 1,300 retailers who illegally sold Juul and other e-cigarette products. They announced they intend to hold retailers accountable for continued violations and will take steps to work with manufacturers directly to hold them accountable as well.

An official request for information was sent directly to Juul Labs regarding their product marketing, research on the health, toxicological, behavioral or physiological effects of the products, and youth-related adverse events.6

Weeks after the FDA requested manufacturers submit plans on how they will reduce use of their products in young people, the agency conducted a surprise inspection of Juul’s corporate headquarters, seizing thousands of documents, many related to sales and marketing practices.

The FDA stated it was part of their7 “ongoing efforts to prevent youth use of tobacco products, particularly e-cigarettes.” FDA spokesperson Michael Felberbaum wrote in an email to CNN:8

“The new and highly disturbing data we have on youth use demonstrates plainly that e-cigarettes are creating an epidemic of regular nicotine use among teens. It is vital that we take action to understand and address the particular appeal of, and ease of access to, these products among kids.”

Despite Advertising and Youth-Based Flavors, Juul Claims They Don’t Target Teens

The FDA also is considering banning several flavored liquids9 as they make it easier for teens to get hooked on nicotine. Flavors Hook Kids10 describes the process as masking the taste of any harsh chemicals and tobacco. Flavors also have an emotional link, which is triggering the development of a terrifyingly high number of flavors.

While Juul has a limited number of flavors available in their vape products, there are over 15,000 tobacco and vape flavors available, customized to pique the curiosity of teens and adults. Juul Labs made a statement following the FDA seizure, saying it was:11

“… committed to preventing underage use and we want to engage with FDA, lawmakers, public health advocates and others to keep Juul out of the hands of young people.”

Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found advertising aimed at youth for e-cigarettes continue to increase in retail stores, on the internet and in television advertising.12

Interestingly, some full-page advertising run in newspapers contains one of the oldest reverse psychology devices in the tobacco industry’s playbook — advertising warning the product contains an addictive chemical and is for adult smokers only.13

According to preliminary data from the CDC annual National Youth Tobacco Survey, the number of students who have used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days rose by 75 percent since their last report in 2016. This means nearly 20 percent of high school students are using e-cigarettes today, as compared to 11.7 percent from their last survey.14

In a survey from Truth Initiative, a nonprofit tobacco control organization, researchers found 63 percent of teens using the product did not know it contained nicotine.15

The New Nicotine Is a Chemical Disaster in the Making

Juul represents their product as the16 “most genuine alternative to smoking cigarettes.” Statements also appear to support the switch to vapor and not quitting completely when they say, “adult smokers interested in switching from cigarettes should be offered high-quality alternatives that satisfy them because satisfaction is a key component to supporting their switch to vapor.”

These goals resulted in the production of patented JuulSalts delivering a nicotine hit much more like smoking a cigarette than any other e-cigarette product.17 The breakthrough occurred when Juul began using benzoic acid to freebase nicotine salts for rapid nicotine delivery.

Since the 1960s, cigarette companies have freebased nicotine using ammonia, which can be very irritating to the chest and lungs. However freebased nicotine from JuulSalts are not as irritating and are readily absorbed into the lungs and brain.

Juul has one of the highest nicotine content of any e-cigarette sold in the U.S.18 As one addiction expert explained,19 “The modern cigarette does to nicotine what crack does to cocaine.”

Juul Has Over 50 Percent of the E-Cigarette Market Share

A combination of the high-tech sleek design and increased nicotine hit with high addiction rate has resulted in a meteoric rise in sales. According to Nielsen data, just two years after the launch of the company, Juul garnered more than half of the e-cigarette retail market sales in the U.S.20 

As there are hundreds of other devices available to consumers, this market share is staggering. According to Meg Kenny, assistant head of school at Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, Vermont,21 “Ninety-five percent of the disciplinary infractions we deal with in the fall and continue to deal with into the spring are all connected to the Juul.” Corinne Graffunder, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, said:22

“There are no redeeming benefits of e-cigarettes for young people. The use of certain USB-shaped e-cigarettes is especially dangerous among youth because these products contain extremely high levels of nicotine, which can harm the developing adolescent brain.”

Early Nicotine Use Increases Risk of Addictive Behavior Throughout Life

The 2016 Surgeon General’s report23 showed a 900 percent increase in use of e-cigarettes between 2011 and 2015. Several studies have supported the hypothesis e-cigarettes are a gateway habit, leading teens from vaping to smoking traditional combustible cigarettes, hookah and cigars.24,25,26

In other studies using animal models, researchers discovered rats exposed to nicotine during adolescence grew into adulthood with a greater potential to exhibit addictive behavior.27 Exposure to nicotine during adolescence results in long-term changes in the midbrain reward center that may also be a gateway to other addictive drugs, such as cocaine, heroin and morphine.28

Nicotine administration during adulthood in animal models did not alter the function of the inhibitory midbrain circuitry in the same way it did with exposure during adolescence.29 Vapor from e-cigarettes also contains acetaldehyde and formaldehyde, and the FDA has detected antifreeze chemicals linked to cancer in e-cigarettes.30

Despite lower levels of nicotine pollution from e-cigarettes, researchers have found bystanders have similar levels of cotinine, a measure of the amount of nicotine taken into the body, as those who are exposed to traditional combustible secondhand cigarette smoke.31

A Growing Market for Illegal Sales

As Juul attempts to protect sales of their products from the website to underage consumers, a black market business has grown in the teen population. According to a high school sophomore from Houston,32 if you deal the e-cigarettes you can make a lot of money.

She described the types of dealers in her school, some of whom sold pods or devices, or who would bootleg refills if you wanted a different flavor or THC oil. Another student reported:33

“Dealers will announce on Snapchat that they’ve bought a hundred of them, and they’ll write the price, the date and the meeting place for kids to show up with cash.”

One college student argues the Juul represents his generation’s “tech-savvy ingenuity when it comes to making bad decisions.” He described his experience when he first tried Juul in 2016, saying:34

“Someone pulls one out at a party, and naturally the question is ‘Can I try it?,’ and then after ‘Can I try it?’ five or six times you end up buying your own, and, soon enough, you’re breathing in more Juul than air.”

Dr. Jonathan Winickoff, former chair of the American Academy of Pediatric Tobacco Consortium, trying to end youth smoking, commented:35

“Let’s be clear. Juul is already a massive public health disaster — and without dramatic action it’s going to get much, much, much worse. If you were to design your ideal nicotine-delivery device to addict large numbers of United States kids, you’d invent Juul.

It’s absolutely unconscionable. The earlier these companies introduce the product to the developing brain, the better the chance they have a lifelong user.”

Juul Complains Copycat Products Cut Into Profit Margins

Despite garnering over 50 percent of the market, Juul Labs has filed a patent infringement complaint in the U.S. and Europe against what they believe are copycat products.36 Their complaint with the International Trade Commission (ITC) named 18 companies, many of them based in the U.S. or China, claiming development and sale of products based on Juul’s patented technology.

They request the ITC prevent the products’ importation and sale into the U.S. The copycats are basing their marketing strategy on the sale of lower-priced products.

Juul products have become a ubiquitous presence in high schools in America in more affluent ZIP codes. In recent decades, the same areas have seen a decline in smoking combustible cigarettes. In part, this may be attributed to price. The Juul retails for $34.99 and a four-pack of pods cost $15.99 (or about $4 a pod).37 Combustible cigarettes, on the other hand, range from over $5 a pack in Missouri and Virginia to nearly $13 a pack in New York.38

While Juul’s complaint against copycat products focuses on its desire to “protect consumers and prevent underage use,” it is more likely driven by the company’s perceived loss of market share. Kevin Burns, Juul’s chief executive officer, stated:39 “The rapid proliferation of products infringing on our intellectual property continues to increase as our market share grows.”

Whatever the Delivery Method, Nicotine Is Addictive

While most advocates of e-cigarettes claim they are best used to help smokers quit, the delivery of nicotine is always addictive. Studies have demonstrated the health dangers with nicotine maybe slightly different in e-cigarettes, but are no less dangerous than smoking combustible tobacco.

Nicotine is one of the oldest botanical insecticides40 and a powerful poison linked to a number of different health conditions.41 Evidence suggests nicotine adversely affects your cardiovascular, respiratory, renal and reproductive systems.42

Damage to your heart and vascular cells triggers an inflammatory response that may lead to atherosclerosis and promotes tumors by affecting cell proliferation, increasing resistance to chemotherapeutic agents.

I believe the “secret” to quitting smoking is to get healthy first, making quitting mentally and physically easier. Exercise is an important part of this plan, as research shows people who engage in regular strength training double their success rate at quitting smoking compared to those who don’t exercise. Healthy eating is another crucial factor to improve your health and strengthen your ability to quit.

Is Wireless Charging Safe?

The Apple iPhone turns 10 this year, and in those short 10 years lives have been significantly changed by smartphones. According to Pew Research Center,1 nearly 77 percent of U.S. adults now own a smartphone, up from 35 percent in 2011. This makes the smartphone one of the most quickly embraced consumer technologies in history.

Interestingly, while smartphone ownership is more common among youth and those who are more affluent, rates are rising rapidly among older and lower-income Americans as well. When mobile devices were first released they were used for calling and texting. Today, Americans use their phones for a number of nontraditional activities, such as looking for a job, reading a book or getting GPS directions.2

In response to this growing desire to stay connected, mobile Industries are designing more ways to keep your phone charged. Last year Apple announced the introduction of multiple-device wireless charging for their products in a never-ending quest for convenience.

One year later the pads have yet to ship, ostensibly due to a problem with overheating that has yet to be solved.3 Although this issue is problematic for Apple, wireless chargers and the future of Wi-Fi charging may create great obstacles in your desire for optimal health.4

How Does Wireless Charging Work?

Wireless charging, also known as inductive charging, uses an electromagnetic field (EMF) to transfer energy between two objects. This is accomplished using a charging station that sends energy through inductive coupling to an electrical device that can use the energy to charge the batteries or run the device.5

While there has been a burst of excitement about wireless charging for mobile devices, the technology actually existed in the late 1800s. It was invented by Nikola Tesla who originally worked with Thomas Edison on DC-based electricity.

Unsuccessful in his pursuit of improvements to the technology, Tesla began working on AC-based electricity instead. He then invented the Tesla coil, laying the foundation for wireless technology.6 The Tesla coil prototype is now on display at the Griffith Observatory, demonstrating on a large scale what’s being done to charge your smartphone wirelessly.

The basic principle of transferring energy from one place to another remains the same. Called electromagnetic induction, a copper coil creates an oscillating magnetic field and a second coil converts the floating field back into energy again.

A second method, called magnetic resonance, allows transmission of power at greater distances by changing how much energy is stored in each coil and the coil size. In 2006, researchers from MIT proved they could transfer electricity up to 2 meters (6.5 feet) using magnetic resonance. Although 60 percent of the power was lost, their experiments enticed investors into further research.7

Today, there are two different methods of wireless charging. The first, the Qi Standard, uses the inductive method of small coils over short distances. This was created by a partnership of over 200 companies, including Apple and Samsung. The second type focuses on electromagnetic resonance. Previously known as Power Matters Alliance, AirFuel has been adopted by Duracell, Starbucks and Google.

A new innovation in wireless charging is set to be released soon, call the Pi Charger.8 This device will release electromagnetic fields into space and begins charging your battery as soon as you’re in the same room. Chief technology officer Morris Kesler from WiTricity, the company working on magnetic resonance, imagines a future where wireless charging is ubiquitous, saying:9

“You drive your electric car into a garage, where wireless charging pads are on the floor. You open the door to the house and throw your cellphone on the kitchen counter, where wireless charging tech is built into the countertops.”

Wireless Charging Is Less Efficient

Charging your phone wirelessly is far less efficient than using a dongle attached to a power plug. Before considering the safety involved with wireless chargers, which will increase EMFs throughout your home, it’s also important to address the electrical drain these devices place on power plants.

Although it’s easy to imagine there’s an unlimited power supply coming to your plugs at home, electricity must be generated somewhere. The three major sources for electrical generation in the U.S. are fossil fuels, nuclear energy and some renewable energy sources, such as hydropower, wind energy and solar energy.

Today, renewable energy provides just under 20 percent of electricity while fossil fuels are the largest sources of energy production, totaling nearly 63 percent.10 It is estimated the amount of one of the fossil fuels, specifically coal, used to produce energy will rise as President Trump reversed energy policies in a move he framed as “an end to the war on coal.”11

However, burning coal to produce electricity increases air pollution linked to asthma, cancer, heart disease and lung disease. The problems also extend to acid rain and severe environmental and public health concerns as this energy comes at a tremendous cost.12 The chemistry enabling coal to produce energy also produces a number of profoundly harmful environmental pollutants.

Vampire Appliances Contribute to Power Demands

The demand for energy only continues to climb. The typical American home is full of electrical vampires, describing devices that are always on and suck up electricity even when they’re not in use. A report from the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC)13 found Americans are spending $19 billion a year in electricity from vampire appliances and electronics.

This means the average household spends $165 every year powering appliances not in use. Pierre Delforge, the report’s author and NRDC’s director of high-tech sector energy efficiency states:14

“One reason for such high idle energy levels is that many previously purely mechanical devices have gone digital: Appliances like washers, dryers and fridges now have displays, electronic controls, and increasingly even internet connectivity, for example. In many cases, they are using far more electricity than necessary.”

In the past, major offenders have been TV cable boxes and video game consoles. Cable boxes are the second largest energy user in many homes as they’re always running. Game consoles are also major power hogs.15

As more of the country and homes are moving toward wireless charging, these little devices will further add to the ever-increasing level of electricity the world demands, and at a cost to the environment and your health.

Future Plans for Wireless Charging Increase Public Health Risks

Wireless charging is available at hundreds of Starbucks across the U.S. and are also common at airports. In 2017, Apple announced it envisioned a world where many surfaces, including your bedside table and your car’s dashboard, could have wireless charging docks.16

Each one of these chargers draws continuous power, which may be insignificant individually but adds up when multiple surfaces have little magnetic fields radiating a charge.

WiTricity envisions being able to power your appliances at home without being plugged into the wall.17 They have partnerships with various manufacturers, including Toyota, with plans to eliminate the need for a plug to charge electric cars.

David Schatz, WiTricity’s company vice president of sales and business, predicts people expect wireless electricity and believes state and local governments will follow. He said:18

“They’re going to need to think about all the infrastructure that people need for charging things in public places, and how can they put in place policies and programs to incentivize and streamline the process for making this wireless power available everywhere, not only for mobile phones, but also for electric vehicles.”

New technology has received FCC certification for power at a distance wireless charging using medium-range radio wave technology.19 The company, Energous, filed the FCC petition under Part 18, catering to industrial, science and medical devices, instead of Class B consumer electronics section. This may be due to the high power required to transmit energy over distance.20

Energous unveiled their first product partnership produced by Myant. Called Skiin, the smart underwear features integrated sensors to monitor your body’s heart rate, activity, posture and hydration levels. Energous technology is included, fitting into Skiin clothing to support the company’s midfield and far range charging transmitters when they become available.21

In other words, not only do technology companies want wireless charging stations in public arenas, they are now partnering with clothing companies to design wearable EMF technology.

Wireless Charging May Also Reduce the Life of Your Smartphone Battery

Wireless charging may also be bad for your device. Today, nearly 80 car models are offering in-cabin wireless charging based on the electromagnetic Qi (pronounced “chee”) charging specification. These models include Audi, Chevrolet, Nissan and BMW. McDonald’s, Marriott hotels and Ibis have built Qi into their properties.

Businesses like Facebook, Deloitte and Cisco have built Qi into their corporate offices. The number of devices enabled with wireless charging exceeds 200 million units a year and 25 percent of users have used wireless charging. It appears consumer demand for the feature and the volume of enabled devices is growing annually.

With greater ease of charging, Techworld22 asks if this is bad for your mobile device’s battery. Venkat Srinivasan, director of Argonne Collaborative Center for Energy Storage Science, says that while you cannot overcharge a smartphone or a tablet, keeping it fully charged will reduce the life of the battery.

As a lithium ion battery charges and discharges, ions pass between a positive electrode and a negative electrode. The higher the battery is charged the faster the ions degrade, so it’s better to cycle between 45 percent and 55 percent.

However, with an increasing number of wireless chargers, and midrange wireless charging on the horizon, it will be difficult to be in a public place without automatically charging your phone, thus reducing the life of an irreplaceable battery on your phone much more quickly.23 In other words, without the ability to replace the battery on newer phones, you’ll be forced to buy a whole new phone, which is often a considerable expense.

Health Problems Associated With Wireless Charging Exposure

The primary health concerns with wireless inductive charging are the magnetic fields that they create. Safe fields are under 3 milligauss, but the lower the better, and the goal is below 1 milligauss. I found a study that showed the magnetic fields on the common Qi chargers and it was 1,000 milligauss or 1,000 times what you should be exposed to.24

Fortunately, magnetic fields drop off rapidly and the 1,000 milligauss reading was taken at 2 millimeters (mm) from the device. When you increase the distance to 15 mm (a bit further than half an inch away) the reading drops to 50 gauss. So, the warning here is you clearly don’t want to sit on these devices, but if you keep them far enough away, a few feet or more, you should avoid most of the dangerous magnetic fields.

I personally don’t own or use inductive charging so I can’t measure it, but I am afraid it will be difficult to avoid as virtually all new cars have it as a feature. But, as the article states, there are many solid reasons to avoid using them.

For further discussion of the known health effects resulting from exposure to other types of EMF, see “‘Wi-Fried’ — Is Wireless Technology Dooming a Generation to Ill Health?

Two-Thirds of Appendectomies May Be Unnecessary

You’ve probably heard that your appendix is a useless organ, an artifact from our ancient past when early humans had to digest tree bark and other fibrous materials.1 However, modern medical science has again proven your body does not contain superfluous organs that serve no useful function.

Unfortunately, the idea that your appendix is little more than a nuisance and potential health risk has led to the routine removal of this organ. Many doctors will even suggest prophylactic removal of the appendix when you’re having some other abdominal surgery done. As noted in a 2017 paper:2

“Appendectomy is the most common emergency surgery performed in the USA. Removal of a noninflamed appendix during unrelated abdominal surgery (prophylactic or incidental appendectomy) can prevent the downstream risks and costs of appendicitis. It is unknown whether such a strategy could be cost saving for the health system.”

Based on hypothetical patient cohorts aged 18 to 80, the researchers concluded that people under the age of 30 could save about $130 over their lifetime by undergoing prophylactic appendectomy during other elective abdominal surgery. However, considering the potential benefits of keeping your appendix, saving $130 over a lifetime doesn’t seem very good value proposition.

Your Appendix Has an Immune Function

Your appendix is found in the lower right portion of your abdomen. This small, slimy, finger-shaped organ is attached to the cecum, a small pouch that’s part of the intestines (the cecum is considered to be the beginning of the large intestine) and is part of your gastrointestinal tract.3

According to scientists in France and Australia, your appendix actually plays an important role in your immunity. Published in Nature Immunology, their study showed that the appendix — with the help of white blood cells known as innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) — works as a reservoir for beneficial bacteria (probiotics), which are essential for good gut health and healing from infections.4

When certain diseases (or use of antibiotics) eliminate the healthy bacteria in your gut, the appendix works as a storage unit for some of these probiotics. The researchers say that these findings should make people rethink whether the appendix is “irrelevant” to their health.

Once your body has successfully fought and rid itself of the infection, the bacteria emerge from the biofilm of the appendix to recolonize your gut, bringing it back to a healthy state.5 According to Gabrielle Belz, a professor at Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute:6

“We’ve found that ILCs may help the appendix to potentially reseed ‘good’ bacteria within the microbiome — or community of bacteria — in the body. A balanced microbiome is essential for recovery from bacterial threats to gut health, such as food poisoning.”

Despite such findings, other recent research7 suggests prophylactic appendectomy “is ethically justifiable, as there are few complications,” and “allows early detection of malignancies.” In this case, 10 cases of cancer were found as a result of prophylactic appendectomy on 173 patients.

In the end, it may be an issue of personal choice after considering the pros and cons of removing this organ. Personally, I believe having the ability to repopulate your gut with beneficial bacteria after infection is a significant health benefit that I would be reluctant to eliminate unless absolutely necessary. And, recent research suggests surgery may not even be necessary in most cases of appendicitis either.

Two-Thirds of Appendicitis Cases Do Not Require Surgical Intervention

According to a Finnish study,8,9,10,11 nearly two-thirds of patients with appendicitis can be successfully treated with antibiotics alone. In the U.S., an estimated 300,000 appendectomies are performed each year, which means some 199,800 people undergo surgery unnecessarily.

Not that antibiotics are without their side effects in damaging the microbiome, but it appears to be the lesser of two evils in this setting. Overall, the lifetime risk of appendicitis in the U.S. is 1 in 15.12 As reported by Live Science:13

The study looked at data from more than 250 adults in Finland who had appendicitis … and were treated with antibiotics. This group was compared with another 270 adults who had surgery for appendicitis. All of the participants were followed for five years.

At the end of the study, nearly two-thirds of people who received antibiotics (64 percent) were considered ‘successfully treated,’ meaning they didn’t have another attack of appendicitis. The other 36 percent eventually needed surgery to remove their appendix, but none of them experienced harmful outcomes from the delay …

It’s important to note that all patients in the study had uncomplicated appendicitis, meaning their appendix had not burst, which was confirmed with a CT scan. (Patients with a burst appendix would indeed need surgery.)”

In an accompanying editorial,14 deputy editor of JAMA, Dr. Edward Livingston, noted that these findings “dispel the notion that uncomplicated acute appendicitis is a surgical emergency.”

Interestingly, of the 100 patients in the antibiotic group that later went on to have surgery anyway, seven of them actually had no evidence of appendicitis at the time of surgery — a finding that hints at underlying skepticism and an ingrained idea that it’s better to just take the appendix out to be done with it once and for all.

Pros and Cons of Antibiotic Treatment

The antibiotic treatment group also had fewer complications than the surgical intervention group — about 1 in 4 surgical patients suffered some sort of postoperative complication, ranging from abdominal pain to surgical wound infections — and those who received antibiotics took on average 11 fewer days off from work (surgical patients took on average 22 days off from work).

Cost is also a factor, as surgery is far more expensive than a round of antibiotics. In this study, antibiotic treatment consisted of intravenous antibiotics for three days, followed by oral antibiotics for seven days.

On the downside, antibiotic treatment for suspected appendicitis could exacerbate the emergence of drug-resistant superbugs, so wanton use of antibiotics is not necessarily ideal either. Dr. Paulina Salminen, a surgeon at the University of Turku in Finland who led the study, told The New York Times:15

“If I have a CT scan, and I can see that the appendicitis is uncomplicated, I would discuss with the patient the possible results of antibiotic treatment alone or surgery. Then we would make a joint, unbiased decision about what would be best.”

Other Supporting Research

This isn’t the first time researchers have found antibiotics can do the job well enough that surgery becomes unnecessary. A 2014 study16 published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons reviewed 77 uncomplicated cases of acute appendicitis that met certain criteria.

Here, 30 of the patients were given intravenous antibiotics for 24 hours and oral antibiotics for a week instead of surgery. Those whose condition did not improve after the first 24 hours had their appendix removed surgically at that time.

Of the 77 participants, only two required surgery within 24 hours, while a third needed an appendectomy after being discharged due to lack of improvement. However, none of the patients experienced complications.

The other 27 participants who received antibiotics missed fewer days of school and went back to their normal activities much sooner than those who underwent an appendectomy. 

Nationwide Children’s Hospital professor of surgery and senior study author Dr. Katherine J. Deans said,17 “It’s so dogmatic to operate for appendicitis that it requires a huge paradigm shift. But there are choices. It may be safe to wait.”

Signs and Symptoms of Appendicitis

While the proper course of treatment may be up for debate, what’s clear is that appendicitis can be a serious condition that needs to be addressed. In short, appendicitis is inflammation in the appendix, usually caused by pathogenic bacteria.

Once these harmful bacteria multiply rapidly, it can lead to swelling and formation of pus in the organ.18 Hallmark symptoms of appendicitis include intense and progressively worsening pain in the lower, right-side quadrant of your torso, nausea and vomiting. It can occur at any age, although people ages 10 to 30 tend to be more susceptible.19

If you suspect that you or someone you know is suffering from an inflamed appendix, do seek immediate medical attention. If not addressed, the swollen appendix can rupture and may be fatal.

Just remember that surgical intervention may not be necessary if you have a case of uncomplicated appendicitis. A round of antibiotics may be enough. In this case, also remember to restore the balance of your gut microbiome with a high quality probiotic supplement, after you’ve finished the antibiotics.

Surgical Alternatives

When it comes to surgery, there are two main types of appendectomy,20 both of which are performed under general anesthesia. Depending on the progression of the inflammation and the condition of your appendix, your doctor will determine which of these two will be preferable:21

Laparoscopy — Also known as “keyhole surgery,” this is the preferred procedure today because of its quicker recovery time. It is also recommended for obese or elderly patients.22 In the Finnish study above, all surgeries were open; hence the extended recovery time (22 days) among the surgical patients.

Three or four small incisions are made on the abdomen, and then special instruments and small surgical tools are inserted and used to remove the appendix. Afterward, dissolvable stitches (or regular ones that your physician will have to remove after several days) will be used to close the incisions.

Open surgery — If the appendix has already ruptured, if you’ve previously had an open abdominal surgery or if your physician isn’t experienced in keyhole surgery, this is the recommended procedure.

A single, larger incision is done in the lower right side of your abdomen, so the appendix can be removed. However, if peritonitis (infection of the abdominal lining) has already occurred, a long cut in the middle of the abdomen may be necessary. This is called laparotomy.

Normal activities can be resumed in a couple of weeks, but strenuous activities must be avoided for four to six weeks after the surgical procedure to allow enough time for your body to heal. As with any surgical procedure, an appendectomy can still predispose you to certain risks and complications, such as bleeding, infection, injury to other organs, blocked bowels and side effects of general anesthesia.23

Natural Treatments for Appendicitis

There are some natural techniques that can help you deal with the pain that comes with appendicitis, but remember that you should not rely on these solely to treat this condition. They should only be used as an adjunct and with the approval of your physician. Natural remedies that may be useful when the infection is detected at an early stage include: 24,25

Castor oil pack — This can help relieve the appendiceal blockage and reduce inflammation. To prepare this, simply fold a large cloth, pour 2 tablespoons of castor oil on it and then apply it to your abdomen while lying down.

You can repeat this three times a week for two or three months. Taking castor oil orally may also help relieve constipation and improve bowel movements.

Ginger — This root can reduce inflammation and pain, while alleviating vomiting and nausea. Drink fresh ginger tea twice or thrice daily or massage ginger oil on your abdomen for a few minutes daily.

Garlic — It’s a potent anti-inflammatory that can alleviate inflammation and pain. Eat two to three raw cloves on an empty stomach per day.

Fenugreek seeds — They help prevent the intestinal waste and excess mucus from accumulating, which can reduce the risk of the problem becoming severe. Fenugreek seeds also help alleviate pain.

Fresh lemon — Mixed with a small amount of honey, lemon helps prevent indigestion and constipation, relieves pain and boosts your immunity.

Basil — It helps bring down the fever that may come with appendicitis. It’s also great for relieving indigestion and intestinal gas. Boil a handful of fresh basil leaves with a teaspoon of grated ginger and then drink the concoction twice a day for two days.

Vegetable juice — A mixture of beets, cucumber and carrot juice may be helpful for patients with appendicitis.

Fasting as a Potential Treatment for Uncomplicated Subacute Appendicitis

A case study26 presented by the TrueNorth Health Center also demonstrates how fasting may address appendicitis without further drug intervention. In this case, a 46-year-old man with uncomplicated appendicitis — confirmed through a sonogram — refused surgical and drug treatment, which led the doctors to prescribe medically supervised water-only fasting for seven days. According to the case report:

“The patient was monitored daily by on-site physicians in a residential facility. Twice-daily interviews and examinations were performed throughout the fast. Vital signs were taken once in the morning for the duration of the patient’s stay as well as a urinalysis performed every five days.

The seven-day fast was followed by a four-day gradual introduction of food consisting of juice, fruits and raw and steamed vegetables.

After the careful refeeding period, the abdominal pain was much improved … Follow-up laboratory tests revealed a normal white blood cell count … At three-month follow-up, the patient reported compliance to recommendations and no further abdominal pain.

The patient reported that he had been able to resume his normal exercise regimen of running four hours per week … At one-year follow-up, the patient reported no return of the abdominal pain over the year. He had resumed full exercise and had even completed a triathlon …

At two-year follow-up, the patient reported compliance to the lifestyle recommendations, continued to be free of right lower quadrant pain, and still had no recurrence of symptoms since the original presentation.”

Internet Censorship Just Took An Unprecedented Leap Forward, And Hardly Anyone Noticed

While most indie media was focused on debating the way people talk about Kanye West and the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an unprecedented escalation in internet censorship took place

by Caitlin Johnstone

While most indie media was focused on debating the way people talk about Kanye West and the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an unprecedented escalation in internet censorship took place which threatens everything we all care about. It received frighteningly little attention.

After a massive purge of hundreds of politically oriented pages and personal accounts for “inauthentic behavior”, Facebook rightly received a fair amount of criticism for the nebulous and hotly disputed basis for that action.

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Pilates better than conventional therapeutic exercises in decreasing pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis

(Natural News) More and more people suffer from pain because of osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. Fortunately, a study published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice revealed that there is a safe and effective way to treat osteoarthritis of the knee naturally. Researchers from the Islamic Azad University and the University…

Sea Shepherd Initiates Early Patrols to Safeguard Survival of Critically Endangered Vaquita Porpoise

Sea Shepherd returns to the Sea of Cortez to resume patrols protecting the critically endangered vaquita porpoise for the fifth season.

San Felipe, Mexico – August 20th, 2018 – Sea Shepherd vessel the M/V Farley Mowat has arrived in the Upper Gulf of California in order to start Operation Milagro early this year.  In previous years, the campaign has started as the totoaba fish returns from its migration to the vaquita habitat, around early November.  Due to the critical state in which the vaquita porpoise species finds itself – currently the most endangered marine mammal in the world – Sea Shepherd is back earlier this season, with renewed strength to apply its proven techniques to protect the smallest porpoise in the world.

“There is work to do to ensure the vaquita survives. Sea Shepherd will start removing inactive totoaba fishing gear, also known as ghost nets and we will come across occasional active nets this early in the season,” said Sea Shepherd Director of Marine Operations and Campaigns Captain Locky Maclean. “We are also ensuring no fishing is taking place inside the protected area and preventing poaching activities by patrolling the area with our partner agencies from the Mexican Government on-board.”

The last study released showed that less than 30 vaquita were alive. Scientists have not published a new estimate in two years.

Sea Shepherd is launching Operation Milagro V, the fifth season the marine conservation group will use direct-action tactics to protect the vaquita. Milagro is the Spanish word for miracle- an appropriate name given that when the campaign began, there had been no registered vaquita sightings in two years.  Many people were saying the marine mammal was already extinct.  The Sea Shepherd team sighted and recorded a vaquita in early 2015. This happened as the Mexican government renewed its commitment to protect this endemic species and a partnership was born.

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Since then, Sea Shepherd has developed the only proven method to date to conserve the small porpoise alive:  the removal of illegal fishing gear from its habitat.

The reason for the rapid decline of the vaquita is the poaching of the totoaba fish.  After the totoaba was harvested to near extinction in the mid-seventies, its fishing was banned.

Recently, however, it was discovered that the totoaba closely resembled a Chinese endemic croaker, which was critically endangered due to the demand for its swim bladder. This resulted in the start of huge amounts of illegal fishing for the totoaba in search of the swim bladder, believed to have medicinal properties. This doomed not only the fish, but even more tragically, the vaquita.  The two species are of a similar size and during the totoaba spawning season, they inhabit the same exact location. This results in the death of the vaquita from the fishing nets, known as gillnets, laid to catch the totoaba.

While vaquitas used to fall prey as bycatch from fishing for shrimp and fin fish, they are now victims of the gillnets made precisely to catch a fish the same size as the vaquita.

These nets, in combination with the insatiable demand for the swim bladders in China, and the obscene value poachers can sell these bladders for – allegedly a poacher can make $2,500 per totoaba bladder, which will sell for $20,000 in Asian black markets-  create a challenge the vaquita and the totoaba have never seen before.

It is therefore critical that Sea Shepherd is there to remove illegal nets and free marine wildlife.

The Mexican government has made an unprecedented effort to save their native species, dedicating a large part of the navy, the army and several other governmental institutions to solve the issue.  It is no small task and Sea Shepherd has witnessed the efforts of hundreds of people working together to protect the vaquita. Sea Shepherd works in partnership with Mexico to remove the illegal fishing gear from the vaquita habitat and provide information and expertise advice to the authorities.  The conservationists also provide important data to scientists and work with the community to move away from unsustainable industries and promote conservation.

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Sea Shepherd has removed 808 illegal pieces of fishing gear since we began our operations. This has cost the poachers an estimated $857,779 USD just in lost fishing gear..  Sea Shepherd has saved 3069 animals, including one humpback whale, 88 critically endangered totoaba fish, one critically endangered pacific leatherback turtle and 21 sharks. Those numbers do not include the hundreds of animals saved by the removal of the nets and other fishing gear before the animals become entangled.

However, protecting the vaquita from illegal activity is no easy feat. Sea Shepherd has had a drone shot down as well as shots fired at one of the ships.

“If Sea Shepherd had not been present in the Sea of Cortez, the vaquita could be extinct by now,” said Captain Paul Watson, founder and CEO of the conservation organization.  “Each year we become more efficient at the task of protecting the vaquita porpoise.”

Last year alone, we removed more fishing gear than we had in all previous years combined.  For Milagro V, we have a new vessel with better capabilities to remove nets being fitted for campaign right now.” Continued Captain Watson, “For all the people saying there is no hope for the vaquita, we disagree. We will keep fighting for her, and we will fight harder than ever. I encourage all of you to join us.”

The campaign has no end date, as the need to keep a tight watch on the vaquita porpoise becomes even more urgent. Sea Shepherd undertook what it takes to pull the species back from the brink of extinction: a presence in the Upper Gulf of California, patrolling the vaquita habitat and removing the threats that kill the porpoise.