These are notes I made on the subject of one of the central aspects of physical reality:
The physical body is extremely attractive. One could call it an “art object.” Nothing Michelangelo or Leonardo painted or sculpted can rival it. The body, inhabited by a soul, comes alive. It walks and talks and eats and procreates. When you have a planet inhabited by eight billion souls cloaked in bodies, you have societies and complexities. You now have problems and troubles. Souls become enmeshed.
It’s astonishing to contemplate the reduction of capabilities the soul has to accept and undergo when taking on an infant’s body. The lure of a physical body is apparently so great that a soul will forget what it can do. It prefers to enter a starkly diminished existence.
No wonder life on planet Earth brings on such difficulties. The soul, unencumbered, can fly and soar. It can invent, and deal with, energies in all sorts of extraordinary ways. It is immortal. Yet the soul, cloaked in a physical body, presents a very different picture to itself.
All metaphysical philosophies and religions brush up against the question of the soul. However, their pronouncements are vague or confusing or deceptive or false. They raise up some superior and ultimate Force beyond the soul, AND THEY ALSO, AT THE SAME TIME, DIMINISH THE SOUL IN THE PROCESS—as if that is their real intent. ON TOP OF ALL THIS, THE SOUL CLAIMS IT CANNOT DEVELOP A SENSE OF ETHICAL ACTIONS, EXCEPT BY REFERRING TO THE PRECEPTS OF A RELIGION.
The individual soul is a master chess player who keeps demanding millions of games of tic-tac-toe.
“Immortality wants to become mortal.” For what purpose? To find out what it is like to “abandon the act of lifting a mountain in favor of the act of struggling to climb it?”
The soul apparently seeks to wipe out knowledge of itself and what it can do. Rather, it seeks to wear a badge of materialism, which insists that physical matter is all there is.
How does the soul bury its vast knowledge and capabilities? Through the sheer act of bringing on amnesia, and also through consigning all that knowledge to a place which has been discredited as “having nothing to do with THINGS AS THEY ARE”: THE IMAGINATION.
THE SOUL CAN INVENT ENERGY—but it prefers to spend its days “standing on a ladder in a room changing light bulbs.”
(To read about Jon’s mega-collection, Exit From The Matrix, click here.)
The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free NoMoreFakeNews emails here or his free OutsideTheRealityMachine emails here.
Amazing video proving Shell Oil scientists working at a lab in Modesto California figured out how to get over 1,000 miles per gallon (mpg) in the late 1970s! The son of one of the members of this team was excited about telling the story of his father but suddenly stopped returning phone calls from the producer! I’m sure he was threatened! Oh and don’t think this 1,000 MPG was made using a modified bicycle with a tiny engine or something, these were in fairly stock automobiles.
These Shell Oil scientists in California started by modifying the engine on a 1947 Studebaker. They were able to get 149.95 miles per gallon on their first test! That tells you right there we’ve been scammed! With todays advancements in reducing friction, computers, aerodynamics, tires and engines this would mean a standard Honda Accord would most likely easily get over 300 miles per gallon! Are you starting to realize just how badly we’ve been conned yet? They’ve known how to get at least hundreds of miles per gallon (if not 1,000 as this information claims) with regular cars since the 1970s but it was all suppressed for profit.
In February of 2007, the makers of this video were able to interview David Blackmore a retired Shell oil researcher living in England. Mr. Blackmore edited a book Shell produced called, “Fuel Economy of the Gasoline Engine”. He said Shell began their gasoline experiments back in 1942 and in their first test on a standard car of the day (much heavier and less efficient than todays vehicles) they attained about 50 mpg. They kept working on getting more miles per gallon over the next decades and eventually they broke 1,000 mpg in the late 1970s!
Tom Ogle figured out how to get massive gains in miles per gallon using a special vapor carburetor. Ogle said the oil companies tried to buy his invention with the agreement that he would never sell another one of his carburetors and would walk away. He wouldn’t take the deal so was killed. They made it look like he overdosed on drugs and booze and he didn’t drink or take pills! Just his invention alone was getting about 150 mpg in huge heavy V8 powered cars. That would easily get you 300 mpg in todays vehicles with all the advancements. Here’s some of the Tom Ogle story.
I know about how much we’ve been scammed from several people I know. One person I know helped developed the GM Vortec engine. He knows right now how to get at least triple what GM gets with the engine! In fact he can get over 100 mpg in a truck if he was allowed to build it! GM would only put part of what he developed into the production Vortec engine! This man is still alive and could begin building high mileage engines tomorrow if we didn’t have evil crooks in charge of our government who want to kill this man!
Sure there are some Fuel Savings Products out there that do give you boost to your MPG but nothing like what we would be getting from the suppressed Tom Ogle technology or the stuff Shell Oil was using when they admitted they broke the 1,000 MPG barrier in the 1970s! They’ve kept cars from getting significantly better miles per gallon for one reason – greed! They give us 1 or 2 mpg increases every year which is a total joke! They want to extract as much money from all of us as they possibly can get! Our government, politicians and fake news media helps them do this by pretending this high mileage technology never existed and is a conspiracy theory! Don’t let them get away with it without exposing them every chance you get!
I want everybody to share this article and video to everybody they know. Tell everybody they broke 1,000 MPG in the late 70s and hid the technology to rip us all off! The first step to getting free is to know you’ve been enslaved and scammed.
Industrial agriculture is one of the most unsustainable practices of modern civilization. Like water running down an open drain, the earth’s natural resources are rapidly dissipating as industrialized farming drives air pollution, water pollution, aquifer depletion, deforestation, rising carbon emissions and the depletion, erosion and poisoning of soils.1
The long-term answer, however, lies in the transition to sustainable, regenerative, chemical-free farming practices — not in the creation of food manufacturing techniques that replace farms with chemistry labs, which is the “environmentally friendly” alternative envisioned by biotech startups and its chemists.
The conventional meat industry in particular has been shown to have a deleterious influence on our environment and climate, giving rise to a number of efforts to bring animal replacement products to market — not just fake beef but also poultry and fish.2
The Price of Fake Food Goes Beyond Dollars and Cents
The Good Food Institute is described as “a nonprofit organization that supports cell-cultured meat startups and sometimes lobbies on their behalf.”3 During the first session of TED2019 Fellows talks,4 the institute’s executive director, Bruce Friedrich, spoke about the future of cultured meat “grown from cells in bioreactors,” noting that the estimated price for these “sustainable meats” will likely be around $50 for a single burger.
In an April 16, 2019, article for The Atlantic,5 Olga Khazan talks about the Silicon Valley startup Just (previously Hampton Creek), and its lab-grown chicken nuggets, which at present has a price tag of $100 per nugget.
Granted, the price of new technology always comes down in time (as noted by QZ.com, the price of cell-cultured meat has come down from a would-be $1.2 million per pound in 2013 to $100 per pound as of this year6), but you really need to question the rationale for creating extraordinarily expensive lab-grown meat when a far less expensive and more reasonable answer is readily available.
What’s worse, fake meats may ultimately create more problems than they solve, as laboratory derived meat substitutes are not part of the ecological cycle and health hazards are as of yet entirely unknown. This basic lack of understanding affects regulatory efforts as well.
As noted by Al Almanza, former acting deputy under secretary for food safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we still do not know “what’s normal or abnormal, and thus potentially unsafe, in a cultured-chicken plant.”7
Without this knowledge, food inspectors have no idea what to look for, companies cannot devise and implement proper safety protocols and regulators cannot make regulations to ensure safety. As noted by The Atlantic, “while Just argues that its process is better, from a food-safety standpoint, than animal slaughter, we only have the company’s word to go on at this point.”
What’s more, while livestock are accused of being a significant contributor to greenhouse gases and climate change, what detractors fail to recognize is that this problem is restricted to concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) only. Organic grass fed beef production is actually a crucial remedy for our environmental problems, and addresses the animal cruelty issue as well.
Growing meat cells in a lab does absolutely nothing to actually improve the environment, and therefore cannot be said to promote environmental sustainability and regeneration. More importantly, there is absolutely no proof that it’s actually a healthier alternative to eating real grass fed meat or pastured chicken.
What Is Cell-Cultured Meat and How Is It Made?
As one would expect with a man-made product, scientists have developed a number of different proprietary ways to grow meat without the actual raising of a live animal. In The Atlantic, Khazan describes her surprise at Just’s chicken nugget tasting very much like chicken, albeit without the hallmark “gaminess,” and explains the process used to create it:8
“This chicken began life as a primordial mush in a bioreactor whose dimensions and brand I’m not allowed to describe to you, for intellectual-property reasons.
Before that, it was a collection of cells swirling calmly in a red-hued, nutrient-rich ‘media,’ with a glass flask for an eggshell. The chicken is definitely real, and technically animal flesh, but it left the world as it entered it — a mass of meat, ready for human consumption, with no brain or wings or feet.”
If this sounds like mad science to you, you’re not alone. Should we really recreate nature without the prerequisite “life” of nature? Fake meat companies argue that “almost all the food we eat, at some point, crosses a laboratory, whether in the course of researching flavors or perfecting packaging,” Khazan writes.
Essentially, they’re comparing their lab-created meat with processed and ultraprocessed food, which is hardly a healthy comparison if you’re claiming to produce something of significant nutritional value that will have a beneficial impact on health! Again and again, researchers have shown that a processed diet promotes disease and cuts life short.9,10,11,12 Can we expect anything different from “meat” that is processed from start to finish?
In 2015, Business Insider13 reported that more than half a dozen former employees of Just (then Hampton Creek) accused the company of using “shoddy science,” ignoring science and “stretching the truth.” At the time, Hampton Creek was primarily working on egg replacements. Business Insider wrote:14
“Several former employees told us Hampton Creek is not employing nearly as much science as it says it does. Many Silicon Valley startups exaggerate about how advanced their technology is, the properties of their products, and other metrics.
But many former Hampton Creek employees say the company pushed them beyond their ethical comfort levels … One went as far as to describe it as a ‘cult of delusion’ …
The first version of Hampton Creek’s flagship product, the Just Mayo mayonnaise substitute, was not initially developed in house. Hampton Creek outsourced early development to Mattson, a food-tech company in Silicon Valley, according to several former employees.
‘We just threw money at them, and they came back in the first week with a formulation. It’s just food starch with pea protein,’ a former employee said. ‘Josh [Tetrick] got this, and he promoted it like it was an amazing invention’ …
‘The entire time I was there we weren’t aware of how it emulsified,’ a former employee said, referring to the eggless mayonnaise. ‘We weren’t able to prove how it works. Josh liked to convey this notion that we had a great understanding of the science’ …
Former employees said the company also debated how to label ingredients and knowingly used more general terms so the products appeared more natural.”
Burger King Introduces Fake Meat Burger
Another now-leading meat substitute company is Impossible Foods, which boasts a meatless “bleeding” burger.15,16,17,18 April 1, 2019, The Verge reported19 Burger King is now trialing the Impossible Whopper at 59 locations in the St. Louis area. If customer demand turns out to be sufficient, the fake burger will be launched at all 7,200 U.S. locations.
Contrary to lab grown meat made from cell cultures,20 the meat substitute created by Impossible Foods contains a mix of wheat, coconut oil, potatoes and “heme” derived from genetically engineered (GE) yeast. A primary ingredient in the Impossible Burger is GE soy leghemoglobin, which releases a heme-like protein when broken down.
This protein is what gives the plant-based patty its meatlike look, taste and texture, and makes the patty “bleed” when cooked. While the company refers to it as “heme,” technically, plants produce non-heme iron.21 Heme iron only occurs in meat and seafood. A main difference between heme and non-heme iron has to do with their absorbability.
Plant-based non-heme iron is less readily absorbed. This is one of the reasons why vegans are at higher risk of iron deficiency anemia than meat eaters. Moreover, while soy leghemoglobin is found in the roots of soybean plants, the company is recreating it using GE yeast. As explained on the company website:22
“Heme is exceptionally abundant in animal muscle — and it’s a basic building block of life in all organisms, including plants. We discovered how to take heme from plants and produce it using fermentation … We genetically engineer yeast to make a key ingredient: heme. The process allows us to produce the Impossible Burger at scale with the lowest achievable environmental impact.
We start with the gene for a protein called leghemoglobin, a heme protein that is naturally found in the root nodules of soy plants … We add the soy leghemoglobin gene to a yeast strain, and grow the yeast via fermentation. Then we isolate the leghemoglobin, or heme, from the yeast. We add heme to the Impossible Burger to give it the intense, meaty flavor, aroma and cooking properties of animal meat.”
Possible Risks of the Impossible Burger
While the meatless patties are now sold in thousands of restaurants across the U.S., questions remain about its long-term safety for human health. Friends of the Earth, an environmental activism group with an international following, has pointed out that we do not yet know enough about the health effects of eating this kind of fake meat, and that its speedy market release is foolhardy at best.
In its report “From Lab to Fork: Critical Questions on Laboratory-Created Animal Product Alternatives,”23 released in June 2018, Friends of the Earth calls for more stringent safety assessments, regulations and labeling requirements.
Dana Perls, a Friends of the Earth food and agriculture campaigner, told Bloomberg,24 “We need real data. People have been clear that they want real, truly sustainable organic food, as opposed to venture capitalist hype which could lead us down the wrong path.”
The report highlights a number of health and safety concerns and environmental impacts hidden beneath “climate-friendly” claims. It also points out the lack of substantiation for “clean meat,” “animal-free,” “plant-based” and “sustainable” claims. As reported by Bloomberg:25
“Friends of the Earth has raised concerns about ‘heme,’ the protein derived from genetically engineered yeast that Impossible Foods said gives the burger its faux meatiness. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA] has asked for more ‘direct’ evidence of safety as well as more testing on allergens, as reported by The New York Times26 last summer.
‘It needs to be done by a third party,’ Perls said of testing heme, with research ‘on long-term health implications.’ Impossible Foods said a panel of experts it hired has twice determined the substance to be safe, in 2014 and 2017.”
To those familiar with how the system works, however, the hiring of “a panel of experts” to confirm safety brings little to no comfort.
As explained in my 2015 article, “Flawed GRAS System Lets Novel Chemicals Into Food Supply Without FDA Safety Review,” a company can simply hire an industry insider to evaluate a brand-new ingredient, and if that individual determines that the ingredient in question meets federal safety standards, it can be deemed “generally recognized as safe” or GRAS, with no further independent third party evaluation being required.
That’s what happened here.27 The fact that Impossible Foods hired and paid for the panel members to do the GRAS evaluation of its key ingredient (soy leghemoglobin made from GE yeast) is reason enough to take the safety claim with a grain of salt.28
According to the FDA, the research included in the company’s GRAS notification (which is voluntary) was actually inadequate and could not, in fact, establish safety. Importantly, the company’s assessment of allergenicity was lacking. However, as permitted by GRAS rules, Impossible Foods simply withdrew its voluntary GRAS notification to the FDA and began marketing its meatless burger without the agency’s official blessing.
Bareburger Enters Into Transparency Initiative With Organic Consumers Association
In related news, the organic hamburger chain Bareburger is being sued for deceptive marketing, as it uses the term “organic” even though many of its foods are anything but. The chain actually sells the Impossible Burger, and makes no mention of the fact that it’s made with GE protein.29,30 Far from being organic, the Impossible Burger cannot even be said to be “natural.”
That said, on April 10, 2019, the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) announced Bareburger had agreed to a transparency initiative31 “aimed at providing consumers with full transparency about the origin, nature and quality of the food they eat at Bareburger restaurants.”
According to the OCA, Bareburger will remove “ambiguous ‘organic’ statements form store signs and marketing materials” and start identifying organic products on its menu “at the ingredient level.”
Meat Substitutes Are Not an Environmentally Friendly Solution
In the podcast above, Sustainable Dish interviews Ronnie Cummins, executive director and cofounder of the OCA, about the importance of grass fed livestock farming for climate stability, environmental health, sustainability and regeneration. As explained in many previous articles, livestock are crucial components that make farming truly regenerative, as they help build healthy soils.
Lab-derived meat substitutes do not contribute to this healthy ecological cycle, which makes the industry’s claims on sustainability questionable at best. As noted by Friends of the Earth, sustainability claims really need to be backed up by a full environmental impact assessment, starting with the product’s creation and ending with its disposal.
Meat substitutes often require water, chemicals and fossil fuel inputs, and in that respect, differ little from conventional agriculture. For example, an Environmental Science and Technology study32 published in 2015 revealed that lab-grown meat, where the meat is cultured from stem cells, actually requires more energy than conventional agriculture! As explained in the study’s abstract:
“Cultured, or in vitro, meat consists of edible biomass grown from animal stem cells in a factory, or carnery. In the coming decades, in vitro biomass cultivation could enable the production of meat without the need to raise livestock.
Using an anticipatory life cycle analysis framework, the study described herein examines the environmental implications of this emerging technology and compares the results with published impacts of beef, pork, poultry, and another speculative analysis of cultured biomass.
While uncertainty ranges are large, the findings suggest that in vitro biomass cultivation could require smaller quantities of agricultural inputs and land than livestock; however, those benefits could come at the expense of more intensive energy use as biological functions such as digestion and nutrient circulation are replaced by industrial equivalents.
From this perspective, large-scale cultivation of in vitro meat and other bioengineered products could represent a new phase of industrialization with inherently complex and challenging trade-offs.”
As noted by Perls, “We’ve had the experience of watching the environmental impacts of some food products, and we really can’t afford to create more unsustainable food systems that take us in another wrong direction” — which is precisely what the fake meat industry is doing, and in more ways than one. Aside from the fact that it doesn’t appear to have any regenerative capabilities that would benefit the ecosystem, there’s also the issue of health effects.
Creating patented lab-grown meat products is not about feeding the world or eliminating animal suffering. It’s about dominating billionaires looking to put patents on the food system.
While many view lab-created meat substitutes as the lesser of two evils when comparing it CAFO meat that currently dominates the market, taking nature out of the equation altogether is clearly not the answer, especially since holistic herd management is an integral part that makes regenerative agriculture truly regenerative.
When animals are raised according to regenerative agriculture, a healthy ecosystem is maintained, one that is both healing for the land and productive for the farmers. Eating meat is not synonymous with harming the environment; it’s industrial farming practices — CAFOs — that inflict the damage.
Some also believe eating meat means ripping out more forests so animals can graze, but I’m certainly not advocating for that. U.S. cropland is currently dominated by a two-crop planting cycle of corn and soybeans, largely for animal feed.
Like CAFOs, these monocrops are devastating the environment, and even though they’re plant foods, are part of the problem, not the solution. Getting rid of these large swaths of corn and soy fields — which are laden with chemicals and largely devoid of life — is key, as is reverting them back to what they were before, namely grasslands for grazing animals.
Grasslands are key to fixing many environmental problems, and herbivores are a necessary part of this ecosystem. By mimicking the natural behavior of migratory herds of wild grazing animals — meaning allowing livestock to graze freely, and moving the herd around in specific patterns — farmers can support nature’s efforts to regenerate and thrive.
This kind of land management system promotes the reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) by sequestering it back into the soil where it can do a lot of good. Once in the earth, the CO2 can be safely stored for hundreds of years and adds to the soil’s fertility.
Lab-made meat substitutes, on the other hand, do nothing to contribute to the regeneration of our environment. In fact, by being more energy intensive, fake meats continue pushing environmental problems to the brink. If your main concerns are animal welfare and environmental sustainability, your best bet is to support and buy meats that are certified grass fed organic, raised and slaughtered under humane conditions.
The most dependable source is meat certified by the American Grassfed Association (AGA), which ensures animals were born and raised on American family farms, fed only grass and forage from weaning until harvest, have not been treated with hormones or antibiotics, and raised on pasture without confinement to feedlots.
Elderberries have been used for hundreds of years for their health benefits. Many believe the high number of antioxidants in the berries contribute to its ability to fight the flu, support the immune system and relieve colds. Elderberries are the fruit of the Sambucus tree, the most common of which is Sambucus nigra.1
The plant, also known as black elderberry, European elderberry and European elder, has documented origins dating as far back as 2000 B.C. in Switzerland, where there is evidence that the ancient Swiss cultivated it. However, since it’s also believed to be native to North America, historians speculate that it’s possible its seeds were spread by the retreating Ice Age more than 10,000 years ago.2
Recipes using elderberries for medicinal purposes have been recorded dating back to ancient Egypt, where they were used as a skin and burn potion.3 Historians generally credit Hippocrates as the first physician to use it, who described the elderberry as his “medicine chest.”4
Herbal products and folk medicines have been used for centuries to combat a range of ailments, sometimes to the embarrassment of modern scientists. A chemical and biomolecular engineering research team from the University of Sydney focused a new study5 on the phytochemicals and compounds found in elderberries that may positively affect health.
Elderberry Extract May Minimize Flu Symptoms
Although there are several different types of elderberry plants, the most commonly known and studied is the Sambucus nigra. Supplements are available as syrup, gummies, lozenges, pills and tea, and were believed to work by supplying antioxidants and supporting the natural immune support response.6
In the current study,7 researchers found compounds in the elderberry could directly inhibit the flu virus’s entrance into cells and subsequent replication. Flu-fighting properties had been observed in previous studies, but this group examined the actual mechanism the phytochemicals used to combat the influenza infection.
The researchers used commercially cultivated elderberries, which were used for elderberry juice serum. They applied this to cells before, during and after they had infected them with the influenza virus. As expected, the juice was effective at stopping the virus from infecting the cells.8
However, they were surprised to find the juice also effectively inhibited replication after the cells had been infected with the virus. The authors found this significant since blocking the virus at several stages increases the potential it may inhibit infection. Study author Fariba Dehghani, Ph.D., commented:9
“In addition to that, we identified that the elderberry solution also stimulated the cells to release certain cytokines, which are chemical messengers that the immune system uses for communication between different cell types to coordinate a more efficient response against the invading pathogen.”
The team also discovered the antiviral activity was in part attributed to the anthocyanidin compounds, phytonutrients responsible for the vivid purple coloring in the fruit. The study supported the results of a previous study10 in which adults suffering from flu-like symptoms who took elderberry syrup had their illnesses clear on average four days sooner than those who took a placebo syrup.
Another study11 tested the effectiveness of an elderberry product on 312 overseas air travelers. The researchers found there was not a statistically significant difference in the number who acquired a cold, but those taking the syrup had a shorter duration and less severe cold symptoms than the control group.
Key Facts About the Flu
Influenza, commonly called flu, is a contagious respiratory illness that may cause mild to severe symptoms. Although some of the symptoms are similar, flu is different from a cold caused by a separate set of viruses. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),12 flu symptoms may occur rapidly and include:
Fever or feeling feverish and experiencing chills
Muscle or body aches
Runny or stuffy nose
Some may experience vomiting and diarrhea, although this is more common in children than adults. Most think of flu season occurring between October and May when millions across the U.S. contract the virus.13 However, while this is the most common time, the virus may spread at any time during the year.
Wintertime flu is more common as the virus lives longer indoors during the winter months when the air is less humid than it is outside. During the winter, we also tend to spend more time indoors and have closer contact with others, making it easier for the virus to spread.14
The virus spreads through the air after an individual who is infected sneezes, coughs or speaks. Sometimes it may be passed through an object that’s been touched or coughed on. An individual may touch the contaminated item and then touch their nose or mouth, at which time the virus enters their system.
Those carrying the virus may be contagious 24 hours before their symptoms first appear and up to seven days after they experience their first symptoms. This means it’s possible to pass the flu virus on even before you know you’re sick. Symptoms of flu usually last from five to seven days.15
While there are more than 100 different viruses known to trigger cold symptoms, there are only four influenza viruses.16,17 Scientists have named them Types A, B, C and D.
Type A flu viruses may be found in different animals as well as humans, including ducks, chickens, horses, pigs and seals.18 Type B viruses only affect people. Type C viruses cause mild respiratory symptoms while Type A and B are responsible for seasonal outbreaks. Type D is associated with cattle and so far has not been known to infect humans.19
One Reason the Flu Vaccine Will Always Struggle To Be Effective
Each year the influenza virus changes slightly, which the CDC describes as drift or shift.20 In some years, this means flu symptoms may be mild as your body was exposed to a similar virus and has produced antibodies to fight the infection. Approximately every 10 years to 40 years the virus undergoes a major change and more people get severe symptoms and a pandemic may arise.21
Vaccines are produced before flu season begins, so scientists must resort to an educated guess as to how the virus may have changed from the year before to adjust their vaccine for the current year.
According to the CDC, three production technologies have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including egg-based vaccines, cell-based vaccines and recombinant vaccines.22
Each is made by manufacturers in the private sector. Over the last 14 seasons, CDC data show the vaccine is less than 50% effective more than half the time.23 As just one example, the CDC estimated the overall effectiveness for the 2017 flu vaccine was a modest 38%.
Steer Clear of Drugs to Treat the Flu
Should you or your child be infected with the influenza virus, your doctor or pediatrician may recommend Tamiflu.24 However, it’s important to note this antiviral drug shortens flu symptoms by less than 17 hours,25 does not reduce viral spread, and does not lessen your risk of complications such as pneumonia.26
A review of the literature by the Cochrane group also warns that the health risks associated with Tamiflu could far outweigh the benefits.27 Many pharmaceutical drugs come with side effects, and Tamiflu is not exempt. Risks may include seizures, brain infections, psychosis and other neuropsychiatric problems.
A 2015 study28 reported how a 22-year-old man experienced auditory hallucinations, memory deterioration, mood swings, suicidal feelings and insomnia after taking the drug. An ABC News story29 described how a 6-year-old girl started hallucinating and attempted to jump out a second-story window after taking Tamiflu.
Another study30 found more than half of all children suffered side effects from Tamiflu. A journalist in the Atlantic noted,31 “The only people helped by the proven-to-be-ineffective drug are its manufacturers.” A 2013 Forbes32 article spelled out several flaws in the science behind Tamiflu, and how the benefits were overstated.
Despite this overwhelming evidence, the CDC still recommends flu vaccines and antiviral drugs like Tamiflu and continues to claim the drugs may prevent serious complications,33 although the evidence clearly shows these antivirals do no such thing. The take-home message is to do your homework and not blindly follow public health recommendations.
More Benefits to Using Elderberry
While researchers found elderberry products could reduce cold and flu symptoms without the side effects associated with the flu shot or antiviral medications, the berries may also have additional benefits. If you choose to pick your own elderberries, they may be used to make juice, wine, extracts, syrups and jams.34
When picking, seek out blue, dark purple or black fruit as only these varieties may be eaten.35 It is crucial that they are completely ripened and you cook them thoroughly before ingesting since the raw berries are poisonous, containing a cyanide-producing chemical.36 In addition to the flu fighting benefits, elderberries may also:
Reduce cardiovascular disease38
Promote wound healing39
Soften skin and treat acne40
Promote the healing of sprains and bruises42
Naturally Support Your Immune System
Your immune system is your first line of defense against infections, so the most effective method of preventing illness is support your immune system. Your diet and other lifestyle factors are foundational to immune function. Nutrition may be the most vital component in maintaining — or gaining — a healthy immune system.
The addition of elderberry and taking quercetin during a viral illness may help reduce the length of your illness. Research from Appalachian State University in North Carolina found quercetin could reduce illness and boost mental performance after extreme physical stress.43 For more information of how quercetin may be used, see my previous article, “Quercetin — A Far Better Flu Remedy Than Tamiflu.”
Successfully running the gauntlet of flu season may be simply a matter of keeping your immune system boosted by applying a few key health strategies. Aside from school and work, other points at which your immune system might be compromised include during travel, and when you are sleep deprived or stressed out.
These are times you want to make sure your immune system is at its best. For more strategies to successfully support your immune system and activate your killer cells (an important component of your innate immune system) see these previous articles:
For decades, ginkgo proponents have sworn by the supplement for its ability to sharpen memory and improve overall brain function. New research expands on those attributes with evidence showing that the ancient Chinese herbal has another claim to fame: Although extracts have been made from the dried leaves of the plant,1 extracts from the seeds (aka “nuts”) were found to be useful as a topical solution for acne.
What scientists have already ascertained about ginkgo sets it apart from other trees for several reasons. The deciduous ginkgo tree itself is called a “living fossil.” Incredibly hardy, it has unique, fan-shaped leaves that spread an attractive canopy of shade.
As the oldest-known tree on Earth, several other impressive attributes include its ability to grow as high as 120 feet and live more than 1,000 years.2 In fact, some trees growing in China are claimed to be more than 2,500 years old.3 Also known as maidenhair tree, the name ginkgo has an intriguing significance, as the Japanese word “gin” means “silver” and “kyo” translates to “apricot.”4
Fruit, or more precisely, the “naked seed” of the gymnosperm isn’t enclosed in a ripened fruit like flowering plants (angiosperms) are.5 They do resemble apricots, but unlike apricots, ginkgo fruits should not be eaten, nor would one want to — the smell has been compared to smelly gym socks or even vomit,6 and compounds in the seeds are said to be toxic.
Still, the supplements are some of the most popular among any on the market, typically sold as a tablet, capsule or liquid extract. Medical News Today notes:
“Ginkgo extracts — mostly from the tree’s leaves — are often present as the key ingredients in herbal supplements. However, although experimental studies have suggested that ginkgo may help treat many conditions, from depression to Alzheimer’s to diabetes, its actual effectiveness and safety remain debatable.”7
Ginkgo Biloba for Blemish-Free Skin
Traditional uses have included ginkgo for intestinal parasites, treating arthritis and helping to soothe chilblains, which describes the itching, blistering and red patches caused by the inflammation of small blood vessels in response to cold, but not freezing air,8 and may be related to Raynaud’s syndrome.9
In looking for new solutions for dealing with skin infections due to bacterial pathogens, Xinyi Huang, a researcher at Emory University in Atlanta, along with her colleagues examined ginkgo leaves to verify results from a text written by ancient researcher Li Shi-Zhen, circa 1590 A.D.
Known as Ben Cao Gang Mu10 and touted as the Chinese Materia Medica,11 a preparation made from ginkgo seeds was recommended as an antibacterial. Huang, whose early experience with ginkgo came from eating the seeds or nuts, described her first taste in Cantonese soup as “really distinct — a little bit bitter but also sweet.”12 She wanted to conduct her own experiments on them. According to Medical News Today:
“In laboratory tests that they conducted on 12 different strains of bacteria … Using statistical analysis, Huang and colleagues also observed a positive correlation between the antimicrobial properties of the ginkgo seeds and their richness in a substance called ginkgolic acid C15:1.”13
The scientists’ work, published in Frontiers in Microbiology,14 involved testing ginkgo leaves, as well as the seed kernels and seed coats, immature seeds, branches and other plant extracts, on six pathogens known to cause skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs), some life threatening. Several were alleviated, including:
Cutibacterium acnes, which can cause acne vulgaris, blepharitis, dandruff and psoriasis16
Streptococcus pyogenes, which can cause impetigo, erysipelas and necrotizing fasciitis17
The extraction methods used — ethanol maceration, water sonication, water decoction and oil infusion — proved to influence the effectiveness, which was also influenced by the plant parts and plant strains used.
Ethanol extracts on the seeds proved most effective. However, the researchers also noted that the ginkgolic acid may have played a large part in ginkgo’s inhibitory effect on bad bacteria.
Studies Show What Ginkgo Can Do for Your Brain
So what are the active ingredients in ginkgo? According to studies, the leaf and seed extracts contain terpenoids, flavonol glycosides (principally quercetin and catechin) and proanthocyanidins, which are considered to be responsible for the pharmacological effects.18,19
Ginkgolides and bilobalides are terpenoids unique to ginkgo, which as a species is the only surviving species from the Ginkgoaceae family.20 According to animal studies, ginkgo as a whole has exhibited important mechanisms that may explain some of the positive therapeutic outcomes, as it was found to:
Inhibit platelet-activating factor, which results in blood coagulation inside arterial walls, to keep plaque from forming21
Enhance nitric oxide (NO) production in vessels, which promotes healthy endothelial function and subsequent effect on peripheral and cerebral blood flow22
Initiate synaptosomal uptake of dopamine to improve cognitive function23 and 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin),24 a neurotransmitter known for mobilizing your brain and body for action, linked to positive effects on cognition and attention
Exert free radical-scavenging activity, as it has neuroprotective and antiapoptotic properties, such as inhibiting amyloid-? neurotoxicity and protecting against hypoxic challenges, and may be particularly beneficial for Alzheimer’s25
As a supplement, ginkgo has elicited a lot of discussion and even controversy regarding its therapeutic capabilities, but the study lists a number of ways researchers found it to be viable, which is why their data support its use for patients with dementia and schizophrenia specifically.
In their scrutiny of 1,109 clinical publications to verify using ginkgo, the researchers reported its use as “equal” to that of a drug called donepezil,26 used to treat dementia and accompanying memory loss, including severe cases of Alzheimer’s, in two different trials.
In short, the study concludes, “Available evidence is sufficient to support the use of ginkgo biloba in patients with dementia and as an adjunctive therapy in schizophrenic patients.”27 However, promising results for its use of other neuropsychiatric conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, addiction and autism were not verified.
Other uses for ginkgo have included to improve vision, sexual function and reproductive health,28 tinnitus29 and anxiety.30 One study of 332 subjects found that people with normal tension glaucoma experienced improvement after taking 80 milligrams of ginkgo leaf extract in tablet form twice daily.31
How Has the Ginkgo Tree Managed to Survive All These Millennia?
An interesting paradox regarding the ginkgo tree is that its genetic composition includes both resistance and tolerance of insects and other predators. At the same time, there’s evidence that the tree was food to certain dinosaur species.
Teris A. van Beek’s book “Ginkgo Biloba”32 notes that ginkgo trees may have proliferated due to the “rotting flesh” smell serving to attract animals to eat the seeds, then defacate intact nuts. A BBC article may help explain the significance of the findings of a 2016 study published in GigaScience:33
“Its resilience is legendary: it was one of the few living things to survive the atomic bomb blast in the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945. A ginkgo is known to produce chemicals that are unpalatable to the insects that try to eat it, and will counter the fungi and bacteria that attempt to attack it.
Researchers can now more easily identify the mechanisms that drive these capabilities. The specific species sequenced in the study … reveals the tree’s genome to be huge, comprising some 10.6 billion DNA ‘letters.’ By way of comparison, the human genome contains just three billion letters.
Written in the Ginkgo’s DNA code are roughly 41,840 predicted genes, the ‘templates’ that the tree’s cells use to make the complex protein molecules that build and maintain the organism.”34
What to Do With the Research, and Cautionary Notes
Huang is quick to add a warning regarding ginkgo consumption, whether it’s the leaves or seeds. The cautionary note stems from the fact that the study’s first author, François Chassagne, stressed that concentrated ginkgolic acid C15:1 is actually toxic to the skin itself, which is ironic since ginkgo extracts at other concentrations were found to be beneficial for skin.
However, ginkgosides are such powerful flavonoids that they can positively affect even the smallest microcapillaries, leading to widespread benefits on all of your body’s organs, especially your brain.35
Huang adds that even though she ate cooked ginkgo seeds when she was a child, her parents always emphasized the importance of eating no more than five at a time. The original Ben Cao Gang Mu says to eat them sparingly, as well.
As is usually the case, the scientists involved in the featured study say they hope their research will result in the development of drugs based on ginkgo that will be even better at combating harmful bacteria. According to Chassagne:
“One possible strategy in the search for new antibiotics would be to investigate ways to modify the structure of the particular ginkgolic acid tied to the antibacterial activity, to try to improve its efficacy and also to reduce its toxicity to human skin cells.”36
Whenever you take any supplement, it’s important to listen to your body, and that’s just as true with ginkgo biloba. While it may offer brain and skin benefits, and more besides, if you experience unpleasant symptoms, you might be better off avoiding it or finding another alternative.
Symptoms people have noted include a mild upset stomach or slight headaches that occur within a few days of taking ginkgo supplements. In cases where individuals took large doses, the symptoms were more intense and included episodes of dizziness, diarrhea and nausea. Seek advice from your doctor if any of the above symptoms occur.37
People with epilepsy should not take ginkgo as it may cause seizures, nor should pregnant and breastfeeding women.38 In addition, people who are particularly susceptible to poison ivy and other such plants should avoid ginkgo due to the long-chain alkylphenols in the leaves, making it more of an allergen.39
1 The following nutrient has been shown to contribute to improved behavior in children with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD):
A number of studies have found children afflicted with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to be zinc-deficient than other children, and zinc supplementation has been shown to contribute to improved behavior in children with ADHD. Learn more.
2 Cellular repair and regeneration occurs during which of the following fasting phases?
Within first 12 hours of fasting
The initial refeeding
Cellular repair and regeneration occur when you start eating again, which is why cycling in and out of fasting and feasting is so imperative. The breakdown process occurs in the absence of food, while rebuilding occurs when food is reintroduced. Learn more.
Within first 16 to 18 hours of fasting
Several days after refeeding
3 BPA, dioxin, atrazine, phthalates, fire retardants, lead, mercury, PFCs and organophosphate pesticides are all examples of:
Volatile organic compounds
Endocrine disrupting chemicals
BPA, dioxin, atrazine, phthalates, perchlorate, fire retardants, lead, mercury, arsenic, PFCs, organophosphate pesticides and glycol ethers are 12 of the worst and most widely used endocrine disrupting chemicals. Learn more.
4 The following condition has been scientifically linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke:
Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia
Narcissistic personality disorder
Chronic stress and stress related disorders such as acute stress reaction, post-traumatic stress disorder and adjustment disorder
Stress can raise your risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke via several different mechanisms. Recent research shows people with stress related disorders are 37 percent more likely to develop cardiovascular disease compared to the general population. Learn more.
5 The following is an independent risk factor for ill health and premature death and a primary contributor to back pain:
Excessive sitting contributes to back pain and is an independent risk factor for ill health and premature death. Foundation Training exercises — simple yet powerful structural movements that help strengthen and realign your posture — can help compensate for long hours spent sitting and significantly reduce back pain. Learn more.
Strength training at the exclusion of aerobic training
6 Recent research shows outbreaks of this disease is spreading into areas in the U.S. and other countries where it has not been prevalent before:
Since Lyme disease became a nationally notifiable condition in 1991, the number of U.S. counties considered at high risk for Lyme disease has increased by more than 300 percent. The disease is also expanding rapidly all over the world, as new research presented in April 2019 shows that the outbreaks are creeping steadily into northern countries with less temperate climates. Learn more.
West Nile virus
7 The following is a major reason why sun exposure lowers your risk of heart disease:
Sun exposure triggers release of serotonin.
Sun exposure raises your blood pressure.
Sun exposure triggers your body’s production of nitric oxide.
Many of the benefits of sunlight, such as a decreased risk of heart disease, have to do with its ability to increase nitric oxide production in your body. Learn more.
Sunlight decreases your body’s production of nitric oxide.
Having the rare ghost encounter in a creepy hotel makes for a great story and can be a thrilling (even fun) experience. But, if a spirit happens to take up a more permanent residence in your life — or in your home — things can go from spooky to downright scary very quickly.
Luckily, rituals for removing unwanted ghosts abound. But, before you schedule a full-on seance just because your stairs are creaky, there are a few steps you should follow, based on our conversations with occult experts and online research, which we've listed below.
These won't help you combat straight-up demons or anything, but if you believe you're dealing with something less-than-benevolent (reminder: some ghosts can make for excellent, well-meaning roommates), here's where to start.