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By Adam Brady,
One of the defining qualities of the modern worldview is that of duality. Duality is the separation of one reality into two—materialism vs spiritualism.
The 17th century philosopher and mathematician Rene’ Descartes created what has come to be known as the Cartesian Split, which essentially established the division between the mind and the body, matter and spirit. Descartes viewed both domains as divine, yet they were completely separate and different. One domain—body or matter—was like that of a machine and could be studied by science. The other realm—mind or spirit—was the seat of your thinking, reason, and intellect and was to be known through religion.
While this compartmentalized approach allowed for the study of each aspect of reality without crossing into the other’s territory, it also created an uneasy truce between matter and spirit that exists to this day. The irony is, however, that once you look closer, you see the boundary between mind and body, matter and spirit, begin to dissolve into unity; revealing the truth that the division between the two is totally artificial and has only ever existed in one place—your mind.
More about how these two levels of reality become one later. For now, let’s examine the unique attributes and perceived differences between matter and spirit.
Materialism—The “Stuff” of the World
The material world is the physical “thingness” that you call home and are most intimately familiar with. Your environment, your body, and your energy all make up the solid and tangible reality that you experience every day. It is the realm of everything you can perceive through your senses; what you see, hear, smell, touch, and taste. At the material level, events are directed by a set of fixed scientific laws (motion, gravity, thermodynamics, etc.) that precisely predict the behavior of nature. Time flows linearly from past to present to future. Materialism is a localized reality, or in other words, everything has a defined location in time and space. At this level, everything is inherently impermanent; all that you can perceive through your five senses at one time wasn’t here, it will exist for a time, and it will eventually come to an end. The materialist world is what your mind may have come to interpret as the “normal” and commonsense way the world works. It feels solid and permanent, but appearances can be deceiving.
Materialism isn’t just the stuff of the world or its properties, though. Materialism also embodies the mindset or worldview in which you mistakenly identify with the environment or objects in the environment as points of reference. This is known as object referral, and through it you define yourself in relation to those external things. This is the ego’s territory—firmly rooted in positions, possessions, roles, titles, approval of others, self-image concerns, exclusivity, and a sense of superiority. Because the ego senses the impermanence of the material world, it is naturally insecure and fearful. It has built its mansion on transient sand that is ultimately destined to wash away.
Despite this fact, materialism continues to be the dominant way you may view the world. This not through any fault of your own; after all, your senses can seem very convincing. And when you’re culturally and socially indoctrinated into the belief that the world works in a very reasonable “nuts and bolts” way, it’s difficult to believe that there might be another option.
Spiritualism—The “Non-Stuff” of the World
At the other end of the spectrum, you have spiritual reality or the underlying mind or consciousness of the universe. If the material reality is the “thingness” of the world, true spirituality is the “non-thingness” of the world. As such, it makes it more difficult to get both your mind and hands around these concepts. However, while the spiritual reality doesn’t have solid, tangible properties that register with your senses, it is the source that gives rise to all the things you can perceive at the material level. It is the pure potential of all that was, all that is, and all that will be. It is the void; simultaneously empty and pregnant with possibilities. It has no physical properties and is governed by no scientific laws, yet it gives rise to all those things and infinitely more. The spiritual reality is not in space nor is it bound by time, therefore it is non-local; nowhere and no time in particular, and everywhere and all times in general. Unlike the impermanence of the material level, the spiritual domain is infinite and eternal; it has always been and always shall be. It is indestructible, invincible, and unbounded. As Krishna reminds us in chapter 2 of the Bhagavad Gita:
Weapons, fire, water, and air are incapable of cleaving, burning, wetting, and drying the self; for, the nature of the self is to pervade all elements; It is present everywhere; for, It is subtler than all the elements; It is not capable of being pervaded by them; and cleaving, burning, wetting and drying are actions which can take place only by pervading a substance. Therefore, the self is eternal. It is stable, immovable and primeval. The meaning is that It is unchanging, unshakable and ancient.
When you identify with the spiritual level of reality, you are self-referral, or knowing yourself not through the narrow filter of the ego’s perceptions, but through the ultimate total inclusivity of universal awareness. In this expansive state, all divisions, constrictions, and limitations dissolve into the love of pure awareness. You are able to live in a more reverent or sacred manner, feel a deeper connection with life and all things, and cultivate a deep inner understanding over externally focused worship. Because you are established in the ultimate and permanent reality, you lose your fear, enjoy everyday life more, and stop worrying about how long it will last. This doesn’t mean the material world doesn’t exist—it simply isn’t your true home.
Healing the Split—Matter and Spirit Reunited
You might be wondering, how could I ever merge these two vastly different realms back together?Surprisingly, the idea is not as difficult as it appears. All that’s required is a shift in your perception. You have been fooling yourself all along. Once you realize the ruse, you can step out of the illusion and see the underlying unity. Or as author Alan Watts in his book, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, puts it:
The problem would never have arisen if we had been aware that it was just our way of looking at the world that had chopped it up into separate bits, things, events, causes, and effects.
Make a spurious division of one process into two, forgot that you have done it, then puzzle for centuries as to how to get the two together.
Thus the transition zone between mind and body, matter and spirit, lies within your own awareness. It is the mistake of the intellect that has confused the map for the territory and split matter and spirit into two. Peeling back the layers of this artificial division is at the heart of the Vedic teachings of yoga and meditation. These tools and their allied disciplines exist as bridges back to the unity you have forgotten. Through their practice, you don’t gain a mere intellectual understanding of the underlying unity at the heart of reality, but you experience it directly. And having had the experience, the illusion of duality falls away and you can see matter and spirit as they have always been, one and the same.
In 1993, the United Nations marked March 22 as World Water Day.1 Water is common, vital and a valuable resource we often squander and pollute. While it pours out of the clouds and seems to fill rivers and oceans, it is a finite resource. In fact, there is currently the same amount of water on Earth as there was when the dinosaurs roamed the planet.2
The average adult human is made of up to 60% water.3 Water covers about 71% of the surface of the planet and the oceans contain 96.5% of all water.4 Nearly 97% of the Earth’s water is salty, 2% is locked in glaciers, leaving 1% for all of our needs.5
Water regulates temperature, both for the Earth and the human body. Although you can live about a month without food, you can only live without water for about a week.6
World Water Day was supposed to draw attention to the water we use and how we pollute this valuable resource.7 It is important to recognize that water is interconnected with the rest of the environment. In other words, what is poured on the ground, polluted in the airways or dumped in the toilet will eventually end up in the water supply.8
Although most households in the U.S. and Europe have running water directly from their faucet at home, many choose to drink bottled water. According to the FDA,9 Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) have been set into place for bottled water.
The FDA requires bottled water to be processed under sanitary conditions, protected from bacteria, chemicals and contaminants, and sample-tested at both the source and in the final product. Products labeled bottled, Artesian, drinking, mineral or spring waters are regulated by these rules.10
Bottled water sales continue to rise
Many people drink bottled water as they believe it to be safer than water from the tap.11 According to information from the International Bottled Water Association published in the Bottled Water Reporter magazine,12 bottled water was the highest selling beverage category by volume in 2016 and continued to make strong gains in 2017.
Bottled water sales volume grew from 12.8 billion gallons in 2016 to 13.7 billion gallons in 2017. According to information from the International Bottled Water Association,13 bottled water volume has grown each year since 1977, save for small reductions in 2008 and 2009.
The numbers from 2017 reflect a per person consumption of more than 42 gallons that year compared to the average consumption of carbonated soft drinks, which fell to less than 38 gallons per person.14
Forever chemicals found in bottled water
Across the U.S., tap water has been found to be contaminated with pharmaceutical drugs and agricultural or industrial contaminants. According to the Environmental Working Group,15 while most drinking water gets a passing grade from regulatory agencies, the EPA has not added a new contaminant for regulation in more than 20 years.
July 2, 2019, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts issued an advisory,16 stating bottled water products containing spring water from Spring Hill Farm Dairy Inc. tested positive for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
The Department of Public Health recommends “out of an abundance of caution,” women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and bottle-fed infants should not use Spring Hill Farm Dairy Inc. bottled water. Spring Hill Farm Dairy is a local Massachusetts distributor of spring water marketed as “So pure you can see the difference!”17
Although the majority of bottled water associated with this contamination was sold in Massachusetts, four other brands using Spring Hill water were sold outside the state, including:18
- Golden Flow Spring Water
- Hy-Top Spring Water
- Native Brands Spring Water
- Pride Pure
It makes sense that bottled water may be contaminated with this highly toxic chemical unless it’s specially filtered for removal. This is due to several reasons: Water is a finite resource that gets recycled for use;19 most bottled water is taken from springs, wells or municipal supplies20 and PFAS are persistent in the environment.21
According to information in the advisory published by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Spring Hill Farm Dairy is planning to install a new filter system to remove PFAS from their water supply by July 24, 2019.22 A company spokesperson said:23
“We had an inspection by the FDA this week and everything was in compliance. Although there is no state requirement for us to reduce [PFAS] levels, we are doing so voluntarily and at our own expense.”
The EWG maintains an interactive map of water supply PFAS contamination in the U.S.24 Military installations have the greatest risk of PFAS contamination as it’s a chemical used in firefighting foam during training exercises.25
Removing military sites from the map reveals heavier concentrations of contamination across Michigan, the northeast, southern California and northern Alabama and Georgia. There are also spots of contamination throughout many of the remaining states.26
What is PFAS and why pregnant women should be careful
PFAS are man-made chemicals that repel water and oil.27 Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) are the two most extensively produced and studied of the PFAS chemicals.28 These can be found in food packaging, commercial household products and drinking water. Although certain PFAS chemicals are no longer manufactured due to their toxicity, others are, including Gen-X chemicals and Perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS).29
According to the Congressional Research Service,30 there are thousands of PFAS chemicals.31 Over the past 10 years, the EPA has evaluated several of these under the Safe Drinking Water Act to determine if national water regulations are warranted.
However, they have not issued any regulations for any PFAS.32 In February 2019, the EPA issued an action plan to address PFAS under municipal environmental laws.33 Despite the EPA’s slow approach to determining if regulation is necessary, research has identified exposure to these chemicals has human health implications.
PFAS does not break down in the environment or in the human body. Cadaver studies demonstrate the chemicals build up in lung, liver and bone tissue.34 According to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, part of the Michigan Health System, studies have demonstrated that exposure may:35
- Affect children’s abilities to grow and learn
- Reduce fertility in men and women
- Interfere with hormone levels
- Alter the immune system
- Increase the risks of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and certain cancers
Levels of PFAS compounds have been found in the blood of nearly all people tested as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.36 The CDC states this indicates widespread exposure in the population, and despite bioaccumulation and known toxicity, they believe:37
“Finding a measurable amount of PFAS in serum does not imply that the levels of PFAS cause an adverse health effect.”
PFAS and more slip under the radar
If you follow the breadcrumbs, or water drops in this case, you’ll notice some interesting loopholes where manufacturers and environmental regulatory agencies have allowed PFAS and similar contaminants to slip through the cracks, ending up in bottled water and municipal water supplies.
Water is a finite source and you may be drinking the same water that dinosaurs once bathed in.38
PFAS is a persistent man-made chemical that does not break down in the environment and has been used in various industries around the world since the 1940s.39
The EPA is responsible for regulating tap water and groundwater supplies, while the FDA is responsible for regulating bottled water.40
According to the EPA, they regulate 90 contaminants but have no maximum contaminant levels established for PFAS.41
Bottled water is obtained from municipal water supplies, well water or spring water.42
After taking 10 years to evaluate, the EPA published an action plan described in this way:43 “EPA’s PFAS Action Plan outlines concrete steps the agency is taking to address PFAS and to protect public health.”
FDA regulations state:44 “They require bottled water producers to … Sample and test both source water and the final product for contaminants.”
Arsenic is a poisonous chemical naturally found in groundwater. Ingestion poses health concerns when dangerous amounts enter the body, leading to liver disease, cancer, coma and death.49 Chronic exposure can be dangerous as well, since arsenic bioaccumulates in animals.50 In their press release, the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) expounded on the risks, especially to children, saying:51
“Children are particularly at risk from arsenic exposure because their bodies are still developing, and direct exposure can affect mental and physical development, including lower IQ test scores and school achievement.
Arsenic can even harm an unborn child as a result of exposure to pregnant women or women likely to become pregnant. The metal is also what is known as an ‘endocrine disrupting chemical,’ which means even small doses can wreak havoc on a human’s hormone system.”
Independent testing by the CEH52 found high levels of arsenic in popular brands of bottled water. The brands included Starkey, owned and distributed by Whole Foods and Penafiel, imported from Mexico and owned by Dr Pepper.
The CEH sent legal notification to the manufacturers and retailers since the levels of arsenic found in the bottled water were above those required for the manufacturer to publish a health warning under California’s Proposition 65.53
Proposition 65 is a regulation in California54 that requires businesses to warn citizens about significant exposure to chemicals that the state has identified as contributing to the risks for cancer, birth defects or reproductive problems.
The publication of this information allows California citizens to make informed decisions. The warning is required to be on a product label or posted in a place of business to make individuals aware they are being exposed.55 While designed for Californians, the packaging is often not different throughout the U.S., offering all Americans the chance to make informed decisions about products.
Importance of clean, pure water to health
The daily assault by toxic substances found in your food, water and air places your body at a disadvantage. Drinking water helps maintain your body’s fluid balance, control calorie intake, protect your skin and maintain normal bowel function.56
However, when the water you’re drinking is contaminated with pharmaceuticals,57 microbeads58 or toxic chemicals,59,60 it increases your body’s toxic burden and the energy required to maintain your health.
Additionally, fluoride, a known neurotoxin, was intentionally added to the water supply when industry disposal became an inconvenient and costly problem. Find more information about fluoride in my past article, “Connecting the Dots — A Statement Opposing Fluoride.”
Add a filtration system and ditch the bottles
In addition to the microplastics found inside bottled water, a new study commissioned by the International Bottled Water Association found it takes 1.3 liters of water to make 1 liter of water in North America, but 1.47 liters of water to make 1 liter globally.61 Although this is lower than the average required to make a liter of soda,62 drinking filtered water directly from your tap requires even less.
Filtering your water is a health priority as it doesn’t really matter where you live, since many chemicals find their way into the ecosystem, easily spreading within the water supply. Ideally, the filter system you use will take care of drinking and bathing.
Chemicals can be absorbed through your skin63 and go directly into your bloodstream, bypassing your digestive and internal filtration systems. Unless you can verify the purity of your water, you’ll want to seriously consider a high-quality, whole house filtration system.
Ideally, this is installed at the point of entry and a second one at the point of use. This means the water coming into your home is filtered as it comes in and then again at the sink and shower. For a discussion of the different types of filtration systems, see my past article, “Properly Filter Your Water.”
You may not know or recognize his name, but Austrian Friedrich Serturner was a pharmacist’s assistant who, through 14 years of research and testing, isolated the purest form of the alkaloid base compound morphine from opium poppies.1 He found the opium with the alkaloid removed was not effective on animals, but the alkaloid was 10 times more powerful than the processed opium.2
After spending years testing on himself, he died chronically depressed and addicted to morphine.3 By the mid-1820s morphine was used across Western Europe, provided by several sources, including a new chemical company started by Heinrich Merck.4 Although first thought to be a cure for opium addiction, by the 1870s it became clear morphine was also addictive.
A chemist in a London hospital searching for a nonaddictive drug option to treat pain discovered a more powerful drug called diacetylmorphine. Bayer Laboratories developed and tested the drug and found it was a powerful painkiller.5 They produced and marketed it as a “sedative for coughs” in 1898. They called it heroin.
Although physicians quickly welcomed the new drug, they soon recognized the potential for addiction and in 1913 Bayer stopped production, and instead focused their efforts on marketing their second discovery, aspirin.
Unwilling to be associated with heroin production and distribution, Bayer Laboratories had edited that period from their official company account.6 While the pharmaceutical industry may have initially operated in the best interests of the public and their patients, this quickly changed over the next 100 years.
Database reveals horrific extent of opioid distribution
Before the mid-1980s opioids were prescribed few and far between because of fear their patients would become dependent on these highly addictive drugs.7 In 2017, the National Institute on Drug Abuse8 records there were 1.7 million people who suffered from a substance abuse problem related to prescription opioid pain relievers and 652,000 from addiction to heroin.
During the same year there were 47,600 deaths from an opioid overdose and at least 130 who died every day in 2016 and 2017 from an opioid-related overdose.9 In total, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention records nearly 218,000 people have died due to opioid-related prescription overdoses.10
The epidemic has devastated communities and families, while physicians, pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors have enjoyed exceptional profits. This is the crux of a lawsuit brought by 2,000 communities in federal court against 2311 of the biggest drug companies they allege conspired to flood the country with drugs and their pockets with profits.12
The lawsuit covers 2006 to 2012, when the plaintiffs allege 76 billion opioid pain pills were distributed throughout the U.S. as the drug epidemic spiraled out of control.13 That’s enough for every American in 201014 to take one pill every 1.5 days for one year. However, the shipment of the drugs was not evenly distributed throughout the U.S.
According to data from the DEA,15 one small town of 2,831 people received a shipment each month of 3,271 bottles,16 each containing 100 pills.17 The Washington Post reported on emails sent by Kristine Atwell, who managed Walgreens’ distribution of controlled substances for their warehouse in Jupiter, Florida. She urged headquarters to require justification for large orders.18
“I ran a query to see how many bottles we have sent to store #3836 and we have shipped them 3271 bottles between 12/1/10 and 1/10/11. I don’t know how they can even house this many bottle[s] to be honest. How do we go about checking the validity of these orders?”
Further emails in the plaintiff’s lawsuit quoted Victor Borelli, an account manager for Mallinckrodt to Steve Cochrane, vice president of sales for KeySource Medical. In one exchange quoted in The Washington Post:
“Borelli told Cochrane in another email that 1,200 bottles of oxycodone 30 mg tablets had been shipped.
“Keep ’em comin’!” Cochrane responded. “Flyin’ out of there. It’s like people are addicted to these things or something. Oh, wait, people are …” Borelli responded: “Just like Doritos keep eating. We’ll make more.””
DEA and drug companies fought to keep numbers secret
The DEA maintains a database of every controlled substance prescribed, sold and distributed throughout the U.S. — Automation of Reports and Consolidated Order System (ARCOS).19 In an age of digital reporting and computer aided analysis, it’s difficult to imagine the DEA was unable to pinpoint those involved in fraud that was feeding an epidemic killing hundreds of thousands of Americans.
For the first time, data from ARCOS have been released to the public after The Washington Post and HD Media pushed for over one year to access the information. Until July 15, 2019, the litigation proceedings had been held in secrecy. On that date the federal judge lifted a protective order for part of ARCOS.20
Attorneys for the drug companies and the DEA challenged the public release of the information. The drug companies argued the data may give their competitors an unfair advantage in the marketplace.
While protecting market information for business is important to the Federal Trade Commission, it’s also important to remember the drug companies wanted to protect their sales of opioid painkillers, the data which were being released.
The justice department argued the release may potentially compromise ongoing investigations. But the lawyers for the communities suing the drug companies we’re happy to see the data released to the public. Paul Farrell Jr., co-lead counsel for the plaintiff said to The Washington Post:21
“The data provides statistical insights that help pinpoint the origins and spread of the opioid epidemic — an epidemic that thousands of communities across the country argue was both sparked and inflamed by opioid manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies.”
Each of the drug companies and pharmacies have made statements to the effect they hold no responsibility for the distribution of opioids across the U.S. — except one. Ohio-based pharmaceutical company Miami-Luken Inc. chairman Joseph Mastandrea stood before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee along with four other executives from the nation’s largest drug distribution companies.22
Each were sworn in and each denied they contributed to the opioid crisis. Only Miami-Luken accepted responsibility.23 Subsequently the company and four employees were indicted, charged with shipping millions of pills to rural Appalachia and 3.7 million pills from 2008 to 2011 to a town of 400 people.24
Midwest and southern states hit hardest by 76 billion pills
The crisis does not respect boundaries. While accidental drug overdose is the leading cause of death in those under 50,25 a study by the Office of Inspector General in 201726 found 1 in every 3 persons on the Medicare prescription plan (Part D)27 filled a prescription for opioids in 2016, and 500,000 received high amounts.
ARCOS is a road map of the distribution of opioid pills. While much of the past attention has focused on the drug manufacturers, the data from ARCOS will help clarify the part distributors and pharmacies have played in this tragic human drama. Farrell, a native of West Virginia, commented to NPR:28
“You’ll be able to see the flow, the steady flow of pills — it’s not a trickle, it’s a tsunami. In my hometown of Huntington, W.Va., there are 24 CVS pharmacies within 40 miles of my house. From those 24 pharmacies, you’ll be able to see that 80 million [opioid] pills were distributed [over a six-year period].”
The Washington Post analyzed the information and found just six companies distributed 75% of the opioid prescriptions in the six years in question.29 According to The Washington Post, “states receiving the highest number of pills per person were: West Virginia at 66.5, Kentucky at 63.3, South Carolina at 58, Tennessee at 57.7 and Nevada at 54.7.”30
The following graphic from The Washington Post showed that data from ARCOS revealed the 10 biggest distributors of opioid prescriptions from 2006 to 2012 were:31
|Company||Number of pills distributed|
Smith Drug Co.
However, while there are always a few who try to break the rules, in this case there appeared to be multiple individuals and companies working independently of each other who have been trying to skirt the system. The DEA mandates32 pharmacies and distribution companies identify suspicious orders and report them.
One example the plaintiffs cite in their allegations is from Walgreens. The company’s formula to screen for suspicious orders identified thousands but these orders were shipped anyway. They were later reported to the DEA as a collection of completed transactions, including 836 pharmacies in more than 12 states. The DEA wrote:33
“Notwithstanding the ample guidance available, Walgreens has failed to maintain an adequate suspicious order reporting system and as a result, has ignored readily identifiable orders and ordering patterns that, based on the information available throughout the Walgreens Corporation, should have been obvious signs of diversion.”
Drug companies place a dollar value on your life
The New York Times34 reported Mallinckrodt, makers of 12 categories of controlled substances,35 agreed to settle for $35 million against charges they had failed to detect and report suspicious orders of opioids.
The Washington Post36 reports the top 10 distributors listed above “paid over $1 billion to the Justice Department and FDA, and hundreds of millions more to states to settle” fines and lawsuits. However, nondisclosure agreements were attached to these settlements, so the information was never made public.
The scope of the hundreds of lawsuits, now in the U.S. District Court in Cleveland, Ohio, are greater than the $245 billion settled over 25 years from the tobacco litigation in the 1980s.37 In May 2019, Purdue Pharma settled with Oklahoma for $270 million.38
The Washington Post reported39 Walgreens has paid an $80 million fine, McKesson has paid a total of $163 million in two settlements and Cardinal $68 million in two settlements. CVS paid a $22 million fine for the distribution of oxycodone in Sanford, Florida, from 2008 to 2011, during which time 2.2 million pills were sold.40
Despite the large fines, settlements and disputes with the government, the pharmaceutical industry found it was lucrative to continue to sell opioid pills to whomever would buy them. With full knowledge of the number of people dying and lives destroyed, the industry placed a numerical value on human life as long as they kept making money.
Blame for the opioid crisis rests with: no one
In documents and testimonies, one after another, physicians, pharmacies and manufacturers are laying the blame for the epidemic — nowhere. According to each group, they were only doing what was asked, ordered or part of their normal business duties.
At no point did any of these medical professionals, sworn to uphold ethical standards, or thousands of employees at Big Pharma decide enough was enough.
In an interview with NPR,41 Scott Higham, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter from The Washington Post42 who broke the story, was asked if the data from the DEA challenged the assertion by drug companies the epidemic should be blamed on overprescribing doctors and pharmacists who looked the other way. He replied:43
“Well, in some ways, it does. Look; there are corrupt doctors, and this epidemic wouldn’t have started without them. But up and down the chain, everybody has a responsibility. The doctors have a responsibility. The pharmacists have a responsibility. The distributors have a responsibility. And the manufacturers have a responsibility. It’s a tightly regulated supply chain.
And if any of those links in that chain break, the whole thing collapses. And that’s what happened. Up and down the supply chain, there were breaks, and nobody seemed to stop it. And the pills just kept pouring onto the streets of America.”
A position piece44 written by Dr. Arthur Gale, Journal of the Missouri State Medical Association contributing editor, he explains the development of the opioid crisis that is as simple as “follow the money and the ‘experts’ it buys.” In his historical accounting, he discusses the impact neurologist and pain specialist, Dr. Russell Portenoy, had on the field.
Portenoy used his considerable influence to convince medical professionals the risk of addiction was minimal and, conversely, not treating pain was cruel and may even be considered medical negligence.45 During the early 1990s Portenoy’s reputation was impeccable and he won many awards for his work in pain management, becoming known as the “king of pain.”
He consistently used a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine46 that stated a mere 1% of those treated with narcotics would later become addicted. However, as has become known, this “landmark” study was a simple one paragraph letter to the editor, which one author has repeatedly claimed was misinterpreted.
Rules of the marketplace guiding medicine
More recently, Portenoy has backtracked his statements on opioid addiction and admitted he was wrong. In an article in The Wall Street Journal in 2012 Portnoy is quoted from a 2010 videotaped interview saying,47 “I gave innumerable lectures in the late 1980s and ’90s about addiction that weren’t true.”
Despite being discredited, and making false statements about addiction, Portenoy48 is the chief medical officer and executive director of the Metropolitan Jewish Health System hospice and palliative care, after having recently left the department of pain medicine and palliative care at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center. The Journal writes the Joint Commission published a guide funded by Purdue Pharmaceuticals:49
“The Joint Commission published a guide sponsored by Purdue Pharma. “Some clinicians have inaccurate and exaggerated concerns” about addiction, tolerance and risk of death, the guide said. “This attitude prevails despite the fact there is no evidence that addiction is a significant issue when persons are given opioids for pain control.”
Purdue said the booklet emerged from a process that “represented the consensus of a broad range of interested stakeholders.” Drug makers regularly pay for educational materials for physicians as an element of their marketing.”
While at Beth Israel at the time of the Wall Street Journal article, Portenoy and Beth Israel did not provide details of funding by drug companies for Portenoy’s programs. However, in a 2007 fundraising prospectus, it was revealed his program benefited from millions of dollars in funding from opioid makers. The Wall Street Journal quotes Portenoy saying:50
“My viewpoint is that I can have those relationships, they would benefit my educational mission, they benefit in my research mission, and to some extent, they can benefit my own pocketbook, without producing in me any tendency to engage in undue influence or misinformation.”
Ultimately, Gale’s point is twofold:51
• Simple disclosure of conflict of interest is not sufficient, as this “industry-financed and physician-led, physician-driven opioid disaster proves.” He believes it’s likely nothing will come of this as there is too much money to be lost by drug companies, research medical centers, researchers, medical education programs and some physicians.
• While multimillion-dollar fines are paid, the industry keeps churning out drugs. Gale writes:52 “And what has happened to Portenoy and the other “experts” and “thought leaders” who falsely promoted the safety of opioids?
What has happened to the Joint Commission and the Federation of State Medical Boards and hospital lawyers all of whom played ‘follow the leader’ and climbed on the opioid bandwagon and advised doctors they had better treat pain with opioids or possibly face sanctions or malpractice claims? The answer is a resounding nothing.”
Foster care numbers double due to opioid addiction
Death and family destruction come at a significant cost to communities, the criminal justice system and innocent and vulnerable children. A recent research letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association53 finds an increasing trend in children placed in foster care, removed from their parents and homes due to parent drug use.
After almost 10 years of declining numbers of children being placed into foster care, the cases have begun to rise steadily since 2012.54 Over the past two decades, the number of children going into foster care related to their parent’s drug use has more than doubled, rising from 39,000 in 2000 to 96,700 in 2017.
The researchers found the increase in foster care placement for drug use beginning in 2000 had started even as the overall caseload had been declining. By 2012, the overall number of children placed in foster care showed an increase.55
Caseload information show children going into foster care following parental drug use were more likely to be 5 years old or younger, white and from the southern area of the U.S.
And still nothing has changed
Despite documentation the DEA and manufacturers were aware of the distribution of voluminous numbers of opioids across the U.S. until 2012, and in the seven years since then, nothing has really changed.
In January 2019, well after up-to-date statistics demonstrating the human tragedy being played out before everyone’s eyes were published, the NIH and Health and Human Services updated their priorities to:56
- Improve access to treatment and recovery
- Promote the use of drugs to reverse overdose
- Support more research on pain and addiction
- Advance better pain management practices
- Strengthen their understanding of the epidemic using better public health surveillance
In other words, the agency charged with addressing the drug abuse challenges in the U.S. is seeking more research and hopes to promote the use of drugs used to reverse overdoses without including goals to reduce prescription by physicians, monitoring at pharmacies or coordination with the DEA.
Before accepting a prescription for an opioid painkiller, once reserved only for end-of-life care, think about if you’d use heroin to treat the type of pain you’re experiencing. In essence, opioid painkillers are prescription-strength, legal heroin-type drugs, with the same addictive properties and potential to destroy your life.
Pain is your body’s communication system, letting you know something is wrong. There are other options to help alleviate your pain that do not include addictive medication but are effective when used properly. I always recommend working with your health care provider to identify the source of your pain, since if you’re able to relieve the issue, it often relieves the pain.
For instance, poor posture may be the root of upper or lower back, hip or knee pain. Correcting your posture and strengthening your core may eliminate the problem. There are a number of pain relieving strategies I discuss in my past article, “Treating pain without drugs.”
Migraine affects an estimated 1 in 7 people worldwide, and is the third most common disease globally.1 In the U.S., self-reported migraine and severe headache affects 1 in 62 Women are up to three times more likely to suffer with migraines than men, likely due to hormone fluctuations.3
Despite its high prevalence, decades of research have failed to pin down the exact mechanisms behind the attacks — most of which tend to recur once or twice a month.4 The pain, which often occurs on one side of the head only, can be moderate to severe in intensity.
Along with throbbing, piercing or “burning” pain, other common symptoms include nausea, visual disturbances, dizziness, numbness in your extremities or face, and extreme sensitivity to light, sound, smell and touch.5 Attacks typically last between four and 72 hours,6 often requiring bed rest in complete darkness and silence.
Reigning migraine hypotheses
While the exact mechanisms remain unclear, a number of different hypotheses have been raised. Over the last decade or two, researchers have started leaning toward migraine being a disorder of your central nervous system, most likely originating in your brain stem.7,8,9,10 While most brain regions do not register or transmit pain signals, the trigeminal nerve network does.
Pain is relayed through the trigeminal network to an area in your brain stem called the trigeminal nucleus. From there, it is conveyed to the sensory cortex in your brain that is involved in awareness of pain and other senses. As explained by Migrainedisorders.com:11
“[P]eople with migraine illness have a nervous system that is not working normally. It overreacts … when stimulated, there is an unusual wave of brain activity that leads to a headache.
Almost all migraine sufferers have a problem with a specific part of the nervous system, called the trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve is a network of wiring that attaches to special sensors.
When stimulated, they send electrical signals to the brainstem with connections to nerves of the cortex and its covering, the dura. Normally this system allows us know what is going on in the world. When the system does not work properly, electrical signals set off a slowly moving wave of electrochemical activity across the surface of the brain.
People with migraine start to experience odd sensations, such as white sparks in an eye (a misfiring of the ocular nerve) followed by an intense pain in some part of the head and concluding with a long period of nausea (activation of the gastrointestinal system) and exhaustion (general inflammation and swelling of the cortex).”
The initial activation of your trigeminal nerve is thought to be triggered by a variety of internal and external stimuli, ranging from stress, hormone fluctuations and irregular sleep to a variety of foods, flashing lights, noise and weather changes.12
Still, migraines can sometimes occur even in the absence of an apparent trigger, suggesting we still don’t have a complete picture of the phenomenon. Mitochondrial dysfunction also appears to be part of the puzzle. As noted in one 2013 paper:13
“Abnormal [mitochondrial] function translates into high intracellular penetration of Ca(2+), excessive production of free radicals, and deficient oxidative phosphorylation, which ultimately causes energy failure in neurons and astrocytes, thus triggering migraine mechanisms.”
The influence of neurotransmitters such as calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP)14,15 may also play a role, as may nutritional deficiencies. At the very least, studies have identified nutritional deficiencies that significantly raise your risk of migraines. Among them is riboflavin (vitamin B2).
Riboflavin deficiency linked to migraine
A paper,16 published in Frontiers in Neurology in 2017 looked at riboflavin’s influence on migraine and Parkinson’s disease, highlighting its neuroprotective potential.
According to this paper, “riboflavin ameliorates oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, neuroinflammation and glutamate excitotoxicity; all of which take part in the pathogenesis of PD, migraine headache and other neurological disorders.”
Here, the authors link migraine pain to neurovascular dysfunction, inflammation and “dysfunction in cranial vascular contractility,” and cite research showing people who have migraine with aura have lower levels of antioxidants and higher levels of oxidative stress than migraine-free controls.
They’ve also been shown to have higher levels of mitochondrial dysfunction, and at least two polymorphisms in mitochondrial DNA have been shown to heighten migraine susceptibility. The authors also note that:17
“[C]ommon triggers of migraine have the ability to generate oxidative stress; mechanisms include mitochondrial dysfunction, calcium excitotoxicity, activation of microglia, activation of NADPH oxidase, and as a byproduct of MAO (monoamine oxidase), cytochrome P450, or NO synthase. Collectively, it is indicated that oxidative stress is an important hallmark of migraine disease.”
Riboflavin may help by ameliorating many of the hallmarks of migraine, including oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, neuroinflammation, homocysteine neurotoxicity and glutamate excitotoxicity, as shown below.18
The paper goes into some detail, explaining the biochemical influence of riboflavin on all of these, so for a more comprehensive understanding, I’d suggest reading through the original paper.
Are you getting enough riboflavin?
In conclusion, the authors of this Frontiers in Neurology paper note that:19
“Riboflavin has demonstrated its ability to tackle significant pathogenesis-related mechanisms in neurological disorders, exemplified by the ones attributed to the pathogenesis of … migraine … In addition, riboflavin is required for pyridoxine activation.
Riboflavin and PLP, the active form of pyridoxine, play essential roles in homocysteine metabolism, and tryptophan-kynurenine pathway. Indeed, any accumulation of homocysteine or kynurenines due to vitamin insufficiency can lead to significant neurological consequences.
Taking into consideration the limited riboflavin absorption and utilization in 10–15% of global population, long term riboflavin insufficiency could participate in the development of multiple neurological disorders, emphasizing the importance of long-term riboflavin-sufficient diet especially in vulnerable populations.”
Since riboflavin is a water-soluble B vitamin, you need to get a consistent supply from your diet. Foods rich in riboflavin include:20,21,22
Crimini and portabella mushrooms
Grass fed beef liver
Grass fed beef tenderloin
Identifying riboflavin deficiency, and dosing suggestions
While riboflavin deficiency is thought to be rare in the U.S., older adults, women on birth control pills, alcoholics, pregnant and lactating women, vegans and those with liver disorders are at increased risk for deficiency.23 Common signs and symptoms of deficiency include:24
Itchy or cracking skin
Dermatitis around the mouth
Urine analysis can identify a riboflavin deficiency. As a general rule, deficiency is said to be present if your urinary riboflavin is below 40 micrograms per day.25 The recommended daily intake is 1.3 milligrams for adult men, 1.1 mg for adult women, 1.3 mg for male adolescents (14 to 18 years of age) and 1.0 mg for female adolescents.26
If you struggle with migraines, however, you may need far higher doses. As noted in StatPearls’ database on “Riboflavin Deficiency”:27
“Taking supplements of riboflavin is also a cure for migraines. Research28 showed that 400 mg of riboflavin a day had demonstrated efficacy in prevention of a migraine in adults, but it must be taken for a minimum of 3 months for good results.
This is most likely because mitochondrial dysfunction has been shown to play a role in migraines, and riboflavin is a precursor of flavin cofactors of the electron transport chain.”
The study29 cited, published in the European Journal of Neurology in 2004, found 400 mg of riboflavin per day reduced migraine frequency by 50%, from four days a month to two days a month, after three months of use. The duration and intensity remained largely unaffected, however.
Other vitamin deficiencies implicated in migraines
Aside from riboflavin, other nutrients deficiencies that have been implicated in migraines include:
• Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid — One 2009 study30 evaluated the effect of 2 mg of folic acid, 25 mg vitamin B6 and 400 mcg of vitamin B12 in 52 patients diagnosed with migraine with aura. Compared to the placebo group, those receiving these supplements experienced a 50% reduction in the prevalence of migraine disability (from 60% to 30%) over a six-month period.
• Magnesium — Magnesium has also been shown to play an important role in the prevention and treatment of migraines, and migraine sufferers are more likely to suffer from magnesium deficiency than non-migraineurs.31
Since magnesium administration is both easy and safe, researchers have noted that empiric treatment with a magnesium supplement is justified for all migraine sufferers.32 As a prophylactic, be prepared to boost your magnesium intake for at least three months to experience results, ideally in combination with CoQ10.
In many cases, receiving a high dose of magnesium can also abort an attack in progress. The most effective way to administer magnesium for migraine would be to get an intravenous (IV) infusion. I used to regularly administer magnesium IVs for those with acute migraines and it seemed to work for most patients to abort the headache.
Barring that option, magnesium threonate may be your best option for an oral supplement. It has superior absorbability compared to other forms of magnesium, and since its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier makes it more likely to have a beneficial effect on your brain.
Foods rich in magnesium33 include: almonds and cashews, boiled spinach, peanut butter, avocado, potato, brown rice, banana, wild Alaskan salmon and yogurt made from organic grass fed milk with no added sugars, just to name a few.
• Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) — A migraine study34,35,36 presented at the annual American Headache Society meeting in 2016, which involved 7,420 children, teens and young adults, found 51% had low levels of CoQ10, 31% had low vitamin D status and 16% had low levels of riboflavin.
Those suffering from chronic migraines were overall more likely to have CoQ10 and riboflavin deficiency compared to those with episodic migraines. While the final study results do not appear to have been published yet, other research have found similar links.
For example, a 2015 study37 in The Journal of Headache and Pain found supplementation with a proprietary combination of magnesium, riboflavin and CoQ10 for three months lowered migraine frequency from 6.2 days at baseline to 4.4 days at three months. Pain intensity was also significantly reduced. Foods rich in CoQ1038 include: grass fed beef, herring, organic pastured chicken, sesame seeds, broccoli and cauliflower.
• Vitamin D — While many studies appear to refute a link between low vitamin D and migraine, there have been some showing vitamin D may play a role. For example, migraine research using vitamin D supplementation has demonstrated a reduction in C-reactive protein (a marker for inflammation) and a statistically significant reduction in migraine frequency.39
Another study40 by Finnish researchers, while not focused on migraines specifically, found men with the lowest vitamin D levels had 113% higher odds for frequent headaches than those with the highest levels. Overall, the lower the men’s blood level of vitamin D, the more frequent their headaches.
A 2013 study41 looking at the relationship between vitamin D levels and migraine found a weak but positive relationship in terms of frequency, but not in terms of severity. The best way to optimize your vitamin D level is through regular sun exposure. If taking an oral supplement, be sure to use vitamin D3 (not D2), along with magnesium, vitamin K2 and calcium.
Migraine prevention 101
When it comes to migraines, your best bet is to take preventive action, as treating migraines acutely is very difficult. Migraine medications often do not work, and can have serious side effects.42
Your first step would be to identify and avoid potential triggers. While there are many (and what triggers a migraine for one might not trigger it in another), the list below includes some of the most common culprits. Keeping a journal where you record and track suspected triggers can help you determine any correlations.
In the video above, “America’s pharmacist” Suzy Cohen also discusses drug-free solutions for migraine and headache relief, including nutritional supplements, of which B vitamins, magnesium, CoQ10 and vitamin D appear to be the most important.
Food and drink — Especially wheat and gluten, dairy, cane sugar, yeast, corn, citrus, eggs, artificial preservatives or chemical additives, cured or processed meats, alcohol (especially red wine and beer), aspartame, caffeine and MSG.43,44
Allergies — Including food allergies,45 food sensitivities and chemical sensitivities. Research46 published in the journal Lancet back in 1979 showed migraineurs with food antigen immunoreactivity experienced profound relief when put on an elimination diet.
Another randomized, double-blind crossover study47 published in 2010 found that a six-week-long diet restriction produced a statistically significant reduction in migraines in those diagnosed with migraine without aura.
If you suspect you might have a food allergy, I suggest doing a diet elimination challenge to see if your symptoms improve. Keep in mind that depending on your typical migraine frequency, you may need to avoid the suspected food for a few weeks in order to evaluate whether it had an effect or not.
To confirm the results, reintroduce the food or drink on an empty stomach. If the suspected food is the culprit, you will generally be able to feel the symptoms return within an hour, although migraines can sometimes have a longer lag time than, say, bloating or drowsiness.
Hormones — Some women experience migraines before or during their periods, during pregnancy or during menopause. Others may get migraines from hormonal medications like birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy.
Light, noise and smells — Bright lights, fluorescent lights, loud noises and strong smells (even pleasant ones) can trigger and/or exacerbate a migraine. A study48,49 from Harvard Medical School found even blind migraine sufferers who still had melanopsin receptors were sensitive to light.
Blue light in particular can be problematic. Many digital devices and LED light sources emit mostly blue light. Research has found that this light increases migraine pain and activates your trigeminal nerve, associated with the pain of migraines.50 Meanwhile, green light may help ease migraine pain and photosensitivity.51,52
At this time there are no lightbulbs or sunglasses that increase your exposure to pure wavelength green light that are cost effective. However, there are orange or red-tinted glasses that will block blue light, which may be helpful. You may also consider eliminating your exposure to your digital devices while you’re in the middle of a migraine.
Changes in sleep cycle — This includes both missing sleep and oversleeping.
Stress — Any kind of stress or emotional trauma can trigger a migraine, even after the stress has passed.
Dehydration and/or hunger — Skipping meals or fasting are also common triggers.
Physical overexertion — Extremely intense exercise, and even sex, has been known to bring on migraines.
Weather changes, and/or changes in altitude
They go into some of the terms you hear, like “Scaramucci model”, “book deal money laundering”, “sleeper”, etc. They also talk about several D’s recent trip to Venice, Italy (~43 minutes).
These two are both highly intelligent and awakened Q-Trump-deep-state watchers and analyzers. I’m liking (and enjoying) what they’re doing!
Published on Jul 30, 2019
I join my friend Brenden Dilley for a discussion the deep state and Qanon
Brenden Dilley on Twitter (@realhublife): https://twitter.com/realhublife
PM Twitter thread: http://bit.ly/Q_on_ready
PM website: https://prayingmedic.com/
Support my work: https://www.patreon.com/PrayingMedic
|(Natural News) The World Health Organization (WHO) defines physical activity as any movement performed by the muscles of the body that requires expending energy. These activities could either be for fun, for work, or for recreational purposes. While some people use the term physical activity interchangeably with exercise, the latter is considered a subcategory of physical activity and is…|