Health & Wellness


Zika virus: Public health alerts in South America and Caribbean as fears illness may cause birth deformities

© Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images
The Aedes mosquito can spread Zika virus in addition to dengue fever and chikungunya virus. The virus was first spotted in the Americas in 2014.

Doctors believe the illness may be linked to a rise in cases of microcephaly in infants

A virus believed to cause under-developed brains and skulls in newborn babies has sparked a public health emergency in Brazil and the Caribbean.

The Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease similar to dengue fever, was first identified on Easter Island, Chile in February last year and has since spread to Brazil, Columbia and the Caribbean.

On Monday, the Caribbean Public Health Agency confirmed five cases of the Zika virus in a territory of the Caribbean Community, according to Liverostrum News Agency.

The territory where the cases were confirmed has not been revealed.

Reports say the disease surveillance system operated by one of the community's members, Grenada, has since been heightened and health officials are on alert.

Doctors are now investigating whether the virus could be linked to a rise in cases of microcephaly in infants, after the Brazilian health ministry confirmed nearly 400 cases of newborns with abnormally small heads in an infected region of north-east Brazil, according to the Telegraph.

Comment: See also: Zika who? Costa Rica on alert following first confirmed cases of the virus in the Americas

Top Secret

Drug advertising & the FDA: Hear no evil, see no evil

In 1997, the FDA decided to relax the guidelines pertaining to televised pharmaceutical ads. In the following years, direct-to-consumer ads took off from a $12 million dollar business to a $4.1 billion dollar business by 2006. In 2011, it was estimated that 1 billion per year was being spent.

The amount of money spent is a boon to the television stations and one of the reasons mainstream news media often buries news that is unfavorable to pharmaceutical companies. They don't want to bite the hand that feeds them.

Aside from obvious corruption, the naiveté of the American people regarding pharmaceutical companies is astounding. Although some reports of the pharmaceutical companies' flagrant disregard for human lives are publicized and stories of them being fined billions of dollars for civil and criminal activities should concern us, somehow we don't connect the dots. The same company that may have been fined billions for corruption regarding another drug also makes vaccines, but we are told vaccines are safe and, therefore, believe what we want to hear.

Comment: Hopefully the recent article Breaking Big Pharma: Doctors call for immediate drug advertising ban will help consumers look at drugs more critically and demand full information before they succumb to Big Pharma drugs with serious side effects!
During a recent vote at the annual meeting in Atlanta, the nation's American Medical Association decided that they were going to call for a ban on consumer drug commercials in magazines and television commercials.

This vote "reflects concerns among physicians about the negative impact of commercially driven promotions, and the role that marketing costs play in fueling escalating drug prices," said AMA Board Chair-elect Patrice A. Harris in a statement announcing the votes result. "Direct-to-consumer advertising also inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate."

Alarm Clock

Broken sleep


Karen Emsile is a Scottish writer, artist and photographer. She has been car-jacked in Barcelona, lost in the Alps, and harassed by fake police in Cuba, but still loves the adventurer’s life. She is based in Spain.
It is 4.18am. In the fireplace, where logs burned, there are now orange lumps that will soon be ash. Orion the Hunter is above the hill. Taurus, a sparkling V, is directly overhead, pointing to the Seven Sisters. Sirius, one of Orion's heel dogs, is pumping red-blue-violet, like a galactic disco ball. As the night moves on, the old dog will set into the hill.

It is 4.18am and I am awake. Such early waking is often viewed as a disorder, a glitch in the body's natural rhythm - a sign of depression or anxiety. It is true that when I wake at 4am I have a whirring mind. And, even though I am a happy person, if I lie in the dark my thoughts veer towards worry. I have found it better to get up than to lie in bed teetering on the edge of nocturnal lunacy.



10 things everyone should know about seasonal affective disorder

It's more than just the winter blues.

For some, the winter is hardly "the most wonderful time of the year."

Seasonal affective disorder is a condition that affects nearly 10 million American adults and can make a few months out of the year feel downright unbearable. It's common to feel bouts of the winter blues, but those with seasonal depression may experience symptoms and low moods that sometimes make everyday tasks feel impossible.

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind about seasonal affective disorder, its treatment options and how it affects people's daily lives.

Comment: See more:
  • Tips to beat the winter blues
  • It's time to do away with daylight saving time


Gardening is strong medicine: The curious case of the antidepressant & anti-anxiety backyard garden

Gardening is my Prozac. The time I dedicate to training tomato vines or hacking at berry bushes seems to help me stave off feelings of sadness or dread and calm the chatter in my mind. My vegetable beds have even buoyed me through more acute stressors, such as my medical internship, my daughter's departure for college, and a loved one's cancer treatment. I'm not alone in appreciating the antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects of gardening—countless blogs are dedicated to this very subject, and a rash of new studies has documented that spending time around greenery can lead to improved mental health.

Comment: Read more about the Health benefits of garden therapy:


Researchers discover candida albicans fungus has evolved to counter its bacterial rivals

© University of Toronto
Candida albicans in its round and filamentous (stringy) shapes.
Researchers at the University of Toronto examined fungi in the mucus of patients with cystic fibrosis and discovered how one particularly cunning fungal species has evolved to defend itself against neighbouring bacteria.

A regular resident of our microbiome -- and especially ubiquitous in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients -the Candida albicans fungus is an "opportunistic pathogen." This means it usually leaves us alone, but can turn against us if our immune system becomes compromised. In fact, this fungus is among the most common causes of bloodstream infections, such as sepsis. As the population living with weakened immune systems has risen substantially over the past two decades -- people living with HIV, having organ transplants or undergoing cancer chemotherapy are some examples -- opportunistic fungal pathogens like this one have become an even greater threat. This is especially alarming considering we don't have any surefire anti-fungal drug to stop them.

Comment: Actually, iodine, an inexpensive and vitally important micro-nutrient has been found to destroy pathogens, molds, fungi, parasites, and malaria. For more information on the life-saving properties of iodine therapy, read:

"Fungi have a staggering impact on human health, infecting billions of people around the world and killing 1.5 million every year -- that's in the range of tuberculosis and malaria," says Leah Cowen, lead researcher on the study, University of Toronto Molecular Genetics professor and Canada Research Chair in Microbial Genomics and Infectious Disease. "And yet, they are underappreciated and not well understood."

Candida albicans is a particularly wily fungus. Its signature maneuver is shapeshifting -- it can morph from a round, single-celled yeast into a long stringy structure, allowing it to adapt to different environments and making it exceptionally harmful. For this study, researchers analyzed 89 mucus samples from 28 cystic fibrosis patients, using both high-throughput genetic sequencing as well as culture-based analysis. Candida albicans was predictably prevalent.

Life Preserver

Study finds cardiac deaths significantly decreased when top cardiologists unavailable

Pretty regularly, I receive an urgent call from a distraught friend or friend of a brother. "Zeke, Mom was at home and her heart stopped. The E.M.T.s are rushing her to XYZ hospital in Miami. Can you help me find the best cardiologist there for her?"

"Get me the best cardiologist" is our natural response to any heart problem. Unfortunately, it is probably wrong. Surprisingly, the right question is almost its exact opposite: At which hospital are all the famous, senior cardiologists away?

One of the more surprising — and genuinely scary — research papers published recently appeared in JAMA Internal Medicine. It examined 10 years of data involving tens of thousands of hospital admissions. It found that patients with acute, life-threatening cardiac conditions did better when the senior cardiologists were out of town. And this was at the best hospitals in the United States, our academic teaching hospitals. As the article concludes, high-risk patients with heart failure and cardiac arrest, hospitalized in teaching hospitals, had lower 30-day mortality when cardiologists were away from the hospital attending national cardiology meetings. And the differences were not trivial — mortality decreased by about a third for some patients when those top doctors were away.

Truly shocking and counterintuitive: Not having the country's famous senior heart doctors caring for you might increase your chance of surviving a cardiac arrest.

Comment: A recent review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that many commonly employed medical procedures, to which millions are subjected to each year, are based on questionable and in some cases, non-existent evidence. Market forces (i.e. profit incentives) rather than scientific evidence are being used to determine the standard of care. Interestingly, a 2008 study conducted by Emory University revealed that physician strikes are associated with reduced mortality.


Natural health false flag? Attacks against multivitamins & supplements continue

Like a script from a movie you already know the ending to; each year we can expect a hoax study or attack on anything that is not FDA approved. It is with great hope that the average person will have enough sense to see through the latest propaganda of "debunking" all supplements based on faulty, cheap ones and those investigated by the FDA. Unfortunately, a lot of people might be like the elderly woman I talked to in 2012 who stopped getting natural help because of the media reports that equated vitamins to toxic poison.

Chances are, you've recently been barraged by not-so-subtle headlines attacking multivitamins and supplements as a whole. The mainstream articles in 2013 were very loosely and poorly based on three simultaneous and ridiculously flawed studies - and are still being referred to today. If anyone bothers to read the studies, they might find that they are simply a vehicle for an attack - an attack so gratuitous and heavy handed as to make one wonder about their modus operandi.

Comment: Statistics on Emergency room visits due to dietary supplements are misleading


Cowed: New science shows milk is bad for you

© Guyco
Do Americans need so much milk? In 1951, Harvard University nutritionist Mark Hegsted wanted to find out. He had heard all about milk's virtues while growing up on a small Idaho dairy farm, but as he began studying nutrition, he noticed that plenty of people from countries with little dairy were thriving into old age. There was, however, a practical complication that prevented him from experimenting on the general population to understand this paradox: After a person cuts back on calcium, it can take months or years for the change to show up in the body.

So Hegsted went looking for a chronically calcium-deprived population. He found one at the Central Penitentiary of Lima, Peru. Inmates locked up in the grim, 80-year-old stone prison subsisted on a rice-and-beans diet that was extremely low in calcium. They typically drank milk once a week.

Comment: Dairy is not essential, read more about Why Milk Is So Evil:


California Senator and vaccine whore says, 'Water is the most dangerous ingredient in vaccines'

One of the country's most prominent pediatricians wants the American public to believe that water is the most toxic ingredient in childhood vaccines, not aluminum or formaldehyde.

Democratic Senator and pediatrician Richard Pan, principal co-author of the Californian bill SB 277 that ended personal belief exemptions earlier this year, stated at a Nov. 5th event held at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health, that parental concerns over vaccine safety are misguided, and water -- not formaldehyde or aluminum -- is the most dangerous ingredient in vaccines.

Here is the transcript of his entire statement:
"There's nothing that's 100% safe."

"In fact, actually, people talk about what are in vaccines."

"Right, They say, "Oh, I'm worried about formaldehyde..."

"...I'm worried about aluminum."

"Thimerosol is not in childhood vaccines."

"People say they are worried about thimerosol."

"You know what's the most dangerous substance in vaccines?"


"More children die of water toxicity, than anything else that's in the vaccine!"

Comment: Senator Pan is a bought and paid for vaccine shill who is blatantly insulting everyone's intelligence with his idiotic statements. California residents are right to try to get him out of office.
California Senator Pan, one of the main sponsors of S.B. 277, is now facing a recall effort begun at the grassroots level by a number of California citizens who find his corporate pandering, political corruption, and violation of parental rights to no longer be tolerable.