Health & Wellness


Primal bugs: The hunter gatherer microbiome

"We barely know what we are doing when it comes to probiotic supplementation," I admitted to my patient, "but we do know that we are on the verge of the most sophisticated understanding of human health and disease since the dawn of medicine, and it comes down to our symbiotic relationship to our body's microbes."

The abuses we have brought upon our gut flora are largely obvious - we have been eating loads of sugar, processed vegetable oils, pesticides, genetically modified foods, and living in a bath of and industrial chemicals.

But what should our microbiome look like?

It turns out that the answer to this question is unlikely to derive from a randomized placebo controlled trial of the latest probiotic on the market. Because we can only guess what the Paleolithic diet actually looked like, the most valuable nutrition data, to my mind, comes from naturalistic surveys such as the invaluable contributions of Weston A. Price who traveled the world assessing the dietary patterns of those traditional societies who were free from the scourge of modern chronic diseases, seemingly brought about by the adoption of Western sweetened, canned, and processed foods. In this way, he was able to identify a through line connecting diverse dietary practices, which included consumption of animal foods, natural fats, and associated minerals and fat-soluble vitamins. These traditional cultures, however, are coming more and more under the influence of industrialized food products and modern medical "care".
Top Secret

How our regulatory system misjudges pesticides and risks our health

"A Who's Who of pesticides is therefore of concern to us all. If we are going to live so intimately with these chemicals eating and drinking them, taking them into the very marrow of our bones - we had better know something about their nature and their power." - Rachel Carson, Silent Spring 1962
There is a reason why our springs still have bald eagles, screeching falcons and wave-skimming pelicans on this Earth Day. The reason is Rachel Carson, who died 50 years ago this month - just two years after her book Silent Spring alerted the world to how pesticides like DDT had infiltrated and were poisoning the very building blocks of life.

Today, DDT is banned in the U.S. and many of the creatures it had nearly extinguished have rebounded, but the plague of pesticides Carson warned about continues to infiltrate our lands, our air, our water, and many of Earth's creatures, among them ourselves. It's a plague hard to fight and hard to protect ourselves against - in part because our regulatory system treats the chemicals as if they had rights; safe until proven guilty.

7 Things you had no idea gut bacteria could do

If you're a regular Mark's Daily Apple reader, you probably have at least a generally accurate if somewhat vague notion of the important functions performed by our gut bacteria. They're a "big part" of our immune systems. They "improve digestion" and "eat the fibers and resistant starches" that our host enzymes cannot digest. Yeah, gut bacteria are hot right now. Everyone's talking about them. And, since our host cells are famously outnumbered by our gut bacteria, 10 to 1, we need to be apprised of all that they do.

We don't know everything yet - and we probably never will - but here are some of the most interesting and unexpected functions of our gut bacteria:

They learn from each other.

Bacteria are simple, straightforward organisms. They don't have all the hangups that we mammals do, all the middle men and physiological bureaucracy between "us" and outside information. Bacteria can directly exchange genetic material - defense mechanisms, enzymatic functions, and other characteristics - from other bacteria they come into contact with in the gut. They're very quick learners operating on an entirely different time scale.

How the microbes living in your gut might be making you anxious or depressed

Researchers have made some surprising findings.

Microbes are in the news these days. Specifically, the microbes that live in and on the human body, making up our "microbiome." Michael Pollan made a splash with a column titled "Some of My Best Friends are Germs" about a year ago, and now Martin Blaser, director of the Human Microbiome Project at NYU, has published a book called Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues.

In a short period of time, bacteria, fungi and other microbes have gone from enemy to friend in the public consciousness.

But in addition to the many studies finding out about the numbers and diversity of the microbes with whom we share our bodies and their roles in our nutrition and immune function, some researchers have made some surprising findings: the bugs in your gut might actually impact your emotions.
Alarm Clock

Finally catching up - Could the Black Death actually have been an Ebola-like virus?

Could the Black Death Actually Have Been an Ebola-like Virus?

The Triumph of Death is an oil panel painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder painted c. 1562. It has been in the Museo del Prado in Madrid since 1827.
Things seem to be looking up for rats. After more than 500 years, rats may be off the hook for causing the Black Death, the horrible plague that claimed up to 60% of the European population. In virtually every textbook the Bubonic Plague, which is spread by flea-ridden rats, is named as the culprit behind the chaos. But mounting evidence suggests that an Ebola-like virus was the actual cause of the Black Death and the sporadic outbreaks that occurred in the following 300 years.

At the forefront of this theory are two researchers from the University of Liverpool, Dr. Christopher Duncan and Dr. Susan Scott. Let's look at six small pieces of this puzzle.

Comment: Check out this SOTT focus, first written in 2011:

New Light on the Black Death: The Viral and Cosmic Connection

For more information, see:

Black Death found to be Ebola-like virus
Ebola outbreak shows no sign of slowing


'Eppur si muove' - Like it or not, homeopathy works!

"Eppur si muove" - And yet it moves - were the words Italian mathematician and physicist Galileo Galilei allegedly uttered after being sentenced by the Inquisition for heresy. Galileo's heresy was his opinion that the Sun lies motionless, that the Earth is not at the centre of universe, and that it moves. Unlike those around him who were quite happy to blindly follow dogma concerning the universal order, Galileo observed the world around him, measured different parameters and finally, after he analysed enough collected data, worked out that the Earth is moving around the Sun. Galileo was certainly luckier then Giordano Bruno, another Italian mathematician, who was burned at the stake in 1600 for advocating the same idea.

People who attack homeopathy these days do so with the same fervor as the Inquisitors. With their small, medieval minds, they repeat the same nonsense and misconceptions about homeopathy, over and over, without making the slightest effort to conduct their own research or empirical quest. I have to admit that my first reaction to homeopathy was of a similar myopic nature, my 'conventional scientific mind' immediately dismissed it as nonsense, and I had no desire to study the subject further.

Enter Spark, the appropriately named dog

But then one day Spark visited my practice and everything changed.

It took me a few moments to realize that Spark was not some strange, hairless breed I had never encountered before, but rather a West Highland Terrier. He had only a few tufts of hair remaining, mostly on his head, chest and the tip of his tail. The rest of his skin was completely bald, blackish and covered with oozing sores and scabs. I was the fourth veterinarian to see Spark. After learning his medical history and previous treatments, it became obvious that there weren't many options left to try. He had already been treated with several anti-parasitic medicines, tested for different allergies and was eating nothing but hypoallergenic dry-foods. None of this had worked. He'd also been on several types of antibiotics and steroids, as well as a course of fungicidal medicine, all to no positive effect whatsoever. In fact his health kept deteriorating.

Drugs: Psychiatry's modus operandi - The hidden enemy documentary

It used to be that no one could take psychiatric drugs while in the military. All that has changed in recent years. Today, psychiatric drugging has gone rampant. From 2005 to 2011, the U.S. Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration increased their prescriptions of psychiatric drugs by nearly seven times. That's over thirty times faster than the civilian rate, even though the American military has been steadily reducing troop levels since 2008.

Officially, one in six American service members is on at least one psychiatric drug. That's probably a very low estimate. Psychiatric drugs are handed out not just by psychiatrists, but also by physician's assistants, nurses, medics--they're even passed around from soldier to soldier. And the U.S. government acknowledges they have no way of knowing how many drugs are handed out on the front lines. This rampant drug dispensing has turned very dangerous, especially when so many "qualify" for psychiatry's biggest diagnosis/drugging combo of all.

FDA document reports autism link after tetanus, pertussis & diptheria vaccine

An FDA report from 2005 titled "Diphtheria and Tetanus Toxoids and Acellular Pertussis Vaccine Adsorbed Tripedia" outlines a number of adverse events reported during post-approval use of the Tripedia vaccine, and one of them is autism. (1)

Health-care providers who administer vaccines are required to keep permanent vaccination records, they are also required to report any occurrences (adverse events such as autism) to the Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services following immunization of any events.

The report also illustrates that the tripedia vaccine has not been evaluated for its carcinogenic or mutagenic potentials or impairment of fertility. This makes one wonder what other vaccines have not been properly evaluated. Furthermore, it illustrates how a review by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found evidence for a causal relationship between tetanus toxoid and both brachial neuritis and Guillain-Barre syndrome.

This document just adds more confusion to the topic of vaccines and autism. How can the general public be expected to believe there is no link when more evidence keeps on mounting that suggests that there could be. Why does an FDA document even mention autism and its association with vaccinations?

There is good reason to be confused, this isn't fear mongering.

Divisive vaccine proposal abandoned in Colorado

An attempt to improve vaccination rates in Colorado failed Tuesday in the state Senate.

Instead, the Senate approved a bill to enhance vaccine education efforts - a watered-down version of a measure that would have made it harder for parents to opt out of vaccinating their children. Colorado is among a handful of states that allow parents to sign "personal belief" exemptions from required immunizations, and last school year Colorado had the 6th-highest rate of immunization exemption in the U.S. at 4.3 percent.

The bill would have required parents invoking the "personal belief" exemption to watch a video about vaccinations or get doctor clearance for taking the exemption.

Democratic sponsors said the bill stood no chance of passage in the face of strong opposition from some in both parties. They called the watered-down bill the only viable option.

"At this point our decision is, are we happy taking the baby step ... or do we want to give it all up?" said Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, sponsor of the vaccine measure.

The bill still requires schools to disclose vaccination rates, a safeguard aimed at protecting kids with fragile immune systems. It also directs state health authorities to work on improved communication with parents about vaccines.

Drug company dominance makes some shrinks very rich, and many patients over drugged

Psychiatry has a real credibility problem on its hands.

What does it tell us about the state of psychiatry when some of the biggest names in the psychiatric establishment are distancing themselves from psychiatry's diagnostic system and its treatments?

In 2013, National Institute Mental Health director Thomas Insel, citing the lack of scientific validity of psychiatry's official diagnostic manual, the DSM, stated that, "NIMH will be re-orienting its research away from DSM categories." In response, Robert Whitaker, investigative reporter and author of Anatomy of an Epidemic, observed,
"This is like the King of Psychiatry saying that the discipline has no clothes."
"When Insel states that the disorders haven't been validated," Whitaker points out,
"he is stating that the entire edifice that modern psychiatry is built upon is flawed, and unsupported by science... If the public loses faith in the DSM, and comes to see it as unscientific, then psychiatry has a real credibility problem on its hands."