Health & Wellness


Plague time: CDC puts doctors on alert for Bubonic plague in U.S.


Since April 2015, eleven cases of plague have been recorded in the U.S., and three people have died leaving the CDC no other recourse but to issue
a warning to alert doctors of potential cases that may arise.

There is a "Heightened Risk"

"It is unclear why the number of cases in 2015 is higher than usual," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Many of the cases are occurring in rural and semi-rural areas in the western United States. The report lists two cases in Arizona, one in California, four in Colorado, one in Georgia, two in New Mexico and one in Oregon. The cases in California and Georgia have been linked to areas in or near Yosemite National Park in the southern Sierra Nevada. Dr. Natalie Kwit of the CDC emphasizes, "We don't want people to panic but we do want them to be aware of the heightened risk."

Comment: There is another dimension to plague that is largely lost on most individuals and even most doctors. And that is that many major autoimmune diseases have some connection to infectious diseases. This is to say that we can be carriers of Plagues, or microscopic parasites, that do not present symptoms for many years - but are no less dangerous, ultimately, to our health.

For a deeper examination of this idea read Paul W. Ewald's groundbreaking book Plague Time: The New Germ Theory of Disease and visit this forum discussion to learn how you may test for and counteract infectious diseases you may learn that you have.


Folks still living in FEMA's toxic Katrina trailers and likely have no idea

The FEMA Tox Box
As soon as Nick Shapiro turned into the parking lot of the Tumbleweed Inn in Alexander, N.D., he recognized the trailers. They were off-white, boxy, almost cartoonish, and unadorned with any of the frills — racing stripes, awnings, window treatments — that a manufacturer would typically add to set a trailer apart on a display lot.

But these trailers had never seen a display lot. Shapiro had first seen them when he was living in New Orleans in 2010, doing fieldwork for his Oxford University PhD. In New Orleans, everyone knew what they were, and the city was desperate to get rid of them. They had been built fast, and not to last. The fact that some people were still living in them because they had never gotten enough money to rebuild their homes, or had run afoul of unethical contractors, was just an unwanted reminder of how far the city still had to go to recover from Hurricane Katrina.

But in the oil fields of Alexander, where Shapiro found them, people had, at best, only a dim memory of hearing something bad about the trailers on the late night news.

Only one person in the improvised trailer park near the Tumbleweed Inn knew where the trailers were from. Now 19, he'd lived in one as a child, after his family's home was destroyed when the levees around New Orleans broke in 2005. "It feels like home," he said, looking around the park. "Not the landscape. The trailers. I'm used to it."

Most of the people living in the trailer park were like him: men, young, drawn to North Dakota from all over the U.S. by the prospect of making $16-an-hour minimum in an oil boomtown. So what if they had to pay $1,200 a month to live in a trailer out on the prairie? They made it work. They slept in bunk beds, seven to a trailer, so that they could save as much as they could, and then get the hell out of there.

Comment: FEMA trailers were truly "disaster" housing! There was a settlement for 55,000 residents of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas eligible for shares of $37.5M paid by more than two dozen manufacturers, plus $5.1M settlement with FEMA contractors that installed and maintained the units. The attorneys' fees and costs took $20.5 M and the plaintiffs were to receive about $4,020 each. [Perhaps someone in the government should have checked the math. The individual plaintiff share calculates to $401.80.] While juries in three trials sided with the companies and didn't award any damages, the above deal was finally brokered. Formaldehyde gas is considered a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and a probable human carcinogen by the EPA. The taxpayer paid $2B for trailers that should have been scrapped as junk. Did anyone calculate the healthcare cost for this fiasco? FEMA trailers, apparently the gift that keeps on giving.

Bacon n Eggs

New study finds no association between high levels of dietary saturated fat and heart disease

In February the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) submitted its 2015 Scientific Report1,2,3 to the US Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS).

This report serves as the foundation for the development of US dietary guidelines.

In a surprise twist, the DGAC not only suggested eliminating warnings about dietary cholesterol, it also reversed nearly four decades of nutrition policy by concluding that dietary fats have no impact on cardiovascular disease risk.

Unfortunately, the DGAC didn't set the record straight with regards to saturated fats, as it makes no firm distinction between healthy saturated fats and decidedly unhealthy trans fats.

For decades, healthy fat and cholesterol have been wrongfully blamed for causing heart disease, but over 70 published studies overwhelmingly dispute this.4

Comment: Eating a diet high in healthy fats while restricting carbohydrate intake can help to alleviate many diseases. You will have more energy, less inflammation and be much less susceptible to viruses and bacterial infections.

Red Flag

Another scientist's growing doubts over GMO safety

© Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr (CC BY-SA).
The protestor is right: GMOs are indeed a science experiment. And we are the guinea pigs.
Are GMOs safe? Up to a point, writes Jonathan Latham - provided you're not eating them. That's certainly not proven to be safe, indeed the hazards are numerous: protein encoding viral DNA fragments, herbicide metabolites, biotoxins whose operation is not understood, poorly conducted experiments ... and those are just the ones we know about.

By training, I am a plant biologist. In the early 1990s I was busy making genetically modified plants (often called GMOs for Genetically Modified Organisms) as part of the research that led to my PhD.

Into these plants we were putting DNA from various foreign organisms, such as viruses and bacteria.

I was not, at the outset, concerned about the possible effects of GM plants on human health or the environment. One reason for this lack of concern was that I was still a very young scientist, feeling my way in the complex world of biology and of scientific research.

Another reason was that we hardly imagined that GMOs like ours would be grown or eaten. So far as I was concerned, all GMOs were for research purposes only.

Comment: 'GMOs should ever have been let out of any lab': Everything you wanted to know about GMOs but were afraid to ask


Good Medicine: Do as much nothing as possible

''The delivery of good medical care is to do as much nothing as possible''
~ Samuel Shem, The House of God
Medicine is undergoing an existential crisis today. Its core value proposition - to help and not hurt - is failing to manifest. Patients are suffering. Doctors are suffering. The only exuberant party on the battlefield against disease is the pharmaceutical industry. An industry whose annual causalities far exceed the death total from our two decade long involvement in the Vietnam war.

The entire system is on the precipice of a collapse, if not for economic reasons alone, then certainly for ethical and intellectual ones. The irony is that the system has become so ineffective and dangerous that avoiding medical treatment (excluding perhaps emergency care) has become one of if not the best healthcare strategy you can implement to protect your health and well-being.


The benefits of probiotics: What is Lactobacillus Gasseri?

Are probiotics really that good for you? Is yogurt the best source of probiotics? I regularly hear these and many other questions about probiotics. Probiotics is a subject that is pretty straightforward, but confusion still persists regarding these beneficial microbes. The fact that there are so many different types of probiotic strains doesn't help. Let's start by discussing Lactobacillus gasseri, one of the beneficial microorganisms that assist with digestive health and against harmful organisms.

The Benefits of Probiotics

There are many benefits of probiotics you probably already know, and some that may surprise you. Your digestives system depends on microorganisms called "probiotics" to work properly. [1] Probiotic bacteria helps the body get the nutrients it needs, stimulates your immune system, and protects your intestines from harmful toxins and organisms. [2] When you have a healthy balance of bacteria in your system, metabolism, digestion, and your natural detoxification process all run smoothly. The cardiovascular system, bones, blood sugar, and mental health are also connected to probiotic status. [3]

These wide-reaching effects stem from your digestive tract's role as a gateway to the rest of your body. The healthier your gut, the more it can withstand the assault from today's most common germs and toxins. These include pesticides, herbicides, and the artificial sweeteners found in many processed foods.

Comment: Learn more about the gut microbiome and probiotics. Listen to the SOTT Radio Health and Wellness Show - Gut Health - Monday April 13, 2015

Apple Red

Is it a waste of money to buy organic vegetables from the supermarket?

Organic carrots: not worth your whole paycheck
It has happened to all of us. You're standing in the produce aisle, just trying to buy some zucchini, when you face the inevitable choice: Organic or regular?

It's a loaded question that can mean many different things, sometimes all at once: Healthy or pesticide-drenched? Tasty or bland? Fancy or basic? Clean or dirty? Good or bad?

But here's the most important question for many customers: Is it worth the extra money?

The answer: Probably not.

Comment: Back in 2012 the same 'debate' was being discussed and argued. The author above makes some good points about the turn 'organic food' has taken and how it has become a 'luxury', that being said, it is important to note that pesticide and herbicide laden industrial agriculture still raises cause for concern, the devil is in the details:

Whoa, Is Organic Food No Healthier Than Non-Organic? Controversy Erupts Over Study
There are shelves' worth of studies documenting the health dangers of pesticide exposure. A study published last year found that prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides - which are often sprayed on crops and in urban areas to control insects - can lower children's IQ. A follow-up investigation into prenatal pesticide exposure concluded that boys' developing brains appear to be more vulnerable than girls' brains. A study by Colorado State University epidemiologist Lori Cragin found that women who drink water containing low levels of the herbicide atrazine are more likely to have low estrogen levels and irregular menstrual cycles; about three-quarters of all US corn fields are treated with atrazine annually. British scientists who examined the health effects of fungicides sprayed on fruits and vegetable crops discovered that 30 out of 37 chemicals studied altered males' hormone production.

I think you get the point: many synthetic herbicides and pesticides are dangerous to humans and should be avoided. And the best way to avoid putting those chemicals into our surroundings is to buy organically grown foods.


Oysters serve as reservoirs and vectors for human norovirus transmission

© AP Photo/Stephan Savoia
Oysters not only transmit human norovirus; they also serve as a major reservoir for these pathogens, according to research published August 28 in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology. "More than 80 percent of human norovirus genotypes were detected in oyster samples or oyster-related outbreaks," said corresponding author Yongjie Wang, PhD.

"The results highlight oysters' important role in the persistence of norovirus in the environment, and its transmission to humans, and they demonstrate the need for surveillance of human norovirus in oyster samples," said Wang, who is Professor in the College of Food Science and Technology, Shanghai Ocean University, Shanghai, China.


6.5 million Americans in 27 states drinking water tainted by byproduct of Teflon manufacturing

© Unknown
When you drink a glass of water, you expect it to be clean and pure, not contaminated with invisible toxic chemicals. But nationwide testing has found that 6.5 million Americans in 27 states are drinking water tainted by an industrial compound that was used for decades to make Teflon.

The chemical, known as PFOA, has been detected in 94 public water systems. The amounts are small, but new research indicates that it can be hazardous even at the tiniest doses. PFOA and closely related fluorinated chemicals - including PFOS, once used to make Scotchgard - can cause cancer, birth defects and heart disease and weaken the immune system.

Even the lowest level of PFOA detected by the water testing, which was mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency, was about five times higher than what's safe to drink, according to the new research.

Comment: What's the "safe" amount for a toxic compound like this, anyway? The amount that companies can pollute the water without the people overtly noticing by dying?

This means that even if the EPA has not reported finding PFOA in your drinking water supply, it could still be contaminated.

Want to know whether the testing found PFOA, PFOS or any one of four other highly fluorinated chemicals in your drinking water? EWG's interactive map below shows every U.S. county where the chemicals were detected. Click on your county to see if your water utility found any.

Comment: These aren't the only toxic compounds in water:

Arrow Down

Long term exposure to small amounts of Roundup herbicide changes gene expression leading to kidney, liver damage

© Jared Rodriguez; Adapted: IRRI Images, Libertinus)
Long-term intake of the Monsanto's most popular Roundup herbicide, even in very small amounts lower than permissible in US water, may lead to kidney and liver damage, a new study claims.

The research, conducted by an international group of scientists from the UK, Italy and France, studied the effects of prolonged exposure to small amounts of the Roundup herbicide and one of its main components - glyphosate.

In their study, published in Environmental Health on August 25, the scientists particularly focused on the influence of Monsanto's Roundup on gene expression in the kidneys and liver.

Comment: Glyphosate is so prevalent in the food system, that it's difficult to avoid exposure. The International Agency for Research on Cancer reports:
Glyphosate currently has the highest global production volume of all herbicides.The largest use worldwide is in agriculture. The agricultural use of glyphosate has increased sharply since the development of crops that have been genetically modified to make them resistant to glyphosate. Glyphosate is also used in forestry, urban, and home applications. Glyphosate has been detected in the air during spraying, in water, and in food. The general population is exposed primarily through residence near sprayed areas, home use, and diet, and the level that has been observed is generally low.