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Life Preserver

Curcumin's role in the fight against deadly viruses

The global race for an Ebola drug or vaccine is on, with hundreds of millions of dollars of resources invested, but could our best bet already be hiding in plain sight within our spice racks?

A new study published in the journal In Vivo titled,"Curcumin Suppression of Cytokine Release and Cytokine Storm. A Potential Therapy for Patients with Ebola and Other Severe Viral Infections," has raised an intriguing possibility: that one of the world's most prized spices could provide an effective treatment against deadly viruses like Ebola that have no known conventional treatment to date.

Turmeric is about 3-5% curcumin by dry weight. It is one of the most extensively researched substances on the planet, with over 1540 studies available to view on our database alone. Amazingly, it has been identified to have potential or actual therapeutic value in over 600 health conditions. The discovery that it may also be an important anti-Ebola agent while new, is not surprising, given how profoundly it appears to ameliorate hundreds of causes of physical suffering, many of them associated with opportunistic infections with viruses, parasites and bacteria.

Comment: For more information on the many beneficial properties of turmeric, see:


Alarm Clock

Sleep deprivation and health - most of us are the 'walking dead'

© Min Heo
This is the third piece in a three-part series on sleep. Read part one, on falling asleep, and part two, on sleeping and dreaming.

Did you get enough sleep last night? Are you feeling fully awake, like your brightest, smartest, and most capable self? This, unfortunately, is a pipe dream for the majority of Americans. "Most of us are operating at suboptimal levels basically always," the Harvard neurologist and sleep medicine physician Josna Adusumilli told me. Fifty to seventy million Americans, Adusumilli says, have chronic sleep disorders.

In a series of conversations with sleep scientists this May, facilitated by a Harvard Medical School Media Fellowship, I learned that the consequences of lack of sleep are severe. While we all suffer from sleep inertia (a general grogginess and lack of mental clarity), the stickiness of that inertia depends largely on the quantity and quality of the sleep that precedes it. If you're fully rested, sleep inertia dissipates relatively quickly. But, when you're not, it can last far into the day, with unpleasant and even risky results.

Many of us have been experiencing the repercussions of inadequate sleep since childhood. Judith Owens, the director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Boston Children's Hospital, has been studying the effects of school start times on the well-being of school-age kids—and her conclusions are not encouraging. Most adults are fine with about eight hours of sleep, but toddlers need around thirteen hours, including a daytime nap. Teens need around nine and a half hours; what's more, they tend to be night owls, whose ideal circadian rhythm has them going to bed and waking up late. As schools have pushed their start times earlier and earlier—a trend that first started in the sixties, Owens says—the health effects on students have been severe. "It's not just sleep loss. It's circadian disruption," Owens says. "They have to wake up when their brain tells them to be deeply asleep. Waking a teen at six in the morning is like waking an adult at three at night."

The result is a kind of constant jet lag—and one that is exacerbated by sleeping in on the weekends. Executive function and emotional responses get worse, hurting everything from judgment to emotional reactivity. The ability to make good decisions can suffer, and kids can become more prone to act out and get depressed. In fact, the rise in A.D.H.D. diagnoses may, in part, be the result of inadequate sleep: in children, symptoms of sleep deprivation include hyperactivity and impaired interpretation of social cues. Owens has seen many such misdiagnoses in her clinical practice. The effects are physical, as well. Children who undersleep are more likely to gain weight and become obese. Even for infants as young as six months, amounts of sleep can predict weight gain three years later.

Gear

Cui bono? Discrediting the grain and dairy-free movement

© Photos.com
The New York Times ran a silly piece entitled The Myth of Big, Bad Gluten by journalist Moises Velasquez-Manoff, yet another defense of the "eat more healthy whole grain" status quo. I enjoy reading most pieces from the New York Times, but they blundered in published this piece of simple-minded tripe.

I keep on hoping that some of the critics of Wheat Belly finally get their facts straight so that we can actually have a meaningful debate on the issues. Mr. Velasquez-Manoff - as so many other journalists and paid authors before him - fails to deliver, instead providing a misguided, anemic discussion that makes no unique new arguments.

The author failed to do his homework and was completely unaware that gluten is just one wheat component amount dozens, if not hundreds, of factors in this grain that pose dangers to humans who consume them. Or, as appears to be happening quite frequently, this piece is meant to be diversionary, hoping to draw attention to this relatively limited issue of gluten while ignoring all the other issues, like arguing that tar is the only concern with cigarette smoking, misleading you to believe that low-tar cigarettes must therefore be healthy. Take your pick but, either way, this piece is yet another in a long line of articles that, I believe, fail to acknowledge all the other issues that arise when human try to consume the seeds of grasses, i.e., "grains."

Comment: The myriad ways that the consumption of grain and dairy products have negatively impacted the health of millions have been well-documented. It appears that as more people become aware of the dangers posed by these products and begin to change their diets, the agriculture industry is fighting back to regain their profit margins. One has to wonder if the corporate controlled media prints such disinformation at the behest of BigAg.


Info

A hard nut to crack: Reducing chemical migration in food-contact materials

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© Joseph Tart/Brogan & Partners
Many manufacturers are eager to alleviate the problem of chemical migration from food packaging, but progress in identifying viable alternative materials has been incremental at best.
When we buy food, we're often buying packaging, too. From cherries to Cheez-It® crackers, modern foods are processed, transported, stored, and sold in specialized materials that account, on average, for half the cost of the item, according to Joseph Hotchkiss, a professor in Michigan State University's School of Packaging. Consumer-level food packaging serves a wide range of functions, such as providing product information, preventing spoilage, and protecting food during the journey from production to retail to pantry, fridge, or freezer. That's why food producers lavish so much time and money on it.

But what happens when these valuable and painstakingly engineered containers leach chemicals and other compounds into the food and drink they're designed to protect? Such contamination is nearly ubiquitous; it happens every day, everywhere packaged food is found, with all common types of packaging, including glass, metal, paper, and plastic.1,2,3,4

Even as awareness of the issue grows, large-scale solutions that are scientifically and financially viable remain out of reach. The challenges in reaching them are many. Yet some of the world's leading health authorities and largest food producers are working toward fixes (and in cases already deploying them), despite the absence of scientific consensus or regulatory requirements around most food-packaging chemicals of concern.

Comment: For a more in depth look at the toxic chemicals found in food packaging and their affects on human health read the following articles:


Top Secret

"The 21st Century Cures Act" is on its way - Here's why you haven't heard about it

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The 21st Century Cures Act is going through the U.S. Congress right now, and it will likely pass into law unless some opposition materializes (it passed through the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee with a vote of 51 to 0). The Act is a give-away to the pharmaceutical industry, removing many of the safety mechanisms in place that are supposed to keep the public protected from unsafe drugs and medical devices.

The 21st Century Cures Act allows drugs to be rushed to the market, removes phase 3 testing as a requirement for drug approval, bases drug approval on biomarkers rather than actual health outcomes, and encourages the production of new antibiotics at a time when microbiome destruction is increasingly being linked to chronic diseases.

Health

SOTT Exclusive: Natural Pet Health: Emergency signs, or when you need to take your pet to the vet as soon as possible

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In this article we are going to talk about the signs your pets may display in cases of emergency situations. These are situations that require you to take your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible. But sometimes you are unable to do so, due to various circumstances, or can't take them immediately or soon enough. Maybe your car is broken, or maybe you live too far away, or maybe 5 feet of snow block the entrance to your house. Unfortunately, with the upcoming Ice Age and recent extreme weather, this scenario is very real.

So becoming aware of various situations where you yourself would have to provide basic emergency care may turn out to be crucial.


First of all, it's important to remember that our furry members of the family can't talk - at least not in a way we can always understand. Therefore, it's vital to observe your pet on a daily basis and know their usual behavior in order to be able to see when something is wrong. It is also important in order to give accurate and as extensive as possible information to your veterinarian. Just like with humans, if your pets have allergies or any medical sensitivities, or if you already gave them any medicine, it's also very important to mention it.

And if you aren't sure, refrain from giving your pets so-called human medicine, like aspirin, for example. It may not be lethal for dogs, but cats lack an enzyme critical for metabolizing salicylic acid (the active ingredient of aspirin) properly. The resulting symptoms can range from simply scary (like tremors or foaming), up to loss of consciousness and death.

Dollars

Conflicts of interest and corruption are rife within the CDC

Conflicts of interest have become more the rule than the occasional exception. Even the trusted US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) receives heavy funding from industry.

How this conflict of interest may have affected the organization's decisions is the topic of an article1 in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), penned by the journal's associate editor, Jeanne Lenzer, who notes:
"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) includes the following disclaimer with its recommendations:

"CDC, our planners, and our content experts wish to disclose they have no financial interests or other relationships with the manufacturers of commercial products... CDC does not accept commercial support."

The CDC's image as an independent watchdog over the public health has given it enormous prestige, and its recommendations are occasionally enforced by law.

Despite the agency's disclaimer, the CDC does receive millions of dollars in industry gifts and funding, both directly and indirectly, and several recent CDC actions and recommendations have raised questions about the science it cites, the clinical guidelines it promotes, and the money it is taking."

Attention

Research shows high vitamin C levels associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease

© Unknown
New research from the University of Copenhagen and Herlev and Gentofte Hospital shows that high vitamin C concentrations in the blood from the intake of fruit and vegetables are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and early death.

The study, which has just been published in the well known American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, is based on the Copenhagen General Population Study.

As part of the study, the researchers had access to data about 100,000 Danes and their intake of fruit and vegetables as well as their DNA. "We can see that those with the highest intake of fruit and vegetables have a 15% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and a 20% lower risk of early death compared with those who very rarely eat fruit and vegetables. At the same time, we can see that the reduced risk is related to high vitamin C concentrations in the blood from the fruit and vegetables," says Camilla Kobylecki, a medical doctor and PhD student at the Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Herlev and Gentofte Hospital.

Comment: There have been numerous studies showing that Vitamin C is able to cure many diseases and that having getting adequate amounts of this essential nutrient can prevent disease as well. However, eating large amounts of fruit and vegetables means you will be consuming a high amount of carbohydrates, which have been shown to be detrimental to cardiovascular health. Eating a diet that is low in carbohydrates, with adequate amounts of saturated fats and quality sources of meat, and supplementing when necessary with high-quality vitamin C is a much better way to maintain your health.


Pills

A drugged population: Prescriptions in Britain rise over 50% in a decade


On the rise: The number of prescriptions has risen by 50 per cent in a decade
Britons are taking more medicines than ever before - with more than a billion prescriptions a year now being handed out, figures reveal today.

The number of prescriptions has risen by 50 per cent in a decade and is being driven by a surge in the use of antidepressants, painkillers, statins and drugs for diabetes.

Some elderly patients with a number of long-term illnesses end up taking a cocktail of different drugs each day, which can cause dangerous reactions.

The figures have alarmed medical experts, who say the nation has become 'over-medicalised' and that thousands of patients are suffering harmful side effects.

The huge rise has also been partly blamed on a bonus system for GPs that means they earn points, which are then converted into cash, for prescribing treatments for a range of common conditions.

Comment: The UK is not the only 'beneficiary' of BigPharma's hand in medicine. One way to stem the tide of over-medication would be to stop the incentive programs that the industry uses to insure that doctors are firmly in their grasp. The constant bombardment of pharma advertising as well as the demonization of alternative medicine has been another reason that people are more likely to reach for pill-solutions to their problems. In short, as long as the pharmaceutical industry controls the medical field, the over-medication of the population will only continue to increase.


Hearts

Researchers uncover connection between gut health and mood

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We have all heard the old adage "you are what you eat", but science is discovering even more of a connection between our digestive tract and our overall health.

Commonly referred to as "gut health", the gut microbiota, which consist of trillions of microbes, may influence more than bowel regularity and metabolism. These bacterium make up a 6-pound ecosystem inside of every human and produce hormones, communicate directly with our brain via the vagus nerve, and can even produce neurochemicals which influence behavior. Stomach bacteria and mood are connected in ways we never knew before, and scientists are racing to learn more about this fascinating discovery.

A team of Norwegian scientists recently found significant correlation between certain bacteria and symptoms of depression. Patients with irritable bowel syndrome have been found to have significantly higher instances of anxiety and depression. Even individuals with autism are more likely to suffer from digestive problems. By improving our gut health, we may be able to get a handle on a host of somatic and mental health symptoms.

Comment: Why isn't my brain working? You are what you eat: