Health & Wellness


AMA admits medical over-diagnosis, over-treatment is common and causing more harm than benefit

What if millions of medical diagnoses, procedures, and treatments were based on, at best, questionable scientific evidence, but still performed daily, the world over, in the name of saving patients lives or reducing their suffering? A new JAMA review indicates this may be exactly what is happening.

A concerning new review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association online ahead of print on the topic of overuse of medical care, i.e., health care for which "risk of harm exceeds its potential for benefit," finds that many commonly employed medical procedures, to which millions are subjected to each year, are based on questionable if not also, in some cases, non-existent evidence.

According to the review, which was co-authored by researchers from some of the country's most esteemed medical institutions, medical overuse can also be defined as a health care practice that patients would forego consenting to if fully informed. They elaborate further on the definition of medical overuse:
[Medical] Overuse encompasses overdiagnosis, which occurs when "individuals are diagnosed with conditions that will never cause symptoms," and overtreatment, which is treatment targeting overdiagnosed disease or from which there is minimal or no benefit."



World's largest honey bee, the Himalayan Cliff Bee produces rare honey

Near the peaks of the Himalayan Mountains, a harsh region in which no human settlements are found, lives the world's largest honey bee, the Himalayan Cliff Bee which can grow as large as three centimeters in length. The red honey produced by these bees is unlike any honey you'd find on a supermarket shelf as it possesses fascinating psychoactive properties that are prized by the locals of Nepal and China for its ability to help those with diabetes, poor sexual performance, hypertension, and more.


Three ways hair analysis can be more accurate than blood tests

© datcs
Hair is very important biomaterial within our bodies and primarily composed of protein, notably keratin. Cosmetically it gives many the perception of beauty, identity and also happens to be a multibillion-dollar industry. But hair in all its variability, also has the ability to mirror our metabolic system and give us incredible insight into our health.

On a healthy head, 80 to 90 percent of the hair follicles are in the anagen phase where the hair is actively growing, and materials are deposited in the hair shaft by cells found in the follicle. It is during this phase where hair can tell us a great deal about our body.

During the telogen phase, the hair is anchored in the follicle only by the root, which is club-shaped. The germ cells below the club-shaped root will give rise to the next generation of an anagen hair. 10 to 18 percent of hair follicles are in the telogen phase. Once the hair reaches this phase, the follicles have achieved a mature, stable stage of quiescence.


The Western Diet has derailed our Evolution: Burgers and fries have nearly killed our ancestral microbiome

© Katherine Diemert
For the microbiologist Justin Sonnenburg, that career-defining moment—the discovery that changed the trajectory of his research, inspiring him to study how diet and native microbes shape our risk for disease—came from a village in the African hinterlands.

A group of Italian microbiologists had compared the intestinal microbes of young villagers in Burkina Faso with those of children in Florence, Italy. The villagers, who subsisted on a diet of mostly millet and sorghum, harbored far more microbial diversity than the Florentines, who ate a variant of the refined, Western diet. Where the Florentine microbial community was adapted to protein, fats, and simple sugars, the Burkina Faso microbiome was oriented toward degrading the complex plant carbohydrates we call fiber.

Comment: Learn more about the microbiome and the role microbes play in protecting and regulating the human immune system:

Alarm Clock

32 Self-reliant resources: Preparedness skills that everyone should know

Over the last couple of decades the world has seen an unprecedented spike in technology and access to learning. Unfortunately, we've also seen a growing number of people who have used this technology to tune out, and lose their ability to be self-reliant.

Skills that were once part of our culture, ones that helped us survive, have been largely forgotten; replaced by a generation of dependent people that can't even balance a checkbook, cook a meal, or change a flat tire. Although we have more access to information than ever, the skills of our forefathers have been replaced by useless knowledge like how fast you can text a message, or knowing what reality TV star is doing what.



Talking to family about preparedness: How to get your family to start prepping for disasters.

The biggest preparedness challenge some of us will face is convincing our loved ones to get on board with our preparedness planning. Whether it's convincing your immediate family about the importance of prepping, or talking to extended family and friends about why they need to prepare, the conversation is something we need to have if we really care about our loved ones.




New genetically altered 'Enviro Pigs' want to go to market

Did you think the genetically modified pig was gone? It is true that Canada's "Enviro Pig" was scrapped in 2012 after consumer backlash and lack of university funding. That vacancy mainly left genetically modified salmon in the running to become the very first commercial GM animal.

But there are two new types of engineered pigs poised for approval in their respective countries. Now, with the secret Trans Pacific Partnership out in the open, it becomes clear that the deal opens the door for a swarm of global biotech ventures that can more easily glide their wares across country boundaries.

Comment: Oh geez! Like there isn't enough mad science going on in the world when it comes to creating 'new meats'. If it isn't meat glue in your fake steak, stem cell based lab-grown meat, schmeat or 'cloned beef' on store shelves causing a stir, it's back to genetically modifying pigs with less fat, more muscle and resistance to African Swine fever! This is not the first time biotech companies are messing around with the genes of pigs:


The rise of Functional Medicine & How it can change your life

Modern medicine is in crisis. The reason: it's just not working.

Chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, obesity, and allergies are increasing with no letup in sight and account for seven of the top ten causes of death as of 2010. Heart disease and cancer accounted for forty eight percent of all deaths. Modern medicine may be great at dealing with infectious disease and traumatic injuries, but has failed to stem the tide of chronic disease.

In addition, surveys indicate that two-thirds of patients feel disrespected by their physicians, forty-four percent feel doctors don't spend enough time with them and a quarter believe physicians don't answer questions and don't adequately involve them in treatment decisions, and use medical terms with no explanation.

Numerous health systems have gained prominence in the West as alternatives to what is known as mainstream or biomedicine. Naturopathy, Homeopathy, Ayurveda, Chiropractic, Chinese medicine, Acupuncture, Massage Therapy and Reiki have arisen as popular alternative healing methods. The most recent National Health Interview Survey estimates that up to forty percent of Americans have tried one or more of these alternatives and are spending $34 billion annually on them.

Comment: Dr. Mark Hyman is a functional medicine doctor, read his articles below to get an overview of the Functional Medicine approach:


Drug Cultures in the USA: The legal and the illegal

© The Guardian
Hidden dangers of legal highs
Currently, there's a huge debate about violence, especially firearms violence, in the USA, plus the restriction of gun and other self-defense weapons purchases, which I find amazingly attention-grabbing insofar as there are other causes of deaths that no one really is talking about and, seemingly, doing very little to curb.

The chart below drives home three high-profile killers: Drug-induced, Motor vehicle, and Firearms Deaths. Not surprising to me, at least, is that deaths due to firearms are the least of the three mentioned in 2013, whereas drug-induced drug deaths top out as the highest! Motor vehicle deaths are in the middle.

(U) Chart 1. Number of Drug Induced Deaths Compared to the Number of Motor Vehicle and Firearm Deaths, 2004 - 2013

© Chart Source: (Pg. ii)


Meditative practices that don't involve sitting

No longer the sole province of the hemp-swathed sprouting enthusiast, meditation's popularity has exploded across our collective faces. Tech companies have embraced mindfulness meditation as the ultimate productivity. Google has "mindful lunches," complete with prayer bells and hour-long vows of silence. And as legitimate meditation researchers uncover more benefits to our brains, our bodies, and our psyches, diehard rationalists have been forced to accept the scientific merits of mindfulness.

My explanation for why interest in meditation has grown is that it's a replacement for the nature in which we no longer reside. For hundreds of thousands of years, we spent our days in natural settings where much of the mind chatter stops and we exist in the present moment. The falling leaves sparkling overhead with sunlight. The herky-jerk scamper of a startled lizard just off the trail. The erratic brilliant butterfly fluttering through the scene that you can't help but stop to watch. That was life for most of human history. It wasn't special. It was home. It's what we knew.

Meditation represents a return to that ancestral state of presence in the moment. And yet I get the sense that more people are talking about meditation than actually meditating on a regular basis. I'm one of them, quick to recommend meditation on MDA because of the irrefutable benefits but unable to actually sit for a productive session, let alone a regular meditation routine. It's hard. It's unnatural. And it's an artifice, albeit one made necessary by our environment.