Are your medications safe? Slate investigation reveals consistent cover-ups by FDA

I’m used to hearing about incompetence and corruption in the federal government (aren’t we all?). So it takes a lot to raise my eyebrows. But reading this story, my eyebrows nearly went into orbit. Just read the first two paragraphs:

Reading the FDA’s inspection files feels almost like watching a highlights reel from a Scientists Gone Wild video. It’s a seemingly endless stream of lurid vignettes—each of which catches a medical researcher in an unguarded moment, succumbing to the temptation to do things he knows he really shouldn’t be doing. Faked X-ray reports. Forged retinal scans. Phony lab tests. Secretly amputated limbs. All done in the name of science when researchers thought that nobody was watching.

That misconduct happens isn’t shocking. What is: When the FDA finds scientific fraud or misconduct, the agency doesn’t notify the public, the medical establishment, or even the scientific community that the results of a medical experiment are not to be trusted. On the contrary. For more than a decade, the FDA has shown a pattern of burying the details of misconduct. As a result, nobody ever finds out which data is bogus, which experiments are tainted, and which drugs might be on the market under false pretenses. The FDA has repeatedly hidden evidence of scientific fraud not just from the public, but also from its most trusted scientific advisers, even as they were deciding whether or not a new drug should be allowed on the market.

This is a truly shocking story. The Food and Drug Administration is charged with protecting the public from unsafe drugs, not protecting drug companies from embarrassment. Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.

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Recommendations: Acupuncture for allergies

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My colleague Yaron Cohen L.Ac recently posted this link on Facebook. You can read the full text at this link, but here is the relevant portion:

Clinicians may offer acupuncture, or refer to a clinician who can offer acupuncture, for patients with AR who are interested in nonpharmacologic therapy.

AR is short for allergic rhinitis.

While acupuncture is certainly effective at lessening symptoms of an active allergy attack, it’s even better at preventing them in the first place. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, NOW IS THE TIME to prepare. Boost your immune system with acupuncture and herbs so that you can reduce and even eliminate allergies.

Up your intake of cooked green vegetables, reduce sugar and alcohol, and get plenty of sleep – these are all well known (and cheap or free!) ways to boost your immune system. Also, give your living space a thorough cleaning.

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Patience in the Healing Process

I love this tweet from my colleague Dr. Kristie Jones. Have patience with yourself and remember that health is a habit, not a one time event.

I’ve heard people compare their bodies to cars, which reflects the mechanistic thinking of industrial medicine. It leads to the mindset of “well if my hip stops working, I’ll just get a new one,” much like your car might need a new water pump at 150,000 miles. Hip replacements have restored mobility to many people, and if you need a hip replacement, you should get one. But wouldn’t it be better to not need a hip replacement in the first place?

Try thinking of your body as a garden. The wonderful thing about a garden is that it mostly takes care of itself – all it needs is sunlight and water. But it does take frequent small adjustments and caretaking. If you try to do all your gardening once a year, it will be a terrible, onerous task that takes several days. And towards the end of the year, your garden will be in terrible shape. But if you spend just a few minutes in the garden each day, weeding, watering, occasionally spreading mulch and turning the soil, it’ll always look nice and be healthy.

Your body is the same way. Build healthy habits into your life and you’ll feel good and be healthy year round.

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Vitor Belfort gets acupuncture

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Vitor Belfort, a well known mixed martial arts fighter, recently posted this photo to his facebook page. I had no idea! As a fan of MMA, it’s very cool to see acupuncture being used by someone I’ve been following for years.

Vitor is in good company. Many professional athletes use acupuncture to stay on top of the game, including NFL players and pro baseball players.

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‘Darwinian’ test uncovers an antidepressant’s hidden toxicity

Because of undetected toxicity problems, about a third of prescription drugs approved in the U.S. are withdrawn from the market or require added warning labels limiting their use. An exceptionally sensitive toxicity test invented at the University of Utah could make it possible to uncover more of these dangerous side effects early in pharmaceutical development so that fewer patients are given unsafe drugs. (Science Daily)

The link between antidepressants and birth defects has been known for a few years now. The real story here is the methodology of the test, which more effectively simulates a real-world environment for the mice and used doses of Paxil very close to what humans might take.

Hopefully this test will be used widely from now on. I would greatly appreciate seeing this test applied to a number of controversial items: GMO food, industrial weed-killers and pesticides such as Roundup and atrazine, and more.

As study author Wayne Potts says:

“We don’t really have a sensitive, broad toxicity assessment system,” Potts says. “That’s why these things slip through the cracks and we often don’t discover harmful effects until after 10 or 20 years of epidemiology studies using the public as the experimental guinea pigs.”

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The Importance of Play – Liver Qi Stagnation

“A lack of play should be treated like malnutrition – it’s a health risk to your body and mind.”

Dr. Stuart Brown

PlaykidsA good definition of play is an activity that A) brings you joy and B) is more important than the result. If you’re going to the gym and running on a treadmill and hating every minute of it, but enduring it because you have a specific goal in mind such as weight loss or a stronger heart and lungs, that’s not play. It’s a valuable activity for sure, and I encourage everyone to set fitness goals, but it’s not playful.

Why is playfulness so important? Watch the TED talk linked above by Dr. Stuart Brown. The quick summary: it’s essential for survival.

From a health perspective, Chinese medicine teaches us that tension is caused by a lack of free flow, particularly in the Liver and Gallbladder channels. When there is long term stagnation over a period of months and years, this stagnation can create heat and Blood Stasis, and even form physical lumps and nodules. If you find yourself chronically irritable and uncoordinated, you may have Liver Qi Stagnation. Some other signs of Liver Qi Stagnation might include cold or numb hands and feet, belching, bloating and distension, headaches, tight neck and shoulder, painful menstruation, and more.

In this case, the old saying “laughter is the best medicine” is very true. Genuine, powerful laughter can instantly dissolve Liver Qi Stagnation. So try a comedy show first. If that doesn’t work, come get acupuncture. Acupuncture can similarly loosen the tight band of physical and emotional tension.

I’ve seen it many times: the person who comes in complaining of all the typical Liver Qi Stagnation symptoms will find themselves nearly instantly relaxed after a few needles. They relax so completely they fall asleep and are surprised when I wake them up at the end of the treatment. “Did I fall asleep? Oh wow…” People who don’t have severe Liver Qi Stagnation won’t have the same reaction.

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The Importance of Attitude in Recovery from Illness

An old judo saying.

An old judo saying.

In judo we do a lot of falling. In fact, it’s the first thing we learn. Called ukemi, the practice of rolling and breakfalling safely from a standing position is the critical element in ensuring your own safety and future success in judo. We practice falling from all different angles and heights. We learn to fall on our backs, on our sides, front, on the right and left. A fall is essentially you throwing yourself. Once you know how to fall safely, the door is open to learning judo, because you have no fear of being thrown. If you have no fear of being thrown, you can take a lot of falls and get back up to do it again. If you’ve never learned to fall, you will always be afraid of falling, and you’ll never make progress.

You might be asking yourself, so, what does this all have to do with my back pain? What does this have to do with high blood pressure, rashes, or menstrual cramps so bad that they make you want to cry and vomit? What relevance does this have to depression, anxiety, or irritable bowel syndrome?

“Fall down seven times, stand up eight.” This is an old judo saying, but it has another meaning beyond the physical – it means perseverance, never giving up, enduring great hardship but continuing on no matter what. If you stand up every time you’re thrown, you will always end up standing. Every time you get thrown, you learn something. Every time you fall down, you learn something. And every time you get back up, you learn something about yourself.

Cultivate within yourself the attitude that you will be healthy and pain free, someday soon. The illness or pain you’re feeling now is an experience you have to pass through in order to become who you are meant to be. You don’t have to embrace or like what you’re going through, especially when you’re going through something particularly painful and intense, like chemotherapy and radiation. But if you can learn to appreciate it, to see it as a test that you will inevitably pass, the burden will become lighter.

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Balance Predicts Brain Health

Try this.

Try this.

Here’s a quick test: Stand up and slowly lift one foot off the ground. How long can you keep your balance? Can you do it for at least twenty seconds? A new study has shown that:

Struggling to balance on one leg for 20 seconds or longer was linked to an increased risk for small blood vessel damage in the brain and reduced cognitive function in otherwise healthy people with no clinical symptoms, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke. (Source)

The study did not assess whether increasing your ability to stand on one leg positively affected brain health, but I feel like it couldn’t possibly hurt! Additionally:

Studies have shown tai chi to reduce falls in seniors by up to 45%, Dr. Wayne says. It can also improve balance in people with neurological problems. A recent study in The New England Journal of Medicine found the program particularly effective for balance in people with Parkinson’s disease. (Source)

As you age, the risk of falling usually increases, and the potential harm from a fall also increases. All the more reason to take up tai chi! Judo is also great for increasing balance and learning how to fall safely.

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The Island Where People Forget to Die

Stamatis Moraitis tending his vineyard and olive grove on Ikaria. Credit: Andrea Frazzetta/LUZphoto for The New York Times

This story is from a few years ago, but I ran across it again recently and I was reminded of how much I love it. People are always looking for the one thing that makes the difference – the latest superfood, the best exercise regimen. The truth is more complex – quality of life and longevity are built around several factors. Food and physical activity are important, but as this story from the New York Times magazine illustrates, it can be hard to pin down exactly why people on this little Greek island live longer and better than nearly everyone else on the planet.

Read the full story on the New York Times website —>

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Advice for Men

This list is from the article on erectile dysfunction, but it’s good advice for anyone who wants to live healthier and have more energy.

  1. Move Your Body – Exercise is a must. Some men need more vigorous exercise, some need more low-key exercise. But something that raises your heart rate for about 30 minutes at least three times a week is a bare minimum. I also strongly recommend weight training with free weights as this is a natural testosterone booster. I know some excellent personal trainers who can instruct you in proper weight lifting form so you can attain the best results while staying safe.
  2. Eat Clean, Nutrient-Dense Foods – Eliminate junk food from your diet. Put down the soda. No more soda. No more chips, no more movie popcorn. No more candy. You’re going to eat meat, rice, and vegetables. You’re going to eat eggs. You’re going to learn how to cook. You’re going to include some fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and yogurt. You’re going to be very sparing with alcohol. Your body is an amazing piece of machinery. Why load it up with crap?
  3. STOP SMOKING – It’s 2015. Stop smoking. If you expect to have any kind of healthy outcomes, you have to stop smoking. Acupuncture and herbs are proven to help reduce cigarette cravings. Smoking directly damages your heart and lungs, and what Chinese medicine calls the Source Qi. Source Qi is your original energy, your genetic endowment from your parents that can’t be replenished by any kind of supplements.
  4. Prioritize Sleep – Don’t stay up all hours reading wikipedia or browsing facebook. Sleep is your body’s natural repair time. Testosterone levels are proven to drop when you don’t get enough sleep.
  5. Supplements – In addition to herbal medicine, I recommend fish oil to most men over 35 to reduce inflammation and help repair muscle tissue.
  6. Meditation/Mindfulness – Take time out of your day to sit quietly and empty your mind. The practice of sitting means returning completely to the natural human condition. Medically it’s been proven to reduce inflammation.

Read the whole article here ——>

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