Get ready for a summer of grave water woes

3 months, 22 days ago

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With its sprawling corporate campuses punctuated by rows of exotically-named apartment complexes (where the employees live) and pubs, malls and multiplexes (where they unwind), Bellandur in south-east Bengaluru showcases what the infotech revolution has brought to the city. When it comes to water supply, however, the area more closely resembles Wild West than Silicon Valley, the US tech hub the city is most often compared with. While Silicon Valley residents take high-pressure potable water for granted when they open their taps, the Bellandur experience is, let’s say, somewhat different.“We are being held to ransom,” says one resident, a senior executive at one of the IT majors, while talking about the area’s water crisis. “Last week, we were out on the road, begging every tanker for water,” says another, the president of her apartment complex. They insist on anonymity for themselves and their apartments.
It’s an intriguing request for a story on water supply. But they explain why: the last time some of the residents spoke to a reporter, the water tanker owners appeared before them brandishing copies of the paper, accusing them of defaming the water suppliers and, finally, leveraging the incident to jack up prices of each tanker by a further Rs 100.

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Bellandur is one of 110 “villages” on the periphery of Bengaluru recently added to the city’s corporation limits which does not yet receive piped water. This is despite it being the highest tax-paying ward in the city, residents point out. With borewells sunk as deep as 800 feet running dry, people here depend on 6,000-litre private tankers for regular water supply. This year, the shortage has struck early, with private tankers claiming a dip in supply to raise the price of water, from Rs 700 to Rs 1,200 and upwards per load — since the business is unregulated and each supplier has their own fiefdom, customers have little option but to comply. For a 300-unit apartment, the water bill in January alone was Rs 4.5 lakh.

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Staring at a Shortage With its lack of piped water and rapidly depleting groundwater levels, Bellandur might be an extreme version of the urban dystopia that summer heralds in many parts of India.But with demand peaking in our bursting-at-the-seams metropolises in the next couple of months, a below normal monsoon, few genuine attempts at conservation and a general apathy towards reducing demand unless one is forced to, our cities look set to contend with a severe water crisis this year, too.The national capital, for instance, will likely see a shortfall of about 300 million gallons a day (1,100 million litres) in the next two months, according to Delhi Jal Board vice-chairman Dinesh Mohaniya. Last summer, fracas over water led to the death of three people in New Delhi.

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In Mumbai, civic authorities have reduced daily water supply by 10 per cent from November due to the paucity in rainfall while in Chennai, the supply is nearly 300 million litres a day less than what it should be, according to Chennai Metro Water joint director R Neelankandan. “We expect to continue supplying this quantity till the next monsoon,” he says, hopeful that the crisis will be better than the previous summer, since the year was not as dry.But Umananda Mukherjee, a resident of Velachery in Chennai staying in a compound with four houses, is already feeling the pinch. The executive depends on tanker water from Chennai Metro Water which he books via phone and is usually delivered in 2 to 3 days of booking. “Last time, the gap stretched to 7-8 days. It was that bad,” he says. He ended up having to buy water from a private supplier, paying Rs 1,500 for 1,200 litres to his compound—exorbitant, compared with the Rs 700 he pays for 9,000 litres from Chennai Metro Water.

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When it comes to water supply in urban areas in India, there is no dearth of alarming statistics. Last year, government think-tank Niti Aayog, in its report, issued the dire warning that 21 cities including Delhi, Bengaluru and Chennai will run out of groundwater by 2020, which would affect about 100 million people. A few months before that, Centre for Science and Environment published a report predicting that 10 cities around the world, including Bengaluru, were likely to face Day Zero when taps there would run dry, like the situation Cape Town in South Africa got very close to.Dipping groundwater levels across the country have been a cause for concern over the years, as extraction of the resource largely continues unchecked to meet the demands of a growing population. The bulk of this is used in farming.National Geophysical Research Institute director Virendra Tiwari, who has been studying dwindling groundwater resources for years, says areas in and around Delhi have been losing 30 to 32 cubic kilometres of groundwater every year. “This is the largest rate of groundwater loss in any similar region on Earth,” he says, echoing what he had written in a 2009 paper.

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The extraction across northern India has been exceeding the replenishable groundwater, lowering the water table. A 2019 report by Water Aid points out that groundwater depletion across India increased by nearly a quarter between 2000 and 2010. The water available per person annually in India has also come down by a steep 70 per cent between 1951 and 2011.Municipal governments have been focusing primarily on supply side management to the total neglect of demand side measures such as metered water supply, says Tushaar Shah, senior fellow at the International Water Management Institute. He attributes India’s urban water supply crisis partly to this. “Our water supply infrastructure has also failed to keep pace with growth of the urban centres, with water conveyance losses exceedingly high. And the inadequacy of public systems to meet demand has given rise to a massive informal water economy that is hard to regulate and control,” says Shah. The monopoly of private water tankers in Bellandur is one instance of this.

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“In the last two decades, all the major urban centres in India have become dark zones, where extraction of water exceeds the natural recharging capacity,” says Suresh Rohilla, senior director at the New Delhi-based think tank Centre for Science and Environment. The total quantum of water coming in to our cities is not increasing considerably because our rivers don’t have water, he says. “For instance, my house in Delhi used to get 10-12 hours of water supply during my childhood. Now, it is just half an hour each in the morning and evening. That means I have to invest more in pumps, in electricity and storage mechanisms,” he adds. The key is to manage our water distribution better, rather than look at new projects that will bring water to our cities from locations farther and farther away, says Rohilla.Avoiding ‘Day Zero’There are also region-specific factors choking water supply. Delhi, for instance, is locked in a court battle with neighbouring Haryana over the supply of water. There are two cases being heard, one in the Supreme Court and the other in the Delhi High Court, over the sharing of river water and the use of a lined canal. “A favourable verdict would fix our quota of water from the river Yamuna, which is Delhi’s main source of water,” says Delhi Jal Board’s Mohaniya.

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Then there is the all-important monsoons. An officer in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, who requested not to be named as the electoral code of conduct is in force, says the civic body had to reduce water supply as rainfall had been less than in the previous year. Non-revenue water, or water which is lost due to leaks and theft and therefore does not earn any revenue and pollution of water bodies also contributes to reducing supply.Even when civic agencies supply water, the distribution is usually inequitable, say researchers. In a study undertaken in Bengaluru by Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE), it was found that while half the domestic consumers in the city were using less than 90 litres (per person per day), 10 per cent of domestic consumers were using over 342 litres per capita per day. “There is inequitable distribution of water both region-wise, where the periphery is poorly served, and class-wise, where there’s a huge variation in the per capita consumption of water,” says Sharad Lele, a distinguished fellow at ATREE.Lele feels one should not go to the extreme of saying Bengaluru is approaching Day Zero, when all taps will run dry, since the city will continue to receive 1,400 million litres a day of Cauvery water. What is more likely to happen is that the poor will suffer the most. “It will be Day Zero for them,” he says.There are some efforts under way, both long-term and shortterm, to increase and improve water supply. In New Delhi, for instance, the AAP government is offering a 90 per cent rebate on sewer charges for those reusing waste water within their premises, a concept called zero water liquid discharge. “The scheme is in its initial phases. Big institutes like schools and colleges are quite enthusiastic but small users are not very keen because they don’t have the infrastructure to reuse this water,” says Mohaniya.The AAP government has been planning to reuse treated effluents by releasing it into the Yamuna upstream, where it will mix with the river water, thereby increasing the water supply to the city. The Yamuna is Delhi’s main source of water. In Mumbai, three dam projects, including the Gagai dam, which is expected to supply over 400 million litres of water a day when complete, are being planned.Bengaluru is awaiting Stage V of the Cauvery water supply scheme to be complete, which will add another 700 million litres a day (MLD). The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) plans to clamp down on buildings that are not implementing rainwater harvesting. In Chennai, the Metro Water authorities plan to tap agriculture wells in Thiruvallur, 48 km away, which they estimate will yield another 120 MLD. “Ideally, we should look at getting another 300-400 MLD from desalination plants. We also need to realise the importance of decentralising the water supply system, and conserving our local water bodies which can play a major role,” says J Saravanan, a hydrologist and consultant based in Chennai. Rainwater harvesting in buildings, mandated by previous governments, has certainly helped in water conservation, says Saravanan. In Bengaluru, BWSSB chairman Tushar Giri Nath says only half of the over 2 lakh structures supposed to have rainwater harvesting have implemented it.Rather than wait for civic authorities to get their act together, citizens are also trying to do their bit. In Bellandur, residents are signing up for the “2500 challenge” with the aim of digging 2,500 recharge wells over the next three months to improve groundwater. City-based Biome Environmental Trust is spearheading a larger campaign to recharge Bengaluru’s wells called “A Million Recharge Wells” involving the local community of well-diggers, the Manuvaddars. “More than 50 per cent of the city’s demand is met through groundwater. The question is how to replenish the water we are continuously taking out,” says Shubha Ramachandran, water team lead at Biome.Along with efforts to augment supply, experts emphasise the importance of reducing demand. “In urban areas, water is so subsidised that nobody thinks of saving it. It might be costing the water supply board 10-20 times the amount you are paying,” says CSE’s Rohilla. “You treat an iPhone with care because you know the price.”At the peak of the Cape Town crisis last year, domestic users were not allowed to use more than 50 litres of water a day. Starting to use water prudently and efficiently would go some way in helping Indian cities avoid a similar fate.

Read more: economictimes.indiatimes.com

Eating Organic Significantly Reduces Health Risks

4 months, 14 days ago

According to polls, the No. 1 reason people choose organic food is to avoid pesticide exposure.1 Not only do these chemicals threaten the environment, but they also pose a very clear and direct risk to human health.

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, has made headlines because it’s the most used agricultural chemical in history and because the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has identified it as a probable human carcinogen.

New Meta-Analysis Strengthens Link Between Glyphosate and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

A meta-analysis2,3,4,5,6 of six epidemiological studies published between 2001 and 2018 now adds further weight to such suspicions, showing glyphosate increases the risk of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) — a group of blood cancers — by 41 percent in highly exposed subjects.

According to the research team, led by Luoping Zhang, a University of California, Berkeley toxicologist and a member of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) scientific advisory panel (SAP) on glyphosate carcinogenicity,7 there is indeed a “compelling link” between glyphosate exposure and NHL.

Two other researchers on the team were also members of the EPA SAP that met in 2016. At the time, all three expressed concerns about the EPA’s determination that glyphosate was “not likely to be carcinogenic” to humans,8 noting the EPA failed to follow proper scientific practices in its assessment of the chemical.9

Senior author professor Lianne Sheppard told Investigative journalist Carey Gillam,10 “It was pretty obvious they didn’t follow their own rules. Is there evidence that it is carcinogenic? The answer is yes.”

Evidence also emerged suggesting the EPA had colluded with Monsanto to protect the company’s interests by manipulating and preventing key investigations into glyphosate’s cancer-causing potential.

Of the six studies included in this new analysis, five showed a positive correlation. One of the studies, known as the Agricultural Health Study11 (AHS), published in 2018, found no effect.

However, the team points out that results were watered down in that study due to the inclusion of people with very low exposure. It’s only when you look at high-exposure groups independently that a clear link between exposure and NHL emerges.

Scientists Convinced Glyphosate Is a Dangerous Carcinogen

These findings are bad news for Bayer, which now owns Monsanto and its toxic product line. At present, some 9,000 individuals have lawsuits pending against Monsanto-Bayer. All blame their NHL on Roundup exposure. In its defense, Monsanto has relied heavily on the AHS study’s findings showing no correlation between exposure and NHL risk.

However, as noted in the new meta-analysis, published online February 10, 2019:12

“Using the highest exposure groups when available in each study, we report the overall meta-relative risk (meta-RR) of NHL in [glyphosate-based herbicide-exposed] GBH-exposed individuals was increased by 41 percent …

For comparison, we also performed a secondary meta-analysis using high-exposure groups with the earlier AHS (2005), and we determined a meta-RR for NHL of 1.45, which was higher than the meta-RRs reported previously. Multiple sensitivity tests conducted to assess the validity of our findings did not reveal meaningful differences from our primary estimated meta-RR.

To contextualize our findings of an increased NHL risk in individuals with high GBH exposure, we reviewed available animal and mechanistic studies, which provided supporting evidence for the carcinogenic potential of GBH.

We documented further support from studies of malignant lymphoma incidence in mice treated with pure glyphosate, as well as potential links between GBH exposure and immunosuppression, endocrine disruption, and genetic alterations that are commonly associated with NHL.

Overall, in accordance with evidence from experimental animal and mechanistic studies, our current meta-analysis of human epidemiological studies suggests a compelling link between exposures to GBHs and increased risk for NHL.”

Sheppard told Sustainable Pulse,13 “Our analysis focused on providing the best possible answer to the question of whether or not glyphosate is carcinogenic. As a result of this research, I am even more convinced that it is.” Gillam also quotes Sheppard, saying,14 “This paper makes a stronger case than previous meta-analyses that there is evidence of an increased risk of NHL due to glyphosate exposure. From a population health point of view there are some real concerns.”

New Lawsuit Focuses on Roundup’s Effect on Gut Bacteria

Even if you’re not exposed to glyphosate-based herbicides via application (which is the case with most who claim glyphosate exposure caused their NHL), your health is still at risk, as most foods (processed foods in particular) are contaminated with this chemical, and more than 70 percent of Americans have detectable levels of glyphosate in their body.15

A limited food testing program by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2016 revealed virtually all foods tested were contaminated with Roundup.16 The Health Research Institute Labs (HRI Labs), an independent laboratory that tests both micronutrients and toxins found in food, has also discovered widespread glyphosate contamination.

According to HRI data, people who eat oats on a regular basis have twice as much glyphosate in their system as people who don’t (likely because oats are desiccated with glyphosate before harvest), and people who eat organic food on a regular basis have an 80 percent lower level of glyphosate than those who rarely eat organic.

Glyphosate kills weeds by inhibiting the shikimate pathway in the plant, and Monsanto has long defended the chemical’s safety, saying it cannot affect humans because we do not have this pathway. However, the shikimate pathway is found in human gut bacteria, which we now know play a vital role in human health.

As reported by Bloomberg,17 a lawsuit filed against Monsanto February 13 now specifically focuses on this link. But glyphosate can also affect your health via a number of other mechanisms. For example, research has shown glyphosate also:18,19,20

Mimics glycine, an amino acid your body uses to make proteins. By acting as a substitute for glycine in your body, glyphosate can cause damaged proteins to be produced.

Glycine also plays a role in quenching inflammation, as explained in “Glycine Quells Oxidative Damage by Inhibiting NOX Superoxide Production and Boosting NADPH,” and is used up in the detoxification process. As a result of glyphosate toxicity, many of us may not have enough glycine for efficient detoxification.

Interferes with the function of cytochrome P450 enzymes, required for activation of vitamin D in the liver, and the creation of both nitric oxide and cholesterol sulfate, the latter of which is needed for red blood cell integrity.

Chelates important minerals, including iron, cobalt and manganese. Manganese deficiency, in turn, impairs mitochondrial function and can lead to glutamate toxicity in the brain.

Interferes with the synthesis of aromatic amino acids and methionine, which results in shortages in critical neurotransmitters and folate.

Disrupts sulfate synthesis and sulfate transport.

Disrupts and destroys the gut microbiome via its antibiotic activity.

Inhibits sulfur metabolism.

Impairs methylation pathways.

Inhibits pituitary release of thyroid stimulating hormone, which can lead to hypothyroidism.

How Much Glyphosate Do You Have in Your Body?

HRI Labs has developed home test kits for both water and urine, available in my online store. If your levels are high, you would be wise to address your diet and consider buying more organic foods.

You may also want to consider some form of detoxification protocol, and take steps to repair the damage to your gut caused by glyphosate and other agrochemicals. Chances are, if your glyphosate levels are high, you probably have a number of other pesticides in your system as well.

Fermented foods, particularly kimchi, are potent chelators of these kinds of chemicals. Taking activated charcoal after a questionable meal can help bind and excrete chemicals as well. Remember to stay well-hydrated to facilitate the removal of toxins through your liver, kidneys and skin.

Glycine is an important detox aid for glyphosate in particular. Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, recognized as an international authority on metal toxicity and its connection with chronic infections, recommends taking 1 teaspoon (4 grams) of glycine powder twice a day for a few weeks and then lower the dose to one-fourth teaspoon (1 gram) twice a day. The least expensive way to do this is purchase glycine bulk powder,21 which is very inexpensive.

This forces the glyphosate out of your system, allowing it to be eliminated through your urine. Using a sauna on a regular basis is also recommended to help eliminate both pesticides and heavy metals you may have accumulated.

Organic Diet Significantly Lowers Your Pesticide Load, Study Finds

An obvious answer to concerns about glyphosate exposure via your diet is to switch to organic foods. A study22,23 published in the journal Environmental Research, February 12, 2019, again confirms you can significantly reduce your toxic pesticide load by going organic, and results can be rapid.

On average, pesticide and pesticide metabolite level for neonicotinoids, organophosphate pesticides (OP), pyrethroid, 2,4-D and others (14 compounds in all, representing about 40 different pesticides) were reduced by more than 60 percent, on average, in just six days of eating an all-organic diet.

Urine samples were collected from four “racially and geographically diverse” U.S. families — seven adults and nine children in all — before and after they were switched to an all-organic diet. As a group, OP’s were reduced the most, dropping by 70 percent overall.

Chlorpyrifos, linked to autism and reduced IQ in children, was reduced by an average of 61 percent, and malathion, a probable human carcinogen, was reduced by 95 percent while 2,4-D dropped by just 37 percent. The fact that 2,4-D appears to stay in the body longer could be a concern, considering we’re bound to see far more of it in our food in coming years as genetically engineered crops are now being developed with 2,4-D resistant traits.

According to the authors:24

“We observed significant reductions in urinary levels of 13 pesticide metabolites and parent compounds representing OP, neonicotinoid and pyrethroid insecticides and the herbicide 2,4-D following the introduction of an organic diet.

The greatest reductions were observed for clothianidin … malathion dicarboxylic acid, a metabolite of malathion … and 3,5,6-trichlor-2-pyridinol, a metabolite of chlorpyrifos … This study adds to a growing body of literature indicating that an organic diet may reduce exposure to a range of pesticides in children and adults.”

To Avoid Toxic Pesticides, Go Organic

Other studies have found very similar results, including:

A 2006 study25 in Environmental Health Perspectives, which found OP pesticide levels were lowered to undetectable levels in elementary school-aged children fed an all-organic diet for five days; levels rose as soon as a conventional diet was reintroduced
An Australian study26 published in 2014, which found a diet of at least 80 percent organic food lowered pesticide levels by 89 percent in seven days
A 2015 study,27 which found OP pesticide levels were reduced between 25 and 49 percent in Mexican-American children aged 3 to 6, after being fed organic food for seven days

Bruce Lanphear, a professor at Simon Fraser University who was not part of the study told Civil Eats,28 “Families need this type of information. In the absence of a robust regulatory system that protects consumers, these types of studies are critical for consumers or families to make these choices.”

Many Studies Support Eating Organic to Minimize Pesticide Exposure and Improve Nutrition

A 2016 report29 by the European Parliament, “Human Health Implications of Organic Food and Organic Agriculture,” detailed the many benefits of organic farming, based on a global literature search. The report is unusually comprehensive in that it also reviews a wide range of effects of organics, from nutritional content and the benefits of fewer pesticides to environmental impacts and sustainability.

Its conclusions are based on hundreds of epidemiological and laboratory studies and food analyses. Again, the clearest benefits of organics on human health were found to be related to lowered pesticide, antibiotic and cadmium exposure. And, while U.S. regulators insist that set limits on pesticide residues in conventional produce are enough to protect the public’s health, the report found negative health effects may occur in children even at current levels of exposure.30

According to research31 presented at a 2017 Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN) conference in Washington, D.C., women exposed to higher glyphosate levels during pregnancy had babies born earlier and with lower adjusted birth weights.

What’s more, the chemical was detected in more than 90 percent of the mothers in the study. Studies have also demonstrated that an organic diet provides better nutrition. Among them:

A Hungarian study32 published in 2006, which compared the nutritional value of organically and conventionally grown plant foods, found organics contained “significantly higher amounts of certain antioxidants (vitamin C, polyphenols and flavonoids) and minerals.”

A 2010 study33 looking at grass fed beef versus grain fed beef found the former had healthier fat composition and higher CLA levels. As noted by the authors, “[C]hanges in finishing diets of conventional cattle can alter the lipid profile in such a way as to improve upon this nutritional package.

Although there are genetic, age-related and gender differences among the various meat producing species with respect to lipid profiles and ratios, the effect of animal nutrition is quite significant.”

A 2013 study34 found organic milk contains about 25 percent less omega-6 fats and 62 percent more omega-3 fats than conventional milk, along with more vitamin E, beta-carotene and beneficial conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).

A British study35 published in 2014 found organically grown foods contain “significantly” higher levels of antioxidants than the conventionally grown variety, including beneficial compounds linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including heart and neurodegenerative diseases and certain cancers.

A group of scientists at Newcastle University in the U.K. evaluated 343 studies published over several decades. The analysis,36 published in 2014, found that while many nutrient levels were comparable, a key nutritional difference between conventional and organics was their antioxidant content, with organic fruits and vegetables containing anywhere from 18 to 69 percent more antioxidants than conventionally grown varieties.

The Research Institute of Organic Agriculture37 in Frick, Switzerland, has confirmed organic apples contain higher levels of antioxidants than conventional varieties.

A 2010 study38 partially funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found organic strawberries were more nutrient-rich than conventional strawberries.

Research has also found that true organic free-range eggs typically contain about two-thirds more vitamin A, double the amount of omega-3, three times more vitamin E, and as much as seven times more beta carotene than conventional eggs.39

Organic Food Resources

While most people tend to think of organics only in terms of produce (fruits and vegetables), it’s important to remember to buy organic, grass fed beef, poultry and dairy, as well, as conventionally raised animals are routinely fed a diet of genetically engineered grains that are loaded with glyphosate and other potentially hazardous ingredients.

If you live in the U.S., the following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods grown in a sustainable and environmentally-friendly manner:

Demeter USA — Demeter-USA.org provides a directory of certified Biodynamic farms and brands. This directory can also be found on BiodynamicFood.org.

American Grassfed Association — The goal of the American Grassfed Association is to promote the grass fed industry through government relations, research, concept marketing and public education.

Their website also allows you to search for AGA approved producers certified according to strict standards that include being raised on a diet of 100 percent forage; raised on pasture and never confined to a feedlot; never treated with antibiotics or hormones; born and raised on American family farms.

Weston A. Price Foundation — Weston A. Price has local chapters in most states, and many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase organic foods, including grass fed raw dairy products like milk and butter.

Grassfed Exchange — The Grassfed Exchange has a listing of producers selling organic and grass fed meats across the U.S.

Local Harvest — This website will help you find farmers markets, family farms and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass fed meats and many other goodies.

Farmers Markets — A national listing of farmers markets.

Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals — The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, hotels and online outlets in the United States and Canada.

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) — CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.

The Cornucopia Institute — The Cornucopia Institute maintains web-based tools rating all certified organic brands of eggs, dairy products and other commodities, based on their ethical sourcing and authentic farming practices separating CAFO “organic” production from authentic organic practices.

RealMilk.com — If you’re still unsure of where to find raw milk, check out Raw-Milk-Facts.com and RealMilk.com. They can tell you what the status is for legality in your state, and provide a listing of raw dairy farms in your area. The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund40 also provides a state-by-state review of raw milk laws.41 California residents can also find raw milk retailers using the store locator available at www.OrganicPastures.com.

Read more: articles.mercola.com

Top 9 Nutrients for Better Brain Health

5 months, 20 days ago

30 Tips in 30 Days Designed to Help You Take Control of Your
Health

This article is included in Dr. Mercola’s All-Time Top 30 Health Tips series. Every day during the month of January, a new tip will be added that will help you take control of your health. Want to see the full list? Click here.

Like autism among children, Alzheimer’s among seniors has reached epidemic proportions, with no slowdown in sight. On the contrary, evidence suggests the trend is worsening. At present, Alzheimer’s affects about 5.4 million Americans and is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.1 The World Health Organization predicts that by 2050, 1 in 6 adults will be living with dementia.

It’s important to realize that dementia is a lifestyle-predicated disease, and there are many strategies that will help prevent this kind of neurodegeneration. In essence, anything that will help optimize your mitochondria will also help prevent Alzheimer’s. You can learn more about these Alzheimer’s prevention strategies in this previous article.

Here, the focus is on specific nutrients shown to play an important role in brain health and cognition, starting with marine-based omega-3, which contains two long-chained fatty acids that are vital for brain health: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

1. Marine-Based Omega-3 Fat: DHA

The influence of marine-based omega-3 fats on physical and mental health has been the subject of intense research for decades, and there’s compelling evidence they can help ameliorate a variety of psychiatric illnesses and degenerative brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s.

In my new book, “Superfuel,” cowritten with James DiNicolantonio, Pharm. D., we expain how DHA is an essential structural component of your brain, and is found in high levels in your neurons, the cells of your central nervous system. When your omega-3 intake is inadequate, your nerve cells become stiff and more prone to inflammation as the missing omega-3 fats are substituted with omega-6 instead.

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Once your nerve cells become rigid and inflamed, proper neurotransmission from cell to cell and within cells become compromised. Low DHA levels have been linked to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease, and some studies suggest degenerative brain diseases may potentially be reversible with sufficient DHA.

For example, in one study,2 elderly volunteers suffering from memory deficits saw significant improvement after taking 900 milligrams (mg) of DHA per day for 24 weeks, compared to controls. Another study3 found significant improvement in verbal fluency scores after taking 800 mg of DHA per day for four months, compared with placebo. Furthermore, memory and rate of learning were significantly improved when DHA was combined with 12 mg of lutein per day.

I never previously realized this but DHA also stimulates one of the most important transcription factors that regulates cellular oxidation and reduction, and aids in detoxification, the Nrf2 pathway.4 Additionally, it also increases heme oxygenase 15 (a protein produced in response to oxidative stress) and upregulates antioxidant enzymes — all of which are important for brain health.

In addition, DHA is a precursor for the signaling molecule protectin, which is synthesized in response to oxidative stress. (When found in your central nervous system it’s referred to as neuroprotectin, or NPD1.) As explained in a 2011 paper in the journal Nutrients:6

“NPD1 induces nerve regeneration, reduce leukocyte infiltration and maintains homeostasis through ageing by reducing pro-apoptotic and pro-inflammatory signaling. NPDI is induced by oxidative stress and protects retinal and neuronal cells from oxidative stress-induced apoptosis.

Many mechanisms have been implicated, including suppression of the IL-1β induced stimulation of COX. The discovery of NPD1 offers new therapeutic opportunities for a range of neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease. It also provides an exciting potential for DHA in helping to delay or minimize the ‘normal’ cognitive decline during ageing.”

2. Marine-Based Omega-3 Fat: EPA

EPA, meanwhile, appears to be particularly beneficial in the treatment of depression,7 as it helps lower levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin 1 beta and prostaglandin E2 — three immune chemicals that tend to be elevated in those with depression.

A stumbling block has been to get sufficiently large amounts into your brain. To raise your brain level of EPA, you’d need to consume impractically large amounts of fish oil, for example. One theory is that degradation by pancreatic enzymes renders the EPA incapable of passing the blood-brain-barrier.8

However, recent research9 has discovered something really interesting. By using a lysophospholipid form of EPA (LPC-EPA), they were able to increase the EPA level in the brain of mice 100fold. Even more remarkable, LPC-EPA also doubled the DHA level in the brain, whereas free EPA had no effect on DHA levels. The authors further noted that:

“Only LPC-EPA increased EPA and DHA in retina, and expression of BDNF, CREB and 5-HT1A receptor in the brain. These novel results show that brain EPA can be increased through diet. Because LPC-EPA increased both EPA and DHA in the brain, it may help treat depression as well as neuroinflammatory diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.”

Papasani Subbaiah, professor of medicine and biochemistry and molecular genetics in the UIC College of Medicine and corresponding author, told MedicalXpress:10

“It seems that there is a transporter at the blood-brain barrier that EPA must pass through in order to get into the brain, but EPA in fish oil can’t get through, whereas LPC-EPA can. You don’t have to consume all that much LPC- EPA to have significant increases of EPA show up in the brain, so this could be a way to do rigorous studies on the effects of EPA in humans.”

The Importance of Phospholipid-Bound Omega-3

There are a number of drawbacks to fish oil, and the lack of phospholipids is one of them. DHA and EPA are water insoluble and therefore cannot be transported in their free form in your blood. They must be packaged into lipoprotein vehicles such as phospholipids. This is primarily why the bioavailability of krill oil is so much higher than fish oil, because in fish oil, the DHA and EPA are bound to triglycerides.

When you consume fish oil, your liver has to attach it to phosphatidylcholine in order for it to be efficiently utilized by your body and brain. Phospholipids are also one of the principal compounds in high-density lipoproteins (HDL), which you want more of, and by allowing your cells to maintain structural integrity, phospholipids help your cells function optimally.

Importantly, your brain cannot readily absorb DHA unless it’s bound to phosphatidylcholine, and while krill oil contains phosphatidylcholine naturally, fish oil does not. As the name implies, phosphatidylcholine is composed partly of choline, the precursor for the vital neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which sends nerve signals to your brain, and choline itself is crucial for brain development, learning and memory, as you’ll see in the next section.

Recent research11 by Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D., also highlights the value of DHA bound to phospholipids, showing this form may actually reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in those with the apolipoprotein E4 (APOE4) gene, which lowers the typical age of onset of this degenerative brain disorder.

Two hallmarks of Alzheimer’s are amyloid beta plaques and tau tangles, both of which impair normal brain functioning. Alzheimer’s patients also have reduced glucose transport into their brains, and this is one of the reasons why plaque and tangles form and accumulate in the first place. According to Patrick,12 DHA encourages your brain’s uptake of glucose by regulating the structure and function of glucose transporters, proteins located at your blood-brain barrier.

While eating DHA-rich fish has been shown to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s in APOE4 carriers, taking fish oil has not demonstrated the same efficacy. According to Patrick, this variation in response appears to be related to the different ways in which the two forms of DHA are metabolized and ultimately transported into your brain.

When the triglyceride form of DHA is metabolized, most of it turns into nonesterified DHA, while the phospholipid form is metabolized primarily into DHA-lysophosphatidylcholine (DHA-lysoPC). While both of these forms can cross the blood-brain barrier to reach your brain, the phospholipid form does so far more efficiently.

According to Patrick, people with APOE4 have a faulty nonesterified DHA transport system, and this may be why they’re at increased risk for Alzheimer’s. The good news is that DHA-lysoPC can bypass the tight junctions, thereby improving DHA transport, and for those with one or two APOE4 variants, taking the phospholipid form of DHA may therefore lower their risk of Alzheimer’s more effectively.

3. Choline Helps Fight Alzheimer’s Disease

Other recent research13 demonstrates the importance of choline for brain health and prevention of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Choline is a precursor to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter required for the proper function of your brain and nervous system, playing a role in fetal brain development, memory, muscle control, mood and gene expression. As reported by Science Daily:14

“The study focuses on mice bred to display AD-like symptoms. Results showed that when these mice are given high choline in their diet, their offspring show improvements in spatial memory, compared with those receiving a normal choline regimen in the womb.

Remarkably, the beneficial effects of choline supplementation appear to be transgenerational, not only protecting mice receiving choline supplementation during gestation and lactation, but also the subsequent offspring of these mice. While this second generation received no direct choline supplementation, they nevertheless reaped the benefits of treatment, likely due to inherited modifications in their genes.”

Choline helps protect against Alzheimer’s by:

Reducing your homocysteine level, an amino acid that has been shown to cause neurodegeneration and is involved in the formation of amyloid plaques, two hallmarks of Alzheimer’s. Choline converts homocysteine into methionine, which has a number of beneficial effects.
Inhibiting microglia activation. Microglia cells clear debris from your brain, and while this is a crucial function, in Alzheimer’s the microglia have a tendency to become overactivated, causing inflammation in the brain that can result in the death of neurons. By reducing activation of microglia, choline can help protect Alzheimer’s patients from further brain damage.

4. Phosphatidylserine Boosts Cognitive Function

Phosphatidylserine is another supplement that can help improve cognitive function15 and protect against Alzheimer’s disease.16 Phosphatidylserine is an amino acid derivative that is highly prevalent in neural tissue and plays an important role in the cellular function in your brain.

While your body can synthesize it on its own, you can also get it through food (such as mackerel, cod, egg yolks and organ meats) and/or a phosphatidylserine complex supplement.17 Phosphatidylserine has a unique structure that makes it both hydrophilic, meaning it’s attracted to water and hydrophobic, or repelled by water.

With this structure, phospholipids are able to arrange themselves into a phospholipid bilayer — two parallel layers that form a major component of the human cell membranes. In brain cell membranes, the phospholipid bilayer acts as a “gatekeeper,” regulating the entry beneficial substances, basically nutrients, water and oxygen, while eliminating metabolic waste.18

In one study,19 supplementing with 400 mg of phosphatidylserine increased the speed of calculations done in short-term memory by 20 percent in a group of healthy adults. In another, it improved cognitive function of geriatric patients at a dosage of 300 mg per day for six months.20

Taken with DHA, it’s also been shown to improve behavior and short-term auditory memory in children with ADHD.21 In patients with Alzheimer’s, phosphatidylserine helps inhibit amyloid beta and interferon-gamma-induced microglial activation.22

5. Acetyl-L-Carnitine Protects Against Neurotoxic Insults

Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) has many beneficial effects on brain metabolism, protects against neurotoxic insults, and has been shown to benefit certain forms of depression. In one study,23 healthy mice given ALCAR for 25 days at a dose of about half a gram per kilo, were found to have increased levels of the neurotransmitters noradrenaline and serotonin. According to the authors, this is “consistent with ALCAR’s potential efficacy for depressive symptoms.”

In another study,24 ALCAR was found to improve the clinical condition of patients with degenerative cerebellar ataxia (a condition resulting in the loss of control of bodily movements). According to the authors, “statistically significant improvement of some symptoms and a slow progression of the disease in both groups of patients” were observed.

6. Vitamin D Protects Against Memory Loss

Activated vitamin D receptors increase nerve growth in your brain, and researchers have also located metabolic pathways for vitamin D in the hippocampus and cerebellum, areas involved in planning, information processing and memory formation.

According to research25 published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, low vitamin D is associated with poorer brain function, and increasing levels may help keep older adults mentally fit. Vitamin D has also been shown to improve a number of brain disorders, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.26

In one six-year study,27 those with severe vitamin D deficiency were more than twice as likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s than those with higher levels. Even those with moderate deficiency had a 53 percent increased risk for all forms of dementia, and 69 percent increased risk for Alzheimer’s specifically. According to the authors, “Our results confirm that vitamin D deficiency is associated with a substantially increased risk of all-cause dementia and Alzheimer disease.”

The findings also suggest there’s a threshold level of circulating vitamin D, below which your risk for dementia increases. This threshold was found to be right around 20 ng/mL (50 nmol/L). Higher levels were associated with good brain health.

I recommend getting your vitamin D level tested twice a year, and taking whatever dosage required to achieve and maintain a vitamin D level between 60 and 80 ng/mL (150 and 200 nmol/L). Ideally, you’d want to raise your level by getting sensible sun exposure, but if you cannot, consider an oral vitamin D3 supplement balanced with magnesium and vitamin K2.

7. Vitamin B12 Deficiency Wreaks Havoc on Cognitive Function

Vitamin B12 is another important player. Research28 shows people with high levels of markers for vitamin B12 deficiency are more likely to score lower on cognitive tests and have a smaller total brain volume, which suggests a lack of B12 may contribute to brain shrinkage.

Mental fogginess and problems with memory are two of the top warning signs that you have vitamin B12 deficiency, and this is indicative of its importance for your brain health.

Finnish researchers have also found that people who consume foods rich in B12 may reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s in their later years.29 For each unit increase in the marker for vitamin B12 (holotranscobalamin) the risk of developing Alzheimer’s was reduced by 2 percent. Another study30 found that supplementing with B vitamins, including B12, helps to slow brain atrophy in elderly people with mild cognitive impairment.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is widespread and many have trouble absorbing this nutrient properly from food sources. Blood tests for vitamin B12 are not always a reliable indicator of B12 status, so watching for symptoms of deficiency and increasing your dietary and supplemental intake is a practical alternative to blood testing.

B12 is available in its natural form only in animal food sources such as seafood, beef, chicken, pork, milk and eggs. If you rarely or never consume these animal products, you’re at particularly high risk of B12 deficiency.

The good news is vitamin B12 supplementation is completely nontoxic and inexpensive, especially when compared to the cost of laboratory testing. I recommend an under-the-tongue fine mist spray, as this technology helps you absorb the vitamin into the fine capillaries under your tongue.

8. MCT Oil Boosts Brain Performance

One of the primary fuels your brain needs is glucose, which is converted into energy. Your brain actually manufactures its own insulin to convert glucose in your bloodstream into the food it needs to survive.

If your brain’s production of insulin decreases, your brain literally begins to starve, as it’s deprived of the glucose-converted energy it needs to function normally. This is what happens to Alzheimer’s patients — portions of their brain start to atrophy, or starve, leading to impaired functioning and eventual loss of memory, speech, movement and personality.

In effect, your brain can begin to atrophy from starvation if it becomes insulin resistant and loses its ability to convert glucose into energy. Fortunately, your brain is able to run on more than one type of energy supply. It can run on both glucose and ketones, and ketones are actually better.

Ketones are what your body produces when it converts fat as opposed to glucose) into energy, and a primary source of ketone bodies are medium chain triglycerides (MCT). While coconut oil is one healthy option, MCT oil is a more concentrated source of ketones, so it tends to be more appropriate for clinical uses.

Most commercial brands of MCT oil contain a 50/50 combination of C8 and C10 fats (the “C number” stands for the carbon length of the MCT). My personal preference is straight C8 (caprylic acid), as it converts to ketones far more rapidly than do C10 fats, and will give you higher levels of ketones.

You can learn more about MCTs and the differences between them in my previous article, “The Many Health Benefits of MCT Oil.” Ketones appear to be the preferred source of energy for the brain in people affected by diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and maybe even ALS, because in these diseases, certain neurons have become insulin resistant or have lost the ability to efficiently utilize glucose. As a result, neurons slowly die off.

The introduction of ketones may rescue these neurons and they may still be able to survive and thrive. In multiple studies, ketones have been shown to be both neurotherapeutic and neuroprotective. They also appear to lower markers of systemic inflammation. As noted by Mental Health Daily:31

“In small scale human trials,32 MCT supplementation boosted cognition in individuals with cognitive impairment and mild forms of Alzheimer’s disease after just a single dose. While not everyone improved from the MCT treatment, those with certain genetics experienced notable improvement.”

9. Probiotics Feed Your Second Brain

As your “second brain,” the state of your gut also plays an important role in your neurological and psychological health. Probiotics have been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and decrease pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s, including amyloid plaques and tangles. In one study,33 the probiotic strain L. plantarumMTCC1325 was identified as having these “anti-Alzheimer’s properties.”

In another study,34 published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 60 elderly patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s received either a placebo or a probiotic milk products containing Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacterium bifidum and Lactobacillus fermentum for 12 weeks.

At the beginning and end of the study, participants underwent a standardized cognitive assessment and a highly sensitive c-reactive protein test, which is a powerful marker of inflammation. As reported by neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter:35

“The results of the study were stunning. The placebo group showed an increase in hs-CRP, the inflammation marker, by an impressive 45 percent. In the group taking the probiotic, on the other hand, hs-CRP didn’t just stay the same, but actually declined by 18 percent, indicating a dramatic reduction in inflammation.

But here’s the truly exciting news. Over the 12 weeks, the patients in the placebo continued to decline mentally, as you might expect. Their MMSE score dropped from 8.47 to 8.00, a substantial reduction.

But the group on the inflammation reducing probiotics actually demonstrated, not a decline in brain function, but an actual improvement, with their MMSE scores going from 8.67 up to 10.57, and that’s a huge improvement. Again, not only was their mental decline stopped in its tracks, these individuals regained brain function!

The message here is that inflammation is directly determined by the health and diversity of our gut bacteria, and this has major implications in terms of brain health, function and disease resistance.”

Tip #23Avoid Constipation

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Top Tips to Avoid Pharmaceutical Injury

5 months, 23 days ago

30 Tips in 30 Days Designed to Help You Take Control of Your
Health

This article is included in Dr. Mercola’s All-Time Top 30 Health Tips series. Every day during the month of January, a new tip will be added that will help you take control of your health. Want to see the full list? Click here.

Vaccines have quickly become Big Pharma’s most lucrative profit center. Currently valued at more than $34 billion a year, the vaccine industry is projected to exceed $49 billion by 2022.1 There are several reasons for this rapid growth. Not only are vaccines priced much higher than pills, but governments and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are also engaged in the marketing of vaccines.

These unethical partnerships, which use both taxpayer and NGO money, advance misleading research intended to frighten the public. Worse, they discredit vaccine critics who raise legitimate safety and efficacy questions and even discredit the families and victims of vaccine injuries themselves.

To cash in on vaccine profits, Big Pharma, governments and NGOs have cast all vaccines as “life-saving.” One of the clearest examples is the attempt to present the HPV vaccine as an “anticancer” vaccine, even though there’s not a single shred of evidence that it actually has an impact on cervical cancer rates. Meanwhile, mounting evidence of serious harm and death caused by the HPV vaccine is being ignored or cast aside as “coincidental.”

To Avoid Vaccine Injury, Educate Yourself About the Risks

The official stance repeated by most mainstream media is that vaccines have been thoroughly researched, that “hundreds” of studies have proven their safety, and that no link between vaccines and health problems, such as autism, have ever been found.

It sounds definitive enough, and is often repeated as established fact. Yet it’s far from the whole truth. Importantly, the vaccine industry has long shied away from evaluating vaccinated versus unvaccinated populations to determine potential differences in general health outcomes.

The few independent scientists who have attempted such an investigation have little comfort to give to those who believe vaccines are essential for health, and mandatory use of vaccines by all children is the only way to protect society from disease.

Vaccine May Actually Be Doing More Harm Than Good

One such study,2 published in 2017, examined health outcomes among infants 3 to 5 months old following the introduction of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) and oral polio vaccine in Guinea-Bissau, which took place in the early 1980s. This population offered the rare opportunity to compare vaccinated and unvaccinated children due to the way the vaccines were rolled out in the West African country.

Shockingly, researchers discovered “DTP was associated with fivefold higher mortality than being unvaccinated.” According to the authors, “All currently available evidence suggests that DTP vaccine may kill more children from other causes than it saves from diphtheria, tetanus or pertussis.”

In short, the researchers concluded that DTP vaccine weakened the children’s immune systems, rendering them vulnerable to a whole host of other often deadly diseases and serious health problems.

In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that children receive 69 doses of 16 vaccines by the time they’re 18 years old, with 50 doses of 14 vaccines given before the age of 6.3

This, despite the fact that no thorough investigation has ever been conducted to determine how all of these vaccines actually affect a child’s health. What’s worse, no one is tracking the health outcomes of children who adhere to the federally recommended childhood vaccine schedule and state mandatory vaccination programs.

Lawyers with the U.S. Justice Department also defend vaccines in the federal vaccine injury compensation program (VICP), commonly referred to as “vaccine court,” which means the U.S. government has a stake in maintaining the illusion that vaccines are a necessary lifesaving measure that causes minimal harm.

High Vaccination Rate Does Not Translate Into Better Infant Health

What we do know is that:

• The U.S. has the highest vaccination rate in the world, with 94 to 96 percent of children entering kindergarten having received multiple doses of vaccines4

• The U.S. also has one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates of any developed nation5,6

• 1 in 6 American children has a developmental disability, which includes ADD, ADHD, autism, hearing loss, learning disabilities, mental disabilities, seizures and stammering — many of which are also listed or known side effects of vaccines

• 54 percent of children have a diagnosed chronic illness, including anxiety, asthma, behavioral problems, bone and muscle disorders, chronic ear infections, depression, diabetes, food and/or environmental allergies and epilepsy.

This list again mirrors many of the acknowledged side effects of vaccines, and the rise in prevalence of these diseases parallel the rise in required vaccines, yet vaccine promoters insist that these illnesses are in no way associated with vaccinations

Common Vaccine Side Effects

Both the U.S. Congress and the Supreme Court have also admitted that government licensed and recommended childhood vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe,”7 and possible side effects that are actually listed on vaccine inserts include:

Autoimmune diseases

Food allergies

Asthma

Eczema

Type 1 diabetes

Rheumatoid arthritis

Tics

Tourette syndrome

ADD/ADHD

Autism

Speech delay

Neurodevelopment disorders

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

Seizure disorder

Narcolepsy

Vaccines also have the highest number of recalls of any drug, which speaks to their “unavoidably unsafe” nature. Victims have also received compensation from the federal vaccine injury compensation program (VICP) for the following (and other) injuries:

Guillain-Barre syndrome

Transverse myelitis

Encephalopathy

Seizure disorder hypoxic seizure

Death

Brachial neuritis

Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis

Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (CIDP)

Premature ovarian failure

Bell’s palsy

Type 1 diabetes

Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura

Rheumatic arthritis

Multiple sclerosis

Fibromyalgia

Anaphylaxis

Ocular myasthenia gravis

Infantile spasms

The Vaccines-Autism Link Revived

According to the latest survey,8,9 1 in 40 American children between the ages of 3 and 17 is now on the autism spectrum. This shocking update was published in the journal Pediatrics in December 2018. In 2014, the rate was 1 in 59; in 2010, it was 1 in 68; in 2000, it was 1 in 150.10 To say we’re looking at exponential growth would be an understatement. But do vaccines have anything to do with this trend?

According to a Full Measure report11 by award-winning investigative reporter and former CBS correspondent Sharyl Attkisson, Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, a pediatric neurologist, was the pro-vaccine expert witness the government used to debunk and turn down autism claims in vaccine court.

“Zimmerman was the government’s top expert witness and had testified that vaccines didn’t cause autism. The debate was declared over,” Attkisson reports. “But now Dr. Zimmerman has provided remarkable new information.

He claims that during the vaccine hearings all those years ago, he privately told government lawyers that vaccines can, and did cause autism in some children. That turnabout from the government’s own chief medical expert stood to change everything about the vaccine-autism debate. If the public were to find out …

And he has come forward and explained how he told the United States government vaccines can cause autism in a certain subset of children and [the] United States government, the Department of Justice [DOJ], suppressed his true opinions.”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., chairman of The World Mercury Project, was the one who convinced Zimmerman to speak out about the cover-up. In a sworn affidavit, dated September 7, 2018, Zimmerman states that, in 2007, he told DOJ lawyers he had “discovered exceptions in which vaccinations could cause autism.”

“I explained that in a subset of children … vaccine-induced fever and immune stimulation … did cause regressive [brain disease] with features of autism spectrum disorder,” Zimmerman writes.

A week after this 2007 meeting, the DOJ fired him, saying his services would no longer be needed. According to Zimmerman, the DOJ then went on to misrepresent his opinion in future cases, making no mention of the exceptions he’d informed them of. Kennedy has now filed a fraud complaint with the DOJ Inspector General.

William Thompson, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the CDC’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases, has also confessed to covering up links found between vaccines and autism, in this case the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

According to Thompson, this scientific fraud was committed for the express purpose of covering up potential safety problems so the agency would be able to maintain that the MMR vaccine had been proven safe to give to all children. By eliminating the incriminating data, the link vanished, and this research has been cited as proof ever since that vaccines don’t cause autism.

Attkisson’s report also reveals how Congressmen who wanted to investigate the autism-vaccine link were bullied, harassed and threatened. Dan Burton (R-IN), Dr. Dave Weldon (R-FL) and Bill Posey (R-FL) are among 11 current and former members of Congress and staff who told Attkisson they were warned to drop the vaccine safety issue by PhRMA lobbyists.

Vaccines Can Have Serious Consequences for Adults Too

While children are more susceptible to vaccine damage than adults, grownups can and have been seriously injured and killed by routine vaccinations as well. It’s important to realize that no vaccine is 100 percent safe for everyone. As reported by CNN, an oncologist with London’s Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust recently died following a routine yellow fever vaccination:12

“Martin Gore, 67, died Thursday morning after receiving the vaccine, which is recommended to travelers visiting sub-Saharan Africa, most of South America, and parts of Central American and the Caribbean …

Gore’s death casts light on the heightened risk associated with the yellow fever vaccine and the over-60 demographic. Typical side effects of the vaccine include headaches, muscle pain, mild fever and soreness at the injection site …

However, the vaccinations can, in rare circumstances, cause more severe side effects, including allergic reactions and problems affecting the brain or organs …

The WHO reported that all cases of viscerotropic disease — a rare but dangerous side effect of yellow fever vaccinations where an illness similar to wild-type yellow fever proliferates in multiple organs — have occurred in primary vaccines, starting two to five days after vaccination.”

Might Vaccine Reaction Rate Be as High as 1 in 10?

In the video above, Del Bigtree,13 an Emmy Award-winning producer of “The Doctors” talk show for six years, and one of the producers of the documentary, “Vaxxed,” discusses vaccine safety, or rather the lack thereof.

In it, he recounts how, in 2010, the CDC hired a company to automate the federal vaccine adverse event reporting system (VAERS) in such a way that any potential vaccine reactions reported to doctors participating in the Harvard Pilgrim HMO would automatically be uploaded into the VAERS database.

Remarkably, preliminary data showed that out of 376,452 individuals given 45 different vaccines, 35,570 possible vaccine reactions were identified. This means nearly 1 in 10 people suffered a reaction after vaccination concerning enough to be reported, yet the official CDC mantra is that the risk for serious vaccine injury or death is 1 in 1 million.

Unfortunately, while the creation of VAERS in 1986 was an opportunity to get a firmer grasp of the number of potential vaccine reactions, injuries and deaths occurring after vaccinations given in the U.S., the CDC didn’t follow through, and the project fell by the wayside.

Medical Errors Are the Third Leading Cause of Death in the US

While I’ve focused a lot of attention on vaccines and the necessity for educating yourself about their risks in this article, vaccines are by far not the only hazard presented by the medical industry. In fact, medical errors in general are the third leading cause of death, killing an estimated 250,000 Americans each year,14,15 an increase of about 25,000 people annually from data published in 2000.16

Side effects from drugs, taken as prescribed, account for the vast majority of iatrogenic deaths, but unnecessary surgeries, medication errors in hospitals, hospital-acquired infections and other medical errors occurring in hospitals also claim their fair share of lives.

Research17 published in 2013 estimated that preventable hospital errors kill 210,000 Americans each year — a figure that comes very close to the latest statistics. However, when deaths related to diagnostic errors, errors of omission, and failure to follow guidelines were included, the number skyrocketed to 440,000 preventable hospital deaths each year.

10 Tips to Avoid Medical Harm

How can you avoid becoming one of these statistics? Aside from educating yourself on the risks and benefits of vaccines, here are several additional suggestions:

Ask your doctor whether a recommended test and/or treatment is really necessary, and do your own homework — According to a report by the Institute of Medicine, an estimated 30 percent of all medical procedures, tests and medications may be unnecessary,18 any one of which can put you at risk for a potentially serious or lethal side effect.

An investigation19 by the Mayo Clinic published in 2013 also revealed between 40 and 78 percent of the medical testing, treatments and procedures you receive are of no benefit to you — or are actually harmful — as determined by clinical studies. To learn which tests and interventions may do more harm than good, browse through the Choosing Wisely website.20

Avoid hospitals unless absolutely necessary — According to 2011 statistics, 1 in 25 patients in the U.S. end up contracting some form of infection while in the hospital,21 and 205 Americans die from hospital-acquired infections each and every day.22

Do your due diligence before undergoing endoscopy — If you’re having a colonoscopy or any other procedure using a flexible endoscope done, you can significantly reduce your risk of contracting an infection by asking the hospital or facility how the scope is cleaned, and which cleaning agent is used.

Some esophagoscopes and bronchoscopes have sterile sheaths with disposable air-water and biopsy channels, but many others do not, and must be cleaned between each use. If the hospital or clinic uses glutaraldehyde, or the brand name Cidex, cancel your appointment and go elsewhere.

About 80 percent of clinics use glutaraldehyde because it’s a less expensive alternative; however, it does not do a good job of sterilizing the equipment. If they use peracetic acid, your likelihood of contracting an infection from a previous patient is slim.

To learn more about this, see my interview with David Lewis, Ph.D., in “How Improper Sterilization of Endoscopes Could Put Your Health at Risk.”

Enlist a health care advocate — Once hospitalized, you’re at risk for medical errors, so one of the best safeguards is to have someone there have someone there with you. It’s important to have a personal advocate present to ask questions and take notes.

For every medication given in the hospital, ask questions such as: “What is this medication? What is it for? What’s the dose?” Most people, doctors and nurses included, are more apt to go through that extra step of due diligence to make sure they’re getting it right if they know they’ll be questioned about it.

To learn more, listen to my interview with Dr. Andrew Saul in “What Hospitals Won’t Tell You — Vital Strategies That Could Save Your Life,” or pick up a copy of his book, “Hospitals and Health: Your Orthomolecular Guide to a Shorter Hospital Stay.”

In it, he discusses the dangers of hospital stays, the type of patient that tends to get killed most frequently, and how you can protect your health and life in the event you have to be hospitalized. For example, reminding nurses and doctors to wash their hands and change gloves before touching you can go a long way toward avoiding contamination with potentially lethal microbes.

Do your own prep for surgery — If you or someone you know is scheduled for surgery, print out the WHO surgical safety checklist and implementation manual,23 which is part of the campaign “Safe Surgery Saves Lives.” The checklist can be downloaded free of charge here. Print it out and bring it with you, as this can help you protect yourself, your family member or friend from preventable errors in care.

Know the most effective protocol for sepsis — Sepsis is a progressive disease process initiated by an aggressive, dysfunctional immune response to an infection in the bloodstream, which is why it’s sometimes referred to as blood poisoning. Each year, an estimated 1 million Americans get sepsis24,25 and up to half of them die as a result.26,27,28

Symptoms of sepsis are often overlooked, even by health professionals, and without prompt treatment, the condition can be deadly.

Unfortunately, conventional treatments often fail, and most hospitals have yet to embrace the use of intravenous (IV) vitamin C, hydrocortisone and thiamine,29 a treatment developed by Dr. Paul Marik, which has been shown to reduce sepsis mortality from 40 to a mere 8.5 percent.30,31 Common signs and symptoms of sepsis to watch out for include:32

A high fever
Inability to keep fluids down
Rapid heartbeat; rapid, shallow breathing and/or shortness of breath
Lethargy and/or confusion
Slurred speech, often resembling intoxication

Should a few or all of these be present, seek immediate medical attention to rule out sepsis. Also inform the medical staff that you suspect sepsis, as time is of the essence when it comes to treatment, and urge them to use Marik’s protocol (currently the standard of care for sepsis at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, where Marik works). You can learn more about this protocol by following the hyperlink provided above.

Optimize your vitamin D instead of getting the flu vaccine — Research33,34 shows vitamin D optimization is a more effective flu prevention strategy than flu vaccination, reducing respiratory infections such as influenza by 50 percent in those with vitamin D blood levels below 10 ng/mL. People with higher vitamin D levels at baseline may reduce their risk by about 10 percent, which the researchers stated was about equal to the effect of flu vaccines.

Aside from vitamin D, loading up on vitamins B1 and C may go a long way toward keeping you healthy through the flu season and beyond. Influenza has also been successfully treated with high-dose vitamin C.35 Taking zinc lozenges at the first sign of a cold or flu can also be helpful.

Avoid antibiotics — Drugs are vastly overprescribed and misused, and this is particularly true for antibiotics. Avoid using them unless absolutely necessary, and remember they don’t work for viral infections. Unnecessary use of antibiotics is one of the driving causes of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

Turn a deaf ear to drug ads — While drug makers are required to inform consumers about potential side effects in their ads, they’ve perfected drug ad narration to make them less frightful.36

Avoid drugs, unless absolutely necessary — As mentioned, drugs — taken as prescribed — account for a majority of the 250,000 people who die from medical mistakes in the U.S. each year. A great many, if not most, diseases can be effectively addressed using simple lifestyle changes.

Key factors include diet, exercise and nonexercise movement, sleep and stress reduction. To investigate your options, you can search my database of tens of thousands of articles simply by entering your condition in the search engine.

Among the most lethal drugs right now are the opioids, which need to be used with extreme care and only in the short term. For treatment options, see “Treating Pain Without Drugs,” and “Study Reveals Previously Unknown Mechanism Behind Acupuncture’s Ability to Reduce Pain,” which also provides a long list of other drug-free pain relief strategies.

Tip #21Make Magnesium a Priority

Read more: articles.mercola.com

Value, not growth, to matter for next 1-2 years: Sunil Singhania

6 months, 9 days ago

2019 would be a change in the sense that foreign inflows should also be quite strong both on the equity and fixed income side, Sunil Singhania, Founder, Abakkus Asset Manager, tells ET Now.Edited excerpts: Will it be a great 2019 for investors or is this going to be another challenging year? First of all, any equity investor has to be optimistic. If one is not optimistic, then one should not be an equity investor. Also, in a growing economy it makes sense to be optimistic. As far as challenges are concerned, we have seen many challenges over the last few years and these will continue. I think that is the essence of life. Notwithstanding the challenges and notwithstanding fact that 2018 was a very challenging year, we remain quite optimistic about 2019 and the years forward. But sometimes you have to be realistic. I mean in 2008, if you had become optimistic, then your optimism did not help. Now you are talking and comparing it to a very different year where it was euphoric. I do not see that in the last three-four years we have at any point of time been euphoric except for a period of six months when specifically on the mid and smallcaps we had become euphoric. The world overall has not been euphoric and that makes us believe we are not seeing an overboard kind of a market where people are long left, right and centre and are over-leveraged, In fact, it is the reverse. People have been very cautious. Investors have not been investing as aggressively as maybe their cash balances in the bank are. There is definitely not an over-leveraged situation, not only in India but anywhere else in the world. The situation is far different from the year you mentioned. What makes you so hopeful? 2018 was a year full of uncertainties — be it on crude, on geopolitical situations or for that matter currency. Do you believe that maybe finally after that long wait, we are going to see earning recovery kick in from the next quarter itself? You mentioned it all. Oil has been a godsend for us. From $85, we are down to $53-54. Fundamentally at least, we do not see oil moving beyond $60-65 even in the medium to long-term. Currency has come back to $70. If you see the last 20 years of trend on an average, rupee depreciates by anyway between 3% and 3.25% a year but that is like a step of function. We have a 10-12% depreciation and then the rupee stabilises for three-four years. It is fair to presume that after this 10% depreciation, rupee should be quite stable for the next three-four years. Inflation is down and going forward, the way oil prices have corrected, does not seem to be inching up despite the fact that we expect the minimum support prices (MSP) for a lot of farm products to be increased and consequently the 10-year G-Sec yields have fallen to 7.25%. Internationally, there was this fear that US interest rates might inch up to 4%. They have actually fallen to 2.65%. US markets have been volatile but again my view is that it is a very healthy market and I am quite optimistic even on the US equity markets given the fact that the S&P 500 is trading at like 14-14.5 times earning which is like 7% yield in a country where the interest rates are at 3%. On the flows front, we have always had good domestic inflows over the last three-four years. My view is that 2019 would be a change in the sense that foreign inflows should also be quite strong both on the equity and fixed income side. The last point which you also touched upon is earnings. It is generally led by a couple of sectors, predominantly corporate banks. We expect earnings for FY20 to inch up to 20% plus in terms of growth. Obviously a large part of that would be contributed by corporate banks but other small sectors should also kick in. Overall, given the fact that we are not in a very euphoric zone, we are may be at around 16 times FY20 earnings and three-four months ahead, we would start to discount FY21, I think there is reasonable optimism both on the economy front as well as from market front. My only concern with the current environment is that are we underestimating the fall in US markets? I remember this kind of situation happening in 2007 when world discovered a problem call subprime. Indian markets started outperforming for many months. Today we can take a lot of pride in saying that US market has gone down but we were up in December. We are better and we have better growth. But will that really last for a long period of time? Again you are comparing two different times and situations. 2007. as you rightly said was more of a crash over leveraged position. And in fact, I was yesterday seeing the documentary The Big Short. It is incidental that we are talking about it today. It was more about the banking system being levered up like 40 times. If you see the banking system in the US now, it is very healthy compared to 2007, in terms of their capital adequacy, in terms of their profitability etc. Second. we are not looking at PEs of 40-50 times in US. We are looking at a PE of 14.5 times for S&P 500. Again just to give you a perspective, there was a trillion-dollar buyback in US in 2018. If you add the last five years of buybacks, they have totalled around $4 trillion which is almost 20% to 25% of the market cap of the US. We are seeing companies having huge cash balances, having huge cash profits. The economy is doing very well. If you go to US and you just talk to people, there is hardly any unemployment. In fact, there is shortage, specifically on the technology side of people. I do not see a scenario of something like 2007-08 even near that and I would say that definitely things are much better and very different from 2007-08. As far as markets are concerned, even there we had this phenomena of the FAANG stocks among the technology stocks, where there was a little bit of over-optimism and those are the stocks which have fallen the most over the last three-four months. So one segment had moved up very sharply and has fallen equally sharply. It is similar to what we had in India where midcaps and small caps went up sharply, they fell sharply or quality was getting unusual premium and wherever that quality has disappointed a little bit, you have seen a sharp fall. It is more a case of over-optimism in a few stocks or a few sectors getting patted down and the fall is more pronounced there. Again, just to conclude, I do not see a scenario of like a meltdown of 2007-08, I do not see it as enything near that. In fact, if I were an investor, I would also bet on the US markets from here on.We had some interesting data thrown up yesterday with respect to the Russell 2000. A 10% fall historically has been followed by a positive year. Perhaps we could see that for the midcap index as well? Where are you seeing opportunity within the midcap universe?Over last three years, we have seen challenges which were quite significant compared to what we have seen earlier and those challenges meant that investors got comfort in the so-called growth stocks or companies which were not impacted by what was happening on the economy front. So, consumption and quality got disproportionate PE. What we are seeing now is that some kind of multiples are not sustainable if we have even a slight sort of correction in their growth rates. And we have seen that with a large innerwear company and a two-wheeler company, how the multiples have corrected very sharply. My view is that over the next one two years, value will take precedence over growth. Companies which have been slowly growing but have not seen rapid growth have been ignored by the investors and a lot of those companies are on the mid and smallcap side. Going forward, maybe companies which have value and which have been in sectors that have been ignored for their challenging past like may be a construction company, some old gen companies, capex companies. Moving towards them because they have seen sustainable addition to their balance sheet in terms of strength, in terms of their cash and the high PE stocks which were getting unusual flows just because they were performing well. Maybe, it is time to see money moving out of them into so-called value and predominantly they are even on the mid and smallcap side.I was hoping you will get slightly more specific in terms of what are the themes you are betting on.There are a lot of power generation and distribution companies which are now trading at like 7-8 times cash PE multiples. It has been sort of a taboo sector because of all the stress they have undergone over the last four, five years. But going forward, India is a growing economy and we are seeing power demand growing at 7-8%. If we believe that there is going to be power for all and standard of living is going to improve, there is going to be growth in the power generation side as well as on the distribution side because you need to take the power right to the final customers. Also, there has not been any significant addition to capacities. So, companies which have good assets on the generation and distribution side, which have balance sheets that are not stressed or which can raise a question mark regarding their survival, some of these companies will do well. Also on the EPC side, one interesting phenomenon in the September results which we were analysing is the fact that for the first time after a lot of years we have seen EPC companies not only start to generate 15-18% ROE, but have also seen their debt levels go down. This is a dream for an investor in EPC companies because over last 7-8 years, EPC companies have only seen their balance sheets bloat by higher and higher debt. These are some interesting observations and obviously there are other companies in sectors which have been ignored because they do not grow fast. It may be a very boring sector but a few textile companies would be worth looking at. They are boring, they do not grow fast but with the kind of cash which some of these companies are generating maybe in the next three, four years, you will have one period where they will give like 50-100% return. From investor point of view, we have to find whether returns can be made in a block of three, four, five years or whether you are looking at making returns every week or every month. If you are in the former category where you are cognisant of the fact that returns will be made but you are indifferent whether returns will be made in three months but ultimately will be made in a block of three, five years, there will be a lot of companies which will keep on improving their cash flows, balance sheets and that is where the focus should be. On the other hand, there are companies which are doing well, which are growing and have huge brand value, huge ROEs and are at 60-70-80 PE .I do not see a scenario of these companies making you a lot of money unless the growth rates can last for 10, 20 years. So, on the consumption side, our view is that one should stick to consumer discretionary where the penetration is still low, where you can still hope to grow in double digits for the next 10-15 years and I think one of my favourite themes, the beverages sector comes into play. But there are a few emerging discretionary consumption stories which can also be looked at but for a consumer staple kind of companies to give 50-60 PE at least I do not find merit in that.Since you track the financials very, very closely where else do you find opportunities? Can PSBs be looked at right now? Corporate banks are a sort of a consensus trade but despite that, decent returns should be made there because even now, the markets are underestimating the recovery as far as earnings is concerned. On the other sub themes, we like select niche NBFCs. The current issue over the last three, four months has meant that the competition from new NBFCs will reduce quite significantly. On the other hand, NBFCs which are well capitalised, which have a history of managing risk quite nicely over the last five, 10 years will get a disproportionate sort of growth opportunities because of lack of competition or reduction in competition. On the other sub themes we like insurance as a theme though we would like to wait for the markets to give us an opportunity which is much more entailing. I believe that India is going to grow in terms of both asset as well as wealth management businesses because of the huge savings which we have and despite under-penetration, select wealth management companies which we can play through maybe a few brokerages definitely looks to be a good option. A good thing is that valuations now are much more reasonable than what they were three, six months back and at this point of time, we would be very constructive in quite a few NBFCs across different segments. A few areas where we still have issues are obviously again the consensus kind of things which are wholesale funded with a lot of exposure towards real estate. That is one segment where we are not seeing an uptick at least as far as the high end residential markets are concerned.A lot of regulatory headwinds and savings which were going into real estate from an investment perspective have completely stopped and that also makes us believe that those savings will come into the asset/wealth management space. You are better off playing the savings part through the asset/wealth management companies rather than trying to bet on NBFCs which are more exposed towards real estate.Since you are bullish on asset managers, would you buy your previous company Reliance Nippon AMC? It is a listed pure asset management company?As I said, the business of asset management as well as wealth management is definitely good. There are near-term headwinds predominantly from the regulatory front. The reason I started my own company Abakkus is because of the fact that I am quite bullish on this segment and at this point of time my biggest investment in asset management company would be in my company.

Read more: economictimes.indiatimes.com

The grand Indian plan that could change all things medical

6 months, 9 days ago

India is getting ready for a project that is as small as it gets — and as big. The Human Microbiome Project (HMP) will map trillions upon trillions of microbes — bacteria, fungi, viruses, archaea — that are found in Indians. On their skin. In the dark depths of their guts. Swarming on every inch of their body.In a one-of-a-kind project in the country, researchers will take skin and oral swabs and collect blood and faecal samples from 20,600 individuals who belong to 103 endogamous communities (which marry within the group). These will include 32 tribes as well — from Changpa in Ladkah to Warli in Maharashtra and Mankidia in Odisha, and from Ao in Nagaland to Koya in Telangana. After collecting the samples, scientists will sequence the genome of these microorganisms.
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(These microbes are called human microbiota and their genetic material are collectively referred to as the human microbiome.) The Union government-funded, Rs 150 crore project could get underway in the next few months, once the Department of Biotechnology gives it the nod. It wants to map the microbiome composition of India’s different communities — and how genetics, diet and environment impact it differently.The ambitious project aims, at the end of it, to generate the baseline microbiome data of Indians. It will also define the core microbiome of tribal populations that are unaffected by modern lifestyle. It will even help us understand the links between microbial composition and disease risks and also create a repository of microbial samples from healthy individuals to help develop probiotic-like solutions.
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The HMP is a collaborative effort between 11 research institutes and universities across the country, both public and private, including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, the Insitute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology in Guwahati and Symbiosis International University in Pune. The study is being led by Pune’s National Centre for Microbial Resource (NCMR), which is part of the National Centre for Cell Science.“It’s a three-year project, but its repercussions will be there for many years to come,” says Yogesh Shouche, principal investigator at NCMR, in his office in Pune. Shouche, who has researched microbes for two decades, says this project is more challenging than similar projects in the West — for instance, in the US, Britain and European Union. “Unlike in India, microbiome projects in the West work with genetically more homogenous populations whose dietary patterns are more or less uniform.” India’s diversity is staggering on many counts.According to a study by the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics in Kalyani, near Kolkata, which is also involved in HMP, modern mainland Indians have descended from four ancestral populations — Indo-European, Dravidian, Tibeto-Burman and Austro-Asiatic — and not two as earlier estimated. Indians’ diets also vary. For instance, according to a 2014 Union government survey, nearly 99% of Telangana’s population eat meat, while only a quarter of those in Rajasthan do so. A comparison of urban and rural populations in HMP will also yield insights into changes in microbiota, if any, from consumption of processed foods, which is higher in cities.“It will be interesting to study the links between microbiota and environment and diets,” says Rakesh Sharma, senior principal scientist at the New Delhi-based Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology.Gut InstinctsIt is the microbe that could unlock our understanding of diseases, disorders and differences but there is no definitive figure for the total number of microbes in a human body. We know that dominant among them are bacteria, a majority of which are found in the gut, especially the large intestine or colon.One estimate by researchers at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, pegs the total number of bacteria in a human body at 40 trillion, compared with 37 trillion human cells. The total number of bacterial genes in the gut outnumber human genes by at least 30:1. Gut bacteria, which are the most extensively studied among human microbiota, help in breaking down undigested nutrients, producing vitamins and controlling disease-causing bacteria.India is already quite late to the microbiome research race. The Human MetaGenome Consortium Japan began in 2005 and the US Human Microbiome Project two years later. The US also announced a National Microbiome Initiative in 2016, committing a government investment of $121 million for two years and private investments of $400 million over an unspecified period. Similar initiatives can also be found in Canada and the European Union.
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There are also projects like the American Gut project and, its offshoot, the British Gut project. They have received $2.5 million in individual contributions (as of May 2018) and crowdsourced samples from over 11,000 people (as of mid-2017). Among the observations made by American Gut were that those who had more than 30 plant types a week had more diverse gut microbiomes and fewer antibioticresistance genes than those who had 10 or fewer a week. Moreover, those who had antibiotics in the past one month had less diverse microbiota than those who had not had antibiotics for a year.Antibiotic use is one of the causes, along with staying in a healthcare facility, of Clostridium difficile (C diff ) infections, whose symptoms include diarrhoea, nausea, fever and dehydration which could be life-threatening. Antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria, but if they kill more of the good bacteria, it could aid the growth of bacteria like C. diff. The study of gut microbe, for instance, has had interesting results. The first randomised controlled trial in C diff infection, published in 2013, showed the efficacy of faecal microbiota transplant (FMT), in which faecal bacteria from a healthy donor is transferred to a patient, usually through colonoscopy.Bhabatosh Das, assistant professor at the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute, Faridabad, believes people living in rural areas make for ideal donors. “Their guts have very diverse bacteria, while in urban areas fast food and antibiotics result in reduced diversity.”

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There are attempts being made to use FMT for obesity too. Dysbiosis, or an imbalance in the gut microbial composition, has been associated with obesity. According to a study published in Nature magazine in October 2018, FMT from mice, that were fed a normal-fat diet, to mice that were given a highfat diet resulted in beneficial effects usually caused by diet and exercise. Another study, also published in Nature, in April 2018, found that mice that were given chemotherapy and anitbiotic treatment regained their pre-treatment microbial composition after being given FMT.In another study from 2017, 34 pairs of twins were assessed, in which only one of every pair had multiple sclerosis. More of the mice which were given gut microbes from the twin with MS developed a disease similar to MS than those which got microbes from the healthy twin. Poor microbial diversity has also been linked to inflammatory bowel disease and Type 1 diabetes. But there are still questions. “We can’t say whether diabetes is driving gut microbes or vice versa,” says Dr CS Yajnik, a diabetologist in Pune.Mind & MicrobeThe other area where a lot of research is focused is the relationship between microbiome and mental health. In a 2013 study by scientists from the California Institute of Technology and Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, they found that when mice with symptoms similar to autism were given the bacterium Bacteroides fragilis, their microbiomes changed and they became more communicative and less anxious.The American Gut project also observed that some types of bacteria may be more common in people suffering from depression than those who are not. It also found in an assessment of the gut microbiomes of 125 people — who claimed to have a mental health disorder, like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder — that their microbiomes had more in common with each than with that with someone of the same age, gender, country and body mass index.

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Moreover, babies born through natural birth tend to pick up microbes from the mother’s vagina and bowel, which could make them less likely to develop asthma, Type 1 diabetes, obesity and allergies. Similarly, breast milk is crucial to the microbial composition in kids’ guts. While the human microbiome is getting a lot of attention these days, with reports of studies uncovering the relationship between the microbiome and a disease or disorder. But there are some who sound a word of caution and believe that the significance of the microbiome may be overstated.“The hypothesis that variation in the gut microbiota can explain or be used to predict obesity status has received considerable attention and is frequently mentioned as an example of the role of the microbiome in human health…(but) we found that although there is an association, it is smaller than can be detected by most microbiome studies,” said a metastudy of 10 papers, published in August 2016 in mBio, a journal published by the American Society of Microbiology.It is quite possible that some of the recent findings about the role of microbes in our health may be disputed by future research. But a project of the scale and scope of the Human Microbiome Project could definitely advance our understanding of the complex world of human microbiota and what we do to each other.

Read more: economictimes.indiatimes.com

Vitamin D Deficiency Can Lead to Increased Allergies

6 months, 20 days ago

Food allergy, a serious and potentially life-threatening medical condition, affects a growing number of Americans. According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), 1 in 13 children now has a food allergy and every three minutes a food reaction sends someone to the emergency room.1

Food allergies are also estimated to affect nearly 4 percent of adults, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).2 While they are most common in babies and children, food allergies can develop at any age. Adults may even develop an allergy to foods they’ve previously eaten for years with no problem.

More than 170 foods have been reported to cause allergic reactions, but the eight major food allergens include milk, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts, wheat, soy and fish.3 However, as evidenced by the British teenager who recently died after eating sesame,4 this seed is also an emerging concern. The number of hospitalizations for food allergies have tripled from the late 1990s to the mid-2000s.5

Nearly 40 percent of children with food allergies have experienced a severe reaction, such as anaphylaxis. Typical food allergy symptoms may begin with hives, rash, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. This may be followed by coughing and wheezing. In severe cases, anaphylaxis can occur, which is when your throat swells and you may not be able to breathe.

The rising prevalence of food allergies has been particularly noticeable in the West, where there is also rising numbers suffering vitamin D deficiency.6 Nearly 7 percent of children in the U.K. and 9 percent of those in Australia suffer from food allergies.7

Is It a Food Allergy or Intolerance?

Sensitivities and food reactions are often mistaken for allergies. A true food allergy is mediated by the immune system and triggered by an antibody reaction to a protein in a specific food or drink. While most develop during childhood, the most common allergies known to develop in adults are allergies to shellfish, tree nuts and peanuts.8

Food sensitivity, also called food intolerance, is an unpleasant — usually gastrointestinal — reaction to something you’ve swallowed, but is not mediated by your immune system.9 For instance, a true allergy to milk is different from lactose intolerance, which triggers gastrointestinal symptoms from an inability to digest proteins in the milk.10

Type 1 food allergies involve immunoglobulin-e (IgE), an antibody in the blood and mast cells found in all body tissues. Food allergies mediated by IgE are triggered after you’ve eaten a food for the first time, after which cells produce IgE for the part of the food triggering the allergic reaction, called an allergen.

IgE is released and attaches to the surface of mast cells. This process sets the stage for the next time you’ve eaten a food with the specific allergen. The protein interacts with IgE and triggers mast cells to release histamine. Since some food allergens are not broken down by heat or stomach acid, they cross immediately into your bloodstream and may cause reactions throughout your body.11

IgE reactions may start with itchiness in your mouth, followed by symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain. If the allergen reaches your blood, it can trigger a drop in blood pressure; in your skin you may experience hives or eczema; and in the lungs it may trigger wheezing. Each of these reactions can take a few minutes or a couple of hours to develop and signal an immediate food allergy.

A second type of food allergy, Type 3, also called delayed food allergy, is mediated by immunoglobulin-g (IgG). These reactions occur hours and possibly even days following your exposure to the allergen. Individuals who suffer from Type 3 food allergies are often allergic to more than two types of food, and larger amounts of food over multiple meals are needed to provoke this reaction.12

You may experience some of the same types of symptoms, making it difficult to distinguish between an IgE and an IgG response. Foods triggering an IgG response are often favorite foods eaten in larger amounts. IgG responses do not typically show up on a skin test.

Rising Prevalence of Allergies Corresponds to Increasing Vitamin D Deficiency

Food allergies associated with IgE affects 3 percent of the population, with severe effects on daily life. Manifestations of the allergy are not only gastrointestinal, but also affect other organ systems and may lead to an anaphylactic response.13

While vitamin D also has known effects on lung and immune system development, as well as support of the immune system after birth,14 including asthma and allergic responses, it is also significant in the regulation of IgE.

The increase in allergies and sensitivities to foods is likely related to environmental factors and Western lifestyles. Developing nations have lower rates of allergic responses, and individuals with allergies are likely to live in urban rather than rural areas.

Although there is no single explanation for the rise in prevalence, one significant factor is the overwhelming vitamin D deficiency suffered by those who live in urban areas.15

The link between vitamin D deficiency, which has almost doubled in just over a decade in the U.S.,16 and poor regulation of IgE responses, may be a significant factor. Both of these play a role in the development, severity and course of allergic diseases, and help explain, at least in part, why so many adults are now developing food allergies.

Australia has the highest rate of confirmed food allergies, with one study finding 9 percent of 1-year-olds suffering from egg allergy.17 Australia initiated one of their most successful health campaigns to increase use of sun screen in 1981 with the slogan “Slip! Slop! Slap!”18

At the time, the campaign was aimed at lowering melanoma rates, which the government believed was the result of spending too much time in the sun.

Today, nearly 25 percent of Australia’s population is deficient in vitamin D. Despite these numbers, Choosing Wisely Australia, an initiative of NPS MedicineWise,19 does not recommend having routine testing for vitamin D unless you’re specifically at risk, including those who:20

Have a health condition affecting vitamin D absorption from their diet

Cover their body completely when outside

Are a baby of a vitamin D deficient mother

Spend the majority of their day indoors

Take medications affecting vitamin D

Avoid the sun completely

Have naturally dark skin

Suffer obesity

Considering the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, I strongly recommend getting your vitamin D level tested regardless of whether you fit into a high-risk category or not, and to make sure you’re actually within the ideal range of 60 to 80 ng/mL, and if below 60 ng/mL, take proactive steps to optimize your level. The fact of the matter is, most people are at high risk for vitamin D deficiency these days.

Early Exposure to Allergens May Reduce Allergy Risk

In addition to vitamin D deficiency, a theory of dual allergen exposure may also explain the rise in pediatric food allergies. This was the basis for the LEAP study from King’s College London, in which they evaluated how early exposure to peanuts may affect the development of a peanut allergy.21

The prevalence of peanut allergy in children has doubled in the past 10 years in countries where parents are advised to avoid exposure to peanuts during pregnancy, lactation and infancy.

The researchers randomly assigned 640 infants, 4 to 11 months old, with a history of severe eczema, egg allergy or both, to either eat or avoid peanuts until they were 60 months old. The children were assigned to groups based on preexisting sensitivity to peanut extract, determined by a skin-prick test.

Of the 98 participants treated who initially had a positive peanut allergy test, 35 percent of those who avoided peanuts had a peanut allergy at 60 months, compared to just 10 percent of those who consumed peanuts. Dr. Gideon Lack, lead investigator for the study, commented:22

“For decades allergists have been recommending that young infants avoid consuming allergenic foods such as peanut to prevent food allergies. Our findings suggest that this advice was incorrect and may have contributed to the rise in the peanut and other food allergies.”

These results have been validated in subsequent studies, finding late introduction of fish and eggs is associated with an increased risk of allergy development.23 A metadata analysis from the Imperial College London, which evaluated 146 studies with over 200,000 children, also concluded that feeding egg between the ages of 4 and 6 months may reduce the child’s risk of developing an egg allergy.24

Other Health Benefits of Vitamin D Optimization

Vitamin D deficiency has become so widespread it’s been called a pandemic by a Harvard Medical School researcher.25 The short list of health benefits attributed to vitamin D optimization include improving your immune system, strengthening muscles, bones and teeth and improving your cardiovascular health.

Over the past decades, thousands of studies have evaluated the benefits of vitamin D and have linked low levels to a host of chronic health conditions. In fact, this site was one of the leaders to help catalyze interest in vitamin D over 15 years ago.

Unfortunately, some studies claim supplementation at amounts over 4,000 IUs/day may lead to health problems. Research by GrassrootsHealth negates such concerns, showing toxicity is not an issue until you hit 30,000 IUs a day.26

What’s more, the recommended vitamin D level and dosage established by the National Academy of Medicine is actually the result of a mathematical error that has never been corrected. You can read more about this in my previous article, “Are Americans Really Getting Too Much Vitamin D? A Critical Look at Recent Media Warnings.”

There is a long list of studies confirming the correlation between vitamin D status and cancer risk. Maintaining sufficient levels of vitamin D also helps to lower all-cause mortality and risk of Type 2 diabetes.

During pregnancy, optimal levels of vitamin D help to reduce the percentage of preterm birth, and subsequently higher risks of ADHD, asthma, autism and vision problems associated with early birth. Low levels of vitamin D are also associated with depression, metabolic syndrome,27 cardiovascular disease28 and lung disease.29

Maintain Healthy Levels to Help Prevent Disease

My recommendation is to get your vitamin D level tested twice a year, when your level is likely to be at its lowest (midwinter) and highest (midsummer). This is particularly important if you’re pregnant, planning a pregnancy or if you have cancer.

Research30 suggests it may require 9,600 IUs of vitamin D per day to get a majority (97.5 percent) of the population to reach 40 ng/mL, but individual requirements can vary widely. If you’ve been taking a certain amount of vitamin D3 for a number of months and retesting reveals you’re still not within the recommended range, then you know you need to increase your dosage.

Over time, with continued testing, you’ll find your individual sweet spot based on your usual safe sun exposure and have a good idea of how much supplementation you need to maintain a year-round level of 60 to 80 ng/mL, which research suggests is the ideal range for optimal health and disease prevention.

GrassrootsHealth offers vitamin D testing through its D*Action study, and has an online vitamin D calculator you can use to estimate your vitamin D3 dosage once you know your current serum level.

The Synergism Between Vitamin D3, Magnesium, Calcium and Vitamin K2

Pamela Lutsey, public health researcher at the University of Minnesota, points out excessive vitamin D may cause over absorption of calcium, which in turn may result in calcium deposits in your heart and kidneys. Indeed, it is important to maintain not only the proper balance of vitamin D and calcium, but also magnesium and vitamin K2.

Lack of balance between these four nutrients is why calcium supplements have become associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke, and why some experience symptoms of “vitamin D toxicity.” I use quotation marks here, because the problem is not so much excess vitamin D as it is a lack of vitamin K2.

Part of the explanation for these adverse side effects is that vitamin K2 is what keeps calcium in its appropriate place. If you’re K2 deficient, added calcium can cause more problems than it solves, by accumulating in the wrong places. Similarly, taking megadoses of vitamin D supplements without sufficient amounts of K2 can lead to inappropriate calcification, which is what Lutsey is suggesting.

While the optimal ratios between vitamin D and vitamin K2 have yet to be established, Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue (whom I’ve interviewed on this topic) suggests for every 1,000 IUs of vitamin D you take, you may benefit from about 100 micrograms (mcg) of K2, and perhaps as much as 150 to 200 mcg.

Maintaining an appropriate calcium-to-magnesium ratio is also important, as magnesium helps keep calcium in your cells so they can function better. Historically, mankind ate a diet with a calcium-magnesium ratio of 1-to-1,31 but Americans tend to have a higher calcium-to-magnesium ratio in their diet, averaging about 3.5-to-1.

Magnesium and vitamin K2 also complement each other, as magnesium helps lower blood pressure, which is an important component of heart disease. So, anytime you’re taking magnesium, calcium or vitamin D3, remember to take all the others into consideration as well, as they all work synergistically with each other.

Read more: articles.mercola.com

Weekly Health Quiz: Milk, Bees and Pregnancy

6 months, 21 days ago

1 Honey bee queens are raised exclusively on which of the following substances, responsible for the queen’s longevity and remarkable fertility?

Royal jelly

The larva selected to become queen is fed royal jelly exclusively, while the rest of the larva receive royal jelly along with pollen and honey. This exclusive royal jelly diet activates certain genes in the queen bee, allowing her to grow much larger and become such a prolific egg layer. Learn more.

Propolis
Organic honey
Bee pollen

2 A food product labeled “100% Natural” means it:

Contains no synthetic ingredients or contaminants
Could contain just about anything, as the “natural” label is unregulated

The “All-Natural” and “100% Natural” labels are meaningless, as there are no rules governing their use. Sanderson Farms advertises their chicken as 100 percent natural. However, tests reveal the presence of a number of questionable and potentially hazardous drugs. Learn more.

Is identical to or better than organic
Contains at least 50 percent organic ingredients

3 In the past decade, milk allergy in infants has:

Significantly increased
Significantly decreased
Remained stable

In the past decade, prescriptions in the U.K. for infant formula for babies with cow’s milk allergy has risen sixfold, even though there’s no evidence of true incidence actually increasing. The discrepancy appears to be driven by makers of infant formula, which have funded and loosened guidelines for diagnosis so that even most healthy babies qualify. Learn more.

None of the above as milk allergy is a myth

4 Which of the following nutrients has been shown to influence a child’s risk of schizophrenia and autism when the mother is deficient during pregnancy?

Vitamin A
Vitamin C
Vitamin K
Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy has been shown to increase autism-related traits in young children, and raises the child’s risk of developing schizophrenia later in life. Learn more.

5 Marjoram is closely related to and often confused with:

Oregano

Marjoram is closely related to and often confused withoregano, and the two plants will cross-pollinate if grown close together, making proper identification near-impossible. Learn more.

Basil
Cilantro
Sage

6 Which of the following dietary fats is most harmful to human health?

Marine-based omega-3 in fish
Omega-6 linoleic acid in vegetable oils

Vegetable oils high in omega-6 linoleic acid are proinflammatory whereas omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory. Saturated fats are also very important to human health. Learn more.

Plant-based omega-3 in chia seeds and other plant sources
Saturated fat in meats

7 Which of the following is not considered crucial for healthy aging?

Omega fats (omega-3 and omega-6)
Vitamins
Trans fats

Vitamins and minerals are crucial for healthy aging. Other important nutrients include ergothioneine, an amino acid primarily produced in mushrooms, NAC, NAD, carotenoids, choline, acetyl L-carnitine and alpha lipoic acid. Getting the right ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is also important for healthy aging. Learn more.

Minerals

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Prenatal Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Increased Risk for Schizophrenia

6 months, 24 days ago

Despite being simple and inexpensive to address, vitamin D deficiency is epidemic around the world, and evidence suggests vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy plays an important role in the development of several chronic health problems, and raises the risk of complications for the mother as well.

For example, research1 by GrassrootsHealth shows 40 to 60 percent of preterm births could be prevented by raising pregnant women’s vitamin D to a level of 40 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). Vitamin D optimization also reduces the mother’s risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and prenatal infections by approximately 50 percent.2

Research also confirms there is a lifelong impact for children born of vitamin D deficient mothers, ranging from childhood allergies and more frequent colds and flu, to a greater risk for diabetes, autism, strokes, cardiovascular disease,3,4,5 and, as recently confirmed, schizophrenia — a mental condition characterized by hallucinations, delusions and cognitive impairment.

Schizophrenia Is Caused by Faulty Brain Construction

Last year, research6 concluded schizophrenia might have its origins in pregnancy; the groundwork being laid as early as the first trimester. The scientists were able to demonstrate that schizophrenia has a physiological basis, beginning with improperly distributed neural progenitor cells in the developing brain.

As a result, few mature neurons appear in the cortex — an area associated with memory, attention and processing of language — in the schizophrenic brain. One of the researchers explained:7

“Our research shows that the disease likely starts during the first trimester and involves accelerated cell divisions, excessive migration and premature differentiation of the neuroectodermal cells into neurons.

Neurons that connect different regions of the cortex, the so-called interneurons, become misdirected in the schizophrenia cortex, causing cortical regions to be misconnected, like an improperly wired computer.

We now can state that schizophrenia is a disorder of faulty brain construction that occurs early in development, corresponding to the first trimester, and involving specific malformation of neuronal circuits in the cortex.”

Schizophrenia Linked to Vitamin D Deficiency in Utero

Knowing that schizophrenia has its roots in abnormal brain development during early pregnancy, it makes sense to look at what might influence brain development. Vitamin D appears to be one crucial factor.

The human brain contains vitamin D receptors, suggesting vitamin D is important for proper brain development and function, and recent research appears to confirm suspicions that vitamin D plays a role in this tragic and difficult to treat condition.

More than 2,600 individuals with schizophrenia were included in the study,8 which concluded that children who were vitamin D deficient at birth had a 44 percent increased risk of developing schizophrenia as adults. According to the researchers, vitamin D status could account for 8 percent of the schizophrenia cases in Denmark, where the study took place. As reported by Science Alert:9

“The clue was a previously identified link between being born in winter or spring in high-latitude regions such as Denmark — a time when there is considerably less sunlight, which promotes vitamin D production in the body — and an increased risk of schizophrenia.

They hypothesized that the reason might be a vitamin D deficiency, and used the Denmark database to investigate … Previous studies have also identified a genetic link between schizophrenia and autism, and a link between autism and prenatal vitamin D deficiency.”

The research team, led by neuroscientist John McGrath, is now planning randomized clinical trials to determine whether vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy might lower the incidence of schizophrenia in the offspring. McGrath told Science Alert:10

“The holy grail is to prevent individuals going on to get schizophrenia in the first place, and I think the experience with the links between folate and spina bifida is a good example that sometimes safe, simple, cheap public health interventions can prevent brain disorders.”

The idea that vitamin D might play a role in schizophrenia is not entirely new. A clinical review11 published in 2016 noted that “Vitamin D deficiency is common in patients with severe mental illness such as schizophrenia,” and that “The biological mechanism is most likely related to vitamin D’s action on the regulation of inflammatory and immunological processes, consequently affecting the manifestation of clinical symptoms and treatment response of schizophrenia.”

B Vitamins Are Also Important for Psychiatric Health


Download Interview Transcript

Several vitamin B deficiencies also have the ability to produce symptoms of neuropsychiatric disorders and can be a valuable adjunct in the treatment of everything from attention deficit disorder (ADD) and anxiety to schizophrenia and dementia. This includes vitamins B1, B2, B6, B9 and B12.

B12 deficiency can trigger mania, psychosis and paranoid delusions, 12,13 and research14,15,16 has shown high doses of vitamins B6, B9 and B12 in combination are very effective for improving schizophrenic symptoms — more so than standard drug treatments alone, and particularly when implemented early on. Low doses were ineffective. 

Previous research and work by the late Dr. Abram Hoffer linked psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia with severe and chronic niacin (B3) deficiency or niacin dependency specifically — a state that necessitates far more niacin on a regular basis than normal.

To learn more, see my interview with Dr. Andrew W. Saul (above), who cowrote an excellent book on this topic, “Niacin: The Real Story,” with Hoffer. As noted by Saul:

“When vitamin B3 or niacin was first added as an enrichment or as a fortification to flour, about half of the people in mental institutions went home. This is not a well-known fact. They were there not because they were mentally ill — because of genetic, environment or social reasons — but because they were malnourished …

He wondered about the half that didn’t go home. What about the people that had a little bit of niacin, but didn’t get better? … [H]e started giving what at the time were preposterously high doses of niacin: 3,000 milligrams a day.

And he was curing schizophrenia in 80 percent of the cases. This is astonishing. The cure rate for schizophrenia with drug therapy is not particularly good. Hoffer saw again and again that niacin worked.” 

One of the reasons for B vitamins’ effect on a wide range of mood disorders and neurological and psychiatric conditions relates to the fact that these vitamins have a direct impact on the methylation cycle, and are required for the production and function of neurotransmitters and the maintenance of myelin, the fatty sheath surrounding your nerve cells.

Without this protective coating, nerve signals become slow and sporadic, which can lead to motor function problems, cognitive losses and changes in mood. B8 also aids in cell communication, allowing your cells to properly interpret chemical messages and respond accordingly.17

Meanwhile, B6, folate (B9) and B12 (in combination with S-adenosylmethionine or SAMe) regulate the synthesis and breakdown of brain chemicals involved in mood control, including serotonin, melatonin and dopamine. Hence, a deficiency in one or more of these B vitamins can also play a role in depression.18

Vitamin B3 (niacin) is also an important precursor of NAD+ which helps redox regulation as explained in the next section. This is likely why Hoffer’s high dose niacin therapy was so effective in schizophrenics.

Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Schizophrenia

Another recent study19 points out links between schizophrenia and mitochondrial dysfunction, which also makes sense, considering these energy-producing organelles inside your cells are crucial for the normal functioning of cells, including your brain cells.

More specifically, schizophrenia is associated with high oxidation in cells, which impedes cellular energy production and triggers inflammation and adverse immune responses. As explained in the abstract:

“Balance between the redox pair of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotides (oxidized NAD+ and reduced NADH), reflects the oxidative state of cells and the ability of biological systems to carry out energy production.

A growing body of evidence suggests that an “immuno-oxidative” pathway including oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, neuroinflammation and cell-mediated immune response may contribute to disruption in brain activity in schizophrenia …

We found a significant reduction in the NAD+/NADH ratio in chronically ill schizophrenic patients compared to a matched healthy control group … These findings provide evidence for redox imbalance in the brain in all phases of schizophrenia, potentially reflecting oxidative stress.”

The answer here is part and parcel of my metabolic mitochondrial therapy (MMT) detailed in “Fat for Fuel.” My MMT program specifically focuses on strategies that optimize mitochondrial function and minimize oxidative stress.

Prenatal Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Autism

According to a 2013 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), data collected from the 2007 and 2011–2012 National Survey of Children’s Health suggested 1 in 50 children between the ages of 6 and 17 had autism spectrum disorder (ASD).20,21

In April 2016, the CDC reported an ASD rate of 1 in 68.22 However, that rate is based only on 8-year-olds in 11 states. Despite that limitation, the 1 in 68 prevalence is the one listed on the CDC’s Autism Data and Statistics website,23 and the one most frequently reported in the news. Meanwhile, a government survey issued in 2015 claims the ASD rate may be as high as 1 in 45 children between the ages of 3 and 17.24,25

Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at MIT, projects that within the next two decades, half of all children born will have some form of autistic disorder if the current trend continues unabated.26 Here, vitamin D may again turn out to be a crucial piece of the puzzle.

A large multi-ethnic population-based cohort study27 published in 2016 found that vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy was associated with an increase in autism-related traits in 6-year-old children. McGrath was also part of this investigation, which was the first study examining the association between gestational vitamin D deficiency and autism in general population samples. According to McGrath and his coauthors:

“[T]hose who were 25OHD [25-hydroxyvitamin D] deficient had significantly higher (more abnormal) SRS [Social Responsiveness Scale] scores.

The findings persisted (a) when we restricted the models to offspring with European ancestry, (b) when we adjusted for sample structure using genetic data, (c) when 25OHD was entered as a continuous measure in the models and (d) when we corrected for the effect of season of blood sampling …  

It is feasible that a safe, cheap and publicly accessible vitamin D supplement in at risk groups may reduce the prevalence of this risk factor. Just as prenatal folate supplementation has reduced the incidence of spina bifida, we speculate that prenatal vitamin D supplementation may reduce the incidence of autism.”

How Vitamin D Influences Autism Risk

Download Interview Transcript

Biological scientist Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D., has published two papers28,29 in which she presents a hypothesis for how vitamin D may influence autism. In summary:

• Vitamin D gets converted into a steroid hormone. As such it regulates over 1,000 different physiological processes, and is thought to control at least 5 percent of the human genome. When you have enough vitamin D in your body, it binds to vitamin D receptors located throughout your body, thereby acting like a key that opens the proverbial door.

The vitamin D receptor complex can go deep inside the DNA, where it recognizes the telltale sequence of code that instructs the vitamin D receptor complex to either turn the gene on (making it active), or off (making it inactive).

• There’s a vitamin D-regulated gene that encodes tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH), an enzyme responsible for converting tryptophan (which you get from dietary protein) into serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation and brain development.

You have two different TPH genes in your body — one in your brain and one in your gut. The one in your brain makes serotonin in the brain, and the one in your gut converts tryptophan into serotonin in the gut.

Here, scientific opinion is mixed: Some, including Patrick, claim serotonin made in your gut is unable to cross the blood-brain barrier to get into your brain and therefore cannot influence brain function. Others claim gut serotonin is released from the gut into your bloodstream, and that it does act on your brain, particularly your hypothalamus, which is involved in the regulation of emotions.30

Be that as it may, gut serotonin has a number of important functions, but too much of it will activate T-cells, causing them to proliferate and promote inflammation. Gut inflammation, in turn, is a common symptom associated with autism, and is thought to play a role in its development by flooding the brain with toxins.

• What Patrick discovered is that, in the gut, vitamin D deactivates the gene responsible for making TPH (the enzyme that converts tryptophan into serotonin). In this way, vitamin D helps combat inflammation in your gut caused by excessive serotonin levels.

Meanwhile, in the brain, the TPH gene has a sequence that causes the opposite reaction. Here vitamin D activates the gene, thereby increasing serotonin production. In other words, when you have sufficient amounts of vitamin D, two things happen simultaneously that improve brain function:

• Gut inflammation is reduced, courtesy of deactivating the gene associated with serotonin production

• Serotonin levels in the brain are increased by gene activation, and in the brain, serotonin plays an important role in mood, impulse control, long-term planning, long-term behavior, anxiety, memory and many other cognitive functions and behaviors, including sensory gating — the ability to filter out extraneous or unimportant stimuli

Since the publication of Patrick’s first paper31 in 2014, an independent group at the University of Arizona has biochemically validated her findings, confirming that vitamin D does activate the tryptophan hydroxylase 2 (TPH2) gene in a variety of neuronal cell types.

Prior to the publication of that paper, this simply wasn’t known, and it’s a significant finding that can help shed a great deal of light on vitamin D’s influence in autism, as a majority of autistic kids have not only brain dysfunction, but also gut inflammation. Her research clearly shows how important it is to have enough vitamin D to prevent and treat both of these problems. To learn more, please listen to Patrick’s interview, included above for your convenience.

Optimizing Vitamin D During Pregnancy Is a Simple, Inexpensive Way to Safeguard Your Child’s Health

Based on the evidence, it seems clear that optimizing your vitamin D is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to reduce not only your risk of pregnancy complications but also your child’s risk of brain disorders such as autism and schizophrenia, not to mention a number of other chronic health conditions.

So please, make sure you get your vitamin D level tested — ideally before you get pregnant and routinely during pregnancy and breastfeeding — and take whatever amount of vitamin D3 you need to reach and maintain a level of 60 to 80 ng/mL. Certainly, it should be no lower than 40 ng/mL.

Although vitamin D testing is not yet a routine part of prenatal care, you can request a vitamin D blood test from your health care provider or enroll in GrassrootsHealth’s Protect Our Children NOW! project, which seeks to resolve vitamin D deficiency among pregnant women and children, and raise global awareness about the health risks associated with vitamin D deficiency.

While sunlight is the ideal way to optimize your vitamin D, winter and indoor work prevent a large majority of people from achieving ideal levels without supplementation. Just remember to also increase your vitamin K2 and magnesium intake (either from food or supplements) when taking oral vitamin D3, as these nutrients all work in tandem.

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Plague: One Scientist’s Intrepid Search for the Truth About Human Retroviruses and Chronic Disease

7 months, 1 day ago

Judy Mikovits, Ph.D., a virologist, researcher and founding research director of the Whittemore Peterson Institute — which researches and treats chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in Reno, Nevada — got embroiled in controversy when, in 2009, she was the senior author on a paper which reported that a retrovirus known as xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) may play a causal role in CFS and other diseases, including autism.

Her book, “Plague: One Scientist’s Intrepid Search for the Truth About Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism and Other Diseases,” details her research and personal trials that arose as a consequence of her work.

“Kent Heckenlively essentially wrote it,” Mikovits says, “because I write like a scientist. We wrote it using the genre of flashback. He taped hours and hours of me telling the story as he asked me questions — because he’s trained as an attorney — and then he turned that into this suspense-thriller. Interestingly enough, it almost has to read like fiction because of the lawyers it took to … make sure we weren’t sued.”

What Are Retroviruses?

Before we go further, let’s review what a retrovirus is. A retrovirus is a ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus — in other words, a virus that contains RNA encoded genes rather than deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Using reverse transcriptase, the retrovirus is able to transform the single-stranded RNA into a double-stranded DNA.

When the retrovirus infects a host, it integrates its DNA into the DNA of the host cell, which allows the retrovirus to replicate itself and spread through the host. As more and more cells are infected, you become increasingly sicker. Mikovits explains:

“Humans have a DNA genome. Our blueprint is DNA. Retroviruses have an RNA genome, but they also are unique in the RNA family of viruses, where their RNA genome is reverse-transcribed. That is, written backwards by an enzyme unique to retroviruses called reverse transcriptase. That enzyme writes the RNA into DNA.

Then they have another enzyme called integrase. Integrase is like a pair of scissors that cuts open your DNA and then inserts the retrovirus, which is only about 8,000 base pairs, a very, very, very small virus, 50 to 100 nanometers on an electron micrograph. That piece of DNA — called a provirus — is now in the DNA of your cells forever. Every time your cells replicate, you make more viruses.”

Now, this DNA insertion has been ongoing throughout human history. According to Mikovits, about 10 percent of the human genome is retroviral in origin. These are called human endogenous retroviruses. These, however, differ in that they’ve been crippled in part by our DNA methylation machinery (which modulates genes expression and the human immune system — so that they can no longer make complete viruses and therefore cannot infect others.

However, when you’re infected with a retrovirus such as human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV-1), HIV HBRV or Borellia as in chronic Lyme disease and develop DNA methylation and immune dysfunction, these endogenous retroviruses begin to be expressed, and this is yet another really important finding.

HIV — One Example of a Transmissible Retrovirus

One example of a transmissible retrovirus is the HIV virus, which can cascade into the clinical symptoms of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV was discovered in 1982, and as mentioned above, was part of Mikovits’ early research work. Her book includes the history of that important discovery.

When Mikovits first began studying retroviruses, HIV/AIDS was completely unknown, but they suspected a retrovirus was at play because of how retroviruses affect the human immune system and lead to acquired immune deficiencies and cancers.

“You don’t just one day get this virus and you’re sick. In fact, we now know millions of people have HIV and will never develop AIDS. We talk about that in the book, because the book ultimately is one of hope that we fix HIV.

I can honestly tell you in 1999, when I was running the lab of antiviral drug mechanisms, I did not ever expect we would solve that problem. Now, AIDS patients on antiretroviral therapy are probably healthier and develop fewer cancers … than most of the rest of society.”

Some retroviruses, including XMRV (but not HIV), also infect your germ cells, which means they not only cause continuous infection in your body but also transfer to your offspring.

“XMRV, the xenotropic murine (mouse) leukemia retrovirus, is the mouse-related retroviruses that cause cancer and lots of neurological diseases. Those affect the stem cells, the egg, the sperm — every cell in your body. That was one of the big ‘Oh, my Gods,’ about our discovery,” Mikovits says.

When it comes to treatment, the key is to keep the virus silent, because when they’re not, each time your cells divide you’re making more retroviruses. For this, antiretroviral treatments are used, some of which will be discussed later in this article.

From AIDS to ME/CFS

After 9/11, Mikovits started working with a woman whose daughter was severely ill with chronic fatigue syndrome. “Basically, that was the first time I ever saw the disease called ME/CFS,” she says.

“This person was looking at a herpes virus known as human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6). This is a virus prominent in people with Kaposi sarcoma, [which] became associated with HIV and AIDS. Dr. Patrick Moore and Dr. Yuan Chang [discovered] that Kaposi sarcoma was actually caused by a herpes virus — then known as Kaposi sarcoma herpes virus; now, it’s HHV-8.

Because the immune system is crippled, you wake up the sleeping herpes viruses. People with autism, ME/CFS and cancers have a lot of chronic active infections, so we often see the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) associated with outbreaks of ME/CFS …

This woman introduced me to Dr. Dan Peterson and Annette Whittemore in Incline Village, Nevada, where he had been studying outbreaks of ME/CFS for probably 25 years. He said he had a bank of samples. We went up there. I met all the patients.

I interviewed them in great length and developed a hypothesis, which had actually been shown before by Elaine Defreitas, Ph.D., another scientist many years earlier …

Defreitas had isolated retroviruses from patients with ME/CFS. A doctor … named Sidney Grossberg had also isolated retroviruses from at least one patient with ME/CFS. So, the retroviral hypothesis wasn’t new. Everything about it fit …

One of the most severely injured patients at that time was Whittemore’s daughter, Andrea. That summer (2006), I went up there … and started studying it … I used the systems biology approach, because there’s a lot of heterogeneity.

We know AIDS patients who have HIV and will never get AIDS … I interviewed patients in Peterson’s office all summer and took blood, urine, saliva and all kinds of samples to isolate that virus, which is what you need to do to show it’s associated with a disease.”

The Discovery of Infectious Retroviruses

Eventually, she brought together several of her former and current colleagues who were world experts in HIV sequencing to look at ME/CFS. Among them was the world’s leading electron microscopist, Kunio Nagashima, who has done the electron micrographs of every family of human retroviruses discovered: the human beta retrovirus, human delta virus, lenti-virus (such as HIV) and gamma retroviruses.

Working in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic, Mikovits and her team isolated the virus and spent the better part of 2008 and 2009 putting a paper together, proving the XMRV retrovirus was infectious and transmissible and not just another crippled human endogenous retrovirus.

“To our horror, we learned these [retroviruses] could be aerosolized. This was in 2011 … That was really the first nail in my coffin. Pun intended, because the national academy member, John Coffin, Ph.D. — who had told Frank Ruscetti, ‘There is no such thing as human retroviruses. Don’t study them’ — then made a fortune out of HIV and did everything he could to destroy me and the patients,” Mikovits says.

“Prior to publication in 2009, we wrote a patent on the detection of these retroviruses, these pieces and parts as contaminants of the cell cultures, of the cell lines from which we make vaccines. After they destroyed my reputation and career and forced the retraction of our paper from [the journal] Science, Coffin turned around and wrote a patent on the detection of these viruses in contaminating cell linings and contaminating biologicals in our labs.”

This PDF includes emails, letters and supporting documentation showing how the retraction of Mikovits’ Science paper was forced, after which Coffin filed his own patent for a detection method of the contaminants in cell lines used for vaccines and other biologicals. There’s also documentation detailing the scientific fraud Mikovits asserts in this interview.

Infectious Retroviruses May Contaminate Blood Supply and Vaccines

In her book, she also details how infectious retroviruses are still likely infecting many biological solutions used clinically today, such as vaccines and other therapies. To say that this is a concern would be an understatement. Children’s Health Defense discusses this, and more, in “Looking Back, Looking Forward: Cancer and Vaccines.”1 Mikovits explains:

“That was really at the heart of the big ‘Oh, my God.’ The worst I learned in this whole experience is how corrupt scientific journals are. In fact, Ruscetti now calls Science, that prestigious journal, ‘The National Inquirer,’ because they literally engineered the whole thing to destroy MEC/FS patients and any association this virus [XMRV] had with these diseases …

All of the studies showed that the control population was between 3.75 and 6.8 percent infected. When you do a study and there’s evidence of infection in 6 percent of the human population, that’s 25 million Americans. To put that in context, at the height of HIV/AIDS in 1995, it was 1 million Americans. It would crush our health care system if they had to pay for what they caused.”

The result of Mikovits’ findings was nothing short of personal devastation. Not only was her paper retracted by Science, she was even arrested for “stealing” her own lab notes. Charges were ultimately dropped, but the damage to her reputation was a done deal.

“Basically, our paper came out on October 8, 2009. It was literally like ‘the shot heard around the world.’ I was on the road every single day. Everywhere I went doctors were like, ‘She’s got it. She’s got it. She’s got it,’ and not just with MEC/FS but also with cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, with prostate cancer.

When you start looking at the inflammatory events in the acquired immune deficiencies, with autoimmune disease, with Lou Gehrig’s disease, the problem became this [retro]virus. Well, there’s no single virus. There’s no HIV. There’s a whole family of HIVs. There’s an HIV 1. There’s an HIV 2. There’s a strain A, B, C and D.

Why do we do influenza vaccines for this strain de jour or every year? [Because] there are strains of viruses. There are families of viruses … The second that we published this paper, we started working to get a diagnostic test for the blood supply to show it wasn’t contaminated, which, in fact, it was.

Later that year, the last talk I ever gave was on a science paper that came out September 22, 2011 … That talk was basically a debate for the evidence that there are human retroviruses of the XMRV family that aren’t VP62 (the infectious molecular clone, not the natural isolates of our paper).

We could show in the original paper that there was evidence of murine leukemia viruses, gamma retroviruses that were infectious and transmissible, just as we had said.

Coffin was on the other end of that debate. He said it was all a recombination event. He published a paper in 2013 saying, ‘When we worked with mouse cells, they expressed a lot of pieces and parts of retroviruses. This just happened to happen in the laboratory.’

[Hence, he claimed] that’s what we had isolated. [Coffin claimed] that what we were looking at were just contaminants in the laboratory. ‘It’s all a lab contaminant,’ [Coffin said], ‘You can all go home. You’re safe.'”

Massive Public Health Concerns Swept Under the Rug

As one might expect, Mikovits’ research caused massive concern in the professional community, because here was a newly identified, infectious and transmissible retrovirus that no one was screening for, and it was potentially contaminating 10 percent of the human blood supply. But rather than face the problem head on, it was rapidly swept under the proverbial rug.

“My mom was watching Good Morning America one morning. Across the bottom of the ticker tape said, ‘XMRV all a hoax’ … It was horrible. We started to realize our fake news and fake science.”

Today, the blood supply is unlikely to be contaminated, thanks to a decontamination procedure developed by a California-based company called Cerus and which Mikovits proved to inactivate XMRV, rendering it noninfectious.

Other biologicals, including vaccines, however, may not be routinely decontaminated using this process, in large part because they’re not required to do so, and drug companies are not liable for vaccine-induced harm. What’s more, decontaminating the vaccine may render it ineffective.

“It won’t work. It will no longer be a vaccine … The Cerus method cleans up Ebola. It cleans up Zika. It cleans up essentially any RNA viruses, including HIV and all three human retroviruses. The Cerus system is extremely valuable to cleaning up the blood supply.

But they cannot clean up the vaccines for another reason. If they do, they prove Andy Wakefield right. They prove me right. They prove they’ve got 25 million Americans, who they have to support for the rest of their lives and pay damages [to] …”

The Price of Making an Unpopular Scientific Discovery

On a personal level, Mikovits has taken an enormous personal hit. September 29, 2011, she was fired from the Whittemore Peterson Institute for insolence and insubordination, and was driven into bankruptcy after being falsely arrested for stealing her own lab notes. (She never was and to this day is not in possession of her notebooks or any of the two offices full of her work done in her entire career.)

She explains her firing saying that Whittemore had been selling a diagnostic test and the director of their for-profit commercial laboratory was using federal grant funds to do that work (with full knowledge and under the direction of Annette and Harvey Whittemore), which is misappropriation of federal funds. Mikovits became aware of this in August that year, and wrote him off the grant.

“The Whittemores basically fired me immediately in an attempt … to get this scientist, Vince Lombardi, Ph.D. … to recreate the work while I was out of town and say I was a lunatic — that he’d been doing the work all along, and he hadn’t misappropriated any of the funds.

They fired me on September 29 and immediately locked down the entire university to me or my staff … The insolence and insubordination was I had refused a direct order to misappropriate federal funds, basically. I wasn’t ever going to do that. The insolence I’m trying to learn not to do, because it probably would have gone a lot better for me if I didn’t say ‘F-you,’ at the same time …

It was September 22, 2011, when I gave my last talk. They had three weeks to get a Science paper out there that would destroy my reputation in the ME/CFS community … Ruscetti had to sign that paper, or he and Sandy Ruscetti would be fired … [and] lose their entire retirement, which is 75 years.

That was one of the few times I sobbed. I was sitting in my bed screaming …It was 6 o’clock in the morning. They were on the East Coast and they needed to get this paper published fast by Science.

I called the Ruscettis and said, “Frank, they agreed to change the language. They agreed to change the title. They agreed it wasn’t an association study … [they say] we didn’t have a diagnostic test. Either way, the Whittemores are going to kill me because they’re selling the diagnostic test.’

So Frank [Ruscetti] signed the paper. They didn’t change the wording. [What they did] is pure fraud. Here, the head of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute published pure fraud in the journal Science, just as two years later, Ian Lipkin published pure fraud. It is fake news. It is so corrupt, everything about it.

It’s not [the researchers]. It’s the top of the line. It’s Dr. Tony Fauci. We’re only allowed to make incremental advances. When you make a discovery of this nature, it changes all of everything. This is misogyny … This is a bunch of little boys … fighting over who gets credit, while the world dies, while you kill an entire continent.

That’s why I do shows like this. Because we’re going to teach doctors. When doctors understand the science — and they’re coming around a lot — because the science is there. Nothing about our paper, except the sequence of the virus, has ever been wrong. We knew that in the beginning.”

Individuals Infected With Retroviruses Should Avoid Vaccinations

According to Mikovits, retroviruses such as XMRV affect entire families, as it can be transmitted to your offspring. Many of these families also have children with autism, which Mikovits believes may be connected to the retrovirus. The question is, what can you do if you’re infected? For starters, Mikovits recommends avoiding vaccinations.

“Until 2011, not inconsequentially, we didn’t vaccinate AIDS patients the same way. It’s in the book. You don’t vaccinate the immune-compromised … By definition, you have an immune system that doesn’t work. Why would you vaccinate them? Why would you vaccinate somebody under 3 years old, who has an immune and detox systems that don’t work?

This was the key of the RNaseL story (a genetic susceptibility not to degrade RNA viruses), of the Thompson fraudulent paper [Editor’s note: This refers to William Thompson, Ph.D., a former senior scientist at the CDC’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases, who confessed he conspired to cover up links found between the MMR vaccine and autism].

All they had to do was wait for black boys to be 3 years old, and they would have been able to degrade the RNA virus. That’s criminal. That’s beyond comprehension …

The pearl of wisdom is this DNA methylation. Keep the violent virus silent … DNA methylation has to silence them. You can’t inject them in a vaccine. We’re injecting millions of pieces in parts of retroviruses in every vaccine, by definition (and admission).

I am working on an ongoing cancer lawsuit that says vaccines cause childhood cancer, a lymphoma. By these same mechanisms, you’ve destroyed the DNA methylation machinery’s ability [to silence the virus]. You’ve simply overwhelmed the substrate. You’ve overwhelmed the ability to methylate.

Every time those viruses integrate, you have a better chance at insertional mutagenesis. Don’t expose anybody to human (or animal) retroviruses. Use antiretroviral therapy, which are natural products … There are lots of natural products. We published on them. Those are actually therapy for these kids.

[A 100-year-old drug called Suramin] was one of the first antiretroviral therapies for HIV … [It] worked best against the murine leukemia virus-related viruses, against the mouse retroviruses, the gamma retroviruses …

[Dr. Robert] Naviaux [professor of medicine, pediatrics and pathology at University of California San Diego School of Medicine] did a small clinical trial.2 These kids got their life back.3 They started talking again. What did Bayer do? They stopped the trial and took the drug away from everyone. Now, you can’t get it …

We could help millions of people get over [autism]. But when you show cure, you know cause. That’s it. I would be right … Millions of people would get their lives back, and it’s all about money.”

XMRV Is a Significant Threat

As mentioned, there are several different retroviruses, which are part of four viral families (delta, lenti, beta and gamma). Aside from HIV and XMRV, there’s the human T-cell leukemia lymphoma virus (HTLV-1) family. There are five or six HTLV viruses, but HTLV-1 is the only one known to cause severe disease.

Human beta retrovirus is another virus associated with primary biliary cirrhosis. Many patients with MEC/FS also have family members with primary biliary cirrhosis. As for which one might be the most significant threat, Mikovits believes XMRV is among the most pressing, because while HIV is well-contained at present, XMRV is not, and it appears to play a significant role in diseases of methylation.

Disturbingly, they’re now using murine leukemia viruses as vectors for gene therapy and a novel cancer therapy called chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy. In other words, they’re causing cancer and other retroviral illnesses.

“The same thing with Gardasil … We’re causing these diseases and we know it because we’re using these [retroviruses] as vectors. We don’t need infectious viruses. That’s one thing that’s really important to know. You don’t need infectious viruses if you’re injecting the provirus, or the pieces and parts. You inject it, past your immunity, past your gut, past RNA cell, past everything. You bypass the immune system. They don’t need to be infectious.

All you need is an envelope to cause that prostate cancer. That’s a paper that was published 2013. In most of our studies, all we detected was the envelope. The envelope alone causes vasculitis … Another strain of XMRV gamma retrovirus from mice was identified by Gary Owens … associated with cardiovascular disease. This is just a nightmare that we’ve unleashed in our environment.”

Retroviruses and ME/CFS

According to Mikovits, 6 to 8 percent of the general population are infected with infectious and transmissible XMRV-retroviruses, and in the chronic fatigue population, that prevalence shoots up to about 30 to 40 percent. As with HIV, antiretroviral therapies can be very helpful in the treatment of ME/CFS, including low-dose naltrexone.

“You have to silence the other pathogens, so taking care of mycoplasma, taking care of mold, absolutely supporting the gut microbiome [will help],” Mikovits says. “We learned with AIDS and cancer patients that if they don’t have the diversity in the microbiome, just like in autism, just like in MEC/FS, it’s because the retrovirus is causing leaky gut …

The nonspecific inflammation [is] the retroviruses. If you keep the gut healthy, you can heal. The primary is the diversity in the microbiome, or you can’t respond to the drugs. There’s a lot of hope. That’s what we end the show with. There are therapies. We could fix this tomorrow. That’s why I do it.”

To learn more, be sure to pick up a copy of “Plague: One Scientist’s Intrepid Search for the Truth About Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism and Other Diseases,” which reads more like a fictional thriller than a nonfictional book about the science of disease.

Read more: articles.mercola.com