While melatonin works as a natural sleep regulator, it affects health in many other important ways as well.1 For example, melatonin:
Is a potent antioxidant2
Plays an important role in cancer prevention3
Is important for brain, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health4
Boosts immune function in a variety of ways
May improve the treatment of certain bacterial diseases, including tuberculosis5
Helps quell inflammation
May prevent or improve autoimmune diseases, including Type 1 diabetes6
Is an important energy hormone7 — If your sleep efficiency is impaired, meaning you’re not sleeping as deeply as you should, for as long as is ideal, then your energy level is going to be adversely affected
As noted in the Journal of Critical Care:8
“Melatonin is a versatile molecule, synthesized not only in the pineal gland, but also in many other organs. Melatonin plays an important physiologic role in sleep and circadian rhythm regulation, immunoregulation, antioxidant and mitochondrial-protective functions, reproductive control, and regulation of mood. Melatonin has also been reported as effective in combating various bacterial and viral infections.”
The Journal of Critical Care paper,9 published in 2010, further highlights the potential role of melatonin in the treatment of sepsis (blood poisoning), a life-threatening condition triggered by a systemic infection that causes your body to overreact and launch an excessive and highly damaging immune response.
Unless promptly diagnosed and treated, it can rapidly progress to multiple-organ failure and death. The cytokine storm response appears to be a primary way by which the novel coronavirus COVID-19 (also referred to as SARS-CoV-2, due to its similarity to the SARS coronavirus) claims the lives of those who are immunocompromised and/or elderly. According to the Journal of Critical Care:10
“Melatonin is an effective anti-inflammatory agent in various animal models of inflammation and sepsis, and its anti-inflammatory action has been attributed to inhibition of nitric oxide synthase with consequent reduction of peroxynitrite formation, to the stimulation of various antioxidant enzymes thus contributing to enhance the antioxidant defense, and to protective effects on mitochondrial function and in preventing apoptosis.
In a number of animal models of septic shock, as well as in patients with septic disease, melatonin reportedly exerts beneficial effects to arrest cellular damage and multiorgan failure.”
In summary, melatonin appears to reverse septic shock symptoms by:11
According to the authors, the ways in which melatonin prevents septic shock are complex:
“Apart from action on the local sites of inflammation, melatonin also exerts its beneficial actions through a multifactorial pathway including its effects as immunomodulatory, antioxidant and antiapoptotic agent.”
Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., senior research scientist at MIT, also recently brought the potential role of melatonin to my attention, specifically in regard to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. In an email to me, Seneff explains:
“I just figured something out about COVID-19 and glyphosate. Upper respiratory infections are a high risk for people who have a deficiency in mannose binding lectin (MBL). MBL has a long sequence in the protein that looks like collagen (GxyGxyGxy...): GINGFPGKD GRDGTKGEKG EPGQGLRGLQ GPPGKLGPPG NPGPSGSPGP KGQKGDPGKS.
I just discovered that there are two lung surfactant proteins (A and B) which also have this GxyGxy pattern in their stalks. Here's the relevant sequence in lung surfactant protein A: GSP GIPGTPGSHG LPGRDGRDGL KGDPGPPGPM GPPGEMPCPP GNDGLPGAPG IPGECGEKGE PGERGPPGLP. Here's what UniProt says about this protein:12
‘In presence of calcium ions, it binds to surfactant phospholipids and contributes to lower the surface tension at the air-liquid interface in the alveoli of the mammalian lung and is essential for normal respiration … Can recognize, bind, and opsonize pathogens to enhance their elimination by alveolar macrophages.’
I would wager that glyphosate disrupts the collagen-like stalk of the lung surfactants preventing them from binding to and clearing the COVID-19 virus … I was wondering why the elderly are suffering much more from sepsis and cytokine storm during COVID-19 infections. A significant difference in older patients compared to younger patients is their melatonin levels. Another good insight and treatment approach?”
In her email, Seneff goes on to cite a 2014 study13 in the Journal of Pineal Research which, like the Journal of Critical Care paper, points out that melatonin accumulates in mitochondria and has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity that could be useful in the treatment of sepsis.
Melatonin is derived from serotonin, which in turn is derived from tryptophan, one of the three aromatic amino acids that are products of the shikimate pathway. Glyphosate famously disrupts the shikimate pathway in weeds, and this is believed to be the main mechanism by which it kills the weeds. Our gut bacteria also produce tryptophan via the shikimate pathway, so glyphosate can be expected to reduce the bioavailability of tryptophan as a precursor to melatonin.
The study mentioned above was a Phase 1 dose escalation study in healthy volunteers to evaluate the tolerability and health effects of melatonin at various dosages. They also assessed the effect of melatonin in an ex vivo whole blood model mimicking sepsis.
No adverse effects were reported for dosages ranging from 20 milligram (mg) to 100 mg, and the blood model testing revealed melatonin and its metabolite 6-hydroxymelatonin “had beneficial effects on sepsis-induced mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress and cytokine responses …” The authors further explain:14
“Oxidative stress in patients with sepsis has been consistently described over the last 20 years. Mitochondrial dysfunction initiated by oxidative stress drives inflammation and is generally accepted as playing a major role in sepsis-induced organ failure.
It has been recognized that exogenous antioxidants may be useful in sepsis, and more recently, the potential for antioxidants acting specifically in mitochondria has been highlighted.
We showed previously that antioxidants targeted to mitochondria, including melatonin, reduced organ damage in a rat model of sepsis. Exogenous melatonin has potent antioxidant activity, and it accumulates throughout cells, particularly in mitochondria. Metabolites of melatonin also have antioxidant activity, and products from the reactions with oxidant species are also antioxidants.
In vitro models of sepsis show that melatonin and its major hydroxylated metabolite, 6-hydroxymelatonin, are both effective at reducing the levels of key inflammatory cytokines, oxidative stress, and mitochondrial dysfunction. In rat models of sepsis, melatonin reduces oxidative damage and organ dysfunction and also decreases mortality.
The dose needed for antioxidant action is thought to be considerably higher than that given for modulation of the sleep–wake cycle, but the actual dose required in man is unclear, particularly because the major bioactive effects of oral melatonin in the context of inflammation are likely to be mediated primarily by metabolite levels.”
More recently, a 2019 animal study15 in the journal Frontiers in Immunology discusses how melatonin can protect against polymicrobial sepsis — i.e., sepsis caused by more than one microbial organism — a hallmark of which is severe loss of lymphocytes through apoptosis, resulting in a twofold higher lethality than unimicrobial sepsis (sepsis caused by a single microbe).16
In this case, melatonin appears to offer protection by having an antibacterial effect on white blood cells called neutrophils. A high neutrophil count is an indicator for infection. According to the authors of the 2019 study:
“Melatonin treatment inhibited peripheral tissue inflammation and tissue damage … consequently reducing the mortality of the mice. We found that macrophages and neutrophils expressed melatonin receptors.
Upon depletion of neutrophils, melatonin-induced protection against polymicrobial infection failed in the mice, but melatonin treatment in macrophage-depleted mice attenuated the mice mortality resulting from polymicrobial sepsis.
Moreover, melatonin treatment promoted the development of the neutrophil extracellular trap (NET), which contributed to anti-bacterial activity during polymicrobial infection, whereas the phagocytic activities of neutrophils were inhibited by melatonin.
The data from this study support previously unexplained antiseptic effects of melatonin during a polymicrobial infection and could be potentially useful for human patients with sepsis.”
The potential role of melatonin in COVID-19 infection was also addressed in an extensive and fully referenced March 14, 2020, article by medical researcher Doris Loh, published in the Italian online magazine Evolutamente.17
“Unofficial reports from doctors and healthcare workers from COVID-19 frontlines in Italy described most patients displayed symptoms of bilateral interstitial pneumonia that required intubation (invasive ventilation) to assist difficulty in breathing.
Even young patients without comorbidities have been observed with severe pneumonia that required intensive care in ICUs,” Loh reports. “Why does SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19 infection, induce pneumonia in adult patients regardless of age?”
One answer may be because the viral load in those with COVID-19 infection is extremely high — 1,000 times higher than the viral load seen in SARS patients back in 2003.18
Preliminary research19 cited by Loh shows the COVID-19 virus is actively replicating in the throat during the first five days after the onset of symptoms. This higher viral load could be what allows the virus to overwhelm even the immune system of some younger and healthier individuals.
Another mechanism that can help explain the high virulence of COVID-19 compared to SARS has to do with a furin cleavage site in the spike protein of the virus that wasn’t present in the SARS virus. As explained by Loh, “The presence of furins on almost all cell surfaces allow a dramatically increased ability to fuse to host cells, facilitating viral entry …” She adds:20
“Cleavage specificity can dictate the tropism and virulence of the virus. The fact that COVID-19 has cleavage sites for furin enzymes renders this virus to be highly pathogenic, with the capacity to replicate in MULTIPLE tissues and organs due to how furins are utilized and distributed in the human body.
Furin-like cleavage in human coronaviruses have been associated with the development of neurological diseases where the invasiveness and efficient establishment of lower pathogenicity can result in persistent infection of the central nervous system.
Thus it was not a surprise when in early March of 2020, doctors from Beijing Ditan Hospital affiliated to Capital Medical University, a designated institution for COVID-19 treatment, showed for the first time that COVID-19 can attack the human central nervous system, causing symptoms of encephalitis.
The presence of furin enzymes on all cell surfaces cleaves and activates the SARS-CoV-2 in a wide range of tissues and organs. Activated SARS-CoV-2 then unleashes NLRP3 inflammasomes, initiating a flurry of immune reactions that can result in deadly cytokine storms."
As the name implies, inflammasomes are part of your natural immune response that senses the presence of pathogens and other factors that could pose a threat. When a pathogen is detected, inflammasomes are activated and start releasing proinflammatory cytokines.
The inflammasome NLRP3, specifically, has been identified as a key culprit in acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and acute lung injury, both of which are potential outcomes of COVID-19 infection.21
The cytokine storm associated with COVID-19 infection appears to be due to the virus’ ability to stimulate your immune response via viroporins, virally-encoded ion channel proteins that in turn trigger the activation of NLRP3 inflammasomes. As explained by Loh, the more functional a virus’ viroporins are, the greater its viral replication rate and subsequent pathogenesis.
As noted by Loh, the fatality rate of COVID-19 increases linearly with age, with patients over the age of 80 having the highest death rate.22,23,24 As of yet, the explanation for why children are less likely to contract the infection or show symptoms even when they are infected,25 is unknown.
Loh, however, raises the possibility that it might have something to do with melatonin production. She cites research showing melatonin production peaks in early childhood, steadily dropping once puberty hits. By the time you’re in your late 50s, melatonin production drops to negligible levels.
“What does melatonin have to do with SARS-CoV-2?” Loh asks. The answer is that melatonin helps inhibit NLRP3 inflammasomes.
“The fact that the pro-inflammatory cytokine storm effects are induced by the activation of NLRP3 inflammasomes, the ability of melatonin to INHIBIT NLRP3 inflammasome elevates this powerful molecule to a truly unique position in the fight against COVID-19,” Loh writes.26
“This also means that if a patient, regardless of age, has adequate melatonin, the infectiousness of COVID-19 will be greatly reduced, and the chances of developing ARDS/ALI significantly diminished.”
In her article, Loh references a number of scientific articles to support her claims. Aside from studies showing melatonin inhibits damage associated with sepsis, studies have also shown it can counteract severe inflammation and “markedly reduce pulmonary injury [and] lower infiltration of macrophages and neutrophils into lungs … by inhibiting the activation of NLRP3 inflammasomes,” thus protecting against acute lung injury.
Melatonin levels are also doubled in the third trimester of pregnancy compared to the first trimester,27,28 which may help explain why pregnant women infected with COVID-19 and their babies have gotten by fairly unscathed. A 2020 rodent study29 even demonstrated that melatonin can help protect against lung injury caused by mechanical ventilation intervention.
“The full therapeutic potential of melatonin in its ability to modulate the immune system, especially the critical function of suppressing cytokine storms to prevent progression of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and respiratory failure in infected patients was clearly demonstrated in a study by Huang et al. (2019).
Huang et al. infected rodents with the highly lethal and infectious H1N1 influenza A virus. Co-treatment of these infected rodents with melatonin and an antiviral drug significantly increased their survival rates compared to mice treated only with antivirals alone,” Loh writes.
The role of NLRP3 inflammasomes in COVID-19 infection also adds support for the use of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), as ascorbic acid has been shown to inhibit NLRP3 Inflammasomes in a dose-dependent fashion by scavenging reactive oxygen species in the mitochondria.30,31
“Thus, the combined use of melatonin and ascorbic acid may prove to be most effective in the treatment for COVID-19 patients, especially those with cardiovascular and hypertension comorbidities,” Loh suggests.32
You can learn more about the use of intravenous vitamin C against sepsis and coronavirus infection in “Essential Nutrition to Protect Yourself From Coronavirus.”
Nutrients and drugs that might be best avoided during this outbreak are those that inhibit angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE). What’s the problem with ACE inhibitors? As explained by Loh, ACE inhibitors increase expression of ACE2, and COVID-19 infects host cells by binding to ACE2 receptors found on epithelial cells in your lungs, intestines, kidneys and blood vessels.33
ACE inhibitors, i.e., medications that relax and dilate your blood vessels, are commonly prescribed for high blood pressure, certain types of heart failure, stroke prevention and for the prevention and treatment of kidney disease. These drugs work by inhibiting the specific isoform of ACE, ACE1. As a consequence, ACE2 is upregulated. This is problematic with regard to COVID-19, because the virus gains entry to infect cells specifically via the ACE2 protein acting as a receptor.
Loh cites research34 published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine suggesting that taking an ACE inhibitor, be it a medication or a nutritional supplement, may worsen your risk of COVID-19 infection and your risk of complications.
“Melatonin, nitric oxide and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) are all inextricably intertwined and deeply involved with ACE2,” Loh writes.35
“Melatonin, nitric oxide and ascorbic acid can reduce COVID-19 virulence by inhibiting NLRP3 inflammasomes to stop the perpetuation of cytokine storms. Their critical roles in biochemical reactions and biological pathways that involve ACE2 must be fully explored as part of our fight against COVID-19.”
At the end of her article, Loh offers suggestions for melatonin and vitamin C dosages, along with contraindications and timing of supplementation.
Keep in mind that while all of this information may sound concerning, the lethality of COVID-19 is quite low for those under the age of 65. According to a March 18, 2020, report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, preliminary mortality rates for COVID-19 in the U.S. are:36
To minimize the spread of infection, remember to:37
If you have symptoms of illness such as coughing or sneezing, be sure to wear a surgical mask to contain the spread whenever you’re around others. For additional details about the use of surgical or N95 respiratory masks, see “Will Wearing a Mask Protect You Against Coronavirus?”
The scent of fresh-cut grass, your mom’s chicken soup or burning leaves may instantly transport you to a distant memory, one you can suddenly recall with razor-sharp clarity.
So-called odor-evoked memories often come along with powerful emotions and are known to activate the “neurolobiological substrates of emotional processing,” according to neuroscientist Rachel S. Herz, an adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University.1
Research published in Learning and Memory2 added to this, suggesting that odors may modulate the dynamics of memory consolidation, including memories linked to fear, and could potentially be used therapeutically to help people recall memories or treat memory-related mood disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).3
"If odor could be used to elicit the rich recollection of a memory — even of a traumatic experience — we could take advantage of that [therapeutically]," study author Steve Ramirez, assistant professor of psychology and brain sciences at Boston University, said in a news release.4
The prevailing theory of memory formation — the systems consolidation theory — suggests that memories are initially processed in the brain’s hippocampus, giving the memory rich details. Over time, however, as memories become older or more remote, they become less dependent on the hippocampus and more dependent on processing by the front of the brain — the prefrontal cortex.
During this transition, which occurs particularly during sleep, memories may lose many of their rich contextual details. Further, memories that are retrieved shortly after an experience involve reactivation of cells in the hippocampus whereas retrieval of a memory later is thought to involve reactivation of cells in the prefrontal cortex.5
The systems consolidation theory explains why memories tend to become less detailed or clear as time goes by, as well as why people with a damaged hippocampus have trouble forming new memories while those with prefrontal cortex damage may have trouble remembering memories from the past.6
The theory, however, is just that — a theory — and it has some challenges as well. Researchers noted in Learning and Memory, “[P]eople often retrieve remote memories that are vivid and highly detailed. Likewise, several studies have shown that there is activity in both structures during both recent and remote memory recall … and that damage to the HPC [hippocampus] sometimes affects remote memory as well as recent memory.”7
Particularly in PTSD, people may recall intense memories years after the trauma occurred, which seemingly contradicts the systems consolidation theory, leading the researchers to conduct a study to clarify some of these contradictions.
In a study on mice, researchers from Boston University's Center for Systems Neuroscience startled mice with electric shocks while in a special container to induce fear memories. Half the mice were exposed to almond extract scent during the shocks while the other half received no scent exposure.
The next day, the same experiment took place, but without any electric shocks given. The odor group was exposed to the scent of almond extract while in the special container while the other group had no scent exposure. The idea was to prompt the mice to recall the fearful memory of being shocked — something all the animals did, as evidenced by significant activation of the hippocampus.
The memory recall session was repeated again 20 days later. In the no-odor group, the prefrontal cortex was activated, suggesting it was responsible for processing the fear memory, as researchers had expected. In the odor group, however, significant activity was still observed in the hippocampus. Ramirez noted:8
"[This finding suggests] that we can bias the hippocampus to come back online at a timepoint when we wouldn't expect it to be online anymore because the memory is too old. Odor can act as a cue to reinvigorate or reenergize that memory with detail."
It’s possible that odors may delay a memory being processed in the prefrontal cortex, or that an odor reactivates the hippocampus to restore details of a memory that’s already shifted to the prefrontal cortex.
While the specifics aren’t yet known, it’s possible that odors could be harnessed to help people with PTSD actively recall traumatic memories, so that they could then be suppressed or dampened using behavioral interventions.
"Now that we know that odor can shift memories to become more hippocampus dependent, we could potentially develop strategies that engage or disengage the hippocampus,” Ramirez said, adding, “We can potentially view memory as its own kind of drug — as an antidepressant or [anxiety reducer]. And [odor] could be an experimentally controllable factor that we could deliver to people. It may be a very powerful tool."9
Odor-evoked memory is dubbed the “Proust phenomenon” after a literary anecdote where Marcel Proust took a bite of a biscuit dipped in Linden tea and was transported to a moment in his childhood that he had long forgotten. Odor-evoked memories, Herz explained, are unique from memories evoked by other stimuli, such as verbal or visual stimuli.
Not only are they more rare and less frequently thought about, but they tend to come from early in life, typically within the first decade. What’s more, autobiographical memories triggered by odors tend to be much more emotional and have the perception of bringing people back to the original time and place that their memories occurred.
Part of the unique intensity of odor-evoked memories has to do with the way scent is processed by your brain. Smells get routed through your olfactory bulb, which the smell-analyzing region in your brain. It’s closely connected to your amygdala and hippocampus, brain regions that handle memory and emotion. According to Herz:10
“Odor-evoked memories are exceptionally viscerally involving because the neuroanatomy of olfaction has a privileged and unique connection to the neural substrates of emotion and associative learning.
The primary olfactory cortex includes the amygdala, which processes emotional experience and emotional memory, as well as the hippocampus, which is involved in associative learning. Thus, the mere act of smelling activates the amydala-hippocampal complex.”
By boosting mood, lowering stress and reducing inflammation, it’s likely that the powerful emotions elicited by positive odor-evoked memories can influence psychological and physiological health.
“Any odor that for a given individual evokes a happy autobiographical memory has the potential to increase positive emotions, decrease negative moods, disrupt cravings, lower stress and decrease inflammatory immune responses, and thereby have a generally beneficial effect on psychological and physiological well-being,” Herz wrote,11 noting that individuals may also experience unique effects like improvements in self-confidence, motivation and vigor depending on the emotions a specific memory invokes.
For example, if an odor triggers a memory of winning a sporting event, it could energize your behavior and trigger beneficial physiological effects, making it a reliable therapeutic agent. Likewise, odors that evoke pleasant memories could be used as reminders of safe or happy places and events, making them useful for the treatment of psychiatric conditions and reducing stress and anxiety.12
The unique anatomy of the olfactory pathways hints at the importance of odors in emotions, learning, memory and more. While other sensory systems pass through the thalamus to reach the cortex, odors get relayed directly to the limbic system in the brain, which is associated with memory and emotional processes.
This is why odors have such a powerful influence on mood, information acquisition and even social interactions. As noted in Frontiers in Behavioral Neurosciences, memory is but one crucial behavior influenced by odors:13
“Indeed, olfaction is crucially involved in behaviors essential for survival of the individual and species, including identification of predators, recognition of individuals for procreation or social hierarchy, location of food, as well as attachment between mating pairs and infant-caretaker dyads.”
Aromatherapy — the use of plant-based aromas to influence mood and wellness — is not the same as odor-evoked memory. In the case of the psychological and physiological effects induced by odor-evoked memories, the odor has such effects because of the memories and emotions attached to it as a result of past personal experience.14
This isn’t to say that aromatherapy isn’t also beneficial for health and wellness, just that it works in a different, more generalized way. Many ancient cultures, including the Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used essential oils in cosmetics, perfumes and drugs for purposes ranging from spiritual to therapeutic.15
In the modern day, aromatherapy is used in health care settings, health spas and homes, both by professional aromatherapists and amateurs, while accumulating research backs up its many potential uses and benefits.
For instance, the two primary terpenoid constituents of lavender essential oil, linalool and linalyl acetate, have anxiety-reducing effects, and lavender essential oil is known to induce a calming effect without side effects such as sedation.16
Lavender also has an effect on the nervous system, and when inhaled it’s believed to act via the limbic system, particularly the amygdala and hippocampus,17 although it may have effects even beyond mood and anxiety.
In a study on patients undergoing open heart surgery, a cotton swab containing lavender essential oil was placed in the patients’ oxygen mask for 10 minutes. The aromatherapy led to significant reductions in blood pressure and heart rate, with researchers concluding it could be “used as an independent nursing intervention in stabilizing mentioned vital signs.”18
Beyond lavender, a study on rats showed that inhaling Roman chamomile essential oil for two weeks reduced depressive-like behaviors,19 while essential oils placed nightly on towels around dementia patients’ pillows resulted in significantly longer total sleep time, increased sustained sleep and reduced early morning awakening.20
While it’s best to consult an experienced aromatherapist before delving into essential oils, generally speaking if you’re looking to feel energized and uplifted, consider essential oils such as peppermint, grapefruit, lemon, neroli and wild orange while more calming oils include lavender, chamomile, bergamot, ylang ylang and vetiver. For more information, consult our Ultimate Guide to Herbal Oils.
Paying attention to any changes in your sense of smell, including a loss of it, is also important. In a study of 3,005 community-dwelling adults, those who had a dysfunctional sense of smell were more likely to die in the next five years than those with a good sense of smell.
In fact, olfactory function was deemed to be one of the strongest predictors of five-year mortality and researchers suggested it may “serve as a bellwether for slowed cellular regeneration or as a marker of cumulative toxic environmental exposures.”21
An inability to identify odors is also an early symptom of neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.22 So, make a conscious effort to keep track of your sense of smell, using it for memory recall, mood boosts and as a gauge for your health should it dissipate.
While odor-evoked memories can be powerful tools for health and behavior as well, they depend largely on happenstance, in that a scent must be introduced at the precise moment that a memorable event is occurring — then that scent must later be introduced to evoke the memory.
It happens often enough that virtually everyone reading this has experienced it, but if you’re looking for a more direct way to harness the power of odors over your health, aromatherapy can be very useful.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been ruled a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).1 "Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly," said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom, in his opening remarks at a media briefing about coronavirus.
"It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear," he said. Though a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus has never been seen before, he added, the world has also "never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled," implying that this may be possible with COVID-19.
As I write this, much of the U.S. has been shut down with people asked to remain in their homes except for performing essential errands — a provision that no one can recall in recent memory. However, a look at pandemics throughout history verifies Adhanom's optimism, as never before did we have the communications systems and medical abilities available now.
Many of you reading this may have grown up exchanging scary stories you had heard about the plague and the "Black Death," perhaps around a campfire. You may also know of Edgar Allan Poe's 1845 frightening short story, "The Masque of the Red Death,"2 in which nobles try to escape a plague by locking themselves in an abbey and holding a masquerade ball.
A ghoulish stranger finds his way into the abbey, according to the story, and even though the stranger proves to be an empty costume with no person inside, all the nobles die of the Red Death.
While the Red and Black Deaths scared schoolchildren for ages, scholars think the Red Death that Poe fabricated for his story was actually tuberculosis (TB), which his wife was suffering from at the time.3 The disease, also called consumption, took other close members of Poe's family including his mother, foster mother and brother.4 The empty visitor is now seen as a symbolic narrative device.
The sudden death that the plague and tuberculosis posed in Poe's day and their spread were indeed frightening and interpreted, like other pandemics, as divine punishment. But we now know that both diseases, as well as leprosy, which was also pandemic in the Middle Ages,5 are caused by bacteria and therefore treatable with antibiotics.
Plague,6 TB and leprosy, now called Hansen's disease,7 still exist today but no longer terrify people because we understand microbial pathogens and transmission. We know the plague is caused by the Yersinia pestis bacterium,8 TB by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium9 and Hansen's disease by Mycobacterium leprae.10
Certainly, the age of jet travel has heightened the spread of pandemic-capable diseases, and excessive antibiotic use has created resistant versions of many bacteria. But unlike in Poe's day and the epochs before him, our understanding of microbial pathogens and ways to address them has removed much of the fear of pandemics.
"The plague" occurred centuries ago and decimated entire populations. The bubonic strain of the plague, the most common, was characterized by swollen lymph nodes called "buboes" and killed from 30% to 60% of its victims.11 However, not everyone realizes there were actually several plagues over the centuries.12
The Plague of Justinian started in Constantinople in 541 AD and rapidly spread across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa taking the lives of 30 million to 50 million people. At the time, that would have equaled half the world's population.13
In 1347, 800 years later, the plague reared its ugly head as the Black Death in Europe, claiming 200 million lives in four years, one-third of the world's population.14 The Black Death was so devastating that it changed politics forever: England and France declared a truce to their ongoing war and the British feudal system collapsed.
During the Black Death and subsequent pandemics there was no scientific understanding of disease transmission, but there was a growing awareness that proximity somehow heightened the problem — a first nod to the concept of social distancing.15
That is why it was decided in Venice during the Black Death that arriving sailors had to stay on their ships for 30 days until it was clear they were disease-free in an early demonstration of the concept of quarantine, called "quarantino" at the time.16 Still, outbreaks of the plague continued unabated despite early quarantine efforts, according to History.com:17
"London never really caught a break after the Black Death. The plague resurfaced roughly every 20 years from 1348 to 1665—40 outbreaks in 300 years. And with each new plague epidemic, 20 percent of the men, women and children living in the British capital were killed.
By the early 1500s, England imposed the first laws to separate and isolate the sick. Homes stricken by plague were marked with a bale of hay strung to a pole outside. If you had infected family members, you had to carry a white pole when you went out in public."
Two hundred years after London's 1665 Great Plague, a third plague surfaced in 1855, which was concentrated in China and India, and killed an additional 15 million people.18
Panic and suspicion of others is the hallmark of pandemics like the plague because transmissibility isn't known and people are terrified. In England, dogs and cats were suspected of spreading the disease and slaughtered by the hundreds of thousands,19 which only intensified the pandemic since rats, which no one knew were spreading the disease, had no predators.20
Finally, the cause of the plague was revealed. According to research published in Clinical Microbiology and Infection:21
"The causative bacterium of plague was described and cultured by Alexandre Yersin in Hong Kong in 1894, after which transmission of bacteria from rodents by flea bites was discovered by Jean-Paul Simond in 1898. Effective treatment with antiserum was initiated in 1896 … supplanted by sulphonamides in the 1930s and by streptomycin starting in 1947 …
Serological diagnosis with fraction 1 antigen to detect anti-plague antibodies was developed in the 1950s. Vaccine development started in 1897 with killed whole bacterial cells, and this was followed by a live attenuated bacterial vaccine, leading to millions of persons receiving injections."
The plague still exists today but no longer strikes panic in the public because its etiology from rat fleas is now known.22
Just like the plague, many have heard frightening stories about historical smallpox pandemics. After a high fever and pain, smallpox causes cratered pockmarks all over the body, disfigurement and occasional blindness, and kills as many as 30% of its victims.23
As with the plague, millions died from smallpox over the centuries, and fear and mistrust were rampant until the virus that causes it, variola, was identified and treatments were developed. Historians now believe that what may have been termed the plague in early pandemics was actually smallpox. According to History.com:24
"Many historians speculate that smallpox likewise brought about the devastating Plague of Athens in 430 B.C. and the Antonine Plague of A.D. 165 to 180, the later of which killed an estimated 3.5 million to 7 million people, including Emperor Marcus Aurelius, and hastened the decline of the Roman Empire …"
Smallpox was initially treated with "variolation," in which pus from stricken patients was introduced into healthy people, but the disease continued to spread. According to History.com:25
"Variolation notwithstanding, smallpox continued wreaking havoc on princes and paupers alike. In the 17th and 18th centuries, it killed several reigning European monarchs, including Habsburg Emperor Joseph I, Queen Mary II of England, Czar Peter II of Russia and King Louis XV of France … in Europe alone, an estimated 400,000 commoners were succumbing to smallpox annually."
In 1796, Edward Jenner, an English doctor, developed a vaccine against smallpox. While it's often said that this is what defeated the disease, there is evidence that it wasn't vaccines but, rather, isolation and sanitation that overcame smallpox.
Compared with plague and smallpox, influenza or "flu" pandemics occurred much later in recorded history, but they have been just as devastating. According to Business Insider, in 1889:26
"The first significant flu pandemic started in Siberia and Kazakhstan, traveled to Moscow, and made its way into Finland and then Poland, where it moved into the rest of Europe. By the following year, it had crossed the ocean into North America and Africa. By the end of 1890, 360,000 had died."
Unlike plague, TB or Hansen's Disease, influenza is caused by a virus, arguably harder to treat than the bacteria that cause diseases. According to the News Observer:27
"A virus only works by invading a cell within an organism and taking over that cell's machinery to reproduce itself. By itself, it doesn't contain all ability to do everything it needs to survive and replicate. It essentially has to parasitize that other cell … for many viruses, in particular, we don't have very effective therapy."
The 1889 flu that originated in Russia was followed by the Asian flu of 1957-1958, which killed 1.1 million globally and 116,000 people in the U.S.28 Just 10 years later in 1968, the Hong Kong flu, an adaptation of the Asian flu, surfaced killing 1 million globally and about 100,000 in the U.S.29
The granddaddy of all flu epidemics and the one that is most on people's minds during the coronavirus pandemic is the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:30
"The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most severe pandemic in recent history … Although there is not universal consensus regarding where the virus originated, it spread worldwide during 1918-1919. In the United States, it was first identified in military personnel in spring 1918.
It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world's population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States …
… control efforts worldwide were limited to non-pharmaceutical interventions such as isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants, and limitations of public gatherings, which were applied unevenly."
The 1968 Hong Kong flu was not the last influenza pandemic. Many will remember the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic that surfaced a little over a decade ago. According to the CDC:31
"In the spring of 2009, a novel influenza A (H1N1) virus emerged. It was detected first in the United States and spread quickly … From April 12, 2009 to April 10, 2010, CDC estimated there were 60.8 million cases, 274,304 hospitalizations, and 12,469 deaths in the United States."
Another recent pandemic was the HIV/AIDS outbreak, which exploded in the 1980s. According to the CDC:32
"First identified in 1981, AIDS destroys a person's immune system, resulting in eventual death by diseases that the body would usually fight off …
AIDS … is believed to have developed from a chimpanzee virus from West Africa in the 1920s … Treatments have been developed to slow the progress of the disease, but 35 million people worldwide have died of AIDS."
Then in 2003, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) erupted in China. According to the CDC, SARS:33
" … is believed to have possibly started with bats, spread to cats and then to humans in China, followed by 26 other countries, infecting 8,096 people, with 774 deaths. SARS is characterized by respiratory problems, dry cough, fever and head and body aches and is spread through respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes.
Quarantine efforts proved effective and … the virus was contained and hasn't reappeared since. China was criticized for trying to suppress information about the virus at the beginning of the outbreak."
According to research from the National Institutes of Health, the current coronavirus is a form of SARS but with greater communicability:34
"The results provide key information about the stability of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 disease, and suggests that people may acquire the virus through the air and after touching contaminated objects …
SARS-CoV-1 was eradicated by intensive contact tracing and case isolation measures and no cases have been detected since 2004 … In … [a] stability study the two viruses behaved similarly, which unfortunately fails to explain why COVID-19 has become a much larger outbreak."
From the original plague to the 1980s "plague" of AIDS, eventually the "codes" of the pathogens have been cracked and treatments and other measures, like increased sanitation and personal hygiene, found to end the pandemics — and history will likely continue to repeat itself.
This piece is our annual April Fool's article. Unfortunately, nearly everything in it is true. While Google is NOT releasing an app called "Corona Waze," the World Health Organization is indeed developing a COVID-19 app that has been described as "Waze for COVID-19."36
All other details are true, and describe a rapidly-approaching reality in which personal freedoms are decimated to "protect" us all from an infectious disease. To avoid this dystopian future, it is imperative that we fight to protect and preserve our right to privacy — be it medically related or not — both online and offline.
The new Google app "Corona Waze" asks users to "tag" individuals who sneeze, cough, are sweating or have a runny nose. You can also tag people who do not use soap or wash their hands for at least 20 seconds, or for other social distancing violations. People can also be tagged for not wearing gloves or masks, or hoarding toilet paper and cleaning supplies.
Facial recognition systems deployed through nationwide security cameras will be used to identify offenders who are not carrying cell phones while Google's Fitbit will automatically report unfavorable biometrics to alert emergency services. Google's Android phone camera will utilize thermographic temperature fluctuations while taking selfies or pictures of others to alert medical marshals of potential fevers.
Surveillance companies like Google have become essential tools to properly enforce pandemic protocols. An accelerated nationwide 5G rollout has been mandated to support biometric feedback sensors to instantly alert the medical establishment of potential threats to others.
Google's parent company, Alphabet, has partnered with the federal government's health department and launched an online portal for COVID-19 testing that will be under the auspices of Verily, its health care and life sciences arm.1
To apply for a test, you have to fill out a symptoms checklist and provide your travel history, health status and information about contact with individuals known to be infected. You must also provide a valid Google account2 — which requests a cellphone number as part of its account creation process — so your health data can be merged and you can be properly tracked through your cell phone.
For now, only those with high risk scores will be allowed to get tested.3 As reported by The Seattle Times:4
"The U.S. government is in active talks with Facebook, Google and a wide array of tech companies and health experts about how they can use location data gleaned from Americans' phones to combat the novel coronavirus, including tracking whether people are keeping one another at safe distances to stem the outbreak …
The early, unprecedented collaboration between Washington and Silicon Valley reflects the urgent, nationwide scramble to stop a deadly malady that has shuttered businesses, skewered the stock market, sent students home from school and now threatens to overwhelm the U.S. medical system with patients in need of critical care."
According to The Seattle Times,5 "dozens of engineers, executives and epidemiologists" are also urging Apple and Google to use their data-gathering expertise to "help doctors determine people who were in contact with a patient that later tested positive for coronavirus."
All of this will be rather easy with Verily's COVID-19 testing portal up and running, as having access to infection and health data, combined with the ability to track in great detail the exact whereabouts of a majority of Americans (anyone who uses the online portal).
As noted by Slate magazine, "Verily's portal may constitute the largest acquisition of U.S. health data by private companies to date." The Corona Waze will tie into and further add to all that data by relying on real-time reports from the real world. The future of infectious disease control will outweigh any potential privacy rights you may have thought existed.
The tracking system about to be launched in the U.S. is eerily similar to that already being used in China, where residents are required to enroll in a health condition registry.
Once enrolled, they get a personal QR code, which they must then enter in order to gain access to grocery stores and other facilities. As reported by Berggruen Institute in its March 6, 2020 article, "Tracking the Coronavirus Shows Health Will Trump Privacy":6
"'China has an edge in the ability to combine strong, top-down government directive with vibrant grassroots-level innovation,' says Shanghai-based management guru Edward Tse. 'Beyond this, China has an abundance of data to train AI-learning algorithms because of its huge population of internet users — more than 700 million.
China's thriving mobile internet ecosystem also provides a test bed for AI researchers to collect and analyze valuable demographics and transactional and behavioral big data and to conduct large-scale experiments at a much higher level than foreign counterparts' …
China's extant social monitoring systems complete the picture of what is possible … Ant Financial has developed software that color codes7,8 a person's infectious status in green (clean), yellow (caution, report to health authorities) and red (quarantine) based on responses to a questionnaire about your location, where you have been, who you have seen, if you have a cough, and so on."
On the face of it, the idea for Corona Waze appears to have been ripped straight from Ant Financial's pages. The article continues:9
"To anyone concerned with civil liberties, it is a bit scary that all this tracking information on people's location and movements is shared with the authorities and could well be used for other reasons of social control.
That is certainly an issue within the context of China's surveillance state. Yet those of us in the West should not be naïve that, when it comes to health issues, even open societies will invite these new surveillance technologies.
'The big battle in this regard in the 21st century will be between privacy and health. And health will win,' 'Homo Deus' author Yuval Harari told me in a conversation last year. 'Most people will be willing to give up their privacy in exchange for much better health care, based on 24-hour monitoring …"
In China, this monitoring includes the deployment of 5G-equipped, internet-of-things sensors that measure people's body temperature. "Anyone with a temperature above 37.3 degrees Celsius (99.14 F) could be ill," China Xinhua News says in a February 15, 2020 Twitter post, adding:10
"Check out this 5G robot that can now be found at many train stations and airports across China amid the coronavirus outbreak." Guess that means you can't run when you're late anymore, since physical exertion will raise your temperature, leading to quarantine.
The current coronavirus pandemic stands poised to dismantle personal privacy rights in a dramatic way. As reported by The New York Times, March 23, 2020:11
"In South Korea, government agencies are harnessing surveillance-camera footage, smartphone location data and credit card purchase records to help trace the recent movements of coronavirus patients and establish virus transmission chains.
In Lombardy, Italy, the authorities are analyzing location data transmitted by citizens' mobile phones to determine how many people are obeying a government lockdown order and the typical distances they move every day. About 40 percent are moving around "too much," an official recently said.
In Israel, the country's internal security agency is poised to start using a cache of mobile phone location data — originally intended for counterterrorism operations — to try to pinpoint citizens who may have been exposed to the virus.
As countries around the world race to contain the pandemic, many are deploying digital surveillance tools as a means to exert social control, even turning security agency technologies on their own civilians …
Yet ratcheting up surveillance to combat the pandemic now could permanently open the doors to more invasive forms of snooping later. It is a lesson Americans learned after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, civil liberties experts say.
Nearly two decades later, law enforcement agencies have access to higher-powered surveillance systems, like fine-grained location tracking and facial recognition — technologies that may be repurposed to further political agendas …
'We could so easily end up in a situation where we empower local, state or federal government to take measures in response to this pandemic that fundamentally change the scope of American civil rights,' said Albert Fox Cahn, the executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, a nonprofit organization in Manhattan."
Already, concerns about Google having access to people's health information through partnerships with hospitals have been raised.12 The problem isn't just that the monopoly will be able to know who's suffering from what ailment. It's that it makes its profits from selling that data to unscrupulous third parties, and takes no responsibility for how those third parties use that data. As noted in Slate magazine:13
"Neither Google nor Verily is a health care provider. They owe users none of the duties that doctors owe to patients, and federal privacy laws, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, do not apply.
That's a serious problem because companies can exploit people's data in surreptitious ways that violate their expectations and jeopardize their rights. Data might be shared with advertisers, sold to insurance companies, or used to calculate consumer credit scores that control access to resources."
The least harmful of these may appear to be advertisers, but while personalized targeted advertising is typically regarded as harmless, perhaps even desirable, the fact is that advertisers will be able to take advantage of people when they're at their weakest — when they're ill. This data can also be used by insurance companies and employers to secretly discriminate against individuals for any number of reasons.
That China's draconian tracking measures are headed west is also evidenced in a March 21, 2020, Politico article14 titled "DOJ Seeks New Emergency Powers Amid Coronavirus Epidemic." In a nutshell, the Justice Department is asking for the power to "detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies" — including health pandemics. Politico reports:15
"The request raised eyebrows because of its potential implications for habeas corpus — the constitutional right to appear before a judge after arrest and seek release. 'Not only would it be a violation of that, but it says 'affecting pre-arrest,'' said Norman L. Reimer, executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
'So that means you could be arrested and never brought before a judge until they decide that the emergency or the civil disobedience is over. I find it absolutely terrifying. Especially in a time of emergency, we should be very careful about granting new powers to the government.'
Reimer said the possibility of chief judges suspending all court rules during an emergency without a clear end in sight was deeply disturbing. 'That is something that should not happen in a democracy,' he said."
Evidence that we're moving into a new paradigm where personal freedom is obliterated is also presented in a March 19, 2020, Newspunch article,16 which notes: "The world as we know it will change forever in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Bill Gates, who declared that we will soon have 'digital certificates' to display our health and vaccination status."
Gates also says we need a national tracking system, and that positive tests for infectious disease must be publicly identifiable so that people will know to maintain social distance to infectious individuals. The digital certificate Gates refers to could be a tattoo made with invisible ink17,18 on a person's body, likely the forearm.
"The only catch is that you won't know exactly what is being put into your digital certificate. You also won't know who will have access to the data," Newspunch notes.19 "If history repeats, it will go from being technology adopted for its 'convenience and safety' and then overnight will become mandatory for you and your family — or else."
In the wake of the economic recession that began in 2008, researchers detected a "dramatic spike in suicides," Forbes20 and Science Daily21 reported in 2014. The findings were published in the British Journal of Psychiatry June 12, 2014.22
By comparing suicide data from years before 2007 with data from 2008 until 2010, they concluded the recession had caused more than 10,000 people across the U.S., Canada and Europe to commit suicide. As noted by the authors, "Job loss, debt and foreclosure increase risks of suicidal thinking."
In the first week starting March 16, 2020, 281,000 Americans filed initial unemployment claims at the highest increase since 1992, according to CNN Business.23 For the week of March 23, Goldman Sachs economists predict another 2.25 million will file for unemployment.24
March 23, U.S. News reported25 that "James Bullard, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis … believes unemployment could hit 30% during the second quarter of the year." That's an unemployment rate exceeding even that during the Great Depression, which peaked at 24.9% in 1933.26 It seems foolish to believe the U.S. (and indeed global) suicide rate is not going to skyrocket as a result.
Unemployment is predicted to reach over 30%, higher than the unemployment rates during the Great Depression that might result in a far greater loss of life than the virus ever could. Just 10 years ago, the World Health Organization came under great pressure for 'faking' a pandemic because of significant influence of the pharmaceutical companies.
The stock market has plunged and basic household necessities vanished from store shelves across the country, revealing a surprising shortage of toilet paper supply.
Naturally, every life has value and every death is tragic, but preventable medical errors kill more than 1,205 Americans PER DAY, or around 440,000 each year.
Opioid overdoses claim more than 130 people per day,30 and the pain reliever Vioxx — a single dangerous drug — killed about 60,000 patients in the five years it was on the market (1999 to 2004), as many as died in the Vietnam War, according to David Graham, associate director for science and medicine at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.31
Even if the coronavirus death toll mounts into the tens of thousands by the time all is said and done, it still doesn't compare to the death toll occurring from avoidable medical errors and frequently prescribed dangerous drugs, year in and year out.
Surely, if minimizing the annual death toll were a driving factor for radical government intervention, government and health officials would have acted to put a stop to these catastrophically high yet entirely preventable death tolls by now. Yet they never did, which suggests that minimizing mortality isn't really a determinant factor.
Why would several thousand deaths from a contagious disease be more important than the hundreds of thousands killed by government and Big Pharma every year? Why are they more important than the thousands that will commit suicide due to economic recession? It's not a matter of not caring about those who die. It's a question of why are some deaths perfectly acceptable and others justify complete removal of your rights & privacy?
If curtailing the number of deaths is not the determining factor driving this manufactured recession, then what is? Is it a test to see whether we will voluntarily surrender all of our last remaining freedoms in exchange for government, Big Pharma and the Big Tech Surveillance Capitalists "saving" us from one of many infectious diseases?
While this is our annual April Fool's edition, 99% of it is true. The only detail that is made up is the "Corona Waze" app by Google. The World Health Organization, however, is indeed developing an app that has been described as "Waze for COVID-19."32
It appears that app would primarily be concerned with disseminating timely information and updates about COVID-19 though, although some user interactivity might be possible. Aside from that detail, everything else is actually happening.
I strongly recommend you read our April Fool's predictions from 2015, "US Government Rolls Out Mandatory Adult Vaccination and Tracking Program," and 2019, "Federal Government Mandates Vaccine Reeducation Camps — The Dystopian Future Has Arrived," to see how they've held up.
Is the current pandemic just an opportunity for consolidation and control? Every decade or so, economic collapse, taxpayer bailouts and mass consolidation occurs. It took place in 1987, 1999, 2008 and, now, 2020.
Like a good gambler, the global elitists build economic confidence by letting someone win a few rounds with a growing stock market — then take it all away, primarily through 401k and other investment accounts.
The thing is, you need a fearful populace in order to be able to take rights and freedoms away. War no longer has the desired effect, so in more recent years, the focus seems to have shifted to viral pandemics where people have at least a little bit of personal skin in the game.
MERS, SARS, bird flu, swine flu, Ebola, Zika and, now, COVID-19 — each outbreak has brought us deeper into the controlled chaos that only fear and panic can provide — the kind of chaos that will require a total surrendering of personal rights to protect society at large; to protect ourselves from ourselves.
For those unfamiliar with Event 201, you can research this coincidental coronavirus pandemic exercise led by Bill Gates Foundation in October, 2019. The reality is the virus has been here with us for longer than we have been told, and this virus will move from northern to southern hemisphere and be a part of our regular 'cold and flu' season.
Censorship and controlled talking points are suddenly the norm. It started with banning online discussions about vaccine harms, and the same obnoxious justification — protecting public health — is now being used to censor information about coronavirus.33
Recently, Twitter has marked all Mercola.com links as 'Unsafe'. Increasingly, we're seeing more and more governments partnering to "fight misinformation." This, despite the fact that much of what's being censored is factual truth and published science. Government, Big Pharma and Big Tech are big enough to take everything you have to "give you everything you need." Or so they claim. Yet, none of them can actually help you, as an individual, from getting sick, or aid your recovery.
There are many questions worth asking at this time. If you can even temporarily suspend human rights, are there really any rights at all? If the common flu kills 40,000 people in the U.S. every year, as they claim, what will prevent every fall from requiring a pandemic emergency response? Is there ever an end?
Every time you use Google search, they are really searching you — mining and extracting everything about you to turn your day-to-day, minute-by-minute experiences into profitable assets. Current day surveillance tools are stealing the Human Experience itself.
Your face, facial expression, location, your health, your family, your private conversations, your internet browsing — even walking down the street — you're tracked and monitored through your electronic devices and facial recognition systems connected through cameras throughout the global grid.
Surveillance Monopolies have taken power by filling the voids left by the fear and panic in the world. At one time, these deceptive intrusions of privacy never would have been accepted. They are partners with global powers and governments, with nearly complete access to everything in your life.
Now, all face to face events and meetings have been essentially cancelled. All meetings and correspondences are communicated through 'the web'. Kids are working from home on their Google Chromebooks, which requires a Google Gmail account - how did we let this happen?
We are about to see the largest loss of jobs and destruction of small and medium businesses since the Great Recession of the 1930s. But while crashing stock markets may spell disaster for regular folk, you can be sure that "someone" is frantically buying up assets, now available for pennies to the dollar.
The consolidation of resources into the hands of the already unimaginably rich and powerful is happening right before our eyes, all while we're giving up everything — our assets, our livelihoods, our rights, our businesses, all while every single human experience is turned into data points for profit.
Artificial intelligence is looking into the eyes of you and your children, analyzing your emotions, tracking your heartbeat, steps, sleep patterns and an unknowable number of other daily data points in order to predict every single move you're about to make.
Children nowadays have no privacy to form an identity, no space to explore without being scrutinized physically, mentally and emotionally in order for every detail of their inner and outer lives to be sold to companies that have the tools to prey on their weaknesses and manipulate their thoughts and actions for profit.
Could artificial intelligence have predicted the scenario we currently find ourselves in? You bet. Could it have created it? Without a doubt. Will we ever know the truth about it? Probably not.
If you don't think artificial intelligence has the capacity to shepherd a global population into a panic, triggering a worldwide shutdown and subsequent reallocation of wealth, you really need to review "Harvard Professor Exposes Google and Facebook."
My interview with Robert Epstein, Ph.D., senior research psychologist for the American Institute of Behavioral Research and Technology is also highly instructive. For the past decade he has also helped expose Google's manipulative and deceptive practices. As noted by Russ Greene in his July 20, 2019, Medium article:34
"Three trends in health and fitness are converging, leading to an Orwellian future that few may anticipate: 1) The medicalization of daily life (food, movement, sleep, etc), 2) Wearable surveillance devices, 3) Government control of health care and its data.
In combination, these trends threaten values their proponents must hold dear and believe themselves to be protecting: an individual's dignity and right to a freely-chosen private life.
If "health care" include everyone's daily life activities, and health care monitors and controls those activities through wearable devices, and the federal government controls healthcare, then the federal government will monitor and control everyone's behavior at all times. No longer will we retain a sphere of private life separate from political control. The government will be in charge. In charge, that is, of everything."
We are beginning to see the clear partnership of surveillance and control, praying on fears to assume rights and property. Government agencies are working for global corporations, they know the biggest fear that sells is infectious disease. The CDC has gone so far as making the comparison of infectious disease to the Zombie apocalypse. I'll end here with a pertinent excerpt from Slate magazine:35
"Should we be willing to give up some privacy for the sake of public health? Of course. It is expected that some liberties may be curtailed during national emergencies … But we cannot allow companies to use our urgent need for testing, and the distraction provided by the pandemic, to extract more data than is necessary to promote public health.
Unless we act now, such systems will become normalized. It is urgent that we set clear limitations on how Google, Verily, and participating retailers can use COVID-19 screening data …
I offer the following recommendations. The companies facilitating COVID-19 testing must make their data use practices completely transparent. They should be developing safe and reliable public health infrastructure, not proprietary trade secrets. Verily should not require people to log in to a Google account or provide a phone number in order to be screened. This information is not essential for testing.
The screening portal should not collect device, location, or IP address data, and information collected must solely be used for screening and only be shared with public health officials. Under no circumstances should it be joined with data collected by Google's many other services or shared with business partners and sister companies.
Retailers offering drive-thru testing should suspend electronic surveillance including video, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and other technologies. In response to these suggestions, some might say it's rude to look a gift horse in the mouth.
Google and Verily are volunteering time and resources to combat a pandemic. But it is not too much to ask for a government-run system. Canada's Alberta Health Services offers a screening portal that requires no login or personal information.
In general, private companies should not perform functions that are best reserved for scientists and public health agencies. Since we are in dire need of COVID-19 screening, perhaps Google and Verily can play a role in providing it, but the loss of our privacy should not be the cost."
Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are some of the most harmful and underappreciated threats to your health these days. Chronic exposure has been linked to a number of serious consequences, including a heightened risk for heart problems such as arrhythmias, neurological problems such as depression, autism and Alzheimer's, and reproductive problems such as infertility, especially in men.
Recent research1 also reveals prenatal exposure to power-frequency fields can nearly triple a pregnant woman's risk of miscarriage.
Dr. De-Kun Li,2 a lead author and senior research scientist at Kaiser Permanente's research division, told Microwave News,3 "This study provides fresh evidence, directly from a human population, that magnetic field exposure in daily life could have adverse health impacts," adding his findings "should bring attention to this potentially important environmental hazard to pregnant women." According to Li, there are at least six other studies, in addition to two of his own, showing this link.
While such evidence is unlikely to put an end to the ongoing controversy over EMF exposure, Li's research was praised by Dr. Anthony B. Miller,4 Professor Emeritus of epidemiology at the University of Toronto, who called the study "important" and "well-conducted" in an interview with Microwave News.
Even David Savitz, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology at Brown University School of Public Health,5 who remains critical of the study's findings, conceded to the publication that it's "a very nicely designed study."6
During Li's 2017 study,7 the team sought to estimate pregnant women's exposure to EMFs as accurately as possible, based on exposures encountered during a typical day. Data from 913 pregnant women were included. Magnetic fields were measured with a meter registering fields from 40 hertz (Hz) up to 1,000 Hz. The health risks were then evaluated based on peak exposures, opposed to averages over a 24-hour period (which has so far been the norm).
In the end, the researchers determined that women exposed to magnetic fields greater than 2.5 milligauss (mG) or 0.25 microtesla (uT) on a typical day were 2.72 times more likely to suffer a miscarriage compared to those whose peak exposure was below 2.5 mG. Women with peak exposures above 2.5 mG had a miscarriage rate of 24.2%, while the control group (which had exposures below 2.5 mG) had a miscarriage rate of just 10.4%.
In 1998 — the most recent data available — an estimated 26% of the U.S. population was exposed to magnetic fields above 4 mG for more than one hour a day.8 Li did not find a dose-response in his study, however. He postulates the absence of a dose-response may be attributed to a threshold effect, meaning just about any exposure above 2.5 mG — be it just slightly over, double, or more — confers the same level or risk.
The team also found the risk of miscarriage was independent of the actual source of the magnetic fields. In other words, whether the exposure came from household appliances or nearby powerlines, the risk was the same. A 2002 study by Li showed that women with a max peak exposure of 16 mG or higher within a 24-hour period could have anywhere from two to six times the risk of miscarriage.9
At the time, he noted that "The association was stronger for early miscarriage (<10 weeks of gestation) and among 'susceptible' women with multiple prior fetal losses or subfertility." In an effort to obtain a more stable measurement this time around, Li did not use the absolute maximum reading for the day but rather the 99th percentile, defined as the highest level of exposure sustained in a 24-hour period.
In addition to his own studies, Li also cites six other studies showing a link between magnetic field exposure and a heightened risk of miscarriage. These include:
In related news,15 the California department of public health (CDPH) issued a warning16 about EMF exposure in mid-December of 2017, urging people to decrease use of wireless devices and keep them as far away from your body as possible to minimize exposure.
Former CDPH director Dr. Karen Smith is quoted saying, "Although the science is still evolving, there are concerns among some public health professionals and members of the public regarding long-term, high use exposure to the energy emitted by cellphones."
The public announcement appears to be the result of a 2016 lawsuit filed by Joel Moskowitz, director of the Center for Family and Community Health at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health, who sued the CDPH for suppressing the release of its 2010 guidance document on the health effects of cellphone radiation.
The CDPH argued that releasing the document might cause confusion and undue alarm. They even claimed that as "a portion of the public," the wireless industry and cellphone manufacturers would "likely have no interest in the dissemination of [a] cellphone guidance document."17
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang overruled most of the CDPH objections,18 ultimately directing the agency to release the document,19 which notes that studies have linked long-term, high use of cellphones to health problems such as:
Moskowitz told KCRA News, "The cellphone manufacturers want you to keep a minimum distance away from your body and you should find out what that distance is. If you keep the device by your body you will exceed the safety limits provided by the FCC [Federal Communications Commission]."20 To minimize exposure to cellphone radiation, the CDPH guidance document recommends:
EMFs have been shown to cause harm through a number of different mechanisms. As explained by Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, one of my long-time mentors and founder of the Sophia Health Institute,21 the radiation affects your microbiome, turning what might otherwise be beneficial microbes pathogenic. Research by Martin Pall also shows that microwave radiation activates your voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) — channels in the outer membrane of your cells.
Once activated, the VGCCs open up, allowing an abnormal influx of calcium ions into the cell. This increased intracellular calcium and the accompanying increase in calcium signaling appears to be responsible for a majority of the damage that occurs. For more details on this, please see my previous interview with Pall.
For this reason, natural calcium channel blockers such as magnesium can be helpful against EMF exposure, and it's important to make sure you're not magnesium deficient. Magnesium threonate appears particularly beneficial, because in addition to acting as a natural calcium channel blocker it also acts as a potent anti-retroviral agent. Klinghardt combines it with 12X calcium phosphate (calcium phosphoric), a homeopathic that helps modulate the calcium channels.
According to recent research, sperm concentration and quality has dramatically declined in the past few decades. One meta-analysis22 of 185 studies, the largest of its kind, showed sperm counts around the world declined by 50% to 60% between 1973 and 2011, with no signs of reversing or even slowing down. Lead author Dr. Hagai Levine, who called the results "profound" and "shocking,"23 believes human extinction is a real possibility, should the trend continue unabated.24
Testicular cancer is also on the rise. While endocrine disrupting chemicals are suspected as being the primary culprits, EMF exposure may also play a significant role in both testicular cancer and male infertility.
In May 2011, the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, classified radiofrequency EMF — such as the radiation from cellphones — a class 2B carcinogen, meaning it is possibly carcinogenic to humans.25
When a man places a cellphone in his front pocket or a laptop in his lap, he's radiating his testes, which — along with your brain and the pacemaker in your heart — have the highest density of VGCCs. What this suggests is that excessive EMF exposure can be a direct contributor to conditions such as Alzheimer's, anxiety, depression, autism, cardiac arrhythmias and infertility.
Other studies have linked low-level electromagnetic radiation exposure from cellphones to an 8.1% reduction in sperm motility and a 9.1% reduction in sperm viability.26,27
Wi-Fi equipped laptop computers have also been linked to decreased sperm motility and an increase in sperm DNA fragmentation after just four hours of use.28 So, if you care about your reproductive health, avoid carrying your cellphone in your pockets or on your hip, and avoid using portable computers and tablets on your lap.
Prenatal EMF exposure may also raise a woman's risk of having an autistic child. In 2012, Klinghardt conducted a pilot study in which he evaluated the EMF present in the bedroom where the mother slept during pregnancy. It turned out the average exposure of an autistic child to high frequency EMFs from household currents and microwaves from cellphones and other wireless technologies was twentyfold higher than that of the nonautistic children.
Unfortunately, the study never made it into publication, but it convinced him that EMFs were an unacknowledged factor that contributes to autism. Other research has also shown that microwave radiation from cellphones, Wi-Fi routers and similar devices concentrate twentyfold in the womb, meaning whatever the reading is outside the womb, the measurement will be 20 times higher inside the mother.
As noted by Klinghardt in my 2017 article, "Unfortunately, the membranes around the womb have that strange effect in significantly concentrating the ambient EMFs that the mother is in, reaching levels that are not sustainable for human development."
There's no doubt in my mind that EMF exposure is a significant health hazard that needs to be addressed if you're concerned about your health. You can read about many ideas for shielding yourself in my article, "The No. 1 Thing to Do to Protect Yourself From EMFs," plus, here are several suggestions that will help reduce your EMF exposure:
Connect your desktop computer to the internet via a wired Ethernet connection and be sure to put your desktop in airplane mode. Also avoid wireless keyboards, trackballs, mice, game systems, printers and portable house phones. Opt for the wired versions.
If you must use Wi-Fi, shut it off when not in use, especially at night when you are sleeping. Ideally, work toward hardwiring your house so you can eliminate Wi-Fi altogether. If you have a notebook without any Ethernet ports, a USB Ethernet adapter will allow you to connect to the internet with a wired connection.
Shut off the electricity to your bedroom at night. This typically works to reduce electrical fields from the wires in your wall unless there is an adjoining room next to your bedroom. If that is the case you will need to use a meter to determine if you also need to turn off power in the adjacent room.
Use a battery-powered alarm clock, ideally one without any light. I use a talking clock for the visually impaired.29
If you still use a microwave oven, consider replacing it with a steam convection oven, which will heat your food as quickly and far more safely.
Avoid using "smart" appliances and thermostats that depend on wireless signaling. This would include all new "smart" TVs. They are called smart because they emit a Wi-Fi signal, and unlike your computer, you cannot shut the Wi-Fi signal off. Consider using a large computer monitor as your TV instead, as they don't emit Wi-Fi.
Refuse smart meters as long as you can, or add a radiation shield to an existing smart meter.
Consider moving your baby's bed into your room instead of using a wireless baby monitor. Alternatively, use a hard-wired monitor.
Replace CFL bulbs with incandescent bulbs. Ideally remove all fluorescent lights from your house. Not only do they emit unhealthy light, but more importantly, they will actually transfer current to your body just being close to the bulbs.
Avoid carrying your cellphone on your body unless in airplane mode and never sleep with it in your bedroom unless it is in airplane mode. Even in airplane mode it can emit signals, which is why I put my phone in a Faraday bag.30
When using your cellphone, use the speaker phone and hold the phone at least 3 feet away from you. Seek to radically decrease your time on the cellphone. I typically use my cellphone less than 30 minutes a month, and mostly when traveling. Instead, use VoIP software phones that you can use while connected to the internet via a wired connection.
My new book, "EMF*D," is the result of years of research and interviews with experts on this topic. It not only tells you more about electromagnetic fields than what you've heard anywhere else, but gives you lots of good ideas on how to protect yourself before it's too late. In it you'll learn:
I've written this book because I knew I had to help prepare as many people as I could for the oncoming, exponential unleashing of EMFs from not only 5G but also the countless new wireless devices coming onto the market.
You need strategies to protect your body from the threat of wireless technologies and dirty electricity from the inside out, as well as ways to reduce exposure and the damage it may cause, and my book, "EMF*D," can give you the tools you need to protect yourself.
If you’ve been following the news about the novel coronavirus COVID-19 (sometimes also referred to as SARS-CoV-2, due to its similarities to SARS), you’ve probably seen articles offering conflicting information about the use of ibuprofen.1
Some say taking ibuprofen may aggravate COVID-19 infection while others say there’s no such risk. For example, March 18, 2020, CNN reported2 the health minister of France, Oliver Veran, is warning against using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen to treat fever and pain associated with COVID-19 infection, and to use acetaminophen (paracetamol) instead.
According to CNN, Veran’s recommendation “was criticized by some health experts, who cited the lack of publicly available evidence.” Tarik Jašarević, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization, told CNN3 they are looking into the matter, but that a cursory review of the literature has failed to produce any clinical or population-based data to support Veran’s recommendation.
Similarly, the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told NBC News4 that “more research is needed to evaluate reports that ibruprofen may affect the course of COVID-19,” and that there’s "no evidence that ibuprofen increases the risk of serious complications or of acquiring the virus that causes COVID-19."
The European Medicines Agency has issued a nearly identical statement.5 However, the agency also points out that it began its review of in 2019 after the French National Agency for Medicines and Health Products Safety reported6 that these medicines appear to worsen chickenpox (varicella) infection and some bacterial infections.
The French health ministry is sticking to its recommendation to avoid ibuprofen, however, saying "grave adverse effects" have been identified in patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection treated with NSAIDs.7
In its latest COVID-19 treatment guidelines,8 dated March 14, 2020, the ministry stressed that “the treatment of a fever or of pain linked to COVID-19 or to any other respiratory viral disease should be paracetamol,” not to exceed 60 milligrams (mg) per kilo per day, or 3 grams per day.
While some mainstream news outlets are dismissing the recommendation to avoid ibuprofen as an unsubstantiated “internet rumor” that has no scientific basis, it seems foolhardy to dismiss it out of hand.
First of all, if French health authorities say giving NSAIDs to infected patients is having adverse effects, perhaps we would be wise to listen? After all, clinical research takes time, so paying attention to anecdotal findings from the field may be worthwhile, at least until the research catches up.
Like me, the British National Health Service appears willing to err on the side of caution. In a March 18, 2020, tweet, the NHS stated:9 “There is no strong evidence that ibuprofen can make coronavirus worse. But until we have more info, take paracetamol to treat the symptoms of coronavirus, unless your doctor has told you paracetamol is not suitable for you.”
In the MedCram video above, Dr. Roger Seheult, reviews some of the benefits and drawbacks of NSAIDs. For example, while they’ve been shown to inhibit viral replication, which is good, they also halt antibody production, which is bad when you’re fighting a highly virulent virus. He also discusses compelling data suggesting the advertising for and widespread use of high doses of aspirin during the 1918 influenza pandemic coincided with the spike in deaths in October 1918.
Another source that has added fuel to the debate is the letter10 “Are Patients With Hypertension and Diabetes Mellitus at Increased Risk for COVID-19 Infection?” published in The Lancet Respiratory Diseases March 11, 2020.
The letter points out that the most prevalent comorbidities among patients with severe COVID-19 infection, and patients who have died from the infection, are high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular disease.
A commonality among all of these conditions is that they’re all frequently treated with angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors — drugs that relax and dilate your blood vessels. Unfortunately, none of the three studies that have looked at comorbidities in COVID-19 cases has included data on the drug treatments patients were on for those comorbidities.
Speaking of comorbidities, a March 17, 2020, report11,12 by the Italian Instituto Superiore Di Sanita points out that more than 99% of those who have died from COVID-19 in Italy had previous medical conditions. This should not necessarily surprise us, considering a majority of deaths occurred in people over the age of 80.
The average infection age in Italy is 63. About half of those who died had three or more previous medical conditions, while the other half had either one or two. Of the 2,003 deaths reported, only three had no previous medical history.
Now, there’s also an entirely different reason for avoiding NSAIDs — as well as other antipyretics (fever reducers) — when you have a fever, and that has to do with the fact that fever is part of your body’s immune response; it’s how your body kills pathogens.
This is one of the reasons why I strongly encourage the use of sauna, as regularly increasing your core body temperature will help prevent infections.
The rise in core body temperature allows your white blood cells to more efficiently identify and kill virus-infected cells. Taking an over-the-counter fever reducer will interfere with this crucial process, and could potentially allow the infection to run on longer, causing more damage in the process.
A number of studies have looked at this issue, coming to the conclusion that treating fever can prolong and exacerbate illness. A better alternative — provided your temperature does not get dangerously high — is to get plenty of bedrest, drink lots of fluids and simply “sweat it out.” As noted in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ policy paper “Fever and Antipyretic Use in Children”:17
“Many parents administer antipyretics even when there is minimal or no fever, because they are concerned that the child must maintain a ‘normal’ temperature. Fever, however, is not the primary illness but is a physiologic mechanism that has beneficial effects in fighting infection.
There is no evidence that fever itself worsens the course of an illness or that it causes long-term neurologic complications. Thus, the primary goal of treating the febrile child should be to improve the child's overall comfort rather than focus on the normalization of body temperature.”
One randomized, controlled trial18 published in 2005 found critically ill patients given acetaminophen and cooling blankets when their fever went above 38.5 degrees C (101.3 degrees F) suffered far more infections and had a higher mortality rate than those who received no treatment until or unless their fever reached 40 degrees C (104 degrees F). As reported by the authors:
“Forty-four patients were randomized to the aggressive group and 38 patients were randomized to the permissive group … There were 131 infections in the aggressive group and 85 infections in the permissive group.
There were seven deaths in the aggressive group and only one death in the permissive group. The study was stopped after the first interim analysis due to the mortality difference, related to the issues of waiver of consent and the mandate for minimal risk. Conclusions: Aggressively treating fever in critically ill patients may lead to a higher mortality rate.”
Here’s another quote from a 2002 paper, “Fever: Beneficial and Detrimental Effects of Antipyretics,” published in Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases:19
“Considerable data suggest that fever has a beneficial effect on the outcome of many, although not all, infections.
For example, a survey of patients with community-acquired pneumonia showed that those with temperatures above 37.8 degrees C and a leukocyte count above 10 000 cells/mm had a 4% mortality rate, which compares with a mortality rate of 29% for patients with neither fever nor leukocytosis.
Improved survival has also been shown in febrile patients with Escherichia coli bacteremia and Pseudomonas aeruginosa sepsis relative to afebrile patients … Numerous animal studies have shown an inverse correlation between mortality and temperature during serious infection.
In one such experiment, the survival rate increased from 0% to 50% in mice with Klebsiella pneumoniae peritonitis when their temperatures were raised artificially from normal to febrile levels.”
Heat shock proteins are increased with sauna use. The study “Fever: Beneficial and Detrimental Effects of Antipyretics” also addresses the use of antipyretics in sepsis, saying:20
“Many people believe that fever potentiates tissue injury during sepsis and should, therefore, be suppressed. In fact, encouraging results obtained in animal models have raised hopes that antipyretic therapy can be used to improve outcomes in patients with sepsis.
However, to date, only one randomized clinical trial has studied this question in humans. It found that ibuprofen did not improve survival in patients with sepsis, even though the drug did have a salutary effect on core temperature and metabolic rate.
Recent data demonstrating fever-induced expression of several heat-shock proteins protective against oxidative injury raise the concern that, by suppressing the expression of such proteins, antipyretic therapy might actually potentiate the adverse effects of sepsis in some situations.”
That last sentence is applicable to the current discussion about ibuprofen in COVID-19 treatment as well. As detailed in “High Heat May Kill the Coronavirus,” when your core body temperature is raised — be it due to a fever or from sitting in a sauna — heat shock proteins are activated, which actually suppresses viral replication.21,22
As noted in the “Fever: Beneficial and Detrimental Effects of Antipyretics” quote above, heat-shock proteins also protect against the oxidative injury that occurs in sepsis.
Considering COVID-19 is a viral infection that in severe cases can trigger a cytokine storm — the same thing that happens in sepsis — it seems reasonable to be at least a little bit cautious about using ibuprofen to lower a COVID-19-related fever.
The outbreak of the most recent iteration of coronavirus — COVID-19 — has experts scrambling to find effective methods of delivering supportive care and minimizing the effect of the illness. As Dr. Roger Seheult, co-founder of MedCram.com, explains in this short video, several factors have been responsible for the rapid spread.
One of the drugs currently under investigation is chloroquine, a treatment commonly used to keep malaria in check. Chloroquine is a synthetic derivative of quinine, which was once the only treatment for malaria. However, quinine is bitter and has significant side effects.1
Legend has it that to make it easier to drink, the British living in India mixed it with gin and lemon or lime.2 The British colonials grew to enjoy the taste, and soon afterward tonic water was granted a patent in 1858. Schweppes introduced tonic water in the U.S. nearly 100 years later and the gin and tonic has remained an integral part of British and American history.
However, while tonic water is flavored with quinine, it doesn't contain nearly as much as the medicine. Tonic water contains no more than 83 milligrams per 1-liter bottle (33.8 ounces), but the therapeutic dose of quinine is 500 mg to 1,000 mg.3
In remarks in a press briefing,4 President Trump said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved use of the malaria drug chloroquine — which is not the same as quinine — to treat coronavirus. However, on the same day the FDA5 released a statement saying they were only “investigating” the drug “to determine whether it can be used to treat patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19.”
“Studies are underway to determine the efficacy in using chloroquine to treat COVID-19,” the statement continued, with FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn adding:
“At the same time, we will engage with domestic manufacturers to ramp up production of this product to mitigate any potential supply chain pressures. If clinical data suggests this product may be promising in treating COVID-19, we know there will be increased demand for it. We will take all steps to ensure chloroquine remains available for patients who take it to treat severe and life-threatening illnesses such as lupus.”
However, as one blogger website pointed out, “MDs can prescribe chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for Covid 19 right now. The FDA doesn’t and can’t regulate off-label prescriptions.”6 And, apparently, many doctors not only know that, but are taking advantage of that loophole, according to The New York Times:7
"None of the drugs have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for that use. Some of them — including chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine — are commonly used to treat malaria, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions …
‘I have multiple prescribers calling in prescriptions for Plaquenil for themselves and their family members as a precaution. Is this ethical?' one person wrote on Sunday in a Facebook group for pharmacists, referring to a brand name of hydroxychloroquine.”
Out of concern that doctors not only might be jumping the gun on whether the malaria drugs actually work for COVID-19, but also are denying patients who actually need it for chronic conditions like lupus and arthritis, state pharmacy boards are urging their members to restrict prescriptions for the drugs. Besides, these drugs also can have serious side effects, NPR notes:8
"Our members are definitely seeing more demand for this medication and possibly some people trying to hoard the medication," says Todd Brown, executive director of the Massachusetts Independent Pharmacists Association … Pharmacists are seeing an increase in requests and prescriptions for them in instances where it's not clear why the patient needs it at this time’ …
Brown is suggesting that pharmacists restrict prescription quantities and fill prescriptions only for patients with an active need for hydroxychloroquine … Michael Barnett, a primary care physician and assistant professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, says that even if the drug turns out, from the clinical studies now in progress, to be effective against COVID-19, it must be saved for those most in need.
Barnett is sympathetic [to those who want to try everything they can to cure COVID-19], but he points out that this powerful medicine has serious side effects, so it should not be taken unless there's a known benefit.”
On a bizarre side note, another consumer warning made headlines after a husband and wife in their 60s decided to self-medicate with an aquarium cleaner that has a different form of chloroquine in it. Both were hospitalized within 30 minutes of ingesting the toxic substance, The Sacramento Bee reported;9 the husband later died.
The fish tank cleaner “has the same active ingredient as the drug chloroquine phosphate, which is used to treat malaria, but is formulated differently,” the medical director from a local poison control center explained. Unfortunately, at least three others made the same mistake in Nigeria, so it’s important to remember that you should not take any drug without your physician’s express direction.
Historically, there is strong evidence that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are effective in the lab against the SARS coronavirus that appeared in 2003.10,11,12 Laboratory testing also reveals chloroquine is effective in cell cultures against COVID-19 when combined with an antiviral drug, remdesivir.13 Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) uses the same pathway as chloroquine, but with a safer side effect profile.14
These and other results have prompted scientists to call for further research into the use of the antimalarial drugs to stem the tide of COVID-19 infection.15 Recently, results of a very small clinical trial using Plaquenil alone for the infection have been announced in China, but access to the data was not initially released to other scientists for review,16 and then when it was the data showed very little difference between the drug and the control group.17
Similar studies have been ongoing for several years. For example, in 2009,18 one study evaluated the use of chloroquine in human coronavirus subtype OC43, known to cause severe lower lung infections.19 The researchers used an animal model and found pretreatment demonstrated the drug was highly effective against this subtype. Interest in antimalarial drugs highlights a unique distribution of the virus.
As noted in a preliminary paper currently undergoing peer-review, “Global Spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 and Malaria: An Epidemiological Paradox”:20
“From the analysis of distribution data, the endemic presence of malaria seems to protect some populations from COVID-19 outbreak, particularly in the least developed countries. Of note, the mechanism of action of some antimalarial drugs (e.g. antiviral function) suggests their potential role in the chemoprophylaxis of the epidemic.”
Malaria is caused by a parasite passed to humans by infected Anopheles mosquitoes. The World Health Organization’s African region21 experiences a large proportion of the burden, with 93% of all cases worldwide and 94% of deaths related to malaria.
When you consult the Johns Hopkins Medicine’s22 user-friendly, interactive map to track the outbreak worldwide, it’s apparent the only other large land mass with fewer cases than Africa is Russia23 — which is indeed intriguing, if nothing else.
In light of past results and current data, one clinical trial24 underway is enrolling 1,000 workers who have a higher potential to become infected based on their exposure. The University of Oxford is beginning the trial in May 2020 and anticipates closing it in May 2022.
The researchers are using a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study design to evaluate the use of chloroquine versus a placebo taken over three months or until they are diagnosed with COVID-19. The researchers are measuring the severity of respiratory illness and clinical outcomes.
One recently released study had encouraging results using hydroxychloroquine.25 Infection control specialist Dr. Didier Raoult from France enrolled 24 patients who had confirmed COVID-19. The patients received 600 mg of hydroxychloroquine each day and their viral load was monitored in a hospital setting.
Depending upon the clinical presentation, researchers added azithromycin to the treatment protocol. Patients from another hospital who refused the protocol were used as a negative control. The scientists concluded that despite the small sample size, the survey “shows that hydroxychloroquine treatment is significantly associated with viral load reduction/disappearance in COVID-19 patients and its effect is reinforced by azithromycin.”
Another physician shared his positive results using a similar protocol with a small group of patients.26 Dr. Vladimir Zelenko treats a close knit Jewish population of 35,000 in Kiryas Joel, Monroe, New York. Zelenko posted a video of himself addressing Trump about the treatment he’d developed, and asked Trump to use it nationwide.
He told radio host Sean Hannity that he’d had 100% success rate with patients by using hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin and zinc sulfate for five days. “I’ve seen remarkable results; it really prevents progression of disease, and patients get better,” he said.
In response, county health officials said it was “unsubstantiated” and “highly irresponsible” for Zelenko to apply his patients’ outcomes to the entire community, and urged residents to listen to public health officials and continue with recommended social distancing and other prevention methods.27
Chloroquine raises the pH of vesicles in the cells that are hijacked by the virus. The normally slightly acidic environment facilitates the viral infection. Jeremy Rossman at the University of Kent expects positive lab results, but notes28 “there’s often a huge gap between how it works in the lab cells and how it works in the body.” One gap includes the potentially deadly side effects.
While results are hopeful, it is important to note, as Seheult points out, both drugs have the side effect of elongating your QT wave in an electrocardiogram. This means the electrical activity in the heart is altered. The most common symptoms of the condition are seizure, fainting and sudden death.29
These side effects are not minimal. Just two days after China issued a treatment guideline to use chloroquine, it sent a warning to closely monitor adverse side effects and limit use to those without heart, liver or kidney disease and those who are not taking antibiotics such as azithromycin or prescribed steroids.30
Although malaria and coronavirus don’t appear to have much in common, the drug is effective against malaria and may reduce the symptoms of coronavirus. Seheult explains a potential mechanism:31
“When the coronavirus infects your cell it's going to dump into your cell a messenger RNA that's going to be translated using ribosomes. Those ribosomes, the first thing they are going to do is translate that RNA molecule into a protein called RNA dependent RNA polymerase, or replicase. And, it is this enzyme that is … inhibited by high intracellular concentrations of zinc.
Well, as it turns out, chloroquine is a zinc ionophore, as is hydroxychloroquine. Zinc ionophore is just basically a protein or a gate that allows zinc to come into the cells. We don't know if that is the actual way it is working in this case, but it does seem to lend credence to the mechanism of action that zinc does inhibit replicase and that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine increase the intracellular concentration of zinc.”
Evidence shows zinc gluconate and zinc acetate effectively reduce the severity and duration of viral infections. Zinc is crucial to the effectiveness of your immune system, enzyme function, protein synthesis and cell division. Studies demonstrate using zinc lozenges reduces the duration of a cold by 33% and lessens the severity of your symptoms.32
Zinc is a necessary component of zinc finger antiviral proteins shown to33 "inhibit the replication of certain viruses by repressing the translation and promoting the degradation of the viral mRNAs." This activity demonstrates a similar inhibition against influenza A virus.34
However, not all zinc products yield the same results. When the lozenge contains more than zinc, it may interfere with the process. Multiple ingredients have a way of interacting with each other, even when they are safe and effective when used on their own.
For instance, there is evidence citric acid, mannitol and sorbitol bind with zinc and reduce your absorption. For more on how to use zinc during a cold or flu see "When Should You Take Zinc to Shorten Your Cold?"
Currently embroiled in litigation35,36 over the manufacture and distribution of their herbicide Roundup, Bayer announced it would donate 3 million tablets of chloroquine phosphate (Resochin), a drug the company discovered in 1934.37
Resochin is used for malaria prevention and treatment in Europe38 but hasn’t been approved for use by the FDA. This donation to the medical effort to diminish the effects of COVID-19 may offer Bayer a path to drug approval in the U.S.
However, while the offer has garnered media attention and the company may hope it softens public opinion, the drug is chloroquine-based, as opposed to the current FDA approved drug Plaquenil,39 which uses the better tolerated hydroxychloroquine.
In the featured video, Seheult describes the results of a study published in Science in March 2020.40 The researchers used a mathematical model to determine how the disease spread before and after the travel ban in China went into effect January 23, 2020.
They found 86% of people were undiagnosed on that date, which means they didn't get tested for the virus, so they didn't know they had it. The authors of the study point out that those who are undiagnosed often have mild or no symptoms of a viral infection and thus are unaware of the need to be tested.
The mathematical model used in the study revealed these undocumented cases were responsible for 79% of all documented cases in China. This meant if the undocumented cases of COVID-19 had been identified, the number of known infections would have dropped by 79%, and as Seheult describes, the number infected in Wuhan would have dropped by 66%.
According to the researchers, those who were undiagnosed, with mild to no symptoms, were 55% as contagious as those with symptoms. However, the sheer number of undiagnosed cases contributed to the rapid spread of the virus through China. The researchers wrote:41
“Our findings also indicate that a radical increase in the identification and isolation of currently undocumented infections would be needed to fully control SARS-CoV2. Increased news coverage and awareness of the virus in the general population have already likely prompted increased rates of seeking medical care for respiratory symptoms.”
As the researchers point out, it takes a combination of identification using thorough testing strategies and subsequent isolation of those who have the virus to fully contain and control the spread.
However, while public knowledge of the first cases in China occurred on December 31, 2019,42 it wasn’t until February 3, 2020, that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention43 announced the development of a laboratory test kit available in the U.S.
Once the genetic sequence was available for COVID-19 in January, German researchers quickly developed a PCR test for the virus. The New York Times44 reported the initial test kits developed by the CDC were flawed and testing snafus were the result of policy makers, not science. The Verge reported:45
“That test became the basis for the World Health Organization’s (WHO) test used in countries around the world, including South Korea, but which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declined to use.
PCR tests are, in theory, fairly simple to create: scientists pick snippets of the virus’s gene and use a series of chemicals to look for that gene snippet in the sample. If they find the snippet, it means the patient has the virus.”
South Korea is one country that took rapid action on two fronts. As Seheult mentions at the end of the video, the country began using the antimalarial drug early. Data collected by Johns Hopkins Medicine46 show that while South Korea is in the top 10 countries with the virus, the number who have died are near the numbers commonly attributed to flu — 1.16% as of March 22, 2020.
As Science Magazine reports,47 all of this has been accomplished without massive citywide lockdowns. Instead, the country instituted necessary populationwide testing with extensive efforts to trace contacts so those carrying the virus or who had been exposed were quarantined to isolate the virus.
In all, by March 17, 2020, South Korea had "tested more than 270,000 people, which amounts to more than 5,200 tests per million inhabitants … The United States [had] so far carried out 74 tests per 1 million inhabitants, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show."48
In Italy the spread of the virus had different results. The reports of illness and death have shocked the world, driving fear that the same infection rate and mortality will spread worldwide. However, it’s important to note that situations between countries differ. Where South Korea began volume testing to isolate asymptomatic people and treatment in January, Italy struggled with political arguments.49
One Italian town undertook populationwide testing and has reportedly been able to contain the outbreak in their town. These results underscore the recommendations of researchers to identify and isolate those infected. A professor of clinical immunology at the University of Florence commented in a letter to authorities:50
“The percentage of infected people, even if asymptomatic, in the population is very high. The isolation of asymptomatics is essential to be able to control the spread of the virus and the severity of the disease.”
The second part of the equation in Italy is related to the higher rate of death than most other countries. This increased rate has also been identified during flu season,51 as Italy’s mortality attributed to the flu is higher than other European countries, especially in the senior population.
Wired52 reveals 23% of the Italian population are seniors, as compared to 16% in the U.S. Italian young people also tend to maintain close relationships with the elderly, increasing the risk that an asymptomatic young person could spread the virus to a senior. The scientists involved in the recent research evaluating the spread of the virus concluded:53
“The 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza virus also caused many mild cases, quickly spread globally, and eventually became endemic. Presently, there are four, endemic, coronavirus strains currently circulating in human populations (229E, HKU1, NL63, OC43). If the novel coronavirus follows the pattern of 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza, it will also spread globally and become a fifth endemic coronavirus within the human population.”
As this story unfolds, I am committed to bringing you viable prevention and treatment options you can use at home. A recently published article54 by Mark McCarty and James DiNicolantonio, PharmD, proposes there are nutraceuticals that may help reduce symptoms and severity of influenza and coronaviruses.55 According to the authors, these viruses:
"… cause an inflammatory storm in the lungs and it is this inflammatory storm that leads to acute respiratory distress, organ failure, and death. Certain nutraceuticals may help to reduce the inflammation in the lungs from RNA viruses and others may also help boost type 1 interferon response to these viruses, which is the body's primary way to help create antiviral antibodies to fight off viral infections."
From the conclusions of several randomized clinical studies, DiNicolantonio and McCarty believe the antiviral effects of some nutraceuticals are quite clear, and hope these benefits will encourage further research to test this strategy.
You'll discover how some cost-effective supplements may reduce the severity and duration of your symptoms of colds, flu or COVID-19 in "Quercetin and Vitamin D — Allies Against Coronavirus?"
Remember to stay away from others when you are sick to avoid spreading any virus you may be carrying, and to seek medical attention as you would if you were sick with a bad flu. Difficulty breathing is a clear indicator that medical attention may be required. This is particularly true if you are pregnant, have a weakened immune system or a chronic medical condition that may place you in a higher risk category for severe COVID-19 infection.56
1 Which of the following is currently the most effective way to protect yourself against coronavirus and prevent its spread?
2 The nationwide federally funded Electronic Health Records system captures the details of all your health care visits, medical diagnoses, drug prescriptions and vaccine records, and can be accessed by:
3 Which of the following disinfectants is thought to be the most effective against viral contaminants?
4 To dampen the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), governments around the world are recommending:
5 Which of the following strategies may be helpful in reducing your risk of coronavirus infection?
6 The data collected about you by Google, Facebook and other multinational tech companies is:
7 Which of the following strategies has been shown to effectively boost immune function and/or kill viruses outright, thus lowering your risk of infection such as COVID-19?
Until a few years ago, research had pointed to resveratrol's neuroprotective effects against Alzheimer's, but not against other types of dementia. However, a Chinese study with rats in 2013 found that resveratrol may also lower the risk for vascular dementia.1
Other studies since then not only support this research,2 but show that resveratrol also activates autophagy and inhibits neuronal apoptosis, and works to improve cognitive function.3 Even more promising, a human study just published in March 20204 showed that "regular consumption of resveratrol can enhance cognitive and cerebrovascular functions in postmenopausal women, with the potential to slow cognitive decline due to ageing and menopause."
Resveratrol is a natural phytoestrogen and antioxidant probably best known for its benefits in red wine and grapes, and may help protect your brain from neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's, while also minimizing their damage.5
In the featured studies, resveratrol improved learning and memory in rats and humans with vascular dementia by reducing oxidative stress in their brains. This form of dementia is the second most common type of dementia after Alzheimer's.6
Vascular dementia is caused by conditions that block or reduce cerebral blood flow, resulting in your brain cells being chronically deprived of oxygen and vital nutrients. Inadequate blood flow can damage and eventually kill cells anywhere in your body, and your brain is particularly vulnerable as it has one of the richest blood supplies.
When the blood vessels in your brain become obstructed, you can experience repeated "mini-strokes," which result in cumulative tissue damage. This leads to cognitive impairments that typically worsen over time.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, "A growing number of experts prefer the term 'vascular cognitive impairment' (VCI) to 'vascular dementia,' because they feel it better expresses the concept that vascular thinking changes can range from mild to severe."7
Resveratrol does much more than just protect your brain — it offers benefits for practically every system in your body. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticarcinogenic properties that are well established by science. The compound is produced by plants to increase their survival and resistance to disease during times of stress, such as excessive ultraviolet light, infections and climate changes.
When you consume these plants, they pass on these protections to you. Resveratrol is present in a number of plant foods, including but not limited to the following:
As of March 25, 2020, the National Institutes of Health's PubMed8 lists 621 articles showing the benefits of resveratrol. In addition to being neuroprotective, resveratrol can reverse oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, normalize your lipids, protect your heart, stabilize your insulin and fight several types of cancer, along with a host of other health benefits.9
Resveratrol is also unique in that it can make some cancers more vulnerable to chemotherapy and radiotherapy.10,11 Many tumors develop resistance to chemotherapy drugs, known as chemoresistance. Researchers are always on the lookout for effective "chemosensitizers" that can help overcome such resistance, and resveratrol has been shown to have that capability with certain chemicals and radiotherapy.
One of the special properties of resveratrol is its ability to cross your blood-brain barrier, which allows it to moderate inflammation in your central nervous system. This is significant because CNS inflammation plays an important role in the development of neurodegenerative diseases.
In a 2010 study,12 resveratrol was found to suppress inflammatory effects in certain brain cells (microglia and astrocytes) by inhibiting different proinflammatory cytokines and key signaling molecules. In a later study, scientists confirmed that the anti-inflammatory properties of resveratrol have neuroprotective effects.13
There is also solid scientific data that resveratrol helps clear out the plaque in your brain that leads to Alzheimer's disease. A study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry14 found resveratrol to exert "potent anti-amyloidogenic activity."
However, unlike Alzheimer's, vascular dementia is not a product of plaque formation, but instead results from impaired blood flow. As it turns out, resveratrol has also been shown to improve cerebral blood flow. A study in 2010 found that even one single dose of resveratrol can improve blood flow to your brain,15 which has obvious implications for vascular dementia and stroke. In a 2017 study, scientists said:16
" … resveratrol suppresses vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation, promotes autophagy, and has been investigated in the context of vascular senescence. Pre-clinical models unambiguously demonstrated numerous vasculoprotective effects of resveratrol. In clinical trials, resveratrol moderately diminished systolic blood pressure in hypertensive patients, as well as blood glucose in patients with diabetes mellitus."
Its benefits may also be related to its ability to activate a particular gene, causing beneficial epigenetic effects.17
In 2013 researchers discovered that resveratrol may have antiaging benefits due to its ability to "mimic the beneficial effects of chronic and moderate calorie restriction."18 A 2017 demonstrated that resveratrol alleviates cardiac dysfunction by flipping on a gene that stimulates production of a protein called SIRT1, preventing disease by recharging your mitochondria.19
Interestingly, calorie restriction and resveratrol exert the same effect on the SIRT1 protein. People who intentionally keep themselves hungry by restricting their caloric intake or, preferably through fasting, seem to be flipping a "genetic survival switch."
In fact, calorie-restricted mice live longer and are healthier than nonrestricted mice,20,21 showing lower rates of age-related diseases like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, arthritis and cognitive impairment.
A hungry life seems to lead to a longer life, for mice and for humans — at least that's the direction science seems to be pointing. Moreover, new research is showing that a ketogenic diet also extends longevity and good health22 — which is good news if you practice KetoFasting, where you practice a cyclical ketogenic diet and partial fasting.
The potential to capitalize on an antiaging drug is incredibly seductive to Big Pharma. After all, a "wonder drug" promising to add additional healthy years to your life would be a big seller. Not surprisingly, SIRT1 genetic studies done at Harvard led to the formation of Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, whose primary function was to turn resveratrol into a patentable drug. In 2008, Sirtris was purchased by drug behemoth GlaxoSmithKline for $720 million.23
But, as Harvard Health reported a few years later, hopes for such a wonder drug longevity pill fell flat when patients in the clinical trial reported kidney damage.24 One problem was that the bioavailability of it in humans isn't all that great — "Most of it exits via your bladder," The New Republic explained.25 On top of that, even though several clinical trials were ongoing during that time, they were dropped one by one as "unexpected side effects" popped up.
In late 2019, one of those Harvard researchers, David Sinclair, reported that he's still searching for a resveratrol-based wonder drug.26 But buyers beware: Whenever you give your body a synthetic version of a natural agent, or an isolated agent, you rarely get good results, and you should expect the unexpected in terms of detrimental effects.
It's always better to consume food the way nature prepared it, with its full complement of naturally occurring, synergistic phytonutrients. Boosting your resveratrol intake would be better accomplished by consuming whole foods rich in that compound, such as grapes, berries and minimally processed raw cacao. If you choose to take a supplement, make sure it contains the whole food form.
And, Sinclair himself admits that, for now, that's the way he lives. He exercises, practices calorie restriction, avoids carbs and sugar and indulges in sauna bathing, he told Boston Wellness. He also takes vitamin D and vitamin K2 regularly.
So, remember, there is no "magic bullet" for living longer and healthier — it requires a multipronged approach. Wise lifestyle choices can't be replaced by a pill, although the drug industry never tires of making that promise.
Even overdoing natural supplements can backfire, such as taking excessive amounts of antioxidants. Your body needs some degree of oxidative stress for optimal function and adaptation. Vigorous exercise, for example, creates a high degree of oxidative stress, but without it, your body would not become stronger.
In other words, if the stress on your body were to be removed from exercise, so would the benefit. This is precisely what the University of Copenhagen27 discovered in a study involving older men taking resveratrol. According to Science Daily, researchers said:28
"We found that exercise training was highly effective in improving cardiovascular health parameters, but resveratrol supplementation attenuated the positive effects of training on several parameters including blood pressure, plasma lipid concentrations and maximal oxygen uptake."
This finding took researchers by surprise. They noted that the quantities of resveratrol given to the men in this study (250mg) were much higher than what they would have received from natural foods.
The take-away message is that antioxidants are not a fix for everything; it's more about finding balance. Focusing on a healthy diet that optimizes your insulin levels and minimizes inflammation will reduce your risk for all types of dementia, as well as heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic degenerative conditions, as they all share the same underlying causes.
The best approach to antioxidants is to consume a wide variety instead of large amounts of just one. These elements work together synergistically, all performing different roles in your body, similar to an orchestra performing a symphony: The music falls short if only one or two instruments are playing.
Resveratrol can be a powerful addition to your diet, but not without a solid nutritional foundation. The first step is making sure you're covering the basics, which is why I offer my complete nutrition plan. This comprehensive guide addresses the factors underlying all chronic degenerative diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and all types of dementia — including vascular dementia.
This plan is available to you, completely free of charge. For additional guidance about how to modify your diet for brain health, refer to my article and interview with neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter. Be sure you specifically address the following:
Avoid gluten and casein (primarily wheat and pasteurized dairy, but not dairy fat, such as butter)
Increase consumption of healthful fats, such as organic butter from raw milk, clarified butter called organic grass fed raw butter, olives, organic virgin olive oil and coconut oil, nuts like pecans and macadamia, free-range eggs, wild Alaskan salmon, and avocado
Keep your fasting insulin levels below 3 (following the nutrition plan will help you do this); if your fasting insulin level is above three, consider limiting or eliminating your intake of grains and sugars until you optimize your insulin level
Exercise regularly, including high-intensity interval training like the Peak Fitness Technique
Optimize your vitamin D levels with safe sun exposure
Optimize your gut flora by regularly consuming fermented foods or taking a high quality probiotics supplement
Consume enough high-quality animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil
Contrary to popular belief, the ideal fuel for your brain is not glucose but ketones, chemicals that your body mobilizes when you stop feeding it carbs and introduce coconut oil and other sources of healthy fats into your diet. A one-day fast can help your body to "reset" itself, and start to burn fat instead of sugar.
While the research supporting calorie restriction is compelling, it's not a very popular dietary strategy for most people, because many simply are not willing to deprive themselves of calories to the extent needed to achieve the therapeutic effects.
An alternative approach that is easier to implement is intermittent fasting, which can be as simple as restricting your daily eating to a narrower window of time, say six to eight hours (this equates to 16 to18 hours' worth of fasting each and every day).
Recent research suggests that sudden and intermittent calorie restriction appears to provide many of the same health benefits as constant calorie restriction, including extending lifespan and protecting against disease.
Unless you have a serious illness, I believe it's best for most people to implement intermittent fasting slowly, over the course of six to eight weeks. You begin by not eating for three hours before bed, and then gradually extend the time you eat breakfast until you have skipped breakfast entirely and your first meal of the day is at lunchtime.
And, as I mentioned earlier, you can also incorporate my KetoFasting plan for a healthy approach to calorie restriction.
Be sure that you are only consuming non-starchy vegetables for carbs, low to moderate protein and plenty of high-quality fats. Most people would benefit from upward of 50% to 70% of their daily calories in the form of fats.
One of the things I've noticed is that once you've shifted your metabolic engine from carb-burning to fat-burning, your desire for sugar and junk food will gradually or rapidly disappear. It typically takes a few weeks for this to occur, but once it does, you'll be easily able to fast for 18 hours without feeling hungry.
Dr. Mercola Interviews the Experts
This article is part of a weekly series in which Dr. Mercola interviews various experts on a variety of health issues. To see more expert interviews, click here.
In this interview, Ronnie Cummins, founder of the Organic Consumers Association, discusses his new book “Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Climate, Farming, Food and a Green New Deal.”
“Much of the book talks about how we need to transform our food and farming system, not only in the United States but worldwide, if we're going to solve a lot of these problems that we're seeing — environmental pollution, health problems, the climate crisis and the fact that we have so much poverty in rural areas …” Cummins says.
The transformation Cummins calls for is a transition to regenerative organic farming, which has the ability to solve many if not most of these problems simultaneously.
For example, one of the primary arguments for genetically engineered (GE) crops and foods was that it was going to solve world hunger. Reality, however, has demonstrated the massive flaws in this argument.
GE agriculture actually does the complete opposite, by destroying our soils and making food more toxic and less nutritious. Regenerative farming, on the other hand, has demonstrated its superiority with regard to yield and nutrition, all without the use of toxic chemicals. As noted by Cummins:
“The way we have traditionally grown food for the last 10,000 years and the way we've raised animals the last 20,000 or 30,000 years is really organic and pasture-based.
This wild experiment that industry unleashed on us since the second world war, using toxic chemicals, synthetic fertilizers, genetically engineered seeds and animal factory farms has proven to be a disaster, not just for the farmers, the animals and the land, but our public health has also suffered considerably.
Part of our long-term call to take charge of your health, take charge of your diet [is to] take charge of our environment and really our whole economic system [and] transform this degenerative food, farming and land use system into one that is organic and regenerative.”
In his book, Cummins details four major drivers of any given system, be it, as in this case, the degenerative system we currently have, or the regenerative system we would like to have:
As noted by Cummins, “Education, innovation, policy [changes] and investment are the four things that drive this change of paradigm.” Change, however, is often slow, and one of the reasons Cummins wrote “Grassroots Rising” was to inspire optimism and hope.
“Obviously, we are still in a degenerative phase, but we can move out of this,” he says. “I think this year, 2020, is going to be the beginning of a pretty enormous global awakening.”
Cummins is co-director of an organic research farm and conference center outside of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where he coordinates a regenerative agricultural system that integrates organic vegetable, seed and forage production with regenerative holistic management of poultry, sheep, goats and pigs. He and others are constantly on the lookout for best practices that can be successfully scaled up and implemented on millions of farms. Cummins explains:
“We have been, for 10 years, running a research and teaching farm [Via Organica] outside of San Miguel de Allende, right smack in the middle of Mexico. It's the high desert area … If you look at the statistics, 40% of the world's surface is characterized as semi-arid or arid, and that's the type of area we're in here, so it's not unusual for the global landscape …
What's difficult as a farmer or rancher, if you live in the semi-arid or arid parts of the world, is that not only is rainfall seasonal and you don't get a whole lot of it, but that it is almost impossible to raise crops on a lot of this terrain.
What people have done for hundreds of years is graze livestock on these degraded semi-arid, arid lands. The problem is that they have overgrazed much of this 40% of the world's surface.”
During one of Cummins’ workshops on organic compost, two local farmers approached him saying they’d developed a remarkably simple technique using the agave plant and mesquite trees to produce incredibly inexpensive yet nutritious animal fodder.
These two plants, which are naturally found clustered together in arid and semi-arid areas, do not require any irrigation, and the photosynthesis of the agave is among the highest in the entire world. It grows rapidly, producing massive amounts of biomass, and sequesters and stores enormous amounts of carbon, both above ground and below ground, while producing inexpensive, nutritious animal feed or forage and restoring the earth.
As noted by Cummins, the fact that agave plants and mesquite (or other nitrogen-fixing trees) grow together naturally is nature’s way to repair eroded landscapes. The roots of the mesquite tree can reach down to 125 feet, fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil, and absorbing minerals from deep in the ground.
Agave, meanwhile, adds huge amounts of biomass to the land every year, drawing down excess CO2 from the atmosphere. It pulls nitrogen and other minerals from the ground in order to support its rapid growth, but when grown next to a nitrogen-fixing tree, you've got a biodiverse system that will continue to grow and thrive on a continuous basis.
The fermented agave animal feed produced in this system costs only 5 cents per kilo (2.2 pounds) to make. The key is fermentation. Raw agave leaves are unpalatable and hard to digest for animals because of their levels of saponins and lectins, but once fermented, they become digestible and attractive to the animals.
The fermentation also boosts the nutrition. I was so impressed with Cummins’ story that I harvested about 10 gallons of aloe plants and applied the process to see if it will convert to great food for my six chickens. A summary of the process is as follows:
Cummins and other Mexican organic farmers have tested the agave forgage on a variety of animals, including sheep, goats, chickens and pigs, all of which love it.
“The importance of this is, first of all, if you're a small farmer, you can't afford alfalfa, and you can't afford hay during the dry season. It's too expensive … It makes eggs and meat too expensive in the marketplace for people to buy.
When you start looking at … reducing feed costs by 50%, or even three quarters with this stuff that costs a nickel or a dime, then I don’t need to overgraze my animals. They'd still graze because it's good for them … but you wouldn't have to have them outdoors every day, overgrazing on pastures that are not in good shape.
This is pretty amazing stuff … Lab analysis of just the fermented agave [shows] it's about 5% to 9% protein, which is pretty good. Alfalfa is more like 16% to 18%.
What these farmers, who are also retired scientists, figured out is if you put 20% mesquite in your fermentation, the pods of the mesquite trees, it'll shoot the protein level up to about 18% — about the same as alfalfa.
There's a lot of other things too that make it better than alfalfa. One of the things about alfalfa is it takes a lot of water … The agave plant uses one-twenty-sixth the amount of water to produce a gram of biomass as alfalfa.
These desert plants have evolved over millions of years to utilize water and moisture in a really efficient way … The opening in the leaves, called the stomata … only opens at night, after sunset.
These plants literally suck the moisture out of the air all night long, and then when daybreak comes, the stomata closes up … They can go years with no rain, and they can survive pretty harsh temperatures … [and] there's not one chemical required in this whole process. This whole process is inherently organic.”
An organic certifier is now evaluating one of the operations using this agave feed process, which may go a long way toward creating less expensive organics. For example, rather than spending 45 cents per kilo for organic chicken feed, chicken farmers can cut that down to between 5 and 10 cents per kilo.
In the end, that will make organic free-range chicken and eggs far more affordable for the average consumer. Ditto for pork, sheep and goat products.
Additional benefits include improved immune function in the animals — similar to that seen in humans eating a lot of fermented foods. What’s more, about 50% of the fermented agave feed is water, which means the animals don’t need to be watered as much.
Cummins and other organic farm advocates are now trying to convince the Mexican reforestation program to get involved as well. This would solve several problems. First, it’s difficult to reforest in arid climates, which includes 60% of Mexico, as even mesquite trees need water in their first stage of development until they’re established. Growing agave in locations in areas that already have mesquite or other nitrogen-fixing trees would speed the process and lower the water demands.
Secondly, growing agave and mesquite together for reforestation purposes, while incorporating facilities to create fermented agave feed for sale, farmers who aren’t willing to grow their own can still benefit from this inexpensive feed alternative. Thirdly, such a project would also help reduce rural poverty, which is what’s driving immigration into the U.S.
“If people weren't so darn poor, which leads back to if they didn't live in such dry, degraded landscapes, they wouldn't be seeking to come to the U.S. except for a visit,” Cummins says.
“We can solve this immigration problem. We can solve this problem of rural poverty. Many of these small farmers, they can't even afford to eat their own animal, like the lamb, on a regular basis.
They have it for celebrations, but they should be able to eat lamb burgers on a regular basis in the rural countryside. Now, they will be able to. In the long run, if we restore the landscape, things like corn, beans and squash will grow again …”
Yet another little cottage industry is also starting to grow around agave. Its fibers are very strong, so people are now starting to make lightweight construction blocks or bricks from it.
Lastly, Cummins estimates that with 2.5 million agave plants planted on 30,000 acres over the next decade, they’ll be able to eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions created by San Miguel county right now.
To learn more about how regenerative agriculture can help solve many of the problems facing the world right now, be sure to pick up a copy of “Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Climate, Farming, Food and a Green New Deal.”
“This regenerative practice in dry lands is a game changer,” Cummins says. “There are practices in wetlands and in the global North, [where] we're already seeing things like a holistic management of livestock and biointensive organic practices.
It's all these practices together — the best practices from the different parts of the world, different ecosystems — that are going to make a difference.
It's you the consumer, it's you the reader, that needs to spread these good news messages, and I hope you'll consider buying a copy of my new book, ‘Grassroots Rising,’ where I try to paint a roadmap of how we can regenerate the world's landscapes as quickly as possible so that we can get back to enjoying life.”
In this interview, repeat guest Dr. Andrew Saul, editor-in-chief of the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, reviews what we currently know about vitamin C (ascorbic acid) for the prevention and treatment of novel coronavirus COVID-19.
As noted by Saul, much of the information about vitamin C for the coronavirus is currently coming out of China. Meanwhile, in the U.S., a lot of nutritional advice is being censored and tagged as "fake news."
At the time of this interview, March 17, 2020, COVID-19 has triggered mass hysteria — in the United States at least. Countries around the world, including the U.S., are also quarantining, closing down borders, implementing curfews and generally recommending or enforcing isolation of the populace.
But this is all for the most part a preventive strategy. Are people infected? Yes. Are people dying? Yes. But we're talking about deaths in the thousands, not hundreds of thousands or millions, as in pandemics of the past (think the 1918 flu pandemic, for example, which killed tens of millions around the world).
I've spent hours each day for the past few weeks reading articles and listening to podcasts about the pandemic, and what hardly is ever mentioned — other than a tiny blurb — is that a massive part of the equation is the need for testing. Testing is the central core of a strategy aimed at flattening the curve, i.e., preventing or slowing the spread of the virus.
Why? Because testing would give you a more accurate account of how many are actually infected. At present, mortality rates simply aren't accurate, and may appear far more severe than they are. We're being told what the mortality rate is based only on confirmed or suspected cases.
When I interviewed Francis Boyle — whose background includes an undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago, a juris doctor (lawyer) degree from Harvard and a Ph.D. in political science — he said the mortality rate could be as high as 17%, whereas conventional estimates now say it's between 2% and 3%.
I believe all of these are wrong, and probably wrong by two or three orders of magnitude. The reason I say this is because there are a limited number of tests and very few people have been tested.
Hundreds of millions of tests are needed to get a real idea of how many people are infected, which would then give us a better understanding of the mortality rate, meaning how many of those who get infected actually die. At present, they're only testing those who present symptoms, which automatically skews the mortality statistics, giving us a falsely elevated mortality rate.
As noted by Saul, "We may have a very large number of people … that are carrying the COVID-19 virus and having no symptoms whatsoever. And I would argue that if they eat right and take their vitamins, that's going to stop it from spreading."
There is not even a micro doubt in my mind that, by the time everything is said and done, more people will have died from car accidents than will die from COVID-19 in the U.S. this year.
In my view, the media have presented a shockingly distorted view of this pandemic, creating unnecessary fear. The entire world is now rapidly heading toward economic collapse, and the question is why, seeing how the death toll doesn't seem to warrant it.
More than likely, we'll end up with a COVID-19 vaccine that will be added to the list of mandated annual inoculations. The problem with that is that even if the vaccine works well, it will only confer limited immunity to a virus that's going to mutate anyway. Developing natural immunity is far more ideal. As noted by Saul:
"When you have natural exposure, whether you get sick or you don't, you have not only immunity to that [viral strain], but you have an applicable broad immunity to more viruses in general. There's nothing like being sick to keep you from getting sick, which sounds a little bit weird but that's the way the human body works.
When we were children we got measles, mumps, chicken pox — you name it, we got it. We were home for two weeks, we watched daytime TV, we went back to school and we have lifetime immunity …
The fact of the matter is that natural immunity really does protect you very well, and your own immune system is the only way you fight any virus. And, the way to make your immune system strong is not, unfortunately, by vaccinating or taking a drug."
The reason for why recovering from infection confers lifelong immunity while vaccination does not has to do with the fact that your immune system has two branches — the cellular (T-cells) and the humoral (B-cells) — and both need to be activated for long-term immunity to be secured.
When you get a vaccine, you only stimulate your humoral immunity, the B-cells. The T-cells are not stimulated. So, scary as it may sound, the best thing is to get the infection, and have a strong immune system to defend against it so you won't even display any symptoms.
While COVID-19 is a very nasty virus that can do a lot of damage, most people, and I'm thinking probably more than 98% of infected people, will not die or suffer long-term damage from it.
"I agree with that," Saul says, "because we're automatically going to be exposed to it and a lot of people aren't going to show symptoms. Some people will have a light case; in fact quite a few people who get it will have a very light case … The danger is the escalation to SARS and pneumonia, and this is the biggest threat for immune-compromised people and the elderly. This is where we have the fatalities; this is the biggest concern."
With everything that's currently happening, and media increasing readership and profits by blowing things out of proportion, it's very easy, even rational, to be afraid and anxious, which will dysregulate your autonomic nervous system.
A simple technique that can help activate your parasympathetic nervous system, thus calming you down, is the Neuro-Emotional Technique's First Aid Stress Tool, or NET FAST, demonstrated in the video above. Firstaidstresstool.com also provides an excellent printable summary with visuals of the technique,1 which even a young child can do. Here is a summary of the FAST procedure:
Saul offers another free and simple stress-reducing technique he learned from a Native American. Simply go out, sit on the ground and lean against a pine tree.
For now, the only real defense against COVID-19 is your own immune system. There's no vaccine, and even if one is fast-tracked, there would be cause for caution, as we'd have no proof of effectiveness or safety.
"Your immune system is infinitely adaptable. This is how nature made us," Saul notes. "However, your immune system works better when it's fed right." While changing your diet is a more long-term solution, a rapid-response strategy would be to use vitamin C.
"Vitamin C is going to strengthen your immune system. This is in every nutrition textbook ever written, so we start with that," Saul says. "The RDA in the United States is about 90 milligrams; in Korea and China it's 100 mg; in the United Kingdom it's a miserable 40 mg a day and we are sometimes not even getting that.
Studies have shown that even 200 mg of vitamin C a day will reduce the death rate in elderly people with severe pneumonia by 80%. Studies have shown babies with pneumonia, when they get 200 milligrams of vitamin C — the adult equivalent of about 2,000 to 3,000 mg — they have an improvement in their oxygen levels in less than a day. The mortality goes down and the duration and severity of the illness is less.
Now, it is not coronavirus per se that actually kills people, it is the pneumonia and the SARS, the severe acute respiratory syndrome, that can follow it. Most people that get coronavirus will have a mild case; some will have the virus and not have any symptoms at all. We don't even know how many those people are because they have no symptoms.
Those who get COVID-19 that actually are sick are going to have the flu and it's going to be a nasty flu — it's going to be miserable. People will be sick for a week or two. The people at risk of dying tend to be the elderly and those that are immune-compromised.
The media sort of skirts around this but this is where we have to start because the fear is based on dying. And when we have even a small amount of vitamin C, our risk of dying — even in the most severe cases — goes down.
It is pneumonia and SARS that kills people and vitamin C has been known to be effective against viral pneumonia since the 1940s when Dr. Frederick Robert Klenner published a series of papers and was able to reverse viral pneumonia in 72 hours. Now, Klenner was a board-certified chest physician. He was a specialist and he published over 20 papers on this. The media has been silent on this therapy."
More recently, Dr. Paul Marik has shown a protocol of intravenous (IV) vitamin C with hydrocortisone and thiamine (vitamin B1) dramatically improves survival rates in patients with sepsis. Since sepsis is one of the reasons people die from COVID-19 infection, Marik's vitamin C protocol may go a long way toward saving people's lives in this pandemic.
That protocol calls for 1,500 mg of ascorbic acid every six hours, and appears radically effective. However, I would recommend taking even higher doses using liposomal vitamin C if you're taking it orally. Liposomal vitamin C will allow you to take much higher dosages without getting loose stools.
You can take up to 100 grams of liposomal vitamin C without problems and get really high blood levels, equivalent to or higher than intravenous vitamin C. I view that as an acute treatment, however.
I discourage people from taking mega doses of vitamin C on a regular basis if they're not actually sick, because it is essentially a drug — or at least it works like one. Saul adds:
"What I suggest, and have for some 44 years of professional life, is to take enough vitamin C to be symptom free, and when you're well, that isn't very much. I knew one lady who would take 500 mg of vitamin C a day and she was just fine. [Another person] with multiple chemical sensitivity, she needed 35,000 mg a day. Any less and she wasn't fine …
And, while we're [on this topic], a nice little charitable uplifting note is that Dutch State Mines or DSM of the Netherlands has donated 50 tons of vitamin C to [the city of] Wuhan [in China] — 106 million vitamin C tablets. And in China they are running three studies on using high-dose vitamin C as therapy, focusing primarily on people in intensive care.
I'm in contact with Dr. Richard Cheng. Cheng is a Chinese American physician … He was in Shanghai for Chinese New Year visiting his family when all of this exploded.
So, Cheng has stayed in China and has been talking to hospitals and Chinese physicians who are showing tremendous interest in using vitamin C as prevention and cure. He's been so effective that the government of Shanghai has issued official recommendations that vitamin C should be used for treating COVID-19.
They are testing up to 24,000 mg a day by IV. Some of us think that's a little on the low side for people that are in the ICU. I would like to see 50,000 mg a day and there is a doctor … who has used 50,000 mg [on] quite a few people and we're getting more reports as we go.
The updates will be at my Facebook page, The MegaVitamin Man. As they come in I put them up there. We can't get this into the mainstream media quite yet, but it's probably going to break and possibly by the time this report airs, it'll be all over the U.S media. Editor's note: The New York Post, the fourth-largest newspaper2 in the U.S., broke this news March 24, 2020.3
I would like to see that, but real doctors are using vitamin C right now. They're also doing it in Korea. Right in the center of the outbreak in Korea we're in contact with a doctor who has a small hospital and he has given a single shot of vitamin D — a big shot of about 100,000 units to each patient and every staff member — and also about 20 to 24 grams (24,000 mg) of vitamin C by IV. And he's reporting that these people are getting well in a matter of days."
The Chinese researchers are also using other traditional Chinese medicines in addition to vitamin C, as well as conventional treatments you would expect to be done for anyone having breathing issues or pneumonia.
For more information, Saul suggests perusing the Shanghai government's website using an online translator (as the website is in Chinese). You can find pertinent web links on the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service website,4 which has published 12 reports on various research findings in the past six weeks.
"We're constantly updating and we have references to the literature and also links to the studies in China, and the names of the doctors doing this. If you go to my website, doctoryourself.com, you can click over and sign up for a free subscription to the peer-reviewed, noncommercial Orthomolecular Medicine News Service ...
We even have the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service releases on this available now in French and Italian … and German, and some are now available in Korean and Chinese and Japanese. It's also available in Spanish. So, this information is worldwide and it's been everywhere except on the United States television set," Saul says.
According to Saul, vitamin C at extremely high doses is an antiviral, it actually kills viruses, but to get that amount, you typically need an IV. So, just how does it kill viruses? Some believe vitamin C's antiviral potential is the result of its anti-inflammatory activity.
Inflammation contributes to the massive cytokine cascade that can ultimately be lethal. However, that's not the whole story. Saul explains:
"Dr. Robert Fulton Cathcart, a physician in California, is much more knowledgeable about this than I ever will be, so I always go to him. And Cathcart wrote in his papers — a number of which I have at doctoryourself.com so people can read them — [that] vitamin C is a non-rate-limited free radical scavenger …
He and Dr. Thomas E. Levy also emphasize … that vitamin C is donating electrons and reducing free radicals, and this is primarily what's going on. Now, there are exceptions to that. When vitamin C gets into a cancer cell, it actually acts as if it were a pro-oxidant and that's because of the Fenton reaction. Checked; it is.
And vitamin C will kill a cancer cell because cancer cells are different. They absorb vitamin C because it's very similar to glucose, it's almost the same size … With viruses, it's the same idea. Cathcart's view is that you simply push in vitamin C to provide the electrons to reduce the free radicals, and this is the way Cathcart and Levy look at vitamin C's function (at very high doses) as an antiviral.
At modest doses, normal supplemental doses … vitamin C strengthens the immune system because the white blood cells need it to work. White blood cells carry around in them a lot of vitamin C … So, vitamin C is very well-known to directly beef up the immune system through the white blood cells."
Personally, I don't think this is the whole story, either, as vitamin C is a relatively weak electron donor. I'll be interviewing Levy about this shortly. But, in my view, the top electron donor of the body is NADPH.
So, boosting your NAD+ and NADPH levels is really important for health, as is inhibiting NADH oxidase (known as NOX). You can learn more about this in "Glycine Quells Oxidative Damage by Inhibiting NOX and Boosting NADPH."
NOX is what the enzyme in your lysosomes inside your white blood cells use to generate chemicals that actually kill viruses and bacteria. In the process, NADPH is being used up, so while inhibiting NOX is useful, increasing NADPH is key.
If you have a genetic disorder known as G6PD deficiency, it means the pathway your body uses to make NADPH is impaired and, in this case, you have to be careful taking high-dose vitamin C.
"At the Riordan Clinic, founded by Dr. Hugh Riordan, one of my mentors some years ago, they do screen for this," Saul says.
"And the Riordan clinic has actually said in their protocol — which I have in its entirely as a free download at doctoryourself.com, that People who have G6PD [deficiency syndrome] can take some vitamin C, and they have had safe success at around 15,000 mg a day. Dr. Suzanne Humphries, a nephrologist and internist, has also said that for short periods of time it's not an issue."
Another crucial nutrient that may be even more important than vitamin C is vitamin D. The required dosage will vary from person to person here as well, and largely has to do with how much sun exposure you get on a regular basis.
I've not taken oral vitamin D for over a decade, yet my level is right around 70 nanograms per milliliter, thanks to daily walks in the sun wearing nothing but a hat and shorts. So, the best way to determine your personal dosage is to get tested and to take whatever dosage you need to maintain a vitamin D level between 60 ng/mL and 80 ng/mL year-round.
In the video above, pulmonologist Dr. Roger Seheult discusses the importance of vitamin D for the prevention of COVID-19. While there are no clinical trials investigating vitamin D for coronavirus specifically, there's plenty of data showing it's an important component in the prevention and treatment of influenza5 and upper respiratory tract infections.6
As noted by Seheult, while vitamin D does not appear to have a direct effect on the virus itself, it strengthens immune function, thus allowing the host body to combat the virus more effectively.7 It also suppresses inflammatory processes. Taken together, this might make vitamin D quite useful against COVID-19.
As explained by Seheult, robust immune function is required for your body to combat the virus, but an overactivated immune system is also responsible for the cytokine storm we see in COVID-19 infection that can lead to death.
"What we want is a smart immune system — an immune system that takes care of the virus but doesn't put us into an inflammatory condition that could put us on a ventilator," Seheult says.
He goes on to cite research8 published in 2017 — a meta-analysis of 25 randomized controlled trials — which confirmed that vitamin D supplementation helps protect against acute respiratory infections.
Studies have also shown there's an apparent association between low vitamin D levels and susceptibility to viral infections such as influenza. In one GrassrootsHealth analysis,9 those with a vitamin D level of at least 40 ng/mL reduced their risk of colds by 15% and flu by 41%, compared to those with a level below 20 ng/mL.
Magnesium is another important immune booster. In addition to taking oral magnesium or eating lots of vegetables that contain it, another way to increase your magnesium level is to take Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) baths.
"This is a wonderful way to relax," Saul says. "At the end of the day, have a nice hot Epsom salts bath. You do get absorption through the skin. Plus, it feels good, calms you down, it's inexpensive, and no one can tell you that you're going to overdose on Epsom salt [through bathing] … So, an Epsom salts bath is a very pleasant way to get some magnesium."
Yet another little-known way to get magnesium is through molecular hydrogen tablets. The tablets contain metallic magnesium and when you put them in water, they dissociate into ionic elemental magnesium and form molecular hydrogen gas (which you then drink).
You can get about 80 mg of ionic elemental magnesium from each tablet, which is a considerable amount. For comparison, taking 400 mg of an oral magnesium supplement might only give you 40 mg due to their poor absorption. Magnesium oxide has the lowest absorption rate at only 5% or so, which is why Saul recommends avoiding this form of magnesium.
Chances are, you know zinc lozenges are recommended when you have a cold or sore throat.
"Just last night — again, this is the 17th of March — CBS Evening News in Chicago, Illinois, had a short segment on nutritional prevention of coronavirus, recommending you take vitamin D, vitamin C and zinc. So, we have finally, after seven weeks, gotten past the accusation of false information and fake news, and now it is on CBS."
Remarkably, prominent physicians have been paraded in the media saying it's impossible to strengthen your immune system to beat this virus. It's hard to fathom this kind of ignorance still pervades our medical system — and that they can get away with criticizing people who offer proof to the contrary.
Aside from nutrients, if you own a sauna, now's the time to put it to regular use. By increasing your core body temperature, which is what happens when you have a fever, your body becomes more efficient at killing pathogens.
So, by taking a daily sauna, you can preventatively treat any lingering pathogens in your system. That's a very useful strategy and something I do pretty much every day I am home. Saul agrees, saying:
"Nearly 100 years ago, Jethro Kloss, who wrote 'Back to Eden,' one of the early health nut books, recommended artificial fevers. They would bundle people up and put them in a hot bath … because fever can be that beneficial.
Or you can do what the native Americans did and do … a sweat lodge, kind of the genuine American version of a sauna. Just one suggestion. When you pick the rocks that you're going to superheat, make sure they are all igneous rocks and not sedimentary rocks, because if they have the layered sediment, they will explode, and that is bad!
So, make sure you have volcanic rocks, igneous rocks … they glow a nice red. It takes a long time to get the glow going, but then it lasts a long time as well. And while they are heating, you can build the lodge. This is a group activity. You're going to need help to build the lodge."
If you're in the market for an electric sauna, do your research, as many (if not most) emit very high electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Unfortunately, many advertised as low-EMF saunas still have high magnetic fields, which are just as bad.
I agree with Saul when he says "We have to get the word out to people that prevention is working; vitamin C is working and we haven't heard about it." For example, in Korea, where the death rate for the COVID-19 virus is below 1%, they've disseminated information about vitamin C.
So, part of your preventive measures is to educate yourself about simple measures you can take from the comfort of your own home. Resources where you can find more information include Saul's website, doctoryourself.com, which is free, noncommercial and peer-reviewed.
"It's been up for 21 years now," Saul says. "Doctoryourself.com has a very good search engine and it is not a Google search engine. You can use it as a site search and find whatever you're looking for. Without even scrolling down, the screen will show you a series of articles on COVID-19 — nutritional protocols with references to the doctors and the parts of the world where this is being used successfully right now.
You can also go to Andrewsaul.com which is my commercial site. That's where I have my tuition-based courses that I offer, called the Megavitamin Formula Course. And you can go to the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service … and sign up free of charge.
This is peer-reviewed, and I'm happy to say that Dr. Mercola is a member of our 42-member editorial review board. So, when I say peer-reviewed, we really mean it and I love having association with doctors who use, recommend and live good nutrition.
For the most up-to-date information on the COVID-19 situation and nutritional therapies, see my Facebook page. But that will not come to you because it's restricted by Facebook, so you have to go to The Megavitamin Man or my name on Facebook. We have updates several times a day."
Article has been updated to reflect the spelling of Dr. Cheng's name.
"In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot." ~ Czesław Miłosz1
In recent years, a number of brave individuals have alerted us to the fact that we're all being monitored and manipulated by big data gatherers such as Google and Facebook, and shed light on the depth and breadth of this ongoing surveillance. Among them is social psychologist and Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff.
Her book, "The Age of Surveillance Capitalism," is one of the best books I have read in the last few years. It's an absolute must-read if you have any interest in this topic and want to understand how Google and Facebook have obtained such massive control of your life.
Her book reveals how the biggest tech companies in the world have hijacked our personal data — so-called "behavioral surplus data streams" — without our knowledge or consent and are using it against us to generate profits for themselves. WE have become the product. WE are the real revenue stream in this digital economy.
"The term 'surveillance capitalism' is not an arbitrary term," Zuboff says in the featured VPRO Backlight documentary. "Why 'surveillance'? Because it must be operations that are engineered as undetectable, indecipherable, cloaked in rhetoric that aims to misdirect, obfuscate and downright bamboozle all of us, all the time."
In the featured video, Zuboff "reveals a merciless form of capitalism in which no natural resources, but the citizen itself, serves are a raw material."2 She also explains how this surveillance capitalism came about in the first place.
As most revolutionary inventions, chance played a role. After the 2000 dot.com crisis that burst the internet bubble, a startup company named Google struggled to survive. Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin appeared to be looking at the beginning of the end for their company.
By chance, they discovered that "residual data" left behind by users during their internet searchers had tremendous value. They could trade this data; they could sell it. By compiling this residual data, they could predict the behavior of any given internet user and thus guarantee advertisers a more targeted audience. And so, surveillance capitalism was born.
Comments such as "I have nothing to hide, so I don't care if they track me," or "I like targeted ads because they make my shopping easier" reveal our ignorance about what's really going on. We believe we understand what kind of information is being collected about us. For example, you might not care that Google knows you bought a particular kind of shoe, or a particular book.
However, the information we freely hand over is the least important of the personal information actually being gathered about us, Zuboff notes. Tech companies tell us the data collected is being used to improve services, and indeed, some of it is.
But it is also being used to model human behavior by analyzing the patterns of behavior of hundreds of millions of people. Once you have a large enough training model, you can begin to accurately predict how different types of individuals will behave over time.
The data gathered is also being used to predict a whole host of individual attributes about you, such as personality quirks, sexual orientation, political orientation — "a whole range of things we never ever intended to disclose," Zuboff says.
All sorts of predictive data are handed over with each photo you upload to social media. For example, it's not just that tech companies can see your photos. Your face is being used without your knowledge or consent to train facial recognition software, and none of us is told how that software is intended to be used.
As just one example, the Chinese government is using facial recognition software to track and monitor minority groups and advocates for democracy, and that could happen elsewhere as well, at any time.
So that photo you uploaded of yourself at a party provides a range of valuable information — from the types of people you're most likely to spend your time with and where you're likely to go to have a good time, to information about how the muscles in your face move and alter the shape of your features when you're in a good mood.
By gathering a staggering amount of data points on each person, minute by minute, Big Data can make very accurate predictions about human behavior, and these predictions are then "sold to business customers who want to maximize our value to their business," Zuboff says.
Your entire existence — even your shifting moods, deciphered by facial recognition software — has become a source of revenue for many tech corporations. You might think you have free will but, in reality, you're being cleverly maneuvered and funneled into doing (and typically buying) or thinking something you may not have done, bought or thought otherwise. And, "our ignorance is their bliss," Zuboff says.
In the documentary, Zuboff highlights Facebook's massive "contagion experiments,"3,4 in which they used subliminal cues and language manipulation to see if they could make people feel happier or sadder and affect real-world behavior offline. As it turns out, they can. Two key findings from those experiments were:
In the video, Zuboff also explains how the Pokemon Go online game — which was actually created by Google — was engineered to manipulate real-world behavior and activity for profit. She also describes the scheme in her New York Times article, saying:
"Game players did not know that they were pawns in the real game of behavior modification for profit, as the rewards and punishments of hunting imaginary creatures were used to herd people to the McDonald's, Starbucks and local pizza joints that were paying the company for 'footfall,' in exactly the same way that online advertisers pay for 'click through' to their websites."
Zuboff also reviews what we learned from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Cambridge Analytica is a political marketing business that, in 2018, used the Facebook data of 80 million Americans to determine the best strategies for manipulating American voters.
Christopher Wylie, now-former director of research at Cambridge Analytica, blew the whistle on the company's methods. According to Wylie, they had so much data on people, they knew exactly how to trigger fear, rage and paranoia in any given individual. And, by triggering those emotions, they could manipulate them into looking at a certain website, joining a certain group, and voting for a certain candidate.
So, the reality now is, companies like Facebook, Google and third parties of all kinds, have the power — and are using that power — to target your personal inner demons, to trigger you, and to take advantage of you when you're at your weakest or most vulnerable to entice you into action that serves them, commercially or politically. It's certainly something to keep in mind while you surf the web and social media sites.
"It was only a minute ago that we didn't have many of these tools, and we were fine," Zuboff says in the film. "We lived rich and full lives. We had close connections with friends and family.
Having said that, I want to recognize that there's a lot that the digital world brings to our lives, and we deserve to have all of that. But we deserve to have it without paying the price of surveillance capitalism.
Right now, we are in that classic Faustian bargain; 21st century citizens should not have to make the choice of either going analog or living in a world where our self-determination and our privacy are destroyed for the sake of this market logic. That is unacceptable.
Let's also not be naïve. You get the wrong people involved in our government, at any moment, and they look over their shoulders at the rich control possibilities offered by these new systems.
There will come a time when, even in the West, even in our democratic societies, our government will be tempted to annex these capabilities and use them over us and against us. Let's not be naïve about that.
When we decide to resist surveillance capitalism — right now when it is in the market dynamic — we are also preserving our democratic future, and the kinds of checks and balances that we will need going forward in an information civilization if we are to preserve freedom and democracy for another generation."
But the surveillance and data collection doesn't end with what you do online. Big Data also wants access to your most intimate moments — what you do and how you behave in the privacy of your own home, for example, or in your car. Zuboff recounts how the Google Nest security system was found to have a hidden microphone built into it that isn't featured in any of the schematics for the device.
"Voices are what everybody are after, just like faces," Zuboff says. Voice data, and all the information delivered through your daily conversations, is tremendously valuable to Big Data, and add to their ever-expanding predictive modeling capabilities.
She also discusses how these kinds of data-collecting devices force consent from users by holding the functionality of the device "hostage" if you don't want your data collected and shared.
For example, Google's Nest thermostats will collect data about your usage and share it with third parties, that share it with third parties and so on ad infinitum — and Google takes no responsibility for what any of these third parties might do with your data.
You can decline this data collection and third party sharing, but if you do, Google will no longer support the functionality of the thermostat; it will no longer update your software and may affect the functionality of other linked devices such as smoke detectors.
Two scholars who analyzed the Google Nest thermostat contract concluded that a consumer who is even a little bit vigilant about how their consumption data is being used would have to review 1,000 privacy contracts before installing a single thermostat in their home.
Modern cars are also being equipped with multiple cameras that feed Big Data. As noted in the film, the average new car has 15 cameras, and if you have access to the data of a mere 1% of all cars, you have "knowledge of everything happening in the world."
Of course, those cameras are sold to you as being integral to novel safety features, but you're paying for this added safety with your privacy, and the privacy of everyone around you.
The current coronavirus pandemic is also using “safety” as a means to dismantle personal privacy. As reported by The New York Times, March 23, 2020:5
“In South Korea, government agencies are harnessing surveillance-camera footage, smartphone location data and credit card purchase records to help trace the recent movements of coronavirus patients and establish virus transmission chains.
In Lombardy, Italy, the authorities are analyzing location data transmitted by citizens’ mobile phones to determine how many people are obeying a government lockdown order and the typical distances they move every day. About 40 percent are moving around “too much,” an official recently said.
In Israel, the country’s internal security agency is poised to start using a cache of mobile phone location data — originally intended for counterterrorism operations — to try to pinpoint citizens who may have been exposed to the virus.
As countries around the world race to contain the pandemic, many are deploying digital surveillance tools as a means to exert social control, even turning security agency technologies on their own civilians …
Yet ratcheting up surveillance to combat the pandemic now could permanently open the doors to more invasive forms of snooping later. It is a lesson Americans learned after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, civil liberties experts say.
Nearly two decades later, law enforcement agencies have access to higher-powered surveillance systems, like fine-grained location tracking and facial recognition — technologies that may be repurposed to further political agendas …
‘We could so easily end up in a situation where we empower local, state or federal government to take measures in response to this pandemic that fundamentally change the scope of American civil rights,’ said Albert Fox Cahn, the executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, a nonprofit organization in Manhattan.”
Zuboff also discusses her work in a January 24, 2020, op-ed in The New York Times.6,7 "You are now remotely controlled. Surveillance capitalists control the science and the scientists, the secrets and the truth," she writes, continuing:
"We thought that we search Google, but now we understand that Google searches us. We assumed that we use social media to connect, but we learned that connection is how social media uses us.
Our digital century was to have been democracy's Golden Age. Instead, we enter its third decade marked by a stark new form of social inequality best understood as 'epistemic inequality' … extreme asymmetries of knowledge and the power that accrues to such knowledge, as the tech giants seize control of information and learning itself …
Surveillance capitalists exploit the widening inequity of knowledge for the sake of profits. They manipulate the economy, our society and even our lives with impunity, endangering not just individual privacy but democracy itself …
Still, the winds appear to have finally shifted. A fragile new awareness is dawning … Surveillance capitalists are fast because they seek neither genuine consent nor consensus. They rely on psychic numbing and messages of inevitability to conjure the helplessness, resignation and confusion that paralyze their prey.
Democracy is slow, and that's a good thing. Its pace reflects the tens of millions of conversations that occur … gradually stirring the sleeping giant of democracy to action.
These conversations are occurring now, and there are many indications that lawmakers are ready to join and to lead. This third decade is likely to decide our fate. Will we make the digital future better, or will it make us worse?"8,9
Epistemic inequality refers to inequality in what you're able to learn. "It is defined as unequal access to learning imposed by private commercial mechanisms of information capture, production, analysis and sales. It is best exemplified in the fast-growing abyss between what we know and what is known about us," Zuboff writes in her New York Times op-ed.10
Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft have spearheaded the surveillance market transformation, placing themselves at the top tier of the epistemic hierarchy. They know everything about you and you know nothing about them. You don't even know what they know about you.
"They operated in the shadows to amass huge knowledge monopolies by taking without asking, a maneuver that every child recognizes as theft," Zuboff writes.
"Surveillance capitalism begins by unilaterally staking a claim to private human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioral data. Our lives are rendered as data flows."
These data flows are about you, but not for you. All of it is used against you — to separate you from your money, or to make you act in a way that is in some way profitable for a company or a political agenda. So, ask yourself, where is your freedom in all of this?
If a company can cause you to buy stuff you don't need by sticking an enticing, personalized ad for something they know will boost your confidence at the exact moment you're feeling insecure or worthless (a tactic that has been tested and perfected11), are you really acting through free will?
If an artificial intelligence using predictive modeling senses you're getting hungry (based on a variety of cues such as your location, facial expressions and verbal expressions) and launches an ad from a local restaurant to you in the very moment you're deciding to get something to eat, are you really making conscious, self-driven, value-based life choices? As noted by Zuboff in her article:12
"Unequal knowledge about us produces unequal power over us, and so epistemic inequality widens to include the distance between what we can do and what can be done to us. Data scientists describe this as the shift from monitoring to actuation, in which a critical mass of knowledge about a machine system enables the remote control of that system.
Now people have become targets for remote control, as surveillance capitalists discovered that the most predictive data come from intervening in behavior to tune, herd and modify action in the direction of commercial objectives.
This third imperative, 'economies of action,' has become an arena of intense experimentation. 'We are learning how to write the music,' one scientist said, 'and then we let the music make them dance' …
The fact is that in the absence of corporate transparency and democratic oversight, epistemic inequality rules. They know. They decide who knows. They decide who decides. The public's intolerable knowledge disadvantage is deepened by surveillance capitalists' perfection of mass communications as gaslighting …
On April 30, 2019 Mark Zuckerberg made a dramatic announcement at the company's annual developer conference, declaring, 'The future is private.' A few weeks later, a Facebook litigator appeared before a federal district judge in California to thwart a user lawsuit over privacy invasion, arguing that the very act of using Facebook negates any reasonable expectation of privacy 'as a matter of law.'"
In the video, Zuboff points out that there are no laws in place to curtail this brand-new type of surveillance capitalism, and the only reason it has been able to flourish over the past 20 years is because there's been an absence of laws against it, primarily because it has never previously existed.
That's the problem with epistemic inequality. Google and Facebook were the only ones who knew what they were doing. The surveillance network grew in the shadows, unbeknownst to the public or lawmakers. Had we fought against it for two decades, then we might have had to resign ourselves to defeat, but as it stands, we've never even tried to regulate it.
This, Zuboff says, should give us all hope. We can turn this around and take back our privacy, but we need legislation that addresses the actual reality of the entire breadth and depth of the data collection system. It's not enough to address just the data that we know that we're giving when we go online. Zuboff writes:13
"These contests of the 21st century demand a framework of epistemic rights enshrined in law and subject to democratic governance. Such rights would interrupt data supply chains by safeguarding the boundaries of human experience before they come under assault from the forces of datafication.
The choice to turn any aspect of one's life into data must belong to individuals by virtue of their rights in a democratic society. This means, for example, that companies cannot claim the right to your face, or use your face as free raw material for analysis, or own and sell any computational products that derive from your face …
Anything made by humans can be unmade by humans. Surveillance capitalism is young, barely 20 years in the making, but democracy is old, rooted in generations of hope and contest.
Surveillance capitalists are rich and powerful, but they are not invulnerable. They have an Achilles heel: fear. They fear lawmakers who do not fear them. They fear citizens who demand a new road forward as they insist on new answers to old questions: Who will know? Who will decide who knows? Who will decide who decides? Who will write the music, and who will dance?"
While there's no doubt we need a whole new legislative framework to curtail surveillance capitalism, in the meantime, there are ways you can protect your privacy online and limit the "behavioral surplus data" collected about you.
Robert Epstein, senior research psychologist for the American Institute of Behavioral Research and Technology, recommends taking the following steps to protect your privacy:14
Use a virtual private network (VPN) such as Nord, which is only about $3 per month and can be used on up to six devices. In my view, this is a must if you seek to preserve your privacy. Epstein explains:
Nord, when used on your cellphone, will also mask your identity when using apps like Google Maps.
Do not use Gmail, as every email you write is permanently stored. It becomes part of your profile and is used to build digital models of you, which allows them to make predictions about your line of thinking and every want and desire.
Many other older email systems such as AOL and Yahoo are also being used as surveillance platforms in the same way as Gmail. ProtonMail.com, which uses end-to-end encryption, is a great alternative and the basic account is free.
Don't use Google's Chrome browser, as everything you do on there is surveilled, including keystrokes and every webpage you've ever visited. Brave is a great alternative that takes privacy seriously.
Brave is also faster than Chrome, and suppresses ads. It's based on Chromium, the same software infrastructure that Chrome is based on, so you can easily transfer your extensions, favorites and bookmarks.
Don't use Google as your search engine, or any extension of Google, such as Bing or Yahoo, both of which draw search results from Google. The same goes for the iPhone's personal assistant Siri, which draws all of its answers from Google.
Alternative search engines suggested by Epstein include SwissCows and Qwant. He recommends avoiding StartPage, as it was recently bought by an aggressive online marketing company, which, like Google, depends on surveillance.
Don't use an Android cellphone, for all the reasons discussed earlier. Epstein uses a BlackBerry, which is more secure than Android phones or the iPhone. BlackBerry's upcoming model, the Key3, will be one of the most secure cellphones in the world, he says.
Don't use Google Home devices in your house or apartment — These devices record everything that occurs in your home, both speech and sounds such as brushing your teeth and boiling water, even when they appear to be inactive, and send that information back to Google. Android phones are also always listening and recording, as are Google's home thermostat Nest, and Amazon's Alexa.
Clear your cache and cookies — As Epstein explains in his article:15/span>
Don't use Fitbit, as it was recently purchased by Google and will provide them with all your physiological information and activity levels, in addition to everything else that Google already has on you.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that is predicted to affect 930,000 people by the end of 2020 and 1.2 million by 2030.1 The disease triggers tremors, slowing movements, balance problems and rigidity. There is no known cause or cure and the first line of treatment usually involves drugs that don't slow the associated neurodegeneration.2
About 60,000 are diagnosed in the U.S. each year and to date there are more than 10 million with the disease worldwide.3 The Parkinson's Foundation Prevalence Project also finds men are more likely to be diagnosed than women and the number who develop PD rises with age, regardless of gender.
Researchers have found that being around any number of toxins may increase the risk by 80% in some cases.4 Pesticides are an example; exposure can result in mitochondrial dysfunction that may be responsible for some of the damage. As noted in Environmental Health Perspectives:5
"In experimental models, the pesticides paraquat, which causes oxidative stress, and rotenone, which inhibits mitochondrial complex I, both induce loss of nigral dopaminergic neurons and behavioral changes associated with human PD."
People with a genetic mutation in the synuclein gene, associated with an increased risk of Parkinson's, may be more susceptible to the damaging effects of pesticides. Misfolded alpha-synuclein proteins may cause nerve cell damage leading to dead brain matter called Lewy bodies.6
These are associated with the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, including problems with movement and speech. As you can imagine, PD affects the quality of life.
Unfortunately, depression is common in patients with PD; this influences functional disability, cognitive deficits and other comorbid psychiatric disorders.7 Reducing the symptoms of PD not only may enhance the quality of life and levels of independence, but it may also alleviate symptoms of depression.
Many of us think of actor Michael J. Fox when we think about Parkinson’s disease. His foundation funds research aimed at improving the lives of people with the disease.8
The challenges of living with PD can sometimes feel overwhelming, but researchers from Fukuoka, Japan, have discovered that seniors can manage their symptoms more effectively when they play ping pong. The game is otherwise known as table tennis and can be challenging for anyone, but even more so for those who live with a movement disorder.
However, those who took part in a study over six months experienced improvements in their symptoms.9 The researchers engaged 12 patients with an average age of 73 whose Parkinson's disease had been diagnosed within the past seven years.
The results of the study10 are to be presented at the 2020 American Academy of Neurology 72nd annual meeting in Toronto.11 The participants were tested at the start of the study, after three months and again at the end for the number and severity of symptoms.
Activities in the program, developed by experienced players, improved the participants’ speech, handwriting, walking and ability to get out of bed. In the beginning it took participants an average of more than two tries to get out of bed; by the end of the study the average participant could get out of bed on the first try. In a press release one researcher was quoted as saying:12
“Pingpong, which is also called table tennis, is a form of aerobic exercise that has been shown in the general population to improve hand-eye coordination, sharpen reflexes, and stimulate the brain. We wanted to examine if people with Parkinson’s disease would see similar benefits that may in turn reduce some of their symptoms.
While this study is small, the results are encouraging because they show pingpong, a relatively inexpensive form of therapy, may improve some symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. A much larger study is now being planned to confirm these findings.”
Balance issues are common in those with PD. One treatment option has been the use of vestibular rehabilitation therapy; ping pong is one suggested balance training sport.13 Head movements and visual stimulation are important to the rehabilitation process.
The authors of one 2016 case study14 found that using a caloric vestibular stimulation (CVS)15 in an individual with Parkinson's disease helped with motor and non-motor symptoms.
In another study involving 33 people who received CVS at home twice a day for eight weeks, scientists found greater reductions in motor and non-motor symptoms than those in the placebo group.16 The improvements lasted for five weeks after the last treatment. Ear stimulation appears to be an effective and safe form of treatment, which may also have been triggered in those playing ping pong.
Unfortunately, diagnosis usually happens after symptoms occur and brain cells have died. Researchers have been studying ways to detect the condition earlier, which may positively impact treatment and prevention. The known link between the gut microbiome and Parkinson's disease may be an important factor.
An animal study17 from Johns Hopkins Medicine was built on observations made in 2003 showing an accumulation of alpha synuclein proteins were appearing in parts of the brain that control the gut.
Interested in whether these proteins could travel along the vagal nerve, the researchers used an animal model over 10 months and demonstrated when the vagal nerve connection had been cut there was no cell death in the brain. It appeared that severing the vagal nerve could stop the advance of misfolded proteins and thus the development of Parkinson's disease.
Levodopa is a drug often used to help reduce symptoms in those with Parkinson's disease as it acts as a precursor to dopamine. However, researchers have found it's not effective for everyone and may depend on the composition of your gut microbiome. Some microorganisms may metabolize the medication and therefore render it ineffective.
Researchers have identified a specific enzyme produced in the microbiome that works to metabolize levodopa. By blocking one or both enzymes, the drug's effectiveness could be improved.18
In addition to the impact the microbiome has on drug effectiveness, it may also regulate movement disorders through changes to alpha-synuclein protein folding.19 The connection makes sense, as gastrointestinal symptoms, such as constipation, may begin decades before the onset of symptoms in Parkinson’s disease.
The communication between your gut and brain is bidirectional, and it appears the misfolded proteins triggering neuron cell death in the brain may travel in both directions. While it may contribute to symptoms in several ways, the aberrant alpha-synuclein cells are toxic to cellular homeostasis, triggering neuronal death and affecting synaptic function.
Using an animal model, one group of researchers found there was an increasing expression of alpha-synuclein inhibiting the release of neurotransmitters, which essentially produced Parkinson-type symptoms.20 Researchers were then able to identify the specific protein transmitted from the brain to the gut,21 demonstrating the bidirectional communication.
As described in this short video, compounds found in certain nightshade vegetables in the Solanaceae family, specifically bell peppers, may help inhibit the development of Parkinson’s disease. Researchers theorize it may be the nicotine that helps reduce your risk. Of course, the risks associated with smoking are not enough to justify taking up the habit to lower your potential risk of Parkinson’s.
In one study22 researchers enrolled 490 newly diagnosed people with Parkinson's disease against another 644 people without the disease. At the end of the study they found eating vegetables in the Solanaceae family was inversely related to the risk of developing Parkinson's disease.
The study’s authors found no other food had a higher positive relationship, which suggested eating these vegetables two to four times per week may provide a protective effect. A second plant that may help battle the effects of Parkinson’s disease is the climbing legume, M. pruriens.
In tropical areas of the world they are a well-known protein source but also used as medicine. The plant contains levodopa, the precursor to dopamine found in medications used to treat Parkinson's disease. Without sufficient amounts of dopamine, you may feel lethargic, unfocused and potentially depressed.
Karen Kurtak, department head of longevity nutrition at Grossman Wellness Institute in Denver, says, "M. pruriens has an almost magical ability to improve motivation, well-being, energy and sex drive, along with decreasing the tendency to overeat."23
Evidence from clinical trials24 has demonstrated that the legume produces equivalent or better results than L-dopa medications, and without the side effects. However, Western medicine practitioners continue to use and promote the synthetic form to boost dopamine levels in your brain and reduce the effects of Parkinson's disease.
Beyond Parkinson's treatment, Ayurvedic medicine practitioners use it as an aphrodisiac, and to reduce nervous disorders and infertility.25 If you have the disease and would like to investigate this, consult with your doctor or an Ayurvedic medicine practitioner before taking M. pruriens, especially if you are currently taking prescription medication, to ensure this remedy is right for you.
It may also be possible to prevent neurodegenerative diseases or reduce symptoms by naturally addressing your gut permeability and autophagy dysfunction. Improve the health of your gut microbiome through small lifestyle changes such as eliminating sugar, using a cyclical ketogenic diet and eating fiber-rich foods.
For a more complete list, see my article, "Gut Microbiome May Be a Game-Changer for Cancer Prevention and Treatment."
The combination of these strategies and improving autophagy through cycles of feast and famine may help reduce your risk and improve genetic repair and longevity. Fasting also has a beneficial impact on your brain and boosts brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).26 This protein may help protect brain cells from changes that are associated with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.
If you are under the care of a physician or on medication, you need to work with your doctor to ensure safety since some medications need to be taken with food. Diabetics on medication also need to use caution and work with a health care professional to adjust medication dosage.
Activating adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) through proper diet and nutritional supplements also supports natural autophagy. You can learn more about this process in my previous article, “Autophagy Finally Considered for Disease Treatment.”
In an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, many schools, offices and social venues have shut down, and many governments have issued more or less strict “social distancing” recommendations.1 As a result, people around the world are faced with the prospect of having very limited human interactions for a period of time.
While introverts may be silently celebrating, many others may struggle with feelings of isolation and loneliness. On top of that, many are feeling worried and anxious about getting infected,2 or worry about the health of immune-compromised or elderly family members3 who are at greatest risk for serious infection and complications.
In the video above, Julie Schiffman demonstrates how to use the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) to relieve anxiety and other challenging emotions brought on by news and uncertainty about this pandemic and/or self-quarantining.
Another easy alternative is the Neuro-Emotional Technique’s First Aid Stress Tool, or NET FAST, demonstrated in the video above. Firstaidstresstool.com also provides an excellent printable summary with visuals of the technique,4 which even a young child can do. Here is a summary of the FAST procedure:
Even without social distancing and self-quarantining requirements, a staggering number of people report feeling lonely. According to a 2018 Cigna insurance health survey5,6,7 of Americans aged 18 and over, 46% report sometimes or always feeling lonely, 47% say they do not have meaningful in-person social interactions or extended conversations on a daily basis and 43% report feeling isolated.
Self-quarantining will likely worsen these sentiments and drive percentages up even higher. Remarkably, in Cigna’s survey, young adults between the ages of 18 and 22 were the loneliest. Even the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) acknowledges8 there’s an “epidemic” of loneliness in the U.S. and that it’s taking a mounting toll on public health.
According to HRSA,9 a panel presentation by the National Institute for Health Care Management — a nonprofit research firm for the health insurance industry — revealed social isolation among seniors is costing the federal government $6.7 billion each year in added health care spending, as “poor social relationships” are associated with a 29% higher risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.
The aggressive social isolation approaches currently being advocated for COVID-19 will only worsen this scenario for seniors. Research by the AARP Foundation — an organization dedicated to empowering American seniors — presents a similar picture. In its 2018 survey,10 “Loneliness and Social Connections,” the AARP reports that 35% of adults over 45 struggle with loneliness.
Seniors making less than $25,000 a year have an even greater loneliness ratio — 1 in 2 — according to the AARP.11 Considering stock markets are crashing all around us and store shelves are emptying of necessities, the financial and emotional disparities between the rich and the poor may widen even further.
Working adults who are in financial dire straits may also end up promoting the spread of infectious disease. As noted by Josephine Tovey in an article for The Guardian:12
“In the U.S., where there is no guaranteed sick leave, experts have warned many workers will defy pleas to stay home during the current outbreak, even if ill, out of pure economic necessity.”
Amid a growing financial recession, Vox13 rightfully points out that the implementation of social distancing will also cause “what we might call a ‘social recession’: a collapse in social contact that is particularly hard on the populations most vulnerable to isolation and loneliness …”
The true cost of “social recession” could be enormous, as lack of social contact and loneliness are drivers of ill health, both mentally and physically, and early death, both from disease and suicide. In “Work and the Loneliness Epidemic: Reducing Isolation at Work Is Good for Business,” Vivek Murthy writes:14,15
“Over thousands of years, the value of social connection has become baked into our nervous system such that the absence of such a protective force creates a stress state in the body.
Loneliness causes stress, and long-term or chronic stress leads to more frequent elevations of a key stress hormone, cortisol. It is also linked to higher levels of inflammation in the body.
This in turn damages blood vessels and other tissues, increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, joint disease, depression, obesity, and premature death.”
If you’re currently self-isolating, what can you do to ease the pain? In her article, Tovey addresses the issue of loneliness brought on by the current outbreak, highlighting some emerging coping trends:16
“Nicole Gadon, an American woman forced into lengthy home quarantine by tuberculosis in 2014, told the New York Times the loneliness was palpable …
Looking back, she wished she had said yes when her brother offered to simply stand outside on her lawn and keep her company. Her two pieces of advice? ‘Ask for help’ and ‘get an indoor pet.’
Already in China during this outbreak, we have heard stories about the most dire consequences of social isolation17 — but so too we have seen a wellspring of creativity as people stay connected however they can.
Live-streamed DJ sets to turn apartments into satellite nightclubs, online book clubs and recipe forums where millennials can learn to cook together are some of the ways people are not just fighting boredom but are staying tethered to the outside world and each other.”
In a BBC News article,18 Nuala McCann writes about her two-week long self-isolation two decades ago, noting that while not joyful, a couple of weeks did pass rather quickly.
Ian Pannell, a senior foreign correspondent for ABC News also writes about what it’s like living in isolation.19 After spending two days on assignment in Daegu, South Korea, where coronavirus infection was rampant, he had to self-quarantine for 14 days. Pannell writes:20
“Think of all the things you could do — reading, writing, studying, watching, listening. All the things you never normally have time to do, right? Wrong.
I am now convinced that there is some unwritten mathematical equation or scientific law that proves an inverse relationship between time and achievement. The more of one we have, the less of the other we accomplish, and vice versa.
The other fallacy is that peace and quiet will be a welcome relief from the incessant noise of 24/7 modern life. Again, I can report this is also wrong.
It is an unusual and sometimes lonely sensation being entirely on your own … It is also sometimes claustrophobic not being able to just step outside the front door … And the silence can be uncomfortable … It is surprising what you do hear when there's nothing to listen to.”
Time will tell whether people will learn a truly valuable lesson from the current bout of self-isolation. In the future, will you perhaps be more mindful to look out for people who are isolated?
Will you call an aging parent or elderly grandparent more often? Will you check on a neighbor or co-worker who strikes you as lonely and a bit forlorn? Empathy often grows from personal experience and, globally, we’re now getting a taste of what it’s like for some people every day.
While making full use of technology during this time is being stressed by most experts, for those who were already isolated to begin with, the recommendation to Facetime with family and friends won’t help much since they lack that social network.
Many of the most vulnerable, such as the elderly and disabled, also lack the technical know-how. For these individuals in particular, the answer really lies in a compassionate reaching out by others, perhaps complete strangers — perhaps by you.
“This is an area where government can help by funding and supercharging community organizations,” sociologist Eric Klinenberg tells Vox.21
“A lot of my work is premised on the idea that extreme situations like the one we’re in now allow us to see conditions that are always present but difficult to perceive. We’re going to learn a lot about who we are and what we value in the next few months.”
Again, if you struggle with worry or anxiety, please check out Schiffman’s video and the FAST technique at the top of this article. If you’re worried about getting sick, remember that your immune system is your first line of defense. This is true for all infections.
While proper handwashing, masks, hand sanitizers and social distancing will all help to limit the spread of the virus (and are ways to protect others as well as yourself), keeping your immune system strong needs to be at the top of your list of personal prevention methods. To boost and support healthy immune function, consider:
Cutting out sugar and avoiding processed foods — Replace these with real (unprocessed or minimally processed) foods.
Getting enough sleep each night — It's well-known that lack of sleep can increase your chances of getting sick, and research22 has shown approximately 10% of your genome is under circadian control, including genes that influence your immune function. Your immune cells are also under circadian control.
Taking a high-quality probiotic — The health benefits derived from probiotics are rooted in the balancing of your intestinal bacteria. One of the easiest and quickest ways to do that is by eating fermented vegetables. Other beneficial fermented foods include kefir, natto, kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh and yogurt made from raw grass fed milk (avoid commercial yogurt as most are loaded with added sugar).
Increasing your fiber intake — Not only does fiber help balance your gut microbiome, it also helps improve your immune system, as resistant starches act as prebiotics that feed healthy bacteria in your gut.
Taking one or more immune-boosting supplements — While a healthy whole food diet is foundational for health, you may in some cases need a supplement or two. Nutrients that are important for healthy immune function include vitamins A, C, D3, K1, K2, zinc, selenium and B vitamins. Quercetin is another supplement that appears particularly promising for the prevention of viral illnesses, including COVID-19.
Drinking chaga tea — The high antioxidant levels in chaga tea may help boost your immune function. Chaga mushrooms are also chockful of beta-d-glucans that increase macrophage and killer cell efficiency.
A recently released survey from Mattress Firm revealed some disturbing facts about sleep patterns in America, as shown in this short video. This is important since the effects of sleep deprivation can range from mild to devastating.
For instance, the Anchorage Daily News1 recounts the story of third mate Gregory Cousins, who had slept a mere six hours between 8 p.m. on March 22, 1989, until just after midnight on March 24, when he ran the supertanker Exxon Valdez aground.
The accident devastated 23 species of wildlife and nearly 1,300 miles of coastline habitat. Many people may remember that the skipper of the ship was allegedly drunk (a jury later acquitted him of the charge), but what most don’t know is that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that sleep deprivation was an important factor in this accident. In fact, it not only was a known issue on the Valdez, but across the board in the shipping industry.
As it turned out, several of the Valdez’s crew members were sleep-deprived, and the oil spill was an accident waiting to happen. The problem was a direct result of Exxon trying to save money by not providing enough crew to provide breaks for sleep. In its report the NTSB said:2
“The mates on the Exxon Valdez were usually fatigued after cargo operations in Valdez, and the vessel usually put to sea with a fatigued crew … The financial advantage from eliminating officers and crew from each vessel does not seem to justify incurring the foreseeable risks of serious accidents.”
Unfortunately, sleep deprivation isn’t limited to sea vessel crews. According to the American Sleep Association,3 37.9% of people report inadvertently dropping off to sleep during the day at least once a month, and 4.7% have nodded off while driving.
Most people cut their sleep hours short because they feel the need to "get things done" — not unlike the Valdez situation. However, like the Valdez, the evidence clearly shows that you are not productive when sleep-deprived.
For several years Mattress Firm has commissioned a survey on sleep habits and the number of hours people are sleeping each night. This year, results show Americans are sleeping less and less. They asked 3,000 adults about their sleep habits, how satisfied they were with their sleep and about the frequency of sleeping and naps. They compared those results to those from 2018.4
What they found was a sad commentary on the speed at which modern society has chosen to live. It seems that getting at least six hours has become more challenging with each passing year. In 2018 results from the survey showed the average person asked was sleeping six hours and 17 minutes each night, but by 2019 that had dropped to 5.5 hours.5
Experts currently recommend adults from 18 to 65 years sleep consistently from 7 to 9 hours each night.6 In other words, most people are sleeping at least one- and one-half hours less each night than the minimum that experts think is important for optimal health.
While the number of hours you sleep is important, so is the quality. So, it’s even more disheartening to read that 25% of the respondents reported they also “consistently slept poorly in 2019.”7 Since the amount of quality sleep at night was on the decline, it makes sense the respondents reported they took more naps in 2019 than 2018. But, while more were taken, survey findings indicate there were many planned naps that didn’t get taken.
The survey defined a “great night’s sleep” as “quickly falling asleep and staying that way until morning.'' There were about 120 nights fitting that criteria. Americans are so desperate for a good night of sleep they said they were willing to “pay $316.61 for just one night of perfect sleep.” This was $26.16 more than in 2018.8
Interestingly, the people who reported the best sleep were those who slept on their back or slept with a pet in their bed. While side sleeping was the more common position reported in the survey, these were the same respondents who had the most difficult time getting to sleep.
The survey also asked about bedtime rituals that respondents used to help them fall asleep. The top rituals included reading, taking a bath, drinking warm milk, meditating and having sex.9
Sleep is an important foundation to your health and wellness and yet a significant number of people are having trouble accomplishing this seemingly simple task. A separate survey10 asked 2,000 British adults about their habits and found many reported being too tired to do everyday tasks.
The results showed the top two activities that respondents avoided when they were tired were house cleaning and working out. Half of those asked ordered their dinner out and 25% of women said they went to bed with their makeup on because washing their face before bed required more energy than they felt they had.
Of the 2,000 asked, 30% had canceled social plans and many reported avoiding grocery shopping, reading, driving and having sex because they were too tired. While Americans planned naps that weren’t taken,11 Brits were taking three naps a week and still reported feeling “as though they have ‘no energy at all’ four times” every week.12
In Britain, energy levels were at their highest mid-morning and their lowest midafternoon. As the authors of other studies have found13 more were the most tired on Mondays. Researchers have theorized a lack of sleep is one of the reasons there are more heart attacks on Mondays than other days of the week.14
In addition to these details, 25% of survey respondents thought their lethargy was related to long working hours, stress or depressing weather.15 They also found 20% had visited their doctor with complaints of sleepiness and more than 50% felt their exhaustion affected their mood. These results are discouraging since the effects of sleep deprivation are significant.
Both the quantity and quality of your sleep are important to your health and safety — indeed, the safety of others as well. Not getting enough sleep slows your reaction time and leaves you cognitively impaired. In 2013, drowsy driving caused 72,000 car accidents, killing 800 people and injuring 44,000.16
In one study17 from 2018 a researcher found that sleeping less than four hours in the previous 24 hours increased the odds of having a car accident by 15.1 times, compared to those who slept seven to nine hours in the previous 24. Statistically:18
"Drivers who slept for less than 4 hr were found to have crash risk comparable to that reported in previous studies for drivers with blood alcohol concentration roughly 1.5 times the legal limit effective in all US states."
The researcher explained:19
"Being awake isn't the same as being alert. Falling asleep isn't the only risk. Even if they manage to stay awake, sleep-deprived drivers are still at increased risk of making mistakes — like failing to notice something important, or misjudging a gap in traffic — which can have tragic consequences."
Despite these statistics, many say they push through their sleepiness to complete what needs to be done. One significant problem is when construction workers, medical professionals and pilots decide to “push through” — like the Valdez, it can have lethal consequences.
Other research shows that sleeping less than six hours a night will also dramatically increase your risk of insulin resistance, which is at the core of many chronic diseases.20 And, the list of health problems related to poor sleep continues to grow. The results of one study21 linked poor sleep with excessive aging of your heart; less than seven hours a night was enough to trigger that.
The lead researcher on the study from the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said:22
“Prolonged periods of insufficient sleep have negative effects on multiple body systems including the cardiovascular system. Studies have shown significant relationships between sleep duration and heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure, smoking, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity.
The difference between a person’s estimated heart age and his or her chronological age is ‘excess heart age.’ Higher excess heart age indicates a higher risk of developing heart disease."
However, sleeping a healthy number of hours may not protect you if the quality of your sleep is poor. Sleep quality has a significant impact on your risk of high blood pressure and inflammation of your blood vessels, also associated with heart disease.23 The researchers found “Systolic blood pressure was associated directly with poor sleep quality … "
They believed the findings demonstrated direct evidence neglecting sleep problems could increase your blood pressure and blood vessel inflammation even if you get adequate amounts of sleep.
One factor affecting sleep quality is your exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) and heavy metal toxicity associated with it. As Wendy Myers, functional diagnostic nutritionist, and I discuss in this short video, heavy metals are particularly detrimental to your mitochondrial function and when you have heavy metal toxicity you attract more EMF.
It’s a vicious cycle that ultimately damages your health. It also increases your levels of fatigue. In this short clip we talked about the interaction between fatigue, mitochondrial dysfunction and heavy metal toxicity.
In her research she discovered studies demonstrating how a variety of metals could affect the ability of the mitochondria to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of the body. There are several heavy metals Myers finds are of particular concern, including aluminum, arsenic, tin and thallium.
You can test for heavy metal toxicity using hair, urine or stool samples. Myers typically begins with a hair analysis as it’s easy, inexpensive and provides significant information. However, no one test is perfect, so I recommend doing all three. No one is exempt from heavy metal exposure as I found out when I tested positive for each of these metals in 2018.
Sleep has been a great mystery. It was once thought to be a waste of time, but as researchers discover more about how the brain functions, it’s become apparent sleep is a crucial component of a healthy lifestyle. Sleep deprivation can affect people of all ages, and unfortunately the effects are cumulative.24
By maintaining a natural rhythm of exposure to daylight and darkness you affect the quality of your sleep. Light helps synchronize your biological master clock in your brain that helps wake you in the morning and improves your sleep at night.25 Going outside in the morning hours and at lunch can help provide you with the light needed to anchor a healthy circadian rhythm.
However, just as important is the other end of the day. By using digital equipment after sunset, you stop the production of melatonin, important in getting quality sleep.26 In one study27 researchers found 99% of participants exposed to room light before bed produced melatonin later than expected.
In addition, light exposure during your usual hours of sleep can also suppress production by 50%. You’ll experience the greatest benefit by dimming your lights after sunset, using incandescent light bulbs and wearing blue blocker sunglasses indoors that help block blue light most responsible for blocking melatonin production.
While the list of health challenges associated with sleep loss is significant, you have options to help you improve the quantity and quality of your sleep. See “Top 33 Tips to Optimize Your Sleep Routine” for how to make a real difference in your overall health.