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Can Strategic Sound Deter Loitering?

 

Noise probably doesn’t pop into your head as being a major public deterrent — unless you happen to live in an area with an excess of it. Noise pollution can cause problems with well-being and physical health, so it’s not a stretch to understand how noise could be used strategically for crowd control and even as a weapon.

One controversial example is a device known as the “Mosquito,” which is being used as a tool to deter loitering in city parks and playgrounds. Although the device emits a high-pitched ringing noise, it can only be heard by the target audience — teens and young adults that city officials hope to keep out of certain areas after dark.

How Noise Is Being Used as a Youth Repellant

Philadelphia is one U.S. city that’s installed the Mosquito, a small speaker-like device, in 30 parks and recreation centers.1 Their purpose is to deter youth from hanging around the areas at night by emitting an unpleasant, high-pitched noise.

According to their parent company, Moving Sound Technologies (MST), the sound is similar to the buzzing of a mosquito and, when set to 17KHz, can only be heard by people between the ages of 13 and 25 years.2

This is because as people age, they typically have a harder time hearing high-pitched frequencies. Generally, adults hear sounds in the 0.02 to 16KHz range (sound is measured in hertz (Hz), with one KHz being equal to 1,000 Hz),3 but it’s not a perfect science.

Data are scarce on whether the devices work to reduce loitering or vandalism, but anecdotal reports on MST’s website suggest the relatively innocuous devices are leading to fewer incidents in areas such as condominium stairwells.4 In Philadelphia, the noise makers operate only from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and work in concert with other antivandalism tools, including security cameras, security staff and fences.5

Is Targeting Teens With Noise Ethical?

Part of the controversy over the Mosquito stems from the fact that some people living around the parks where it’s being used say they can hear the ringing. Mary Kate Riecks, who is 27 years old — outside of the device’s targeted age range — told NPR that she can hear the noise from a Mosquito a few blocks away:6

"It almost is more like a feeling than a sound. It's kind of in the back of your head … At least for me, it gives me a headache if I'm near it for too long. So I usually skip around this block or walk very quickly down it."

There is also concern that young children, including those unable to express their discomfort, can hear the noise, and the National Youth Rights Association suggested the devices are a form of age discrimination. The city of Washington, D.C., which had installed the devices in the Gallery Place Metro station in 2010, removed them due to discrimination concerns.7

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child also suggested the Mosquito and similar devices may violate children’s rights. They’ve since been banned in certain public spaces in several England counties.8 Even in Philadelphia, their use is controversial. City Council member Helen Gym called them “sonic weapons,” stating, as reported by NPR:9

"In a city that is trying to address gun violence and safe spaces for young people, how dare we come up with ideas that are funded by taxpayer dollars to turn young people away from the very places that were created for them?"

Also at issue is whether the sounds could produce harmful effects, although MST says no long-term side effects occur.

“The Mosquito has been tested by various US, Canada, United Kingdom and European Union government agencies, environmental groups and human rights groups and has been found to be completely safe — there is no risk of long-term hearing damage from The Mosquito,” according to MST, which notes the devices are designed to run at 5 decibels above background noise levels.10

As for their potential to interfere with human rights, Simon Morris, director of Compound Security, defended their use, telling CNN:11

"We're all parents as well … The Mosquito was born out of our children suffering because they were attacked or assaulted at local shops by older kids. We've never had the intention of curbing anybody's rights. People have the freedom to walk away from the sound and the sound is highly targeted into a very small area."

Music Used as Control Tools

Aside from the high-frequency noise being emitted by the Mosquito, other devices emit sounds in the form of music, also as a tool for control. In West Palm Beach, Florida, songs including “Baby Shark” are played from loudspeakers to deter homeless people from sleeping near an event center.12

Classical music is also used as a crime deterrent. In London, when music was played in tube stations, it’s said that robbery rates dropped by 33%, while verbal and physical abuse incidents also declined.13 In Germany, atonal music, which lacks harmony and can sound like random noise, was going to be played in train stations to deter loitering, but the idea was abandoned following widespread public criticism.14

Ultrasonic sounds, with frequencies of 20 kHz or more, also exist,15 and sonic attacks have been rumored to have occurred.16 This frequency is higher than most adults can hear, but it’s thought that some people may be sensitive to adverse effects from exposure, including headaches, nausea and tinnitus, or ringing in the ears.17 Tim Leighton, a professor of ultrasonics at University of Southampton, told CNN:18

"In the 1940s people started complaining about ultrasonic sickness, with symptoms like headache, excessive fatigue (and) irritability. The first legal case was in 1948 … A high frequency above 20 kilohertz, if you can hear it, will affect you for sure.

It can affect your concentration, your ability to do tasks, give you headaches (and) make you uncomfortable. We haven't been allowed, under our ethical guidelines, to look for stronger effects. It's almost likely that stronger signals will lead to a temporary, perhaps even permanent loss of hearing. But we can't test for that because it would be unethical for us to expose people to that."

How Noise Pollution Affects Your Health

Noise pollution, which is defined as “unwanted or disturbing sound,” affects millions of people, leading to adverse health effects. Noise-induced hearing loss is one of the most obvious effects that can occur from exposure to persistent or loud noise, but other unexpected health effects also occur, including:19

  • High blood pressure
  • Stress and related illnesses
  • Speech interference
  • Sleep disruption
  • Lost productivity

Further, according to research published in Environmental Health Perspectives, long-term exposure to traffic noise may account for approximately 3% of coronary heart disease deaths (or about 210,000 deaths) in Europe each year.20 How, exactly, does noise harm your heart?

One of the key ways is by elevating stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline, which, over time, can lead to high blood pressure, stroke and heart failure. One review of research showed that “arousal associated with nighttime noise exposure increased blood and saliva concentrations of these hormones even during sleep.”21

Deepak Prasher, a professor of audiology at University College in London and a member of the WHO Noise Environmental Burden on Disease working group, states:22

“Many people become habituated to noise over time… The biological effects are imperceptible, so that even as you become accustomed to the noise, adverse physiological changes are nevertheless taking place, with potentially serious consequences to human health … Taken together, recent epidemiologic data show us that noise is a major stressor that can influence health through the endocrine, immune, and cardiovascular systems.”

The impact can be significant. Among women who judge themselves to be sensitive to noise, chronic noise exposure increased the risk of cardiovascular mortality significantly.23

Using Noise for Good

Noise can be used to promote your health, just as it can be used against it. One example of positive noise is pink noise, which contains frequencies from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz, just like white noise, but the lower frequencies are louder and more powerful than the higher frequencies (white noise, in contrast, has equal power in all of its frequencies).24

Research published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience revealed that listening to pink noise could improve sleep and memory among 60- to 84-year-olds, a population that tends to have reduced slow wave sleep, or deep sleep, compared to younger individuals.25 While spending the night in a sleep lab, participants listened to pink noise one night and no noise the next.

Notably, the pink noise was played in bursts to match the timing of participants’ slow wave sleep. Not only did the pink noise enhance slow wave sleep, it also was linked to better scores on memory tests.

The participants scored about three times better on memory tests the morning after listening to pink noise in their sleep.26 Pink noise, for reference, is a gentle sound similar to that of rushing water or wind blowing through leaves on a tree.

How to Protect Yourself From Nuisance Noise

The upside to devices like the Mosquito is that you should (in theory at least) be able to avoid them by moving away from their targeted locale. If you live in a very noisy area, such as near a highway or airport, you may want to consider moving.

If that’s not an option, consider adding acoustical tile to your ceiling and walls to buffer the noise. Double-paneled windows and insulation can also help. At the very least, you can sound-treat your home by adding heavy curtains to your windows and rugs to your floors, and by sealing air leaks.

If noise is an issue only occasionally, sound-blocking headphones can eliminate such disturbances. You can also add beneficial noise to your home. Pink noise CDs are available, or you can also simply turn on a fan in your bedroom to block out noise disturbances and instead take advantage of this beneficial type of noise.

Chlorophyll: How to Get This Valuable Nutrient From Foods

 

Photosynthesis is the process wherein green plants or vegetables absorb light from the sun and transform it, along with minerals, water and carbon dioxide, into food to help them grow. It goes without saying that this is important not just to plants, but to humans and animals well. Oxygen, the chemical element that living organisms require to breathe, is a byproduct of this food-making process.1

At the heart of photosynthesis is chlorophyll, a pigment that absorbs blue and some red portions of the electromagnetic spectrum that causes it to become green. This also results in plants getting their distinctive color.2 As chlorophyll absorbs the light, it creates carbohydrates that serve as the plant's nourishment.3

An interesting thing about chlorophyll is that it possesses potential health benefits that people can obtain when they consume vegetables. According to a study published in 2016, chlorophyll possesses antioxidant properties that may help promote longevity.4 With this in mind, no doubt most people may benefit from the chlorophyll that comes from vegetables, and luckily, there are plenty of choices that you can enjoy.

The Best Natural Sources of Chlorophyll You Should Munch On

You may not know it, but the green vegetables you eat have some chlorophyll in them, so you can gain chlorophyll's potential benefits if you eat these vegetables regularly. That being said, some sources contain more chlorophyll than others. If you want to maximize this nutrient, I suggest consuming the following:5

  • Spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Beet greens
  • Green bell peppers
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Green cabbage
  • Celery
  • Collard greens
  • Cucumbers
  • Kale
  • Swiss chard
  • Romaine lettuce

Not only do these vegetables contain generous amounts of chlorophyll, they are also rich in other nutrients that may help optimize your health further. Broccoli, for example, contains isothiocyanates that may help lower your risk of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.6

However, some people may not be able to enjoy vegetables due to the risk of developing allergic reactions. This condition is known as oral allergy syndrome (OAS), and is sometimes called pollen-food syndrome. It occurs whenever you consume certain fruits, vegetables and nuts with distinctive proteins that cause swelling in the mouth, windpipe and back of the throat.7

Studies That Examine Chlorophyll's Potential Health Benefits

Chlorophyll has been extensively studied for its effect on human health for years, and it has been found to be potentially helpful in certain situations. By consuming vegetables high in chlorophyll, you may obtain the following benefits:

Lower your risk of cancer — Chlorophyll may help lower your risk of cancer by inducing apoptosis, according to a research published in Nutrition Research.8 In one documented study, the pigment has been found to help specifically with colon cancer.9

Manage arthritis — Evidence has shown that chlorophyll has anti-inflammatory properties that may benefit people affected with chronic inflammation. In the journal Inflammation, researchers discovered that chlorophyll helped inhibit TNF-α (tumor necrosis factor-alpha) in mice.10

TNF-α is a pro-inflammatory cytokine "produced by macrophages/monocytes during acute inflammation and is responsible for a diverse range of signaling events within cells, leading to necrosis or apoptosis."11

Fight free radicals — According to the Journal of Food Science, dietary chlorophyll contains antioxidant and antimutagenic properties that may benefit your health by fighting free radicals throughout your body.12

Promote longevity — Consuming chlorophyll may help slow down aging and rejuvenate your cells, according to a study published in Peer-Reviewed & Open Access. Researchers found that feeding chlorophyll to nematodes from the Caenorhabditis elegans species helped increase their lifespan by increasing resistance to oxidative stress.13

Kill pathogenic yeast — Oral thrush, a mouth disease caused by the yeast strain Candida albicans, may be treated by consuming chlorophyll, according to a study conducted by the South Brazilian Dentistry Journal.14

Manage your weight — Chlorophyll may help manage your weight and prevent overeating by helping control your hunger and food cravings. In one study, researchers fed 20 moderately overweight women meals that contained chlorophyll. Results indicate that the procedure was able to help suppress test subjects' hunger by intensifying signals of satiety.15

Reduce body odor — If you've been experiencing fishy body odor lately (trimethylaminuria), you may benefit from chlorophyll. It may help eliminate bad odor by reducing the amount of thrimethylamines excreted by your body.16 In a study that involved 62 geriatric nursing home patients, chlorophyll was found to be helpful in this regard, and even helped ease chronic constipation as a positive side effect.17

Side Effects of Chlorophyll Supplements Can Be Uncomfortable

Chlorophyll supplements are generally considered safe, according to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements. However, side effects have been reported, such as:18

  • Urine changes — Your urine may turn green.
  • Skin reactions — Photosensitive rashes may appear after taking chlorophyll supplements.
  • Gastrointestinal issues — There's a possibility to develop diarrhea.

Very little research exists about the effects of chlorophyll on children and pregnant or breastfeeding women. In light of this information, I do not recommend giving chlorophyll supplements to young children or taking them while you're pregnant. Similarly, not much is known about the interactions of chlorophyll with other drugs.19

In any case, if you do happen to develop any of the side effects mentioned above, consult with your doctor immediately.

Instead of Supplements, Opt for Green Veggies First

It's no secret that vegetables are good for everyone's health due to their mixture of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Furthermore, they contain chlorophyll that may help optimize your health further.

If you're consuming a diverse selection of vegetables on a regular basis, you're already doing a great job eating a healthy diet. Your body is taking in all their nutrients and synthesizing them to help you maintain optimal health and enjoy your life. For those who are not eating enough vegetables, I urge you to increase your consumption to help lower the risk of health problems.

However, there are certain situations that may prevent you from enjoying vegetables, such as if you have allergies to these foods.20 If this is the case, a chlorophyll supplement may work in your favor.

Frequently Asked Questions About Chlorophyll

Q: What does chlorophyll do?

A: Chlorophyll is a green pigment found in plants that facilitates photosynthesis by absorbing sunlight.21 Its potential therapeutic benefits include protection from bad breath, among other things.22

Q: Do fungi have chlorophyll?

A: No, fungi do not have their own chlorophyll because they are not plants and do not undergo photosynthesis. Fungi take food from their immediate surroundings, while plants can make their own food through photosynthesis.23

Q: What does chlorophyll do in photosynthesis?

A: Chlorophyll is a molecule that absorbs sunlight and uses that energy to synthesize carbon dioxide and water to create food for plants. This entire process is known as photosynthesis.24

Q: Where in the chloroplast is chlorophyll found?

A: Chloroplasts are the tiny energy factories found inside plant cells. Inside them is chlorophyll.25

Claire – The Documentary of Claire Wineland

 

There was a movie called “Five Feet Apart” that reminded me of the courageous and inspirational story of Claire Wineland. Honestly, the documentary above is much better than the movie, but it reminded me of Wineland’s story.

It’s an exceptionally potent reminder of how we need to live life to the fullest, even though we might die tomorrow. I really don’t know of any better example of that than Wineland.

So, trust me on this one. This film is only 40 minutes long. Promise me that you will schedule some time to watch in its entirety and tell me if it doesn’t change your perspective on life. If it doesn’t, I would be interested to know and will review the comment section.

Claire Wineland, Inspirational Speaker Extraordinaire

Wineland was an inspirational speaker and YouTube sensation who sadly died September 2, 2018, not from cystic fibrosis, which she was born with, but from a stroke following an otherwise successful lung transplant that would have extended her life another five years if successful.1 She was 21.

At age 13, Wineland founded the Claire’s Place Foundation2 to help families with children who, like herself, struggle with cystic fibrosis — a progressive and terminal genetic disease that causes an overproduction and buildup of thick, sticky mucus in the lungs and other organs.

The disease requires daily breathing treatment for up to five hours a day, and children with cystic fibrosis typically end up spending a lot of time in the hospital due to respiratory distress and chronic infections. Wineland is said to have spent about a quarter of her life in the hospital.

In 2016, she received the World of Children Youth Award3 for her foundation’s support of children with CF and their families. At the age of 19, Wineland launched CF University, an online resource for children where they can learn more about their disease.

Mere days before her surgery and untimely death, Wineland gave thanks to the thousands of people who donated nearly $268,000 to her Go Fund Me campaign to pay for the surgery that she and her family otherwise could not afford.4

The transplant surgery took nine hours, and went well. However, shortly afterward, she suffered a massive stroke on the right side of her brain. She was placed in a medically induced coma, from which she never emerged.

A Life of Purpose

In 2016, Wineland appeared in an episode of “My Last Days,” (above) a limited CW docuseries hosted by Justin Baldoni, featuring people living with terminal illness.5

“My name is Claire Wineland. I’m 18 years old,” she says. “I’m living with something called cystic fibrosis. Doctors say I have around a year left to live, but that doesn’t really matter to me because death is inevitable. But living a life that we are proud of, that is something we can actually control.”

According to Wineland’s father, she’d always been a positive little girl, but something happened when, at the age of 13, she went into lung failure and slipped into a coma for 17 days. When she emerged, she had a new level of acceptance about her, and an attitude of wanting to enjoy life as much as she could, all while knowing her days were numbered.

“The only thing you’re told when you have an illness is, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry … Your life must be horrible.’ Those exact words, over and over and over again. That gets so cemented into your consciousness. What kind of weird belief is that?” Wineland says.

“Most 18-year-olds do not have to deal with what I have to deal with specifically, no. But everyone has to deal with their own pain. The absolute truth is that I don’t think the pain I’ve been through is any more severe than the pain any other individual has been through. It might be more physical, but I’ve also had the incredible gift of having people who genuinely love me giving me so much mental stability and strength.

We have to realize that we are part of something bigger. What happens in our world, what happens in our society, is very literally a part of us because we’re so influenced by it, and it is so influenced by us … We can’t put ourselves in a bubble. We can’t detach from the world that we live in.”

Blessed With Life

Wineland’s mother is convinced her daughter came into the world with a mission to share the message of “what it’s like to be blessed with life.” “I think she felt, knowing she had a shorter life, she wanted to do more with it,” she says. I couldn’t agree more.

“I’ve always loved the idea of bringing life into places where people think life doesn’t really exist,” Wineland says of her idea to start posting videos of her hospital stays on YouTube. “Some of my favorite moments of my entire life were when I was in the hospital.” For Wineland, the hospital was a wonderful, cheerful place of healing and friendship. “My Last Days” does an excellent job of showing that.

But in addition to sharing her life on YouTube, Wineland had bigger goals: Public speaking. She says she was always drawn to public speaking and from an early age, she would stand up and give “very long monologues” during family gatherings.

During the filming of “My Last Days,” Baldoni surprised Wineland with an unusual gift: Private lessons by speech coach Richard Green, who agreed to help her polish her public speaking skills and craft a speech. Green tells Wineland he believes she’s “destined to impact and change the world.”

“Great public speaking is nothing more than having a conversation from your heart — something you do all the time,” Green tells her. “Number two, [speaking] about something you’re authentically passionate about, in order to help another person, help a group of people or help the world … That’s how you’ve lived your life and you’re not afraid of it.”

Wineland’s Message

When asked by Green what she would want her audience to get from her speech, she says, “I’d want them to have a moment of clarity. Realizing they actually have power in their happiness and in the way their life goes.” She ended up giving that speech at the Life Is Beautiful Music and Arts festival in Las Vegas, September 2015.6

“I can stand up here and tell you I am genuinely proud of my life,” she said during that speech. “I am so proud to be alive. I’m not saying that I don’t feel pain … sadness and suffering and loneliness, because that’s what it means to be a human being. I’m saying that pain, that loneliness and that sadness is beautiful …

We live in a society that benefits off of us continuously looking for happiness, for dreams and goals ‘out there.’ If we say ‘no, we’re not going to go looking out there for happiness; we’re alive and that is all we need,’ then we are beating the system! And we’re living lives we can be proud of. We’re living lives that make us happy.”

Wineland’s mother says:

“I think people see in her this light, that she was born with. Claire Lucia means ‘clear light,’ and I really think that embodies who she is. She’s very real, and I think some of these great things that are happening are because she relates to people on a different level … I think the biggest thing she’s taught me is ‘stay in the moment’ … Right this second is great; right this second is beautiful.”

‘CLAIRE’ the Documentary

Wineland’s life was nothing if not impactful, and even though she’s gone, her impact is bound to continue. Proceeds from “CLAIRE,” made by Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Nicholas Reed,7 and produced by YouTube Originals,8,9,10 will go to Claire’s Place Foundation. According to The Wrap,11 Reed worked with Wineland for the last 18 months of her life. In a statement, Reed said:12

“When I met Claire, I was totally blown away. All my partners instantly said ‘she is the most amazing young person we have ever met, we have to do a film on her.’ And wow, with each meeting we were humbled more and more by her story.

We are honored to have worked with Claire and with the blessing of her family on this official documentary that encapsulates the true nature of Claire and her courageous battle to help dignify people who are sick.”  

You can support Wineland’s legacy by making a donation directly to Claire’s Place Foundation. Last but certainly not least, you can honor her gift by living your own life with gratitude and purpose. 

Optimism and having a sense of purpose in life has actually been scientifically shown to have direct benefits on health and is associated with increased life expectancy. Wineland was herself a testament to this, as she never expected to make it past her teens.

As explained by Wineland, your purpose is really all about what you believe you can give; how you can make a difference. So often, people get stuck in the limiting mentality of “I’m just one person, how could I possibly make a difference?” Well, you can. You might not be able to help everyone, but you can help some.

What are you enthusiastic about? What revs your internal engine? What comes really naturally to you? What do you enjoy doing most? Exploring your answers to these questions can help you discover your purpose, if you feel you haven’t found it yet.

Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

Wineland’s message also stresses the importance of cultivating an attitude of gratitude. In her speech at the Life Is Beautiful Music and Arts festival, she said:

You’re never going to be happy with what you get unless you’re happy with what you have. And that’s what you have to do with your life. You have to look at all of it; all the pain, all the loneliness, all the beauty, all the friendship, the family, the sickness and the health — you have to lay it all in front of you and say, ‘Okay, this is what I have. It’s all wonderful. What can I make with it?”

Aside from augmenting happiness and life satisfaction, gratitude actually produces measurable effects on a number of bodily systems, including beneficial effects on mood and pleasure-related neurotransmitters, reproductive and social bonding hormones, cognition, blood pressure and more.

Importantly, it lowers the stress hormone cortisol and inflammatory cytokines, which are often elevated if you have chronic disease. Health benefits associated with gratitude include:13,14,15,16

A greater sense of pleasure, as gratitude stimulates your hypothalamus (a brain area involved in the regulation of stress) and your ventral tegmental area (part of your brain’s “reward circuitry,” an area that produces pleasurable feelings)17

Improved sleep18 (especially if your mind has a tendency to go into overdrive with negative thoughts and worries at bedtime)

A higher likelihood of engaging in other healthy activities and self-care such as exercise

Higher relationship satisfaction

Improved work performance (in one study, managers who expressed gratitude saw a 50 percent increase in the employees’ performance)

Reduced stress and emotional distress, in part by improving emotional resiliency

Enhanced well-being and improved mental health by triggering the release of antidepressant and mood-regulating chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and oxytocin, while inhibiting cortisol

Improved heart health,19 reducing the likelihood of sudden death in patients with congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease

Reduced inflammation and pain

Improved immune function

If you’re not yet in the habit of taking note of what you’re grateful for, see “Gratitude makes you healthier, happier and more popular” for a dozen practical strategies to help build and strengthen your gratitude muscle.

What Can a Snake Plant Do for You?

 

Have you ever noticed that when you walk into the home of someone who keeps a lot of plants, you feel just a little bit calmer? Researchers1 who evaluated the effects of indoor plants on 24 young male adults found active interaction with plants reduced their physiological and psychological stress. Participants were left feeling comfortable and soothed.

Research has also demonstrated that university students taught in classrooms where tropical plants were present gave higher ratings to both the course and the instructor.2 One group is so convinced of the power of plants to reduce stress that they've made it a mission to bring plants into every classroom.3

Plants may sharpen your attention capacity,4 reduce sick leave and improve productivity.5 They may also speed recovery from surgery.6 In a study from the University of Exeter, researchers found adding greenery to an otherwise austere office could increase productivity by 15%.7

While each of these benefits improves your overall health, you'll also likely benefit from the specific improvements that snake plants make in reducing indoor air pollution.8

Indoor Air Pollution Is Dangerous to Your Health

Many are aware that outdoor air pollution carries dangerous risks. Some of the more common pollutants include particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide,9 formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds10 such as benzene.11 The American Lung Association says these common pollutants trigger asthma episodes and shape how children's lungs develop.

The World Health Organization says air pollution is a major environmental risk to health. In 2016, WHO found that outdoor pollution caused 4.2 million premature deaths around the world.12 While dangerous, indoor air quality can be just as destructive. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, some pollutants are two to five times higher indoors.13

Those who are most vulnerable are the young, old and those who are suffering from cardiovascular or respiratory disease. In the past decades, concentrations of some pollutants have risen as buildings have become more energy efficient. Some buildings also lack sufficient mechanical ventilation and use a rising number of synthetic building materials.14

The concentration of indoor pollutants rises when man-made chemicals and other substances are released in or near your home. A number of common sources, such as household cleaning products, building materials, pesticides, air fresheners and space heaters are responsible.15

These pollutants have both short- and long-term health effects. Short-term exposure16 may increase your risk for allergy reactions including worsening asthma, headaches, fatigue and dizziness. Long-term health conditions may include acute lung infections, chronic obstructive lung disease, lung cancer,17 high blood pressure and diabetes.18

Add Oxygen to Your Environment With Snake Plants

In this short TED talk environmental activist Kamal Meattle, CEO of Paharpur Business Centre in New Delhi,19 spoke about how he successfully improved the indoor air quality in his business using three plants, of which a snake plant was one. He had a bad reaction to the air pollution in New Delhi and was told his lung damage was killing him.

After learning about a NASA20 study in which several plants were analyzed for their ability to remove toxins and add oxygen, he added three common green plants to his building and realized significant results. He used areca palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens), snake plant or mother-in-law's tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) and money plant (Epipremnum aureum).

Meattle conducted his studies in his 20-year-old, 50,000 square-foot building with 1,200 plants for 300 occupants. There was a 42% probability the occupants' blood oxygen level would rise by 1% when they stayed indoors for 10 hours,21 a significant feat in New Delhi that ranks as the world's most polluted city.22

According to Meattle, the Indian government compared the health conditions of occupants in his buildings to those in other buildings and found there was a reduced incidence of eye irritation by 52%. Respiratory symptoms were reduced by 34%, headaches were lowered 24% and lung impairment went down by 12%.23

The snake plant converts CO2 into oxygen during the night hours, which has earned the plant the nickname the "bedroom plant". To supply enough oxygen in his building Meattle found they needed six to eight waist-high plants for each person.24

A common byproduct of respiration is carbon dioxide. Indoor levels that rise may increase the chance that those living and working in confined spaces will suffer from declining performance and learning. Rising levels of CO2 also directly affect cognitive skills and productivity.25

Snake Plants Help Reduce Indoor Air Pollution

In one study published by the International Conference on Chemical, Metallurgy and Materials Science Engineering, researchers evaluated the ability of a snake plant to absorb carbon dioxide in the office. They found that in an office with 360 M3 airspace and three staff people where four snake plants were used, the snake plants absorbed 22.93% of the carbon dioxide.26

In addition to adding oxygen and removing CO2 in the environment, NASA also demonstrated the ability the snake plant has to reduce the levels of trichlorethylene, benzene and formaldehyde.27 When the plant leaf surface area was 2,871 square cm, the plant removed 31,294 mcg of formaldehyde and 28,710 mcg of benzene. A plant with 3,474 square cm of surface area removed 9,727 mcg of trichloroethylene.28

Trichloroethylene is a nonflammable liquid used as a solvent to remove grease. However, it's also found in paint removers, spot removers and adhesives. Although not found naturally in the environment, the snake plant is able to remove trichloroethylene from the air. It's classified as a volatile organic compound and is carcinogenic to humans with a higher evidence for kidney cancer.29

Benzene is among the top 20 chemicals commonly used and is found in plastics, synthetic fibers and resins. Manufacturers also use benzene to produce rubber, detergents, pesticides and drugs. It's classified as a hydrocarbon and is considered a volatile organic compound. This known human carcinogen commonly affects the blood, immune system and nervous system.30

At room temperature, formaldehyde is a colorless gas with a distinct smell. It's classified by the EPA as a "probable" carcinogen, but the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies it as carcinogenic to humans. It is a volatile organic compound that affects your skin, digestive tract, immune system and respiratory system. It's found in the production of food, paper, antiseptics, cosmetics and resins.31

Each of the substances the snake plant is known to affect in your indoor environment are dangerous to your health. However, as Meattle commented in his video, the addition of plant life to your home can create a healthy environment for you and your family without much effort.

Taking Care of Your Snake Plant at Home

The snake plant might be one of the easiest, low maintenance houseplants to keep as it may thrive in full sun or full shade. It's drought-resistant and also does well when you water it consistently. The plant is found in most nurseries and one may be propagated from another. It's a hardy plant with stiff upright leaves that range in height from 1 foot to 8 feet.32

Although most are called mother-in-law's tongue, that variety typically has a yellow border along the leaves. The plant is a member of the Asparagacea family, which includes asparagus. It's native to West Africa and also goes under the names viper's bowstring hemp and St. George's sword.33

It is an ideal plant for containers around your home, but thrives outside in Hardiness Zones 9 to 11. The snake plant may adapt to full sun conditions and will survive in the shade but it prefers indirect, steady light.34 When potting, use well-draining potting soil, avoiding those low in peat because they don't drain well. Soil intended for cactus is a good choice.

Don't allow the roots to sit in water as it increases the risk of root rot and fungus.35 The soil should dry between watering and during the winter months it should be watered less frequently. Protect your plants from drafts and keep it away from the air conditioner and heating vent.

The plant does not need any pruning36 but may require repotting each year as it grows rapidly. When repotting, always use fresh soil.37 The snake plant makes a beautiful addition to your home but is also toxic to small children and pets.

Keep the plant out of reach and if you see signs of toxicity, such as excessive salivation, nausea or diarrhea, seek medical attention for your child or pet.38 The plant sometimes triggers allergic contact dermatitis but it's usually only toxic when ingested.39

Snake Plant Varieties Offer Unique Decorating Options

The plant comes in a number of different varieties, heights and sizes. Although it improves your indoor air quality, snake plants also add a unique flavor to your decorating. Since the plant is so versatile you can choose to decorate your patio during the summer and bring it in during the winter. If you do choose this option, be sure to slowly harden the plant in the spring before it's left out day and night. Varieties of snake plants include:

  • Sansevieria trifasciata Black Gold — This cultivar has leaves growing relatively straight with light yellow to gold edges and dark green centers.40
  • Sansevieria trifasciata Futura Robusta — This is the shortest of the snake plants with silvery green leaves.41
  • Sansevieria trifasciata Cylindrica — This unique variety has round shaped stiff leaves that may reach several feet in height. The leaves resemble bamboo42 and arch outward from the center.43
  • Sansevieria trifasciata Twist — This variety grows to about 14 inches, making it perfect on a table or as a hanging plant. The leaves are twisted and striped horizontally with yellow edges.44
  • Sansevieria trifasciata Whitney — This dwarf variety has dark green centers bordered by silver green edges.45

Snake Plant Propagation

One way to have increase the number of snake plants in your home is to propagate them. The plants are popular and easy to grow, so you may have a few friends with varieties you don't already own. There are four different ways to propagate your snake plant.46

Anytime one gets too big for the pot, you can either choose to repot it in something larger or split it and divide the plant. Remove the plant and use a knife to cut the roots and separate the stalks. Once it's repotted and the roots covered with soil, mist the plant with water.

Another option is to pull out the young shoots, or rhizomes, which are often found below the soil when you're repotting. Pull the shoots apart by the roots. You can plant each one individually in a separate pot or you can plant several of the largest ones together in a large pot.

You can also propagate the plants by taking a cutting of a leaf close to the base. The cutting can either be placed in a fresh pot of soil or in a vase with water. If you choose water, change it every few days and then once the roots begin to develop, pot in some fresh soil.47

What Can a Snake Plant Do for You?

 

Have you ever noticed that when you walk into the home of someone who keeps a lot of plants, you feel just a little bit calmer? Researchers1 who evaluated the effects of indoor plants on 24 young male adults found active interaction with plants reduced their physiological and psychological stress. Participants were left feeling comfortable and soothed.

Research has also demonstrated that university students taught in classrooms where tropical plants were present gave higher ratings to both the course and the instructor.2 One group is so convinced of the power of plants to reduce stress that they've made it a mission to bring plants into every classroom.3

Plants may sharpen your attention capacity,4 reduce sick leave and improve productivity.5 They may also speed recovery from surgery.6 In a study from the University of Exeter, researchers found adding greenery to an otherwise austere office could increase productivity by 15%.7

While each of these benefits improves your overall health, you'll also likely benefit from the specific improvements that snake plants make in reducing indoor air pollution.8

Indoor Air Pollution Is Dangerous to Your Health

Many are aware that outdoor air pollution carries dangerous risks. Some of the more common pollutants include particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide,9 formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds10 such as benzene.11 The American Lung Association says these common pollutants trigger asthma episodes and shape how children's lungs develop.

The World Health Organization says air pollution is a major environmental risk to health. In 2016, WHO found that outdoor pollution caused 4.2 million premature deaths around the world.12 While dangerous, indoor air quality can be just as destructive. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, some pollutants are two to five times higher indoors.13

Those who are most vulnerable are the young, old and those who are suffering from cardiovascular or respiratory disease. In the past decades, concentrations of some pollutants have risen as buildings have become more energy efficient. Some buildings also lack sufficient mechanical ventilation and use a rising number of synthetic building materials.14

The concentration of indoor pollutants rises when man-made chemicals and other substances are released in or near your home. A number of common sources, such as household cleaning products, building materials, pesticides, air fresheners and space heaters are responsible.15

These pollutants have both short- and long-term health effects. Short-term exposure16 may increase your risk for allergy reactions including worsening asthma, headaches, fatigue and dizziness. Long-term health conditions may include acute lung infections, chronic obstructive lung disease, lung cancer,17 high blood pressure and diabetes.18

Add Oxygen to Your Environment With Snake Plants

In this short TED talk environmental activist Kamal Meattle, CEO of Paharpur Business Centre in New Delhi,19 spoke about how he successfully improved the indoor air quality in his business using three plants, of which a snake plant was one. He had a bad reaction to the air pollution in New Delhi and was told his lung damage was killing him.

After learning about a NASA20 study in which several plants were analyzed for their ability to remove toxins and add oxygen, he added three common green plants to his building and realized significant results. He used areca palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens), snake plant or mother-in-law's tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) and money plant (Epipremnum aureum).

Meattle conducted his studies in his 20-year-old, 50,000 square-foot building with 1,200 plants for 300 occupants. There was a 42% probability the occupants' blood oxygen level would rise by 1% when they stayed indoors for 10 hours,21 a significant feat in New Delhi that ranks as the world's most polluted city.22

According to Meattle, the Indian government compared the health conditions of occupants in his buildings to those in other buildings and found there was a reduced incidence of eye irritation by 52%. Respiratory symptoms were reduced by 34%, headaches were lowered 24% and lung impairment went down by 12%.23

The snake plant converts CO2 into oxygen during the night hours, which has earned the plant the nickname the "bedroom plant". To supply enough oxygen in his building Meattle found they needed six to eight waist-high plants for each person.24

A common byproduct of respiration is carbon dioxide. Indoor levels that rise may increase the chance that those living and working in confined spaces will suffer from declining performance and learning. Rising levels of CO2 also directly affect cognitive skills and productivity.25

Snake Plants Help Reduce Indoor Air Pollution

In one study published by the International Conference on Chemical, Metallurgy and Materials Science Engineering, researchers evaluated the ability of a snake plant to absorb carbon dioxide in the office. They found that in an office with 360 M3 airspace and three staff people where four snake plants were used, the snake plants absorbed 22.93% of the carbon dioxide.26

In addition to adding oxygen and removing CO2 in the environment, NASA also demonstrated the ability the snake plant has to reduce the levels of trichlorethylene, benzene and formaldehyde.27 When the plant leaf surface area was 2,871 square cm, the plant removed 31,294 mcg of formaldehyde and 28,710 mcg of benzene. A plant with 3,474 square cm of surface area removed 9,727 mcg of trichloroethylene.28

Trichloroethylene is a nonflammable liquid used as a solvent to remove grease. However, it's also found in paint removers, spot removers and adhesives. Although not found naturally in the environment, the snake plant is able to remove trichloroethylene from the air. It's classified as a volatile organic compound and is carcinogenic to humans with a higher evidence for kidney cancer.29

Benzene is among the top 20 chemicals commonly used and is found in plastics, synthetic fibers and resins. Manufacturers also use benzene to produce rubber, detergents, pesticides and drugs. It's classified as a hydrocarbon and is considered a volatile organic compound. This known human carcinogen commonly affects the blood, immune system and nervous system.30

At room temperature, formaldehyde is a colorless gas with a distinct smell. It's classified by the EPA as a "probable" carcinogen, but the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies it as carcinogenic to humans. It is a volatile organic compound that affects your skin, digestive tract, immune system and respiratory system. It's found in the production of food, paper, antiseptics, cosmetics and resins.31

Each of the substances the snake plant is known to affect in your indoor environment are dangerous to your health. However, as Meattle commented in his video, the addition of plant life to your home can create a healthy environment for you and your family without much effort.

Taking Care of Your Snake Plant at Home

The snake plant might be one of the easiest, low maintenance houseplants to keep as it may thrive in full sun or full shade. It's drought-resistant and also does well when you water it consistently. The plant is found in most nurseries and one may be propagated from another. It's a hardy plant with stiff upright leaves that range in height from 1 foot to 8 feet.32

Although most are called mother-in-law's tongue, that variety typically has a yellow border along the leaves. The plant is a member of the Asparagacea family, which includes asparagus. It's native to West Africa and also goes under the names viper's bowstring hemp and St. George's sword.33

It is an ideal plant for containers around your home, but thrives outside in Hardiness Zones 9 to 11. The snake plant may adapt to full sun conditions and will survive in the shade but it prefers indirect, steady light.34 When potting, use well-draining potting soil, avoiding those low in peat because they don't drain well. Soil intended for cactus is a good choice.

Don't allow the roots to sit in water as it increases the risk of root rot and fungus.35 The soil should dry between watering and during the winter months it should be watered less frequently. Protect your plants from drafts and keep it away from the air conditioner and heating vent.

The plant does not need any pruning36 but may require repotting each year as it grows rapidly. When repotting, always use fresh soil.37 The snake plant makes a beautiful addition to your home but is also toxic to small children and pets.

Keep the plant out of reach and if you see signs of toxicity, such as excessive salivation, nausea or diarrhea, seek medical attention for your child or pet.38 The plant sometimes triggers allergic contact dermatitis but it's usually only toxic when ingested.39

Varieties Offer Unique Decorating Options

The plant comes in a number of different varieties, heights and sizes. Although it improves your indoor air quality, snake plants also add a unique flavor to your decorating. Since the plant is so versatile you can choose to decorate your patio during the summer and bring it in during the winter. If you do choose this option, be sure to slowly harden the plant in the spring before it's left out day and night. Varieties of snake plants include:

  • Sansevieria trifasciata Black Gold — This cultivar has leaves growing relatively straight with light yellow to gold edges and dark green centers.40
  • Sansevieria trifasciata Futura Robusta — This is the shortest of the snake plants with silvery green leaves.41
  • Sansevieria trifasciata Cylindrica — This unique variety has round shaped stiff leaves that may reach several feet in height. The leaves resemble bamboo42 and arch outward from the center.43
  • Sansevieria trifasciata Twist — This variety grows to about 14 inches, making it perfect on a table or as a hanging plant. The leaves are twisted and striped horizontally with yellow edges.44
  • Sansevieria trifasciata Whitney — This dwarf variety has dark green centers bordered by silver green edges.45

Propagate Your Plants for Greater Results

One way to have increase the number of snake plants in your home is to propagate them. The plants are popular and easy to grow, so you may have a few friends with varieties you don't already own. There are four different ways to propagate your snake plant.46

Anytime one gets too big for the pot, you can either choose to repot it in something larger or split it and divide the plant. Remove the plant and use a knife to cut the roots and separate the stalks. Once it's repotted and the roots covered with soil, mist the plant with water.

Another option is to pull out the young shoots, or rhizomes, which are often found below the soil when you're repotting. Pull the shoots apart by the roots. You can plant each one individually in a separate pot or you can plant several of the largest ones together in a large pot.

You can also propagate the plants by taking a cutting of a leaf close to the base. The cutting can either be placed in a fresh pot of soil or in a vase with water. If you choose water, change it every few days and then once the roots begin to develop, pot in some fresh soil.47

How to Grow Dahlia Flowers

 

The dahlia plant produces flowers in a range of colors, shapes and sizes.1 The flowers are often loved by gardeners as they have one of the longest blooming periods compared to other plants.2 Dahlias will start blooming in June and many continue to flower until the first frost.

The dahlia plant is native to the high plains of Mexico. Some species have also been propagated in Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica.3 The dahlia has been grown in Europe since arriving at the botanical gardens of Madrid during the 18th century. The original flowers had an open center but it wasn't long before gardeners found they could hybridize the plant and change both form and color.

You can find dahlia plants in the form of water lilies, peonies, chrysanthemums and anemone.4 They're grown as flat broad petals, rolled pointed petals or globular flowers. The flowers may be the size of a dinnerplate or a small pom pom.5 In other words, no matter your preference for shape and form, there's likely a dahlia plant to suit your taste.

The plants are often grown as ornamental flowers and belong to the aster family,6 which also includes zinnias, safflower, ragweed and dandelions.7 The dahlia is the national flower of Mexico.

Familiar with cultivating the plant, the Aztecs were the first to discover a dahlia tree known to grow approximately 20 feet high with a hollow interior.8 They were able to use the flowers for water. When the Spaniards conquered the Aztecs, they brought seeds back to Spain, where they were cultivated.

Planting dahlias in your garden offers you some of the most spectacular views throughout the summer. According to The American Dahlia Society,9 there are now 42 recognizable species and several more subspecies. Growing dahlias is easy and they often yield beautiful blooms beginning in the middle of summer. This can go on well into the fall months.

The Fundamentals of Growing Dahlias

Learning how to grow dahlias requires a few steps before you plant. It's important to choose the right type and size for your garden. Large plants can grow as high as 5 feet tall10 with flowers of up to 1 foot in diameter. Their height and blooms look best at the back of a perennial border. The larger plants require some staking to support the stems during wind and rain.11

Medium dahlias grow up to 2 feet in height and can be grown in containers. The smaller ones reach 20 inches and remain fairly compact, which makes them a perfect addition for a window box, container or the edge of a border.12

Each dahlia grows from a tuber and can be found at most nurseries and garden centers.13 If you're interested in a plant not commonly found in the garden center, nearly every local dahlia society has events where guests are welcome. The benefit to purchasing tubers or plants from a club is the ability to speak to experts who can answer your questions and help you through your first season.

The dahlia is a perennial plant in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 to 11. In cooler areas, gardeners may plant the tubers and either allow them to die at the end of the year or dig them up and store them for winter.14 When choosing your tubers, avoid those that look wrinkled and instead choose the ones that have a little bit of green growth or buds.15

Consider Soil, Water and Sun in Growing Dahlias

Dahlias appreciate well-drained, rich soil with a neutral pH near 6.5.16 If your soil is clay or heavier, consider enriching it with plenty of organic matter, even when planting in containers or window boxes. You may also add sand, aged manure or peat moss for better drainage and to keep the texture loose.17

Bone meal may be added as you plant the tuber, but if you have animals in the yard that are attracted to bone meal, they may dig up your tubers!18 In containers, use two parts garden soil with one part potting soil,19 which helps with moisture retention as potting soil dries quickly.20 Dahlias grow from tubers that form at the base of the stem in the fall.21

In addition to rich soil, your growing dahlias will do best when regularly watered.22 Although the plants appreciate a drip irrigation system, if you’re hand watering, water at the base of the plants to keep the foliage dry and reduce the risk of fungal growth.

Select a site in full sun as your plants will produce more blooms when they have up to eight hours of direct sunlight.23 In a less sunny location the plants will grow taller but have fewer blooms.24 Look for a location protected from the wind as the larger plants may take a beating during inclement weather.25

Planting and Caring for Your Dahlias

Your dahlias will do best in plain garden soil without using potting soil mixes. Weed killer can burn your tubers before they sprout and cause them not to grow at all.26 If you're planting in a container, it should be no smaller than 12 inches by 12 inches for each one you plant. The larger dahlias could be grown in a pot the size of a whiskey barrel. Do not use prefertilized potting mix because it may burn the tubers.27

If you're planting directly in the garden, the soil should be at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit.28 If you live in cooler climates, you can start your plants indoors four to six weeks before you expect the last frost. Start them in containers with the same proportion of garden soil to potting soil.

Whether planting in a container or in the ground, be sure the soil is loosened at least 1 foot deep. As you plant the tubers, keep the stems or sprouts upright and position the top of the tuber no more than 2 inches below the surface.29 They should be 18 to 24 inches apart.30 If the soil is dry, water it sparingly but do not soak it.

Most outdoor areas have enough rain in the spring to meet the water needs until your dahlia plant is fully established. Be careful because overwatering can cause rot.31 If you add mulch to the base of the plants it helps retain moisture and keep the soil cool.32

Experts disagree on the amount of fertilizer dahlias require. Most recommend using a low if you choose to use any at all. It’s also commonly suggested to be careful not to overfertilize because this can make the plant develop weak tubers at the end of the season and have smaller blooms as well as fewer blooms.33 The American Dahlia Association34 believes the best strategy is to test the soil to determine the specific needs.

As you discover some of the tricks on how to grow dahlias, you’ll find the plants do well when you spend a bit of time through the summer months deadheading and pinching them back.35 Cut the flowers back to the main stem to stimulate the growth of longer stems. The longer stems are better for cutting and displaying in your home.

If you're intent on producing large show blooms, you'll want to remove the outer two buds of the three that develop. Although this reduces the number of blooms, the ones that develop will be larger.36

Cutting or pinching the plants may help promote a shorter, bushier plant, according to Swan Island Dahlias.37 You can accomplish this by either pinching off or cutting the center shoot slightly higher than the third set of leaves. Also, if you expect any plants to reach 3 feet or higher, staked them to support the stems and flowers.38

How to Overwinter Dahlias in Cold Climates

The type of weather your dahlia withstands depends on the cultivar, but most are grown as perennials in hardiness zones 8 to 11.39 Although they originated in Mexico and Central America, hot climates can be challenging for current cultivars because they need additional water.40

As the winter season approaches, you may need to make some accommodations so they overwinter successfully. Outside of hardiness zones 8 to 11, dahlias are grown as annuals. After the first fall frost blackens the greenery, cut each plant down to 4 inches above the soil. Carefully dig around the plants and pull up tubers without damaging them.41

Keep them out of direct sunlight and in a frost-free area to dry for a few days. Once the tubers have dried, carefully remove any excess soil and keep about 2 inches of the stem.42 Store the tubers in a ventilated box or in a basket filled with sand, peat moss or vermiculite that is slightly moist.

Place the container in a cool, dry area where temperatures stay above 45 but not more than 55 degrees F. Check them from time to time to make sure they’re not rotting or drying out. If they start to shrivel, mist them with water. If you find rot, trim that portion so it doesn't spread.43

In spring, separate the healthy areas from the parent and plant as described above. Each tuber you use must have at least one piece of crown attached to it or an eye; otherwise it won’t develop. The eye looks like a little pink bump at the base of the stem.44

If you live in zones 8 to 11, the tubers can be left in the ground to overwinter, covered with a deep layer of dry mulch after cutting the stems 2 inches above the ground.45

Keep the Pests Away from Your Dahlia Flowers

Deer don’t particularly care for dahlias, so there’s a good chance they’ll leave your flowers alone.46 Dahlias are prone to fungal diseases, though, so keep the greenery as dry as possible when watering and the plants well-spaced for good air circulation to reduce the potential for fungal growth.47

When it comes to bugs, the biggest pests are slugs when the plants are young and tender.48 You can get rid of them naturally by setting up a beer trap.49 Bury a shallow container until the rim is at ground height. Put about an inch of beer at the bottom. The slugs are attracted to the liquid and will drown when they fall in. Clean it out every morning.

If you drink coffee, use coffee grounds to deter slugs and feed your plants as they decompose.50 You can mix egg shells with the coffee grounds as well.

Spider mites are another pest that can attack your dahlia plants. These are not true insects but, rather, relatives of spiders and scorpions. They live in colonies on the undersides of leaves and are more common in places that are hot and dry.51

Address this problem by pruning the leaves or stems of infected parts of the plants and washing the tops and bottoms of the leaves with a strong stream of water.52 Do this in the morning to allow the foliage to dry out during the day and reduce the chance for fungal growth. Another option is to bring in natural predators such as ladybugs and lacewings.

Aphids are another bug that ladybugs like. Aphids can also be dislodged from the plant with a strong stream of water. Cut infected parts away and discard them. If pruned parts are infested with insects or mold, don’t put them in your compost pile.53

Long-Lasting, Cut Dahlias Brighten Your Home

Dahlia plant blooms look beautiful in both your garden and in your home or office. They make wonderful cut flowers, and the more you cut, the more blooms the plant produces.54 The best time to cut your flowers is early in the morning, placing them directly into a bucket of cool water.

Remove the bottom leaves from the stems so they don't rot in the water or take up any nutrients from the plant. Be sure to place the stems in a vase. Put the vase in a cool spot away from direct sunlight and change the water every day. If you take care of your flowers this way, the blooms should last a week or a little longer.55

To preserve your flowers, consider drying them.56 Dahlias, zinnias and marigolds with thick heads or delicate blooms respond best to a drying agent such as borax or rice. Spread the drying agent in an airtight container — preferably glass — about an inch deep. Don’t use wood or cardboard because they draw moisture.

Remove most of the foliage and place the blooms on the top. Next, cover the blooms with more drying agent and seal the container. Put it in a cool, dark place for about a week. Gently remove the agent and the dried flowers and spray them with a fixative from a craft store or hairspray.57

The Chemical Imbalance Myth and Antidepressant Harm

 

In the U.S., an estimated 17.3 million American adults (7.1% of the adult population), experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2017.1 The highest rates are reported among those aged between 18 and 25.2 However, not only is there evidence that depression is vastly overdiagnosed, but there's also evidence showing it's routinely mistreated.

With regard to overdiagnosis, one 2013 study3 found only 38.4% of participants with clinician-identified depression actually met the DSM-4 criteria for a major depressive episode, and only 14.3% of seniors 65 and older met the criteria.

As for treatment, the vast majority are prescribed antidepressant drugs, despite the fact there's virtually no evidence to suggest they provide meaningful help, and plenty of evidence showing the harms are greater than patients are being told.

According to a 2017 study,4 1 in 6 Americans between the ages of 18 and 85 were on psychiatric drugs, most of them antidepressants, and 84.3% reported long-term use (three years or more). Out of 242 million U.S. adults, 12% were found to have filled one or more prescriptions for an antidepressant, specifically, in 2013.

According to data5 presented by a watchdog group, hundreds of thousands of toddlers are also being medicated with powerful psychiatric drugs, raising serious ethical questions, along with questions about the future mental and physical health of these children.

Recent studies are also shedding much needed light on the addictive nature of many antidepressants, and demonstrate that the benefits of these drugs have been overblown while their side effects — including suicidal ideation — and have been downplayed and ignored for decades, placing patients at unnecessary risk.

The Chemical Imbalance Myth

One researcher responsible for raising awareness about these important mental health issues is professor Peter C. Gøtzsche, a Danish physician-researcher and outspoken critic of the drug industry (as his book, "Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare,"6 suggests).

Gøtzsche helped found the Cochrane Collaboration in 1993 and later launched the Nordic Cochrane Centre. In 2018, he was expelled by the Cochrane governing board following the publication of a scathing critique of a Cochrane review of the HPV vaccine, in which he and his coauthors pointed out several methodological flaws and conflicts of interest.

Over the past several years, Gøtzsche has published a number of scientific papers on antidepressants and media articles and a book discussing the findings. In a June 28, 2019 article,7 Gøtzsche addresses "the harmful myth" about chemical imbalances — a debunked hypothesis that continues to drive the use of antidepressants to this day. He writes, in part:8

"Psychiatrists routinely tell their patients that they are ill because they have a chemical imbalance in the brain and they will receive a drug that fixes this …

Last summer, one of my researchers and I collected information about depression from 39 popular websites in 10 countries, and we found that 29 (74%) websites attributed depression to a chemical imbalance or claimed that antidepressants could fix or correct that imbalance …

It has never been possible to show that common mental disorders start with a chemical imbalance in the brain. The studies that have claimed this are all unreliable.9

A difference in dopamine levels, for example, between patients with schizophrenia and healthy people cannot tell us anything about what started the psychosis … [I]f a lion attacks us, we get terribly frightened and produce stress hormones, but this does not prove that it was the stress hormones that made us scared.

People with psychoses have often suffered traumatic experiences in the past, so we should see these traumas as contributing causal factors and not reduce suffering to some biochemical imbalance that, if it exists at all, is more likely to be the result of the psychosis rather than its cause.10

The myth about chemical imbalance is very harmful. It makes people believe there is something seriously wrong with them, and sometimes they are even told that it is hereditary.

The result of this is that patients continue to take harmful drugs, year after year, perhaps even for the entirety of their lives. They fear what would happen if they stopped, particularly when the psychiatrists have told them that their situation is like patients with diabetes needing insulin." 

Real Cause of Depression Is Typically Ignored

According to Gøtzsche, there is no known mental health issue that is caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals. In many cases, the true cause is unknown, but "very often, it is a response to unhealthy living conditions," he writes.11

He also cites the book,12 "Anxiety — The Inside Story: How Biological Psychiatry Got It Wrong," written by Dr. Niall McLaren, in which the author shows that anxiety is a major factor in and trigger of most psychiatric disorders.

"A psychiatrist I respect highly, who only uses psychiatric drugs in rare cases … has said that most people are depressed because they live depressing lives," Gøtzsche writes.

"No drug can help them live better lives. It has never been shown in placebo-controlled trials that a psychiatric drug can improve people's lives — e.g., help them return to work, improve their social relationships or performance at school, or prevent crime and delinquency. The drugs worsen people's lives, at least in the long run.13"

Gøtzsche rightfully points out that antipsychotic drugs create chemical imbalances; they don't fix them. As a group, they're also somewhat misnamed, as they do not address psychotic states. Rather, they are tranquilizers, rendering the patient passive. However, calming the patient down does not actually help them heal the underlying trauma that, in many cases, is what triggered the psychosis in the first place.

As noted in one 2012 meta-analysis14 of studies looking at childhood trauma — including sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional/psychological abuse, neglect, parental death and bullying — and subsequent risk of psychosis:

"There were significant associations between adversity and psychosis across all research designs … Patients with psychosis were 2.72 times more likely to have been exposed to childhood adversity than controls … The estimated population attributable risk was 33% (16%-47%). These findings indicate that childhood adversity is strongly associated with increased risk for psychosis."

Economy of Influence in Psychiatry

A related article,15 written by investigative journalist Robert Whitaker in 2017, addresses the "economy of influence" driving the use of antidepressant drugs in psychiatric treatment — and the "social injury" that results. As noted by Whitaker, mental disorders were initially categorized according to a disease model in 1980 by the American Psychiatric Association.

"We're all familiar with the second 'economy of influence' that has exerted a corrupting influence on psychiatry — pharmaceutical money — but I believe the guild influence is really the bigger problem," he writes.

Whitaker details the corruption within the APA in his book "Psychiatry Under the Influence," one facet of which is "the false story told to the public about drugs that fixed chemical imbalances in the brain." Other forms of corrupt behavior include:

  • The biased designs of clinical trials to achieve a predetermined result
  • Spinning results to support preconceived conclusions
  • Hiding poor long-term outcomes
  • Expanding diagnostic categories for the purpose of commercial gain
  • Creating clinical trial guidelines that promote drug use

In his article, Whitaker goes on to dissect a 2017 review16 published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, which Whitaker claims "defends the profession's current protocols for prescribing antipsychotics, which includes their regular long-term use."

As Whitaker points out, there's ample evidence showing antipsychotic drugs worsen outcomes over the long term in those diagnosed with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

The review in question, led by Dr. Jeffrey A. Lieberman, was aimed at answering persistent questions raised by the mounting of such evidence. Alas, their conclusions dismissed concerns that the current drug paradigm might be doing more harm than good.

"In a subsequent press release and a video for a Medscape commentary, Lieberman has touted it as proving that antipsychotics provide a great benefit, psychiatry's protocols are just fine, and that the critics are 'nefarious' individuals intent on doing harm," Whitaker writes.17

The Scientific Bias of Psychiatric Treatment

Five of the eight researchers listed on the review have financial ties to drug companies, three are speakers for multiple drug companies and all eight are psychiatrists, "and thus there is a 'guild' interest present in this review, given that they are investigating whether one of their treatments is harmful over the long-term," Whitaker notes.18

Not surprisingly, the review ignored studies showing negative effects, including studies showing antipsychotics have a detrimental effect on brain volume. What's more, while withdrawal studies support the use of antipsychotics as maintenance therapy over the long term, these studies do not address how the drugs affect patients' long-term health.

"They simply reveal that once a person has stabilized on the medication, going abruptly off the drug is likely to lead to relapse," Whitaker writes.19 "The focus on long-term outcomes, at least as presented by critics, provides evidence that psychiatry should adopt a selective-use protocol.

If first-episode patients are not immediately put on antipsychotics, there is a significant percentage that will recover, and this 'spontaneous recovery' puts them onto a good long-term course. As for patients treated with the medications, the goal would be to minimize long-term use, as there is evidence that antipsychotics, on the whole, worsen long-term outcomes."

Vast Majority of Psychotic Patients Are Harmed, Not Helped

In his deconstruction of Lieberman's review, Whitaker details how biased thinking influenced the review's conclusions. It's a rather long article, but well worth reading through if you want to understand how a scientific review can be skewed to accord with a preconceived view.

Details I want to highlight, however, include findings relating to the number needed to treat (NNT) and the percentage of patients harmed by the routine use of antipsychotic drugs as a first-line treatment.

As noted by Whitaker, while placebo-controlled studies reveal the effectiveness of a drug compared to an inert substance, they do not effectively reveal the ratio of benefit versus harm among the patient population. NNT refers to the number of patients that have to take the drug in order to get one positive response.

A meta-analysis cited in Lieberman's review had an NNT of 6, meaning that six patients must take the drug in order for one to benefit from the treatment. The remaining five patients — 83% — are potentially harmed by the treatment. As noted by Whitaker:20

"The point … is this: reviewers seeking to promote their drug treatment as effective will look solely at whether it produces a superior response to placebo. This leads to a one-size-fits-all protocol.

Reviewers that want to assess the benefit-harm effect of the treatment on all patients will look at NNT numbers. In this instance, the NNT calculations argue for selective use of the drugs …"

Antidepressants Are Not Beneficial in the Long Term

While typically not as destructive as antipsychotics, antidepressants also leave a trail of destruction in their wake. A systematic review21 by Gøtzsche published in 2019 found studies assessing harm from selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) fail to provide a clear and accurate picture of the harms, and therefore "cannot be used to investigate persistent harms of antidepressants."

In this review, Gøtzsche and colleagues sought to assess "harms of SSRIs … that persist after end of drug intake." The primary outcomes included mortality, functional outcomes, quality of life and core psychiatric events. In all, 22 papers on 12 SSRI trials were included. Gøtzsche found several distinct problems with these trials. For starters, only two of the 12 trials had a drop-out rate below 20%.

Gøtzsche and his team also note that "Outcome reporting was less thorough during follow-up than for the intervention period and only two trials maintained the blind during follow-up." Importantly, though, all of the 22 papers came to the conclusion that "the drugs were not beneficial in the long term."

Another important finding was that all trials either "reported harms outcomes selectively or did not report any," and "Only two trials reported on any of our primary outcomes (school attendance and number of heavy drinking days)."

Antidepressants Are More Addictive Than Admitted

In a June 4, 2019, article,22 "The Depression Pill Epidemic," Gøtzsche writes that antidepressant drugs:

"… do not have relevant effects on depression; they increase the risk of suicide and violence; and they make it more difficult for patients to live normal lives.23 They should therefore be avoided.

We have been fooled by the drug industry, corrupt doctors on industry payroll, and by our drug regulators.24 Surely, many patients and doctors believe the pills are helpful, but they cannot know this, because people tend to become much better with time even if they are not treated.25

This is why we need placebo-controlled trials to find out what the drugs do to people. Unfortunately, virtually all trials are flawed, exaggerate the benefits of the drugs, and underestimate their harms.26"

Addictive Nature of Antidepressants Skews Results

In his article,27 Gøtzsche reviews several of the strategies used in antidepressant drug trials to exaggerate benefits and underestimate the harms. One little-known truth that helps skew study results in the drug's favor is the fact that antidepressants tend to be far more addictive than officially admitted. He explains how this conveniently hides the skewing of results as follows:28

"Virtually all patients in the trials are already on a drug similar to the one being tested against placebo. Therefore, as the drugs are addictive, some of the patients will get abstinence symptoms … when randomized to placebo …

These abstinence symptoms are very similar to those patients experience when they try to stop benzodiazepines. It is no wonder that new drugs outperform the placebo in patients who have experienced harm as a result of cold turkey effects.

To find out how long patients need to continue taking drugs, so-called maintenance (withdrawal) studies have been carried out, but such studies also are compromised by cold turkey effects. Leading psychiatrists don't understand this, or they pretend they don't.

Most interpret the maintenance studies of depression pills to mean that these drugs are very effective at preventing new episodes of depression and that patients should therefore continue taking the drugs for years or even for life."

Scientific Literature Supports Reality of User Complaints

Over the years, several studies on the dependence and withdrawal reactions associated with SSRIs and other psychiatric drugs have been published, including the following:

In a 2011 paper29 in the journal Addiction, Gøtzsche and his team looked at the difference between dependence and withdrawal reactions by comparing benzodiazepines and SSRIs. Benzodiazepines are known to cause dependence, while SSRIs are said to not be addictive.

Despite such claims, Gøtzsche's team found that "discontinuation symptoms were described with similar terms for benzodiazepines and SSRIs and were very similar for 37 of 42 identified symptoms described as withdrawal reactions," which led them to conclude that:

"Withdrawal reactions to selective serotonin re‐uptake inhibitors appear to be similar to those for benzodiazepines; referring to these reactions as part of a dependence syndrome in the case of benzodiazepines, but not selective serotonin re‐uptake inhibitors, does not seem rational."

Two years later, in 2013, Gøtzsche's team published a paper30 in the International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine, in which they analyzed "communications from drug agencies about benzodiazepine and SSRI withdrawal reactions over time."

By searching the websites of drug agencies in Europe, the U.S., UK and Denmark, they found that it took years before drug regulators finally acknowledged the reality of benzodiazepine dependence and SSRI withdrawal reactions and began informing prescribers and patients about these risks.

A significant part of the problem, they found, is that drug agencies rely on spontaneous reporting of adverse effects, which "leads to underestimation and delayed information about the problems."

In conclusion, they state that "Given the experience with the benzodiazepines, we believe the regulatory bodies should have required studies from the manufacturers that could have elucidated the dependence potential of the SSRIs before marketing authorization was granted."

A 2019 paper31 in the Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences journal notes "It took almost two decades after the SSRIs entered the market for the first systematic review to be published." It also points out that reviews claiming withdrawal effects to be mild, brief in duration and rare "was at odds with the sparse but growing evidence base."

In reality, "What the scientific literature reveals is in close agreement with the thousands of service user testimonies available online in large forums. It suggests that withdrawal reactions are quite common, that they may last from a few weeks to several months or even longer, and that they are often severe."

Antidepressants Increase Your Risk of Suicide and Violence

In his June 4 article,32 Gøtzsche also stresses the fact that antidepressants can be lethal. In one of his studies,33 published in 2016, he found antidepressants "double the occurrence of events that can lead to suicide and violence in healthy adult volunteers."

Other research34 has shown they "increase aggression in children and adolescents by a factor of 2 to 3 — an important finding considering the many school shootings where the killers were on depression pills," Gøtzsche writes.

In middle-aged women with stress urinary incontinence, the selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) duloxetine, which is also used to treat incontinence, has been shown to double the risk of a psychotic episode and increase the risk of violence and suicide four to five times,35 leading the authors to conclude that harms outweighed the benefits.

"I have described the dirty tricks and scientific dishonesty involved when drug companies and leading psychiatrists try convincing us that these drugs protect against suicide and other forms of violence,36" Gøtzsche writes.37 "Even the FDA was forced to give in when it admitted in 2007, at least indirectly, that depression pills can cause suicide and madness at any age.

There is no doubt that the massive use of depression pills is harmful. In all countries where this relationship has been examined, the sharp rise in disability pensions due to psychiatric disorders has coincided with the rise of psychiatric drug usage, and depression pills are those which are used the most by far. This is not what one would expect if the drugs were helpful."

Drugmaker Lied About Paxil's Suicide Risk

In 2017, Wendy Dolin was awarded $3 million by a jury in a lawsuit against GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of Paxil. Dolin's husband committed suicide six days after taking his first dose of a Paxil generic, and evidence brought forth in the case convincingly showed his suicide was the result of the drug, not emotional stress or mental illness.38

The legal team behind that victory, Baum Hedlund Aristei Goldman, is also representing other victims of Paxil-induced violence and death. At the time, attorney R. Brent Wisner said:39

"The Dolin verdict sent a clear message to GSK and other drug manufacturers that hiding data and manipulating science will not be tolerated … If you create a drug and know that it poses serious risks, regardless of whether consumers use the brand name or generic version of that drug, you have a duty to warn."

GSK's own clinical placebo-controlled trials actually revealed subjects on Paxil had nearly nine times the risk of attempting or committing suicide than the placebo group. To gain drug approval, GSK misrepresented this shocking data, falsely reporting a higher number of suicide attempts in the placebo group and deleting some of the suicide attempts in the drug group.

An internal GSK analysis of its suicide data also showed that "patients taking Paxil were nearly seven times more likely to attempt suicide than those on placebo," Baum Hedlund Aristei Goldman reports, adding:40

"Jurors in the Dolin trial also heard from psychiatrist David Healy, one of the world's foremost experts on Paxil and drugs in its class … Healy told the jurors that Paxil and drugs like it can create in some people a state of extreme 'emotional turmoil' and intense inner restlessness known as akathisia …

'People have described it like a state worse than death. Death will be a blessed relief. I want to jump out of my skin,' Dr. Healy said. Healthy volunteer studies have found that akathisia can happen even to people with no psychiatric condition who take the drug …

Another Paxil side effect known to increase the risk of suicide is emotional blunting … apathy or emotional indifference … [E]motional blunting, combined with akathisia, can lead to a mental state in which an individual has thoughts of harming themselves or others, but is 'numbed' to the consequences of their actions. Drugs in the Paxil class can also cause someone to 'go psychotic, become delirious,' Dr. Healy explained."

Hundreds of Thousands of Toddlers on Psychiatric Drugs

Considering the many serious psychological and physical risks associated with psychiatric drugs, it's shocking to learn that hundreds of thousands of American toddlers are on them. In 2014, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, a mental health watchdog group, highlighted data showing that in 2013:41

  • 274,000 babies aged 1 and younger were given psychiatric drugs — Of these, 249,699 were on anti-anxiety meds like Xanax; 26,406 were on antidepressants such as Prozac or Paxil, 1,422 were on ADHD drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall, and 654 were on antipsychotics such as Risperdal and Zyprexa
  • In the toddler category (2- to 3-year-olds), 318,997 were on anti-anxiety drugs, 46,102 were on antidepressants, 10,000 were prescribed ADHD drugs and 3,760 were on antipsychotics
  • Among children aged 5 and younger, 1,080,168 were on psychiatric drugs

These are shocking figures that challenge logic. How and why are so many children, babies even, on addictive and dangerously mind-altering medications? Considering these statistics are 6 years old, chances are they're even higher today. Just what will happen to all of these youngsters as they grow up? As mentioned in the article:42

"When it comes to the psychiatric drugs used to treat ADHD, these are referred to as 'kiddie cocaine' for a reason. Ritalin (methylphenidate), Adderall (amphetamine) and Concerta are all considered by the federal government as Schedule II drugs — the most addictive.

ADHD drugs also have serious side effects such as agitation, mania, aggressive or hostile behavior, seizures, hallucinations, and even sudden death, according to the National Institutes of Health …

As far as antipsychotics, antianxiety drugs and antidepressants, the FDA and international drug regulatory agencies cite side effects including, but not limited to, psychosis, mania, suicidal ideation, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and even sudden death."

Children Increasingly Prescribed Psych Drugs Off-Label

Making matters even worse, recent research shows the number of children being prescribed medication off-label is also on the rise. An example offered by StudyFinds.org,43 which reported the findings, is “a doctor recommending antidepressant medication for ADHD symptoms.”

The study,44 published in the journal Pediatrics, looked at trends in off-label drug prescriptions made for children under the age of 18 by office-based physicians between 2006 and 2015. Findings revealed:

“Physicians ordered ≥1 off-label systemic drug at 18.5% of visits, usually (74.6%) because of unapproved conditions. Off-label ordering was most common proportionally in neonates (83%) and in absolute terms among adolescents (322 orders out of 1000 visits).

Off-label ordering was associated with female sex, subspecialists, polypharmacy, and chronic conditions. Rates and reasons for off-label orders varied considerably by age.

Relative and absolute rates of off-label orders rose over time. Among common classes, off-label orders for antihistamines and several psychotropics increased over time …

US office-based physicians have ordered systemic drugs off label for children at increasing rates, most often for unapproved conditions, despite recent efforts to increase evidence and drug approvals for children.”

The researchers were taken aback by the findings, and expressed serious concern over this trend. While legal, many of the drugs prescribed off-label have not been properly tested to ensure safety and efficacy for young children and adolescents.

As noted by senior author Daniel Horton, assistant professor of pediatrics and pediatric rheumatologist at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, “We don’t always understand how off-label medications will affect children, who don’t always respond to medications as adults do. They may not respond as desired to these drugs and could experience harmful effects.”

Educate Yourself About the Risks

If you, your child, or another family member is on a psychiatric drug, I urge you to educate yourself about the true risks, and to consider switching to safer alternatives. When it comes to children, I cannot fathom a situation in which a toddler would need a psychiatric drug and I find it shocking that there are so many doctors out there that, based on a subjective evaluation, would deem a psychiatric drug necessary.

You can learn more about the diagnosis and treatment of depression and anxiety in the following articles: “How Exercise Treats Depression,” “Alternative Treatments Effective for Depression,” “Anxiety May Be an Inherited Trait” and “Anxiety Overtakes Depression as No. 1 Mental Health Problem.”

Top Nine Tips for Coping With Social Anxiety

 

Social anxiety disorder, formerly known as social phobia, affects 7.1% of U.S. adults in any given year, while an estimated 12.1% of U.S. adults will experience the disorder at some point during their lives.1 People with social anxiety disorder feel intense fear and anxiety in social situations, such that they may try to avoid such situations altogether.

With social anxiety disorder, there is an overriding fear of being negatively judged or rejected by others when in public. People with the condition may worry that others will notice their anxiety, leading to embarrassment and sometimes debilitating panic attacks.

In addition to blushing, shaking hands or stumbling over words, people with social anxiety disorder may experience rapid heart rate, nausea and sweating when in social or performance situations.2

The fear of being judged by others can be so powerful that it can cost those affected job opportunities, friendships and romantic relationships. The condition can range from mild to severe, with an estimated 29.9% of adults with social anxiety disorder having serious impairment while 38.8% have moderate impairment and 31.3% mild impairment.3

There are, however, strategies that can help people with social anxiety to cope and regain control of their lives without having to struggle through debilitating fear.

Social Anxiety Disorder Is Different From Shyness

It's commonly assumed that social anxiety is a form of extreme shyness, but there are distinct differences. While people who are shy may be more likely to suffer from social anxiety,4 shyness is considered to be a "normal" personality trait, which isn't associated with the significant fear felt by those with social anxiety.

Those with social anxiety experience more distress and disruptions to their daily life than people who are simply shy.5 While those with the disorder typically know their fears are irrational, they may feel powerless against the anxiety. The Social Anxiety Association explained:6

"People with social anxiety are many times seen by others as being shy, quiet, backward, withdrawn, inhibited, unfriendly, nervous, aloof, and disinterested. Paradoxically, people with social anxiety want to make friends, be included in groups, and be involved and engaged in social interactions.

But having social anxiety prevents people from being able to do the things they want to do. Although people with social anxiety want to be friendly, open, and sociable, it is fear (anxiety) that holds them back."

Different triggers may cause symptoms of social anxiety to flare up in different people. The most common symptom is a feeling of intense anxiety or fear, which may be accompanied by trembling, dry mouth, racing heart, muscle twitches and nervousness. Triggering symptoms may include:7

Meeting new people

Being teased or criticized

Being the center of attention

Making phone calls, writing or even swallowing in public

Being watched or observed

Having to speak in public

Meeting someone in an authority position

Making eye contact with others

Nine Top Tips for Coping With Social Anxiety

If you're struggling with social anxiety, taking steps to cope can be life-changing, but many people avoid seeking help. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, "Despite the availability of effective treatments, fewer than 5% of people with social anxiety disorder seek treatment in the year following initial onset and more than a third of people report symptoms for 10 or more years before seeking help."8

If your symptoms are debilitating, professional help is recommended. For mild or moderate cases, however, as well as to support treatment in severe cases, the following strategies can help.

1. Take Opportunities for Social Mishaps — Social mishap exposure practice is a technique that puts you in the very situations you fear most — such as singing in a public place — in order to help reinforce the notion that nothing catastrophic will happen as a result.

You may need to seek the support of a professional to work through this, but the idea is that "patients are forced to re-evaluate the perceived threat of a social situation after experiencing that social mishaps do not lead to the feared long-lasting, irreversible and negative consequences."9

There is evidence that avoiding social interactions may make social anxiety worse. Similarly, this can lead to other problems, like smartphone addiction, which is associated with social anxiety.10 "Hiding" behind a cellphone is likely to make mental health worse, whereas social mishap exposure is intended to help desensitize those affected, making social experiences easier to handle. As explained in Cognitive and Behavioral Practice:11

"An important reason why SAD [social anxiety disorder] is maintained in the presence of repeated exposure to social cues is because individuals with SAD engage in a variety of avoidance and safety behaviors to reduce the risk of rejection.

These avoidance tendencies, in turn, prevent patients from critically evaluating their feared outcomes and other catastrophic beliefs, leading to the maintenance and further exacerbation of the problem.

Social mishap exposures directly target the patients' exaggerated social cost by helping patients confront and experience the actual consequences of such mishaps without using any avoidance strategies."

2. Turn Negative Thoughts Into Positive Ones

A simple example of a positive coping strategy is the "yes, but" technique. You may think, "Yes, I'm going to be speaking at a meeting tomorrow, but I am well prepared and will be successful."12 The positive affirmation helps to balance the negative thoughts and may help calm your mind.

Energy psychology tools such as the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), demonstrated in the video above, can help you reduce your stress by correcting the bioelectrical short-circuiting that can happen when anxiety becomes chronic.

Research confirms EFT can be a powerful intervention for stress and anxiety,13 in part because it specifically targets your amygdala and hippocampus, which are the parts of your brain that help you decide whether or not something is a threat.14

EFT has also been shown to lower cortisol levels, which are elevated when you're stressed or anxious, while improving symptoms of psychological distress, including anxiety and depression.15

3. Avoid Alcohol — It may be tempting to ease anxiousness with alcohol, but drinking heavily will have the opposite effect, lowering mood and increasing anxiety throughout the next morning.16 Further, excessive alcohol use is common among people with social anxiety,17 so it's best to avoid this negative coping strategy in favor of the other positive options listed here.

4. Engage in Acts of Kindness — Engaging in acts of kindness, such as doing a roommate's dishes, was found to reduce the desire to avoid social situations in students with high levels of social anxiety.18,19

In a news release, study author Jennifer Trew explained, "Acts of kindness may help to counter negative social expectations by promoting more positive perceptions and expectations of a person's social environment. It helps to reduce their levels of social anxiety and, in turn, makes them less likely to want to avoid social situations."20

5. Protect Yourself From EMFs — Due to the pioneering work of Martin Pall, Professor Emeritus of biochemistry and basic medical sciences at Washington State University,21 we know that voltage gated calcium channels are over 7 million times more sensitive to microwave radiation than the charged particles inside and outside our cells. This means that the safety standards for this exposure are off by a factor of 7 million.

When EMFs hit your voltage gated calcium channels, nearly 1 million calcium ions per second are released into the cell, which then causes the cell to release excessive nitric oxide that then combines with superoxide to form peroxynitrate, which then forms the dangerous hydroxyl free radical that causes massive mitochondrial dysfunction.

The tissues that have the greatest density of voltage gated calcium channels are your nerves and tissues, like the pacemaker in your heart and your brain. When the channels in the brain are activated, it causes a major disruption in neurotransmitter and hormonal balance that can increase the risk for anxiety. You can learn how to reduce your EMF exposure here.

6. Use Healthy Breathing Techniques

According to Konstantin Buteyko, founder of the Buteyko Breathing Method, anxiety is triggered by an imbalance between gases in your body, specifically the ratio between carbon dioxide and oxygen. In the video above, Buteyko breathing coach Robert Litman explains how your breathing affects the ratio of these gases and demonstrates how you can literally breathe your way into a calmer state of mind.

A Buteyko breathing exercise that can help quell anxiety is also summarized below. This sequence helps retain and gently accumulate CO2, leading to calmer breathing and reduced anxiety. In other words, the urge to breathe will decline as you go into a more relaxed state.

  • Take a small breath into your nose, a small breath out; hold your nose for five seconds in order to hold your breath, and then release to resume breathing.
  • Breathe normally for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat the sequence several more times: small breath in through your nose, small breath out; hold your breath for five seconds, then let go and breathe normally for 10 seconds.

7. Eat Fermented Foods — Fermented foods have been shown to curb social anxiety disorder in young adults, likely by helping to optimize the gut microbiome.22 Good bacteria, or probiotics, have also been shown to help normalize anxiety-like behavior in mice with infectious colitis.23 Along these lines, clean up your diet to help stabilize your mood by eating more of these anxiety-busting foods.

8. Try Lavender Aromatherapy — Aromatherapy is a simple, DIY tool you can use to help calm your nerves. In one study, 100 patients admitted to a medical center for ambulatory surgery were given either lavender aromatherapy (inhaled) or standard nursing care (the control group) while in the preoperative waiting room.

Their levels of anxiety were recorded upon arrival to the waiting area and again upon departure. Those who received the aromatherapy had a greater reduction in anxiety compared to the control group.24

Research published in Phytomedicine also found that an orally administered lavender oil preparation was as effective as the drug Lorazepam for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder.25

9. Consider Ashwagandha — Ashwagandha is a powerful adaptogenic herb that helps your body manage and adapt to stress. In a 2009 study, patients diagnosed with moderate to severe anxiety lasting longer than six weeks who were treated with 300 milligrams of ashwagandha root for three months reported "significantly decreased" symptoms compared to those undergoing standard psychotherapy.26

Be Wary of Drugs for Treating Anxiety

Antidepressant therapy with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) is sometimes recommended for anxiety disorders based on the "chemical imbalance" theory that anxiety disorders (and depression) may be due to low serotonin levels. Yet, research suggests people with social anxiety disorder may actually have increased serotonin synthesis,27 making treatment with SSRIs highly questionable.

Other commonly prescribed drugs for anxiety include benzodiazepine drugs like Ativan, Xanax and Valium. They exert a calming effect by boosting the action of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the same way as opioids (heroin) and cannabinoids (cannabis) do.

This in turn activates the gratification hormone, dopamine, in your brain. Since the identical brain "reward pathways" are used by both types of drugs, they can be addictive.

If you're struggling with social anxiety, you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by applying lifestyle modifications before trying medication, and you may find that these strategies help lessen your anxiety naturally, helping you to embrace life once again.

As mentioned, if your anxiety is so severe that it's interfering with your daily life, speak with a holistic health care provider who can help you develop a comprehensive treatment plan.

What Is Wormwood Tea?

 

Wormwood’s rather uncommon name might make you wonder what this plant (also known as Artemisia absinthium L.) can offer, but research has revealed it has multiple health-boosting abilities. Wormwood oils and extracts, which are typically taken from its leaves, stems and flowers, are believed to possess neuroprotective, antifungal and antimicrobial properties.1

What Is Wormwood Tea?

Wormwood tea is made from the wormwood herb, which is native to temperate regions like Europe, Scotland, North Africa and Siberia.2 Also called madderwort, absinthium, ajenjo, hierba maestro or hierba santa,3 wormwood may reach 0.5 to 1.5 meters (1 to 5 feet) tall. It’s easily recognizable by the silvery-green leaves that give off a sage-y smell and its small yellow flowers.4 Like other plants from the Artemisia genus, wormwood can be used as an ornamental.5

But aside from being an “aesthetic plant,” wormwood, especially when ingested as a tea, has been revered for its positive effects on appetite and digestion. This is mainly due to its ability to promote the production of bile and gastric juices during digestion.6

What Are Wormwood Tea's Health Benefits and Uses?

Although research regarding wormwood tea is limited, the benefits attributed to the herb offer a glimpse of the drink’s potential health benefits. Wormwood, when used alone or combined with other herbs, may help address:

  • Parasitic worms7
  • Liver disease8
  • Depression9
  • Brain damage10
  • Osteoarthritis11
  • Crohn’s disease12,13
  • Lead exposure14
  • Leukemia15
  • Malaria16
  • IgA nephropathy or Berger’s disease (characterized by increased amounts of IgA in the kidneys)17,18
  • Type 2 diabetes (because of the plant compound thujone,19 although more research is needed to confirm this link)

Wormwood may be used to help increase appetite when consumed via an herb tonic, induce menstruation and sweating, and boost sexual drive.20 It also has antioxidant and anti-free radical abilities.21

Wormwood essential oil was found to have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, not to mention it’s also a good insect repellent.22 Wormwood water extracts may be used to repel weevils in storehouses as a safer alternative to chemical pesticides.23

How to Make Wormwood Tea

If you’re planning on making wormwood tea, you should get your supply from reputable sources to ensure you’re getting high-quality products. Once you have some of this herb on hand, you can try following the recipe:24

Wormwood Tea Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of fresh or dried wormwood leaves
  • 1 cup of filtered water

Procedure

  1. Boil the wormwood leaves in filtered water.
  2. Serve hot.

Note: As an alternative to dried leaves, you may use 20 to 30 drops of wormwood tincture and dilute it in hot water.

Wormwood Tea May Lead to These Side Effects

Although there’s very little information regarding wormwood tea’s side effects, oral intake of the herb may trigger these complications because of its thujone content. This plant compound has excitatory effects on the nervous system, and ingestion may lead to:25

  • Seizures
  • Muscle breakdown
  • Kidney failure
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Stomach cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Urine retention
  • Death

According to WebMD, you should stay away from wormwood if you have any of the conditions below, as it might cause adverse reactions and trigger health problems:26

  • Allergies or sensitivities to plants that belong to the Asteraceae/Compositae family, such as ragweed, marigolds and chrysanthemums
  • Porphyria
  • Kidney disorders
  • Seizure disorders

Avoid drinking significant amounts of wormwood tea or consuming wormwood products if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.27 Wormwood is considered as an abortifacient or an emmenagogue, which means it may stimulate menstrual flow and cause miscarriages.28

Exercise Caution if You Want to Drink Wormwood Tea

Just like the raw herb, wormwood tea may offer benefits to your well-being. However, moderation is crucial, as dangerous side effects may develop from consuming too much of this beverage.

Consult with a doctor before trying any brand of wormwood tea. You want to be certain that your body can handle wormwood products without experiencing reactions. If you notice side effects during or after drinking wormwood tea, stop consumption and seek medical attention immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Wormwood Tea

Q: Is it safe to take wormwood tea?

A: It’s not safe to drink if you belong to the following groups:29

Pregnant or breastfeeding women

People with allergies to members of the ragweed or Asteraceae/Compositae family

People with porphyria, kidney disease and seizure disorders

Q: Is wormwood tea psychoactive?

A: Wormwood contains a compound called thujone, which has an excitatory effect on the nervous system.30 It is often credited to be one of the active components of absinthe, a psychotropic drink.31 High amounts of it are found in wormwood essential oil,32 but there’s not enough research to show how much of it is found in the tea. Therefore, it’s best to consume wormwood tea moderately to prevent any psychoactive effects from occurring.

Q: Can wormwood tea get you ‘high’?

A: People who consumed high amounts of absinthe, a wormwood-rich beverage, had a higher risk for absinthism, a condition characterized by adverse effects like hallucinations, psychosis, delirium and vertigo.33 However, there are no scientific studies that point to wormwood tea having this effect on patients who consume it in moderate, recommended amounts.

Q: When should I take wormwood tea?

A: There’s little research on how often you should drink wormwood tea, but the European Medicines Agency notes that in countries like Germany, a cup of wormwood tea after meals may help ease indigestion.34

Q: Where can you buy wormwood tea?

A: Health stores and websites sell wormwood tea bags or the raw herb. To avoid buying poor-quality products, purchase items from a highly reputable seller.

Artificially Sweetened Drinks Can Lead to an Early Grave

 

According to the CDC, 6 in 10 U.S. adults now have chronic health conditions like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke, while 4 in 10 have two or more of these diseases.1 The triggers for many of these conditions are lifestyle choices including smoking and excessive alcohol use.

Big Soda companies, intent on protecting their profits, have been promoting the message that the obesity epidemic is being driven by a lack of activity as opposed to indulging in sugar-based foods and beverages. However, there is overwhelming scientific evidence that you can’t out-exercise your diet.2

Unfortunately, many of the no-sugar options contain aspartame, an artificial sweetener with several known health problems. This is believed to introduce great risk, as recent research3 data show an association between drinking any artificially sweetened drinks and rising rates of mortality.

20-Year Study: Diet Drinks Increase Risk of an Early Death

The new study involved a population-based cohort of 521,330 people from 10 European countries. The researchers’ objective was to analyze any association between sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened drinks and mortality.4 They engaged participants from an ongoing study recruited between January 1, 1992, and December 31, 2000.

Any participants who had cancer, stroke or diabetes were excluded, as were those who did not include follow-up information. The number of participants was then reduced to 451,743, of which 71.1% were women.5

The results showed there was a higher all-cause mortality in those who drank two or more glasses each day of soft drinks, whether they were sugar-sweetened or artificially-sweetened. There was an association between artificially sweetened soft drinks and death from circulatory disease, as well as a link between sugar-sweetened soft drinks and death from digestive diseases.6

The authors concluded the results were important enough that public health campaigns should be initiated to warn consumers to limit consumption.7 While results of the study were significant, it’s important to know one measured glass in the study was equivalent to 250 ml (8.4 ounces),8,9 which is less than the standard 330 ml per can (11.3 ounces).10

In other words, the results were based on less than what most people drink with each serving. The results from this study suggest policies aimed at cutting sugar consumption may have disastrous consequences when producers and manufacturers reformulate their products to use artificial sweetener.

Association Remains When Confounding Factors Removed

Recent studies show similar results. To determine whether soft drink consumption was a marker or an indication for an overall unhealthy lifestyle, researchers eliminated “confounding” factors — conditions that could influence or change the results. Chief researcher Neil Murphy from the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer said in an interview with The Washington Post:11

“In our study, high soft drinks consumers had a higher body mass index (BMI) and were also more likely to be current tobacco smokers. We made statistical adjustments in our analyses for BMI, smoking habits and other mortality risk factors which may have biased our results, and the positive associations remained.”

The researchers found there were similar associations in participants who were smokers and nonsmokers as well as those who were lean or obese. Sarah Reinhardt from the Union of Concerned Scientists commented:12

“The results of this study are significant. It reinforces a fact that won’t surprise anyone in the nutrition field: Processed foods loaded with artificial ingredients will never be the magic bullet to better health, no matter how low they are in sugar. Our bodies are smarter than that.”

According to the CDC, the percentage of children and adolescents who are obese has more than tripled since the 1970s. Data from 2016 show nearly 20% of school-aged children and young adults are obese.13

The prevalence for adult obesity in 2016 was 39.8%; this leads to conditions including heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.14 One of the risks associated with artificial sweeteners is obesity.15,16

Artificial Sweetener Tied to Obesity

One of the most commonly used artificial sweeteners is aspartame, also marketed under the brand names NutraSweet, Equal and Sugar Twin. Relatively new on the market, and chemically closely related to aspartame,17 is Neotame,18 made by NutraSweet.

Researchers have made the link between the rise in the number of people who are obese with the widespread use of artificial sweeteners. In one review published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, researchers reviewed the epidemiological and experimental studies of the effect aspartame has on weight.19

They found evidence suggesting artificial sweeteners do not activate the reward pathway in the same way natural sweeteners do. In addition, artificial sweeteners appeared to encourage sugar cravings and dependence, thereby training flavor preferences.20

Knowledge that artificial sweeteners are associated with weight gain has been documented since the 1980s. During the San Antonio Heart Study involving 4,000 adults, researchers found that those using artificial sweeteners had a BMI greater than that of nonusers, leading researchers to consider whether artificial sweeteners were actually fueling the obesity epidemic.21

In a second study in 1986 examining 78,694 women ages 50 to 69, researchers found that artificial sweetener use increased participants’ weight, and consumption decreased with age. Those who used artificial sweeteners were more likely to gain weight regardless of how much they weighed initially. The results were not explained by differences in food patterns.22

Artificial Sweeteners Create More Health Problems

Despite increasing evidence that aspartame has negative health effects, its use has continued. In one study23 researchers asked healthy adults to consume a high-aspartame diet for eight days followed by a low-aspartame diet for eight days, with a two-week washout between.

During the high-aspartame, eight-day period individuals suffered from depression, poor mood and headache. They also performed worse on spatial orientation tests, indicating aspartame had a significant effect on neurobehavioral health.24

Researchers have also reported that aspartame may trigger insomnia and seizures linked to changes in concentrations of catecholamine in the brain.25 Another study26 was designed to evaluate whether people with mood disorders are more vulnerable to the effects of aspartame.

Researchers included 40 people with a diagnosis of unipolar depression and another 40 without any history of psychiatric disorders. The study was halted by the Institutional Review Board after just 13 had completed the study, because they experienced severe reactions.

While investigating the effects of aspartame on oxidative stress in an animal model, researchers observed that animals who were fed aspartame underwent neurological oxidative stress. They theorized this may have been related to free radicals from the methanol released during aspartame metabolism.27

Gut Bacteria Altered by Artificial Sweeteners

Unfortunately, many who struggle with their weight may choose foods with artificial sweeteners over sugar believing it’s the healthier choice. In one study28 published in Nature, scientists reported that they found that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame may lead to glucose intolerance by altering gut microbiota. Their results indicated artificial sweeteners trigger dysbiosis and metabolic abnormalities.

In another animal study,29 mice that were fed aspartame-laced drinking water developed symptoms of metabolic syndrome. The researchers found that a metabolite of aspartame, called phenylalanine, blocked the activity of a gut enzyme known as alkaline phosphatase.30

This enzyme31 was previously found to prevent the development of metabolic syndrome. Each of the mice fed aspartame had measurably higher blood sugar and raised levels of TNF-alpha, an inflammatory protein, suggesting a systemic inflammatory response to aspartame.32

In a 2014 animal study,33 researchers found gut microbiota explanations for the negative effect aspartame has on insulin tolerance and the influence it has on gut microbial composition. Fecal analyses showed aspartame increased abundance of Enterobacteriaceae and Clostridium leptum.

Although the animals eating aspartame ate fewer calories, they experienced elevated fasting blood sugar levels. Aspartame influences changes to gut microbiota, insulin resistance and food cravings. Each of these is related to weight gain and the development of circulatory conditions.

American Beverage Association Pushing Back

In what amounts to efforts to protect profits while ignoring the health damage their products inflict on consumers, the American Beverage Association (ABA) is pushing back hard.34 Spokesperson for the ABA, William Dermody, told FOX Business:35

"Soft drinks are safe to consume as part of a balanced diet and the authors of this study acknowledge their research does not indicate otherwise. America’s Beverage Companies are committed to innovation and working to reduce the sugar people get from beverages by introducing more options than ever before with less sugar and zero sugar."

The ABA is a group that lobbies on behalf of beverage producers. Dermody says more than half of all drinks purchased don’t contain sugar. He also said,36 “No one should overconsume sugar and we stand by the safety and quality of our products.”

The ABA released similar statements in 2011 and 2013 when other research regarding low-calorie artificial sweeteners was published and could not be quashed. In 201137 they reiterated their stance on low-calorie sweeteners as beneficial, and included what they depicted as support from health organizations:

"What we know for certain is that low-calorie sweeteners can help reduce calories and sugar intake and aid in maintaining a healthy weight — positions supported by health organizations including the American Diabetes Association and the American Dietetic Association."

In 201338 the organization decided a press release was necessary to address what they called an opinion piece published in Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism,39 which included charts, a glossary and 54 citations to past published studies. The ABA said:40

“This is an opinion piece not a scientific study. Low-calorie sweeteners are some of the most studied and reviewed ingredients in the food supply today. They are safe and an effective tool in weight loss and weight management, according to decades of scientific research and regulatory agencies around the globe.”

U.S. Right to Know, a nonprofit research group,41 summarized some of the ABA’S past work, writing42 that the ABA defends the use of flame retardant chemicals in soda, claiming water is polluted as well. They’ve downplayed the risks associated with benzene after it was discovered in soft drinks and refer to content raising questions about artificial sweeteners as “internet myths.”

Soda Companies Directing Advertising at Teens

If their core consumers become ill and diseased, companies manufacturing diet soda drinks must expand their customer base. They’ve chosen direct advertising to teenagers using some of the same strategies as vape manufacturers.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association put out a joint statement in April 2019 calling for a public policy to reduce the risk that sugary drinks pose to the health of children and adolescents.43

In the statement, the authors concluded that consuming added sugars, in particular those added to beverages, is a significant health risk, and encouraged pediatricians to counsel families to decrease consumption of sugary drinks and increase their intake of water.44

Many of the published recommendations indicated a lack of support in nutrition and prevention guidelines from local, state and federal government. The team recommended policies at all levels to reduce sugar consumption. They also recommended that federal and state governments support efforts to decrease the marketing of sugary drinks to children and adolescents.45

The group recommended that federal nutrition programs work to promote the purchase of healthy foods and beverages and to ensure that children have access to credible nutrition information. Importantly, the group made a notable argument regarding the contribution that hospitals and doctors have made toward poor nutrition.

Seeing your physician drink a Coke, for instance, or being able to purchase one at the hospital reinforces the idea that the habit is safe and normal.46 Referencing a 2012 Federal Trade Commission Report,47 the policy statement drew a comparison to tobacco companies that directed their marketing efforts at children and adolescents:48

“Similar to tobacco companies, sugary drink manufacturers aim to appeal to children and adolescents by associating their product with celebrity, glamour, and coolness.

Despite the existence of the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, an industry-initiated, self-regulatory body designed to limit marketing of unhealthful food and beverage products to children younger than 12 years, children and adolescents are frequently exposed to sugary drink advertisements.

In 2009, carbonated beverage companies reported $395 million in youth-directed expenditures, approximately 97% of which were directed at teenagers.”

While the advertising for clean, pure water may not be as enticing, the health benefits are life-giving. If you enjoy flavored water, make your own by adding a slice of lemon or lime. Carry your own water in a glass bottle and avoid the multiple problems associated with plastic containers.

40% of IVF Treatments Are Unnecessary

 

Your entire body takes direction from your hormones. Hormones are secreted by your endocrine system and are responsible for telling your organs what to do and when to do it.1 They are essentially chemical messengers that travel throughout your bloodstream, working slowly over time to affect processes like growth and development, metabolism and reproduction.

Sometimes, these chemical messengers may get out of balance, and this leads to chronic disorders such as Type 2 diabetes, weak bones and infertility.2 Hormones may be secreted by your adrenal glands, endocrine-related organs, hypothalamus, sex glands and other organs.3

Progesterone is important to fertility and supporting a pregnancy. It’s a steroid hormone secreted by the corpus luteum and then by the placenta if you become pregnant.4 In some cases, when couples suffer from infertility, they choose in vitro fertilization (IVF).

This is a complex series of procedures in which eggs are retrieved from the ovaries, fertilized by sperm in a lab and then transferred into the uterus.5 One full cycle can take up to three weeks6 and cost $12,000.7 In response to her struggles with infertility, Amy Galliher-Beckley, Ph.D.,8 co-founded MFB Fertility and the progesterone test Proov.9

The Estrogen and Progesterone Relationship

Each of your bodily systems maintains a balance to help you maintain optimal health. Your reproductive system is no different. For a woman, there are several hormones affecting a complex system to mature an egg follicle and release an egg where it travels to the uterus. If fertilized, the egg must implant into the uterus, called the endometrium, where it begins to develop into a baby.

These events are controlled by hormones secreted from several sources in the body. The ovaries produce the eggs and are the main source of estrogen. The adrenal glands sit on top of each kidney and also make a small amount. Estrogen plays a role in physical changes during puberty; it also controls the menstrual cycle, protects bone health and affects your mood.10

The second hormone essential to fertility is progesterone, a steroid hormone that is first secreted by the corpus luteum. After the egg is released, the corpus luteum is left attached to the ovary, which functions as a temporary gland.11 These two hormones are controlled by the release of other hormones.

During the menstrual cycle gonadotropin-releasing hormone is secreted from the hypothalamus, triggering the secretion of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) from the pituitary gland.12 This begins follicle development and triggers a rise in estrogen.

Luteinizing hormone (LH), also secreted by the pituitary gland, supports the maturation of the follicle and a trigger to cause the egg to be released. When estrogen levels get sufficiently high it signals a sudden release of LH, around mid-cycle, which triggers a set of events that ultimately release the mature egg from the follicle.13

Once released, the empty follicle becomes the corpus luteum, which produces progesterone. The release of progesterone triggers the uterus to develop a highly vascularized bed suitable for implantation of a fertilized egg.

Without fertilization, the corpus luteum begins to degenerate, the secretion of progesterone drops off and menstruation occurs. If pregnancy occurs then the corpus luteum produces progesterone for the first 10 weeks until production is taken over by the placenta.14,15

Not About Getting Pregnant, but Staying Pregnant

As Beckley explains in her interview with Forbes magazine,16 her test is not about getting pregnant, but rather staying pregnant. Progesterone not only prepares the uterus for the egg to implant; it also protects the endometrium from degeneration and menstruation. While the body is producing high levels of progesterone during a pregnancy, a second egg will not mature.17

In order to maintain a pregnancy, the corpus luteum must continue to secrete progesterone. This maintains the blood vessels in the endometrium to feed the growing baby. It is in these early weeks that women with low levels of progesterone may have difficulty, both conceiving and developing the right environment for a fertilized egg to grow.

Some women who do get pregnant are at a high risk for miscarriage.18 The test Beckley developed comes with sticks used in much the same way ovulation and pregnancy tests are used. These sticks measure the amount of progesterone metabolites excreted in the urine. To date, this is the first at-home, over-the-counter test used to evaluate a woman's ability to produce progesterone.19 Beckley explains:20

"Low progesterone is the number one cause of unexplained infertility. Women who go through IVF protocols all are offered progesterone. If you are not going through IVF, most doctors don't talk about progesterone, they don't offer progesterone, they don't test for progesterone. When your progesterone crashes too quickly, it is called a luteal phase defect."

Luteal Phase Defect Increases Chances of Miscarriage

The luteal phase in a woman's cycle begins after ovulation and represents the second half of the menstrual cycle. The luteal phase is named after the corpus luteum. Luteal Phase Defect (LPD) results in an abnormal endometrial growth that may not support a pregnancy.21,22

While researchers struggle to identify the underlying dysfunction and efficacy of LPD in supporting fertility, experts report women undergoing IVF always have LPD present.23 LPD is marked with a luteal phase less than 11 days. However, not all physicians believe the condition exists; reliable tests are lacking.24

Beckley developed the Proov urine test to help women identify a reduction in progesterone during their cycle. According to Beckley,25 her test gives women more knowledge about how their body works and provides a foundation for asking their infertility doctors better questions.

The test measures the presence of metabolites in the urine that should increase and remain elevated after ovulation. It may be used to confirm ovulation and confirm levels of progesterone afterward. A single negative test before ovulation followed by a single positive test will confirm ovulation for women trying to get pregnant.26

For women trying to conceive, the test is recommended four days after peak fertility and then for continued testing 10 days past ovulation.27 When questions arise about levels of progesterone to maintain a pregnancy, they recommend testing six days after peak fertility and as needed during the pregnancy since the test should remain positive.

Other Functions of Progesterone

Although LPD has a significant impact on a woman's ability to carry a pregnancy, it is the subject of debate.28 In some cases, the ovaries release enough progesterone but the uterine lining does not respond.29 LPD has been linked to other health conditions, including:30

Anorexia

Endometriosis

High levels of exercise

Obesity

Thyroid disorders

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

High levels of prolactinemia (the hormone responsible for breast milk)

In some circumstances, when these conditions are treated, the LPD resolves.31 Later in life, if levels of progesterone decline, a woman’s period may become irregular, heavier and longer,32 increasing her chance of experiencing anemia, depending on the amount and length of her period.33

Variations in hormone levels after menopause may also influence cognition and mood.34 In a study of 643 healthy postmenopausal women, researchers found that while estrogen had little effect on tests of executive function or global cognition, progesterone concentrations were associated with verbal memory. The researchers suggest this positive association merits additional study.

Bioidentical progesterone, also known as micronized progesterone in the oral form, has been successful in helping relieve hot flashes and night sweats during menopause. Dr. Jerilynn Prior from the University of British Columbia Vancouver presented her study at an endocrine society meeting during which she compared the use of progesterone to placebo.35

The study assigned 114 postmenopausal women into one of two groups, a placebo group and another who took 300 mg of micronized oral progesterone daily. To be eligible for the study, the women had to be off hormone therapy for at least six months.36

At the end of the 12-week study, researchers found that the group taking micronized progesterone demonstrated a 56% decrease in a score reflecting the number and intensity of symptoms, while the women taking the placebo reported a 28% decrease.37

Age Does Affect Hormone Balance

As is borne out by the number of women struggling with hormonal imbalances as they age and those requiring fertility assistance to become pregnant after 40,38 Beckley is vocal about the difficulty women may have supporting a pregnancy after she turns 40.39

Beckley says,40 “The closer a woman gets to menopause, the least likely her body is going to be able to support a pregnancy.” Much of this is related to the imbalance of hormones required to successfully support a pregnancy that occurs as women age.

Her research in designing the progesterone urine test led Beckley to believe 30% to 40% of women who undergo IVF treatment to become pregnant ultimately do not need IVF.41 Instead, they may require progesterone to develop a healthy endometrial lining and support early pregnancy.

Overall Fertility Is on the Decline

Couples experience infertility for a number of reasons. In a study42 released in 2017, researchers evaluated 38 years of information and found sperm counts declined significantly between 1973 and 2011. The sperm counts declined 52% to 59% in men located in North America, Europe and Australia.

The Australian Department of Health reports 1 in every 6 Australian couples suffers from fertility problems, which they attribute to the decision to have children later in life as well as declining sperm count. Quality and lifestyle factors such as smoking, not eating healthfully, consuming excessive amounts of alcohol and not having a healthy BMI also affect fertility.43

In May 2019, the Pew Research Center reported that for the fourth year in a row, key fertility indicators for U.S. couples declined, reaching a record low.44 Two of the three indicators used to determine fertility reflected a decline in numbers.

The total fertility rate, or the estimation of the number of children a woman would have in her lifetime, was 1.73 children in 2018. This was lower than the estimate of 1.74 from the mid-1970s.45

Research suggests men’s fertility is affected by environmental toxins and chemicals you may find in your own home, which I discuss in a past article, “50 Percent Fertility Reduction Because of These Household Chemicals.”

Additionally, as described in the past article, “Birth Rate Reaches Record Low as Premature Deliveries Rise,” statistics from the CDC show the number of new births was down 2% in 2018 as compared to 2017, but the number of premature births was rising. Infertility and pregnancy are complex conditions that likely need a comprehensive approach to experience a successful outcome.

Illegal Levels of Radiation Emitted by Popular Cellphones

 

Hidden within your cellphone’s manual is a little-known warning that advises you to keep the device at a certain distance from your body — typically 5 to 15 millimeters — to ensure you don’t exceed the federal safety limit for radiofrequency (RF) exposure.

In the real world, however, most people carry their phones close to their body, usually in a pocket. Many women tuck their phone right into their bra, which may be the absolute worst place for a woman to put it, as it could raise their risk of both heart problems and breast tumors, two leading risks of death for women.

Now, cellphone testing by the Chicago Tribune1 reveals several popular cellphones emit far higher levels of RF radiation than legally permitted, which has not only reignited discussions about safety but also led to the launch of at least one class-action lawsuit.

How Safety Limits Are Determined

The safe distance (listed in your cellphone manual) is based on your phone’s specific absorption rate (SAR). SAR is a measure of how much RF energy your body will absorb from the device when held at a specific distance from your body, typically ranging from 5 to 15 mm, depending on the manufacturer.

Put another way, it’s a measure of the degree to which your device will heat body tissue, which we now know is not the primary way that cellphones damage your body.

However, even though heat generated from your phone does not really damage your body, the SAR could be a good surrogate marker for the actual microwave radiofrequency exposure that does indeed cause cellular damage, as it is the microwaves that heat your tissue. So, typically, the lower SAR rating, the safer your phone, but not for the reasons they are telling you.

The SAR limit set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)2 is currently the only standard set to protect public health, so the fact that even these lenient standards are being exceeded is concerning.

In the U.S. and Canada, the SAR limit for mobile devices used by the public is 1.6 W/kg per 1 gram of head tissue. To understand why and how SAR underestimates radiation absorption and health risks, see “Exposure Limits: The Underestimation of Absorbed Cellphone Radiation, Especially in Children,”3,4 published in the journal Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine in 2012.

Popular Cellphones Emit Illegal Levels of RF

As mentioned, recent independent SAR testing paid for by the Chicago Tribune5 reveals several popular cellphones emit far higher levels of RF radiation than legally permitted. One bestselling cellphone, the iPhone 7, emitted more than double the legal SAR limit. As reported by the Chicago Tribune:6

The Federal Communications Commission, which is responsible for regulating phones, states on its website that if a cellphone has been approved for sale, the device ‘will never exceed’ the maximum allowable exposure limit. But this phone, in an independent lab inspection, had done exactly that.”

In all, Chicago Tribune tested 11 cellphone models from four manufacturers. Because of the surprisingly high level of radiation obtained from the first iPhone 7 tested, four iPhone 7s were tested, using a standard test and a modified test based on manufacturers feedback. While results varied from one device to another, all four exceeded the FCC’s limit.

At a distance of 5 mm from your body (the distance used by Apple), the iPhone 7 was found to emit anywhere between 2.5 and 3.46 W/kg, which is 1.6 to 2.2 times the legal limit.

At a distance of 2 mm from the body — which mimics carrying your phone in your pocket — the results ranged from 3.5 W/kg on the low end to 4.69 W/kg on the high end, which are 2.2 to 2.9 times above the legal limit.

The three Samsung Galaxy smartphones tested, Galaxy S9, S8 and J3, were all within the legal limit at 10 to 15 mm from the body (the distance used by Samsung), but RF radiation levels skyrocketed at 2 mm from the body, raising serious questions about the safety of keeping a Galaxy phone in your pocket.

The Galaxy S9 came in at 3.8 W/kg at 2 mm from the body, while the S8 registered a whopping 8.22 W/kg (more than five times the legal limit) and J3 registered 6.55 W/kg. Based on these test results, the FCC has vowed to conduct its own testing in the near future, the Chicago Tribune reports. FCC spokesman Neil Grace told the Tribune:7

“We take seriously any claims on non-compliance with the RF (radiofrequency) exposure standards and will be obtaining and testing the subject phones for compliance with FCC rules.”

Safety Standards Leave Lots of Wiggle Room

How could these cellphones exceed the legal limit by such a significant margin? Part of the problem, the Tribune explains, is that manufacturers need only get a passing grade for a single cellphone in order to allow them to put millions on the market. They’re also allowed to select their own testing lab, which could give rise to discrepancies.

As noted by the Tribune, Apple disputed the results, saying the lab used by the Tribune “had not tested the phones the same way they do,” although the company did not specify what the problem was.  

Motorola also disputed the results obtained for its Moto e5 Play, saying the Tribune’s test might not have triggered the phone’s proximity sensors — sensors that are supposed to detect when the device is in close proximity to your body and lower the phone’s power output accordingly. The Tribune writes:

“Motorola … would not answer questions about its power sensors. ‘Our power management techniques and expertise provide Motorola with a significant competitive advantage in the marketplace, and are therefore highly confidential,’ the company’s statement said.

‘The Chicago Tribune’s third-party lab was not privy to the proprietary techniques from Motorola necessary to elicit accurate results’ … When the Tribune asked Motorola to explain how it tests its phones, the company declined. It also would not share its lab reports.”

While the Tribune’s lab had conducted the testing according to FCC standards, the feedback from Motorola led the Tribune to retest the Apple and Motorola phones using a modified test “aimed at activating sensors that would reduce power.”

And, while the modified testing did allow some cellphone models to pass — suggesting proximity sensors in some phones may not work properly under certain conditions — the iPhone 7 still failed to meet the FCC standard. The Tribune writes:8

“When informed of the new results, Apple officials declined to be interviewed and requested the Tribune put its questions in writing. The newspaper did, submitting three dozen, but Apple did not answer any of them.”

Safety Standards Do Not Match Real-World Exposure

Another problem is that SAR testing companies are allowed to position the cellphone as far as 25 mm (0.98 inches, or nearly 1 inch) away from the body to meet the FCC standard. Today, few people consistently keep their phone at least a quarter of an inch to an inch away from their body, which means overexposure is chronic.

In 2012, the Government Accountability Office stated that because cellphone radiation is not measured under real-world conditions, against the body, the FCC should reassess its limits and testing requirements. In August 2019, the FCC finally announced that “the existing standard sufficiently protects the public and should remain in place,” the Tribune writes.9

Clearly, the Tribune’s independent testing suggests otherwise. As the Tribune points out, 68% of American teenagers take their cellphones to bed with them and 29% sleep with them,10 often next to or under their pillow. Children are also exposed to RF starting in utero. Never before has an entire generation been exposed to this amount of RF from cradle to grave. The Chicago Tribune writes:11

“When cellphones hit the market in the 1980s, authorities focused on setting an exposure limit to address only the heating risks of cellphones. Scientists found that animals showed adverse effects when exposed to enough radiofrequency radiation to raise their body temperature by 1 degree Celsius.

Authorities used this finding to help calculate a safety limit for humans, building in a 50-fold safety factor. The final rule, adopted by the FCC in 1996, stated that cellphone users cannot potentially absorb more than 1.6 watts per kilogram averaged over one gram of tissue.

To demonstrate compliance, phone makers were told to conduct two tests: when the devices were held against the head and when held up to an inch from the body.

These testing methods didn’t address the anatomy of children and that of other vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women, said Joel Moskowitz, a cellphone expert at the University of California at Berkeley. ‘It was like one-size-fits-all.’ Plus, he said, ‘I don’t think anyone anticipated the smartphone and how it would become so integral to our lives.’”

‘This Could Be the Chernobyl of the Cellphone Industry’

In the wake of the Tribune’s report, the class-action law firm Fegan Scott has announced it will launch an investigation.12 In a BusinessWire press release,13 managing partner Beth Fegan stated:

This could be the Chernobyl of the cellphone industry, cover-up and all. If we found that produce sold in grocery stores contained twice the levels of pesticides as the law allows, we would be up in arms, demanding the products be pulled from the shelf — this is no different.

In this case, we know the cellphone radiation is dangerous, but the terrifying part is that we don't know how dangerous, especially to kids' brain development.

The fact that the Chicago Tribune can convene a group of experts and develop such convincing findings shows that the phone manufacturers may be intentionally hiding what they know about radiation output.”

According to MacRumors,14 Fegan Scott has not provided any additional information about its investigation or what kind of legal action it might pursue. Those wanting to learn more about the investigation and/or to receive updates are urged to email phoneradiation@feganscott.com.

That said, at least one class-action lawsuit has already been filed.15 August 23, 2019, a dozen individuals filed a class action complaint16 against Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics America Inc., saying excessive RF radiation has placed them at increased risk for cancer, cellular stress, genetic damage, learning and memory deficits and neurological disorders.

As noted by Tech Wellness,17 the lawsuit stresses that while the cellphone industry used to warn against holding your cellphone against your body, people are now encouraged to carry their phones in their pockets rather than a bag.

Tech Wellness also notes that,18 “Both Samsung and Apple have commercials showing people lying in bed with their phones and Samsung shows a pregnant woman holding the phone to her belly,” which presents the false perception that these devices are safe even when in direct contact with the body.

Government Research Confirms Safety Concerns

Indeed, there’s plenty of scientific evidence showing there’s cause for concern and prudence. Among the more damning studies are two government-funded animal studies19 that reveal GSM and CDMA radiation has carcinogenic potential.

The finalized report20 of these two studies — conducted by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), an interagency research program under the auspices of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences — was released November 1, 2018.

While the preliminary report released in February 2018 significantly downplayed the findings,21 subsequent peer review upgraded the findings of risk. The NTP rates cancer risk based on four categories of evidence: “clear evidence” (highest), “some evidence,” “equivocal evidence,” and “no evidence” (lowest). According to the NTP’s final report, the two studies, done on mice and rats of both sexes, found:22

  • Clear evidence for heart tumors (malignant schwannomas) in male rats. These types of tumors started developing around week 70, and are very similar to acoustic neuromas found in humans, a benign type of tumor that previous studies have been linked to cellphone use.
  • Some evidence of brain tumors (malignant gliomas) in male rats. Glial cell hyperplasias — indicative of precancerous lesions — began developing around week 58.
  • Some evidence of adrenal gland tumors in male rats, both benign and malignant tumors and/or complex combined pheochromocytoma.
  • Equivocal or unclear evidence of tumors in female rats and mice of both genders.

While the NTP insists the exposure — nine hours a day for two years, which is the lifetime of a rodent — is far more extensive than that of heavy cellphone users, I would disagree, seeing how many have their cellphones turned on and near their body 24/7. As mentioned, many teens are literally sleeping with their phone beneath their pillow.

NTP Findings Reproduced at Power Levels Below FCC Limits  

Corroborating evidence was also published by the Ramazzini Institute just one month after the NTP released its preliminary report in February 2018. The Ramazzini study23 reproduces and clearly supports the NTP’s findings, showing a clear link between cellphone radiation and Schwann cell tumors (schwannomas)24,25,26 — but at a much lower power level than that used by NTP.

While NTP used RF levels comparable to what’s emitted by 2G and 3G cellphones (near-field exposure), Ramazzini simulated exposure to cellphone towers (far-field exposure). Ramazzini’s rats were exposed to 1.8 GHz GSM radiation at electric field strengths of 5, 25 and 50 volts per meter27 for 19 hours a day, starting at birth until the rats died either from age or illness.

To facilitate comparison, the researchers converted their measurements to watts per kilogram of body weight (W/kg), which is what the NTP used. Overall, the radiation dose administered in the Ramazzini study was up to 1,000 times lower than the NTP’s — and below the U.S. limits set by the FCC — yet the results are strikingly similar.

As in the NTP studies, exposed male rats developed statistically higher rates of heart schwannomas than unexposed rats. They also found some evidence, although weaker, that RF exposure increased rates of glial tumors in the brains of female rats.

Cellphone Radiation Can Do a Great Deal of Harm

In my view, the fact that popular cellphones are exceeding the legal limit of RF is a significant health concern, as the primary hazard of cellphone radiation is not brain cancer but systemic cellular and mitochondrial damage,28,29,30,31 which can contribute to any number of health problems and chronic diseases.

Cellphone radiation has also been shown to have a significant impact on neurological and mental health,32 contributing to and/or worsening anxiety, depression and dementia, for example, and all of these conditions are rampant and growing more prevalent.

Research also suggests excessive EMF exposure is contributing to reproductive problems. For example, researchers have found prenatal exposure to power-frequency fields can nearly triple a pregnant woman’s risk of miscarriage.33 Studies have also shown cellphone radiation can reduce sperm motility and viability.34,35

It’s really important to realize that the harms of cellphone radiation are not related to the heating of tissue. Rather, it causes a cascade of molecular events that end up causing severe oxidative damage. This mechanism of harm is reviewed in more detail in my interview with professor Martin Pall below.

5G Will Exponentially Magnify Your Health Risks

The planned implementation of 5G is bound to further magnify the health risks associated with cellphones and other wireless devices. A call for a moratorium on 5G was issued in September 2017 by more than 180 scientists and doctors from 35 countries,36,37 “until potential hazards for human health and the environment have been fully investigated by scientists independent from industry.”

The moratorium points out that “RF-EMF has been proven to be harmful for humans and the environment,” and that “5G will substantially increase exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) on top of the 2G, 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi, etc. for telecommunications already in place.”

Despite that, and an appeal for protection from nonionizing EMF exposure by more than 230 international EMF scientists to the United Nations in 2015,38 the U.S. and many other countries are still moving ahead without any health or environmental impact studies.

At a February 6, 2019, senate commerce hearing (above), the FCC admitted that no 5G safety studies have been conducted or funded by the agency or the telecom industry, and that none are planned.39,40

The added concern 5G brings is the addition of the millimeter wave (MMW). This bandwidth, which runs from 30 gigahertz (GHz) to 300GHz,41 is known to penetrate up to 2 millimeters into human skin tissue,42,43 causing a burning sensation.

Research has shown sweat ducts in human skin act as receptors or antennae for 5G radiation, drawing the radiation into your body,44,45,46,47,48 thereby causing a rise in temperature. This in part helps explain the painful effect. As noted by Dr. Yael Stein — who has studied 5G MMW technology and its interaction with the human body — in a 2016 letter to the Federal Communications Commission:49

Potentially, if 5G Wi-Fi is spread in the public domain we may expect more of the health effects currently seen with RF/ microwave frequencies including many more cases of hypersensitivity (EHS), as well as many new complaints of physical pain and a yet unknown variety of neurologic disturbances.

It will be possible to show a causal relationship between G5 technology and these specific health effects. The affected individuals may be eligible for compensation.”

Aside from pain,50 MMW has also been linked to eye damage,51,52,53 heightened stress through its impact on heart rate variability,54,55,56 arrhythmias,57,58 suppressed immune function59 and increased antibiotic resistance in bacteria.60

If Stein is right about being able to demonstrate a causal relationship between 5G and certain health effects, then the class action against Apple and Samsung will be just the beginning of a flood of lawsuits. 

Beyond its health ramifications, a global 5G network will also threaten our ability to predict weather, which will put civilians at risk and jeopardize the Navy.61 According to a recent paper62 in the journal Nature, widespread 5G coverage will prevent satellites from detecting changes in water vapor, which is how meteorologists predict weather changes and storms. Time will tell if that will be yet another avenue for legal action.

Take Precautions Sooner Rather Than Later

Clearly, a key take-home message from the Tribune’s testing is that you should never carry your phone in your pocket unless it’s in airplane mode. Carrying it on your body while it’s on is a surefire way to ensure overexposure, and this appears to be true for many different models.

The radiation may even differ from one phone to the next, of the same model, so even if your model happened to rate well at the 2-mm distance in this particular test, it’s not a guarantee your individual phone will not overexpose you.

I am currently writing a book on EMF dangers, called “EMF’d,” which will be a comprehensive resource on current technologies and should be published in February 2020. In the meantime, to learn more about 5G and help educate others, you can download a two-page 5G fact sheet63 from the Environmental Health Trust.

On their website, you can also access a long list of published scientific studies showing cause for concern.64 To reduce your EMF exposure, read through the suggestions listed in “A Film About the Impending 5G Apocalypse.” In that article, you’ll also find well-done documentary detailing the many concerns associated with this next-gen technology.

The Statin Mafia Censors Pharmaceutical Harm

 

The first statin (lovastatin) was approved for use in the U.S. in 1987.1 Fast forward to 2020, just over three decades later, and it’s estimated that total sales for statin drugs will reach $1 trillion.2 Their usage statistics are staggering. Among U.S. adults aged 40 to 59, lipid-lowering drugs such as statins are the second most commonly prescribed drug, being taken by 13.9% of this population.

When you tailor this to adults aged 60 to 79, lipid-lowering drugs become the most common prescription, being used by 45% of Americans and 34.3% of Canadians in the same age range.3

The drugs were once only offered to people at high risk of heart disease, but in 2013, a joint task force of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association released new guidelines, which increased the number of adults eligible for statin therapy by 12.8 million people — mostly older adults without heart disease.4

Statins are effective at lowering cholesterol, but whether this is the panacea for helping you avoid heart disease and extend your lifespan is up for debate and a question worthy of closer scrutiny. The pharmaceutical industry is quick to try to discredit any negative press toward the drugs, including, as explained in the video above, an ABC News in Australia segment that revealed the questionable effectiveness of the drugs.

Cholesterol Guidelines Marred by Potential Bias

Maryanne Demasi, Ph.D., a former medical scientist with the University of Adelaide, was a reporter for ABC News in Australia. In 2013, she was featured in a two-part series, with the first investigating the science behind the persistent claim that saturated fat causes heart disease by raising cholesterol. The second part focused on cholesterol drug wars and questioned the overprescription of statins and industry influence in statin trials.

Worthy of attention, the authors of the 2013 cholesterol guidelines declared conflicts of interest that should have removed them from either writing or voting on the guidelines, but didn't. Of the 15 panelists who authored the cholesterol guidelines, six revealed ties to drug companies that produced cholesterol-lowering medications. Of the 10 expert reviewers for the guidelines, five listed relationships with drug makers.5

One of the criteria for people to take statin drugs was based on an algorithm that uses your age, gender, blood pressure, total cholesterol, high density lipoproteins (HDL), race and history of diabetes to predict the likelihood you'll experience a heart attack in the coming 10 years.

At the time, the recommendation was that those with a risk profile over 7.5% should take statins and those with a profile near 5% should discuss their options with their physician.6 Studies looking into the tool’s accuracy, however, suggested the tool overestimated the number of people who would have a cardiovascular event “substantially.”7

Part of the statin debate also rests on a statistical tool called relative risk reduction (RRR) to amplify what amounts to trivial benefits. Writing in the journal Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology, researchers explained:8

“Our opinion is that although statins are effective at reducing cholesterol levels, they have failed to substantially improve cardiovascular outcomes.

We have described the deceptive approach statin advocates have deployed to create the appearance that cholesterol reduction results in an impressive reduction in cardiovascular disease outcomes through their use of a statistical tool called relative risk reduction (RRR), a method which amplifies the trivial beneficial effects of statins.”

Statin News Segment Shut Down

After Demasi’s series aired, it was met with an outpouring of support from viewers, only to be quickly overcome with complaints from health organizations and drug companies, which orchestrated a campaign to discredit the segment. News commentators suggested “people will die” if they watch the program and a Sydney cardiologist went so far as to state, “ABC has blood on its hands,” Demasi said in the video above.

A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia also suggested that the ABC News program led to a reduction in statin usage that could result in up to 2,900 preventable vascular events.9 A gag order was issued, which meant Demasi and colleagues were unable to defend themselves or the program, and ABC ultimately capitulated to the scrutiny and pulled the program.

A similar smear campaign was launched in France against a cardiologist who questioned the value of statins in his book. In this case, researchers looked into what actually happens when statin use is discontinued, concluding, “it is not evidence based to claim that statin discontinuation increases mortality or saves lives” and:10

“On the contrary, one might even conclude that statin discontinuation could save lives. One possible explanation of this apparently paradoxical finding is that statin discontinuers, in the same time they stop statin therapy, likely try to adopt a healthy lifestyle.”

Statin Mafia Hiding Statin Data

Demasi also explains how the U.K.-based Cholesterol Treatment Trialists’ (CTT) Collaboration is holding all the raw data on statin side effects, then publishing meta-analyses promoting their use. Although they claim to be independent, they’ve received millions in funding from the pharmaceutical industry.

Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, a general practitioner in Cheshire, England, is the author of three books. I’ve previously interviewed him about “Doctoring Data: How to Sort Out Medical Advice From Medical Nonsense” and his latest book is “A Statin Nation: Damaging Millions in a Brave New Post-Health World,” which addresses the challenges with this conventional approach to heart disease prevention. Regarding CTT, he explained:

“They’ve got all the data … from the statin trials. They hold it. They won’t let anyone else look at it, ever. They keep producing these meta-analyses showing how wonderful statins are and that they don’t have adverse effects, and we’re supposed to believe them.

Although they run a clinical trials unit, last time I looked, they earned well over $400 million in funding from pharmaceutical companies almost entirely — those companies that produce cholesterol-lowering agents … [W]e have a completely biased organization paid hundreds of millions to hold all the data, and then tell us, ‘No one else can look at it. By the way, you should believe everything we say.’

… [H]ow on Earth can this be allowed to happen? … [S]omehow, these people have got themselves such a standing and status that we’re supposed to go, ‘Well, you said it. It must be right.’ This is ridiculous.”

The lack of transparency is clearly not in the public’s best interest. Demasi suggests looking to what happened with Tamiflu to learn a lesson, referring to the fact that drug makers hid a significant amount of negative data from the public.

Practitioners Persecuted for Breaking Statin Orthodoxy

Demasi, unfortunately, is not alone in being targeted for speaking out against the medical orthodoxy of using statins as a primary means of prevention against heart disease.

Others, like Dr. Antti Heikkilä in Finland, have also been persecuted for using other tools. In Heikkilä’s case, he’s been using low-carb, high healthy-fat and ketogenic diets to treat and prevent chronic diseases among his patients, with many able to manage their conditions without drugs — and facing attacks on his reputation as a result.11

As Demasi wrote in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, we’re in the midst of a statin war, and it’s the public who is suffering as a result:12

“A bitter dispute has erupted among doctors over suggestions that statins should be prescribed to millions of healthy people at low risk of heart disease. There are concerns that the benefits have been exaggerated and the risks have been underplayed. Also, the raw data on the efficacy and safety of statins are being kept secret and have not been subjected to scrutiny by other scientists.

This lack of transparency has led to an erosion of public confidence. Doctors and patients are being misled about the true benefits and harms of statins, and it is now a matter of urgency that the raw data from the clinical trials are released.”

Statin Side Effects Are Real

More than half of statin users stop using the drugs within a year, with 62% citing side effects as the reason.13 Fatigue, nausea, joint and muscle pain and increases in blood sugar have all been associated with statin drug use. Statins have also been shown to increase your risk of diabetes via a number of different mechanisms.

Researchers with the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands analyzed data from more than 9,500 patients. Those who had ever used statins had a 38% higher risk of Type 2 diabetes, with the risk being higher in those with impaired glucose homeostasis and those who were overweight or obese.14

Further, the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation Collaborating Centre for International Drug Monitoring receives safety reports associated with statin medications and has noted a disproportionately high number of patients with upper motor neuron lesions among those taking statin medications.15

Statins also deplete your body of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), which accounts for many of their devastating results. CoQ10 is used for energy production by every cell in your body. Its reduced form, ubiquinol, is a critical component of cellular respiration and production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is a coenzyme used as an energy carrier in every cell of your body.

The depletion of CoQ10 caused by statins can actually increase your risk of acute heart failure. While this can be somewhat offset by taking a Coenzyme Q10 supplement (if you're over 40, I would recommend taking ubiquinol instead of CoQ10), statins still come with a risk of other serious side effects, including:

  • Cancer16
  • Cataracts17
  • Musculoskeletal disorders, including myalgia, muscle weakness, muscle cramps, rhabdomyolysis and autoimmune muscle disease18
  • Depression19

Statins also inhibit the synthesis of vitamin K2, which can make your heart health worse instead of better, and reduce ketone production. Ketones are crucial nutrients to feed your mitochondria and are important regulators of metabolic health and longevity.

How to Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease

There is far more that goes into your risk of heart disease than your cholesterol levels. The suggestions that follow can help you lower your insulin resistance and restore your insulin sensitivity, among other heart-protective mechanisms:

Avoid environmental pollutants and toxins, including smoking, vaping, heavy metals, herbicides and pesticides, especially glyphosate.

Minimize your exposure to electromagnetic fields and wireless radiation from cellphones, Wi-Fi, routers, smart meters and more, as this kind of radiation has been shown to cause serious free radical damage and mitochondrial dysfunction.

Eat an unprocessed whole food-based diet low in net carbs and high in healthy fats. A ketogenic diet — which is very low in net carbohydrates and high in healthy fats — is key for boosting mitochondrial function.

When your body is able to burn fat for fuel, your liver creates water-soluble fats called ketones that burn far more efficiently than carbs, thereby creating fewer reactive oxygen species and secondary free radicals. Ketones also decrease inflammation and improve glucose metabolism.20

Eat nitrate-rich foods to help normalize your blood pressure. Good sources include arugula, cilantro, rhubarb, butter leaf lettuce, mesclun mixed greens, beet greens, fresh beet juice, kvass (fermented beet juice) and fermented beet powder.

Get plenty of nonexercise movement each day; walk more and incorporate higher intensity exercise as your health allows.

Intermittently fast. After you've become accustomed to intermittently fasting for 16 to 18 hours, you can try a stricter fast once or twice a week, when you eat a 300- to 800-calorie meal loaded with detox supporting nutrients, followed by a 24-hour fast. So, in essence, you're then only eating one 300- to 800-calorie meal in 42 hours.

If you have heart disease, consider enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP). To find a provider, see EECP.com.21

If you have heart disease, you may also consider taking g-strophanthin, an adrenal hormone that helps create more parasympathetic nervous system neurotransmitters, thereby supporting your parasympathetic nervous system. It also helps flush out lactic acid. Strophanthus is the name of the plant, the active ingredient of which is called g-strophanthin in Europe, and ouabain in the U.S.

Get sensible sun exposure to optimize your vitamin D status and/or take an oral vitamin D3 supplement with magnesium and vitamin K2.

Implement heart-based wellness practices such as connecting with loved ones and practicing gratitude.

Why I'm Paying Farmers to Convert to Biodynamic Cotton

 

When you think about curbing pollution, taking aim at the clothes in your closet is probably not high up on the list. But the textiles industry is one of the most polluting on the planet. New trends and “ultrafast fashion” has clothing entering popular clothing stores on a weekly or even daily basis.

As a result, Americans have increased how much clothing they buy, with the average person bringing home more than 65 articles of clothing in 2016, according to the “Toxic Textiles” report by Green America.1 Where clothing was once valued for durability and practicality, we’re living in an age where people feel pressured to keep up with clothing trends, at the expense of quality and the environment. Green America noted:2

“[S]ocial media has led to a new trend of ultra-fast fashion — where companies are able to design, manufacture, and sell hundreds of products mere weeks after the initial conception of design, thanks to a large network of local and international factories.

Some ultra-fast fashion companies, such as Fashion Nova, release 600 new items a week — and sell out most of them too. We’ve entered an age where clothing is made to be worn and subsequently discarded, where ‘good-enough’ is the metric for the quality of our clothes.”

Textile Manufacturing Is Polluting the Planet

The textile industry is an often-overlooked contributor to pollution that is destroying the planet. Green America released some sobering statistics, including that textile manufacturing causes about 20% of industrial water pollution and emits 10% of global carbon emissions.

Textile production also uses 43 million tons of chemicals annually,3 and this doesn’t even include the pesticides used to grow cotton (glyphosate, the most used agricultural chemical, is an herbicide used to grow cotton that’s linked to cancer and found in cotton textiles).

Chemicals are used at multiple stages of production when it comes to turning raw materials into clothing and include azo-aniline dyes, which may cause skin reactions ranging from mild to severe.

Even more concerning, azo dyes may release aromatic amines, which are carcinogenic.4 If you're sensitive, such dyes may leave your skin red, itchy and dry, especially where the fabric rubs on your skin, such as at your waist, neck, armpits and thighs.

Formaldehyde resins are also used in clothing to cut down on wrinkling and mildew. Not only is formaldehyde a known carcinogen, but the resins have been linked to eczema and may cause your skin to become flaky or erupt in a rash.5

Brominated flame retardants, used to stop clothes from burning (although this is questionable), may be found in children’s clothing. These chemicals are neurotoxic endocrine disrupters that may also cause cancer. Polyflourinated chemicals (PFCs), used widely in uniforms and outdoor clothing to create stain-repellant and water-resistant fabrics, are carcinogenic, build up in your body and are toxic to the environment.

The chemicals may be mostly washed out, but some can linger in the clothing as you wear it. Some clothing is treated with additional chemicals for water-resistant, wrinkle- and stain-protection as well. However, workers are exposed to the chemicals during manufacturing and when they’re rinsed off the fabrics (a process that uses copious amounts of water), they end up in waterways. Green America explained:6

“Once released into the water, chemicals can also affect the community, through exposure to water sources, but also due to the leaching of chemicals into the soil, which affects the local agricultural system. The chemicals that are commonly used in the manufacturing process pose a variety of health and environmental risks.

There isn’t a lot of transparency about what specific chemicals are used in the manufacturing process, which is especially concerning when it comes to the workers who are directly exposed to the chemicals, sometimes without adequate safety protection.”

Americans Throw Away 70 Pounds of Textiles Every Year

While Americans add dozens of new articles of clothing to their collections annually, they also get rid of others, tossing 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles each year.7 According to the U.S. EPA, textiles made up 6.1% of municipal solid waste in 2015. Only 15.3%, or 2.5 million tons, was recycled while landfills received 10.5 million tons of textiles in 2015, accounting for 7.6% of all municipal solid waste landfills.8

Even when clothing is recycled, Green America notes that “less than 1% of the resources required to make clothing is recaptured and reused to create new clothing.”9 When you donate clothes, it’s also not a sustainable solution.

The fact is, the sheer volume of clothes being donated far outpaces the demand. Charities sell only a fraction of the clothing they receive in donations, and the majority ends up getting sold to textile “recyclers.”

These “recyclers” may sell some of the clothing at that point, but most of it may end up being exported to other countries. There, it will either be sold, made into rags, processed into industrial uses or end up in landfills.

“Although 35% of our clothes are technically being diverted from American landfills, they may end up in a landfill in another country. This means that two of the most environmentally destructive aspects of the apparel production system — the manufacture of textiles and the disposal of unwanted clothing — is happening disproportionately in other, oftentimes developing, countries,” Green America noted.10

“Furthermore, countries that traditionally have imported second-hand clothing are reducing the amount they are importing.”11

Fourteen US Clothing Companies Evaluated

Green America evaluated 14 U.S. apparel companies that are widely available in malls and shopping centers. This includes Target, Nike, Gap, Walmart, The Children’s Place, Carter’s, J. Crew and others. They evaluated each company’s social and environmental practices to create a scorecard, considering such factors as chemical management, factory safety, water management and waste and recycling.

While some of the companies had policies in place for some of the benchmarks measured, including sharing progress toward the benchmarks, most of the companies were lacking. While some stated they had policies in place to manage environmental or labor issues, most did not give details about the policy or reveal measurements to achieve the goal.

“While none of the major brands are true leaders in the field, Green America identified the following companies as having better environmental and labor practices — Target, VF, Nike — and several companies that were clearly laggards — Carter’s, J.Crew, Forever 21,” Green America explained.12 They added:13

“It’s important to note that even if a company has some policies in place to address sustainability within its current supply chain, it does not negate the sheer volume of resources used and lost annually to manufacture new clothes. Furthermore, there is still, unfortunately, no way for us to shop our way to sustainability.”

Why Conventional Cotton Isn’t a Sustainable Option

Cotton is a primary player in the textile industry, accounting for 27% of production.14 It’s often viewed as a natural option, but conventional cotton is a resource heavy crop.

Green America noted that 200,000 tons of pesticides and 8 million tons of fertilizers are used for cotton crops annually, while it takes 2,700 liters of water to grow enough cotton to make a T-shirt (and this doesn’t account for the water used for dyeing and finishing).15

Even organic cotton isn’t perfect, unless it’s certified by GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards), as it still requires chemical processing in order to become a textile. However, organic cotton certified by GOTS restricts the chemicals that can be used during manufacturing, making them preferable options.

Other materials have problems of their own, including rayon/viscose, wood pulp converted to textiles — which is contributing to deforestation — and polyester, which is made from petroleum, which does not biodegrade and is made with the heavy metal antimony, a possible carcinogen.16

SITO and Dirt Shirts Raise Funds for Regenerative Agriculture

Keep in mind that just because you have a textile that someone tells you is organic doesn’t mean it’s an organic textile. A GOTS-certified textile, on the other hand, is tracked through every single step of the process, from farm to packaging.

Even hang tags have to comply with recycling standards. In other words, for a textile to be certified GOTS, each and every step of the supply chain must be certified to GOTS standards, not just one or two of the steps.

The organic clothing industry is still rather small, and it’s not always easy to find sustainably grown organic clothing. Dirt Shirt will eventually expand to provide GOTS-certified underwear and other types of clothing, in addition to T-shirts.

At present, I’ve chosen to carry SITO (Soil Integrity for Textiles Organically) brand socks and underwear, as SITO supports our global mission for improving fabric production and putting an end to fast fashion. To learn more about our Dirt Shirt and SITO brand products, see the video above — 100% of the profits from every Dirt Shirt sold on our site will support the regenerative agricultural movement.

Why I’m Paying Farmers to Convert to Biodynamic

The Mercola-RESET Biodynamic Organic Project is currently working with 55 certified organic farmers in India, with a mission of converting them to biodynamic and planting biodynamic cotton on 110 acres of land this season. Biodynamic farming is organic by nature, but it goes even further, operating on the premise that the farm be entirely self-sustaining.

In the U.S., biodynamic farms use the USDA organic standard as a foundation but have additional requirements, encompassing the principles of regenerative agriculture and more. For instance, biodynamic farms must produce at least 50% of their own organic animal feed, and 100% of the farm must be biodynamic (on the contrary, an organic farmer may raise only one crop as organic). In addition:17

  • Crops and livestock are integrated
  • Animals are treated humanely, and all have access to the outdoors, free-range forage and plenty of space to move around
  • At least 10 percent of farm acreage is set aside for biodiversity
  • The farm must uphold standards of social responsibility

Biodynamic farming brings animals and plants together to form a living web of life, a self-sustaining ecosystem that benefits the surrounding community. RESET (Regenerate, Environment, Society, Economy, Textiles) will pay all organic biodynamic farmers in our project a 25% premium over conventional cotton prices, which will be paid directly to the farmers.

How to Opt Out of Fast Fashion

Biodynamic farming is urgently needed in the textile industry to offset the polluting practices of conventional cotton growing. When shopping for clothing, make sure it’s organic, biodynamic and/or GOTS-certified. However, ultimately the best choice for the environment is to purchase less clothing overall.

When you do purchase clothing, choose high-quality pieces and use them until they wear out. If you no longer need an item, try to give it to a friend or family member who can use it. Also, choose to buy or swap used clothing items online or via thrift stores, and opt out of the fast-fashion mindset of buying excessive amounts of low-quality, “throwaway” clothes.

“It’s clear that continuing with business as usual is unsustainable — for people, for planet, and, in the long run, for profits,”18 Green America stated. You can be a model for change by choosing your clothing with a purpose and suggesting your friends and family do the same.

Vaccine Injuries and Legal Mandates

 

The pharmaceutical industry is now the most distrusted and poorly regarded industry in the U.S. This according to the latest Gallup Poll1 published September 3, 2019, which assesses Americans' views of 25 industry sectors on an annual basis. A mere 27% have a "totally positive" view of the drug industry, while 58% have a "totally negative" view; 15% are neutral.

It's an unexpected turn of events, surely, as signs of growing distrust have become more readily evident. Big Pharma distrust was also blamed for "fueling the anti-vaxxer movement and playing a role in the measles outbreak" in an April 2019 article in USA Today.2

Quoted in the article, vaccine profiteer and patent holder3 Dr. Paul Offit also capitalizes on the recent revelation that the FBI now views conspiracy theories as a "significant domestic terrorism threat."4

"'In order to believe vaccines are hurting you means your doctor is lying to you,' Offit says. To believe that, 'on some level you have to be a conspiracy theorist' who believes the industry is 'directing the government and the health care industry to lie about vaccines.'"5

In other words, if you have doubts about vaccine safety and would like to see more evidence, you're a conspiracy theorist, placing you in the category of a domestic terrorist threat. At least that's what Offit would like you to think. The fact is, lies are being told about vaccines.

As just one example, and an egregious one, in a January 2019 interview with CBS News,6 Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), flat-out denied that vaccines can cause injury or death. That is not only misinformation, it's an outright lie.

Since 1988, the federally operated vaccine injury compensation program (VICP) created under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 has paid out about $4 billion in awards to vaccine injured victims, and that's just 31% of the petitions filed for compensation.7

Doctors Routinely Withhold Risk Information

Misinformation about the safety of vaccines is being pushed front and center, and evidence of harm is not only being swept under the proverbial rug, those sharing that information are vilified, harassed and threatened in not entirely subtle ways.

There is a revolving door between people who work for U.S. federal health agencies and then go to work for the pharmaceutical industry and the other way around.8,9

This means that Big Pharma, which over the past decade has spent $2.5 billion lobbying the federal government, is having a tremendous influence on vaccine regulation, policymaking and law.10 These are not theories. They're provable facts.

Yet in recent times, we've seen vicious public attacks against anyone who questions vaccine safety, policy and law, or vaccine science. There have been extreme calls for public shaming, identification, criminal prosecution, quarantine and imprisonment of those criticizing vaccine safety and/or refusing to get government recommended vaccines.

One doctor who develops vaccines and lobbies for "no exceptions" forced vaccination laws has referred to parents of vaccine injured children as a "hate group," and one prominent newspaper suggested vaccine critics should be physically harmed.11,12,13, 14

Most providers of vaccine information on the internet are also now being censored by Google and other platforms, effectively preventing people from finding what could be life-saving information15 that, indeed, most are never given by their pediatrician.

The withholding of information about potentially life-threatening side effects and long-term injury is unlikely to be maliciously intended, but when a child is injured, parents will surely feel like they were lied to all the same.

Vaccine Injuries Are a Fact, Not a Conspiracy Theory

That children suffer brain injury, long-term health effects and death is a reality, not a conspiracy theory.

In the emotional video above, Rachel Ortiz testifies in opposition of Maine's bill LD 79816 (which would remove religious and philosophical vaccine exemptions) and in support of LD 98717 (which would expand medical vaccine exemptions), sharing the story of how a routine childhood vaccination caused irreversible brain damage to her son.

One of the things you typically hear from parents sharing their stories of how a vaccine injured their child is the tremendous weight of guilt. They trusted the doctors, who didn't warn them there were risks, and their ignorance injured (or worse, killed) their beloved child. A 2015 article by Yahoo Parenting featured Susan Lawson and her daughter Julia:18

"When … Lawson … hears parents declaring, unequivocally, that everyone should vaccinate their children because it's perfectly safe, she says it feels 'like a punch in the gut.'

That's because she's seen another side of the story: Her daughter Julia, now 9, was left with permanent brain damage — an injury acknowledged by a federal court payout — after receiving her MMRV (measles-mumps-rubella-varicella) shot when she was a year old.

Lawson, a veterinarian who had the utmost faith in medicine, had never before questioned vaccinations, and had always inoculated Julia right on schedule. But now she began to wonder. Hospital doctors dismissed any thought of a connection.

But when Lawson asked a pediatrician about it, she was told it could be a possibility. Every family featured in this story received a payment by the United States Court of Federal Claims, which concluded that their rare injuries were caused by the vaccines.

'I felt shocked, bewildered, and guilty,' Lawson recalls. 'We were trying to protect her, and instead I destroyed her. The guilt is huge.'"

However, firsthand testimony and billions in VICP payouts aren't the only evidence available that vaccines are causing debilitating harm and not just temporary soreness at the injection site. There are scientific studies raising red flags as well. For example, a pilot case-control study19 published in Frontiers in Psychiatry in January 2017 found that:

"Subjects with newly diagnosed AN [anorexia nervosa] were more likely than controls to have had any vaccination in the previous 3 months [hazard ratio 1.80, 95% confidence interval 1.21–2.68].

Influenza vaccinations during the prior 3, 6, and 12 months were also associated with incident diagnoses of AN, OCD [obsessive compulsive disorder], and an anxiety disorder. Several other associations were also significant … (hepatitis A with OCD and AN; hepatitis B with AN; and meningitis with AN and chronic tic disorder).

This pilot epidemiologic analysis implies that the onset of some neuro-psychiatric disorders may be temporally related to prior vaccinations in a subset of individuals. These findings warrant further investigation …"

A Pattern of Clear Concern

Another example is "Deaths Reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, United States, 1997-2013,"20 published in 2015. In this report, it's stated that of the 1,469 child death reports, 79.4% had received one or more vaccines on the same day they died.

The most common cause of death, based on autopsy records, was sudden infant death syndrome, accounting for 44% of cases, followed by asphyxia (6%), septicemia (4.9%) and pneumonia (4.6%). In adults, the vaccine associated with the greatest number of deaths was inactivated influenza vaccine, which featured in 51.4% of adult deaths reported to VAERS.

Despite these shocking findings, the report concludes that "No concerning pattern was noted among death reports submitted to VAERS during 1997-2013." How can the fact that 79.4% of infant deaths occur on the same day that they're vaccinated be a pattern of no concern? It's those kinds of illogical conclusions that give rise to suspicions of conspiracy, because little else makes sense.

Even some of our health officials have at times been pressed enough to let the truth slip out. In a BMJ response21 to "Measles: Europe Sees Record Number of Cases and 37 Deaths so Far This Year,"22 published in 2018, U.K. editor of AgeofAutism.com, John Stone, cites papers highlighting the questionable safety of vaccines.

Included in his citations are three Cochrane reviews, one of which concluded "The design and reporting of safety outcomes in MMR vaccine studies, both pre- and post-marketing, are largely inadequate," and "The evidence of adverse events following immunization with MMR cannot be separated from its role in preventing the target diseases."23

Government Admissions Are on the Record

In his response, Stone also points out that the question of whether vaccines can cause autism has been acknowledged in the affirmative by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) on various occasions. He writes:24

"The HHS HRSA told journalists Sharyl Attkisson and David Kirby on separate occasions: 'The government has never compensated, nor has it ever been ordered to compensate, any case based on a determination that autism was actually caused by vaccines.

We have compensated cases in which children exhibited an encephalopathy, or general brain disease. Encephalopathy may be accompanied by a medical progression of an array of symptoms including autistic behavior, autism, or seizures.'

And CDC director Julie Gerberding admitted to CNN following the Hannah Poling settlement:25 'Now, we all know that vaccines can occasionally cause fevers in kids. So if a child was immunized, got a fever, had other complications from the vaccines.

And if you're predisposed with the mitochondrial disorder, it can certainly set off some damage. Some of the symptoms can be symptoms that have characteristics of autism…'

An investigation into U.S. vaccine injury court in 2011 found 83 cases of compensated vaccine injury in which autism is mentioned, but which because they are sealed cannot be used as precedents."

Needed Studies Can Be Done, but Aren't

While working for CBS News in 2008, Attkisson also interviewed Dr. Bernadine Healy, "the most well-known medical voice yet to counter the government" on the claim that vaccines cannot cause autism.26

Healy, a former head of the National Institutes of Health, claimed that once she began looking at the vaccine-autism question, "she found credible published, peer-reviewed scientific studies that support the idea of an association," Atkisson writes, adding:27

"She dug a little deeper and was surprised to find that the government has not embarked upon some of the most basic research that could help answer the question of a link.

The more she dug, she says, the more she came to believe the government and medical establishment were intentionally avoiding the question because they were afraid of the answer … Healy says the government has a long way to go to even do basic research that could get at the heart of what she believes is an open question.

For example: why in the past decade hasn't the government compared the autism/ADD rate of unvaccinated children with that of vaccinated children? If the rate is the same, it tends to point away from vaccines. If the rate is markedly lower in unvaccinated children, it tends to point toward vaccines.

The government has a dataset of unvaccinated children available. It has published more than one survey of parents of undervaccinated and unvaccinated children (to find out why the parents are choosing not to vaccinate).

It would seem simple to use those same families to measure their rate of autism/ADD. Also, why hasn't the government used vaccine court as a resource to ask the autism/vaccine question?

There, nearly 5,000 families have self-selected as believing their children's autism was caused by vaccines. Many have expressed willingness to let their children's medical records be released and studied; but nobody in the government has been interested."

Two other examples of published studies that put a dent in the armored wall of denial that vaccines can cause harm are:

A 2006 study in the journal Pediatrics, which found 18% of toddlers experienced an adverse event following their first dose of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. Of those, high fever occurred in 6%.

The authors concluded that "Vaccination-associated adverse events occur in ∼1 of every 6 toddlers receiving measles-mumps-rubella vaccine dose 1, with high fever occurring in 1 of 20."

Similarly, a 2010 paper28 in Pediatrics "assessed seizures and fever visits among children aged 12 to 23 months after MMRV [mumps-measles-rubella-varicella] and separate MMR + varicella vaccines" and "compared seizure risk after MMRV vaccine to that after MMR + varicella vaccines." The authors reported that:

"Seizure and fever significantly clustered 7 to 10 days after vaccination with all measles-containing vaccines but not after varicella vaccination alone. Seizure risk during days 7 to 10 was higher after MMRV than after MMR + varicella vaccination (relative risk: 1.98…) …

Vaccination with MMRV results in 1 additional febrile seizure for every 2,300 doses given instead of separate MMR + varicella vaccines. Providers who recommend MMRV should communicate to parents that it increases the risk of fever and seizure over that already associated with measles-containing vaccines."

Bureaucrats Take Over Medical Decision-Making in California

While Californians have already been stripped of their religious and philosophical vaccine exemptions, matters are about to get even more serious with the expected implementation of SB 27629 and SB 714.30

SB 276 — which California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law31 September 9, 2019 — will further limit parents' ability to get a medical exemption for their child by requiring all medical vaccine exemptions written by doctors to be approved by a state health official,32 and SB 714 places new restrictions on which physicians are eligible to issue medical exemptions.

Specifically, any doctor who has faced disciplinary action in the past will not be allowed to issue medical exemptions, and any exemption written by an ineligible doctor would be rendered null and void with the enactment of this law. As reported by the Los Angeles Times on September 6, 2019:33

"[T]he governor will sign SB 276 once the Legislature passes SB 714 … [Orange County pediatrician Bob] Sears, who is currently subject to a 35-month probation order issued by the medical board in a vaccine case that did not involve school medical exemptions, expressed disbelief over the amendments …

'[This bill would] mean that any exemption written by a doctor who has been disciplined by the board for any reason, even one unrelated to vaccination, will be subject to revocation,' Sears said.

'So the hundreds of patients I've written exemptions for over the past four years after having a severe vaccine reaction will lose their exemptions. This seems like a broad overreach from a government that is supposed to protect its medically fragile children.'"

The new amendments also narrow the scope of medical conditions that qualify for an exemption, limiting exemptions to those having suffered severe anaphylaxis, encephalopathy (coma), one rare immunodeficiency disorder, and in the case of the rotavirus vaccine only, cases of intussusception (twisted bowel).

Doctors Who Write Exemptions Must Work for Free

Under the revised law, doctors issuing medical exemptions will be monitored, and they will no longer be allowed to charge for the service of issuing a medical exemption. In other words, any doctor who writes a medical exemption must do so for free. As reported by PR Newswire on June 18, 2019:34

"Attorney Leigh Dundas believes the amendments go too far, and that no licensed physician will remain willing to author a valid exemption under the new statutory framework.

'Any American, let alone a licensed professional, who is told they will have to work for free, told they will be monitored and tracked for doing their work — and further told a simple accusation will make them guilty until proven innocent — would quit their job,' Dundas said. 'SB 276 bill targets the very professionals who save our children's lives.'"

Many California Pediatricians Refuse to Write Exemptions

Dundas' prediction appears to have come true already. According to Advocates for Physicians' Rights, pediatricians in California have already stopped issuing medical exemptions en masse. The group claims to have called 882 California doctors asking to receive "a medical exemption for a child who suffered an anaphylactic reaction after [his] 12-month shots."35

They were repeatedly told the doctor was not issuing medical exemptions for any reason — and requires a complete vaccination history for all patients. A video featuring several of these calls was posted on the organization's Facebook page on August 30, 2019.36

If this accurately mirrors the current state of affairs in California, this means children who have already suffered a severe and potentially life-threatening vaccine reaction not only may have a very difficult time finding a doctor who will write them a medical vaccine exemption, they also may not be able to get basic health checkups and medical attention unless fully vaccinated. This could well turn into a life-threatening Catch-22 for many families.

Remember, this is not about protecting the public from measles. It's about enforcing a full vaccination schedule from cradle to grave, one slippery-sloped step at a time. Eventually, you won't be able to go to school or work in a public building without every single vaccine recommended on the adult schedule. It's just a matter of time.

Driving this agenda are millions of dollars of donations. The palms of California lawmakers were greased in 2015,37 which led to the revocation of the religious and philosophical belief exemption.

So far in 2019, health and pharmaceutical lobbyists have doled out $155,174,705 to push their various agendas forward,38 and one of those agendas is a mandatory cradle to grave vaccination schedule for everyone.

It stands to reason that people have different biological weaknesses, and the push for a one-size-fits-all regimen means a lot of children will be sacrificed "for the greater good." But how can a public health program simply slaughter the vulnerable rather than taking measures to protect everyone?

"Public health" by definition includes everyone. Yet when it comes to vaccination, this inclusivity and right of everyone to pursue optimal health doesn't seem to apply anymore. It's imperative that we continue to fight for the right to life and health of all children, not just those who can survive vaccination.

 

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