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Sunday, March 27, 2005

Kava Kaper

SPIN by any name is still spin...just another trumped up objection to nautral remedies by Big Pharma used to clamp down on your access to a well respected healing herb. YODA.

A team of University of Hawaii scientists may have solved the mystery of why some Europeans who used products containing kava extract suffered severe liver damage, prompting a number of nations to ban sales of the herbal supplement. The traditional kava drink consumed by Pacific Islanders for the last 2,000 years has not been associated with such problems. It has been a popular herbal remedy for anxiety.

The difference, according to UH-Manoa molecular biosciences professor C.S. Tang, is that only the root of the kava plant is used in the traditional beverage, whereas manufacturers of the capsules sold in Europe purchased (and undoubtedly used) stem peelings and leaves regarded as waste products by traditional kava drinkers.

Supplements containing kava are promoted as remedies for sleeplessness and menopausal symptoms. In Europe, where most of the health problems occurred, kava extract is used in capsule form, and the cases of liver damage apparently involved people who took the capsules, the scientists reported.

Bans in Singapore, Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom and elsewhere wiped out pharmaceutical sales of kava and virtually destroyed it as an export crop in Hawaii. While kava supplements are not banned in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory in March 2002 warning of the potential risk of severe liver injury from dietary supplements containing kava. The health alarms left farmers in Hamakua and elsewhere with crops that were hardly worth harvesting.

Kava stem bark peelings may be to blame for the reported cases of liver failure, hepatitis and cirrhosis. Tang and his team learned from a trader in Fijian kava that European pharmaceutical companies eagerly bought up the peelings when demand for kava extract soared in Europe in 2000 and 2001.

In a research paper accepted for publication in the scientific journal Phytochemistry, researchers Klaus Dragull, W.Y. Yoshida and Tang report they found an alkaloid called pipermethystine in tests of stem peelings and kava leaves. Pipermethystine also was present in lower concentrations in the bark of the stump but was not found in the root itself. Preliminary tests by researcher Pratibha Nerurkar show pipermethystine has a "strong negative effect" on liver cell cultures. If peelings containing the alkaloid were used to make kava capsules, as the scientists suspect, that could explain the liver damage in some of the people who took the capsules.

The UH researchers also learned that the analysis method used by some companies to test plant products could not detect the difference between pipermethystine and kavalactones, "and therefore they mistakenly thought there's no problem, that it's similar stuff," Tang said.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Misleading Marketing and Chemical Sugar Substitutes

Note: The OCA urges consumers to send a similar letter to the FTC, regarding Splenda's advertising practices. Please feel free to use our letter as a template, print up and mail to the address below:

February 24, 2005

Division of Advertising Practices
Bureau of Consumer Protection
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20580

To Whom It May Concern:

On behalf of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), I would like to submit a formal complaint against the deception-filled marketing campaign being conducted by Johnson & Johnson's McNeil Nutritionals for its artificial sweetener Splenda. The marketing campaign, which continually uses the word "sugar," is designed to confuse consumers into believing that Splenda is a low-calorie natural sweetener. The OCA advocates for clear, truthful labeling and advertising, and J&J's marketing campaign thumbs its nose at those ideals.

Splenda is made through a complex chemical process that involves toxic chemicals, including phosgene gas. That's hardly a process anyone would link to a natural product. But, through its marketing campaign, J&J is trying to do just that.

J&J understands that more and more consumers are trying to buy natural, organic products. Consumers are trying to eat healthy, natural foods and are closely watching what they put in their bodies. Unfortunately, J&J is attempting to cash in on this trend by deceiving consumers that its product, Splenda, is natural. But Splenda doesn't grow in a field like sugar cane or sugar beets, it's made in a huge chemical plant. By using deliberately confusing marketing techniques, J&J is hurting family farmers across the country who can't compete with chemicals masquerading as natural products.

The most troubling aspect of J&J's misleading marketing campaign is that it has been successful. The Center for Science in the Public Interest learned in a poll that nearly half of Americans have been taken in by J&J's deceptions and believe that Splenda is a natural ingredient. They don't seem to realize that the final product does not contain any sugar whatsoever.

OCA urges consumers to read labels carefully. Whether it's genetically-engineered food or chemically processed additives, consumers shouldn't be led to believe that the products they are buying are natural and come from the earth. Sadly, J&J's campaign hinders consumers' ability to ferret out the truth about Splenda.

Ronnie Cummins - National Director

Monday, March 14, 2005

Sick of Being Sick? Try This for Size

Sometimes I just wonder how it is that most folks fail to understand the importance of maintianing an in tact immune system and how much hype goes into helping them destroy it with food and food additives.

Are Nanobacteria Making Us Ill?
By Amit Asaravala
Wired News

Olavi Kajander didn't mean to discover the mysterious particles that have been called the most primitive organisms on Earth and that could be responsible for a series of painful and sometimes fatal illnesses.

He was simply trying to find out why certain cultures of mammalian cells in his lab would die no matter how carefully he prepared them.

So the Finnish biochemist and his colleagues slipped some of their old cultures under an electron microscope one day in 1988 and took a closer look. That's when they saw the particles. Like bacteria but an astonishing 100 times smaller, they seemed to be thriving inside the dying cells.

Believing them to be a possible new form of life, Kajander named the particles "nanobacteria," published a paper outlining his findings and spurred one of the biggest controversies in modern microbiology.

At the heart of the debate is the question of whether nanobacteria could actually be a new form of life. To this day, critics argue that a particle just 20 to 200 nanometers in diameter can't possibly harbor the components necessary to sustain life. The particles are also incredibly resistant to heat and other methods that would normally kill bacteria, which makes some scientists wonder if they might be an unusual form of crystal rather than organisms.

In 1998, Kajander tried to prove the skeptics wrong by turning up what he believed to be an example of nanobacteria's ribosomal RNA, something that only organisms have. But the claim was squashed two years later by a National Institutes of Health study, which found that the RNA was actually a remnant from a bacteria that often contaminates lab equipment.

The debate would have ended there, except for a steadily increasing number of studies linking nanobacteria to serious health problems, including kidney stones, aneurysms and ovarian cancer. The studies show that nanobacteria can infect humans, a find that has helped push nanobacteria back into the limelight. Now the pressure is on to resolve the controversy and expose how nanobacteria works -- no matter what it is.

"It's all pretty exciting stuff," said David McKay, chief scientist for astrobiology at NASA's Johnson Space Center. "Whether these are bacteria or not -- it doesn't matter at this point. What matters is if we can figure out the association between nanobacteria and kidney stones and develop some kind of countermeasure."

The link between nanobacteria and human diseases was first noticed by Kajander and microbiologist Neva &laqno;iftÁioglu in 1998. The researchers had observed, through an electron microscope, nanobacteria particles building shells of calcium phosphate around themselves. They began to investigate whether such particles played a role in causing kidney stones, which are also made of calcium compounds. Sure enough, at the center of several stones was a nanobacteria particle.

Another breakthrough came in 2003 when a team from the University of Vienna Medical Center discovered nanobacteria in the calcified debris found in tissue samples from ovarian cancer patients. Meanwhile, several other studies revealed nanobacteria in samples of calcified arteries.

Sensing a growing need for tools to detect and study nanobacteria, Kajander and &laqno;iftÁioglu formed a company called NanoBac in 1998. The decision was greatly criticized as a conflict of interest and is still brought up whenever either of the two publishes a new paper.

Fortunately for the researchers, a 2004 study by the esteemed Mayo Clinic supported many of their key findings and helped them regain some of their support. The Mayo study found that nanobacteria does indeed self-replicate, as Kajander had noticed, and endorsed the idea that the particles are life forms.

Kajander and &laqno;iftÁioglu were further vindicated this February when patients with chronic pelvic pain -- thought to be linked to urinary stones and prostate calcification -- reported "significant improvement" after using an experimental treatment manufactured by NanoBac. The study was conducted by a team at Cleveland Clinic Florida.

There's a lot riding on studies like these. Roughly 177,500 patients were discharged from U.S. hospitals with kidney stones and related problems in 2001, according to the NIH. More than 25,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year. In the same period, 14,000 Americans die from complications caused by calcified arteries.

"It brings up a lot of questions," said John Lieske, who led the 2004 Mayo Clinic study. "How many kidney stones are caused by this? Are there other calcification-related diseases that are caused by nanobacteria? Is it infectious?"

Surprisingly, few groups are actually working on answering these questions. One would be hard-pressed to find more than a half-dozen research teams around the globe studying nanobacteria full time.

Lieske suggests it's because the field is still relatively young. But it's clear that there's an additional culprit: the often heated controversy over whether nanobacteria particles are, in fact, alive.

"There's a reluctance to get into controversial areas. It's hard to get proposals funded," said McKay. "Most people are waiting until there's a little more meat on the bones."

Even John Cisar, who led the 2000 NIH study that contradicted Kajander's initial findings, agrees that the issue has become muddled. Though he maintains his stance that nanobacteria are not alive, he said in a phone interview that he is not against further research.

"I'm not saying there's nothing there," said Cisar. "It's just that we were looking at it from a microbiologist's perspective. And when we didn't find any signs of life, we moved on."

Kajander stands by his original assertion that nanobacteria are life forms. However, he blames himself for getting researchers hung up on the life question by using the name "nanobacteria."

"Calcifying self-propagating nanoparticles would have been much better," he wrote in an e-mail to Wired News.

But he added that his regrets about the name don't change the fact that nanobacteria have "miraculous" properties. Those include a growth cycle that closely matches typical biological cycles, the ability to form a shell and the "presence of both mammalian and bacterial components."

It's these properties -- and the potential to save lives -- that keep researchers focused on nanobacteria.

In February, NASA's McKay and Nanobac's &laqno;iftÁioglu announced that they had observed nanobacteria growing at five times its normal rate after they placed it in an incubator that simulates the microgravity conditions of space. The findings mean astronauts may be at an elevated risk for kidney stones on long flights -- something NASA is extremely worried about in light of its new plans to send humans to Mars.

The findings could also add fuel to nanobacteria research by giving scientists a way to grow cultures faster.

"The trouble with studying nanobacteria is that trying to get enough material is very hard," said Lieske. "Trying to culture a lot of it takes time."

Indeed, nanobacteria particles double about once every three days. In comparison, typical bacteria doubles about every 20 minutes.

Lieske's group has continued to experiment with nanobacteria since its 2004 paper. Though he said the team is looking for evidence of DNA and RNA, he is cautious about saying whether he thinks the particles are alive or just an unknown form of crystal.

As a possibility, he offered a third option: The particles could be a form of archaea, a relatively new category of tiny organisms whose DNA is vastly different from that found in typical bacteria. Over the past two decades, archaea has surprised scientists by turning up in places where life was least expected, like in sulfurous lakes and hydrothermal sea vents.

Whatever the case, the Mayo Clinic team may publish a paper outlining new findings in about six months, according to Lieske.

The world may not be waiting, but a handful of faithful microbiologists certainly will.

© Copyright 2005, Lycos, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

"Most men die of their drugs not their illness" (old French proverb)

Eczema Drugs To Carry Cancer Warning
By Michael Conlon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two eczema creams -- Novartis AG's Elidel and Fujisawa Healthcare, Inc.'s Protopic, must carry a strong warning of cancer risk, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Thursday.

Research shows the creams are absorbed into the body and can cause cancer, the FDA said. The creams will carry a "black box" warning -- the strongest warning carried on medicines.

And babies should not be treated with the creams at all, the FDA said.

"The data showed that the risk of cancer increased as the amount of the drug given increased. The data also included a small number of reports of cancers in children and adults treated with Elidel or Protopic," the FDA said in a statement.

In February members of an FDA advisory panel said they were concerned the companies were aggressively advertising the medicines to treat infants and others with skin problems the creams are not approved to treat.

Elidel, known generically as pimecrominum, and Protopic known generically as tacrolimus, should be used only as directed and only after other eczema treatments have failed to work because of the risk, the FDA said.

Since the FDA approved Protopic in 2000 and Elidel in 2001, seven cases of lymphoma and six skin cancer cases have been reported in patients, the FDA said.

Animal tests have suggested the creams could cause cancer, the FDA added.

"The manufacturers of the products have agreed to conduct research to determine whether there is an actual risk of cancer in humans, and, if so, its extent," the FDA said.

"Both products are applied to the skin to control eczema by suppressing the immune system. FDA's Public Health Advisory specifically advises physicians to weigh the risks and benefits of these drugs in adults and children," the agency added.

Doctors who prescribe the drugs should remember they should be used only for the shortest time possible, it said.

"Elidel and Protopic are not approved for use in children younger than 2 years old," the FDA added.

"The long-term effect of Elidel and Protopic on the developing immune system in infants and children is not known. In clinical trials, infants and children younger than 2 years of age treated with Elidel had a higher rate of upper respiratory infections than those treated with placebo cream."

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 15 million Americans, including about 20 percent of children, suffer from eczema, a skin inflammation that can cause itchy thick skin with blisters or scaly patches.

the leaf lady has all natural skin care for eczema, psoriasis, athlete's foot, jock itch, nail fungus....

Monday, March 07, 2005

What Kind of Health Care Do You Want?

"One of the signers of our Declaration of Independence was the physician and psychiatrist Benjamin Rush, MD. He was also involved in writing our Constitution. He warned, "unless we put medical freedom into the Constitution, the time will come when medicine will organize into an undercover dictatorship to restrict the art of healing to one class of men and deny equal privileges to others; the Constitution of the Republic should make a special privilege for medical freedom as well as religious freedom." Dr. Rush also believed the Constitution of the United States should explicitly abolish black slavery. Neither of his warnings was heeded, with great harm to our nation. We have gone a long way toward rectifying one of these Constitutional omissions. It is now time to begin addressing Dr. Rush's other concern."

from 'How Medical Boards Nationalized Health Care' by Henry E. Jones, MD
to read the full article click title above

Saturday, March 05, 2005

When Is Enough Enough?

When you take control of your health and well being you can worry less about becoming some form of a guinea pig for intrusive procedures. You might also ponder the ethics of this issue.

This 2001 Siemens article cleanly illustrates something about wellness. While they are making extraordinary advances in technical capabilities, their divorce from nature is breathtaking. I believe this article is worthwhile reading.

The Transparent Patient

At Siemens, researchers are developing technologies that will make patients appear transparent and may one day allow surgeons to operate through micro robots on a cellular level. Just around the corner are genetic testing systems that promise to replace many of today's operations with early detection and wellness programs.


Clearly, bioinformatics—the new science of harvesting genetic information to produce medical knowledge—especially when combined with traditional patient medical information, holds the potential of producing a revolution in medical care and public health.

Assuming technologies can be developed that will ensure absolute data privacy and universal data availability, the introduction of genetic testing could move the entire treatment time line forward to the stage of predisposition (see graphic above).

Predispositions would be "treated" with highly targeted medications and possibly even continuously monitored with subcutaneous chips. Drawing from huge public health data bases, neural networks would suggest tailored life-styles and diets designed to maximize each person's healthy life span.

The health care community—and industry leaders such as Siemens—would concentrate less on detecting and repairing advanced illnesses, while focusing more intensely on keeping people healthy.

Hospitals would be transformed into 'wellness centers,' and operating rooms—miles away from today's cut and stitch culture—would become highly specialized control centers in which microscopic robotic instruments guided by surgeons would return the most serious cases to health.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Protecting the Bottom Line at Your Expense

Today's news tells us that health care costs are rising at twice the rate of inflation. It is questionable that quality of care rises in the same equation. Somehow the missing factor of the insurance industry never gets mentioned.

More co-opting of your health continues at the FDA through the latest reversal on the approval of these high risk drugs -

Two New York Times writers have blown the whistle on a government committee that voted to keep three controversial painkillers on the market. Vioxx, Celebrex, and Bextra will all be stocked on pharmacists’ shelves thanks to the vote of 32 advisers on the FDA advisory panel. Ten of those advisers have ties to the drug industry. According to the Times reporters, if those “10 advisers had not cast their votes, the committee would have voted 12 to 8 that Bextra should be withdrawn and 14 to 8 that Vioxx should not return to the market. The 10 advisers with company ties voted 9 to 1 to keep Bextra on the market and 9 to 1 for Vioxx’s return.”

Only one committee member voted to withdraw Celebrex despite a recent study that connected the drug to life-threatening heart trouble. That study found that those who took 400-800 mg. of Celebrex a day were 2.5 times more likely to develop a major heart problem than those who took placebo. Vioxx was previously removed from the market after its association with heart attacks and strokes was finally revealed.

Data from clinical trials by Merck, the drug’s manufacturer showed that between 88,000 and 139,000 Americans probably have had heart attacks or strokes as a result of taking Vioxx, and that 30 to 40 percent probably died, according to David Graham, a highly placed FDA official. David J. Graham, associate director of the Office of Drug Safety, testified about the toxicity of Vioxx and several other drugs before a Senate panel. He suggested that Bextra, Crestor (the cholesterol-lowering drug), Accutane (acne), and Serevent (asthma) should all be restricted because they have dangerous side effects. Graham called the FDA’s handling of Merck & Co.’s Vioxx a profound regulatory failure. Graham also said that “the FDA as currently configured is incapable of protecting America against another Vioxx.” His statements in November 2004 proved to be prophetic. Vioxx, Celebrex, and Bextra have all been given a seal of approval from the FDA advisory panel.

Gardiner Harris and Alex Berenson, 10 voters on panel backing pain pills had industry ties, New York Times, Feb. 25, 2005.

Continuing to either raise the ante on fear or unveil the end times of pharacological creativity we have this -

Drugs To Combat Superbugs 'Will Soon Be Useless'
By Roger Highfield
Science Editor, The Telegraph - UK

The world may run out of effective antibiotics by the end of this decade and faces a gap of at least five years before new drugs can be developed to combat superbugs, according to one of the world's most influential scientists.

The warning that the age of infectious disease control is almost over has come from Prof George Poste, Director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University and an advisor to the US president.

"Frankly, most governments are asleep at the switch," said Prof Poste. He predicts that from 2010 to 2015 will be a "window of vulnerability" when the toll of the superbug will reach its peak as a result of antibiotic resistance.

"We are facing a relentless increase in antibiotic resistance across all classes of drug," said Prof Poste, who began his 40-year career in Britain. The superbugs of most concern are strains of MRSA, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus.

Last week, it emerged that deaths caused by MRSA in British hospitals have doubled in four years to almost 1,000 a year. "If we think we have problems today, the problems at the end of thedecade will be that much more dramatic," he told The Telegraph. "We are facing serious challenges."

The bacterium is resistant to many more antibiotics than methicillin alone. Some strains are now resistant to all common antibiotics - penicillin, cephalosporin, methicillin and its cousin flucloxacillin - as a result of overprescribing of antibiotics, their use in animal feeds, and poor infection control in hospitals compared with measures used in the days before penicillin.

In the mid 1960s, the US Surgeon General said the battle against infectious disease had been won. Even a few years ago, biologists could still turn to the ìantibiotic of last resortî, vancomycin.

Now some degree of resistance to vancomycin exists in all MRSA. ìOnce you have an increasing prevalence of vancomycin resistant Staph, youhave limited therapeutic options for those patients,î said Prof Poste.

Meanwhile, he said, half a dozen leading manufacturers of antibiotics have given up developing new types. One reason is that they are unable to profit much from the development of variants on the theme of a given class of antibiotic.

Aside from doing more to reinstate old fashioned infection control, more has to be done to encourage drug companies to create novel classes of antibiotics, he said.

© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2005.

(a reason why you want to know more about nutrition, herbs, supplements, and essential oils)

To me there seems only one answer. This should be a mass movement away from mainstream industrialized medicine to a place where you are activley involved in your own health care. You do this through prevention. Prevention starts at the core to develop good health through sound nutritional practice, and good health education.

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