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While the drug industry is quick to claim that anyone questioning its integrity is part of a “war against science,” the evidence of industry malfeasance is simply too great and too disturbing to ignore.
From my perspective, the drug industry itself is to blame for the public’s dwindling confidence in scientific findings. Loss of confidence is a natural result when lie after lie is unearthed, and there’s been no shortage of scientific scandals to shake public confidence in recent years.
One researcher who has helped expose industry bias in research is professor Peter Gøtzsche, a Danish physician-researcher who in 1993 co-founded the Cochrane Collaboration and later launched the Nordic Cochrane Centre.
Cochrane publishes hundreds of scientific reviews each year, looking at what works and what doesn’t, and was for decades considered the gold standard for independent scientific meta-reviews.
The organization’s reputation remained remarkably unblemished all the way up until 2018, when Gøtzsche and Cochrane-affiliated researchers Lars Jørgensen and Tom Jefferson published a scathing critique of Cochrane’s review of the HPV vaccine,1 pointing out methodological flaws and conflicts of interest.
Gøtzsche was subsequently expelled by the Cochrane governing board (although the board insists his removal from the board was due to “repeated misuse of official letterhead to espouse personal views” and had nothing to do with his criticism of Cochrane’s HPV review2). Four board members (Gerald Gartlehner, David Hammerstein Mintz, Joerg Meerpohl and Nancy Santesso) resigned in protest of Gotzsche’s removal from the Cochrane governing board.3
In a three-page letter4 to the Nordic Cochrane Centre, Gøtzsche addressed his expulsion and questioned the path Cochrane’s leadership has chosen in recent years, noting “the central executive team of Cochrane has failed to activate adequate safeguards … to assure sufficient policies in the fields of epistemology, ethics and morality.”
Cochrane Founder Highlights Corrupted Flu Vaccine Research
In a February 9, 2020, tweet, Gøtzsche wrote:5 “Cochrane corruption. A Cochrane review did not find that flu shots reduce deaths … ‘After invitation from Cochrane,’ a financially conflicted person ‘re-arranged’ the data and vaccines reduced deaths. They don’t …”
This information, he says, is included in his new book, “Vaccines: Truth, Lies and Controversy.” Indeed, in years’ past, Cochrane has repeatedly found flu vaccinations are ineffective and have no appreciable effect on influenza-related hospitalizations and mortality. For example:
Its 2006 systematic review6 of 51 studies involving 263,987 children, which sought to “appraise all comparative studies evaluating the effects of influenza vaccines in healthy children; assess vaccine efficacy (prevention of confirmed influenza) and effectiveness (prevention of influenza-like illness)” found:
Cochrane’s 2010 review7 of 50 influenza vaccine studies found that:
This review also included the following notice:
Cochrane’s 2010 review8 of 75 studies of vaccines for preventing influenza in the elderly concluded that:
Cochrane’s 2018 review9 of 52 clinical studies on vaccines for preventing influenza in adults, including pregnant women, found only 15% of the studies were well-designed and conducted. Based on 25 studies that looked at inactivated influenza vaccines, Cochrane concluded they have only a minor protective effect against influenza and influenza-like illness (ILI), noting:
In its 2018 review10 of 41 clinical trials on live and inactivated vaccines for preventing influenza in children, they found:
Two States Rejecting Big Pharma's Vaccine Mandates
In recent years, medical freedom has come under intense attack. In state after state, vaccine makers and their lobbyists have rammed through legislation that implements forced vaccination by eliminating vaccine exemptions. People in California, New York, Washington and Maine all lost vaccine exemptions last year, as detailed in the National Vaccine Information Center’s annual state legislation report “Vaccine Exemptions Under Attack in 2019.”
Although 4 states lost vaccine exemptions last year, exemptions were protected from removal in 22 other states by the active participation of vaccine choice advocates who educated legislators about why it is important to have flexible medical, religious and conscience exemptions in vaccine laws.
In New Jersey, bill S2173 was halted in the Senate, both in December 2019 and again in January 2020, due to persistent public protests against the bill proposing to eliminate the religious belief vaccine exemption.11,12,13
The fact that New Jersey managed to thwart this broad attack on freedom is an encouraging sign. Never underestimate the power of the people! The key is numbers — you have to actually take action by contacting your legislators ahead of time to communicate your concerns about a bill you oppose (or support) and showing up at public hearings and on days when votes are taken in your state Capitol.
Thousands of individuals gathered in hallways and outside the Capitol building in Trenton in protest of S2173 on multiple occasions, and it was undoubtedly the sheer size of the opposition that greatly helped to defeat the bill that many considered to be an attack on religious freedom.
Another ray of light shines brightly in Maine. While the state legislature repealed the religious and philosophical belief vaccine exemptions in May 2019 by passing LD 798, residents rapidly succeeded in collecting more than enough signatures of registered voters to get an opportunity to repeal the new vaccine law, and it is now referendum Question 1 on the March 3 ballot.14
So, March 3, 2020, residents will have the opportunity to go to the polls to repeal LD 798 and reinstate religious and philosophical vaccine exemptions by voting YES on referendum Question 1.15 As noted by RejectBigPharma.com:16
“A YES vote is a vote to:
Reject Big Pharma and government overreach
Restore equal access to education for all Mainers
Defend parental rights
Protect religious freedom
Preserve informed consent and medical freedom”
Why Everyone Needs to Support Maine’s ‘Yes on 1’
It’s important to realize that a victory in Maine would be a victory for all states, as it would set a crucial precedent. The good news is that it’s far easier to win in a state with a small population like Maine because there are fewer people to educate, which means less money is required for advertising.
Maine has an advertising saturation point of about $3 million, meaning if you spend $3 million, you will reach a majority of residents and further advertising will not make a significant difference.
Since Maine will be the first state to put government vaccine mandates and repeal of exemptions to a popular vote, it’s important to support Maine’s Yes On 1 campaign regardless of where in the United States you live. By helping them succeed, they will set a precedent for other states to follow.
As of February 6, 2020, the “Yes on 1 Reject Big Pharma” campaign had raised just over $300,000.17 The campaign needs to raise at least $1 million to stand a chance against the vaccine industry’s deep pockets. So, please, make a donation to this campaign today!
>>>>> Click Here <<<<<
Of course, if you’re a registered voter in Maine, you can cast a YES vote on March 3, 2020, to restore vaccine exemptions in your state.
Also remember to register to become a user of the free online NVIC Advocacy Portal, operated by the National Vaccine Information Center, to stay up to date on vaccine-related bills that are moving in your state this year, including bills proposing to take away (or expand) your right to obtain a vaccine exemption for yourself or your child.
The NVIC Advocacy Portal also provides access to bill analyses and talking points that you can use to educate your legislators about what the bills will mean to you and your family.
Pharma-Led Opposition Cranks Out Misleading Ads
To win, it’s crucial we make sure Maine’s Yes on 1 campaign gets the funding it needs. Make no mistake, the opposition has no financial constraints, as it is led and supported by the drug industry itself.
Ironically, the opposition is accusing the “Yes on 1: Reject Big Pharma” campaign of misleading voters, saying the drug industry has nothing to do with the removal of vaccine exemptions, and doesn’t make any money on vaccines.
In reality, vaccines are a primary profit driver for the drug industry.18 Merck, which is just one of several vaccine makers, reported over $6.1 billion in sales of their childhood vaccines during the first three quarters of 2019 alone.19
A January 2020 vaccine market report20 states the global vaccine market was worth $41.7 billion as of 2019, and is estimated to hit $58.4 billion by 2024. One of the factors attributed to this rapid growth is “the rising focus on immunization.” Anyone thinking this focus isn’t manufactured by the drug industry itself is fooling themselves.
What’s more, as reported by Yes on 1 at a February 11, 2020, press conference, “No on 1” has already spent $476,000 on just three weeks’ worth of television ads. Yet the opposition — which claims to be a grassroots organization without any pharma funding or connections — report raising only $56,000 in donations. So, where did the rest of it magically come from? At the press conference, a spokeswoman for the Yes on 1 campaign revealed the obvious truth:
“As reported in the Bangor Daily, Bobby Reynolds, spokesman for the ‘No’ campaign … answered this question when he announced that the massive ad buys were funded by — wait for it — vaccine manufacturers.21 Let that sink in.
After months of denying any connection to Big Pharma, the No on 1 campaign yesterday admitted that they were funded by Big Pharma themselves — the very vaccine manufacturers whose products would be mandated under this law.”
Eliminating Exemptions Is a Big Pharma Business Strategy
Of course, vaccine makers have enormously deep pockets, which is how many of these laws are getting passed in the first place. One of the reasons they have so much money to spend on lobbying for the removal of vaccine exemptions is because they don’t have to pay for the damage their products cause.
As noted by Dr. Meryl Nass in a February 11, 2020, post on CentralMaine.com, in support of referendum Question 1:22
“Pharmaceutical companies face no lawsuits for vaccine injuries, so long as their vaccine has been added to the childhood schedule by CDC. Pharmaceutical companies don’t need to advertise required vaccines, since the government mandates them and 94% of Maine children already receive them.
But the industry wants 100% guaranteed uptake, because it is about to roll out a number of new vaccines. The 21st Century Cures Act, passed in 2016, abbreviated the process for testing, licensing and adding vaccines to the childhood schedule. Over 200 vaccines are currently in development.
How many of those vaccines will be required over the next few years is anybody’s guess. There is a huge financial incentive to having your vaccine placed on the childhood schedule by the CDC: no liability for injuries. The right to choose which vaccines your child receives will disappear unless referendum Question 1 passes.”
No-Liability Industry Has No Right to Influence Policy
At the press conference (see video above), Yes on 1 also clarified the opposition’s deceptive message that Yes on 1 would “repeal Maine’s vaccine law.” This is a wildly inaccurate statement.
Yes on 1 simply repeals LD 798, i.e., the law that removes religious and philosophical vaccine exemptions, thus restoring Maine’s vaccine law to what it was before. In other words, certain vaccines will still be required for school attendance, but you will have the right to opt out by claiming a religious or philosophical exemption to one or more of those vaccines — just as you did before LD 798 was written into law.
“The Yes on 1 campaign is, and always been, about speaking truth to power … The truth is that mandate laws like this one have nothing to do with public health, and everything to do with Big Pharma profit, Big Pharma control, and Big Pharma deception,” Yes on 1 says.23
“While this law [LD 798] masquerades as a public health issue, there’s no evidence it would do anything to improve outbreaks of vaccine targeted disease in schools. Countless cases across the country have shown that these diseases occur in fully vaccinated populations …
Why do we care about Big Pharma’s involvement? Because, a hated industry with no liability, no reason to improve the safety of its products, and an ever growing and aggressive schedule, should not be allowed to influence policy to mandate these very products.”
Cochrane Founder Warns Flu Vaccine Research Is Corrupted
In February 2020, a 4-year-old boy from Colorado tragically died from complications from influenza. NBC News then posted a defamatory news piece about the boy’s death, full of false allegations against the boy’s mother.1
Outrageously, the NBC News piece, written by Brandy Zadrozny, does not include any direct quotes from the family, and it’s reported that she did not interview the boy’s parents, but rather relied on Facebook postings and a GoFundMe page for the details.
In fact, the NBC News article states “the mother did not respond to a request for comment,” and added, “NBC News verified the posts by cross-referencing them with a fundraising page set up by the family, along with published news reports quoting the family.”2 The problem with this is that Zadrozny’s article blames the boy’s grieving mother for his death because of posts she made on Facebook relating to the drug Tamiflu.
“On Facebook, anti-vaxxers urged a mom not to give her son Tamiflu. He later died,” NBC stated, adding, “Online groups that routinely traffic in anti-vaccination propaganda have become a resource for people seeking out a wide variety of medical information,” and “Boy dies after anti-vaxxers urge mom not to give him Tamiflu.”3
These statements are misleading on many levels and, as CNS News noted, it’s possible the news outlet could be facing a defamation lawsuit as a result.4
NBC News Uses Boy’s Death to Slam ‘Anti-Vaxxer’ Groups
The focus of the NBC News article are posts made by the boy’s mother to a Facebook group called, “Stop Mandatory Vaccination.” There, she reportedly asked for advice, stating her doctor had prescribed the influenza medicine Tamiflu (oseltamivir) for everyone in her household because two of her four children had been diagnosed with flu.
The posts suggest that she decided not to pick up the prescription, but no further reporting was done to find out if she did or did not ultimately give the medication.
Posts from the Facebook group’s members included suggestions of natural remedies, but as Zadrozny wrote, “None of the 45 comments on the mother’s Facebook post suggested medical attention. The child was eventually hospitalized and died four days later,” which implies there was somehow a connection between the Facebook comments and the boy’s death — a grossly misleading journalistic leap.5
Not only did Zadrozny’s article incite death threats and calls for prison time and execution against the boy’s mother, but, as CNS News reported, “Lost in all of these crazed point-and-sputter diatribes were some pertinent, pesky facts.”6 This includes the glaring omission of not interviewing the family.
It’s unclear whether or not the family chooses to vaccinate their children and what type of medical interventions occurred before the boy’s death. However, it’s stated on the family’s GoFundMe page that the boy seemed normal, but suddenly passed out after a bath.
After calling 911, he was airlifted to a children’s hospital. A GoFundMe post that has since been deleted originally said the child had “an anoxic brain injury related to a seizure that may have occurred from a fever or from him losing his airway.”7 Only once he was in the hospital was the boy tested for influenza and found to be positive for influenza B and parainfluenza.
Still, the NBC News article focuses on Tamiflu and suggests the mother chose not to give it based off Facebook posts. However, when speaking with the local CBS Denver news station, the boy’s mother stated, “We called the doctors. We called the hospital. We gave them the medicine we were instructed to give. We did everything.”8
Tamiflu Shortens Flu by Only 16 Hours
Painting Tamiflu as the solution to stopping deaths from influenza is also misleading, as the drug has been found to shorten the duration of flu symptoms by less than a day, specifically, by just 16.8 hours, and did not affect the number of hospitalizations, according to a BMJ review.9
What’s more, the drug is said to inhibit the replication of the influenza virus, acting as an antiviral medication, but a Cochrane Review of the data on both Tamiflu and Relenza (zanamivir), another antiviral drug, noted that the drugmakers’ proposed mechanism of action, which suggests the drugs work via a multisystem and central action, does not fit with the clinical evidence they reviewed.
Any beneficial effects of the drug may have occurred due to lowering levels of proinflammatory cytokines or via depressing the central nervous system, the review found.10
It should be noted, too, that a whistleblower lawsuit has been filed against drugmaker Roche, alleging the company made false claims and misrepresented studies, causing the U.S. government to stockpile $1.5 billion of its influenza medicine Tamiflu (oseltamivir).11
The lawsuit, which was unsealed in September 2019, alleges Roche duped the U.S. government into stockpiling Tamiflu while mispresenting its effectiveness. According to the Houston-based Lanier Law Firm, which filed the suit:
“The lawsuit claims the drugmaker’s scheme involved publishing misleading articles falsely stating that Tamiflu reduces complications, severity, hospitalizations, mortality and transmission of influenza. The company then used those articles to aggressively market the drug to the government for pandemic use.”12
In a BMJ editorial, Mark Ebell, professor of epidemiology at the University of Georgia, even described a multisystem failure that allowed Tamiflu to become a blockbuster medication.13
Examples of systemwide failures that let Tamiflu slip through regulatory cracks included a failure to publish all available evidence and make that data available at the individual patient level, along with a failure of recognizing the limitations inherent to observational data.
Considering the long-standing studies questioning Tamiflu’s effectiveness and safety, implying that a mother is at fault for her child’s death from influenza complications because she did not give Tamiflu is not only cruel but illogical.
Teen Girl Dies After Receiving Tamiflu
In deciding whether or not to take a medication, or give it to your child, the benefits must outweigh the risks. With Tamiflu, this is highly questionable. In exchange for reducing the duration of flu symptoms by 16.8 hours, Tamiflu causes nausea and vomiting and increases the risk of headaches and renal and psychiatric syndromes.14
Further, the NBC News article blatantly suggests that the Colorado boy died from flu because the mother, at the behest of “anti-vaxxers,” did not give the boy Tamiflu. But taking Tamiflu is not a guarantee of survival.
In Virginia, a 16-year-old girl died after being diagnosed with influenza B and going into cardiac arrest. She had received a flu shot15 and taken Tamiflu, vomited several times over the course of a few days, likely due to Tamiflu’s side effects, but sadly succumbed to the flu anyway.16
A 16-year-old girl from Ohio also died from influenza B in December 2019 despite taking Tamiflu.17 Others have also died due to psychiatric symptoms caused by the drug itself. Tamiflu and Relenza are part of a group of anti-influenza drugs called neuraminidase inhibitors, which work by blocking a viral enzyme that helps the influenza virus to invade cells in your respiratory tract.
The problem is that your nervous system also contains neuraminidase enzymes essential for proper brain functioning, and when blocked with these dangerous drugs, severe neurotoxicity may ensue, especially in the infants and children whose blood-brain barrier has not yet developed sufficiently.
One 6-year-old girl in Texas had hallucinations while taking Tamiflu and even tried to jump out of a second story window.18 A 16-year-old boy with no prior suicidal thoughts or depression committed suicide less than 24 hours after taking the drug, which his parents believe is what caused the suicide.19
Japan banned the use of Tamiflu in children and teens in 2007, after cases of teenagers trying to jump from apartment building windows while taking the drug. In 2018, the country lifted the ban, but still said the relationship between Tamiflu and the unusual actions is unclear and patients should be warned of such side effects.20
Natural Methods for Flu Prevention
It’s undeniably tragic when a child dies from any disease, including complications from influenza. While health officials state that getting vaccinated is your best defense against this infection, during the 2018-2019 flu season, the vaccine failed to offer any protection more than half of the time, and for adults over 50, it was more or less useless, offering a mere 24% effectiveness rate against all influenza types.21
During the 2019-2020 season as well, the flu vaccine is not a perfect match. A survey of early season infections in Louisiana revealed unusual influenza B activity.
Eighty-three influenza B viruses were sequenced from 198 patients, revealing that 98% belonged to influenza B/Victoria V1A.3 subclade, while only one of the viruses belonged to subclade V1A.1, which, according to the CDC, “is the subclade of the influenza B/Victoria component (B/Colorado/06/2017) found in the 2019 to 2020 Northern Hemisphere vaccine.”22
Everyone should strive to bolster their health during flu season to stay healthy, and one way to do this is by eating a keto diet, which reduced the number of times flu symptoms appeared in an animal study.23
The association between low vitamin D levels and influenza has also been recognized for some time,24 so be sure to optimize your levels to between 60 and 80 ng/mL (150 and 200 nmol/L). Vitamin D testing and optimization has been shown to cut your risk of respiratory infections, including colds and flu, in half if you are vitamin D deficient.25,26
Nutrients that support healthy immune function include zinc and vitamin C, so make sure to include these in your diet on a daily basis. Should a cold or flu strike, you may be able to significantly cut its duration and severity using either high-dose vitamin C or D (or a combination of both, short-term) and/or zinc lozenges. Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is also a powerful antiviral that “exhibits multiple modes of therapeutic action against influenza infection.”27
Following other basic tenets of health, like eating right, getting sound sleep, exercising and addressing stress are also important, as is regularly washing your hands. Even simple interventions like changing the humidity levels in your home can reduce the survival of influenza virus in the air.28
During flu season, and all year long, following a healthy lifestyle will support your immune system — your body’s best defense against infections like influenza. Meanwhile, remain vigilant when hearing sensationalized stories surrounding the flu like the once posted by NBC News — and be sure you have all the facts before making a judgment one way or the other.
NBC Attacks Grieving Mother for Not Giving Son Flu Medication
Delaware is the first state in the U.S. to pass a bill that would allow titers to be given in lieu of rabies vaccines for certain dogs, cats and ferrets. An antibody titer measures the concentration of antibodies in the blood produced after an inflammatory response to vaccination. Measuring the number of antibodies present is used to certify that a person or animal is immune to a specific antigen or virus.
If enough antibodies are present after recovering from the natural disease or being previously vaccinated, it can be used as “proof” of immunity to that disease. The Delaware bill — Maggie’s Vaccine Protection Act, formally known as House Bill 214 — was initiated by Al Casapulla, a businessman who lost his shih tzu, Maggie, due to over-vaccination.1
Rabies vaccine requirements vary by state, but many require mandatory vaccinations, regardless of the health status of the pet. Although a few states, such as Illinois, Maine and New Hampshire, allow animals to be exempted from rabies vaccines if it would compromise their health, many other states have no exemptions to vaccinations.2
Once the bill is signed into law, Delaware will become the first state to accept a rabies titer in lieu of the shot. It will allow veterinarians to complete a titer on their pet patients and decide whether or not a rabies vaccination is necessary.
The bill reads, “This Act enables licensed veterinarians to exempt an animal from the mandated rabies vaccination, if the veterinarian determines, based on their professional judgement, that the vaccine would endanger the animal's health and a titer test may be administered to assist in determining the necessity of the vaccine.”3
Pet Vaccine Bills Aims to Protect Dogs From Over-Vaccination
Maggie’s Vaccine Protection Act passed the Delaware General Assembly by a unanimous vote.4 Casapulla told Coastal Point that the bill’s passing is the culmination of years of work aimed at protecting animals from the harms of over-vaccination:5
“I have been working on this bill since she [Maggie] died … My passion to see this through was more than the passion I had when I started my business, because I knew if this gets passed we would be saving the lives of so many innocent animals and allowing vets to use their discretion on making legal, educated exemptions … Maggie will be saving lives long after I am gone.”
The support for the bill was strong among legislators, including state Rep. Ruth Briggs King, who said pet owners and veterinarians should have the ultimate say on whether pets need vaccines, instead of them being forced into it due to the law.
“These are responsible pet owners,” she told Coastal Point, “so we are hopeful this time it’s going to move through. This is the second session for it, on the second legislature it’s been through.”6 Similarly, Sen. Gerald Hocker stated:7
“I feel it’s a good bill. It corrects something I wasn’t aware of. Vaccinations will be based on the health of the dog. Who better than the veterinarian to decide, depending on the health of the dog? Constituent Al Casapulla, who lost his dog, spent several hours working with vets.”
The Irony of Granting Pets Greater Rights Than People
The passage of Delaware’s House Bill 214 is excellent news for frequently over-vaccinated pets — something veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker writes about often — but the irony is glaring. Why can state legislators recognize the risks of applying one-size-fits-all vaccine mandates to pets, but overlook the same risks when applying vaccine schedules to people, especially infants and children?
Today we know, for instance, that some children, like those with mitochondrial disorders, are at increased risk from vaccinations, but efforts aren’t being made to identify these children to prevent unnecessary harm. Further, an individual’s response to a vaccine is influenced by many factors.
Gut microbes may help determine immune response to vaccines, for starters. In one study, infants who responded to the rotavirus vaccine had a higher diversity of microbes in their gut, as well as more microbes from the Proteobacteria group, than infants who did not mount the expected immune response.8,9
Likewise, in a study by Nikolaj Orntoft and colleagues, researchers looked into changes in gene expression after diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP) vaccination in African girls to see which genes might be upregulated or downregulated (basically “turned on” or “turned off”).10 What they found is that there's really no way to predict which genes will be affected.
So, not only will each individual have a unique response to any given vaccine based on their age, current health status and microbial makeup, but each is also epigenetically predisposed to respond differently in terms of the side effects they might develop. You can see, then, how vaccine mandates may turn out to be health disasters for some children and adults, just as they are for some pets.
Combo Vaccines Risk Highest Reactions
Also at odds with human medicine are discussions by veterinarians suggesting that giving pets multiple vaccines at once may be dangerous, especially for smaller animals. Dr. W. Jean Dodds, founder of Hemopet Blood Bank, told Veterinary Practice News all the way back in 2009 that the frequency of vaccinations is heavily debated, with some suggesting that giving core vaccines every three years or every year is outdated.
“Few veterinarians are proactive about discussing the options clients have in protecting their pets against disease,” Dodds said. “The industry promotes more vaccines and veterinarians feel comfortable telling clients they’re necessary. Often, technicians have vaccines prepared before the doctor even examines the animal. Many vets don’t know how to handle titers or don’t want to bother with them.” What’s more, she noted:11
“When vaccines are needed, they shouldn’t be given at the same site or at the same exam. Banfield Animal Health released two papers on this topic saying animals weighing less than 20 pounds and receiving combo vaccines are at the highest risk of vaccine reaction, yet few DVMs arrange separate visits as a precaution.”
In humans, however, multiple vaccinations are regularly given at the same time to infants and children — including multiple combination vaccines in one visit.
The fact is, all vaccines need to be carefully evaluated not only individually for long-term safety, but also for synergistic toxicity when the vaccine is given in combination with other vaccines and given repeatedly over a period of time, as well as given to people of varying ages and sizes — premature infants included.
For instance, among unvaccinated premature infants, no link to neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD) was found. However, a significant link between vaccinations and NDD was detected, regardless of whether the child was premature or full-term.
The combination of preterm birth with vaccination was associated with a 660% increased odds of NDD,12 suggesting a synergistic effect and a need to fully research whether it’s safe to vaccinate premature infants.
‘Individual Situations’ Taken Into Account for Livestock
Again in the case of livestock, discussions are underway into whether or not to vaccinate very young calves, as many factors influence the outcome.
An article in Beef magazine, for instance, suggested that age and colostrum intake should be taken into account when deciding when to vaccinate, as calves that get colostrum may have higher levels of maternal antibodies. Chris Chase, Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, South Dakota State University, told the magazine:
“In the 2-week old calf, there are two things you need to be concerned about. One is age, the other is colostrum intake.
Typically, even in a calf that got no colostrum [and no maternal antibodies to interfere with building its own immunity], the response for making antibodies [when vaccinated early] is not great under 3 weeks of age. If they have higher levels of maternal antibodies than the older calves, they also may not respond [to vaccination].”13
Chase went on to explain that when calves were vaccinated at two or three days old, then challenged with disease seven months later, 20% still got sick. But waiting to vaccinate until the calves were three to four weeks of age led to a better outcome, with less than 5% getting sick. Even then, however, age is only one factor, and he stressed the need to look into individual situations:14
“Age at vaccination is a big factor, but it all goes back to individual situations. If someone is having trouble with summer pneumonia, we’d have to say the vaccine at a young age [several weeks old] probably doesn’t hurt them, but how much good it actually does those calves may be minimal.
Then it goes back to colostral intake and whether it was low, and we still have the issue that they are young when you are giving the vaccine. A person can work with their own herd health veterinarian and take a look at what is going on in their particular situation, and figure out what to be most concerned about.”
Why Are Livestock and Pets Treated Better Than People?
Animals deserve to have their health put first when it comes to medical procedures like vaccinations, but people deserve to be able to exercise a more precautionary approach to vaccination as well. Unfortunately, these same commonsense approaches that are sometimes afforded to animals, in terms of evaluating individual risk factors when choosing whether or not to vaccinate, are not typically given to people.
Today, many doctors are not just strongly promoting vaccination, they are threatening to deny medical care to children and adults if all vaccinations recommended by health officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are not given on the federally recommended schedule.
Children may be vaccinated when sick, for instance, or kidney patients on dialysis given vaccinations upon arrival at a hospital, even before a diagnosis had been given or a doctor had approved of the shots.
Dr. Suzanne Humphries, author of “Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten History,” is a nephrologist who has raised similar concerns, suggesting that vaccines may not be safe for people with chronic conditions like kidney failure, or for babies, who have reduced kidney function compared to adults.
As Humphries said in a video, "We're very careful as nephrologists when treating babies because the kidney functions of babies isn't the same as adults — it's vastly reduced. But when it comes to vaccines, this reduced kidney function in infants is always left out of the discussion."
It’s no wonder why, in an online survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults, conducted on behalf of the American Osteopathic Association, 45% said they had doubts about vaccine safety.15 Unfortunately, vaccine exemptions are increasingly under attack.
The ability to make informed, voluntary vaccine choices for yourself and your children must be protected, because vaccines are not a one-size-fits-all-solution, nor is the U.S. public as a whole a one-size-fits-all population. It’s time that this became widely accepted for humans, just as it’s starting to be acknowledged for pets and livestock.
Dogs' Rights Now Exceed Human Rights
1 Which of the following supplements have effects similar to that of aspirin, lowering your risk of heart attack and stroke without the dangerous side effects of aspirin?
- Vitamins D and K2
- Nattokinase and lumbrokinase
Nattokinase and lumbrokinase have effects similar to that of aspirin. They lower your risk of heart attack and stroke by breaking down blood clots, reducing the risk of serious clotting by dissolving excess fibrin, improving circulation and decreasing blood viscosity. Learn more.
- Quercetin and bromelain
- Omega-3 and alpha lipoic acid
2 Big Tech companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon have a vested interest in:
- Making you laugh
- Providing you with shareable cat videos
- Gathering data on your preferences to grow their business
Big Tech companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon have a vested interest in gathering data on your preferences to grow their business. Learn more.
- Creating open source, free software
3 Which of the following heavy metals is strongly linked to Alzheimer's and other neurological diseases?
Science has found a strong link between aluminum exposure and Alzheimer's disease. According to researchers, without aluminum in the brain, Alzheimer's does not develop. Learn more.
4 Meditating for 20 minutes equates to:
- Taking a 1.5-hour nap but without the "hangover"
Meditating for 20 minutes also equates to taking a 1.5-hour nap, but you won't have that "sleep hangover" afterward. Instead, you'll feel awake and refreshed and, as she says, "more conscious." Learn more.
- Running a mile
- Drinking two glasses of wine
- Playing a game of golf
5 Which of the following are the primary conditions that lead to road fatalities?
- Speeding, being under the influence of alcohol and unsafe road structures
- Speeding, being under the influence of alcohol and distracted driving
Speeding is the biggest risk factor for road fatalities, involving an estimated 30% of all drivers killed. Next is being under the influence of alcohol, and after that comes distracted driving (8%). Learn more.
- Speeding, distracted driving and inadequate enforcement of traffic laws
- Speeding, distracted driving and unsafe road structures
6 Which of the following is a time when it's most crucial to make sure you're in an EMF-free environment?
- During breakfast
- At work
- When sleeping
Sleeping in an EMF-free environment is crucial, as this is when your body needs to be in a parasympathetic state, detoxing, repairing and rejuvenating itself. Learn more.
- When exercising
7 Which of the following nutrients is not found in animal foods and must be obtained from plant foods?
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- None of the above as vitamins A, C and E are all found in meat and animal foods
Animal foods are uniquely healthy for humans and provide all the nutrients required for optimal health, including vitamins A, C, E and K2, as well as choline, carnitine and creatine. Learn more.
Weekly Health Quiz: Nutrients, Meditation and Speeding
Although the common cold is generally considered to be a minor condition, it is responsible for most doctors’ office visits each year.1 For some, a cold will last about a week, but for children and the elderly, it can last longer. The common cold can be caused by more than 200 different viruses.
The American Lung Association warns that colds are highly contagious and spread easily through droplets of fluid containing the virus. There are several factors that may increase your risk of getting a cold, including the time of the year, your age, your immune system strength and your exposure to a cold virus. Symptoms can include a sore throat, runny nose, coughing, headaches and sneezing.2
You have likely noticed that cold symptoms are close to those you may have with seasonal allergies or even flu. With seasonal allergies you may have a stuffy head and runny nose, but the symptoms are usually localized.3 However, with a cold and flu you often experience body aches and fatigue and you may generally feel miserable.
Influenza is often acquired in the same season as colds, but its symptoms are often worse and may include a fever and body chills. People have long sought remedies to shorten the length or severity of a cold and prevent one altogether.
Although Big Pharma may promise drug options to improve your symptoms, natural options offer effective treatment without the side effects associated with medications.
Short-Term Zinc Can Curtail Your Cold
Unfortunately, there is no cure for a viral infection. Antibiotics are not effective as they work on bacteria and not viruses. Since a virus is unable to replicate independently, it hijacks your normal cells, which in turn makes you feel sick. In most cases, supportive therapy is the recommended treatment as your immune system fights off the virus.4
The process your body uses to find, fight and destroy a virus is complex as it employs different types of cells.5 Zinc is an effective natural remedy that has demonstrated its ability to reduce the length of your cold by an average of 33%.6
An analysis of past studies showed that zinc can shorten the duration of the common cold between 28% and 40% using zinc gluconate or zinc acetate. While each was effective to a degree, the study’s authors didn't find a statistically significant difference in duration between those taking a higher dose and those taking a lower one.
In another study7 scientists analyzed data published from 1980 to 2003 and found clinical trials that supported the use of zinc to reduce the duration and severity of the common cold. It was noted that zinc consumption is effective when it is started within the first 24 hours of experiencing symptoms.
The action of zinc against the common cold was first investigated by Dr. Ananda Prasad in collaboration with James Fitzgerald, whose proficiency was in the design of research studies.8
Although Fitzgerald agreed to help, he was skeptical that zinc could influence the duration or severity of the common cold. The initial study was a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in which people living in Detroit with the common cold were given either zinc lozenges or a placebo.
Fitzgerald told NPR: "Lo and behold, when I did the analysis it indeed did shorten common cold symptoms by about two or three days. I was stunned by that result." While the most current studies also show a positive result in using zinc lozenges, the formulation of the lozenge used in the first study in Detroit isn't available, as Fitzgerald shared with NPR.
Your Results May Vary
Before running out to pick up the first zinc cold lozenge you find, it’s important to recognize there will be differences in the product, which may impact your results. The author of the meta-analysis published in 2017, Dr. Harri Hemilä from the University of Helsinki, cautions it’s difficult to tell you what to purchase.9
Products sold at the local drugstore often contain more than zinc, which may interfere with the effectiveness of the product. Multiple ingredients have a way of interacting with each other, even when they are safe and effective when used on their own. For instance, Hemilä says the zinc products you purchase shouldn’t have citric acid in them because citric acid binds with zinc, so it’s not released into your body.
As described in the 2017 meta-analysis,10 Hemilä found zinc gluconate performed as well as zinc acetate in shortening the length of a cold. In past studies it had been suggested that zinc acetate was the preferred method of delivery since the zinc doesn’t bind as strongly to acetate as it does to gluconate.
The goal of this analysis was to compare the efficiency of zinc to reduce a cold duration after methodology problems were discovered in several past studies and a Cochrane Review of studies was withdrawn when multiple errors were identified.11
Hemilä was careful in the selection of clinical trials for the analysis.12 He didn’t include those in which ingredients in the product may have interfered with the results, such as one trial in which the product contained the sweeteners mannitol and sorbitol. There is some evidence that zinc binds with these sweeteners in the presence of saliva.
Others were excluded since the products contained either citric acid, tartaric acid or sodium bicarbonate — all known to bind with zinc. In each of the studies participants were given more than 75 mg/day of elemental zinc, which you may want to consider if you seek out a zinc lozenge product.
Zinc First Acknowledged as Essential in 1970s
The way zinc first came to the attention of science was again through the work of Prasad. NPR13 reports that in the 1960s Prasad was studying the lack of growth and development in young men from Egypt. He hypothesized that the issue may have been a lack of zinc. When given zinc supplements, the young men grew taller than Prasad anticipated.
This began a journey into understanding zinc that Prasad continues to this day as a 91-year-old scientist.14 He writes of the deficiency, finding,15 that in the past 50 years nutritional insufficiency may have affected up to 2 billion people in the developing world. He points to one component of cereal proteins, phytate, which reduces the amount of zinc your body can absorb.
Cereal proteins high in phytate include wheat bran, rice bran and wheat gluten.16 Prasad writes that zinc deficiencies may present with rough skin, impaired immunity, growth retardation and cognitive impairment.17
As NPR reports, it wasn’t until the 1970s that zinc was identified as an essential nutrient for human health.18 The National Institutes of Health recognizes the importance of zinc in relation to:19
“… approximately 100 enzymes and it plays a role in immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis, and cell division. Zinc also supports normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence and is required for proper sense of taste and smell.”
Cold Remedies That Work
Along with zinc, you could try other remedies with a positive track record for use during the common cold. A perfect example is the healing power of vitamin C. In one study the combination of vitamin C and zinc was more efficient than a placebo and it produced faster symptom relief.20
As I’ve written in the recent past, high doses of vitamin C act not only like an antioxidant when you’re sick, but also more like a natural drug without side effects. In the article, “Concerns About Diabetes or Heart Health? Optimize This,” Dr. Suzanne Humphries talks about her work with vitamin C and the importance of using liposomal C to reduce side effects and improve absorption.
It is important to note that large doses of vitamin C or zinc — when taken on a regular basis — impact your copper levels.21 So, while temporary doses to combat a cold or flu are helpful, you could compromise your immune system by taking them year-round.
Another simple remedy to help prevent a cold and speed healing is to get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is associated with a long list of disorders and life disruptions, including negative impacts on your immune system22 as well as dementia.23 The key to recovery is to support your immune system; getting adequate amounts of sleep will help.
If you have trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep or feeling rested when you wake up, you may have developed a few habits that are causing trouble. To get yourself back to good sleep habits and feeling well rested each day, see my tips at “Top 33 Tips to Optimize Your Sleep Routine.”
You may want to try adding apple cider vinegar to your routine for the benefits available from its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.24 It may also help boost your immune function by raising the alkalinity in your body. Be sure to seek out a natural, fermented brand with the “mother” intact.
Care for Your Cold and Reduce Potential for Something Worse
There are more steps you can take to protect yourself during the cold and flu season. For instance, getting enough vitamin D is very important. Vitamin D offers powerful antimicrobial activity and is capable of fighting bacteria, viruses and fungi. Low levels can increase your risk of contracting a cold or flu.25
Another factor that influences your immune system is stress. You’ve probably noticed that when you’re stressed, you’re more likely to get sick.
Whether the stress is associated with grief, relationship issues or projects at work, the result is the same — you’ll have trouble fighting off an infection. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University investigated why this happens,26,27 and found that those who reported being under stress were more likely to get sick when exposed to a virus and then quarantined for five days.28 When stressed, your body releases hormones like cortisol, which temporarily suppress the immune system.
Under chronic psychological stress you become less sensitive to cortisol, which increases your inflammatory response, also impacting the immune system. Lead researcher Sheldon Cohen commented on the results:29
"The immune system's ability to regulate inflammation predicts who will develop a cold, but more importantly it provides an explanation of how stress can promote disease. When under stress, cells of the immune system are unable to respond to hormonal control, and consequently, produce levels of inflammation that promote disease.
Because inflammation plays a role in many diseases such as cardiovascular, asthma and autoimmune disorders, this model suggests why stress impacts them as well."
When Should You Take Zinc to Shorten Your Cold?
The ketogenic diet is beneficial for many people as it helps with weight control and management and offers protection against a number of health ailments. Approached incorrectly, however, it can actually be harmful.
In this short video Dr. Eric Berg warns, "The last thing you want to do is get the benefits of the ketogenic diet but then have deficiencies of omega-3 fatty acids." If you're following a standard ketogenic nutrition plan I recommend you focus on eating healthy fats and 1 gram of protein for every kilogram of body mass. You should also keep your net carbohydrates to not more than 10% of your daily calories.
However, if you're not getting enough omega-3 fat it can be detrimental to your health. As Berg describes, your body uses fat for many reasons, including the lining and protection of cell membranes, the processing of fat soluble vitamins, the catalyzation of chemical reactions, and the production of hormones and bile. Without enough healthy fat, and the right kinds of fat, you may increase your risk for negative health conditions.
Omega-3 fats are one type of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) you must get from your food since your body doesn't make them.1 The second type of PUFAs are omega-6 fats. Your body needs both in a balanced ratio for optimal health.
As the National Institutes of Health describes,2 "The three main omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is found mainly in plant oils such as flaxseed, soybean and canola oils. DHA and EPA are found in fish and other seafood."
Omega-3 Fats Are Crucial to Heart Health
EPA, DHA and ALA each have unique functions. DHA is particularly important for your brain,3 as about 90 percent of the fat in your brain is DHA, while EPA appears to be of particular importance for heart health.4 ALA, found in plants, is the "parent fatty acid" and is used as a source of energy.
However, while some may be converted to EPA and DHA in the body, conversion to EPA is restricted and unreliable, and conversion to DHA is severely restricted.5 Making lifestyle changes, such as exercising, stopping smoking and improving your diet, have a significant impact on your heart health.
The authors of one study published in the New England Journal of Medicine6 analyzed the risk of a cardiovascular event while taking icosapent ethyl. The medication is a "highly purified eicosapentaenoic acid ethyl ester" that is "a synthetic derivative of omega-3 fatty acid."7
The data8 were based on information gathered from 8,179 participants who were followed over a period of 4.9 years. The researchers identified end points of the study as death from a cardiac event, or a nonfatal heart attack or stroke.
The participants either had heart disease or risk factors for it and were taking statins. They were given either a placebo or 2 grams of icosapent ethyl twice a day. Those who took the medication had a significantly lower number of ischemic events than those taking the placebo.
Although the drug had previously been approved in 2012 for people with high triglycerides, in December 2019 the FDA approved it for use alongside statins.9 Its mechanism of action has not been completely identified, but the American Heart Association lists the following reasons natural omega-3 may have an impact on lowering the risk of heart disease:10
Lowers triglyceride levels and increases HDLs
Decreases platelet aggregation and prevents blockage of coronary artery
Lowers resting blood pressure
Increases compliance of arteries
Reduces inflammatory markers
Decreases risk of abnormal heart rhythms
As explained in a meta-analysis published in Circulation,11 scientists concluded there was a growing body of evidence that omega-3 fats can prevent sudden cardiac death by "modulating ion channels so as to stabilize the cardiomyocytes electrically."
EPA and DHA Lowers Inflammation, Pain and Depression
EPA and DHA have been shown to improve blood pressure,12 reduce overall inflammation, reduce the effects of rheumatoid arthritis13 and depression14 and help to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease.15
Other conditions linked to inflammation that are positively affected by omega-3 fatty acids are Hashimoto's disease and inflammatory bowel disease. Nutritionist Steph Lowe spoke with Starts at 60 about omega-3 fats, saying:16
"Fish oil is a natural alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), without the side effects but with the potential to reduce the inflammatory response and thereby reduces joint stiffness and pain."
Your Body Needs Cholesterol for Vital Functions
For decades you've been told that high cholesterol levels will increase your risk for heart disease. In fact, some in the health community continue to stress your level of cholesterol as a biomarker for heart risk, when in fact it's smarter to take a global view of cholesterol — how it affects your body and what you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease beyond the simple narrative which focuses on cholesterol as some kind of culprit.
Cholesterol is vital to your overall health, as it helps with the manufacturing of hormones and vitamin D. About 80% of the cholesterol in your body is made in your liver and intestines, while the rest has to come from your food.17
There are two categories of cholesterol: The first is high density lipoprotein (HDL), which many know as the "good" type that moves cholesterol out of your arteries.18
The second is low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or what many know as the "bad" type that may build up and form plaque in the arteries. The American Heart Association focuses on your total cholesterol number, which they recommend you keep at 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).19
In the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it's noted that the Institute of Medicine recommends20 "… individuals should eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible while consuming a healthy eating pattern." However, in the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, it was acknowledged that "… cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption."21
It's troubling to know that the public hears one thing and something completely different is discussed at a medical advisory meeting.
Using cholesterol as a sole marker for the risk of heart disease is inaccurate because, like most things related to your body, its mechanisms are complex and interrelated. Increasing amounts of evidence show that people with higher levels of cholesterol live longer lives.22 As summarized by the authors of one study:
"Overall, an inverse trend is found between all-cause mortality and total (or low density lipoprotein [LDL]) cholesterol levels: mortality is highest in the lowest cholesterol group without exception … elderly people with the highest cholesterol levels have the highest survival rates irrespective of where they live in the world."
While evaluating your heart disease risk, consider your fasting insulin and blood sugar levels, waist circumference and iron levels. I discuss the relationships of these factors to your heart health and the importance of differentiating the types of LDL in "Important Facts About Cholesterol and Heart Disease."
There are a number of ways higher levels of cholesterol may have a protective effect on your health; these are discussed in "Higher Cholesterol is Associated With Longer Life." Instead of looking at simple levels, there are two indicators that are important: your HDL/total cholesterol ratio and your triglyceride/HDL ratio.
Why Testing Your Omega-3 Level Is so Important
An omega-3 deficiency leaves you vulnerable to several chronic diseases and lifelong challenges. Optimizing your levels is truly a foundational strategy to attaining and maintaining good health. The best way to determine if you're eating enough food with omega-3 is to get tested.
In fact, research23 supported by the National Institutes of Health suggests that an omega-3 test is a good predictor of overall health and all-cause mortality.24
Leaders of the study measured the omega-3 index in 2,500 participants; they found that those with the highest omega-3 index had lower risks of heart problems. The omega-3 Index is a measure of the amount of EPA and DHA in the membranes of your red blood cells (RBCs). As Berg mentioned, fat is a component of cell membranes.
Your index is expressed as a percent of your total RBC fatty acids. The omega-3 index has been validated as a stable, long-term marker of your omega-3 status, and it reflects your tissue levels of EPA and DHA. I just had my omega-3 index done last week from GrassrootsHealth and it was 11.1% and my 6:3 ratio was 2.7.
An omega-3 index over 8% is associated with the lowest risk of death from heart disease, while an index below 4% places you at the highest risk of heart disease-related mortality. Given its importance to your health, it is absolutely worth your time to complete the simple blood test required to determine your omega-3 index.
I firmly believe an omega-3 index test is one of the most important annual health screens that everyone needs. Please note I make no profit from these tests. I merely supply them as a convenience for my readers. It's the same price whether you buy it from me or directly from GrassrootsHealth.25
Protect Your Heart and Brain With Animal-Based Omega-3
You can get all three types of omega-3 fats from your food, but EPA and DHA come mostly from fatty fish, seafood and grass fed beef and dairy products. Grass fed beef and dairy products, incidentally, offer a nearly 1-to-1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.26 Lowe points out the importance of where you source your fish:27
"As a nutritionist, my preference is always food, but one of the biggest challenges we face at the moment is that most of our oily fish is farmed and grain-fed."
Your best sources of fatty fish are wild-caught Alaskan salmon, herring, mackerel and anchovies. The larger predatory fish, such as tuna, have much higher amounts of toxins such as mercury. As Berg stated in the video, steer clear of grain-finished beef as the omega-3 fatty acids are significantly reduced.
As I touched on above, it's important to realize your body doesn't convert enough plant-based omega-3 to meet your needs. This means that if you're vegan, you must figure out a way to compensate for the lack of marine or grass fed animal products in your diet.
While the authors of some studies28 suggest that algae products may be an effective alternative, the only way to know if you're on the right track is to test. If you are pregnant I urge you to check your vitamin D and omega-3 levels, as these two nutrients are vital for healthy fetal development and can dramatically reduce your risk of complications during pregnancy and delivery.
If your test results are low, and you are considering a supplement, compare the advantages and disadvantages of fish oil and krill oil as you'll see in the infographic below. Krill are wild-caught and sustainable; krill oil is also more potent than fish oil and is less prone to oxidation.
Embed this infographic on your website:
Click on the code area and press CTRL + C (for Windows) / CMD + C (for Macintosh) to copy the code
Omega-3 Index More Predictive Than Cholesterol Levels
According to the most comprehensive global analysis1,2,3 done to date, sepsis is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths worldwide each year, killing 11 million out of 56 million people in 2017 alone. The researchers call the finding “alarming,” as their updated figures are double that of previous estimates.
Sepsis is a life-threatening condition triggered by a systemic infection that causes your body to overreact and launch an excessive and highly damaging immune response.
Unless promptly diagnosed and treated, it can rapidly progress to multiple-organ failure and death, so it’s crucial to be on the lookout for its signs and symptoms4,5,6 whenever you’re ill or in the hospital.
This includes cases of suspected influenza, as sepsis can mimic many of the signs and symptoms of flu. In fact, as discussed in “The Alarming Reason Some People Die From the Flu,” sepsis is one of the leading causes for influenza deaths.7
Vitamin C Protocol Lowers Sepsis Mortality
The good news is, a protocol of intravenous (IV) vitamin C with hydrocortisone and thiamine (vitamin B1) has been shown to dramatically improve chances of survival.8
This sepsis treatment protocol was developed Dr. Paul Marik, a critical care doctor at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in East Virginia. His retrospective before-after clinical study9,10 showed giving patients 200 mg of thiamine every 12 hours, 1,500 mg of ascorbic acid every six hours, and 50 mg of hydrocortisone every six hours for two days reduced mortality from 40% to 8.5%.
Importantly, the treatment has no side effects and is inexpensive, readily available and simple to administer, so there’s virtually no risk involved. More recent research,11,12 published online January 9, 2020, found Marik’s sepsis protocol lowered mortality in pediatric patients as well.
The study was performed at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, and as noted by Science Daily,13 the preliminary data from this study “supports the promising outcomes seen in adults.” Between January 2014 and February 2019, 557 pediatric patients with septic shock met the criteria for inclusion in the study.
Forty-three received Mariks’s vitamin C-B1-hydrocortisone protocol, 181 received hydrocortisone-only therapy, and 333 received neither of these treatments. The 43 patients receiving the vitamin C treatment were matched based on clinical status with 43 untreated controls and 43 hydrocortisone-only patients.
At the 30-day mark, controls and the hydrocortisone-only groups had a mortality rate of 28% while the treatment group had a mortality rate of just 9%. At 90 days, 35% of the controls and 33% of those receiving hydrocortisone-only had died, compared to just 14% of the treatment group.14
As noted by the authors, “Our results suggest that HAT [hydrocortisone, ascorbic acid and thiamine] therapy, when administered early in the clinical course, reduces mortality in children with septic shock.”
Vitamin C Put to the Test Against Coronavirus
In 2009, IV vitamin C was shown to be a potentially lifesaving treatment against severe swine flu. Even before that, many studies had demonstrated the usefulness of vitamin C against infections of various kinds.
For example, a randomized double-blind study15 published in 1994 found elderly patients given 200 milligrams of vitamin C per day while hospitalized for acute respiratory infection fared significantly better than those receiving a placebo.
According to the authors, “This was particularly the case for those commencing the trial most severely ill, many of whom had very low plasma and white cell vitamin C concentrations on admission.”
Now, vitamin C will be put to the test against coronavirus as well. The study,16 “Vitamin C Infusion for the Treatment of Severe 2019-nCoV Infected Pneumonia” was posted to ClinicalTrials.gov February 11, 2020, and has not yet started recruiting patients. According to the study description:17
“At the end of 2019, patients with unexplained pneumonia appeared in Wuhan, China … Subsequently, the World Health Organization officially named the new coronavirus that caused the pneumonia epidemic in Wuhan as 2019 new coronavirus (2019-nCoV), and the pneumonia was named severe acute respiratory infection (SARI).
Up to February 4, 2020, over 20,000 cases have been diagnosed in China, 406 of which have died, and 154 cases have been discovered in other countries around the world. Most of the deaths were elderly patients or patients with severe underlying diseases …
Statistics of the 41 patients with SARI published in JAMA initially showed that 13 patients were transferred into the ICU, of which 11 (85%) had ARDS and 3 (23%) had shock. Of these, 10 (77%) required mechanical ventilation support, and 2 (15%) required ECMO support. Of the above 13 patients, 5 (38%) eventually died and 7 (38%) were transferred out of the ICU.
Viral pneumonia is a dangerous condition with a poor clinical prognosis … Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, has antioxidant properties. When sepsis happens, the cytokine surge caused by sepsis is activated, and neutrophils in the lungs accumulate in the lungs, destroying alveolar capillaries. Early clinical studies have shown that vitamin C can effectively prevent this process.
In addition, vitamin C can help to eliminate alveolar fluid by preventing the activation and accumulation of neutrophils, and reducing alveolar epithelial water channel damage. At the same time, vitamin C can prevent the formation of neutrophil extracellular traps, which is a biological event of vascular injury caused by neutrophil activation.”
The researchers intend to treat patients with 24 grams of IV vitamin C per day for seven days at a speed of 7 milliliters per hour. The placebo group will receive an IV of normal saline.
The primary outcome measure will be the number of days without ventilation support during 28 days of hospitalization. Secondary outcome measures will include mortality, ICU length of stay, the rate of CPR required, vasopressor use, respiratory function, sepsis-related organ failure and more.
Time will tell what the outcome will be, but chances are it will be favorable. Back in 2003 during the SARS pandemic, a Finnish researcher called for an investigation into the use of vitamin C, stating:18
“Recently, a new coronavirus was identified as the cause of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). In the absence of a specific treatment for SARS, the possibility that vitamin C may show nonspecific effects on several viral respiratory tract infections should be considered.
There are numerous reports indicating that vitamin C may affect the immune system, for example the function of phagocytes, transformation of T lymphocytes and production of interferon. In particular, vitamin C increased the resistance of chick embryo tracheal organ cultures to infection caused by an avian coronavirus.19”
He goes on to cite research showing vitamin C also protects broiler chicks against avian coronavirus, cuts the duration and severity of common cold in humans and significantly lowers susceptibility to pneumonia. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear as though vitamin C was ever studied in relation to SARS, but it’s encouraging that China is now investigating its use against 2019-nCoV.
Health Benefits of Vitamin C Are Vastly Underappreciated
Vitamin C has two major functions that help explain its potent health benefits. First, it acts as a powerful antioxidant. It also acts as a cofactor for enzymatic processes. One of the most famous forerunners of high dose vitamin C treatment for colds and other disease was Linus Carl Pauling (1901-1994), a biochemist who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1954.
Despite that, many felt he was too far out of his field of expertise with his research into nutrition, and his advocacy for vitamin C was largely ignored or mocked by mainstream medicine and nutritional science — with medical bloggers leading the pack as self-appointed judges of Pauling’s findings.20
Others, however, have picked up on what Pauling was trying to point out, and are now trying to awaken the world to just how important vitamin C is for good health and vitality.21 As explained by the Linus Pauling Institute:22
“Vitamin C is the primary water-soluble, non-enzymatic antioxidant in plasma and tissues. Even in small amounts vitamin C can protect indispensable molecules in the body, such as proteins, lipids (fats), carbohydrates, and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), from damage by free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are generated during normal metabolism, by active immune cells, and through exposure to toxins and pollutants ...”
According to Dr. Ronald Hunninghake, an internationally recognized expert on vitamin C who has personally supervised tens of thousands of IV vitamin C administrations, vitamin C is “definitely a very underutilized modality in infectious disease,” considering “it’s really a premiere treatment” for infections.
In my interview with him, Hunninghake suggested one of the reasons why conventional medicine has been so slow to recognize the importance of vitamin C has to do with the fact that they’ve been looking at it as a mere vitamin, when in fact it’s a potent oxidizing agent that can help eliminate pathogens when given in high doses.
There are also financial factors. In short, it’s too inexpensive. Conventional medicine, as a general rule, is notoriously uninterested in solutions that cannot produce significant profits.
However, considering sepsis is now the most expensive condition treated in the U.S., costing $23.6 billion annually,23,24 the need for an affordable solution is becoming critical. This is particularly true for lower income nations, where an estimated 85% of sepsis-related deaths occur.25 Global pandemics like the coronavirus also call for lower-cost treatments that actually work.
Recognize the Symptoms of Sepsis
When it comes to sepsis, which can result from just about any infection, time is of the essence. It’s really important to familiarize yourself with its signs and symptoms, and to take immediate action if you suspect sepsis.
While the signs can be subtle at first, sepsis typically produces the following signs and symptoms:26,27,28 Many of these symptoms may be confused with a bad cold or flu. However, they tend to develop quicker than you would normally expect.
A high fever with chills and shivering
Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
Rapid breathing (tachypnea)
Unusual level of sweating (diaphoresis)
Confusion or disorientation
Diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
Severe muscle pain
Low urine output
Cold and clammy skin and/or skin rash
The Sepsis Alliance recommends using the acronym TIME to remember some of the more common symptoms:29
- T — Temperature higher or lower than normal?
- I — Have you now or recently had any signs of an infection?
- M — Are there any changes in mental status, such as confusion or excessive sleepiness?
- E — Are you experiencing any extreme pain or illness; do you have a “feeling you may die?”
Another acronym you could use to memorize the signs and symptoms is SEPSIS, described in the video above:
- S — Shivering (fever, cold)
- E — Extreme pain
- P — Pale, clammy skin
- S — Shortness of breath
- I — “I feel like I might die”
- S — Sleepy (confused)
Educational Resources for Your Doctor
Marik’s sepsis protocol can be a lifesaver, so you’d be wise to discuss it with your doctor any time you’re hospitalized. Remember, sepsis is often the result of a secondary infection contracted while in the hospital, so it’s prudent to be prepared.
This way, should you develop sepsis while you’re admitted, your medical team already knows your wishes and can act swiftly. According to Marik, the best results are obtained when the concoction is administered within the first six hours of presentation of symptoms.30 The longer you delay treatment, the less likely it will be successful.
If your doctor refuses to consider it offhand, convince him or her to review the studies cited here.31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39 While there are certain situations in which the hospital may still deny this treatment, if you are an adult who is sick, you will usually have the right to insist on it. I will actually be interviewing Marik shortly and hope to work with him on developing a process to make it easier for patients to implement this strategy in their local hospital.
In most cases, you’d probably just need to sign an “Against Medical Advice — Acknowledgment and Waiver” form (samples of which can be found in the references40), which states you’ve elected to not follow the standard of care recommended by your doctor.
Contraindication for IV Vitamin C Treatment
The only contraindication to high-dose vitamin C treatments such as Marik’s sepsis protocol is if you are glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficient, which is a genetic disorder.41 G6PD is required for your body to produce NADPH, which is a cousin of NAD+ and necessary to transfer reductive potential to keep your antioxidants, like glutathione and vitamin C, functional.
Because your red blood cells do not contain any mitochondria, the only way it can provide reduced glutathione is through NADPH, and since G6PD eliminates this, it causes red blood cells to rupture due to inability to compensate for oxidative stress.
Fortunately, G6PD deficiency is relatively uncommon, and can be tested for. People of Mediterranean and African decent are at greater risk of being G6PD deficient. Worldwide, G6PD deficiency is thought to affect 400 million individuals, and in the U.S., an estimated 1 in 10 African-American males has it. 42
Vitamin C Works for Sepsis. Will It Work for Coronavirus?
February 2, 2020, Richard L. Veech, M.D., Ph.D., passed away. He was 84. According to reports, he “died quietly in his sleep.”1 Veech has earned a place in medical history as a leader and pioneer of the ketogenic diet, having spent more than 50 years studying human metabolism as a biochemist.
I deeply regret not having interviewed him as he was a giant in the field. I was intimated by his pedigree and vast knowledge of not only molecular biology but the thermodynamics associated with biologic reactions. However, I think we would have had a great dialog. Thankfully Dave Asprey did a great job in the interview above.
The other person I regret never having interviewed was Robert Mendelsohn, the main pediatric leader that recognized the threat posed by vaccines. He died in 1988, shortly after I started practicing, and at the time I thought of him the way most view my position on vaccines today, as I had not yet done my homework.
However, even if I were enlightened about vaccines dangers at the time he passed, it would be 20 years before I started interviewing leaders in the field. Still, I deeply regret never connecting with him, especially since we both went to the University of Illinois.
Veech — A Leader and Hero
Veech studied under Sir Hans Krebs (after which the Krebs Cycle was named) while at Oxford in the mid-‘60s. Veech also served as chief of the Laboratory of Metabolic Control at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism since 2000.2 As noted in the NIAAA’s announcement of his death:3
“He published broadly and deeply and achieved world-wide recognition as a father of metabolomics and advocate for the possible health benefits of ketones. His name will always be associated with cell metabolism, energy metabolism and ketones.
He was particularly interested in the relationship between cellular electrolyte balance and metabolism, as reflected in his controversial Donnan near-equilibrium hypothesis linking membrane voltage and ion changes to metabolism, redox and the free energy of ATP … He is also listed as an inventor on 26 US patents, most involving electrolyte composition of parenteral fluids or therapeutic uses of ketone bodies …”
Veech was also known for his real-world heroics. In the fall of 1968, he’d flown from Oxford to Boston to give a research presentation. His return flight crashed into Moose Mountain in New Hampshire. Veech was one of just 10 survivors on the flight; 32 passengers and crew died.
The death toll would have been even higher had it not been for Veech who, despite his own injuries, saved two other passengers trapped in the burning wreckage. In a 1968 news article about the crash, one of the survivors described Veech as “the real hero of this accident.”4
Veech’s Contribution to Public Health
Veech’s contribution to science and medicine, and indeed public health, cannot be overstated. He was the one who discovered the unique properties of the ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate, which is generated in your liver when you fast or eat a ketogenic diet.
I have interviewed Travis Christofferson, author of “Tripping Over the Truth: How the Metabolic Theory of Cancer Is Overturning One of Medicine’s Most Entrenched Paradigms,” twice previously and he wrote a terrific memorial to Veech February 5. A highlight of that is below, but if you have any interest in this area I would encourage you to read the full article on Medium:5
“… Veech discovered beta-hydroxybutyrate had the unique ability to increase the potential energy of the critically important energy-storing, nucleotide coenzyme called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), thus, in effect, ‘supercharging’ our entire metabolism.
This feature of beta-hydroxybutyrate, Dr. Veech contended, was essential to human evolution; facilitating our survival through the inevitable food shortages that have occurred throughout history.
Our bodies ability to switch to ketone metabolism when food was unavailable allowed an average size person the ability survive 2 months, compared to 2 to 3 weeks under normal (carbohydrate) metabolism.
The state of ketosis, Dr. Veech believed, was vitally important to human health, yet has been marginalized in the western world simply because of our constant access to food, especially cheap carbohydrates.
‘… ketosis is a normal physiologic state. I would argue it is the normal state of man. It’s not normal to have McDonald’s and a delicatessen around every corner. It’s normal to starve,’ he said in a 2002 New York Times article written by Gary Taubes.”
Ketogenic Diet — A Proverbial Fountain of Youth
Veech, like me and many others today, was convinced that many of the health problems we now face result from never or rarely entering into nutritional ketosis. First of all, nutritional ketosis is a powerful yet simple way to improve your insulin sensitivity, thus minimizing your risk of a whole host of health problems, from Type 2 diabetes to heart disease and cancer.
While fasting, time-restricted eating and a cyclical ketogenic diet all improve ketone production naturally, you can also take exogenous ketones and MCT products that are less expensive but very effective, like caprylic acid.
Veech was a pioneer in developing a ketone ester that, when taken as a supplement, converts into the identical ketone bodies your body produces — thus allowing one to benefit from ketones even if you don’t fast or stick to a ketogenic diet.
In the video above, Dave Asprey of Bulletproof.com interviews Veech about nutritional ketosis and the ketone ester he invented. Veech has also been featured on Ben Greenfield’s podcast,6 where he touched on the benefits of ketones for Alzheimer’s patients.
In multiple studies, including those of Dr. Veech, ketones have been shown to be both neurotherapeutic and neuroprotective. They also appear to lower markers of systemic inflammation, such as IL-6 and others.
Veech believed beta-hydroxybutyrate had the ability to treat just about every disease state and predicted beta-hydroxybutyrate would play a role in longevity, a hypothesis that more recent research7,8,9,10 has shown to be an accurate one.
In the 2017 paper,11 “Ketone Bodies Mimic the Life Span Extending Properties of Caloric Restriction,” Veech and colleagues reviewed the current research and argued for exogenous ketone esters as a way to prevent and treat diseases of aging.
In a nine-page letter sent out to Veech’s friends and associates, his colleague William Curtis, who has educated me on ketone biochemistry during many long phone calls, details Veech’s contributions to science and medicine “in simple terms.” Curtis writes:
“Dr. Veech found out beta-hydroxybutyrate could provide more energy than other energy molecules. This was recently demonstrated at the 2019 Tour de France.
Each of the top three cyclists ascending the podium for the general classification category was known to be taking ketone monoester, an exogenous source of beta-hydroxybutyrate called ΔG®. It was developed by Dr. Veech and his long-time Oxford collaborator Prof. Kieran Clarke.
Dr. Veech did not set out to have his work used for athletes to win medals. His heart was in helping people. He wanted the ketone monoester to be used in medicine.
Dr. Veech knew that many diseases share a common trait. That trait is that in damaged, or stressed cells the gate that lets the glucose breakdown product, pyruvate, into the mitochondria shuts a door making it harder for pyruvate to enter. He also knew beta-hydroxybutyrate provided a way to circumvent the gate that blocks pyruvate.”
It’s with great sadness we say goodbye to one of the medical science’s great thinkers, researchers and inventors. While Veech had expressed frustration with the slow pace of change, being eager to share his knowledge with the world, I don’t foresee his contribution fading into the shadows anytime soon. Nutritional ketosis is here to stay, as more and more researchers are starting to investigate its power to radically improve health and reverse serious disease.
A Legend in Metabolic Health Shares How to Stay Healthy
Dr. Paul Saladino trained at the University of Arizona with a focus on integrative medicine. He completed his residency in psychiatry at the University of Washington in 2019, and is a certified functional medicine practitioner through the Institute for Functional Medicine.
In this interview, Saladino discusses the surprising benefits of the carnivore diet, which is the topic of his new book, “The Carnivore Code,” which is currently available for preorder.
I view him as one of the leading experts on the health benefits of an animal-based diet. Saladino takes it to the extreme, though, advocating a carnivore diet to the exclusion of all vegetables or plant materials, which may strike many as debatable.
The evidence he presents for it, however, is quite compelling. I don't know anyone personally who has reviewed the literature more carefully and can put together a coherent argument for this strategy. (This is in part a side-effect of having gone through the basic medical sciences twice, as he went through medical school to be a physician’s assistant and later an M.D.)
Saladino is likely to challenge your beliefs in this interview. This is not meant to offend anyone. If you believe you should avoid animal foods for ethical reasons, that’s certainly your choice. If you’re struggling with health issues that a vegetarian diet has not been able to resolve, however, or perhaps even made your condition worse, you may want to listen to what he has to say.
Busting Nutritional Dogma
In his book, Saladino states he’s going to bust nutritional dogma, which he does in spades. Saladino, who struggled with asthma and eczema, was actually a vegetarian and then a vegan for a time. It didn’t help. In fact, it made things worse.
His health problems didn’t resolve until he went on an exclusive carnivore diet, and he recounts the various twists and turns in his personal journey at the beginning of the interview. After hearing Jordan Peterson talk about the carnivore diet and how it improved his daughter's autoimmune symptoms, Saladino was intrigued enough to look into it. The rest, as they say, is history.
“The more I thought about it and dug into it, I started to realize, maybe there's something to this,” he says. “I'm at least going to try it. And so, the first time I tried it, within a few days, my mood changed, and my outlook on life got to be significantly better and more positive.
I thought, ‘There's something to this.’ A few weeks later, the eczema had completely resolved and hasn't come back since. I've been eating a carnivore diet for the last year and a half.
But there really was this sort of personal quest throughout to find out what the triggering food was, and it was just so striking for me to see the eczema go away when I cut out all plants — and then the added benefit.
The mental clarity, the psychological benefits were surprising. That kind of hooked me, and I thought, ‘OK. I need to just pour myself into this and understand this because this is going to help a lot of people, or it potentially could.’"
According to Saladino, there’s a clear ancestral history of eating an animal-based diet, which he details in the interview. In a nutshell, the evidence suggests we are descendants of omnivores, and that the increase in brain volume coincides with a transition to hunting for animal game and eating large amounts of animal foods.
Some vegetarian advocates have argued that it was tubers that caused our brains to grow. Saladino disagrees, noting that the levels of nitrogen and carbon in fossilized remains from 60,000 years ago are actually greater than those in hyenas, which suggests our ancestors were eating more animal protein than known carnivores.
He also points out genetic evidence suggesting Homo sapiens were not eating significant amounts of starch, as they developed a salivary amylase mutation.
“What we see now is that all living people on Earth have a salivary amylase duplication because we're all descended from a Homo sapiens group that left Africa 80,000 years ago that appears to have had an amylase duplication,” Saladino says.
“So, they were eating more tubers 80,000 years ago. But up until that point, there's no evidence for an amylase duplication, arguing strongly against the notion that we've been using tubers for any significant amount of nutrition.”
In the interview, Saladino also goes into the findings of Dr. Weston A. Price, a pioneering dentist who traveled the world to document the diets and health status of indigenous cultures. A big take-home point was that Price never found a culture that was thriving on plant foods alone.
“The other point I highlight in the book is that there were some instances where he could directly compare African tribes that were more plant heavy and tribes that were more animal heavy, and the tribes that ate more animals were stronger, taller and had better health than the tribes that ate more plants.
So, he had a direct comparison looking at the overall health, strength, virility of people in Africa in the 1930s and 1940s, and he saw that people who favored animal foods were doing much better than the people that favored plant foods,” Saladino says.
The Problem With Phytonutrients
One of the most controversial issues relates to the health benefits and hazards of phytonutrients, i.e., plant-based nutrients. I was under the belief that phytonutrients were largely responsible for activating profoundly powerful pathways for longevity.
Saladino’s work caused me to seriously reevaluate my views on phytonutrient supplementation. As Saladino explains, phytoalexins are plant defense compounds that may be causing more harm than good. A corollary to this is the issue of xenohormesis, which Saladino covered in a November 5, 2019, podcast interview with David Sinclair, Ph.D.1
“I don't think anyone debates that plants make defense chemicals,” Saladino says. “I just think we're not familiar with how pervasive they are, and how many of the plants we eat contain thousands of them …
You could get really sick from the oxalates in rhubarb, for example. We're aware that some plants are so toxic that they're frankly poisonous. We could die [if we eat them]. Basically, every plant in nature is part of a delicate balance, a delicate exchange system with other animals.
And [plants have] had to develop plant defense chemicals — phytoalexins. I think the part of this that is so radical and challenges so many of our long-held beliefs … is that so many of the chemicals that we imagine to be phytonutrients or to be hormetics in plants are actually phytoalexins. They're plant defense chemicals …
If I'm going to suggest a carnivore diet … one of the things that people often question is: What about all the nutrients in plants that I'm missing? And there's a chapter in the book where I talk about the actual vitamins and minerals [found in animal foods] …
In terms of vitamins and minerals, you can get everything from animals. Animals are a better source of all the vitamins and minerals than plants. But then people say, ‘What about all the polyphenols and these phytonutrients?’ … And this is where we get into the realm of phytoalexins, the plant defense chemicals …
So many of these chemicals that people think of as beneficial are plant defense chemicals. The majority of polyphenols are plant defense chemicals … Resveratrol, for example … is a defense molecule. It’s produced in response to the botrytis fungus … Resveratrol is an oxidative stressor to the fungus organism and does other things negatively for the fungus …
Resveratrol … definitely does activate SIRT1, which appears to be a good thing, but it has other negative effects in the human body. Specifically, there's a good amount of research on resveratrol suggesting that it affects hormonal metabolism negatively.
It decreases androgen precursor, specifically DHEA, leading to lower levels of DHEA and testosterone and other androgens. Many polyphenols do this in the flavonoid class of molecules … Curcumin is another one.
And I'll clarify this briefly just so people understand my position. It's not that I'm saying these molecules have no value in humans. It's my urging, my suggestion when we're thinking about these molecules, that we think about them like pharmaceuticals, because they really are.
Pharmaceuticals are really powerful and can be lifesaving molecules. But if I'm going to prescribe or recommend ibuprofen or metoprolol or a psychiatric drug to a patient, I'm always going to have a conversation about the potential side effects.
What we've forgotten about with these plant molecules is that they too … have side effects. Those side effects are what I'm calling attention to in ‘The Carnivore Diet.’ I think that for some people, plant molecules can have a medicinal value. But when we're using them as food, every day, my concern is that we can be getting too much of a medicine and the side effects start to outweigh the benefits.
That is where I think the elimination of them becomes valuable for people, and the cutting out of all the plants can be a game changer in terms of inflammation and autoimmunity.”
The Biochemistry of Plants and Mammals
In the interview, Saladino also offers a descriptive analogy that helps explain why plant nutrients aren’t necessarily necessary in human biochemistry. The biochemical difference between plants and animals can be likened to the operating systems of PC and Mac. While their apparent functions are the same, their operating systems are different and incompatible.
Your body has its own antioxidant system, which is different from that of plants. Your immune system is your primary defense, and you have innate and adaptive immunity. Plants do not have that. They only make molecules to defend against invaders.
The common belief is that plant molecules act as antioxidants in humans, but according to Saladino, plant molecules do not act as direct free radical scavengers in our body. They can trigger your antioxidant response system, however, which is hormesis.
“We have glutathione, we have the enzyme, superoxide dismutase, we have uric acid, we have vitamin E. We have molecules that do the free radical scavenging the human body,” Saladino says.
"What we're talking about here is the movement of electrons … Unpaired electrons are free radicals. They run around the body and pull electrons off other molecules … We have our cellular police force at glutathione to go and say, ‘Hey, I'm going to give you an electron so you can calm down.’ That's what glutathione does. That's our antioxidant system.
Plants don't do that. Plant molecules do not come into us and donate electrons. They're the reverse. Because they're plant defense molecules, they're pro-oxidants. Plants and animals have different operating systems and the molecules don't act in the same ways. The same is true of the vitamins and minerals in plants versus the vitamins and minerals in animals.”
The Unacknowledged Downside of Xenohormesis
Sinclair, a professor of genetics at Harvard whom I have previously interviewed, and others have advanced the concept of xenohormesis, which means molecules that are outside of us are good for us because they contain tiny amounts of poison.
Saladino’s problem with that theory has to do with the side effects. In the interview, he illustrates his objection using the example of sulforaphane, the primary glucosinolate in broccoli.
When an enzyme called myrosinase degrades glucoraphanin, it becomes sulforaphane, which acts as a pro-oxidant, not an antioxidant. By acting as a pro-oxidant, it triggers the antioxidant response system — the Nrf2 pathway. NRF2 is transcription factor that controls the activation and deactivation of genes.
It will activate genes such as glutathione peroxidase, involved in the antioxidant system. When NRF2 rises, glutathione rises, which is a good thing in the short term, as it decreases DNA damage. However, there is collateral damage.
“The side effects of this molecule are what people are missing,” Saladino says. “We don't need sulforaphane to protect our DNA. We don't need sulforaphane to have optimal antioxidant status.
We can do things like heat exposure and cold exposure and exercise, which can also turn on the antioxidant response system and increase our supply of glutathione and protect our DNA.
They don't have any [deleterious] side effects. But sulforaphane has side effects … [When] sulforaphane circulates in your body, it can oxidize membranes of cells and create 4-HNE (4-Hydroxynonenal) [and] acrolein, which are products of oxidation.
These are lipid peroxides, which can be very damaging. It also interferes with the absorption of iodine and competes with iodine at the level of the thyroid … So xenohormesis, for me, the concept falls apart because of the side effects. We don't need these things. There are no examples of plant molecules that I have seen.
Again, we're all learning, but I am not convinced the plant molecules provide any net benefit. They don't let us do anything we can't otherwise do … and they have all the side effects which kind of drag us down.”
The Unique Health Benefits of Animal Foods
According to Saladino, animal foods are uniquely healthy for humans, and this is a topic he covers in great depth in chapter 8 of his book. One example is vitamin B12. Research cited in the book shows that B12 levels appear to be related to brain size, with low vitamin B12 equating to smaller brain volume.
“We know the brain size has been declining over the last 15,000 years,” Saladino says. “Certainly, when humans stopped hunting, they started farming more. Their B12 and many other nutrients went way down. And that's a compelling hypothesis for this decline in brain size …
[B12] is critically important in the folate cycle. It's needed to convert homocysteine to methionine and it's needed to make succinyl-CoA for the Krebs cycle. It's needed for all growth in our neurons. It's really important.”
Saladino also covers “the three C’s,” which are entirely or close to entirely lacking in plant foods:
• Creatine — Creatine, found only in animal food, not plants, is part of the phosphagen system in your muscles. It stores a phosphate item as creatine phosphate and donates that phosphate to ATP when it gets used up during intense exercise. It's also part of your body’s energy metabolism.
“There are incredibly striking studies that I talk about in the book where vegetarians and vegans were supplemented with 5 grams of creatine per day, which is the amount of creatine in 1 pound of meat; invariably they had improvements in working memory, intelligence, decision-making tasks,” Saladino says.
• Choline — Choline is important for the membranes of every cell in your body. It’s also been shown to protect against nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, as explained in “Choline Is Crucial for Liver Health.”
• Carnosine — Carnosine is important because of its ability to limit oxidative stress by preventing the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and advanced lipoxidation end products (ALEs), both of which correlate to aging in humans.
Carnosine is not present in plant foods, and in his book Saladino cites research showing vegetarians have higher levels of AGE formation in their bodies. There appear to be dozens of clinical conditions for which carnosine is useful.
This includes heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s. It’s also a precursor for histamine, and mitigates damage caused by ALEs, which are even more destructive than AGEs, and helps combat mitochondrial dysfunction, which is at the heart of aging and chronic disease.
Vitamins A and K
Animal foods are also a good source of retinol vitamin A, which is better absorbed than beta carotene from plants, which must be converted into retinol. Many lack the enzyme required for this conversion, which means they cannot break down the beta carotene to make the active form of vitamin A.
“Again, this is the operating systems concept. Retinol vitamin A is not found in plants but is exclusively found in animals. Egg yolks and liver are very rich sources. We have to eat 20 times more beta carotene to get the equivalent biological value of a molecule of retinol.
To get the right amount of vitamin A, you have to eat something like close to a pound of sweet potatoes a day. And if you ate 3 pounds of broccoli earlier today to get your choline requirement, I don't know how you're going to eat another pound of sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes are also very high in oxalates, so it's very misleading when people say you can get all the vitamin A you need from beta carotene. It's pretty hard to actually … So, we have to get it from animal foods … ”
Vitamin K is another example. Vitamin K1 is primarily found in plants while K2 — which seems to provide most of the benefits — is found in animal foods and fermented foods. I go into greater detail about the different forms in “Are You Getting Enough Vitamin K?”
As noted by Saladino, research shows a clear correlation between higher K2 levels and lower incidence of cardiovascular disease. No such correlation exists for vitamin K1. Unfortunately, most nutrition calculators look only at K1, which is why many are under the mistaken belief that there is no vitamin K in animal foods.
“Any nutritionists or anyone that tells you there's not enough vitamin K in animal foods is 100% wrong,” Saladino says, “because there’s actually more of the good type of vitamin K [i.e., vitamin K2] in animal foods that we can't get other places.”
The same goes for vitamins E and C. Neither is properly measured in animal foods, thus leading to the mistaken belief that you need plant foods for these nutrients. However, Saladino presents ample evidence in his book showing meat and animal foods contain sufficient amounts of both vitamin E and C.
A Note on Safety
Importantly, Saladino has performed extensive blood testing on himself and others who are on an exclusive carnivore diet, showing consistently good results and no adverse biochemical consequences. He explains:
“We've looked at a lot of stuff. There's individual variation. But I was just looking at one of my clients yesterday who was on a carnivore diet for months.
Her hs-CRP is 0.3. The F2-isoprostanes were very low, which is a marker of oxidative stress. There's no evidence for DNA damage with 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine, et cetera. They're incredibly insulin sensitive. There's no damage to the kidneys. BUN is usually normal if people are getting adequate sodium … There's no impairment in [blood] clotting.”
Another important side note relates to meal timing. If you’re eating a carnivore diet 18 hours a day, you’re probably going to run into problems — just as with any other diet. Saladino covers the importance of time-restricted eating in his book as well.
What About Gut Microbiome Diversity?
In the interview, Saladino also covers the common perception that fiber and plant foods are essential for a healthy microbiome, and the prevention of constipation and cancer. This being an unusually long interview, I cannot cover all the details in this article so, for more in-depth information, please listen to the interview in its entirety.
With regard to fiber and microbial diversity, Harvard researchers demonstrated that people eating an exclusive carnivore diet have the same alpha diversity of gut microbes as those eating an exclusive plant-based diet for one week. In fact, the carnivore diet increased beta diversity, which is another measure of diversity, so total diversity actually increased.
Carnivore Diet Excels in Treatment of Autoimmune Diseases
While the carnivore diet may benefit anyone, it appears particularly useful for those with autoimmune diseases.
“I can't even tell you how many cases of psoriatic arthritis I've seen go away from it,” Saladino says. “There are multiple stories on my Instagram. I've posted lots of testimonials from people who had bad plaque psoriasis, fibromyalgia, eczema, asthma and lupus …
I can't claim that the carnivore diet cures 100% of people, but it's a really powerful intervention. I think for some people, there's other things going on, GI dysbiosis or gut infections or heavy metal toxicity. Who knows? But it's a pretty darn effective intervention.
Generally, this is what the book is about: ‘Hey, look, plants have toxins. Eating animal foods is safe. Don't fear them. If you're sick, if you're not kicking as much bud as you want to, then try the carnivore diet, especially if you have an autoimmune disease.’
It's incredible. I mean it totally resolved my autoimmune disease and I've seen it happen for people over and over and over. It's pretty cool. I think it's going to change medicine.”
What About the Blue Zones?
Saladino even dispels the idea that plant-based diets are what makes Blue Zones, areas where people are known to be particularly long-lived, stand out. Blue Zones include Ikaria in Greece, Sardinia in Italy, Loma Linda in California, Okinawa, Japan and the Nicoya region of Costa Rica.
Crazy enough, these areas actually have the third highest consumption of meat per capita in the world, Saladino says. And they have the longest life expectancy. In the interview, Saladino delves into the specifics of each of these five areas, reviewing the local diets which, contrary to popular belief, are heavy on meat and animal foods.
“Probably the most interesting one is Loma Linda. There's a big Seventh Day Adventist population there. Within the Seventh Day Adventist's population, there are a number of things that are advocated for. They suggest avoidance of smoking and drinking, and they don't believe in eating meat …
They believe that meat creates carnal desires in humans, which is probably true because it allows us to have healthy hormone levels, right? … They believe that if we eat a vegetarian diet, it will control our carnal desires, which it probably will because our hormones will tank in a negative way.
The Seventh Day Adventist region of California is a zone of longevity. They live about 7.3 years longer than the average Californian. But what's so interesting is that the California Mormons also live seven-ish years longer than the general population, but they don't shun meat at all.
So it's probably not the shunning of meat … that's leading to longevity. In the case of Loma Linda and the Mormons, what they have in common is that they don't smoke, they don't drink and they have a tight community. And that will be our takeaway from the blue zones eventually.”
The Problem With Epidemiological Studies
Saladino also goes into more detail about healthy user bias and the problem with epidemiological studies (which are observational, not interventional, and therefore cannot determine causation), both of which have contributed to the belief system that plant-based diets are better than meat-based ones.
“There's a great website that I referenced in the book, called spuriouscorrelations.com.2 I would encourage people to go to that website,” Saladino says.
“[It shows there’s] a very strong correlation between cheese consumption and death by getting tangled in the bed sheets and things like this … It's just so silly. You can make correlations between anything that don't have a causal relationship …
What we're probably seeing is that people who eat more fruits and vegetables are also doing other healthy behaviors. And this is the takeaway from the Blue Zones too. People in Loma Linda live longer because they don't smoke or drink. The Mormons live longer because they don't smoke or drink.
The people who can do the exercise, be in the sun — those are healthy behaviors that are going to create longevity. But when it comes to diet, we really can't tell because that's a very complicated thing.
There's one study in the book that really drives this point home. It's called the UK Shoppers Study. They compared the standard mortality ratio of vegetarians to the general population. And the vegetarians live longer.
But then they compare the death rate of vegetarians to other people in the population who ate meat. They were omnivores, but these people did healthy behaviors. So, they were actually able to compare two groups of people who listen to health advice and do healthy behaviors, and they had equivalent death rates.
So it's probably not the exclusion of meat that's causing these health outcomes to look good. It's the other things they do. This is healthy user bias …
So what do we do? We generate a hypothesis. We go back and we test the hypothesis. It's just very hard to test that hypothesis because how do you do a study long enough where you're giving some people more fruits and vegetables?
So, what has been done is a series of five studies that I talk about in the book where fruits and vegetables were removed from the diet. This is an interventional study … The other group ate like a pound and a half of vegetables a day … At the end of four weeks they looked at oxidative stress, inflammatory markers and markers of immune activation.
What did they see? They were completely the same between the two groups. Meaning that when we remove fruit and vegetables (these are fruit and vegetable depletion studies), there is no detriment. There's no change. There's no benefit to having them in there.”
I’ve only covered a portion of what we discuss in this interview, so if any of this has piqued your curiosity, please listen to the interview in its entirety. Saladino delves into many details that have not been covered in this text, including:
- The issue of cholesterol
- The impact of the carnivore diet on insulin sensitivity and heart disease
- Why you don’t need to worry about excessive mTOR activation
He also discusses the importance of nose-to-tail eating as radically exemplified by Glenn Villeneuve of Life Below Zero in his recent 3.5-hour interview3 with Joe Rogan. A carnivore diet is not just eating steak. You should eat the whole animal. This includes animal fats, organ meats and collagen from bone and marrow, for example.
It’s also important to make sure the food is from grass fed and grass finished animals, opposed to factory farmed, as their diet differs tremendously, which in turn affects the nutrition you get from it.
A carnivore diet also is not exclusive to bovines. You can include seafood, eggs, chicken, turkey, pork and dairy, including goat and sheep milk. If you cannot stomach the idea of organ meats, there are ancestral supplements that contain freeze dried organ components.
“In terms of basic macros [macro nutrients], people can go to my website, carnivoremd.com. I've got a carnivore diet pyramid there which has a lot of this laid out that you can download. What I recommend for people is thinking about how much protein you want to get in a day.
We may differ a little bit on these recommendations. I generally recommend 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body weight, and then a reasonable amount of fat to go with that. Then some organ meats and eggs and a lot of salt.
I think it's important to get a lot of good salt so the electrolytes don't get out of whack. I go into detail about all of that in the book, in chapter 12 and chapter 13, and I've got meal plans and everything in there.
I recommend that people avoid [plant-based fats] when they're doing a carnivore diet because of something called oleosins. Even in oil, we can find proteins that can be immunogenic. People could reintroduce these just like they would an elimination diet later.
But if you really want to see how your body does with no plant compounds at all, [then] you want to get rid of the all the plant oils because of oleosins … I really believe that animal fat is more nutritious in general for people.”
To get all the information Saladino discusses in this interview, and then some, be sure to pick up a copy of “The Carnivore Code.” It will be released February 2020 but is available for preorder.
What You Need to Know About the Carnivore Diet
For many years gray hair was a symbol of knowledge and wisdom. For the most part, it was men who were considered wise. On the other hand, women with gray hair were often seen as “old” no matter their age. But, in the past decade there has been a growing trend to live with your natural color.1
For some, gray hairs begin appearing when they’re 12 and others find they pop up only as retirement approaches. The process is influenced by genetics, nutrition, illness and stress.2 After nutritional supplementation, most treatments for gray hair have centered on hair dyes.
Thankfully, the growing trend to live with gray hair may lead to lowering exposure to toxins commonly found in over-the-counter hair care products. Whether you like gray hair or are trying to put off the day your first strand appears, you’ll find a few simple strategies can help make your head of hair healthier and stronger.
Hair Loses Color From Chronic Stress Response
Legend has it that on the night before Marie Antoinette was beheaded, her hair went completely white.3 Until recently, scientists have disagreed over whether stress is a contributing factor to prematurely graying hair. In a research article published in Nature4 scientists report they have found that stress levels may predict how much and how quickly you go gray.
The study’s authors used an animal model to demonstrate how acute stress could quicken the production of gray hair by depleting the body’s supply of melanocyte stem cells.5 These cells are important in the production of your hair color.6
In 2011, researchers from New York University demonstrated that hair follicle stem cells and melanocytes collaborate in the production of hair color, but the underlying mechanism had not been identified.
The color of your hair is determined by melanocyte stem cells that produce pigment. As you age, the number goes down. This means your hair doesn’t take on a gray pigment but loses pigment and becomes gray. After there is complete loss, your hair turns white.7
To test the theory that stress has an impact on whether you can become prematurely gray, scientists exposed mice to three different types of stressors, including psychological stress. During the testing of each one, they found that melanocytes were depleted, leading to white hair on the mice, regardless of the phase of hair growth.
Melanocytes Take Flight Under the Influence of Noradrenaline
In the past, scientists suggested it was the influence of corticosterone during a stress response that caused hair to lose pigmentation and go gray. In this study, testing revealed that wasn’t the case. They discovered the melanocyte stem cells had receptors that respond to noradrenaline. This is a neurotransmitter produced by the body during a high stress response, commonly called a “flight-or-fight response.”
Noradrenaline is produced by the adrenal glands, but even removing the adrenal glands did not prevent the mice from turning gray. It is also produced by the sympathetic nervous system, which the team showed supplies hair follicles. By blocking noradrenaline from the sympathetic nervous system, the researchers could prevent the graying of their hair.8
They also found that the hair turned gray in direct correlation with the level of sympathetic nervous system innervation. After tracking melanocyte stem cells, they discovered the cells became active and multiplied when exposed to a lot of noradrenaline.
The movement of melanocyte stem cells away from the follicles under the influence of the neurotransmitter meant the hair had no available pigment. In an accompanying commentary, the author’s concluded:9
“Connecting the dots between stress, fight or flight, stem-cell depletion and premature greying opens up several avenues for future research. Beyond developing anti-greying therapies, Zhang and colleagues’ work promises to usher in a better understanding of how stress influences other stem-cell pools and their niches.”
How Does Hair Grow?
For a greater appreciation of the results of the featured study, it is helpful to understand how hair grows. Hair is a fibrous structural protein that grows out of a hair follicle anchored in the skin.
At the base of the hair is a bulb where there are living cells that divide and build the hair shaft. The bulb is fed by the sympathetic nervous system as well as blood vessels that deliver oxygen and nutrients. The rate of growth is somewhat different for everyone, but the average is half an inch per month.
There are three cycles of hair growth. Melanocyte stem cells are most active during the anagen or growth phase; the effects of noradrenaline, as shown in the research, can happen in any phase.
• Anagen — This is the growth phase in which the matrix cells of the hair follicle are fully pigmented and undergoing vigorous growth activities.
The length of each phase varies with the site on your body and your age. On your scalp, this phase may last as long as six years. Of all the hairs on the average person's head, approximately 90% of them are in the anagen phase at any time.10
• Catagen — During this resting phase, the amount of activity decreases. During normal growth only 1% of hair is found in the catagen phase.
• Telogen — In this phase of inactivity, the hair detaches from the follicle and falls out. Approximately 9% of all hair is in this phase at any given time. A new hair growing in the follicle will force the growing hair out and the cycle begins again.
Other Factors That May Increase Hair Loss and Color Change
There are other factors, in addition to stress, that can affect your hair color and increase your hair loss. For instance, the authors of one study of more than 6,630 Latin Americans were the first to identify genes that influence the graying of hair, as well as those that affect hair shape and balding patterns.11
Desmond Tobin, Ph.D., from the University of Bradford in England,12 has suggested that each hair follicle has something like a biological clock that either slows or stops the activity of melanocytes. He believes your genetics have a large influence on how quickly your hair loses pigment.13
Environmental factors, such as smoking, also influence how quickly you turn gray. Based on the results of one study,14 researchers suggested there was a significant relationship between those who smoked cigarettes and those who turned gray before they turned 30. Oxidative stress from free radicals may also cause damage that triggers gray hair.15
Hydrogen peroxide is known for its use in bleaching hair. You might not be aware, but your hair accumulates hydrogen peroxide. Researchers16 have learned that an increasing amount of hydrogen peroxide can induce oxidative damage and that it is “… a key element in senile hair graying, which does not exclusively affect follicle melanocytes.”
According to Harvard Health Publishing,17 several illnesses can also increase the rate at which you turn gray. A vitamin B12 deficiency may speed the development of gray hair. Neurofibromatosis, thyroid disease, vitiligo, alopecia areata and tuberous sclerosis, an uncommon but inherited condition with characteristic benign tumors, can all increase the rate at which this happens.
Can Supplements Affect Hair Growth?
If you've ever walked the aisles where supplements are stocked, you've probably noticed the multiple combinations advertised to help your hair, skin and nails. Noticeably, they all contain various components they claim will help your hair health. But, growing healthy hair depends on more than what you put ON it; rather, providing your body with structural proteins such as keratin, collagen and elastin is an internal process, too.18
There are also factors in your body processes and environmental influences that may cause problems with hair health. Intrinsic issues happen inside your body, like processes that affect your levels of proteins, hormones and blood sugar.
To that end, a healthy diet can help protect from or promote inflammation, which in turn can influence visible measurements of the health of your skin, hair and nails. Outside the body, certain external factors can also affect your hair health, such as your exposure to the sun or air pollution.
Knowing this, you can see that, although the pharmaceutical industry promises you an easy answer through hair dye, pills and creams, these are just short-term fixes that often come with unwanted side effects.
Seek out more natural methods instead, using foods to meet your body's nutritional needs and supplements only to fill in what you can’t achieve with a healthy diet. In "Do Hair, Skin and Nail Supplements Work?" I discuss specific supplements that may help hair loss and improve growth.
Consider Natural Hair Care Strategies for Health and Beauty
Now that scientists — and you — know the impact stress has on your potential to go gray early, consider taking precautions to reduce your stress levels. These strategies also protect your heart19 and help with weight management.20 One of my favorite strategies is the use of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) that can be done at home or even in public without drawing attention to yourself.
Other options to consider are meditation, breathing techniques and music. You can learn more in my past article, “How Stress Affects Your Body, and Simple Techniques to Reduce Stress and Develop Greater Resilience.” Even if gray hairs have started to peek through, continue to practice stress reduction strategies as they may slow or stop the process and positively affect other aspects of your health.
Ditch the Synthetic Hair Dye
Although people have been using dye for centuries to change their locks — the Egyptians used henna to dye their gray21 — many of the processes involve the use of unnatural chemicals.22 Early in the development of synthetic hair coloring products, for example, hydrogen peroxide was used as a bleaching agent.
Other methods have been proposed, but many manufacturers continue to produce hair color with either paraphenylenediamine PPD or a related compound, p-aminophenol. David Lewis, from the University of Leeds in the U.K., finds this concerning:
“Now, I know a lot about dyes and dye stuffs in the textile industry. We would never dream of using this on textiles. Primitive, archaic, all these things come to mind. Why do they persist on putting it on human heads?”
Instead of synthetic products, reach for coconut oil which you may have in your kitchen cabinet right now. You can use it as the base for an at-home hair coloring solution. Not only is it beneficial to your health and beauty when taken internally, it can also be used topically on your skin and hair. Discover how to use it for these and other purposes in my article, “How to Use Coconut Oil for Hair Health.”
Was Your Mom Right? Did You Make Her Hair Turn Gray?
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