Thursday, November 25, 2004

I Feel Gross

My head hurts, I have a slight fever, and my stomach is queasy. I have some sort of viral thing going on, I guess. Despite this, I managed to get the kids to their art and music lessons and pick up my groceries. I think I'll spend tomorrow in bed though, if I don't feel better in the morning.

The last few months I have been feeling blah, which is rather discouraging for someone who is supposed to be an alternative health care practitioner. I put it down to some pre-menopausal hiccups, but apparently I was wrong. Not my fault though. I did two pregnancy tests that were negative. I rolled over in bed about a week ago and found a lump where no lump should be. Two beta HCG tests and an ultrasound later and well....
This is the reason I have been feeling so "blah" lately. ETD: June 6, 2005 Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Dont Drink the Water (in Canada)

Traces of prescription drugs found in tap water News Staff
Canadians' tap water may contain tiny traces of prescription drugs, a new federal study has found.

A study of water samples taken from locations near 20 drinking water treatment plants in southern Ontario found evidence of nine different drugs. They ranged from the painkiller ibuprofen, cholesterol-lowering drugs and antidepressants, such as Prozac.
The drugs are making it into the water supply because the human body doesn't always absorb all the medication it ingests. Some is excreted as solid waste, and the particles aren't removed in the treatment process.

"It's an element of modern life that tends to unnerve us," said Duncan Ellison of the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association.

The study, conducted by researchers from the National Water Research Institute for the federal government, has yet to be formally published. But it has been submitted to a British journal entitled Water Research and should be published in the new year.

The quantities of drugs involved would be equivalent to a single drop of water in an entire swimming pool.

Those overseeing water quality say tap water is still safe.

Environmentalists counter by saying any quantity of prescription drugs in water is unacceptable, even if the drugs themselves have already been tested for safety.

"They certainly aren't tested in combination," said Angela Rickman of the Sierra Club. "So we're being exposed at any given time to three or four or five or any number of pharmaceuticals and no one knows the effect of that exposure."

There are also questions of the impact on aquatic life, on fetuses and on those who are ill or infirm.

As an example of what can happen, male smallmouth bass in a nicotine-polluted section of the U.S.'s Potomac River have started producing eggs.

Municipal governments, who bear operational responsibility for treating drinking water, say they are working on what is a complicated problem.

"There are research activities going on now to determine what we can do about it," Ellison said.
Experts say another way to solve this problem is to design better drugs that are fully metabolized by the body.

However, CTV's Paula Newton said designing such drugs is likely years away, as are any studies to determine whether prescription drug traces in treated drinking water are a health hazard.
More on Vitamin E

Why am I bothering to belabor this point? Because of the way this sort of misinformation gets propagated and spread to pass into folklore as Truth and Gospel. Witness what happened to the herb Kava Kava. A few years ago it was splashed all over the news that Kava Kava caused liver damage according to studies done in Europe. What the news reports didn't tell you was that those who were found to have liver damage while using the herb were ALSO on drugs known to have a toxic effect on the liver!!! Now "everyone knows" it is a dangerous herb despite being used safely for millenia.

The following comes from a newsletter that I subscribe to from the Health Science Institute. You can get your own subscription if you like.

Vitamin E supplements will not kill you.

Write that down. If it's ever proven to be untrue, bring it back to me and I'll eat the paper it's written on. In fact, I'll also eat my house and my car. Because contrary to widespread reports, vitamin E supplements will NOT kill you.

Pity the mainstream media outlets. Every hour they strain to get our attention in an information environment that's become a 24-7-365 buzz of hyped up info-bites. To draw our eye amid all this chaos, they'll promote anything that's sensational, even if it's not actually sensational at all. This is what happened last week when the Annals of Internal Medicine released a Johns Hopkins School of Medicine meta-analysis of vitamin E supplementation. Researchers analyzed the results of 19 studies in which vitamin E supplements played a role. Their conclusion: Doses of vitamin E in excess of 400 IU per day may slightly increase the risk of (drum roll please) death! The media outlets immediately seized on this and sent out the sensational, detail-free message: Vitamin E supplements can kill you. Here are just three of the wildly generalized scare headlines: "Vitamin E's Fatal Flaw" "Vitamin E Can Be Deadly" "Vitamin E Dosages May Be Lethal" Run for your lives! The vitamin E sky is falling!

I knew that HSI Panelist Allan Spreen, M.D., would have some choice words for the Johns Hopkins results, and I was right.

Dr. Spreen: "Good Lord... what a joke. I can't believe such a moronic study even got published."

Dr. Spreen cites a major problem with the length of the individual studies. The 19 studies represent a total of 45 years of research. That averages to less than three years per study.

"First of all," writes Dr. Spreen, "three years when you're talking about long-term mortality studies means nothing. Second, the 'conclusions' certainly weren't definitively backed up by the study."This flies in the face of decades of research, using doses up to 2400 IU. The Shute brothers (both M.D.s) used even higher amounts and documented excellent results. (But I guess 'old' research somehow becomes untrue due to age or something.)" Dr. Spreen's take on the Hopkins conclusions run parallel to a response from the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN). A CRN representative pointed out to that it was inappropriate for the researchers to draw conclusions for the entire population based on studies of subjects who were "already at grave risk with existing diseases including cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and kidney failure." Funny... I didn't hear that detail pointed out on the evening news.

In short, the Hopkins conclusion is a stretch. And even the editors of the Annals of Internal Medicine seem to agree. In a note that accompanies the study, the editors state that, "these findings may not be generalizable to healthy adults." And they add this interesting detail (also missing from the evening news): "Some trials evaluated multivitamin combinations." In other words, some of these studies weren't even exclusive to vitamin E! And yet network news anchors had no qualms about delivering the sweeping generalization that vitamin E supplement intake may be fatal.

Which all leads to MY sweeping generalization: Vitamin E supplements will not kill you. But that's not to say that ANY vitamin E supplement will do. Dr. Spreen again: "There are a few caveats to vitamin E, of course. No one should be taking the synthetic form of the nutrient (dl-alpha tocopherol) - it should be d-alpha tocopherol at least. Even better is to take 'mixed' tocopherols (alpha, beta, delta, gamma). Also, vitamin E functions better when it's mixed with selenium (neither mentioned, nor, of course, used in the study)." Once again, we see how the major media outlets can be completely trusted to go to any lengths to grab our attention. But when it comes to accuracy and responsibility they get a failing grade.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Wife Swap

No, I am not going to advocate anything immoral. Rather I would like to comment on a reality show that I have enjoyed watching lately: "Wife Swap."

The name is rather sensationalistic and designed to provoke, but really a more accurate title would be "Housewife Swap" or "Mother Swap" because there is no true swapping of wives in the carnal knowledge sense. Rather, they take one woman who lives a particular lifestyle and swap her with another woman who lives a lifestyle the diametric opposite of hers and they live with their new "family" for two weeks. In the first week, they have to live by the rules of the home that they are going to. On the second week, they get to make the new "family" live by their rules. The results are often interesting, sometimes funny, and very revealing.

This past week they took a disciplined vegetarian/health conscious homeschooling mother married to an ex-army husband with well behaved and clean-cut children and switched her with a woman whose family lived on junk food and who had two undisciplined teens who were quite a bit more disrespectful. Other swaps have taken place between a rich woman who spent $3000 a week on clothing, had 3 nannies for her 3 kids, and who spent a good 4 hours a day working out, getting her hair done and going for spa treatments, with a bluecollar wife who drove a school bus, cleaned and cooked for her family, and ran a wood-splitting business. They also like to contrast women who are fanatical about their housecleaning with those who are extremely laid back, those who are strict disciplinarians with those who are easy-going friend-of-the-children types.

I just find the whole thing very fascinating as it provides some insight into how various families live. One of the most interesting aspects is that you get to see that there is no one way of doing it right. Every style of house-keeping/child-raising has both its strengths and weaknesses. After the swap is over, they go back some time later and find out if there were any changes made as a result of the swap. One thing that you usually see is that the children and spouses have a new appreciation for their own wives/mothers. It is really hard on the easy-going spouses to have to deal with the substitute disciplined types and they usually end up with a meltdown. The disciplined households are typically horrified initially about a more relaxed way of doing things, but they tend to loosen up a bit and enjoy themselves more. In almost every case the families do end up making some adjustments whether it is to incorporate a bit more discipline than they had in the past, or to loosen up some standards they were keeping and didn't need to; so everyone benefits in the end.

Some of the more surprising things I have noticed is that the so-called easy going women tend to be the more venomous towards the disciplined types when the couples meet at the end and do an evaluation. The poor disciplinarian wives think they have done a good thing in bringing some structure and discipline and a higher standard of cleanliness to a household only to be screamed at that they are hated by the easy-going one. Interesting dynamics! One has to wonder what is behind that: true indignation? humiliation? embarrassment? I often find myself sympathizing with the anal wives and families, but at the same time really feel for the loosey goosey types who felt smothered by the restrictive lives they were forced to live.

It has been good for me to watch these programs. It helps me to see what works and what doesn't work in other homes. It also helps me to be a lot less judgemental about different styles of doing things that differ from mine (excluding, of course, things of an inherently immoral nature). All the same, I don't think I want to experience these lessons first hand. I'll let others expose themselves on nationwide television and learn my lessons the easy way.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Non Medical Relief for Migraine Sufferers

I always love it when I find information for easy, non-technical, and non-pharmaceutical ways of alleviating suffering. Here's one I found today:

Newswise — The secret to fast-acting headache relief isn’t in a pill, it’s in our eyes, according to a study by Trinity Western University master’s student Kevin Lefebvre. For the estimated 31 million North Americans suffer pain, nausea and other effects due to migraine headaches, the new treatment could be revolutionary. Using the One Eye Integration treatment normally reserved for post-traumatic stress disorder, Lefebvre reveals that by manipulating a patient’s field of vision, headache symptoms can be reduced by up to 70 per cent, or be prevented altogether.

For two weeks, Lefebvre employed a modified form of the One Eye Integration (OEI) therapy on 16 headache sufferers. The treatment controls the amount of light entering parts of the brain through the eyes by alternately covering each eye in a “switching” method. The results saw thirteen participants experience considerably reduced migraine and non-migraine headache pain. Three participants did not experience any headache pain claiming the process created a “heightened awareness to symptoms” which helped prevent the onset of headaches.

“The effects of this treatment are robust,” says Lefebvre, a former migraine sufferer and mental health clinician for the Ministry of Children and Family Development in Prince Rupert. “Often headaches were relieved within one to two minutes.” Response rates of established pharmaceuticals such as Tylenol or Aspirin™ can take between 30 to 60 minutes.

“If we understand migraines as lateralized or one-sided head pain then it’s only logical to shift the sufferer’s attention exclusively to the side that doesn’t hurt,” says Lefebvre who completed the study as part of his thesis for his MA in counselling psychology. “That’s done through the eyes.”

OEI therapy is based on the understanding that each eye stimulates different parts of the brain which elicits different reactions. By focusing on different parts of the brain we can have different responses. With post-traumatic stress disorder, this treatment can be the difference between feeling anxious or calm. For headache sufferers it’s the difference between feeling pain or not feeling pain. “The problem is that we’re having two different experiences simultaneously,” says Lefebvre of the fractured phenomenon. “That’s why turning off the lights when you have a headache generally doesn’t relieve pain—you’re still stimulating both hemispheres equally. This treatment gets the patient to focus on the part of the brain that is not experiencing pain.”
Lefebvre recommends this treatment be conducted under strict supervision. “I’ve seen some strong reactions,” he says. “But it seems the more intense the presentation of symptoms, the more effective this treatment can be.”

Lefebvre’s methodologies are documented in a written manual.

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a not-for-profit Christian liberal arts university enrolling over 3,500 students this year. With a broad based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 38 major areas of study ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 13 other graduate degrees including counseling psychology, theology and administrative leadership

Friday, November 12, 2004

Acupuncture's Power

Acupuncture is becoming more and more accepted in the west as more studies are being done that prove it has a place in our tools of healing. Consider this: vet's now use it to anesthetize animals they operate on. What is significant about this fact is that you can't have a placebo effect with animals. Something either works or it doesn't.

Have a read of this news article for more information about the increasing role acupuncture is playing in healing.

Vitamin E - Safe or Not?

If you read the health file in the newspapers, you have probably seen the articles talking about new studies on the safety of Vitamin E and how taking it can increase your risk of premature death.

Something they fail to mention is that this new information comes as the result of a meta-analysis. A meta-analysis is a statistical technique where they combine the results of numerous studies to reach a conclusion. If done correctly, it can be a useful tool. However, its usefulness in this case is highly doubtful. Why? Because they combined the data of trials with natural forms of Vitamin E with synthetic forms of vitamin E.

Some synthetic forms of vitamins are comparable to their natural counterparts. This is not true of Vitamin E. In nature, Vitamin E occurs as eight compounds known as tocopherals (alpha, beta, delta, gamma) and the tocotrieonols (alpha, beta, delta, and gamma). Synthetic E has only the alpha tocopherol. Many studies show a benefit when giving the natural and complete form of Vitamin E, but studies that utilize the synthetic form show a health detriment, and many large clinical trials use synthetic forms, for reasons that are beyond me.

Now, do you see how combining studies where natural forms of the vitamin are used with studies that use synthetic forms can skew the results? A good scientist tries to remove all biases from the study in order to give an accurate result. One has to ask why there was a failure to separate out studies that used natural as opposed to synthetic forms.

Whenever natural food products and supplements come under fire, I tend to be suspicious and want to start digging. If you want to know why, read here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

I Wish I was Bored

Sometimes life just gets a bit too exciting for me. Consider the following:

1. Garnet came close to burning himself to death a week or so ago. He doesn't like going to sleep at night unless someone else is in the room with him. Well this particular night we sent him to bed alone. He's allowed to keep the light on when this happens, only this time he chose to use the table lamp in addition to the overhead and he brought it right up into the bed with him.I happened to go to bed early that night and missed the action, but whenTrahern went in later to go to sleep, he found flames several inches high shooting from the mattress and bedding which were on fire, and Garnet completely unaware even though his leg was being burned. I think the fumes from the mattress and bedding must have gotten to him or something. Trahern beat the flames out with a pillow, roused Garnet and took him downstairs to administer first aide, ice cream and a bit of tv watching. I knew nothing about it til the next morning when I found the charred blankets and the hole in the mattress.Trahern just shrugged the whole thing off as no big deal and Garnet now has a nice scab about an inch and a half across where he was burned. Thank God for Emprizone. I don't think he will have a lasting scar.

2. Both Ben andTrahern have gotten temporary jobs working at the tree nursery near by and Trista, my seven months pregnant daughter, decided to work there as well. On the third day she was supposed to show up for work, I got a call early in the morning from her. The roadswere icy and she ended up flipped upside down in a ditch. Thankfully, neither she nor Keiannah, my grand-daughter, suffered any hurt, but the car was totalled. The upside is that insurance gave them more for the car than they paid for it and they were able to buy a new car and pay down some debts with what was left over.

This accident has left her extremely stressed about driving though. Y esterday she and Nathanael drove up to Chetwynd, which is about 3 hours north of Prince, to pick up Adam, her husband, from the oil rig he was working on. I had suggested that he should take the bus home instead of making her drive up, but he didn't want to do that. They are paying the price now because Trista ended up in hospital last night with contractions and extreme pain. They are doing an ultrasound on her now and plan to keep her overnight. She has been ordered to stay on bedrest. All likely stressed induced and she and babe will be fine, but still!

3. Elodie dislocated her wrist and the emergency doctor couldn't figure it out, x-rayed only the shoulder and elbow and then said it was likely just a pulled muscle. In the meantime, her hand was useless and twice the size of the other hand. I decided at that point that since he couldn't figure out the bleeding obvious, I wasn't going to let him touch her. I took her out to see Cal Wheaton, my teacher/mentor, the next day, and he fixed it with just a few little adjustments. Her hand went back down to normal and she was able to use it again. Cal also saw me and the stress of the last few months has me heading in the same direction I was going a few years ago with Elodie with that rash. So I am back on a no sugar, no bread, no starch diet (which will likely help me lose weight again) as well as things to get my digestion and thyroid working properly again. I am starting to feel a bit better now and don't have nearly as many "dark days"as I was having before. I've cut back the work load and try not to stress about things as well.

4. On top of all this other stuff, all the kids havecome down with hand/foot/mouth disease. It's a cox-sackie virus that causes a fever and then little bumps on the hands and feet and canker sores in the mouth. Once you have it you are immune for life. I remember having something similar when I was young, so I guess I won't be coming down with it any time soon.

I could stand a bit of boredom right now.

Monday, November 08, 2004

I believe you belong in Pride and Prejudice; a
world of satire and true love. A world where
everything is crystal clear to the reader, and
yet where new things seem to be happening all
the time. You belong in a world where your
free-thought puts you above the silly masses,
and where bright eyes and intelligence are
enough to attract the arrogant
millionaire/prejudiced young woman of your

Which Classic Novel do You Belong In?