October 29, 2018

495 The Wakefield “Study” [29 October 2018]

Almost everyone has heard of Andrew Wakefield, the British gastroenterologist who wrote a fraudulent study in 1998 linking vaccines and autism. Wakefield was accused of falsifying data and having undisclosed financial conflicts of interest. In 2010 the Lancet retracted his paper and he lost his license to practice.

The conventional position is that vaccines have been thoroughly tested with no link ever found with any health problem including autism. The retraction of Wakefield’s study is considered further proof that any vaccine-autism link has been totally debunked.

But is all of that true?

First, the 1998 Lancet paper was not a “study”, it was a “case study”. A case study is merely a reporting of one or a group of patients with unusual symptoms. It does not make any claims or even propose a hypothesis. You can read the entire retracted paper here. The paper’s conclusion read “We have identified a chronic enterocolitis in children that may be related to neuropsychiatric dysfunction. In most cases [8 of 12], onset of symptoms was after measles, mumps and rubella immunization. Further investigations are needed to examine this syndrome and its possible relation to this vaccine.

As to the fraud charges, David Lewis, a research microbiologist with the National Whistleblowers Center in Washington, reviewed Wakefield’s files regarding the Lancet paper and concluded that Wakefield had not intentionally misinterpreted the data, and that the BMJ’s fraud theory was “more tabloid news than science”. Wakefield has written a book (2010) called “Callous Disregard” in which he tells his side of the story.

In any case, the Wakefield paper is hardly the only evidence for vaccine safety concerns. A recent book by Neil Miller “Miller’s Review of Critical Vaccine Studies – 400 Important Scientific Papers Summarized for Parents and Researchers” summarizes research that you won’t find on the CDC website. Many show increasing risk of adverse reactions with vaccinations at an earlier age and with multiple vaccinations (both of which were a concern of Wakefield’s). We’ll look at some of these next week.

Whether you think Wakefield is a discredited fraud or a demonized hero, you can’t fault him for asking for more research into such an important health issue.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner. Find this article on my website for links to sources and further reading.

October 22, 2018

494 Nitrates and Mania [22 Oct 2018]

A connection between nitrates in processed meats and mania has been accidentally discovered. Mania is a psychiatric disorder associated with hyperactivity, euphoria and insomnia. The link appears to be the effect of nitrates on gut bacteria.

I have previously written about the connections between gut bacteria and brain function [#320 Our Gut Microbiome & Our Brain; #422 The Brain-Gut Axis; #425 Autism and Gut Bacteria].

The nitrate connection was discovered in a study by Johns Hopkins published this July in Molecular Psychiatry. The study of more than 1000 people found that those hospitalized for an episode of mania were 3.5 times more likely to have eaten nitrate-cured meats prior to hospitalization. This finding was statistically significant. No association with other foods or other psychiatric disorders were found.

Animal studies were conducted to follow up on this association. Rats fed the equivalent of a human eating a wiener or one stick of beef jerky daily developed hyperactivity and sleep disorders within two weeks. The control group, fed the same food but nitrate free exhibited normal behavior. Differences were found in the bacteria living in their intestines, and in molecular pathways known to be implicated in bipolar disorder. It would appear that the nitrates change the gut microbiome which affects brain function triggering mania in susceptible individuals.

The same research group had published a study in 2017 with the finding that a probiotic supplement reduced the incidence of delusions and hallucinations in schizophrenic patients. They were also less likely to be rehospitalized following a manic episode. The study was too small to recommend it as a treatment just yet, but it does provide more evidence for the influence of the gut microbiome on mental health.

One of the researchers, Emily Severance, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, wrote:
The mental health field is in desperate need of new treatments for psychiatric disorders… The tiny living organisms that make up the human microbiome and the overwhelming evidence for a gut-brain axis together represent a new frontier for schizophrenia research.
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

October 15, 2018

493 The Cochrane HPV Review [15 Oct 2018]

I have previously written about bias in health science: #204 Scientifically Proven? about the built in bias in medical research; #429 Confirmation Bias and #456 Cognitive Dissonance about everyone’s bias in dealing with new information that conflicts with our beliefs; and #383 Blocking the Truth and #469 CFS – The Cover-Up about the CDCs questionable actions. So I wasn’t that shocked to read the 2015 book Vaccine Whistleblower – Exposing Autism Research Fraud at the CDC by Kevin Barry. But I was really saddened to learn of recent occurrences at Cochrane.

Cochrane (formerly the Cochrane Collaboration) is a highly renowned network of scientists from around the world that publish hundreds of meta-analyses using the highest standards of evidence-based medicine. Cochrane has maintained its very high reputation for integrity – until now.

In May of this year Cochrane published a review of the safety and effectiveness of the HPV vaccine. The human papilloma virus (HPV) is associated with (but not proven to cause) cervical cancer. The review looked at 26 studies and gave the vaccine a strongly favorable report.

In July Peter G√łtzsche, a Danish researcher, Cochrane board member, and a founder of the Cochrane Collaboration in 1993, along with two colleagues wrote a critique of the review “The Cochrane HPV vaccine review was incomplete and ignored important evidence of bias” which was published in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine. Among the criticisms were: the review missed nearly half of the eligible studies; all of the studies selected used another vaccine as a placebo; women with a history of immunological or nervous system disorders were excluded (but are freely given the vaccine); all of the studies were industry funded; adverse effects were incompletely assessed; and serious conflicts of interest were not revealed.

The critique concluded “We do not find the Cochrane HPV vaccine review to be “Trusted Evidence” [Cochrane’s motto] as it was influenced by reporting bias and biased trial designs [and] … does not meet the standards for Cochrane reviews…”.

Instead of redoing the review to a higher standard, G√łtzsche was expelled from the board. In protest, four other scientists on the 13 man science board resigned (read their letter here).

Sadly it seems that, at least for certain health topics, there is no one left we can trust.

Sources: "Cochrane Board Expels Critic of Group's HPV Vaccine Review" Medscape 17 Sept 2018. If link doesn't work, copy and paste www.medscape.com/viewarticle/902062
"Leading Institution for Science-Based Health Advice Implodes After Industry Bias is Revealed" mercola.com 3 Oct 2018

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

October 8, 2018

492 Serrapeptase Studies [8 Oct 2018]

I have previously written about the amazing properties of serrapeptase [#442]. A recent article by Robert Redfern in Naturally Health News #32 (pages 12-13) outlines published studies on 10 conditions which benefit from serrapeptase, summarized below.

• Alzheimer’s Disease. A 2013 animal study found that serrapeptase and nattokinase improved certain physiological markers for Alzheimer’s, showing promise as a therapeutic treatment.
• Breast Engorgement. A 1989 controlled study found that, compared to placebo, serrapeptase reduced breast engorgement by 85% vs 60% for “moderate” improvement, and 23% vs 3% for “marked” improvement.
• Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. A preliminary trial in India in 1999 showed significant improvement with 20 mg per day serrapeptase in 65% of 20 patients with carpal tunnel syndrome.
• Asthma, Chronic Bronchitis, Mucus Reduction, Sinusitis. A 1972 Japanese study found that serrapeptase helped clear mucus in patients with bronchial asthma. In a 1982 animal study Serrapeptase decreased viscosity and increased volume of mucus expelled. A 1990 study showed that serrapeptase reduces the viscosity of nasal mucus making it easier to expel.
• Inflammation. A 2008 animal study from India showed that serrapeptase is an effective treatment for inflammation and works synergistically with aspirin.
• Postoperative Swelling. A 2008 study of 24 adults having a molar extraction found that serrapeptase significantly reduced pain and swelling for 7 days post-surgery.
• Wound Healing. A 2011 animal study found that serrapeptase improved wound healing

The uses of serrapeptase fall into several broad categories. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. It thins mucus making it easier to expel from the lungs, bronchi and sinuses. In wound healing serrapeptase dissolves dead tissue and prevents adhesions from forming, thus improving range of motion during rehabilitation (perfect following a knee or hip replacement).

Another potential benefit of serrapeptase is as an anti-atherosclerotic for clearing blocked arteries, but there have been insufficient studies on its effectiveness to recommend it.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

October 1, 2018

491 Healthy or High? 1 Oct 2018

On the same day later this month that recreational marijuana becomes legal in Canada, health products with extracts of cannabis – including non-psychoactive hemp – will become prescription only.

Back in June, Health Canada issued a notice of intent to add phytocannabinoids to the Human and Veterinary Prescription Drug List (PDL) effective October 17, 2018. This means that all products containing CBDs (the pain-relieving, health-boosting ingredients) as well as THC (the psychoactive ingredient) will require a doctor’s prescription.

After that date, to legally use the health promoting hemp extracts you will need to go through your doctor and jump through all the hoops required to get a medical marijuana prescription. But that’s just a nuisance – the real problem is that the most effective products will likely no longer be available in Canada, either by prescription or at the local cannabis store.

The safest, most effective hemp extracts are made from hemp stalks by solvent-free raw CO2 extraction, are THC-free, and contain the full gamut of cannabinoids including the amazingly beneficial beta-caryophyllene (BCP) [see #461]. As a review, here are some of the benefits of cannabinoids:

• Modulates inflammation
• Boosts immune function
• Improves circulation
• Supports the nervous system
• Relieves stress and anxiety
• Promotes detoxification
• Improves neurological function and repairs nerve damage

I expect that the cannabis products that will be available through prescription will be solvent-extracted and contain concentrates of only the most common cannabinoids – cannabidiol (CBD) and/or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). And I strongly doubt that healthful extracts will be sold through the cannabis stores. I won’t go into the effects of smoking cannabis but I believe it’s not the safest way to obtain the benefits of the cannabinoids.

So our federal government in its “wisdom” is limiting the availability of health-promoting extracts while opening the door to the unhealthy practice of smoking pot. In short, we can get high but not healthy.

I have a limited supply of the hemp extract products on hand – stock up while you can. And if you think this policy is wrong-headed, tell your MP.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.