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Moses Malmonides of Caldova
In the Beginning
The human body engages in a losing struggle for survival literally from the time of birth, and the battle only intensifies after our bodies have fully grown and then begin to age. Longevity without a reasonable quality of life is not desirable, and although we may be doomed from birth, at least during the short time in which we pass this way, it is logical to try to live a healthy and full existence. As some wise person once remarked, “To be born healthy is an accident; to die healthy is a miracle.”
Considering that no truly intelligent person can be absolutely certain of what really is going to occur after expiration, it would certainly seem logical to do the best we can with what we have been given while we’re here. Thus, you would want to treat your body with tender loving care, because it is the length and breadth of your personal universe and there is nothing else available for rent in the neighborhood. Clearly, when a person does not take care of the place in which he lives, he is not being properly protective of the only bona fide residence he will ever have, the others being only shelters from the elements.
As the famous Roman philosopher Seneca said in Epistulae ad Lucilium CXX, “The body is not a permanent dwelling, but a sort of inn which is to be left behind when one perceives that one is a burden to host.” Seneca was more than just a philosopher, for he was also a great healer of the time. He preached the ultimate fortitude with his patients, saying, “A physician is not angry at the intemperance of a mad patient, nor does he take it will to be railed at by a man in a fever. Just so should a wise man treat all mankind, as a physician treats a patient, and look upon them only as sick and extravagant.”
Throughout human history we have searched for the Holy Grail of longevity and excellent health, but even a cursory understanding of the complexities of our anatomies by our forefathers was sadly deficient. Suitable treatments such as were available then, could only be obtained by the higher classes of society. Beyond this, life was treacherous and extraneous influences such as hostilities, pestilence and apparitions tore at the fabric of existence in ways not conceivable today. As the Italian proverb proclaims, “If the patient dies, it is the doctor who has killed him, and if he gets well, it is the saints who have cured him.” Moreover, while it is an accepted fact that genetics and environment are significant factors in determining longevity, society has strewn the path with human temptations that are meant to terminate our very survival at almost every branching of life’s roadway. However, in spite of an every increasing number of pitfalls to long life, the average life span of someone born today will be 77.6 years with women outliving men by an astonishing 5.3 years.
There are fascinating reasons given for this improvement that have nothing to do with medical advancement; among those are the diminishing use of tobacco, improved stress management techniques, decreased toxic exposures, automobile seat belts, safer roads, increased physical activity, and interestingly enough, people are leading happier lives than even a decade ago. However, should these increases are tenuous for numerous reasons, but financial security is one of the most important and major changes in social security benefits will adversely affect longevity. In spite of the improvement, numerous countries still are ahead of us in this statistic such as Canada, France, Germany and Italy. This report from the National Center for Health Statistics further states that much of the improvement does come from improved trauma treatment and a more intelligent choice of a healthy diet coupled with preventative rather than reactive care.
Birthing and chaos are almost synonymous terms, and it is through random selection that the life of each person is tied perpetually to one’s environment to squeeze into modestly variable niches of existence. Even though variable, the process of natural selection causes the same sort of imprinting in humans that drives the behavior of lesser creatures. It was Jean de La Bruyere who put it into perspective in the 1600s by stating, “There are but three events which concern man, birth, life and death. They are unconscious of their birth, they suffer when they die, and they neglect to live.”
Thus, all of our quality of life aspirations become a product of our genetic background working in lockstep with our learned environment. Contravening the pre-established blueprint imprinted upon our souls is atypical, but those people who are endowed with both strong discipline and a feeling that there may be some superior boulevard to pursue can break away from the ordinary and achieve an enhanced quality of life. Treating your body as you would a pagan temple may add a modicum of spice to an otherwise dull existence but the eventual consequences of ingesting excessive quantities of stimulants, such as the ever-popular trio of alcohol, tobacco and drugs, are unequivocally, a shorter life and - surprise, surprise - a substantially degraded wellbeing while you here.
It was Ellen Glasgow who hit the nail on the head when she said, “Your body is the baggage you must carry through life. The more excess baggage the shorter the trip.”
Historically, mankind has been given to tinkering with Mother Nature, which is never a swift move. One of the most controversial intrusions that science has created is that of being able to clone. There are some people that are worried we make take this science a step to far. Lewis Thomas advises on the matter with: “The cloning of humans is on most of the lists of things to worry about from Science, along with behavior control, genetic engineering, transplanted heads, computer poetry and the unrestrained growth of plastic flowers”, and he hit right on the nose.
However, it is human nature that uncommon individuals, due to their real or perceived station within a particular culture, have climbed onto the top of life’s pyramid by charming, proselytizing and convincing their fellow man that as a “Great Leader”, they exist on a elevated plain relative to their supplicants. This our answer to the pack’s hierarchy which creates alpha male syndrome with genetic inheritance playing for the most part only a limited roll. More often then not, these self chosen people construct remarkable affirmations relative to their having been anointed by a superior being and endowed with special powers. Whether a shaman, a witch doctor, elected president, a high priest, a king, an emperor, a religious demigod or some sort of voodoo chanting guru, it took a certain amount of innate chutzpah to carry this off - almost like a bad joke gone stale.
From an intellectual point of view, these folks in power do not necessarily have to be playing with a full deck and boorish behavior became a way of life. When their subjects needed guidance, there were always readily forthcoming, but given the opportunity, new edicts always brought the leader increased despotic power. However, in spite of elevated status, these leaders did not have a clue about the functioning of their natural surroundings; they not understand the workings of the body and were unaware of their environment except in the most superficial way. However, a lack of knowledge has never been impedance to leadership qualities, and when the people demanded answers, these Great Leaders provided them readily. Our leaders operate on only one philosophy, defend the turf that already exists and expand it at any opportunity that occurs. Many of their incomprehensible fables become the fabric of mythic “fact” for ensuing generations. Ogden Nash said “progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long.” That seems to be the way it is.
For example, every time the Egyptians conquered another people, they would incorporate the deities of their newly annexed people into the existing framework of the Egyptian religion. Eventually, there became an overabundance of supreme beings that the population didn’t know to whom they should pray or for what purpose. Egyptian Gods in number resembled an infestation of locusts and took the same amount of care and feeding. Eventually, the Egyptian religious hierarchy became concerned that too many gods confusing the supplicants and hastily eliminated the majority of them. However, having been issued the word of god, to have it removed caused some of the more conservative worshipers to became unnerved and mystified, many developed incurable skin rashes because the abrupt dissing of a favorite god.
The universal issue in all cultures relative to folks sitting at the top of life’s pyramid was clearly that life no matter was going on beyond their protected world, whether it be famine, pestilence or war, they went on with their lives as though their subject’s problems were of no particular consequence. It was also discovered about this time that along with a powerful army, a population that embraced a strong religious conviction was essential to maintain the status quo. Thus, the term propaganda , came into prominence. The proliferation of logic-defying fairy tails was considered also to be necessary to insure that potentially vocal heretics would toe the line. Finally, the concept that “non-believers” were troublemakers and should either become instantly extinct or punished in a way that would set an indelible example for others. Thus, a pervasive fear was instilled and constantly reinforced into the population, while the promise of an appealing afterlife rounded out this carrot and stick scenario.
The pronouncements of governments and religions have as their one common theme the sustained supremacy over the masses cultivated by a invasive fear of whatever is unknown. Thus, the duality of religion and political leadership sent mankind off on numerous nut gathering missions that were the antithesis of scientific thought. World leaders believed that logical reasoning was good enough reason for euthanasia by slow torture. Every neighborhood had its own bully who made up his own fiction as to creation of the world, supported by laws that required total compliance with what were essentially half baked mythological concepts. These beliefs were carefully scripted from seemingly sensible historic details and woven into the fabric of society. In essence if you honored your king and your god, this was the highest calling and the people either conformed or were dead.
Each geographic area on earth pursued variations on the same theme, for the most part independently. However, everyone needed some supernatural power that they could identify who would lay down the particulars through their agents on earth. For this reason, mankind has many diverse beliefs regarding the real framework of nature, religion and god. Each of these self-indulgent egomaniacs had their own particular vision of what would best appease the masses and act as a self fulfilling power preservative. Free thinkers were forced to create theories that would mesh with the teachings of their Great Leaders in order to stay out of the pot of boiling oil, which was always kept nearby.
Napoleon had a great understanding of war and human nature, and he illustrated the later with his statement, “Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.”
Each culture developed its own particular method of keeping its population under their thumbs, and none of these methodologies was particularly amusing. India was known to create a series of particularly evil gods who were said to do terrible things to those stepping out of line to insure compliance among the faithful. Among the worst of these “Keepers of the Faith” was Shitala, a red-robed sadistic misanthrope who - while astride an immortal donkey - would thrash everyone in sight with infected reeds until the victims became delirious and died horrible deaths. At the time, no one knew what caused this gruesome death, but we now know that Shitala was actually the goddess of smallpox. This little deception killed two birds with one stone: it explained away a disease that could not be cured and insured compliance with the church and political leadership operating hand in glove.
Giordano Bruno, who lived in the Sixteenth Century, was the forerunner of Einstein in preaching the theory of universal relativity. This of course was diametrically opposed to what Aristotle had taught, and more importantly, the Catholic Church felt that this sort of philosophic blasphemy could help to undermine much of their teachings. Church leaders had a little discussion with Giordano in which they demanded a recantation of these loathsome concepts. Giordano was a tough customer and told them what to do with their instructions, so he was burned at the stake forthwith in a nationally advertised event. By spreading the word that Giordano died a horrible death, went along way in keeping folks in line.
Whether religiously or politically based, leaders must get their point across one way or the other and without fear as a built in factor, the people could become restless. Education is the anathema of both religion and politics but it because it will ultimately lead to atheistic anarchy; it offers little or no long term solution for us. Those in control never really wanted the population to be well educated, because they realized that knowledgeable people are most difficult to control. Pol Pot, Cambodia’s highly educated, despotic leader understood this philosophy very well and governed the country with an iron fist, immediately executing everyone with a modicum of intellect or education . Hitler burned Germany’s books and Mao taught his followers that suffering was good for the soul. Everyone seemed to offer a differing truth.
Jim Jones, a religious wacko enlightened almost 1,000 followers in British Guiana (now Guyana) by having them ingest substantive quantities of lethal poison for the good for their souls. For some strange reason his blind followers really believed in their Great Leader, even if it was going to be the last thing they ever did. To think that Jim Jones was God’s Messenger, or for that matter a messenger for anyone but his inherent insanity, and that a thousand or so people could believe his trash shows the degree of intelligence we have achieved with all of our sophistication. It would seem that each of us has a peculiar soft spot and if a leader with a good delivery should play on it, it is just conceivable that they would have a ready convert.
It wasn’t too much later that another true prophet, Branch Dividian cult creator David Koresh, who talked 75 of his believers into remaining in a burning building to be cooked, rather than surrender to the FBI at the tragic end of the Waco fiasco. And now; do we even need to consider the militant Islamists who send the teenage sons and daughters of their True Believers on suicide missions so as to end the lives of men, women and children who don’t believe exactly as they do? They represent a more pathetic aspect of humanity as they have little to lose and nothing to look forward to no matter what road they travel. Ludicrous promises of a enhanced afterlife do not come with the Christian affirmation against suicide or perhaps we would not be too different.

Taking a look at the past

In earlier times, one’s survival was hit or miss at best, because of the unpleasantness of the alternatives from times well before the Dark Ages descended upon Europe and until well after the end of the Middle-Ages had ended. This was a period of over a thousand years in which those in power made it an imperative that religious and scientific viewpoints were convergent and contingent on agreeing with the bible. If you were lucky enough not to be conscripted to fight the Arabs or the kingdom next door, you were fated to either die an early death from malnutrition, disease or acute heresy. Families were fragile but large and life in Europe was literally the pits for all but the elite warrior and burger classes. There was little scientific progress made in Europe during this time, and the rule makers insisted on the use of clever adult toys of the time, such as the Iron Maiden, the Guillotine, Head Crusher, Knee Splitter, Ear Chopper, Ducking Stool, Chain Whip, Iron Gage, Spanish Crusher, Skull Splitter, Tongue Tearer, Interrogation Chair, Breast Ripper, Hanging Cage, Iron Gag, Spiked Torture Helmet, Mutilation Shears, Rack, and the ever popular Thumb Screws to a name a few when the someone would get out of line. Moreover, there was much spectator interest in watching these instruments induce excruciating pain, but their message was clear. Andreas Vesalius discussed the state of affairs as it was in 1543 in a short memorandum in his book De Humani corporis fabrica:

“This deplorable dismemberment of the art of healing introduced into our schools the detestable procedure now in vogue, that one man should carry out the dissection of the human body, and another give the description of the parts. The lecturers are perched up aloft in a pulpit like jackdaws, and arrogantly prate about things they have never tried, but have committed to memory from the books of others, or placed, in written form before their eyes… Thus everything is wrongly taught; days are wasted in absurd questions, and in the confusion less is offered to the onlooker than a butcher in his stall could teach a doctor.”

Andreas Vesalius was the scion of four generations of famous doctors and pursued the analysis of the human body from the time of puberty. By the age of 22 he was a full professor after having attended the University of Louvain, the Faculte de Medecine de Paris, of the University of Paris and the University of Padua where he eventually taught anatomy and surgery. He rewrote anatomical studies on the body and successfully challenged Galen’s theories by proving that the revered author and doctor had worked primarily on animals whose systems did not conform to ours. Vesalius became first a heretic and then a hero in rapid succession especially with his students who revered him. His tomb simple states “genius lives on, all else is mortal.” A fitting memorial to a man who helped show us the light.

Nicolai Copernicus had the audacity to create a model of the universe with the sun at the center instead of the earth as proselytized by religion of the period. Not only was this theory diametrically opposed to the teachings of Ptolemy, but it was considered to be blasphemy by the Church and blasphemy was not considered a good thing no matter who uttered it. Even the most guarded of conversations discussing this or other divergent issues would have swiftly led to instant excommunication or worse.
Galileo Galilei was told in no uncertain terms by Cardinal Robert Bellarmine to no longer defend the concept that the earth moves around the sun. Centuries later, Darwin was considered mad and his views were considered heresy by creationists in spite of the fact that his theory made infinitely more sense then the current religious theory of creation. Karl Marx put the whole thing in perspective when he said, “If superstition were curable, the remedy for it would long since have been found; were immortal it would long since been buried.” However, jaunty phrases don’t provide us with a better life; only respect for our own bodies does that.
A Short History of Medicine
Human civilization has spontaneously evolved distinctive medical treatments in every corner of the globe. Our early ancestors had no plausible explanation for the events occurring around them. However, they were clever enough to seek enlightenment of what was occurring and how their environment functioned. Early Chinese medicine presupposed that everything on the planet was based upon five basic elements; meal, wood, water, fire and earth, as well as yin (dark, moist and female) and yang (light, dry and male). This, along with their practice of Feng Shui, was basic to their lives. Feng Shui set rules for everyday procedure and as an example of its teachings, logically believed that people would be better off having their homes face east so that they could see the sun rise in the morning. Today there are almost 1.4 billion people living in China, so the concept can’t be that bad now can it?
Plants have contributed much to our health and sustenance but in most cases the roots of our discoveries have been revealed in the past. Today we are utilizing many of the same plants but perhaps in a differing way. Cinnamon has been utilized almost from the beginning of time for the treatment of diarrhea and more recently has been found to be helpful for the treatment of circulatory disease. The Egyptians believed that garlic was literally a medical panacea, and to some degree they were right. We now use garlic for cold remedies, cholesterol lowering and controlling high blood pressure.
The early Greeks used honey as a curative for battle wounds, and today honey is used in much the same way for swelling and staff-infections. Ginger was believed by the ancient Chinese to be a cure for common colds and leprosy; today it has become one of the preeminent anti-inflammatory substances in our medical arsenal. Lavender was found by the Romans to be an effective insect repellent and they later used it as a tranquillizer as well; now we find it to be a useful sleep aid. Finally, the liquorish, which we all bought at the candy store as kids, has been utilized through the centuries by the Chinese for ulcers, as it is now but in this modern age; it also is employed to relieve the pain and suffering of a sore throat.
The Fertile Crescent
Mesopotamia has a history of medical analysis dating back to 1,600 BC. The Treatise of Medical Diagnosis and Prognoses was published about this time and was inscribed on 40 stone tablets. “The diagnostic treatise is organized in head to toe order with separate subsections covering convulsive disorders, gynecology and pediatrics. Virtually all of man’s ailments are categorized; they are described in detail and envelop the fields of neurology, fevers, worms and flukes, venereal disease and skin lesions. The medical texts are essentially rational, and some of the treatments, (such as excessive bleeding) are essentially similar to modern treatments for the same condition.”
Going back in time even further, sophisticated wound dressings were already being utilized in the Middle East almost 4,000 years ago. Interestingly enough is the fact that these dressing may well have been even more patient friendly than those in use today, since they contained plant resins which acted to both aid clotting and simultaneously induce healing. Moreover, this formulation was applied along with soap to sanitize the wound area. Amazingly, sophisticated surgeries were commonplace, and the formula for postoperative care of surgical wounds was well advanced, with the use of plants containing anti-bacterial agents being quite common. These ancients not only performed surgery, but also investigated their local environment to find additional potions to aid the healing process.
The Greeks
Modern Western medicine traces its roots to Hippocrates (460-377 BC), the patron saint of today's doctors who rejected supernatural and superstitious causes of sickness and stated simply that “climate, food and, on occasion, government ineptitude, were the cause of illnesses.” He was probably the first psychiatrist as well, and he stated without equivocation, “It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has.”
Trapped in the lack of scientific understanding of his age, Hippocrates was an advocate of the Four Humors Theory advanced by Aristotle, who stated that the human body was made up of four principal components: blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. For whatever rationale, the biles were associated with the seasons, so that yellow bile was a summer item, black bile came and went with the fall, winter was phlegm time and spring became associated with blood.
Using these signposts, a diagnostic tool was fashioned that could locate formerly obscure symptoms. Through study of the Humors, “Regimen’s’” were created as advisories covering what people consumed, how much they slept and the amount of exercise they were getting . Without the use of steroids, the ancient Greeks were able to produce almost a super-race by building around the carrot and stick approach. They offered incentives and to the strongest, most well coordinated healthiest went the spoils, and thus, the Olympics were created. This soon became a national event so important that even wars were temporarily stopped during this period. Thus, they created literally the first health fair with bells and whistles attached.
At the time that Hippocrates chronicled medicine, he deduced that willow leaves had a palliative affect on those in pain. Moreover, opium had been in use to relieve pain for centuries at that point. Sophisticated treatments were prescribed during that period by highly trained medical specialists who used a wide range of herbal healants. However, under the circumstances, most of these treatments were shaped anecdotally and if the analysis of the patient’s condition was inaccurate, death could well follow. But that hardly differs from medicine as it is practiced today. The tools of analysis have advanced from a time, when the doctor could only superficial determine the problem, while we have a large degree of exactitude.
A particularly interesting story that comes down to us through the observations and writings of Plutarch in his “Lives” was the instance when Alexander the Great, the son of Philip of Macedonia and the conqueror of Asia, was in the midst of conquering another large country when he became extremely ill. Alexander traveled with numerous doctors in his entourage but his favorite was Philip the Acarnanian, who had created a jealousy among his contemporaries due to his stunning diagnosis and treatment of Alexander’s father Philip. In those times, the rule was similar to that in force today, “what have you done for me lately.” The penalty for screwing up a diagnosis relative to the boss was usually something south of being pulled apart by oxen (not a pleasant thought in any millennium). While Philip the Acarnanian would usually be Alexander’s choice to treat him, in this case the diagnosis was complex and the downside for the good doctor was severe.
Moreover, the Acarnanian’s medical colleagues, seeing an opportunity to dispense permanently with this know-it-all, clandestinely gathered and devised a plan to rid themselves of him once and for all. They advised Alexander by note that the purported herbal remedy he would be given by his physician contained a fast acting poison and that his doctor was attempting to murder him. When Alexander was visited by his physician, Philip was carrying his herbal concoction. He handed it to the great warrior king, and Alexander without hesitation downed the medicine in a gulp while simultaneously handing his doctor the letter he had received. The doctor was forever grateful to Alexander for trusting him and not having to go through being pilloried or pulled apart by oxen. Alexander recovered and went on to conquer more territory than anyone else up to that time.
This story illustrates that excellent medicine was being practiced during that period, that patients had resounding faith in their doctors and that we would have had much to learn from some of their herbal remedies. As a matter of course in those days, the doctor didn’t send you out to purchase medicine from the local drugstore; he brought it with him and watched while you took it.
Alexander the Great, who incidentally was Aristotle’s student, created a great library in Egypt at, appropriately enough, Alexandria , that became the center of medical research for centuries. Among the great intellects and teachers who served on the library staff were such shinning lights as Euclid, Archimedes and Ptolemy. The library amazingly contained nearly a million manuscripts, an inconceivable number for that time. While herbal medicine was the primary concentration of physicians during that period, it was probably also used as a hospital and laboratory and it is here where the first live dissections took place. Unfortunately, they were often preformed on unwilling condemned criminals who had become very recently departed in the interests of science.
It was here that Herophilus of Chalcdon uncovered the prostate, the duodenum and learned to differentiate between the workings of veins and arteries. These and other studies unraveled many of the inner workings of the human body, with great advancements being made primarily in understanding of nervous system and the inter-reaction of various herbs with the human body and each other. Sadly, the Library was pillaged and burned on no less than three occasions. Some of the greatest medical discoveries of the age; conceivably treatments that would have led us on scientific roads not yet traveled, burned with the library. The act of burning the library in itself created the dark ages of medical advancement and numerous unique drugs and treatments perished forever.
The oldest medical document is the Ebers 60 foot long papyrus which was written in 1550 BC. “The Ebers papyrus covers 15 diseases of the abdomen, 29 of the eyes and 18 of the skin, and list no fewer than 21 cough treatments. About 700 drugs and 800 formulae are referred to, mainly herbs but also mineral and animal remedies. To cure night-blindness fried ox liver was to be taken - possibly a tried-and-tested procedure, as live is rich in vitamin A, lack of which causes the illness. For stomach ailments a decoction of cumin, goose-fat and milk was recommended, but other remedies sound more exotic, including a drink prepared from black ass testicles, or a mixture of vulva and penis extracts and a black lizard, designed to cure baldness. Also good for hair growth was compound of hippopotamus, lion, crocodile, goose, snake and ibex fat.”
Surprisingly, this “Fertile Crescent” of Alexander’s conquests rose again to flourish from both a cultural and medical point of view during a time when European culture had collapsed. The period began shortly after the fall of Rome in the Fifth Century, and this void continued on, unabated for another millennium. This “opaque epoch” became known as the Dark Ages, and it was as though all of the intellectual advances that preceded it had been devoured by a cavernous “black hole”. There is little to note regarding discoveries of any variety during this period. Additionally, European culture seemed literally to have lost whatever gains had been accomplished to that point, as the acquirement of knowledge ceased and despots ruled the land.
With life cheap and knowledge of health and nature having been lost, one of the worst catastrophes in European history occurred. It was the bubonic plague, or the Black Death, and it was originally spread indirectly by the Mongols who when besieging a city used a bizarre scheme of catapulting diseased bodies into the walls of the target and waiting for the dread disease to take its toll on the population. However, the Mongols were fairly exempt from the plague but picked up diseased bodies along the route of their pillaging to make conquests a piece of cake. Thus, there were many arguments as to what actual cause of the spread of this disease, but it is now generally believed it was a bacterium that had infested medieval fleas and was spread by black rats. While the destruction caused by the plague would have been severe in any era, its rapid spread was primarily a consequence of hype-malnutrition, which was prevalent during this period of extremely cold winters. The result of disease, malnutrition and cold caused the deaths of perhaps one-third of Europe’s population.
Many of the problems during the Dark Ages were blamed on minority groups in order to explain away the awful state of medical affairs. Things got so bad that “during the Fourteenth Century, there had been 38 trials against Witches and sorcerers in England, 95 in France and 80 in Germany. The witch hunts accelerated. "By choosing to give their souls over to the devil, witches had committed crimes against man and against God. The gravity of this double crime classified witchcraft as crimen exceptum, and allowed for the suspension of normal rules of evidence in order to punish the guilty." Children's testimony was accepted. Essentially unlimited torture was applied to obtain confessions. The flimsiest circumstantial evidence was accepted as proof of guilt.
While the dynamic Muslim Middle East made significant advances in medical treatment at the same time Europe was mired in the Dark Ages, it is India that seems to hold a special esteem for many in both the folklore and treatment of disease. In India, the practice of natural medicine is called Ayurveda, and there were substantial references to it in the philosophical tome Rig Veda over 6,000 years ago. Essentially, Ayurveda is similar in many ways to the Greek and Chinese thinking about elements being the building blocks of creation; in this case it consists of a trilogy of body, mind and soul . Without all of the elements of Ayurveda working together, it is said that a person cannot fulfill his full potential. Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana an historian of the time wrote that, “Life is the combination of body, senses, mind and reincarnating soul. Ayruveda is the most sacred science of life, beneficial to humans both in this world and the world beyond.”
Ayurverda is a combination which is supposed to eliminate toxins and toxic conditions from your body and mind, restore your constitutional balance improving health and wellness, strengthen your immune system and become more resistant to illness, reverse the negative effects of stress on your body and mind thereby slowing the aging process, enhance your self-reliance, strength, energy, vitality and mental clarity and bring about deep relaxation and a sense of well being.
In addition to the Ayurverda, there were the five basic elements of creation, which are called the panchamahabhut: air, fire, water, ether and earth. It is the panchamahabhut that is the tour guide of healthy living for those who follow this culture. Its tenets include the chanting of mantras, the performance of rituals, yoga, martial arts, massages, aroma, meditation, amulets, herbs and diet among others. As early as 1,000 BC, there are writings of cosmetic surgery, caesarian sections, limb replacements and brain surgery. Interestingly enough, 1,800 varieties of plants were mentioned in the Rig Veda, including what they would cure and how to utilize their powers.
The most important thought left by studying Indian health and healing would be the concept that you can not really cure the body without curing the mind, something that Western medicine is finally beginning to understand today. Ayurveda has been practiced by Indians scrupulously for over six millenniums, and thereby it has become the singularly oldest and most consistent guide to better health. It was almost 3,000 years later that the Anglo Saxons realized that without treating the mind as well as the body, you are not getting the whole job done.
It is a basic tenet of panchamahabhut that you literally are what you eat; and a diverse combination of ingestion of healthy food, taken in moderation along with mental stimulation and relaxation leads to the body’s overall physical wellness. There are millions of followers of this concept today and numerous remedies of all sorts are imported from India. But this system of Indian medicine was by no means passive, for surgical instruments came in all shapes and colors and sophisticated herbal and drug therapies were widely utilized. During this period, India led the world in medical practices and healing. Indian surgeons were even then performing plastic surgery in 700 B.C. “The Indian surgeon Sushruta provided clear, step-by-step descriptions of how to rebuild the nose by use of a skin graft from the patient’s cheek.
India also pioneered the use of herbal medications utilizing the byproducts of sesame, poppies, and marijuana for palliation and sedation. When we envision the sophisticated techniques that had to be learned at the time in order to perform highly technical operations such as skin grafts, we are reminded of the fact that even today, medical screw ups are legendary and stories of having the wrong organs removed or operating on the wrong side of the brain are highly in evidence. H. L. Mencken put that all in perspective with his quip, “Now and then even a good medical man mistakes a case of pneumonia for a broken leg.”
The Chinese practice of medicine goes back at least 3,000 years and it was interwoven with their worldview at the time that their were five basic elements, yin - dark, moist, and female - and yang - light, dry, and male. The records indicate that the use of acupuncture as a treatment for medical problems goes back to the beginning of Chinese medicine. Acupuncture was often used at the time in conjunction with moxibustion, the practice of curing by warming. We know today that healthy skin will stay vigorous at a higher temperature than diseased skin. Thus, heat has been used in sophisticated treatments of skin cancer and other diseases. It is literally amazing that something as sophisticated as that could have been utilized so many years ago.
The Chinese discovered the relationship between salt and blood pressure several thousand years ago. Moreover, they evolved advanced theories regarding the relationship of the heart, human pulse and blood circulation at about the same time, long before it was discovered in the west. In 200 BC Chinese researchers extracted steroid hormones from the human urine.
While the details are not completely clear, the Chinese have records indicating that in the Third Century B.C., two surgeons, Hua T’o and Pien Chi’isi, transplanted a variety of organs from patient to patient.” It reminds us of the limerick that goes:
“A young lunatic named Deuteronomy
Was in need of a fontal lobotomy
But sadly my friend
They did the wrong end
And came out with a total colostomy …”
Once in a while serendipity would enter the equation. For example, in the Ninth Century, a Chinese power-seeking wannabee was puttering around his lab looking for a digestible substance that would provide eternal life for the emperor. The result was the invention of gunpowder. This becomes even stranger when you realize that the Chinese characters for gunpowder translate into “fire medicine.” Moreover, this may have been the derivation of the word “gun,” as well.

The European Renaissance
As Western Civilization attempted to crawl out of the dark hole created by the Dark Ages, each scientific renewal seemed indelibly attached to strong minded people whose intellectual ability and strong inclination to discern the true scientific facts set them far apart from the crowd. Copernicus in astronomy, Leonardo da Vinci, in art, science and engineering, Roger Bacon in modern scientific method, Abelard in Philosophy and Pacioli, the first real accountant are just a few of those that come to mind. The Renaissance seemed to commence spontaneously and certainly at great risk to the life and limb of those who had alien concepts in an age where this wasn’t a good idea. Almost as spontaneous combustion, many of the leaders in the coming of enlightenment were contemporaries and it is amazing that this renaissance occurred in so many disciplines at the same time. These were indeed special people.
Such a man was Theophrastus Phillippus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim, who although not well known, brought about a Renaissance of transformation in the practice of medicine. He was born in Switzerland in 1493, the son of a physician, and he single-handedly attempted to sweep aside the half-truths and dark practices of the art as it was then practiced. Renaming himself Paracelsus, he left home at the age of fourteen and began a life of inquiry, which included his becoming a medical mercenary in several wars. He gained a modicum of fame for his battlefield treatments of the wounded and was soon a favorite in the courts of Europe. However, he was hated by most physicians of the time whose theories he found insufferable and whose personalities he abhorred.
Manly Hall, a writer of the time, was overwhelmed by Paracelsus and his accomplishments. It was Hall that said of him, “Paracelsus gained his knowledge not from long-coated pedagogues, but from dervishes in Constantinople, witches, gypsies and sorcerers who invoked spirits and captured the rays of the celestial bodies in dew; of whom it is said that he cured the incurable, gave sight to the blind, cleansed the leper and even raised the dead, and whose memory could turn aside the plague.”
It was Paracelsus’s research that brought down the feeble teachings of the time and his experimentation with alchemy, mineralogy, chemistry and the occult led to many of the most fabled discoveries of the time. He literally rewrote the book on medical practice and in spite of being evil tempered, pompous and bombastic, his impact was momentous. There is little question that he was the father of modern medicine, an herbalist extraordinaire, a pioneer and the father of alternative medicine. Paracelsus gave other the push to resume research and attempt to recover medical practices of former days.
As Western Civilization began the rebuilding process early in the Renaissance, they were able to piece together many of the remedies that our predecessors had fashioned. Not only are many of the drugs created by the ancient soothsayers still in use today, but we have found new and enhanced uses for them. Each component of every organism found in nature, whether plant or animal is by its very definition unique and we still have much to derive from their secrets. As these discoveries exponentially blossom, our quality of life should advance with longer and healthier lives being the resultant factor; however, it would appear that our environment is continuing to deteriorate in lockstep with medical advances.
While Renaissance scientists investigated every conceivable structure within their prevue, after hollering eureka, it would turn out that on occasion they had celebrated a tad to early. Tobacco was one of their gravest errors. The Europeans had never seen tobacco before exploration of the western hemisphere began, so when in 1577 a well-known Spanish doctor by the name of Nicolas Monardes (1493-1588) raved about its medicinal properties, the rush was on. Monardes, in addressing a then unsophisticated and medically unqualified audience in his book entitled “Joyful News Out of the New Found World,” recommended tobacco as a treatment for headaches, arthritis, various wounds, stomach cramps, headaches and even bad breath.
Monardes did not realize that he had pried open a medical Pandora’s Box and resultantly caused more deaths, disabilities and suffering resulted from his mistaken analysis than any other product in the history of mankind. However, at the time there were neither medical journals nor peer reviews to fall back on when specious claims were made. The situation became worsened as commercial enterprises found profit in the sale of tobacco and concealed its downside risks.
The following story illustrates the removal of a bladder stone along with history’s first vasectomy surgery and the use of numerous natural substances after the Renaissance had begun:

“In 1658, Samuel Pepys, 1633 - 1703 was an English chronicler who incidentally wrote extensively on the Black Plague, underwent surgery to remove a bladder stone.” Like all operations before 1846, it was performed without anesthetic and rightly called 'a hideously unpleasant procedure and a gamble besides.' Once the scrotum was shaved, the patient was bound to a special table fitted with up-facing pegs; four brawny lads then moved in to hold him in place even tighter. 'Only four?' we might ask, for the next step called for the surgeon to insert a thin silver rod through the length of the penis, this to help reposition the stone for swifter removal...
"As the lads flexed and grunted, the surgeon lubricated his scalpel with the milk of almonds before making a three-inch incision between the anus and scrotum. No need to worry if the patient went into convulsions - oil of earthworms would be administered while the lads clutched more fiercely. The surgeon, meanwhile, reached into the bladder with pincers and, with any luck, plucked out the stone. But instead of stitching the wound closed, he realigned the flaps of skin, smeared on a poultice of egg yolk and rose vinegar, and instructed the patient to lie still in bed for five weeks. Many patients died in the meantime, of course, but Pepys, whose stone was the size of a tennis ball, came through the ordeal with colors flying, but for a single if crucial exception: The surgeon had accidentally severed his vas defentia... Pepys had received one of the first, if inadvertent, vasectomies."
The Coming of Age of Modern Western Medicine
Unfortunately for the patients, early western medicine was practiced on a hit or miss basis, and if a physician was lucky enough to achieve a good result from something new, he spread tail of its merits throughout his community. Medicine became anecdotal and not a science, as long-term effects were neither considered nor analyzed.
While other disciplines had shown signs of rational thinking in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, in reality it wasn’t until the Nineteenth Century when Louis Pasteur, a man obsessed with cleanness, discovered microbes and invented pasteurization. Even then, it was a total accident caused not be research, but by spores from a mold carried into his laboratory by air movements from one floor below. He found that these spores destroyed microbes that caused infection; something the Egyptians had been fiddling with for thousands of years; by allowing their bread get moldy and then applying it to wounds. In his spare time, Pasteur developed the vaccines for anthrax, rabies and chicken cholera, but the man was always a tad anti-social. He would never shake hands with either friends or strangers and would spotlessly re-clean his own plate before he would allow anyone to serve him food and then not to leave well enough alone, he at all times would analyze what he going to eat under a microscope to insure that the food was fit for his consumption.


However, we now have almost infinite knowledge at our fingertips and live at a different pace than did our ancestors. In an earlier time, life was more unsophisticated and breaking the mold wasn’t always the socially accepted thing to do. People died prematurely from numerous causes, often as a result of broken limbs that could not be reset or in childbirth, which was not totally understood from a sterility point of view. Early cities were crowded without adequate waste disposal apparatus causing numerous diseases to be transmitted to the hordes of people living within its borders. Moreover, there was really little understanding of the most basic rules of sanitation. Early man did not transmit pathogens and thus, no Typhoid Mary’s could exist. If you listen to the media, we seem to have more cures available than there are diseases and most of the curatives will dramatically improve you sex life. We are subjected from origin to potentially mind crushing commercials literally addressing our more base instincts. Much of what is contained within the deafening messages are for the most part, products proselytized the profit of their creators rather than the efficacy of their curative powers.
As we as a people became more mature, perceptions of professionals became more sophisticated. Not many years ago, those that were able to deal with the more complex sciences, such as medicine, astronomy and mathematics were treated by society as revered icons; they had an abundance of knowledge at a time when advanced degrees were literally unheard of and basic survival of one’s self and one’s family was our prime concern. We have entered the age of anal investigation and as a species we have been the recipient of just enough knowledge to believe we have come to know most everything and to trust no one. The physician who had treated us with care as children, who made house calls and was much venerated by our parents, suddenly became a money-grubbing opportunist who better do the job right or be faced with a big-time punitive damage lawsuit. With knowledge has come a litigious spirit threatens the very roots of our economy. All mistakes are now fair game.
Someone very erudite said very recently, “The practice of medicine has advanced so much in recent years that it is now impossible for a doctor not to find something wrong with you.” That’s what our society calls progress. The logical consequence of this situation is to get a second opinion. This formerly unheard act has nearly doubled the price of care, but is more often than not, reimbursed by the insurance companies because of the tragic number of misdiagnosed medical problems and the accompanying geometric increase of litigation charging doctors with malpractice.
We have gone from a society that blissfully accepted the neighborhood doctor as the Voice of God to one in which we, the people, are overwhelmed with contrary information, and everything we are told is taken with a grain of salt. To add insult to injury, the medical profession has not handled its public relations with skill and as a group is afflicted with foot in mouth disease. In analyzing how quickly our society has become jaded, we only have to look at the axiom of George Bernard Shaw who said, “We have not lost faith, but we have transferred it from God to the medical profession.” The following factoid illustrates our point:
Number of physicians in the United States: 700,000 (Source: AMA)
Accidental deaths caused by physicians per year: 120,000 (Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human services)
Accidental deaths per physician: 0.171 (statistical analysis)
Number of gun owners in the United States: 80,000,000 (Source: NRA)
Number of accidental gun deaths per year: 1,500 (Source: NRA)
Accidental deaths per gun owner per year: 0.0000188 (statistical analysis)
Note that statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners.”
The famous Russian author Anton Checkov was not particularly fond of anybody, but for some obscure reason he had a particular dislike for lawyers and doctors. There was some question among elitists as to which group he despised more. The issue was definitively resolved when an obscure statement by Checkov was uncovered: “Doctors are just the same as lawyers; the only difference is that lawyers merely rob you, whereas doctors rob you and kill too.”
Anecdotally, this seems to be born out to some degree in the study conducted by Erin Barrett and Jack Mingo for their book, “The Doctor Killed George Washington.” They queried 10,000 nurses at random as to whether they would willingly choose to be patients in their own hospitals. Astoundingly, thirty-eight percent said, that there was no way they would be treated at their own hospital. But in fairness to the medical profession, more often than not, people become anxious before they make a visit to their doctor. It may be they believe they are about to receive bad news or that they are afraid that some tortuous instrument will be shoved inside their body to test for this or that. Thus, it is not surprising that between 20 and 25% of the people who test positive for high blood pressure go right back to the normal range soon after they leave the doctor’s office.
Thus, the results are skewed even before they arrive for consultation and possibly they are right. Just think of the assortment of evil appearing instruments the physician has at his disposal to inflict pain in order to cure. He now has on hand what are called miracle drugs that are believed to be able to turn illnesses into something curable. However, it wasn’t long before the pundits came along and said, “They are called miracle drugs because they enable a doctor to turn the illnesses of his patients into a fur coat for his wife.”
Fakers Abound
Over time, it became good business to sell people a healthful existence by commercially promoting panacea producing elixirs for ingestion. Or better yet, if you had a misery that the doctors couldn’t eliminate, this was advertised as the stuff that would do the job, not matter what you had. Here, ministers of the oblique began what became known as the sale of “religion in a bottle.” These prophets worshiped at the shrine of money and would tell their audience with a seeming integrity could only come from an honest belief, that indeed this elixir was manna from the gods at a minimum. Moreover, their grasp of the liquid’s attributes was inspirational to everyone as they expounded how this magic worked. Astonishingly, someone in the audience had always taken the colored liquid and recovered immediately from dread affliction.
Literally, charlatans were purveying enchantment in a bottle or worse. All of these folks certainly were believed to have medical insights beyond our comprehension in order to create the miracle curatives on which they expounded. These concoctions could potentially do wonders for your health and well-being, they would always say. It has always been a great profession to bottle a tonic in a pretty glass, make lies up about what it will do and then get out town with the cash before the sheriff knows what you are doing. Believe it or not, Coke Cola was built into a giant, global cash cow starting with this original formula.
And how did this wallet snatching profession get its start? There really was a patron saint of the snake oil industry. His name was Joseph Myers, and he lived toward the later part of the Nineteenth Century and hailed from Pugnacity, Nebraska. Joseph was friendly with the neighboring Indians and at times visited them while they were cultivating a mysterious tonic that they used to contain the pain of bee stings, rattlesnake bites and infected wounds. Considering at the ingredients of the tonic were plant oriented, there might well have been some curative value to the product but that has little to do with this story as that was not what influenced Joseph. He didn’t give a darn whether it worked or not, but he determined that if you provided a good enough floorshow, you could sell anything to anybody and thought he had uncovered a sure thing.
He outfitted his horse drawn wagon with delightfully colored bottles containing highly sophisticated medical labels. The bottle contained a sprinkling of ground plant and a whole gob of whisky. Among his constant traveling companions in the wagon were several large rattlesnakes, and as he whipped his audience into a frenzy by stories of cures from his medicine he would apply the ultimate coupe de grais. Myers would allow one or both snakes to bite him as the crowd gasped. Without skipping a beat he applied a dab of his elixir and never suffered a moment’s pause. The fact that he was still standing was convincing enough for the crowd. However, what they didn’t realize was the fact that Joseph had developed an anti-toxin in his body, because earlier he had been bitten several times with serious results, but had not gotten enough venom in his system to die. His body had become the curative medicine, not the firewater in the bottle. Eventually, Joseph began believing his own story and sipped his own alcohol laden medicine as he rode from town to town and died from alcohol abuse. Carrie Nation thought that drinking abuse could topple the country and she went from bar to bar bringing her message. While she wasn’t excited about drink, she wasn’t enamored with men either; “Men are nicotine-soaked, beer-besmirched, whisky-greased, red-eyed devils.” Carrie never really spoke aggawhat was on her mind.
These charlatans are power seekers and have not allowed the devastation caused by their charade to stand in the way of achieving their financial aspirations. Some sucker will believe anything you can make up, if you say it with a straight face and charlatans are more than willing to dole out their shares of universal remedies for everything that ails you.
Commonplace acts such as cannibalism, blood sucking and intestine swallowing have gathered fans over the years, with the local witch doctor or his equivalent always leading the cheering section for this or that. Boiling their unruly neighbors was the universal remedy for various ailments, and the bizarre body parts of klutzy animals are even to this day believed to have the capability of increasing one’s manhood or sexual appeal. Perhaps we should not denigrate cannibals who have always taken their beliefs earnestly. A famous explorer explained that “some cannibals take missionaries seriously; others take them with a grain of salt.”
A Lot to Choose From
Nature has fascinatingly fashioned a multiplicity of life on our planet with a plethora of species of flora and fauna abounding, almost too numerous to be counted. There are almost 400,000 species of plant life coexisting with us, and we have yet to scratch the surface in evaluating the composition of the vast majority of these differing life forms relative to their potential effect upon human wellness . Unfortunately, as these species become extinct, their unique genetic makeup and unknown potential benefits expires with them.
Only recently has a project been established which proposes to index each and every identifiable life form on earth and store their chemical map indelibly for analysis by our successors. Unfortunately, through no particular fault of this generation, mankind may have already irretrievably lost so much to extinction that this project has come not a moment to soon. In the last two decades, no les than 15 species have become extinct and another dozen or so only exist in captivity. Moreover, the current rates of extinction are as high as 1,000 times what existed in earlier times based upon fossil records. Currently, over 7,000 animals and 8,000 plants are at risk.
Many of mankind’s greatest advances have occurred as a direct consequence of observations of our surroundings. By observing our own environment we have learned to aspire to some of the skills of the animal life surrounding us. Birds demonstrated the possibility that someday we could fly, bats and porpoises conveyed the potential of sonar and radar; deep diving sea mammals led us to the possibility of submarines and diving chambers; nature taught us about camouflage and ants along with other insects educated in storage during times of plenty for use later. However, while we still have so much more to learn, as the twilight is beginning to set on our environment. As the famous philosopher, Woody Allen said so adroitly, “More than any time in history mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”
Not So Long Ago
Moreover, the truth in advertising regulations has somehow lost their way in the glitz and glitter of the modern scene. Marketers have learned how to sell us dreams of what we want to be and not what we can achieve through our own efforts. Charles Atlas created a product that he indicated that he took which would insure the fact that bullies would no longer kick sand in his eyes in front of the ladies at the beach due to the fact that he was so muscle-bound. You too could look like Charles for a price. If you ingested Dr. Rheum’s Fabled Curative for All That Ails You, you would become healthier, better looking and improve your sex drive; Carter’s Little Liver Pills would give you relief from a sick stomach, headaches and anything else that ails you. These companies were among the first to prove P.T. Barnum’s statement, “there is a sucker born every minute.” But as for pills, it has been said that, “The fellow who invented pills was a very talented fellow, but the man who first sugar-coated a pill was a genius.”

Bad recommendation

East German women athletes from the Communist Era are an example of a public relations scheme gone very badly. No one was as yet familiar with the destructive long-term affects of steroids years ago, and these ladies were injected with massive doses in order for the East Germans to produce superstars at their Olympics. The Commissars got their wish by having these synthetic automatons bring in gold medals by the score, but the women today are producing deformed babies, their bodies are old before their time and they are a walking advertisement about what man can do to his fellow man to achieve a goal at all costs. Having heard their horrible stories, it is a wonder that professional athletes in this country are so will to trade the glory of the present in exchange for a miserable future. Is money a worthwhile exchange for a life of deformity; I think not.
“Well,” you say, “that was then, and this is now.” But in early days of this country, doctors were not exactly excited about working the Wild West where life was not held in very high regard. Most medical practitioners rode up to town in a covered wagon carrying neatly labeled bottles promising the elixir of life, but delivering nothing but alcohol and coloring mixed with some sweet smelling ingredient. Their frivolous claims were as much part of life as getting up in the morning and brushing your teeth, and more often than not, these treatments were successful for a number of reasons. People of that era did not yet understand that part of healing was a positive attitude about your treatment. They might have had nothing but a cold and would have been better in a day or two no matter what, but taking the palliative thoughts definitely made them feel better: at least they were doing something to get well.
You say, “Today, that can’t happen, we are no longer nave.” Well, that’s not exactly the case. Have you seen the claims directed at the male of the species talking about the benefits of having a larger organ, or for female’s to use a skin solution to enlarge their breasts? Or what about the ads claiming what certain mixtures of vitamins will do for your health and possibly even the health of your progeny. These con artists have created an industry of fakers that only want to separate you from your hard earned dollars as quickly as they are succeeding famously. If only we had this or that, life would be so much better says the me generation. However, someone once said, “The future isn’t it used to be” and that makes sense to me, they were probably correct.
We are now aware, for example, that overdosing on vitamins and minerals just becomes cannon fodder for our physical drainage system. We are also conscious that certain vitamins if taken in extremes could well cause serious damage to our systems, since there is only so much that can be absorbed by the body. A prime example of this is a friend of mine who is a lawyer and who would lunch at the Bar Association every afternoon on salads and carrots. After a time of being on this particular vegetarian diet, his complexion was beginning to take on a yellowish tint, and when brought it his attention, he protested that he worked out regularly, watched what he ate and was in tip-top condition and I shouldn’t be concerned. It was only a week later that he was hospitalized for overdosing on Vitamin D, and his liver function had almost shut down entirely.
While this example may seem extreme and it certainly doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take vitamin supplements, it definitely means we must educate ourselves as to which of all of the zillions of treatments makes sense. Would you trust a guy that won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for analyzing chemical bonds through quantum mechanics and garnered another Nobel Prize only eight years later for his efforts on the behalf of mankind in helping to contain nuclear weapons proliferation? As you probably are aware, this nutritional luminary was Linus Pauling, who taught us that the human body under-produces Vitamin C due to the fact that our ancestors were heavy-duty veggie eaters.
As time went on, In standard evolutionary fashion, the human body eventually adjusted to this intake and literally stopped producing Vitamin C. Early human meals consisted primarily of plants with only an occasional morsel of Tyrannous Rex Meat reserved for special occasions when the hunting party survived. Pauling tells us that over a period of time because of this heavy-duty chowing-down on greens, our ancestors developed a shortage of this vitamin which is especially helpful in warding off cold and flu viruses. Moreover, as Pauling went on to point out, a deficiency in Vitamin C also caused health problems such as scurvy and heart disease. Believe me, anybody who wins two Nobel Prizes gets my vote, so if Linus says take “C,” you can bet I will.
However, as in everything else, only so much “C” can be absorbed by the body, so one should adopt a regimen that introduces “C” in moderation over time. Furthermore, while overdosing on vitamins is surely not in the same league as overdosing on drugs, it can become an extreme waste of money and an unnecessary regimen. More often than not, if you can get your daily requirements by digesting the source from eating healthy foods with supplements, rather than refined and adulterated rations you may be making a better bet.
Clearly, it would almost seem beyond anecdotal that eating fish prevents headaches, lessens arthritic pain and if we take a look at the almost universal sveltness of the Japanese population, obviously their proclivity to fish must act in a dietary manner provide substantial weight control. Moreover, the fact that the Japanese have the longest life expectancy of any large nation in the world certainly adds credibility to the legend that you are what you eat. However, it will be fascinating to watch what occurs in Japan as the effects of creeping westernization delivers tempting morsels such as McDonalds Hamburgers and Burger Kings along with Baskin Robbins and Dominos Pizzas to this unsuspecting people.
We note that already succumbing to what appears to be a negative trend: the world record holder at the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest has been a smallish ethnically Japanese person who is able to consume a gargantuan number and has defeated mammoth challengers weighing in at three times what he does. Already, Japanese construction is showing sign of wear and tear, for larger frames are magically appearing within the populace in Tokyo and the Japanese are shooting up like bamboo trees. Subways and apartments originally built for undersized people now are bursting at the seams.
Nature and Curatives
Oriental cultures have given us tea, which is said to prevent the buildup of fatty deposits on our arterial walls and also acts as an appetite suppressant. Perhaps the reason all the British in the movies having high tea always had very thin frames. The Italians contributed olive oil to our dietary regime, which acts to lower blood pressure. Russia and Georgia contributed Yogurt, which is alleged to add years to your life and certainly acts to reduce allergic affects. The African continent has contributed bananas, which are rich in potassium and certainly calm an upset stomach. The South Seas have contributed pineapples, which are high in manganese that prevents bone disease, and cranberry juice, which works wonders on a bladder infection.
The American Indian added corn, which is helpful for symptoms of PMS, depression and fatigue, and the peanut found in the southern part of the United States is noted in its regulation of insulin and blood sugar. New Zealand is the home of the kiwi, a fruit that supplies twice the Vitamin C of an orange of the same weight.
This is but a fraction of the list we could compile, and as people clamor for increasing healthy food products, we have probably yet to see the best of the lot. At the rate scientists are going in the building of genetic erector sets, we may soon see a plant or animal that will contain all of the nutrition we need in kind of a one-stop shop. However, some people will no doubt be offended because of the biological engineering involved.
As America expanded westward, the Great Plains became a prodigious producer of vast quantities of grains that were necessary for a balanced diet. In short order the United States became the world’s breadbasket. One can imagine what America’s balance of payments would look like if was not for the export of mega ships loaded to the brim with food stuffs plying the ports of the world. Any time the United States wants to take control of the world, all they have to do is shut down food exports and especially the OPEC nations will starve to death. Wheat could be geared to sell for the same relative price as a barrel of oil.
With modern techniques, these canny cultivators were able to turn out an every increasing amount of product for the first time in human history. Farms became huge profit centers, as opposed to historically providing mere sustenance for locals, the mandatory tithe for the king and a small amount left over to sell for other necessities. Farms became food factories, and the name of the game became production per acre. However, as time went on, the farmer began to notice that tilling the same acreage began yielding diminishing product.
Getting Rich at the Expense of Others
Proper farming became an intellectual pursuit and numerous improved methods were uncovered to increase production while preserving the quality of the soil. It was determined that the farmers needed to vary their production in order to restore nitrogen to the soil, leave some land fallow on occasion to let it rest and use ever-increasing quantities of fertilizer to feed the seedlings and plants. These and other modern techniques did the trick, but in their haste to produce increasing profit, the farmers left behind an evil buildup of both phosphates and nitrates, which in this quantity become toxic materials. When the rains wash these residues into neighboring streams, it creates an overgrowth of plants and algae in the streams. Eventually the algae decay, lowering the oxygen level and killing the fish, as well as indigenous plant life.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, any fish and plants that are marketed or consumed will contain excessive amounts of these toxic chemicals and are capable of endangering our health. Overdosing on nitrates causes blue babies and stomach cancers, while phosphates are known to create allergic reactions and skin infections. Moreover, their residue creates water that is not drinkable by fish, fowl or person. The more of this devil’s brew that is poured onto the land for aeration, the more contaminated the crop becomes, a vicious cycle at best that we as yet are unable to deal with.
However, the above quandary is only the tip of the iceberg. For decades modern industry has been pouring excess chemicals and toxins into our rivers, lakes and reservoirs without a concern about their ultimate effect. Not only did these brooks and streams become chemical sewers, but also the creatures that lived there became laden with so much toxic mercury that eating fish and crustaceans from such waterways would probably cause cancer.
Simultaneously, the air that we breathe is constantly deteriorating, and cities such as Mexico City and Sao Paulo have become so toxic that numerous deaths are attributed to that effect annually. Asthma, allergies and other breathing problems have become the order of the day in these and other large cities. Even the cleanest cities have now become detrimental to our health because of noxious fumes from trucks, cars and buses.
China in its race to capitalize on its massive amount of cheap labor has converted farmland to manufacturing, winding lanes to six lane cement highways and gone from bicycles to motorcycles and cars in a decade. Their ports are congested and the quality of life in spite of rising incomes has waned as pollution has taken over the country. China is now first among the world’s countries in pollution, surpassing the United States in this negative statistic.
Sadly, the range of pain and suffering are as plentiful and as diverse as humankind itself. While humans have colonized the planet, they have found that nature has sprinkled its bounty with a series of clandestine traps that in many cases are indigenously unique. Just as our eventual colonization of the stars will be fraught with extraordinary perils from both a physical and medical point of view, our own planet itself has spawned a series of pratfalls, many of which have not yet been brought to light by our most sophisticated science. However, every single rung of the ladder of progress seems to hide another devil waiting to spring. Ultimately, we may die at the hands of progress. Mull over the fact that at the geometrically increasing rate of melting that currently exists at the earth’s poles, in another century, the water level could envelope the East Coast to the Alleghany Mountains.
Spreading the Misery Around
Sickness and disease are proliferating because the globe is shrinking from a travel and communication point of view. The more we travel, the faster the spread of diseases primarily due to the fact that our bodies may not have built up the antibodies necessary to fight all of the permutations of diseases found in new locations. For example, Hepatitis A and B infect as many as 85% of the Asian population, but are not yet particularly common in this hemisphere or in Europe. SARS, an avian virus that jumped to humans, and Mad Cow disease (which in humans is known as Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease and which causes the destruction of brain tissue) are also among the afflictions not normally seen in the western world. Moreover, there is a relatively higher chance of infection because we have no resistance to the evolutionary new strains that are constantly mutating.
As travel spirals in the global economy, we become unknowing carriers and spread parasites, microorganisms and viruses in ever increasing numbers. Afflictions once only found in tropical climates, such as Avian Influenza, Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola, Lassa Fever, Meningococcal Disease, Plague, Rift Valley Fever, Tularemia and Yellow Fever are just a few that are now in danger of circulating freely throughout the earth. They are being spread by the ever increasing host of vacationers, business travelers and soldiers who a frenzied visitors to places that were once restricted or not suitable. Human strengths have become our weakness and our freedom of movement across boundaries has become our challenge and one would wonder that if we can’t freely travel our own planet what will occur when we starting running in to alien life forms. One man’s disease is another species life’s blood. .
While the people of Japan have the longest life expectancy at birth, they also suffer from deadly diseases such as Hepatitis A and B. This is a nation that has been closed to cultural intermarriage and its people have been seen by the rest of the world as of short stature and poor eyesight. Because of being social estranged, these people are susceptible to infections and diseases from elsewhere and are carriers of viruses unknown to us. Think of the number of shots given to our soldiers fighting the Iraq War in 1991 and they still brought home numerous cases of Gulf War Syndrome and where on earth did legionnaire’s disease come from? Worse what, what about those diseases that can be spread synthetically by nut jobs, weirdoes and suicidal militants. A little anthrax can go a long way in a reservoir.
Zoonoses: Animal Deseases Transmitted to Humans
Even our pets are becoming a danger to our health, and rather than beat the entire subject to death, the following will provide an opportunity to visualize what pet cats and dogs are capable of bringing to the human table:
Cats: Afipia felius, Anthrax, Bartonella (Rochalimaea) henselae, Bergeyella (Weeksella) zoohelcum, Brucella suis, Campylobacteriosis, Capnocytophaga canimorsus, CDC Group NO-1, Chlamydia psittaci (feline strain) Cowpox, Cutaneous larva migrans, Dermatophytosis, Dipylidum caninum, Leptospirosis, Neisseria canis, Pasteurella multocida, Plaque, Poxvirus, Q-fever, Rabies, Rickettsia felis, Salmonellosis, Scabies, Sporothrix schenckii, Trichinosis, Toxoplasmosis, Visceral larva migrans and Yersinia pseudotubersulosis.
Dogs: Anthrax, Blastomycosis, Bergeyella (Weeksella) zoohelcum, Burcella canis, Campylobacteriosis, Capnocytophaga canimorsus, Capnocytophaga cynodegmi, CDC groups EF-4a and EF-4b, CDC group No-1, Cheyletiellosis, Coenurosis, Cryptosporidiosis, Cutaneous larva migrans, Demodex folliculorum, Dermatophytosis, Dipylidium caninum, Echinococcosis, Francisella tularensis, Gastrospirillum hominis, Granulocytic ehrlichiosis, Leptospirosis, Lyme disease, Neisseria cannis, Neisseria weaveri, Pasteurella multocida, Plague, Rabies, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Salmonellosis, Scabies, Staphylococcus intermedius, Strongyloides stercoralis, Trichinosis, Visceral larva migrans and Yersinia enterocolitica.

We make no pretense of what the above diseases are but a careful read of them will cure any sensible person from ever having a pet again. However, if you have to go that way, based upon this list of horror diseases, we should make certain our friendly household pets are healthy. But then, this is not even the worst of the lot. For example, domesticated animals and wild animals can be even more dangerous: monkeys spread leprosy and hepatitis; cows are carriers of foot and mouth disease, along with streptococcus; camels and rabbits can carry the plague; horses, cows and even elephants spread anthrax; sheep, dogs, skunks and raccoons transmit rabies; rodents are carriers of typhus and the plague; bears are subject to trichinosis and creatures as disparate as birds and seals are carriers of influenza.
However when observing a history of treatments for medical ailments, advancements have been consistent and ever improving. Throughout the ages, people have found comfort in healers, the doctors and nurses, individuals who give their very lives to solace our grief and bind up our hurt. They have become bigger than life, and in the truest sense, they are heroes. But these healers have become overwhelmed by medical evils that didn’t even live a scant few decades ago, such as AIDS, Mad Cow disease and SARS.
Each of these horrors was opened by the Pandora’s Box of travel for war, pleasure or for business. Each of these revulsions was cultivated on a distant continent. The United Nations has finalized a study which stated that, “Environmental changes wrought by population movement, destruction of habitats and other factors may be behind a resurgence of infectious diseases. . . . Deforestation, unplanned urban sprawl, poor waste management, pollution, building of roads and dams and rising temperatures are among the aggravating factors. . . . Since much urban growth occurs without planned sanitation, water treatment and sewerage, increased exposure to mosquitoes, rodents and other vermin provides more opportunities for diseases such as malaria, dengue, tuberculosis and Hantavirus. Mining, the damming of rivers and increased irrigation for agriculture also give mosquitoes more standing water in which to breed.” The study concludes that many of the diseases that were thought to be under control have returned with a vengeance. Among the worst problems are malaria and dengue fever.
However, even this isn’t the worst of the bad news. As we have learned, the dreadful HIV virus that causes AIDS was probably an animal-based disease that was transmitted to a human being who then spread it throughout the world. The story of a new and possibly more dangerous disease is the Nipah virus, which uses the Asian fruit bat as its host. As man has set forest fires to clear the land for palm plantations, the habitat of these bats in Sumatra was destroyed. Without their natural living quarters available, the bats gravitated from the forest onto the farms in the adjoining area. It was not too much later that the domestic pigs became infected, and they soon transmitted the affliction to their human handlers. The Nipah virus is a serious disease and has been fatal in numerous instances. What is more frightening is the fact that there are no medicines or inoculations to fight this new found problem, and human beings have not as yet built up a tolerance for it.
“Well, that is in Asia and this is the United States; something like that couldn’t happen here.” Hardly correct: Lyme disease is particularly painfully and potentially fatal and was spread by the same mechanism. Substantial sections of forested land in Connecticut and New York were razed to build homes. The ticks that carry Lyme disease are symbiotic with the deer that inhabit those forests. Closer interaction between humans and deer has resulted into a literal explosion of Lyme disease. The most harrowing part of the problem was defining what it was that was causing people so much pain. It required years of analysis to understand this somewhat complicated natural connection.
Syphilis was indigenous to the Americas and was the gift the Spanish Conquistadors were infected with which they unwittingly took back to Europe. Poor hygienic habits brought on the Black Plague, and the glib denizens of England suffer the pangs of gum disease and having to chew their food through a straw because of culturally based dental disease. Smallpox, the largest known virus, originally metamorphosed from cow pox when some indulgent farmer became overly friendly with his herd. Edward Jenner in 1798 in His “An Inquiry in to Causes and Effects of the Cow Pox explains its origin:” The deviation of man from the state in which he was originally placed by nature seems to have proved to him a prolific source of diseases. From the love of splendour, from the indulgence of luxury, and from his fondness for amusement he has familiarized himself with a great number of animals, which may not originally have been intended for his associates.”
Particularly effected by the advent of explorers and soldiers exploring new worlds would be the local human population. With no resistance to unseen diseases, unprepared residents of the New World were decimated by wave upon wave of European and African afflictions, which began with the incursion of the Spanish under the guidance of Columbus. In 1493, Columbus landed in Hispaniola and the swine on his ships soon infected most of the island with a form of deadly influenza. Smallpox was the next gift served up by the Spaniards, and it nearly resulted in total decimation of Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and Cuba. The Spanish followed up these microbial attacks with broadsides of measles and typhus, and if that wasn’t enough, their African slaves brought with them malaria and yellow fever. The New World was not conquered by Spanish arms; it was decimated by European diseases. Had not the Spanish unwittingly fought with their dormant viruses fighting alongside of them, the outcome of the struggle between the old and new world could have been much different.
However, the Spanish at the time were well traveled and received as much as they gave. In 1489 they were assaulting Granada, with the help of mercenaries from Cyprus and their hired mercenaries turned out to be carriers of the then unknown typhus disease which killed more soldiers then were lost in battle. From there the infection traveled to France in 1528 and 28,000 French troops surrounding Naples was stricken with the then unknown and untreatable malady and the siege was broken. It next struck in 1542 as a Christian militia was doing battle with the Ottomans in Belgrade and 30,000 troops were lost along with the battle. Later, Napoleon’s army in Moscow was pillaged by the scourge and most of his massive army died. Thus, it was not Napoleon who really lost, it was disease that won. Armies became the carriers of disease from battle to battle.
Moreover, so much of what has been developed to cure disease only happens by accident, rather than through solid research. Take the example of the discovery of penicillin as an excellent example:
“Alexander Fleming's fabled breakthrough of creating penicillin in 1928 at St Mary's Hospital was totally an accident. Fleming had left an open culture plate that had a small amount of penicillium notatum mold (it had filtered up from a lab on the floor beneath) fortuitously contaminating an uncovered culture plate while he was away on vacation.”
Touring a modern research laboratory many years later, Fleming commented with interest upon the dust-free, air-conditioned environment in which its technicians labored. "What a pity you did not have a place like this to work in," his guide remarked. "Who can tell what you might have discovered in such surroundings." Fleming's reply? "Not penicillin!"
In early American culture, the affable pediatrician was able to sooth us when as children we contracted measles, chicken pox or pneumonia. House visits were his stock and trade, and although he was vigilant with all of his patients, these same diseases recurred over and over again. While doctors did not have the proper tools to deal with these viruses and diseases, they did their best to work with what they had. As dreadful as those maladies were, the incidence of cancer, heart disease and lung problems (in spite of excessive smoking) were not a serious consideration. The explanation is painfully uncomplicated; we did not live long enough in those days to develop these illnesses.
As the country matured, travel became extensive and as a nation, we became involved in international politics, wars, famines and aid. Although the country had become obsessed with minding our business (Isolationistic) after the First World War, Hitler and his Japanese partners made World War II inevitable. Our factories started turning out war materials at an incredible pace, but there was an unknown downside to this hyperactivity: asbestoses from our navy yards, mercury from our mills and pollution from our energy sources. These toxic materials created new medical horrors that had to be dealt with. Combined with the emergence of Gulf War syndrome acquired in Iraq and allergies from the planet’s ever imploding air quality, we enter the Twenty-First Century dealing with a new and more complex deck of cards.
The peace of mind we had as children in our family doctor’s ability to assuage our afflictions has been replaced by the evolving threats to our health that had been unidentified in earlier generations. Diseases have the unique option of latching on to anyone and being carried to new frontiers where resistance does not exist. Meanwhile, people have become wealthier and bored, thus, new forms of human entertainment have arisen, creating their own brand of evils as drugs and violence have become universally pervasive. The use of needles by drug users is commonplace, and with it comes the transference of fluids between users, facilitating the spread of disease.
Because of the advances in telecommunications, the surge in education and the ability to spread information throughout the world via the Internet, we are more aware of how our bodies function and what is good and bad for us than at any time in human history. This thirst for knowledge about one’s health has resulted in the publishing of numerous books informing us how to live, what to eat and even how much to exercise and in what way. We have become a nation of health oriented anal bookworms studying our way to the elusive gold-ring of good health, but sadly, massive interactions of people have increased the spread of medical problems at an alarming rate. Some obscure author published a truism when he said, “The man who doctors himself with the aid of medical books, runs the risk of dying of a typographical error.”
However, Mark Twain spoke for all of us when he said, “I have never taken any exercise except sleeping and resting.” Of course he was only kidding, and there is little question that exercise is required to keep your body in shape throughout your life.
It Isn’t Just an Apple-a-Day
We have just crossed the threshold and entered the age of the ultimate medical conundrum. It would seem to be a given that increased communication spreads knowledge of diseases and travel facilitates the spread of the diseases themselves. This is not to say that the medical community hasn’t made astounding progress over the last several decades in all areas of treatment, and their means of exchanging data from new studies is nothing less than extraordinary.
However, it would appear that for every disease we overcome, a new and more obtuse problem pops out of nowhere to take its place. In this country, Yellow Fever, Tetanus, Tuberculosis, Syphilis, Meningitis, Rheumatic Fever, Mumps, Chicken Pox and Polio have been all but obliterated. However, every year without exception influenza returns in a more complex and untreatable form. With each new visitation, virtually as though it is a puzzle in the bottom of a box of Crackerjack requiring a reaction, it returns refreshed and more challenging with each makeover. Maladies arising from either the commencement of old age or those of self-indulgence have transferred our concentrations from diseases of youth. Interestingly enough, today we are more interested in controlling birth then we are with treating it. The internal population growth of the United States has dropped to a point where without immigration there would be a decline in the population in this country.
Today’s carte du jour of diseases includes AIDS, cancer, stokes, liver and colon disease, arterial blockage causing heart failure from the geriatric side and liver disease in those who party away their existence. The poet Byron was known for abusing his body and eventually paid a grave price. Byron was known to be a world-class womanizer and a fall-down drunk, but these were his good points. He was also a drug addict who was permanently out of touch with reality. During his non-stop life of debauchery he accumulated biliousness, catarrh, chilblains, gonorrhea, hemorrhoids, kidney stones, cirrhosis of the liver, rheumatism, scarlet fever, tertian fever and warts, as well as severe psychosis. The message here seems to be that if you want to write great poetry, it helps to become a first class debaucher, but the downside is that you won’t live forever.

Old Age

Unfortunately, as our metabolism changes with age, our muscles grow weaker, our bones more brittle and our brains less comprehending with each passing year. As calamitous as this is, medical science has barely addressed geriatric infirmities. We seem more concerned with being able to pay for our lives than being able to live them, and the battleground of social security has become the ultimate combat zone.
Scientists have not been able to prevail over the changes in metabolism that have transformed our internal dynamics from being action oriented into becoming increasing more sedentary. As hunter-gathers, our ancestors lived off the land in one way or the other and did not have the bureaucratic desk jobs that are so pervasive today. We have become a service-oriented society and the situation will just get worse. The older we get the more our arteries build up plaque, and without a solid regime of physical activity its path becomes insidious. Just as in the earlier model that Linus Pauling discovered, when a physical change takes place in human habits, our bodies adjust for it. Hopefully our bodies will adjust in an evolutionary sense to inactivity but it will certainly come a number of millennia too late for those no alive.
As our population becomes more obese and simultaneously more affluent financially, our diets began upsizing big-time, with balanced eating habits going the way of the dodo bird. Popping pills to fight the symptoms of disease rather than preparing our bodies for the disease itself before it strikes has become good advertising copy. Television and Internet are contributors to increased body fat like nothing that has come before them.
An interesting anecdotal description of this viewpoint is to take a close look at the evolution of the game of golf. For many years this sport served as a superior method of exercise for middle aged to older citizens, since it produced an unusual combination of non-threatening exercise, with fellowship and sport challenges all in one package. In a moment of sadistic genius some unknown maniacal inventor created what will go down in history as the most destructive device on the planet; the golf cart. This means of transportation almost immediately became mandatory at many of the most exclusive clubs so that they could garner increased revenue from the members. The reason for this was simplistic; there was no charge for walking, but, by providing this mobile memoriam to ill-health, significant fees could be generated.
It has been said that if this reprehensible device had been microscopic, it would long ago have been identified as a virus, and scientists would be hunting it down with magic bullets to destroy it and its progeny. However, because early inroads were made surreptitiously, the plague flourished, and before anyone was aware of the danger, the golf cart has become one of the prime causes of arterial heart failure. It is remarkable to note that, “In primitive society, when native tribes beat the ground with clubs while screaming undecipherable curses it was called witchcraft; in our civilized society the same manic pummeling of the earth is called golf, which has historically stood for, “geriatric old lazy fool”.
The Evils of Television
It has sorrowfully become axiomatic that there is always another substitute for high-quality health practices being advertised as “the” legitimate panacea. Sophisticated television infomercials have had their messages beamed nightly to overweight armchair warriors awash in wholesome light beer extolling the exercise virtues of products that either appear as the barbaric iron-maiden with wheels and fold-ability for storage under your bed or the pandering for products that will inexplicably bring back your long lost hair, restore your virility or bring back your youth.
Naturally these infomercials universally include a cadre of erudite appearing men, all garbed in the essential hospital apparel with the requisite stethoscopes hanging as though permanently attached to their bodies. Along with these look-alike medical phenoms with the attached protuberance, there is the requisite bounteous woman whose only credible exercise is working the night circuit while getting beauty sleep during daylight hours.
These colorful advertisements are always preceded and concluded with a notice from the television station saying that they are not responsible for anything that is being beamed during the infomercial and that commercial is not an endorsement of any kind from the station. While this response takes a tad out of the message, there are always a multitude of “play for pay” performers who are willing to swear that these products have changed their lives for the better. Interestingly enough, these actors have on numerous occasions represented a competing product that eventually turned out to be of no discernable value. A commercial has been defined as “insisting you want a product you don’t need, or need a product you don’t want.”
It reminds one the historic story concerning Nathan’s Hotdogs of Coney Island. Nathan was a great promoter and when he opened his shop, he determined that people would respect medical employees, so he literally rented a substantial number of young out-of-work thugs to sit in his shop with attached stethoscopes while they ate free hotdogs. Nathan called the press and informed them that doctors and interns were massed in his emporium eating his dogs. The public relations campaign was wildly successful, and it became the talk of New York that even real doctors started eating lunch at Nathan’s. It soon became evident that right or wrong, public relations ruled the world and could create something out of nothing.
The FDA states that companies cannot make unproven health claims regarding the efficacy of their products, but in the Alice in Wonderland culture in which we live, infomercials television programming with beautiful women and handsome men telling us how this particular exercise machine is the best in creation or that a particular diet was what helped Catherine Zeta-Jones into a gorgeous star. And most Hollywood legends will certainly add their names to the endorsement lists because of the big bucks involved with their pitch. On most shows the inevitable medical personality comes forward to add his praises to the offering. Of course, this scenario necessitates the mumbling of inane proclamations containing scientific sounding indiscernible terminology about products that when visible are always shown to somehow be shimmering in their own radiance. There seems little doubt that, “The only thing in America that promises the people more than the politicians is a television commercial.” Better sex, healthy bodies, fat reduced mechanisms, and workout devices led the plethora of inanities we are forced to deal with.
It would seem that we were better off with the traveling medicine man who at least gave the sucker in the front row a magic trick or two during their appearances. Sadly, the US Government has been waging a campaign against legitimate holistic medicine, in spite of hundreds of years of anecdotal evidence, by lumping holistic medicine in the same category with the traveling medicine man. They are slow to point out the folks that are only interested in ripping the public off and legitimate products often are tarred with the same brush.
Dr. Stephen Barrett publishes what he calls the Quackwatch Page on the net. In it he lists misleading medically oriented infomercials and links them with the government release that was issued regarding the product. In his list of dietary supplements and herbs he names, Acne-Statin (1996 FTC news release), Bee pollen products (1990 FTC news release and 1992 news release), Bloussant (2003 FTC news release), CalMax (FDA warning letter), Carilet (shark cartilage capsules) (1998 FTC news release), Cholestaway (1998 FTC news release), Coral Calcium (2003 FTC News Release) (2003 Independent Television Commission release), D-Snore (2003 FTC news release), EnerX (20034 FTC news release), Focus Factor (2004 FTC news release), Lifeway Vitamin Spray (1995 FTC news release) (1999 FTC news release), Seasilver (2003 FTC news release), Smoke-Less Nutrient Spray (1995 FTC news release) and a host more. In addition to dietary supplements, he also lists a host of devices and gadgets, exercise products, hair-loss products, impotence remedies, pain relievers, skin-care products, self-improvement systems and weight-loss products. The list contains scores of products that have been blasted by the FTC, yet these advertisements continue to run and deceive their audience. How indeed is the public to separate the wheat from the chaff in this world of outrageous claims?
However, there was a barrier to false advertising that formerly represented a serious consideration for those that sought to tamper with the truth in advertising laws. It is called the Class Action Lawsuit and it allows a class of people that have been defrauded to file an mutual action against the villain. More often than not, these classes are arranged by large law firms with substantial resources who only needed one person to represent the entire class. They constantly monitored the media for signs fraud and when a bad actor was found they in a legal sense performed a sort of “citizen’s arrest”. Once the suit had been filed the price of poker had risen dramatically for the bad guys and they could even have the courts grant a cease and desist relative to the marketing of the product. They were a formidable deterrent, but there were two competing realities jockeying for position; the first was that the government was getting a free police officer to moderate any crime that was uncovered and that was good. However, the flip side of the argument was that the lawyers handling the litigation were collecting top heavy and obscene sums of money for their efforts. Recently the government has dampened their ardor with legal reforms. It remains to be seen how this will affect these hit and run schemes.
We should always be mindful when we speak of tobacco as to the amount of money the class-action lawyers took in when they successfully sued the cigarette companies for failing to inform smokers that tobacco was dangerous to their health. In one case the lawyer was cross-examining a doctor representing the plaintiff and the discourse became rather heated and went something like this:
Lawyer Before you signed the death certificate, had you taken the pulse?
Doctor No!
Lawyer Did you listen to the heart?
Doctor No!
Lawyer Did you check for breathing?
Doctor No!
Lawyer So, when you signed the death certificate you weren’t actually sure he was dead were you?
Doctor Well, let me put it this way. The man’s brain was sitting in a jar on my desk. But I guess it’s possible he could be out there practicing law somewhere.
Understanding What We Have
Serious progress in ascertaining the origin of many ailments formerly thought of as the work of evil spirits or witchcraft, has been accomplished. However, discovering something exists hardly represents a treatment. However, as far as we may think we have come, diseases such as Hepatitis “C” which often causes fatal liver cancer has infected over 4 million people in this country alone and the fact that it existed wasn’t discovered until a tad over a decade ago. Off the shelf remedies have been applied to its treatment with some reasonable results in woman but as yet, there is little or nothing available for men. This form of hepatitis represented an undiagnosable and untreatable disease until most recently. There are number other diseases that are in the same category and we are only now finding out the adverse results that were caused by mercury treatments for example .
How many so-called witches would be alive today in Salem if our forefathers were only aware of the hormones which rage throughout our bodies causing us bewilderment and misery on a recurring basis? Whenever man has observed something unusual taking place, he has been forced to catalogue the event as well as to attempt to rationalize its significance. Early tools at his disposal were meager and more often then not, anything beyond basic science was chalked up to either witchcraft or being induced by God. Unquestionably this is how our religions began; it was clear that there had to have been some higher being that was responsible for all of the things we could not comprehend and those uncovered this solution were certainly the work of the devil and his earthly assistants, witches, werewolves and vampires.
Thus, humanlike creatures with incredible powers were conjured into existence and then they were arbitrarily assigned the responsibility for particular events such as death, plagues and gout. But there was always a way around this problem created by unfathomable assailants. If one did right by them, they were happy and everything went well; if not, they would unleash the dogs of war upon the human race. Once having established the responsible party for these events, early man no long had to deal with the subject when bad things happened, he only had to destroy the human agent that delivered the plague. Moreover, he was clear in the knowledge that he was being punished, and when things went well, we was obligated to leave an offering of some sort so as not to offend.
Problem Areas
Sigmund Freud was a late arrival on the health scene, but he took the world by storm with his concept of curing the mind as well as the body. He explained that people sometimes live deep within their own minds and can’t escape themselves, a solitary confinement of a sort. He determined that there are various levels of the mind being detached from social intercourse. Primarily, human beings were defined as normal, neurotic and psychotic.
Put differently, an unknown writer put the difference in perspective, “The difference is that a neurotic doesn’t answer the telephone when it rings, while a psychotic answers it when it doesn’t ring.” From Freud’s jump start a century ago, a non-existent level of treatment for mental disorders; today billions of dollars are being spent for diseases of the mind, the most prominent of them having to do with simply growing older. As we age, important cells in our brains decrease. Modern medicine has been able to do little for that problem, although numerous holistic medicines seemed to have shown some ability to prolong the brains vigor. I am a firm believer in the fact that everyone is at least a little bit nuts other than you and I and I am starting to wonder about you. Levity aside, mental disease envelops humanity in one for or another but the only probable cure to this infestation would be racial genocide, not a useful solution. Frank Crow wrote a little poem on the subject: “Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m a schizophrenic, and so am I.”
As we remarked, we cannot blame our forefathers for ascribing certain ailments to super-natural causes. Without the right tools, not being able to visualize the process was close to impossible and you really can’t blame them at all. As we advance our knowledge in the field of medical sciences, we continue to characterize diseases that formerly were ascribed to either witchcraft or God. As Thomas Edison said, We don’t know a millionth of one percent about anything” so we have a long way to go.
In spite of our advancements, there are people on this planet that even modern medicine has not been able to treat, cure or diagnose. The list is still seems almost infinite dramatically beginning with toxoplasmosis, an infection that affects one in four people in this country; however, is kept in check by our immune systems, not by anything in modern medicine however, as our environment continues to change, this might not always be the case.
In second place are sleep disorders, which plague almost fifteen percent of our population, or over 40 million people. Otosclerosis, is a bone deterioration of the ear that can eventually lead to hearing disabilities; however, it can be readily treated by surgery. Sadly, there are almost 30 million Americans walking around with this disease and do not have a clue that they have it. The record continues and includes such seemingly everyday problems as osteoporosis, hypertension, chronic lower respiratory diseases and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, each individually afflicting over 15 million people.
While there are many diseases that are not discernable without vigilant evaluation, there are also numerous medical situations which are unique and can not be readily evaluated or catalogued. Cancers of most varieties are taking a higher toll of the population in spite of a numerous medical advances, but many diseases have not been defined at all and their prognosis remains dismal. There has been little done to alleviate diabetes which is fairly straightforward to spot, but it does not respond to treatment. Likewise, Parkinson’s, arthritis, chamydiosis, asbestosis, leprosy, asthma, AIDS and blindness in the aged are not curable. For the most part, degenerative diseases such as arthritis remain as untreatable as they were throughout history. We have learned to palliate sufferers, but this only offers minimal relief.
Even today we have not been able to catalogue the array of attacks that nature’s bullets send our way. Some of these are undoubtedly environmentally founded, such as Legionnaire’s disease, and diseases afflicting an aging population, such as Alzheimer’s. While we think we know the causes of the above diseases, we don’t have a clue about Gulf War Syndrome, yet the event happened only 12 years ago. Uniquely, Gulf War Syndrome is almost impossible to diagnose, and no effective treatment has been found, in spite of considerable efforts by the US Government.
Hospital intensive care units have acquired the appearance of some bizarre, sophisticated technological age authored by some advanced culture belonging to a race located light years away. It would seem in looking at these unearthly devices that anything can be conquered but while we have made enormous advances in prevention and palliation, we have accomplished little on the curative side of the medical coin.
In spite of modern techniques, we have accomplished relatively little, and a great deal of our progress has come from the rise of medical holism and the use of naturally available resources. Ray Porter in his book “The Greatest Benefit to Mankind” put certain of these concepts on the table with the following:
“In the short run, the anatomically based scientific medicine which emerged from Renaissance universities and the Scientific Revolution contributed more to knowledge than to health. Drugs from both the Old and New Worlds, notably opium and Peruvian bark (quinine), became more widely available and mineral and metal-based pharmaceutical preparations enjoyed a great if dubious vogue (e.g., mercury for syphilis). But the true pharmacological revolution began with the introduction of sulfa drugs and antibiotics in the twentieth century, and surgical success was limited before the introduction of anesthetics and antiseptic operating-room conditions in the mid-nineteenth century. Biomedical understanding long outstripped breakthroughs in curative medicine, and the retreat of the great lethal diseases (diphtheria, typhoid, tuberculosis and so forth) was due, in the first instance, more to urban improvements, superior nutrition and public health than to curative medicine. The one early striking instance of the conquest of disease - the introduction first of smallpox inoculation and then of vaccination - came not through “science,” but through embracing popular medical folklore”.
Carrying the story of inoculation a tad further, it was smallpox that was the major people killer in earlier times. More often then not, if you survived the disease, you would come away from the experience totally disfigured; with no plastic surgeons available at the time, this became a serious cosmetic problem. A treatment for this dread disease began with the Chinese, who blew powdered smallpox scabs into the sinuses with some result and followed that attempt at a cure with pills made from cow’s fleas. India improved on the Chinese model which consisted of applying scabs to the small cuts in the skin of healthy people. This treatment was singularly successful and eventually spread to the western world. When the treatment surfaced in Turkey, note of it was made in 1717 by Lady Mary Wortley Montague, the wife of the British consul there. It was she who reported what the Turkish women called smallpox parties:
“Apropos of distempers, I am going to tell you a thing that will make you wish yourself here. The smallpox, so fatal and so general among us, is here entirely harmless by the invention of engrafting, which is the term they give it. There is a set of old women who make it their business to perform the operation every autumn in the month of September when great heat is abated people send to one another if any of their family has a mind to have the smallpox. They make parties for the purpose, the old woman comes with a nutshell full of the matter of the best sort of smallpox, and asks what veins you please to have open’d. She immediately rips open and put into the vein as much venom as can lie upon the head of her needle, and after binds up the little wound with a hollow bit of shell, and in this manner opens four or five veins.”
We have solved numerous mysteries, including the use of artificial skin to salve burn problems that would have formerly been life menacing, and we have created serums to prevent diseases that had formerly robbed many of our children of their lives. However, we are at best, only keeping pace with Mother Nature in area of disease control. We are at least on a treadmill where for every victory we score over nature, she has been able to find yet another arrow in her quiver to throw us off balance. Nature has reacted to our medical advancements by sending us a plethora of environmentally-based diseases, such as allergies and asthma, along with the more serious problems of lung disease and cancer. Moreover, at least from the important psychological view, doctors are no longer thought of with the same degree of respect as they were when we were growing up. An anonymous writer penned the following:
A physician is someone who knows everything and does nothing;
A surgeon is someone who does everything and knows nothing;
A psychiatrist is someone who knows nothing and does nothing;
A pathologist is someone who knows everything and does everything too late.”
However, if the truth be told, we will certainly not get out of this life alive no matter what we create; the best we can do is stay as healthy as possible during our voyage on this planet. What is the sense of preserving life only to spend one’s twilight years in ill health? That is a prison sentence that can not be appealed to a higher court. By and large, we are the masters of our own fate, and it is a truism that aside from genetics, we will reap those health rewards that we have sown.
Not taking care of our bodies is inferior to plowing our car into a telephone pole. In one case we will have to spend a lifetime paying penance for a useless existence, in the other it is over instantaneously. For a time, it was camp to make jokes at the expense of the medical fraternity. W. C. Fields was a brilliant comedian who was proud of his colossal ability to imbibe and who made short shrift of medicine and doctors stated, “My illness is due to my doctor’s insistence that I drink milk, a whitish fluid they force down helpless babies.” Today we take our health much more seriously than Fields, and as I walk down Wall Street, I am struck by how many bank buildings on the Street have now been converted to physical fitness centers. Not as apparent has been the closure of nearly all of men’s drinking clubs in the same area.

Government icons such as the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) are now attempting to orchestrate what is in our best interests in similar fashion to the book “1984” by George Orwell about the omnipresent “Big Brother”. And that wouldn’t be such a terrible thing if they were all knowing but that is hardly the case. They do not have a profound history of bringing helpful drugs to market, nor do they have anywhere close to an unblemished record of approving products that give the desired result. Worse yet, many of the drugs that would be helpful are forced to go through hoops before they are approved.
The ongoing unanswerable quandary is their attempt to anticipate how a drug will react with our systems over a period of time and what will be its interactions with other medications. Interestingly enough, this was never a problem with the early pills sold by nefarious companies dealing in an unregulated market and we felt improvement because we just didn’t no any better. They would mix with anything because they were only colored water and tons of alcohol, which didn’t make the stuff necessarily bad.
However, the FDA is composed of bureaucrats who often put their continuing employment ahead of what is best for the people they are purportedly serving and protecting. An example of this activity is the work of Dr. Henry I. Miller, Hoover Institution Fellow and former FDA employee, which he popularized with publication of his book, “Miller 2000:”
“In the early 1980s, when I headed the team at the FDA that was reviewing the NDA for recombinant human insulin, we were ready to recommend approval a mere four months after the application was submitted (at a time when the average time for NDA review was more than two and a half years). With quintessential bureaucratic reasoning, my supervisor refused to sign off on the approval - even though he agreed that the data provided compelling evidence of the drug’s safety and effectiveness. “If anything goes wrong,” he argued, “think how bad it will look that we approved the drug so quickly.”

Things got especially out of hand as early as 1793, when Congress created the patent office and allowed companies to protect even the most outrageous medical formulations without a care as to whether they had even a scintilla of efficacy. This outrageous behavior eventually produced a disaster when in the early 1900s the patent-medicine business in the United States became the largest purchaser of newspaper ads in the country. Lydia E. Pinkam, who produced a Vegetable Compound advertised as “Positive Cure for all those Painful Complaints and Weaknesses so common to our best female population,” became one of the wealthiest people in the country from her rose colored liquid. Sadly, Ms. Pinkam was only in the business of separating suckers from their hard earned dollars, and when the American Medical Association eventually got around to analyzing her elixir they reported that it was composed of twenty percent pure alcohol and eight per cent common vegetable extracts, hardly a cure for anything.”
When we speak of medical disasters, the German Government’s approval of thalidomide, which was supposed to control spontaneous abortion in pregnant women, is number one on the hit parade. Instead of helping, it caused deformities in the fetus, and was quickly removed from the marketplace by a very embarrassed government. Meanwhile, over the years and with considerably more research, thalidomide has now been established as an effective treatment for leprosy and certain forms of cancer.
If these giant pharmaceutical companies and enormous government bureaucracies, with all of the necessary resources at their disposal, can’t get the dad-gummed thing right, how the heck can we do it? The United States rates near the bottom of the barrel in infant mortality, and this country is equally as horrific when it comes to human longevity. Such American FDA disasters such as Vioxx, Bextra, OxyContin (a form of opium) and Celebrex have become legendary and now have become the class-action lawyer’s 401K plan. These drugs have been found to induce such side effects as constipation, breathing problems, heightened risk of heart attacks and seizures.
However, by observing nature great strides have been made. For example, Prialt, recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration, has been produced using the chemical roots of a toxin that a small marine snail, living in the South Pacific utilizes to paralyze its prey. Thus, as the snail stuffs its stomach with its live meal, and during the even, the victim does not feel pain. “The drug impedes the transmission of pain signals through the nerves by blocking channels through which calcium ions flow into nerve cells.” Another potential analgesic is being worked on from the synthetic toxins of the dangerous fugu fish in Japanese waters. While this blowfish is a highly sought after delicacy in Japan, it also can also cause an excruciating death if prepared incorrectly. The medicine derived from one of the most dangerous animals on the planet appears to act as a sodium channel blocker and may well become a boon to mankind in the next several years.
We can only hope that somehow, whichever of these products shows reasonable efficacy are given rapid clearance in order to save lives. Since there are no known cures for certain maladies, even cutting corners to some degree will not cause a realistic downside risk to the patient condemned to death anyway. However, because of a totally biased court system which seems to blindly accept arbitrary decisions by the FDA, countless medicines that would have helped cure people are decaying on the shelves the large pharmaceutical companies. In addition, there is literally no appeal of the verdicts on medical decisions made by the FDA.
Vincent Kleinfield, a Washington D. C. attorney working on drug approval affairs, wrote about what happens in this country when an appeal to the courts is made on an FDA decision:
“If the Food and Drug Administration yells “hazard” or “danger,” you are not going to get one judge out of a hundred to hold against the Food and Drug Administration; this I can testify to from very bitter experience since I have been in private practice and with the government. When you are before a judge, it makes practically no difference whether the government is right or wrong. The government attorney looks up gravely at the judge and says, “Your Honor, the Food and Drug Administration …” -there is a pause right there - “takes the position that this product is dangerous; it may cause death either directly or because it keeps the patient away from the knife, the X-ray machine, radium. If Your Honor wishes to take the grave responsibility of substitution your judgment for that of the Food and Drug Administration …” -another pause. That is it.”
As P.T. Barnum said, “Don’t ever give a sucker an even break.”
Traveling Flea Circus
It wasn’t that long ago that the medicine-men carted their highly colorful bottles of magic elixir from town to town in covered wagons describing their product as the ultimate panacea. These charlatans were always only one step ahead of the law, but dad-gummite, when their customers downed the sweet tasting stuff, they felt better because they had faith the fairy tail that they had been told. Little did they know that they would have gotten over their ailment in the next day or two anyway or that they believed so strongly, that to a degree, it became a case of mind over matter. However, these friendly shills have now gone the way of both the dodo bird and virgin sacrifices (neither one of which had ever proven effective in fighting gum disease). We are no longer given the privilege of purchasing the schnazied up, tried and true remedies of that period, such as the fabled Bateman’s Pectoral Drops, Dr. Radcliff’s Famous Purging Elixir, Storey’s Worm Cakes, Tasteless Ague and Fever Drops, along with a host of others. Ah, yes, if only we could only relive those good ole days.
Moreover, more often than not, these miraculous tonics contained only brightly colored water and sometimes alcohol, but they sold like hotcakes, literally millions of doses, because they were certified by the most famous medical practitioners of the time. Because of these endorsements, people believed these psychological palliatives were able to cure a plethora of problems that our present day medications can’t even comprehend, such as King’s Evil Falling Sickness, Rheumatic Defluxions and Stoppage in the Urine.
Heroine, cocaine and marijuana could be obtained in their purest and uncut form at the local pharmacy just for the asking, and yet very few people ever became addicted in those days. A genuine man would saunter into the local salon and down rye or whisky until whatever his pain he was suffering from had subsided. People died early, many in gun battles and most of the rest to infectious disease; the cowboy movies tend to detract from the reality of those olden times. However, the air was uncontaminated, and most of the people lived off of the then unpolluted land. Could it be that we have created a more toxic time? You Bet!
Today, we have come to expect inundation by a plethora of charlatans with products ranging from those that will promise a cheerful sex life to those which will open our garage door in absence of a key. In spire of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandates that a company making a claim must have to have proved in conformity with the “Truth In Advertising” regulations, which invoke legal requirements against false advertising of products being promoted, we are consistently besieged with phony advertising from morning till night. Examples of these baseless claims are as follows:
1. “Blue-green algae (one of eleven groups of algae) are microscopic plants that grow mainly in brackish ponds and lakes throughout the world. Of the more than 1500 known species, some are useful as food, while others have been reported to cause gastroenteritis and hepatitis. Spirulina entered the limelight in 1981 when The National Enquirer promoted it as an "all natural," "safe diet pill" that contains phenylalanine (an amino acid), which "acts directly on the appetite center." The article also said it was "an incredible 65% protein, making it the most protein-packed food in the world."
These claims are bunkum. The FDA has concluded that there is no evidence that Spirulina (or phenylalanine) is effective as an appetite suppressant. The FDA has also noted that the "65% protein" claim is meaningless because, taken according to their label, Spirulina products provide only negligible amounts of protein.
2. Colloidal silver is a suspension of submicroscopic metallic silver particles in a colloidal base. Long-term use of silver preparations can lead to argyria, a condition in which silver salts deposit in the skin, eyes, and internal organs, and the skin turns ashen-gray. Many cases of argyria occurred during the pre-antibiotic era when silver was a common ingredient in nose drops. When the cause became apparent, doctors stopped recommending their use and reputable manufacturers stopped producing them. The official drug guidebooks (United States Pharmacopoeia and National Formulary) have not listed colloidal silver products since 1975.
In recent years, silver-containing products have been marketed with unsubstantiated claims that they are effective against AIDS, cancer, infectious diseases, parasites, chronic fatigue, acne, warts, hemorrhoids, enlarged prostate and many other diseases and conditions. Some marketers claim that colloidal silver is effective against hundreds of diseases. During 1997 and 1998, Changes International, a Florida-based multilevel company, stated:
“Our colloidal silver contains 99.99% pure silver particles suspended indefinitely in demineralized water that kills bacteria and viruses. It can be applied topically and/or absorbed into the blood stream sub-lingually (under the tongue), thereby avoiding the negative effects of traditional antibiotics that kill good bacteria in the lower digestive tract.
An all-natural antibiotic alternative in the purest form available. The presence of colloidal silver near a virus, fungi, bacterium or any other single celled pathogen disables its oxygen-metabolism enzyme, its chemical lung, so to say. The pathogen suffocates and dies, and is cleared out of the body by the immune, lymphatic and elimination systems. Unlike pharmaceutical antibiotics which destroy beneficial enzymes, colloidal silver leaves these beneficial enzymes intact. Thus colloidal silver is absolutely safe for humans, reptiles, plants and all multi-celled living matter.
It is impossible for single-celled germs to mutate into silver-resistant forms, as happens with conventional antibiotics. Also, colloidal silver cannot interact or interfere with other medicines being taken. Colloidal silver is truly a safe, natural remedy for many of mankind's ills. Colloidal silver can be taken indefinitely because the body does not develop a tolerance to it.”
3. Some physicians, dentists, naturopaths, and chiropractors use "electro diagnostic" devices to help select the treatment they prescribe, which usually includes homeopathic products. These practitioners claim they can determine the cause of any disease by detecting the "energy imbalance" causing the problem. Some also claim that the devices can detect whether someone is allergic or sensitive to foods, deficient in vitamins or has defective teeth. Some even claim they can tell whether a disease, such as cancer or AIDS, is not present. One Mexican clinic claims that such a device can be used to cure cancer. The diagnostic procedure is most commonly referred to as Electro acupuncture according to Voll (EAV) or electrodermal screening (EDS), but some practitioners call it bioelectric functions diagnosis (BFD), bio resonance therapy (BRT), or bio-energy regulatory technique (BER).
4. The expression "multiple chemical sensitivity" ("MCS") is used to describe people with numerous troubling symptoms attributed to environmental factors. Many such people are seeking special accommodations, applying for disability benefits, and filing lawsuits claiming that exposure to common foods and chemicals has made them ill. Their efforts are supported by a small cadre of physicians who use questionable diagnostic and treatment methods. Critics charge that these approaches are bogus and that MCS is not a valid diagnosis.
However the list of such products goes on infinitely. The catalog of products includes such as inconceivable as Pheumatical Trabeculoplasty, reflexology, Qiqong, Hyperbaric Medicine, Iridology, Macrobiotics, Erogenic Aids Candidacies Hypersensitivity and Chelation Therapy. These cures are unpronounceable, forget being therapeutic, but then the name of the game was ingesting brightly colored liquids of undistinguishable origin, and the doctor be damned. There was a song about Quacks and their products which circulated in the early 1800s called Sound Chirurgical Knowledge that told it the way it is:
Away with all your stethoscopes, your stomach-pumps and tractors;
Away ye little mountebanks, make room for greater actors!
Here comes Sir Astley Cooper, Bart, Bill Buzzard, and Old Luddy,
With bellies big, and purses deep, and brains cold, soft and muddy;
With seven other learned pigs from London’s Royal College,
Who come to tell us when and where to purchase good ‘sound knowledge’;
To show how learning, like the itch, prefers a northern station,
And how thermometers become fhe tests of education.
‘Sound knowledge’ says these cunning quacks, dwells only, on permission,
With those to whom we grant a right to sell it by commission.”
The Bigger Picture
The world has carved itself up into over 200 countries which all seem to be active in the self-promotion business. Everyone of these governments has evoked a public relations propaganda blitzkrieg promoting how great they are and how lucky their citizens are to be living in such as divine place. Even such snake pits of the universe as Belarus and North Korea, propaganda ministers are able to seemingly make a case for their existence. Or only recently one can remember the disinformation that the propaganda minister of Iraq would espouse nightly as to the events of the day. One of the foremost public relations forums for national country promotion is that of athletics; where able-bodied men and well endowed women make a case for the benefits of the country in which they abide.
The theory seems to be that if the country can turn out Olympic class athletes, surely it must have some redeeming features. Part of our way of life today has become observance of the flexing of international muscle to show off which culture is believed to run the fastest, jump the highest and throw the furthest. Being successful in these sporting events has not only become an economic panacea for athletes themselves, but a public relations triumph for the country in question as it relates to the rest of the world. In 1936 Hitler used the Berlin Olympic Games to introduce what he called a Arian Master Race and almost died of apoplexy when a black, non Arian, Jessie Owens ran away with the medals.
Picking up on that near disaster, before the breakup of the Soviet Union, East Germany had synthetically created Amazonian women who are today giving birth to malformed children. Unbeknownst to either them or the rest of the world, these ladies had been injected with large doses of steroids that gave them the physical tools to win their events at the games. However, that was in the short term; the steroids eventually broke down their bodies and destroyed their bodies. The rewards of this pyrrhic athletic victory backfired in that almost all of the others competing in the games knew what was going on. Victories earned by cheating often do not create the desire result.
However, even those who wear the health venue on their sleeves, the ingestors of strength and virility in a jar have had their share of opportunists in their midst. The providers of steroids are no less than drug dealers selling heroin. The East German women who were injected with these strength-enhancing medications are now suffering from still born and deformed pregnancies, bodies that have aged long before their time and numerous medical maladies. Although they were not willing participants, they have suffered the worst of what their country had to give.
For reasons that are difficult to fathom other than big money, steroid use caught on among professional athletes all over the world. In this country abusers have historically come from track, baseball and football. Unusual physical size and dexterity can bring substantial wealth to the benefactors but the end result is indeed bad news.
Trying to determine the long-term effects of some of these products on both our bodies and our progeny is sadly beyond the scope today’s science. Moreover, as we destroy our own environment, the herbs and plants that have given us so many cures for our aliments are starting to disappear. In many cultures, our new fangled cures have created more harm than they have helped. Essentially, modern medical technology has not brought with it the intended universal remedy. Mankind’s silver bullet will be forced to wait for another day.
The Psychology of Health
We are faddists gravitating to whatever seems to be in at the time. There were even those that said that you could think yourself well, such as Emile Coue’, the French psychologist who firmly stated, “Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.” He was psychologically attempting to treat people with severe medical problems and yet believed that sickness was a state of mind, not of the body. God knows how many died from the effects of his ravings.
The ever-popular politician Chauncey Depew, who had no medical experience whatsoever, put everything in prospective with his statement, “I get my exercise acting as a pallbearer to my friends who exercise.” It was the famous American actor Jack Nicholson who said, “I’d prefer to have a full bottle in front of me than a full frontal lobotomy.”
The nutrition business in the United States has become a very serious endeavor and ranks among the world’s largest businesses. With sales in 2004 of $150 billion, it seems evident that people are now concentrating as never before on their health. Someone who seemed to know what they were talking about prophetically said, “The best way to keep healthy is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.” It is important to view this statement objectively, which requires a look from the diametrically opposite side of the street as well; some genius figured out that, “Everything depends on the point of view: to a virus, health is a form of disease.”
As people generally become more financially comfortable and their disposable income rises, their interest in their own health and the health of their families increases dramatically. In early history, day-to-day survival was an extremely iffy matter with plagues, wars, gladiating and high infant mortality just few of the dangers. In ancient Rome, which was fairly upscale as far as those things went, the life expectancy of the average child at birth was about 25 years. The population was divided equally between those 0 to 25 and 25 and above. The average male born on the east coast of the United States between 1850 and 1900 had an approximate life expectancy a tad over 40-years. Thus between 61 BC and 1900 AD the rise in life expectancy was 15 years. By the year 2000, the life expectancy in this country rose to somewhat over 77. This is explained more by the elimination of childhood diseases and better diet.
Unfortunately, numerous countries, such as Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Niger, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, are still the same levels that this country was in the nineteenth century. Andorra, Japan, San Marino and Singapore all top an average lifespan of 80 years, with Australia coming very close. It is obvious that diet and medical care are the key factors in the later with infant mortality and lack of dietary knowledge along with a dearth of medical people being responsible for the later. To put the foregoing into perspective, no matter what the above statistics seem to prove, it seems to be a truism that women live longer than men - especially widows.”
As countries become destabilized due to increased drug and obesity among their populations, the bell curve is going to begin its downward glide. Thus, the United States has become caught up in seemingly losing battle with drug sales, addiction and baby fat, while those countries with either strong drug laws or homogeneous ethnicity along with fish diets have not been affected as dramatically. Natural products that are able to fight off drug related illnesses and disabilities are being found in increasing quantities. However, that may not be true in all cases, particularly as relates to sexually transmitted diseases. A most profound statement was made by an unknown author who, when referring to society’s leanings toward multiple beddings, simply said, “Love passes, but syphilis remains.”
From any point of view, diseases that are transmitted by sexual contact appear to be uniformly more difficult to deal with than common germs or other diseases, and abstinence does not seem to be a viable approach.
The Practice of Medicine
Believe it or not, of the 3 billion prescriptions filed in the United States every year, something like 1 billion of them are totally illegible, forcing the pharmacist to telephone the prescribing doctor in order to make enough sense of the scribbling to insure that the proper medicine is dispensed. One wonders whether this falls under the category of progress. What makes matters worse is how often two unrelated doctors treating the same patient for varying illnesses often prescribe drugs that interact negatively upon each other, yet there is no data-base in place to synchronize this process.
As Napoleon Bonaparte, the man who tried to make most of Europe into a hospital or morgue, said: “Medicine is a collection of uncertain prescriptions the results of which, taken collectively, are more fatal than useful to mankind.” It is obvious that this was a man either before or after his time. He was of the belief that physicians became bumbling when dealing with multiple problems, but some believe that physicians are hardly able to deal with one at a time. For instance the fabled truism uttered by another unhappy patient, “When a doctor doesn’t know, he calls it a virus; when he does know, but can’t cure it, he calls it an allergy.”
That was probably brought about by another anomaly, “The practice of medicine has advanced so much in recent years that it is now impossible for a doctor not to find something wrong with you.”
However, most of us have some fears when going under the knife, no matter how comfortable we are with the physician. While under anesthetic, there are numerous problems that potential may occur, all of which would not be well received. John Galsworthy was one of those people who was particularly fearful about what could come to pass while he was unconscious and he wrote the following:
“A girl being treated for a hernia
Remarked to her doctor, “Goldernia,
When slicing my middle
Be sure not to fiddle
With matters that do not concernya.”

When philosophers and scientists defined the universe as a great machine, they had not even scratched the surface. Physicians of that era were not immune to this influence and likewise began to define the human body as a machine. According to this "new" paradigm, the body could be analyzed, catalogued, adjusted, and repaired as required—just like any other machine.
This viewpoint became firmly established during the Nineteenth Century, when the "body as machine" concept was taken to its ultimate, absurd extreme. The human body was no longer viewed as a holistic entity, but rather as a grouping of separate parts and pieces. Disease was no longer viewed as a body state, but as a set of symptoms. Ultimately, the province of medicine became the observation and classification (or at least the management) of those symptoms. In this paradigm, disease or illness or injury manifests itself as symptoms entirely separate from the body as a whole (a decidedly non-holistic paradigm). The body becomes irrelevant; if the symptom can be eliminated (i.e., the pain and suffering), the problem must of necessity be gone as well.
As it turns out, this paradigm works very well in surgical repair. If you break an arm, the doctor works with that part of the machine and repairs your arm. If you have a bullet wound, the doctor removes the bullet and repairs all of the separate parts of your body damaged by the bullet — again, problem solved!
Unfortunately, the paradigm fails when it comes to the major diseases of our time — cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, etc. It would seem that for every cure we have created its antithesis. You have clogged arteries. This eventually causes your blood pressure to rise so your doctor prescribes blood pressure medication to eliminate the symptom of high blood pressure—not the problem, clogged and hardened arteries. To reduce blood pressure, doctors have essentially four classes of medication in their arsenal:
Diuretics, which reduce pressure by making you pee out water from your body. Reduce the volume of fluid in your blood, and you reduce the pressure. Unfortunately, side effects can include dizziness, weakness, an increased risk of strokes, and impotence (not to worry, there are medications you can take to alleviate the side effects.)
Calcium channel blockers, which work to relax and widen the arteries —thus reducing blood pressure. Then again, a major side effect of channel blockers is a 60% increased risk of heart attack.
Beta blockers, which work by weakening the heart so it won't pump as strongly, thereby reducing blood pressure. One of the major problems with beta blockers, though, is the increased risk of congestive heart failure. Now catch this: despite the increased risk of congestive heart failure, an article in the New England Journal of Medicine August 20, 1998, recommended putting “every single” heart attack survivor on beta blockers.
ACE inhibitors (the new drug of choice), which like the calcium channel blockers, also work to relax and widen the arteries. Unfortunately, ACE inhibitors can produce severe allergic reactions, can be deadly to fetuses and children who are breastfeeding, and can cause severe kidney damage.
But remember, these drugs only treat the symptom, not the cause — clogged arteries. So eventually, as your arteries continue to clog to the point where even the medication no longer helps, you start getting the inevitable chest pains and shortness of breath. At that point, your doctor is then forced to chase the next set of symptoms and perform a coronary bypass or angioplasty to relieve the symptoms.
And like the drugs before it, surgery merely addresses the symptoms, not the problem. Think about this for a moment: if all your doctor did was bypass or clear the arteries supplying blood to your heart, doesn't that mean that all of the other arteries in your body are still clogged — including the arteries that supply blood to your brain? The answer, of course, is yes. And, in fact, your odds of having a stroke after heart surgery are dramatically increased.
Not to worry. Your doctor has another drug to deal with this problem: Coumadin (medicinal rat poison), which inhibits clotting and thins your blood so that it flows more easily through the narrowed arteries. But Coumadin has its own set of problems, and, of course, you are still on all of the previous blood-pressure drugs and symptom relieving drugs that your doctor previously prescribed.
The bottom line is that the average person 65 years or older in the United States averages more than 15 medications a day (prescription and over-the-counter combined), each and every day of their lives. As world class scientist Jackie Mason remarked, “It’s no long a question of staying healthy. It’s a question of finding a sickness you like.” Of course, only the first 1 or 2 drugs are actually prescribed to deal with the original medical problem. The other 13+ drugs are all required to deal with the negative side effects of the original 2, plus the interactions of all the other drugs the person is taking. The really sad fact is that in over 95% of all cases, the original problem could have been resolved naturally — with no side effects.
Do you understand the implications of that statement?
Disease can be averted, treated, and in many, many cases even reversed — naturally, with no side effects!
I have been fortunate to travel the world, to meet and spend time with dedicated men and women (some from within the medical community, and some from the world of holistic medicine) whose work in the field of healing has distinguished them as miracle doctors. Not once or twice, but every day, over and over, they do what modern medicine says is impossible. They cure the incurable.
I found these remarkable people to be open and willing to share their ideas and methods, and they found me hungry to learn. I have seen firsthand the evidence of their work. In addition to watching and listening, I have read and researched, catalogued and compared, and finally assembled here in these pages principles that can make you well…and keep you well.
These are not untried theories. I have not sought after fads or latest trends. Many of the truths included here are centuries old. All are proven. Good health is not the result of any single action. There are no "magic bullets" when it comes to achieving good health. Good health is the result of making right decisions day after beautiful day.
In the pages that follow, I have tried to show you the barriers to obtaining good health, and I have presented practical, proven step-by-step methods for breaking down those barriers and seizing (for yourself and your family) health, energy, and mental and spiritual well-being. A lot of what you will learn here will fly in the face of so-called "conventional wisdom." But please understand that just because something is commonly accepted does not necessarily make it true.
Our modern society has invested countless trillions of dollars into the ideas, equipment, research, facilities, and promises of our present health care system, and it is almost unbearable to consider that much of it is a waste. It will take great courage to accept responsibility for your own health, but I believe you, and millions like you, can, and will, do just that.
It has often been said that this is the only body you'll ever get, and it must last a lifetime. The only question is how long and healthy that life will be. The simple fact is that you absolutely can live well into your 70s, 80s, and beyond, in great health and with great vitality — but you need to make the right decisions now for that to happen. If you want to live a full and satisfying life, then you must take back control of your own health — today.

A Short History of Medical Treatments:
2000 BC Here, eat this root.
1000 AD That root is heathen; here, say this prayer.
1850 AD That prayer is superstition; here, drink this potion.
1940 AD That potion is snake oil; here swallow this antibiotic pill.
2005 AD That antibiotic is artificial; here, eat this root.


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