Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I just finished listening to the short book Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian Weiss. It's always hard when someone goes from being a nonbeliever to being someone who says: "this is exactly what the afterlife looks like, and here is the meaning of life for everyone." Clearly the rendition of what was said by his patient in hypnotic state was in line with what would translate for him. The Masters said as much, and even his patient didn't want to listen to the recordings. But it was interesting to hear about his search of the literature and the extensive research that has been done on these issues. I simply don't see any of this literature making its way into the hospital wards and nursing homes, which is unfortunately where most of us go to die. I've also talked to several hospital pastors who are more and more non-denominational these days. Hospice seems to do the best in terms of dealing with spiritual issues, but if someone is dying of an acute illness (and therefore needs the most help quickly) we don't have the resources in place to address their spiritual needs. I know it will never be a hospital priority, but it doesn't even seem to be on the radar in most locations. Muchas vidas, muchos maestros / Many Lives, Many Masters By Weiss, Brian (Google Affiliate Ad)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Strange Things For The Sake of Science: Ben Franklin Fries a Turkey

Most of us know that Ben Franklin did things with electricity.  But few of us realize we almost lost him on Dec. 23, 1750.  Ben and his buddies were fixing to fry themselves a turkey, using a built up charge of this magical new electricity.  Franklin got distracted and sent the charge through himself instead.  Fortunately for him and for all of us, his charge was only enough to daze him for a few minutes.  Later on he got together a bigger charge and fried a turkey with it. 

Read this anecdote and many more in the aptly named Electrified Sheep by Alex Boese.  Bed time stories for the geek in all of us. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Good Calories, Bad Calories: Ignoring the Paradox And Trashing Carbs.

In reading Good Calories, Bad Calories, there is a hope that the author will give a balanced viewpoint of the situation.  He disproves the idea that fat causes weight gain, then takes issue with the idea that carbs cause weight gain. 

In a chapter entitle the Paradox, he points out that when you starve people they lose various amounts of weight.  He also shows that when you stuff people they gain various amounts of weight.  So any blanket statement about weight gain and weight loss is moot.  It doesn't exist. 

Then, because everyone needs an ending, he goes back to carbs and makes them the villain.  It isn't just the carbs, it's the insulin imbalance caused by the carbs.  But wait, didn't we just show that it wasn't straight carbs and that any weight gain or loss is a highly individualized process?   Under those circumstances, wouldn't it be possible that some individuals might even gain weight by eating fat? 

What starts off extremely well becomes one more carb trash fest while glorying the joys of meat and fat.  What's missing from all this is some allowance for the fact that we all cannot eat meat and survive as a planet.  It isn't a sustainable eating pattern, and it isn't terribly healthy.  We've got other books that make that clear.  They are focused on lifespan, rather than weight loss. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The End Of Illness. David Agus' Inability to See His Own Prejudices.

One day I too hope to write the definitive book on the cure for Cancer.  But I think I will base my treatment protocols on more than one reference book.   

Let me begin by saying I like much of The End of Illness.  Dr. Agus and I agree on many things, including that Michael Pollan does a wonderful job of talking about food.  But my admiration for Pollan does not distract me from the simple reality that Pollan is one of hundreds of opinions about food and what we should eat. 

So, I do not base my recommendations about food while referencing a single author, no matter how authoritative. 

Given that Dr. Agus' focus is on food, and that he spends a great deal of time trashing supplements of all kinds, I would expect a little more emphasis on what will be the most curative diet.  For it is diet alone, and nothing else, that will impact our genetic inheritance and help us live. 

I disagree with the concept that we'll be getting personalized medication any time soon.  Perhaps the very wealthy will be able to afford the sort of technological testing Dr. Agus describes, but the reality is that for almost everyone modern medicine is too expensive already. 

And here is the the fundamental flaw I see in the End of Illness.  Dr. Agus dedicates a huge section of the book to really making readers second-guess taking even a multivitamin because of the possible health consequences.  But he waxes rhapsodic about the benefits of the Statin medications and baby aspirin, taking both himself for "preventative purposes."  Hello?  We're not talking about inert medications.  A statistic percent of those following Dr. Agus' recommendations of daily statins and baby aspirins will suffer debilitating muscle pains and/or hemorrhagic stroke as a result of his "preventative" pharmaceutical supplements.  While we have large studies that show possible risks from overuse of multivitamins, we have no large scale studies that confirm the benefits of statins or aspirin for the general population without the real risk of side effects for a minority of those individuals. 

To place preventative supplementation off limits as a clear negative while recommending pharmaceutical medications as healthy and safe clearly shows a prejudice and double-standard for conventional medical "solutions."  Given the cost and safety profile of the statins, they are at least as dangerous for the general population as the Vitamin E supplements that Dr. Agus so effectively vilifies.  And aspirin is as dangerous to elderly populations as their multivitamin.  So we are left with food as the only panacea, and that needs a bit more book time that simply gushing over Pollan's ideas. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

On the Joys of Dieting.

People who diet are facing themselves in a battle of desperation against an implacable foe.  The survival instinct, honed by God or thousands of years of evolution, is pitted against fear of death and the need to look pretty.  They wrestle over and over in the mind, as the gluttonous smorgasbord that is modern society trundles by around them.  At a given moment, the fear of death wins, pinning its slathering foe beneath the boot of rational denial.  But just as victory seems apparent, the irrational mind throws up a dust screen of distraction and when it clears the bewildered fellow finds his face smeared with Boston creme donuts and wallowing in a tub of frosting with two giant Twinkies outfitted in scanty swimwear.  Such is the reality of the modern dieter, a creature so pitiful even Tantalus in his agony reaches out and plucks the forbidden fruit to offer sustenance to the sufferer.

But look!  There on the horizon is another toned body, chiseled with rippling muscles.  This genetic freak, this Darwinian throwback that would not have lasted a single hungry season, has news for the the desperate dieter.  Eat this way, in this proportion, and you too can look like me!  Honest, look at this science.  Ignore all those other diets that don't work, mine will work because I have more pretty pictures of airbrushed bodies joyfully starving per square inch.

And at what altar does the dieter pray?  No God affixes their altar.  It is a humble object placed on the bathroom floor, worshiped and venerated beyond all else.  Quietly the dieter approaches the object, stripped of all, cleaned inside and out, ready for the sacrifice.  Trembling feet adjust themselves to cold metal, and the object speaks.  It is a cruel God, dispensing grief and joy seemingly without justice. One day a slight down tick of its face sends the body into rapture.  The sun is out and the birds are singing the Hallelujah chorus!  The next day without cause it dispenses an uptick that destroys moods, egos, and sanity.

Such is the life of a dieter.    

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Should You Become A Naturopathic Doctor?

A huge number of medical students have written to me personally over the years to ask me questions about Naturopathic Medicine versus becoming a D.O. or an M.D. or a N.P. What they don't realize is that the other professions are overwhelmingly variations on a theme, and being an N.D. in today's world is another direction entirely. So I wrote a book that really spells out the differences. Send it to anyone you love who is confused. They shouldn't be by the end. Available at Amazon (with free preview.)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Should You Become A Naturopathic Doctor? It Takes A Book.

In the last decade I have had enough conversations with confused students to want to make it a little clearer that we are talking about fundamentally different professions. Naturopathic doctors and medical doctors treat the same patients. They collaborate on care. So to patients the professions seem similar. But the framework of how the professions work, and how the people in those professions function, is like comparing the earth to the moon. Do you need this book? What are twenty-six hindsight clues that should have told me I absolutely had to become an N.D.? What percentage of medical students have been physically attacked? The rate of drug dependence of physicians is what percentage of the general population? Is it three times lower, three times higher? More? Less? What are the three assumptions about you that any skeptic will have if you are an N.D.? What percentage of his or her income does the average N.D. make on supplements? Learn these facts and the ten fundamental differences between being an M.D. and an N.D.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

No Child Left Waiting For Superman

As the states opt out of The No Child Left Behind Act, it is clear that we aren't getting where we need to go using a national model. Looking at a documentary like Waiting for Superman shows a very clear need for a ground-up model. We need to make changes at a local level to help our children learn. Our children are literally the only real health insurance. It doesn't matter how good your policy is if your nurse's aide can't read and can't do the math for your injections.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mu: Do We Really Need Complexity to Be Happy?

I was reading Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, which rarely references itself, and came across an anecdote referencing the Gateless Gate's first koan. It goes something like this: Does a dog have Buddha nature? The answer given is Mu (no-thing). In the anecdote a man is given this one paradox and thinks about it for two years. In this way, he becomes enlightened. Really? He didn't need a doctoral thesis? He didn't need five hundred retreats with Tolle or whatever puckish German fellow replaces him? Just one single paradox, and a great deal of thought. Here in Maine we momentarily pause for rest. They are called snow days, or ice days, or "the weathermen panicked and we cancelled even though there isn't any snow" days. But the rest of the country just keeps building speed. We're hamsters on a wheel that's accelerating down a hill to nowhere.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Two Pennies at Amazon: Lithgow History Comes Alive!

Amazon now has Two Pennies!  Start your new year out right with a children's story that teaches you some very cool history and the money goes to a good cause!