What Doctors Don't Tell You 2019-02-15T21:14:18+00:00 Prevention is the future 2019-02-04T14:44:00+00:00 2019-02-04T14:44:00+00:00 What's happened to healthcare over the last half century or so? Those of us who're a little older might remember the kindly gaze of the family doctor, listening carefully while you spoke about your concern. Then there'd be the comprehensive physical examthe cold of the stethoscope, the tightening of the blood pressure cuff, maybe being asked to lie on the exam table.

In ancient health traditions like Ayurveda or traditional Chinese medicine, the patient was even more central to the process. All sorts of indicators, today either overlooked or not understood, were examinedthe condition of the iris of the eyes, pulse, tongue, lymph and fascia, to name a few.

So what did happen? First and foremost, the arrival of technology. Lots of it. Couple that with less available timeand therefore higher throughputand the transformation of doctoring from a vocation to a business, and we're well on our way to today's often deeply inadequate primary care scenario.

Many have to deal with their physician seeming more preoccupied with a computer screen than themselves. The doctor's key focus appears to be 'naming and taming'to diagnose the complaint and prescribe a pill of some sort.

There is a disconnect between the patient and doctor, but all too often there's an even deeper disconnect in the doctor's understanding of the complex interactions in the patient's life that might have led them to decide a trip to the doctor was needed.

We've also alienated ourselves ever further from our natural and ecological originsa separation driven by our addiction to technology. We've bought into, often subconsciously, the superiority of human innovation over natural systems.

Technology provides so many of our other 'fixes,' such as in business or transport, why shouldn't we rely on it in healthcare? The human being is now seen as more of a machine than an organism. If part of the machine doesn't work, you need to find a man-made 'fix' for the broken component.

This has allowed the pharmaceutical industry to become the single most dominant force in healthcare. The business of disease is alive and well. But people are getting ever sicker.

It's not just obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Mental health problems and autoimmune conditions are skyrocketing. The massive overuse of antibiotics is creating a resurgence of infectious diseases, too.

All that, before you factor in that the accepted 'solution'prescription drugs and 'modern' medical careis now the third biggest killer in society.1

Where has the care gone in healthcare? Do most doctors really care for their patients in the best ways known? Does the system around them even allow them to do the best they can? Most importantly, do our entrusted doctors really know what they don't know?

The 'art' of medicine has been replaced with very technologically driven science, more like engineering than ecology. Yet, the body is a living system that interacts with both an inner and outer worldso we don't just approximate an ecological system, we are one.

When we want to understand how a rainforest or a coral reef works, we don't open an engineering textbook. We look to the science of ecology, the central theme of my academic career.

Our love affair and subsequent dependence on drugs for 'health' was born out of the rapid emergence of the pharmaceutical industry after WWIIa patent-dependent business that heralded much promise, both to wipe out disease and maximize profits for shareholders.

Now, drug-development pipelines are sparse, and people are spending more and more of their lives in suboptimal health. Consensus has been reached that the biggest diseases threatening to collapse the mainstream biomedical model are actually preventable. But we don't have consensus on how to fix our current health challenges.

I sense there's a definite agenda among some on that point. Why would you acknowledge that everyday behaviors, such as how we eat, move, sleep and relax, are integral to the solution? That would make not only drugs, but most of the so-called 'healthcare system,' irrelevant.

The healthcare sector surpassed the retail and manufacturing sectors to become the largest employer in the US in 2018. The UK's National Health Service is the fourth largest employer in the world. So governments, let alone industry stakeholders, are not going to dispense with this business model overnightit will take time.

And that's exactly what the Alliance for Natural Health blueprint for health system sustainability is all aboutsystemic transformation of the way we manage our health. This includes minimizing reliance on drugs, prioritizing non-drug approaches, a focus on the individual and self-care and a shift toward more predictive, preventative healthcare that emphasizes identifying the underlying causes of disease.

Crucially, our blueprint provides a common language that we can all use, whether members of the public, healthcare providers, politicians or businesspeople. Find out more at and search 'blueprint.'

Cutting common allergens from our diets could have beneficial effects on health 2019-01-01T15:06:00+00:00 2019-01-01T15:06:00+00:00 Government authorities responsible for food safetywhether it's the Food and Drug Administration in the US, the Food Standards Agency in the UK, Health Canada or the Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australiaare legally required to label specific allergens, referred to as 'legal allergens' to reflect this obligation.

Although we're actually exposed to hundreds or thousands of possible allergens in our food on a daily basis, there are only eight to 14 'legal allergens,' depending on which country you're in.

Interestingly, most Western diets are heavily reliant on foods containing these allergens. Is it because we're exposed to them so much that many of us have become sensitive to them? Or that antigens within these foods have changed chemically as agriculture and the food industry have changed? Or how about digging into a little conspiracy theory: is it possible that Big Food likes to use these foods for all they're worth because they're among the ones that are easiest to get us addicted to? And could Big Pharma be in on the act, too? Sick people, after all, are good for business, especially if they still manage to live long lives.

I can't give you any hard evidence for this kind of conspiracy, as these corporate interests don't make a point of publicizing the sensitive discussions that go on in their boardrooms. But judging from the books of whistleblowers like Dr Marcia Angell (Drug Companies & Doctors: A Story of Corruption, 2009) and Dr Peter Gtzsche (Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare, 2013), it isn't far-fetched.

Technically speaking, an allergen contains one or more specific chemicals (antigens) that trigger a powerful response by the immune system in an effort to combat a perceived threat. Standard food intolerance testing that relies on IgE antibodies is by no means conclusive for all allergens and can sometimes produce spurious results.

That's especially the case when someone has already entered the downward spiral toward a full-blown autoimmune disease like celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

Cereal grains that contain gluten, like wheat, barley and rye, belong to one very important group of allergens. These foods represent the mainstay of most Western diets.

One percent of the populationone in 100, or around 3.3 million Americans and 650,000 Britshave diagnosed celiac disease. But upwards of 20 percenta stunning 65 million-plus Americans and 13 million Britshave what is referred to as 'non-celiac gluten sensitivity' (NCGS). This is often expressed as bloating, gastrointestinal upset and brain fog, and may lead to a leaky gut with chronic, often daily, exposure to gluten.

That's a lot of people, and it's the increasing recognition by the public (sorry, mainstream medicine has still got its head in the sand on this one) that's been driving the 'free from' revolution, especially foods free from gluten.

Researcherswhen they can get fundingare trying to get on top of this issue. A recent study found that mothers who consume the most gluten are twice as likely to give birth to children who go on to develop type 1 diabetes.1

Remember that type 1 diabetes is another autoimmune condition, meaning the body has lost its ability to discriminate between friendly and unfriendly molecules in the body and moves into a persistent, heightened inflammatory state.

Unsurprisingly, the authors of this new study ask whether it might be the mother's increased gut permeability ('leaky gut') that contributes to the exposure of the developing embryo to the gluten. For us, the study's main finding is a resounding message that mothersand, frankly, everyone elseshould avoid gluten altogether.

It's the very reason that the Alliance for Natural Health Food4Health guidelines, developed to contest advice offered through government food guidelines, are 100 percent free of gluten.
Dairy is another big part of many people's diet, and yes, all products containing milk or other forms of dairy are 'legal allergens.'

The proteins in milk can give rise to a true allergic reaction. But around 65 percent of the world's adult populationincluding mehas a reduced ability to digest dairy. We're lactose intolerant, or more correctly, lactase deficient (lactase being the enzyme that breaks down lactose). In East Asian communities especially, the proportion can exceed 90 percent.

You don't want dairy? How about soy? Well, that's a 'legal allergen,' too. You've heard soy might be GMO or might interfere with your hormones, so you go for almond milk. Guess what? It's made from a tree nutanother allergen group! You getthe picture.

Imagine if a very large number of us decided to reduce our health risks, and we were to take at least one of these groups of allergens out of our diets altogethersay, wheat, barley and rye, as we suggest in our Food4Health guidelines. How much better might we feel? How much healthier might kids born to mothers who eat in this way be? In fact, other than Big Food and Pharma, might we all become the winners?

1 BMJ, 2018; 362: k3547

Down to a science 2018-12-05T15:29:00+00:00 2018-12-05T15:29:00+00:00 It's hopefully not a case of wishful thinking that another big fat nail has been driven into the coffin of the system that's been issuing faulty nutritional advice to the public for years. The advice hasn't been just slightly wrongit's been killing people prematurely.

It's also at the heart (excuse the pun) of the preventable chronic disease spiral that includes cardiovascular disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Not only have these conditions unnecessarily harmed millions of families, they've also brought Western healthcare systems close to the breaking point. You heard it: unnecessarily.

The 'nail' comes in the form of a paper written by Professor John Ioannidis from Stanford University, published in one of the world's most influential medical journals, the Journal of the American Medical Association.1 Ioannidis has spent over 20 years on the scientific front lines, speaking out about what's wrong with modern research.

His first international claim to fame was telling the scientific community that most published science was false,2 and his analysis has been sufficiently robust to ensure it stands to this day without any effective challenge.

Now he's turned his attention to the two main types of studies that carry the most weight in developing public health adviceprospective cohort studies and randomized controlled trialsand how they are prone to delivering findings that have little relevance to most people, most of the time.

His target is a small but highly influential group of epidemiologists who have taken the lion's share of funding in the field of nutrition research aimed at informing the public about the healthiest ways to eat.

Faceless public health scientists employed by government agencies in the US, UK and other Western countries usually don't know enough about the details to determine if the latest research study is good, bad or indifferent. They accept it at face value, or worse, they accept the spin that's put on the findings by national media, which is well-known to be in the back pocket of Big Pharma and Big Food.

The net result is that government agencies then dish out advice to the public, allegedly on the basis of the "best available scientific evidence," that is actually lethal. This is exactly what's happened with over three decades of advice on low-fat eating guidelines that have caused people to become ever more dependent on sugars and other refined carbs.

Ioannidis complained that these scientists often misrepresent statistical associations as causations. It might not sound too important, but let's say you find that people who consume more vegetables and fruits live longer with less disease. That doesn't necessarily mean that the types of fruit and veg people are eating are improving their health. It could be that they also consume less food that's harmful to them, such as foods with additives and pesticides, something that's generally not assessed.

Conversely, some studies have shown that those who eat more red meat may have worse health outcomes. Again, it's not necessarily red meat itself that's harming them. There's plenty of evidence showing that how animals are raised and how meat is prepared can dramatically affect our health.

Some undercooked meats may increase our risk of food-borne bacteria and other pathogens, while 'incinerating' meat using high-temperature cooking methods like frying and grilling creates compounds that can give you cancer.

Ioannidis' list of complaints also includes wrongly assuming that the things we eat most (like carbohydrates or fats) have the greatest influence on our health. The unspoken implication of this assumption is that the things we eat in tiny amounts, like food additives and pesticides, are unimportant. Any reading of the science on carcinogens tells us otherwise.

Furthermore, while nutritional epidemiological studies might include tens of thousands of people, the findings are only as good as the data plugged in. Most use self-reported questionnaires, which are demonstrably inaccurate.

Studies of studies, known as meta-analyses, that pull together many different investigations are the latest fad. But they're a melting pot of so many different types of data that you end up with nothing more than what Ioannidis describes as "weighted averages of expert opinions." This kind of desk-based research is entirely divorced from clinical reality.

The US and UK governments still issue flawed nutritional advice that tells us not to consume more than 35 percent of our energy from fats, and to get around 55 percent of our energy from carbohydrates. This advice got another plug by a recent prospective cohort study, which generated headlines claiming that those on low-carb diets might die prematurely. 3

The reality is that it presented not one shred of definitive evidence to this effect. It was a classic piece of scientific spin designed to maintain the status quo, which keeps the wheels of Big Pharma, Big Foodand Big Researchspinning.

This is the very type of research and media circus that Ioannidis and a growing number of scientists, clinicians and members of the public are railing against. But let's not give upit's just a matter of time before good science wins.

1 JAMA, 2018; 320: 969-70
2 PLoS Med, 2005; 2: e124
3 Lancet Public Health, 2018; 3: e419-28

Dont keep the faith 2018-11-01T11:57:00+00:00 2018-11-01T11:57:00+00:00 It's clear in most walks of life that science is the new religion. This doesn't mean people have stopped believing in Godor in a God of some form. It's more that so many of us now 'believe in science.'

More than this , countries and economies are fueled by it, and technology is selected because of it.

There can be no denying that science has carried human society a very long way. Fossil evidence suggests the stone hand axe was developed around 1.76 million years ago, and science is inseparable from the progress we've made since then.

But it's important to distinguish science, the systematic approach humans use to understand the world around us, from technology, the tools we developusing scienceto change the world around us.

At its core, science is simply a methodology to answer questions, based on principles of hypothesis-testing, rigor and reproducibility.

Science has done extraordinarily well at some things, like technology, and not so well at others, like explaining the 'big questions' of why we're here or how we got here. But the almost universal dependence of human society on technologies that few people really understand has made many of us 'disciples.'

I'd argue it's fine to be a disciple, just not a blind believer. Because then you're open to being hoodwinkedand there's an awful lot of that going on.

We must accept that science has done very little to answer the biggest questions that affect the survival of the human species in the coming generationssuch as how humans can avert the current mass extinction linked to habitat destruction, climate change and pollution. Or how we're going to provide food, water and healthcare to the 10 billion or so people expected on planet Earth by 2050.

But such is our belief in technology that the vast majority, including powerbrokers in governments and major corporations, are confident it will save us just in the nick of time. Relatively few are concerned about collateral damage to the world around us.

Science, ultimately, may tell us that in the tiny fraction of human evolutionary time that represents the period since the Industrial Revolution, humans did too little, too late.

The roles of science and technology are also often at odds in the field of medicine. Science helped identify the existence of penicillin as an antibiotic. Technology allowed for its mass production and the capacity to deliver antibiotics to anyone who might need them.

Science also first suggested that antimicrobial resistance might present a very real problem, even more so in developing countries where the infectious disease burden is high and there are cost constraints on testing for resistant infections. But the industry that controls the technology, the pharmaceutical industry, is firmly in the driving seat.

There's money to be made, and the vision of a 'a pill for every ill' is still alive and well in the minds of millions. That's despite multiple, continuously voiced concerns expressed by eminent scientists around the world over our extreme dependence on antibiotics.

I continue to be horrified when I hear of babies and young children being put on course after course of antibiotics with no communications from the prescribing doctors as to what the long-term consequences on the microbiome and other facets of health might be, let alone what other options could be deployed.

We must wake up to the fact that if we are blinded by science, we are also very susceptible to being manipulated by those who misuse it. And the most important rule of thumb that has emerged from decades of revelations in this area is that vested interests in a technology, which includes governments and corporations, have a great capacity to manipulate the science behind it.

In the medical sciences, we are simply meant to accept that meta-analyses and systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) should be the highest form of evidence on which clinical decisions are made.

That's despite our knowing that RCTs reflect artificial conditions that are at odds with the complexities of the environment and myriad interactions that take place in the real world, and they're also dominated by pharmaceutical interests because they're too expensive for anyone else to carry out.

Science is nothing more than a problem-solving system that organizes knowledge in particular ways and allows hypotheses to be tested and validated by comparison with what we can observe.
It's therefore utterly absurd to denigrate a system of medicine that has been demonstrated to deliver very positive outcomes, such as acupuncture, herbalism or homeopathy, simply because the mechanism isn't yet understood at the level of general consensus.

Let's get used to the fact that science isn't magic, the universe is a very complex place, and we are only at the beginning of our journey of understanding.

Philosophers, theologists and physicists are just three groups of academics who will tell you we will probably never be all-knowing.

Cutting-edge water science sheds new light on homeopathy 2018-09-26T11:38:00+01:00 2018-09-26T11:38:00+01:00 It was with great interest that I accepted an invitation to speak at a conference at the Royal Society of Medicine in London last July controversially titled New Horizons in Water Science: Evidence for Homeopathy. Organized by the British Homeopathic Association, the one-day conference brought together some of the brightest minds in the field to discuss the current state of scientific knowledge on possible mechanisms underpinning homeopathy's claimed or proven effects.

I was humbled to be speaking alongside Nobel laureates Luc Montagnier and Brian Josephson, Dr Jerry Pollack, and two Russian professors, Vladimir Voeikov and Alexander Konovalovall authorities on various aspects of the science of water. As a specialist in sustainability, I outlined a vision for transforming health and health management by applying sustainability principles.

The presentations of these five professors set the scene, not using old science or long-held views with inadequate support, but by establishing that the principles we have used to explain life on Earth are fundamentally flawed.

It's akin to building a house on a shaky foundationthe building itself will remain vulnerable to stress until the foundation is repaired. Water is so fundamental to life that we cannot understand life without having a deep understanding of water.

Water is scientifically anomalous. It does many things we shouldn't expect of it, given oxygen's position on the periodic table. Take its unusually high melting and boiling pointsthey're not just a little bit higher, but around 100,000 to 150,000 times higher than expected based on neighboring elements. It also exists in multiple different solid forms, in various crystal structures or amorphous ice, all of which change with pressure. And unlike other chemical compounds, it's less dense in solid than in liquid form, which is why ice floats.

The above anomalies and more are well known to modern science, but they've never really been explained. Those who have tried to advance our understanding (or lack thereof) one step further, as French immunologist Dr Jacques Benveniste did in attempting to demonstrate that water can retain a memory of biologically active substances even when they are no longer present, have ended up in deep water (excuse the pun).

The scientific orthodoxy came crashing down on Dr Benveniste, who had his lab closed down and his discoveries kicked to the fringes.

In some ways, the London conference was something of a celebration of what has happened in the wake of Benveniste's discoveries since his death in 2004. Among the more extraordinary recent findings is the discovery of Dr Gerald Pollack at the University of Washington in Seattle that water doesn't only exist in three phases (solid, liquid and vapor) but also in a fourth phase that takes the form of a matrix built from three hydrogen and two oxygen atoms, or H3O2. You can read more about it in his book, The Fourth Phase of Water (Ebner & Sons, 2013).

Pollack calls the phase 'EZ water,' EZ being an acronym for the 'exclusion zone' that this type of pure water creates, which allows it to keep out other substances. Our cells are full of the stuffit even provides us with an additional energy source beyond the calories derived from food, fat or ketones.

EZ water is present in layers at the interface of all hydrophilic (water-soluble) surfaces, where it acts like a battery that draws electromagnetic energy from sunlight and can then undertake numerous tasks that drive internal metabolism, akin to a form of human photosynthesis.

In fact, it's the only explanation we have for how red blood cells are pushed through the narrow space offered by surface capillaries. It seems we'd need 1,000 times more pressure than the heart provides to do that job aloneand that would be off-the-charts hypertension!

Many more discoveries were also discussed. Professor Voeikov described how biologically active substances could leave 'signatures' in water in the form of high-energy oxygen radicals.

Professor Konovalov reported that nano-sized assemblies of water molecules (referred to as 'nanoassociates') could retain a 'memory' of bioactive molecules long after their removal. As Benveniste proposed, low-frequency electromagnetic fields appear to maintain these nanoassociates.

Five out of six published meta-analyses and systematic reviews, considered the pinnacle of evidence to prove causal effects in mainstream medicine, found that the effects of homeopathy go beyond placebo.So, despite what opponents of homeopathy argue, the clinical effect is clear.

Could this new evidence from the science of water reveal a likely mechanism? And could an understanding of this mechanism provide the missing piece of the puzzle required to shift the medical establishment's perceptions about the usefulness of homeopathy for human health? This kind of sea change is urgently needed if we are to avert the continued marginalization of homeopathy, caused by a lack of appetite among some for the truth about the science of water.

Bridging the nutritional divide 2018-09-04T16:51:00+01:00 2018-09-04T16:51:00+01:00 Imagine you're an insurance company. You're worried about covering the costs of people who get sick relatively young, then die slowly and expensively. You not only have to foot the bill for medical expenses, you have to pay out life insurance to the family once the client passes on.

Your scientific advisers are clear that nutrition is a big part of the complex 'staying healthy' equation, but you know this discipline is riddled with conflicting science and bias. It's in your interest to cut through all of this debate and find out if it's possible to get some consensus among leading experts.

What if you were to organize a closed event that pulled together leading researchers in the field from around the world? You then invite clinicians, researchers and other thought leaders to see which views survive their scrutiny. Since you're aware that even the most eminent researchers can sometimes compromise their science to personal beliefs or biases and may have vested interests in Big Food or Pharma, you involve one of the world's top peer-reviewed journals, which espouses transparency and openness.

Stop imaginingit really happened this summer, in a beautiful Swiss village near Lake Zrich, over two packed days. The 200 experts assembledmyself includedcame from every inhabited continent on Earth. Nina Teischolz, the investigative journalist who was among the first to expose the lack of evidence behind low-fat policies and author of The Big Fat Surprise, was a panelist, as were Zo Harcombe, PhD, an internationally acclaimed commentator on nutrition science, and cardiologist Dr David Unwin, the 'low-carb doctor.'

The intimately involved journal was none other than the British Medical Journal (BMJ), which devoted an entire supplement to papers by the lead speakers, and the insurance company was forward-thinking Swiss Re. The venue was its aptly named Centre for Global Dialogue. On the agenda were some of the major controversies in nutrition, including low-carb/high-fat diets, food quality, research methods and biases, personalized medicine, and public health policy and guidelines.

Fortunately, it wasn't a waste of time. There appeared to be something approaching consensus on some very important points: food quality was more important than the amounts of individual macronutrients (carbs, proteins, fats) or micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, polyphenols, etc.); eating mainly plants was better than too much meat, especially processed meats, and starch; and eating more vegetables, fruit and fiber would be good for most, but watch out for too much sugar in juices and related products.

On the negative side, any amount of trans fats, too much sugar and ultra-processed foods are bad for everyone.

Perhaps more interestingly, some of those present who had advised governments to implement low-fat policieswhich led to millions of premature deaths over three decadesadmitted they were wrong.

While academia has never declared a mea culpa, it was good to hear a clear admittance of error from Professor Salim Yusuf of McMaster University in Canada, who explained, "We were simply all drawn into believing the findings from the Seven Countries study," the infamous and deeply flawed study by Ancel Keys.

There was also ample evidence of frustration among some participants, especially clinicians and scientists, myself included. Epidemiologists like Darius Mozaffarian from Tufts and Walter Willett from Harvard were understandably cemented in their view that only large, epidemiological studies would do, preferably supported by evidence from randomized controlled trials. This is of course a classic 'evidence-based medicine' view that suits the likes of Big Food and Big Pharma.

But many of the assembled clinicians had witnessed stunning results reversing metabolic diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes. On describing their incredible outcomes since encouraging low-carb or low-carb/high-fat approaches, they were told this was purely anecdotal and "the worst kind of evidence," even if thousands of patients were involved.

This is perhaps the great divide in nutrition controversies. What methods should we rely on for future decision-making? Is an epidemiological study that might take 10 years or more to carry out still the best and only way forward? (Wasn't it one of these that caused the misguided low-fat advice?) Should we discount hundreds or thousands of positive patient results just because we can't fully explain exactly which factors contributed and by how much?

My own view is that a bottom-up, empowered approach to healthcare and self-care underpinned by individual choice is the way forward.

Real people in real-world environments are the true test that healthcare is working. And it's better that we have healthcare that works than to wait until we know exactly how something works before it can be used by, or recommended to, the public.

Fortunately, the public isn't waiting to be told what to dowe're getting on with it. The only thing we're waiting for is the scientific community to find a better way of explaining how more and more of us are getting ourselves healthier without medicine.

Bugs, baby wipes and leukemia 2018-07-31T14:13:00+01:00 2018-07-31T14:13:00+01:00 Being exposed to bugs early in life could help prevent cancer, says Rob Verkerk

I can't imagine much more shocking news than learning your precious child has been diagnosed with leukemia. It's a disease that's on the rise in industrialized countries like the US and UK, with around 6,000 and 800 new diagnoses annually in these respective countries. But what if you knew about a way of protecting your new baby, reducing the chances he or she would get a shocking diagnosis before the age of four, the most common age that diagnoses are made?

I'm not talking about a new vaccine, but about making sure your baby gets exposed to plenty of common, 'garden-variety' bugs. This includes, literally, bugs from the garden, but also bugs from other kids. All of this normal exposure to bugs large and small in a child's first year of life seems, from the latest science, to be protective.

What appears to increase leukemia risk is the very thing that lots of parents think will be protectivethe sterile environments of many modern homes, full of antiseptic wipes coupled with regular courses of antibiotics. And let's not forget bottle feeding with sterilized bottles, using sterilized cow's milk formula and boiled, sterilized water.

Getting your precious bundle into the yard and making sure he or she gets lots of time with other kids, whether or not they've got runny noses, is exactly what nature needs us to do to prime the immune system. It's a form of natural immunization, from which we shouldn't spare our little loved ones if we want to give them the best chance of building strong immune systems that will do them proud as they get older.

A comprehensive review of the last 40 years of research and clinical experience on the most common form of childhood leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, sheds some fascinating new light on the importance of exposing kids in their first year to the normal range of bugs associated with life.

The work was published in May in the high-impact journal Nature Reviews Cancer by one of the most prominent and well-regarded cancer biologists in the world, Professor Mel Greaves from the Institute of Cancer Research in London.

It seems that children who contract leukemia have early lives that are particularly sterile. They seem to have escaped some of the key priming events needed for their immune systems.1

There are a few things on their own that seem to have modest effects on reducing childhood leukemia risk and that includes breastfeeding rather than bottle feeding. Again, it's probably down to the extra bacteria kids end up taking in by nursing from a real breast that escapes sterilizers and disinfectants, along with the incredible range of immune factors Mother Nature knows to deliver.

Let's also remember that childhood leukemia is one of the real success stories of conventional oncology. Around 90 percent of kids who are treated using conventional methodsthe central plank of which is chemotherapysurvive for five years or more in advanced countries like the US and UK (survival rates are much lower in many developing countries, but, then again, the incidence is a lot lower too). In fact, this claim can't be made for any other form of cancer.

But, as anyone who has experienced chemotherapy or radiotherapy knows, it's also about quality of life. Kids who have leukemia are often subjected to prophylactic radiotherapy to their brains in an effort to kill cancer cells that might be hiding there. Some of them don't fully recover.

The question we have to ask ourselves is how many other cancers may be preventable? And how many are linked to diets and lifestyles that are 'sold' to society as healthy? We're learning seemingly by the day just how intimately our lives are connected to microorganisms, and there's widespread knowledge among the public that the good bugs in our guts are really important for our health.

Yet most doctors and healthcare practitioners have little idea of what foods we need to help along those good bugs in our gutsand antibiotics are still commonly prescribed unnecessarily.

We're also learning that sterile foods aren't so good for us, but there's a balancing act between making sure we don't eat foods that contribute to food-borne illnesses, some of which have the capacity to kill. In fact, as many as 5,000 Americans die from food-borne diseases each year. But most of that is the result of the industrial food system and isn't about being exposed to a bit of pesticide-free soil on your salad or carrots, which probably does us a lot of good.

Most people don't realize that much of the supermarket salad vegetables we consume in the industrialized world are grown hydroponically and have never seen a grain of soil. Plants need bugs around their roots to develop properly in ways that mean they can protect themselves from the various insects and diseases alongside which they've evolved over millions of years.

Let's start respecting evolutionary processes a little more and see how we can protect ourselves and our young ones without feeling the need to always look for a high-tech solution, whether that's the latest disinfectant, superbug-beating antiseptic or antibiotic, or the latest cancer drug.

There's something fishy going on 2018-07-10T16:47:00+01:00 2018-07-10T16:47:00+01:00 When a paper in a major mainstream journal comes out against omega-3 fish oils, my eyebrows rise. Especially when the paper says they have no protective effect against heart attacks and other forms of heart diseasethe Western world's biggest killers and massive money spinners for Big Pharmaas a new meta-analysis (pooled analysis) published in JAMA Cardiology concluded.1

As I scan the methodology, I'm struck by the fact that the paper only evaluates 10 previous trials, when there have been more than 10 times this number that could be deemed relevant. I then look at the results, and my eyebrows go up another notch: the results of the individual trials, involving a total just under 78,000 people, are predominantly positive, not negative, as the headline results suggest. The overall data presented just don't mesh with the final conclusion of no effect.

Looking deeper, I see the effects from three big trials showing negative effects. Yes, these trials did involve large numbers of people, but they also used ridiculously low doses.

So, abracadabracombine all of the trials together in a meta-analysis, and you cancel out the positive effects and find a way of showing no effect. OK, it's a bit more complex than that, but that's the gist.

I then found myself thinking: what's the motive? There are two more areas that need looking at. One is the authorship, the other is the funding.

One name leaps out at me in the string of 16 names replete with MDs and PhDs that comprise the list of authors: Professor (Sir) Rory Collins, a very high-profile Oxford University epidemiologist who has been at the heart (excuse the pun) of the global statins-for-everyone-over-50 campaign.

Collins has clearly influenced the manuscript, including the name given to the 16-author collaboration: the Omega-3 Treatment Trialists' Collaboration. Collins famously established the Cholesterol Treatment Trialists' Collaboration, which has been accused of playing up supposed benefits of statins while ignoring evidence of harm.

And what about funding? Well that comes from the British Heart Foundation and the Medical Research Council. While the paper states that the Oxford University unit, where the Omega-3 Treatment Trialists' Collaboration secretariat was located, "has a policy of not accepting fees, honoraria or paid consultancies directly or indirectly from any industry," such "fees, honoraria or paid consultancies" wouldn't necessarily be paid through the unit. What if they came through some other route?

Looking at the latest annual report of the charity, it's impossible to determine whether Pharma donates directly to the British Heart Foundation, as there's just a global figure given for donations and legacies. If you thought charities were transparent, think again.

Bottom line? It's highly likely that Pharma does donate, and several authors who are part of the Omega-3 Treatment Trialists' Collaboration disclose that they have derived benefit from Pharma one way or another.

The most disturbing thing about a paper like this omega-3 study is that it was designed to fail. It's up there with other studies of studiesmeta-analyses and systematic reviewswhere tight selection criteria have been used to effectively 'cherry pick' trials that, when amalgamated, show zero positive effect, or worse, a negative effect. These 'designed to fail' trials have been used previously to attack multivitamins, vitamin E, beta-carotene and folic acid.

If it wasn't so serious it would be laughable, given that most of these trials have been funded by Pharmaand most have used synthetic versions of the vitamins.

There are hallmarks that are shared with the latest omega-3 meta-analysis: the doses are too low, the populations were already in bad health when the supplementation was started, the supplementation periods were too short, and the follow-up not long enough.

None of it matches with clinical experiencewith the hundreds of thousands of people who have benefited from therapeutic use of these natural products. But it's again not that simple, as Pharma has its own patented forms of the productsforms that are tampered with to win the patents justified by Big Pharma's patent model.

The best news is that the public and astute practitioners alike are aware of Pharma's game. My advice is to keep taking your omega-3 supplements, whether from fish oil or algae. Take them at high doses (around 2 to 5 g/day with a good mix of EPA and DHA) when you're not eating contaminant-free oily fish, and avoid the ethyl ester forms used by Pharma and sold as prescription medicines.

Instead, use sustainable sources (such as those certified by the Marine Stewardship Council), which are guaranteed to be free of contaminants and heavy metals and contain the natural triglyceride forms that have been tampered with as little as possible.

It's simple: nature knows best. And we've got a pretty good idea about the kind of fishy business Pharma is up to as well.

Oiling the wheels of natural healthcare 2018-04-23T15:34:00+01:00 2018-04-23T15:34:00+01:00 When it comes to sustainable healthcare, the West could learn from the East

I was honored to deliver the keynote address at the inaugural International Integrative Medicine Conference in Malaysia this February. I spent my childhood in Malaysia, as well as a year in the mid-1990s working with university and government researchers on natural ways to combat insect pests.

In my mind, there's a clear parallel between my agricultural research of 20 years ago and Malaysia's current healthcare predicament: spiraling rates of metabolic disease for which pharmaceutical drugs provide little benefit. Malaysian authorities appear to show stronger support than their Western counterparts for the overriding mission of the Alliance for Natural Health, the non-profit organization I founded in 2002 with the goal to protect and promote natural healthcare.

A growing body of scientific evidence confirms that drugs are increasingly unsuited to the plethora of degenerative, diet and lifestyle-related diseases that afflict so many worldwide.

But contrary to what we are led to believe, objective science is far from being the main consideration that determines which medical approach becomes the accepted norm.

Politics and economics, coupled with an unhealthy dose of cronyism, are often far bigger influences. That's why we continue to see so many drugs failing to deliver their promises of cure, and why prescription drugs are consistently rated as the third biggest killers in industrialized societies after heart disease and cancer. 1

At the conference, I spoke about sustainabilitythe central theme that ties together the last 35 years of my work in food production and healthcare systems.

For Malaysians and Indonesians, 'sustainability' isn't just a meaningless buzz word. It's part of daily lifea common theme most often linked to these countries' controversial palm oil industry.

In the last two decades, vast tracts of Indonesian and Malaysian rainforest have been flattened to grow oil palm trees, the source of palm oil, making these two countries by far the largest producers of the commodity worldwide.

Almost every part of the oil palm tree is used, with the fruit and seed oils found in a wealth of industrial processes, soaps and foods.

The European Parliament is seeking to stop imports of palm oil products that aren't sustainably grown and prohibit its use for biofuels. Since the US and Europe are among the biggest importers of palm oil, any precedent set in Europe has important consequences for vast numbers of peoplenot least the 3.25 million Malaysians whose employment is directly linked to the palm oil industry.

I fully support boycotts on unsustainable palm oil products as well as their use as biofuel. But I believe a blanket ban on all palm oil is irrational.

What we need to do is break down the issue to determine how much of the problem is intrinsic to the commodity, and how much is down to how the commodity is produced.

In the case of palm oil, the bulk of the problem relates to the latter. Palm oil has been used by humans for at least 5,000 years, and is one of the most efficient crops known, with an incredibly broad range of applications. It's import from West Africa literally oiled the machines of the Industrial Revolution. The virgin kernel oila far cry from the ultra-fractionated, bleached palm oil made from the outer fruit that most importers have demanded for the last two decadesrivals virgin coconut oil as an almost perfect blend of healthy, saturated fatty acids, medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) and monounsaturated fats.

And palm oil is not the only commodity that's accelerated the deforestation of Southeast Asian rainforests. Demand for soy, maize, beef and timber are other big players.

What if citizens, ecologists, corporations, politicians and others could get together and find better ways of cultivating the palm oil 'supercrop'? And what if those who are overly dependent on its production could diversify and find alternate crops? Fortunately, these processes have already been initiated, and the rule book on what defines palm oil sustainability is being rewritten.

I was thrilled to find this kind of flexible, practical approach at the conference. The address given by the Malaysian Ministry of Health Deputy Director General would have delighted Western natural health advocates.

While type 2 diabetes rates in Malaysia have risen as fast as palm oil exports, politicians, bureaucrats, doctors and scientists, as well as environmental and consumer groups, are coming together to find solutions that will be sustainable for future generations.

I returned to Europe wondering if Southeast Asia's flexibility and rapid development could actually allow it to overtake the West in its implementation of natural healthcare.

Only time will tell what form of medicine becomes the norm in the coming decades. My view is that it's unlikely that new-to-nature pharmaceuticals will maintain their position as the first-line approach in medicine, and it may be that the West is slower than the East in making this incredibly necessary transition.

Robert Verkerk PhD is the executive and scientific director of the Alliance for Natural Health International, a consumer group that aims to protect our right to natural healthcare and nutrition.

For more

information and to get involved, go to, or check out ANH's Facebook and

Twitter pages



1 Pol Arch Med Wewn, 2014; 124: 628-34

The myth of the 'faulty' gene 2018-03-27T11:51:00+01:00 2018-03-27T11:51:00+01:00 Mutated genes don't automatically lead to cancer, says Rob Verkerk

Angelina Jolie is the pin-up woman for an entire new industry centered around cancer prevention (see page 20). Just like Jolie, you can find out if you have mutations in one or both of the genes that most affect your chances of getting breast cancer (BRCA1 and BRCA2) and decide whether you want to undergo preventative surgery to slash your risk. If you have the 'faulty' genes, you'll consult with a new-fangled 'genetic oncologist' and may well be persuaded to kiss your breasts, ovaries and fallopian tubes goodbye.

Predictive genetic testing will inevitably become an important part of cancer risk reduction in the future. An increasing number of doctors and other practitioners in integrative or functional medicine are already using it. Knowledge of certain gene variation patterns can help a practitioner advise changes to behavior, lifestyle, diet and exposure to environmental chemicals that can reduce the risk of disease and prioritize what modifications are most important at a given time in your life.

But it's a new field, and there's a lot we don't know. One of the most important elements is trying to understand how our genes are actually expressed, not just whether we do or don't have particular variations in them. In essence, our genes 'load the gun,' while our environment 'pulls the trigger.' That means you can be dealt a less-than-ideal set of genetic cards, but by controlling your behavior, lifestyle and diet, you can quite drastically affect how those genes are used.

In January, the notion of screening the whole female population for BRCA and other genes related to breast and ovarian cancer risks was reported to be cost effective,1 and the news was sprawled across newspapers worldwide. Public relations companies working for medical interests must have had a field day. But what should be good news, and a major feather in the cap of the cancer prevention movement, rings some alarm bells in my mind.

The approach could certainly facilitate early treatment of cancer. But what are the long-term effects of people knowing that they, and other family members, have some or a full complement of 'faulty' cancer genes?

How do thousands of people react to being given this news? Do they act on it and remove 'at risk' body parts? Or do they plummet into depression, take to the bottle and indulge in lots of deep-fried foods and candy to drown their sorrows?

Taking the intended 'right action' will definitely cause surgeons to start sharpening their scalpels in expectation of the crowds that will be lining their waiting rooms. The new era of genetic medicine has the potential to become a big-money industry. It's also one that insurance companies are watching closely. Just think about how your genetic results might impact your health insurance premium.

Beyond these unsavory possibilities, what else might health professionals do when counseling or giving advice that would really help people reduce their risk? We know lifestyle, diet and specific nutrients are strongly related to cancer incidence and prognosis, and there is a wide range of nutrients in our diet, or in supplements, that help gene repairthe very thing that is defective in people with the 'high-risk' variants of the BRCA1/2 genes.

It's a tricky juncture for medicine. Do we use our knowledge of the body's programming to simply jettison parts that might get diseased, or do we take a much broader perspective on gene-environment interactions and give people options that don't involve drastic surgery? Is genetic medicine making a mistake by continually referring to 'high-risk' genes as 'faulty'?

As Darwin found out, Nature creates variations deliberately; some have benefits, some have disadvantages. Only rarely does it mess up so badly that the software doesn't allow the hardware of the body to function at all. There are more than 20,000 genes in the human body, and each one has different variations. We don't know enough about the people who are carriers of the mutated genes but who never contract cancer.

Is it something to do with their environment, their epigenetic background, their whole deck of genetic cards or a combination of all these things?

BRCA genes are no newcomers. They've been around 1.6 billion years, and they're found not just in animals but also plants and fungi. They can be affected by viruses, and recently, in evolutionary terms, they've been evolving particularly rapidly in primates, including humans.2 Like so many things about our genes, we still don't know why.

The idea that genetic screening is highly accurate is flawed in my view. And don't be taken in by tags like 'precision medicine' when it comes to BRCA gene-informed double mastectomies.

There are women with BRCA mutations who don't want to lose body parts. Instead of handing themselves over to surgeons, they're making genetically well-informed changes to their diet and lifestyle patterns. Follow-up on these women will be fascinatingand might give us clues that most women on the planet can really benefit from.

In the meantime, we're flying near-blind, something genetic medicine would prefer that you ignore.

For more information and to get involved, go to, or check out ANH's Facebook and Twitter pages ( and



J Nat Cancer Inst, 2018 Jan 18


BMC Evol Biol, 2014; 14: 155

When poachers turn gamekeepers 2018-02-28T15:34:00+00:00 2018-02-28T15:34:00+00:00 Big Food corporations are increasingly buying out the top natural-food players

Only around 10 companies control the vast majority of food brands that line our supermarket shelves globally, including Nestl, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg's and Mars. The food they produce isn't real food, at least in terms of what we humans have evolved to eat. It's also not the food that most of us should be eating if we're to seriously consider how to sustain 9 billion people by 2050 on our desperately overcrowded planet.

The food this 10-company oligopoly produces is stuff that's generally highly processed (even if it's labeled 'whole grain') and rich in refined carbohydrates and vegetable fats. The majority of us eat highly processed snacks multiple times each day. They're low in nutrients and have often been exposed to very high temperatures, which denatures proteins, vitamins and other cofactors while creating toxic and carcinogenic byproducts. Bioactive, plant-derived molecules are few and far between, which can't be said of all the additives that lurk on the ingredient lists.

In short, this is the very food that's driving the chronic metabolic disease epidemic.

Many people accept this junk because it surrounds us; it's in every supermarket, convenience store and gas station. It's made by companies people have, strangely, come to trust, because so much of it triggers opioid receptors in our brain, giving us a sense of comfort. Our trust in these comfort foods is no different from the trust we show the medications prescribed by our doctorsdespite them being the third biggest killers in the West, following heart disease and cancer.

The big question is: will this trend, which has been slowly eroding the availability of real food, continue? Let's remind ourselves that real food generally lacks a bar code, and includes whole, unprocessed vegetables, fruits and animal products, raised sustainably and naturally.

My sense is that something very important is happening, related to the choices a growing number of people are making to increasingly avoid products made by Big Food, Big Pharma and Big Biotech. Many WDDTY readers are part of this movementit's a movement that's embedded in natural justice, natural health and the natural sciences.

A decade or two ago, it was easy for corporate interests to marginalize this natural health movement. It had little support outside of brown rice-eating hippies who could be ignored. Not any longer. The wellness industry, consistently one of the fastest growing sectors worldwide, is now worth an estimated $3.7 trillionthat's around three times greater than global sales of all pharmaceuticals.

A trend we're seeing is Big Food corporations buying out big players in the natural products sector. In September 2017, Unilever's buyout of Pukka Herbs was announced. Unilever is already the biggest tea company in the world, owning Lipton's and PG Tips. Could the Anglo-Dutch giant help transport Pukkalong supported by its customer base for its commitment to organics, Fairtrade, FairWild and sustainabilityto a whole new level? Could it push out less ethical players? Could it 'green' the sector? Could its ethical standards and B-corp status become the new normal?

Unilever's track record, like that of pretty much any transnational, is far from squeaky clean. But could Unilever's sell-off of its long-standing margarine interests (including brands like Flora and Stork) earlier in 2017 signal the company's genuine interest in human health?

As for Nestl, its recent buyout of Atrium Innovations seems at odds with Nestl's history. Atrium is the holding company for, among others, one of the largest consumer brands of dietary supplements, Garden of Life, as well as the largest brand of practitioner-only products, Pure Encapsulations. Garden of Life products are characterized by natural, organically certified and GMO-free ingredients. Pure Encapsulations' are super clean, naturally therapeutic and hypoallergenic.

Nestl, on the other hand, makes breakfast cereals from highly refined grains laced with sugar, like Cheerios and Shreddies. You could of course argue, somewhat facetiously, that kids growing up on this stuff are going to need some natural remedies if they're to survive healthily into old age.

There are many scenarios that could be used to describe these acquisitions. Are they intended to kill off the smaller innovators? Do they allow Big Food to profit by having one foot in each camp, bolstered by the added public goodwill toward the natural sector? Or is something more fundamental going on?

Could it just be that these Big Food corporations are buying out smaller companies because they feel their future is doomed unless they take on board the lessons of the smaller players? Smaller players that produce the quality foods and health products most of us actually want but can't always afford? Could combining resources make these products more affordable and accessible to a broader cross-section of society?

Time will ultimately tell, but this is the only scenario that makes any real long-term sense for most of us.

When technology takes over 2018-01-25T17:39:00+00:00 2018-01-25T17:39:00+00:00 Technology has drastically altered the lives of most humans on the planet. Infant mortality has plummeted, with most babies in the developed world now surviving birth and their early years. Agricultural and food technology makes sure more people are fed than we ever thought possible. And when we start to ail in later life, technology gives us a better chance of staying alive.

Pharmaceuticals and vaccines are currently the most important part of our healthcare armory, but will our children and grandchildren rely on them as heavily as us, or more heavily? I doubt it.

It's a controversial view in some quartersand perhaps not dissimilar from views about the oil industry, which has been closely allied to the pharma industry for nearly a century. While our fossil fuel reserves now look bigger than we thought just a decade ago, concerns over climate change, our ability to eke out more oil and gas from existing reservesincluding by frackingas well as the increasing availability of renewables, especially solar and wind, mean the future of oil is far from assured.

Some government officials are convinced that electric vehicles should replace gas and particularly diesel-burning engines due to the levels of pollution in our cities, which are causing alarming levels of disease and premature death.

But this just shifts the problem somewhere elseto the power station that produces the power in the first place, usually from oil, gas or nuclear fission.


This is the kind of scenario that breeds innovationand it is human innovation that has so far averted a range of Doomsday scenarios.

We'll need plenty of innovation to deal with feeding the projected nine billion people on our planet in 2050. But it's not just a question of feeding these people; it's keeping them calm
and in some reasonable state of health.

The recent evidence of spectacular failure of the newest generation of cancer drugs, the single most costly category of drugs for healthcare systems in industrialized countries, reminds us that pharma technology possibly doesn't cut it.

Probably high on the list of reasons for these failures is the business model that underlies pharmaceuticalsand that's one based on patents. By definition, it means that a molecule or product that's developed into a drug can't be natural. It's the drugs' lack of biological compatibility that causes them to trigger side-effects.

Yet, some of the real miracles in healthcare are so much more ingenious than the often-clumsy pharmaceuticals that attempt to throw sledgehammers into the delicate molecular workings of human metabolism.

Take the so-called 'pixie dust'otherwise known as extra-cellular matrix or ECMthat contains peptides (chains of amino acids) with the ability to help regrow limbs or organs. This isn't just the stuff of science fictionit's reality. Search for 'pixie dust thumb' on YouTube to see how ECM helped to grow back a child's thumb after an accident. That's just an example of what's in the public domain. Stem cell-triggered limb and organ regeneration that happens offline, behind the scenes in military laboratories and hospitals, is apparently much more spectacular. But public knowledge of this would destabilize the healthcare system.

Are you one of the increasing number of people who believe that the public is being dumbed down, despite living in a world in which there's more information available than ever before? This information overload is sometimes referred to as infobesity or infoxication.

With Moore's Law predicting that computer chips get twice as powerful every two years, what a perfect time to let artificial intelligence (AI) take over from humans.

Man vs machine

Actually, it's already happening. Machine learning, as first conceived by the likes of Alan Turing in WWII, has now come of age. Machines already have cognitive capacities, based on observation-based learning that can rival humans in some areas. They don't get as easily distracted by text notifications or the latest viral cat video either. Who will program the ethics models that make decisions in your driverless car? Should you kill the electric cyclist on your side of the road to avoid the oncoming hydrogen-fueled truck?

The bottom line is that we need to tread carefully with heightened awareness. We have to remind ourselves that we can still control our own destiny and take responsibility for our own health.

We must not allow the technocrats to take over our livesbecause behind their passion for maximum use of technology is a powerful profit motive. That hunger for profits has created problems for us in the past, through its lack of respect for things natural, including our bodies and our environment.

Let's keep moving forward, eyes wide open and with full knowledge of our fundamental rights and freedoms, as well as our democratic and individual power and sovereignty.

When a plant gets patented 2017-12-21T14:01:00+00:00 2017-12-21T14:01:00+00:00 You've probably heard about Big Pharma's patent cliff in the early part of this decadewhen the patents of huge blockbuster drugs like Lipitor, Plavix and Singulair expired. The effect was a precipitous drop in sales. But the decline in use of these drugs didn't send disease rates skyrocketing, because people tend not to suffer from Lipitor, Plavix or Singulair deficiency diseases.

Pharma's woes are far from over, as we approach a second patent cliff for blockbuster drugs licensed around the turn of the new millennium. Pharma is managing this problem in a variety of ways. One is through growth of generic drugs.

When a drug's patent expires, anyone can sell generic versions of the drug provided that they have the knowhow and funds available to manufacture, license, distribute and market it. Many of us imagine that most generic manufacturers are Indian or Chinese outfits, but fewer know that Big Pharma has also set up generic manufacturing facilities in these and other emerging and developing countries. They can compete with other manufacturers in the hope that a Pfizer, Bayer, Merck or GSK logo on a drug will allure customers more than the unbranded drugs made by their competitors.

Pharma sales in the USA, Europe and other developed countries have stagnated in recent years. It looks like the era of blockbuster drugs may be not just over but unrepeatable. Sales of patent-free generics are growing especially in developing countries, where they often sell for 80 per cent less than their original patented versions.

To survive without the blockbuster pipeline, Big Pharma has turned its attention to developing a new category of drugs: highly specialized biologicals that target some of the complex conditions now on the rise, such as autoimmune diseases like Crohn's.

The Pharma pipelines currently have a few hundred of these specialty drugs under evaluation in clinical trials, which are needed for licensing. This is Pharma's only growth category, and it already represents around 20 per cent of global sales, almost entirely in the industrialized world. But in population-wide terms, it's unlikely these new drugs will have a big impact on the major killer diseases of the developed world, namely cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. What's more, these diseases are gaining ground in developing countries as they increasingly adopt Western diets and lifestyles.

If Big Pharma and its generic counterparts get their way, the future of drug delivery in developing countries is predictable. They'll get most of the same drugs the industrialized world has been getting, but in much cheaper form, while the new biologics category will be too expensive. Generics will help some people, but as we've seen, these older drugs will do precious little to offset the rapid rise of chronic, degenerative diseases to which the developed world must now respond.

There is a more sinister aspect of the Pharma game plan. Most of the world's plant diversity, especially for plants with medicinal properties, exists in the tropics and subtropics, the very biogeographical region in which the vast majority of developing countries is found. Even today, it's estimated that around 70 per cent of all licensed pharmaceuticals are derived from natural sourcesplants in particular. Common examples include aspirin from white willow bark and statin drugs from red yeast rice.

Now that nature is widely recognized to hold so many answers, Pharma is increasingly engaged in bioprospecting. This means going into rainforests, deserts and other indigenous habitats and seeing what's on offer, often being guided by knowledge that's been passed down from generation to generation among indigenous people.

Learning from traditional medicine men and women is one thing, but stealing information and, even more worryingly, intellectual property, is another. This shifts Pharma from bioprospecting to biopiracy. And it's going on right now.

The slimming herb Hoodia, used for thousands of years by the Kalahari bushmen to help them stave off their appetites on long hunting missions, is a recent example. Pharma is now trying to take control of this herb, without giving the bushmen any royalties. Pharma takes little risk, as it has seen the herb's popularity demonstrated as a herbal supplement widely available in health stores
and online.

Pharma's end game, no doubt, will be to manipulate the bioactive molecules so it can benefit from patents. The herb now finds itself on a hit list of botanical supplements that European authorities are trying to clamp down on internet sales of, claiming that they pose a risk to public health or are endangered. But the real motivation driving these authorities is more likely linked to competition. The justification that regulatory action is needed to protect biodiversity is commonly used even for products where most trade is in cultivated versions, which obviously pose no environmental threat.

When you next see a clampdown on botanicals, think twice about what the real driver might be. More than likely, Pharma is behind it.

Dirty medicine down under 2017-11-21T11:15:00+00:00 2017-11-21T11:15:00+00:00 I am writing this column some 40,000 feet above Indonesia, bound from Sydney, Australia, to London. After a tight schedule of meetings following the second annual Lifestyle Medicine Australasia conference, I presented on the subject of healthcare sustainability.

Australia, like all former British colonies, has a checkered history of human rights. Despite apologies on behalf of previous governments to its indigenous peoples, much of the pain and damage can't be repaired, as it extends too far and runs too deep. Up until the 1980s, kids in school learned a good deal more about the kings and queens of England than they did about how their ancestors, whether rulers or convicts, built a new nation while wittingly or unwittingly decimating pre-existing Aboriginal populations along with much of their culture.

Progress on this front was evident by the presence of an Aboriginal flag, alongside the ever-present Australian national flag, over the doorway to the entrance of the hotel that hosted the conference. Furthermore, the conference was opened by a well-known member of the Aboriginal community, Ann Weldon, on behalf of the Aboriginal people of Australia.

Aunty Ann, as she is often fondly referred to, told the assembled 450 or so doctors and healthcare professionals that the word 'disabled' does not exist in her Wiradjuri language. If someone is blind, she said, those who can see act as the blind person's eyes. If someone can't walk, he or she will be carried. Aboriginal people, like all indigenous people, understand connection with nature, as well as among each other. They recognize the need for higher purpose. The Western world has strayed a long way from this approach to life, health and social care. It doesn't appear to have made us any happier, and despite all the technology, the billions spent on research and our deepening understanding of the diseases that plague us, we don't appear to be any closer to having a successful or sustainable healthcare model.

Admittedly, there have been some big gains, like lower rates of infant mortality and deaths from infectious diseases. But you would be hard-pressed to say we've got the big killer diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity, along with a host of mental health issues, under control.

We need to ask ourselves: should we continue to side-line longstanding health and social traditions that involve an intimate connection with the world around us, and hope that our technological model of healthcare will soon discover magic bullets for the chronic diseases and mental health challenges that are otherwise set to catastrophically destabilize our societies and economies? Or should we do what we can to restore these traditional systems, allow them to flourish and learn from them ourselves?

This, in my view, brings us to the real crux of the healthcare debate. Before we even start arguing the merits of different medical treatments, whether or not we're prioritizing disease prevention, the lack of hospital beds or funding of healthcare services, we need to address the elephant in the room. Current-day Australia, having been built on convict foundations, is a place full of rules. Ironically, however, like many Americans, Australians are among the first to celebrate the liberal nature of their society and all of its associated freedoms. Yet in very important ways, those freedoms have already been lost.

Aborigines have had most of their favored lands taken from them. Those lands now support thriving cities supporting the most urbanized population in the world, along with robust agriculture and mining industries. But non-Aboriginal Australians are also losing their freedoms.

Take the Australian Federal Government's coercive 'No Jab No Pay' law, which forces anyone who needs to claim benefits into vaccinating their children. It creates conflict not only for citizens, but also for doctors, who have an obligation to obtain consent before vaccination. For consent to be legally valid, it must be given voluntarily in the absence of undue pressure, coercion or manipulation. That's hardly the case for the 46 or so vaccinations, including genetically modified ingredients and neurotoxic adjuvants, that make up the full children's and adolescents' vaccination schedule.

Coming back to the elephant, the loss of Australians' freedom to express themselves appears unique in the Western world. A system has evolved in which individuals or organizations who even raise the subject of vaccination choice are attacked, vilified or even issued with death threats. This process is enacted covertly, and the puppeteers who orchestrate the hate campaigns against those who raise the debate are largely invisible. The net effect is that vaccination has become a taboo akin to the previous denial of genocide by Australia's early colonizers.

People must now speak out. Free-thinking Australians need to link arms with Americans, Europeans and others to shine a light on this issue.

It is essential as a matter of public debate anywhere in the world, that we determine whether or not a full vaccination schedule represents the best preventative medical care for our children.

When conspiracy theory becomes conspiracy fact 2017-10-25T15:36:00+01:00 2017-10-25T15:36:00+01:00 The terms 'public health' and 'consumer protection,' as used by governments, are among the biggest misnomers of all time. Governments and Big Business love telling us just how hard they're working to protect our health and our interests. Well, they're lying to us.

Public health policy typically comes as a top-down dictate from health authorities that are deeply intertwined with business interests. It's pretty hard for them to work in our interest when they're busy building economies based on industries that serve us addictive and harmful foods, ineffective and harmful drugs, and that both plunder and pollute our natural environment.

What's more, consumer protection has become something of a metaphor for restricting our access to products we not only want but need for our health. There's a global trend by public health bodies around the world to deny the existence of swathes of scientific evidence showing the benefits of dietary and food supplements containing ingredients that are increasingly hard to find in our normal diets, as well as a trend to restrict or even ban our access to these supplements.

This isn't conspiracy theory. It's more like a conspiracy fact. 'Conspiracy,' after all, refers simply to a group of peopleincluding those sitting in the boardrooms of transnational corporationswho engage in secret acts with the aim to benefit themselves at the expense of others.

What's probably more arguable is the extent to which such corporate or governmental conspiracies are conscious or unwitting.

My view is that there are many pawns in the system and not all are knowingly engaged in a conspiracy. Those who aren't may simply be unaware, disinterested or brainwashed.

Dr Marcia Angell, for 20 years the editor of the prestigious The New England Journal of Medicine, was among the first to burst the bubble. Back in 2009, she said, "It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines."

Professor Peter Gtzsche made headlines around the world when his 2013 book, Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma has Corrupted Healthcare, was published. As a physician and co-founder of the world's most prominent independent evaluator of medical effectiveness, the Cochrane Collaboration, he was impossible to ignore. He was also far from a 'has-been,' as director of the Nordic Cochrane Centre and a highly accomplished medical researcher.

Gtzsche explains that despite the paid-for headlines, very few people benefit from new blockbuster drugs. He goes on to describe how scientific studies are commonly fabricated and serious unwanted and dangerous side-effects concealed, along with false claims, immoral threats, intimidation tactics, bribery, illegal kick-backs, and defrauding government insurance programs.

But the good doctor reveals something else that is less often spoken about. It relates to the mindset of those employed within the pharmaceutical industry. In making his point, Gtzsche cites a former vice president of the world's largest drug company, Pfizer, as follows: "It is scary how many similarities there are between this industry and the mob. The mob makes obscene amounts of money, as does this industry. The side-effects of organized crime are killings and deaths, and the side-effects are the same in this industry. The mob bribes politicians and others, and so does the drug industry . . ."

Then, just last year (2016), Dr Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, the UK's leading medical journal, commented that "much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue."

With this kind of background, are we surprised that the level of distrust for a doctor's prescription, whipped up in a few short minutes of consultation, is at an all-time high? Equally, are we surprised that people are increasingly resorting to Dr Google for advice and shopping online for healthcare products?

In response, the European Commission, supported by food and medical authorities in all 28 (soon to be 27) EU member states, is already clamping down on internet sales of natural health products, especially ones that challenge big-selling drugs. Given the increasingly coordinated, international efforts of regulators and their drug company 'servants,' it's just a matter of time before something similar is tried and tested in the US.

While the corporatocracy does its best to impinge on our fundamental rights and freedoms, we beg you to not lose heart. Such plays for control have been enacted many times before in human history, though never on this scale. Our best option lies in doing what we can to keep open all channels of responsible business that genuinely exist to protect our health.

We must do everything to keep alive those parts of the democratic system that allow our elected representatives to do our bidding. And we must fight for our freedom, our health sovereignty and our fundamental rights.

Doing nothing and expecting others to act for us is a sure-fire way of losing the battle against the conspirators.

Rethinking the HPV vaccine 2017-09-26T11:07:00+01:00 2017-09-26T11:07:00+01:00 We've been fed multiple mistruths about the safety of the vaccine, says Rob Verkerk

With people losing faith in pharmaceutical drugs as the primary mechanism for managing health, drug companies are doing their best to expand their portfolios with vaccines.

And for good reason. You can target extremely large numbers in national vaccination programs (and that means big revenues), and you don't bear the brunt of liabilities for any damages you might cause directly.

In most Western countries, including the USA and UK, this liability was transferred from the vaccine industry to governments almost 30 years ago. We, the public, therefore pick up the tab through
our taxes.

With this in mind, let's look at the highly topical issue of HPV vaccination. In the USA, teen and preteen boys are already being targeted alongside girls. In the UK, on average, close to 90 percent of adolescent girls are currently being vaccinated as part of the national vaccination program, but, in some localized areas, there is much lower uptake due to concerns about risks or long-term benefits.

In fact, the main decision-making committee that advises the UK government, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), has recently generated surprise by not recommending the mass vaccination of boys.

The justification for this decision was down to a perceived lack of cost effectiveness. The thinking is that, if most girls are already 'protected,' there will be lower sexual transmission of HPV back to boys. It's just too costly to then vaccinate boys as well for not much additional gain. Also, cancer statistics show that HPV-related cancers in females, especially cervical cancer, are much more common than those in boys, such as penile or oropharyngeal cancers.

But the decision to omit boys from the program, at least for me, leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. That's not because I'm concerned that boys won't be adequately protected. It's down to gender inequality, with girls remaining the primary target, and thus having to bear all the risk that goes alongside vaccination. That's in addition to being the ones who carry the babies, and everything else that goes along with being a woman. (I should confess that I'm a feminist, a position strengthened by being the father of four daughters).

As difficult as the figures are to glean, it's increasingly looking like the frequency of serious adverse effects from the HPV vaccine (Gardasil9), which itself is a genetically modified vaccine composed of virus-like particles (VLPs) and aluminum, exceeds those of other vaccines. Worse, governments appear to be doing their best, alongside the vaccine industry, to conceal this information. That's led inevitably to the families of vaccine-damaged children coming together to tell their own stories.

My friend and colleague Tim Reihm from the Alliance for Natural Health USA has been meeting and interviewing people who claim to have been affected, both in the USA and the UK, over the last year or so as part of a documentary he's been making. The situation is tragic, especially when you factor in the degree of dismissal from the medical profession, which continues to buy the line that the vaccine, now in its third iteration,
is safe.

The problem is that we're dealing with a situation that weor, rather, they (the vaccine industry, governments and the medical establishment)understand only partially. They tell us HPV is a dangerous virus that is a cause of cancer. They don't tell us that we've co-evolved alongside this family of viruses, including the so-called high-risk HPV 16 and 18 strains, over millions of years. They don't tell us that most of us carry the virus at some stage or another, and a significant number of children acquire the virus from their mothers during vaginal, but less so during cesarean, deliveries.

Should we push even harder towards C-sections and subject ever more babies to a greater risk of long-term health problems because their immunological competence wasn't allowed to develop the way nature intended? And that competence has a lot to do with our need to be exposed to pathogens, the vast majority of which are not only good for us, but necessary for resilient good health. Then they try to cover up all the bad things that the HPV vaccine can do to our children, without telling us that if we could reduce their sexual exposures as pre-teens and young teens, we'd resolve the big problem of high transmission rates of HPV at this crucial time when the immune system is developing.

The bottom line is we've been fed multiple mistruths about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, the natural history of HPV and the way we and a host of microbes interact. Our increasing desire for sterility is at risk of becoming one of the greatest threats to our health.

How long will it be before we hear more of our doctors saying that vaginal deliveries, breastfeeding, minimum exposure to antibiotics and other drugs, healthy diets based on a diverse range of mainly plant foods, along with plenty of outdoor activityand let's not forget a life full of fun and loveare by far the best therapies for our children?

Blue zone thinking - The politics of health 2017-08-29T19:12:00+01:00 2017-08-29T19:12:00+01:00 busterwddty How to fix the NHS 2017-07-21T12:17:00+01:00 2017-07-21T12:17:00+01:00 The key is building a parallel system of preventative care, says Rob Verkerk

The sooner our politicians stop thinking that money is all that's needed to fix our crumbling healthcare systems, the better off and healthier we'll be. Eventually, we must accept the risk that the system may never fulfil its intended function very well, and not be shocked if we're left stranded on our own.

Sadly, that's how it is with our drug-dominated healthcare systems. Drugs don't work for most of the conditions that drain our healthcare systems: cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, arthritis and mental health disorders. The late Dr Allen Roses, then at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), had the right idea in 2003 when he said, "The vast majority of drugsmore than 90 per centonly work in 30 or 50 per cent of the people." But he was being optimistic, perhaps to keep his job. The journal BMJ Clinical Evidence, after evaluating around 3,000 medical treatments, found
that only 11 per cent were of true benefit to patients.

Over the last 50 years or so, pharma companies have influenced medical training, and treated family physicians and general practitioners (GPs), the first line of contact with the public, as sales reps. These docs are good at prescribing drugs, but less skilled at knowing which factors in a patient's lifestyle need changing to help them deal with their disease. Those who do have the required knowledge lack the time to do justice to the multifactorial, non-pharmaceutical approaches which, in any case, are the domains of the naturopathic, functional, lifestyle and traditional medicine practitioners who have been shoved to the margins of mainstream healthcare.

In 2016, the International Trade Administration of the US Department of Commerce quoted pharmaceutical sales of $333 billionor an average spend of $1,036 per every US citizen. Of this, 70 per cent went for patented drugs, 21 per cent for generics and a mere 6 per cent for over-the-counter (OTC) drugs; the pattern is generally similar in the rest of the West.

This is evidence that our societies are totally invested in patented drugs, and the pharma industry (which relies on patents) remains firmly convinced, as suggested by Bruce Lehman, president of the International Intellectual Property Institute, that "patent exclusivity is the only effective way to protect and receive a return on that investment".

Yet, evolutionary biology tells us that what our bodies really need for health has always been around us, helping to make us resilient and responsive to a constantly changing environment. This includes foods and the natural healing compoundsthe 'original' drugsthey contain.

Our bodies have over 135 metabolic pathways that need to be modulated according to our specific needs at any given time, and require information from enzymes and signalling compounds made internally or consumed as plant nutrients, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other nutrients. Every year we learn more about the way these naturally occurring compounds influence our body's pathways, metabolism and gene expression, as well as how they interact with the gut microbes on which we depend.

But as for knowledge, we're still in kindergarten when it comes to dealing with complex, chronic diseases, and pharma-dominated medicine seems to have been barking up the wrong tree for over half a century. How can it make sense to expect that a patented chemical the body has never seen in its evolutionary historyand which will likely fall out of favour once its patent has expiredwill be a miracle cure?

The answers to our current healthcare crisis lie in harnessing the power of nature. It's already happening in energy and agriculture, so why should healthcare be any different?

The lip service currently being paid to sustainable healthcare is more about throwing good money after bad into a broken system or lessening its negative impact on the environment. But it should be about creating an effective system that can be maintained without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Let's build a parallel system that actually works, that initially functions alongside the current one. Let's build from the bottom-up, using the most current knowledge of our physical, physiological and psychological needs.

That's the main thrust of what we do at the Alliance for Natural Health International ( We believe that contemporary healthcare systems would be considerably less broken without the burden of chronic and degenerative conditions that can be dealt with outside of the current system.

This means working towards effective, non-pharma-based self-care. For that, we need greater freedom in making healthy choices when choosing foods and supplements, and a liberal regime of health claims to help people discover what's good for them. For those who need guidance on their health journeys, they need suitably qualified and experienced practitioners, not drug dealers.

The main features of this parallel system are already in place, and most accept that it's just a matter of time. The current industry players, clinging desperately to the status quo, should either adapt or step aside, because the business model they rely on is already defunct and, in time, through the power of nature, will become extinct.

All brawn and no beef 2017-06-26T21:51:00+01:00 2017-06-26T21:51:00+01:00 I recently visited the BodyPower Expo at the NEC in Birmingham, billed as the "world's number 1 fitness expo". I wanted to learn more about those interested in powerful bodies and the commercial sector that provides products for them, and to see how far things have moved on since the early days of bodybuilding supplementswhich were sometimes laced with questionable ingredients and steroids, and almost always loaded with synthetic additives, colours and sweeteners.

Given BodyPower's billing, I was curious to find out if there had been any convergence of the bodybuilding, physical fitness and natural-health sectors, the common ground perhaps being a desire to help people become better, fitter and more resilient versions of themselves.

I have to admit to being somewhat disappointed. Despite scouring a significant proportion of the nearly 100,000 visitors over the three-day event, my mind's eye (and iPhone photo library) is left with countless images of bronzed bodies with protuberant muscles, but tired-looking bad skin and eyes lacking any sparkle of true vitality.

Sampling stations offering artificially coloured and sweetened amino-acid blends were commonplace, while the plant-based proteins that represent the fastest-growing protein market in the natural-health sector barely made an appearance, such was the continuing demand for dairy-based proteins. There was only one stall selling reasonably healthy food.

The reality is that bodybuilders don't enjoy any real improvement in quality of life compared with sedentary people. A Spanish study comparing bodybuilders with runners and sedentary types found that runners had the best quality of life, while bodybuilders had not much of an edge over couch potatoes. Also, the muscle mass of runners and sedentary people was about the sameand much less than the bodybuilders'.1

So it seems that muscles don't make us happier or healthier. What's important is the amount that we move. We know from both the published reports and countless anecdotes that spending time outdoors, including physical activities, is much better for us than pumping iron or running on treadmills in the gym.

We also know that rhythmic exercise of moderate intensity, like jogging, cycling and swimming, trigger the release of endocannabinoids, natural compounds produced by the body that are structurally related to the two principal bioactive agents in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

The amounts of natural endocannabinoid released internally [anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) are the most studied] are minuscule, and they don't make us hallucinate, or give us the giggles or 'the munchies'. What they do is regulate pain, boost our immune system and even make us feel happier.

In fact, it's now understood that the well-described 'runner's high' is probably the result of these endocannabinoids, not endorphins. Endocannabinoids also regulate appetite, as well as our storage and use of energy. Yet, the industry that feeds bodybuilders seems to be missing a trick, despite feeding into that primeval need that many humans have, especially if they are in some way dissatisfied with their physical appearance, to appear stronger and more powerful.

But real strength isn't just about appearances. Take triathletes, marathon runners, and endurance cyclists and swimmerswho all look somewhat flimsy when pictured next to a bodybuilder. But assuming they don't punish themselves too much, they'll live longer, healthier and happier lives than those who choose to be sedentary.

They can also move around their environment with consummate easeunlike the bodybuilders I saw in Birmingham, some of whom seemed to have difficulty just walking.

With the knowledge now available, we need industry to take the leadand not just to exploit human weaknesses. Health-related industries should perhaps take a leaf out of Elon Musk's book. Within 10 years of taking the helm at Tesla, Musk has convincingly shown that electric cars may well become the primary road-worthy vehicles of the near future, with performances exceeding those of their fossil-fuel-burning counterpartsa notion that, 10 years ago, was scoffed at.

Cheap and nasty bodybuilding supplements laden with harmful ingredients that do little more than help muscles to grow, while not supporting other parts of the body, are no better than Big Pharma's new-to-nature drugs that have barely touched the surface of our current chronic-disease crisis.

Some of those supplements are even sold through Big Pharma-owned business entities.

But this crisis needs a lot more than big muscles. It needs to inspire people to get more activeand it shouldn't be doing that at the expense of our health.

There are a few brands out there that look set to be the Teslas of the nutrition and lifestyle industry. Perhaps, as with Tesla itself, we just need one to really shine so that others will then join in the real health revolution.

Scan or scandal? 2017-05-24T13:36:00+01:00 2017-05-24T13:36:00+01:00 You're running late for a flight and when you get to security, you hope to get diverted to the manual security channel. But it's not your dayand you can't face the stress of trying to explain to the security officers why you want a manual pat-downyou're going to be bombarded with the new-fangled millimeter (mm)-wave technology. The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the presumed global experts in airport security, considers the devices safe. But are they?

These machineswhich emit terahertz radiation waves somewhere between microwaves and infrared on the radiation spectrumare presumed safer than the backscatter X-ray machines that preceded them and were banned by the European Commission in 2011.

The reality is that neither mm-wave nor X-ray machines are safeit's just that there are fewer data to prove this for these devices.

With the Rapiscan backscatter machines that reflect X-rays off the target, the safety issue is clear. The X-ray dose is proportional to DNA damage and cancer risk. But only a handful of studies were used to justify the roll-out of these machines from jails into airports. Prompted by 9/11 and cemented by the incident where a Nigerian tried to blow up a plane with explosives in his underpants, not one study used to inform the decision was peer-reviewed.

The machines escaped scrutiny by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because they weren't medical devices being used for medical purposes. Instead, full-body scanners are like TV setselectronics equipment requiring only rudimentary data from the manufacturer before being used by millions of people.

Much of Rapiscan's rapid rollout in airports around the world was linked to the company's intense lobbying in Washington, DC, and the subsequent TSA agreement to use them instead of the less controversial mm-wave machinesall this while prominent radiation experts were claiming the backscatter machines were not safe, as there is no safe threshold for X-rays.

Various estimates suggested the scanners would induce one cancer for every million people scannedor 100 additional cases of cancer in the US alone. Security officers using the machines would be at even greater risk, as the machines radiate variable levels of X-rays that sometimes significantly exceed the established thresholds.

But safety concerns were then obscured by a parallel issue: privacy. Public outcry and a lawsuit meant that special software (automatic target recognition, or ATR) must now be used to prevent people's naked bodies being revealed to the operator who now, since the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, only sees a generic outline of the human body. In fact, it was Rapiscan's inability to adopt ATR quickly enough that shifted the US towards using mm-wave machines.

The take-home message is that X-ray scanning technology found its way into mass usage through crony capitalism. Analyses of risks and benefits, and proper comparisons with other technologies like mm wavesalready commercially available when backscatter machines became entrenched in airports around the world in the new millenniumnever entered the equation. Determining the risks with either device by objective scientific methods for, say, pregnant women, their foetuses, cancer survivors or the growing number of 'electrohypersensitive' people never figured in any decisions taken.

Worse, it turns out the machines are pretty hopeless at spotting plastic explosives and guns placed at certain angles to foil the devices. There are testimonials from ex-TSA officers across the Internet exposing what a sham the whole thing is, while scientists like radiation oncologist John Moulder, at Medical College of Wisconsin, have been outspoken about the incompetent way decisions have been handled.1

Even more disturbing is the provisional evidence suggesting that mm-wave body scanners don't actually have more evidence of safetyit's simply presumed because they don't use ionizing radiation. Terahertz radiation has well-documented thermal effects, although their manufacturers have data suggesting that no passenger would ever get a dose resulting in such effects.

But it's the non-thermal effects that are the real concern. There is compelling research on the non-thermal effects of radiofrequency radiation, such as from mobile phones, but funding was mostly stopped when the big phone companies realized it might not be in their best interests.

There's less data on the non-thermal effects of terahertz radiation from body scanners, but studies using mouse cells by Boian Alexandrov and colleagues at the Los Alamos National Laboratorya world leader in radiation researchsuggest that mm-wave technology can alter DNA expression.2,3

Our history shows that we trust what governments tell usabout body scanners and a lot of other things too, like vaccines and low-fat diets.

Next time you're at the airport, though, make an effort to get the manual pat-down. Then you'll only need to factor in the ionizing radiation you'll be bombarded with in a metal tube at 35,000 feet.



Radiat Res, 2012; 177: 723-6


Biomed Opt Express, 2011; 2: 2679-89


Sci Rep, 2013; 3: 1184

The Big Food rip off 2017-05-03T18:11:00+01:00 2017-05-03T18:11:00+01:00 Junk food and ready meals aren't as cheap as you might think, says Rob Verkerk

The facts are increasingly clear: unhealthy diets and a poor lifestyle are the primary causes of chronic disease and early death in our society. The diseases we get from these inappropriate life choicesespecially type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease and some of the more common types of cancercause unnecessary suffering, often over many years. And these diet- and lifestyle-related diseases are entirely preventable.

Here's the social dilemma revealed by copious research: better-educated people suffer the least burden from these diseases because they make better dietary choices. What we're then told is that those who are less well-off simply can't afford the expensive, healthy food; they effectively have no alternative but to buy more junk food and ready-made meals because it's all they can afford.

The real facts are different. The cost argument is an illusion, and the education argument is more valid. Poorer people do, it seems, have less available information about healthy choices, and less desire to buy whole foods and cook from scratch. But this duality is maintained, we surmise, by the cleverly maintained drip-feed of information that keeps reinforcing the point that junk food and supermarket ready-made foods are the cheapest foods available.

Well, it's bunkum. It's part of a ploy to get large swathes of society hooked on foods that hit the sweet spot in our brains that creates both physiological and psychological addictions.

The likes of Nestl, Pepsi, General Mills, Kraft, Mars and Coca-Cola have invested billions over the years in learning how to get people addicted to their products. It's a special combination of ingredients like salt, sugar, gluten and specific fats that reach those parts of our brains that make us feel both comforted and wanting more.

And if it's perceived as cheap, who cares if we buy more of it to feel satisfied? After all, it's cheap. Our addiction doesn't allow us to think rationally about our eating habits or calculate our total spend on foods like thislet alone consider the long-term indirect costs of being made ill, often over decades.

At the Alliance for Health International, we've been looking closely at this issue for some time. In our most recent analysis (March 2017), we compared a home-cooked chicken-and-vegetable meal, made by following our own healthy-eating Food4health guidelines [see WDDTY December 2016, page 26] with ingredients bought from a low-cost supermarket (UK's Walmart-owned Asda), against a 'comparable' ready-made 'chicken dinner' meal from the same supermarket and a McDonald's Big Mac meal. With each meal, we included a 'sweet' to follow: frozen berries for the home-cooked meal, low-fat yoghurt for the supermarket meal and a McFlurry for the McDonald's meal.

We then analyzed the meals in terms of their direct cost per person based on a four-person family, their cost per 1,000 calories and also in terms of the nutrition it delivered. In British pounds, with the home-made, supermarket ready-meal and junk-food meals, the costs per person were 2.26, 2.05 and 5.38, respectively.

The McDonald's, while being cheap for eating out, was over twice the cost compared with eating at home. When you multiply by four for a family, the price differential gets even biggeryet we still think of McDonald's as a
cheap meal.

Where it really gets interesting is when you look at it per 1,000 kcal, which is roughly a third of an average adult's daily energy intake. Now the costs become 2.00, 4.15 and 2.93 for the home-made, supermarket ready-meal and McDonald's meals, respectively. The fact that the meal that seemed the cheapest initially has become over twice the price for a given amount of energy compared with food made from scratch reveals a key ploy on the part of supermarketsand that's about making you want more.

The supermarket ready-meal and low-fat yoghurt deliver so little in the way of real nutrition, you would in all likelihood be craving an energy-dense, high-sugar snack well before your next proper meal. And it's this snacking culture that's driving both Big Food profits and our spiralling rates of chronic disease.

But perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised by all this. Home-prepared food made with largely whole food ingredients has been subjected to less technological processing, the cost of which would then be paid for by the end consumer. It's also got many fewer additives, which also cost money. Add to that the costs of the fast-food outlets and their advertising, none of which apply to real food ingredients, and then you can factor in whether the food is ultimately addictive or not, and all the other things you might be tempted to buy when you're at the supermarket or the local convenience or corner store. Add all of that up each week and see how much it costs.

If together we could help break down the illusion that junk food and ready-made, TV-style dinners are the cheapest foods on the market, we would go a long way towards ridding our society of the single biggest cause of unnecessary and preventable suffering.

A sharp jab at safety claims 2017-03-31T12:27:00+01:00 2017-03-31T12:27:00+01:00 Vaccination is possibly the single most controversial issue in public health. Western medicine has devised a number of key strategies for managing health, and the three most widely used are drugs, surgery and vaccines. Drugs and surgery have thousands of years of historical use, but until around 70 years ago, most drugs were derived from plant-based or natural inorganic compounds.

Vaccines are much newer, being introduced by the likes of Jenner, Pasteur and Koch towards the end of the 18th century. The main idea has always been to trigger the immune system with an attenuated (or similar) form of a given pathogen, usually a virus or bacteria, in the hopes of 'priming' the immune system, so it can deal with the 'real thing' should it be encountered later. As immunity doesn't always last indefinitely, there's also the common use of 'boosters'.

There are, of course, other ways to prime our immune systems, albeit not usually with the same specificity we can get from vaccines. One method involves allowing a child's nave (unchallenged) immune system to be challenged by natural exposure to the environment. Kids locked away in hermetically sealed houses won't develop the same level of natural immunity as children who regularly play outdoors. This concept was previously dubbed the 'hygiene hypothesis', but because we now know that such a crucial part of our immunity is based on the development of a comprehensive range of bacterial and other microorganisms colonizing our gut, it's more correct to refer to it as the 'microbiome hypothesis'.

Apart from our skin and external mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth) being exposed to the outside environment, the other, very intimate, encounter we have with our surroundings is through our food and water. But here again, our food has become increasingly sterile, with salad vegetables often grown hydroponically (without soil) and treated with bleach, and many foods including preservatives to kill bacteria. The desire to increase the shelf-life of foods while minimizing risks of food-borne disease (poisoning) has brought about the consumption of ever-increasing amounts of largely sterile foods, while municipal drinking water is sterilized by the addition of chlorine.

Adding further insult to injury, children born by caesarean section are not inoculated with their mothers' bacteria as are those delivered vaginally, while infants who are not breastfed miss out on the complex range of immune factors in breastmilk.

Nutrients and the quality of the foods we consume are another major factor that provides resources for the immune systemthe most complex and sophisticated pathogen-managing system known to usthat we too often take for granted. Indeed, poor diets are now the norm, but they won't make a healthy immune system.

All this added together means that more and more children are failing to acquire the kind of natural immunity we have evolved to developmaking us ever more reliant on vaccines and drugs. When they're not enough, surgery comes to the rescueto perhaps remove diseased organs that may have lost their ability to function properly because, over decades, they've been over-burdened or under-resourced, or both.

Vaccination is now a huge growth area in healthcare as the drug pipeline becomes increasingly 'dry'. Vaccine manufacturers often benefit from fast-track licensing by government regulators and, in 29 countries, they're free of any liability for vaccine-related damage, a responsibility that's been left to governments instead. These no-fault vaccination programmes are maintained by a small contribution from the price tag of each vaccineusually less than $1 per vaccineto a compensation fund. From the time the US National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) was established in 1988, $3.5 billion has been paid out to victims proven to be vaccine-injured. In the UK, although the Pandemrix vaccine has been found by the High Court to cause narcolepsy, the government is appealing the decision, presumably because it fears the precedent it would be setting.

The bottom line is that the public is being misinformed about vaccine safety. When consent is granted for a childhood vaccine, parents are not offered the known, relevant information. We're consistently told that vaccines are safe and effective, yet the scientific facts and a growing body of evidence from courts and government compensation schemes around the world tell us otherwise. Informed consent should also offer alternatives, such as ways to enhance immunity naturally.

For these reasons, ANH International has launched a petition to put pressure on health authorities and governments to stop claiming that vaccines are safe in the face of an abundance of evidence pointing to their risks, many of which cannot be predicted for any given child receiving the full vaccination schedule. Information known to licensing authorities is not being given to those consenting, and data that demonstrate harm have more than once been concealed by health authorities, as revealed in the film Vaxxed (2016; see page 20).

To find a short link to our petition go to:

Please forward it widely. Thank you.

Grains of truth 2017-02-23T18:08:00+00:00 2017-02-23T18:08:00+00:00 The BBC TV series Horizon has been exploring scientific issues affecting the British populace since 1964. It exposed whale meat in pet food in 1972, and examined the question (sadly, with insufficient evidence) of whether the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) jab causes autism.

With many more mindful about what they eat as the new year begins to bite, a programme entitled 'Clean Eating - The Dirty Truth' tackled an apparently fad diet being propounded by various 'clean-eating gurus', not only here in Britain, but in the US and Australia too.

Anyone tuning in to watch knew it wasn't going to be about some nice new recipes.

While I'd never come across the term 'clean eating' before the programme, I was very familiar with the 'gurus' who were the focus of the investigation, including Deliciously Ella, the Hemsley sisters and Natasha Corrett. They all have huge followings on social media and through sales of their recipe booksand, to me, they're all dynamic, inspiring people.

The centrepiece of the show was an attack on gluten-free, given that it was the common theme of the recipes offered by these clean-eating gurus. Yet, in a spate of very low-brow journalism, the show managed to dismiss Dr Bill Davisauthor of
The New York Times no-1 bestseller Wheat Belly.

Dr Davis is a medically qualified cardiologist, who has seen large numbers of people benefit from excluding gluten, and is in touch with the emerging and supporting science.

We then moved to the labs of Dr Alessio Fasanothe widely acknowledged world expert on gluten-related disorders, and director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at Massachusetts General Hospitalwhere we expected Fasano to convince viewers that the basic premise of eating healthy without gluten, as advocated by the clean-eating gurus, was scientifically sound.

But given the state-of-the-art video and sound editingand biased journalismthat didn't happen. Fasano seemed to suggest that gluten was only a problem for those with a genetic predisposition, imbalanced gut microbes, faulty immune systems and leaky guts, leaving viewers thinking, 'Wow, there can't be many people with all four things wrong with them'. Horizon, like all gluten apologists, failed to reveal the intimate links between them.

In 2000, Fasano and his team (then at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore) found a protein they called 'zonulin', the only one known to regulate human intestinal permeability via 'tight junctions'.

They then went on to discover that gluten, a major grain protein in most of our diets, interferes with zonulin function, which evolved specifically to open gut tight junctions after ingesting nasty bugs in our food to allow the gut contents to leak into the abdominal cavity, and there expose them to our full battery of immune cells.

This should happen only occasionallythe less often, the better. But eating grains/gluten regularly, especially if you lean
towards greater sensitivity to itfaced by more than two in every five of usand you'll soon suffer from a permanently activated, upregulated, immune system.

This becomes a more or less permanent state of low-grade inflammation, which underpins all chronic diseasesheart disease, cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes, even Alzheimer'sand is exacerbated by a poor diet low in vegetables, fruits and fibre (the SAD, or Standard American Diet) and, in turn, imbalances the roughly two to 10 trillion gut microbiota on which our health and immunity depend.

All in all, the scene is set for gluten to become a major trigger for the hugeand increasingincidence of chronic diseases worldwide.

That's why our Food4Health guidelines [healthy eating based on the nutrient-rich Rainbow Diet; see WDDTY December 2016, page 26] are entirely free of gluten. We can do without those grainsand expose ourselves to significant, unnecessary risk by eating gluten-containing grains as staples.

For a series with a history of uncovering scientific revelations, it's disappointing that Horizon failed to spell this out for its viewers. They could have covered Dr Fasano's book, Gluten Freedom (Wiley, 2014), rather than dismissing the issue out of hand.

Going gluten-free is no fad, especially when it's linked to eating real food made mostly at home from fresh ingredients with no bar codes.

It's also about getting in touch with our evolutionary heritage, as anatomically modern humans have spent only about one-tenth of our existence exposed to gluten-containing grains like wheat (spelt, kamut, farro, durum), barley, rye
and triticale.

Add to this the recent obsession with refining these grains to within an inch of their lives and not only is the gun loaded, but the trigger's been pulled, the bullet's been fired.

Run for your lifeits quality depends on it!

When dying is right 2017-01-24T15:28:00+00:00 2017-01-24T15:28:00+00:00 Britains National Health Service (NHS) is rated the fifth largest employernot in the UK and Europe, but in the world! A remarkable 1.7 million people are employed by what is sometimes referred to as the jewel in Britains welfare crown. The only bigger global employers, in decreasing order of size, are the US Department of Defense (3.2 million), the Peoples Liberation Army of China (2.3 million), Walmart (2.1 million) and McDonalds (1.9 million).

But unlike those bigger four entities, the NHS is creaking and may be close to its last breaths of life. In fact, think tanks like the UKs Kings Fund, tasked with finding ways of making the NHS more sustainable, have been saying it could go bust in just a few years. But with Brexit and Trumpism making people more flexible in terms of their vision of the future, thats probably not as much of a shock as it was when the possibility was first mooted a few years ago.

Indeed, its financial collapse could be seen as part of the healing response, requiring it to jettison the bureaucratic junk, and bad and unnecessary medical practices, that have become synonymous with partsbut definitely not allof the NHS behemoth.

But whats at the root of the failures that could lead to the death of this nationalized system that offers free (actually taxpayer-funded) health services to all and sundry?

As ever, the answers arent simple. The bigger the beast, the more complex the problems and the more difficult they are to fix. This is also a major case of elephant-in-the-room syndrome, where those responsible fail to voice things that seem patently obvious to those looking in from the outside.

One of those elephants is the fact that the NHS is massively overburdened by easily preventable conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and mental-health issues, and its never been able to find ways of fixing these problems outside of its own infrastructure of GP surgeries, hospitals and clinics. Such places are designed to treat or manage disease, not prevent them.

Another elephant is incredibly poor management, as too many doctors (who are trained in medicine and not in business) have found their way into administrative roles that they cant adequately fulfil.

Only last week, I heard that one major London hospital cancelled nearly 80,000-worth of operations because the heating had broken down in some operating theatres, and surgeons were unable to find someone responsible for it. The management system was simply too amorphous for such a practical detail.

Yet another elephant in the room is the indisputable evidence that drug-free, natural approaches represent the most powerful medicines we have, especially when dealing with the very chronic diseases crippling the NHS.

Yet both the UK and EU governments have consistently been putting up roadblocks to our access to the best natural healthcare products and services available.

As the EU obstacles have been among the most draconian seen anywhere in the world, the UKs bid to distance itself from EU laws with Brexit provides a huge opportunity to develop a healthcare plus associated regulatory system that genuinely works in the interests of the people.

But to get to that point, massive public and political pressure is needed. We have to dismantle the obstacles and get on with it sooner, rather than later, because its not just something we would like, its essential to the wellbeing and survival of our future generations. Big Food and sedentary lifestyles provide the fodder that makes us sick at ever-younger ages, and the pharmaceutical-dependent medical model profits from treating and managingand deliberately not curingthe diseased population.

Through a House of Lords Select Committee report published recently, the NHS has been given further guidance by panels of carefully selected experts aiming to make the system more sustainable. But its only more tokenism and lip service that, as history has repeatedly shown, will come to nothing.

The NHS is simply too big and unwieldy to change fundamentallyits very structure is the problem. It may have been a jewel once, but now its based on UK government data and responsible for the same degree of risk of preventable deaths as British military personnel deployed in war zones of the Middle East.

If the NHS werent broken, it wouldnt need fixing. Its now time to consider that the best way to fix it is to let it die, to pull it off its life support sooner rather than later.

Let the winds of Brexit bring with it a change in direction that will allow the entire edifice to be reimagined as a dynamic, resilient health service that genuinely acts in the interests of the British public. To do this, it will have to not just manage disease, but also be responsible for preventing it, and it will need to become a lot less dependent on the use of new-to-nature drugs. The days of a pill-for-every-ill approach have never looked quite so numbered.

Medical terrorism 2016-12-29T14:26:00+00:00 2016-12-29T14:26:00+00:00 In the last six weeks, Ive met with leaders of ketogenic dietary approaches for cancer in Melbourne and London who were targets of personal and professional attacks, Ive met families in California who plan to leave the state because they dont want their kids vaccinated, yet still want to send them to school, and Ive met doctors in Australia and the US under threat of having their licences revoked because they exempted children at high risk of adverse vaccine reactions.

Yes, cancer treatments and vaccination are still the two most controversial areas between mainstream and so-called alternative medicinewhich is strange, as mainstream medicine has not had unparalleled success in treating cancer or protecting people from the diseases targeted by vaccination. And while the available data are neither convincing nor reliable, with remarkably few pharma-independent attempts to pool these data and publish findings in peer-reviewed journals, the status quo is maintained.

One study by oncologists in Sydney found that, after analyzing all the available studies from 1998 to 2004 in Australia and the US, adjuvant chemotherapy used with other treatments (mostly radiotherapy and surgery) increased 5-year cancer survival by just 2.3 per cent and 2.1 per cent, respectively.1

The truth is, the status quo is based mostly on money. Cancer and vaccines represent businesses big enough to be important to governments and economies. Global spending on cancer treatments is nudging $200 billion. The global vaccine market is smaller at $60 billion, but dont forget how quickly jabs are delivered. In terms of returns on investment, theyre a giant cash cow.

UK-based Australian filmmaker Tom Meadmore is keen to bring the dilemma faced by cancer patients to the big screen with a feature film hes makingCancer Conflict ( But like all films that upset the apple cart, Tom is having to raise money the hard way, although Im hopeful that online crowdfunding will deliver what he needs to finish the film.

Still, its just not right in my view that people like Tom, who have important messages to deliver, are pushed so far out on a limb.

The same goes for filmmakers and vaccines. Remember the shenanigans surrounding Andrew Wakefields film Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe last May? Robert De Niro was leaned on heavily to ban the film from the Tribeca Film Festival, but remained true to his own convictions. Having a child with autism means he knows that something is very wrong with the mainstream and government views on the issue.

The System seems to be working worldwide to maintain a status quo in its financial interests. Those who dare to offer alternative views, especially if they can reach the masses, are shut down, attacked personally and/or discredited professionally.

Others have either had their licences revoked or are defending them in kangaroo courtsenough to scare the vast majority of up-and-coming doctors into sticking closely to the rules of their ultra-conservative practice boards.

Aside from such individual challenges, its evident that the challenges of managing our health by natural means are becoming more and more similar across the planet, despite our diverse cultures and political systems. Australia raised the ante by allowing vigilantes (or shrills?) to issue death threats to at least two internationally recognized anti-vax experts who, not surprisingly, cancelled speaking tourssuch is the effect of terrorism.

Age-old traditional systems of medicine are equally under threat. Traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda have managed to persist on the margins of healthcare because, after being subjected to Western-style scientific scrutiny, they didnt come out too badly through the limited lens of evidence-based medicine. In fact, these 4,000-plus-year-old systems of medicine turned out to have more evidence than adjuvant-based chemotherapywhich still somehow keeps its key position in oncology.

But the less-researched traditional systems face a much rockier future with no effective protests from their defenders, including our colleagues at the Traditional & Natural Health Alliance (TNHA) in South Africa, where a new Actthe Indigenous Knowledge Systems Billis about to undergo parliamentary scrutiny. In essence, the proposed bill wont protect indigenous interests, but is instead state-sanctioned ethnopiracy, transferring the intellectual property rights of thousands of plants used for thousands of years for health purposes by southern Africas indigenous peoples to biotech and pharmaceutical companies. Its been dubbed medical apartheid for good reason.

Globalization has happened, the war on cancer has been lost, vaccines are of limited effectiveness, and governmentindustry cover-ups of their side-effects have been exposed and are beyond reprieve.

Now its just usthe peoplewho can help us return to the original status quo, where human populations and the natural environments they evolved in and depend on are in balance. Lets not sell the next generation short.



Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol), 2004; 16: 54960