Dr. R. L. Wysong
Dear Friend:
    The tragic high school shootings once again sent politicians scurrying for a solution.  They picked the easy target that would play well with the non-thinking masses: guns.
    Since guns were used to kill and maim, guns must be the problem.  Simple enough...for simple minds.
    I just received a mailing from Handgun Control, Inc. soliciting contributions.  They even provided a free poster with the rubric “GUNS KILL 13 CHILDREN A DAY.”  The use of the word “children” these days, attached to any cause, raises the emotional ante and is sure to create sentimental support.  Politicians know this and play it to the hilt.  Solicitors use it as well to raise money.  However, once a cause even as important as children is latched onto by politicians and fund raisers, watch out before you are sucked into a bleeding heart hole that does nothing more than strip you of your money.  “Children” as used now as a tool for selfish interests might better be viewed as W. C. Fields did.   When asked if he liked children, he said “only if they are well done.”
    You tell me if I’m missing something here.  I’m for gun control.  But it has to be complete and absolute.  Nobody gets to have a gun and all raw materials and tools that could be used to make a gun must be eliminated.  That means government doesn’t get to have guns, criminals and psychopaths don’t get to have guns, and all the good guys don’t get them either.  We would need to shut down the mining and manufacture of all metals, plastics, ceramics, etc., that could conceivably be used to fabricate a gun in a garage somewhere and confiscate all metal working tools.  All homes, businesses and industries must be constantly inspected to be sure nobody is being cute and doing a little alchemy to get around the rules.  Now that is meaningful gun control.
    Short of that, there can be no fair and effective “gun control."  Anything less would mean some people get to have guns, and others don’t. I don’t know about you, but I trust me with a gun more than somebody else.  If we make a law that says no citizen gets to have a gun, only the police and the government, what protection might we have against tyranny? (This is arguably the reason the Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms.  Not so we can go hunting, but so we can protect ourselves from a government run amuck.)   If there is a law that says no citizen can have a gun, that means all law abiding citizens will not have any – but those who could care less about laws, the ones who would just as soon shoot you and me as not, will find a way to get one or make one.   Laws against weapons do not change the criminal mind.  It’s like trying to cure obesity by making a law against spoons.
    Anything short of total and absolute control – as described above – means law abiding citizens get the short end of the stick, or the fast end of a bullet.
    “Gun control” as being presently propagandized is no solution at all.  It merely avoids the difficult real issues facing society.      Guns don’t kill, people kill.  If guns are not the weapon, knives, pipe bombs, nuclear technology (given to our enemies in exchange for political contributions), spears, arrows, rocks, fists, karate, poison, pillows, ropes, axes, forks, broken glass, head butts, germs, lamps, chairs, automobiles and rolling pins can be.  If I really want to kill you, not having a gun is not going to deter me.  The problem is me, not the weapon.  What could be more simple?  It’s a no-brainer, folks.  Don’t let the politicians dumb you down on this one.
    Two things prevent people from killing.   One, is an innate sense of compassion, empathy, ethic and desire for safety and peace within society.  This is conscience, noticeably absent in psychopaths and sociopaths.  Two, is the fear of aggressive defense by the victim or punishment by the state. 
    Of the two, fear of retribution probably stops more killings than anything else.  Therefore, efficient and just prosecution is critical.  People cannot think they can get off by paying lawyers enough money.  Also, you can bet if everyone were packing a six shooter on their hip, would-be killers would think twice.  Keeping guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens merely emboldens killers who will find a way to get or make a gun or other weapon.  Discipline early in life within the family and school also helps embed fear of consequence.  Such fundamental lessons are hardly aided by a school system with powerless teachers (or tenured incompetent ones who deserve no power), or a family monitored by a legal system that would permit children to sue parents for discipline, or to potentially result in loss of the child to the state.)
    Conscience also keeps people in check.  Conscience comes from a sense of self-worth, a sense of hope and future which in turn comes from love, belonging and freedom. 
    Notice that legislating another gun law addresses none of these fundamental issues and solutions.  It merely further limits freedom, ignores the elements that create conscience and does nothing to make punishment sure and swift. 
    The health of the world, our society and our person depends upon us using our good senses.  Be ever suspicious and sieve all information, particularly that which is most emotionally seductive, through the filter of reason.  That is our only hope.  If we become a queue of lemmings fatuously following “leaders,” we will go the way of other failed civilizations.  
    Why is this a topic for the Health Letter?  Health without freedom, without the exercise of
rational discerning thought, is not possible.
    Problems related to the reproductive cycle and associated organs are epidemic in modern women.  From the onset of menses through menopause the majority of all women are victimized in one way or another by the broad biological and psychological impact of reproductive hormones.
    At least 80-90% of all women experience moderate to severe cramping with menstruation.  In adolescent girls, 1 in 5 experience cramping so severe that they require bed rest.  It is estimated that over 140 million work hours are lost each year from menstrual cycle disorders. 
    Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) results in symptoms ranging from nervous tension, mood swings,
irritability and anxiety, to weight gain, swelling of extremities, breast tenderness, abdominal bloating, headache, craving for sweets, increased appetite, heart pounding, fatigue, dizziness, fainting, depression, forgetfulness, crying, confusion, insomnia, to oily skin and acne, nausea, vomiting, loss of
appetite, diarrhea, constipation, edema of the fingers and ankles, mild to severe personality change, altered libido, and backaches.
    Also related to cycling hormones are uterine fibroids, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, painful or lumpy breasts, fertility problems, miscarriage, dry vaginal tissues, osteoporosis, and uterine, ovarian and breast cancer.
    The medical resources consumed to deal with these problems are enormous.  Pharmaceutical companies have grown rich developing drugs such as Valium and Prozac just to treat the psychological disorders related to the menstrual cycle.  More than 12 million of those who consume mood altering drugs are women between the ages of 20 and 50, those in the heyday of female hormone cycling.  The most common reasons for women visiting their physician are painful and/or lumpy breasts, and routine cancer checks marketed heavily by the medical community as a solution.  Virtually all women live in fear of the dire consequences and potential disfigurement about which their cycling bodies continue to give them cause for concern.
    Although attempts have been made to categorize women’s reproductive disorders by attaching names to them such as premenstrual syndrome, dysmenorrhea, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, spasmodic and congestive cramps, painful menses, mastalgia, etc., the disorder is so encompassing – affecting every physiological/biological system and profoundly affecting psychology – that it is perhaps best to view it as one syndrome.  My mother, when referring to such unspeakables, told us kids that it was “female problems,” thus, my title for this topic.
    Although we would like to think we rise above base instincts and biological urges, we are most essentially reproductive creatures.  We are disposable packages for the immortal genes we have received from our ancestors, which we in turn will pass on to our progeny.  If reproduction is such a prime imperative, it is little wonder that disorders in this machinery could create such widespread and profound problems.
    Although men do not normally experience the profound effects women experience from the flow and ebb of reproductive hormones, they too are captive to the biological imperative.  The aggressive, competitive male hormones are responsible for creativity, but also for so much of the crime and violence in our world.  Our prisons are overflowing with men primarily in their peak hormone stage.  Hormone-related testicular and prostate cancer are dramatically increasing in incidence, as is sexual dysfunction, including impotence, low libido, and infertility.  A healthy male with healthy testosterone levels can be preoccupied with the sexual urge.  A feeling of “heaviness” in the pelvis and preoccupation with sex can build until it is released by ejaculation, only to build again and repeat the cycle. Somewhat analogously, women can feel heightened sexual desire at ovulation, and building of pelvic “heaviness” and pressure until menses begins.
    The degree to which these cycles in both men and women affect the course of one’s life, happiness, mood, interrelationships, sense of self-worth, future, success, or failure is far more significant than most would choose to admit.  The treatment of normal biological rhythms, which create changes also in personality, consumes huge medical resources.   Unfortunately with few exceptions, the billions spent on reproductive system-related disorders are merely stopgap symptom-based measures that leave people dependent on a life of medicated or psychoanalyzed survival.  The true cause is not only not addressed, but by and large unrecognized.
    If something as fundamental to life as the reproductive system is malfunctioning, then the cause must likewise be something very fundamental.  Not surprisingly, that cause is tied to the repeating theme in the Health Letter.  Humans have extracted themselves from their genetic heritage and created an environmental context that is not in keeping with their genetic expectation.      The result is a discordancy between modern living with the artificial environment we have created, and our biological system.      This imbalance creates a chronic stress manifest in a variety of ways and results in loss of health and disease (much the same as a fish, if removed from water, will experience loss of health and disease).
    Specific to female problems is an imbalance in hormones.  This hormone imbalance is now fairly well understood and directly linked to essentially every malfunction in the female reproductive system.   But this imbalance is not just “one of those things” that creates victims, any more than other modern chronic degenerative diseases such as cancer are “just one of those things.”  The cause is the improper fit between our genetics and our modern life and that is not “just one of those things,” but rather something we can do something about without having to run to a doctor.
    Before I discuss how modern living has created the hormonal imbalances that create the majority of female problems, let me review briefly the female reproductive cycle.
    Once a young lady reaches puberty, the following cycle will be a relentless part of her life until the pause of the menses (menopause) at about age 50.  By some yet unknown inherent timing mechanism, or cycle within our environment, the hypothalamus, a small section at the base of the brain, releases chemicals such as gonadotropic releasing hormone, and follicle stimulating hormone releasing hormone, which in turn stimulates the pituitary gland (which lies adjacent to the hypothalamus at the base of the brain) to release hormones that target the ovary.  Follicle stimulating hormone signals the ovary to begin maturation of an egg follicle on the surface of the ovary.  As this follicle matures, like a small expanding fluid-filled bubble, it in turn produces estrogen to be released into the body.   As estrogen levels rise, they stimulate the pituitary to release luteinizing hormone which causes the egg-containing follicle to burst,  releasing the egg so that it may travel down the fallopian tube to the uterus and hopefully be fertilized by a lucky and happy sperm.  After the follicle bursts, luteinizing hormone causes the remnants of the follicle to develop into a glandular-like nodule called the corpus luteum, which in turn releases estrogen and progesterone.      These help prepare the uterine lining for implantation of the fertilized egg.  If that does not occur, these hormones stimulate the uterine lining to be shed and expelled, creating menstruation.  The cycle consists of three somewhat distinct phases.  The first is the follicular stage which lasts 10-14 days, then the ovulatory which lasts about 36 hours, and then the luteal which lasts 14 days (refer to figures 1, 2 and 3).
    This is a simplified version of what happens.  It is what we know.  What we don’t know (and guess at) is certainly a far greater body of knowledge yet to be discovered.
    The reproductive system does not act in isolation.  The hormones that are released by the reproductive system interact with other endocrine glands such as the thyroid, the adrenal, and pancreas in ways vaguely understood.  The pituitary also releases prolactin which helps develop breasts for feeding the infant.  If this occurs, prolactin is responsible for inhibiting further follicle  and egg development on the ovaries.  It is the reason lactating women do not normally become pregnant.
    Modern living has thrown everything out of kilter.  First, today’s woman is ovulating too much.   Here is the way we are designed and built and the way it should be from a biological standpoint.  Once a girl reaches sexual maturity in her mid-teens, she would become pregnant.  Considering the copious availability of willing male fertilizers, there is a good chance that uninhibited by modern societal taboos, the first egg she released would be fertilized.  That’s one ovulation.  She would become pregnant for nine months which would stop further ovulations, then nurse the young child for 4 to 5 years which would also stop ovulations.  After she stopped nursing she would ovulate again and become pregnant by one of the ever-present males in rut.       The cycle would be repeated with a 9 month pregnancy and a 4 or 5 year nursing period with no ovulations taking place during that time.  That would mean approximately one ovulation about every five years from age 12 to 50.
    Now if you compare this scenario with that of the modern woman, you can see that modern women are virtual egg hatcheries compared to our ancestral prototype.  Every 30 days for years young women will be ovulating and causing surges of cycling hormones such as estrogen, until they discontinue birth control pills and decide it is the appropriate time to have the politically correct 2.2 children.  During the nine month pregnancy no ovulations will take place, but since for many women it is inconvenient or embarrassing to nurse, they will resume ovulating shortly after. There is a dramatic difference between the artificially manipulated hormonal cycle of modern women and that of our natural ancestral prototype.
    Our modern synthetic environment could also be expected to disrupt hormone balances.  We live inside homes, breathing conditioned air, and are shielded from natural light.  Convenience in modern society creates a sedentary lifestyle with little exercise.  We eat processed, fabricated, food fraction-based products and drink chemicalized water.   This dislocation from our natural roots in the wild – out of doors, breathing fresh air, drinking natural water, eating foods exactly as they are found in nature and being exposed to sunshine every day – does not go unnoticed by our biology.  The hypothalamus and pituitary gland, for example, are intimately linked to natural light cycles.  To shield ourselves from this natural cycle and create artificial cycles within buildings surely could be expected to disrupt hormone balances.  The broad range of symptoms associated with female problems is a sure indication that something very fundamental has gone wrong with intricate hormonal balances.
    Additionally, various synthetic chemicals released into the environment now for decades have been proven to have an effect on sexual hormones.  Particularly the halogenated hydrocarbons such as DDT, chlordane, dieldrin, DDE and others are known to have estrogenic effects.  These chemicals are sprayed on produce, while other drugs, hormones and chemicals are introduced into food animal diets to concentrate in their tissues, which are then consumed by humans.   The estrogen-mimicking substances in the environment are believed to adversely affect not only female, but male reproduction and sexual function.  If there is any doubt about the power of these chemicals, even at the minuscule amounts released into the environment, consider the extinction and near extinction of various birds that have been directly linked to such chemical pollutants.
    The modern diet lies as a root cause of so many modern chronic ailments.  It is little wonder it can be linked directly to female problems.  We are designed to eat foods exactly as they can be found in nature, raw and whole.  If you contrast this perfect model with what is consumed today, the disparity becomes easily apparent and it is not surprising that problems should result.  Today’s diet is primarily based upon processed carbohydrates, including starches and refined sugars.  Additionally, almost all foods are cooked, destroying much of their vitamin content, all of their enzyme content, and creating a variety of heat-generated compounds which are toxic and carcinogenic.   Farm-based foods are increasingly diminished in trace minerals as crops are hybridized, force fed fertilizers, and mined from the same plot of ground year after year.   Dozens of studies demonstrate that the average American diet is deficient or imbalanced in almost everything.
    One of the most important departures from healthy food is the manipulation of fats in the diet.  Fats, oils and sterols found within natural, raw foods in nature are not only healthful, they are essential.  In contrast, the modern diet is replete with processed oils that may be oxidized or hydrogenated, creating a variety of toxic compounds.  The modern rise of obesity has created a fat and cholesterol phobia that further threatens healthful lipid nutrition.  Women shun natural cholesterol containing foods and with that eliminate an important precursor to reproductive hormones (refer to figure 4).  Instead, they substitute more and more carbohydrate which is the ultimate culprit in obesity.  Most of these carbohydrates are laced with fatty acids that shift the balance of fats in the body such that reproductive hormones cannot be properly manufactured.  Those which are cause abnormal reactions within tissues.
    For example, the modern dietary ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids is 30:1 compared to the ratio in a healthful natural diet,  which is 5:1. The high omega-6 oils in processed foods such as confections, breads, rolls, cereals, snacks, pastas, etc., cause an excess in the production of eicosanoid hormones, which promote inflammation.  It is also believed that the high intake of sugar (it has been demonstrated, for example, that patients who experience PMS consume over 60% more carbohydrate and 275% more refined sugar than those who do not have the problem), alcohol and trans-fats found in hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils, and even caffeine, can adversely affect eicosanoid production resulting in many of the symptoms seen in female syndromes.
    The powerful effect of these eicosanoids is demonstrated by the fact that if the omega-6 type eicosanoids such as PGF2 and PGE2  are given to women,  they can induce labor and stimulate essentially all the symptoms of dysmenorrhea.  Women who experience dysmenorrhea have been tested and found to have more than 500% higher levels of omega-6 derived eicosanoids than women who are not experiencing these problems.
    Omega-6 fatty acids, particularly arachidonic, can be changed as a result of oxidative free-radicals into isoprostanes, which exert  greatly exaggerated inflammatory-type effects.  We live in a pro-oxidant environment and eat oxidized foods,  which can stimulate this synthesis of exaggerated inflammatory chemicals which exacerbate many of the menstrual symptoms.
    The omega-6 fatty acid eicosanoids have the ability to contract smooth muscle, increase inflammation and pain, increase salt and fluid retention, cause vasoconstriction, clot formation and platelet aggregation.  Eicosanoids also act within the reproductive cycle to stimulate luteolysis – the shedding of the uterine endometrium and healing of the uterine lining.
    The effect of these eicosanoids is linked to vasoconstriction within the brain causing headaches, exaggerated cramping of uterine muscle, and fluid and salt retention.
    The most dramatic hormonal shift seen in women with female problems is an increase in estrogens and a decrease in progesterone.  Since modern “egg hatchery” women receive monthly estrogen surges from their follicles, and are consuming foods contaminated with a variety of estrogenic compounds, it is little wonder that estrogen balance is disrupted.  High levels of estrogen can impair liver function and result in cholestasis (depressed bile flow), decreased brain chemicals such as serotonin and gamma amino butyric acid (GABA), decreased endorphins, decreased thyroid hormone, increased insulin levels, increased prolactin hormone and impaired function of vitamin B6.  Depression of the “feel good” neurochemicals such as serotonin, GABA and endorphins directly affects mood and personality.  Increased estrogen levels also increase the secretion of the hormone aldosterone from the adrenal glands, which increases sodium and water retention.   High estrogen also stimulates the formation and growth of uterine fibroids and is linked to uterine and breast cancer.
    Many menstrual symptoms are treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).  It is interesting to note that these exert their effect by blocking enzymes in the omega-6 pathway leading to the inflammatory eicosanoids.  This is certainly a symptom-based approach, however, and is not without serious side-effects such as liver damage, leaky gut syndrome, nausea, digestive irritation and the aggravation of various symptoms of dysmenorrhea.  It would be so much wiser and more effective to treat the ultimate causes.
    That completes the story of what is wrong and why it is wrong.  But what can be done?  There is much hope and the key lies in understanding the thesis outlined in the beginning of this paper: we have extracted ourselves from our proper environmental and genetic roots.  The solution is, therefore, to return to those roots.  How to do this will be discussed in Part II next month.
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        Obstetric Gynecology, 1996;87:55-58   
        Phytomedicine, 1997;4:183-9
Anemia and Vitamin B12  
    300-2000 micrograms daily of vitamin B12 results in greatly improved hematological responses and improvement in pernicious anemia neurological deficit.
        Lancet, 1998; 352:1721-2
Appetite and Carbohydrates
    Eating starchy foods leads to overeating by triggering a hormonal state that convinces the body it is still hungry.
        Pediatrics, 1999; 103:26
Bladder Cancer and Vegetables
    Men who consume large quantities of broccoli and cabbage have a significantly reduced risk of bladder cancer.
        J Natl Cancer Inst, 1999; 91:605-13
Cancer and Fat
    Contrary to popular belief, there is no correlation between dietary fat intake and a woman's risk for breast cancer.
        JAMA, 1999; 281:914-20
Cancer and Sauces
    Using barbecue sauce on meats increases the amount of cancer-causing agents by 200-300%.
        Science News, 1999; 155:264-6
Cataracts and Vitamin E
    100 milligrams or more of vitamin E daily may lower the risk of developing cataracts.
        Amer J Clin Nutr, 1999; 69:272-7
Diabetes and Chromium
    Supplementation with 8 micrograms of iron per kilogram body weight is therapeutic in the treatment of increased chromium loss associated with diabetes.
        J Am Coll Nutr, 1998; 17:548-55
Hearing Loss and B-Vitamins
    Low levels of vitamin B12 and folate are risk factors for age-related hearing loss.
        Am J Clin Nutr, 1999; 281:914-20
Heart Attack and Viagra™
    Viagra™ has been implicated in an increased risk of myocardial infarction in users with no known risk factors.
        Lancet, 1998; 352:957-8
Lead Poisoning and Vitamin C
    High  levels of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) are associated with a decreased risk of the toxic effects of toxic lead levels in the blood.
        JAMA, 1999; 281:2289-93
Low Cholesterol and Death
    In the elderly, low cholesterol, in combination with low blood albumin levels, indicates an increased risk of functional decline and increases the risk of dying by 3.5 times.
        J Am Geriatr Soc, 1999; 47:402-6
Menopause and Red Clover  
    Isoflavones in red clover have been found to reduce the complications of menopause, including the risk of cardiovascular disease.
        J Endocrinol Metab, 1999; 84:895-8
Natural Vitamin E
    Natural vitamin E is more effective than synthetic forms of the antioxidant in terms of assimilation and retention.
        Am J Nat Med, 11/1998
Psoriasis and Meditation
    Meditation can positively influence the rate of regression of psoriasis.
        Psychosom Med, 1998; 60:625-32
Stomach Damage and Colostrum  
    Supplementation with bovine colostrum helps prevent and repair stomach damage caused by long-term use of pain relievers.
        Gut, 1999; 44:653-8
Stroke and Exercise  
    Walking at least 20 kilometers per week is associated with a significantly reduced risk of stroke.
        Stroke, 1998; 29:2049-54
Testosterone and Androstenedione
    Androstenedione supplementation does not increase serum testosterone concentrations or enhance skeletal muscle development in young men with normal testosterone levels, and may result in severe adverse health consequences.
        JAMA, 1999; 281:2020-8
Tooth Decay and Oral Contraceptives
    Birth control pills have been found to increase the risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
        Contraception, 1998; 57:381-4