WYSONG HEALTH LETTER
Dr. R. L. Wysong
March 1992
 
Mycotoxins in History
    In Medieval Europe the Church and the State were all powerful.  There were dramatic “have” and “have” not class divisions.  Great scourges frequently wiped out huge segments of the population. 
    Brought to mind might be pictures of filth due to sanitation ignorance, the lack of running water and sewage disposal, high infant mortality, early death, infectious disease, and a precarious teetering on the edge of survival due to questionable food supplies and (we think) the lack of modern medical measures.
    When we think of measles, scarlet fever, pneumonia, typhoid, tuberculosis and polio being vanquished, we think of the victory of modern man with his medical technology.  We may think that better public hygiene and food distribution might have had something to do with it.  But by and large we attribute our health today to the rise of  Western technological medicine.
    If we track these diseases from the time of their highest incidence to their present low incidence, each disease had already pretty much reached the lower limit of its downslope by the time that a medical measure was introduced, such as a chemotherapeutic agent or vaccine.  It is easy to take credit for lowering the level of the ocean if you’re dipping water out of it when the tide is receding.
    What really is responsible for the present relative health of human populations?  Actually, up until about 1750, good health was a privilege of only a few of the wealthy.  What was more normal was sickness, unthriftiness, stunting, mental derangement, and a constant struggle with death.   Historically this has by and large been attributed to human vulnerability to the agents of infectious disease.
    Let me give a new twist to our understanding of our present health and that of our distant ancestors. 
    Since in any population in which infectious disease occurs, there are segments of that population that do not succumb to it, one must conclude that there is innate resistance within populations.   Microbes easily spread and quickly become ubiquitous in heavily populated areas.   If everyone were equally susceptible, it would be likely that no life would soon exist on the planet other than apex pathogens....then they would also die as they killed their final hosts. 
    But life does exist.   Resistance, therefore, has much to do with survival.  Resistance has nothing to do with modern medical measures or vaccines, since we’re talking about a time even before their introduction.
    A review of much of the historical evidence available regarding the rise and fall of populations of the past, the fertility of populations, the rise and fall of disease, even mass psychosis, shows that infectious disease is perhaps only a secondary, or tertiary, element in these events.   Let me suggest that many of the health problems experienced in past civilizations were a result of mycotoxins. 
    The mycotoxins I’m referring to are those created by fungi which parasitize grains frequently consumed by humans.  These fungi, particularly of the claviceps and fusarium species, are particularly prevalent in grains that were grown in cold wet regions, for example in Europe in the Middle Ages.   The evidence is quite compelling  that mycotoxins may have directly, or indirectly, resulted in many of the aberrations in population growth, health, and in the psychology of past populations. 
    Grains susceptible to mycotic growth were consumed in massive amounts.  It would not be unusual for peasants in Europe and Russia to consume three to four pounds of rye bread daily.  Rye cannot be the only thing incriminated, however.  Many crops, including rice and wheat, can harbor mycotoxins.  But rye was particularly in wide use in these middle centuries.   Overwintered rye, rye experiencing exceptionally wet seasons, and rye stored such that the moisture content was above 13%, provided excellent growing conditions for these molds.
    For example, ergot is an alkaloid poison produced by the ergot, or claviceps, fungus.  It is capable of causing a wide range of symptoms including those which strike the cardiovascular system, gangrene, gastrointestinal problems, motor control, and central nervous system aberrations including everything from headache to hallucinations, delusions, unconsciousness and psychosis.   The alkaloid LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is, in fact, an ergot alkaloid.  Ergotism is a very lethal disease.  During 10 epidemics recorded in Russia from 1832 to 1864, as many as 66% of those who became ill died.  It is also of interest that mycotoxins create no residual immunity in their victims.  Thus, once struck you are not resistant to subsequent poisonings, as you may be with infectious agents.
    The fusarium molds create a T-2 toxin, causing a disease termed ATA, or alimentary toxic aleikiia.  ATA can cause skin eruptions, dark and fetid stool, a putrid smell, inflamed lymphoid tissues, necrosis in the oral cavity, bleeding from orifices, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, fever, meningeal (brain covering) hemorrhage, and central nervous system disorders from delirium to stupor, convulsions, depression and disorientation. 
    The symptoms characteristic of mycotoxins, therefore, could be easily mistaken for infectious diseases.  All the symptoms of infectious disease can be mimicked by mycotoxicosis.  This is not to say that all people of the past died from such poisoning.      But many in fact did.  Others may have been rendered immunologically incapable of withstanding infectious assault.  It is characteristic of these mycotoxins that they are immunosuppressive.
    A further danger with mycotoxins is that they are not removed by cooking and storage.  They are quite stable.  The best form of food preparation to remove them is making a porridge of the grains and boiling for at least 30 minutes.  Bread making, however, is the predominant way these grains have been traditionally used.  Baking does not inactivate mycotoxins.
    The list of pathologies related to mycotoxins is almost endless.  They have even been incriminated in the etiology of various cancers, birth defects, and depressed fertility.
    The evidence that mycotoxins were at work in earlier civilizations stems from a study of the peaks and valleys in mortalities, and conceptions as they relate to weather, and as that would relate to crop conditions.  The problem was also geographic in nature in that the prevalence of mycotoxicosis followed grains, particularly rye, raised in cold, wet climates.  Other compelling evidence is that when the diet was changed within classes, or ethnic cultures, differences in fertility and mortality would relate to which kinds of foods were being eaten.  Additionally, as populations changed the diet with the advent of broader food distribution, and thus with less dependency on stored wet mycotoxin-infested grains, the condition subsided.
    Russia was particularly blighted and remained so even up until as late as 1945.  The cold Russian climate, low elevations, and the wet dark summers in which harvests were delayed, all were perfect conditions for mycotoxins to thrive.  Improvement only occurred just before World War I, when increased potato consumption reduced dependence on cereals.  Potatoes were not prone to this insidious infection.  The high crude death rate and high infant mortality in Russia is poorly explained by almost any other reasoning, other than to attribute it to food-related toxicity.  Although sanitation improved health almost everywhere it was introduced, it had little impact in areas such as Russia as long as mycotoxins were prevalent.
    Children always experienced the highest mortality in the Middle Ages and this also points to mycotoxins, not infectious disease.  A child’s greater caloric need, and thus their higher volume of food consumption, would result in  a greater concentration of toxins.
    Regions in Russia particularly plagued by mycotoxins continued to have various health problems and difficulty in even maintaining populations until residents moved  and became less dependent upon infected grain-based foods.  It is  argued that the main limit of population growth prior to 1900 was not simply the Malthusian idea of populations outgrowing their sustenance, but rather the epidemics of fungal mycotoxin poisoning.
    Let’s take a morbid stroll through history.  The Black Death of the mid-1300’s was an unprecedented demographic disaster from which Europe did not recover until almost 1500.   Additionally the late Middle Ages were characterized by widely spread epidemics of bizarre behavior.
    When we think of The Plague, we normally associate it with lack of hygiene and rodent proliferation.  It is characterized by a variety of symptoms such as fever, vomiting, headache, giddiness, insomnia and delirium.  The most characteristic symptom is a bubo, which is a hard, painful, hemorrhagic swelling of a lymph gland, usually either in the groin or the armpit.   This is one of the sites of proliferation of the incriminated bacteria, the bacillus, Yersinia pestis.  The life cycle of this disease is learned in microbiology classes as a classic.  The bacteria infects fleas, proliferates in their stomach and then infests the human host when the flea takes a blood meal and regurgitates during its blood meal.  Fleas live on rodents, and it’s assumed that with heavy proliferation of rodents the likelihood of human infection is increased.
    But here again, there is significant evidence indicating this is a mycotoxin related disease.  It follows the conditions I previously described.  Where societies were consuming singular large quantities of wet and  moldy grains such as rye, the plague was most rampant.   Since rodents would be ingesting these grains as well, it’s reasoned that as they succumbed to mycotoxicosis, the fleas then left their bodies looking for other warm hosts.  If humans were near and they were immunologically suppressed as a result of mycotoxins, then they fell victim to the disease as well. 
    The Plague was particularly devastating to the young.  This again fits with the explanation that the young were consuming larger quantities of mycotoxins, due to their greater caloric needs, and thus were more immunologically suppressed.
    At the same time that the Plague was occurring, there was increasing incidence of accusations of witchcraft.  A person suffering from ergotism is, as I mentioned before, prone to such things as hallucinations, spasms, and twitches.  These were the symptoms indicating to middle century societies that witchcraft was involved.  The colder the weather, the more damp the weather, the more wet rye eaten, the greater the incidence of both Plague and bewitchment.
    In the middle centuries in England, there was high usage of rye, and other wet grains, increasing the probability of mycotoxicosis, which likely gave rise to both depressed fertility in England as well as increased mortality during this period of time.  England was not as ill-fated, however, as other more damp and cloistered societies such as Russia.  England also was a great commercial nation, which permitted it to vary its diet with imported foods.
    In early modern Europe there were the periodic outbreaks of witchcraft, which were characterized by central nervous system symptoms.  These included tremors, sensations such as pricking, biting, ants crawling on the skin (known as paresthesias), distortions of the face and eyes, paralysis, spasms, convulsive seizures, permanent contractions of a muscle, hallucinations, manias, panics, and depressions.  Cases of gangrene, reproductive dysfunction, agalactia in humans (inability for females to produce milk).  Even animals behaved wildly and experienced agalactia simultaneously with humans.  Such problems occurred both in early Europe and in early America and had significant political and religious overtones as a society still scientifically naive tried to explain these outbreaks.  Even our modern medieval witchcraft-limited view of history still sees it as a religious, political, and social problem, not an organic one.
    The outbreaks in Europe can be plotted in the alpine areas, where temperatures were the coldest, there was more moisture, and the cereals were pretty much the singular staple food.  The relationship between climate and “witch persecution” can be predicted strictly on the basis of geography.
    We tend to think of witch persecution in Essex county in England, for example, as a religious affair.  However, Puritans were not more likely to persecute witches than were non-Puritans, and neither the alleged witches nor their intended victims had any characteristic religious beliefs.   It is possible to predict the number of witch trials based upon the dampness of the growing season.
    One of the last bizarre events in European history occurred in 1789, and it was called the Great Fear.  Waves of panic swept over the French countryside.  There were rumors of armies coming to seize their newly harvested rye crop.  Many people believed they had glimpsed bandits and feared it was already too late.  Women would be raped and murdered, children massacred, homes set afire.  Peasants weeping and shouting fled into the woods to hide or arm themselves with pitchforks, scythes, and hunting rifles. 
    This mass illusion is now believed to have been created by ergot alkaloids in rye-eating populations.  The suggestible mental state manifested itself as visions of bandits coming to steal crops, or apparitions of the millennium.  It now appears this is directly linked to mycotoxicosis.  Thus, whole societies were, in effect, driven somewhat mad by something as simple as a grain which was mold-infested because it was too high in moisture.
    Beginning around 1750, Europe’s population began to balloon, growing with unprecedented steadiness.  This can be shown to be related to the decreased consumption of rye, and increased consumption of wheat and potatoes, thus decreasing the exposure to mycotoxins.  This extremely rapid growth in population occurred without the introduction of any new technology, hygiene or medical practice.
    In colonial New England in the mid-1700’s there appeared a disease called Throat Distemper, which some historians have post-diagnosed as diptheria, or scarlatina, but which actually better fits fusarium mycotoxicosis, or the ATA  mentioned earlier.
    The Salem witchcraft affair in 1692 followed some 47 years after the witch persecutions in England.  In Salem, victims experienced symptoms with sensations of being pinched, pricked, or bitten, all of which are characteristic of ergotism.  There were also animal victims.  Again, those most affected were the younger ones.  Rye was cultivated in Salem village and very well may have been the breeding ground for the claviceps mold and its resultant alkaloids which act very much like LSD.  It is also noteworthy that ergot-infested bread takes on a pink tincture, and historical records make mention of the redness of the bread that was being eaten at the time.  All 22 of the Salem households afflicted with symptoms of bewitchment in 1692 were located on or at the edge of soils ideally suited to rye cultivation.
    Then there was the great awakening in 1741, considered to be a religious revival.  It is now believed that the central nervous system disturbances categorized as bewitchment were also taken as evidence of Divine Inspiration.
    This is a very interesting twist on of historical health, the rise and fall of populations, and even the psychology of large groups of people.  As people began to learn about the dangers of ergot, cultures began to grow or import wheat and convert more to a potato based diet.   Coincident with this was the cleaning up of the water supply, the prosecution of food adulterers, and the sanitizing of hospitals.  The Russians, for example, built railroads facilitating famine relief in remote areas, and helping to effect better food distribution.  Nothing here even suggests that the dramatic increase in health and longevity which followed the Middle Ages had anything whatsoever to do with the introduction of medical measures.
    This also teaches us that food is not necessarily always benign.  It can hold within it potentially powerful poisons. 
    The rule of food diversity is apparent here.  Today we are fortunate to have a great variety of foods from which to choose.  We should learn from this historical model and use the principle today in our eating patterns.  Also, make sure grains are fresh and dry. 
    When next you think about medieval witches and past plagues be reminded of the power of the food we eat and how the traditional view of history we’re taught may be nothing more than a myth (i.e. “We’re healthier today because of modern medicine.”) to prop up some modern day special interest.
 
 Vitamin C into the Fold
    The controversy surrounding vitamin C has been going on for many years now.  The use of this vitamin in both treatment and prevention of disease was particularly popularized by the Nobel laureate Linus Pauling.
    The literature we review is increasingly dappled with evidence demonstrating its value, not only in natural foods but as a part of supplementation.  There does seem to be a turning around of the scientific medical community as an increasing number of studies are being conducted to evaluate the merits of vitamin C.
    For example, a recent article in the Annals of Internal Medicine entitled, “Vitamin C: A New Look,” demonstrates how this vitamin is being accepted into the fold of contemporary medicine.  The article talks about the numerous physiological processes in which vitamin C participates.  It is needed in the synthesis of the amino acid carnitine, which is important for the movement of long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria to be oxidized for energy.  It is necessary in the synthesis of collagen, many hormones, norepinephrine, receptors for acetylcholine, the maturation of cartilage along the epiphyseal growth plate, and much more.
    As a note here, notice that as research progresses on nutrients they are found to have broader and broader actions.   Vitamin C, once simply thought of as the anti-scurvy vitamin, is now known to be broad in its physiological affects.  Reductionism –  viewing nature as simply an assemblage of parts – is caving in to the holistic view.
    Vitamin C is also believed to be more effective than other free-radical scavengers such as beta carotene, vitamin E, or glutathione. 
    Studies have described the role of vitamin C in immune function as well.  It is transported into neutrophils and lymphocytes against a concentration gradient achieving concentrations as high as 100 times above the plasma levels.
    Several papers were presented at a conference of scientists reviewing the role of vitamin C and health.  In one paper, the authors reviewed 75 epidemiological studies and found that 54 of them proved statistically significant evidence of a reduced risk for cancer in persons consuming higher levels of vitamin C.  Another study found that D-ascorbic acid, which is an isomer of vitamin C that does not prevent scurvy,  inhibited tumor growth. 
    Such evidence is reason for some researchers to believe that Vitamin C, besides exerting normal physiological effects, has almost a drug or therapeutic effect when administered in high levels, or in non-physiologic forms.  Evidence also was presented that vitamin C reduces the toxic effects of traditional cancer therapies.
    A very interesting comment by the author of the review article was: “The amount needed to prevent deficiency may not be the optimal amount.”  This fits well the theme we have talked about previously, that illness may fester undetected for years or decades, only to manifest itself in the latter stages of life.  Optimal nutrition may prevent such incubation of disease.  However, since the popular argument from conventional medical and nutritional circles is that anything taken beyond RDA’s or NRC’s or the like, is simply the creation of expensive urine, optimal nutrition has not been adequately addressed.  Rather, minimal nutrition required to prevent overt disease has been the main line.
    Vitamin C is found in all fresh fruits and vegetables, but is easily destroyed once these products are processed.   For example, nearly 100% of the vitamin C in orange juice is lost after just 12 hours.  So the trick is raw, fresh, intact fruits and vegetables.  If juicing is done, the juice should be consumed as quickly as possible. 
    But eating to these idealistic standards is not always possible.  Consuming 250 to 500 mg of vitamin C as a supplement daily is virtually without any reported adverse affects.  This may help provide insurance to prevent disease precipitated by compromised nutrition or  free radicals created in modern cooked or otherwise processed foods. 1 
 
Oxidized HDL's
    Cholesterol can be oxidized in foods before they are ever eaten.  They can also be oxidized in situ (in the body.)  In the oxidized form, cholesterol and other fats are free-radical generating, and when incorporated into the lining of blood vessels can cause cellular damage and vessel lesions. These in turn lead to a pathological cascade of changes ultimately resulting in the buildup of plaque within the vessel.
    The view that oxidized fats play a critical role in the etiology of atherosclerosis is controversial at present.   I am quite sympathetic to this view, since it fits the evidence so well and fits our Health Letter paradigm.  In other words, how could cholesterol, per se, or fats, per se, be the cause of atherosclerosis when they have always been part of the diet – and this disease is of relatively recent origins?   Is it reasonable to believe that a natural component of natural foods all of a sudden has begun to cause disease, or is it mor reasonable to expect that it is the modern manipulation of food that has created the modern disease?
    A new piece of evidence further corroborates this view.  LDL’s containing oxidized cholesterol are scavenged by macrophages that then turn into foam cells within the linings of vessels.  HDL’s, the so-called “good” lipoproteins, are able to withdraw cholesterol from foam cells and target it for removal from the body.  Researchers in Japan, however, have now demonstrated that if HDL’s contain oxidized cholesterol, their ability to remove cholesterol from foam cells is severely impaired.  If the oxidized cholesterol is not removed, then the sequence progresses unimpeded with the buildup of cholesterol in the vessel lining.
    Again, watch the fats and oils you consume, and particularly watch how they are prepared.  Try to consume the lipids you require from foods that still contain them within their natural protective context.   If oils are used in food preparation, those resistant to oxidation are best: specifically the saturated fats found, for example, in butter; and mono-unsaturated omega-9 oils, such as found in extra virgin olive oil and high oleic safflower oils.   Stabilizing oils that are being cooked with natural antioxidants is also a good idea. 2, 3
 
Labortory Self-Testing
    I want to go through a variety of blood chemistry tests which are readily available at a cost of usually under $50.   If an individual wanted to self-monitor it is possible to go to laboratories to have blood panels performed, where from 20 to 40 different test results can be evaluated.   Usually these laboratories provide literature describing what your result could mean if it is either elevated or lower than normal.
    But before I get into a specific discussion of the various blood chemistry tests, I would like to paint a broad caveat.  I’ve mentioned this before in the Health Letter.  Laboratory clinical testing should not be confused with prevention.   Prevention means undertaking life-style changes that have the high probability of enhancing and optimizing health and preventing disease.       Clinical evaluation and laboratory testing do not equal prevention, even though they are promoted as such by the medical community.
    Laboratory testing is also reductionistic in nature, which is counter to our synorgonic approach.  Laboratory testing philosophically argues that by looking at the smaller parts we can decide upon the health of the bigger part.  The opposite is more likely true.  Specifically, the outer appearance, the outer health is a reflection of the health of the inner, or smaller parts.      Medicine’s analytical, reductionistic, invasive, and laboratory approach creates further and further distance between the patient as a whole being, and the physician as a caring, touching, sensitive human evaluator and guide.
    There are about 1500 medical tests available to physicians.  These are used now with increasing frequency not only because of the reductionistic philosophic view, but also because physicians are trying to “cover their butts.”  These tests now cost approximately 200 billion dollars a year in the U.S. alone.  That means that one out of every three dollars of the one trillion dollar annual health care bill is spent on laboratory testing.  But by many estimates, at least 20 to 30% of these tests are unnecessary or inappropriate.   In one sampling, 20,000 routine blood tests were deemed not medically justifiable.   Over 75% of doctors surveyed admitted to doing more tests than were actually needed.
    Whether the tests are necessary or not is one issue, whether they are accurate or not is another.  In a study of 25,000 test results, only 20% of them reproduced the same result 90% of the time.  In another example, 197 out of 200 patients were “cured” by simply repeating the laboratory tests.
    Another danger of laboratory testing is one we’ve touched upon before in the Health Letter.  That is, that a false positive in some cases can have the potential, due to the stress it can cause, of creating disease.  Testing can convert normal people, who have no outward manifestation of disease, into sick people.  We’ve touched on some of these problems before in the Health Letter, such as the false negatives in Pap smears, the errors in colon cancer screening, skewed cholesterol testing, and false negatives in mammography, to mention only a few.
    Now with all that said, let me proceed through some of the tests which can be obtained by having a blood chemistry performed.  Given all the limitations just mentioned, and considered with an understanding that testing does not equal prevention, it still may not be a bad idea as a general screening method used once every year or two, to track some biochemical parameters.
    1.              Glucose - the average range is 70 to 105 milligrams.  A low level may indicate hypoglycemic problems, and a fasting level above 105 may indicate a diabetic condition.
    2.              BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen) - the average range is approximately 7 to 20.  Urea is a breakdown product of protein and is cleared from the blood by a normal functioning kidney.  If the kidney is failing blood urea nitrogen levels will rise.
    3.                 Creatinine - average range is .7 to 1.5 milligrams.  Creatinine may be a more specific index of kidney function than blood urea nitrogen since creatinine is not affected by high protein intake, as is the urea nitrogen.
    4.              Uric acid - the average range is 2.6 to about 7.  Uric acid levels may rise due to a genetic predisposition, but also it is associated with a high protein diet, and may even be an indicator of heart disease.
    5.              Calcium - the average range is from about 8.4 to 10.  Blood calcium levels are maintained quite rigorously by various hormones.  It is important that there is a positive calcium balance and some believe a high protein diet may create a negative balance, leading to osteoporosis.
    6.                 Phosphorus - the average is 2.5 to 4.5.  Phosphorus is a dynamic equilibrium with calcium.   If phosphorus goes up, calcium can be thrown into a negative balance, again leading to osteoporosis.  Meats are very high in phosphorus and can adversely affect this balance.
    7.              Albumin - the average range is 3.5 to 5.  If this level is low, it usually indicates some sort of debilitating disease or severe malnutrition.
    8.              Globulin - the range is 1.4 to 4.  Globulin is a protein particularly associated with the immune system which can be elevated in certain disease conditions.
    9.                 Cholesterol - the average is 150 to about 300, but the optimal level is believed to be less than 200.   We have discussed the significance of cholesterol at length in previous Health Letters so I will not do that here.   (See my book Lipid Nutrition.)
    10.                 Triglycerides - average range is 15 to 150.  We have discussed this also and of course an increased level of this increases cardiovascular risk.
    11.            HDL - the average range is 35 to 90, with lower levels being associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
    12.            LDL - reference range is 50 to 140 milligrams per deciliter, with higher levels being associated with increased risk.   I should say again that the HDL to LDL ratio is significant, with that ratio increasing meaning higher levels of HDL as opposed to LDL, meaning decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.
    13.                 Lipoprotein A - reference range is 0 to 20 milligrams per deciliter.  We’ve mentioned before that elevated levels of this lipoprotein are strongly associated with increased cardiovascular risk.
    There are a wide range of other tests which will come in standard blood chemistry profiles.  These can often easily be evaluated in terms of whether you are high or low by simply using the reference material right from the labs themselves.
    It’s extremely important here, however, for individuals having such testing performed and taking it upon themselves to do self-evaluation, to not look to these results as absolutely objective, and or even necessarily related to health or disease.  They must be viewed as simply a guide, like one checks body weight, complexion, mood, feeling, energy, and so forth for direction in terms of how life-style can be further improved to optimize health.
 
Money
    Each time I talk about this topic I’m going to try to remind you of its health importance if you don’t already know it.  Money is like a sixth sense, without which you have difficulty using the other five.  People with money difficulties have problems keeping marriages intact, families happy, and moving life along in a positive and creative way.  Such difficulties can seriously impact health and all the medicine, food, exercise and air purifiers in the world won’t make it better.
    Just a couple of tips that you may find of help.  Some issues ago we mentioned the value of placing a savings account in, for example, the Dreyfuss Money Market Fund, rather than standard bank’s CDs.  For those of you who have done that you have watched those interest rates fall very rapidly as interest rates in general fell.  Money Market Funds are an exceptionally good place to have your money if interest rates are high, but not so food if they fall.  A good secure place to move the money now is to the Blanchard Global Fund, which is not so interest rate-sensitive.  It has been earning 9 and 10% interest on savings, and offers check writing privileges.  Their telephone number is 1-800-922-7771.
    To another subject.  An individual retirement account, or an IRA, is available to everyone.  The maximum amount that can be contributed is $2000 a year.  Since this contribution removes that portion of your income from taxes and its growth in an IRA account is also tax-free, it has significant potential for creating an excellent nest egg in your later years.  On the back of the Health Letter I’ve reproduced two examples of how an IRA can grow at an incredible rate.  The main element is time, and the fact that any interest earned during the course of the year is immediately added to principle, and then that, in turn, is resulting in interest.   This is called compounded growth.
    This chart is reproduced from a magazine available from the Telephone Switch Newsletter.  This is a monthly newsletter that can help you invest wisely and learn how to switch between stocks and money market funds to always help ensure the highest yield on your savings.  Their number is 1-800-950-8765.  They provide a money-back subscription.
    I can certainly claim no expertise in this area, and will simply try to pass on to you information that we discover in hopes that you will evaluate it yourself to determine if it might be of help to you.
 
Gifts for Someone Special
    The recent issue of the Sportsman’s Guide Catalog offers some gift suggestions for that special someone who thinks they have everything.
    First there is the Jackalope.   This is a mounted head of a jack rabbit with a genuine set of deer antlers implanted in its forehead.  It’s only $49.99.  As if that’s not enough, they promise to throw in a free Jackalope Hunting Permit.
    Next, there is a key ring, guaranteed to make sure that no one accidentally takes your keys.  The key ring has attached to it the real head of a rattle snake.
    Then there is the perfect gift to adorn anyone’s desk.  It is a solid oak presentation plaque, with a mounted head of an alligator holding a hunting knife with a deer antler handle.  The blade is held in a special hole made in the alligator’s forehead.            
       
        Annals of Internal Medicine, May 15, 1991: 909-910
        Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences, August 1, 1991
        Science News, October 12, 1991: 237