Recently my youngest boy brought home a work
page from his first grade class. It was called “Caring for the Earth.” The
problem was: “Pete wants to do his part to keep the earth in good shape. Put a
check next to the things he can do to help the Earth. Put an X next to those
things that won’t really help the Earth.” Number one was take out the trash,
number two was fill the tub only part of the way when he takes a bath, number
three was plant a garden, number 4 was use both sides of a piece of paper,
number 5 was help his father do the dishes, number 6 was make a bird feeder.
This was on a nice mimeographed sheet showing Pete out in the garden planting
corn and tomatoes in a nice country setting. What a delight it was to see the
schools taking part in helping children to understand more about our fragile
world. As I look back through my schooling, I can’t remember anything in any
class that ever spoke to the environmental issues that have crashed in upon us
in the last decade. About the only thing I can remember having anything to do
with taking care of the earth was legislation making it a crime to throw trash
out of car windows. But this was only done as a beautification program and had
nothing to do with environmental responsibility. Seeing this sort of awareness
occurring in schools from grade school up, plus a whole bunch of other things
occurring, and in particular increased general awareness, make it not so
pollyannish to have real hope for the future.
Only 1% of the approximately 1 billion
pounds of pesticides used on food products per year reaches their insect
targets. That means that 99% of this billion pounds simply is waste spilled
into our environment.
Present world population is 5.2 billion and
is expected to increase to 82 billion by the year 2020. Underdeveloped
countries are anticipated to contribute 93% of this total increase. There is
little doubt that we are entering a time when cooperation and rational
resolution of world problems must be placed as top priorities for the world
The admonition to drink several glasses of
water a day is often given in the same breath as advice to eat from the four
food groups and to visit your physician yearly for a check-up.
An article in Parade Magazine by Dr. Perry,
a chiropractor, states that an average person should drink a minimum of 8 to 10
eight ounce glasses of water a day. Another formula is ½ ounce per pound of
body weight daily. If you were not active, that would be 10 eight-ounce glasses
if you weigh 160 pounds. Two-thirds of an ounce per pound is the recommendation
if you’re athletic, that would be 13 to 14 glasses a day at the same weight of
This is an incredible amount of water to
have to gulp down during the course of a day. There is little doubt that we do
need water, it is a critical physiological component of our bodies, which are
comprised of about 70% water. But this recommendation that we drink these
amounts of water without thirst telling us we need it must be suspicioned. It
seems that every other physiological need or function we have is best maintained
by responding to the body’s call. We sleep because we feel sleepy, we eat
because we’re hungry, we eliminate because we need to eliminate, we drink when
we are thirsty. If we are force feeding more liquids than our body is calling
for, then this must create stress on the digestive tract and the kidneys and the
It is not clear when such recommendations
for drinking water are made where these facts come from or how they are
supported by controlled study. Maybe this information exists but we have not
been able to come across it in our research yet, we just imply come across
Probably more important than how much we
drink, is what we drink. Modern water supplies, be they from municipal sources
or wells, are now highly suspect. Chlorine used in drinking water is suspect.
Halogenated by-products resulting from chlorination are known to be carcinogenic
with chlorinated water showing direct links to bladder cancer specifically.
Chlorinated water may also block iodine uptake leading to hypothyroidism. Much
drinking water contains high levels of lead, over 60 pesticides have been found
in some water supplies, the EPA has identified over 700 pollutants in drinking
water, fluorides are also suspect as having a role in cancer, fluoridation also
tends to concentrate the aluminum from cookware and aluminum is linked to
Alzheimer’s disease. Certainly these are all considerations in drinking
moderate thirst-provocated amounts of water let alone drinking 10 or 12 or 14
glasses a day which will greatly increase our exposure to these hazards.
So how much is enough water? Probably the
safest bet is to let your body tell you. There are some instances, however,
where drinking water before thirst hits may indeed to helpful and that would
include drinking before a fairly intensive workout say an 8 ounce glass of water
15 minutes to a half an hour before a workout and being sure to drink sufficient
amounts to meet your thirst requirements afterwards. Research has shown that
performance and stamina can be increased by doing this.
Parade, October 22, 1989.
Care – A Growth Industry
In our small community here in Michigan, it
seems that the primary construction projects are in one way or another related
to health care. New large multi-person dental complexes, multi-million dollar
expansions of the hospital, 24 hour chain quick medical clinics, large
multi-story private medical complexes dot our landscape.
This is evidently not unique to us here
since medical care expenditures now ½ trillion dollars or 11.1% of the gross
national product. Medical care in the last decade or so has exceeded inflation
by over 80% and Medicare and Medicaid groups have grown from 70 billion in 1982
to 111 billion in 1987.
These expenditures will likely increase
unless there is a dramatic paradigm shift away from the emphasis on
after-the-fact crisis care intervention. Additionally, life expectancy is
believed to increase to 82 years for women and about 74 years for men by the
year 2020. With things as they are, in the first half of the 21st
century, dementia might inflict 28% or more of the senior population and hip
fractures might well exceed 800,000 per year in the geriatric population.
We have discussed before in the review how
that longevity, the actual potential for length of life has not increased, but
rather life expectancy is increasing primarily as a result of reduction in
childhood deaths which are in turn a result not of crisis care intervention, but
as a result of more soft factors such as better food distribution and better
As the population’s average age increases,
the rate of chronic degenerative disease will also increase proportionally since
its main target is the elderly.
The question reasonably asked is, are we
living longer and feeling worse or is the ½ trillion dollars spent per year
truly bettering the human condition?
It appears that other than in the
pyrotechnics of emergency care medicine where modern technology can indeed
influence outcome in some cases in dramatic ways, the human condition is not
being bettered. If it is not, then perhaps the basic approach to health care
needs to be reexamined.
Just as the rising environmental
consciousness is getting people to be more introspective and take control of
their own life, so too must the same reasoning be applied to the ecology of the
body. The parallel, when you think about it, is quite remarkable, if not
exact. Simple mindless, short-sighted consumption of the body’s resources is
no different than the mindless, short-sighted consumption of the Earth’s
resources. Allow others to care for your body and expect the worst. Allow
others to care for the Earth and expect the worst. Pollute the body and disease
results and life is threatened. Pollute the body and disease results and life
Taking control of our own health destiny,
doing things now that result in health later, adopting the far-sighted approach
to personal care is ultimately the only answer there can be to bringing to
humans and animals the fullness of their health potential.
Health AFF., 1988;5:124-136.
JAMA, May 2, 1990;263:17:2335.
Fluoride's Questionable Value
Does or does not fluoride addition to public
water supplies decrease dental disease? Or is the introduction of fluoride in
our water a threat to our health? this is a controversy which has always
existed since the first proposal for introducing fluoride into drinking water.
But the issue is particularly heating up of late. The reason is that increasing
evidence suggesting that chronic fluoride intake may increase the incidence of
certain cancers, and other evidence, argues that there is no difference in the
dental carie rate in areas which are fluoridated as opposed to those which are
not. In 1986, Nature reported a study of 8 countries demonstrating that there
was no clear positive effect of fluoride treated drinking water.
In some countries, fluoridated water has
been banned, such Austria, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway,
Yugoslavia, Spain, and the Netherlands. This was done out of the concern over
the possible toxicity of fluorides and also the disputable evidence regarding
It may be that the decreased levels of
dental caries that have occurred concomitantly with the introduction of fluoride
are not associated. Evidence indicates that the decline in dental caries has
occurred in areas where fluoride was used. This is a similar situation to
crediting the drop in Scarlet Fever with the introduction of penicillin when 90
plus percent of the incidences of Scarlet Fever had dropped before penicillin
was every used. Similar evaluations can be made of diphtheria, influenza,
measles, tuberculosis, polio, typhoid, pneumonia, and whooping cough. In other
words, as Renee Dubois has said, “When the tide is receding from the beach it is
easy to have the illusion that one can empty the ocean by removing water with a
pail.” In other words, if disease is almost at the bottom of the hill on a
declining slope of an incidence curve, it is easy to suggest that cure after the
majority of the decline has already occurred is due to some intervention.
Newsweek, Feb. 5, 1990;4.
and Breast Cancer
A recent study reported in Lancet
demonstrated a correlation between psychosocial factors and hormone receptor
status in primary breast cancer patients. The study showed that those patients
with estrogen and/or progesterone receptor positive tumors were better adjusted
psychosocially than those with negative receptor status.
The prognostic value of hormone receptors is
still controversial so looking at only the data available it may be difficult to
associate benefit or harm to the presence of absence of receptors. However, if
evidence elsewhere is taken into consideration whereby it is demonstrated that
individuals more psychosocially adapted are more healthy, it would appear that
since positive receptor status is associated with better psychosocial adaptation
that positive receptors may mean a more optimistic outcome.
For now, identifying receptor status is of
benefit in determining whether a patient is more likely to respond to adjuvant
chemotherapy or from Tamoxifen therapy if they are receptor positive.
This is just another example of the
importance of the mind-body connection. That we are not simply an assemblage of
mechanical parts unrelated to our persona. Mammary cancer has risen 2% per year
since 1960 and now 1 in every 10 women in the United States will get the disease
at some time in their life. The approach to breast cancer through treatment,
however, has not been rewarding. One therapy after another has been introduced
over the past 20 years and yet no overall decrease in age-adjusted mortality in
any large populations, in any country has occurred. In fact, mortality is
increasing at the rate of about 2% per year. There are definite correlations
between diet and breast cancer particularly high fats of the bad kind we have
talked about before in the Review such as imbalanced omega 6 and omega 3, and
oxidized lipids. It is also known that there is likely a correlation between a
mother’s risk and the status of health during the peri and post menarcheal
periods. Now the link between psychosocial adaptation and an important
physiological component, hormone receptors, demonstrate the importance of a
preventative and holistic approach to health.
Science News, April 21, 1990;245.
Bailliere’s clinical oncology,
The Lancet, 335:931.
Minutes after a 63-year-old woman consumed a
tortilla chip, she experienced retro sternal pain and vomited blood. This
recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine goes on to say that upon
examination, she was in extreme pain, spitting blood and was found to have a
large five-centimeter laceration upon fiber optic esophagoscopy. The patient’s
stomach contained a large amount of clotted blood and she began to run a fever.
There was some pleural effusion although the esophagography revealed that
there was no perforation from the esophageal laceration. The patient received
antibiotics and antiinflammatories and subsequently became afebrile. She
received blood transfusions and eventually went home on the sixth day after
hospitalization although she was still unable to swallow solid food painlessly.
Six weeks later, esophagoscopy revealed only a small scar in the distil
The reporting physician indicated that he
was easily able to produce tears with tortilla chips in the esophagus from
This individual had a full upper denture,
which can predispose to food impaction or other swallowing abnormalities as
described here where evidently a large piece of tortilla chip was swallowed
This is just another in our series of if it
can happen, it will. It is also a lesson in making sure food is chewed
thoroughly and do what is necessary to keep your natural teeth throughout your
The New England Journal of Medicine, May
There is yet another microwave danger,
adding to the possibility of bums or food poisoning. With approximately three
out of four homes having a microwave in regular use, many uneasy jokes about
“nuking” food and the like can be heard. People generally don’t completely trust
their microwave and what it may be doing to them. But, in our fast food
convenience-oriented society. they have quickly become something we would be
loathe to live without.
Information discussed in a recent Nutrition
Action Health Letter has to do with the containers, packages and products we use
with our microwaving which are largely exempt from any government regulation.
The plastics, cling-wraps, special “browning” packages and even the cookware
which is supposed to be “microwave-safe” all pose potential health threats.
Since microwaves can’t brown or crisp foods, the packaging itself for microwave
pizzas, french fries. popcorn, etc. has to do the browning, crisping and
“frying” action rather than the oven. This is called “heat-susceptor” packaging,
the heat susceptors are thin, gray strips or disks of metallized plastic which
absorb the microwave energy, get very hot and act like a tiny frying pan in the
oven. With microwave pizza, the entire silver surface on which the pizza sits is
heat susceptor material. Microwave waffles are inserted into a box lined with
the silver gray heat susceptor material. The problem is that the FDA, which is
supposed to approve all substances which go into food and packages, only
tested the heat susceptor packaging to 300 degrees. What they didn’t anticipate
was that the susceptors can reach 500 degrees in the microwave, and this is when
chemicals migrate out of the susceptors and into the foods. In fact, in 1988,
tests on corn oil showed every test package releasing chemicals into the oil
within three minutes of microwave cooking time. Not only do the susceptors
themselves break down, but so do other components of the packaging, including
the adhesives used to hold them together. Even though the adhesives used in food
packaging are required by the FDA to have a “functional barrier” between them
and the food, through which the adhesives are not supposed to be able to pass,
these don’t work under high heat conditions. The adhesives do get into the food,
and an FDA chemist, Les Borodinsky. calls these adhesives a “real witches brew”
with their traces of benzene, toluene and xylene which are all known or highly
suspected carcinogens. And what about all the chemicals the FDA hasn’t looked
into yet which are components of the packaging used in microwaves?
Now many foods are being packaged in “dual
ovenable” trays, designed to be used either in the microwave oven or-a
conventional oven. These dual ovenables don’t contain heat susceptors, but tests
show that they do have many substances which migrate into the food, mainly in
conventional ovens. The chemicals in food from a dual ovenable package warmed in
a conventional oven compare quite directly with those found in microwaved foods
from heat susceptor packaging. Here the recommendation would be to transfer all
foods into glass cookware before baking in a conventional oven.
The plastic or cling wraps we use daily are
also suspect. A British government study in 1987 showed that plasticizing
chemicals from PVC wraps migrated into fatty foods not only during microwave
cooking, but also at room temperatures and even at refrigerator temperatures.
The longer the wrap was in contact with fatty foods, and the higher the
temperature, the more DEHA (di-(2-ethylhexyl) adipate) there was in the food.
The highest levels are found in real fatty foods such as pork spare ribs which
were microwaved touching the wrap. But even fatty foods such as sausage and ham
which were simply wrapped but not microwaved contained elevated levels of DEHA.
Levels seemed unaltered in non-fatty foods such as fruits and vegetables,
however. The recommendation here would be to decrease the consumption of fatty
foods, first of all, and then certainly not to let your plastic or PVC wraps
come in contact with the food during storage or microwaving. How bad is DEHA?
Well, no one knows for sure, but the National Toxicology Program found that-it
causes cancer in mice, but not rats No one is saying whether it causes cancer in
humans. We do know that it permeates our food supply, however, since so many
fresh foods found in grocery stores seem to be packaged in it—from fruits to
packaged meats—so the plasticizer probably ends up on the surface of these
foods, even permeating the fatty meats.
Remember also that the old margarine tubs or
yogurt containers you grab quickly to warm your leftovers in are not at all
tested for microwave safety. They are designed to hold cold foods, not hot, and
they release a variety of chemicals into foods when microwaved. Even the
“microwave safe” or “microwaveable” cookware you use is untested. So far, it has
been up to the manufacturer to test their own products because the FDA does not
regulate containers, because of something called the “housewares exemption” set
up in the 1950’s. This set forth that the FDA had jurisdiction over packaging
used commercially, but not that which is used for cooking and eating in the
home. However, as long ago as 1974 the FDA realized that this was not a prudent
position, since at the most critical stage of food processing, with high heat
added immediately before being eaten, was when there would be the most risk for
significant amounts of harmful additives entering the foods from the packaging.
So the FDA proposed getting rid of the policy, but 16 years later it still
stands, waiting to be “finalized,” as they say. For now, without government
intervention and control. we simply have to take the word of the companies
producing the food packaging products.
As for cooking, make sure there is no
contact between foods and plastic-type wraps, or better yet use glass covers and
glass cookware. Even better yet, return as much as possible to the non-cooked,
whole, raw diet and avoid cooking as much as possible. Poor old dead horse, we
just keep beating him.
As inappropriate as it seems information
that passes to not only the public, but to the scientific community is filtered
primarily through the mechanism of journal peer review. It would seem that any
substantiated information or reasonable arguments should be presented to the
scientific community particularly to encourage fresh thinking and innovation.
Unfortunately this is not the case. Instead
editors and referees take it upon themselves to carefully scrutinize materials
according to their personal standards of quality rather than serving as agents
for the dissemination of potentially useful information. This is not to say
that it is not important that scientific information be scrutinized to eliminate
fraud and error as much as possible. Even with the rigorous methods used to
screen articles published in recognized scientific journals, fraud invariably
creeps through and so does error.
An excellent series of articles in a recent
Journal of the American Medical Association demonstrates the merits as well as
the difficulties in the modern peer review process. They examine who peer
reviewers are, how that there is broad variations in methods of review between
different journals, and how that if a peer reviewer him or herself has an
article rejected or accepted it affects how they subsequently screen papers they
are responsible for reviewing, bias (3 articles are written on that topic
alone), fraudulent publication and the inadequately of removing this material
from literature following exposure, further how that retracted or fraudulent
material continues to be cited for years later, conflict of interest by peer
reviewers and how that the modern peer review process suppresses innovation
creates stirring food for thought for those who believe what appears in a
scientific journal is cold hard truth.
I’ve mentioned before how that it is
virtually impossible for a person or small company to introduce a medical
product, device or procedure without considerable funding. FDA control of the
introduction of new medical ideas is simply an extreme example of what occurs in
medical journals themselves. Millions of dollars are required to validate ,
according to FDA guidelines, a new pharmaceutical product. Thus, the ultimate
goal of a public protector such as the FDA is only partially served by its
focused attempt to force proof of safety and efficacy. But as we continually
mention in the Review, even these extraordinary efforts are inadequate since
drugs and procedures continue to slip through that are neither safe nor
effective. The other half of the responsibility of a public protector is to be
sure mew healing possibilities are presented to the public. But instead.
Innovation is by and large suppressed. Natural products which can not be
patented do not justify fronting the money necessary to test them since once
the proof is established the product would be available for anybody to sell.
The company funding the research would not be able to recover its costs.
Additionally, as I said, if the company is not large enough to fund the studies
required, the studies are not done, approval is not given and if the procedure
or product is used it is then viewed by those in the medial community as
quackery. It is a difficult dilemma but it seems that public interests are best
served by openness, a free medical marketplace and the exercise of caveat emptor
by an informed public.
As I said, the control of the introduction
of new medical products is simply a gaudy reflection of what is occurring in the
journals. When one submits findings to journals they can be guaranteed
rejection unless considerable funding is available to create the studies and
analyses required by journal reviewers.
Significant scientific information is known
to have been rejected if not suppressed by the modern review process. For
example, Glick and other’s work on the identification of B lymphocytes as
separate identities was rejected by leading journals, Krebs article on the
citric acid cycle considered by many to be the most important singly article in
modern bio-chemistry was initially rejected. The history of science is filled
with thwarted discoveries. If the discovery is not adequately publicized it
simply will not be adapted into current scientific thought. We can be
absolutely sure that there is a bounty of information that is presently
available and has been available for some time which could offer many benefits
to the public which is simply suppressed for reasons other than whether the
information is valid or might benefit the public.
An editor for the journal Medical Hypothesis
said, “In all that is said and written about peer review, quality control
appears overwhelmingly important and the encouragement of innovation receives
little attention. That is the recipe for failure.” He goes on to argue that
the obsession with quality of and article has essentially destroyed innovation
and has set back scientific and medical progress.
He mentions for example that there are five
major types of drugs used in modern psychiatry. All five classes were
discovered prior to 1960. Although it is true come variance of these have been
introduced, the basic classes remain the same. The primary reason for the
standstill is simply the suppression of innovation in medical journals. If new
discoveries are not welcomed in accepted scientific publications, advance will
come only with great difficulty.
The editor further stated that lithium is
one of the most successful of all the psychiatric drugs yet the modern peer
review practices would have blocked its introduction. Kade, the discoverer of
the product, worked under primitive conditions and was insufficiently funded to
produce controlled data which would be accepted by modern editors. Thus today’s
quality rather than innovation centered journals would have prevented the
introduction of this compound which if properly used is one of the few drugs to
be capable of actually bringing about true normalization of behavior affected
individuals. This one example represents likely the tip of the iceberg. There
has always been tension in science between those who emphasize originality,
creativity, and profundity and those on the other hand who wish to emphasize
accuracy and reliability. The two horses are both necessary for good
information, but accuracy and reliability without creativity and innovation is
pretty much worthless and can throw us into the dark ages.
I recently had a first hand experience with
the process. I wrote an article entitled, “The Myth of the 100% Complete
Manufactured Diet” which was an 18-page article with 37 scientific references
which I submitted to a peer viewed journal. The journal sent the article out to
three reviewers. The reviewers each critiqued the article and made the
recommendations as to whether it should be published or not. Two of the
reviewers felt the article should be burned and the other felt it should be
The article is available in the Wysong
Library. In essence I was trying to demonstrate how that it is impossible for
our current stage of knowledge to create any product which is processed and
claim it to be 100% complete. The basic flaw is that we do not yet know what
100% nutritional complete is. Information is constantly changing and no one can
be absolutely sure what nutrient in what form should be fed to which person or
animals to give absolute insurance of nutritional health. Since we do not have
100% knowledge, how can a 100% claim be made? In any case, I went through a
variety of arguments which I felt were all overwhelmingly logical (of course)
and I supplied documentation for any specific facts I alluded to.
I was literally shocked by the tone of the
first two reviewers who seemed actually hostile. As I thought about this, these
were probably professional Nutritionists, some of whom are known to have the
hair stand up on the back of their neck if anyone would dare suggest that they
are not capable of creating a 100% complete diet. One reviewer began his
critique by condemning me because he had not seen me at any meeting he has
attended. He also took issue with the fact that I did not outline my
credentials to justify my expressing an opinion on the subject. Another one of
the reviewers, who is evidently familiar with some of our activities in creating
some processed food products, attempted to argue that I was, therefore,
prejudiced in my presentation of the article. But the thesis of the article was
that all processed foods could not claim 100% completeness. Therefore, the
reviewers logic would go like this. This is the absurd syllogism?
1. My article argues that the 100%
complete processed diet is not possible.
2. I have produced a processed diet.
3. Therefore, my paper is self
His prejudice was so profound, he could not
see through to the fact that my paper would as well argue against our claiming
our processed foods could be 100% complete also.
In any case, I have gone back and forth with
the editor and the anonymous reviewers, but it is unlikely that it will be
published through this particular journal. Now I don’t want you to think the
purpose of this topic is just for me to cry in my beer. Why should I care if
those dirty rotten editors rejected my revolutionary senunal article. Just
kidding, anyway it made me well aware that information we read in journals is
vigorously filtered and even though results may lead us to certain beneficial
conclusions here and there, as we survey journals we can be assured that this
information is highly incomplete and that we are only receiving a fraction of
the information that is available.
The only way truth will ever be approached
is if there is the free flow of information and people are able to evaluate all
the data and reason on it. From there, progress can occur. As the system of
peer review is going, now we are simply narrowing the field of information,
discouraging innovation and creativity and making it possible only for those in
financially elite positions to be able to produce discovery.
The discouragement of authors and the
suppression of innovation, works against the creative process. As Francis Bacon
said in 1621, “The human intellect is more moved and excited by affirmatives
than by negatives.”
Understanding this restricted process in
traditional scientific journals should make us more receptive to gathering
information from sources outside these channels. Since many discoverers and
authors are thwarted from revealing their information through these channels,
they are forced into the less prestigious and even lay publications.
I don’t know about you, but I trust my
ability to evaluate information to form conclusions so long as I am given free
access to all the information. As it stands now, we are not as individuals
granted that trust, but rather, arbitrarily appointed or self appointed judges
in the form editors and reviewers become the filters for information you and I
get to be exposed to.
I want to periodically give you some recipes
for the preparation of raw foods at home. Nuts, such as pecans (which is
actually the pit of a fruit), brazils (actually a seed, which is very high in 5
amino acids such as methionine and cystine which are low in legumes such as soy
- good additions to common vegetation based diets), walnuts, and others, are
usually eaten as snacks or treats sometimes roasted, in oil or not, and often
lightly salted. They are indeed nutritional in this form, but as we have talked
about in previous reviews, as they are roasted, as the oils are heated, a
variety of wondrous things happen to the biochemical quality of the contained
Here is an idea for how to consume nuts in
their raw form with all of their unaltered nutritional value. Buy organic nuts
if you can. Put the nuts in water that is double the volume of the nuts and
allow them to soak for about a day or even two. During this day or two, keep
pouring the water off, say two to three times per day, and replacing it with
fresh water. As you pour the water off, you will notice that the water is dark
brown in color and will lighten after several hours. The water is removing much
of the bitterness from the coating of the raw nut. Adding a little hydrogen
peroxide to the soak water will also inhibit mold growth. See the Hydropure
brochure in the Wysong Library. After a day or two of soaking, simply remove
the water and store the nuts in the refrigerator. They can then be used as
snacks, try adding them to sandwiches, or in any kind of cooked product, chopped
up in cereal, and so forth. After they have soaked much of the bitterness is
gone, they become much more tender and sweeter and more easily digested. Nuts
are good sources of protein, minerals, and lipids and can provide fairly high
levels of fatty acids of the omega 3 family. Try to prepare the nuts frequently
so they are not being stored for long periods of time after they have been
soaked. Remember time is the enemy of nutritional value.
There is growing moral dilemma unique to our
time: the ability of doctors to save patients when saving them may not be the
right thing to do—not morally right, not right for society, not right for the
family, not right for the patients themselves. Young physicians often make
these larger-than-life-and-death decisions, often by themselves but sometimes
with hastily called smaller conferences or scheduled hospital ethics committee
meetings. In some cases the decision making travels even as far as the U.S.
Supreme Court, which will hear for example the case of the parents of a comatose
32-year-old Missouri woman who want to withdraw the feeding tube that is keeping
her alive. Another mother has watched her daughter-continue in a coma for eight
years yet states “I know the only way Kimmy will get better is by a miracle, and
I’m probably not going to get one, but I cannot starve my child.” Which parent
is right? And even if the Supreme Court “tells” us, “decides” for us, does that
settle it? In this field, increasingly sophisticated technology is something of
a mixed blessing. making it easier for doctors to save lives, but far more
difficult to convince patients and families - and maybe even themselves—that it
is an appropriate time to let a patient die. Not all their years in medical
school nor all our combined years of living experience can prepare us well for
such ethical dilemmas.
Dr. Wolf, a neurosurgeon, said about one
patient who had fallen several hours earlier, sustaining brain injury and losing
most neurological function: “I could have operated and revived her. But for what
outcome? It was more fair to her to do nothing, not to operate. l can’t operate
merely because l have the ability or the right.” In this case the family agreed
and the ventilator that was keeping the patient alive was removed.
Another physician, a mother herself, says “I
can consult colleagues, but ultimately I have to make the decision. To simply
present the facts to the family and ask them to decide is not fair. These are
medical decisions. I don’t want families to have any doubt. Doctors’ and nurses’
lives will go on, but parents have to live with the decision for the rest of
Dr. Henry Silverman runs the medical
intensive-care unit at Johns Hopkins and spends a good deal of his time trying
to persuade people to face dying. Most patients in his unit are suffering from
multiple organ failure, and families are still asking the doctors to “do
everything” to revive the patient. Despite tubes for ventilation and tubes for
feeding and catheters in bladder and veins—many families still want CPR
performed if the heart stops. Dr. Silverman says there is a big difference
between someone whose heart stops because he’s dying and someone who dies
because his heart stops. He is worried that because of society’s general horror
about death, patients are becoming prisoners and physicians the servants of
technology. Now that we all understand the marvels of modern medicine and
technology, we need to understand that in many cases technology is only
prolonging death. “We aren’t letting people die any more. We have people
occupying beds who don’t need to be there , people who will never recover no
matter what we do. It seems that no one dies at home any more.” Technology is
being used not to cure but simply to extend the hospital stay. The choices seem
endless for terminal patients and for patients with severe injuries, sometimes
even weeks after an accident or weeks into hospitalization there are choices to
be mode: If the kidneys fail, should dialysis be started? If the blood pressure
drops, should medications be given to support it? Should the respirator stay, be
turned down gradually, or be withdrawn? Many doctors are not “playing God” as
they are often accused, but are asking families to consider letting patients go
peacefully and not with tubes, machines, and violent CPR procedures as port of
their final days.
These are tragic events for those involved.
And unfortunately as life passes us by, a high percentage of us will be faced
with similar dilemmas. These tragic stories represent the best and the worst of
medicine. They represent the best from the standpoint that modern
technology does have tremendous capabilities in terms of alleviating pain and
suffering and assisting the life process. It represents the worst in that we
can become prisoners of this technology and suffer more than if it were not
This captivity is born both out of desire -
desire on the part of the physician to heal and save lives, desire on the part
of the patient’s family to see a miracle. But also out of the misconception
that technology is the maker of miracles. We are led to believe that when ill,
we get better because or intervention, because of technology, because of
professional expertise rather than because of resources within the body itself.
Thus we the public and the professional medical practitioner are led down a
primrose path believing that any cure is possible with a new discovery just
around the corner in a research laboratory somewhere
The objective of medicine is not
intervention but humaneness. Humaneness toward the patient,
humaneness toward the friends and family who are left behind to live with the
choices to at had been made.
The priority given to the sanctity of
metabolic viability as opposed to conscience happy living and the misconception
particularly by the public that hospitals are places where miracles occur will
continue to make these life and death tragedies even more tragic.
What really is to blame for the accelerating
destruction of tropical forests? According to the April 1990 issue of Scientific
American, government policies are largely at the root of the problem. Most of us
are well aware that the forests are disappearing at the rate of tens of
thousands of square miles per year, driving countless plant and animal species
to extinction and likely significantly affecting world climate. Commercial
logging and conversion of forested areas to cattle ranches are usually blamed.
But the data recently collected by the World Resources Institute indicates that
both of these are largely the result of government policies—many policies borne
of a short-term and shortsighted need to help with the economic pressures
afflicting these underdeveloped countries.
In the majority of the developing countries,
the governments control at least 80% of the forests and they can’t put a value
on them above what they feel is their obligation to develop their countries’
economic strength. In many cases, finding themselves and their people in
economic traps, the governments are short-sightedly selling out their
rainforests and other natural resources for a relative song, often to foreign
enterprises who are taking advantage of the position they perceive the poorer
country to be in. Many of the governments are not capable of follow up after the
fact, either, and don’t properly supervise or manage the actual deforestation
work. Thus they may collect royalties on only part of what was taken; the
loggers may work beyond designated areas into protected areas or national parks;
and in some confused countries such as Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines,
the areas under concession actually exceed the total area of production forest.
Unable to invest enough in stewardship and management of the forests, the
governments are sacrificing twice – taking so little for their forests in the
first place and then losing again when the hectares they didn’t intend to lose
are exploited or damaged as well.
This is a sad scenario. Whether the blame
is pointed at the government seeking shortsighted relief for economically
blighted populations or the blame goes to richer nations making a market for
exotic timber or cheap hamburgers. The rainforest nations are not willing to
take all the blame and point to the fact that more developed countries sometime
in their past deforested virgin wildernesses, including the U. S., of course.
No early answer but the attention this is
receiving is surely the beginning of the solution.
If you have some bare land plant some trees
to help reverse the earth’s tree debt.
Scientific American, April 1990
Some countries are doing great things to
make our planet a salvageable thing. Briefly let me share some of them with you
in a nutshell, so that you can appreciate how global this has become. I will
just here briefly mention ideas and early plans and programs which some
countries are beginning with.
Czechoslovakia’s new president, in his New
Year’s Day address to the nation, said, “We have laid waste to our soil and the
rivers and the forests that our forefathers bequeathed to us, and we have the
worst environment in the whole of Europe today. The previous regime, armed
with an arrogant and intolerant ideology, denigrated man into a production force
and nature into a production tool. In this way it attacked their very essence
and the relationship between them.”
Sweden, suffering in their small country
from a loss of the reputation for a clean and beautiful place to live and visit,
and realizing that much of the sulfur dioxide that falls in their acid rain is
coming from Eastern Europe, has announced that it will provide Poland with over
$45 million in environmental aid over the next three years.
The Soviet government, in an effort to get
advice on improving their energy efficiency in order to help reduce global
warming, is consulting with the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York
and the Rocky Mountain Institute of Old Snowmoss, Colorado.
In a unique combined effort, the Swedish and
Soviet paper and pulp industries recently proposed a cooperative plan to help
reduce pollution entering the Baltic Sea. Sweden will be donating pollution
control technology for Soviet mills in exchange for Soviet natural gas and pulp.
Our Congress recently passed legislation
which allocates $40 million in environmental assistance for Poland and Hungary,
which isn’t much in light of the massive environmental problems in these
countries, but nevertheless is an important step.
Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden
have announced plans to set up an investment company which will fund joint
environmental ventures in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.
East and West Germany recently initiated a
three year pollution control program which Includes the purchase of advanced
cool burning technology for East German power plants and the installation of a
water purification system for a chemical plant in Leipzig which is currently
polluting two major rivers.
Norway is currently working on a plan
whereby they will donate .1 percent of their gross national product to an
envisioned international climate fund. They are pledging to bring carbon dioxide
emissions down to the 1989 level by the year 2,000; energy use will be reduced
through higher taxes and new goals for building regulations and urban land use.
They also plan on phasing out the use of halons and chlorofluorocarbons by 1995.
Australia has an ambitious plan as well. A
coalition of farmers and environmentalists, seeing the widespread land
degradation, pushed the government to develop a comprehensive program. With-the
beaches at Sydney polluted, and -river water undrinkable, Prime Minister Hawke
has called for a decade of “Land Care” including new tax policies and programs
to encourage soil conservation and tree planting. If it goes well and the
program is fully implemented, among other things every Australian will, in
effect, plant and care for 60 trees over the next decade.
The Netherlands hopes to soon lose its
reputation for being one of the most polluted countries in Western Europe. They
have a national environmental plan which calls for altering taxes, moving
increasingly to bicycles and trains instead of cars, forcing industry to reduce
their air pollutant and carbon dioxide emissions, and cutting the nitrogen and
phosphorous pollution in rivers in half by 1995. During the next four years, the
Government will screen 500 chemicals for potential health risks. This is an
especially serious program with uncompromising standards and timetables.
There is great hope that the new East-West
cooperation can promise to be a tremendous boost to the environment, but at the
same time this new spirit of cooperation, it is feared by some, may lead to a
massive birth of many joint economic ventures not aimed primarily toward the
environment but more toward strictly economics. Without a doubt, however, we can
see that there is global involvement and the snowball effect is taking over.
Soon countries with no environmental conscience will be sticking out like the
sore thumbs that they are. These are great signs!
World Watch, March/April 1990