Did you know that over 80 percent of the garlic sold worldwide comes from China? In fact, a large amount of garlic we consume here in America is from China. The US imported 138 million pounds last year. Most consumers think that their garlic was grown in California, the “Garlic Capital of the World,” but in reality it was shipped from China. Even “organic” garlic is often from China, where organic certification methods can not be trusted.
Chinese garlic is bleached. According to Henry Bell of the Australian Garlic Industry Association, garlic from China is sprayed with chemicals to stop sprouting, to whiten garlic, and to kill insects and plant matter. He also reports that garlic is grown in untreated sewage, “Bell also calls into question some growing practices in China. “I know for a fact that some garlic growers over there use raw human sewage to fertilize their crops, and I don’t believe the Australian quarantine regulations are strict enough in terms of bacteria testing on imported produce,” he says. “I also challenge the effectiveness of the Chinese methyl bromide fumigation processes.” (http://www.theage.com.au/news/epicure/freshe…) .
Chinese garlic is heavily fumigated with methyl bromide to get rid of any bugs. Methyl bromide is a very toxic hazard. Exposure to high concentrations can cause damage to the respiratory and central nervous systems, even death. According to the UN it is 60 times more damaging than chlorine and is the base of CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons).
Chinese garlic is also contaminated with lead, sulfites and other unsafe compounds.
Chinese garlic may be treated with growth inhibitors and subjected to cold temperatures, as well as over-storage. Over storage is particularly problematic as levels of allicin, one of the major constituents in garlic responsible for its health benefits, start to decline over time.
Fortunately, you can easily spot the difference between California-grown fresh garlic and imported garlic.
Here’s how to spot a California-grown bulb:
American garlic has some of the roots left on the bottom.
Eating locally means eating what’s in season. This spring, consider adding some of the following superfoods, many of which you may never have heard of before: morel mushrooms, fiddlehead ferns, cherimoya, sorrel, stinging nettles, purslane and wild leeks
Most of these are only available for a short amount of time, and now’s the time to start looking for them
Morel mushrooms are packed with immune-boosting, disease-preventing vitamin D. Fiddleheads are picked from immature, uncoiled ostrich ferns, and have a flavor reminiscent of asparagus
Cherimoyas contain approximately 60 percent of the daily recommended dose of vitamin C and a third of your vitamin B6 needs, while nettles provide healthy amounts of vitamin K and calcium
One cup of sorrel provides more than your daily requirement of vitamins A and C, along with high amounts of potassium and iron; purslane is the omega-3 powerhouse of the plant kingdom
By Dr. Mercola
Eating locally grown foods comes with a bounty of benefits, from fresher foods to saving both money and the environment. One 2007 study from the University of Alberta, Canada, determined that the transportation alone of organic produce actually causes an environmental impact large enough to cancel out many of its benefits.1
If you look, you’ll find that most of the organic fruit and vegetables in your local grocery store come from much farther away than your conventional produce. Fresh produce in most regions of the U.S. actually travel between 1,500 to 2,000 miles on the road. That’s even higher than processed foods, which are shipped an average of 1,346 miles.2 Eating locally grown foods helps eliminate a substantial amount of the carbon footprint associated with food transportation.
Eating locally automatically means eating what’s in season. This spring, consider adding some of the following superfoods,3 many of which you may never have heard of before. Most of these are only available for a short amount of time, and now’s the time to start looking for them.
No. 1: Morel Mushrooms
Morel mushrooms, the tops of which resemble small shower loofahs, are packed with immune-boosting, disease-preventing vitamin D. Its taste has been described as umami, or savory. Rarely cultivated, morel mushrooms are typically wild-harvested and picking the mushrooms is a popular tradition for many.
That said, avoid picking mushrooms in the wild unless you are absolutely sure you know what you’re picking. There are a number of toxic mushrooms, including a species called “false morels,” and it’s easy to get them confused unless you have a lot of experience and know what to look for.
As noted in a recent study,4 “Morels have been in use in traditional medicine for centuries, due to their health-related benefits, and current research demonstrated their anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory bioactivities, in addition to immunostimulatory and antitumor properties.”
Most of the health benefits have been attributed to polysaccharides, along with a number of phytochemicals, primarily phenolic compounds, tocopherols, ascorbic acid and vitamin D. Morel mushrooms are an excellent addition cooked with any side dish and go great with all kinds of meat and fish. Many people enjoy eating them as a side dish on their own, gently sautéed for five to 10 minutes with a pat of butter. Never eat morel mushrooms raw, as they contain trace amounts of a toxin that make some people ill.
No. 2: Fiddlehead Ferns
Chances are you’ve never heard of fiddlehead ferns5,6 unless you’re a frequent visitor of farmers markets and specialty health food stores. As the name implies, the small curly discs are picked from immature, uncoiled ostrich ferns. The taste has been likened to that of asparagus, but with bit more crunch and bitterness. Others say they taste like a mix of asparagus, spinach and broccoli all in one.
High in antioxidants (twice the amount of blueberries) and plant-based omega-3, fiddlehead ferns are a potent anti-inflammatory food.7 They also contain vitamins A and C, both of which are important for healthy vision and immune function. Iron and phosphorous aid red blood cell production and are important for healthy formation of cell membranes and bone, while potassium supports heart health and electrolyte and muscle functions.
Fiddleheads are commonly picked in Maine and Canada, but can often be found in health food stores. Their season is quite brief — two to three weeks at the most. To ensure quality, look for specimens that have tightly coiled heads with stems about 2 inches in length. If picking your own, make sure you know how to identify ostrich ferns, as they are commonly confused with bracken fern — a species known to cause cancer in lab animals.
Also, fiddleheads may cause gastrointestinal upset when consumed raw, so light cooking, just as you would asparagus, is recommended. They can also be pickled for longer shelf life. For instructions, see this spicy pickled fiddleheads’ recipe by The Spruce.8
The following video will help you properly identify edible fiddleheads from the ostrich fern. Consider adding them to dishes that normally call for asparagus. Many recipes suggest eating them steamed or boiled with hollandaise sauce, cooked then chilled and topped with plain mayo, or lightly sautéed and tossed with some butter, lemon, vinegar and Parmesan cheese.
No. 3: Cherimoya
This heart-shaped “dragon-scaled” tropical fruit has a sweet, buttery inside. Select specimens that are hard and green. As avocados, cherimoyas ripen quickly on the counter. Once the skin turns a bronze color and feels soft to the touch, it’s ready to eat. Simply peel and slice. Their flavor has been likened to a combination of banana, papaya and pineapple. Pureed, they can also be added to smoothies.
A single fruit contains approximately 60 percent of the daily recommended dose of vitamin C and a third of your vitamin B6 needs. In Mexico, the fruit has traditionally been used to ease anxiety, thanks to the presence of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which has mild antidepressive effects.
It’s also high in fiber, iron and niacin, and contain powerful compounds shown to combat cancer, malaria and human parasites. Cherimoya provides high amounts of potassium that help control heart rate and blood pressure. Furthermore, it contains more minerals weight per weight than a lot of more common fruits, including apples.
No. 4: Sorrel
Sorrel, also known as spinach dock or narrow-leaved dock, is a perennial leafy herb cultivated around the world. Packed with health benefits and a tangy, lemony flavor, it adds a bit of zing to just about any salad or dish, including creamy soups.
One cup of sorrel provides more than your daily requirement of vitamins A and C, along with high amounts of potassium and iron. Keep in mind that sorrel contains oxalic acid, which is contraindicated for those struggling with or prone to oxalate kidney stones. For most people, small quantities are completely safe and provide valuable health benefits. According to Organic Facts:9
“The health benefits of sorrel include its ability to improve eyesight, slow the aging process, reduce skin infections, strengthen the immune system, and improve digestion. It also builds strong bones, increases circulation, increases energy levels, helps prevent cancer, lowers blood pressure, increases appetite, protects against diabetes, strengthens heart health and improves kidney health.”
No. 5: Stinging Nettles
While typically considered a pesky and painful weed, stinging nettles10 have unique health benefits. (On a side note, should you have them growing in your yard, they’re actually a sign of rich, healthy soil.) Just make sure you use gloves during handling until they’ve been cooked, to avoid a painful rash.
Once blanched or sautéed, they can be safely consumed, providing healthy amounts of vitamin K and calcium. Traditionally, nettles have been valued for its blood purifying properties, and can also be made into tea, said to ease congestion and soothe allergies and asthma.
Nettle tea may also boost milk production if you’re nursing, and helps stimulate your digestive glands, including your intestines, liver, pancreas and gallbladder. To learn more about the health benefits of stinging nettles and the various ways you can use it (including instructions for making nettle tea), see “Nettle: The Stinging Weed That Can Help You Detoxify.”
No. 6: Purslane
Purslane11 (also called duckweed, fatweed, pigweed, pusley, verdolaga, ma chi xian in Chinese, munyeroo or wild portulaca), is the omega-3 powerhouse of the vegetation kingdom, and there’s a high probability it’s growing in your yard right now. According to Mother Earth News, it’s the most reported weed species in the world.12
Purslane looks very much like a miniature jade plant, with fleshy succulent leaves and reddish stems. The stems grow flat to the ground and radiate outward from a single taproot, sometimes forming large, flat circular mats up to 16 inches across. In about mid-July, it develops tiny yellow flowers about one-quarter inch in diameter.
Seeds of purslane are extremely tough, some remaining viable in the soil for 40 years, and it can grow in almost anything, from fertile garden loam to the most arid desert soil — even in your rock driveway. Just be very careful not to confuse purslane with spurge, because they can look similar, and spurge will make you sick. The following video shows how to tell them apart.
Purslane has a stellar omega-3 fatty acid profile, compared to other vegetables, containing anywhere from 300 to 400 milligrams (mg) of omega-3 per cup. It also contains six times more vitamin E than spinach, seven times more beta carotene than carrots, providing about 44 percent of your daily vitamin A needs per 100 grams,13 25 mg of vitamin C per cup, plus magnesium, calcium, iron, riboflavin, potassium, phosphorous and manganese.
Purslane can be eaten either raw or cooked. If you’re planning on eating raw purslane, make sure no pesticides or herbicides have been used nearby. If you’ve been spraying Roundup in your yard, never eat weeds collected from the area. Also avoid them if your neighbor has used Roundup in their yard, as the chemicals can easily drift across property lines.
As a precaution, wash the leaves and stems thoroughly before consuming. Typically, people eat the young purslane leaves and stems to avoid the tougher parts of the plant. For cooked purslane, there are numerous ways to incorporate this herb in your favorite dishes. You can boil it in water for 10 minutes and drain, or simply add it to other recipes to give the dish an added crunch.
No. 7: Ramps
Ramps is a type of wild leek, featuring small white bulbs with hairy roots. While resembling green onions in appearance, their flavor is more akin to garlic. If you’re lucky enough to find them, be sure to get some. Ramps are exceedingly scarce as they’re a slow grower, and are only in season for a few weeks in spring.
Look for specimens that are firm, with bright green leaves. Don’t buy or use them if you notice brown spots or slimy areas. Unwashed and wrapped in a plastic bag, ramps can be refrigerated for up to a week. Ramps are a good source of vitamins A and C, selenium and chromium, the latter of which helps stabilize blood sugar. As for how to use them in your cooking, Organic Authority suggests:14
“[U]se ramps as you would scallions, green onions or leeks. Anything that would pair well with garlic or leeks will love the ramp. Slice them thinly and use sparingly, and also handle them gently, adding them at the end of the cooking process. Think simple to allow ramps to shine: Scrambled into eggs, garnished alongside seafood, mixed into big bowls of pasta, or oven roasted or grilled to perfection.”
How to Find Locally-Grown Food That Is in Season
When you eat locally grown foods, the contents of your shopping bag inevitably change with each passing season. In other words, adjusting what you eat to what’s in season becomes an inescapable fact if you’re going to eat locally-grown foods, and if you keep this in mind, it can become a pleasurable part of your culinary experimentation. Here are some tips for tracking down locally-grown foods that are in season:
If you’re lucky enough to have a local farmers market, that’s the way to go. For a listing of national farmers markets and local food directories, see the USDA’s website. Another great resource is www.localharvest.org.
Another good route for finding local food is to subscribe to a community supported agriculture program (CSA). Some are seasonal while others offer year-round programs. Once you subscribe, many will drop affordable, high quality locally-grown produce right at your door step. For a comprehensive list of CSA’s and a host of other sustainable agriculture programs, check out my Sustainable Agriculture page.
Local farmers are perhaps your best source for seasonal produce. You can search for local farms on www.localharvest.org.
Shop at your local natural food store or health co-op, as many of them get their produce from local farmers.
If everything else fails, shop at your locally owned grocers rather than large chain supermarkets. Many small private grocers also supply produce from local sources.
Eight Signs of High-Quality Food
Last but not least, here are some general tips on what to look for when trying to determine the healthiest foods possible, no matter where you shop. You’ll want to look for foods that are:
Grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers (organic foods fit this description, but so do some nonorganic foods). If harvesting edible weeds or plants from your garden, make sure no pesticides or herbicides have been applied in the area
If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.
~ Nikola Tesla
Energy medicine is the diagnostic and therapeutic use of energy whether produced by or detected by a medical device or by the human body. Energy medicine recognizes that the human body utilizes various forms of energy for communications involved in physiological regulations. Energy medicine involves energy of particular frequencies and intensities and wave shapes that stimulate the repair of one or more tissues. Examples of energy include heat, light, sound, gravity, pressure, vibration, electricity, magnetism, chemical energy, and electromagnetism.1
It may come as a surprise to many to learn that energy medicine has been part of human history for thousands of years. Ever since man crawled and later walked the earth, energy was an essential part of primitive societies as well as advanced sophisticated cultures, including the Egyptians, the Chinese and the Greeks.
Going back to 15,000 B.C., Shamans living within their native tribes performed healing rituals using their bodies in movement, their voices, and plant or animal materials along with the elements of the earth such as fire, wind, and the moon. Their goal was to eliminate bad spirits which negatively impacted the physiological body of the sufferer. This art of healing is still taught and used today around the globe.
Ayurvedic medicine (also called Ayurveda) birthed in India, is one of the oldest medical systems and still today remains one of the country’s traditional health care systems. Its concepts about health and disease promote the use of herbal compounds, special diets, cleansing of the bowels, soft tissue massage using hot oil, and other unique health practices. India’s government and other institutes throughout the world support clinical and laboratory research on Ayurvedic medicine, within the context of the Eastern belief system.2 The Ayurvedic perspective toward the physiology differs from modern Western thought; Humans are spiritual beings living in the temple of the physical body prompting the care of health to focus on spiritual healing to affect the physical body. Another idea unique to the Eastern philosophy and yogic doctrine is the idea of chakras. Chakras are seven wheel-like vortices of energy over nerve plexes and endocrine centers of the body, as well as the third eye and the crown of the head, with small vortices at each joint. They are functional rather than anatomical structures that are connected to the meridians and acupuncture points. Numerous researchers have shown elevated electronic recordings from these locations, particularly with persons in higher states of consciousness or with extrasensory abilities.3 One cannot help but notice the popularity of this healing approach by finding Ayurvedic schools and practitioners not only in Asia but all over the Western world today.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) was first recorded around 2,700 B.C. and originated in ancient China. It is still used primarily in China and also all around North America and Europe. While you may think TCM is accepted and widely used throughout Asia, the reality is different; China’s healthcare system offers two sorts of healthcare systems and hospitals to their people: Western Medicine and TCM clinics and both approaches are financially covered for the people. TCM encompasses the use of herbs and is mostly known for acupuncture. Acupuncture needles are placed on acupuncture points along meridians to balance the energy in the body, helping to improve the flow of energy and fluids. Most fascinating is the skill a TCM practitioner has to learn over time to be able to read the patient’s face, tongue, complexion, posture, and the various levels of the pulse felt along the radial artery. The ancient beliefs on which TCM is based include the following:
The human body is a miniature version of the larger, surrounding universe;
Harmony between two opposing yet complementary forces, called yin and yang, supports health, and disease results from an imbalance between these forces;
Five elements – fire, earth, wood, metal, and water – symbolically represent all phenomena, including the stages of human life, and explain the functioning of the body and how it changes during disease;
Qi, a vital energy that flows through the body, performs multiple functions in maintaining health.4,5
Historic records lead us back to 1,600 B.C. discussing the brilliance of the ancient Egyptian priests or physicians who knew how to set bones, how to treat a fever and how to recognize symptoms of curable and fatal diseases. The Egyptians held the belief that illness was often caused by an angry god or an evil spirit. For this reason, the Egyptian doctor was also part shaman, who performed rituals and recited prayers on the sick. But, the Egyptian physician was not limited to faith healing as part of his or her practice. Egyptian medicine became a far-reaching discipline, encompassing a great many fields. Doctors in Egypt, like today, were specialists in their particular fields. These fields included pharmacology, dentistry, gynecology, crude surgical procedures, general healing, autopsy, and embalming.6 The goddess Ma-at wore as her symbol a feather, which was used to access the vibrational qualities of justice, truth, balance, and order. The energy is accessed by using intention, and by the use of symbols, usually hieroglyphs.
Energy Healing in the Sufi way predates religion. The elect divine messengers and prophets who were gifted with the precious gift of pure self-surrender to the Absolute, were also gifted with the healing energy which gushed forth from the energy of pure love and unconditional compassion (mercy to all creation). A contemporary energy healer in Sufi way once said: “To heal is to become one with Deep Love of God.”
Ancient Greek manuscripts from 400 B.C describe laying on hands in Aesculapian temples. The philosopher and father of Western Medicine Hippocrates of Cos7 defined energy as “the force which flows from many people’s hands.” Hippocrates was the founder of the Hippocratic School of Medicine and ultimately established medicine as a discipline distinct from other fields such as theurgy and philosophy, thus establishing medicine as a profession. Hippocratic medicine was humble and passive. The therapeutic approach was based on “the healing power of nature.” According to this doctrine, the body contains within itself the power to re-balance the four humors and heal itself.
Ancient Christian scriptures describe “laying-on-hands healing.” Even more important is the message that it is their altered belief allowing healing to take place.
In the 18th Century Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician, discovered that “like cures like,” when he ingested bark substance (Cinchona) from South America which was said to cure malaria-related intermittent fevers.8 While he himself had not contracted malaria, when taking a larger dose of the substance, he in turn induced malaria like symptoms in himself, which led him to the idea “that which can produce a set of symptoms in a healthy individual, can treat a sick individual who is manifesting a similar set of symptoms.” This experience birthed the idea of a new philosophy called homeopathy.9 Often it is the information, a form of energy, related to the substance, not necessarily the substance itself that aids in the healing process. Homeopathic remedies are diluted at different levels to stimulate physiologically, emotionally, or spiritually.
Looking at today’s diagnostic approaches, one couldn’t imagine a hospital without ultrasound, X-Ray, and MRI capabilities, or even a private practice without an EKG, EEG, or ultrasound device. All these devices measure the energy of the body in different ways and from different perspectives for diagnostic purposes. This is standard use of care.
On the flip side, therapeutic approaches are still expected to primarily come from a chemical or surgical solution. While there is more and more interest pushing up from the masses via patients who have been seeking help for their chronic health issues, physicians remain hesitant to incorporate forms of energy medicine into their practice. Physicians who have had some sort of training in physics, such as orthopedics, anesthesiology, or even physical therapy know of the significance of the use of physics complementing chemical treatment approaches including pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals.
With the abundance of self-help books, and information on the internet available today as well as TV and radio shows (which would have been unthinkable only 10-years ago), patients’ demands from their physicians are significantly on the rise for complementary solutions which ideally should be non-invasive and with little side effects. This includes:
Energy technologies including:
Laser, ultrasound and micro-current – primarily used for pain relief;
Biofeedback – for learning how to better cope with stress;
Electromagnetic stimulation for wound healing, soft tissue injuries, and pain.
Considered a “new” field in modern medicine, Energy Healing is separated into two categories by NCCAM, the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine:10
Energies that can be measured scientifically by our present standards, like electromagnetic therapy, or therapy using sound waves
Energies that are not yet subject to our measurement – the subtle fields that are utilized in energy healing, acupuncture, chi gong, Ayurveda, homeopathy, therapeutic touch, prayer or distance healing, and similar modalities.
Patients are frustrated and disappointed with the standard care solutions for their chronic symptoms. More times than less, a vast population of chronically ill patients not only sees no improvement, but experiences further decline in their health. So, patients start to research, ask their doctors intelligent questions and listen to answers and solutions with high expectations. They seek help outside their insurance’s network, often traveling far to seek a physician who goes beyond the standard offering of care, giving more personal attention to the patient and offering treatment solutions including the realm of energy medicine.
Humans are electromagnetic beings, and we need to capture them as such with diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. This branch of biophysics is barely known or understood and therefore not pursued by physicians. While biophysics has been known and was officially recorded in 189211 as “the branch in science concerned with the application of physical principles and methods to biological problems,” medical schools do not teach their students on the established fact that every function within the human body breaks down to an act of physics, even chemical processes. Knowing this fact would help physicians to move quickly and confidently embrace methods using forms of energy and complementing standard patient care with energy medicine.
In the peer-reviewed literature we find evidence that certain electromagnetic fields have an impact on the physiological process including melatonin secretion, nerve regeneration, cell growth, collagen production, DNA synthesis, cartilage and ligament growth, lymphocyte activation, and more.12 What’s consistent in these findings is that the frequencies need to be specific and not generic. Exposing the patient to a large range of frequencies limits therapeutic results along with the lasting effects of the therapy. The electromagnetic stimulation needs to be personalized to the patient just like we personalize pharmaceuticals or nutraceuticals.
Research shows that specific frequencies correlate with organs and organ systems while significantly impacting cells, tissue, and organs:
8 Hz and the heart;
1,217.7 Hz with the kidneys;
0.18 Hz with the liver;
406.37 Hz with the lungs;
26.90 Hz with the colon;
114.03 Hz with the stomach;
60.40 Hz with the spleen/pancreas.13
These frequencies are available in different octaves just like on a tempered piano; the note C can be played on higher and lower octaves. Frequency is the term to explain repetition over a certain amount of time and it is expressed in Hertz (Hz). These frequencies are based on the mathematical structure as already documented by Pythagoras 500 B.C., and upon which the basis of geometry is founded; this structure can be found in all elements of nature.
To read more, go to: http://www.faim.org/energy-medicine-going-mainstream
Life is always going to be bringing us challenges, twists and turns, but no matter where you are on your journey, here are 3 powerful reminders that are always worth remembering-
1. Stay Hydrated
Stress and anxiety can put a lot of strain on the body. While exercising, meditating and eating well is always important, it can be hard to keep on top of these things when you are going through a rough patch.
One quick solution to support your wellbeing however, is staying hydrated. Drinking lots of water is not only beneficial to your body’s cellular processes but it can also boost your energy levels and clear your mind.
Water can also help to flush out heavy emotions and help to detoxify any stagnant energy that may be lingering in the etheric body.
If you are going through a challenging period remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
2. Don’t Think, Feel
Part of our human gifts in this life is being able to understand and rationalize things using our logical mind.
While this is an incredible skill to have, sometimes it is important to remember that not everything can be understood from this place of thinking.
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try things are just not going to make sense on a logical or practical level. When this occurs, it is important to stop thinking and start feeling instead.
Our feelings are powerful guidance tools that can actually be far more effective than trying to understanding things from a place of logic. The trick with using our feelings as a guide is to not let our logical mind analyze or interfere with the process.
To do this, simply calm your mind using your breath and then tune into your true feelings. You may just be surprised as to what comes up and how you can use it to guide you.
3. Know Everything Will Make Sense in the End
When you are in the midst of a challenging life period it can be tricky to find the gratitude and understand why things are unfolding the way that they are.
Often the most challenging periods of our lives lead us to the most rewarding places, but it can be hard to see this when going through the motions.
When life is no longer making sense to you, it is often a sign that huge growth and transformation is underway. During this process it is important to step out of the chaos for a moment or two and acknowledge that things will all make sense in the end.
There is always an ending and always a resolution that will arise and the more you can trust that, the easier it will be to moving through the process.
Remember that things always work out and there is already a resolution to all of your problems, all you have to do is keep moving forward.
Uncovered: Monsanto campaign to get Séralini study retracted
Documents released in US cancer litigation show Monsanto’s desperate attempts to suppress a study that showed adverse effects of Roundup herbicide – and that the editor of the journal that retracted the study had a contractual relationship with the company. Claire Robinson reports
Internal Monsanto documents released by attorneys leading US cancer litigation show that the company launched a concerted campaign to force the retraction of a study that revealed toxic effects of Roundup. The documents also show that the editor of the journal that first published the study entered into a contract with Monsanto in the period shortly before the retraction campaign began.
The study, led by Prof GE Séralini, showed that very low doses of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide had toxic effects on rats over a long-term period, including serious liver and kidney damage. Additional observations of increased tumour rates in treated rats would need to be confirmed in a larger-scale carcinogenicity study.
The newly released documents show that throughout the retraction campaign, Monsanto tried to cover its tracks to hide its involvement. Instead Monsanto scientist David Saltmiras admitted to orchestrating a “third party expert” campaign in which scientists who were apparently independent of Monsanto would bombard the editor-in-chief of the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT), A. Wallace Hayes, with letters demanding that he retract the study.
Use of “third party experts” is a classic public relations tactic perfected by the tobacco industry. It consists of putting industry-friendly messages into the mouths of supposedly “independent” experts, since no one would believe industry attempts to defend its own products. Back in 2012, GMWatch founder Jonathan Matthews exposed the industry links of the supposedly independent scientists who lobbied the journal editor to retract the Séralini paper. Now we have first-hand proof of Monsanto’s direct involvement.
In one document, Saltmiras reviews his own achievements within the company, boasting that he “Successfully facilitated numerous third party expert letters to the editor which were subsequently published, reflecting the numerous significant deficiencies, poor study design, biased reporting and selective statistics employed by Séralini. In addition, coauthored the Monsanto letter to the editor with [Monsanto employees] Dan Goldstein and Bruce Hammond.”
Saltmiras further writes of how “Throughout the late 2012 Séralini rat cancer publication and media campaign, I leveraged my relationship [with] the Editor i[n] Chief of the publishing journal… and was the single point of contact between Monsanto and the Journal.”
Another Monsanto employee, Eric Sachs, writes in an email about his efforts to galvanize scientists in the letter-writing campaign. Sachs refers to Bruce Chassy, a scientist who runs the pro-GMO Academics Review website. Sachs writes: “I talked to Bruce Chassy and he will send his letter to Wally Hayes directly and notify other scientists that have sent letters to do the same. He understands the urgency… I remain adamant that Monsanto must not be put in the position of providing the critical analysis that leads the editors to retract the paper.”
In response to Monsanto’s request, Chassy urged Hayes to retract the Séralini paper: “My intent was to urge you to roll back the clock, retract the paper, and restart the review process.”
Chassy was also the first signatory of a petition demanding the retraction of the Séralini study and the co-author of a Forbes article accusing Séralini of fraud. In neither document does Chassy declare any link with Monsanto. But in 2016 he was exposed as having taken over $57,000 over less than two years from Monsanto to travel, write and speak about GMOs.
Sachs is keen to ensure that Monsanto is not publicly seen as attempting to get the paper retracted, even though that is precisely what it is doing. Sachs writes to Monsanto scientist William Heydens: “There is a difference between defending science and participating in a formal process to retract a publication that challenges the safety of our products. We should not provide ammunition for Séralini, GM critics and the media to charge that Monsanto used its might to get this paper retracted. The information that we provided clearly establishes the deficiencies in the study as reported and makes a strong case that the paper should not have passed peer review.”
Another example of Monsanto trying to cover up its involvement in the retraction campaign emerges from email correspondence between Monsanto employees Daniel Goldstein and Eric Sachs. Goldstein states: “I was uncomfortable even letting shareholders know we are aware of this LTE [GMW: probably “Letter to the Editor”]…. It implies we had something to do with it – otherwise how do we have knowledge of it? I could add ‘Aware of multiple letters to editor including one signed by 25 scientists from 14 countries’ if you both think this is OK.” Sachs responds: “We are ‘connected’ but did not write the letter or encourage anyone to sign it.”
A. Wallace Hayes was paid by Monsanto
The most shocking revelation of the disclosed documents is that the editor of Food and Chemical Toxicology, A. Wallace Hayes, entered into a consulting agreement with Monsanto in the period just before Hayes’s involvement in the retraction of the Séralini study. Clearly Hayes had a conflict of interest between his role as a consultant for Monsanto and his role as editor for a journal that retracted a study determining that glyphosate has toxic effects. The study was published on 19 September 2012; the consulting agreement between Hayes and Monsanto was dated 21 August 2012 and Hayes is contracted to provide his services beginning 7 September 2012.
The documents also reveal that Monsanto paid Hayes $400 per hour for his services and that in return Hayes was expected to “Assist in establishment of an expert network of toxicologists, epidemiologists, and other scientists in South America and participate on the initial meeting held within the region. Preparation and delivery of a seminar addressing relevant regional issues pertaining to glyphosate toxicology is a key deliverable for the inaugural meeting in 2013.”
Hayes should have recused himself from any involvement with the Séralini study from the time he signed this agreement. But he kept quiet. He went on to oversee a second “review” of the study by unnamed persons whose conflicts of interest, if any, were not declared – resulting in his decision to retract the study for the unprecedented reason that some of the results were “inconclusive”.
Hayes told the New York Times’s Danny Hakim in an interview that he had not been under contract with Monsanto at the time of the retraction and was paid only after he left the journal. He added that “Monsanto played no role whatsoever in the decision that was made to retract.” But since it took the journal over a year to retract the study after the months-long second review, which Hayes oversaw, it’s clear that he had an undisclosed conflict of interest from the time he entered into the contract with Monsanto and during the review process. He appears to be misleading the New York Times.
The timing of the contract also begs the question as to whether Monsanto knew the publication of the study was coming. If so, they may have been happy to initiate such a relationship with Hayes at just that time.
A Monsanto internal email confirms the company’s intimate relationship with Hayes. Saltmiras writes about the recently published Séralini study: “Wally Hayes, now FCT Editor in Chief for Vision and Strategy, sent me a courtesy email early this morning. Hopefully the two of us will have a follow up discussion soon to touch on whether FCT Vision and Strategy were front and center for this one passing through the peer review process.”
In other email correspondence between various Monsanto personnel, Daniel Goldstein writes the following with respect to the Séralini study: “Retraction – Both Dan Jenkins (US Government affairs) and Harvey Glick made a strong case for withdrawal of the paper if at all possible, both on the same basis – that publication will elevate the status of the paper, bring other papers in the journal into question, and allow Séralini much more freedom to operate. All of us are aware that the ultimate decision is up to the editor and the journal management, and that we may not have an opportunity for withdrawal in any event, but I felt it was worth reinforcing this request.”
Monsanto got its way, though the paper was subsequently republished by another journal with higher principles – and, presumably, with an editorial board that wasn’t under contract with Monsanto.
Why Monsanto had to kill the Séralini study
It’s obvious that it was in Monsanto’s interests to kill the Séralini study. The immediate reason was that it reported harmful effects from low doses of Roundup and a GM maize engineered to tolerate it. But the wider reason that emerges from the documents is that to admit that the study had any validity whatsoever would be to open the doors for regulators and others to demand other long-term studies on GM crops and their associated pesticides.
A related danger for Monsanto, pointed out by Goldstein, is that “a third party may procure funding to verify Séralini’s claims, either through a government agency or the anti-GMO/antl-pesticide financiers”.
The documents show that Monsanto held a number of international teleconferences to discuss how to pre-empt such hugely threatening developments.
Summing up the points from the teleconferences, Daniel Goldstein writes that “unfortunately”, three “potential issues regarding long term studies have now come up and will need some consideration and probably a white paper of some type (either internal or external)”. These are potential demands for
• 2 year rat/long-term cancer (and possibly reproductive toxicity) on GM crops
• 2 year/chronic studies on pesticide formulations, in addition to the studies on the active ingredient alone that are currently demanded by regulators, and
• 2 year rat/chronic studies of pesticide formulations on the GM crop.
In reply to the first point, Goldstein writes that the Séralini study “found nothing other than the usual variation in SD [Sprague-Dawley] rats, and as such there is no reason to question the recent EFSA guidance that such studies were not needed for substantially equivalent crops”. GMWatch readers will not be surprised to see Monsanto gaining support from EFSA in its opposition to carrying out long-term studies on GMOs.
In answer to the second point, Goldstein reiterates that the Séralini study “actually finds nothing – so there is no need to draw any conclusions from it – but the theoretical issue has been placed on the table. We need to be prepared with a well considered response.”
In answer to the third point, Goldstein ignores the radical nature of genetic engineering and argues pragmatically, if not scientifically, “This approach would suggest that the same issue arises for conventional crops and that every individual formulation would need a chronic study over every crop (at a minimum) and probably every variety of crop (since we know they have more genetic variation than GM vs conventional congener) and raises the possibility of an almost limitless number of tests.” But he adds, “We also need a coherent argument for this issue.”
EU regulators side with Monsanto
To the public’s detriment, some regulatory bodies have backed Monsanto rather than the public interest and have backed off the notion that long-term studies should be required for GM crops. In fact, the EU is considering doing awaywith even the short 90-day animal feeding studies currently required under European GMO legislation. This will be based in part on the results of the EU-funded GRACE animal feeding project, which has come under fire for the industry links of some of the scientists involved and for its alleged manipulation of findings of adverse effects on rats fed Monsanto’s GM MON810 maize.
A. Wallace Hayes is no longer the editor-in-chief of FCT but is named as an “emeritus editor”. Likewise, Richard E. Goodman, a former Monsanto employee who was parachuted onto the journal’s editorial board shortly after the publication of the Séralini study, is no longer at the journal.
But although they are sidelined or gone, their legacy lives on in the form of a gap in the history of the journal where Séralini’s paper belongs.
Now that Monsanto’s involvement in the retraction of the Séralini paper is out in the open, FCT and Hayes should do the decent thing and issue a formal apology to Prof Séralini and his team. FCT cannot and should not reinstate the paper, because it is now published by another journal. But it needs to draw a line under this shameful episode, admit that it handled it badly, and declare its support for scientific independence and objectivity.
Many aches and pains are rooted in brain processes that can be affected by your mental attitude and emotions. While the mechanics of these mind-body links are still being unraveled, what is known is that your brain, and consequently your thoughts and emotions, do play a role in your experience of physical pain.
For instance, meditation appears to work for pain relief because it reduces brain activity in your primary somatosensory cortex, an area that helps create the feeling of where and how intense a painful stimulus is. Laughter is also known to relieve pain because it releases endorphins that activate brain receptors that produce pain-killing and euphoria-producing effects.
This line of communication between mind and body runs both ways though, and physical pain, especially if it’s chronic, is a well-known trigger for depression. According to psychologist Rex Schmidt at the Nebraska Medical Center Pain Management: “Depression and pain happen to share a part of the brain that’s involved in both conditions, which means that mind-body techniques that affect those areas can be efficacious for both.”
Meditation and laughter are just two examples of a burgeoning new field of science that looks at mind-body therapies to address depression and chronic pain. Here are 13 such strategies…
#1: Add EFT to Your Self-Help Toolkit
The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is a form of psychological acupressure based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over 5,000 years, but without the invasiveness of needles.
Instead, simple tapping with the fingertips is used to transfer kinetic energy onto specific meridians on your head and chest while you think about your specific problem — whether it is a traumatic event, an addiction, pain, anxiety, etc. — and voice positive affirmations.
This combination of tapping the energy meridians and voicing positive affirmation works to clear the “short-circuit” — the emotional block — from your body’s bioenergy system, thus restoring your mind and body’s balance, which is essential for optimal health and the healing of physical disease.
Some people are initially wary of these principles that EFT is based on — the electromagnetic energy that flows through the body and regulates our health is only recently becoming recognized in the West. Others are initially taken aback by (and sometimes amused by) the EFT tapping and affirmation methodology.
But believe me when I say that, more than any traditional or alternative method I have used or researched, EFT has the most potential to literally work magic. Clinical trials have shown that EFT is able to rapidly reduce the emotional impact of memories and incidents that trigger emotional distress. Once the distress is reduced or removed, the body can often rebalance itself, and accelerate healing.
In the videos below, EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman shows how you can use EFT to relieve your physical pain and depression.
Massage offers real health benefits, so much so that some conventional hospitals are making it a standard therapy for surgery patients and others. Along with promoting relaxation and improving your sense of well-being, getting a massage has been shown to:
Relieve pain (from migraines, labor, fibromyalgia and even cancer)
Reduce stress, anxiety and depression, and ease insomnia
Decrease symptoms of PMS
Relax and soften injured and overused muscles, reducing spasms and cramping.
Provide arthritis relief by increasing joint flexibility.
Massage affects your nervous system through nerve endings in your skin, stimulating the release of endorphins, which are natural “feel good” chemicals. Endorphins help induce relaxation and a sense of well-being, relieve pain and reduce levels of stress chemicals such as cortisol and noradrenaline — reversing the damaging effects of stress by slowing heart rate, respiration and metabolism and lowering raised blood pressure.
Stronger massage stimulates blood circulation to improve the supply of oxygen and nutrients to body tissues and helps the lymphatic system to flush away waste products. It eases tense and knotted muscles and stiff joints, improving mobility and flexibility. Massage is said to increase activity of the vagus nerve, one of 10 cranial nerves, that affects the secretion of food absorption hormones, heart rate and respiration. It has proven to be an effective therapy for a variety of health conditions — particularly stress-related tension, which experts believe accounts for as much as 80 percent to 90 percent of disease.
As reported by iVillage.com:
“[A] new study from Thailand suggests that traditional Thai massage can decrease pain intensity, muscle tension and anxiety among people with shoulder pain. Meanwhile, research from the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami in Florida found that when adults with hand pain had four weeks of massage therapy, they reported a lot less pain, anxiety and depression.
Another study at the Touch Research Institute found that when pregnant women who were depressed received massages from their partners twice a week, they had much less leg and back pain and fewer symptoms of depression during the second half of their pregnancies.”
#3: Remain in the Now…
Practicing “mindfulness” means that you’re actively paying attention to the moment you’re in right now. Rather than letting your mind wander, when you’re mindful you’re living in the moment and letting distracting thoughts pass through your mind without getting caught up in their emotional implications. Though it sounds simple, it often takes a concerted effort to remain in a mindful state, especially if it’s new to you. But doing so can offer some very significant benefits to both your mental and physical health.
For example, mindfulness training has been found to reduce levels of stress-induced inflammation, which could benefit people suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma.
This makes sense, since chronic stress heightens the inflammatory response, and mindfulness is likely to help you relieve feelings of stress and anxiety. In one eight-week study, people who received mindfulness training had smaller inflammatory responses than those who received a control intervention, which focused on healthy activities to reduce psychological stress but without particular instruction on mindfulness. Similarly, according to iVillage.com:
“Mindfulness meditation — focusing on your breath and each present moment — can lessen cancer pain, low back pain and migraine headaches. Researchers at Brown University in Providence, R.I., found that when women with chronic pelvic pain participated in an eight-week mindfulness meditation program, their pain decreased and their mood improved.”
In many ways, mindfulness is similar to transcendental meditation, the idea of which is to reach a place of “restful” or “concentrated” alertness, which enables you to let negative thoughts and distractions pass by you without upsetting your calm and balance. This type of meditation is easy to try at home: simply sit quietly, perhaps with some soothing music, breathe rhythmically and focus on something such as your breathing, a flower, an image, a candle, a mantra or even just being there, fully aware, in the moment.
Researchers report that practicing mindfulness meditation for just four days affects pain responses in your brain. Brain activity decreases in areas devoted to monitoring a painful body part, and also in areas responsible for relaying sensory information.
In biofeedback, electrical sensors attached to your skin allow you to monitor your biological changes, such as heart rate, and this feedback can help you achieve a deeper state of relaxation. It can also teach you to control your heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension through your mind. According to psychologist Rex Schmidt:
“Through focus and mental strategies, biofeedback induces the relaxation response and gives you a greater sense of control.”
Biofeedback is often used for stress-related conditions, such as:
#5: Free Yourself from Tension with Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is achieved by tensing and relaxing all the major muscle groups, one at a time, from head to toe. By learning to feel the difference between tension and relaxation, you can more actively disengage your body’s fight-or-flight response, which underlies most pain, depression and stress. As reported by iVillage.com:
“Studies show that whether PMR is used on its own or with guided imagery, it helps ease emotional distress and pain from cancer, osteoarthritis, surgery and other conditions.”
#6: Harness Relaxation with Tai Chi
The 2,000-year-old Chinese practice of tai chi is a branch of Qigong — exercises that harness the qi (life energy). It’s been linked to numerous health benefits, including improvements in the quality of life of breast cancer patients and Parkinson’s sufferers, and has shown promise in treating sleep problems and high blood pressure.
Often described as “meditation in motion” or “moving meditation,” the activity takes your body through a specific set of graceful movements. Your body is constantly in motion and each movement flows right into the next. While practicing tai chi, your mind is meant to stay focused on your movements, relaxation and deep breathing, while distracting thoughts are ignored.
Part of the allure is that it’s so gentle, it’s an ideal form of activity for people with pain or other conditions that prevent more vigorous exercise. You can even do tai chi if you’re confined to a wheelchair. Even respected conventional health institutions such as the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Medical School recommend tai chi for its health benefits, especially as a stress-reduction tool. However, there are more studies available than you might think; suggesting tai chi has an impressive range of health benefits. To browse through them, please see the WorldTaiChiDay.org web site. According to the study, A Randomized Trial of Tai Chi for Fibromyalgia:
“In a recent study at the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, researchers found that when people with fibromyalgia participated in 60-minute tai chi sessions twice a week for 12 weeks, they had much less physical and mental discomfort. The researchers also reviewed the medical literature on tai chi’s effect on psychological well-being and concluded that it reduces depression, anxiety and stress.”
#7: Breathe Easy…
Deep breathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which induces the relaxation response. There are many different breathing practices that you can try, but here I’m going to share two that are both powerful and very easy to perform. The first one I learned when I attended a presentation by Dr. Andrew Weil at the 2009 Expo West in California. The key to this exercise is to remember the numbers 4, 7 and 8. It’s not important to focus on how much time you spend in each phase of the breathing activity, but rather that you get the ratio correct. Here’s how it’s done:
Sit up straight
Place the tip of your tongue up against the back of your front teeth. Keep it there through the entire breathing process
Breathe in silently through your nose to the count of four
Hold your breath to the count of seven
Exhale through your mouth to the count of eight, making an audible “woosh” sound
That completes one full breath. Repeat the cycle another three times, for a total of four breaths
You can do this 4-7-8 exercise as frequently as you want throughout the day, but it’s recommended you don’t do more than four full breaths during the first month or so of practice. Later, you may work your way up to eight full breath cycles at a time. The benefits of this simple practice are enormous and work as a natural tranquilizer for your nervous system.
The second is known as the Buteyko Breathing Method, which is a powerful approach for reversing health problems associated with improper breathing, the most common of which are overbreathing and mouthbreathing. When you stop mouth breathing and learn to bring your breathing volume toward normal, you have better oxygenation of your tissues and organs, including your brain.
Factors of modern life, including stress and lack of exercise, all increase your everyday breathing. Typical characteristics of overbreathing include mouth breathing, upper chest breathing, sighing, noticeable breathing during rest, and taking large breaths prior to talking.
Controlling anxiety and quelling panic attacks is one of the areas where the Buteyko Method can be quite useful. If you’re experiencing anxiety or panic attacks, or if you feel very stressed and your mind can’t stop racing, try the following breathing technique. This sequence helps retain and gently accumulate carbon dioxide, leading to calmer breathing and reduces anxiety. In other words, the urge to breathe will decline as you go into a more relaxed state:
Take a small breath into your nose, followed by a small breath out
Then hold your nose for five seconds in order to hold your breath, and then release your nose to resume breathing
Hypnosis, which is a trance-like state in which you experience heightened focus and concentration, can help decrease pain by altering your emotional responses to your body’s pain signals and your thoughts about the pain. Contrary to popular belief, you do not relinquish control over your behavior while under hypnosis, but it does render you more open to suggestions from the hypnotherapist. As reported by iVillage.com:
“Studies show that hypnosis can help manage the pain from childbirth and metastatic breast cancer as well as chronic low back pain. What’s more, cognitive hypnotherapy can lead to less depression, anxiety and hopelessness among depressed people than cognitive behavioral therapy does, according to research from the University of Calgary in Canada.”
#9: Soothe Your Mind and Body Through the Power of Music
If you’re a music lover, you already know that turning on the tunes can help calm your nerves, make stress disappear, pump up your energy level during a workout, bring back old memories, as well as prompt countless other emotions. When you listen to music, much more is happening in your body than simple auditory processing.
Music triggers activity in the nucleus accumbens, a part of your brain that releases the feel-good chemical dopamine and is involved in forming expectations. At the same time, the amygdala, which is involved in processing emotion, and the prefrontal cortex, which makes possible abstract decision-making, are also activated, according to recent research published in the journal Science. Other research revealed listening to music resulted in less anxiety and lower cortisol levels among patients about to undergo surgery than taking anti-anxiety drugs. As reported by iVillage.com:
“…[R]esearchers in Cleveland found that when [burn] patients listened to music and used visual imagery as a distraction when their wound dressings were being changed, they experienced significantly less pain, anxiety and muscle tension. In a study in Norway, depressed people who had music therapy plus psychotherapy were less depressed and anxious and more functional than those who just did regular therapy.”
Musical preference varies widely between individuals, so only you can decide what will effectively put you in a particular mood. Overall, classical music tends to be among the most calming, so may be worth a try. To incorporate music into a busy schedule, try playing CDs while driving, or put on some tunes while you’re getting ready for work in the morning. You can also take portable music with you when walking the dog, or turn on the stereo instead of watching TV in the evening.
Yoga has been proven to be particularly beneficial if you suffer with back pain, but recent research also suggests it can also be of tremendous benefit for your mental health. Duke University researchers recently published a review of more than 100 studies looking at the effect of yoga on mental health, and according to lead author Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, a professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke University Medical Center:
“Most individuals already know that yoga produces some kind of a calming effect. Individually, people feel better after doing the physical exercise. Mentally, people feel calmer, sharper, maybe more content. We thought it’s time to see if we could pull all [the literature] together… to see if there’s enough evidence that the benefits individual people notice can be used to help people with mental illness.”
According to their findings, yoga appears to have a positive effect on:
Schizophrenia (among patients using medication)
ADHD (among patients using medication)
Some of the studies suggest yoga can have a similar effect to antidepressants and psychotherapy, by influencing neurotransmitters and boosting serotonin. Yoga was also found to reduce levels of inflammation, oxidative stress, blood lipids and growth factors.
According to iVillage.com, visualization techniques or guided imagery can serve as an important tool to combat both physical pain and depression by imagining being in “a better place.”
“Research shows it can help with pain from cancer, osteoarthritis and childbirth by providing distraction and promoting a state of relaxation. In addition, a study from Portugal found that when people hospitalized for depressive disorders listened to a guided imagery CD once a day for 10 days, they were less depressed, anxious and stressed over time, compared to peers who didn’t use visualization.”
Ideally, you’ll want to immerse yourself as fully as you possibly into your visualization, using all your senses: seeing, smelling, tasting, hearing, and feeling. According to Dr. Schmidt:
“Using all your senses changes levels of brain chemicals such as serotonin, epinephrine and endorphins, and with regular practice you’ll gain more of a sense of control, which is often lacking when you’re in pain or depressed.”
#12: Repeat a Calming Mantra
The repeated incantation of a mantra — a soothing or uplifting word or phrase of your choice — in a rhythmic fashion can help you relax in a similar way as mindfulness training. The focused repetition, also called autogenic training, helps keep your mind from wandering and worrying, and engages your body’s relaxation response.
“A study at the University of Manchester in the U.K. found that autogenic training helped female migraine sufferers decrease the frequency and intensity of their headaches. And research from the University of Melbourne in Australia suggests that autogenic training may provide ‘helpful longer-term effects’ on symptoms of depression,” according to iVillage.com.
#13: Remove Pain and Dysfunctional Psychological Conditions with the Neurostructural Integration Technique
The Neurostructural Integration Technique (NST) is an amazing innovative technique developed in Australia. Using a series of gentle moves on specific muscles or at precise points on your body creates an energy flow and vibrations between these points. This allows your body to communicate better with itself and balance the other tissues, muscles and organs. The method of action is likely through your autonomic nervous system (ANS), allowing your body to better carry out its many functions the way it was designed to.
The main objective is to remove pain and dysfunctional physiological conditions by restoring the structural integrity of the body. In essence, NST provides the body with an opportunity to reintegrate on many levels, and thus return to and maintain normal homeostatic limits on a daily basis.
NST is done with a light touch and can be done through clothing. There are pauses between sets of moves to allow your body to assimilate the energy and vibrations. To learn more, please review the article, Gentle Hands Can Restore Your Health, by Micheal Nixon Levy who developed the technique.
What consciousness is and where it emanates from has stymied great minds in societies across the globe since the dawn of speculation. In today’s world, it’s a realm tackled more and more by physicists, cognitive scientists, and neuroscientists. There are a few prevailing theories. The first is materialism. This is the notion that consciousness emanates from matter, in our case, by the firing of neurons inside the brain.
Take the brain out of the equation and consciousness doesn’t exist at all. Traditionally, scientists have been stalwart materialists. But doing so has caused them to slam up against the limitations of materialism. Consider the chasm between relativity and quantum mechanics, or Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, and you quickly start to recognize these incongruities.
The second theory is mind-body dualism. This is perhaps more often recognized in religion or spirituality. Here, consciousness is separate from matter. It is a part of another aspect of the individual, which in religious terms we might call the soul. Then there’s a third option which is gaining ground in some scientific circles, panpsychism. In this view, the entire universe is inhabited by consciousness.
A handful of scientists are starting to warm to this theory, but it’s still a matter of great debate. Truth be told, panpsychism sounds very much like what the Hindus and Buddhists call the Brahman, the tremendous universal Godhead of which we are all a part. In Buddhism for instance, consciousness is the only thing that exists.
Such is the focus of the famous Zen koan, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” One must come to the realization that everything we experience is filtered through and interpreted by our mind. Without it, the universe doesn’t exist at all or at least, not without some sort of consciousness observing it. In some physics circles, the prevailing theory is some kind of proto-consciousness field.
Is consciousness derived from an invisible field that inhabits our universe? Getty Images.
In quantum mechanics, particles don’t have a definite shape or specific location, until they are observed or measured. Is this a form of proto-consciousness at play? According to the late scientist and philosopher, John Archibald Wheeler, it might. He’s famous for coining the term, “black hole.” In his view, every piece of matter contains a bit of consciousness, which it absorbs from this proto-consciousness field.
He called his theory the “participatory anthropic principle,” which posits that a human observer is key to the process. Of this Wheeler said, “We are participators in bringing into being not only the near and here but the far away and long ago.” In his view, much like the Buddhist one, nothing exists unless there is a consciousness to apprehend it.
Neuroscientist Christof Koch of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, is another supporter of panpsychism. Koch says that the only theory we have to date about consciousness is, it’s a level of awareness about one’s self and the world. Biological organisms are conscious because when they approach a new situation, they can change their behavior in order to navigate it, in this view. Dr. Koch is attempting to see if he can measure the level of consciousness an organism contains.
He’ll be running some animal experiments. In one, he plans to wire the brains of two mice together. Will information eventually flow between the two? Will their consciousness at some point become one fused, integrated system? If these experiments are successful, he may wire up the brains of two humans.
UK physicist Sir Roger Penrose is yet another supporter of panpsychism. Penrose in the 80’s proposed that consciousness is present at the quantum level and resides in the synapses of the brain. He is famous for linking consciousness with some of the goings on in quantum mechanics.
Dr. Penrose doesn’t go so far as to call himself a panpsychist. In his view, “The laws of physics produce complex systems, and these complex systems lead to consciousness, which then produces mathematics, which can then encode in a succinct and inspiring way the very underlying laws of physics that gave rise to it.”
In Buddhism consciousness emanates from the brain. Neuroscientists agree. Getty Images.
Veteran physicist Gregory Matloff of the New York City College of Technology, says he has some preliminary evidence showing that, at the very least, panpsychism isn’t impossible. Hey, it’s a start. Dr. Matloff told NBC News, “It’s all very speculative, but it’s something we can check and either validate or falsify.”
Theoretical physicist Bernard Haisch, in 2006, suggested that consciousness is produced and transmitted through the quantum vacuum, or empty space. Any system that has sufficient complexity and creates a certain level of energy, could generate or broadcast consciousness. Dr. Matloff got in touch with the unorthodox, German physicist and proposed an observational study, to test it.
What they examined was Parenago’s Discontinuity. This is the observation that cooler stars, like our own sun, revolve around the center of the Milky Way faster than hotter ones. Some scientists attribute this to interactions with gas clouds. Matloff took a different view. He elaborated in a recently published piece, in the Journal of Consciousness Exploration and Research.
Unlike their hotter sisters, cooler stars may move faster due to “the emission of a uni-directional jet.” Such stars emit a jet early on in their creation. Matloff suggests that this could be an instance of the star consciously manipulating itself, in order to gain speed.
Observational data shows a reliable pattern anywhere Parenago’s Discontinuity is witnessed. If it were a matter of interacting with gas clouds, as is the current theory, each cloud should have a different chemical makeup, and so cause the star to operate differently. So why do all of them act in exactly the same way?
Jets out of cooler stars may be a conscious act. Wikipedia Commons.
Though it isn’t much to go on, the unveiling of the European Space Agency’s Gaia space telescope, whose mission it is to map stars, may provide more data to further support or weaken this view. On another front, Dr. Matloff posits that the presence of a proto-consciousness field could serve as a replacement for dark matter.
Dark matter supposedly makes up around 95% of the universe, although, scientists can’t seem to find any. So, for the sake of argument, if consciousness is a property that arises on the subatomic level with a confluence of particles, how do these tiny little bits of consciousness coalesce?
Neuroscientist and psychiatrist Giulio Tononi, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, proposes a slightly different take on panpsychism, called integrated information theory. Here, consciousness is a manifestation with a real, physical location, somewhere in the universe. We just haven’t found it yet. Perhaps this heavenly body radiates out consciousness as our sun radiates light and heat.
Dr. Tononi has actually puts forth a metric for measuring how much consciousness a thing has. The unit is called phi. This translates into how much control a being can enact over itself or objects around it. The theory separates intelligence from consciousness, which some people assume are one in the same.
Take AI for example. It can already beat humans in all kinds of tasks. But it has no will of its own. A supercomputer which can enact change in the world outside of a programmer’s commands, would therefore be conscious. Many futurists from Ray Kurzweil to Elon Musk believe that day is coming, perhaps in the next decade or so, and that we should prepare.
The other day a friend mentioned that he’s looking forward to autonomous cars, as it will help lower the accident and fatality rates caused by distracted driving. True, was my initial reply, with a caveat: what we gain on the roads we lose in general attention. Having yet another place to be distracted does not add to our mental and social health.
Little good comes from being distracted yet we seem incapable of focusing our attention. Among many qualities that suffer, recent research shows creativity takes a hit when you’re constantly busy. Being able to switch between focus and daydreaming is an important skill that’s reduced by insufferable business. As Stanford’s Emma Seppälä writes:
The idea is to balance linear thinking—which requires intense focus—with creative thinking, which is borne out of idleness. Switching between the two modes seems to be the optimal way to do good, inventive work.
She is not the first to point this out. Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin made a similar plea in his 2014 book, The Organized Mind. Information overload keeps us mired in noise. In 2011, he writes, Americans consumed five times as much information as 25 years prior; outside of work we process roughly 100,000 words every day.
This saps us of not only willpower (of which we have a limited store) but creativity as well. He uses slightly different language than Seppälä—linear thinking is part of the central executive network, our brain’s ability to focus, while creative thinking is part of our brain’s default mode network. Levitin, himself a former music professional who engineered records by the Grateful Dead and Santana, writes:
Artists recontextualize reality and offer visions that were previously invisible. Creativity engages the brain’s daydreaming mode directly and stimulates the free flow and association of ideas, forging links between concepts and neural modes that might not otherwise be made.
Engaging creatively requires hitting the reset button, which means carving space in your day for lying around, meditating, or staring off into nothing. This is impossible when every free moment—at work, in line, at a red light—you’re reaching for your phone. Your brain’s attentional system becomes accustomed to constant stimulation; you grow antsy and irritable when you don’t have that input. You’re addicted to busyness.
And that’s dangerous for quality of life. As Seppälä points out many of the world’s greatest minds made important discoveries while not doing much at all. Nikola Tesla had an insight about rotating magnetic fields on a leisurely walk in Budapest; Albert Einstein liked to chill out and listen to Mozart on breaks from intense thinking sessions.
Paying homage to boredom—a valuable tool in the age of overload—journalist Michael Harris writes in The End of Absence that we start to value unimportant and fleeting sensations instead of what matters most. He prescribes less in the course of a normal day.
Perhaps we now need to engineer scarcity in our communications, in our interactions, and in the things we consume. Otherwise our lives become like a Morse code transmission that’s lacking breaks—a swarm of noise blanketing the valuable data beneath.
How to disconnect in a time when connection is demanded by bosses, peers, and friends? Seppälä makes four suggestions:
1. Make a long walk—without your phone—a part of your daily routine
2. Get out of your comfort zone
3. Make more time for fun and games
4. Alternate between doing focused work and activities that are less intellectually demanding
That last one is also recommended by Cal Newport, author of Deep Work. Newport is not on any social media and only checks email once a day, perhaps, and even that time is strictly regimented. What seems to be lost in being “connected” is really irreplaceable time gained to focus on projects. Without that time, he says, you’re in danger of rewiring your neural patterns for distraction.
Spend enough time in a state of frenetic shallowness and you permanently reduce your capacity to perform deep work.
That’s not a good sign for those who wish to perform creatively, which in reality is all of us. Research shows that the fear of missing out (FOMO) increases anxiety and takes a toll on your health in the long run. Of all the things to suffer, creative thinking is one of our greatest losses. Regardless of your vocation a flexible mindset open to new ideas and approaches is invaluable. Losing it just to check on the latest tweet or post an irrelevant selfie is an avoidable but sadly sanctioned tragedy.
Published: 04:58 EDT, 5 July 2017 | Updated: 09:05 EDT, 5 July 2017
Artificial intelligence is already being put to use in the NHS, with Google’s AI firm DeepMind providing technology to help monitor patients.
And a new study suggests that Google could soon be meeting with Genomic England – a company set up by the Department of Health to sequence 100,000 genomes – to discuss whether DeepMind could get involved.
In an article for The Conversation, Edward Hockings a researcher at the University of the West of Scotland, explains the risks of letting a private company gain access to sensitive genetic data.
In Google‘s case, he says, it could allow them to target users with personalised advertising based on their preferences and health risks.
It could also create profiles of people based on their DNA data, which may provide details such as their risk of becoming a criminal.
He says genomic data is ‘the oil of the digital era’ and there is nothing stopping it from be captured, bought and sold in the future.
Genomic sequencing has huge potential – it could hold the key to improving our understanding of a range of diseases, including cancer, and eventually help find treatments for them (stock image)
HOW COULD GENOMIC DATA BE USED?
Privacy campaigners are concerned that governments and private organisations have too much access to our personal details.
This could help them carry out mass surveillance.
When it comes to genetics, the implications are particularly frightening, says Edward Hockings.
For example, there is evidence of a link between genes and criminality.
Scientists say 40 per cent of sexual offending risk is down to genetic factors.
A ‘single national knowledge base’ as the one the UK government is aiming to create might therefore be used for broad genetic profiling.
Genomic sequencing has huge potential – it could hold the key to improving our understanding of a range of diseases, including cancer, and eventually help find treatments for them.
The 100,000 Genomes Project was set up by the government to sequence genomes of 100,000 people.
And it won’t stop there.
A new report from the UK’s chief medical officer, Sally Davies, is calling for an expansion of the project.
However, a statement by the Department of Health in response to a freedom of information (FoI) request I made in February reveals this decision has already been made.
The department said in this response that the project will be integrated into a single national genomic database.
The purpose of this will be to support ‘care and research, and the acceleration of industrial usage’.
Though it will ‘inevitably exceed the original 100,000 genomes, we do not anticipate that there will be a set target for how many genomes it should contain,’ the statement reads.
The costs of sequencing the genome on a national scale are prohibitive. The first human genome was sequenced at a cost of £2.3 billion ($3 billion).
However, almost two decades later, Illumina, who is responsible for the sequencing side of the 100,000 Genomes Project, produced the first ‘$1,000 (£770) genome’ – a staggering reduction in cost.
Applying machine learning to genomics – that is, general artificial intelligence – has the potential to significantly reduce the costs further.
By building a neural network, Google’s algorithms can interpret huge amounts of genetic, health, and environmental data to predict a persons health status, such as their level of risk of heart attack (stock image)
WHAT IS GOOGLE DEEPMIND?
Google DeepMind is an artificial intelligence lab within Google,
It was created after Google bought University College London spinout, DeepMind, for £400 million in 2014.
Its goal is to solve general intelligence and make machines capable of learning for themselves.
It wants to do this by creating a set of powerful general-purpose learning algorithms that can be combined to make an AI system.
Google wants its DeepMind algorithms to make many of its products and services smarter and more responsive.
By building a neural network, these algorithms can interpret huge amounts of genetic, health, and environmental data to predict a persons health status, such as their level of risk of heart attack.
DeepMind is already working with the NHS.
As part of a partnership with several NHS trusts, the company has built various platforms, an app and a machine learning system to monitor patients in various ways, alerting clinical teams when they are at risk.
But it’s been controversial.
The company announced the first of these collaborations in February 2016, saying it was building an app to help hospital staff monitor patients with kidney disease.
However, it later emerged that the agreement went far beyond this, giving DeepMind Health access to vast amounts of patient data – including, in one instance, 1.6m patient records.
The Information Commissioner’s Office ruled recently that the way patient data was shared by the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust violated UK privacy law.
The company asserts that patient data ‘will never be linked to Google products or services or commercialised’.
Google’s ambitions to digitise healthcare continue.
I received a response to an FoI request in May which reveals that Google and Genomics England have met to discuss ‘using Google’s DeepMind among other subjects’ to analyse genomic data.
Davies insists that data could be anonymised.
The Royal Free NHS Trust did not comply with the Data Protection Act when it passed on personal information of around 1.6 million patients to Google’s DeepMind. Pictured is the Royal Free Hospital in London, one of several hospitals the Royal Free Trust is responsible for
The Department of Health always promise that medical data used in such initiatives will be anonymised, yet one of the reasons that Care.data (an initiative to store all patient data on a single database) was abandoned is that this was shown to be untrue.
I have also shown that the department has misinformed the public about the level of access granted to commercial actors in the 100,000 Genome Project.
In particular it said the data would be ‘pseudonymised’ rather than anonymised, meaning there would still be information available such as age or geographical location.
The danger of personalisation
What could genomic information add to Google’s already far-reaching database of individual information?
NHS KIDNEY APP
Google announced the first of its NHS collaborations in February 2016, saying it was building an app to help hospital staff monitor patients with kidney disease.
The data was provided in a medical trial that began in 2015.
The trial integrated information from existing systems used by the Royal Free.
The systems used technology to track patients’ symptoms and alerted clinicians when signs of deterioration in a patient with Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) were found.
AKI affects up to 18 per cent of those admitted to hospital.
The investigation found that many patients did not know their data was being used as part of a test.
As part of the deal between the Trust and Google, DeepMind gained access to sensitive patient information such as HIV status, mental health history and abortions.
A hint lies in its self-confessed aspiration to organise our lives for us.
The algorithms ‘will get better, and we will get better at personalisation’, according to Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet.
This will ‘enable Google users to ask the question, ‘what shall I do tomorrow?’, or ‘what job shall I take?’.
With personalisation as their ultimate ‘goal’, Google intend to use the machine learning algorithms which track our digital footprint and target users with personalised advertising based on their preferences.
They also want to analyse health and genomic data to make predictions such as when a person might develop bipolar disorder or tell us what we should do with our lives.
Let us not forget that data, genomic or otherwise, is the oil of the digital era.
What is stopping genomic information from being captured, bought and sold?
We cannot assume that people will make life choices based upon their ‘genetic profile’ without undue pressure – commercial or governmental.
When it comes to genetics, the implications are particularly frightening. For example, there is evidence of a link between genes and criminality (stock image)
As for how genomic data might be used and what decisions will be taken about us, the mass surveillance by government agencies of their own citizens is a chilling reminder of the way information technology can be used.
There is something unpalatable about everything being connected and everything being known.
When it comes to genetics, the implications are particularly frightening. For example, there is evidence of a link between genes and criminality.
We know that 40 per cent of sexual offending risk is down to genetic factors.
A ‘single national knowledge base’ as the one the UK government is aiming to create might therefore be used for broad genetic profiling.
Although early intervention programmes that buy into genetically deterministic notions of ‘crime genes’ are reductive, serious debate about policies involving genetic information will no doubt happen soon.
We can already see the beginnings of this in the United States.
The bill Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act – which has received strong backing from Republicans and business groups – would allow companies to require employees to undergo genetic testing.
The results would be seen by employers, and should employees refuse to participate they would face significantly higher insurance costs.
Too much personalisation is likely to be intrusive. The challenge, then, will be to harness the potential of genomics while introducing measures to keep government and big business in check.
The UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry on genomics and genome editing was cut short (due to the recent snap general election).
Its recommendations for further lines of enquiry include creating a quasi-independent body, which could be more attuned to broader, social and ethical concerns.
This might introduce more balance at a pivotal time for the future of human genetic technologies.
New study finds no evidence that maximum lifespan has stopped increasing
June 28, 2017
By analyzing the lifespan of the longest-living individuals from the USA, the UK, France and Japan for each year since 1968, investigators found no evidence for such a limit, and if such a maximum exists, it has yet to be reached or identified
New research suggests there is no detectable limit to how long people can live.
Emma Morano passed away last April. At 117 years old, the Italian woman was the oldest known living human being.
Super- centenarians, such as Morano and Jeanne Calment of France, who famously lived to be 122 years old, continue to fascinate scientists and have led them to wonder just how long humans can live. A study published in Nature last October concluded that the upper limit of human age is peaking at around 115 years.
Now, however, a new study in Nature by McGill University biologists Bryan G. Hughes and Siegfried Hekimi comes to a starkly different conclusion. By analyzing the lifespan of the longest-living individuals from the USA, the UK, France and Japan for each year since 1968, Hekimi and Hughes found no evidence for such a limit, and if such a maximum exists, it has yet to be reached or identified, Hekimi says.
Far into the foreseeable future
“We just don’t know what the age limit might be. In fact, by extending trend lines, we can show that maximum and average lifespans, could continue to increase far into the foreseeable future,” Hekimi says. Many people are aware of what has happened with average lifespans. In 1920, for example, the average newborn Canadian could expect to live 60 years; a Canadian born in 1980 could expect 76 years, and today, life expectancy has jumped to 82 years. Maximum lifespan seems to follow the same trend.
It’s impossible to predict what future lifespans in humans might look like, Hekimi says. Some scientists argue that technology, medical interventions, and improvements in living conditions could all push back the upper limit.
“It’s hard to guess,” Hekimi adds. “Three hundred years ago, many people lived only short lives. If we would have told them that one day most humans might live up to 100, they would have said we were crazy.”