Sticks and Stones

One of the most common and potent ways to denigrate a human being or a group of human beings is to identify them by a disparaging label.  To achieve its intended effect, the label, if chosen well, need not be complicated or creative.  It must merely serve two purposes: to quickly conjure up in the listener's mind a negative image or association and, just as importantly, to put in place a barrier that hinders meaningful communication.  

If It Isn't Broken, Don't Fix It (unless you want to break it...)

In December of 2017, The Federal Drug Administration issued a Draft Guidance proposing that the guidelines governing the manufacture and sale of homeopathic remedies in the United States for the last thirty years be withdrawn and replaced by an updated version. 

Robert Whitaker Speaks

On the last day of March, an overflowing crowd heard Robert Whitaker speak at the Brattleboro public library.  A writer and journalist, Whitaker has researched various medical issues with a particular focus on mental health for 25 years.  He has written two books, the first, ‘Mad in America’, was a history of psychiatric treatment in the United States since colonial times, and the second, ‘Anatomy of an Epidemic’, detailed the rise of the use of psychotropic medications in treating the mentally ill over the last half century and the consequences thereof.

The latter book drew a great amount of attention, winning an award for investigative journalism in 2010 and also making its author something of a spokesperson for change in the way that the mentally ill are currently treated in the United States.

Aspartame - aka Nutrasweet, Equal

Although our attention may currently be more focused on the possibility of becoming infected with anthrax or smallpox, I was recently given a forceful reminder about the consequences of the widespread dissemination of another toxic substance throughout our public domain.

A woman we’ll call Sherry had come to see me for chronic back and hip pain that was becoming increasingly disabling. A cheerful, active person, Sherry was a successful businesswoman determined to overcome her condition. Our work together began with a homeopathic consultation and prescription, and a month or two later a course of acupuncture was begun.

Sherry’s condition improved to a certain extent, but there still was a considerable amount of pain. More, significantly, by taking her pulses, it was clear that her energy was chaotic and that her system was much weaker than she appeared superficially.

Then, she came to an appointment and announced that her pain, though not absolutely gone, had improved dramatically. Her pulses were also much stronger and more orderly. Just as I was about to give myself a pat on the back for an apparently successful development in her treatment, Sherry mentioned that the reduction in pain coincided with her decision to stop all diet soft drinks.

She had been taking several a day, and thought perhaps that somehow was a factor in her condition. How right she was... Although I have written about it before, it is appropriate to revisit the topic.

Sold under the well known brand names Nutrasweet and Equal, Aspartame is an artificial sweetener created by combing two amino acids. It stimulates the sense of sweetness in our mouth and fools us into feeling that we have ingested the "real thing". Not only is aspartame used as a replacement for table sugar, it is also found in an ever increasing number of foods and drinks, especially “diet products”. Americans are consuming it in ever increasing amounts as they try to avoid the unwanted consequences of sugar consumption while also gratifying the urge for sweetness.

But despite its widespread acceptance and mass consumption, despite the fact that the Federal Drug Administration has deemed aspartame a non-harmful substance and has bestowed upon it an official seal of approval, there still remain questions as to how safe it really is.

Feeding the fires of this controversy is conflicting research and evidence surrounding the side-effects of aspartame consumption. On the one hand is industry sponsored research that claims that it is safe. On the other is a group of private researchers and other individuals who personally experienced, heard testimony about or collected statistical evidence about its negative side-effects.

This latter group maintains that after ingestion aspartame breaks down into substances that often induce adverse reactions. They assert that the results can range from the disruption of digestive processes to neurological and behavioral problems. Interestingly enough, their research has also shown that aspartame consumption will set off a biochemical reaction which results in an increase in sugar and starch cravings. That is, the more you take of it, the more you may want it.

What specifically are the problems associated with aspartame? For starters, it should be noted that as of the mid-1990’s, over 3/4 of all complaints registered with the FDA pertain to aspartame.

The following is a list of the complaints: Headaches/Migraines, Dizziness, Joint Pain, Nausea, Numbness, Muscle spasms, Weight gain, Rashes, Depression, Fatigue, Irritability, Tachycardia, Insomnia, Vision Loss, Hearing Loss, Heart palpitations, Breathing difficulties, Anxiety attacks, Slurred Speech, Loss of taste, Tinnitus, Vertigo, Memory loss.

And the United States military too is very concerned about the effects of aspartame on its personnel. Searching the Internet one evening, I found the following information: "Both the U.S. Air Force’s magazine “Flying Safety” and the U.S. Navy’s magazine, “Navy Physiology” published articles warning about the many dangers of aspartame including the cumlative deliterious effects of methanol and the greater likelihood of birth defects. Thearticles note that the ingestion of aspartame may make pilots more susceptible to seizures and vertigo (US Air Force 1992)." 1"Recently, a hotline was set up for pilots suffering from acute reactions to aspartame ingestion. Nearly 1,000 pilots have reported symptoms including some who have reported suffering grand mal seizures in the cockpit due to aspartame (Stoddard 1995b). The danger to pilots of tunnel vision, blurred vision, seizures, vertigo and other serious adverse reactions, who may ingest large amounts of aspartame productsnduring flight, are so great that articles and letters warning about aspartame have appeared in many caviation-related journals... “

With all this information about the negative side effects of aspartame, one can only wonder why it is not banned from the market. The answer appears to involve political machinations and influence peddling that typically occur when large corporate profits are involved. Aspartame is a product developed by the G.D. Searle company, a subsidiary of Monsanto. Mary Nash Stoddard, a consumer advocate who has written extensively on the "aspartame coverup" maintains that Searle actually tried to hide unfavorable research from the FDA. Of the animal tests where tumors developed, she claims that the tumors were cut out of the animals without being reported to the FDA.2

She also produced evidence that the FDA was itself aware that the Searle research was defective as far back as 1977. FDA documents site "serious deficiencies in Searle's integrity" and "conductwhich compromises the scientific integrity of the (aspartame) studies".3  But effective lobbying efforts tby formerly high placed goverment officials seemed to have prevailed in gaining FDA approval. A most telling incident occurred as far back as1983 when the Commissioner of the FDA gave approval for aspartame to be used in soft drinks a few months before leaving office. "Two to three months later, he accepted a position as Senior Medical Advisor to Searle's public relations firm... He was paid $1000 per day as a consultant."

So, be advised...

1. "Exclusive Interview: Consumer Information On Aspartame — Mary Nash Stoddard", pg. 5 Nutrition & Healing, November 1995, Vol. 2, Issue 11 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid.

Two Feathers Healing Formula

'Two Feathers Healing Formula’ is a Native American herbal remedy ('two feathers black salve'). Robert Roy, the distributor of 2 Feathers Healing Formula first learned of the Healing Formula from a Native American elder, it had been used not only for malignancies and tumors, but also for skin lesion and infections, food poisoning, liver problems, colds and flus, removal of wart and moles, chronic systemic yeast overgrowth, chronic fatigue syndrome and other virally induced diseases, and auto-immune illness such as lupus.