Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What is a 'primary illness'?

We have a definition of health, from a health perspective, as opposed to the more traditional 'medical perspective'.  We have an understanding of the primary causes of illness, from a health perspective as opposed to a more traditional medical perspective.

We can define 'primary illness' as an illness that is the result of a single primary cause.  Scurvy is a primary illness caused by a deficiency of Vitamin C.  Dehydration is a primary illness caused by a deficiency of water. Water intoxication is caused by drinking too much water.  Broken bones can be caused by too much physical stress.

We have identified 6 primary illness factors, 12 primary causes of illness - deficiency or excesses of genetics, nutrients, parasites, toxins, stress, growth and healing.  Each of those may have hundreds of 'primary illnesses', many of which are not studied by our medical establishment.

The primary cause of illness, and the causes of all primary illnesses are simple imbalances.  Once we realize this, we can see that many illnesses have no name and are not studied.   In this article, I focus on primary nutritional illnesses:

a) we know of over 100 individual nutrients that are essential to health. We do not have scientific agreement on which nutrients are essential to health.

b) therefore, over 100 individual primary illnesses can be caused by deficiencies of individual nutrients

c) and, presumably, over 100 individual primary illnesses can be caused by excesses of individual nutrients

Some of these illnesses are clearly understood when the deficiency is severe, but not well studied when the deficiency is not severe. Severe deficiency of Vitamin A is known to cause blindness, poor immune system function, and poor bone growth.  Mild Vitamin A deficiency?  Not studied as far as I know. Is the name given to mild Vitamin A deficiency - 'Vitamin A deficiency' or is there no name?  What is the test for Vitamin A deficiency?  I believe is no well accepted, effective test for Vitamin A deficiency - I can only hope that someone proves me wrong someday.

Vitamin B1 deficiency causes beriberi - or is beriberi the name of severe Vitamin B1 deficiency? What is the name of, what are the symptoms of low level Vitamin B1 deficiency? What is a good test for minor Vitamin B1 deficiency?

Nutrition is the foundation of health.  Nutritional deficiencies and excesses can, in many cases be prevented by simple positive or negative actions.  Consume nutrients that are deficient, avoid or minimize nutrients that are in excess. Nutritional prevention is the most powerful tool of Personal Health Freedom, because it is most easily affected by personal choice. Personal choice is especially important in light of the poor quantity and quality of information about nutritional deficiencies and excesses.

Nutritional illnesses are also very easy to acquire.  Simple in-attention to diet, dietary drift, or dietary simplicity (meat and potatoes diet, pizza diet) can easily result in minor nutritional deficiencies in a very short time period - and severe nutritional deficiencies over a long period.

But are they detected? Health deficits (illnesses) is typically ignored until they become severe illnesses.

We often think of ourselves as Perfectly Healthy, in truth we are probably all suffering from some health deficiencies that are not measured.  Our bodies have amazing power to overcome the dis-advantages of minor health deficits and even severe health deficits.  The medical paradigm does not recognize a health deficit until it becomes an illness to be treated. By this time, may primary illnesses or health deficits have combined to create a complex web of causes, symptoms and illnesses.

Illnesses are mysterious entities, identified by symptoms, not by causes. Thus, the natural reaction is to treat the symptoms rather than search for causes.  If you go to a doctor because you have a bad cold - the cold may be treated.  It is unlikely that your immune system will be tested, and less likely that you will be tested for any of the many primary causes of a weak immune system.

From one point, this is understandable - the medical establishment is, as they saying goes, 'up to their ass in alligators'.  But it is time to think about draining the swamp.

We need a methodical, scientific study of illnesses and primary illness if we are to move our understanding of health beyond the current medical paradigm.

And until we have the results of these studies, and maybe long after - we need the freedom to choose our nutrients, our foods. Many of governments are actively working to limit the nutrients we can consume - and also to limit the foods that can be studied in scientific studies. These limits are put forth as 'consumer protection legislation' - they are often simply health freedom limitations and a recipe for a health deficient future.

Health be with you.
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Health and Illness = Light and Darkness?

I like to think in parallels.  Can we draw a parallel between the concepts of light and darkness and our understanding of health and illness?

Illness is easily compared to darkness, or dark corners.  It is often hidden away, difficult to discern or recognize.  We can imagine a transition from light to darkness, corresponding to the similar transition from healthiness to illness. We often speak of the darkness of mental illness, the blackness of unhealthy tissue, and we know that black stools can indicate internal bleeding.  Health is viewed as bright and alive with colours.

Like most parallels, this comparison provides some useful insights.  It closely matches the 'medical paradigm' where illness is bad and health is good.

It is a useful metaphor - but its weakness is a focus on illness.  We need a metaphor that has a focus on health.  And as we develop a metaphor for health, as we view illness and health thru a different lens, we will see things that could not be seen thru the medical paradigm.

Healthiness is not measured by brightness, nor colour, it is measured by balance. The more our nutrition, cells, tissues, organs, etc are in living balance - the healthier we are. Health is the living balance between deficiency and excess. Our bodies are always working to maintain the balance - when we lose balance - we become ill and may die. When we view health as thousands of balances, and illness as being severely out of balance - it is easy to imagine that we have many small illnesses all of the time.

We cannot shine a light on illness to create or improve health.  We cannot improve health by 'cutting out' the darkness (illness). We can only improve health by changing the balance.  I often use Vitamin C as an example, but you can substitute many health factors and come to similar insights.

Viewed through the medical paradigm, scurvy is illness, or darkness.  Scurvy can be prevented by consuming sufficient Vitamin C.  If scurvy is present, it can be treated with Vitamin C. The effects of severe scurvy cannot be 'cured' - if you lose teeth because of scurvy, Vitamin C will not grow them back. This is a useful paradigm to prevent or treat illness, but a poor paradigm to optimize health.

Viewed through the healthy balance paradigm, scurvy is not simply an illness, it is an imbalance - a prolonged deficiency of Vitamin C. If you are suffering from a deficiency of Vitamin C - you can improve your health by adding Vitamin C to your diet. It is useless and trivial to say "Vitamin C prevents scurvy" because it is the same saying "Vitamin C prevents Vitamin C deficiency". Vitamin C does not 'cure' a Vitamin C deficiency.  Vitamin C does not prevent, nor cure scurvy.  A deficiency of Vitamin C is scurvy.  The medical paradigm only recognizes this when the deficiency is severe and prolonged. It may well be that people who are exposed to prolonged minor deficiencies of Vitamin C, or severe short deficiencies of Vitamin C develop conditions exactly like scurvy - but on a much smaller scale, not recognized as 'illness'.  When we can accurately measure 'healthiness', as opposed to only measuring 'illness', we will see the effects of Vitamin C deficiency earlier and understand much more about healthiness.

The challenge, even in the simplest situation, is to determine what is 'out of balance'.  The symptoms of prolonged severe Vitamin C deficiency are well documented and easily recognized - and named scurvy.  However, a minor Vitamin C deficiency has symptoms in common with many other problems.  So, how can you know if you are suffering from a minor Vitamin C deficiency?

Medical researchers do not attempt to define the 'healthiest' intake of Vitamin C.  Medical researchers cannot even agree on the recommended 'minimum intake' of Vitamin C.  The United Kingdom Food Standards Agency recommends a minimum of 40 mg per day.  The World Health (so called) Organization recommends a minimum of 45 mg per day (although they claim to be a 'health organization' they do not make a recommendation for optimal health). Health Canada (so called, they also do not make a recommendation for optimal health) recommends 75 to 90 mg per day as a minimum.  The National Academy of Sciences in the USA recommends 60 to 95 mg per day as a minimum.   Although each of these numbers may be presented as the 'recommended healthy intake', the numbers are very specifically designed to be used by prisons, armies, schools, etc to ensure that minimum nutritional needs are met.  No official organization recommends a 'healthiest daily intake of Vitamin C', or of any nutrient.

How can you decide what is healthiest intake of Vitamin C for you?  This is your personal health decision. You need the right to decide for yourself - your personal health freedom.

Vitamin C is a health factor that has a very wide 'healthy balance' area.  Our bodies can compensate for low or high consumption of Vitamin C quite effectively.  Vitamin C is very well tolerated in excess, or as  deficiency for short periods of time. In contrast, a deficiency of oxygen can have rapid, severe consequences while selenium and iron can have toxic effects at very low levels.  In each case, health exists at the balance between deficiency and toxicity.  If we try to understand this using the light vs darkness paradigm, it is as if there is only light in the centre - and darkness at both ends of the balance.

A healthy body maintains thousands of health balances, as best it can.  When one or more of the health components goes out of balance, your body does its best to compensate and to bring you back to balance.  When you lose your ability to maintain the balance of life, you tip and die.

Can you be perfectly healthy?  Can a light be perfectly bright?  Maybe, just before it destroys you.  I love photography, but I can't take a picture unless I can see both light and darkness.

Can your body be only 'healthy' with no 'unhealthy' components? No.  Your body is composed of hundreds of different types of cells.  Each cell type lives, divides and dies at a clearly understood rate.  Some of your cells are young and vigorous.  Some are dead or dying.  This is a normal aspect of our healthy state.  Our healthy balance does not just exist for a moment, it is a living balance always adjusting and moving forward.

Is health and illness like light and darkness?  This useful metaphor is insufficient to a full understanding of health, and of health freedom.  We need to move beyond it - to a new paradigm with a focus on health. A healthy balance.
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Toothpaste Rant

Today is senior's day at the local drug store - time to stock up on supplies.  But not toothpaste evidently.  I generally buy Sensodyne Original.  I used to buy it there. Not that I'm partial to Sensodyne, just that it is one of, possibly the only toothpaste commonly available (outside of health food stores) toothpaste that does not contain fluoride.  But, as the clerk said "If it's not on the shelf, we don't sell it."

My local drug store, like most big chains, has over 50 different flavours of toothpaste.  I say 'flavours', because there is only one basic 'formula', and only four or five different brands - most of the 50 different entries made by Crest or Colgate, followed by Sensodyne.  Every one of the 50 different toothpastes contain fluoride.

I have seen studies suggesting that fluoride reduces cavities.  Ditto for triclosan.  I'm not interested.

I would be interested in scientific studies if they were 'scientific' enough to take ALL of the known recipes for toothpaste and test them against each other, and publish all of the results.  And if a new toothpaste recipe is proposed, let it go thru the same tests.  Using scientific tests to find the BEST TOOTHPASTE would be a great idea, and a great ongoing project - where short term and long term results could be measured.  That's how scientific studies of medicines should be designed.  What are the short term results?  What are the long term results?  Most people use the same toothpaste recipe for decades.

But, scientific studies seldom, if every take the holistic approach to science - because they are designed to help market a specific drug or product.  So called 'scientific studies' are generally battles between A (the proposed new product) and B - and are only published if A wins by a conclusive margin. If A loses, the study may need to be re-defined. That's one of the reasons scientific studies are generally 'short term'.  The company wants to get the winner to market.  Most company funded 'scientific studies' are about as useful as the 'scientific study' showing that n percent of people prefer pepsi over coke.  You can make the test as 'scientific' as you like - the results are still garbage.

So much for Health Freedom in the toothpaste department.  As near as I can tell, Crest does not produce a toothpaste without fluoride.  Colgate produces many different toothpastes - only one that does not contain fluoride.  Ditto for Sensodyne.  My local drugstore does not sell a single toothpaste that does not contain fluoride.

Now maybe fluoride is good for your health.  Maybe not.  I do know that more than 10 countries have banned the addition of fluoride to water supplies - but still allow fluoride toothpaste.  I know that fluoride toothpastes have warnings on the package that say 'do not swallow' - and frankly, I don't want to brush my teeth with something that is not safe to swallow.

I want the freedom to make my own decision. I’d rather choose between 2 real toothpastes instead of 50 flavours of a single toothpaste recipe.

So, I will not buy toothpaste at my local, big chain, grocery store, and I will not buy toothpaste at my local, big chain, drugstore - because they restrict my freedom to choose a toothpaste that does not contain fluoride.  I find it a bit strange that our so called 'freedom based capitalist system' results in stores that limit my choices to flavours instead of substance.

I believe in Personal Health Freedom - if you want to purchase a toothpaste that contains fluoride, more power to you.  If you want a toothpaste that does not contain fluoride - I hope you have a nearby health food store.  I'll be driving a few extra miles to get mine, when my Sensodyne Original runs out.
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: