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By Dr. Mercola
If you were around in the early 1900s, a time when tuberculosis and pneumonia were among the leading causes of death, your doctor might have prescribed a drug called heroin to treat your cough.
As explained in the intriguing podcast,1 linked above, heroin was first synthesized by chemist Charles Romley Alder Wright in 1874, but he abandoned it after running animal tests.
More than two decades later, Felix Hoffman, who worked with Bayer pharmaceutical company, again synthesized the drug, and the company’s head of the pharmacological laboratory, Heinrich Dreser, decided to move forward with it.
Dreser deemed heroin to be “an original Bayer product” (despite being aware of Wright’s earlier discovery) and, after testing it on animals and humans in 1898, presented the drug to the Congress of German Naturalists and Physicians.
Heroin, it was claimed, was a miracle drug “10 times more effective than codeine as a cough medicine,” worked better than morphine as a painkiller and had “almost no toxic effects,” including being non-addictive…Heroin Was a Blockbuster Drug… Until Its Addictive Nature Quickly Became Known
Heroin, which acts as a sedative and respiratory depressant, worked well in suppressing coughing fits, making it a medical breakthrough at the time. Mixed into cough syrup and glycerin solution, taken as a tablet, or even as a heroin “salt,” the drug was marketed to physicians as being non-addictive. This may have been possible, in part, because of its form. According to TodayIFoundOut:2
“When heroin is orally ingested, its effects are drastically reduced due to the fact that it is converted to morphine when it is metabolized by your body.
This may partially explain why the addictive effects of heroin were not instantly apparent, as is often the case with modern methods junkies use to partake in this drug which result in it being able to cross the blood-brain barrier extremely quickly.”
In the early 1900s, heroin was popular in more than 23 countries, with Bayer producing one ton of the drug in its first year alone. However, by 1913 the number of heroin addicts had skyrocketed to the point that Bayer was forced to stop producing the drug.
You should know that prescription opiates are chemically similar to heroin, and virtually indistinguishable as far as your brain is concerned. (And heroin is actually still used medically, often for post-surgery pain, in certain countries, including the UK.3)
As explained by Dr. Wilson Compton, deputy director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, heroin, morphine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone "are all classified as opioids because they exert their effect by attaching to the opioid receptor found in our brain and spinal cord."4
For instance, hydrocodone, a prescription opiate, is synthetic heroin. So, if you're hooked on hydrocodone, you are in fact a good-old-fashioned heroin addict. But most people assume that because it’s a “prescription” drug, it’s safe, or should not carry the same negative stigma as a street drug. This is, sadly, far from the truth.Heroin Addiction Was Rampant in 1913; In 2014, It’s Prescription Painkiller Addiction
Fatal prescription drug overdoses actually surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of accidental death in 2007. Many of the overdoses (36 percent) involve prescription opioid painkillers, which were actually the cause of more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.
To put this into perspective, in 2009, nearly 29,000 people died from unintentional drug overdoses, which is the equivalent of losing an airplane carrying 150 passengers and crew every day for nearly 6.5 months – a scenario that would simply be absolutely unacceptable in terms of public health risks.5
Pain is one of the most common health complaints in the US, but record numbers of Americans are, sadly, becoming drug addicts in an attempt to live pain-free. According to 2010 data, there were enough narcotic painkillers being prescribed in the US to medicate every single adult, around the clock, for a month.6
By 2012, a whopping 259 million prescriptions for opioids and other narcotic painkillers were written in the US, which equates to 82.5 prescriptions for every 100 Americans.7 And those narcotics are responsible for 46 deaths each and every day...
Americans use the most opioids of any nation—twice the amount used by Canadians, who come in second place in terms of prescriptions.8 The problem has become noticeable enough that even US officials now warn that narcotic painkillers are a driving force in the rise of substance abuse and lethal overdoses.
Preliminary research presented at the 2014 meeting of the American Academy of Pain Medicine in Phoenix, Arizona also found that 12.6 percent of all primary care visits made by Americans between 2002 and 2009 involved prescriptions for sedatives and/or narcotic painkillers (opioids).9 The study also found:
- The number of prescriptions for sedative drugs rose by 12.5 percent a year
- Patients receiving a narcotic painkiller were 4.2 times more likely to receive a second prescription for a sedative
- The number of joint prescriptions of opioids and sedatives also increased by 12 percent a year in that time frame
- Prescription sedatives and narcotic painkillers are responsible for at least 30 percent of narcotic painkiller-related deaths
- Besides deaths caused by overdose, other risks associated with sedative use include falls in the elderly, emergency room visits, and drug dependence
CDC Director Tom Frieden put the serious danger of using narcotic painkillers even one time into perspective: "Patients given just a single course may become addicted for life," he recently warned.10 Painkillers work by interacting with receptors in your brain resulting in a decrease in the perception of pain. They are inherently addictive, as they also create a temporary feeling of euphoria, followed by dysphoria, that can easily lead to physical dependence and addiction.
Ironically, the trademarked name “heroin” is thought to be derived from the German word “heroisch,” or heroic, which is how the Bayer workers who tested the drug on themselves said it made them feel.11 Still, why certain people become addicted (to heroin or prescription painkillers) while others get by unfazed has remained a mystery.
Researchers from the University of Derby set out to determine what might be influencing painkiller addiction and dependence by conducting an anonymous survey of people who had pain and had used painkillers in the last month. They found three predictors that they said identified those most at risk of developing painkiller dependence. It included those who:12
- Used prescription painkillers more frequently
- Have a prior history of substance abuse (often unrelated to pain relief)
- Are less accepting of pain or less able to cope with pain
According to the authors, pain, prior substance abuse, and psychological factors may all play a role in a person’s likelihood of addiction. One thing is for certain, you can certainly not gauge who is an addict by looks or occupation. In fact, painkiller addiction spans all ages and walks of life. The problem, once primarily seen in inner cities, is now spanning to rural areas, hitting people of all ethnic backgrounds and income levels, from business professionals to single mothers to retirees.
For instance, a significant number of older adults, particularly those in the baby boomer generation, are struggling with both illicit and prescription drug abuse. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported that the number of people in their 50s who are abusing illicit or prescription drugs more than doubled from 2002 to 2010, going from 2.7 to 5.8 percent in this population. Among those 65 and older, 414,000 used such drugs in 2010.13
At the other end of the spectrum, one in four teens has misused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime, according to survey results from the partnership at Drugfree.org and the MetLife Foundation.14 Prescription drugs don’t hold the same stigma as illegal recreational drugs, even though they can be far more deadly, leading teens to regard the former as a “safe” way to get high. Prescription drugs have even been described by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy as the “drug of choice” second only to marijuana for today’s teens.15Prescription Painkillers May Lead to Heroin Use
In many ways, we’ve come full circle from the early 1900s when heroin was used as cough medicine. Today, drugs that are just as potent are prescribed as a solution for pain, leading quickly to addiction for, perhaps, the majority of patients. From there, it may actually progress to heroin use. Over the past five years alone, heroin deaths have increased by 45 percent -- an increase that officials blame on the rise of addictive prescription drugs such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, codeine, and Fentora, all of which are opioids (derivatives of opium, like heroin).16
This connection finally received some media attention following the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, a 46-year-old Oscar-winning actor. He died from heroin overdose in early 2014.17 Last year, Hoffman entered rehab when addiction to prescription painkillers led him to switch to heroin. But please don’t be misled that it takes heroin use to cause a fatal overdose. All opioids depress your heart rate and breathing. Large doses can cause sedation and slowed breathing to the point that breathing stops altogether, resulting in death.Are You in Severe Pain?
I strongly recommend exhausting your options before resorting to a narcotic pain reliever, and I'll list a number of alternatives at the end of this article. That being said, if you’re in severe pain, I agree that these drugs do have a place, and can be a great benefit when used cautiously and correctly with appropriate medical supervision.
However, it's also quite clear that these drugs are being overprescribed, and can easily lead you into addiction and other, more illicit, drug use. I strongly suspect that the overreliance on them as a first line of defense for pain is a major part of this problem. So if you are dealing with severe or chronic pain, my first suggestion would be to see a pain specialist who is familiar with alternative treatments and the underlying causes of pain.
Ideally, it is best to find a knowledgeable practitioner who can help you attack the pain from multiple angles, giving you both relief and healing. One option that is receiving increasing attention in the US is cannabis. It’s the cannabidiol (CBD) in cannabis that has medicinal properties. CBD is an excellent painkiller and has been used successfully to treat a variety of pain disorders. If your pain is severe enough, it might even be worth moving to one of the many states where medical cannabis is legal, as it can be a real life changer.
In states where medicinal marijuana is legal, such as California, you can join a collective, which is a legal entity consisting of a group of patients that can grow and share cannabis medicines with each other. By signing up as a member, you gain the right to grow and share your medicine. I do, however, still recommend working with a health care practitioner who can guide you on the most effective dosage and form of use (cannabis may be inhaled, smoked, vaporized, taken orally, or even applied topically (in oil form)).19 Non-Drug Solutions for Pain Relief
I strongly recommend exhausting other options before you resort to an opioid pain reliever. The health risks associated with these drugs are great, and addiction is a very real concern. Below I list 19 non-drug alternatives for the treatment of pain. These options provide excellent pain relief without any of the health hazards that prescription (and even over-the-counter) painkillers carry. This list is in no way meant to represent the only approaches you can use.
They are, rather, some of the best strategies that I know of. I do understand there are times when pain is so severe that a prescription drug may be necessary. Even in those instances, the options that follow may be used in addition to such drugs, and may allow you to at least reduce your dosage. If you are in pain that is bearable, please try these first, before resorting to prescription painkillers of any kind.
- Eliminate or radically reduce most grains and sugars from your diet. Avoiding grains and sugars will lower your insulin and leptin levels and decrease insulin and leptin resistance, which is one of the most important reasons why inflammatory prostaglandins are produced. That is why stopping sugar and sweets is so important to controlling your pain and other types of chronic illnesses.
- Take a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat. My personal favorite is krill oil. Omega-3 fats are precursors to mediators of inflammation called prostaglandins. (In fact, that is how anti-inflammatory painkillers work, they manipulate prostaglandins.)
- Optimize your production of vitamin D by getting regular, appropriate sun exposure, which will work through a variety of different mechanisms to reduce your pain.
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a drug-free approach for pain management of all kinds. EFT borrows from the principles of acupuncture, in that it helps you balance out your subtle energy system. It helps resolve underlying, often subconscious, negative emotions that may be exacerbating your physical pain. By stimulating (tapping) well-established acupuncture points with your fingertips, you rebalance your energy system, which tends to dissipate pain.
- K-Laser Class 4 Laser Therapy. If you suffer pain from an injury, arthritis, or other inflammation-based pain, I’d strongly encourage you to try out K-Laser therapy. It can be an excellent choice for many painful conditions, including acute injuries. By addressing the underlying cause of the pain, you will no longer need to rely on painkillers. K-Laser is a class 4 infrared laser therapy treatment that helps reduce pain, reduce inflammation, and enhance tissue healing—both in hard and soft tissues, including muscles, ligaments, or even bones.
- Chiropractic. Many studies have confirmed that chiropractic management is much safer and less expensive than allopathic medical treatments, especially when used for pain, such as low-back pain. Qualified chiropractic, osteopathic, and naturopathic physicians are reliable, as they have received extensive training in the management of musculoskeletal disorders during their course of graduate healthcare training, which lasts between four to six years. These health experts have comprehensive training in musculoskeletal management.
- Acupuncture can also effectively treat many kinds of pain. Research has discovered a "clear and robust" effect of acupuncture in the treatment of back, neck, and shoulder pain, osteoarthritis, and headaches.
- Physical and massage therapy has been shown to be as good as surgery for painful conditions such as torn cartilage and arthritis.
- Astaxanthin is one of the most effective fat-soluble antioxidants known. It has very potent anti-inflammatory properties and in many cases works far more effectively than anti-inflammatory drugs. Higher doses are typically required and you may need 8 mg or more per day to achieve this benefit.
- Ginger: This herb has potent anti-inflammatory activity and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea or grated into vegetable juice.
- Curcumin: In a study of osteoarthritis patients, those who added 200 mg of curcumin a day to their treatment plan had reduced pain and increased mobility. A past study also found that a turmeric extract composed of curcuminoids blocked inflammatory pathways, effectively preventing the overproduction of a protein that triggers swelling and pain.18
- Boswellia: Also known as boswellin or "Indian frankincense," this herb contains specific active anti-inflammatory ingredients. This is one of my personal favorites as I have seen it work well with many rheumatoid arthritis patients.
- Bromelain: This enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form but eating fresh pineapple, including some of the bromelain-rich stem, may also be helpful.
- Cetyl myristoleate (CMO): This oil, found in fish and dairy butter, acts as a "joint lubricant" and an anti-inflammatory. I have used this for myself to relieve ganglion cysts and a mild annoying carpal tunnel syndrome that pops up when I type too much on non-ergonomic keyboards. I used a topical preparation for this.
- Evening primrose, black currant, and borage oils: These contain the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is useful for treating arthritic pain.
- Cayenne cream: Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting the body's supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to your brain.
- Medical cannabis has a long history as a natural analgesic, as mentioned.19 At present, 20 US states have legalized cannabis for medical purposes. Its medicinal qualities are due to high amounts (about 10-20 percent) of cannabidiol (CBD), medicinal terpenes, and flavonoids. As discussed in this previous post, varieties of cannabis exist that are very low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the psychoactive component of marijuana that makes you feel "stoned"—and high in medicinal CBD. The Journal of Pain,20 a publication by the American Pain Society, has a long list of studies on the pain-relieving effects of cannabis.
- Methods such as yoga, Foundation Training, acupuncture, meditation, hot and cold packs, and other mind-body techniques can also result in astonishing pain relief without any drugs.
- Grounding, or walking barefoot on the earth, may also provide a certain measure of pain relief by combating inflammation.
The infrared wavelengths used in the K-Laser allow for targeting specific areas of your body, and can penetrate deeply into the body to reach areas such as your spine and hip. For more information about this groundbreaking technology, and how it can help heal chronic pain, please listen to my previous interview with Dr. Harrington.
By Dr. Mercola
Alzheimer’s disease, which affects an estimated 5.2 million Americans,1 is a devastating degenerative brain disease that develops slowly over time, and tends to be quite lethal in its final stages.
According to the latest data, the death toll from Alzheimer’s exceeds half a million Americans per year.2 This places Alzheimer’s in the top three killer diseases in the US, right behind heart disease and cancer.
There’s no conventional cure, and few if any successful medical treatments available once Alzheimer’s sets in. There is, however, compelling evidence indicating that your diet plays a significant role. This means you may have quite a bit of control when it comes to prevention.
In previous articles, I’ve discussed the links between high-carb, low-fat diets, and Alzheimer’s. Sugar, it turns out, is a major promoter of the disease. Some research even suggests that Alzheimer’s may be a form of “brain diabetes,” instigated by high sugar/fructose consumption.
The dietary links do not end there, however. More recently, investigators have raised the possibility that this severe form of dementia may be linked to eating meat from animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs)...The Intriguing Connections Between Alzheimer’s, Mad Cow, and Chronic Wasting Disease
The key player here is an infectious protein called TDP-43. This protein has already been linked to a number of animal and human diseases, including:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease)
- Mad Cow disease
- Chronic wasting disease, a transmissible neurological disease in deer and elk
Researchers have found that this protein may also play an important role in Alzheimer’s disease,3 as it is correlated with shrinkage of the hippocampus, thereby causing memory loss.
By examining the autopsied brains of more than 340 Alzheimer’s patients, the researchers found that TDP-43 was present in nearly 200 of them. As reported by MedicineNet.com:4
“The study is unlike some others because it looked at two types of patients who were diagnosed with Alzheimer's after death -- those who showed symptoms in life and those who didn't.
Abnormal levels of TDP-43 were found in those who had the disease and were significantly affected by it... [T]he investigators found that those with abnormal levels of TDP-43 were 10 times more likely to have thinking problems such as memory loss at death than the other patients.
How could people have signs of Alzheimer's, but not have symptoms? That's not clear... But, maybe people who have [beta-amyloid] plaques and [tau] tangles don't develop symptoms unless they also have TDP-43, the researchers hypothesized.” [Emphasis mine]Feeding Animals Animal-Byproducts Is a Common CAFO Farming Technique, and It Can Be Deadly
The common denominator between Mad Cow and Chronic Wasting Disease5 is forcing natural herbivores to eat animal parts. Animal byproducts are in a variety of ways mixed into the feed given to CAFO livestock, and we have repeatedly seen the devastating effects of this practice.
Even in cases where omnivores, such as pigs, are fed byproducts of animals of their own kind, the practice still poses significant problems, as an infection originating in even a single sick animal can rapidly spread this way.
Over the past year, nearly 10 percent of the entire swine population in the US has been wiped out by a highly lethal virus traced back to pig’s blood used in piglet feed for example.
As explained by the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance, the infectious agent that causes both Mad Cow and Chronic Wasting Disease is believed to be prions—an infectious type of protein—not bacteria or viruses. While some prions6 serve beneficial cell functions, others, acting like an infectious agent, are known to cause neurodegeneration. TDP-43 is in this latter category.
According to a University of Pennsylvania report titled, “The Saga of a Disease Protein,”7 TDP-43 reacts to oxidative stress, suggesting that antioxidant therapy might be helpful for disease prevention.Mad Cow Disease Is a Man-Made Plague
Mad Cow Disease is another classic example of why the CAFO “cannibal” solution, i.e. feeding animal parts back to the same species of animal tends to be a bad idea. One of the primary ways Mad Cow Disease is transmitted is when cows are fed bone meal and waste products from other cattle infected with the disease.
As a result, it's now illegal to feed beef-based products to cows. Alas, the beef industry circumvents this rule by using a feed product known as "chicken litter,” and that too can introduce this devastating disease into our food system.
Mad Cows Disease is still a factor when using chicken litter because this rendered down mix of chicken manure, dead chickens, and feathers, is also comprised of nearly one-third spilled chicken feed, which includes cow meat and bone meal used to feed the chickens—the very ingredients that are supposed to be off limits for cows.
So, any cow that eats chicken litter may also be consuming various cow byproducts–the very same feed products that spurred Mad Cow Disease in the first place.
Pigs, chickens, and turkeys can also be fed cattle byproducts, and current laws permit byproducts of those animals to be fed back to cattle.8 This is yet another loophole that can allow Mad Cow agents to infect healthy cattle—and you, should you end up eating any of these infected meats.The CAFO-Alzheimer’s Connection
Eating CAFO meat carries a number of health risks, including the rare occurrence of Mad Cow disease. But could the infectious prions associated with Mad Cow, Chronic Wasting, and Alzheimer’s be spread via CAFO meats as well? Mad Cow Disease is a prion disease that can spread like wildfire in CAFOs. And there’s speculation that diseased cattle, which is ground up for feed to chickens and other non-bovine animals, may be retransmitting the disease by virtue of it passing on through the food chain, albeit indirectly.
When a foreign protein is introduced, your body will respond with inflammation. Chronic inflammation, we know, is a hallmark of most degenerative diseases. TDP-43 is one such foreign protein, but it certainly isn’t the only foreign protein you might ingest via CAFO foods.
CAFO livestock are also given feed consisting primarily of genetically engineered (GE) grains, and GE plants are also known to produce unfamiliar proteins—some of these proteins have in fact never existed in the human food chain prior to the introduction of GE foods. It’s no small wonder then that researchers keep finding that GE foods tend to be far more allergenic than non-GE foods.9
Now, when it comes to CAFO meats, be it chicken, pork, or beef, you’re being exposed to any number of foreign proteins—and TDP-43 might be one of them... Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), or the human version of Mad Cow, has a long incubation period, and few dementia-related deaths in the US are ever investigated. An infected person usually starts having symptoms in their 60s. As noted by the Centers for Food Safety,10 the symptoms are similar to Alzheimer’s, and include staggering, memory loss, impaired vision, and dementia.Mad Cow Keeps Resurfacing...
In 2012, a California dairy cow was diagnosed with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or Mad Cow Disease). According to the USDA, milk from cattle infected with Mad Cow is safe for human consumption, but dairy cows can also be processed into meat, and if they’re infected with BSE, such meat can cause vCJD when consumed.11 As noted by Center for Food Safety,12 which reported on the 2012 outbreak:
“Tissue from infected cows’ central nervous systems (including brain or spinal cord) is the most infectious part of a cow. Such tissue may be found in hot dogs, taco fillings, bologna and other products containing gelatin, and ground or chopped meat. People who eat contaminated beef products are at risk of contracting the human version of mad cow disease... The disease slowly eats holes in the brain over a matter of years, turning it sponge-like, and invariably results in death. There is no known cure, treatment, or vaccine for BSE diseases. The incubation period for ‘mad cow’ disease in cattle is thought to be approximately 5 years; it may be latent in humans for a decade or more before manifesting itself.”
This year, Mad Cow is rearing its ugly head again, this time claiming the life of a Texas man. He was the fourth American victim of the disease.13Chronic Wasting Disease—Another Aspect of the Same Problem
Another type of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) disease is known as Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), which is now rapidly spreading among deer and elk. As with Mad Cow, the disease is the result of domesticating wild animals, as discussed in the featured video. CWD now affects animals in 22 US states, and 68 game farms in Saskatchewan, Canada now have infected animals, imported via game farm animals from the US... CWD-infected animals shed the infectious prions in saliva and urine, starting around three months after being infected. They remain contagious for the remainder of their life, contaminating land and water as they go along.
According to some experts, the prions causing CWD are the most resistant disease agent currently known. As noted in the featured video, should CWD spread among humans the way it’s spreading through the deer population, HIV-Aids would seem like “a walk in the park” in comparison.
Game farms cater to hunters who are more or less guaranteed a kill, and the potential for CWD to spread to humans through consumption of these game animals is a serious concern. A recent paper in the journal Landes Bioscience14, 15 offers the following sobering assessment on the ability of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) to affect humans:
“We hypothesize that both BSE prions and CWD prions passaged through felines will seed human recPrP more efficiently than BSE or CWD from the original hosts, evidence that the new host will dampen the species barrier between humans and BSE or CWD. The new host effect is particularly relevant as we investigate potential means of trans-species transmission of prion disease.”Losing Your Mind for the Sake of a Burger
The idea that neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and ALS may be spread via CAFO foods is not entirely new. A 2005 study16 published in the journal Medical Hypotheses, titled: “Thinking the unthinkable: Alzheimer's, Creutzfeldt-Jakob and Mad Cow disease: the age-related reemergence of virulent, foodborne, bovine tuberculosis or losing your mind for the sake of a shake or burger,” states:
“In the opinion of experts, ample justification exists for considering a similar pathogenesis for Alzheimer's, Creutzfeldt-Jakob and the other spongiform encephalopathies such as Mad Cow disease. In fact, Creutzfeldt-Jakob and Alzheimer's often coexist and at this point are thought to differ merely by time-dependent physical changes. A recent study links up to 13 percent of all ‘Alzheimer's’ victims as really having Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.” [Emphasis mine]
The researchers also note that bovine tuberculosis serves as a vector for human Mad Cow Disease. Bovine tuberculosis (caused by Mycobacterium bovis and M. avium-intracellulare or paratuberculosis) is one of the most prevalent disease threats in American CAFOs, and the researchers quote USDA data suggesting that anywhere from 20-40 percent of American dairy herds are infected at any given time! According to the authors:
“The health risk for milk tainted with M. bovis has been known for decades and there was a time not so long ago when ‘tuberculin-tested’ was printed on every milk container. Schliesser stated that meat from tuberculous animals may also constitute a significant risk of infection. At the turn of the 20th century 25 percent of the many US deaths from TB in adults were caused by M. bovis. Dairy products aside, when past and present meat consumption are factored in, there is three times the risk of developing Alzheimer's in meat eaters as opposed to vegetarians.
The investigation into the causal trail for Creutzfeldt-Jakob, indistinguishable from Alzheimer's except for its shorter, lethal course might have grown cold where it not for Roel's and others who linked mad cow in cattle with M. bovis and related paratuberculosis on clinical, pathologic and epidemiological grounds. The southwest of the UK, the very cradle of British BSE and CJD outbreaks, saw an exponential increase in bovine tuberculosis just prior to its spongiform outbreaks. All of this brings up the unthinkable: that Alzheimer's, Cruetzfeldt-Jackob, and Mad Cow Disease might just be caused by eating the meat or dairy in consumer products or feed.” [Emphasis mine]Are We Paying Far Too High a Price for Cheap Meat?
In my opinion, the answer to that question is yes. We are paying an exorbitantly high price for factory farmed foods. Some of the health effects associated with CAFO animal products are easier to estimate than others. In all likelihood, the news that Alzheimer’s disease, which now appears to be the third leading cause of death in the US, may be the result of a slower-acting form of Mad Cow or Chronic Wasting Disease is bound to come as a complete shock for most people. And yet the links between the diseases are quite compelling, and they all point to one main culprit: factory farming practices, which eliminate hygiene and replace animals’ natural diets with unnatural grain diets, into which animal byproducts are mixed in.
This “cannibal” solution, and the loopholes that end up permitting same-species cannibalism, has set in motion a disease-producing cycle that can only be stopped by putting an end to such unnatural food production practices. The bottom line is, an animal’s diet matters greatly. You cannot judge the benefits of the animal’s diet based on added weight gain or added milk production alone... There can be all sorts of unforeseen ramifications when you alter the natural course of nature, including never-before-seen diseases.
Organic, grass-fed and finished meat that is humanely raised and butchered is really about the only type of meat that is healthy to eat. By purchasing your meat from smaller farms that raise their animals in a humane fashion, according to organic principles, you're promoting the proliferation of such farms, which in the end will not only help protect your health, it will ultimately benefit everyone, including the animals, by putting the brakes on farming practices that are actively sowing the seeds of degenerative diseases... The following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods in your local area that has been raised in a humane, sustainable manner:
- Local Harvest -- This Web site will help you find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.
- Farmers' Markets -- A national listing of farmers' markets.
- Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals -- The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
- Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) -- CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.
- FoodRoutes -- The FoodRoutes "Find Good Food" map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs, and markets near you.
Submitted by Nick Giambruno of Doug Casey's International Man blog,
One of my favorite podcasts to listen to is The Peter Schiff Show (www.SchiffRadio.com).
Peter always does an excellent job of dissecting the latest economic news and cutting through the smoke and mirrors of government statistics.
Recently he had Doug Casey on his radio show to discuss what’s really happening with the economy. And it’s nothing close to what the talking heads in the financial media would have you believe.
I’m happy to bring this fascinating discussion to International Man readers. I think you’ll not only enjoy it, but you’ll also learn something too.
Until next time,
Peter Schiff: Joining our program now is Doug Casey, and if you don’t know Doug, he is a libertarian economist. He is a bestselling financial author. He’s an international investor, entrepreneur, and founder/chairman of Casey Research. They publish a monthly newsletter, Casey International Speculator, and most recently Doug has produced a 30-minute documentary called Meltdown America, which I watched just yesterday on the Internet for free. I would encourage everybody to watch it. It’s a very entertaining half hour.
Doug, welcome to The Peter Schiff Show.
Doug Casey: Thanks, Peter. It’s my pleasure.
Peter: So in particular about your movie, which I thought was well done, the story that was most compelling to me was the interview with the gentlemen from Zimbabwe who had lived there most of his life. He was prosperous, had a business, and then had the foresight to read the writing on the wall, leave everything behind, and flee to Australia. He warned his friends—who made fun of him—and they then ended up having their property seized.
Doug: Yes, it’s an absolutely true story, of course. I’ve spent a lot of time in Zimbabwe and before that in Rhodesia over the years. I think the first time I went there was in 1976. His story is quite accurate about what happened in Zimbabwe, but it’s happened in a number of places in the world, and it’s going to happen in other places in the future. This is because most people don’t realize that as big as their investment risks are today with many markets being overinflated and so forth, their biggest risks are actually political risks. The biggest danger to you is your own government. In his case it was the Zimbabwe government. I guess most of the people listening now are Americans, and actually the US government is like a predator stalking us on the African plains.
Peter: What really is compelling about the story and what people should really take to heart is the attitude that pervades is that, well, it’s not going to happen here. It can’t happen here. People don’t want to think about that worst-case scenario. They want to assume that things are going to be okay, and if somebody is warning about this potential doomsday, that is the person whom they ridicule, who they say, oh, you’re crazy, that’s never going to happen, and, it happens in places like Zimbabwe. But expand on it, because it’s happening in America.
Doug: Well look, I hate to sound like a Cassandra, a gloomy Gus. I hate to say the sky is falling, and I know you do too. But you’ve got to be realistic. I don’t call it America anymore. I call it the US because although America is a fantastic idea, a wonderful idea, America as a concept is rapidly disappearing from the land area called the United States. So yeah, I hate to sound gloomy, because there are lots of reasons for optimism that we can recount. We have more scientists and engineers alive today now than we’ve had in all previous history put together. So that’s cause for optimism. But there is a lot of cause for real pessimism certainly in the short term, in the next decade or so in the US, and it could get worse from there. So you and I are pretty much on the same page economically, and it makes me a little uncomfortable having to be gloomy, but I have to be. I have to assess the facts.
Peter: Yeah, you can’t ignore the facts. So you don’t like to say that the sky is falling, but then if you see it falling, you don’t want to just pretend that you don’t see what you see because that’s worse. I mean, it’s better to warn about the catastrophes. Maybe your warnings could help put into effect policies that might avert the catastrophe, or if you can’t do that, at least help as many people as possible prepare for it in advance so that they don’t get hit by surprise.
Doug: Yes, although I greatly discount the odds of things changing because policies and governments have a momentum of their own. Imagine a village at the bottom of a valley, and that 100 years ago collectivism and statism started out as a small snowball, and now that snowball has turned into a giant avalanche. Now once it gets to the giant avalanche stage, you can’t stop it. So I’m afraid that the village at the bottom of the valley is going to be smashed, so you’ve got to run for high ground. I don’t think we can stop it at this point. The trend is too entrenched, too far in motion, and the fact that 50% of Americans are reliant upon the government for their income alone is a guarantee of bad things to come.
Peter: Yeah, and Doug, you have been an observer, a critic of this trend that has been ongoing in America for a long time. I mean, it’s not like we suddenly find ourselves on the precipice of disaster. We’ve been on that precipice for a long time. It’s kind of amazing that we haven’t fallen over just yet, but it’s been a long time building. Even my dad was in this camp back in the ‘70s, issuing warnings. But what do you see today that might make you think that this is the endgame? I mean there can’t be another couple of decades where you’re going to be sounding the alarm.
Doug: Yeah, that’s a very interesting point, Peter. When do we reach the actual endgame as opposed to just an accelerating downturn? I would say that it started in 2007. I think that’s the endgame because the Fed’s balance sheet—which is the best indicator of how much actual new money they’re creating—has gone from $500 billion to $4.5 trillion just in the last five years, and they’re still creating more. So they’ve shot all their arrows and when the economy turns down again—and I think it is in process of doing that now—there’s nothing they can do. They have already reduced interest rates to near zero, the Chinese and the Japanese aren’t buying any more government debt, and the official number is $500 billion a year of deficit now, so the Federal Reserve is going to be printing up money wholesale. This is a very scary thing, so yeah, I think we actually have reached the actual edge of the precipice.
Peter: And the amazing thing, too, and you point this out is they’re telling us we’ve been in a recovery for five years. This means statistically we’re also getting close to the next recession. Just by the probability, how long the expansion has been, yet we’ve never begun a recession where rates are still at zero. We’ve never begun a recession while they are still stimulating us from the previous recession. And nobody seems to worry about the outcome of entering a recession from the position that we are in right now.
Doug: And the numbers that they crank out to make everybody feel good are almost as phony as the numbers that the Argentine government cranks out. I live in Argentina most of the year and there, the Cristina Fernández government says well, we only have 10% inflation. But everybody knows that it’s 30 to 40%. And here they say we have 1-2% inflation. I would say that inflation is realistically in the 8-10% range here in the US—and it’s going much higher.
Peter: And that makes a lot more sense to me, given what I’m observing in the actual economy. The critics who argue that that’s impossible, that the people who think that inflation is more than 2-3% percent, they say they must be wrong, because that would mean that the economy has not experienced any legitimate economic growth. And to that I would say, absolutely, it hasn’t. The growth is all a fantasy. It’s all a result of the assumption that there is no inflation, when there really is because what we have is inflation masquerading as economic growth. But the bottom line is the economy is really contracting, that’s why the labor force is shrinking, that’s why we’re using less energy, that’s why the people’s standard of living is going down, and real incomes are falling and job opportunities are disappearing. It’s because we’re in a recession and no one wants to admit it.
Doug: You are absolutely right, and from this point it is going to get much more obvious and get much worse. I just wonder what the social consequences are going to be when the economy goes into a free-fall again, maybe by the end of this year. I think certainly next year. I mean it’s an open question whether people will riot.
Peter: You can already see the frustration. I often joke, if this is the Obama recovery, imagine how bad the recession is going to be. And you know, we’re running these deficits. The president is bragging now that the deficit is finally below $1 trillion, that it might be $600-700 billion, but that’s the deficit in the recovery. If we slip into a legitimate or acknowledged recession, where are the deficits going to go, $1.5 trillion, $2 trillion? And how can we possibly finance that when the world is already saturated with the debt that we’ve issued to stimulate us out of prior recessions?
Also, I’ve got to get to gold and silver, something that I know you’ve been advocating for a while. When it comes to gold and silver, I’ve never seen an environment where you have so many central banks embracing inflation as a goal, that they want more inflation, and they somehow think that it’s going to help the economy; and at the same time you have complete complacency on the part of investors to any of the risks associated with inflation that all these central bankers are promising to create.
Doug: As you are well aware, Peter, it was Lenin who said the best way to destroy a country is to debauch its currency. It’s perverse and idiotic what all the central banks around the world are doing at this point. But some are worse than others. The Europeans are out of control. The Japanese are out of control. The Chinese Central Bank and of course the Fed here in the US are out of control. So that’s one reason why I continue accumulating gold. It’s the only financial asset that’s not simultaneously somebody else’s liability.
Peter: Yeah, and you’ve been a buyer for a long time, a regular buyer and holder of metals. What do you think it’s going to take, though, to convince the skeptics who are so in love with paper and who make fun of the gold bugs for their irrational obsession with this obscure obsolete yellow metal? What do you think it is going to take for the mainstream to start buying into gold and silver, and of course the mining stocks?
Doug: I think it’s going to take a financial and economic collapse. I hate to say it, but I think we are on the edge of something that is much worse than what we had in 2008 and 2009. I look around the world at places where you can put your capital, real estate is overpriced, the stock market is greatly overpriced, the bond market is in a historic bubble, that’s about the best short sale I can think of in the world. So what are you left with? Gold is not a giveaway the way it was in 2001 at $250 an ounce, but it is reasonably priced, so I’m going to continue to buy it. I think there’s going to be a panic into gold, quite frankly.
Peter: You know, Doug, I think it could be just as big a giveaway now. If you look at the cost of production of gold today versus what it was 12 years ago, it costs a lot more to produce gold, and if you look at the amount of money that the central banks have created over the past 12 years and the amount of money that they are threatening to create, I think you could make a case that gold is cheaper now at $1,200 than it was at $300.
Doug: Well, when you look at the cost of mining new gold, there are about 80 million ounces produced every year, and there are perhaps six billion in total existence. Most of the mining companies in the world, the big ones like Barrick and Newmont, it’s not profitable for them to produce gold even at $1,300 an ounce when you consider all the costs of mining. So yes, I wouldn’t argue with you.
Peter: You talk about a bubble in assets like stocks and real estate. The irony of it is, the professional investors who are happily paying ridiculous valuations for stocks, the only bubble that they can identify is the one that doesn’t exist—except in their minds—and that is the bubble that they see in gold.
Doug: Yes, that’s right. The real bubble is in the bond market, and the bond market is much bigger than the stock market, so when the bubble in bonds bursts, it’s going to be very ugly. I’ve got to make a distinction, and I think you will agree with this. I’ve bought gold my whole life. I’ve never sold one ounce because I buy it for safety, for savings, prudence, and insurance. But I’ve also been very involved in gold stocks for many years, and gold stocks are a different animal than gold itself, and I treat them as a speculative vehicle because gold stocks are perhaps the most volatile class of securities in the world. The Vancouver Stock Exchange, which trades about 1,500 supposed gold companies, regularly goes up ten for one and then collapses 95%. As we speak at this time, it’s at a cyclical bottom. So I think it’s an extremely high-potential speculation to get into gold stocks at this time.
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Peter: Yeah, I agree with you. Of the nations that you travel to, which would you consider to be the most stable, maybe the ones that offer the best not only investment opportunity, but opportunity to live if you want to leave the United States?
Doug: Well, the fact of the matter is that all over the world these governments collude with each other in these clubs they belong to like the United Nations, the IMF, and the OECD, and they are all going in the wrong direction, which is to say more state power, more taxes, and more control. I’ve been to most of the countries in the world, and where I spend most of my time is in Argentina. The people there are used to stupidity from their government and despise their government.
Peter: Well, that’s for sure, Doug. They are prepared for stupidity, unlike Americans who are going to be surprised by it.
Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out www.SchiffRadio.com for more on Peter’s superb radio show. Also, don’t forget to catch our new free documentary Meltdown America, which discusses how to survive an economic collapse with examples from Zimbabwe, Argentina, and Yugoslavia. You won’t want to miss it.