- Deaths from prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999
- OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma paid out one of the largest pharmaceutical settlements in U.S. history after lying about addiction risks
- Nearly 260 million opioid prescriptions are written in the U.S. each year
By Dr. Mercola
The HBO documentary “Warning: This Drug May Kill You,” details the devastating effect America’s pharma-driven opioid crisis is having on families and the victims themselves. The film, made by Perri Peltz and Sascha Weiss, features the perspectives of four families whose lives have been ripped apart as a result of opioid and heroin addiction.
Opioid and heroin addiction — which public health officials have described1 as being the worst drug crisis in American history — affects about 2.5 million Americans, nearly half a million of whom are addicted to heroin,2 a dangerous street drug that prescription pill addicts can quickly turn to because the cost is significantly less than that of prescription painkillers.
The term “opioid” is used to describe a class of drugs that includes the illegal drug heroin, as well as the legal prescription painkillers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others. Ironically, the silent but deadly opioid epidemic often starts with some of society’s most trusted professionals: doctors.
As noted in the film, a significant number of opioid addictions begin with a trip to the doctor’s office or a hospital as a result of an injury or medical problem for which addictive painkillers are carelessly prescribed. It seems no medical problem is too minor for powerful prescription painkillers to be prescribed.
This is depicted in the film, which details the story of a young woman from Beach Park, Illinois, who became addicted to OxyContin after being prescribed the medication for kidney stones. Not only are opioid pain medications (also called narcotic prescription painkillers) wildly overprescribed, but they are also often given without warning of the potential risks for addiction and/or resources to help deal with the possible risk of addiction.
Nearly 260 Million Opioid Prescriptions Are Written in the US Each Year
The number of opioid prescriptions has increased substantially over the last few decades. “In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which is more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills,” according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine.3
The result? Drug overdose is now our nation’s leading cause of accidental death. In 2015, accidental drug overdoses accounted for 52,404 deaths, with 20,101 of those deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 linked to heroin. However, 80 percent of heroin users start out on prescription opioids.4
Despite the fact that Americans are dying at unprecedented rates due to Big Pharma’s prescription painkillers, the pharmaceutical industry is rarely named by the establishment media for its deadly role in the growing opioid epidemic.
Kidney Stone Pain Morphs Into Deadly Opioid Addiction for Unsuspecting Teen
Stephany Gay should have been getting her license and learning how to drive when she first became addicted to prescription painkillers. It all began when, at the tender age of 16, she started suffering from kidney stones and was prescribed OxyContin and Vicodin. It didn’t take long before Stephany, who had never done illegal drugs, developed a full-blown dependency on opioids.
The teen confided in her mom after realizing she had developed an addiction. Her mother urged her to see a doctor, but when she did she came home with another prescription: This time it was for Percocet. Stephany also got her younger sister, Ashley, addicted to opioids after offering her the medication for headaches and a better night’s sleep. Stephany’s doctor eventually stopped prescribing her opioids, causing the sisters to turn to heroin to get their fix. Stephany says:
“It made me feel like I could do anything. I felt like superwoman. I didn’t have anxiety. I didn’t feel depressed. I felt happy. I felt warm. I felt like it loved me and I loved it back. I felt like I had a relationship with heroin.”
The sisters snorted heroin for a year before experimenting with a needle. Soon after Stephany started injecting, she lost the three-bedroom home she owned and custody of her young daughter. Ashley, who once told her mother she was “too pretty to die,” overdosed on heroin and died alone in a hotel room.
Eighty Percent of Heroin Users Start With Prescription Opioids
Part two of the documentary, “Addicted to Pills,” details the heartbreaking story of a wife and mother of five children who became addicted to opioids after being prescribed the medication for a Cesarean section. Wynne Doyle, from Mill Valley, California, stopped getting out of bed just one and a half months after giving birth to her third child.
She became addicted fast, says Britt Doyle Sr., who later divorced his wife following years of addiction. Like many opioid addicts, Wynne went in and out of rehab multiple times, only to relapse again. The second rehab she entered was three times as costly as the first, says Britt Sr. But 28 days later his wife returned home with a “whole bunch of pills,” and her addiction started all over again, he says.
Wynne’s addiction grew so intense that she would purposely injure herself in order to get more pills. “I watched her slam her hand in the car door one time, just so she could go to the emergency room,” said Britt Sr., adding that the doctors would always give his wife more pain medication. At one point, Wynne had shattered both of her wrists, but as soon as they healed she would hurt herself again just to get more pills. My wife became a “totally different person,” says Britt Sr. “It was like Jekyll and Hyde.”
Seven years into her addiction and on his wife’s 11th stint in rehab, Britt Sr. had finally had enough. He moved the children out of the house and filed for divorce. Sometime later, Wynne, suffering from kidney stones, was prescribed more painkillers. She had eight bottles filled to the top sitting on her nightstand when her children found their mother lifeless in her bed.
“When I saw the pills on her bedside table when she had passed, that was probably the most anger I could feel, ever, because she’s been to that hospital easily like 50 times,” said Britt Doyle Jr., Wynne’s daughter. “They’ve seen her there unconscious and had to like [sic] pump her stomach so many times. And yet she comes in there and they leave her with more?” she asks angrily.
Adolescents Are 33 Percent More Likely to Misuse Opioids as Young Adults
Part three of the documentary tells the story of Brendan Cole from Allendale, New Jersey. The teen was prescribed opioid painkillers after having a cyst surgically removed. Four years later he died of a heroin overdose. Before his death, Cole overdosed on heroin but was revived with Narcan after his dad woke in the middle of the night to find his son lying in an unnatural position on his bed.
His lips were turning blue and “we heard the air come out of his lungs when we moved him,” said his parents tearfully. Narcan, or naloxone, is an overdose-reversal drug. It’s made by Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, which began what appears to be a clear case of price gouging, raising the cost of Narcan by as much as 100 percent.
Cole recovered from the overdose, but the hospital failed to warn his family that patients revived with Narcan may experience intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms. As a result, no plan was put in place to help Cole overcome the cravings that would soon follow. The very next day, Cole overdosed again, and this time he could not be revived.
5In people with little drug experience, scientists theorize that “the initial experience of pain relief is pleasurable, and a safe initial experience with opioids may reduce perceived risk.”
Synthetic Opioids Sold Via ‘Dark Web’ Implicated in Growing Number of Overdose Deaths
In addition to prescription opioids, another threat looms: synthetic (and illegal) opioids sold through the dark web — the secret underbelly of the internet, initially created by American intelligence agencies for encrypted communication purposes. A recent piece by The New York Times6 sheds light on an emerging illicit drug trade involving dangerous synthetic opioids that are being shipped into the U.S. via small packages in the mail.
The report reveals “that most of the illicit supply of synthetic opioids is produced in labs in Asia and especially China, where many of the precursor chemicals are either legal or easier to procure.” The synthetic opioids are said to be so potent that they “have become the fastest-growing cause of the overdose epidemic, overtaking heroin in some areas,” reports the Times.
Synthetic opioids being shipped overseas include fentanyl, the infamous drug responsible for pop icon Prince’s death. Fentanyl is so potent that two milligrams is enough to kill and, unlike prescription pills, “enough fentanyl to get nearly 50,000 people high can fit in a standard first-class envelope,” the report warns.
Synthetic opioids obtained through the internet are responsible for the deaths of two teenagers from Park City, Utah. Grant Seaver and Ryan Ainsworth, both 13 years old, died after taking a synthetic opioid known as U-47700, or Pinky. The boys reportedly obtained the drug from another teen who purchased them on the dark web using bitcoin. While synthetic opioids account for a small portion of overall trafficked drugs, law enforcement says “that dark web markets have quickly assumed a more prominent and frightening role.”
Opioids Actually Alter Your Brain Structure
Studies also suggest that drugs for physical and emotional pain may change your brain. In a study by researchers at the University of Alabama, people with chronic low back pain received either morphine or a placebo daily for one month. Both groups experienced similar reductions in pain, but there was a major difference among those taking morphine — changes in the brain.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans showed the patients taking morphine had a 3 percent reduction in gray matter volume over the course of the study. The reductions occurred in regions of the brain that regulate emotions, cravings and pain response.7
Further, the morphine group had increases in gray matter volume in areas related to learning, memory and executive function. Lead study author Joanne Lin told Reuters,8 “Because we are seeing that opioids rapidly change the brain, our take-home message is that opioids should be reserved for cases when most other treatment options have failed.”
Millions of Taxpayer Dollars Used for Opioid Prescriptions
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is a branch of the Department of Health and Human Services. CMS runs the Medicare program and monitors Medicaid programs run by the states. According to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), spending on opioids in the Medicare system, which is funded by U.S. tax dollars through Medicare trust funds, grew at a faster rate than spending for all drugs.
Data from the OIG shows that between 2006 and 2014, the number of Medicare recipients on opioids grew by 92 percent, compared to 68 percent for all drugs. Medicare recipients are also receiving multiple prescriptions for opioids for reasons other than cancer pain or terminal illness, the traditional uses for these strong medications.
Medicaid programs, supported by taxpayers but administered by states, also reveal excessive opioid use and probable fraud.9 In 2010, 359,368 Medicaid enrollees received an opioid prescription amounting to over 2 million prescriptions, and again suggesting many prescriptions per patient.10
While Medicaid programs likely provide generic combinations of the active ingredient in OxyContin, hydrocodone, to patients, which costs about $28 for a 120-day supply (compared with $632 for the brand name OxyContin),11 taxpayers are still paying at least $56 million for Medicaid opioid prescriptions. The cost of the opioid prescriptions does not take into consideration state-run drug treatment programs and services that are required if and when enrollees become addicted.
OxyContin Manufacturer Pays One of the Largest Pharma Settlements in US History
In December 2015, Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the maker of OxyContin, settled an ongoing lawsuit brought by the state of Kentucky for $24 million over presenting OxyContin as “nonaddictive.”12 Purdue contended that the pill slowly releases the drug over 12 hours when swallowed, omitting the fact that, when crushed, OxyContin lost its time release protections and created an instant high.
“State officials said that led to a wave of addiction and increased medical costs across the state, particularly in eastern Kentucky where many injured coal miners were prescribed the drug,” reported The Associated Press.
The 2015 settlement is similar to one Purdue agreed to in 2007 with the state of West Virginia, when it agreed to pay out $634 million because “fraudulent conduct caused a greater amount of OxyContin to be available for illegal use than otherwise would have been available.”13 Despite the lawsuits, OxyContin remains on the market.
FDA Orders Drugmaker to Stop Selling Opioid Painkiller
Opioid manufacturer Endo Pharmaceuticals hasn’t been so lucky, however. In an unprecedented move by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), health officials have ordered Endo to remove the opioid painkiller Opana ER from the market due to the conclusion that “the drug’s risks outweigh its benefits,” reported CBS News.14
“It’s the first time the FDA has asked a drugmaker to remove an opioid painkiller from the market,” CBS said. “The agency said it has seen a ‘significant shift’ from people crushing and snorting Opana ER to get high to injecting it.” If the drugmaker refuses to comply with the FDA’s request to pull the opioid from the market, the agency can begin a “formal process for rescinding its approval.”
Drug Companies Try to Cash in on Opioid Epidemic
While an increasing number of Americans suffer the devastating effects of opioid addiction, pharmaceutical companies are battling it out to become the top seller of addiction medications. As was highlighted in a recent NPR report,15 rather than working to make various effective treatments for opioid addiction more readily available to those who need it, the pharmaceutical industry is actively trying to stomp out its competitors by restricting access to important addiction medications.
One example of this includes the global biopharmaceutical company Alkermes and its non-opioid addiction medication, Vivitrol, a monthly injection that costs around $1,000. Alkermes, based in Waltham, Massachusetts, is working vigorously to promote its drug at the legislative level as a solution to our nation’s growing opioid epidemic — and while doing so (in some cases) is restricting access to other opioid addiction medications through policy that makes it harder for doctors to prescribe alternatives to Vivitrol.
“An investigation by NPR and Side Effects Public Media has found that in statehouses across the country, and in Congress, Alkermes is pushing Vivitrol while contributing to misconceptions and stigma about other medications used to treat opioid addiction,” NPR reports.
Experts disagree about which opioid addiction medications are most effective. Some argue opioid maintenance drugs like methadone and buprenorphine — both of which contain opioids — are fueling the opioid crisis due to their street value and the idea that offering them to addicts means replacing one opioid for another. Others argue that opioid maintenance medications relieve painful withdrawal symptoms and reduce or eliminate intense cravings.
Federal health agencies and the American Society of Addiction Medicine agree that “opioid abstinence can be dangerous,” says NPR. While there are no studies comparing Vivitrol to methadone or buprenorphine, Alkermes touts Vivitrol as the more effective, opioid-free solution.
Alkermes has significantly increased its spending on federal lobbying, spending $4.4 million in 2016 compared to less than $200,000 in 2010. “Last year, Vivitrol’s sales reached $209 million — up from just $30 million in 2011,” NPR reports, adding that Alkermes projects sales could reach $1 billion by 2021.
Treating Your Pain Without Drugs
While opioid painkillers may relieve pain temporarily, the addiction risks can quickly send you spiraling out of control down a dark and dangerous path. As shown in the film, many families touched by opioid addiction end up suffering for years before finally losing a loved one to addiction.
The good news is there are many natural alternatives to treating pain. It’s particularly important to avoid opioids when trying to address long-term chronic pain, as your body will create a tolerance to the drug. Over time, you may require greater doses at more frequent intervals to achieve the same pain relief. This is a recipe for disaster and could have lethal consequences. Following is information about non-drug remedies, dietary changes and bodywork interventions that can help you manage your pain.
Kratom (Mitragyna speciose) is a plant remedy that has become a popular opioid substitute.17 In August 2016, the DEA issued a notice saying it was planning to ban kratom, listing it as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. However, following massive outrage from kratom users who say opioids are their only alternative, the agency reversed its decision.18
Kratom is safer than an opioid for someone in serious and chronic pain. However, it’s important to recognize that it is a psychoactive substance and should be used carefully. There’s very little research showing how to use it safely and effectively, and it may have a very different effect from one person to the next. The other issue to address is that there are a number of different strains available with different effects.
Also, while it may be useful for weaning people off opioids, kratom is in itself addictive. So, while it appears to be a far safer alternative to opioids, it’s still a powerful and potentially addictive substance. So please, do your own research before trying it.
Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN)
Naltrexone is an opiate antagonist, originally developed in the early 1960s for the treatment of opioid addiction. When taken at very low doses LDN, available only by prescription, triggers endorphin production, which can boost your immune function and ease pain.
A primary therapeutic compound identified in the spice turmeric, curcumin has been shown in more than 50 clinical studies to have potent anti-inflammatory activity. Curcumin is hard to absorb, so best results are achieved with preparations designed to improve absorption. It is very safe and you can take two to three every hour if you need to.
One of the most effective oil-soluble antioxidants known, astaxanthin has very potent anti-inflammatory properties. Higher doses are typically required for pain relief, and you may need 8 milligrams or more per day to achieve results.
Also known as boswellin or “Indian frankincense,” this herb contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which have been prized for thousands of years. This is one of my personal favorites, as it worked well for many of my former rheumatoid arthritis patients.
This protein-digesting enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form, but eating fresh pineapple may also be helpful. Keep in mind most of the bromelain is found within the core of the pineapple, so consider eating some of the pulpy core when you consume the fruit.
Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting your body’s supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmit pain signals to your brain.
Cetyl myristoleate (CMO)
This oil, found in dairy butter and fish, acts as a joint lubricant and anti-inflammatory. I have used a topical preparation of CMO to relieve ganglion cysts and a mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Evening primrose, black currant and borage oils
These oils contain the fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid, which is useful for treating arthritic pain.
This herb is anti-inflammatory and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea, or incorporated into fresh vegetable juice.
Dietary Changes to Fight Inflammation and Manage Your Pain
Unfortunately, physicians often fall short when attempting to effectively treat chronic pain, resorting to the only treatment they know: prescription drugs. While these drugs may bring some temporary relief, they will do nothing to resolve the underlying causes of your pain. If you suffer from chronic pain, making the following changes to your diet may bring you some relief.
|Consume more animal-based omega-3 fats. Similar to the effects of anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical drugs, omega-3 fats from fish and fish oils work to directly or indirectly modulate a number of cellular activities associated with inflammation. While drugs have a powerful ability to inhibit your body’s pain signals, omega-3s cause a gentle shift in cell signaling to bring about a lessened reactivity to pain.
Eating healthy seafood like anchovies or sardines, which are low in environmental toxins, or taking a high-quality supplement such as krill oil are your best options for obtaining omega-3s. DHA and EPA, the omega-3 oils contained in krill oil, have been found in many animal and clinical studies to have anti-inflammatory properties, which are beneficial for pain relief.
|Radically reduce your intake of processed foods. Processed foods not only contain chemical additives and excessive amounts of sugar, but also are loaded with damaging omega-6 fats. By eating these foods, especially fried foods, you upset your body’s ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty-acids, which triggers inflammation. Inflammation is a key factor in most pain.|
|Eliminate or radically reduce your consumption of grains and sugars. Avoiding grains and sugars, especially fructose, will lower your insulin and leptin levels. Elevated insulin and leptin levels are some of the most profound stimulators of inflammatory prostaglandin production, which contributes to pain.
While healthy individuals are advised to keep their daily fructose consumption below 25 grams from all sources, you’ll want to limit your intake to 15 grams per day until your pain is reduced. Eating sugar increases your uric acid levels, which leads to chronic, low-level inflammation.
|Optimize your production of vitamin D. As much as possible, regulate your vitamin D levels by regularly exposing large amounts of your skin to sunshine. If you cannot get sufficient sun exposure, taking an oral vitamin D3 supplement, along with vitamin K2 and magnesium, is highly advisable.
Research by GrassrootsHealth suggests adults need about 8,000 IUs per day to achieve a serum level of 40 ng/ml, but you may need even more. It’s best to get your blood level tested to be sure you’re safely within the therapeutic range.
Bodywork Methods That Reduce Pain
Due to the inherent risks of addiction and the other unpleasant side effects of prescription painkillers, I recommend you pursue one or more of the following bodywork methods before taking a narcotic for pain. Each one has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment for lasting pain relief and management.
•Acupuncture: According to The New York Times,19 an estimated 3 million American adults receive acupuncture annually, most often for the treatment of chronic pain. A study20 published in the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded acupuncture has a definite effect in reducing four types of chronic pain, including back and neck pain, chronic headache, osteoarthritis and shoulder pain — more so than standard pain treatment.
•Chiropractic adjustments: While previously used most often to treat back pain, chiropractic treatment addresses many other problems — including asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, headaches, migraines, musculoskeletal pain, neck pain and whiplash. According to a study21 published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, patients with neck pain who used a chiropractor and/or exercise were more than twice as likely to be pain-free in 12 weeks compared to those who took medication.
•Massage: Massage releases endorphins, which help induce relaxation, relieve pain and reduce levels of stress chemicals such as cortisol and noradrenaline. A systematic review and meta-analysis22 published in the journal Pain Medicine, included 60 high-quality and seven low-quality studies that looked into the use of massage for various types of pain, including bone and muscle, fibromyalgia, headache and spinal-cord pain.
The study revealed massage therapy relieves pain better than getting no treatment at all. When compared to other pain treatments like acupuncture and physical therapy, massage therapy still proved beneficial and had few side effects. In addition to relieving pain, massage therapy also improved anxiety and health-related quality of life.
•Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT): EFT continues to be one of the easiest and most effective ways to deal with acute and chronic pain. The technique is simple and can be applied in mere minutes, helping you to overcome all kinds of bodily aches and pains. A study23 published in Energy Psychology examined the levels of pain in a group of 50 people attending a three-day EFT workshop, and found their pain dropped by 43 percent during the workshop.
Six weeks later, their pain levels were reported to be 42 percent lower than before the workshop. As a result of applying EFT, participants felt they had an improved sense of control and ability to cope with their chronic pain. In the video featured below, EFT expert Julie Schiffman, teaches you how to use EFT to address chronic pain.
By Dr. Mercola
California’s Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) announced in 2015 that they intended to list glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, as a chemical known to cause cancer under Proposition 65, which requires consumer products with potential cancer-causing ingredients to bear warning labels.
Monsanto filed formal comments with OEHHA saying the plan to list glyphosate as a carcinogen should be withdrawn. When the agency didn’t give in, Monsanto took it a step further and filed a lawsuit against OEHHA in January 2016 to stop the glyphosate/cancer classification. OEHHA filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, and a Fresno, California, superior court judge ruled on their behalf in February 2017.
California regulators stated that glyphosate will appear on the state’s list of cancerous chemicals beginning July 7, 2017,1 which means new labels may be appearing within the next year in California that include a cancer warning on Roundup and other glyphosate-containing weed killers, including Ortho Groundclear, KleenUp, AquaMaster, Sharpshooter, StartUp, Touchdown Total, Traxion, Vector and Vantage Plus Max II, and others.2
California’s Move Follows IARC’s 2015 Cancer Determination
The final say on whether Roundup will get a cancer warning label is still up in the air for now, as Monsanto has filed yet another appeal in an attempt to block the labeling. California’s decision to add the chemical to its Prop 65 list of cancer-causing chemicals came in response to the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) 2015 determination that glyphosate is a “probable carcinogen.”
Monsanto continues to contest the classification, even as it’s become clear that they may have worked with a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official to stop glyphosate investigations.
Email correspondence showed Jess Rowland, who at the time was the EPA’s deputy division director of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention and chair of the Cancer Assessment Review Committee (CARC), helped stop a glyphosate investigation by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, on Monsanto’s behalf.
In an email, Monsanto regulatory affairs manager Dan Jenkins recounts a conversation he’d had with Rowland, in which Rowland said, “If I can kill this I should get a medal,”3 referring to the ATSDR investigation, which did not end up occurring.
Roundup Cancer Lawsuits Popping up All Over the US
Meanwhile, more than 800 people with cancer are suing Monsanto over claims the glyphosate-based herbicide made them ill — and Monsanto did little to warn the public, despite knowing cancer risks existed.4,5 Glyphosate is said to work by inhibiting only a single enzyme not found in people or pets to kill unwanted plants, but a team of environmental attorneys including Robert F. Kennedy Jr. have accused Monsanto of false advertising in this regard. In addition, Bloomberg reported:6
“The attorneys have spent the last several months poring over hundreds of confidential documents they say show that the company actively worked to downplay the cancer risk for glyphosate. Since March , the lawyers have successfully unsealed a trove of emails, letters and studies intended to inject doubt into the process by which Roundup earned its Environmental Protection Agency approval.
They suggest that Monsanto’s scientists ghost-wrote studies that cleared glyphosate of its cancer-causing potential; that the company tried to enlist EPA staff to shut down an investigation into the herbicide; and that officials hired a scientist in 1985 to persuade EPA regulators to change its decision on its cancer classification for glyphosate.”
In addition to the glyphosate/cancer lawsuits, plaintiffs from California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Wisconsin are also suing Monsanto over claims that Roundup disrupts the gut microbiome.7
In regard to the claim that Roundup targets an enzyme found in plants but not in people or pets, six consumers from across the U.S. have filed a complaint against Monsanto and Scotts Miracle-Gro (the exclusive marketer of Roundup) alleging that the statement is false and deceptive, as the enzyme is, in fact, found in the gut bacteria of people and pets.
Monsanto has steadfastly claimed that Roundup is harmless to animals and humans because the mechanism of action it uses (which allows it to kill weeds), called the shikimate pathway, is absent in all animals. However, the shikimate pathway is present in bacteria, and that’s the key to understanding how it causes such widespread systemic harm in both humans and animals. Beyond Pesticides explained:8
“Because glyphosate disrupts a crucial pathway for manufacturing aromatic amino acids in plants — but not animals — many have assumed that it does not harm humans. However, many bacteria do use the shikimate pathway, and 90 percent of the cells in a human body are bacteria. The destruction of beneficial microbiota in the human gut (and elsewhere in and on the human body) is, therefore, a cause for concern — and a major contributor to disease.”
New, More Toxic Herbicide Already Led to Farmer’s Death
As an increasing number of weeds develop resistance to glyphosate, biotech giants are working on a number of new genetically engineered (GE) crops that are “stacked” with a number of GE traits that, for instance, make the crops resistant to multiple pesticides.
Monsanto’s new GE Roundup Ready Xtend soybean, for instance, is not only resistant to Roundup but to the toxic herbicide dicamba, which is prone to drifting. The U.S. EPA approved Monsanto’s new weedkiller, XtendiMax, which goes along with its Roundup Ready Xtend cotton and soybeans — GE plants designed to tolerate both glyphosate and dicamba, in November 2016.
However, Monsanto sold dicamba-tolerant cotton and soybean seeds to farmers before the herbicide designed to go with them (which is supposedly less prone to drifting) had gotten federal approval. In 2016, when farmers sprayed their new GE crops with older, illegal formulas of dicamba, and it drifted over onto their neighbors’ non-dicamba-resistant crops, devastating crop damage was reported in 10 states.9
In November 2016, a dispute over dicamba drift turned deadly, when Arkansas soybean and cotton farmer Mike Wallace was allegedly fatally shot by another farmer. “The damaged crops have pitted farmer against farmer and strained relationships in the region, especially in light of the fact that insurance companies won’t compensate farmers for losses caused by wrongful or ‘off label’ herbicide applications due to drift,” Modern Farmer reported.10
Dicamba damage was also noted in 200,000 acres of soybeans in Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri in the summer of 2016, along with 42,000 acres of peaches, watermelons, alfalfa and other crops in Missouri alone.
As of June 2017, Arkansas has received more than 400 complaints from farmers whose crops were damaged by dicamba drifting over from neighboring farms.11 In response, the Arkansas Plant Board voted to pass an emergency temporary ban on spraying the weedkiller, whose use has been increasing as more farmers plant dicamba-tolerant crops.
Monsanto ‘Troubled’ Over Arkansas Ban
This year’s complaints are thought to be related to the newer, supposedly less volatile form of dicamba, which is still causing damage to nearby crops.12 Arkansas grower Tom Burnham reported to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that dicamba has damaged his 7,500 acres of soybean crops. He estimates that about half of the region’s dicamba-resistant crops were planted solely by farmers hoping to prevent the damage they suffered last year among their non-resistant crops.
“Last year I didn’t have any issues,” he said. “This year it’s an epidemic. These weren’t what I call cowboys using the old versions of dicamba. These were people using the right stuff the right way.” In a letter to the state plant board, he continued, “I feel that the need to plant a technology to protect your crop from off-target movement is tantamount to extortion.”13
In response to Arkansas’ proposed temporary ban on dicamba spraying, Monsanto said it was “troubled” and that the move would prevent farmers from having access to all available weed-control options.14
Meanwhile, dicamba-resistant weeds have already sprouted in Kansas and Nebraska, raising serious doubts that piling more pesticides on crops will help farmers. “ … [P]iling on more pesticides will just result in superweeds resistant to more pesticides. We can’t fight evolution — it’s a losing strategy,” Nathan Donley, environmental health scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, told EcoWatch.15
To protect not only the people on Earth now but also those that will make up future generations, it’s important that the widespread environmental contamination caused by chemicals like dicamba and glyphosate is not allowed to continue unchecked. As for the Arkansas ban, it must be approved by the Arkansas governor and state legislative council before being passed.16
How Much Glyphosate Is in Your Body?
Laboratory testing commissioned by the organizations Moms Across America and Sustainable Pulse revealed that glyphosate is now showing up virtually everywhere. The analysis revealed glyphosate in levels of 76 μg/L to 166 μg/L in women’s breast milk. As reported by The Detox Project, this is 760 to 1,600 times higher than the EU-permitted level in drinking water (although it’s lower than the U.S. maximum contaminant level for glyphosate, which is 700 μg/L.).17
This dose of glyphosate in breast-fed babies’ every meal is only the beginning. An in vitro study designed to simulate human exposures also found that glyphosate crosses the placental barrier. In the study, 15 percent of the administered glyphosate reached the fetal compartment.18 Glyphosate has also been detected in a number of popular foods, including oatmeal, coffee creamer, eggs and cereal such as Cheerios.
If you’d like to know your personal glyphosate levels, you can now find out, while also participating in a worldwide study on environmental glyphosate exposures. The Health Research Institute (HRI) in Iowa developed the glyphosate urine test kit, which will allow you to determine your own exposure to this toxic herbicide.
Ordering this kit automatically allows you to participate in the study and help HRI better understand the extent of glyphosate exposure and contamination. In a few weeks, you will receive your results, along with information on how your results compare with others and what to do to help reduce your exposure. We are providing these kits to you at no profit in order for you to participate in this environmental study.
In the meantime, eating organic as much as possible and investing in a good water filtration system for your home are among the best ways to lower your exposure to glyphosate and other pesticides. In the case of glyphosate, it’s also wise to avoid desiccated crops like wheat and oats.
Many people are unaware that in 1986 Congress gave the U.S. vaccine industry a shield from product liability that is unlike any other in existence. In most cases, if a pharmaceutical product injures or kills a person, the manufacturer of that product can be held financially accountable in a civil court of law. With vaccines, however, this is not the case.
In the U.S., there is a federally operated vaccine injury compensation program (VICP) that Congress created under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act.
The VICP was created 30 years ago as an administrative alternative to a lawsuit when federally licensed vaccines recommended for children cause injury or death. Federal compensation was supposed to be awarded when there was no other biologically plausible explanation for the vaccine-related injury or death, and plaintiffs denied federal compensation or offered too little were supposed to be able to access civil courts.
However, in 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively ruled that federally licensed vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe” and completely removed liability from the vaccine industry — even if it could be proven that a manufacturer had the ability to make the vaccine less reactive.
The U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington handles vaccine injury and death cases contested by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Justice in what has become known as “vaccine court.” The federal VICP compensates vaccine victims through a federal trust fund that collects a surcharge on every dose of vaccine purchased and administered, which means that vaccine manufacturers pay nothing into the vaccine injury trust fund even though they have no product liability.
To add insult to injury, government agencies and the U.S. Court of Claims deny federal compensation to the majority of vaccine-injured plaintiffs. As noted by the National Vaccine Information Center’s Barbara Loe Fisher at the Revolution for Truth Rally earlier this year:
“The $3.6 billion in federal vaccine injury compensation that has been awarded to more than 5,000 vaccine victims since 1988 doesn’t begin to pay for the damage done; not when two out of three claims are denied.”
A recent ruling by the highest court of the European Union, however, could change the vaccine injury compensation landscape — in Europe, at least — and the ruling has the vaccine industry up in arms over potentially being held financially accountable in European civil courts for illnesses and injuries caused by government recommended and mandated vaccines.
EU Court Rules Circumstantial Evidence Should Be Considered in Vaccine Injury Cases
In many vaccine injury cases, it can be difficult if not impossible to prove cause and effect and directly link a related injury with the vaccine, in part because such injuries may occur days, weeks or months later and also because the quality and quantity of vaccine safety studies is extremely poor. Vaccine companies and government health agencies have refused to conduct methodologically sound research into how and why vaccines cause harm and who is biologically at greater risk for being harmed.
In 2012, the Institute of Medicine (IOM), recently renamed Health and Medicine Division of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), appointed a physician committee to review over 1,000 vaccine studies on eight vaccines routinely administered to children. For more than 100 adverse health outcomes reported following vaccination, IOM was unable to determine whether or not the vaccines caused a commonly reported brain or immune system disorder.1
In short, the quality and quantity of the scientific evidence related to a wide range of brain and immune system disorders was insufficient to make a conclusion about whether or not a vaccine causes those disorders in a previously healthy person or a person biologically susceptible to vaccine harm.
So the IOM committee was unable to confirm or deny causation for most reported poor health outcomes, such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, learning disabilities and autism, following receipt of certain vaccines. This does not exonerate vaccines as being safe, but rather highlights the challenges faced when a person attempts to prove a causative link between a vaccine they’ve received and a related illness or injury.
It makes common sense that the circumstances surrounding a vaccine-related illness — such as how soon reaction symptoms began following vaccine administration, or whether the person had suffered a previous vaccine reaction or was sick at the time of vaccination and so on — would be essential pieces of evidence to consider in determining probable cause. However, few civil courts have taken this kind of clinical and circumstantial evidence seriously in vaccine injury lawsuits.
This was the case with a man living in France, whose vaccine injury case is still ongoing. The man developed multiple sclerosis after receiving three doses of hepatitis B vaccine, and he and his family believe the debilitating chronic disease was caused by the vaccination. Much of the case was based on circumstantial evidence including the timing of the onset of disease in relation to vaccination.
A lower French court ruled that the hepatitis B vaccination was the probable cause of the man’s multiple sclerosis, but that lower court decision was subsequently overturned because of a lack of scientific consensus that hepatitis B vaccine causes multiple sclerosis. Eventually, the courts needed to decide what types of evidence were admissible in the case, which brought it before the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the highest court of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).2
EU Court Ruling May Hold More Vaccine Makers Accountable
The ECJ ruled that “serious, specific and consistent” circumstantial evidence may be considered in vaccine injury cases, prompting a barrage of criticism from the pharmaceutical industry, doctors, public health officials and the media that it would “open the floodgates” for frivolous vaccine injury lawsuits. In Nature magazine, however, Alex Stein, a law expert at the Brooklyn Law School in New York says this is not the case:3
“The court emphasized that liability claims for vaccine harm must be considered on a case-by-case basis. It also ruled that the burden of proof remained on plaintiffs (the man’s family, in this case) and that courts must consider relevant evidence from medical research.
These caveats are important, says … Stein … ‘Under this framework, credible medical evidence showing that the vaccine is safe will win the case,’ he says. ‘Those who say that the ECJ decision has opened a floodgate for multiple vaccine liability suits are therefore mistaken.'”
Stein continued that the ruling may, in fact, allow for justice to be fairly served, noting, “If courts were to use scientific methods of proof in all cases in which they must determine disputed facts, they would hardly be able to make decisions and to deliver timely justice to people. Justice is generally best served when courts are free to admit whatever relevant evidence they wish and judge it on its own merits along with the rest.”4
Indeed, the EU ruling will allow for important and pertinent evidence to be considered in vaccine injury cases to conclude “the administering of the vaccine is the most plausible explanation,” including the following:5
•The time between a vaccine’s administration and the onset of a disease
•An individual’s previous state of health
•A lack of any family history of the disease
•A significant number of reported cases of the disease occurring following vaccination
Flu Vaccine Falsely Advertised as Good Match Completely Useless for Seniors
It’s incredibly important for vaccine makers to be held accountable for dangerous or ineffective products in civil court. As we continue to see, there are more questions than answers when it comes to vaccine safety and repercussions to human immunity and overall health. The case of federally recommended annual flu shots is one such example in which reactive and often ineffective vaccines continue to be foisted on a vulnerable population, in this case the elderly.
As recently as February 2017, U.S health officials boasted that this season’s influenza vaccine was a “good match,” even though the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) described the vaccine as having a 48 percent effectiveness rate, which means the vaccine was effective in preventing disease only 48 percent of the time.
For the past decade, the seasonal influenza vaccine’s effectiveness has been only 50 percent to 60 percent effective.6 The news that this year’s influenza vaccine was a “good match” probably prompted more seniors to get one of the 145 million doses of flu vaccine shipped to doctors’ offices and public health clinics.7
By June 2017, however, the CDC’s tune had changed. The vaccine actually did a poor job of protecting the elderly, with a low 42 percent effectiveness rate overall in preventing illness severe enough to cause someone to visit a doctor. Meanwhile, among the 65 and over crowd — who are at higher risk for influenza complications — as well as those aged 18 to 49, the flu shot “had no clear effect.”8 In other words, it was useless.
Every vaccine carries a risk of injury or death that can be greater for some people, and the potential risk of suffering flu vaccinecomplications that result in a permanent disability such as paralysis from Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) is a risk you need to take into account each time you get a flu shot. While death and complete disability from influenza vaccine complications may be rare, severe complications and death from seasonal influenza itself are also relatively rare, especially for individuals with healthy immune systems.
So it is wise to weigh the risk of suffering a debilitating side effect from a flu shot relative to the more likely potential of spending a week in bed recovering from a bout with influenza. Most of the deaths attributed to influenza are actually due to complications leading to bacterial pneumonia and, unlike in past centuries, bacterial pneumonia today can be effectively treated with advanced medical care.
More Polio Spread by Vaccine
Another issue often disregarded in discussions of vaccine safety is the spread of vaccine-strain virus infections, including polio. Wild type polio was declared eradicated in the US in 1979 and in the western hemisphere in 1994.9 But despite widespread annual polio vaccine campaigns targeting children in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, the wild type poliovirus is still circulating.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative slated 2018 as the year polio would be eradicated from the Earth, but the virus is proving to be harder to outwit than officials would have you believe. Not only are strains of wild poliovirus still circulating in the world, but mutated vaccine-strain polio viruses also circulate. A large part of the problem is the polio vaccine itself, specifically the live oral polio vaccine (OPV).
In 2017, there have been 21 reported cases of vaccine-derived polio, compared to six cases of wild polio — marking the first time more cases of polio have been caused by vaccine-derived strains than wild or naturally occurring strains. In Syria alone, 15 children have been paralyzed by vaccine-derived polio, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).10 Research published in the journal Cell also revealed that the live virus used in the oral polio vaccine can easily mutate and spread through a community.11 NPR reported:12
“After a child is vaccinated with live polio virus, the virus replicates inside the child’s intestine and eventually is excreted. In places with poor sanitation, fecal matter can enter the drinking water supply and the virus is able to start spreading from person to person.
‘We discovered there’s only a few [mutations] that have to happen and they happen rather quickly in the first month or two post-vaccination,” [lead study author Raul] Andino says. ‘As the virus starts circulating in the community, it acquires further mutations that make it basically indistinguishable from the wild-type virus. It’s polio in terms of virulence and in terms of how the virus spreads.'”
While news that the oral polio vaccine is causing vaccine-strain polio cases may be surprising to you, it is not surprising at all to WHO, whose director of polio eradication Michel Zaffran called the vaccine-derived virus outbreaks an expected “hiccup.” He told NPR:13
“We knew that we were going to have such outbreaks. We’ve had them in the past. We continue to have them now. We know how to find them, and we know how to interrupt them … So it’s hiccup … a very regrettable hiccup for the poor children that have been paralyzed, of course. But with regards to the whole initiative, you know it’s not something that is unexpected.”
Into the Darkness: Most Medical Science Is Fake
Adding to the complexity surrounding the medical decisions you make for yourself and your children is the fact that much scientific research is manipulated or fraudulent. Former New England Journal of Medicine editor-in-chief Dr. Marcia Angell has stated, “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical researchthat is published.”14
In the video above, investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson interviews Angell on the topic of “fake science.” Angell says, “… [P]hysicians and the public have come to believe that drugs are much better and much safer than they really are.”15 If you can’t trust the scientific data, neither can your physician, but most people make health care decisions based on their physician’s likely misguided advice.
In the case of vaccines, for example, many are not aware that the U.S. childhood vaccination schedule is based on convenience, not on safety. While your physician may tell you that giving your child multiple vaccines simultaneously is safe, think about this logically. According to Neil Z. Miller, a medical research journalist and director of the Thinktwice Global Vaccine Institute:
“The CDC’s immunization schedule requires that children receive eight vaccines at 2 months of age, eight vaccines at 4 months of age and eight vaccines at 6 months of age. I ask parents, ‘When did you ever take eight drugs at the same time?
… If you did take eight drugs at the same time, would you think it was more likely that you would or would not have an adverse reaction?’ Because toxicologists know that the more drugs you take at the same time, the more potential for some kind of a synergistic or additive toxicity …
The CDC has put together a schedule based on convenience. They say ‘[G]ive eight vaccines at 2 months, give eight more vaccines at 4 months and give eight more booster shots at 6 months’ because it’s convenient. They’re afraid that parents will not come to the pediatrician again and again and again if they have to keep coming back for more vaccines, so they get multiple [shots all at once].
They said, ‘We’re going to make this schedule based on convenience.’ Not based on evidence. Not based on science. There’s nothing scientific about the CDC’s recommended immunization schedule.”
It’s therefore crucially important to consider multiple sources of vaccine information and use reason, intuition and common sense when making an educated decision about vaccination. Only when you have all the facts, including those from unbiased, independent sources, and think critically can you make a truly informed decision for yourself or your child that will protect your health.
You body is originally alkaline and is meant to stay so. But increased dependence on processed and junk food has drastically altered the pH levels of your body. This could disrupt your immune system, causing many health disorders including obesity, heart disease, and cancer. Here are 15 alkaline foods you should befriend to get your body and health back in shape:
1. Swiss Chard
This leafy green vegetable is one of the best sources of alkali from foods on this planet. It can help your body stay away from free radicals, harmful bacteria, and viruses. It helps in managing your blood sugar, support bone health, can improve your blood circulation and heart health.
Time to abandon regular wheat and fall in love with buckwheat. Buckwheat is rich in protein and is an excellent source of vitamins and iron. It’s also known to stimulate your energy, improve your heart health, and prevent diabetes. It’s a great food to eat in cold days, since it keeps your body warmer.
Melon won’t only keep you hydrated but will also cleanse the toxins from your body. Its pH value is estimated to be around 8.5, making it a top alkaline food. All types of melons are known to be great sources of alkaline food as their water content is very high.
4. Olive Oil
If you never had olive oil in your list of top healthy foods, it’s high time you added it. It is known to be rich in antioxidants, monounsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E. It can help reduce the risk of heart disease and regulate your blood sugar levels.
5. Flax Seed
Rich in antioxidants, vitamin E, and fiber, flax seed is considered to be a top alkaline food. It is known to keep your heart healthy, reduce inflammations, and help control hot flashes in menopausal women. Sprinkle some on your bowl of oats and you’re good to go.
Filled with fiber and several essential nutrients like B vitamins, manganese, magnesium, and potassium, bananas moderate your blood sugar levels, improve digestion, and keep your heart healthy. If you’re planning to lose some weight, make sure you add bananas to your diet everyday.
Bursting with various nutrients, monounsaturated fatty acids, and fiber, avocados can strengthen your heart, control your cholesterol levels, and help absorb nutrients from fruits and vegetables. Even a bowl of guacamole is enough for you to reap its benefits.
Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, a group of pigments that help improve your eyesight. They are high in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B8, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and iron too. Carrots can improve your thought process and steer you away from free radicals.
Packed with antioxidants and fiber, berries keep your memory sharp as you grow old, improve digestion, reduce the risk of certain cancers, and keep you safe from numerous chronic health disorders. They also help you fight signs of aging and improve your skin.
Broccoli has an abundance of vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, fiber, potassium, and copper. It reduces your cholesterol levels, acts as a powerful antioxidant, improves your bone health, and keeps your heart healthy. Broccoli is also rich in iron, which means it improves your blood circulation as well.
Grapes are filled with antioxidants called polyphenols, that are known to reduce the risk of mouth, lung, pancreatic, esophageal, endometrial, colon, and prostate cancer. They can also help reduce hypertension and anxiety in many patients.
A single serving of cauliflower can make up for about 77% of your daily vitamin C requirement. Not to mention how it is abundant in vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and can boost your heart health.
The nutrients packed in lemon include vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin E, riboflavin, copper, calcium, potassium, and zinc. Lemon juice can help treat kidney stones and reduce risk of strokes. Other benefits of lemon include preventing constipation, high blood pressure, and fighting cancer.
Known to be one of the most protein-rich foods in the world, quinoa supplies you with twice the amount of fiber compared to other grains. It is also rich in iron, lysine, magnesium, riboflavin, and manganese. Quinoa can help keep a check on blood sugar and cholesterol levels in your body.
Spinach is low in cholesterol as well as fat, and is packed with zinc, niacin, iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K. Rich in antioxidants, it can eliminate free radicals, stimulate your brain functions, improve your memory, and keep your heart strong.
By Dr. Mercola
Each year, an estimated 1 million Americans get sepsis1,2 and up to half of them die as a result.3,4,5 Sepsis is a progressive disease process initiated by an aggressive, dysfunctional immune response to an infection in the bloodstream, which is why it’s sometimes referred to as blood poisoning.
While illnesses such as bronchitis, pneumonia, strep throat, kidney infection or even localized infections can turn septic, sepsis is most commonly acquired in hospital settings.6,7 Starting out with symptoms of infection, the condition can progress to septic shock, which may be lethal. Unless treated, sepsis can result in extremely low blood pressure that is unresponsive to fluid replacement, weakening of the heart and multiple-organ failure.
Unfortunately, treatment can be a considerable challenge, and is becoming even more so as drug-resistant infections become more prevalent. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, sepsis is the most expensive condition being treated in U.S. hospitals, costing more than $24 billion in 2014.8
Critical Care Doctor Discovers Inexpensive Cure for Sepsis
Earlier this year, news emerged about a critical care physician who claimed to have discovered a simple and inexpensive way to treat sepsis using intravenous (IV) vitamin C, thiamine (vitamin B-1) in combination with the steroid hydrocortisone9,10 — a discovery that may save tens of thousands of lives and billions of dollars each year.
Dr. Paul Marik, chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in East Virginia, published a small retrospective before-after clinical study11,12,13 showing that giving septic patients this simple IV cocktail for two days reduced mortality nearly fivefold, from 40 percent to 8.5 percent. Of the 50 patients treated, only four died, but none of them actually died from sepsis; they died from their underlying disease.
In all, Marik has treated more than 150 septic patients with this protocol so far, and only one has died from sepsis. In the featured video above, Marik discusses his study and the vitamin C protocol.
More than 50 medical centers around the U.S. have also started implementing the protocol, with similarly spectacular results. This should be cause for celebration but, as usual, there are detractors and skeptics saying Marik’s study is little more than fodder for hyperbole.14 Many doctors are also wary of using such a novel treatment.15
As noted by Smithsonian: “For many doctors, Marik’s protocol represents a dilemma. There seem to be no ill effects. Yet, there are also no randomized clinical trials. Should they embrace an untested treatment?”16 It’s an ironic question, if you consider many conventional medical treatments are still experimental at best. Flawed trials often promise more than can be delivered, and it can sometimes take years or even decades before the mistake is rectified.
In this case, the chances of doing more harm than good are extremely low, so what is there to lose? Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, where Marik works, has already made the protocol its standard of care for sepsis. The hospital president is considering making it standard of care in its other 12 hospitals as well.
“Marik and others enthusiastic about the treatment agree with skeptics who say blind, randomized clinical trials need to be done to validate the treatment’s efficacy. However, they also say that the dramatic results so far mean doctors should embrace the treatment in the meantime — an unorthodox proposition, to say the least,” Smithsonian writes.17
“During an interview in his office, Marik called up Dr. Joseph Varon, a pulmonologist and researcher at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. ‘It does sound too good to be true,’ Varon said over the phone. ‘But my mortality rates have changed dramatically. It is unreal. Everything we have tried in the past didn’t work. This works.'”
How Does the Treatment Work?
Vitamin C is well-known for its ability to prevent and treat infectious diseases. Previous research has shown it effectively lowers proinflammatory cytokines and C-reactive protein.18,19,20 Influenza,21 encephalitis and measles22 have all been successfully treated with high-dose vitamin C.
To investigate the mechanism of action for sepsis, Marik reached out to John Catravas, Ph.D., a pharmacology researcher at Old Dominion University. At Marik’s request, Catravas performed an independent lab study, which confirmed the effectiveness of the treatment. Catravas cultured endothelial cells from lung tissue and then exposed them to endotoxins found in patients with sepsis.
Interestingly, vitamin C acts like the steroid hydrocortisone, yet when either vitamin C or the steroid were administered in isolation, nothing happened. When administered together, however, the infection was successfully eradicated and the cells were restored to normal.
The addition of thiamine is also important. Not only is thiamine required for metabolism of some of the metabolites of vitamin C, research has also shown many patients with sepsis are vitamin deficient, and when thiamine is given, it reduces the risk of renal failure and mortality.
Studies have also shown thiamine can be helpful for a long list of diseases and disorders, including mitochondrial disorders,23 heart failure,24 delirium,25 thyroid fatigue and Hashimoto’s (a thyroid autoimmune disorder).26 These and other health effects may help explain why thiamine works so well in conjunction with vitamin C and hydrocortisone for sepsis. In short, the key Marik intuitively stumbled upon was the right combination of ingredients.
Nationwide Trial Underway
Dr. Craig Coopersmith, a leading sepsis researcher at Emory University School of Medicine, is now planning a multicenter trial to put Marik’s vitamin C protocol to the test across the nation. “If this is validated, this would be the single biggest breakthrough in sepsis care in my lifetime,” he told Smithsonian.27
Results from his field trial cannot come soon enough, as current best practices are ineffective at best. For example, recent research shows the standard calling for rapid and substantial infusion of IV fluids have no effect on survival rates,28 and previous guidelines calling for the use of a specific drug turned out to do more harm than good.29 In short, there are few good alternatives available, making Marik’s treatment protocol all the more crucial.
Sepsis kills more than breast cancer, colon cancer and AIDS combined, and here’s a treatment that is not only profoundly effective, but also has no side effects, is inexpensive, readily available and simple to administer. Patients and doctors really have nothing to lose by trying it, but to make it standard of care across the U.S., more evidence is needed.
While vitamin C and thiamine administration is incredibly safe, it may be contraindicated if you happen to be glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficient, which is a genetic disorder.30 G6PD is an enzyme your red blood cells need to maintain membrane integrity. High-dose IV vitamin C is a strong prooxidant, and giving a prooxidant to a G6PD-deficient individual can cause their red blood cells to rupture, which could have disastrous consequences.
Fortunately, G6PC deficiency is relatively uncommon, and can be tested for. People of Mediterranean and African descent are at greater risk of being G6PC deficient. Worldwide, G6PD deficiency is thought to affect 400 million individuals, and in the U.S. an estimated 1 in 10 African-American males have it.31
Vitamin C and Antibiotics — A Winning Combo Against Cancer Stem Cells
Studies have also shown vitamin C can be used as an adjunct to cancer therapy. Vitamin C is selectively cytotoxic to cancer cells by generating hydrogen peroxide when administered intravenously in high doses, and recent research suggests vitamin C in combination with antibiotics helps kill cancer stem cells — cancer cells responsible for metastasis of lethal tumors.
Here, researchers at the University of Salford in the U.K. used the antibiotic Doxycycline, followed by IV vitamin C and, again, it’s all about the combination. It’s well-known that that cancer cells can survive chemotherapy and develop resistance to the drug. The study in question was designed to determine how this occurs.
They suspected the answer cold be found in metabolically flexible cancer cells — in other words, cells capable of switching from one fuel source to another. Science Daily reports:32
“The researchers say their method offers a new explanation for how to prevent cancer cells from becoming treatment-resistant and how combinations therapies can be developed to overcome drug resistance. Professor Michael Lisanti, who designed the study, explained … ‘Thus, when the drug treatment reduces the availability of a particular nutrient, the flexible cancer cells can feed themselves with an alternative energy source.’
This new combination approach prevents cancer cells from changing their diet (metabolically inflexible), and effectively starves them, by preventing them from using any other available types of biofuels.
The team … added Doxycycline in ever increasing doses over a three-month period, to induce metabolic inflexibility. The result was to leave the cancer cells … severely attenuated and depleted, so that they would be much more susceptible to starvation, by a second metabolic “punch.”
First, the researchers inhibited the tumor cell mitochondria, by restricting the cancer cells only to glucose as a fuel source; then, they took away their glucose, effectively starving the cancer cells to death. ‘In this scenario, vitamin C behaves as an inhibitor of glycolysis, which fuels energy production in mitochondria, the ‘powerhouse’ of the cell,’ explained co-author Dr. Federica Sotgia.”
Vitamin C Is an Excellent Emergency Kit Staple
Vitamin C by itself outperformed 2-Deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG, a glycolytic inhibitor33) by as much as 10 times when it came to preventing cancer cell growth. When combined with an antibiotic, the treatment is nearly 100 times more effective. Best of all, while antibiotics do have health risks (since they decimate your gut microbiome), antibiotics and vitamin C are far safer than most cancer drugs, dramatically reducing a patient’s risk of adverse treatment effects.
The team also identified eight additional products that can be used in lieu of vitamin C, including berberine — a natural plant compound shown to work as well as metformin for diabetes. As noted by Lisanti, “This is further evidence that vitamin C and other nontoxic compounds may have a role to play in the fight against cancer.”
Indeed, while I do not recommend taking high doses of vitamin C on a daily basis, I’m absolutely convinced it is a key staple that belongs in everyone’s home emergency kit. In cases of acute illness, I recommend taking 2 to 3 grams of vitamin C per HOUR until you feel better. Note that most people will get loose stools with conventional oral vitamin C, which is why the vitamin C should be liposomal. This prevents the loose stools and provides blood levels similar to IV vitamin C without the expense or inconvenience.
In my experience, this high dose liposomal C every hour will typically reverse acute illnesses within 24 hours or so. Just make sure it is liposomal vitamin C. I always travel with a bottle of this and regularly give it away to clinicians I see who have come down with an acute infection.
For general health, it’s fairly easy to get sufficient amounts of vitamin C from food, so supplements are usually not necessary. I grow acerola cherries, which are particularly high in vitamin C. Each cherry provides about 80 mg of vitamin C. I will sometimes eat up to 100 cherries a day, giving me about 8 grams of vitamin C — far above the recommended daily intake of 90 mg/day.
Still, if I were to become ill, I would not hesitate to take high doses of vitamin C, including the use of IV vitamin C if the situation were sufficiently dire — although I would start with hourly high dose liposomal C as I think it would work just as well, and only progress to IV if the high dose liposomal C was not working. In the case of sepsis, I think using IV vitamin C with thiamine and hydrocortisone makes a world of sense, especially since the risks are virtually nonexistent.
Common Sense Strategies to Reduce Your Risk of Sepsis
With sepsis affecting more than a million Americans each year, it’s important to be aware of its signs, symptoms and risks. Part of what makes it so deadly is that people typically do not suspect it, and the longer you wait to treat it, the deadlier it gets.34 Even health care workers can miss the signs and delay treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you’re at higher risk for sepsis if you have:
- Chronic disease. A vast majority — 7 out of 10 — of people who develop sepsis have some kind of chronic health condition. Those with diabetes, lung, kidney or liver disease tend to be particularly susceptible to infection, which raises the risk.
- Weakened immune system, AIDS or cancer.
- Recently spent time in a hospital, nursing home or other health care facility, as exposure to infection-causing bacteria is common in these places.
While health care workers have a responsibility to prevent infections that could potentially turn septic and to educate patients about warning signs of sepsis, you can lower your own risk by:
•Promptly treating urinary tract infections (UTIs). UTIs are the second most common type of infection in the body, sending more than 8 million people to their health care providers every year in the U.S. alone,35 and one-quarter of sepsis cases are related to urinary tract infections.
Conventional treatment typically involves antibiotics, but research shows 90 percent of UTIs can be successfully treated with D-Mannose, a naturally occurring sugar that’s closely related to glucose. To learn more, see “D-Mannose for UTI Prevention Validated in a Clinical Trial.”
•Properly clean skin wounds. About 1 in 10 sepsis cases are due to skin infections, so always take the time to properly clean and care for wounds and scrapes. Wash the wound with mild soap and water to clean out dirt and debris, then cover with a sterile bandage. Diabetics should follow good foot care to avoid dangerous foot infections.
•Avoid infections in hospitals. When visiting a health care facility, be sure to wash your own hands, and remind doctors and nurses to wash theirs (and/or change gloves) before touching you or any equipment being used on you.
If you have to undergo a colonoscopy or other testing using a flexible medical scope, remember to call and ask how they clean their scopes and what kind of cleaning solution they use. If the answer is glutaraldehyde (brand name Cidex), find another hospital or clinic — one that uses peracetic acid. This preliminary legwork will significantly decrease your risk of contracting an infection from a contaminated scope.