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Seasoned Investigative Journalist Exposes Inside Strategies to Censor News


Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

You can choose to ignore reality, but you can’t ignore the consequences of ignoring reality. Most of us rely heavily on the media for information, not realizing that 90 percent of it is controlled by a mere six media giants.

Sharyl Attkisson, a five-time Emmy Award winning investigative journalist whose television career spans more than three decades is one of my personal heroes. She was the reporter who, in 2009, blew the lid off the swine flu media hype, showing the hysteria was completely unfounded and manufactured.

She recently left CBS to pursue other avenues of investigative journalism, and has authored a highly praised book, Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington, which exposes what goes on behind the scenes in the media that gives you the information you come to think of as real and true.

“I left CBS about a year ago when it seemed I had met with so many dead ends in trying to continue the original investigative reporting that I’ve done for so many years there,” Sharyl says.

“My producer and I just kept hitting brick walls in the last two years or so in trying to get this reporting on television. We certainly weren’t alone. Reporters are complaining about this across the board at many print organizations and broadcast outlets…

The watchdog reporting that the government values so much is simply not desired for a variety of reasons as much as it once was at the national level. I think also this is a problem in local news…

There was no point [in staying]. I was never in a position to turn up better stories; I have more information, more sources, more whistleblowers, and more I felt might produce terrific stories than ever before after 20 years in CBS News, and yet, utterly lacked the ability to get any of it on television.

I could’ve stayed and done weather stories and stories of the day but that’s just not where my interest was.”

What Led to the Downfall of Watchdog Reporting?

Unfortunately, the trend of diluting the depth and scope of investigative journalism can even be seen in high-quality programs like CBS’ 60 Minutes, which has been a favorite show of mine since its inception over four decades ago.

As noted by Sharyl, the reasons for the decline of investigative journalism are complicated. But a big part of it is due to commercial concerns; basically, commercial and corporate influences came into play, and media outlets grew to accept commercialization as part of the news process.

“I call it soft censorship,” Sharyl says. “When you know you have a sponsor and you know it’s important to the corporation, are you really going to offend the sponsor by going after stories that they don’t like?

But I do think it’s more overt than that sometimes. The sponsors explicitly complain and argue at the corporate level that certain stories and topics shouldn’t be done.

We know this is true based on one anecdote I put in the book, but there are other anecdotes and experiences that reporters have had, where they’ve been told that this is the case.

Additionally, there are political factors. There were managers at CBS in those last two years that inserted their ideology into the reporting of producers and reporters, who by and large were very fair. That can change the whole tone of the reporting.”

One of the examples in Sharyl’s book that really hit home for me was when Hillary Clinton ran against Obama for president, and while on the campaign trail told reporters she had dodged sniper fire on a trip as First Lady, 12 years prior, when she visited Bosnia.

It seems like a silly thing to lie about, but lie she did. Sharyl and other journalists had been on that trip, and they all knew no one had dodged sniper fire, least of all the First Lady. Fortunately, Sharyl had archived videos of the event to prove it.

“It couldn’t be farther from the truth, the idea that we had been shot up by sniper fire,” Sharyl says. “There are a couple of choices – just being untruthful for her own benefit, or was she delusional, which is a little frightening. But I think the public got past that because they accepted her as the Secretary of State.”

Another point Sharyl makes very effectively in her book is that there’s this collaboration within the media, such that if one agency picks up a story, they all run the same story. You can watch the nightly news on every channel, and the story will be presented in virtually the same way, sometimes more or less verbatim.

“Too often, I think they don’t want to cover a major controversy unless others have already covered it, like the New York Times or the Washington Post; then it’s safe.

They don’t want to cover certain stories for ideological reasons. They don’t want to cover certain stories against corporate partners that might harm corporate relationships.”

Intimidation and Harassment of Journalists

True investigative journalists, such as Sharyl, have also become targets of intimidation and harassment. For example, at one point her computer and phone lines were hacked to find out what she was working on.

“I assume there are a handful of journalists who do that sort of critical reporting on the government, and on this administration in particular, that they wanted to watch.

They never dreamed I would luck upon the resources to have the computer examined by experts that could find the software they deposited in my computer.

This software was proprietary to a government agency, either the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), National Security Agency (NSA), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)…

They had my keystroke data… They could look at all my files. They used Skype audio – I didn’t know this was possible – but they could turn it on invisibly, without you knowing it, to listen into conversations. They could also remove files using Skype… We were able to confirm these highly sophisticated long-term, remote intrusions.”

Another interesting book for anyone interested or concerned about matters such as these is Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable, and What We Can Do About It by Marc Goodman. The book discusses in great detail how this type of hacking can occur, and more importantly, what simple measures we can do to protect ourselves. It’s a reality. And if they’re doing it to top-notch investigative reporters, certainly everyone is a candidate.

On Astroturfing…

“Astroturf” is the effort on the part of special interests, whether corporate or political, to surreptitiously sway public opinion and make it appear as though it’s a grassroots effort for or against a particular agenda, when in reality such a groundswell of public opinion might not exist. Sharyl explains:

“They turn to things like social media – Facebook and Twitter – using pseudonyms and multiple accounts to spread things around. They use their partners who blog for them, write things, and pick up on one another’s work until sometimes it’s been picked up in the mainstream media as if it’s a fact.

It’s all intended to make you feel as though if you hold a certain opinion that they don’t want you to have, you’re the outlier. Everybody else agrees with ‘X’ except you, and that may not be the truth. This is a huge business… There are actually PR firms that specialize in these sorts of tactics.

Astroturfing is now more important, I am told by lobbyists and PR firms, to many clients than the direct lobbying of Congress because it’s so effective to reach out to the public. They may have someone write a letter to the editor and you don’t know that person is being paid by a special interest to advance a certain opinion.

They may start as a nonprofit without saying out front that they’re behind the nonprofit. The nonprofit may then look like a charity that’s advancing a certain opinion, which is actually acting on behalf of the corporate interest or the special interest. Again, it’s very widespread…”

Hallmark signs of astroturfing include using key language—words such as crank, crack, nutty, pseudo, conspiracy, and other language that’s effective with the public to try to make you dismiss an argument they don’t like. Another hallmark of an Astroturf campaign is attacking those who are questioning authority, such as reporters who are exposing the truth, whistleblowers who dare to step forward, and people asking tough questions.

It’s important to be aware of these kinds of concerted efforts to distort the truth, and to understand how they’re done, because these “faux concern” campaigns can have a profound influence on your perception of reality.

Astroturfing in Action

A perfect example of astroturfing just occurred when a GMO front group attacked Dr. Oz after he reported on the now scientifically established hazards of glyphosate, and the media swallowed and regurgitated the propaganda without any critical thought whatsoever. Slate magazine publicized the attack with the headline “Letter from Prominent Doctors Implies Columbia Should Fire Dr. Oz for Being a Quack.”

The letter accuses Dr. Oz of repeatedly showing “disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine, as well as baseless and relentless opposition to the genetic engineering of food crops.”

The letter was signed by Dr. Henry I. Miller and nine other “distinguished physicians.” What the media has failed to address is that Dr. Henry Miller is hardly a concerned physician. He’s actually a now well-known shill for the GMO industry.

In his capacity as its front man, he was caught misrepresenting himself during the Anti-Prop.37 campaign in 2012, pretending to be a Stanford professor opposing GMO labeling, when in fact he is not a professor at Stanford. The TV ad had to be pulled off the air because of this misrepresentation.

Aside from that, he has a long and sordid history1 of defending toxic chemicals such as DDT, in addition to defending Big Tobacco. Some of the other nine physicians are also less than distinguished. As noted by US Right to Know:2

“One was stripped of his medical license in New York and sent to federal prison camp for Medicaid fraud. Yet Dr. Gilbert Ross plays up his M.D. credentials in his role as acting president of the American Council for Science and Health (ACSH). Ross was joined on the Columbia letter by ACSH board member Dr. Jack Fisher.

So what is ACSH? Though some reporters treat it as an independent science source, the group has been heavily funded by oil, chemical, and tobacco companies, and has a long history of making inaccurate statements about science that directly benefit those industries – for example claiming that secondhand smoke isn’t linked to heart attacks, fracking doesn’t pollute water…

These facts are relevant in stories about scientific integrity. The scientific accuracy and motivations of the accusers matter when they are publicly challenging the scientific accuracy and motivations of somebody they are trying to get fired. We urge reporters and editors to take a closer look at the sources selling them story ideas, and to act as better watchdogs for the public interest”.

Dr. Henry Miller and American Council for Science and Health Are False Fronts for the GMO Industry

Indeed, Henry Miller and ACSH are false fronts for the GMO industry, plain and simple. They are part of a PR hack strategy of astroturfing, and the mainstream media are too inept to look behind the curtain to see what’s really there. The fact of the matter is that this attack on Dr. Oz is orchestrated not by concerned physicians or scientists but rather by industry shills whose job it is to attack anyone who embraces a more natural approach to health and/or raise damning questions that might hurt the industry’s bottom-line.

Why Conventional Media So Rarely Tells You the Truth About Health

One industry that wields a great deal of power within the media today is the pharmaceutical industry. It’s rare to sit through an evening of television without viewing several drug ads. They also advertise heavily in print and online media. The advertising dollars they spend not only generates sales, it also gives them the power to influence what’s being reported in the news. Here’s just one example:

“There’s a story in my book about former executive producer of mine who got a phone call from the sales division, which was very inappropriate. He said the sales person from CBS was kind of screaming at him because we’d been doing a lot of stories looking at side effects and problems with the very popular and billion-dollar-selling cholesterol-lowering drugs, statins.

The advertisers didn’t like that. Therefore, someone from the CBS corporate apparently didn’t like that, and called down and said something like, ‘If you keep doing these stories, it’s going to be really, really bad for CBS…’

I think that happens more often than we know explicitly. But this time, it was followed by what I see as all of the media backing down on pharmaceutical-related stories. We were doing very aggressive coverage of problems within the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – not just me, but all the networks and a lot of print publications – about vaccines side effects, and about other medical issues. That all has virtually stopped. You can almost point to a time period when it seems someone made a phone call and said, ‘That’s it fellas. There are advertisers.’

And you won’t see these stories now even when there’s a multi-billion-dollar criminal settlement against drug companies for mismarketing drugs that are commonly used. That’s a huge story that should be leading the news in my opinion. But most people probably never heard of it because those are things that offend the sensibilities of advertisers, who now control to some degree the editorial content of networks, publications, and print publications that are advertising.

And, as you know, they have several lobbyists for every member of Congress on Capitol Hill so they can make sure certain hearings don’t happen. As recently as last year, they were able to stop a planned vaccine-related hearing. The control is almost total in my view. That’s just one example of a corporate influence.”

What Are Some ‘Big’ Stories Not Being Reported Right Now?

According to Sharyl, if journalists would simply cover the news with facts and fairness, topics like vaccine side effects would receive far greater coverage. The reason it doesn’t is because that topic has been deemed “untouchable.” Other emerging health issues that you don’t hear about in the news include the emergence of enterovirus EV-D68. It’s a polio-like virus, but it’s not polio.

Thousands of people were stricken with it last year, and the virus appears to be linked to cases of paralysis. At least a dozen children also died from it, yet you didn’t hear about this on the news because it was not, unlike the measles vaccine, something the government was interested in promoting.

“Too often reporters wait for the government to tell them what’s a story and what’s not a story. They won’t do the digging on their own, which I think is a very bad trend. But I tried to find out about this [enterovirus] and asked the CDC some questions, to which they replied they didn’t gather certain data. I searched the web and found that the CDC had published a paper with the data that I’ve asked for! So it was completely false what they told me…”

Sharyl’s book exposes many of the inside strategies that go on to suppress this type of information. Since leaving CBS News and finishing her book, she’s been writing freelance, publishing a number of stories she would have had a hard time telling before, such as the story of how a government experiment on premature babies misled parents with an unethical consent form to enroll their premature babies in the program.

This study was conducted at prestigious research institutions by the government across the country. After some of the babies died, the study was stopped. Even the government’s own ethics body concluded that the consent form was unethical because it didn’t actually inform the parents that their babies were being entered into a study.

They were just told that this treatment would be good for their baby. In reality, the babies were randomly placed into high-oxygen or low-oxygen groups—not what was best for them individually. The parents were unaware that their child was being given treatment based on the flip of a coin. The parents also didn’t know that their child was placed in an oxygen machine that had been disabled to give false readings.

“That story was published in Daily Signal,3 which is a heritage foundation news organization that started last year. They’ve done some excellent reporting and haven’t tampered with my stories,” Sharyl says.

What the Media Isn’t Telling You about ‘ObamaCare’

Another story Sharyl believes has been underreported is that of HealthCare.gov. “The US government is still hiding public documents that have been under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for a long time,” she claims. And the media simply reports whatever the government says, even though the government has been caught providing false information, including providing false statements under oath to Congress. There are still details of this health care program that we don’t know anything about, and why is that?

“For millions of Americans, I think, this law is turning out to be disastrous and too expensive,” she says. “There’s now a new class of uninsured people who had insurance, but who’ve been bumped off or have gone off because they can’t afford it now. The insurance isn’t covering what people need.

Certainly, there are people who have benefitted, people who couldn’t get insurance before. There’s no doubt about that. That’s going to be reported on, but what’s not reported is that many people are suffering severe consequences…”

In her book she also exposes the debacle of how HealthCare.gov was developed, so if you’re interested in learning more about that, please pick up a copy of Stonewalled. Sharyl has donated proceeds from Stonewalled to the University of Florida to put on a Freedom of Information forum for students and professionals, in which they brainstormed to come up with ideas for making the government more responsive to public information request; how to fix the freedom of information process, “which is entirely pointless and useless now,” as Sharyl says.

So, when you buy her book, part of the proceeds are going towards ongoing efforts to help influence a more open and honest government, which is clearly something that needs work.


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Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal
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The Limits of Tylenol for Pain Relief


Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

Low back and neck pain (spinal pain), along with osteoarthritis of the hip and knee, are leading causes of disability worldwide. It’s estimated that more than 9 percent of the global population suffers from spinal pain while another 4 percent have osteoarthritis.1

Doctors often recommend drugs as the go-to treatment for such pain, with acetaminophen (Tylenol) being the first-line pain reliever typically recommended. Such advice is not without controversy, however.

There can be responsible and appropriate use of painkillers to treat debilitating pain, but there are also significant dangers when these drugs are overprescribed and overused.

Research has shown, for instance, that acetaminophen may only be mildly effective compared to placebo, while regular doses of up to 4,000 milligrams a day of the drug, which might be needed for optimal therapeutic benefits, could pose a risk of serious side effects.2

Now the use of Tylenol for pain relief is being called into question again after a systematic review of randomized trials found it works no better than a placebo.3

Tylenol Ineffective for Treating Back Pain, Quadruples the Risk of Liver Damage

A new review of 13 studies found that widespread recommendations for treating back-pain and osteoarthritis patients with acetaminophen need to be reconsidered. The study found “high-quality evidence” that acetaminophen is ineffective for treating low back pain and had only a small effect in patients with osteoarthritis.

That small effect was “not likely to be meaningful for clinicians or patients,” the researchers wrote. In addition, acetaminophen use increases the risk of having an abnormal result on liver function tests by nearly fourfold.4 According to researchers:

We found that paracetamol [acetaminophen] is ineffective on both pain and disability outcomes for low back pain in the immediate and short term and is not clinically superior to placebo on both pain and disability outcomes for osteoarthritis.

…Our results therefore provide an argument to reconsider the endorsement of paracetamol in clinical practice guidelines for low back pain and hip or knee osteoarthritis.”

Acetaminophen Can be Deadly

Given the fact that acetaminophen is one of the most widely used drugs in the world, you might be surprised to learn that taking just a bit too much on a regular basis, or taking it in combination with alcohol, can have rather significant health risks.

Acetaminophen overdose is the leading cause for calls to Poison Control Centers across the US—more than 100,000 instances per year—and acetaminophen poisoning is responsible for nearly half of all acute liver failure cases in the US.5

Acetaminophen overdoses are also responsible for more than 150 deaths each year in the US.6 A major problem is that while acetaminophen is considered safe when taken as recommended, the margin between a safe dose and a potentially lethal one is very small.

Taking just 25 percent more than the daily recommended dose—the equivalent of just two extra strength pills per day—can cause liver damage after just a couple of weeks of daily use.7

When taken all at once, just under four times the maximum daily dose can be lethal. Previous research has also shown that taking just a little more than the recommended dose over the course of several days or weeks (referred to as “staggered overdosing”) can be more risky than taking one large overdose.8

In 2009, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally added a warning to acetaminophen-containing drugs alerting consumers to its potential for causing liver damage—a move recommended by an expert panel all the way back in 1977!

Then, in 2013, the agency warned that acetaminophen may cause three serious skin reactions, two of which typically require hospitalization and can be fatal. Last year, the FDA issued a statement urging doctors and other health professionals to stop prescribing and dispensing prescription combination drug products that contain more than 325 milligrams (mg) of acetaminophen per tablet, capsule, or other dosage unit.9

One of the problems with relying on medications to treat pain, especially chronic pain, is that the side effects can sometimes be worse than the condition you’re trying to treat. This is even sometimes the case with seemingly “safe” medications like acetaminophen. Your risk of severe liver injury and/or death related to acetaminophen increases if you:

  • Take more than one regular strength (325 mg) acetaminophen when combined with a narcotic analgesic like codeine or hydrocodone
  • Take more than the prescribed dose of an acetaminophen-containing product in a 24-hour period
  • Take more than one acetaminophen-containing product at the same time. Make sure to read the list of ingredients on any other over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription drug you take in combination.
  • Drink alcohol while taking an acetaminophen product. Research suggests that acetaminophen significantly increases your risk of kidney dysfunction if taken with alcohol—even if the amount of alcohol is small.10 Combining alcohol with acetaminophen was found to raise the risk of kidney damage by 123 percent, compared to taking either of them individually. Besides alcoholics, young adults are particularly at risk as they’re more likely to consume both.11

Past Research Also Found Acetaminophen Doesn’t Work for Back Pain

Research published in 2014 also found that taking acetaminophen for back pain is no more effective than taking a placebo.12 As reported by Fortune Magazine:13

“Conducted at hundreds of clinics in Sydney, Australia, the study tracked 1,652 individuals with lower back pain for four weeks. They were given either paracetamol (what acetaminophen is known as overseas), or a placebo.

In the end, researchers found there was almost no difference in the number of days required to recover between the two groups; the median time to recovery was 17 days in the regular paracetamol group, 17 days in the as-needed paracetamol group, and 16 days in the placebo group.”

According to lead author Dr. Christopher Williams, “The results suggest we need to reconsider the universal recommendation to provide paracetamol [acetaminophen] as a first-line treatment for low-back pain…”

Unfortunately, back pain is also one of the leading causes for opioid addiction, which now claims the lives of 17,000 Americans each year. Prescription opioids have also become the latest “gateway drugs” to illicit drug use. It’s important to realize that prescription medications like hydrocodone and oxycodone are opioid derivatives—just like heroin.

One in Four Chronic Pain Patients Misusing Opioids, One in 10 Addicted

In an accompanying editorial to the featured acetaminophen study, Christian Mallen and Elaine Hay of Keele University in England wrote that removing acetaminophen from existing treatment guidelines for back pain and arthritis might lead to an increase in the use of other powerful drugs, particularly addictive narcotics.14

Yet, misuse and addiction to such drugs has already reached epidemic levels. A new study published in the journal PAIN, for instance, found that one in four chronic pain patients may be misusing narcotic painkillers, and one in 10 may have formed an addiction.15 Dr. Andrew Kolodny, the chief medical officer at Phoenix House, a drug treatment provider, told Forbes:16

“Some people who become addicted develop the disease from misuse, but people can just as easily become addicted taking pills exactly prescribed … Once addicted, misuse (i.e. taking more pills than prescribed or crushing and snorting pills) becomes more common, but again, keep in mind that patients can still be addicted without misuse.”

Opioids Often Cause More Harm Than Good for Chronic Pain

In 2014, the American Academy of Neurology updated their position statement on opioids, highlighting the problems of overuse. Over 100,000 people have died, directly or indirectly, from prescribed opioids in the US since the late 1990s. In the highest-risk group (those between the ages of 35 and 54), deaths from opioids exceed deaths from both firearms and motor vehicle accidents.

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.17 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.18

The Academy of Neurology report notes that while such drugs may offer short-term relief for non-cancer chronic pain such as back pain, headaches, migraines and fibromyalgia, they cause more harm than good over time:19

“Whereas there is evidence for significant short-term pain relief, there is no substantial evidence for maintenance of pain relief or improved function over long periods of time without incurring serious risk of overdose, dependence, or addiction.”

Research has shown, for instance, that more than half of people who use opioids for three months will still be using them five years later.20 Meanwhile, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that long-term use of opioids actually does little to relieve chronic pain.21 In some cases, they may even make chronic pain worse. As TIME reported:22

“…the opioids can backfire in excessive doses; in the same way that neurons become over-sensitized to pain and hyper-reactive, high doses of opioids could prime some nerves to respond more intensely to pain signals, rather than helping them to modulate their reaction.”

The American Academy of Neurology is now calling for clear limits to be set on opioid use, especially for non-cancer pain. Certain states already have warnings in place that require physicians to seek other opinions if a person takes daily opioid doses of 80-120 mg without getting relief. Still, the pills shouldn’t be viewed as a go-to treatment for chronic pain in the first place, as lifestyle changes, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other strategies are often more effective and far safer.

Medical Marijuana Offers Pain Relief While Driving Down Opioid Overdose Deaths

In states where medical marijuana is legal, overdose deaths from opioids like morphine, oxycodone and heroin decreased by an average of 20 percent after one year, 25 percent after two years and up to 33 percent by years five and six.23 As the researchers explained:24

Opioid analgesic overdose mortality continues to rise in the United States, driven by increases in prescribing for chronic pain. Because chronic pain is a major indication for medical cannabis, laws that establish access to medical cannabis may change overdose mortality related to opioid analgesics in states that have enacted them… Medical cannabis laws are associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates.”

There is a wealth of research linking marijuana with pain relief. In one study, just three puffs of marijuana a day for five days helped those with chronic nerve pain to relieve pain and sleep better.25 If you’re in pain, especially if it’s severe, I realize that you may be desperate for relief. Prescription and over-the-counter painkillers do have their place in medicine, especially for short-term relief of severe pain (such as after surgery or serious injury). In certain cases, such drugs 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, as well as cause other serious side effects. 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.

As mentioned, cannabidiol (CBD) in marijuana 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. While critics of medical marijuana (which, by the way, are in the minority, as 85-95 percent of Americans are in favor of medical cannabis, and 58-59 percent are in favor of legalizing marijuana) point out its risks, they pale in comparison to those of opioids. While some do become addicted, or at least dependent, on marijuana, it is far less addictive than prescription opioids.

19 Non-Drug Solutions for Pain Relief

I strongly recommend exhausting other options before you resort to an opioid pain reliever or even acetaminophen. The health risks associated with these drugs are great, and addiction to opioids is a very real concern. For instance, exercises, such as strengthening exercises, have been found to decrease pain more than short-term use of acetaminophen for hip or knee osteoarthritis.26 And as Dr. Houman Danesh, director of integrative pain management at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, told WebMD:27

“This [featured] study does suggest that other methods — such as acupuncture, smoking cessation, weight loss, physical activity and proper ergonomics at our work stations — may have an equal role to [acetaminophen] in treating back pain.”

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Physical and massage therapy has been shown to be as good as surgery for painful conditions such as torn cartilage and arthritis.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.28
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Evening Primrose, Black Currant and Borage Oils: These contain the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is useful for treating arthritic pain.
  17. 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.
  18. Medical cannabis has a long history as a natural analgesic, as mentioned.29 At present, more than 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 flavanoids. 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,30 a publication by the American Pain Society, has a long list of studies on the pain-relieving effects of cannabis.
  19. 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.
  20. Grounding, or walking barefoot on the earth, may also provide a certain measure of pain relief by combating inflammation.


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How a Terminal Illness Can Change Your Perception of Time


Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

“Clocks are now kind of irrelevant to me … time, where it used to have sort of a linear progression, now feels more like a space,” said Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon, writer, father, and husband, after learning he had metastatic lung cancer.curc

Kalanithi, who died at age 37 in March 2015, wrote a series of poignant works describing the “strange relativity” of living with a terminal cancer diagnosis, and how it rattles your concept of self and your perception of time. He wrote:1

“Verb conjugation became muddled. Which was correct? ‘I am a neurosurgeon,’ ‘I was a neurosurgeon,’ ‘I had been a neurosurgeon before and will be again’? Graham Greene felt life was lived in the first 20 years and the remainder was just reflection.

What tense was I living in? Had I proceeded, like a burned-out Greene character, beyond the present tense and into the past perfect? The future tense seemed vacant and, on others’ lips, jarring. I recently celebrated my 15th college reunion; it seemed rude to respond to parting promises from old friends, ‘We’ll see you at the 25th!’ with ‘Probably not!’”

Amidst many questions, including how much time he had left (a question no one could, with certainty, answer), Kalanithi spoke of his infant daughter. Recognizing he would not likely see her grow up, he wanted her to know the joy she brought him in his last days, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more, but rests, satisfied.”2

‘Days Are Long, Years Are Short’

Kalanithi’s story has struck a chord in many people’s hearts. It’s the type of inspiration that stops you in your tracks, makes you think deeply and can change the way you’re living your life right now. As he said, “the days are long, but the years are short.”

Some of you reading this may be struggling with chronic illness right now. You may have a loved one who is ill, or you may be healthy but acutely aware that health is one gift not to be taken for granted.

In Kalanithi’s case, doctors found a specific genetic mutation tied to his cancer. In many other cases, the cause is unknown. What we do know is that each cell membrane in your body has receptors that pick up various environmental signals, and this mechanism controls the “reading” of the genes inside your cells.

Your cells can choose to read or not read the genetic blueprint depending on the signals being received from the environment. So having a “cancer program” in your DNA does not automatically mean you’re destined to get cancer. Far from it. This genetic information does not ever have to be expressed.

In other words, having a genetic mutation is by no means an automatic death sentence. As you will see below, there are many things you can do to dramatically decrease your cancer risk through the lifestyle choices you make, which have a profound impact on your genetic expression… and this should give you hope.

Cancer Is the Second Leading Cause of Death in the US

Sadly, even with the latest technology and “advances” in medicine, cancer continues to kill people far before their time. And the current medical paradigm remains essentially clueless about the underlying causes of cancer, along with how to effectively treat them.

In 2015, it’s estimated there will be more than 1.6 million new cancer cases diagnosed and nearly 600,000 cancer deaths in the US.3 Further, the lifetime risk of developing or dying from cancer over the course of a lifetime is incredibly high. For American men, the lifetime risk of developing cancer is slightly less than 1 in 2; for women, it’s a little more than 1 in 3.4

There are many causes of cancer, from certain bacteria in your mouth to viruses, environmental chemicals, radiation and more. In 2010, researchers studied hundreds of Egyptian mummies along with literary evidence for ancient Greece and medical studies of human and animal remains dating back to the age of the dinosaurs.5

They found evidence of cancer is extremely rare in history and instead is a modern, man-made disease, noting:6

In industrialized societies, cancer is second only to cardiovascular disease as a cause of death. But in ancient times, it was extremely rare. There is nothing in the natural environment that can cause cancer. So it has to be a man-made disease, down to pollution and changes to our diet and lifestyle.”

What’s important to remember is that many cases of cancer can be prevented, which means you are empowered to take control of your health. Even the American Cancer Society states:7

“A substantial proportion of cancers could be prevented. All cancers caused by tobacco use and heavy alcohol consumption could be prevented completely…

In addition, the World Cancer Research Fund has estimated that up to one-third of the cancer cases that occur in economically developed countries like the US are related to overweight or obesity, physical inactivity, and/or poor nutrition, and thus could also be prevented.”

Cancer Rates Predicted to Rise by Nearly 60 Percent in the Next 20 Years

The 2014 World Cancer Report issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) predicted worldwide cancer rates to rise by 57 percent in the next two decades.8

The report refers to the prediction as “an imminent human disaster,” noting countries around the world need to renew their focus on prevention rather than treatment only. Christopher Wild, director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer told CNN:9

“We cannot treat our way out of the cancer problem. More commitment to prevention and early detection is desperately needed in order to complement improved treatments and address the alarming rise in cancer burden globally.”

Besides the death toll, there’s also the financial cost of treating cancer. According to the report, the worldwide cost for cancer treatment was estimated at $1.16 trillion in 2010. But again the report noted that about half of all cancers were preventable and could have been avoided if “current medical knowledge was acted upon.” This includes promoting preventive lifestyle strategies such as:

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Quitting smoking
  • Reducing alcohol consumption

Does Sugar Fuel Cancer?

There is quite a bit of truth behind the old adage that sugar feeds cancer. According to one study, older women who drink a lot of soda or other sugary beverages may be at significantly increased risk for endometrial cancer—an estrogen-dependent type of cancer that affects the lining of a woman’s uterus.10 Previous research has also shown that dietary fructose can promote cancer growth in a number of different ways, including:

  • Altered cellular metabolism
  • Increased reactive oxygen species (free radicals)
  • DNA damage
  • Inflammation

In 2010, researchers also published findings showing that fructose is readily used by cancer cells to increase their proliferation.11 Cancer cells did not respond to glucose in the same manner. In this case, the cancer cells used were pancreatic cancer, which is typically regarded as the most deadly and universally rapid-killing form of cancer. According to the authors:

” … fructose intake has increased dramatically in recent decades and cellular uptake of glucose and fructose uses distinct transporters. Here, we report that fructose provides an alternative substrate to induce pancreatic cancer cell proliferation. Importantly, fructose and glucose metabolism are quite different; in comparison with glucose, fructose… is preferentially metabolized via the nonoxidative pentose phosphate pathway to synthesize nucleic acids and increase uric acid production.

These findings show that cancer cells can readily metabolize fructose to increase proliferation. They have major significance for cancer patients given dietary refined fructose consumption, and indicate that efforts to reduce refined fructose intake or inhibit fructose-mediated actions may disrupt cancer growth.”

In other words, they found that tumor cells do thrive on sugar (glucose). However, the cells used fructose for cell division, speeding up the growth and spread of the cancer. This difference is clearly of major consequence, and should be carefully considered by anyone who is currently undergoing cancer treatment or seeking to prevent cancer, particularly by avoiding the consumption of fructose-containing processed foods and beverages.

Exercise Is Another Key Player

Mounting evidence continues to show that exercise may be a key component in successful cancer prevention and treatment. Studies have also found that it can help keep cancer from recurring, so it’s really a triple-win. Yet not surprisingly few oncologists ever tell their patients to engage in exercise beyond their simple daily, normal activities, and many cancer patients are reluctant to exercise, or even discuss it with their oncologist.

Research presented at the 2013 International Liver Congress, for instance, found that mice who exercised on a motorized treadmill for an hour each day, five days a week for 32 weeks, experienced fewer incidents of liver cancer than sedentary mice.12 A report issued by the British organization Macmillan Cancer Support also argued that exercise really should be part of standard cancer care. It recommended that all patients getting cancer treatment should be told to engage in moderate-intensity exercise for two and a half hours every week, stating that the advice to rest and take it easy after treatment is an outdated view.13

Research has even shown that breast and colon cancer patients who exercise regularly have half the recurrence rate than non-exercisers. Macmillan Cancer Support also notes that exercise can help you to mitigate some of the common side effects of conventional cancer treatment, including:14

Reduce fatigue and improve your energy levels Manage stress, anxiety, low mood or depression Improve bone health
Improve heart health (some chemotherapy drugs and radiotherapy can cause heart problems later in life) Build muscle strength, relieve pain and improve range of movement Maintain a healthy weight
Sleep better Improve your appetite

I would strongly recommend you read up on my Peak Fitness program, which includes high-intensity interval training exercises that can reduce your exercise time while actually increasing your benefits. Now, if you have cancer or any other chronic disease, you will of course need to tailor your exercise routine to your individual circumstances, taking into account your fitness level and current health.

Often, you will be able to take part in a regular exercise program — one that involves a variety of exercises like strength training, core-building, stretching, aerobic and anaerobic — with very little changes necessary. However, at times you may find you need to exercise at a lower intensity, or for shorter durations.

My Top 12 Cancer Prevention Strategies

There is so much you can do to lower your risk for cancer, but please don’t wait until you get the diagnosis—you have to take preventative steps now. It’s much easier to prevent cancer than to treat it once it takes hold. I believe you can virtually eliminate your risk of cancer and chronic disease, and radically improve your chances of recovering from cancer if you currently have it, by following these relatively simple strategies.

  1. Food Preparation: Eat at least one-third of your food raw. Avoid frying or charbroiling; boil, poach or steam your foods instead. Consider adding cancer-fighting whole foods, herbs, spices and supplements to your diet, such as broccoli, blueberries and resveratrol. To learn more about how these anti-angiogenetic foods fight cancer, please see our previous article: “Dramatically Effective New Natural Way to Starve Cancer and Obesity.”
  2. Carbohydrates and Sugar: Reduce or eliminate processed foods, sugar/fructose and grain-based foods from your diet. This applies to whole unprocessed organic grains as well, as they tend to rapidly break down and drive up your insulin level. The evidence is quite clear that if you want to avoid cancer, or you currently have cancer, you absolutely MUST avoid all forms of sugar, especially fructose, which feeds cancer cells and promotes their growth. Make sure your total fructose intake is around 25 grams daily, including fruit.
  3. Protein and Fat: Consider reducing your protein levels to one gram per kilogram of lean body weight. It would be unusual for most adults to need more than 100 grams of protein and most likely close to half of that amount. Replace excess protein with high-quality fats, such as organic eggs from pastured hens, high-quality grass-fed meats, raw pastured butter, avocados, and coconut oil.
  4. GMOs: Avoid genetically engineered foods as they are typically treated with herbicides such as Roundup (glyphosate), and likely to be carcinogenic. A French research team that has extensively studied Roundup concluded it’s toxic to human cells, and likely carcinogenic to humans. Choose fresh, organic, preferably locally grown foods.
  5. Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats: Normalize your ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats by taking a high-quality krill oil and reducing your intake of processed vegetable oils.
  6. Natural Probiotics: Optimizing your gut flora will reduce inflammation and strengthen your immune response. Researchers have found a microbe-dependent mechanism through which some cancers mount an inflammatory response that fuels their development and growth. They suggest that inhibiting inflammatory cytokines might slow cancer progression and improve the response to chemotherapy. Adding naturally fermented food, including fermented vegetables, to your daily diet is an easy way to prevent cancer or speed recovery. You can always add a high-quality probiotic supplement as well, but naturally fermented foods are the best.
  7. Exercise: Exercise lowers insulin levels, which creates a low sugar environment that discourages the growth and spread of cancer cells. In a three-month study, exercise was found to alter immune cells into a more potent disease-fighting form in cancer survivors who had just completed chemotherapy. Researchers and cancer organizations increasingly recommend making regular exercise a priority in order to reduce your risk of cancer and help improve cancer outcomes. Research has also found evidence suggesting exercise can help trigger apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells.
  8. Ideally, your exercise program should include balance, strength, flexibility, high intensity interval training (HIIT). For help getting started, refer to my Peak Fitness Program.

  9. Vitamin D: There is scientific evidence you can decrease your risk of cancer by more than half simply by optimizing your vitamin D levels with appropriate sun exposure. Your serum level should hold steady at 50-70 ng/ml, but if you are being treated for cancer, it should be closer to 80-90 ng/ml for optimal benefit. If you take oral vitamin D and have cancer, it would be very prudent to monitor your vitamin D blood levels regularly, as well as supplementing your vitamin K2, as K2 deficiency is actually what produces the symptoms of vitamin D toxicity.
  10. Sleep: Make sure you are getting enough restorative sleep. Poor sleep can interfere with your melatonin production, which is associated with an increased risk of insulin resistance and weight gain, both of which contribute to cancer’s virility.
  11. Exposure to Toxins: Reduce your exposure to environmental toxins like pesticides, herbicides, household chemical cleaners, plastics chemicals, synthetic air fresheners and toxic cosmetics.
  12. Exposure to Radiation: Limit your exposure and protect yourself from radiation produced by cell phones, towers, base stations, and Wi-Fi stations, as well as minimizing your exposure from radiation-based medical scans, including dental x-rays, CT scans, and mammograms.
  13. Stress Management: Stress from all causes is a major contributor to disease. It is likely that stress and unresolved emotional issues may be more important than the physical ones, so make sure this is addressed. My favorite tool for resolving emotional challenges is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).

Have You Been Diagnosed With Cancer?

One of the most essential strategies I know of to treat cancer is to starve the cells by depriving them of their food source. Unlike your body cells, which can burn carbs or fat for fuel, cancer cells have lost that metabolic flexibility. Dr. Otto Warburg was actually given a Nobel Prize over 75 years ago for figuring this out but virtually no oncologist actually uses this information. You can review my recent interview with Dr. D’Agostino below for more details but integrating a ketogenic diet with hyperbaric oxygen therapy is deadly to cancer cells. It debilitates them by starving them of their fuel source. This would be the strategy I would recommend to my family if they were diagnosed with cancer.

Download Interview Transcript


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