January 15, 2018

454 Global Warming Effects [15 Jan 2018]

Last week I showed that global warming is more serious than mainstream news has led us to believe, and that it may even be taking us into another major extinction event. Three July 2017 New York magazine articles by David Wallace-Wells describe how an increase in global CO2 and temperature will affect life on Earth over the next few centuries.

The most obvious effect is that the Earth will get hotter. A large portion of the tropics including most of Australia will become uninhabitable and people in temperate areas such as the USA and Europe will suffer significant heat stress. Wallace-Wells predicts “the deadly European heat wave of 2003 which killed as many as 2,000 people a day will [at 4 oC warmer] be a normal summer.” Kidney failure from heat stress is already killing El Salvador sugar cane workers that were unaffected only a few decades ago.

Food production will be greatly affected. The ideal grain growing climate of the American and Canadian prairies will move north into the rocky Canadian Shield. Severe drought will limit or prevent food production over much of the currently inhabited world. Much of the best arable land along the coasts will be under water or damaged by salinity from groundwater contamination and storm surges.

Tropical diseases such as malaria will spread poleward from the tropics.

As the atmosphere warms, ozone levels rise adding to air pollution. Oxygen will be depleted as forests die off from drought and wildfires. The Amazon produces 20% of Earth’s oxygen and has already experienced two “100 year” droughts since 2000. At some point the air will become unbreathable.

Damage from extreme weather events like hurricanes, tornadoes and wild fires will increase. We are already seeing stronger and more frequent hurricanes.

The ocean is predicted to rise between 4 and 10 feet by the end of the century, displacing at least 600 million people. The oceans absorb about a third of the carbon from the air causing the water to become acidic and oxygen-depleted, killing coral reefs, fish and other marine life.

Armed conflict will undoubtedly increase. Migration out of flooded and drought-stricken areas will dwarf the 65 million currently displaced by war and genocide. Conflicts over dwindling land, water and food is inevitable.

Economic recession will follow from the loss of agricultural production, loss of flooded infrastructure, destruction from storms and fires, increased war and crime, shorter lifespans, and increased mortality. Economists predict a greater than 50% chance that global GDP will drop 20% by 2100 and a 12% chance it will drop 50%.

Our grandchildren will grow up in a much different world than we did.

Sources for further reading:
New York magazine articles from July 2017
The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells
The Models are Too Conservative - interview with Peter Douglas Ward
The Worst Case Scenario - interview with Wallace Smith Broecker (the man who coined the term "Global Warming")
NASA Climate Data
The Sixth Extinction - An Unnatural History - Elizabeth Kolbert
The Flooded Earth - Peter Douglas Ward

January 8, 2018

453 Global Warming [8 Jan 2018]

In January in Saskatchewan we often hear "Global warming? Bring it on!". But do we really know what we're joking about?

Like most of you, I suspect, I considered global warming (or climate change as it is now called) to be a distant possible problem that would affect future generations to some degree. A few coastal cities would be flooded, hurricanes become stronger and more frequent, alternate droughts and floods become more common and more severe. Then I read “The Uninhabitable Earth” by David Wallace-Wells (nymag.com, July 2017) which opened my eyes to the full potential scale and impact of global warming.

In my December 18 column [#451] I described how rising CO2 is reducing the nutritional content of crops. This effect, in the long term, pales in significance.

The current atmospheric CO2 level of 407 ppm is the highest in the last 800,000 years. During the warm periods between the last four ice ages the CO2 level never reached more than 300. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution man has added 365 billion tonnes of carbon from burning fossil fuels, and deforestation has added another 180 billion. And it’s going to keep rising at a faster and faster rate. There are 1.8 trillion tonnes of carbon in the arctic permafrost waiting to be released when it melts. Other factors that will accelerate the rate of warming include the albedo effect (less ice and snow to reflect heat); the die off of forests and grasslands (which extract carbon from the atmosphere); and increased cloud cover (which traps more heat).

What does this mean in terms of global temperature?

The low end of the projections predict a 2 oC rise (the goal of the Paris Climate Accords, which is unlikely to be achieved). This will be enough to flood low coastal cities and countries like Miami and Bangladesh. The upper end could be as high as 8 oC. Even the median projection of a 5 oC rise will have catastrophic effects.

There have been five major extinctions in the history of life on Earth. The most recent at 66 million years ago (mya) which wiped out the dinosaurs was caused by an asteroid impact. The other four were caused by climate change – sudden rising or cooling of Earth’s temperature. The most severe, called the Permian-Triassic, occurred 251 mya, triggered by a massive volcanic eruption in Siberia. The Earth warmed by 5 oC resulting in the loss of 96% of its species.

So the current warming trend means more than just milder winters in Saskatchewan and the flooding of a few cities or even an extra-long or extra warm interglacial period. It could mean the beginning of Earth’s sixth major extinction event.

January 1, 2018

452 Adrenal Fatigue [1 Jan 2018]

This is the first column of 2018 and the beginning of my last year – I plan to retire this column at #500 sometime next December.

In March 2015 [#311] I discussed the three stages of adrenal fatigue: wired & tired; stressed & tired; and burned out. In #312 I listed the 9 healing steps used by Dr Robin Berzin in her practice with patients with adrenal fatigue. I reviewed this information in August 2016 [#380]. This week I will share new information from Dr. Philip Rouchota’s naturopathic practice.

Philip begins by cautioning that there is not a lot of scientific research on the topic as mainstream medicine does not recognize adrenal fatigue as a real condition. This is puzzling to me because diabetes is well recognized as the pancreas’ inability to produce sufficient insulin, and hypothyroidism as the thyroid’s inability to produce sufficient thyroid hormones. Adrenal fatigue is simply the inability of the adrenal glands to produce sufficient cortisol, with predictable signs and symptoms.

There is a lab test for it, called Adrenal Stress Index, but this is costly so practitioners usually rely on clinical presentation including: high level of stress, extreme fatigue, afternoon crash, awake feeling unrested, and overuse of caffeine.

Mental health issues like depression, anxiety and insomnia frequently occur along with AF. Dr. Rouchota treats these first, which usually clear in 3 months, before addressing the remaining fatigue. AF is slow to resolve, often taking 4-6 months to see any improvement.

The treatment for AF is the same for all stages and the goal is the same – to normalize cortisol production. Dr. Rouchota’s protocol includes:
• Mediterranean diet
• Meditation breathing – shown in studies to normalize cortisol and reduce anxiety
• A good multi or B complex
• Adrenal glandular concentrate
• Cordyceps mushroom extract
• Adaptogen herbs such as Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Astragalus, Passionflower
• L-theanine – relieves stress and relaxes without drowsiness
• Melatonin – to ensure sufficient quality sleep

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

December 18, 2017

451 CO2 & Plant Nutrients [18 Dec 2017]

Irakli Loladze, an American mathematician with an interest in biology, discovered a previously unsuspected effect of rising carbon dioxide levels. As atmospheric CO2 rises, plant growth and carbohydrate (mostly sugars) content increase, while the protein and mineral contents decrease.

It was well known that nutrient content of food crops had dropped significantly in the last 50 years – a USDA study published in 2004 showed changes in nutrient levels of 43 garden crops from 1950 to 1999. But these changes were attributed to breeding of new crop varieties for yield [and taste] rather than nutrient content.

Loladze demonstrated that in addition to crop breeding, rising CO2 levels also played a role in the observed nutrient losses. As CO2 levels rise, photosynthesis speeds up, increasing carbohydrate production at the expense of protein and nutrients like vitamins and minerals. In experiments with cereal grains and potatoes, increased CO2 resulted in reductions in protein, calcium, potassium, zinc and iron. These changes are predicted to put millions of people at risk of dietary deficiencies. There is also concern that the increased sugar content of plant foods will contribute to the rising epidemics of obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

To eliminate the plant breeding factor, pollen samples from wild goldenrod plants dating back to before the industrial revolution were tested, and found to have declining protein content with rising CO2 levels.

Two large studies were published in 2014 which supported the theory of a rising carbohydrate to minerals ratio. Samuel Myers, a climate researcher at Harvard University, and his team published a study in Nature which showed that protein, iron and zinc dropped in key crops grown in Japan, Australia and the United States. On the same day Loladze published the results of 15 years of data on samples from 130 varieties of plants, showing that minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron were reduced, on average by 8%.

That 8% may not seem significant but it will grow as CO2 levels continue to climb through the rest of this century. It is just one more effect to consider along with all the other effects of climate change. Still, in my opinion, this nutrient loss is overshadowed by the deliberate reduction of nutrients in food processing in order to make our food tastier, more convenient, and cheaper.

Source: The great nutrient collapse, by Helena Bottemiller Evich, The Agenda, www.politico.com, 2017

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

December 11, 2017

450 PCOS [11 December 2017]

PCOS, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, is a common cause of infertility in women. PCOS is a metabolic condition in which there is an excess of estrogen and androgens (male hormones) leading to a variety of symptoms: irregular or absent ovulation, a higher risk of miscarriage, hair loss (male pattern baldness), excess facial hair, acne, fatigue, and mood swings. Conditions frequently associated with PCOS include: insulin resistance, hyperinsulinism, diabetes, weight gain, and hypertension. PCOS is the most common hormone dysfunction of women of reproductive age, affecting an estimated 10% of women.

PCOS is believed to begin with a diet high in simple carbohydrates which leads to insulin resistance and hyperinsulinism. High levels of insulin activate the androgen receptors on the ovaries which causes an increase in male hormones. The male hormones prevent the mature egg follicle from releasing the egg during ovulation, causing infertility. Normally the follicle releases the egg and then attaches as a corpus luteum which triggers production of high amounts of progesterone as a normal part of the ovulatory cycle. When the egg is not released, the follicle attaches to the ovary as a “cyst”, and little if any progesterone is produced. The lack of progesterone leaves estrogen dominant which thickens the uterus and increases the risk of endometrial cancer.

The most important approach to treating PCOS is to deal with the insulin resistance, hyperinsulinism, and excess weight. With high insulin levels, a ketogenic diet is the easiest and safest way to shed the excess fat and eliminate insulin resistance. This should be followed by a healthy diet low in simple carbohydrates, sufficient exercise, stress reduction, and a detox program to support the liver and help it clear the excess hormones. Often this is enough to normalize hormones and restore fertility.

A nutrient that shows promise in treating PCOS is di-chiro-inositol or DCI (trade name ChirositolTM). Studies show that DCI normalizes insulin levels, reducing them when too high but doesn’t take them too low. It also elevates serotonin which reduces sugar cravings. According to the Lorna Vanderhaeghe website (which markets a ChirositolTM product, GlucoSmart), DCI “effectively reduces excess male hormones, reduces weight and appetite, and normalizes ovulation, thereby improving fertility” [www.healthyimmunity.com]. Note a 2011 review in Gynecol. Endrocrinol found the studies to date of insufficient quality for reliable conclusions regarding DCI as a treatment for PCOS.

John Lee MD Medical Letter July 1999, quoted in Mercola.com 2 Jan 2008

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

December 4, 2017

449 Medicinal Mushrooms [4 Dec 2017]

Medicinal mushrooms are commonly used in Japan (hence the Japanese names for many of them) but are underutilized in North America, mostly I think due to lack of awareness. Most of the research, including many human studies, have been done in China and Japan. I didn’t know much about them until I participated in a webinar on the topic by Dr. Philip Rouchotas.

The active ingredients in the mushrooms are various polysaccharides which are protected in the mushrooms by a chitin cell wall. Hot water or steam extraction works best to release the polysaccharides.

Coriolus, Reishi, Maitake, Shiitake and Chaga all have similar medicinal properties. Their most important role is assisting with advanced cancer treatment, taken along with chemotherapy and radiation. These mushrooms have been used in Japan for this purpose for over 30 years. Studies have shown that they:

• Stimulate activity of NK (Natural Killer) white blood cells to attack cancer cells
• Protect Neutrophils from destruction by chemo, allowing treatment to continue (if neutrophil count gets too low chemo treatment has be to stopped)
• Reduce side effects of chemo and radiation therapy including fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, and insomnia
• Help maintain body weight during cancer treatment
• Increase length of remission and survival rates from cancer treatment

These five mushrooms also have anti-viral properties and have been shown in human trials to be effective with HIV, HPV and other viral, fungal and bacterial infections. They also help with conditions of severe fatigue like Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Cordyceps is another well studied mushroom, highly valued by the Chinese. An important use is in treating adrenal fatigue by balancing cortisol production. It improves symptoms of respiratory conditions including COPD. Cordyceps improves cardio-pulmonary function in elderly people, increasing their stamina.

Lion’s Mane is known as the “brain mushroom” because it stimulates nerve growth. It’s main use is with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and MS. Animal studies show that it increases growth of myelin making it a promising treatment for MS. Dr. Rouchotas considers it to be the most important supplement in treatment of brain injury such as concussion, along with fish oil, CoQ10 and Acetyl-L-Carnitine.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

November 27, 2017

448 Fit and Fat? [27 Nov 2017]

Studies on the relative risks of weight and exercise have suggested that being fit is more important than not being fat. A recent study from Britain, however, shows that even healthy obese people should not become complacent about their weight.

The study examined the electronic health records of 3.5 million adults in England (making it the largest study of its kind) that were initially free of heart disease, and followed them from 1995 to 2015. The study classified the patients by BMI (a ratio of weight to height) and recorded three metabolic abnormalities – diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol). They were then followed and monitored for three cardiovascular diseases (CVD) – coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease (stroke), or peripheral vascular disease.

As expected, within each weight category, those with one or more metabolic abnormalities had a higher risk of heart disease. And, not too unexpectedly, for those with the same abnormalities, the obese had a higher risk of CVD than those with normal weight. This held true for those with no metabolic abnormalities – the obese had a 49% increased risk of coronary heart disease, an insignificant 7% increased risk of stroke, and 96% increased risk (nearly double) of heart failure. Even those in the moderate “overweight” class had a 30% higher risk of coronary heart disease.

An earlier (2013) review and meta-analysis found a similar pattern. Compared to the metabolically healthy normal weight group, the metabolically health obese group had a 24% higher risk of having a cardiovascular event. All weight groups that were metabolically unhealthy had much higher risks, from 265 to 312% higher.

What this means is that even with no signs of diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, being overweight puts you at a much higher risk of heart disease. But having diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol increases your risk much, much, more.

As I have explained previously [#082], high blood insulin levels not only promote weight gain (and make weight loss next to impossible) [#065] but can also lead to diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure) [#084] and dyslipidemia (high cholesterol) [#083] – the three main risk factors for heart disease. The medically designed ketogenic diet we use at our weight loss clinic lowers insulin which makes losing weight much easier and at the same time normalizes blood sugar, blood pressure and lipids. We have had dieters who, after losing significant weight, were able to go off their blood pressure and diabetic meds.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.