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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

PANAMA -- Chapter II: The Interior

PANAMA – Chapter II

In my writings about Panama I will tell it like it is. Perhaps, readers or Panamanians might be offended, but the truth is the truth, no matter how the pie is sliced. In order to appreciate people’s culture, the totality of the culture must be considered – the how and the why’s of how live the way they do. It is not for anyone to judge, but only to appreciate the great varieties of cultures existing on this planet we call Earth.

THE INTERIOR

There is an area here in Panama the Panamanians refer to as “El Interior” – The Interior. It is the area known as the Herrera State in the Azuera Peninsular. As one looks at a map of Panama it is a large protrusion to the south of the narrow elongated country of Panama.

I had the unique opportunity to visit this area because of very personal reasons and, since I now travel there very often, I am getting to know the people and their customs. I am sure there are people of wealth in the area but I will describe my associations with common, quite frequently very poor, people living there.

While on my first visit, I sat under a thatched roof shack writing the following in pencil because I had not had access to my computer:

“The Interior of Panama: First Day:

You can never believe the poverty. I left Panama City Friday afternoon with my future wife and several of her family living in Arraijan: her sister, aunt, nephew, and niece. We traveled by car deep into The Interior of Herrera. After we left the well-constructed Autopista highway we traveled along secondary roads with more pot holes than Swiss Cheese.

I suspect that the state does not closely monitor the quality of materials used in the construction of these secondary roads. As in the US and probably every where in the world, contractors will use sub standard materials to make more profits. Consider the tunnel collapse in Boston in 2005, and perhaps the bridge collapse in Minneapolis in August 2007. This latter may well have been due to poor bridge upkeep than to poor materials in the original construction.

It is inconceivable to me that when a bridge is partly anchored along the sides of a muddy river – the Mississippi has been called “The Great Muddy” for years – there is not sufficient care in inspecting the anchorage as logic would indicate would slowly erode in time.

Back to traveling to Herrera which all in Panama City refer to as “The Interior.” Although the roads are fair to mediocre, the countryside is most beautiful. I was told by my broker to expect to be reminded of Tuscany. But, although the hills and valleys might be similar, the vegetation is not. As I remember, Tuscany is dry in the summer and cold in the winter, but not cold enough not to support the growth of olives and figs. Here in Panama, it is dry only in the “dry season” from late December to April and wet during the “wet season” from May to December, warm to hot most all year long, and humid, more during the rainy season.

But as I already said, the terrain of Herrera is mountainous, the climate is warm to hot during the day, an occasional downpour because we are in the middle of the rainy season, and quite cool at night because of the altitude. One can sleep without AC. Best of all the air is fresh and pure. One’s health would be great here.

But let me say a few words about the poverty. I have never seen such poverty, probably except for my one visit to India. At the place where I was staying there were 5-8 people, living in a small house, 30 X 30 with a kitchen and living area and two bedrooms. I was offered one of the bedrooms; the other was shared by 7 people – 3 adults, and a 16, 13, 8, and 4 year olds.

The kitchen had a small 4-burner butane stove with an oven. The butane tank was inside the house next to the stove. I went to a local (18 Kilometers away) supply store and bought two 2 X 20 X 20 inch cement slabs so that the butane tank could be situated outside the house for safety purposes. Inside the house there was the potential of harmful gas leaks and explosion. Two months later, the tanks were still inside the house.

There was no electricity, light only by candles and flashlight and a battery radio. I slept on one of the beds, the mattress consisting of coiled wire springs with a flimsy sheet on top. Believe me when I say it was quite an experience with the springs digging into my body all night, but I slept because I was tired and also because the air was so fresh and energizing. On my next trip I purchased two air mattresses which improved the quality of sleeping. One of the mattresses sprung a leak later that week because two fat female relatives thought it was fun jumping up and down on the mattress which are designed to take such abuse. Oh well, this is life in The Interior!

The first night I got so sick with what I believed to be intestinal flu. I do not think it was something I ate because I ate only a whole fried fish with something like cole slaw, rice and lentils. Maybe it was the mayo-like dressing on the cole slaw. At the end of dinner I needed to go to the bathroom and the country restaurant had no toilet. The owner directed me to the outside and pointed to a palm tree. He directed me to urinate there at the base of the tree in full view of people across the street sitting on the porch of their house probably no more than 35 feet away. I did what I was told. (Two weeks later when I returned to town, the palm tree was not there any longer. I hope I did not kill it!)

As I said I was sick throughout the night with explosive diarrhea. I did not know where the toilet was, if there even was one. I went outside on the ground in the pitch dark. Luckily I found some toilet paper. I made a mess outside. The following day the entire household saw my mess, but they took everything in stride and buried my mess beneath the ground. I was so embarrassed. But, as I said they took all in stride. I was not used to such down-to-earth non assuming honest people. But they were poor.

Third Day:

On my third day they decided I needed a shower. They all bathe in cold water. But here I draw the line. I will NOT bathe in cold water. So they prepared me a bucket of lukewarm water, and in a small protected 6 feet square outside cabana , I took my bath with soap and a small bowel to pour the water over me.. This experience reminded me of the TV sitcom many years ago, I think it might have been “The Dukes of Hazzard,” where the buxom beautiful young girls bathed in the water tank of the local train depot. Then I shaved using a 4 X 6 inch mirror. I will never forget my first bath in Herrera. I did feel cleaner after, but I longed for the showering facilities back in my apartment in Panama City.

After taking my shower, having a beautiful young (sic) lady dry you off with a towel and putting on your briefs, pans, shirt, socks, and shoes is like dying and going to heaven. It surely is turning out to be a remarkable journey into The Interior of Panama!

The previous evening I took the entire family of 5 to the local town where there was a celebration for the Festival of the Queen. I was tired and could not walk anymore so I went home leaving my young future bride at the festival surrounded by all those young Panamanian Turks. She promised she would be good and return home at 7:30 about two hours later.

I returned to the house. My internal alarm clock awoke me. It was 7:30 but no fiancé. Then came 9:30, 10:30, 11:30, and finally at 12:30 she arrived home having walked the entire 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the town because there were no taxis. I was upset at myself for having left her with all those Panamanian “young Turks” back at the fiesta. But, did she have a tale to tell!

Well, it so happened that one of her cousins got into a fight and was arrested for disturbing the peace. Trying to defend him, my fiancee almost got maced herself by the police until she backed away. My fiancee was so apologetic that I easily forgave her for having to walk home was punishment enough. The following night got even worse. The following day they asked me to go to town to get their cousin out of jail. When we arrived, the jail was closed. We were told to returned later. Later, back at the house they asked me again to go to the jail. I refused telling them perhaps the cousin would act more civilized the next time, if he suffered more time in jail. The cousin arrived about 2 hours later at the house having made it there on his own.

On the following evening, one of the cousins met a young lady who before the night was over rolled him stealing his expensive gold watch, gold necklace, gold bracelet, and his hat. Luckily she left him with his boots. These people just do not realize the peril existing at such a festival. All the men are in a stuporous drunken state with a bottle of good Panamanian rum in one hand. At such festivals, there are other individuals – a woman in the case of the cousin – who are not so drunk watching for the next person to roll. Easy targets like that and their money and valuables are easily parted. He learned his lesson. Considering the money he makes, it will take him a year or more to replace his valuables. He will be careful attending his next fiesta – I believe!

The rest of the weekend was uneventful. I returned to Panama City lusting for the modern bathroom facilities.

My next installment will be about the pig and cattle!

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com

COMPLICATED VS UNCOMPLICATED FOODS

COMPLICATED AND UNCOMPLICATED FOODS

Working with patients nutritionally prompts me to write this Blog on COMPLICATED VS UNCOMPLICATED Foods. When we deal with individuals with food and other allergies, we put them on an elimination diet which removes many foods eaten regularly. They are allowed many foods but are asked not to eat any particular food more than once every 3 - 4 days. Recently, we have attempted to evaluate the foods which are not removed from the diet and are allowed. I am now trying to ask my patients to try to eliminate foods I define as COMPLICATED.

Here is my argument: if we take you off milk and corn on our elimination diet, what is the significance of consuming a soup containing corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, whey protein, milk solids, etc. These particular food components are in almost every prepared canned food. Can you imagine that Cheerios, which is advertized as being “made of oats,” has wheat in it? This is important because our diet prohibits wheat and allows oats. But, if you desire to eat Cheerios, you might think you are eating oats when, in fact, you are consuming wheat additionally. In our experience many individuals are allergic to both wheat and milk. In order to overcome the allergy, they must COMPLETELY eliminate these items from their diet for, at least, a period of 4-6 weeks. Since I have emphasized the word COMPLETELY, this also means the elimination of these food components in other foods – foods I call COMPLICATED, because ostensibly complicated foods contain multiple food components other than what you might think is in there by the label.

Recently here in Panama, I bought a box of “Minute 3 Brand” Quick, cooks in one minute, Oats. The single ingredient was: 100% Rolled Oats from Ralston Foods. Now, this is an UNCOMPLICATED FOOD! But how many of such foods are on the shelves of your local supermarket?

I just went to my cupboard to check the ingredients of Kellogg’s “Komplete” cereal which is touted to be “Natural, Healthy, and Zero Cholesterol. As expected with a multi grain cereal, it contained: corn, wheat, rice, oats, a touch of soy, and honey. But what about the artificial colors: Red Dye #40; Blue Dye #2; and Yellow Dye #5. Pray tell what is so natural about these three artificial dyes? These three dyes from petroleum and coal tar (scary is it not?) are allowed in foods subject to batch certification. There is a class of dyes usually from natural sources allowed without batch certification.

“YELLOW MEANS CAUTION

Two categories make up FDA's list of permitted colors: those the agency certifies by batch (derived primarily from petroleum and coal sources) and ones exempt from batch certification (obtained largely from plant, animal, or mineral sources--fruit juice, carmine, and titanium dioxide, for example). Colors found to be potentially hazardous have been purged from the list of permissible additives. What remains is a wide color spectrum approved for use in foods, over-the-counter and prescription drugs, cosmetics, or in medical devices such as surgical sutures and contact lenses.

Though these colors have a good safety record, one commonly used additive reportedly has prompted minor adverse reactions in some people. It is FD&C Yellow No. 5, listed as tartrazine on medicine labels, a color found widely in beverages, desserts, processed vegetables, drugs, makeup, and many other products. FDA certifies more than 2 million pounds of it yearly.

In 1986, an FDA advisory committee concluded that Yellow No. 5 may cause itching or hives in a small population sub-group. This kind of skin reaction usually is not a serious one, says Linda Tollefson, D.V.M., an FDA epidemiologist "Reactions are classified as hypersensitive and are not true allergic reactions, which would be more severe."

Nonetheless, since 1980 (for drugs) and 1981 (for foods), FDA has required all products containing Yellow No. 5 to list the color on their labels so consumers sensitive to the dye can avoid it. (As of May 8, 1993, labels must list all certified colors as part of the requirements of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990.)”


Portions of this information by John Henkel originally appeared in the December 1993 FDA Consumer magazine.
http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/col-221.html

So when we place our patients on our special diet to help determine food and other allergies and to overcome drug (both so-called “HARD” and prescription) we ask them to follow our SPECIAL diet letter-by-letter. We now caution against the eating of COMPLICATED foods. In this business, we MUST begin to read labels and take nothing for granted.

It is my opinion that most cannot eat the same foods everyday without eventually developing allergies or sensitivities to them. With respect to milk that might be another situation where the infant baby is fed cow’s milk and formulas made with cow’s milk so early in life that the infant’s immature digestive system allows the foreign cow’s protein to enter the blood stream undigested setting the baby up to develop sensitivity reactions later. My Treatise on “Milk Allergy and Sensitivity” soon to be available in our web site’s Order Online Bookstore.

If you have a nutritionally related health condition, or, if you are addicted to drugs (prescription or otherwise) and wish to get off of them, Email me. We might be able to help you.

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com

Sunday, October 28, 2007

PANAMA -- Chapter I

PANAMA: Chapter I

The subject of this Blog is simply: PANAMA. It is the first installment of a series of articles on life as an expatriate (expat) in Panama. I would like to share with my loyal readers how much better my life has been since relocating to Panama. The lifestyle is basically much slower than it is in the US. As a result it is considerably less stressful. That is not to say that, if you desired a faster nightclub-style lifestyle, you could not find it here. You can. But most individuals, the so-called “expat” who come here want to leave behind the stress and fast paced life they experienced in their native homeland. Do not believe all the expats are from the United States. Since moving here to Panama I have met individuals from the US, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, and others. They are all looking for a country who is friendly to foreign-born people, a country with comfortable weather, a place with friendly natives, and a country which is affordable – all found here in Panama.

Panama does have its down sides, but by and large, the up sides far outnumber the down. I will describe Panama as I see it with the up- and down-sides. You can make your own decision. But, my readers know that I am a tell-it-like-I-see-it-kind-of-guy.

You do not need to be rich to move here. In fact, I have met many retirees from other nations who are unable to live in their native countries because it is too expensive. If you fulfill the qualifications of being considered a retiree with a pension you can live here as a so-called “Pensionado.” The benefits awarded a Pensionado are numerous. I will describe the program briefly here.

Panama's pensionado program

Once you become a resident "pensioner" of Panama under the Tourist Pensionado Visa, you are eligible for the most appealing program of benefits for retirees available anywhere in the world right now.
Now, you may be thinking: "Pensioner? Retiree? That leaves me out." Not necessarily. The rules for becoming a "pensioner" and qualifying for this visa program in Panama are probably not what you'd expect.
At one time, anyone over the age of 18 could apply and qualify as a pensionado in Panama. But because of abuses, requirements have recently changed. Women are eligible at age 68 and men at 62. All you need is a guaranteed pension income of $500 per month ($600 for a couple). It must be a pension from a government agency (e.g. Social Security, disability, armed forces, etc.) or a defined-benefit pension from a notable company such as IBM or AT&T. Sorry, but an immediate, fixed annuity doesn't qualify.

As a qualified pensioner in Panama, you would be entitled to:
* 50% off entertainment anywhere in the country (movies, theaters, concerts, sporting events, etc.)
* 30% off bus, boat, and train fares
* 25% off airline tickets
* 50% off hotel stays Monday through Thursday, 30% off Friday through Sunday
* 25% off restaurant meals
* 15% off at fast-food restaurants
* 15% off hospital bills (if no insurance applies)
* 10% off prescription medicines
* 20% off doctors' consultations
* 15% off dental and eye exams
* 20% off professional and technical services
* 50% off closing costs for home loans and more

This is an impressive list of benefits. Additionally, a visit to a private clinic can cost about $7.00 for a doctor’s examination. Shortly after moving here I went to a private clinic – I emphasize private because it is like any doctor’s office in the US. I was examined by a competent physician – and being a physician myself, I am qualified to make such a judgment – had two chest ex-rays, and laboratory work. The total bill was $45.00. Why back in the US with insurance I would have paid as much just for the out-of-pocket co-pays. The total bill in the US for which insurance would have to pay, if you had insurance, would have been over $600.00: 60-90 for a doctor’s exam; several hundred dollars for the two x-rays and with a radiologist report, and another several hundred dollars for the laboratory tests. I am not saying one should not consider health insurance here in Panama. Adequate health insurance at an extremely affordable rate can be purchased to cover catastrophic-type illnesses.

The benefits of the Pensionado program is a great incentive for a person on a limited income.

This is not to say that only individuals with limited incomes come to Panama. Many well-to-do individuals also come to Panama to conserve their wealth and to buy property and enjoy a life style not available in their native countries.

To get a Pensionado Card, get a good lawyer. Nothing can be done in Panama without a lawyer. Lawyers can range in cost considerably, but if you contact me by email I can refer you to lawyers who are competent and reasonable. A lawyer can work you into the system and qualify you within a period of 10-14 days, a temporary Pensionado Card good for three months. After this period you will be issued a card which will say “Indefinido” which means indefinite, but your passport will be stamped for three years. After this period there will be an automatic renewal for 5 years, provided you are in good standing and without a criminal record here in Panama. It is all very simple and easy with a good lawyer.

Cars, taxis, and busses (The Red devils)

Although I am describing life in Panama as relaxed and casual, Panama can be as stressful as any other country if you wish to purchase and drive a car, especially in Panama City. Put a Panamanian behind the wheel of a car and they are transformed into Mr. Hyde’s. It took me about a year to understand the unwritten rules of the road which I will not share here. To know this most valuable information will have to cost you money! And the so-called “Red Devils” will test anyone’s endurance and patience while driving in Panama. The Red Devils are the busses which are everywhere. When I first came to Panama these Red Devils were everywhere, but I have noticed that now many are being painted blue, yellow, and white. But do not be confused. They are still Devils in masquerade. My advice is not to challenge these monsters. Parenthetically, I have recently developed a philosophy not to ever challenge two things here in Panama: the police who are also everywhere and the Red Devils – the police because they all carry “pistolas” and the Red Devils because they are bigger that I!

Joking aside, Besides driving in Panama, life is a joy here. I love the people because they are friendly and, believe it or not, they like Americans and other expats. It is refreshing to know this since in many other countries of the world, Americans are disliked – except, of course, their money which is liked everywhere.

If you decide to take a taxi, that is very affordable. To get to most places in the inner city would cost only a dollar and to get across town probably 1.75. Shortly after moving here I had to go to Philadelphia. A taxi from the train station to the building housing the Italian Consulate cost me $6.75. A similar trip in Panama would have cost $1.75.

The Food

Meals in a restaurant without the Pensionado discount are extremely affordable. In the city of Panama, breakfast can cost less than $2.00; their main meal which is consumed between noon and three can be in the range of $6-8.00. If you decide to eat your main meal in the evening, it can cost about the same. There are more expensive restaurants, some being as expensive as in the US. If you travel into the countryside not very far from Panama City, there are roadside eating places where a full meal can cost about $1.50. Pensionado discounts do not apply in these mom-and pop places. The food here is very basic: rice with lentils or beans, a small salad or cole slaw on the same plate, and a piece of meat such as chicken, beef, or pork.

In most Panamanian restaurants, the beef is should-I-say “hard as a rock.” Their major source of beef are from Brahman cows which eat grass which is quite often dry. These cattle are not grain-fed like in the US, and their meat reflects this. In some restaurants, you can get imported beef, sometime advertised as USDA Choice. Although US beef is more expensive, it is not nearly as expensive as in the US. Chicken is always tender. Pork can be tender, but quite often hard because of their tendency here to overcook all their meat until it is hard as wood. Having owned a 4-Star restaurant for twenty years in the US I might seem critical of the food here. But most food in Panama is fresh and can be prepared as you like it, if the proper instructions were to be given. The average Panamanian is a proud person who likes to help.

Just last night I brought into the restaurant of my hotel a 6 pound fish I bought at the Fish Supermarket on the docks. I paid 6.50 for the fish, gave it to the chef at the hotel who cooked it for me. The waitress brought me 6 large pieces of fish on a tray from which my friend and I ate one piece each. Then the waitress came again to bring me another 6 pieces. We had enough fish to feed 6 people. I gave a piece each to the chef, the two waitresses and, a taxi drive friend who was in the restaurant. I brought the rest to my apartment. My entire meal cost me 2.00 for the two orders of French Fries. My friend brought a bottle of Sauvignon Blank for which I was Not charged a “corkage fee.” Can life get any better than this?

As an aside, my health has improved considerably since moving to Panama. I attribute this to the food being more natural than in the US and, of course the lack of significant stress. The only stress I experience is when I need to contact individuals back in the US – something I must do only because of some unfinished business there. As soon as these challenges are resolved, I will have little need to continue these contacts and I can really enjoy my tropical Paradise – PANAMA.

The Police

As mentioned earlier, the police are everywhere, on almost every corner and frequently on the street. There are several types of police persons. First, there is the regular Traffic Cop who wears an orange vest. They are at almost every intersection sometimes directing traffic, sometimes not. They do not seem to want to look for traffic violators unless the infraction is severe, such as ignoring their hand signals. If they know you are a foreigner, they my stop you and give you a hard time, but they can be bought. I am sorry to say that here in Panama almost everybody can be bought.

I got stopped once on a highway doing 20 kilometers over the limit. The policeman said: “ tickete, tickete” which is not a Spanish word but he knew what he meant and so did I. I told the cop: “Io soy un estupido Americano, puedo pagar la tickete ahora?” – I know it should have been “Americano estupido” – (I am a stupid American, may I pay for the ticket now?” I was careful not to just offer him money which is the US would be considered a bribe. I just asked if I could pay for the ticket. His response was an expected “si.” I offered him $20, and he took it. You might consider this a bribe and in the US the shackles would be on your hands immediately. But let us analyze this another way. In the US you would have to hire a lawyer and you might be lucky to get away with spending $600. The $20 fee looks differently now. When one considers that a policeman here in Panama makes less than $300 a month, at least, you know your donation helped a Panamanian feed his family!

The second type of police is the National Policeman who wears a different darker uniform. Quite frequently, you might see two of them on a motor bike in the city both with pistols and one carrying a semi automatic rifle. Outside the city they are usually in well marked white cars. But they are also everywhere. An American friend, originally from Great Britain, but who had lived in the United States for many years – now notably another one of those Bush haters – was complaining to me about the ever present police. He was very disturbed about this. I told him to relax. “Why do you think it is so safe here” was my reply. And it is safe – usually. There are areas in Panama city which are not safe. If you attempt to enter these areas, people will stop you and tell you to leave because it is not safe. Sometimes it would be a policeman, other times it would be common people on the street. The bad elements stay within their territory and do not venture outside. Compare this to Baltimore or Washington, DC – two cities I know much about – where dangerous streets are almost contiguous with so-called safe streets, and where the dangerous people leave their areas for more lucrative victims in the relatively safe streets. Give me Panama any day.

Third, there is the presidential guard police who, as the name implies, guard the presidential consort. One will see many of these police in Casca Viejo, the old city of Panama where the Heron Presidential palace is.

Fourth, there are the private security guards hired by businesses such as banks, and hotels. At almost every bank there is a security guard who frequently opens the door for you, but he also may use his wand to check you out. I once entered the motor vehicle office with policemen at the door. He used his wand to check my entire body. The large pocket knife in my pocket was not detected. Back in the US it would have been confiscated. But here in Panama I can only assume that the volume was turned down in his device.

As a side note, I once took a small plane to one of the local islands. I forgot that I had my pocketknife. They confiscated it and gave me a receipt. When I arrived at the island, my pocketknife was returned to me. Now is that not class? Back in the good ole USA, my trusty pocketknife and I would have parted forever.

The private security guards surely tend to inhibit crime and enhance safety. The police do not bother me as they did my friend. I feel safer with them around.

If any of my readers wish to know more about the Pensionado program here, continue to read my future Blogs on Panama or email me and I will be happy to forward information about it.

Soon I will describe my adventures traveling into an area referred to as “The Interior.” The people of The Interior are different from those in the city as are their customs and way of life.

Eat your heart out thinking of me living relaxed in PANAMA!

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com

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STATIN DRUGS AND THEIR DANGERS

STATIN DRUGS – THEIR DANGER

Danger: just exactly what does this word mean? It simply means “a strong chance of suffering injury, damage or loss.” This is exactly what we mean when we describe the dangers of taking STATIN drugs. So why are so many individuals taking them? Simply because these drugs are being prescribed by their physicians.

I wrote almost a similar Blog several months ago, but because I am encountering so many people with symptoms of STATIN poisoning, I decided to discuss the topic here again.

Several years ago I was discussing with a good friend, who was also a cardiologist, the dangers of taking STATIN drugs and the benefits of taking CoQ10. He called me a quack for recommending that people try to get off of these drugs or of taking supplements. I asked if he was aware of the work of some other prominent cardiologist such as Drs. Sinatra and Bliznakov? (Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., “The Coenzyme Q10 Phenomenon,” Keats Publishing, 1998; Emile G. Bliznakov, M.D., “The Miracle Nutrient Coenzyme Q10,” Bantam Books, 1987). His response was that research has shown that STATIN drugs were not harmful and that others who prescribe CoQ10 are quacks. Is it not interesting that often people do not understand something call those who do quacks? Unfortunately I have practiced alternative medicine for many years and have encountered these name-callers almost my entire holistic professional career

If you are taking one of the STATIN drugs (e.g., Lipitor, Mevacor, Zocor, Pravachol, Lescol, and Baycol), there are some things you should know. If you are experiencing symptoms of liver disease (marked by increases in liver enzymes) and myopathy (muscle weakness and soreness, which may progress to complete muscle breakdown, or rhabdomyolysis), you should know the following.

These very important symptoms of liver damage and myopathy are side effects of STATIN drugs. STATIN drugs block the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase in the liver which shuts down the liver’s capacity to manufacture cholesterol, and, as a result, cholesterol levels drop. However, the liver also manufactures coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) in the same manner. CoQ10 is absolutely essential for without it your cells are unable to produce energy. Early complications of CoQ10 deficiencies are the liver damage and the myopathies described above.

The incidence of congestive heart failure has doubled over the past 12 years. This has coincided with the marked increase in the use of STATIN drugs. There are 400,000 new cases of congestive heart failure diagnosed every year. This condition results from an inability of the heart to pump blood effectively. Fluid builds up in the extremities and lungs, breathing becomes difficult, and patients are plagued with weakness and fatigue. Half of the 4.8 million Americans who currently have congestive failure will die within five years.

What most so-called experts, who practice conventional medicine, have failed to do is make the connection between the use of STATIN drugs and congestive heart failure. A primary cause of congestive heart failure is cardiomyopathy, a degeneration of the cardiac muscle. A primary cause of cardiomyopathy is CoQ10 deficiency, which STATIN drugs are known to cause. The unexplained increase in heart failure coincides with the accelerated use of STATIN drugs over the past decade.

If you are taking these dangerous STATIN drugs and are experiencing symptoms of CoQ10 deficiency, please contact your nutritionally oriented physician who will help you, perhaps, get off these dangerous drugs completely. Unfortunately, your cardiologist or conventional physician cannot help you because they do not recognize the problem. There are ways nutritionally to lower your cholesterol. You really do not need the dangerous STATIN drugs.

Another ever present danger of what is happening in the medical field where the normal values of cholesterol are being lowered. As a result of so many individuals being considered having a high cholesterol because the definition is changing, more STATIN drugs are being prescribed. This increased use translates to greater profits for the drug industry. Nutritionally orientated physicians are realizing that the normal levels of cholesterol are considerably higher than conventional medicine is stating.

On a side political note, shortly after President Bush became President, the definition of what constituted the poverty level was changed by increasing the income below which was considered poverty. So in one day, by changing the definition, the numbers of people considered below the poverty level doubled and tripled. People were making the same money they made the day before but more were considered poor. So one needs to be careful when definitions and parameters are change arbitrarily. This has been done now with what is considered an abnormal cholesterol level.

STATIN drugs are not the only culprits in causing similar problems within the body. I will relate a rather personal problem about the death of my mother. Years ago because she was diabetic, she was prescribed a new drug manufactured by U S Vitamin. The drug was DBI and it was touted as the great new wonder drug kid on the block for reducing blood sugar. My mother eventually developed a strange unexplained cardiomyopathy which eventually killed her. Several years later DBI was removed from the market after it was discovered that in sensitive individuals DBI resulted in cadiomyopathy.

All we have to do is examine other drugs on the market when these are prescribed it is recommended that the patient be monitored by frequent liver function tests. What does this tell you? It is an indication that the drug manufacturers, the FDA, and conventional medical practitioners all recognize the potential liver toxicity posed by these drugs. Recognizing this reality why take these harmful drugs when alternative therapies are available?

Always remember that your health is your responsibility and not that of your physician.

I once went to a medical convention lasting three days in Dallas where the program dealt with how to prevent and treat allergies naturally. Almost two months later I attended another one day seminar given by a group of doctors who were describing how to treat allergies with drugs. Each doctor that day had to provide the attendees a page describing their association with the drug company being touted that day and sponsoring the seminar. The entire group of lecturers were receiving grant money from the drug company. As I sat in that room I realized that the differences between what I was being taught that day was like night and day compared with the seminar in Dallas. The doctors teaching the day seminar had all sold their souls to the drug industry. And the farce was that the day seminar provided CME’s (Continuing Medical Education) units to the attendees for listening to what was essentially “a sales job!”

There is an old Latin phrase used in the market place: Caveat emptor – which translates to “Let the buyer beware.” But did any of us ever think this would ever apply to a visit to our doctor?

Pity, we live in the world of commercialism!

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, The Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

IGNORANCE IS ALIVE AND WELL – IN THE US – IN THE WORLD

IGNORANCE IS ALIVE AND WELL – IN THE US – IN THE WORLD

As many who have read my Blogs know that I used to write a lot about politics and economics, but several Blogs ago I made a decision not to write more on these subject and to devote more time writing about health and medicine. Since I have been a scientist my entire life, albeit now in the health sciences, I do know much about mathematics, physics, and chemistry.

I feel obliged to comment on a health- and politics-related topic – that of the so-called global warming debate and how much ignorance abounds both in the US and the entire world for that matter. How can so many people in the world be so stupid? I will give you the simple answer here and explain. The simple answer is that science has been usurped by the politicos and the media know-it-alls. Have you ever noticed that almost every television commentator is an expert on almost every topic imaginable. I have studied science my entire life and these immediate experts believe their knowledge on a subject is limitless. The television commentators have one big weapon – the airways and their ability to project pictures which are designed to make one believe – a very effective technique by the way.

Although I am not a conspiracy-type guy, I do believe that there is one great conspiracy group in the US – that of the political left and the media, make no bones about it. It does not take a rocket scientist to observe the behavior of the main stream media with respect to how they favor the political left. A popular-to-some-men like Al Gore goes on a binge to create a theory about global warming and sells it to the world as a good thing to be concerned about a dying polar bear (which by the way in Gore’s famous movie was artificially animated because they could not find a dying polar bear) and the whole world led by the all knowing Hollywood types begins to believe a most preposterous myth. Knowledgeable, honorable, and competent scientists who take an opposing view are forced into silence for fear that their grant money will dry up.

I have written on this subject before that the entire world is being made to believe the Gore Principle of “let me tell you what you should know and believe.” The fact that Venus, Mars, and Saturn are also warming to me would beg several questions.

One would be, “Are the inhabitants of these other planets eating too much beans resulting in gas emissions resulting in their global warming or are they using hydrocarbon gasses to cool their homes in the case of Venus or heat their homes in the case of Mars and Saturn?” Or, two, can we be more rational and try to relate these events to what we, that is Planet Earth, and they have in common – our Sun and the fact that IT is getting hotter? As William of Occum clearly stated in his first rule, called the Principle of Parsimony, which says that scientists should make no more assumptions or assume no more causes than are absolutely necessary to explain their observations. Frustra fit perplura, quod fieri per pauciora. (It is vain to do with more what can be done with less.) [Occum's Razor] .
The Principle of Parsimony is also known as Occum's Razor, after William of Occum (1285?-?1349), who stated his principle of economy of thought in the phrase, "a plurality must not be asserted without necessity.": “Let us not multiply the potential causes of an event.

The entire world has acknowledged that what Al Gore is proposing is the truth – truth in the philosophical sense, that is fact. What gives legitimacy to this is the fact that Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize. I will admit that it is every scientist’s dream to win the most prestigious prize which can be given to anyone – The Nobel prize. Personally, I coveted that prize until the Nobel Committee awarded the prize to Arafat, a man who was one of the greatest terrorists of our times. His own people probably assassinated him because they could not stomach him, probably unrelated to his being a terrorist. The fact that they also gave the prize to one of the dumbest men on this planet, and how he ever became president of the US is still beyond me. But remember the topic of this Blog is: “IGNORANCE IS ALIVE AND WELL – IN THE US – IN THE WORLD.”

This bit about global warming is the most stupid debate which is nurtured and promulgated by individuals who know nothing about science. Those scientists who have gone on board to support this thesis are usually politically motivated, and this political motivation clouds their scientific judgement. It almost makes me want to vomit and return my medical degree to Harvard Medical School! But, I am not.

I am asking, however, those who desire to be knowledgeable about the debate and take another look at the situation and not just listen to individuals who are seeking their fame, and in the case of Al Gore also his fortune, on the perpetuation of what I would call “the greatest myth of recent times.” Read my previous Blog on this subject to see how Gore is profiting enormously from this: Blogs posted on 3/27/07 and 4/2/07.

I do not believe I will convince the world, but I can try. The media are much more powerful than I in this matter, and most people allow their emotions to sway their powers of reasoning.


nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

LEAD IN COSMETICS

LEAD IN COSMETICS

Recently, there has developed an awareness of the toxic elements in some (if not many) cosmetics. Evaluating this part of our environment as it relates to our exposure to toxic elements has been ignored, but it has recently come to light. Also, we are all or should be aware of the recent discovery of lead in the paint of toys made in China resulting in massive recalls of toys. Any of us who have had children fully well realize that children utilize all their senses when playing with toys: especially sight, touch, and taste. Children feel every toy with their hands and mouth.

Lead used to be in most paints. Today, it is prohibited, at least in the US, to add lead to paints. Why lead we might ask? It appears that putting lead in paints make the colors more lustrous and durable. So we have known the potential damaging effects of adding lead to paints, and we have done something about it.

But what about adding lead to some other products in our environment. The topic of this Blog concerns lead in cosmetics, in particular, lipstick. In or to put together this Blog I have pieced together from various sources some information which has recently come to light.

The consumer rights group, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics recently stated that the lipsticks they tested revealed that more than half contained lead and some popular and more expensive brands including Cover Girl, L'Oreal, and Christian Dior had more lead than others.

From tests performed on 33 brand-name red lipsticks by the Bodycote Testing Group in Santa Fe Spring, California, 61 percent had detectable lead levels of 0.03 to 0.65 parts per million (ppm).

Lipstick, like candy, is ingested. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of public health, environmental and women's groups, said the FDA has not set a limit for lead in lipstick as it has for candy.

One-third of the lipsticks tested contained an amount of lead that exceeded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's 0.1 ppm limit for lead in candy — a standard established to protect children from ingesting lead, the group said. Thirty-nine percent of the lipsticks tested had no discernible lead, it said. Albeit that ingested candy would provide considerably more lead than might be obtained from lipstick, it should be of some concern because lead, as with some other toxic elements within the body, is commutative. And, this albeit small ingestion of lead from lipstick is added to toxins ingested from other sources.

Manufacturers can reformulate their product, because it is possible to make lipsticks without lead, as some companies are already doing, and all companies should be doing.
Lead can cause learning, language and behavioral problems such as reduced school performance and increased aggression. Pregnant women and young children are particularly vulnerable to lead exposure, the group said in its statement. Lead has also been linked to infertility and miscarriage.

The coalition said that some less expensive brands it had tested, such as Revlon, had no detectable levels of lead, while the more expensive Dior Addict brand had higher levels than some other brands.

On the other hand and to give the other side of the story, the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association trade group said in a statement that lead was a naturally occurring element that was not intentionally added to cosmetics. But a question to ask is “if lead is a naturally occurring element, why do some of the less expensive brands have no detectable lead.? Might I suggest sarcastically that the manufacturers of more expensive brands have discovered that colors are more lustrous and durable when lead is added, and so they do.

***In my experience over the years, I have discovered that companies and governments lie all the time to cover their a**e*. I am an activist for honesty in matters of health, and I will speak out when it appears appropriate. Some may consider this stance inappropriate but I do not , and I follow my instincts and inclination.***

Lead builds up in the body over time and lead-containing lipstick applied several times a day, every day, can add up to significant exposure levels. The latest studies show there is no safe level of lead exposure. (Partially extracted from NewsMax.com)

On a personal note, I used to love kissing women who wore sexy lustrous, and not bad tasting by the way, lipstick. I have tried to reduce this exposure recently! What a pity!

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

THE OMEGA OILS -- THE ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS

THE OMEGA OILS – THE ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS

INTRODUCTION


Proteins are made up of amino acids. The proteins we eat are digested in the alimentary canal into their component amino acids which are absorbed into the body to be used in making body proteins for muscles and other organs. Fats are made up of individual fatty acids which are similarly digested, absorbed, and employed to make fats required to make tissues and organs.

ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS

The body can make most of the 20 amino acids from other food components, but cannot make those which are called essential. Nine amino acids are generally regarded as essential for humans: isoleucine, leucine, lysine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, histidine, valine, and phenylalanine. In addition, the amino acids arginine, cysteine, glycine, glutamine and tyrosine are considered conditionally essential, meaning they are not normally required in the diet, but must be supplied exogenously to specific populations that do not synthesize them in adequate amounts. Essential amino acids are not all the same for all species of animals. Since we are concerned with human health, we are considering what the human body requires.

ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS

The same is true for the essential fatty acids. It is recognized that there are three "families" – namely the Omega 3, 6, and 9 – of polyunsaturated fats which are found in foods. The Omega-9 family is of little significance nutritionally because, although they are found in foods, the body can manufacture the fatty acids of this family. The three families differ in the position of the first double bond counting from the methyl end (or the omega end), of the chain. These three families are known as the omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 families. The list below shows the three main families of polyunsaturated fats:

The Omega-9 Family: oleic acid

The Omega-6 Family: linoleic acid, gamma-linolenic acid

The Omega-3 Family: alpha-linolenic acid


As already mentioned, the omega-9 family is only of significance when there is an insufficiency of either or both of the other two families, which are essential to human health, and must be supplied in the diet. When adequate amounts of omega-6 polyunsaturates and/or omega-3 polyunsaturates are not available, the body tries to compensate by producing omega-9 polyunsaturates to take the place of the essential omega-3 and/or omega-6 polyunsaturates. Though the omega-9 derivatives can substitute to a certain extent, they are not as effective as the omega-3 or omega-6 derivatives, and health will eventually suffer. The main value of the omega-9 polyunsaturates is as a marker for dietary insufficiency of the essential polyunsaturates. (Excerpted from Wykipedia).

The list below shows sources of omega 3 oils in decreasing order of the amount of oils contained in each food. We can see than flax seeds and walnuts are excellent sources of omega 3 oils, but most would suggest to obtain most of these fats from fish sources, such as salmon, halibut, and shrimp, because of the high caloric content of seeds and walnuts.

FOODS RICH IN OMEGA 3'S

Food
Flax seeds
Walnuts C
Chinook salmon, baked/broiled
Scallops, baked/broiled
Soybeans, cooked
Halibut, baked/broiled
Shrimp, steamed, boiled
Snapper, baked
Tofu, raw
Winter squash
Tuna, yellowfin
Cod, baked
Kidney beans

FOODS RICH IN OMEGA 6'S

* Safflower oil - the richest natural source
* Sunflower oil
* Corn oil
* Sesame oil
* Hemp oil (best balance of omega 6:3)
* Pumpkin oil
* Soybean oil
* Walnut oil
* Wheat germ oil
* Evening Primrose oil

Some medical research has suggested that excessive levels of omega-6 acids, relative to Omega-3 fatty acids, may increase the probability of a number of diseases and depression. Modern Western diets typically have ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 in excess of 10 to 1, some as high as 30 to 1. The optimal ratio is thought to be 4 to 1 or lower.

Deficiency of essential fatty acids may cause problems in circulation in the extremities (e.g. cold hands and feet); dry, flaky skin; dull, dry and brittle hair; nails that have no sheen and breast pain and tenderness. Long-term essential fatty acid deficiency may contribute to diseases such as the early development of insulin resistance and diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and chronic inflammatory diseases (e.g. eczema and asthma.

OMEGA 3 DEFICIENCY DISEASES

The list of diseases associated with Omega 3 deficiency is so long, I refer the reader to the following link: just highlight, copy and paste to your browser:
www.omega3-drho.com/omega3deficiencydiseases_a.html

OMEGA 6 DEFICIENCY DISEASES

Similarly the following link will detail diseases caused by Omega 6 deficiencies:
www.answers.com/topic/omega-6-fatty-acid?cat=health

RELATIONSHIP OF CARBOHYDRATES, PROTEINS, AND FATS IN AS ENERGY SOURCES IN THE BODY

In a very simple analysis of food components, sugar, in particular glucose, is the major fuel for the body to make the energy required to run the body machine. From carbohydrates the body can manufacture other important nutrients, such as the non-essential amino acids required to make protein and the non-essential fatty acids required to make other structural components of the body including important enzymes. Obviously the essential amino acids and fatty acid which he body cannot make must be taken into the body from foods.

Excess amino and fatty acids can be converted by the body into glucose, the energy fuel, or stored as fat. Excess carbohydrates are also stored as fat. When required the body taps into the fat stores to reconvert the fat into glucose, amino and fatty acids. The conversion of the components of food into one another is a two way street, and it is truly magnificent how this complex interaction occurs to maintain the body machine.

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com

Monday, October 8, 2007

LEGUMES -- THEIR IMPORTANCE AS FOOD

LEGUMES -- THEIR IMPORTANCE AS FOOD

Many are not aware of the wide variety of foods in the Legume Family. Why is this family of foods so important? I believe that they have two very important characteristics: one is their ability to fix nitrogen in the soil and two because they are a source of important protein, especially to a vegetarian.

NITROGEN FIXATION

Agriculturists, botanists, and anyone who deals with plants know that there are three very important elements plants require for growth: Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium and these are usually depicted as three numbers, such as 10/20/10, in a fertilizer mixture.

1. The first number in a fertilizer formula is the Nitrogen content, used by plants for producing leaf growth and greener, more lush leaves.
2. The second number in a fertilizer formula is the Phosphorus content, used by plant to increase fruit development and to produce a strong root system.
3. The third number in a fertilizer formula is the Potassium (potash) content, used by plants for flower color and size. It is also important to the strength of the plant.

Our discussion here is with nitrogen which we all know is a gas component of air which contains 80% nitrogen and 20% oxygen, both very important for life on Planet Earth. But plants cannot use the nitrogen in the air. It must first be transformed in nitrogen salts before plants can utilize it for their metabolism and growth.

This important function of transformation is done by a group of plants called “legumes.” In the older days of agriculture before the widespread use of chemical fertilizers farmers would plant so-called “cover crops,” such as alfalfa (Medicago), clover (Trifolium), Lupin (Lupinus) or rape (Brassica napus) and its somewhat related canola – a plant in the broccoli family – in the Fall and either plow them under in the Spring after they did their work or harvest them as important food for animals. Sometimes they would alternate the cover crops one year and cultivate other plants in the subsequent year. Now there is more use of artificial fertilizers, or more accurately concentrated sources of the three elements required for plant growth. I do believe the plant does not distinguish between the nitrogen salts created by the process on nitrogen fixation and the concentrated fertilizers spread in the fields before planting.


The legumes employed to fix nitrogen are usually clover, alfalfa, and rape. The clover and alfalfa can be harvested the following spring and used as a very important source of protein for cattle. Rape is usually plowed under, although rapini is a well appreciated vegetable employed in Italian cuisine. It has a savory, sometimes pungent, taste.

In the Southern US, peanuts, a legume which fixes nitrogen, is frequently rotated with cotton – peanuts providing the natural fertilizer nitrogen for the growth of cotton in the alternate year.

Some Herbaceous Legumes

These are those legumes grown for use as leafy and more solid components:

1. Broccoli (Brassica oleracea), cauliflower (B. oleracea, var botrytis), and Brussels sprouts (B. Oleracea, var gemmifera).

2 Rapini (Rape), alfalfa ( used more in animal nutrition), and clover (used sometimes in animal nutrition and as sprouts in salads). Many in this class are used to make oils as with rape seed oil, and Canola, a variant of rapeseed, oil and as medicinals.

The Bean Legumes: Legume Family Fabaceae

1 The Phaseolus Genus: Kidney beans (P. Vulgaris); Scarlet runner bean (P. Coccineus) – native to S. America; Northern, pinto, black eye, baby lima, green pea, small white, small red, yellow pea, lentil, navy, white kidney, black bean, pearl barley.

2. The Pisum Genus: Sugar snap peas & Snow peas (Pisum sativum).

3. The Faba Genus: Fava bean (Faba vulgaris).

4. The Cicer Genus: Garbanzos ( Chick peas) (Cicer arietinum).

5. The Vigna Genus: Mung bean (Vigna radiata).


6. The Glycine Genus: Soybeans (Glycine max).

7. The Arachis Genus: Peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.).


An important thing must be said of the importance of beans to the vegetarian. The grains (corn, rice, wheat, barley, oats, etc) do not contain all the essential amino acids required for human life. Neither do most of the beans. But when beans and grains are combined all of the essential amino acids are present. Grains have what beans do not and vice versa. This is he reason why in those countries where rice is eaten as a major starch source it is combined with a legume such as beans or lentils. But this is only true if brown rice is used. Living in a country where rice is grown abundantly and is the major staple starch it is remarkable to me that most, even in the countryside, polish the rice and remove the most important protein coat.

The single exception to this rule is soybeans for they contain all the amino acids. And when soybeans are fermented the amino acids within these products are further enhanced because of the effect of the yeast and bacterial fermentation, processes which increase and diversify the amino acid content.

Sulfur-Containing Foods:

The element sulfur and sulfur gasses are both smelly and toxic. One can readily appreciate this by observing the smelly nature of the inorganic sulfur dioxide (SO2) and of the organic compound, normal butyl mercaptan – the essence of skunk. If I remember correctly from Prep School organic chemistry, we were told that the human nose can detect this compound when the concentration in the air is one to ten million. Now that is sensitivity!

But, organic sulfur contained in some foods is beneficial to ones health. Some of the essential amino acids (L- cysteine, L-lysine, L-cystine, and L-methionine) required for human life contain sulfur.

Some sources of organic sulfur are: Asparagus, garlic, onions and green leafy vegetables, especially water cress and Swiss chard. Other sulfur containing foods include brussels sprouts, dried beans, cabbage, eggs, fish, kale, meats, soybeans, turnips, wheat germ. Herbal Sources are Alfalfa, burdock, cayenne, coltsfoot, eyebright, fennel, garlic, Irish moss, kelp, mullein, nettle, parsley, plantain, raspberry, sage, shepherd's purse, thyme. Looking at this list, one can readily see that many of the sulfur-containing vegetables are legumes.

There are many individuals who do not like some of the foods mentioned, probably because of the odorous taste imparted by the sulfur, others actually enjoy the taste, such as in onions and garlic. As mentioned above, if one is deficient in stomach acid, the incomplete digestion of the proteins and carbohydrates in the stomach result in intestinal bacteria further down in the intestines to ferment these components and produce gas. In my opinion, the odorous nature of the gas
is related to the presence of sulfur-containing amino acids.

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com

Sunday, October 7, 2007

LOW STOMACH ACID (HYPOCHLORHYDRIA)

LOW STOMACH ACID (HYPOCHLORHYDRIA)

This is one of the most important Health Blogs that I have written because the disease condition about which I write affects so many individuals who are on the incorrect road of therapy. I hope the Blog is enlightening and helpful to others.

AS IT RELATES TO FOOD ALLERGIES

A discussion of food allergies would not be complete unless we discuss the problem of Hypochlorhydria (Low Stomach Acid).

As we get older many individuals develop a lower capacity to produce important metabolites required for normal body functions. One of these situations is the stomach’s decreasing capacity to produce acid required for carbohydrate and protein digestion. In fact, most people who take antacids are really acid deficient and should be taking additional acid, not an antacid. I know this is counter to conventional wisdom, but the proof in the pudding is the fact that many people are cured of so-called hyper acidity by taking them off antacids and placing them on acid supplements.

Philosophically, it would seem against common wisdom to assume that as we get older most functions of the body diminish while we are asked to believe that as we get older the stomach gets better at making acid which is what the stomach does.

Acid is required for the initial process of carbohydrate and protein digestion. Proteins which are not hydrolyzed and broken down in the stomach proceed down the digestive tract where they can be absorbed to produce allergic reactions in the body. A complete digestion in the stomach would prevent this.

Many individuals are cured of their food allergies when they are given hydrochloric acid in the form of Betaine Hydrochloride capsules.

DO YOU GET GAS FROM EATING BEANS?

As a side note many individuals who experience gas from eating certain legumes such as beans are experiencing the same problem. The complex carbohydrates in beans are not completely hydrolyzed in the stomach. These larger complex carbohydrate molecules proceed further down the intestines where the intestinal bacteria ferment them. One of the side products of fermentation is gas which is eliminated with or without odor, probably depending upon how much sulfur is contained in the particular legume! Placing these individuals on stomach acid allows for the complete hydrolysis (digestion) of the beans in the stomach thus preventing the production of gas further down the alimentary canal. I have successfully treated many for this condition simply by using stomach acid.

USE OF ANTACIDS

The increased use of antacids for indigestion is both alarming and not the healthy. If you experience so-called indigestion, bloating, and gas, taking antacids is not the correct thing to do. You should be taking more acid instead. Yes, you read correctly: you do not have sufficient stomach acid; you should be taking additional acid. Let us look at the physiology, that is a fancy word for “how the body works.”

If you are lacking sufficient stomach acid, the food you eat, especially carbohydrates, begin to break down in the stomach and ferment. A by-product of fermentation is gas, usually carbon dioxide. As the gas accumulates, the stomach distends and you experience bloating, expel gas, and regurgitate. The stomach contents are irritating to the lower and upper esophagus. You mistakenly interpret this as acidic because it burns. A small amount of acid, not sufficient to digest food, is sufficient to irritate the sensitive tissue of the esophagus. Perhaps contributing to this problem is the back up into the stomach of duodenal contents which is alkaline (basic) equally, if not more, irritating to the esophagus.

Taking antacids, as logical as it might appear to be to control what you might think is excess stomach acid, is the incorrect thing to do. In fact, taking antacids further aggravates the situation so that you have to continue taking more antacids – something the manufacturers of antacids just love for their bottom line.

As we get older and because many are deficient in the proper nutrients to keep the body healthy, the ability of the body to make stomach acid diminishes. So it is imperative in these individuals to try a course of acid capsules. If immediate relief results, then low stomach acid is the problem and should be treated accordingly.


STOMACH ULCERS, CANCER, AND INDIGESTION

THE ROLE OF Heliobacter pylorus

There is a bacterium, Heliobacter pylorus , which can inhabit the areas of the lower stomach near the exit at the pylorus valve – the valve which controls the stomach's flow into the duodenum, the first portion of the small intestine – hence the name “pylorus.” This bacterium is associated with the development of stomach ulcers, the usual so-called “peptic ulcer,” and cancer. A blood test can be performed which measures the presence of antibodies to the heliobacter bacterium.

In my humble opinion, the Heliobacter bacterium thrives in the presence of low stomach acid and its growth is inhibited when stomach acid is normal. So it is imperative over the long haul to insure you have sufficient stomach acid to inhibit the growth of Heliobacter and prevent stomach ulcers and cancer.

CASE HISTORY

CB presented in my office with the chief complaint of bloating and gas for many years. She became very adept at expelling oral gas without anyone really noticing it. She was popping antacids to control the problem and gastro-enterologist physicians had literally tested her “up-the-gazu.” She had been extremely uncomfortable for many years.

Laboratory analysis showed the presence of Heliobacter pylorus antibodies.

She was started on stomach acid capsules and the indigestion, bloating, and gas ceased. She was essentially cured. – the first time she experience relief in many years. This was such a simple solution to a problem which most physicians just do not recognize.


In summary, if you experience indigestion, bloating and gas – a problem in the stomach -- and think you need antacids, please seek the advice of a nutritionally enlightened physician who understands the importance of treating low stomach acid. Additionally, if you experience flatus – a problem of the lower intestines – my advice is the same because the basic cause of the problem is low stomach acid.

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com

Friday, October 5, 2007

BIRD FLU

BIRD FLU

Each year as we approach the Influenza Season in the US, there is a resurgence in interest in the so-called Bird Flu. I am reprinting a dissertation I wrote in August 2006 because what I wrote then is as timely now as it was then.

“THE BIRD FLU

INTRODUCTION


Before I ask you to believe anything I write, I should start with my credentials. At one time I was Chief, Laboratory of Virology & Rickettsiology, Division of Biologics Standards, National Institutes of Health (for more detail check my Curriculum Vitae on my web site: www.drtauraso.com ). The Division, which is now the Bureau of Biologics, FDA, was the regulatory agency concerned with, among other things, overseeing the manufacture, safety, potency, and efficacy of all biologic products, including vaccines. During the last few years of my tenure there, I was the principal officer in charge of ALL aspects of influenza vaccine control. It is important to note that, at the time, there were 6 United States influenza vaccine manufacturers (presently in 2006 there is only one!).

It was during the influenza epidemic known at the time as ‘The Hong Kong Flu’ in 1967/68 that my laboratory was able to revamp and update the methods of determining influenza vaccine potency. Up until that time such tests were dreadfully inadequate.

THE ARGUMENT

It is my feeling today that epidemiologists -- scientists who study how epidemics develop and how to control them -- have either forgotten history or are asleep at the wheel.

When we examine how many contagious diseases were controlled (prevented or cured) in the past, it was good epidemiology which did it. Cholera and dysentery, once scourges in many countries, were eliminated when we cleaned up the water supply by separating sewage from clean water. In those countries where the water supply is not cleaned up by public health methods, these diseases still occur from time to time.


Yellow Fever which killed many people in this hemisphere, preventing the French from completing the Panama Canal , was virtually eliminated once Dr. Gorgas controlled the mosquitoes which carried the virus. Many do not know that the largest viral epidemic killing tens of thousand of people in Philadelphia in the mid 1850's was caused by Yellow Fever. Today this viral disease just does not occur here nor anywhere in the Western Hemisphere . Although there is now a Yellow Fever Vaccine, what eliminated the disease was a public health measure of getting rid of the mosquito vector.

Antibiotics, of course, was the great “wonder drug” in the 1940's which cured many bacterial diseases such as strep throat (and its related scarlet fever and complicating rheumatic fever), bacterial pneumoniae of various kinds, urinary tract infections, and many more too numerous to list here.

We should not belittle the contribution of vaccines which can be credited in virtually eliminating polio, measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, and tetanus, again to name a few.

The purpose of this article is to evaluate the use of influenza vaccine in preventing epidemics and to suggest a novel new approach to the prevention of the much dreaded ‘Bird Flu.’

DOES INFLUENZA VACCINE REALLY WORK?

At one time when I was the Influenza Vaccine Control Officer working at the Division of Biologics Standards, I was skeptical about the value of influenza vaccine in preventing influenza epidemics. The influenza virus is complex and the vaccine must be made correctly, it must contain adequate potency, and sufficient numbers of individuals must be immunized to achieve ‘herd immunity’ or it will not work. Another problem is the fact that the virus mutates (changes) and a new vaccine must be made with each change which occurs quite frequently. Additionally, there might not be sufficient time to make enough vaccine in time to distribute among the population at risk before the epidemic hits.

Traditionally, and we do not really know why, a new strain emerges in the Far East . The subsequent epidemic migrates to the West. The degree and seriousness of the epidemic is usually related to how different the new strain is from the previous strain.


But the vaccine is the best and only thing we have at this time, and it behooves us to determine how we can make it work for us.

THE VIRUS

As mentioned earlier, the influenza virus is complex as viruses go. It contains two proteins which stimulate the body to make antibodies to them. The Hemagglutinin (shortened with the letter “H”) and the Neuraminidase enzyme protein (shortened with the letter “N”). So the virus is identified by these two proteins: H5N1 as in the case of the bird flu virus.

Some strains of influenza A

TABLE I

Date Strain Subtype* Notes


1918 (unknown)** ?H1N1** pandemic of 1918

1957 A/Singapore/57 H2N2 pandemic of "Asian" flu

1962 A/Japan/62 H2N2 epidemic

1964 A/Taiwan/64 H2N2 epidemic

1968 A/Aichi/68 H3N2 pandemic of " Hong Kong " flu

1976 A/New Jersey /7 H1N1 swine flu in recruits

2005 Bird flu H5N1



*Even though some strains had similar subtypes this did not prevent them from resulting in epidemics as in the case with the three H2N2 strains listed here. It would also appear that those viruses with N2 seem to cause more human pandemics of influenza than strains with other N subtypes. Although there was a great scare when swine flu hit in 1976, it really did not produce any significant epidemic among the population. What caused more problems was the high incidence of Guillian Barre syndrome – a paralytic disease -- resulting in individuals getting the “bad” vaccine.

** Some have believed the 1918 pandemic was cause by a bird-type influenza. Others believed it was caused by a swine strain. The fact is that, at this time, we really are not sure.

WHAT EPIDEMIOLOGICAL DATA ARE KNOWN ABOUT INFLUENZA?

Influenza A, B and C viruses are known to cause disease in humans. Although influenza B and C viruses are strictly human pathogens, influenza A viruses are readily isolated from avian species, pigs and other animals. Influenza A viruses are divided into subtypes based on differences in their surface glycoprotein antigens, hemagglutinin (H) and the enzyme, neuraminidase (N). There are 14 recognized H subtypes and 9 recognized N subtypes. All of these subtypes have been isolated in birds but only 3 different H and two different N subtypes have been isolated in humans (See TABLE II)

TABLE II: Influenza Subtypes

Host H Subtypes N Subtypes


Humans H1, H2, H3 N1, N2

Birds H1 – H14 N1-N9

The influenza viruses are unique amongst the respiratory viruses in that they undergo significant antigenic variation. Antigenic drift involves minor antigen changes from one season to the next and may result in epidemic spread of the new strain. Antigenic shift involves major antigenic changes of the H and N molecules and occurs only with Influenza A viruses. These changes can result in the appearance of pandemic viruses. (a pandemic is an epidemic which is widespread, that is ‘pan,’ throughout the world)

Some authorities believe individuals who survived the 1918 flu pandemic have antibodies to H1, others suggest it was H5, and so it is assumed that they were infected with a virus of similar protein composition. Was the virus which caused the 1918 pandemic of bird origin? Who really knows? We have named the present flu strain H5. Could the H5 then have been of swine origin or some other animal? This is unimportant to our present discussion. What ever the origin might have been the pandemic resulted in very many deaths world wide. So we must take this very seriously.

VACCINE INDUCED IMMUNITY:

Current evidence suggests that the vaccine must induce the production of antibodies to both the H an N proteins to be efficacious. In the case of the swine influenza vaccine over 20 years ago, something happened to destroy the N protein during the inactivation process with formalin (formaldehyde). But, this not well known fact was withheld from the public. Public health officials were in a bind. President Gerald Ford publicly stated that we had to immunize the entire population. And so we embarked on this great program to immunize the public with a worthless vaccine. I was in private practice as a Pediatrician at the time and I refused to give it my patients, many of whom later thought I was a genius for this vaccine resulted in a very high incidence of the ascending paralysis known as Guillian Barre Syndrome. I, of course, took the credit but no one, including me, knew this complication was to occur. All I knew was the vaccine was no good, so why take the risk?

THE SO-CALLED BIRD FLU:

When one observes how chickens are penned up like sardines in the production houses in Asia and South East Asia – and in the United States --, it is little wonder that this virus originated there. I have seen pictures of these birds so crowded they are unable to move in any direction. These are both chicken and virus production houses .

Bird flu is a disease of birds and under normal situations infects mostly birds and spreads easily from bird to bird and does not seem to care what species of bird it infects, for it has been found in chickens, ducks, geese, swans, etc. The fact that it infects migratory birds is particularly important and disturbing because migratory birds have been one of the principal means of spread from country to country. Although bird flu can spread from bird to humans, since humans are not the natural host, the infection usually does not spread from human to human. It has recently been shown that the bird flu has a particularly difficult time penetrating the respiratory mucosal cells of humans. And I believe there is a reason for this.

But let us not forget that the flu virus may mutate very easily to a strain somewhat related to but different from the originating strain. The new mutated strain is usually sufficiently different to make it contagious to the general public. This very important fact that flu virus can mutate makes it most formidable and is the reason why influenza epidemics occur every year or so. I am concerned if and when the Bird Flu virus ever mutates into H5N2. What we do not know is whether an H5N2 strain will be as serious a pathogen to humans as H5N1 is to birds. It could be that the H5N2 strain might not be contagious as we anticipate. No one will really know until such a variant develops.

Observing the strains listed in the TABLES, it would appear that humans seem to be susceptible only to H2-containing strains. Remember what was stated above that the bird flu has a difficult time penetrating the respiratory mucosal cells in the human. It has been believed that the neuraminidase enzyme is responsible for how the influenza virus initially penetrates the cell and perhaps why the Swine flu vaccine was not effective because it lacked the capacity to elicit neuraminidase antibodies. Additionally the Swine flu never progressed into a full blown epidemic, probably because it contained N1 and not N2.

Anticipating a potential mutation of H5N1 to H5N2, a vaccine containing both antigens would be what is needed to prevent this potential disease.

Also because it can mutate the flu virus poses a real threat to humans.

SO WHAT SHOULD WE DO?

Instead of waiting until the Bird Flu virus mutates to become a full fledged human pathogen able to transmit from human to human, why not anticipate this event. Prepare a vaccine containing the H5H1 antigens and begin a prospective vaccination program in humans. Since this would be prospective, we would have sufficient time to make this happen during a 1 - 1 ½ year time period.

This bold approach would be worth it considering the potential of Bird Flu causing such a serious pandemic. In initial smaller immunization programs of giving the H5N1 vaccine to individuals in Asia at risk of getting the virus directly from birds. But, I urge not to delay the larger program of immunizing individuals world wide.



THE VACCINE

A better approach would be to prepare a vaccine containing the following bivalent influenza strains: Bird Flu (H5H1), 500 CCA Units; the current A strain of H3N2, 500 Units; and not include any B influenza strain. High risk individuals in South East Asia should receive a similar vaccine. This is a most unique approach, for we usually do not prepare and administer a vaccine for a strain of virus which does not yet exist. But considering the potential harm we are anticipating if and when the Bird Flu is able to spread from human to human.

These vaccines can be administered either one cc subcutaneously or 0.1 cc intradermally, which we have been shown to be as effective in eliciting antibodies. ((Tauraso, N.M., Gleckman, R.A., Pedreira, F.A., Sabbaj, J., Yahwak, R., and Madoff, M.A.: Effect of dosage and route of inoculation upon antigenicity of inactivated influenza virus vaccine (Hong
Kong strain) in man. Bull. Wid. Hlth. Org., 41: 507-516, 1969.))

We still have adequate time to accomplish this. Unfortunately, as things usually move in government, committees are slow in making and executing decisions. I urge that in this case decisions are made quickly to prevent the spread of what might be a devastating disease -- ‘Human/Bird Flu.’”

Since publishing this article, nothing unique nor creative has been done, for I fear the powers at be are stuck in their old ways of approaching influenza control with vaccines. I will reiterate what I said earlier: I do not believe the Bird Flu virus will ever become a significant human pathogen. But then I will be quick to admit that I have absolutely no scientific evidence to back up such a statement. And, if and when the virus mutates into an H5N2 strain which I believe will be a human pathogen, I do not know whether it will have a significant capacity to spread.

A NOTE OF CAUTION:

Within the past several years scientist at the CDC (Communicable Disease Center) in Atlanta, Georgia, have been experimenting in creating Bird Flu (H5N1) recombinants by crossing it with more traditional H?N2 human pathogenic strains. I hope they know what they are doing and are extremely careful these laboratory strains do not get out into the general population where they might cause havoc. Viruses escaping from laboratories has occurred before.


nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com
Formally Chief, Laboratory of Virology and Rickettsiology, Division of Biologics Standards, National Institutes of Health

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

DO WE NEED VITAMINS AND SUPPLEMENTS?

DO WE NEED VITAMINS AND SUPPLEMENTS?

The short answer is: YES.

Conventional medical practitioners have yet to recognize the value of vitamins and dietary supplements. I was talking with a cardiologist friend of mine about two years ago at the bar of Tauraso’s Ristorante, a restaurant I once owned and ran successfully for 20 years in Frederick, MD but which has since ceased to exist because the man who bought it from me did not know how to run it. When I brought up the value of Coenzyme CoQ10 in patients with heart disease, he told me that studies have shown that CoQ10 had no beneficial effect. This indicated to me the lack of his knowledge of the experiences of other reputable cardiologists.

Other cardiologists swear that CoQ10 is so beneficial that they would not think about not giving their patients both CoQ10 and L-carnitine, two of a long list of anti-oxidants found positively to influence cardiac patients. (Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., “The Coenzyme Q10 Phenomenon,” Keats Publishing, 1998; Emile G. Bliznakov, M.D., “The Miracle Nutrient Coenzyme Q10,” Bantam Books, 1987)

On another note, Table I describes the “Symptoms of Early Vitamin Deficiencies.” We can easily appreciate that vitamin deficiencies, especially the water-soluble B-complex group, cause symptoms similar to those experienced in cerebral allergies.

TABLE I: SYMPTOMS OF EARLY VITAMIN DEFICIENCY

B1 (Thiamine)
Loss of appetite, depression, irritability, confusion, loss of memory, inability to concentrate, sensitivity to noise.

B3 (Niacin)
Anxiety, depression, fatigue, hyperactivity, headache, insomnia, hyperesthesia (increased sensitivity to touch). Later symptoms include: failing vision, hypersensitivity to light and odors, dizziness, dulled sense of taste and hallucinations.

B6 (Pyridoxine)
No specific symptoms. This vitamin is a precursor for at least 50 enzymes necessary for normal body function. It is also required for zinc utilization.

B12 (Cyanocobalamin)
Depression, agitation and hallucinations.

Pantothenic acid
Irritability, depression, tension, numbness, dizziness, and a sullen disposition. This vitamin is needed to respond to stress.

C (Ascorbic acid)
Listlessness and blood vessel problems. Rats need three times as mich vitamin C when stressed. Humans apparently also require additional vitamin C for mental and physical stress.


We should appreciate that prolonged consumption of the “empty calories” of refined carbohydrates (e.g., sugar, white flour and rice, and alcohol) lead to vitamin deficiencies, especially the water-soluble B-complex.

The subtleness of the consequences is one of the problems. Dr. Lansdale and Shamberger found that many juvenile offenders were deficient in thiamine (vitamin B1), referring to this condition as “sub-clinical beri-beri.” (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, February, 1980).

To correct this problem, the doctors gave each youth between 150 to 200 mg of thiamine a day for three weeks, while carefully monitoring when the blood levels returned to normal. This dose of thiamine was 100 to 200 times the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of B1 which is 1.5 mg. It took three weeks before the thiamine blood level reached the desired normal values.

This emphasizes the fact that symptoms may not disappear as immediately as one would expect from symptoms related to simple uncomplicated allergy, sensitivity, or deficiency. The personality traits (e.g., poor impulse control; easily angered; sensitive to criticism; easily irritated; and usually hostile and aggressive behavior) exhibited by the juvenile offenders disappeared over the three-week period.

When the RDA’s were established medical researchers were determining what levels of thiamine were needed to prevent clinical beri-beri. Little was known at the time about sub-clinical beri-beri.

When an individual is deficient in a vitamin, it may take weeks, if not months, of high supplementation before blood levels return to normal. Conventional medical practitioners do not really understand this because they were trained and educated to appreciate those values needed to prevent overt diseases caused by deficiencies. However, modern nutritionists and more holistic practitioners do appreciate this.

Role Of Zinc

Several prominent allergists are establishing the relationship of zinc deficiency with sensitivity/allergic manifestations and with symptoms similar to those experienced in cerebral allergies.

Zinc is not only critical to the prevention of rare diseases like acrodermititis enteropathica and Crohn’s disease (regional enteritis), but essential for normal growth, wound healing, resistance to infections, healthy prostate function, keen night vision, and sharp senses of taste and smell. Zinc also seems to reduce inflammation, reduce body odor, and clear up acne.

It has now been established that zinc is also required for learning, memory, and concentration, and for establishing integrity of the immunological system dealing with allergies. Additionally, zinc spurs growth and sexual maturity.

Zinc deficiency can be signaled by loss of weight and appetite, listlessness, rough and scaly skin, poor night vision, dull sense of taste and smell, white spots on fingernails, and eczema.

Acquired immune dysfunctions in humans occur with deficiencies of iron, zinc, vitamin A, B-6 (pyridoxine), B-12, and folic acid, and with excesses of essential fatty acids and vitamin E. (J. American Medical Association, 245:53-58, 1981.)

Generalized sensitivities and allergies have been associated with zinc deficiency. Once corrected with zinc supplementation, the clinical manifestation of allergy disappears.

Since nutritionally-induced immune dysfunction is generally reversible, it is important to recognize and identify clinical illnesses in which immunological malfunctions are of nutritional origin. Correction of the malnutrition should lead to prompt reversal of acquired immune malfunction.

When supplementing with zinc, it is always important to remember that it must be given with pyridoxine (B-6). Zinc requires B-6 for proper utilization in the body.


Water-soluble vitamins are not usually stored within the body. They must be consumed daily as part of one’s diet, and they are cleared easily from the body in the urine. Fat-soluble vitamins are usually stored in body tissues. Care must usually be exercised not to take high doses regularly, although is some situations higher than recommended doses should be given to overcome deficiencies.

When chronic deficiencies of some vitamins and supplements exist, an affected individual might need to consume large doses to overcome the problem. This may be due to the fact that whatever might have caused the deficiency, perhaps a deficiency in an enzyme or enzymes required to create or process the supplement within the body, might be overcome if the supplement were supplied in large amounts.

If a deficiency disease exists medical supervision of one’s treatment might be necessary.

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com

Monday, October 1, 2007

TOXIC INSECTICIDES, cont'd

TOXIC INSECTICIDES, cont’d

In the initial Blog reporting on the toxic effects of insecticides, we discussed the experience of an individual, a dentist, who was poisoned by Malathion. In order to help others who might find themselves in a similar predicament, I am publishing with his permission a description from the individual involved.

“My symptoms were (starting about 30 minutes after apparent exposure to Malathion) was dizziness, continuing to worsen for several hours. I had taken care in spraying, using a droplet spray, not aerosol, and was standing 4 feet distant from the potted tree. However, I did later move the tree. I had a short-sleeve shirt on. Apparently the contamination was on the skin, however, I did not associate my symptoms with the spray until many hours later. Had I connected the two events earlier, my course of action would have been to remove the clothes and shower thoroughly. Unfortunately, I did not make the connection for about 12 hours (duh!!!) as I have never had any reaction to Malathion before and thought of it as very innocuous (wrong).

The symptoms were very similar to sea sickness. Motion caused vomiting. However, when lying down and not moving, the vomiting ceased. The vomiting did not begin for 12 hours post-exposure.

My son checked for toxic reactions on the internet and superficial research did not reveal any symptoms similar to mine. However, the CDC/Poison Control phone center confirmed the symptoms. (The local medical personnel were too busy to see me or were out of the office and would not give advice without seeing me nor did they refer me to Poison Control!)

Since I have experienced impossibly long waits and poor treatment in the local hospital and no near-by physician could see me, I decided to treat myself as I would with motion sickness. Bed rest, moving little, only liquids my mouth and 25 mg Benadryl (diphenyl dramamine). Three days later, the dizziness has ceased and I have lived to tell the tale...which I shall not repeat!

Why is it I have to keep relearning that prevention is the best treatment? The Silent Spring that Rachael Carson described so forcefully decades ago also affects humans every bit as much or more as we humans are at the top of the food chain where toxic encounters concentrate.
I am also now using selenium (used for treating some forms of toxicity) and grape-seed extract to sop up free-radicals. R”

Dr. Tauraso’s note: Highlight, copy, and paste this link for a more detailed description of the toxic effects of Malathion in humans: www.atsdr.cdc.gov/MHMI/mmg154.html

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com