Honey, a complex mixture of sugars, amino acids, phenolics and other compounds, has been valued for its medicinal properties since ancient times. Made from flower nectar and produced by bees, honey's medicinal properties vary depending on what type of flowering plant it comes from.
One of the most heavily researched and renowned is Manuka honey, which is produced from certain Manuka plants — also known as tea trees — of the Leptospermum species, which are native to New Zealand and Australia.1
Manuka honey is a high-value export in New Zealand, one that prides itself on being a pure, high-quality product. "Our reputation for honey production and export rests on the integrity of our products and the credibility of our systems," wrote New Zealand's Ministry for Prime Industries (MPI).2
Tests by the agency show, however, that even natural Manuka honey is being affected by environmental contaminants — namely the herbicide glyphosate.
Glyphosate Detected in New Zealand Manuka Honey
Glyphosate is most commonly known as the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide, but it's found in about 90 different products. Overall, glyphosate is the most used herbicide in the world, including in New Zealand.3
New Zealand Food Safety has been testing honey samples for agricultural compounds, including insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and other environmental contaminants for years, but in 2017/2018 and 2018/2019, they tested honey samples for glyphosate residues, some of which turned up positive.
In their "National Chemical Residues Programme Report" released January 2020, it's noted that 300 raw extracted archival and retail-packed honey samples were tested for glyphosate residues during 2017/2018, while another 60 retail-packed Manuka honey samples were tested for the herbicide during 2018/2019.4
Out of the 300 samples, 22.3% contained glyphosate residues above the laboratory limit of reporting, with clover or pasture floral types testing positive more often than other varieties. About 1.7% of the unblended or unprocessed (raw extracted) honey samples contained glyphosate residues at levels above the regulatory limit.
Among the 2018/2019 retail samples tested, 18.3% contained glyphosate residues, though they were below the regulatory maximum. As for where the glyphosate contamination came from, the report noted:5
"Based on reported honey types, the most likely cause of the residues in honey is attributed to unintended exposure of honeybees to glyphosate from its approved use in agriculture.
This causal attribution is in comparable with previous international reports. As a consequence, beekeepers have little practical means of excluding bees from foraging on plants treated with glyphosate.
… To do so, would require the beekeeper to place their hives at the centre of 28 square kilometre area where they had assurance from land owners and managers there was no agricultural compound use."
Glyphosate Residues Pose 'Possible Trade Risk'
New Zealand's health officials maintain that no health risks are posed by the glyphosate residues detected in the honey, but a ministerial briefing document obtained by 1 News labeled the contamination a "possible trade risk … because most countries importing honey from New Zealand have no maximum residue limit (MRL), generally meaning that residues must not be detected at any level."6
Further details revealed in the confidential briefing suggest that a honey producer in New Zealand began investigating glyphosate residues in 2018 after the chemical was revealed in its honey by a retail market overseas. According to 1 News:7
"'Their investigation into the detections found residues present in unprocessed honey at levels above the New Zealand default maximum residue limit,' it reads. 'Their investigation concluded the likely cause of the residues was the use of glyphosate in pasture renovation/renewal.'"
New Zealand Food Safety reiterated that the glyphosate-contaminated honey posed no food safety concerns, adding:8
"For context, a 5-year old child who was consuming honey with 0.1 mg/kg of glyphosate residues (the default maximum residue level in New Zealand) would need to eat roughly 230kg of honey every day for the rest of their life to reach the World Health Organization Acceptable Daily Intake for glyphosate."
However, critics said that even at low levels, glyphosate residues mean the honey is tainted, and not due to the fault of the beekeepers, but to lax environmental regulations.
"If New Zealand wants to be a cheap commodity producer, producing tainted food, then that's New Zealand choice, or we can actually have stronger regulation, which protects our free market," Jodie Bruning of the Soil and Health Association told 1 News.9
Glyphosate Detected in Honey Samples Worldwide
Glyphosate has been detected in a variety of honey samples tested worldwide, including that taken directly from 59 beehives on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. There, glyphosate residues were found in 27% of honey samples, at levels as high as 342 parts per billion (ppb).10 Honey was also detected in 33% of honey samples purchased from stores on Kauai.
Not surprisingly, glyphosate occurrence and concentrations were higher in samples taken from the western, predominantly agricultural half of Kauai. Agriculture land use was strongly associated with glyphosate concentrations in honey from hives nearby, as was having extensive golf courses or highways nearby (glyphosate is not only used in agricultural areas, but also on golf courses and roadsides).
In 2014, researchers also found glyphosate in 45.5% of honey samples labeled organic, while the Canadian Food Inspection Agency found glyphosate in 29.7% of 3,188 food samples tested.11 Likewise, the U.S. FDA began a limited testing program for glyphosate in 2016, in which high levels of glyphosate were found in oatmeal products and honey, but the agency did not release the results publicly.
Internal FDA emails obtained by investigative journalist Carey Gillam through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests reveal Roundup has been found in virtually all foods tested, including granola and crackers.12 In 2016, Gillam wrote:13
"All of the samples the FDA tested in a recent examination contained glyphosate residues, and some of the honey showed residue levels double the legally allowed limit in the European Union, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
… In the records released by the FDA, one internal email describes trouble locating honey that doesn't contain glyphosate: 'It is difficult to find blank honey that does not contain residue. I collect about 10 samples of honey in the market and they all contain glyphosate,' states an FDA researcher."
Glyphosate Is Widespread in the Food Supply
While New Zealand Food Safety suggested a child would have to eat huge amounts of honey daily to even come close to consuming the amount of glyphosate deemed risky by the World Health Organization, this doesn't take into account how ubiquitous this chemical is in the environment.
Honey is unlikely to be a person's only source of exposure, as glyphosate has been detected in a wide variety of commonly consumed foods.
For example, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) commissioned three rounds of glyphosate testing on cereals and other foods sold by Kellogg, General Mills and Quaker, the latest of which took place in 2019 and involved 21 oat-based cereal and snack products.
The chemical was found in all 21 products, with all but four of them coming in higher than EWG's benchmark for lifetime cancer risk in children, which is 160 ppb.14 Glyphosate has also been detected in PediaSure Enteral Formula nutritional drink, which is given to infants and children via feeding tubes,15 to get an idea of just how widespread it is.
It's also found in air, rain, municipal water supplies, soil samples, breast milk, urine, organic plant-based protein supplements and even vaccines, including the pneumococcal, Tdap, hepatitis B (which is injected on the day of birth), influenza and MMR vaccines.16,17
Even Low Levels of Glyphosate Pose a Risk
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) identified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen in 2015,18 and in the U.S. about 125,000 claims have been initiated by people who believe exposure to Roundup caused them to develop Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.19
Research published in Frontiers in Genetics also supports glyphosate's cancer link, finding that exposure even in low concentrations (in parts per trillion) may induce cancer in cells when combined with microRNA-182-5p (miR182-5p).20
MicroRNA-182-5p is a gene regulatory molecule found in everyone, and overexpression of the molecule has been linked to cancer. Michael Antoniou of King's College London, who peer reviewed the study, stated, "These observations highlight for the first time a possible biomarker of glyphosate activity at the level of gene expression that could be linked with breast cancer formation."21
Aside from cancer, significant bioaccumulation of glyphosate has been documented in the kidney, an organ with known susceptibility to glyphosate, and glyphosate-induced kidney toxicity has been associated with disturbances in the expression of genes associated with fibrosis, necrosis and mitochondrial membrane dysfunction.22
Further, research published in 2015 found that glyphosate in combination with aluminum synergistically induced pineal gland pathology, which in turn was linked to gut dysbiosis and neurological diseases such as autism, depression, dementia, anxiety disorder and Parkinson's disease.23
Bayer Proposes Roundup Lawsuit Settlement
A number of animal and human diseases have been rising in step with glyphosate usage. This includes conditions such as failure to thrive, congenital heart defects, enlarged right ventricle, liver cancer and, in newborns, lung problems, metabolic disorders and genitourinary disorders.24
The environmental risks are also immense. Speaking to Politico, Jeroen van der Sluijs, a professor of science and ethics at Norway's Bergen University, explained:25
"It [glyphosate] kills a lot of non-target plants and it leads to an agricultural practice where you have monoculture with no wild plants left in the fields … If you remove all the wild plants from the fields then you only have the crop that flowers and that's only a very short period in the year. The rest of the year there's nothing to forage on.
… We find [glyphosate] everywhere in surface waters, it is indeed toxic for all kinds of aquatic organisms, so of special concern are amphibians like frogs and salamanders."
Bayer, which acquired Monsanto, Roundup's original maker, in 2018, has been in settlement talks for months to resolve the litigation but continues to deny that the chemical causes cancer. In June 2020, they reportedly reached a settlement agreement with attorneys representing 75% of the claims initiated, in which they said they will provide $8.8 billion to $9.6 billion to resolve the litigation.26
However, more than 20,000 additional cases have not agreed to Bayer's settlement offer and intend to proceed through the court system.27
Is There a Way to Find Pure Honey?
Beekeepers are, unfortunately, at the mercy of their neighbors' glyphosate usage, as they can't control which plants their bees choose to visit. Some beekeepers, however, are carefully managing where they put their hives to minimize pesticide exposure and keep track of when spraying occurs to help reduce exposures.28
This is an issue not only for honey purity but also for bee health, as glyphosate is known to harm bees. Even organic honey can be contaminated with glyphosate, though there are some organizations that offer glyphosate-free certifications.
The Detox Project is among them. If you see their glyphosate-residue-free certification on Manuka honey, it means the product has no glyphosate residues down to government-recognized limits of detection (usually 0.01 parts per million), and lower levels than the default government Maximum Residue Limits in the European Union and Japan.29
As vaccine companies rush to bring a COVID-19 vaccine to market, billionaire Microsoft founder Bill Gates — who routinely funnels hundreds of millions of dollars to various vaccine projects — warns you will probably need “multiple doses” of any given COVID-19 vaccine for it to be effective.1
In speaking with CBS News, Gates said, “None of the vaccines at this point appear like they'll work with a single dose,” adding that in order to wipe the virus out through universal vaccinations it will require “unbelievably big numbers” of doses. To be effective, he also predicts we will need to vaccinate around 80% of the global population so, yes, we’re talking about tens of billions of doses.
100% of Moderna Vaccine Participants Suffered Side Effects
Gates visibly struggles to maneuver through the pointed questions posed by CBS about the safety of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (currently known only as mRNA-1273), which was recently found2 to cause systemic side effects in 80% of Phase 1 participants receiving the 100 microgram (mcg) dose.
Side effects ranged from fatigue (80%), chills (80%), headache (60%) and myalgia or muscle pain (53%). After the second dose, 100% of participants in the 100-mcg group experienced side effects.
In the highest dosage group, which received 250 mcg, 100% of participants suffered side effects after both the first and second doses.3 Three of the 14 participants (21%) in the 250-mcg group suffered “one or more severe events.”
Despite these worrisome results, the trial is being heralded as a big success, and vaccine expert Dr. Paul Offit has been quoted4 as saying we now know “that it’s safe in 45 people,” and that “it doesn’t have a very common side effect problem.”
Clearly, we have very different perceptions of reality on what “very common” means. If 80% to 100% is considered uncommon, then just what level of harm must be inflicted in order for a vaccine to be viewed as having a questionable safety profile?
According to Gates, those side effects are largely due to the high dosages Moderna had to use in order to achieve the desired antibody levels. But, if high dosages are required to create a robust-enough immune response, and higher dosages also cause systemic side effects in a vast majority of people, just how safe will this global vaccination campaign be?
Keep in mind, the 45 participants in Moderna’s Phase 1 trial were healthy individuals between the ages of 18 and 55.5 Meanwhile, over 90% of Americans are metabolically unhealthy and struggle with chronic health conditions that can make them more prone to vaccine complications.
What’s more, frail elderly are unlikely to survive serious vaccine side effects, yet people over 80 are the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and would theoretically stand to benefit from the vaccine most.
Coronavirus Vaccines Have Been Notoriously Prone to Failure
High risk of side effects is probably to be expected, considering a) the history of coronavirus vaccines in general, b) most of the COVID-19 vaccines under development are relying on mRNA technology that have never been used in vaccine production before now, and c) the vaccines are being fast-tracked, forgoing animal studies.
Starting with the first issue, researchers have been unable to produce a coronavirus vaccine despite decades-long efforts. While SARS-CoV-2 is a novel human coronavirus, there are seven others that cause respiratory illness in humans, including four that trigger the common cold,6 which is why vaccine makers have been trying to develop coronavirus vaccines in the past.
Among the coronaviruses that cause respiratory illness are SARS and MERS. Coronavirus vaccine efforts gained speed in early 2002, following three SARS epidemics.
However, such efforts have proven highly problematic as coronavirus vaccines have a stubborn tendency to trigger paradoxical immune responses, and researchers have not been able to find a solution for that. This alone is why fast-tracking a COVID-19 vaccine is a terribly risky decision. As reported by Reuters, March 11, 2020:7
“Studies have suggested that coronavirus vaccines carry the risk of what is known as vaccine enhancement, where instead of protecting against infection, the vaccine can actually make the disease worse when a vaccinated person is infected with the virus.
The mechanism that causes that risk is not fully understood and is one of the stumbling blocks that has prevented the successful development of a coronavirus vaccine.
Normally, researchers would take months to test for the possibility of vaccine enhancement in animals. Given the urgency to stem the spread of the new coronavirus, some drugmakers are moving straight into small-scale human tests, without waiting for the completion of such animal tests.
‘I understand the importance of accelerating timelines for vaccines in general, but from everything I know, this is not the vaccine to be doing it with,’ Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told Reuters.”
Why a Vaccine May Trigger More Severe Illness
In my interview with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who chairs the board of directors of the Children’s Health Defense,8 he reviewed some of the failed efforts to produce a viable coronavirus vaccine, starting in 2002, and highlighted the dangers of vaccine exaggeration of the immune response:
“The Chinese, the Americans, the Europeans all got together and said, ‘We need to develop a vaccine against coronavirus.’ Around 2012, they had about 30 vaccines that looked promising. They took the four best of those and … gave those vaccines to ferrets, which are the closest analogy when you're looking at lung infections in human beings.
The ferrets had an extraordinarily good antibody response, and that is the metric by which FDA licenses vaccines … The ferrets developed very strong antibodies, so they thought, ‘We hit the jackpot.’ All four of these vaccines … worked like a charm.
Then something terrible happened. Those ferrets were then exposed to the wild virus, and they all died. [They developed] inflammation in all their organs, their lungs stopped functioning and they died.
Then those scientists remembered that the same thing had happened in the 1960s when they tried to develop an RSV vaccine, which is an upper respiratory illness very similar to coronavirus.
At the time, they did not test it on animals. They went right to human testing. They tested it on about 35 children, and the same thing happened. The children developed a champion antibody response, robust, durable. It looked perfect, and then the children were exposed to the wild virus and they all became sick. Two of them died. They abandoned the vaccine. It was a big embarrassment to FDA and NIH.”
As it turns out, they eventually discovered that there are two kinds of antibodies being produced by the coronavirus. When you read press releases and studies about COVID-19 vaccines, you’ll see them referring to:
- Neutralizing antibodies9 that fight the infection, and
- Binding antibodies10 (also known as nonneutralizing antibodies) that do not prevent viral infection
The binding antibodies, rather than fighting the infection, actually trigger what’s known as paradoxical immune enhancement. As explained above, what this means is that even though you may have a robust antibody response, when you’re exposed to the actual virus, rather than protecting you it actually enhances the virus’ ability to make you sick or even kill you.
Looking at the preliminary findings11 from Moderna’s mRNA-1273 Phase 1 trial, we see that neutralizing antibody responses were quite good, “reducing SARS-CoV-2 infectivity by 80% or more” at day 43. However, we also see that:
“Binding antibody IgG geometric mean titers (GMTs) to S-2P increased rapidly after the first vaccination, with seroconversion in all participants by day 15. Dose-dependent responses to the first and second vaccinations were evident.”
Does this rapid increase in binding antibodies mean paradoxical immune enhancement is a possibility? One of my main concerns with COVID-19 vaccines is, will they actually conduct testing to see if paradoxical immune enhancement occurs? Meaning, will they expose vaccinated participants to SARS-CoV-2, to see what happens?
mRNA Vaccines May Produce Serious Side Effects
Aside from the possibility of a paradoxical immune response, mRNA vaccines may in and of themselves be problematic. Inside your cells, mRNA activate DNA instructions, and act as a template to build a specific protein.
The theory behind mRNA vaccines is that when you inject the mRNA, it will stimulate your own cells to manufacture the virus proteins.12 In this case, those proteins would mimic the proteins found in SARS-CoV-2.
Conventional vaccines train your body to recognize and respond to the proteins of a particular virus by injecting a small amount of the actual viral protein into your body, thereby triggering an immune response and the development of antibodies.
mRNA vaccines are designed to make your body produce its own viral protein, which your immune system would then mount a response to. No previous vaccines have had your own cells produce the viral proteins responsible for producing immunity.
What might go wrong when you turn your body into a viral protein factory, thus activating antibody production on a continual basis? Well, since there are no mRNA vaccines on the market, it’s hard to tell. But, according to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Duke University:13,14
“mRNA vaccines have potential safety issues, including local and systemic inflammation and stimulation of auto-reactive antibodies and autoimmunity, as well as development of edema (swelling) and blood clots.”
Some of these effects, such as systemic inflammation and blood clots, resemble severe symptoms of COVID-19 itself. So, does that mean mRNA vaccines might worsen COVID-19 infection? What’s more, since the mRNA vaccines work on the genetic level and could become integrated into your DNA, might they cause long-term, perhaps even generational, problems?
Some COVID-19 Vaccine Trials Are Not Using Inert Placebos
Some COVID-19 vaccine trials also appear to be structured in such a way as to hide side effects, which does not inspire trust. As noted in a July 21, 2020, Wired article,15 some trials are using injected meningococcal vaccine rather than a true placebo, and anytime you use another vaccine as a control, certain symptoms of harm are automatically obscured.
Another way to hide side effects is to administer the vaccine along with certain drugs. One example of this is the University of Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine trial, which has one study arm in which subjects are given acetaminophen every six hours for the first 24 hours after inoculation.
Is the pain and fever reducer given to mask and downplay certain symptoms and side effects, such as pain, fever, headache or general malaise? It might. As noted by Wired:16
“The press release for … results from the Oxford vaccine trials described an increased frequency of ‘minor side effects’ among participants. A look at the actual paper, though, reveals this to be a marketing spin …
Yes, mild reactions were far more common than worse ones. But moderate or severe harms — defined as being bad enough to interfere with daily life or needing medical care — were common too.
Around one-third of people vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine without acetaminophen experienced moderate or severe chills, fatigue, headache, malaise, and/or feverishness.
Close to 10 percent had a fever of at least 100.4 degrees, and just over one-fourth developed moderate or severe muscle aches. That’s a lot, in a young and healthy group of people — and the acetaminophen didn’t help much for most of those problems.”
Gates Continues Push for Global Vaccine Empire
As discussed in several previous articles, including “How Bill Gates Monopolized Global Health” and “Deconstructing Bill Gates’ Agenda,” Gates is one of the financial beneficiaries of this pandemic. His foundation both funds vaccine developers and owns stock in them.
While he claims there’s separation between these two, it’s a flimsy one at best, and clearly illegal. While the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation doles out grants, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust is a separate entity that manages the Foundation’s assets.
However, these two entities have glaringly obvious overlapping interests, and grants given by the foundation frequently benefit the value of the trust’s assets directly. I wrote about this illegal setup in “Bill Gates — Most Dangerous Philanthropist in Modern History?” This is why, despite giving away billions of dollars, Gates’ “Decade of Vaccines” has doubled his worth, from $54 billion to $103.1 billion.
Since President Trump stopped the U.S. funding of the WHO, Gates is now the largest funder of the World Health Organization, which is laying down the ground rules that all nations are expected to follow, which, of course, includes the recommendation to vaccinate, as soon as a vaccine becomes available.
Gates’ remarkable rise to influence on global health matters is founded not on expertise but on money. Just like John D. Rockefeller before him, Gates gained public adoration by donating money to ostensibly “humanitarian causes” — and purchasing good publicity.
Nowadays, he needs all the good publicity he can buy. As more people are getting wise to his greedy get-rich vaccine schemes, his reputation is rapidly tarnishing.
According to an April 23, 2020, Newspunch article,17 410,000 people had signed a White House petition18 to investigate the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for crimes against humanity and medical malpractice. At the time of this writing, the petition has garnered 628,668 signatures. That’s well over six times the number required to illicit an official response. The petition is still open if you’d like to add your signature.
According to the director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, life will not be returning to your old normal anytime soon. What's more, things will only get worse unless the public follow health advice such as wearing masks and social distancing. The somber announcement came during a July 13, 2020, press conference (above).
This, despite the fact that the WHO's June 5, 2020, guidance memo1 on face mask use states there's no direct evidence that universal masking of healthy people is an effective intervention against respiratory illnesses.
What's more, people are being urged to use cloth masks or bandanas (ostensibly to prevent shortages among health care staff), none of which conform to any kind of quality standards, and according to what little scientific evidence is available have been shown to provide only about half of what little protection you may get from a surgical mask.
No Direct Evidence to Support Universal Mask Usage
SARS-CoV-2 is a beta-coronavirus with a diameter between 60 nanometers (nm) and 140 nm, or 0.06 to 0.14 microns (micrometers).2 This is about half the size of most viruses, which tend to measure between 0.02 microns to 0.3 microns.3
Virus-laden saliva or respiratory droplets expelled when talking or coughing measure between 5 and 10 microns,4 and it is these droplets that surgical masks and respirators can block.
For example, N95 masks can filter particles as small as 0.3 microns,5 so they may prevent a majority of respiratory droplets from escaping. They cannot block aerosolized viruses, however, that are in the air itself. Additionally, many N95 masks only protect the wearer, as they have exhalation ports that allow you to exhale unfiltered air.
Lab testing6 has shown 3M surgical masks can block up to 75% of particles measuring between 0.02 microns and 1 micron, while cloth masks block between 30% and 60% of respiratory particles of this size. As noted in the WHO's guidance memo:7
"Meta-analyses in systematic literature reviews have reported that the use of N95 respirators compared with the use of medical masks is not associated with any statistically significant lower risk of the clinical respiratory illness outcomes or laboratory-confirmed influenza or viral infections …
The use of cloth masks (referred to as fabric masks in this document) as an alternative to medical masks is not considered appropriate for protection of health workers based on limited available evidence …
At present, there is no direct evidence (from studies on COVID- 19 and in healthy people in the community) on the effectiveness of universal masking of healthy people in the community to prevent infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19."
Curiously, while cloth masks and face coverings are far less effective for blocking respiratory droplets, the WHO recommends that cloth or nonmedical masks "should only be considered for source control (used by infected persons) in community settings and not for prevention."8
CDC Policy Review Found No Evidence of Usefulness Either
A policy review paper9 published in Emerging Infectious Diseases in May 2020 — the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's own journal — has also reviewed "the evidence base on the effectiveness of nonpharmaceutical personal protective measures … in non-healthcare settings," and they too found no evidence of benefit:
"Although mechanistic studies support the potential effect of hand hygiene or face masks, evidence from 14 randomized controlled trials of these measures did not support a substantial effect on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza."
Pages 970 to 972 of the review include the following quotes:10
"In our systematic review, we identified 10 RCTs [randomized controlled trials] that reported estimates of the effectiveness of face masks in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza virus infections in the community from literature published during 1946–July 27, 2018. In pooled analysis, we found no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks …
Disposable medical masks (also known as surgical masks) are loose-fitting devices that were designed to be worn by medical personnel to protect accidental contamination of patient wounds, and to protect the wearer against splashes or sprays of bodily fluids …
There is limited evidence for their effectiveness in preventing influenza virus transmission either when worn by the infected person for source control or when worn by uninfected persons to reduce exposure.
Our systematic review found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza … In this review, we did not find evidence to support a protective effect of personal protective measures or environmental measures in reducing influenza transmission."
These Mistakes Undermine the Protection Masks May Provide
If and when you do use a mask, you have to follow proper protocols, or else you can nullify what little protection they do offer against potentially infectious respiratory droplets. As detailed in WHO's guidance memo, you need to make sure your medical mask is:11
- Changed when wet, soiled or damaged
- Untouched. Do not adjust or displace it from your face for any reason. "If this happens, the mask should be safely removed and replaced; and hand hygiene performed"
- Discarded and changed after caring for any patient on contact/droplet precautions for other pathogens
The memo also points out that "Staff who do not work in clinical areas do not need to use a medical mask during routine activities (e.g., administrative staff)." Now, if administrative hospital staff do not need to wear masks, why would healthy individuals need to wear them when walking around, especially in open-air areas?
Broward county, Florida, has gone so far as to issue an emergency order12 mandating masks to be worn inside your own residence. But why, if administrative hospital staff aren't even advised to wear them at work?
In summary, it is likely that masks are not entirely useless in all circumstances. However, the literature rather strongly suggests the usefulness of masks depends on a significant number of factors — type, fit, length of use, purpose and circumstances — which are effectively impossible to account for in public universal-masking policies.
The science, contrary to the ignorant platitudes we are bombarded with, has NOT proven that universal masking is effective for viral containment, and has instead provided substantial grounds for skepticism of such a policy.
Benefits of Mask Wearing Do Not Include Infection Control
Despite the lack of scientific evidence showing masks do much of anything to prevent the spread of viral infections, the WHO still manages to make a case for universal mask wearing. The "potential benefits" listed, however, have little to do with health, and much more to do with learning submission. According to the WHO, potential benefits of mask wearing include:13
• "Reduced potential stigmatization of individuals wearing masks to prevent infecting others or of people caring for COVID-19 patients in nonclinical settings" — In other words, we should all wear masks to make people caring for COVID-19 patients feel more accepted, as if that's actually a significant problem.
• "Making people feel they can play a role in contributing to stopping spread of the virus" — I.e., masks, while providing a false sense of security, make people feel like they're "doing something" to help. Put another way, it makes people feel virtuous and "good."
• "Reminding people to be compliant with other measures" — In other words, mask wearing is a sign of overall compliance.
• "Potential social and economic benefits" — This is perhaps the most ludicrously strained reason of all. According to the WHO:
"Encouraging the public to create their own fabric masks may promote individual enterprise and community integration … The production of non-medical masks may offer a source of income for those able to manufacture masks within their communities. Fabric masks can also be a form of cultural expression, encouraging public acceptance of protection measures in general."
Potential Harms and Risks of Mask Wearing
The WHO also lists a number of potential harms and risks of mask wearing, which "should be carefully taken into account when adopting this approach of targeted continuous medical mask use." These include:14
- Self-contamination due to the manipulation of the mask by contaminated hands or not changing the mask when wet, soiled or damaged
- General discomfort, as well as facial skin lesions, irritant dermatitis or worsening acne
- False sense of security that may reduce adherence to other well recognized preventive measures such as hand hygiene
- Disadvantages for or difficulty wearing them by specific vulnerable populations such as those with mental health disorders, developmental disabilities, the deaf and hard of hearing community, and children
- Difficulty wearing them in hot and humid environments
Aside from these, several people have demonstrated that masks can rapidly result in the buildup of toxic carbon dioxide, which can have a markedly detrimental impact on health.
In one video, a science teacher tried to evade YouTube censorship by saying children should wear face masks to school — all while holding up handwritten signs informing viewers the tactic was for censorship evasion, and to pay attention to the carbon dioxide metering results, which show carbon dioxide levels behind the mask shoot up above 10,000 parts per million (ppm) after just 10 breaths.
After garnering several hundred thousand views, the video was removed for "violating YouTube community guidelines."
Del Bigtree of The Highwire has performed an identical demonstration15 (see bitchute video below). With an N95 mask on, the carbon dioxide level spikes above 8,480 ppm within seconds. Above 5,000 ppm, OSHA warns that "toxicity or oxygen deprivation could occur."
Carbon dioxide levels between 2,000 ppm and 5,000 ppm are associated with headaches, sleepiness, poor concentration, loss of attention, increased heart rate and slight nausea. The maximum permissible daily exposure limit is 5,000 ppm.
Wearing a standard surgical mask, carbon dioxide levels again reached above 8,000 ppm, although it took longer. Shockingly, wearing a cloth bandana resulted in carbon dioxide buildup near the nose and mouth exceeding 8,000 ppm.
Even wearing a clear plastic face shield (without a mask) resulted in carbon dioxide levels in the 1,500-ppm range, which is associated with drowsiness and poor air quality. The video at the top of this section also addresses many of the potential harms and risks of masks wearing.
Toxic ingredients that can worsen breathing problems are yet another potential hazard of certain masks. For example, surgical masks are made of plastics like polypropylene, a known asthma trigger.16
The 2018 study,17,18 "Hypoxia Downregulates Protein S Expression," also describes how hypoxia (low oxygen concentration) increases your risk of blood clots by reducing protein S, which is a natural anticoagulant. Wearing a mask, especially for long periods of time, may reduce your oxygen concentration, and considering COVID-19 is already associated with abnormal blood clotting, inducing hypoxia may be ill advised.
PPE Waste Is Becoming an Environmental Hazard
Last but not least, environmentalists are now warning that personal protective equipment (PPE) such as medical face masks may turn into a devastating environmental problem. As reported by The Guardian, June 8, 2020:19
"The French non-profit Opération Mer Propre, whose activities include regularly picking up litter along the Côte d'Azur, began sounding the alarm late last month.
Divers had found what Joffrey Peltier of the organization described as 'COVID waste' — dozens of gloves, masks and bottles of hand sanitizer beneath the waves of the Mediterranean, mixed in with the usual litter of disposable cups and aluminum cans … 'It's the promise of pollution to come if nothing is done,' said Peltier.
In France alone, authorities have ordered two billion disposable masks, said Laurent Lombard of Opération Mer Propre. 'Knowing that … soon we'll run the risk of having more masks than jellyfish in the Mediterranean,' he wrote on social media alongside video of a dive showing algae-entangled masks and soiled gloves in the sea near Antibes.
The group hopes the images will prompt people to embrace reusable masks and swap latex gloves for more frequent handwashing. 'With all the alternatives, plastic isn't the solution to protect us from COVID. That's the message,' said Peltier."
Consider Peaceful Civil Disobedience
Clearly, most people are being bombarded with mainstream media propaganda that seeks to convince you that masks are necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19. So, it is entirely understandable that you would want everyone to wear masks because you believe they will save lives.
However, if you carefully evaluate the evidence, independent of the mainstream narrative, it is likely you will conclude that this recommendation has nothing to do with decreasing the spread of the virus but more to indoctrinate you into submission.
Most objections to mask-wearing requirements are not to the masks themselves, but to the mandate, and well-documented consequences such as oxygen deprivation should give anybody pause when considering a legal requirement of wearing masks in public. We already see that most people wear masks in public regardless of mandates.20 But it is entirely irresponsible and unethical for governments to mandate such a practice on anybody.
In my upcoming interview with Patrick Wood, he provides compelling evidence that this has been a carefully crafted technocratic strategy that has been in place for the last 50 years or so. By submitting to these orders, we are likely setting the stage for inevitable mandatory vaccinations. If you're still on the fence, please watch my upcoming interview with Wood, embedded above for your convenience, and consider not complying with mask mandates.
Studies have shown that your diet — or more specifically, having a high intake of antioxidants in your diet — plays a major role in helping to prevent the development of allergic diseases and allergy responses.
One study published in Clinical and Experimental Allergy in February 2017 found a significant inverse relationship between the total amount of antioxidants you eat and how sensitive you are to inhalant allergens, like pollen.1
Another study published in Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Research in March 2013 looked at the connection between an antioxidant-rich diet and the risk of allergic disease in Korean children between the ages of 6 and 12. Researchers found that children who ate more vitamin C, which has strong antioxidant activity, had fewer allergy symptoms.2
Black Raspberries Can Help Your Skin
While there’s existing research on the benefits of antioxidants in general, a July 2020 animal study published in Nutrients looked at how a specific food, black raspberries, may be able to combat skin inflammation associated with allergies.3
The researchers found that a diet high in black raspberries reduced inflammation from contact hypersensitivity, an allergic skin condition that causes redness, swelling and inflammation.
For the study, they separated mice into two groups — a control group and an intervention group. Both were fed the same diet, with one difference: The intervention group was also given the equivalent to one human serving of black raspberries.
After three weeks, the researchers exposed one ear on each mouse to an allergen that caused contact hypersensitivity and associated swelling. Over the next few days, they measured improvements in swelling to see if there was a difference between the two groups.
The found that in the mice that ate black raspberries, swelling reduced significantly more than in the control group. The researchers concluded that the antioxidant compounds in black raspberries help inhibit inflammation by acting on dendritic cells, which process antigens and tell the immune system to turn off or on, especially when it comes to inflammation.
According to Steve Oghumu, lead researcher for the study,4 when your skin is exposed to an allergen, like in the case of contact hypersensitivity, your immune system sends out cells that turn on inflammation and cause itchiness, redness and swelling.
Oghumu adds that instead of trying to treat the response after the fact with steroid creams and other potentially harmful topicals, you may be able to control or reduce the severity of the response by eating black raspberries and other foods that are high in anthocyanins and antioxidant compounds.
Other researchers speculate that antioxidants can also help in a different way that’s connected with oxidative stress and the damage it can cause to your cells. According to the study in Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Research,5 a lack of antioxidants in the diet allows an increase in oxidative stress, which can trigger allergic responses that are inflammatory in nature.
On the other hand, a high intake of antioxidants helps prevent the formation of free radicals, which can cause lipid peroxidation, or the breakdown of lipids, and, ultimately, damage to your cell membranes or DNA. Both of these things contribute to reduced sensitivity to allergens and irritants.
Other Health Benefits of Black Raspberries
In addition to helping reduce inflammation associated with skin allergies, black raspberries have been shown to:6
- Reduce eyestrain
- Improve night vision
- Help prevent macular degeneration
- Protect against DNA damage
- Prevent cancer
Black raspberries are also rich in ellagic acid,7 an antioxidant phenol that has been shown to decrease the symptoms of chronic metabolic diseases, like insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and dyslipidemia.8
The ellagic acid in black raspberries has also been shown to help combat obesity by increasing thermogenesis and turning white fat into brown fat.9 White fat stores energy and is a main contributor to obesity, while brown fat dissipates energy in the form of heat and may actually help increase energy expenditure or the number of calories you burn.10
Black Raspberries Are Different Than Blackberries
Although black raspberries look similar to blackberries, there are some distinct — albeit small — differences in their appearance. As the name implies, black raspberries are darker than red ones, but they are similar in size and covered with fine hairs. Also, like regular red raspberries, black raspberries are hollow in the center. On the other hand, blackberries are large with bigger cells and have a white, dense core.
Red and black raspberries and blackberries are all high in anthocyanins, flavonols, phenolic acid, ellagitannins, vitamin C, vitamin E and folic acid — compounds that exhibit antioxidant activity. But black raspberries are particularly high in the plant pigments and have an overall higher total phenolic count.11
According to a 2015 research article in Open Chemistry, black raspberries contain a significantly higher number of anthocyanins than both red raspberries and blackberries and, because of this, they have a much higher antioxidant capacity.12
It’s this antioxidant capacity that’s responsible for many of the health benefits connected to black raspberries, including their ability to fight inflammation associated with skin allergies.
Health Benefits of Red Raspberries
Red raspberries may not be as high in anthocyanins and other antioxidant compounds as black raspberries or blackberries, but they’re still a powerful health promoter.
Red raspberries are high in vitamin C, quercetin and gallic acid,13 antioxidants that contribute to their ability to fight heart disease, circulatory disease, age-related decline and cancer. Raspberry oil has a sun protective factor and may protect against wrinkles.
Also high in ellagic acid, red raspberries may efficiently help stop damage to cell membranes. In combination with other flavonoid molecules found in red raspberries, this unique blend of antioxidants also has some antimicrobial properties.14
The high nutrient value of the berries also boosts your immune system and helps you fight off disease. When grown in fertile, healthy soil, they are an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C, helping to protect against oxygen-related damage.
The combination of flavonoids and antioxidants in berries have demonstrated in animal studies that they may help with memory improvement15 and may protect against cognitive decline.16 The fiber and water content in the berries, including black raspberries, may also help prevent constipation.
How to Grow Your Own Berries
While berries are worth their weight in gold when it comes to nutrition, buying them in small containers at your local grocery store can get pretty costly. The good news is that raspberries are fairly easy to grow in your own backyard. Growing your own berries also ensures they aren’t sprayed with fungicides or insecticides that can be detrimental to your health.
If you want to grow your own berries, choose a well-drained location that isn’t soggy and has access to full or partial sun. If you live in a hotter climate, choose a location that has sun in the morning, but gets plenty of afternoon shade.17 If you’re planting multiple bushes, which isn’t required since black raspberries are self-pollinating, make sure they’re at least 2.5 feet apart.
Water plants about once per week before you see any fruit, soaking the ground instead of wetting the foliage directly.18 Once fruit develops, the black raspberries need 1 to 1.5 inches of water every week. If you don’t adequately water the berries during this time, you’ll end up with small berries that have a lot of seeds.
Black raspberries do have a short season that begins in early July and lasts about two to three weeks,19 so you want to make sure you’re timing your harvesting to reap the most from your efforts. If you can’t finish all of the black raspberries, pick them and freeze them in BPA-free containers to use later in smoothies or for homemade dairy-free sorbet.
1 Which of the following statements is accurate?
2 What is the biggest danger of mass COVID-19 vaccinations?
3 Which of the following types of masks is the least effective, in terms of filtering viruses and blocking respiratory droplets emitted when talking and coughing?
4 Which type of test will tell you if you have recovered from a COVID-19 infection?
5 If SARS-CoV-2 is a manipulated, manmade virus, it is proof that:
6 Taking these two nutrients concomitant with oral vitamin D has been shown to reduce the vitamin D dose required to achieve optimal blood levels by 244%:
7 What percentage of Americans are metabolically unhealthy and insulin resistant?
Dr. Mercola Interviews the Experts
This article is part of a weekly series in which Dr. Mercola interviews various experts on a variety of health issues. To see more expert interviews, click here.
As every year during our annual Fluoride Awareness Week, Fluoride Action Network (FAN) founder Dr. Paul Connett is here to provide us with a progress update. FAN has been instrumental in reducing fluoride exposure in North America and in many countries throughout the world over the past 20 years.
As in previous years, we ask that you consider donating to this worthy organization that is spearheading the daunting task of eliminating water fluoridation around the world. As usual, Mercola.com will match your donation, dollar for dollar, up to $25,000 during Fluoride Awareness Week.
Fluoride Lowers Children’s IQ
From the very beginning, one of Connett’s driving concerns was the possibility that fluoride might be lowering children’s IQ.
“Two Chinese studies were published in 1995 and 1996, in English. I was very concerned, and felt strongly that if there was any evidence that fluoride lowered intelligence of children, then there's no way you would put benefits to teeth above that and continue water fluoridation,” Connett says.
Ten years later, in 2006, the National Research Council looked at the toxicology of fluoride.1 At that time, there were six IQ studies and, based on those six studies along with many animal studies, the NRC concluded that fluoride did in fact pose a threat to the brain. By 2008, there were 18 such studies.
In 2012, a distinguished team, partly from Harvard University, did a review2 of 27 IQ studies; 25 from China and two from Iran. Strikingly, 26 of the studies showed children with higher fluoride exposure had lower IQ than the children with lower fluoride exposure.
“The bombshell came in 2017. Up to that point, we had about 60 studies that had shown a lowering of IQ, most of them from China, but also some from India, some from Iran, some from Mexico,” Connett says.
US-Funded Study Confirms Decades’ Long Suspicions
The bombshell study3,4 Connett refers to, known as the “Bashash study” (named after the lead author, Morteza Bashash, Ph.D.), was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Environmental Protection Agency.
It followed pregnant women and their babies for 12 years. They measured the fluoride in their urine, which reveals total exposure, regardless of the source or sources, and they found a strong relationship between the fluoride level in mothers’ urine and IQ scores in their children at the ages of 4, and between 6 and 12.
It’s important to realize that it’s not the concentration of fluoride in the water (measured in mg per liter) that is significant for health. What matters is the dose you get in milligrams per day, and the dosage (mg/day divided by the individual’s body weight), and these depend on a variety of fluctuating factors.
“The NIH is a parent of the Public Health Service, so they've been promoting fluoride for years and years (since 1950). So, I believe they put a lot of money into this study thinking that it would prove, once and for all, that crazy people like me and others were absolutely wrong about the notion that fluoride lowers IQ in children.
But lo and behold, they gave us very, very strong evidence that it is. And that the most susceptible age, as far as fluoride's impact on the brain, is during fetal development.
It turns out the placenta does not protect the fetus from fluoride, and, as you know, up to about six months of age, the blood-brain barrier is not fully formed in the baby. So, the fetus is very susceptible to this impact of fluoride.”
The first response of the American Dental Association was that the findings didn’t apply to the United States, since it was done in Mexico City. However, this ignored the fact that human beings are human beings, by measuring fluoride in the urine they had a measure of total exposure, regardless of the source. It really doesn’t matter if the fluoride comes from water, other beverages, food or toothpaste.
Canadian Researchers Confirm ‘Bombshell’ Results
In 2019, the NIH study was replicated in Canada,5 and they too found that higher fluoride levels in maternal urine were associated with lower IQ in their offspring. The only major difference was that based on maternal urine levels only boys appeared to be affected, not the girls. But when the mothers’ fluoride exposure was calculated from ingestion (i.e. from food and beverages) there was a relationship between that and the children’s IQ for both boys and girls,
“Now, this study, unlike the first one, the Bashash study, got a certain amount of coverage,” Connett says. “[It] was published in the journal of the American Medical Association, Pediatrics. That's one of the major pediatrics journals in the world, and the editors of this journal went to extreme lengths.
They knew this was controversial. Hats off for them to take it on. They knew it was going to be consequential, so they doubled up on the peer review process, they double checked the statistics, so they were confident when they launched it. They even ran an editorial saying the steps they'd taken.
They had two of their editors, the editor of JAMA in total and the editor of JAMA Pediatrics did a 20-minute podcast explaining how astounding the results were. They said, ‘Oh, we had no idea that fluoride caused any problems to health.’ I don't know what they'd been reading. But anyway … it was a bombshell for them to suddenly find that fluoride could be damaging the brain of the fetus.
They also ran an editorial from David Bellinger, one of the world's experts on lead's neurotoxicity, and he said ‘The measurements here are akin to what's happening with lead.’ In other words, it’s very, very serious, and that got a lot of coverage around the world.
But the other side was organized and they quickly got some ‘experts’ — none of them actually experts on fluoride or toxicology or neurotoxicity — who said all the right things to dampen people's concern about this study.”
Two Other Important Studies
“There are four studies that people need to know about,” Connett says. To learn more about each, see Connett’s video commentaries on FluorideALERT.org FAN.tv page. Aside from the two already mentioned, the two other ones are:
- The Riddell study, published in 2019, found a nearly 300% increase in ADHD prevalence in adolescents in Canadian communities with fluoridated water supplies, compared to those living in non-fluoridated communities. “Science never stops,” Connett says. “You have to entertain the notion that an ugly fact can destroy a beautiful theory, in this particular case, we got a lot of ugly facts, but the big one is the fact that fluoride could damage children's brains.”
- The Till study, which compared the IQ of children who had been bottle fed as babies in fluoridated communities (and thus would have gotten fluoridated water in their formula) versus non-fluoridated communities. Here, they found a large IQ difference.
FAN Lawsuit Against EPA on Fluoride Underway
November 22, 2016, a coalition including FAN, Food & Water Watch, Organic Consumers Association, American Academy of Environmental Medicine, International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, Moms Against Fluoridation and several individuals, filed a petition6,7 calling on the EPA to ban the deliberate addition of fluoridating chemicals to U.S. drinking water under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
As explained by Connett, the TSCA allows citizens and nongovernmental organizations to petition the EPA to remove toxic substances found to pose a threat (an unreasonable risk) either to the general population or a subset of that population.
The petition was made on the grounds that a large body of research demonstrates fluoride is neurotoxic at doses within the range now seen in fluoridated communities, and included over 2,500 pages of scientific documentation detailing these health risks.
The EPA denied the petition8 February 27, 2017, on the grounds that it had failed to present “a scientifically defensible basis” to conclude that anyone had in fact suffered neurotoxic harm as a result of fluoride exposure. In response, FAN and its coalition partners filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, legally challenging the EPA’s denial of their petition.
This interview was taped June 2, 2020. FAN was scheduled to begin arguments in front of a judge June 8. FAN will explain the neurotoxicity of fluoride shown in these and other studies, and then the EPA’s industry experts, paid consultants who have also defended glyphosate and other toxins, will present their evidence. (see FAN’s web site FluorideAlert.org for a summary of the trial)
“But we have, for our lawsuit … some of the leading experts on neurotoxicity in the world,” Connett says, “including a couple that were involved in the studies I've been talking about.” That includes Bruce Lanphear, the EPA’s go-to person for information about the neurotoxicity of lead. Lanphear worked with Till on the JAMA Pediatrics article and the bottle feeding study listed above. Howard Hu, lead author of the Bashash study, is another expert FAN witness, as is Philippe Grandjean.
“I am very optimistic. [The EPA] doesn’t have the science. We do. And not only do we have the science, but we have some of the world's best experts testifying for us. So, unless these crafty lawyers for the EPA are able to muddy the waters, I think we'll have no trouble in demonstrating three things: One, that the preponderance of evidence that fluoride is neurotoxic is overwhelming.
Second, that it is a risk at the levels at which we add fluoride to the water. And thirdly, it's an unreasonable risk. Because even if your number one focus was reducing tooth decay, there are other ways of delivering fluoride, instead of this ridiculous notion of putting it in the drinking water and forcing it on your whole population.
I think we can demonstrate those three things. And I'm happy to tell you that my son, who started our webpage in 2000 and developed the largest health database in the world, bigger than other fluoridating governments, by the way, is going to be the lawyer fighting this case,” Connett says.
You can now view the transcript of Michael Connett's brilliant summary statement
The End of Water Fluoridation Is Inevitable
If victorious, the EPA will likely appeal, as this is a classic stall tactic. “There's no agency in the United States that is better at dragging its feet on controversial issues,” Connett says.
“They dragged their feet for over 18 years on the reassessment of dioxin, an issue I was very close to, and they still didn't resolve the issue. They're very subject to industry pressure, and their way of resolving issues is just delay, delay, delay.
But, I do believe that if a federal court, having heard both sides, declares that fluoride poses an unnecessary risk, an unreasonable risk to the developing brain of our children, that that news will ricochet around the fluoridating world — Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Canada, Israel, Malaysia, and a few other countries where they still fluoridate. It's going to have a huge impact.
And I think the citizens will be able to use this as ammunition to say to their health departments, ‘Come on. Why are you doing this? Why are you doing this when you've got this scientific information … done by top notch scientists. Why on earth would you continue this practice when you know that if you want fluoride, you can simply brush it on your teeth and spit it out. What is your rationale for continuing this?
By the same token, to the professional bodies, to the AMA, the ADA, the APHA and all those other organizations that have endorsed fluoridation for years and years and years, why would you continue to support this? Why would you reveal to the public that you have no scientific credibility?
That you don't read the science, that you don't keep up with the science on an issue like this? When you're going to the public and saying again and again and again that fluoridation is safe and effective, when you've got this evidence right there in front of you?
One more thing … Possibly the most important agency for reviewing the toxicology of toxic substances is the National Toxicology Program (NTP). Back in 2016, FAN asked the NTP to do a systematic review of the neurotoxicity of fluoride. This was before the court case and before we went to court.
After three and a half years they came back, having reviewed all the animal data and the human data, and in their draft they said, ‘Based upon the literature, the presumption is that fluoride is a neurotoxic substance. Based upon studies done on children in several different countries, the presumption is that it is neurotoxic.’
Not that it's definite; but you would have to presume, based upon all the literature, that this is a neurotoxic substance. So, that’s a huge vindication for our case. But, because it's a draft and not a final version, we can't actually use it in the court case. Still, this is very useful for us going forward, in addition to whatever the court rules.”
Ending Water Fluoridation Still Met With Strong Resistance
While FAN has successfully ended water fluoridation in many areas, it’s still very difficult. One of the reasons for this is because those who want it to continue always point to reviews by government agencies “which, as bogus as they are and unscientific as they are, carry a lot of weight,” Connett says.
In Ireland, they refer to the expert committee. In New Zealand, they refer to the ministry of health and in Australia to the National Health and Medical Research Council. In the United States, they refer to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
All of these agencies have promoted water fluoridation and are not good judges of whether there are problems or not. Hopefully, a court win against the EPA will facilitate and speed up the process of getting fluoride out of drinking water. A win would also set another important precedent:
“We've been able to bring this to court under the Toxic Substances and Control Act, which has a clause [stating] that any group or individual can petition the EPA to remove, to ban, any particular use of a particular chemical in the United States if they can show it's an unreasonable risk to the population, or even a subset of the population.
We … along with Food & Water Watch are the first groups to ever do this. So, it's establishing a very important precedent, which is really worrying the chemical industry. It’s a big concern of ours, because behind the scenes I'm sure they're trying to muddy the waters in every way they can. But it's a huge precedent. I hope that our victory will also shoot adrenaline into the veins of all these other [health safety] groups …”
Another Fluoride-Related Issue To Be Tackled
In our interview, Connett also discusses the fluoride pollution released during recycling of lithium ion batteries, such as those used in electric cars. Lithium ion batteries contain fluorinated polymers like polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF) and an electrolyte called lithium hexafluorophosphate (LiPF6).
When heated during the recycling process, these fluorinated compounds break down to produce hydrogen fluoride, and many fluorinated byproducts which are toxic and difficult to capture. Like PFOS, these chemicals stick around for so long they’re known as “forever chemicals.”
As it happens, a lithium ion battery incinerator is being built near Connett’s home, across the road from a residential area and adjacent to a little league baseball field. “It is an absolutely insane, unethical siting,” Connett says, noting that there really is no safe place for such facilities. It’s the recycling process itself that needs to be modified, which is what Connett is fighting for now.
“What this has done is fortuitous. It has brought together nearly all the strands of our activism. I've had 35 years fighting incineration and dioxins [and] 24 years fighting fluoridation. Now we're meeting hydrogen fluoride and fluorinated by-products in spades. At the very least the problem will be: What do you do with the sodium fluoride that's left over in the effluent, the waste water?
I hope someone doesn't suggest putting it in the drinking water. Because also in that waste water you'll have a PFAS, a polyfluorinated alkyl substance (used in some of the batteries), and my wife has spent many, many years maintaining a database on these PFAS … She's been concerned with that for a long time. So, we've been able to draw on three different strands of our activism to help our local community.”
Avoid Fluoride to Optimize Your Health
Eliminating water fluoridation will go a long way toward protecting the health of all people, but especially children. Sacrificing children’s brain function for a theoretical benefit of less tooth decay is unconscionable.
Aside from making sure you do not drink fluoridated water, or use fluoridated water to mix infant formula, to reduce your exposure, avoid drinking excessive amounts of tea, which tends to be high in fluoride.
“Mix it up,” Connett says. “If you must drink tea, then drink tea, drink coffee, drink herbal tea. Mix it around. Not too much tea. Also, avoid animal bones. Don't eat the bones from sardines and pilchards. Don't eat the bones from chicken. Avoid mechanically deboned meat.”
Call to Action — Donate Today!
Again, for more details on the four studies Connett highlights in this interview, see his video commentaries on FAN.tv page. There you can also find a webinar lecture by FAN’s senior scientist, Chris Neurath, in which he explains the neurotoxicity of fluoride. To help spread the word, you can print out a FAN pamphlet to share with family, friends and local community bulletin boards.
In closing, if you’re concerned about the health effects of fluoride, please support FAN with your tax-deductible donation today. Mercola.com will match your donation, dollar for dollar, up to $25,000 during Fluoride Awareness Week.
Return guest Dr. Paul Saladino is a board-certified psychiatrist and also board certified in nutrition. He wrote “The Carnivore Code,” which just came out in an updated second edition. In this interview, he discusses the impact metabolic health has on COVID-19 outcomes.
He’s done a magnificent job explaining the science that supports the natural lifestyle strategies that optimize our immune systems to defeat not only COVID-19, but also most other infectious agents.
“The psychiatry was a jump-off point for thinking about how immune function and metabolic health affects mental health,” he says. “I quickly realized that everything in the body was connected and I couldn't just focus on the brain without focusing on the rest of the body, and that has led us to where we are today.
I think that as we are faced with coronavirus, it's a reminder of the metabolic health and how critical that is. I think so much of the media focus right now is on the next drug or the coming vaccine … but all of those strategies kind of miss the point. [They’re] just Band-Aids …
No drug is going to protect us from the next infection and the next infection. And one of the things that we're going to talk about today, which is so eerie, yet revealing, is all of this data suggesting that coronavirus susceptibility is intimately connected with metabolic health.”
Immunometabolism Is an Important Field of Medicine
We've long known that metabolic health is crucial for robust immune function. Saladino believes immunometabolism — the connections between metabolism, metabolic health and the immune system — is easily one of the most important, if not the most important, field in emerging medicine.
Saladino reviews NHANES data1 from 2009 to 2016, which reveal 87.8% of Americans are metabolically unhealthy, based on five parameters. That data is over four years old now, so the figure is clearly greater than 90% of the population today.
That means virtually everyone is at risk for Type 2 diabetes and all the chronic diseases associated with insulin resistance, which run the gamut from cancer to Alzheimer’s.
“[NHANES] use criteria that we use to define metabolic syndrome,” Saladino explains. “They use a waist circumference of less than 102 or 88 centimeters for men and women respectively, a fasting glucose of less than 100 milligrams per deciliter, hemoglobin A1c of less than 5.7, a systolic blood pressure less than 120, a diastolic blood pressure less than 80, and triglycerides less than 150, in addition to an HDL of greater than 40 for men and 50 for women, as criteria for metabolic health.
What they found — and this is really the point that is so striking — is that only 12.2% of people met that criteria. That means 87.8% of people are metabolically unhealthy or have at least one of these metrics that suggests that they may have some degree of metabolic unhealth.”
Similarly, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that as of 2016, 39.8% of adults over the age of 20 were obese. When you include those who are overweight, that percentage skyrockets to 71%, and excess weight typically correlates with metabolic dysfunction and impaired health.
“Now, it's not so much an indictment on our population; it's an indication, it's a real call-to-arms to say, ‘This is what we should be talking about,’ and it's a real jumping-off point for discussions about how metabolic unhealth has repeatedly been connected with worse outcomes, [be it] COVID-19, MERS or seasonal flu. It's a huge piece of it, and I haven't really seen much media coverage of this at all.”
Insulin Resistance Is a Modern Plague
Indeed, while the media reports that the comorbidities include obesity, diabetes, age and being of color, they don't discuss the underlying problems, which are vitamin D deficiency and insulin resistance. As noted by Saladino:
“Insulin resistance underlies many of those comorbidities, and I'll show data to suggest that as we age, more of the population becomes insulin-resistant, probably because we become a little less resilient to nutrient deficiency and we become a little more sensitive to the lifestyle factors that make us insulin resistant in the first place.
With aging, we see a direct correlation with insulin resistance. But the immune compromise, the insulin resistance that comes with aging, is not inevitable. It's an assumption, because 88% of the population are metabolically unhealthy.
The narrative here is very important because if we can escape the immunologic sort of dysfunction and insulin resistance that so often accompanies aging, then we can totally change our lifestyle.”
Metabolic Age Is More Important Than Biological Age
Saladino discusses the results of a Nature Medicine study2 published in 2019, which looked at immune age and metabolic age using high-dimensional longitudinal monitoring:
“You can look at multiple measures of immunologic aging by looking at different varying proportions of immune cell subsets. This is all very esoteric and it looks complex, but the takeaway is that immune aging is associated with relative changes in different types of immune system response.
What's very interesting is we see the same types of immune system response changes mirrored in people who have more severe coronavirus outcomes … One of the classic changes associated with insulin resistance, obesity and metabolic syndrome — these are all synonyms — is overactivation of the innate immune system, with decreasing activity in the adaptive immune system.
Characterized another way, we can look at the cytokines associated with different T-helper subsets. What we generally see … is that certain cytokines for T-helper 2 tend to predominate over T-helper 1, and you get changes in the way the innate and adaptive immune systems are responding to invaders. And that's what we see in people as they age.
That's associated with activation of different inflammasomes, like the NLRP3 inflammasome, which is associated with that innate immune system. The innate immune system is always activated; it's dendritic cells, macrophages, natural killer cells, neutrophils.
The adaptive immune system is T cells and B cells. So basically, what we see in immunologic compromise, what we see in insulin resistance, is that the innate immune system gets overactivated at the expense of the adaptive immune system.
You might say, ‘Oh, that's good. One part of the immune system is more activated.’ But what you have happening is that the adaptive immune system isn't able to be activated properly, and the resolution of the inflammation doesn't happen in the way it should.”
So, the overarching principle is that it's not your biological age that matters so much, but rather it’s your immune and metabolic age. The good news is those are more malleable than we are led to believe. From that perspective, we can address COVID-19 in completely different ways.
“It's a lot of fear-based messaging, saying, ‘Here's a new spike of the virus.’ ‘It's popping up here, it's popping up there.’ But nobody's really talking about what you can do to change your susceptibility to this virus,” Saladino says.
“What I want to empower people to understand is that this immunologic tolerance, this insulin resistance paradigm, has not been discussed at all despite the fact that there are tons of evidence that it's really, really important.”
Cytokines are small proteins secreted by cells in your innate and adaptive immune systems. They serve to regulate diverse functions in your immune response. Cytokines are released by cells into your circulation or directly into your tissues.
The cytokines locate target immune cells and interact with receptors on the target immune cells by binding to them. The interaction triggers or stimulates specific responses by the target cells.
In response to bacterial and viral infections such as COVID-19, your innate immune system generates both proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines.3 The inflammatory response plays a crucial role in the clinical manifestations of COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2 triggers an immune response against the virus, which, if uncontrolled, may result in lung damage, functional impairment, and reduced lung capacity.4,5,6,7
The SARS-CoV-2 viral infection-related inflammation and the subsequent cytokine storm in severe cases plays a crucial role in patient survival.8 The extensive and uncontrolled release of proinflammatory cytokines is termed the cytokine storm. Clinically, the cytokine storm commonly presents as systemic inflammation and multiple organ failure.9
Immunologic Tolerance Rises as Insulin Resistance Falls
One scientific article10 that speaks to this is “Association of Blood Glucose Control and Outcomes in Patients With COVID-19 and Pre-Existing Type 2 Diabetes,” published in Cell Metabolism, June 2, 2020.
What it found was that when blood sugar is well-controlled and there's less glycemic variability, people do better when contracting COVID-19. When they have high levels of glycemic variability, which is indicative of insulin resistance, they fare much worse.
“So there's really no question at this point that glycemic variability, overall metabolic status, overall metabolic health are critical,” Saladino says. The common mistake here is that you don’t want to get that control back using drugs. Your best bet is to get it back using natural lifestyle strategies.
Another paper11 that demonstrates the impact of insulin resistance on COVID-19 was published in Cardiovascular Diabetology, May 11, 2020. It found you can use the triglyceride to glucose index (TyG index) as a gauge to predict the severity and mortality of COVID-19.
“Imagine that. There's an association of the insulin resistance marker, the TyG index — this is fasting triglycerides, fasting glucose — with the severity and mortality of COVID-19.
This should be, in my opinion, mainstream news headlines, and the headlines should be, ‘You can be stronger against coronavirus. You can have a stronger immune system. You can decrease your risk of having a severe coronavirus outcome.’ But instead it's mostly fear, it's ‘Hide in your homes. What's the next drug that's going to save us?’ … Cardiovascular health is immune health. That is immunometabolism.
What you do to improve your heart health is also what you do to improve your immune health, is also what you do to improve your brain health, is also how you decrease your risk of Alzheimer's, is also how you decrease your risk of seasonal flu and every other single infectious illness that you will all encounter for the rest of your life. It's one thing; not 60 different drugs … which is why the [conventional] paradigm doesn't work.”
Low LDL Associated With Greater COVID-19 Severity
Interestingly, Saladino cites research showing that low levels of LDL cholesterol are associated with greater COVID-19 severity. LDL and total cholesterol levels were significantly lower in COVID-19 patients as compared to healthy subjects. “To me, this is a really interesting [finding] in two ways,” Saladino says, adding:
“In ‘The Carnivore Code,’ I challenged the LDL-centric hypothesis of cardiovascular disease and I share a lot of data about how important LDL actually is in the immune system. I think that's exactly what we're seeing in this study.
When your body is doing an immunologic thing, when your body is fighting a pathogen, it totally makes sense that the LDL would be a part of that, in either LDLs consumed, or those who have lower LDL are more susceptible to infection.
This is something we see over and over, and there are even genetic syndromes of very low LDL, specifically one called Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome involving a genetic polymorphism in an enzyme that makes cholesterol.
People with that syndrome have very bad infections and they can be rescued by giving them egg yolks. So these people are given cholesterol in the form of egg yolks, or they're given supplemental cholesterol, and they do much better.
It's pretty clear that cholesterol, which is packaged into this LDL lipoprotein particle, is intimately involved in the immune response. And so, in someone who is metabolically healthy, a higher LDL above 100 or 150, or even 200 mg/dL might not be the horrible thing that we've all been taught it is, especially if the HDL, the triglycerides, the triglyceride to glucose index, that glycemic variability, are all pointing toward metabolic health …
It's about context. This LDL is a valuable immunologic particle and we can't just get myopic, looking at LDL. We have to think about it in terms of all these other measures.”
Top Strategies to Improve Your Metabolic Health
Considering the fact that your metabolic health determines your COVID-19 risk, it would be a sound idea to implement strategies that will improve your metabolic flexibility and insulin sensitivity. Saladino’s top recommendations for achieving that include:
1. Eliminate processed carbohydrates, sugars, grains and vegetable oils — “I think that from a food perspective, those are the key evils that are really wreaking havoc on our metabolism,” he says. The worst culprit of them all is probably vegetable oils. “Polyunsaturated vegetable oils are highly oxidizable and very metabolically damaging. So, start with them,” Saladino says.
For more information about this, see “New Study Tells Why Chicken Is Killing You and Saturated Fat Is Your Friend,” which features Saladino’s interview with science journalist and author, Nina Teicholz. Saladino also reviews the mechanisms by which vegetable oils wreck health in greater detail in this interview, so be sure to listen to it in its entirety, or read through the transcript.
2. Eat animal foods — As noted in the paper,12 “Immune Function and Micronutrient Requirements Change Over the Life Course,” published in the journal Nutrients, nutrient deficiencies that can compromise immune function include vitamins, A, C, D, E, B2, B6, B12, folate, iron, selenium and zinc.
These vitamins are primarily found in animal foods, which is why shunning animal foods tends to lead to nutrient deficiencies. Even folate is found in organ meats in highly bioavailable form. “If you want to have a robust immune system, you want to be metabolically healthy. You don't want to be insulin-resistant and you need to have nutrient adequacy in your diets,” Saladino says.
“How do you get nutrient adequacy? You get these micronutrients from bioavailable sources in organ meats and in the muscle meat of animals.” If you cannot stomach the idea of organ meats, consider using a desiccated organs supplement, such as those Saladino sells.13
3. Time-restricted eating — Compressing the window of time in which you eat down to six to eight hours a day, eating your last meal at least three hours before bedtime, is another very powerful strategy to improve your insulin sensitivity.
Eating a Varied, Real Food Diet Is Key
In short, eating real food, in a time-restricted window, is your surest bet to beat insulin resistance. Also remember to give some consideration to your macronutrient ratios.
As explained by Saladino, while a low-fat, high-carb diet may reduce your insulin resistance, you’re at high risk for nutrient deficiencies in the long term, as so many of the most bioavailable vitamins and minerals are found in animal-based fats.
“I think the sweet spot is eating an animal-based diet. Not exclusively animals for all people, but realizing that animal foods have been incorrectly vilified. They're an integral part of the human diet, including organ meats.
Also include some of the healthiest carbohydrates, the nonprocessed carbohydrates, into your diet occasionally, and don’t go either low-carb, high-fat all the time or low-fat, high-carb all the time. Having a mix, but having a robust amount of protein throughout … I think that's a sweet spot for most people.”
Low Glutathione May Increase COVID-19 Severity
Saladino also cites a recent hypothesis highlighting the potential role of glutathione in COVID-19. The paper,14 “Endogenous Deficiency of Glutathione as the Most Likely Cause of Serious Manifestations of Death From Novel Coronavirus Infection (COVID-19): A Hypotheses Based on Literature Data and Own Observations,” is written by a Russian medical doctor and Ph.D.
What he found was that the reactive-oxygen-species-to-glutathione ratio was able to predict the severity of COVID-19 and the patient’s outcome. When the patient had a low ROS-to-glutathione ratio, the patient had a very mild case. The fever disappeared on the fourth day without any treatment whatsoever.
When the ROS-to-glutathione ratio was high, the patient developed air hunger on the fourth day, experienced significant fever, hoarseness, myalgia and fatigue persisting for 13 days. A patient with even higher ROS and lower reduced glutathione had critical disease requiring hospitalization for COVID-19-related pneumonia. According to the author:15
“Based on an exhaustive literature analysis and own observations, I proposed a hypothesis that glutathione deficiency is exactly the most plausible explanation for serious manifestation and death in COVID-19 infected patients.
The major risk factors established for severe COVID-19 infection and relative glutathione deficiency found in COVID-19 infected patients with moderate-to-severe illness have converged me to two very important conclusions:
(1) oxidative stress contributes to hyper-inflammation of the lung leading to adverse disease outcomes such as acute respiratory distress syndrome, multiorgan failure and death;
(2) poor antioxidant defense due to endogenous glutathione deficiency as a result of decreased biosynthesis and/or increased depletion of GSH is the most probable cause of increased oxidative damage of the lung, regardless which of the factors aging, chronic disease comorbidity, smoking or some others were responsible for this deficit.
The hypothesis provides novel insights into the etiology and mechanisms responsible for serious manifestations of COVID-19 infection and justifies promising opportunities for effective treatment and prevention of the illness through glutathione recovering with N-acetylcysteine and reduced glutathione.”
Glutathione, Zinc and Selenium
As noted by Saladino, these findings also tie into the issue of zinc and its importance for proper immune function, as zinc helps mitigate the oxidative stress reaction. The question is, why do these people have such low glutathione in the first place?
Saladino believes it’s probably due to underlying nutritional deficiencies such as glycine deficiency, or oxidative stress caused by smoking, heavy metal toxicity, EMF exposure, eating lots of processed vegetable oils or insulin resistance. Any of these could cause low glutathione.
To improve your glutathione, you need zinc, and zinc in combination with hydroxychloroquine (a zinc ionophore or zinc transporter) has been shown effective in the treatment of COVID-19.
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), meanwhile, is a precursor of glutathione, and may protect against coagulation problems associated with COVID-19, as it counteracts hypercoagulation and breaks down blood clots.
Selenium is also important, as some of the enzymes involved in glutathione production are selenium-dependent. Saladino cites research showing an association between regional selenium status and the severity of COVID-19 outcome cases in China. The lower the amount of selenium in the hair, the lower the cure rate was.
“Why is this? It's probably because glutathione peroxidase and thioredoxin reductase are selenium- dependent enzymes, and these enzymes are intimately connected by controlling this antioxidant redox system,” Saladino explains.
“So, what we're seeing is this huge immunologic injury, this imbalance of the innate and adaptive immune system, we're seeing insulin resistance, and we're seeing diffused oxidative damage, and all that stuff can probably be controlled with lifestyle. That's the huge takeaway.”
One of the best ways to increase glutathione, though, is molecular hydrogen. It is my absolute favorite as it does so selectively and will not increase glutathione unnecessarily if you don’t need it. You can view Tyler LeBaron’s excellent lecture on the details of how it does this in “How Molecular Hydrogen Can Help Your Immune System.”
We cover a lot of ground in this interview, far more than has been summarized here, so for more details, be sure to listen to the interview. Saladino is a wellspring of well-researched information. We also review:
- The use of quercetin in lieu of hydroxychloroquine, either of which needs to be taken with zinc, at the first signs of symptoms.
- The hazards of oxalates, found in many plant foods and the benefits of a carnivore diet.
- Links between COVID-19 and pulmonary vasculitis — A new hypothesis suggests SARS-CoV-2 attacks the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels surrounding the lungs' air sacs, or alveoli, causing fluid leakage and blood clots. According to Saladino, low glutathione may be at play here as well.
- How you can improve your insulin sensitivity in as little as nine days by eliminating all fructose.
To learn more, be sure to visit his website, CarnivoreMD.com, and pick up a copy of “The Carnivore Code,” now in its updated second edition. He also has a great podcast called “Fundamental Health.” On the social media platforms, you can find him by searching for @carnivoreMD.
“If those who are susceptible to COVID-19 due to insulin resistance and diabetes are able to use this as a wake-up call and change their metabolic health, they will change the quality of life for the entire time that they're living,” Saladino says.
“My dad is a perfect example of this. He’s 70 years old, a retired internist, and I'm going to get him a continuous glucose monitor. He's not as metabolically healthy as he should be, but I'm encouraging him to improve his metabolic health.
And the beauty of that might just be that if coronavirus is the impetus, if coronavirus is the trigger that he needs to change his metabolic health — to use a continuous glucose monitor, to show himself his glycemic variability and understand how much risk that puts him at, or just to give him an indication that he's a little insulin-resistant because he's eating bread or vegetable oil, or not getting enough nutrients.
If he makes the change, he's decreasing his risk of coronavirus, but he's also decreasing his risk of seasonal flu, diabetic complications, coronary artery disease, hypertension and stroke. I mean, the list goes on and on. That's what you and I are about, and that's what I think it's all focused on.”
Dr. Ken Redcross is an internal medicine physician with a concierge practice in New York. He wrote the book “Bond: The 4 Cornerstones of a Lasting and Caring Relationship with Your Doctor,” and in this interview, he shares his views on the prevention of COVID-19 through natural means.
“My specialty is the patient/doctor bond and relationship,” he says. “That leads to house calls. That leads to making sure that the patient has access to me 24/7 and that's the way I think it should be. Patients should feel like a doctor is a member of their family and so that's what I do …
It’s about four things: Trust, respect, empathy and communication. If you give that to each patient you're blessed enough to touch, then things tend to go well … My career has spanned over two decades now and, obviously, I've never seen anything like this [pandemic]. A big part of my practice are house calls.
So now, I am literally making house calls to patients who have COVID-19 and, quite honestly, especially early on, belonged in the hospital, but there was no room here in New York … I'm really, truly in the epicenter [of the epidemic in New York].”
Some of the patients Redcross saw were concerned about going to the hospital out of fear of being exposed to COVID-19, saying they’d rather take their chances at home. Fortunately, Redcross was able to help educate many of his patients about proactive measures they can take, even if they opted to stay at home.
Vitamin D Optimization Is a Crucial Component
Redcross works with a very diverse group of patients, including Blacks, who are most adversely affected with vitamin D deficiency. Statistics have shown that the African-American community is also disproportionately at risk for severe COVID-19, and vitamin D deficiency may in fact be at the heart of this disparity.
I believe getting the word out to all communities, and especially the Black community, that vitamin D is essential for health and vital in the fight against this virus, and Redcross agrees.
Other disparities that also play a role are more difficult to address than vitamin D. For example, many income-restricted individuals live in ‘food deserts’ where healthy whole foods are hard to come by, and have limited options that include fast food or processed foods that are devoid of nutrients, creating a recipe for insulin resistance and all of the health ramifications that go along with it.
While this isn’t the reality for all, diet and income are factors that should be taken into consideration when addressing the health needs of the Black community. Aside from vitamin D deficiency, insulin resistance is one of the primary risk factors for severe COVID-19 infection and death, as discussed in “The Real Pandemic Is Insulin Resistance.”
Transitioning to a low-carb diet high in healthy fats and time-restricted eating are two of the most effective remedies for this, but they take time to implement and reap the benefits of. Clearly, they’re strategies that will protect your health in the long-term, but more acutely won’t have a major impact.
Another part of the nutritional approach to protecting your health is to eliminate your use of industrial vegetable oils that are high in omega-6 linoleic acid, which I believe is actually worse than carbohydrates. Redcross agrees that this is an important part of the conversation he has with his patients.
Vitamin D, on the other hand, is something that can strengthen your immune system in a matter of a few weeks. Dosing is an important factor, however, when you’re taking an oral vitamin D supplement. It needs to be high enough.
The ideal way to optimize your level is to get sensible sun exposure, but if you’re dark-skinned, you may need upward of 1.5 hours of sun a day in order to maximize conversion of vitamin D in your skin. Many don’t have the luxury of that much time.
“Five thousand IUs [of oral vitamin D] is that magic number for me,” Redcross says. “I cringe when I go over the counter and see 1,000 and 2,000 because it's not enough to get to those optimal levels.
If I put on my Western medicine hat, when you look at the parameters it'll say that the vitamin D level should be 30 ng/mL. But if I put on the better Eastern medicine hat, which is the truer hat, we get to that 40 to 60 ng/mL range …
No matter what, I'm always talking about 5,000 [IUs of vitamin D], because when [they take] 5,000 IUs, and I get lab testing after that, it tends to be in that optimal range of 40 to 60 ng/mL. That's the sweet spot where I feel like everything is better clinically.”
Why Vitamin D Recommendations Are Too Low
Indeed, it’s important to realize that when health authorities caution against exceeding a vitamin D dose of 4,000 IUs, their recommendation is based on the dosage required to prevent rickets. It has nothing to do with the dosage required to support immune function and prevent other chronic diseases.
Unfortunately, as noted by Redcross, many medical authorities are “still blind” to these facts. Redcross, on the other hand, recommends vitamin D supplementation to most of his patients.
He starts by getting a baseline reading of their vitamin D level, and continues to check their levels with regular testing while also tracking their clinical symptoms and subjective observations. Many report a sense of improved general well-being once they get their levels up.
“My whole goal in my practice is not to have to use my prescription pad,” he says. “So, when I can use something like vitamin D to make that big a difference — so that if their mood is better, maybe I don't have to reach for an antidepressant necessarily. Maybe there are some alternatives that could make a big difference in their lives that way, and naturally.”
Many of his patients tend to have vitamin D levels around 20 ng/mL at baseline. Very few have sufficient levels, especially among the elderly. In addition to his regular concierge practice, Redcross also offers affordable health care at a local assisted living facility, where he advocates for vitamin D optimization.
If you have a loved one in a nursing home, taking the time to talk to the medical management about vitamin D testing and supplementation could make a big difference in the general health of all the residents.
“When I'm looking at that population, I see [vitamin D deficiency] all the time. So, I'm pretty regimented by making sure, every three to six months, that I'm staying on top of it, correlating that with them clinically, as well, and seeing how they feel,” he says.
As it pertains to COVID-19, researchers in Indonesia, who looked at data from 780 COVID-19 patients, found1 those with a vitamin D level between 21 ng/mL (50 nmol/L) and 29 ng/mL (75 nmol/L) had a 12.55 times higher risk of death than those with a level above 30 ng/mL. Having a level below 20 ng/mL was associated with a 19.12 times higher risk of death.
Other research2,3 suggests your risk of developing a severe case of, and dying from, COVID-19 virtually disappears once your vitamin D level gets above 30 ng/mL (75 nmol/L). To ignore this seems foolish in the extreme, especially since vitamin D supplementation is both safe and inexpensive.
“It's going to be interesting over the next few years. Even over the beginning of my career to now, we're getting more and more traction with vitamin D. We're learning more and more, and I can only imagine, in the next five to 10 years, where we're going to be using vitamin D in order to get well and heal,” Redcross says.
The Role of Magnesium and Vitamin K2
Importantly, other nutrient deficiencies may be at play if you’re having a hard time improving your vitamin D level. One of them is magnesium, which is required for the conversion of vitamin D into its active form. Without sufficient amounts of magnesium, your body cannot properly utilize the vitamin D you’re taking.4,5,6,7
According to a scientific review8,9 published in 2018, as many as 50% of Americans taking vitamin D supplements may not get significant benefit as the vitamin D simply gets stored in its inactive form, and the reason for this is because they have insufficient magnesium levels.
Research10 published in 2013 also highlighted this issue, concluding that higher magnesium intake helps reduce your risk of vitamin D deficiency by activating more of it.
Another cofactor is vitamin K2, as it helps prevent complications associated with excessive calcification in your arteries. In fact, relative vitamin K2 deficiency is typically what produces symptoms of “vitamin D toxicity.”
Research by GrassrootsHealth, based on data from nearly 3,000 individuals, reveals you need 244% more oral vitamin D if you’re not also taking magnesium and vitamin K2.11 What this means in practical terms is that if you take all three supplements in combination, you need far less oral vitamin D in order to achieve a healthy vitamin D level. Redcross notes:
“I absolutely love magnesium, for so many reasons. I'll tell you a quick story. I trained in Columbia Presbyterian in New York many moons ago. As a resident, I had an intern who was treating to replete a patient's potassium. No matter what, it remained low.
I asked the intern, ‘Did you also supplement with magnesium at the same time?’ When the intern did that, magically the potassium came back up. That was because magnesium is a vital cofactor. So, even back then, we understood how important magnesium was. And it's even more important for vitamin D to get to its active state …
So, magnesium is a big important thing. That's what I tell patients — that every vitamin D is not created equal. I like to make sure that it has a cofactor like magnesium in there, which is necessary for energy and so much more. It's in almost every cell that we have.
My magnesium of preference is magnesium bisglycinate. I like it because it's got great bioavailability. It tends to be easier for patients to take. I don't get too many calls about GI upset or anything. So, it tends to work for them. That's the magnesium that I like to start with.”
Types of Magnesium
Aside from magnesium bisglycinate, other variations include:
- Magnesium glycinate, a powder with low solubility. Glycine is an important amino acid and precursor for glutathione.
- Ionic magnesium found in molecular hydrogen tablets. Each water-soluble tablet has about 80 mg of highly bioavailable unbound magnesium ions, which is about 20% of the recommended daily allowance.
- Magnesium threonate is another excellent choice as it seems it can efficiently penetrate the blood-brain barrier.
- Magnesium malate, which dissolves very well in water. Malate is an intermediary in the Krebs cycle, so it likely contributes to ATP production.
- Magnesium citrate also dissolves well and has a pleasant citric acid taste.
Being a Source of Inspiration
Redcross not only has a positive impact in his local community in New York, but he’s also been able to get his message of health and wellness out in the media, which is an important component.
“One of the important things when I do that is that it's all about inspiration. I don't believe in doom and gloom. No matter what, I see a silver lining in everything,” Redcross says.
“So, whenever I'm doing any of this stuff in the media, it's important that people leave inspired and happier than they were when I first got there. I think everyone's ready to hear a positive message. When you turn on the TV, unfortunately everything is negative … I don't believe in negativity. And even when you talk about disease, I really feel it's more dis-ease than an actual disease and a label.
I think the thing that's important here is that we are talking about something like vitamin D. Vitamin D is so important, and guess what, your body makes it naturally … It's really a pro-hormone, and that's a pretty big deal … So, make sure you're going out and getting tested, and getting tested regularly to make sure that that's a part of your everyday habit and behavior to stay healthy and whole.”
While the death toll from COVID-19 in the U.S. has sharply declined since its peak in mid-April — declining from 2,666 deaths the week of June 13, 2020, to 906 deaths for the week of June 2012 — authorities predict a reemergence this fall.
We can significantly blunt any reemergence by optimizing our vitamin D levels, and this strategy is bound to be particularly important in African-American communities, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
To aid in this educational effort, I created two vitamin D reports — one comprehensive science report and one easy to digest summary for the layperson — both of which can be downloaded below. The first is more for health care professionals and those who doubt the science of the recommendation.
The second was specifically designed to give you the nuts and bolts of the message in an easy to share, highly readable format. We need an army to take this message to the public, especially those at greatest risk, the elderly and those with melanated skin. This document should help you to spread the message.
I urge everyone to share this information with your friends, family and community at large, so that we can minimize additional outbreaks. If you have a family member or know anyone that is in an assisted living facility, you could meet with the director of the program, share these reports and encourage them to get everyone tested or at least start them on vitamin D.
Additionally, you could talk to your Black friends, co-workers and those in your community — who are also at disproportionate risk — and provide them with important health information that could save many lives quicker than any vaccine program.
“It's a must-read document, to be honest, just the way it's laid out, for consumers, for my patients and that sort of thing. I love it and I appreciate you sharing that with me as well,” Redcross says. “Let's continue to fight the good fight and know that this too shall pass.”
Iron is an essential nutrient, integral to hundreds of biological functions including oxygen transport, DNA synthesis and energy metabolism. Almost every cell in your body contains iron.1 Plants, bacteria, animals and even cancer cells cannot survive without it.2,3
Plants use iron to make chlorophyll, while animals and humans need it to make hemoglobin, a protein in your red blood cells used to transport oxygen. Approximately 6% of the iron in your body is bound as a component to proteins and 25% is stored as ferritin.4
Having too much or too little can have serious consequences. Yet, what many people and physicians do not realize is that an excessive amount of iron is more common than having a deficiency.
Doctors may check for iron deficiency as it relates to anemia, but iron overload is a far more common problem. Adult men and non-menstruating women are at risk of having dangerously high levels of iron. When left untreated, excess iron can damage your organs and contribute to the development of heart disease, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.5
High Levels of Iron Linked to Shorter Life Span
Researchers have linked iron overload to several medical conditions, and now find that people age at different rates when they have excess amounts in the body. European scientists gathered data from an international database to test this theory.6
The set of data was equivalent to about 1.75 million lifespans.7 They looked at the total number of years lived (life span), the total number of years marked by good health (health span) and living to an old age (longevity).8 The researchers identified 10 loci in the genetic sample that appear to influence aging.
The majority of the loci were associated with cardiovascular disease. Based on statistical analysis, the data suggested "that genes involved in metabolizing iron in the blood are partly responsible for a healthy long life."9
The new information is exciting as it suggests a modifiable pathway to explain biological aging and chronic disease rate differences among people. The researchers noted that high iron levels can reduce "the body's ability to fight infection in older age,"10 which may be yet another reason that age is a factor in infectious disease severity.
As Paul Timmers from the University of Edinburgh says, the data also offer a reasonable explanation for the association between red meat and heart disease. While cholesterol has been blamed in the past, in a growing number of studies, no association has been found between cholesterol and heart disease.11 Timmers commented:12
"We are very excited by these findings as they strongly suggest that high levels of iron in the blood reduces our healthy years of life, and keeping these levels in check could prevent age-related damage. We speculate that our findings on iron metabolism might also start to explain why very high levels of iron-rich red meat in the diet has been linked to age-related conditions such as heart disease."
Excess Iron Impairs Mitochondrial Function
Researchers have known since the mid-1990s that when iron is bound to a protein such as hemoglobin, it plays a part in cell metabolism and growth.13 But when it is free, it kicks off a reaction producing hydroxyl free radicals from hydrogen peroxide. This is one of the most damaging free radicals in the body and can cause severe mitochondrial dysfunction.
Hydroxyl free radicals damage cell membranes, protein and DNA. Other research has shown excessive iron promotes apoptosis and ferroptosis in cardiomyocytes.14 Apoptosis is the programmed cell death of diseased and worn-out cells and, as the name implies, ferroptosis refers to cell death that is specifically dependent on and regulated by iron.15
Your cardiomyocytes are the muscle cells in the heart that generate and control contractions.16 In short, this tells us that excess iron can impair heart function. These are two ways iron overload can lead to cardiomyopathy, which is a leading cause of death in patients with hemochromatosis.
Excess iron also affects blood pressure and other markers of cardiovascular disease, and glycemic control in individuals with metabolic syndrome. One study was done with 64 participants who had a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome.17 The participants were randomly assigned to two groups. In the first, they gave blood at the beginning of the study and again after 4 weeks.
Researchers regulated the amount of blood given and each person's iron level. They measured systolic blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, plasma glucose and hemoglobin A1c. The group who gave blood showed a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure and had lower blood glucose levels, hemoglobin A1c and heart rate. There was no effect on insulin sensitivity.
In an earlier study, scientists removed blood in individuals who had chronic gout.18 Twelve participants with hyperuricemia gave blood over the course of 28 months to maintain their body at the lowest amount of iron stores possible, without inducing anemia. The data showed a marked reduction in the number and severity of gout attacks. Removing blood was also found to be safe and beneficial.
How Do High Iron Levels Build Up?
Men and non-menstruating women have a higher potential for iron buildup since the body has limited ways of excreting excess iron.19 With the genetic disorder hemochromatosis, the body accumulates excessive and damaging levels of iron.20 When this is left untreated it contributes to many of the disorders discussed above.
Hemochromatosis is a prevalent genetic condition in Americans. It takes two inherited genetic mutations, one from your mother and one from your father, to cause the disease. In one study, researchers estimated 40% to 70% of people with the defective genes will eventually have iron overload.21
It is also easy to get too much iron from your food, particularly when it's "fortified" with iron. Iron is a common nutritional supplement found in many multivitamin and mineral supplements. Many processed foods are also fortified with iron.
For example, two servings of fortified breakfast cereal may give you as much as 44 milligrams (mg) of iron, rising dangerously close to the upper tolerance limit of 45 mg for adults.22 However, the upper tolerance limit is well over the recommended daily allowance, which is 8 mg for men and 18 mg for premenopausal women.23 It's easy to see how you might consistently eat too much iron.
Another common cause for iron excess is the regular consumption of alcohol.24 Alcohol increases the amount of iron you absorb from your food. In other words, by drinking alcohol with foods that are high in iron, you will likely absorb more than you need.
Other contributing factors include using iron pots and pans, drinking well water high in iron, using multivitamins and mineral supplements together or eating processed foods.
You Can Help Severe Blood Shortages and Help Yourself
Routine blood donation may be one of the simplest and quickest ways to reduce your ferritin and iron overload. Blood donation may also save the life of someone else. The American Red Cross collects blood at both permanent and mobile locations. According to the organization, more than 80% of what they collect comes from blood drives on college campuses and at workplaces.
Unfortunately, one of the consequences of COVID-19 has been a reduction in the number of blood drives and blood donations across the U.S. This has led to a severe shortage.25 Chris Hrouda, who serves as president of the Red Cross Biomedical Services, expressed his concerns to a reporter from the Press Herald:26
"In our experience, the American public comes together to support those in need during times of shortage and that support is needed now more than ever during this unprecedented public health crisis. Unfortunately, when people stop donating blood, it forces doctors to make hard choices about patient care, which is why we need those who are healthy and well to roll up a sleeve and give the gift of life.
We know that people want to help, but they may be hesitant to visit a blood drive during this time. We want to assure the public that blood donation is a safe process, and we have put additional precautions in place at our blood drives and donation centers to protect all who come out."
Blood donation is a safe and effective way of managing your iron stores and helping someone else. The Red Cross answers questions about your eligibility requirement on their website.27 They recommend that you wait at least eight weeks between donations so your body can completely restore your blood volume.
If you are unable to donate blood because of a health condition, consider therapeutic phlebotomy. While your blood won't be used for a donation, they may do the procedure and then dispose of the blood.
If you can't find a place in your community for the services, your insurance policy may pay for routine therapeutic phlebotomies with a doctor's prescription.28 In either case, whether you donate the blood or it's thrown out, the amount they take is the same.
To donate, you only need a blood donor card, a driver's license or two forms of identification. People who are at least 17, weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health are eligible.
Yearly GGT and Iron Screening Tests Advisable
Another way to measure the impact of iron toxicity and the effect on mortality is the gamma glutamyl transpeptidase test, sometimes called gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT). GGT is a liver enzyme that is involved in the metabolism of glutathione and the transport of amino acids and peptides.
It can be used as a marker for excess free iron, and as an indicator of your risk of chronic kidney disease.29 Low levels of GGT tend to be protective against high levels of ferritin.
When both ferritin and GGT are high, you have a higher chance of having chronic health problems and/or early death. As with many lab tests, the normal references vary among the labs. Normal laboratory ranges are often far from ideal and those used for GGT may not be adequate for preventing disease.
As I've shared before, the range of ideal to "normal" GGT can be wide. To fully understand your risks, you'll need both the ferritin and GGT levels tested. For more information on ferritin and GGT, including healthy ranges, see "Donate Blood: You May Be Saving Your Own Life."
The benefits of vitamin D have been well-documented over the years. I believe that getting your vitamin D status optimized to between 60 ng/mL and 80 ng/mL is one of the best things you can do to help protect yourself against the fall infectious disease season, which is expected to include both flu and COVID-19.
Health authorities are warning of a second wave of COVID-19, which means the time to start addressing your vitamin D level is now. But, as important as it is to get your level optimized by fall, it's just as important to keep it there throughout the year.
Ideally, your body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight. This is why it's also called the sunshine vitamin.1 The best indicator of your vitamin D level is a blood test measuring the concentration of 25-hydroxy vitamin D, also called 25-OH vitamin D.2
In addition to the crucial role it plays in your immune system, researchers have also found that it's integral to optimizing leptin levels, which in turn are linked to obesity.3 In one study, researchers measured vitamin D and metabolic markers in two age- and gender-matched groups.4
They learned that individuals with deficient or insufficient vitamin D had a higher risk of metabolic syndrome. The results from several studies have also revealed a link between low levels of vitamin D and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, although the results have not been consistent.
Foot Pain Associated With Knee or Hip Osteoarthritis
Recently, insufficient levels of vitamin D have been associated with foot pain linked to knee osteoarthritis (OA). Before delving into the results of the research, it's important to understand the relationship between low back pain and foot pain associated with severe knee OA.
In a study from 2010, researchers found that those who had OA in the knee and had pain in other joints in the body, were more likely to experience more intense knee pain.5,6 More specifically, the researchers found that when pain was present in the lower back, foot and elbow on the same side as the affected knee, the individual rated their knee pain as more severe than those who did not have pain in other joints.
The study was led by a physician from Harvard Medical School and involved the use of data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative, a study of knee OA involving people from several locations in the northeastern area of North America. The researchers included 1,389 participants who were between 45 and 79 years of age. The results showed that 57.4% had pain in their lower back, and those same individuals had a higher pain score in their knee.
Another group of participants from the same initiative and in the same age range were gathered for a second study.7 Researchers evaluated 1,255 individuals who had symptoms of knee pain related to OA. They noted that 25% of them had foot pain and the majority of those had pain in both feet.
After adjusting for confounding variables, they discovered that people who had foot pain also had lower scores on other health measures compared to those who did not have pain. Those who had bilateral or ipsilateral pain had lower health scores. This suggested that the side of the body where the foot pain occurred was important.
In a third study published in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association, scientists also evaluated the side of the body where foot pain occurred and compared it to the presence of knee OA.8 One author commented about the importance of this identification:9
"The study shows that a physician evaluating a patient for foot pain should also ask about possible hip or knee pain, and vice versa, so we can address all of a patient's issues. In medicine, many times it comes down to 'what does your MRI look like or what does your x-ray look like?'
But it's really important to conduct a thorough medical history and physical exam. A comprehensive orthopedic evaluation may prompt a broader treatment strategy and possibly a referral to another specialist."
Vitamin D May Reduce Pain Level
People with knee OA may experience mild, moderate or severe pain.10 The Arthritis Foundation compares pain medications used for osteoarthritis listing nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS), acetaminophen and injections of steroids or hyaluronic acid as treatments.11
In some cases, antidepressants are used to treat chronic pain, such as Duloxetine (Cymbalta).12 In all cases, the medications have a long list of side effects. In one study, comparisons were made between NSAIDs and opioids, a drug with known addictive properties, to relieve OA pain. Researchers found that both types of medication reduced pain and the effects were nearly identical.13
When the use of opioids use has been measured across counties, researchers have found that where there is a higher prevalence of disability and arthritis, there is also a higher rate of opioid prescriptions.14
In a recently published study, researchers sought to determine whether sufficient levels of vitamin D could lower foot pain in those with knee OA.15 Using data from a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study they undertook a post-hoc data analysis.16
Members of the group were randomly assigned to receive either a monthly dose of vitamin D3 or a placebo for two years. The participants had a mean age of 63.2 years. Of the 413 who were enrolled, 340 completed the study. The researchers used the Manchester Foot Pain and Disability Index (MFPDI) to rate the patients' perceived pain. At the start of the study 23.7% had disabling foot pain.
The data showed greater improvement in people receiving vitamin D and in those who maintained a sufficient level of vitamin D. They concluded that "supplementation and maintenance of sufficient vitamin D levels may improve foot pain in those with knee OA."17 In an article published in Rheumatology Advisor, it was noted that the study had several limitations, one of which may have significantly underestimated the results:18
"The study had several limitations, including those secondary to a post-hoc analysis, lack of data on the clinical importance of the differences in MFPDI scores, and potential underestimation of the benefits of vitamin D, as >60% of patients in placebo group had sufficient vitamin D levels at the end of follow-up."
Slow Osteoarthritis Progression With Omega-3 Fats
A second nutrient the body uses to prevent or slow the progression of OA is omega-3 fat. Dietary fat is essential to good health. While eating too much or not enough is damaging, without healthy fat your body does not work properly.19
Polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) are one type of essential fat, which means you must eat them since the body doesn't make them. The two main types of PUFAs are omega-3 and omega-6.
Both must be consumed in the right amounts or you may develop chronic inflammation. You'll find high concentrations of omega-6 in processed food, and corn, safflower and sunflower oils. While the ideal ratio is 1-to-1, most who eat a Western diet are getting 16 times more omega-6 than is considered healthy.20
As I've written recently, one of the problems with chronic inflammation may be that it promotes the damaging and dangerous cytokine storm found in those with severe COVID-19. The omega-3 index is a measure of omega-3 fat in the blood, or specifically in the red blood cell membranes. It is given as a percentage, with 8% or higher being ideal, putting you in the lowest risk zone.21
In a global meta-analysis of past studies measuring omega-3 levels, the researchers found areas with "very low blood levels (less than or equal to 4%)" included North, Central and South Americas, Europe and Africa.22
This is important since the balance of omega-3 and omega-6 can help regulate inflammation23 and slow the progression of OA after an injury,24 as demonstrated in animal studies. In naturally occurring OA, animals fed a diet rich in omega-3 reduced OA by 50% over those fed a standard diet.25
In a human trial, researchers found that supplementing with fish oil did not change the cartilage volume in knee osteoarthritis, but it did reduce the participants' pain scores over two years.26 Additionally, researchers have discovered a link between OA and metabolic syndrome.27
While metabolic syndrome increases the risk for OA, balancing your omega-3-to-omega-6 ratio can help reduce the potential risk of metabolic syndrome. The authors of one recent meta-analysis concluded:28
"The present meta-analysis indicates that higher intakes of omega-3 PUFAs, but not omega-6 PUFAs, was associated with lower MetS risk; adding to the current body of evidence on the metabolic health effects of circulating/dietary omega-3 PUFAs."
In a second paper, the authors wrote:29
"Lately, an inverse relationship between omega-3 fatty acids, inflammation, obesity and CVDs has been demonstrated … Omega-3 PUFAs have been shown to decrease the production of inflammatory mediators, having a positive effect in obesity and diabetes mellitus type-2. Moreover, they significantly decrease the appearance of CVD risk factors."
Based on these studies, it's apparent that omega-3 has an impact on OA pain and that it can slow the progression of OA as well as help prevent metabolic syndrome, which also raises the risk of OA.
Number of People With Osteoarthritis Has Doubled
The authors of a study published by Harvard University found that people currently living in America were more than two times more likely to have knee osteoarthritis than those who lived there before World War II. They looked at more than 2,000 skeletons with the goal of determining the age of the disease.30
Interestingly, there was a rise in disease after confounding factors were accounted for, such as longer life and the meteoric rise in rates of obesity since 1940.31 The researchers controlled for age and body mass index and still found a significant rise in people with OA. One author was quoted in the Harvard Gazette, saying:32
"We were able to show, for the first time, that this pervasive cause of pain is actually twice as common today than even in the recent past. But the even bigger surprise is that it's not just because people are living longer or getting fatter, but for other reasons likely related to our modern environments. Knee osteoarthritis is not a necessary consequence of old age. We should think of this as a partly preventable disease."
In the skeletons of people over the age of 50, the data showed knee osteoarthritis was 2.6 times more common in those who were born in the post-industrial age, as compared to those born in the late 1800s.33 The researchers also found the rate of OA in both knees in the post-industrial era was 1.4 times higher.
If you are among those who have OA, consider using vitamin D3 supplements to raise your serum levels. It is important to include vitamin K2 MK-7 for reasons I discuss in "What Are the Health Benefits of Vitamin K2?", including reducing your risk of atherosclerosis.
For a list of natural pain relievers and anti-inflammatory supplements that also have demonstrated the ability to reduce pain, see my article, "Number of People Suffering From Osteoarthritis Has Doubled."
The debate about the origin of SARS-CoV-2 continues, as does the debate over whether the pandemic could have been quashed had Chinese authorities acted and shared information about the outbreak sooner.
According to a Hong Kong whistleblower scientist who has fled to the U.S., the Chinese government and World Health Organization representatives in Hong Kong covered up the Wuhan outbreak, allowing it to spread unchecked around the world.
In the featured Fox News interview, the whistleblower, Dr. Li-Meng Yan — who worked at the University of Hong Kong School of Public Health, a top coronavirus research lab — claims her early investigation into the SARS-like outbreak in Wuhan could have helped prevent a global pandemic from developing, had her supervisors shared her findings.
Yan claims her supervisor, WHO consultant Leo Poon, asked her to, secretly, investigate reports of a SARS-like illness spreading in Wuhan, China, in late December 2019. The Chinese government had refused overseas experts from getting involved, and Poon wanted her to figure out what was really going on.
Human-to-Human Spread Was Recognized From the Start
Yan, who has many professional colleagues in China, turned to a friend who works in the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and had first-hand information about the outbreak. Yan was told there was likely human-to-human transmission occurring, as they had found family clusters of cases.
The WHO, meanwhile, did not confirm the human-to-human spread potential for several weeks. On the contrary, an official WHO statement said the virus "does not transmit readily between people." In a Tweet, WHO also stated that preliminary investigations by Chinese authorities "found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission."
January 16, 2020, Yan was again asked to reach out to her contacts in China to see if she could learn more. Her CDC contacts were fearful, but it became clear that patients and front-line doctors were not being properly protected, and that Chinese authorities were trying to keep a lid on the flow of information.
When she updated Poon, he told her to stay silent and not cross the Chinese government, or else they'd both be "disappeared." Yan felt it was crucial to inform the public, but Poon took no action. The co-director of the University of Hong Kong School of Public Health laboratory, professor Malik Peiris, also stayed quiet.
Yan believes WHO colluded with the China Communist Party (CCP) government to prevent information about the virus from coming out. The WHO quite predictably denies her claims.
Yan describes how, since her escape, the CCP has been trying to smear her name and ruin her professional reputation, saying she's been kidnapped by Americans, and even that she has a mental disorder. Her professional webpages and affiliations have been deleted and removed.
Yan Doesn't Provide Any Shocking Revelations
On the whole, though, Yan doesn't really tell us anything we didn't already know. It's been clear that China delayed telling the public about the Wuhan outbreak. She doesn't indicate having any information about the virus' origin, and she certainly does not provide any useful recommendations for how to protect ourselves.
In fact, she parrots the recommendations of most governments — staying 6 feet apart, using alcohol-based disinfectants and wearing surgical masks. Aside from disinfectants, which may be useful for killing viruses on hands and surfaces, social distancing and mask wearing have no basis in actual science.
You can learn more about these two interventions in "Why Social Distancing Should Not Be the New Normal" and "Conclusive Proof — Masks Do Not Inhibit Viral Spread."
Of course, the Chinese have been known to wear face masks in public for some time, but they've primarily been worn to protect the wearer against air pollution1,2 — not infectious disease. Just because masks prevent inhalation of dangerous air pollution does not mean they work against viruses.
Based on current data, Yan also seems to exaggerate the dangers of the virus, seeing how the COVID-19 mortality rate is now down to a fraction of a percent and a vast majority — about 90% — of those infected remain completely asymptomatic.
All of that said, she's certainly correct when saying that the CCP's attempts to keep details of the Wuhan outbreak from the public allowed the virus to spread, not only through China but also across the world.
SARS-CoV-2 Did Not Evolve Naturally, Scientists Say
With regard to the origin of SARS-CoV-2, scientists keep finding more clues indicating it's not a naturally-evolved virus. Among them are two recent papers by Norwegian and British researchers Sørensen, Susrud and Dalgleish.
In the first paper,3 "A Candidate Vaccine for Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2) Developed from Analysis of its General Method of Action for Infectivity," published in the journal Quarterly Review of Biophysics Discovery, they claim to have identified inserted sections in the spike surface that allows it to bind to and enter human cells.
According to the authors, "The SARS-CoV-2 spike is significantly different from any other SARS that we have studied."
The second paper,4 "The Evidence Which Suggests That This Is No Naturally Evolved Virus: A Reconstructed Historical Aetiology of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike," published by the Norwegian periodical Minerva,5,6 July 13, 2020, presents several arguments for why SARS-CoV-2 is likely to have been manipulated in the lab.
As in the first paper, the researchers stress anomalies in the spike protein of the virus. The abstract reads, in part:7
"… SARS-CoV-2 is possessed of dual action capability … The likelihood of this being the result of natural processes is very small. The spike has six inserts which are unique fingerprints with five salient features indicative of purposive manipulation.
We then add to the bio-chemistry a diachronic dimension by analysing a sequence of four linked published research projects which, we suggest, show by deduction how, where, when and by whom the SARS-CoV-2 Spike acquired its special characteristics. This reconstructed historical aetiology meets the criteria of means, timing, agent and place to produce sufficient confidence to reverse the burden of proof.
Henceforth, those who would maintain that the COVID-19 pandemic arose from zoonotic transfer need to explain precisely why this more parsimonious account is wrong before asserting that their evidence is persuasive, most especially when, as we also show, there are puzzling errors in their use of evidence."
US-China Collaborated on Coronavirus Research
Sørensen also highlights open source studies describing the creation of new chimeraviruses that have SARS-coronavirus as a base. For example, researchers have exchanged properties between bat coronaviruses and human SARS viruses. So, there can be no doubt that the technology and know-how exists. Minerva reporter Aksel Fridstrom writes:8
"Furthermore, Sørensen's article points to the fact that Wuhan's Virology Institute again in 2010 took part in gain-of-function experiments with international collaborators, where SARS-coronavirus was provided with additional properties that increase the virus's ability to infect humans."
In that research, an HIV pseudovirus was used to express seven bat ACE2 receptors. The binding properties of these bat ACE2 receptors were compared to human ACE2 receptors in order to determine which one would have the greatest ability to bind to and infect human cells.
The international collaborators in this case included researchers at the University of North Carolina. Five years later, in 2015, the University of North Carolina again collaborated with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, performing gain-of-function research in which bat viruses were manipulated to create a chimeric virus capable of binding to human upper airway cells. That particular virus was called SHC014-MA15.
"Sørensen and his co-authors write that this work created 'a chimeric virus with very high infectivity potential targeted to the human upper respiratory tract' and that what is being described is 'in fact, precisely SARS-CoV-2 properties,'" Fridstrom writes.9
Virus Origin Papers Are Being Shunned by Scientific Journals
One of the reasons Sørensen, Susrud and Dalgleish chose to publish their science paper in a magazine rather than a scientific journal is because of the difficulty getting papers about the virus' origin published. There's tremendous stigma attached to this topic.
The journal Nature was recently caught blocking accounts of people questioning the natural origin of SARS-CoV-2 on Twitter, and several papers discussing the lab origin theory or proposing genetic engineering are languishing on preprint servers, seemingly unable to get accepted for formal publication. Several such papers are mentioned in a July 16, 2020, GM Watch article.10
Sørensen, Susrud and Dalgleish had also already gotten the runaround on their first paper. Both the Journal of Virology and Nature rejected it, stating it was "unsuitable for publication." It was eventually accepted by Quarterly Review of Biophysics Discovery, a journal chaired by Stanford University and University of Dundee scientists.
Why COVID-19 Vaccines Are Likely to Fail
Importantly, in "A Candidate Vaccine for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) Developed from Analysis of its General Method of Action for Infectivity,"11 Sorensen et.al. warn that current efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine are likely to fail since the etiology of the virus has been misunderstood:12
"These data reveal the biological structure of SARS-CoV-2 Spike and confirm that accumulated charge from inserts and salt bridges are in surface positions capable of binding with cell membrane components other than the ACE2 receptor.
We have also looked at the naked coronavirus spike protein as a concept for the basis of a vaccine, which we have rejected because of high risk of contamination with human-like epitopes.
Analysis of the Spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 shows 78.4% similarity with human-like (HL) epitopes. For the avoidance of confusion, a standard protein blast searches for functionalities and homologies to other proteins.
However, antibodies can only recognize 5-6 amino acids and therefore a 6 amino acid rolling window search for antibody epitopes was performed.
A search so tailored to match against all human known proteins will give a 78.4% human similarity to the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein, i.e if all epitopes on the 1255 amino acid long SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein can be used by antibodies then there will be 983 antibody binding sites which also could bind to epitopes on human proteins.
This is what we did and found … [I]n the present context, any vaccine design based on the whole Spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 may not be immunogenic due its high human similarity compared to a vaccine with specifically selected NHL epitopes, such as Biovacc-19 does — and is.
COVID-19 candidate vaccines designed without appreciating these problems may run similar risks to those experienced with HIV vaccines that failed to show protection.
The possibility of inducing autoimmune responses or antibody-dependent enhancements, needs to be carefully guarded against because there is published evidence that an HIV candidate vaccine has actually enhanced infectivity:
'Vaccinations were halted; participants were unblinded. In post hoc analyses, more HIV infections occurred in vaccinees vs placebo recipients in men who had Ad5-neutralizing antibodies and/or were uncircumcised. Follow-up was extended to assess relative risk of HIV acquisition in vaccinees vs placebo recipients over time.'
Such antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) has been observed for coronaviruses in animal models, allowing them to enter cells expressing Fc𝛾R. ADE is not fully understood: however, it is suggested that antibody-dependent enhancements may come as a result of amino acid variability and antigenic drift."
They also point out that choosing an adjuvant after the primary vaccine design work has been completed, which is how vaccine development is typically done, may be yet another serious mistake that could make a COVID-19 vaccine really dangerous.
Many Different Lab Origin Hypotheses Have Been Presented
Another scientist who questions the natural evolution theory is Jonathan Latham, Ph.D., a molecular biologist and virologist. In a June 2, 2020, Independent Science News article,13 Latham and Allison Wilson, Ph.D., a geneticist, dissect the zoonotic origin theory, showing the research simply does not support this claim.
While they do not dispute the idea that SARS-CoV-2 started out as a bat coronavirus at some point, they dispute the mechanism by which it supposedly gained the ability to infect humans. In his article, Latham lays out several different lab origin hypotheses, which are also reviewed in my interview with him, featured in "Cover-Up of SARS-CoV-2 Origin?"
Is SARS-CoV-2 Really a Novel Virus?
Latham and Wilson continue their search for the truth in a July 15, 2020, Independent Science News article.14
"… enormous scientific attention has been paid to the molecular character of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including its novel genome sequence in comparison with its near relatives," Latham writes.
"In stark contrast, virtually no attention has been paid to the physical provenance of those nearest genetic relatives, its presumptive ancestors, which are two viral sequences named BtCoV/4991 and RaTG13."
According to Latham, SARS-CoV-2 may not be an entirely novel virus after all. A highly conserved close ancestor, BtCoV/4991, has been listed in the database for seven years and has been featured in the published literature. When the Wuhan lab later resequenced this sample, they simply renamed it, thereby obscuring its history.
As Latham explains in his article15 — which I encourage you to read in its entirety — BtCoV/4991 was found in samples collected in a mineshaft in Yunnan province, China in 2012-2013.
The samples were collected after six miners contracted a strange respiratory illness that sound remarkably similar if not identical to COVID-19. Three of them died. While the disease had only been described in a Chinese thesis written by the doctor who treated the miners, Latham had the thesis translated into English.
"The evidence it contains has led us to reconsider everything we thought we knew about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic," Latham writes.16 "It has also led us to theorize a plausible route by which an apparently isolated disease outbreak in a mine in 2012 led to a global pandemic in 2019.
The origin of SARS-CoV-2 that we propose below is based on the case histories of these miners and their hospital treatment. This simple theory accounts for all the key features of the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus …"
Key features Latham and Wilson believe can be explained by their theory include:
- The origin of the novel furin cleavage site on the virus' spike protein that enhances its spread in the human body
- The "exceptional affinity of the virus spike protein for human receptors"
- The virus' lack of evolution since the pandemic began
- The reason SARS-CoV-2 targets the lungs
While they do not claim SARS-CoV-2 was genetically engineered, they believe gain-of-function research performed at the Wuhan Institute of Virology played "an essential causative role in the pandemic."
The Mojiang Miners Passage Hypothesis
Latham and Wilson go on to explain their hypothesis, which they've dubbed the Mojiang miners passage (MMP) hypothesis. Again, I recommend reading the original article, but for your edification, I've chosen to quote a larger than usual section to summarize it for you:
"We suggest, first, that inside the miners RaTG13 (or a very similar virus) evolved into SARS-CoV-2, an unusually pathogenic coronavirus highly adapted to humans. Second, that the Shi lab used medical samples taken from the miners and sent to them by Kunming University Hospital for their research. It was this human-adapted virus, now known as SARS-CoV-2, that escaped from the WIV in 2019 …
Passaging is a standard virological technique for adapting viruses to new species, tissues, or cell types. It is normally done by deliberately infecting a new host species or a new host cell type with a high dose of virus. This initial viral infection would ordinarily die out because the host's immune system vanquishes the ill-adapted virus.
But, in passaging, before it does die out a sample is extracted and transferred to a new identical tissue, where viral infection restarts. Done iteratively, this technique … intensively selects for viruses adapted to the new host or cell type …
We agree that ordinary rates of evolution would not allow RaTG13 to evolve into SARS-CoV-2 but we also believe that conditions inside the lungs of the miners were far from ordinary. Five major factors specific to the hospitalized miners favored a very high rate of evolution inside them.
The lungs of the miners, we suggest, supported a very high viral load leading to proportionately rapid viral evolution. Furthermore, according to the Master's thesis, the immune systems of the miners were compromised and remained so even for those discharged. This weakness on the part of the miners may also have encouraged evolution of the virus …
In support of the MMP theory we also know something about the samples taken from the miners. According to the Master's thesis, samples were taken from patients for 'scientific research' and blood samples (at least) were sent to the WIV …
The logical course of such research would be to sequence viral RNA extracted directly from unfrozen tissue or blood samples and/or to generate live infectious clones for which it would be useful (if not imperative) to amplify the virus by placing it in human cell culture. Either technique could have led to accidental infection of a lab researcher …
We propose that, when frozen samples derived from the miners were eventually opened in the Wuhan lab they were already highly adapted to humans to an extent possibly not anticipated by the researchers. One small mistake or mechanical breakdown could have led directly to the first human infection in late 2019.
Thus, one of the miners, most likely patient 3, or patient 4 (whose thymus was removed), was effectively patient zero of the COVID-19 epidemic. In this scenario, COVID-19 is not an engineered virus; but, equally, if it had not been taken to Wuhan and no further molecular research had been performed or planned for it then the virus would have died out from natural causes, rather than escaped to initiate the COVID-19 pandemic."
As discussed in "Bioweapon Labs Must Be Shut Down and Scientists Prosecuted," the COVID-19 pandemic should be a wake-up call for the world to reconsider the wisdom of gain-of-function research. Lab escapes are guaranteed to occur, sooner or later. We got lucky this time, in the sense that SARS-CoV-2 is far less deadly than initially feared. But the government response to the pandemic has been devastating.
Global shut-downs have taken a massive toll on mental and financial health, not to mention the global economy as a whole. Could we survive as a species if something with a really high lethality were to get out? These are crucial questions that deserve public discussion and close scrutiny by lawmakers.
The body of evidence demonstrating the medicinal value of cannabis is growing and becoming more compelling, yet there continues to be resistance to using cannabidiol (CBD). Even as the legal arguments are settling, many are resistant to using cannabis sativa (hemp) or cannabis indica (marijuana).
Cannabis has been a popular botanical medicine for thousands of years, valued for its healing properties. Through at least the 19th century it could be found in U.S. pharmacies.1 Then, in 1970, the herb was declared a Schedule 1 controlled substance.2 This is a classification reserved for drugs with a “high potential for abuse” and “no accepted medicinal use.”3
Three years later, the Drug Enforcement Agency was formed and they began their fight against marijuana.4 It may be hard for many to shake the idea that a plant once associated with hippies, rebellion and counterculture has medicinal value and may be important to optimal health.
CBD May Use Three Pathways in the Fight Against COVID-19
Although there is nothing in the chemical makeup of CBD to suggest it specifically attacks COVID-19, some experts believe the anti-inflammatory properties could present a potential treatment for pulmonary inflammation that ultimately can lead to death.
In the severe form of the disease, damage leads to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), raising the mortality rate of those with ARDS to nearly 50%.5 Hyperactivity of the immune system has been dubbed a “cytokine storm” and is characterized by a release of inflammatory mediators including interleukins and chemokines.
However, Emily Earlenbaugh, co-founder of a cannabis consulting company and a contributor to Forbes, points out that as the body recognizes pathogens, immune cells trigger an early cytokine response that helps control the infection.6,7 This means the body requires cytokines at the start of an infection, but a hyperactive immune response later on can lead to lung damage and severe pneumonia.
Among the different cannabinoids that have been extracted from the cannabis plant, it is CBD that has shown strong anti-inflammatory properties.8 It makes sense, then, to investigate whether CBD can treat ARDS.
Earlenbaugh writes in Forbes that researchers have studied CBD for three ways it may help in the treatment of COVID-19. These include the ability to reduce inflammation, act as a potential antiviral and affect ACE2 expression.9
CBD May Calm the COVID-19 Cytokine Storm
In an interview with CBS News, Earlenbaugh spoke of past research in which CBD demonstrated the ability to act as an interleukin-6 inhibitor, and thus affect the hyperactive immune response.10,11
A more recent study by scholars from Augusta University in Georgia concluded that CBD had a potential protective role during ARDS, which may make it a valuable part of treatment for COVID-19 “by reducing the cytokine storm, protecting pulmonary tissues, and re-establishing inflammatory homeostasis.”12
While more clinical trials are needed to determine dosage and timing before CBD can be part of mainstream treatment, researchers believe they have evidence it can help patients avoid mechanical ventilation and death from ARDS. Babak Baban, immunologist and corresponding author of the study, commented:13
"ARDS is a major killer in severe cases of some respiratory viral infections, including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and we have an urgent need for better intervention and treatment strategies. The natural instinct of the virus is to make more of itself. It weaves with our DNA to make the cell produce food and everything it needs."
In their animal study, a synthetic analog was used to mimic the activity of SARS-CoV-2.14 CBD was administered in a pattern that would be like the human experience with the virus and treatment. The animals showed quick clinical improvement, and in a subsequent examination it was found that their lung damage had totally or partially healed.
Terpenes Have Antiviral Activity
Terpenes, also found in the cannabis plant, have been another focus of study for the antiviral properties as scientists search for natural remedies in the treatment of some viruses,15 inflammatory diseases16 and SARS.17
Terpenes are phytochemicals and the oils that give the plant a distinctive flavor and odor.18 Some have antiviral activity, which may help fight COVID-19. A team from the Israel Institute of Technology led by Dedi Meiri, Ph.D., spoke with a reporter from Health Europa about a formulation having been extracted from cannabis and being tested against SARS CoV-2.19
In the initial study, the team is trying to identify the molecules capable of reducing the hyperactive immune response without completely suppressing the system. In the second phase they plan to look at how the plant may affect the viral process through ACE2 receptors.
The hope is that terpenes found in cannabis can help modulate the overreaction of the immune system, which causes organ system failure leading to death.20
Your Body Has an Endocannabinoid System
Endocannabinoids were discovered in the 1990s, which in turn led to the realization that the human body makes endogenous cannabinoids to influence those receptors.21 Endocannabinoids are similar in structure to the cannabinoids found in cannabis.
Board certified nutritionist Carl Germano is an expert on phytocannabinoids and the importance of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the human body. He likens the ECS system to the conductor of an orchestra, in which the orchestra is your organ system.22
He goes on to explain how this important system may not be fully appreciated and understood, as there continues to be a stigma — even in medical schools — where students and researchers are testing the boundaries of human biology and physiology:23
"The ECS has been the subject of many scholarly textbooks … Quite frankly, this is something that should be taught from high school to college to medical school. Unfortunately, because of the stigma attached to cannabinoids … less than 13 percent [of medical schools in the U.S.] are teaching the ECS.
I say, 'Are you insane? This is like saying that for the next 70 years we will not teach the cardiovascular system, as if it never existed.' We now have to dismantle this medical travesty … The whole thing is about education. This is critical and crucial to our health and well-being.
We have to dismantle the stigma, and we have to start educating ourselves to understand that the ECS is probably one of the most important medical discoveries in quite some time … understanding the enormity of this system and what it does and what it influences throughout the entire human body."
Documented Health Benefits Associated With CBD
CBD is only one of more than 100 compounds that are classified as cannabinoids and found in the cannabis plant. Since cannabinoid receptors are part of our physiology, it should come as no surprise that CBD has so many health benefits. There are myriad medical uses that have been attributed to CBD, many of them scientifically documented. However, as Germano warns:24
“We must get off this single magic bullet bandwagon. We must appreciate the full gamut of all of these phytocannabinoids as a whole and that they complement each other because CBD is not the answer to support the endocannabinoid system as a whole.”
You’ll find more information about cannabis production, quality and medicinal benefits at “The Many Medicinal Benefits of Cannabis and Cannabidiol (CBD).” Here are just a few of benefits associated with health conditions that raise the risk for severe COVID-19:
- Allergic asthma — "CBD treatment decreased the inflammatory and remodeling processes in the model of allergic asthma," according to the European Journal of Pharmacology25
- Anxiety and sleep — "Cannabidiol may hold benefit for anxiety-related disorders," The Permanente Journal26
- Blood pressure — "This data shows that acute administration of CBD reduces resting BP and the BP increase to stress in humans," JCI Insight27
- Diabetes — "These results suggest that the neuroprotective effects of CBD in middle-aged diabetic rats ... are related to a reduction in neuroinflammation," Neurotoxicity Research28
Feed Your Body’s Endocannabinoid System
In my interview with Germano, he talked about the conditions that may result when endogenous cannabinoids are not produced. This can produce a number of symptoms such as inflammation, stress, anxiety and depression.29 Others include poor eye health, insomnia, neurological problems and poor bone health.
Before reaching for a supplement, consider taking steps to raise your endogenous production of cannabinoid compounds. A paper published in PLOS|One explains how nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, exercise, chiropractic care, massage and acupuncture influence the function of your ECS.30
If you choose to use a supplement, then I strongly recommend buying from a reputable company. As I’ve written in the past, Amazon has misled consumers because they allow vendors to tag their items at will, despite their policy of forbidding the sale of any controlled substance.31
Products containing CBD oil fall into this category, based on a technicality of the law.32 Yet, you can still find hemp extract and other products containing CBD on the website.33 One healthy option is using hemp, which was legalized in 2018 with the Farm Bill.34 As Germano has said, CBD alone is not enough to support the body’s endocannabinoid system. Hemp oil has 100 other phytocannabinoids to help meet many of those needs, including CBD.35
Germano wrote a book about the ECS called, "Road to Ananda: The Simple Guide to the Endocannabinoid System, Phytocannabinoids and Hemp." I am proud to have written the forward to this book, as it is a great resource. Definitely pick up a copy if you want to learn more about this fascinating topic.
Right now, there are three types of COVID-19 tests:1
- Molecular — Also known as a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test, this test detects whether genetic material of the virus is present in the sample collected from your throat or sputum (the back of your sinuses)
- Antigen — This test, sometimes referred to as "rapid test," detects viral proteins
- Antibody — Also known as a serology test, it detects the presence of antibodies in your blood
The first two, molecular and antigen, are so-called "viral tests" that detect active infections, whereas the antibody test will tell you if you've developed antibodies in response to a previous coronavirus infection. It typically takes your body one to three weeks after an infection clears to start making antibodies against the virus in question.
Common Cold Can Trigger Positive COVID-19 Antibody Test
Each of these COVID-19 tests have their issues and controversies. The problem with antibody testing is that there are seven different coronaviruses known to cause respiratory illness in humans.2 Four of them cause symptoms associated with the common cold:
In addition to the common cold, OC43 and HKU1 — two of the most commonly encountered betacoronaviruses3 — are also known to cause bronchitis, acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia in all age groups.4 The other three human coronaviruses — which are capable of causing more serious respiratory illness — are:
The tricky part is that the antibodies created by these different coronaviruses appear very similar, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admits recovering from the common cold can trigger a positive antibody test for COVID-19, even if you were never infected with SARS-CoV-2 specifically. As explained on the CDC's "Test for Past Infection" web page:5
"Antibody tests check your blood by looking for antibodies, which may tell you if you had a past infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. Antibodies are proteins that help fight off infections and can provide protection against getting that disease again (immunity). Antibodies are disease specific …
A positive test result shows you may have antibodies from an infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. However, there is a chance a positive result means that you have antibodies from an infection with a virus from the same family of viruses (called coronaviruses), such as the one that causes the common cold."
Unclear if Cross-Reactive Antibody Tests Are Still Being Used
In a July 10, 2020, interview with KTTC news, Mayo Clinic chair of clinical microbiology, Dr. Bobbi Pritt, said:6
"Early on we had labs using tests that have not received that [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] review and some of those tests … may have given you a false positive and detected the normal coronavirus that circulates and causes the common cold. I would say the vast majority have been extensively tested to show that they do not cross react and give you false positives due to the common cold [anymore]."
While experts at the Mayo Clinic claim these cross-reactive antibody tests were an early problem that has since been corrected and eliminated, the CDC does not confirm or deny the accuracy of this statement on its "Test for Past Infection" web page.7
So, it's unclear whether the antibody tests manufactured and used today are still capable of delivering a positive result if you were recently exposed and recovered from the common cold virus.
Back on April 29, 2020, infectious disease specialist and CNN medical analyst Dr. Kent Sepkowitz noted that "deciphering between the common cold antibody and the COVID-19 antibody is a real challenge scientifically,"8 but that doesn't mean it cannot or hasn't been done.
On a side note, labs are now reporting a shortage of chemicals and disposable pipette tips required to perform COVID-19 tests, which means longer wait times — again. As Scott Shone, director of the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health, told The New York Times,9,10 July 23, 2020, “It’s like Groundhog Day. I feel like I lived this day four or five months ago,” referring back to the early days of the pandemic when test supplies were in short supply.
Some Coronaviruses May Impart Resilience Against COVID-19
While the CDC warns it's still uncertain whether COVID-19 antibodies prevents reinfection, or if it does, for how long, researchers in Singapore have presented evidence11,12,13 suggesting the immunity is likely to be long-lasting.
They discovered common colds caused by the betacoronaviruses OC43 and HKU1 appear to make you more resistant to SARS-CoV-2 infection, and that the resulting immunity might last as long as 17 years.
The authors suggest that if you've beat a common cold caused by a OC43 or HKU1 betacoronavirus in the past, you may have a 50/50 chance of having defensive T-cells that can recognize and help defend against SARS-CoV-2. As reported by the Daily Mail:14
"Scientists have found evidence that some immunity may be present for many years due to the body's 'memory' T-cells from attacks by previous viruses with a similar genetic make-up — even among people who have had no known exposure to Covid-19 or SARS …
Blood was taken from 24 patients who had recovered from COVID-19, 23 who had become ill from SARS and 18 who had never been exposed to either SARS or COVID-19 …
Half of patients in the group with no exposure to either Covid-19 or SARS possessed T-cells which showed immune response to the animal betacoronaviruses, COVID-19 and SARS. This suggested patients' immunity developed after exposure to common colds caused by betacoronavirus or possibly from other as yet unknown pathogens."
According to the researchers, their findings demonstrate that:15
"Virus-specific memory T-cells induced by betacoronavirus infection are long-lasting, which supports the notion that COVID-19 patients would develop long-term T-cell immunity. Our findings also raise the intriguing possibility that infection with related viruses can also protect from or modify the pathology caused by SARS-Cov-2."
Added support for these conclusions were published May 14, 2020, in the journal Cell. This study16 found that not only did 70% of samples obtained from recovered COVID-19 patients have resistance to SARS-CoV-2 on the T-cell level but so did 40% to 60% of people who had not been exposed to the virus. According to the authors, this suggests there's "cross-reactive T cell recognition between circulating 'common cold' coronaviruses and SARS-CoV-2."
Other Researchers Report Low Immunity Post-Recovery
The immunity issue isn't entirely cut and dry, though. Other research, which looked at antibody levels in recovered COVID-19 patients in Germany, found they lost their antibodies after two to three months.
"Clemens Wendtner, a chief physician at the hospital, tested COVID-19 patients for immunity after they had been treated for the disease at the end of January 2020. The tests showed a significant decrease in the number of antibodies," DW reported in a July 14, 2020, article.17
"Wendtner says 'neutralizing' antibodies, which stop a viral attack, fell in four out of nine of the patients who were tested, within two to three months. Those findings coincide with a similar investigation done in China.
That study also found that antibodies in COVID-19 patients do not persist in the blood. Further research is still required. But these initial findings suggest that a second infection is possible …"
However, it is important to realize that loss of the ability to determine antibody levels may not necessarily reflect lack of immune protection, as there may be innate cell mediated immunity that provides protection that is not being measured by the humoral antibody production.
Will COVID-19 Behave Like the Common Cold?
If reinfection is possible, then COVID-19 would behave much like the common cold and seasonal influenza, which can strike more than once — if not in a single season, then certainly in any given year. If that's the case, then "immunity passports" and most other COVID-19 interventions, such as school closings and business shutdowns, become even more questionable than they already are.
If SARS-CoV-2 ends up behaving like other human coronaviruses that cause the common cold, immunity may only last six to 12 months, a European study18 says. Here, they did not look at SARS-CoV-2 antibodies but, rather, antibodies against the other four coronaviruses that cause the common cold, none of which were long-lasting. According to BGR, which reported the findings:19
"'Frequent reinfections at 12 months post-infection and substantial reduction in antibody levels as soon as 6 months post-infection' were observed for those viruses.
If the novel coronavirus behaves the same way, then talk of 'immunity passports' and herd immunization is pointless. A person who recovered from COVID-19 could get it again in six to 12 months without another vaccine shot …
The researchers note that the human coronaviruses are 'biologically dissimilar' and 'have little in common, apart from causing the common cold.' But SARS-CoV-2 doesn't have to be similar to any of them to follow the same immunity pattern."
Is Herd Immunity Against COVID-19 Possible?
The issue of reinfection also raises questions about whether herd immunity is ever going to be possible. Studies cited by The Daily Mail20 claim herd immunity against COVID-19 could be achieved if just 10% to 43% of people develop lasting immunity.
This is a far cry from the percentages typically required for vaccine-induced "herd immunity" (which is really a misnomer, as vaccine-induced immunity doesn't work like natural immunity, and herd immunity is really only achieved when enough people recover from the illness in question). According to The Daily Mail:21
"The concept of herd immunity hinges on people only being affected once, so that when a certain number of people have been infected with the virus already it can't spread any more.
It remains a mystery as to whether this is the case for COVID-19 but, if it is, then herd immunity could offer some protection during a second wave of the disease …
Researchers now say it could work to some extent if only one or two out of 10 people have been infected naturally and become immune to the disease … Another study has taken a similar line and suggested herd immunity could develop at around 43 percent of the population getting infected … Immunity among the most socially active people, scientists say, could protect those who come into contact with fewer others."
Optimizing Vitamin D May Be Your Best Bet
Considering the many questions surrounding the possibility of reinfection and herd immunity, I believe one of your best bets is to address an underlying weakness that can have a significant impact on your COVID-19 risk, namely vitamin D insufficiency.
Rather than waiting for a likely harmful vaccine, get proactive and start optimizing your vitamin D level. You can learn more about this in "The Most Important Paper Dr. Mercola Has Ever Written" and "How to Fix the COVID-19 Crisis in 30 Days." Also start working on reversing any underlying comorbidities such as insulin resistance and obesity.
When Should You Get Tested?
As for testing, I do not recommend getting a viral test (which checks for active infection) unless you have COVID-19 symptoms and need it to guide your treatment. Swabbing the back of your nasal cavity has its risks, and can actually introduce an infection or, some speculate, even some more nefarious agents.
Getting tested just for the heck of it doesn't really make sense. Even if you test negative, you can get infected at any point after leaving the test site. If you have to get tested in order to travel or return to work, an antibody test may be more appropriate. Even if your antibodies wane with time, you're still going to be immune for a while.
The best test are your clinical symptoms. If you have symptoms suggestive of coronavirus infection, then my best recommendation is to start nebulizing food grade hydrogen peroxide at 0.1% as suggested in the video below and discussed in my article on the topic.
I would also make sure that your vitamin D levels are adequate, as discussed in my paper on the topic. If you don't know your vitamin D level and have not been in the sun or taken over 5,000 units of vitamin D a day, it would likely help to take one bolus dose of 100,000 units, and make sure you are taking plenty of magnesium, which helps convert the vitamin D to its active immune modulating form.
Another great option that is less expensive, easier to get and likely more effective than hydroxychloroquine, would be quercetin with zinc as discussed in my recent article on the subject.
The question of whether we should wear face masks or not to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is a hotly contested issue. Part of the confusion may be related to the difference between viral particles spread via respiratory droplets, and viral particles spread via the air itself.
I believe it's important to realize the difference between these two modes of transmission, and to not overestimate the protection you can get or give others by wearing a mask.
The science1,2 clearly shows face coverings of various kinds do little if anything to prevent respiratory illnesses caused by aerosolized viruses. Many health authorities still insist that something is better than nothing, though, since they do inhibit the dissemination of viral-laden respiratory droplets.
But influenza viruses — coronaviruses that cause the common cold and SARS-CoV-2 — all spread via the air, not just via droplets or touching contaminated surfaces, and it's important to realize that preventing droplet contamination does not mean you also prevent the transmission of the aerosolized virus. (The aerosol part of transmission is regrettably overlooked in the video above, which reviews a number of problems with mandatory mask recommendations.)
SARS-CoV-2 is an aerosolized virus, meaning it floats in the air. One of the issues at hand is the size of the virus. If the gaps in the mask are larger than the virus, it stands to reason it cannot block the virus from entering or escaping the mask.
SARS-CoV-2 is a beta-coronavirus with a diameter between 60 nanometers (nm) and 140 nm, or 0.06 to 0.14 microns (micrometers).3 This is about half the size of most viruses, which tend to measure between 0.02 microns to 0.3 microns.4
Virus-laden saliva or respiratory droplets expelled when talking or coughing, however, measure between 5 and 10 microns.5 N95 masks can filter particles as small as 0.3 microns,6 so they may prevent a majority of respiratory droplets from escaping, but not aerosolized viruses.
Lab testing7 has shown 3M surgical masks can block up to 75% of particles measuring between 0.02 microns and 1 micron, while cloth masks block between 30% and 60% of respiratory particles of this size. For cloth masks, cotton-chiffon, cotton-silk hybrids, and high thread count cotton materials provide the best droplet filtration. As reported by the Emergency Medicine News journal:8
"Mueller, et al.,9 placed a particle counter inside various masks worn by a volunteer to sense 0.04 micron NaCl particles aerosolized in ambient air, and found that adding a nylon stocking overlayer to the mask improved virus blockade for all types, including surgical masks. This simple addition improved many of the homemade cloth masks to the baseline level of a surgical mask."
So, in summary, if you are a carrier of the virus, by wearing a surgical mask, you theoretically lower the amount of viral-laden respiratory droplets that you deposit into your environment by about 75%.
As such, you could argue that surgical masks lower the overall contamination risk to others if you are a carrier of the virus. If you are infected and wear a surgical mask, others in close proximity will be protected to some degree from getting hit by your contaminated respiratory droplets.
That said, the force by which you expel the droplets also matters. Back in April 2020, a small South Korean study10 found that surgical and cloth masks were unable to block SARS-CoV-2 from the coughs of COVID-19 patients. The journal retracted the paper several weeks later.11,12
Masks Cannot Block Aerosolized Viruses
The virus is not restricted to respiratory droplets, though. It's also in the air itself, and these aerosolized particles are far tinier. To block these, you'd need a mask that prevents all air flow, and that, of course, wouldn't work, since you need air flow to survive.
Now, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is actually recommending people wear cloth masks — not surgical masks or N95, which they recommend for health care workers only. The problem with this is that not only do cloth masks fail to provide any protection against aerosolized viruses, as noted above, they also provide very little protection in terms of blocking respiratory droplets.
As reported by The National Academies of Sciences in its Rapid Expert Consultation on the Effectiveness of Fabric Masks for the COVID-19 Pandemic report, published April 8, 2020:13
"The evidence from … laboratory filtration studies suggest that … fabric masks may reduce the transmission of larger respiratory droplets. There is little evidence regarding the transmission of small aerosolized particulates of the size potentially exhaled by asymptomatic or presymptomatic individuals with COVID-19."
So, regardless of the mask, it will not prevent you from exhaling or inhaling the aerosolized virus, but cloth masks are clearly the least preferable option if you actually want to reduce the spread of infection, as their ability to block respiratory droplets is also limited.
In particular, masks with airflow valves on the front should be avoided, as the valve lets out unfiltered air, thus negating the small benefit you might expect from a mask.14
What We Learned From the Mask for Flu Policy
To put the mask controversy into some perspective, let's compare it to what we learned from the masking for influenza controversy a couple of years back. In September 2018, the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) won its second of two grievances filed against the Toronto Academic Health Science Network's (TAHSN) "vaccinate or mask" (VOM) policy. As reported by the ONA:15
"These policies force nurses and other health-care workers to wear an unfitted surgical mask for the entirety of their shift if they choose not to receive the influenza vaccine.
After reviewing extensive expert evidence submitted by both ONA and St. Michael's Hospital, which was the lead case for the TAHSN group, Arbitrator William Kaplan, in his September 6 decision,16 found that St. Michael's VOM policy is 'illogical and makes no sense' and 'is the exact opposite of being reasonable.' In reaching this conclusion, Arbitrator Kaplan rejected the hospital's evidence.
This is the second such win for ONA. In 2015, Arbitrator James Hayes struck down the same type of policy in an arbitration that included other Ontario hospitals across the province … Hayes found there was 'scant evidence' that forcing nurses to use masks reduced the transmission of influenza to patients.
Despite this clear ruling, the majority of TAHSN hospitals refused to follow the Hayes award and maintained their respective VOM policies. As a result, ONA was forced to litigate this matter again at St. Michael's Hospital …
ONA's well-regarded expert witnesses, including Toronto infection control expert Dr. Michael Gardam, Quebec epidemiologist Dr. Gaston De Serres, and Dr. Lisa Brosseau, an American expert on masks, testified that there was insufficient evidence to support the St. Michael's policy and no evidence that forcing healthy nurses to wear masks during the influenza season did anything to prevent transmission of influenza in hospitals.
They further testified that nurses who have no symptoms are unlikely to be a real source of transmission and that it was not logical to force healthy unvaccinated nurses to mask."
No Direct Evidence Masks Prevent Spread of Influenza
In summary, the ONA argued, and Kaplan agreed, that the rule forcing unvaccinated nurses to wear a surgical mask during flu season to protect patients from influenza was not supported by science and was most likely an attempt to drive up vaccination rates among staff.
TAHSN argued that "The wearing of face masks can serve as a method of source control of infected HCWs [health care workers] who may or may not have symptoms. Masks may also prevent unvaccinated HCWs from as yet unrecognized infected patients or visitors."17 Like the previous arbitrator, Kaplan disagreed.
"I … find that the weight of scientific evidence said to support the VOM Policy on patient safety grounds is insufficient to warrant the imposition of a mask-wearing requirement for up to six months every year.
Absent adequate support for the freestanding patient safety purpose alleged, I conclude that the Policy operates to coerce influenza immunization and, thereby, undermines the collective agreement right of employees to refuse vaccination," Kaplan wrote,18 adding that the TAHSN's mask rule:
"… was made in the admitted absence of direct evidence that mask- wearing HCWs protected patients from influenza; but on the basis of 'indirect evidence [that] suggests it does.'
The only fair words to describe the evidence advanced in support of the masking component of the VOM policy in the THASN report, and in this proceeding, are insufficient, inadequate, and completely unpersuasive."
CDC Now Promotes Mask Wearing for Flu
Despite the lack of supporting science, in its current guidance19 on mask use to prevent the spread of influenza, the CDC calls for health care personnel to wear a surgical mask or fit-tested respirator whenever they're within 6 feet of an influenza patient.
They also now recommend that anyone suspected of having influenza who enters a medical facility should wear a mask "at all times until they are isolated in a private room."
The CDC does point out that "Masks are not usually recommended in non-healthcare settings," and that "No recommendation can be made at this time for mask use in the community by asymptomatic persons, including those at high risk for complications, to prevent exposure to influenza viruses." Still, they add that:
"If unvaccinated high-risk persons decide to wear masks during periods of increased respiratory illness activity in the community, it is likely they will need to wear them any time they are in a public place and when they are around other household members."
When was the last time you wore a mask during influenza season? Never? Me either. Have you ever even heard the CDC recommend mask wearing to prevent the spread of influenza in previous years?
Surgical masks used in healthcare settings such as during surgery are meant to prevent bacterial infections, as bacteria are much larger than viruses.
What has changed is that the CDC is now suggesting mask wearing, both at home and in public during influenza season, might be a good idea. Where's the evidence showing masks help prevent the spread of influenza?
Are masks an effective way to reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses, or are these mask recommendations just another strategy to make the public surrender to irrational medical tyranny that is likely to radically increase implementation of mandatory vaccination? Of course, these vaccinations would not just be for the flu but also COVID-19 once a vaccine becomes available.
Cloth Masks Offer False Sense of Security
April 1, 2020, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) published a commentary20 by retired professor Lisa Brosseau, ScD, and Margaret Sietsema, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Illinois, arguing that mandates calling for the wearing of cloth masks or face coverings in public are "not based on sound data." Both are experts on respiratory protection and infectious diseases. July 16, the following editor's note was added to the article:
"The authors and CIDRAP have received requests in recent weeks to remove this article from the CIDRAP website. Reasons have included: (1) we don't truly know that cloth masks (face coverings) are not effective, since the data are so limited, (2) wearing a cloth mask or face covering is better than doing nothing.
(3) the article is being used by individuals and groups to support non-mask wearing where mandated and (4) there are now many modeling studies suggesting that cloth masks or face coverings could be effective at flattening the curve and preventing many cases of infection."
The addition of that editor's note is more proof that this issue is politically driven. Kudos to CIDRAP for not succumbing to censorship pressure to remove the article entirely, as it makes some excellent points. Among them:
• While data for cloth masks are limited, laboratory studies have shown cloth masks "offer very low filter collection efficiency for the smaller inhalable particles we believe are largely responsible for transmission, particularly from pre- or asymptomatic individuals who are not coughing or sneezing."
• While the CDC has added several scientific references in support of cloth face coverings to its mask guidelines, upon reviewing them, Brosseau and Sietsema say they "employ very crude, nonstandardized methods or are not relevant to cloth face coverings because they evaluate respirators or surgical masks."
• On the issue of whether wearing a cloth mask is better than nothing, Brosseau and Sietsema say "we simply don't know at this point." They also stress there's been "an evolution in the messaging around cloth masks," starting out with warnings that they cannot replace the need for physical distancing, to current messaging saying they're equivalent to physical distancing.
Worse, while cloth masks, at best, can help protect others if you're infected, the CDC and others are now implying cloth masks can also protect the wearer, even though there's no evidence for this at all.
"We are concerned that many people do not understand the very limited degree of protection a cloth mask or face covering likely offers as source control for people located nearby … Cloth masks and face coverings likely do not offer the same degree of protection as physical distancing, isolation, or limiting personal contact time," Brosseau and Sietsema write.
• The authors also point out several important facts that have been ignored and overlooked in modeling studies purporting to demonstrate that masks can flatten the curve and lower the case load.
Among them is the fact that "Transmission is not simply a function of short random interactions between individuals, but rather a function of particle concentration in the air and the time exposed to that concentration," and that "A cloth mask or face covering does very little to prevent the emission or inhalation of small particles," which is "an important mode of transmission for SARS-CoV-2."
Surgical Masks Cannot Protect Against Influenza
Articles published before the COVID-19 outbreak also offer evidence that the mask rules are not driven by science but rather by politics. For example, in October 2019, Medical Xpress reported that not only is the influenza vaccine only 15% effective, on average, but wearing a surgical mask is equally ineffective:21
"A study that is often cited as evidence that surgical masks work is a randomized trial from 2009 that compared surgical masks with a specialist mask called an N95 respirator — a mask that fits snugly and filters at least 95% of very small (0.3 micron) particles.
The study,22 published in JAMA, found that surgical masks were as effective as N95 respirators at preventing the flu, which is to say, not all that effective because, of the 446 nurses who took part in this study, nearly one in four (24%) in the surgical mask group still got the flu as did 23% of those who wore the N95 respirator.
And, because both groups wore masks, it's impossible to say how they would have fared compared with not wearing a mask at all. Basically, there is no strong evidence to support well people wearing surgical masks in public."
In 2019, a review of interventions for flu epidemics published by the World Health Organization also concluded the evidence leaned against using face masks, with the exception of one study that suggested N95 masks may offer some protection:23
"Ten relevant RCTs were identified for this review and meta-analysis to quantify the efficacy of community-based use of face masks, including more than 6000 participants in total. Most trials combined face masks with improved hand hygiene, and examined the use of face masks in infected individuals (source control) and in susceptible individuals.
In the pooled analysis, although the point estimates suggested a relative risk reduction in laboratory-confirmed influenza of 22% in the face mask group, and a reduction of 8% in the face mask group regardless of whether or not hand hygiene was also enhanced, the evidence was insufficient to exclude chance as an explanation for the reduced risk of transmission.
A study suggested that surgical and N95 (respirator) masks were effective in preventing the spread of influenza … There is a moderate overall quality of evidence that face masks do not have a substantial effect on transmission of influenza …
Reusable cloth face masks are not recommended. Medical face masks are generally not reusable, and an adequate supply would be essential if the use of face masks was recommended. If worn by a symptomatic case, that person might require multiple masks per day for multiple days of illness."
We can also look at countries where people routinely wear face masks to protect themselves against air pollution, such as Japan. Despite widespread routine mask wearing out in public, they still suffer major influenza outbreaks.24
Last but not least, face masks must be put on, removed and disposed of properly in order for you to benefit from them. Readers Digest recently published "11 Mistakes You're Probably Making with Face Masks,"25 reviewing all the ways in which you might nullify the mask's benefit.
Where's the Evidence to Support Shift in Mask Guidance?
What are we to make of health mandates that aren't based on compelling scientific evidence? You may recall Dr. Anthony Fauci has flip-flopped on this issue over the past few months, in mid-February telling us:26
"If you look at the masks that you buy in a drug store, the leakage around that doesn't really do much to protect you. People start saying, 'Should I start wearing a mask?' Now, in the United States, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to wear a mask."
March 8, he told 60 Minutes:27
"Right now, in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks. There's no reason to be walking around with a mask. When you're in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask may make people feel a little bit better, and it might even stop a droplet, but it's not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is."
By mid-June, he’d reversed course, and was urging everyone to wear a mask. But where is the data supporting this 180-degree shift in position?
Contrary to what you’d assume, even some of the most recently published research claims masks provide little to no benefit. Case in point is a policy review paper28 published in Emerging Infectious Diseases in May 2020 — the CDC’s own journal — which reviews “the evidence base on the effectiveness of nonpharmaceutical personal protective measures … in non-healthcare settings.” According to this policy review:29
“Although mechanistic studies support the potential effect of hand hygiene or face masks, evidence from 14 randomized controlled trials of these measures did not support a substantial effect on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza. We similarly found limited evidence on the effectiveness of improved hygiene and environmental cleaning.”
Pages 970 to 972 of the review include the following quotes:
“In our systematic review, we identified 10 RCTs [randomized controlled trials] that reported estimates of the effectiveness of face masks in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza virus infections in the community from literature published during 1946–July 27, 2018. In pooled analysis, we found no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks …
Disposable medical masks (also known as surgical masks) are loose-fitting devices that were designed to be worn by medical personnel to protect accidental contamination of patient wounds, and to protect the wearer against splashes or sprays of bodily fluids …
There is limited evidence for their effectiveness in preventing influenza virus transmission either when worn by the infected person for source control or when worn by uninfected persons to reduce exposure.
Our systematic review found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza … In this review, we did not find evidence to support a protective effect of personal protective measures or environmental measures in reducing influenza transmission.”
When confronted with his previous statements, Fauci tried to justify his earlier statements saying they’d feared panic buying might trigger PPE shortages in hospitals.30
A problem with that rationalization is that the two supply chains are separate. Retail customers typically cannot buy personal protective equipment from the same medical distributors that hospitals do. Another problem is that lying to the public is unacceptable, even if you think you have a good reason.
Does Empirical Evidence Matter Anymore?
I guess the question is, does anyone actually care about the science?31,32,33 In a July 12, 2020, Twitter post, Ivor Cummins34 asks whether empirical evidence matters anymore, and presents statistical evidence showing that mask mandates have not had any impact, positive or negative, on infection rates.
Empirical evidence refers to "observation and documentation of patterns and behavior through experimentation." In other words, can you show, after the fact, that an intervention led to the desired result you were after? In the case of mask wearing, the empirical evidence suggests it's a useless intervention, as it has not lowered, let alone eliminated, infections in countries after the mandate was implemented.
Fall of the Republic, Rise of Corporations in US
If mask wearing does not actually reduce infection rates, why are we doing it? Conversely, if SARS-CoV-2 is sensitive to ultraviolet rays and heat and is inactivated at temperatures at or above 80.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 27 Celsius,35 why aren't we being told to spend more time outdoors this summer rather than closing parks and beaches and telling us to stay at home?
For those wondering why there are rising cases in the south during summer, realize behavior changes as more people spend time indoors in air conditioning - essentially the same indoor behavior that occurs in northern latitudes during winter.
As noted in Jeremy Elliott's video monologue above, pandemic responses appear to have little to do with protecting public health, and everything to do with the promotion of a political agenda that aims to strip us of our personal freedoms and groom us to accept a radical loss of our civil liberties.
He proposes mask mandates may actually be a test run to see how well artificial intelligence-based facial recognition systems work. Whether that's true or not, we're certainly seeing a rapid roll-out of draconian tracking and tracing systems that, when combined with banking and other systems will eliminate any trace of freedom.
I believe there is a time and a place for wearing a mask. If you're visiting a hospital or nursing home, wearing a mask, ideally an N95 or surgical mask, makes sense for both patient and visitor. If you suspect you have COVID-19 and must go out, wearing a medical-grade mask would be wise.
But to mandate masks for all, everywhere, at all times — Broward County, Florida has even issued an emergency order36 mandating masks to be worn inside your own residence! — makes little sense from a health standpoint.
Let's face it: SARS-CoV-2 is likely to be with us going forward, just like other pandemic influenza viruses that have emerged in the past. So, just how long are we expected to wear masks everywhere we go? Will we be forced to choose between vaccinations or permanent mask wearing?
As you ponder these questions, remember that we will never be able to prevent all death, be it from influenza, COVID-19, tuberculosis or any other viral infection, no matter what we do, and no matter how many of our freedoms we give up.
Just like the nurses previously, will this become a mask or vax position for the future? Will your only way out of a mask be through vaccines?
Consider Peaceful Civil Disobedience
Most objections to mask wearing requirements are not to the masks themselves, but to the mandate, and well-documented consequences such as oxygen deprivation which should give pause when considering a legal requirement of wearing masks in public. We already see that most will wear makes in public regardless of mandates. But, it seems entirely irresponsible and unethical for governments to mandate such a practice for everyone.
It is clear nearly everyone is being regularly exposed to the propaganda of the mainstream media that is seeking to convince you that masks will help. So, it is beyond understandable that you would want everyone to wear masks because you believe that they will prevent the spread of this virus and save lives.
I get it, but if you carefully evaluate the evidence independent of the mainstream narrative, it is likely you will conclude that this recommendation has nothing to do with decreasing the spread of the virus, but more to indoctrinate you into submission.
In my recent interview with Patrick Wood, he provides compelling evidence that this has been a carefully crafted technocratic strategy that has been in place for the last 50 years or so. By submitting to these orders, it is likely you are setting the stage for the inevitable mandatory vaccinations coming soon that I am planning a number of future articles on. So, watch the recent video from Wood above, and consider not complying with their recommendations.
For centuries, people have been searching for the Fountain of Youth. Many thought it was a real fountain where a person could bathe or drink to slow the aging process. While that fountain doesn’t exist, there are several strategies you may use to affect a change internally with external results.
Several factors affect aging, including chronic inflammation that leads to chronic disease. Although inflammation plays an essential role in repairing injury, chronic inflammation may result in health conditions like bowel diseases, arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.1
Although many times you won’t notice early visible signs of chronic inflammation, there is mounting evidence that it is an underlying factor in chronic disease.2 There is also evidence that natural remedies are effective in reducing inflammation and thus reducing the potential for chronic disease.3
Underlying or baseline inflammation can exacerbate the aging process and raise the risk of severe infectious disease, as has been demonstrated by the numbers of people 65 and older who have died from COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 8 of every 10 deaths from COVID-19 are people age 65 and older.4
Inflammaging Associated With Frailty and Increased Death
Inflammaging is the “chronic low-grade inflammation occurring in the absence of overt infection.”5 This type of damaging inflammation negatively impacts immunity. Researchers hope that by preventing baseline inflammation, they can improve the immune response.
This is a significant pathway to help reduce the severity of disease in older individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2.6 This novel coronavirus brings about a serious condition in the elderly, increasing morbidity and mortality.
Severe disease often presents with excessive inflammation in the pulmonary system, especially in older individuals with high baseline C-reactive protein, indicating a heightened inflammatory response. Data show that inflammation biomarkers like this are relatively accurate predictors of mortality in the elderly, increasing their susceptibility to all sorts of maladies.7
In a paper published in Science Mag, the authors discuss some of the cellular and systemic challenges faced by older adults in their fight against infectious diseases, including COVID-19.8
They hypothesize that a low-grade inflammatory response may be the result of several mechanisms, including a compromised gut microbiome and obesity. As the body ages, it also slowly loses the ability to clear dead and dying cells, which subsequently increases inflammatory activity.
These senescent cells are no longer able to divide, and they accumulate throughout the body. However, they are not “silent” but rather can secrete inflammatory cytokines and other inflammatory molecules that can trigger inflammation and dysfunction.
Reducing Baseline Inflammation May Lower Disease Severity
If you have a baseline inflammatory response, the flu vaccine may not be as effective for you as expected.9 Researchers have improved the body’s response to an antigen by administering an inhibitor,10 which suggests that baseline inflammation has a significant effect on the immune system.
The authors also theorize this may be relevant to older individuals with severe respiratory tract disease. As we age, the number of senescent cells and the level of baseline inflammation rises. Another way to improve immunity and reduce inflammation, then, may be to eliminate them.
This has prompted the development of senolytic therapies to do just that. The relationship between baseline inflammation and severe disease in older individuals with COVID-19 has not yet been defined, but one hypothesis is that the senescent cells and pre-existing inflammatory cells amplify the effects of COVID-19 in the respiratory tract.
Another theory is that the baseline inflammation in the body is not damaging on its own, but it may start a cellular cascade, which heightens inflammation with an infection. In addition to this, senescent cells can bring about more inflammation. Their buildup in the pulmonary tract may contribute to an increase in severe disease.
While the authors of the perspective published in Science Mag promote vaccination against SARS-CoV-2, they also point out that any effective treatment for the elderly may require a combination of antiviral and anti-inflammatory treatments.
Clearing Senescent Cells With Senolytics
Senolytic therapies were initially developed with the aim of reducing the severity of disease in the elderly and making an impact on the meteoric rise in chronic diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).11
However, it’s not a big leap to predict that the beauty industry may use the science to develop a new line of products to slow the aging process. According to Mayo Clinic researchers, preclinical data have demonstrated the potential for drugs to selectively encourage apoptosis in dying cells and have a positive effect on:12
Type 2 diabetes
Vertebral disk degeneration
Vascular hyporeactivity and calcification
The possibility of impacting multiple diseases and functional deficits at the same time excites the scientific community because it can move geriatric medicine from largely reacting to disease to preventing it and thus slowing the aging process.
The potential to extend life and reduce disease has prompted some scientists to investigate the use of antibiotics as senolytics, despite the dangerously high level of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.13 In 2018, a team from the University of Salford in the U.K. published a study with "the goal of identifying and repurposing FDA-approved antibiotics, for the targeting of the senescent cell population."14
The lab-based study involved human fibroblasts, and the team identified Azithromycin and Roxithromycin as drugs that showed senolytic activity. Another drug in the same family, Erythromycin, did not have the same effect.
In an interview with Health Europa, one member of the research team, Michael Lisanti, said he believes the next steps are clinical trials. He acknowledges they haven't examined the relationship to antimicrobial resistance and that azithromycin is not an ideal antibiotic in this "context." He went on to say:15
"Potentially in the future, once researchers identify what it is about the azithromycin that is causing the senescent cells to die, they could develop future drugs — azithromycin is a stepping stone in this context …"
You May Have a Senolytic in Your Vitamins — Quercetin
Although not all scientists agree,16 many argue that quercetin demonstrates senolytic properties. Early laboratory trials using human fibroblast cells showed quercetin “influence(s) cellular life span, survival and viability of HFL-1 primary human fibroblasts.”17
Early results from a clinical trial with chemotherapy agent Dasatinib and quercetin showed the combination of the two may lower the number of senescent cells in people with diabetic kidney disease.18
While encouraging, as one writer points out, "synergy with other compounds is a very different story from unilateral effects."19 Yet, in other studies using only quercetin, its effect on lung fibrosis was found to diminish inflammation in the lab and to reduce pulmonary collagen deposits in an animal model after induced damage.20
The researchers went on to test the singular use of quercetin in an animal model with induced lung fibrosis and found:21
"Quercetin inhibited the progression of lung fibrosis, reduced the expression of senescent cell markers and SASP, and promoted overall health benefit in an experimental fibrosis model in aged mice. Last, we conclude that the data provided in our study are very promising and may add to current therapeutic strategies for IPF and other fibrotic disorders."
Metabolic Therapies on the Horizon
Metabolic therapies are another strategy that may be used to halt the progression of viral disease. In the new field of immunometabolism research, scientists have discovered that metabolism has an influence on altering viral replication and affecting the body's response to a pathogen.
One of the strategies showing promise is ketosis. In a paper published in the journal Cell, scientists said they believe the principal ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is highly effective, and is:22
“… a highly efficient oxidative fuel and signaling metabolite. BHB has been shown to have diverse molecular effects, including metabolic regulation; increased cellular resistance to oxidative stress; inhibition of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) signaling via HCAR2 receptor binding; decreased activity of components of the innate immune system, such as the nonobese diabetic (NOD)-, leucine-rich repeat (LRR)-, and pyrin domain-containing protein 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome;decreased systemic inflammatory burden; modifying gene expression; and acting as a fuel in the context of energetic stress.”
Clinical trials are currently underway to investigate the use of a ketogenic diet to reduce the signs of aging, prevent heart failure and neurodegeneration and manage diabetes. Researchers hope that using a ketogenic diet on intubated patients who are confirmed positive for COVID-19 may help reverse the progression of the disease.23
The authors of the paper warn it's important to distinguish between ketoacidosis, which is a metabolic dysfunction leading to uncontrolled ketone accumulation, and adaptive physiological levels of ketosis in response to eating a low carbohydrate diet.
In intubated patients in the ICU, they believe using an exogenous source of ketones rather than inducing ketosis through prolonged fasting will have a greater positive effect.
For those who are not intubated, the authors write of potential immunological advantages when a ketogenic metabolic state is initiated. Researchers have also found medications that mimic caloric restriction, such as metformin, can reduce the inflammatory response because they get rid of senescent cells in much the same way that senolytic agents work.24
Fasting and Cyclical Ketogenic Diet Raise Ketone Levels
In addition to quercetin, you may have a significant impact on your health and immune system by practicing a cyclical ketogenic eating plan. There are several other benefits including losing weight, fighting inflammation, reducing appetite and lowering insulin levels.
As I've written in the past, limiting carbs and decreasing your eating window to 6-8 hours may help protect you against influenza. A team from Yale School of Medicine tested a theory in a small animal model study and found “… that the consumption of a low-carbohydrate, high-fat ketogenic diet (KD) protects mice from lethal IAV infection and disease.”25
By integrating a cyclical approach to the ketogenic diet, you can increase the health benefits and have greater flexibility in your meal planning. I describe an approach to this in “Will Eating Keto Help Prevent Flu?” In another article I discussed my KetoFast protocol to help reduce metabolic dysfunction.