Monday, April 28, 2008

Alcohol V Mammogram as Breast Cancer Cause

Thanks to television advertising, there are very few women who don't stress over getting breast cancer.
Jon Barron's "Baseline of Health Foundation" newsletter (you may subscribe here ) had an article today about a link between alcoholic beverages and higher rates of breast cancer.
One of the things included in his article is this: "Physiologically, the higher the estrogen levels in your body, the more readily alcohol is absorbed -- but the more slowly it is broken down. But the problem is compounded by the fact that the very act of drinking alcohol actually increases estrogen levels, almost tripling levels in post-menopausal women in a matter of minutes. As a result, after you drink, you get spurts of estrogen that can be as high as 300 percent higher within 30 minutes of consumption. In other words, it's one thing to have a constant amount of estrogen and occasionally have a rise before you ovulate. But if you get these rises in estrogen every time you have a drink, and for years past your ability to ovulate, this would quite likely be a significant breast cancer risk. The bottom line is that we know that estrogen levels increase after you drink. And we know that estrogen is linked to breast cancer. Therefore, it should be no surprise that estrogen is linked to breast cancer more often when women drink."
He makes some good points, and I hope you will visit his website to read the complete article "Alcohol and Breast Cancer," and subscribe to his excellent newsletter.
However, I got to wondering about the breast cancer rates for women in countries where alcoholic beverages, wine for example, are an integral part of every meal. Are their breast cancer rates as high as the United States?
What I found surprised the heck out of me (even more than the recent news headlines of "A study not only refutes some benefits of multivitamins, but suggests they may be 'slightly' risky." and "Drinking water is the same as drinking soda." (If you believe either of those statements, I'd love to discuss your purchase of a bridge in Brooklyn….)
First, some obligatory but especially enlightening statistics (quoted in blue):
The lifetime probability of developing breast cancer in developed countries is about 4.8%, according to the American Cancer Society (the probability is about 13% for any type of cancer). In developing countries, the lifetime probability of developing breast cancer is about 1.8%.
(Note: numbers are per 100,000.Source: J. Ferlay, F. Bray, P. Pisani and D.M. Parkin. GLOBOCAN 2002. Cancer Incidence, Mortality and Prevalence Worldwide. IARC CancerBase No. 5, version 2.0. IARCPress, Lyon, 2004)

Breast Cancer Worldwide
Breast (All ages)
United States

So, let's take a look at what we have here.
Developing countries like China have:
  1. Poor food
  2. Poor water
  3. Poor health care
  4. Archaic farming techniques (including crop rotation)
  5. Few cell phones
  6. Few televisions
  7. No pesticides
  8. No herbicides
  9. No fertilizers
  10. No hormones in the milk
  11. No Genetically Engineered and Modified foods
  12. No high fructose corn syrup
  13. No artificial flavorings or colorings
  14. No sunblock to protect them from cancer-causing sunlight
  15. Qigong and other holistic practices
  16. 82.4% fewer cases of breast cancer than the U. S.
The United States has:
  1. Genetically Engineered and Modified foods (some seeds are modified with antibiotic-resistant bacteria that prevents it from being killed by a popular brand of pesticide. I wonder if that is part of the reason that some people's bacterial infections cannot be controlled with antibiotics; they have ingested foods grown from antibiotic-resistant seeds.)
  2. Water contaminated with dozens of waste pharmaceutical products
  3. Health care that focuses on treatment rather than prevention
  4. Technologically advanced farming techniques that deplete the soil
  5. A cell phone for every ear
  6. A tv for every room
  7. Pesticides
  8. Herbicides
  9. Fertilizers
  10. Hormones in the milk
  11. High fructose corn syrup in 80% of the food products
  12. Plenty of artificial flavorings and colorings
  13. Sunblock to protect you from harmful sun rays and inhibit your body's ability to produce Vitamin D
  14. Pharmaceuticals for every condition under that harmful sun
  15. Breast cancer rates that are the highest in the world
Is it just me, or do you too see some advantage to living in a less-developed country?
Also arriving in today's email was the "Natural News Insider Alert" newsletter with an article about cancer research.
Here are a few excepts (in blue) from the article: Analysis: Virtually Zero Alternative Cancer Research Occurring. Monday, April 28, 2008 by: Adam Miller

(NaturalNews) In an article included in the latest edition of Cancer Monthly's free newsletter CancerWire, researchers analyzed statistics obtained through the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in order to gain a clearer perspective on what type of cancer research is being undertaken in the country.
The authors found that of the 7,080 clinical trials for cancer currently ongoing, over 3,000 are focused on chemotherapy -- a treatment that already has over 50 years of research to its credit with relatively little practical return on investment. Of the remaining trials, over 2,000 were focused on more advanced biological treatments such as anti-angiogenesis drugs, which work to cut off the blood supply to tumors.
Of the 7,080 clinical trials for cancer currently underway in the U.S., only three (3) focus on natural alternative methods of treating the disease. That is less than 1/1000th the number of chemotherapy trials alone and translates to a measly 0.04% of total trials. Meanwhile, countries like Japan are surging into the future with cutting-edge treatments based on derivatives of medicinal mushrooms and other natural substances.
Alternative treatments are commonly described by purveyors of orthodox medicine as those which have not yet been evaluated and proven effective through vigorous scientific evaluation. Looking at the actual statistics, though, it may be more accurate to describe alternative treatments as those which orthodox medicine refuses to research. In light of this evidence the question seems to ask itself; are we really working toward a cure for cancer?
My response would be: Nope.
And finally there's this fascinating study on breast cancer in Italy, one of the countries where women probably drink quite a bit of wine. Researchers found a direct correlation between the increase in breast cancer and a mammography screening program. (Quoted text in blue; bold emphasis added by Michelle)
Changes in breast cancer incidence and stage distribution in Modena, Italy: the effect of a mammographic screening program, Journal Cancer Causes and Control, Springer Netherlands, Volume 13 Number 8 October 2002, SpringerLink Date November 2, 2004
Daniela Turchetti1, Lucia Mangone1, Rossella Negri2, Giulio Rossi3, Laura Cortesi1, Marco Vinceti4, Antonino Maiorana3, Ennio Gallo5 and Massimo Federico1, 6
(1) Cattedra e Divisione di Oncologia Medica, Italy
(2) Centro Screening Mammografico, Azienda USL di Modena, Italy
(3) Istituto di Anatomia Patologica, Italy
(4) Dipartimento di Scienze Igienistiche, Microbiologiche e Biostatistiche, Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Italy
(5) Dipartimento di Diagnostica per Immagini, Policlinico di Modena, Italy
(6) Cattedra e Divisione di Oncologia Medica, Policlinico di Modena, Via del Pozzo 71, 41100 Modena, Italy
OBJECTIVE: Assessing changes in breast cancer (BC) incidence and stage distribution in the District of Modena, Italy, during the period 1992–1998, and their relationship to a mammographic screening program launched in 1995.
METHODS: Demographic, clinical, and pathological data of all BC cases reported to the population-based Modena Cancer Registry between 1992 and 1998 were collected and linked to the screening database.
RESULTS: A total of 3429 women were diagnosed with BC in the District of Modena between 1992 and 1998. In this period the incidence rate increased by 15.7% (from 134.3 in 1992 to 155.4 per 100,000 in 1998). The increase began in 1995 and exclusively included women aged 50–69; the incidence rose by 30.4%. Moreover, the rise was confined to early tumors, with more than half (54%) of all cases reported in 1998 diagnosed as stage 0 or I disease, compared with 42% in 1992. Screen-detected tumors were significantly smaller (13.2 mm) than other tumors diagnosed in women aged 50–69 (18.5 mm), with 46% of screen-detected tumors smaller than 10 mm. Overall, a decline in the average tumor diameter was shown (from 20.2 mm in 1992–1994 to 18 mm in 1996–1998).
CONCLUSIONS: Our data confirm that mammographic screening leads to an increase in the incidence of early-stage BC cancers.
Most women are aware by now that x-rays are known to cause cancer, so what do the people in charge of your health encourage you to do? Get mammograms on some of the most sensitive tissue in your body. I'm sure a lot of women in Italy are wishing they had not listened to that advice!
So, what do you think? Is breast cancer caused by wine (which people have been drinking for thousands of years without developing cancer in great numbers), or the modern and innovative mammograms?
While you ponder it, I'm going to have a glass of wine with dinner.
(In all seriousness, you do what your heart tells you is right for you. If you believe a mammogram is good for you, don't let me or anyone else talk you out of it! I, however, feel the risks are greater than the rewards.)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Three Ancient Qigong practitioners on breathing

The following excerpt is from the book Qi Gong Therapy: The Chinese Art of Healing With Energy by Tzu Kuo Shih, Station Hill Press, Barrytown NY, 1994.

P. 14-15:

Sun Simiao [AD 581-682] was a renowned physician and Daoist of the Tang Dynasty [AD 618-907]. There are many descriptions of Qi Gong practices in his works, Essential Prescriptions Worth a Thousand in Gold (Qian Jin Fang) and Supplement to the Prescriptions Worth a Thousand in Gold (Qian Jin Yi Fang). In the chapter, "Methods of Breath-Regulation" he details four methods: abdominal breathing, internal seeing, breath controlling, and exhalation. The four methods are the essence of ancient Chinese Qi Gong.

In his Song for Eliminating Diseases in the Four Seasons (Si Ji Qu Bing Ge), Dr. Sun wrote:

Exhaling with mouth not open can improve the sight and soothe the liver in spring. Exhaling with the mouth open wide, in spring, can clear away the heart-fire. Exhaling with the mouth open but teeth clenched in autumn, can astringe the lung and relieve cough and asthma. Exhaling can reinforce the kidney. Producing the sound "shee—" can eliminate restlessness and fever of deficiency type of San-jiao [triple burner]. Rapid exhalation can reinforce the spleen and promote digestion.

Wang Shou was another famous Qi Gong practitioner from the Tang Dynasty. In his work, The Medical Secrets of an Official (Wai Tai Mi Yao) he says:

The method to treat diseases of the heart and abdomen and all other diseases is through breathing.

P. 22-23:

Gong Yan Xian was a doctor of the Imperial hospital during the Min Dynasty. [Min Dynasty: AD 909-946] He wrote Living a Long Life and Preserving Fundamental Energy (Shou Shi Bao Yuan) which discoursed upon breathing and standing Qi Gong. He wrote:

It is said a person's life is based on energy. When the breath occurs between the heart and the spleen, then the blood flows smoothly, the vitality is strengthened, and all diseases disappear. At midnight, noon, dawn, and dusk, stay in your room quietly, the bed fitted with a heavy cotton-padded mattress, and sit on the bed with legs crossed, closing your eyes and filling your ears with cotton, not thinking anything—take your breath between your heart and spleen, not too fast and not too slow. Just take it easy. When you practice this for two months, you will get Qi Gong results.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Shaolin Baduanjin Qigong - Video and Be Well with Qigong blog

This qigong video was downloaded from YouTube

Only four minutes long, but a great video!

I'd also like to introduce at this time my new blog: Be Well with Qigong.

It is dedicated to the topic of qigong and features articles and videos about the three qigong styles I teach, The Eight Pieces of Brocade (Baduajin), Eight Healing Sounds of Yin Style BaGua, and Five Animal Frolics, as well as general articles on qi/energy practices, research updates on the healing potential of qigong practice, and testimonials on the efficacy of qigong as a mind-body medicine practice.

Please visit Be Well with Qigong for great self-healing information that is sure to improve your life!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day - Help Reduce the Stress On Earth!

Photo courtesy Astronomy Picture of the Day

The following suggestions come from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

Become better informed and active. Find sources of sound environmental and natural resource information and access them regularly. Attend local public meetings and become active in your community. Understand your local environmental challenges and accomplishments. Protect your local open spaces. Learn about local watershed initiatives. Volunteer.

Participate in a local environmental education or Earth Day experience. Visit a new or nearby nature center, science center, park, cooperative extension office, museum or conservation district office. Ask questions.

Get your hands dirty! Participate in a river cleanup, pick up litter or plant a flower garden.

Enjoy nature! Sit and rest in the woods or along a stream. Take a hike, go biking, try camping, have a picnic, go fishing, look for hawks, rent a canoe, investigate a cave, look for fossils, fly a kite, take photographs, paint some scenery - enjoy the outdoors!

Protect water quality! Clean up after pets. Test wells annually for bacteria and nutrients. Don't dump used oil, paint, coolants or other chemicals into the ground, stormdrains or garage drains. Participate in stream bank and wetlands restoration projects and local watershed management planning.

Use products that produce less waste and pollution. Substitute water-based products whenever possible when buying paints and household cleaners. Or, switch from chemical-type cleaners to natural products like soap and water. Use fertilizers and pesticides properly and reduce use by implementing biological and mechanical controls. Read and follow instructions and precautions for all such products and dispose of them properly (and not into storm drains or the ground). Buy products in bulk or with minimal packaging materials.

Recycle! Purchase products that contain recycled-content materials as often as possible.

Save energy! Turn off unneeded lights and appliances. Replace standard light bulbs with energy efficient fluorescents to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Buy energy efficient household appliances and yard tools. Consider energy efficient construction and building design when building, buying, or adding on to a home or office.

Use your car less and take good care of it. Keep the car tuned and leak-free, and get it inspected regularly. Keep tires properly inflated and dispose of used motor oil and cooling fluids at designated recycling centers. Try using mass transit, carpooling, walking or riding a bike as often as possible. When shopping for a new car, look for the most fuel-efficient and investigate models that accommodate use of other fuels besides gasoline.

Conserve water! Install flow restrictors on all faucets and use low-flow shower devices. Do not let the water run wastefully when washing anything. Water the lawn in the early morning or late afternoon. Run washing machines and dish washers only when full. Repair leaky pipes, faucets and toilets.


I would like to add some things too, not just for today, but Everyday! Remember, every day is Earth Day.

Avoid using pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers. They are burning the soil and harming wildlife populations as well as causing water pollution.

Avoid the use of plastics so the containers don't end up in landfills.

Avoid using products whose manufacturing process pollutes the air and water.

Have a meal that is comprised of locally-grown, in-season foods.

Most of all, stop polluting. Earth can restore health to our environment, but only if we stop putting so many challenges in the way!

Happy Earth Day!


Update: Here is a news story from this morning's Yahoo! front page. It seems a perfect message for Earth Day!

Biodiversity loss will lead to sick world: experts

by Martin Abbugao Wed Apr 23, 2008 7:08 AM ET

SINGAPORE (AFP) - The world risks wiping out a new generation of antibiotics and cures for diseases if it fails to reverse the extinction of thousands of plant and animal species, experts warned Wednesday.

Biodiversity loss has reached alarming levels, and disappearing with it are the secrets to finding treatments for pain, infections and a wide array of ailments such as cancer, they said, citing the findings of a coming book.

Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said more than 16,000 known species are threatened with extinction, but the number could be more.

"We must do something about what is happening to biodiversity," he said at a news conference on the sidelines of the UN-backed Business for the Environment conference.

"Societies depend on nature for treating diseases. Health systems over human history have their foundation on animal and plant products that are used for treatment."

Technological revolution in the 19th and 20th centuries took the focus on finding cures away from nature as pharmaceutical companies relied on technical components to make medicines, he said.

These companies are increasingly turning back to nature as they run out of chemical combinations, he said.

But the world is "losing the intellectual patents of nature before we even have the chance to understand or unravel them," Steiner said.

"This is the tragedy of not understanding biodiversity," he said, adding it would be a "big fallacy" to think that biodiversity is not linked to the phenomenon of climate change.

The book, previewed at the conference, cited the example of the southern gastric brooding frog discovered in the rainforests of Australia in the 1980s. It has since become extinct.

Research on those frogs could have led to new insights into preventing and treating human peptic ulcers which affect 25 million people in the United States alone, according to the authors of the book, "Sustaining Life".

Valuable medical secrets which the frogs held "are now gone forever," the book's key authors, Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein, were quoted as saying in a press statement.

The book contains a chapter describing how seven threatened groups of organisms -- amphibians, bears, cone snails, sharks, non-human primates, gymnosperms and horseshoe crabs -- can be valuable in finding cures for diseases.

The Panamanian poison frog, for example, can make pumiliotoxins that may lead to medicines for heart disease, while alkaloids from the Ecuadorian poison frog could be a source for painkillers, it says.

Cone snails produce a compound which has been shown in clinical trials to be a pain reliever for advanced cancer and AIDS patients, according to the book.

David Suzuki, a Canadian scientist and environmental activist, blamed environmental degradation on the world's heavy focus on economic progress.

"We are creating an illusion that everything is fine, and we are getting richer and richer. But we're doing it at the expense of our children and grandchildren... all in the name of economic growth and progress," he said in a keynote address via video conference.

One solution will be to "take our eyes off the economy," he suggested.

"The real bottom line is clean air, clean water, clean soil that gives us our food, clean energy that comes from the sun, and biodiversity. These are ultimately the most important needs that we have to fight for at all cost."

Hundreds of international business executives, government officials, environmentalists and others have gathered for conference.

It was organised by the UNEP and the UN's Global Compact, an initiative which brings companies together with the UN and other agencies to support environmental and social principles.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Food Pharmacy – Artificial Flavors and Chemical Additives

Teensy-weensy by Emma Holister from "Chemical Poisoning: Brave New World of Zero Risk" book by Martin Walker, post by Sepp Hasslberger.

The title of this post is more appropriate than you think. Everyday there is more "pharmacy" than "food" in the processed products you eat. Now, we may be looking at yet another flavor enhancing chemical that tricks your brain into tasting what isn't there.

It's totally true what they (medical and industrial establishments) say about excess salt, but they also aren't telling you that the excess isn't coming from your salt shaker, it's part and parcel of the processed foods you eat.

Telling you to not use your salt shaker amounts to telling you not to add sugar to your soda-pop. There is already so much sodium in the processed foods you eat that hiding the salt shaker isn't going to do much for your health. You get about 75% of your daily sodium from processed foods. Eliminating the Doritos, canned soups (which tend to be especially high in sodium), or other processed food products from your diet will reduce your sodium intake to a more natural level, but no one tells you that. (What, you don't read labels?)

Someone has finally figured out how to reduce the amount of salt, and the amount of sugars, in processed foods so you don't have to read those time-consuming labels any more. In fact, they have made it really easy for you by calling the additive a "flavoring," thereby not bothering your head with all those long, chemical-compound words that no one understands anyway.

(I'm not kidding: " 'We are helping companies clean up their labels,' said Kent Snyder, chief executive of Senomyx." A great public service to be sure, but it also hides the ingredients from consumers who have a right to know what they are consuming.)

Instead, we now have a chemical additive that turns on or off the taste receptors on your tongue so that even with lower amounts of salt (and sugar) your brain is tricked into thinking it is getting a higher level of salty (and sweet) tasting foods. ("A taste receptor functions either by physically binding to a flavor ingredient in a process analogous to the way a key fits into a lock or by acting as a channel to allow ions to flow directly into a taste cell. As a result of these interactions, signals are sent to the brain where a specific taste sensation is registered." Senomyx Technology )

Is this additive tested, tried, and true? you ask, remembering some of the "safe" food additives that had to be removed from the shelves in the past. Well, sure. It was safety-tested for at least three months, but don't worry, even if it's not safe, the amount is so small that it won't hurt you. (Since the amount used is so small, they have been able to sidestep the FDA approval process, so rigorous testing is not required.)

(I emailed Senomyx earlier today and asked to see the safety studies done on their products. I'll insert an update at the end of this article if they get back to me.)

Nestle began marketing products containing at least one of these chemicals in 2007.

Coca-Cola may still be in the research phase.

Campbell soup may still be in the research phase.

See the list of manufacturers and food processors who are involved in the possible future use of this brain-fooling chemical additive. Senomyx Collaborate Partnerships

Well, enough from me. The excerpts from the articles below tell the full story. And, of course, you are welcome and encouraged to follow the link to the Senomyx website to get their take on this, too.

The excerpts are from and the UCSF student newspaper SYNAPSE.

'Secretive' Chemicals Being Hidden in Food Under 'Artificial Flavors' Label

Thursday, April 10, 2008 by: Jennifer McKinley posted on

(NaturalNews) You Thought MSG Was Bad? At least they admit that it's in there... well, mostly. Have you picked up a can of soup lately and noticed that the sodium levels are lower? Seen a label that said, "No MSG"? How about realizing that there is less sugar on the label of your favorite ice cream? Believe it or not, this is cause for concern.

A relatively young company, Senomyx, may be responsible for the sodium and sugar levels falling in your favorite grocery store item. How are they doing this without affecting the taste? The truth is, they may be putting chemicals into your food right now without you even realizing it and without telling you.

And guess what? They don't have to.

Senomyx has contracted with Kraft, Nestle, Coca Cola, Campbell Soup to put a chemical in foods that masks bitter flavors by turning off bitter flavor receptors on the tongue and enhancing salty and sweet flavors. This would allow the companies to tout claims such as "less sugar" or "lower sodium" by reducing the actual sugar and/or salt by approximately half, but the foods will retain the same level of sweetness or saltiness when they touch the tongue by fooling your brain.

All of the companies, although admitting the exclusive contracting rights, decline to identify which foods and beverages the chemical additives have been or will be added to.

These chemical compounds are not required to be listed separately on food labels. On the contrary, they will be lobbed under the umbrella of "artificial flavors" which is already found on most food labels.

The foods that seem to be most in jeopardy of an insurrection of these new chemicals: soups, juices (fruit and vegetable), ice cream, and sauces.

"We are helping companies clean up their labels," said Kent Snyder, chief executive of Senomyx.

Mark Zoller, Senomyx's chief scientist, says that his company has used the human genome sequence and identified hundreds of taste receptors. Senomyx's chemical compounds enhance those receptors to heighten the taste of salt or sugar. Under this premise, they go on to claim that their newly added chemicals are completely safe because they will be used in tiny quantities of less than one part per million whereas artificial sweeteners are used in 200-500 parts per million. This fact alone allows them to forgo the rigorous FDA approval process when introducing new food additives into the marketplace.

A Salt With a Deadly Weapon

By Stephanie Chang, first-year medical student.

Contributing Writer (SYNAPSE, The UCSF Student Newspaper)

Many dangers in life that can kill me in a delayed or indirect fashion find themselves shoved into the back of my brain. Some of these slower-acting menaces include secondhand smoke, global warming, UV rays and the lethal parking lot elevator between Irving Street and Parnassus that seduces me from hours of physical exertion.

Excess salt in the average American’s diet has always been a problem, but not one contemplated heavily by me until Melanie Warner raised the issue in a recent New York Times article, “The War Over Salt” (September 13, 2006).

For the past 20 years, health experts have known that “excessive sodium consumptions leads to various health problems” and that “salt-induced high blood pressure, or hypertension, is a significant contributor to heart disease and stroke, the No. 1 and No. 3 causes of death in the United States. (Cancer ranks second).”

And here is the obligatory factoid: Americans eat way more salt than they should. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the average American consumes more than 3,300 milligrams of sodium per day. In contrast, the government’s recommended guidelines are 2,300 milligrams for young adults and 1,500 milligrams for those with high blood pressure and any person middle-aged or older. The Department of Agriculture has found that three-quarters of the salt consumed by Americans derives from processed food.

Elevated levels of sodium consumption in the United States became a public health concern earlier this year after the American Medical Association (AMA) recommended that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “revoke salt’s long-time status as a substance that is ‘generally recognized as safe’” in favor of its regulation as a food additive.

In response, the FDA has promised to consider organizing a hearing or workshop on the dangers of salt, but few believe that these nascent efforts will result in any decisive action due to lack of government funding for the FDA’s division on food regulation, an increasing number of other priorities and “an unwillingness among top agency officials to take on the food industry.”

No one can blame those FDA officials. The salt market in the United States is worth $340 million dollars, and manufacturers find that “salt is an easy and cheap way to give processed foods an appealing taste.” Unlike the steps behind tasting sweetness, the biological mechanism for how humans taste saltiness remains unclear, and so there has never been a satisfactory salt substitute.

Interestingly, in an earlier New York Times article by Melanie Warner entitled “Food Companies Test Flavorings That Can Mimic Sugar, Salt, or MSG” (April 6, 2005), a company called Senomyx in San Diego has developed chemical compounds that could replace or enhance the above-mentioned ingredients in the future. Most of these new chemicals are flavorless by themselves, but activate or block taste receptors to “amplify” existing amounts of sodium in the food product.

Warner reports that “Senomyx’s chemical compounds will not be listed separately on ingredient labels. Instead, they will be lumped into a board category — ‘artificial flavors’ — already found on most packaged food labels.” Also, “since Senomyx’s flavor compounds will be used in small proportions (less than one part per million), the company is able to bypass the lengthy FDA approval process required to get food additives on the market. Getting the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association status of generally recognized as safe, or GRAS, took Senomyx less than 18 months, including a three-month safety study using rats. In contrast, the maker of the artificial sweetener sucralose spent 11 years winning FDA approval and is required to list the ingredient on food labels.”

Critics have argued that the new chemicals require more testing, but Senomyx contends that the compounds are safe by virtue of their use in trace amounts. This is a dubious argument, since these trace amounts appear to be enough to cut the sodium content of a can of soup in half without diminishing the product’s tasty saltiness.

Unsurprisingly, Senomyx’s claims have prompted companies such as Kraft, Nestle, Coca-Cola and Campbell’s Soup to negotiate exclusive contracts to use these chemicals. Filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission reveal that these major food companies have already paid Senomyx a total of $30 million dollars for research and development, and that the stock price of Senomyx “has nearly doubled since it went public” in June 2004.

[Senomyx is collaborating with seven of the world's leading food, beverage, and ingredient supply companies to develop and commercialize our flavor ingredients. We currently have exclusive or co-exclusive product discovery and development collaborations with Ajinomoto Co. Inc., Cadbury Schweppes, Campbell Soup Company, The Coca-Cola Company, Firmenich SA, Nestlé SA, and Solae, LLC. ]

Why have food companies become fixated on reducing sodium content while preserving the original salty flavor of their products? High stakes economics have trapped food companies between pressure from health experts to reduce salt content and a historically dismal consumer response to reduced-sodium foods. Americans enjoy the taste of salt. Both of Warner’s articles on sodium have both appeared in the business section of the New York Times, indicating that excess sodium is a widely accepted health concern that has become less of a health issue than a business issue.

In this salty (rather than sticky) situation, it becomes hard for me to isolate the factors that may be killing me first. Is it the excess sodium in my bag of Doritos or the unlisted Senomyx chemicals grouped under “artificial flavors?” Is it the food companies that refuse to change the salty taste of their products or the FDA for its refusal to regulate sodium content? Ironically, the battle over salt in our food is leading to the development of strange artificial substitutes that may prove to be equally dangerous. Another worry has become shelved in the back of my brain.

Michelle here again……I'm certainly not going to let this new chemical additive go to the back of my brain, are you?

Friday, April 04, 2008

Eight Healing Sounds Qigong

Listen right now. What do you hear, and how does it make you feel?

The sounds of traffic outside?

The radio or television or video game playing?

Your favorite CD?

A jackhammer ripping up the street?

You don't even need to hear the sound to this one….we all wince just reading the words: the sound of nails on a blackboard.

You know that sounds can be good or bad, cause relaxation or anxiety, can make you feel terrific or bring on the Grandfather of all migraine headaches.

Today there are many sound and brainwave entrainment products that claim to relieve all sorts of conditions and complaints from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to insomnia, and many more promise personal and spiritual enhancement. (Programs to increase your luck or powers of attracting money are especially popular right now.) All claim they are safe and effective.

My opinion is that some are not all that safe or effective for certain people. Just like a diet for bodily nutrition, your personal brainwaves and body/brain chemistry need to be taken into account to determine what programs are safe and best for you. To tell the truth, without experimenting with them first-hand, it would be difficult (if not impossible) to determine which audio and brainwave entrainment products would be safe and effective, and which you should avoid.

About a year ago, a friend and I downloaded the same entrainment product and listened to it daily for several weeks. She was fine with it thought it did not deliver the mental focus, full potential, or attract the luck and wealth it promised. It evoked depression in me, and I had to stop listing to it. But then, a few weeks ago, I spent some time listening to a different product and had a wonderful, empowering experience.

The lesson learned is that these pre-packaged products can be great for some people, but you won't know if any particular product is good for you until you try it.

However, there is one "sound program" that is 100% safe and effective because the sounds aren't electronic, they don't come out of the environment, you don't download them to play on your computer, iPod or burn to a CD. You create them yourself. They are the Eight Healing Sounds of Yin Style Bagua.

Like many facets of Chinese medicine, the Eight Healing Sounds complete practice enhances your total health and wellbeing at the same time each of the individual sounds works directly upon a particular organ or energy channel in your body. As a self-healing qigong (energy practice), it combines sound and the vibration it creates, movement, breathing, and visualization to heal disease and injury.

I don't believe I am any more sensitive to sounds or other environmental vibrations than you are, but I have taught myself to carefully "listen to my body," to observe and to follow-through with understanding the causes and effects that are going on with the integrated mind-body systems that we all enjoy. (I call it the Ecosystem of You!) That follow-through is the first step toward self-healing.

Observing is like watching a baseball game. Follow-through with understanding is like getting out there on the field and playing. Forgive the pun, but it's a "whole different baseball game" when you are playing instead of just observing. Different muscles are involved, different emotions are involved, and different areas of life are involved from financial rewards to relationships.

Put into medical terms, observing is like going to the doctor, reporting what you are feeling, and letting him or her treat your symptoms with drugs or surgery. Follow-through is bypassing the treatment of symptoms and committing yourself to making those lifestyle changes that you know you need to be truly healthy. . . addressing the cause of the symptoms which may include lack of exercise, eating processed foods, and not getting outdoors to spend time in that sunshine!

If you are interested in using the healing power of sound and vibration as a component of your personal, holistic health system, one of those lifestyle changes should include the practice of the Eight Healing Sounds Qigong.

(As I have mentioned before in writing about qigong, the practices often have many variations. Sound is no exception: there is a popular practice called the Six Healing Sounds, too.)

The Eight Healing Sounds Qigong is 100% safe and effective because you are making the sound yourself with your breath, your healing visualization, and your intention. The energetic vibration you create is uniquely yours.

Even when vocalizing the same syllable, AH for example, my AH is going to be different from your AH due to (at least!) the differences in lung capacity and vocal chords. It may also be different due to energy level when practicing, amount of enthusiasm at the moment, and emotional state, all of which profoundly affects breathing and concentration.

Even with all those variables, the vibration you create with the sound you make through the practice of proper breathing techniques, the flow of energy created through the accompanying movements, and your intention will be a sound that is beneficial and healing for you just as any sound that I make under those circumstances is good for me.

It is the same principle that can be observed in the function of the immune system, the digestive system, the respiratory system….any body system you can name. Your systems and mine work slightly differently depending on our immediate needs and our general health, but when we are perfectly healthy, my systems work exactly right for me just as your systems work exactly right for you.

You may safely practice the Eight Healing Sounds and trust that your body is going to automatically do what is beneficial for your health when you relax into the practice and do it naturally.

Here are the sounds and their correspondences and benefits as outlined when practiced in the standing position; the movement in this case is the raising and lowering of the arms in various positions, and slight bending at the waist in two of the practices. (The Eight Healing Sounds may be practiced standing still, walking, seated, and lying down, and the benefits of each are similar but not exactly the same.)

Ahhhhhhh is a steady and smooth sound, the one you might make as you relax into your favorite easy chair at the end of a long day. This sound benefits the Lung, and respiratory illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis, and colds.

Hhhhhhhh is a silent sound, like a sigh. That sounds funny, doesn't it, a "silent sound!" But, that is what it is, just a quiet Hhhhhhh upon exhale. The Hhhh sound benefits the heart, circulation, heart palpitations, chest discomfort (however, if you think you are having a heart attack, call Emergency Services immediately!), shortness of breath, heartburn, and irritability.

Heng is a short fast sound, almost like the sound you might make if you are trying to stifle a sneeze. The e is short as in the word hen, and the ng rhymes with hang. This sound benefits the kidneys, and is beneficial for lower back pain, prostate illness, some reproductive system conditions in men and women, and ringing in the ears. (The ears and kidneys are of the same energetic element: water.)

Hu is a long, deep droning sound pronounced Whooooooo. This sound benefits the stomach and treats conditions of excessive or suppressed appetite, also abdominal gas.

Mer is another long, low sound that resembles a cow performing a long Moooooooo with an rrrrrrr on the end: mmmmeeeeerrrrrrrrrr. This sound benefits the spleen (companion organ to the stomach), and improves poor digestion.

Xu is a quiet and extended Shhhhhhhh sound. This sound benefits the liver, lower back, some intestinal problems, E. D., and problems with urination,

Yi is the sound of long E as in Easy; Eeeeeeeee. This sound controls the flow and storage of qi throughout the body and can, therefore, build qi to proper and harmonious levels that will protect against illness and disease. It can be beneficial in case of headache, soreness in the back (including vertebrae problems), and some intestinal conditions.

Hong is a long, low sound that rhymes with "long;" hhooooonnnnng where the "n" is a bit nasal. The bouncing movement that accompanies this sound stimulates the lymph system, so it is beneficial for eliminating used materials and wastes from the body. It can also be beneficial for asthma and shortness of breath.

I did not describe the motions that accompany the sounds because a few are not as simple as the rest and would require a sequence of photos (a short video would be even better!) to explain them properly. Doing the motions properly is important because the qi of the hands aids in directing the qi of the body in this practice. It is best to find someone with whom you can take a class, or at least a few private lessons so that you can learn the correct hand and body motions.

However, practicing the sounds even without the movements can be beneficial, so don't let the lack of postures keep you from using this health-restoring practice!

To practice the Eight Healing Sounds Qigong, settle into a comfortable position and let your mind become quiet.

For each of the sounds, breathe into your belly; as you exhale, make the sound slowly and clearly (except heng, which is a short, fast sound). You should feel the vibration throughout your body. Don't hold your breath while you make the sound and then exhale; do exhale and make the sound at the same time. Visualize the organ or body area you wish to improve as completely healthy and functional.

You should repeat each sound several times so that the practice lasts for fifteen to twenty minutes. I practice eight repetitions of each sound because I combine it with another qigong practice; you might want to do twelve, sixteen, or even twenty-four repetitions of each of the sounds to improve your health. The more you do, up to repetitions of fifty of each sound, the more you will benefit!