The State of Cancer Research

DHT Image“Most current research is a waste of time and money. It is magic bullet nonsense. Take the search for the cancer gene. Are there genes that give one a predisposition for getting cancer? Absolutely. This is exactly what the Baseline of Health talks about when it refers to your Personal Health Line at the time of birth.

But looking for a cancer cure by finding the cancer gene will do nothing to eliminate all of the other factors responsible for cancer. And we already know how small a role the cancer gene plays in the onset of cancer: there has been an 8-fold to 17-fold increase in the incidence of cancer in the last hundred years, but not even one-millionth of 1 percent of that increase can be related to genes.

Genes evolve over hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of years, which means that the so-called cancer gene has had no impact on the huge increase we’ve seen since 1900. Virtually 90 percent of the cancer that we see today cannot possibly have anything to do with genes. So, at best, genes are responsible for only a small percentage of the minimal cancer rates we had in the early 1900s, and finding the cancer gene will affect only that tiny percentage of cancer. Genes may create tendencies, but in most cases they are not the underlying cause. Bottom line: look not for a cure in the cancer gene.

There is, however, a ray of hope in the world of medical research. In the last few years, medical research has started committing resources to the development of methods to harness and enhance the body’s natural tendency to defend itself against malignant tumors. Immunotherapy represents a new and powerful weapon in the arsenal of anticancer treatments. Sometimes referred to as biological response modifiers or as biological therapies, these new treatments–such as interferons and other cytokines, monoclonal antibodies, and vaccine therapies–have generated renewed interest and research activity in immunology.”

From Jon Barron of

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Declining incidence of major diseases: heart disease, hip fractures, colon cancer, etc.

“Screening, they say, is only part of the story. “The magnitude of the changes alone suggests that other factors must be involved,” they wrote. None of the studies showing the effect of increased screening for colon cancer have indicated a 50 percent reduction in mortality, they wrote, “nor have trials for screening for any type of cancer.”

Then there are hip fractures, whose rates have been dropping by 15 to 20 percent a decade over the past 30 years. Although the change occurred when there were drugs to slow bone loss in people with osteoporosis, too few patients took them to account for the effect — for instance, fewer than 10 percent of women over 65 take the drugs.

Perhaps it is because people have gotten fatter? Heavier people have stronger bones.

Heavier bodies, though, can account for at most half of the effect, said Dr. Steven R. Cummings of the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute and the University of California at San Francisco. When asked what else was at play, he laughed and said, “I don’t know.”

Dementia rates, too, have been plunging. It took a few reports and more than a decade before many people believed it, but data from the United States and Europe are becoming hard to wave off. The latest report finds a 20 percent decline in dementia incidence per decade, starting in 1977.

A recent American study, for example, reports that the incidence among people over age 60 was 3.6 per 100 in the years 1986-1991, but in the years 2004-2008 it had fallen to 2.0 per 100 over age 60. With more older people in the population every year, there may be more cases in total, but an individual’s chance of getting dementia has gotten lower and lower.

There are reasons that make sense. Ministrokes result from vascular disease and can cause dementia, and cardiovascular risk factors are also risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. So the improved control of blood pressure and cholesterol levels should have an effect. Better education has also been linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, although it is not known why. But the full explanation for the declining rates is anyone’s guess. And the future of this trend remains a contested unknown.

The exemplar for declining rates is heart disease. Its death rate has been falling for so long — more than half a century — that it’s no longer news. The news now is that the rate of decline seems to have slowed recently, although it is still falling. While heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States, killing more than 600,000 people a year, deaths have fallen 70 percent from their peak. The usual suspects: Better treatment, better prevention with drugs like statins and drugs for blood pressure, and less smoking, are, of course, helping drive the trend. But they are not enough, heart researchers say, to account fully for the decades-long decline.

The heart disease effect has been examined by scientist after scientist. Was it a result of better prevention, treatment, lifestyle changes?

All three played a role, researchers said.”

Practical Law Guide to Orphan Drug Act (June 2016)

Legislative History

The Orphan Drug Act, 21 U.S.C. § 360cc(a), was enacted in 1983 to foster the development of drugs—called orphan drugs—to treat rare diseases or conditions that affect fewer than 200,000 people.  These drugs were “orphaned,” because the comparatively small demand for treatment for any rare disease left pharmaceutical firms with little incentive to invest in research and development for these drugs.  In passing the Orphan Drug Act, Congress found that “because so few individuals are affected by any one rare disease or condition, a pharmaceutical company (that) develops an orphan drug may reasonably expect the drug to generate relatively small sales in comparison to the cost of developing the drug and consequently to incur a financial loss.” Act of Jan. 4, 1983, Pub. L. No. 97-414, § 1(b)(4), 96 Stat. 2049, 2040.

For that reason, the Orphan Drug Act provides several financial incentives to pharmaceutical firms that develop orphan drugs, including:

  • a seven-year exclusive marketing period during which no drugs, other than the designated orphan drug, can be licensed or approved “for such disease or condition,” 21 U.S.C. § 360cc(a);
  • a tax credit for the clinical testing expenses incurred during the orphan drug’s development, see 26 U.S.C. § 45C;
  • research grants for that clinical testing, see 21 U.S.C. § 360ee; and
  • an exemption from the fees otherwise applicable to new drug applications, see 21 U.S.C. § 379h(a)(1)(F).

The Orphan Drug Act permits the Secretary of Health and Human Services (the “Secretary”) to designate a drug as an orphan drug. According to statute, “[t]he manufacturer or the sponsor of a drug may request the Secretary to designate the drug as a drug for a rare disease or condition.” 21 U.S.C. § 360bb(a)(1). The statute further instructs that, if the Secretary finds that the drug “is being or will be investigated for a rare disease or condition” and the approval, certification or licensure of that drug “would be for use for such a disease or condition,” the Secretary “shall designate the drug as a drug for such disease or condition.” Id. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), an agency under the control of the Secretary, oversees the designation and approval of orphan drugs.

Distinction between orphan drug designation and approval to market the drug

The designation of a drug as an orphan drug is separate from approval to market the drug in the United States. Even though a drug has been awarded an orphan designation, it must still comply with “the standard regulatory requirements and process for obtaining marketing approval.” Exclusion of Orphan Drugs for Certain Covered Entities Under 340B Program, 78 Fed. Reg. 44,016, 44,017 (July 23, 2013). Indeed, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, “a large majority of drugs with orphan designations do not have approval to be marketed in the United States” at all. Id.

Impact on drug pricing

While exclusive marketing promotes the development of new pioneering drugs, it also prevents competition and leads to high prices for pioneer drugs.  In an effort to rein in the high cost of prescription drugs, Congress created in 1984 a streamlined approval process for generic drugs.  See Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act (Hatch-Waxman Amendments), 21 U.S.C. § 355(j).  Under that process, a pharmaceutical firm can file an abbreviated new drug application (ANDA) that relies on clinical research data for the pioneer drug rather new data for the generic substitute.  To secure FDA approval, an ANDA must establish that the generic drug is equivalent in all material respects to the pioneer drug.  21 U.S.C. § 355(j)(2)(A).  The FDA will not approve the generic drug for the same indication until the exclusive marketing period for the pioneer drug has expired.

Congress was concerned with more than innovation when it created the drug approval process; Congress also sought to promote affordable drugs.  The FDA accommodates both interests by allowing generic producers to enter the market for certain purposes while, at the same time, protecting a company’s right to market its pioneer drugs for exclusive uses. See Orphan Drug Regulations, Final Rule, 57 Fed. Reg. 62,076, 62,077 (Dec. 29, 1992) (“FDA believes the final rule achieves the best balance possible between protecting exclusive marketing rights and fostering competition.”).  The courts have shown broad deference to the FDA’s decisions that seek to strike a balance between the competing congressional policy goals of drug affordability and innovation.

Complication:  multiple purposes for a pioneer drug

A complication arises when a pioneer drug can be used for multiple purposes, and the exclusive marketing period for one use of the drug expires, while it continues for another. In this situation, FDA permits what is called a labeling “carve-out” that allows producers to sell a generic if they exclude from its label any indication that is still protected by exclusive marketing rights. 21 C.F.R. § 314.94(a)(8(iv).  Labeling carve-outs are so named because any exclusive use is carved out, i.e., omitted, from the list of approved uses on the generic’s label. FDA allows labeling carve-outs under the Orphan Drug Act just as it does for generics generally under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. No matter what use for the drug is described on the label, however, the FDA does not prevent a doctor from prescribing a drug for some other use, called an “off-label” use.

Disesase-specific vs. drug-specific
The words “for such disease or condition” suggest Congress intended to make the Orphan Drug Act disease-specific, rather than drug-specific.  The Act protects approved indications to treat a specific disease or condition, rather than drug-specific off-label uses or generic competitor intended uses.  A drug approval application will necessarily include only stated indications, not intended off-label uses. 21 U.S.C. § 355(b).  Courts have rejected arguments that allowing labeling carve-outs undermines the exclusivity rights of producers of pioneer drugs.  See, e.g., Sigma-Tau Pharms., Inc. v. Schwetz, 288 F.3d 141 (4th Cir. 2002); Bristol Myers Squibb v. Shalala, 91 F.3d 1493, 1500, (D.C. Cir. 1996) (recognizing that the Orphan Drug Act “expresses the legislature’s concern that the new generic be safe and effective for each indication that will appear on its label; whether the label for the new generic lists every indication approved for use of the pioneer is a matter of indifference”).

Example 1:  Spectrum Pharmaceutical marketed the drug Fusilev (levoleucovorin) for purpose of counteracting liver damage with methotrexate chemotherapy.   Fusilev received orphan drug designation in 2008 for the methotrexate indication.  In 2011, Spectrum Pharmaceutical received a separate orphan drug designation for Fusilev to help patients with advanced colorectal cancer manage their pain.  Spectrum had exclusive rights for the methotrexate indication through 2015 and for the colorectal indication through 2018.  Two days after Spectrum’s market exclusivity passed for the methotrexate indication, the FDA approved Sandoz’s ANDA to market generic levoleucovorin for the methotrexate indication.  Despite the fact that doctors might prescribe Sandoz’s levoleucovorin for the colorectal indication off-label, the FDA had the right to approve Sandoz’s generic equivalent drug with a label indication for methotrexate chemotherapy, without infringing on Spectrum’s market exclusivity for the colorectal indication.  Thus, the Orphan Drug Act is disease-specific (colorectal indication) rather than drug-specific (levoleucovorin).  Spectrum Pharms., Inc. v. Burwell, No. 15-5166, (D.C. Cir. June 3, 2016).

Example 2:  A drug’s designation as an orphan drug may not comprise all of its possible indications.  Drugs that carry an orphan designation can also be used to treat non-rare diseases or conditions.  For example, Prozac is commonly prescribed for treatment of depression, but it is also designated as an orphan drug to treat autism and body dysmorphic disorder.  A drug may be designated as an orphan drug even if that drug is also approved to treat a different disease or condition that does not qualify for orphan-drug designation. See 21 C.F.R. § 316.23(b).

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Intense, Short Workouts for Blood Sugar by Beth Levine

One of the most common reasons people give for not exercising is that they just can’t find the time to squeeze it in. It’s tough when you work long hours, have a family to care for, household chores to be done, errands to run, and you’re trying to fit in a few social activities too. But truthfully, there is really no room for excuses any more because according to new research, you can get plenty of health benefits from a regimen that relies mainly on three 20-second bursts of intense exercise.

The study, which took place at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, found that very brief workouts based around a single minute of intense exercise broken up into three intervals may be as effective in improving fitness as longer, more traditional workouts.1 The health aspects monitored included cardiovascular health and measurements of insulin sensitivity. The subjects were 27 men with sedentary lifestyles who had not been involved in any regular physical activity.

These participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups. One group was provided with an exercise regimen of sessions three times a week consisting of short, intense training activities for 12 weeks. The second group was provided with an exercise regimen of sessions three times a week consisting of a longer duration with more workouts for 12 weeks. The third group was the control and performed no exercise.

The volunteers were all examined at the end of the 12-week period to measure the results. Incredibly, the group that only worked out for a few minutes at a time had almost identical improvements as the group that performed the longer, less intense workouts. What’s astounding is that similar results were achieved despite the fact that one group spent five times longer exercising than the other.

Protocols for the exercise sessions in both groups were very strict and based on earlier investigations this team of scientists had conducted. The “one-minute” exercise routine they devised is a sprint interval training (SIT) workout that actually lasts 10 minutes–still very quick, but not quite the one minute of exercise you might initially expect. This routine is comprised of a two-minute warm up, three 20-second full intensity cycling sprints, two two-minute periods of low intensity cycling to promote recovery in between the intense bursts, and finally a three-minute cool down. In contrast, the moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) protocol they developed is based on more typical 50-minute workouts with moderate energy expenditures.

While the findings are definitely not as strong as they could be due to the fact that the pool of subjects was so small and homogenous, this is still one more piece of evidence demonstrating the essential importance of exercise. And the results correlate with a 2014 study at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark which showed that intense bursts of activity during a shorter workout can make more of an impact on blood sugar levels in those with diabetes than longer workouts do.2

What it comes down to ultimately is finding the form of physical activity that works best for you. The type of brief, intense workout that the current research focused on is great for people who have trouble setting aside an hour at a time to work out. But–and this is a big but–you need to be able to reach intensity levels of approximately 85 percent of your maximum heart rate, which can be calculated by subtracting your age from 220, for this exercise to be optimally effective. If you are just going to turn your effort up a notch or two so you are breathing a bit harder, you won’t be getting any major benefits from your activity.

That being said, if you are presently sedentary, the most important thing is to get moving. Even if all you can handle at the moment is a 10-minute walk around the block, go do it. You can build your way up to more intense and/or longer durations of exercise as you become accustomed to a higher level of physical activity. Once you get started and feel what a difference regular workouts can make, you may be happy to schedule fitness sessions into your days.

Cancer Treatment About Face, Again by Hiyaguha Cohen

Throughout history, various medical cures have become popular in spite of the fact that at first glance many people might think they were, in fact, barbaric. For instance, the Mayans and Incans favored trepanation, a process in which a person who suffered seizures or migraines had holes drilled in his head to release pressure.1 Bloodletting was used to cure just about every possible ailment right up until the 1900s–and has recently come back in fashion. And let’s not forget drinking one’s own urine and bathing in it, a practice that even today, some still swear by. And if this sounds odd to you, then consider that urea is a major component of many skin care products.2 Then, there’s chemotherapy.

In future years, it’s a good possibility that people will look at chemotherapy as practiced in the 20th Century as insane and barbarous. It really doesn’t make logical sense to destroy whatever health a person has left, render the person bald, extraordinarily weak, sick, anemic, and nauseous so that the patient may gain a few months of greatly compromised life, if she doesn’t die from the chemo itself first. (Okay, there are some exceptions when chemotherapy really does prolong life, but in many cases, the tradeoff is a bad deal.) But there’s a new buzz in the medical community that’s starting to question the tried and true chemotherapy approach, with emerging evidence to support alternative, or at least less aggressive, therapies.

We wrote last month about a study out of the University of Cambridge that concluded tumors should be kept alive rather than wiped out at the cost of surrounding healthy tissue. As we noted, the scientists concluded that “…since chemotherapy kills off healthy cells surrounding the tumor, it inadvertently opens a clear pathway for expansion of the tumor, actually giving the cancer a boost even while shrinking it. What if medical treatment, instead of killing the marauding cancer cells via chemotherapy and radiation, worked to keep healthy cells alive?”

Now, several new studies are touting other possibilities. The first one actually does employ chemotherapy, but in a new and very different way, cutting so far back on dosages that most of the ill effects of the drugs are avoided.3 In this approach, developed by Dr. Robert Gatenby and his team at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Centre and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida, the goal is not to kill tumors, but to contain them.

In their study, the scientists administered the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel to mice that had breast cancer, giving one group the standard, tumor-killing treatment of high doses over a period of time. The other group received one initial high dose, but then the dose was progressively reduced down as the scientists watched to see if the tumor responded. The amount was adjusted to ensure that a small number of the drug-sensitive tumor cells remained alive. This approach is called “Adaptive Therapy.”

It turned out that the tumors in the mice getting the normal, high dose did indeed shrink, but then the tumors grew back as soon as the treatment ended. This is not unusual in chemotherapy treatment–an initial dramatic shrinking of the tumor while the patient feels terrible from the effects of the drugs and then the tumor returns as soon as treatment ends–because administering high doses of anti-cancer drugs sometimes actually leads to drug resistance and breeds a new crop of drug-resistant tumor cells.4

The group of mice on low dose chemo, in contrast, did not experience tumor growth and in fact, 60 to 80 percent of them were able to wean off the drug completely with absolutely no regrowth over time. In short, the low dose treatment worked a lot better than traditional chemo and caused a lot less collateral damage. As is usual with animal studies, though, success with mice doesn’t automatically mean that humans will experience the same results. Still, the scientists are hopeful.

In fact, Dr. Gatenby says, “Our results suggest that this adaptive therapeutic strategy can be adapted to clinical imaging and can result in prolonged progression-free survival in breast cancer…Finally, we note that [this] may be applicable to a wide range of breast cancer treatments including hormonal manipulation and immunotherapy…” In other words, not only might it work with humans, but adjusting the dose down might also improve results in other types of treatment.

Meanwhile, researchers just announced that they’ve found a way to slow the growth of tumors for an average of 10 months without chemotherapy in the case of advanced, aggressive breast cancer.5 In a study of 521 patients published in Lancet Oncology, patients received a combo of a hormone drug called fulvestrant and another drug with the inelegant name ‘palboclibib.’

True, we’re not talking about a drug-free treatment, and these pharmaceuticals do have side effects. About two-thirds of women in the study developed a type of low white blood count that made them more susceptible to bacterial infections, although less than one percent actually developed such infections, plus about one-third experienced considerable fatigue.6 Even so, the effects were far less toxic and devastating than those brought on by traditional chemotherapy, and the women who received this combination lived an average of five months longer than a control group without resorting to chemo. In fact, the tumors shrank in one out of every five participants.

None of the alternatives described here are perfect, and all might be looked at as barbaric approaches by the year 2300, but for now, it’s good news that the medical community is exploring less devastating cancer treatments and having some good success.

  • 1. Birch, Nathan. “The 10 Most Insane Medical Practices in History.” 20 November 2007. Cracked.  3 March 2016.
  • 2. “Urea Uses in Skincare.” (Accessed 5 Mar 2016.)
  • 3. Knapton, Sarah. “Don’t kill cancer, learn to live with it, say scientists.” 24 February 2016. The Telegraph. 3 March 2016. “
  • 4. “Low dose chemo keeps cancer at bay.” 26 February 2016. Amar Health. 3 March 2016.
  • 5. Spencer, Ben. “Hope for breast cancer patients as ‘game-changing’ new treatment could delay grueling chemotherapy for months. 2 March 2015. The Daily Mail. 3 March 2016. “
  • 6. Azvolinsky, Anna, PhD. “Palbociclib, Fulvestrant Delays HR-Positive Breast Cancer Progression.” 30 May 2015. Cancer Network. 4 March 2016.

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Jon Barron on Nattokinase and Atherosclerosis

Natural healing remedies can be found throughout the globe, and nattokinase is no exception. Nattokinase is an enzyme found in a Japanese dish called natto (boiled soybeans fermented with bacteria Bacillus subtilis). It has been used in Japan for over 1000 years for its popular taste and as a medicinal folk remedy. This enzyme was discovered by research scientist Dr. Hiroyuki Sumi while looking for a natural remedy for dissolving blood clots related to heart attack and stroke. As you might expect, its key abilities relate to cardiovascular health.

Nattokinase is primarily used as a proteolytic enzyme, or systemic enzyme. An important concept to understand is that digestive enzyme formulas are taken with your meal to breakdown the food in your stomach. When you take a proteolytic enzyme formula between meals, the enzymes do not get stuck working in your stomach or wrapped up with your food and passed out through the colon. Instead, they quickly enter your bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, they help optimize your blood, plus they make their way to all of the tissues throughout your body, where they assist with intelligent, adaptive healing.

Nattokinase works to help break down protein molecules in the blood into more benign forms. However, this enzyme has another unique ability that allows it to prevent and reverse blood clots. What makes nattokinase particularly potent is that it enhances the body’s natural ability to fight blood clots in several different ways. Because it so closely resembles plasmin, it dissolves fibrin directly. In addition, it also enhances the body’s production of both plasmin and other clot-dissolving agents, including urokinase (endogenous). In fact, seventeen clinical studies to date have verified that the enzyme both dissolves existing clots and prevents new ones from forming. This is a big discovery, as more than 700,000 people have a stroke every year and nearly one million Americans will have a heart attack every year.

According to Dr. Martin Milner of the Center for Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon, “In some ways, nattokinase is actually superior to conventional clot-dissolving drugs. T-PAs (tissue plasminogen activators) like urokinase (the drug), are only effective when taken intravenously and often fail simply because a stroke or heart attack victim’s arteries have hardened beyond the point where they can be treated by any other clot-dissolving agent. Nattokinase, however, can help prevent that hardening with an oral dose of as little as 100 mg a day.” Plus, as Dr. Milner does not mention, nattokinase has none of the side effects of anti-clotting drugs such as Warfarin.

It doesn’t just help with clotting either. Studies have shown that nattokinase can work to help lower blood pressure by acting as a natural ACE inhibitor. This means that it prevents the “angiotensin converting enzyme” — a key factor in hypertension — from narrowing blood vessels. In human trials, nattokinase has been shown to lead to a ten percent drop in overall blood pressure readings.

Since nattokinase also contains vitamin K2, it has some circulatory benefits that can help decrease the risk of osteoporosis as well. Vitamin K2 aids in circulation by removing excess calcium from the blood, where it can create unwanted plaque build up, and instead allowing the calcium to be used in building bones where it belongs.

Another key ability of nattokinase was more recently discovered. A study out of Taiwan has found that the nattokinase enzyme may also help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The enzyme has the ability to dissolve amyloid fibrils, which build up as plaque in the brain and can lead to brain cell damage. When this happens, the brain suffers cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s may result.

The researchers also found that the nattokinase enzyme could dissolve fibrils that contribute to diabetes and central nervous system degeneration. Other valuable effects of nattokinase include:

  • helping with joint and muscle pain
  • inhibiting hardening of arteries
  • breaking down unwanted wastes in the blood
  • breaking down undigested proteins in the gut
  • increasing the body’s natural production of plasmin
  • May help prevent varicose veins, muscle spasms, and pain

With all these benefits, you can see how this enzyme can play a key role in your overall health, and it should be no surprise to find it as an ingredient in Jon Barron’s proteolytic enzyme formula, pHi-Zymes.  You may be wondering why Jon Barron created a formula with multiple systemic enzymes, not just nattokinase. As it turns out, each enzyme is specific as to the protein it works on and what reaction it facilitates with that enzyme. In other words, by definition, no single systemic enzyme can accomplish everything.

Different proteolytic enzymes, for example, serve to break down the protective proteins around viruses, bacteria, malignant cells, yeasts, and allergens — actually digesting and destroying the protein-based defense shield of these pathogens and thereby leading to their ultimate elimination. Other proteolytic enzymes in the formula help clear out Circulating Immune Complexes. Others help to remove scarring in arterial tissues. And others help reduce pain and inflammation.

The bottom line is that you want to be be sure to look for a formula that has a balance of different types of proteolytic enzymes as opposed to just nattokinase, if you’re looking to optimize your health benefits.

Some may question the use of using a soy-derived product for health.  Note that when soy is fermented, is neutralizes the harmful effects on your hormones. But more importantly, what you get in a supplement is not natto, the food derived from fermenting soy—but nattokinase, the purified enzyme extracted from natto. In other words, there’s virtually no soy left in nattokinase.  Just be sure to look for a brand that uses non-GMO Nattokinase since most soy is genetically modified.  We want to start with 540 FU per day, and work your way up to taking 1620 FU a day—spread out over three doses per day, or higher–for major repair, detoxification, or for performance athletes.

Do not take any type of proteolytic enzyme: if nursing or pregnant, if you have history of an ulcer, or if taking blood thinners. Do not take days before having elective surgery.

More about the health benefits of proteolytic enzymes.



Meet the Robin Hood of Science

A Little Girl Gives Coins To A Street Musician And Gets The Best Surprise In Return

Jon Barron on Echinacea

In this week’s excerpt from Lessons from the Miracle Doctors, Jon Barron begins his discussion of immune boosters by looking at Echinacea.

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“Not only are natural immune boosters safer than the drug-based approach (having fewer side effects), they are also far more powerful than their pharmaceutical counterparts. Let’s take a look at some of the more powerful immune boosters available.

Echinacea (purple coneflower) is truly a miracle herb. It was ‘discovered’ in the late 1800s by a traveling salesman named Joseph Meyer, who learned about it from the Plains Indians while traveling out West. He brewed it up as an alcohol tincture and sold it as a cure-all—demonstrating its effectiveness by letting rattlesnakes bite him and then drinking his tonic. Needless to say, he never got sick, from whence comes the phrase ‘snake oil.’

How does Echinacea work? First, it contains echinacoside, a natural antibiotic comparable to penicillin in effect, which can kill a broad range of viruses, bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. This makes it invaluable in wound healing and in the treatment of infectious diseases. Research has also reported Echinacea’s efficacy in treating colds, flu, bronchitis, and tuberculosis. Echinacea also contains echinacein, a biochemical that protects against germ attack by neutralizing the tissue-dissolving enzyme hyaluronidase, produced by many germs. Among the many pharmacological properties reported for Echinacea, macrophage activation has been demonstrated most convincingly. One study showed that Echinacea extracts can boost T-cell production by up to 30 percent more than immune-boosting drugs.

There are two primary varieties of Echinacea: Echinacea purpurea and E. angustifolia. They are similar, but also have complementary properties. Formulas that use both are more likely to be effective. It’s also worth noting that potency runs from seed (greatest potency) to root to leaf to almost none in the flower. And, of course, herb quality is paramount.

Over the last few years, there have been several studies that claimed to debunk Echinacea’s ability to boost the immune system and fight colds. Suffice it to say that the studies were either flawed in design (reviews of previously flawed studies), used the wrong parts of the Echinacea plant (flowers and leaves rather than roots and seeds), or used it at the wrong strength. Forget the studies—Echinacea still stands as one of the best immune boosters available.”

These Tests Detect Cancer Earlier, Why Aren’t They More Common?!