In our last discussion we brought up the concepts of “magical thinking, placebo, acculturation, cosmology and the order of healing methods i.e. word, herb, knife.” Since then, there came screaming news headlines about how the drug, Prozac, has been shown to be no more effective than a placebo. What this means is that you really have to believe that Prozac works and then it still only works some of the time. This would not be so bad if there were no side effects. Most often, there are no side effects associated with placebos. If a drug has no more efficacy than a pill of ground almonds but has a side effect of suicide then the comparison to a placebo becomes ludicrous. The scientists, who reviewed the drug studies, concluded that even talk therapy was more effective than the drug. Hippocrates was right when he said “first the word, then the herb, then the knife. So, what can we do for the people who find out that their favourite drug does not work, did not work, and produces dangerous side effects? First, we tell them that the “side effects” have nothing to do with sides. They are effects of the drug. If all of the effects were listed in order of strength or possibility doctors and patients would realize that they are gambling and playing with odds. The stakes are the patient’s life, health, and money bet against a host of effects, some of which may even be beneficial.
If millions of Prozac pills have been swallowed over many years then the placebo effect can now be examined in a sociological context. Many drugs with dubious efficacies have been proffered and removed from the pharmacies over the years. Is our society so filled with magical thinking and false authority that it can perpetuate belief in spurious drugs? What other obvious lies do we accept daily? Go into your corner store or supermarket and look for bags of things called “flavoured chips, cheese doodles”, and other like objects. We call these “junk food” but there is little resemblance to actual food, which contains nutrition and lifeforce. How did we come to accept that emergency-orange coloured puffed thingies are food? When you see a roll of circle shaped candies that are red, green, yellow, purple, and orange you would say that the corresponding candies are cherry, lime, lemon, grape, and orange? We all know there is no fruit just the suggestion of fruit. We, as a culture, have an implicit agreement concerning scents and flavours. Synthetic approximations are acceptable as the real thing as long as the suggestion can stimulate a memory of the real thing or a memory of the synthetic that we agreed to believe was comparable. The first clue we had to this understanding came when scientists were giving the cancer drug, Cyclophosphamide, in sugar water to mice inducing nausea (a side effect) in order to test anti-nauseants. Later in another experiment, the same mice were injected with cancer cells and given sugar water as a placebo. Their little bodies fought off the cancer with the same vigour as the mice actually receiving the drug. Did they not hear the scientists speaking about the water or were the scientists discreet enough to keep the sugar water secret? The experiment surprised the scientists because they did not expect the results. The mice’s body/mind believed that the sugar water contained the drug. The scientists initially were using a side effect of the drug, i.e. nausea and never realized that the body/mind “learned” about the antineoplastic actions.
Next, we can explore the drug, Viox, and the food additive, Aspartame. It took tens of thousands of people taking the drug and reporting the effects on their body to mount a pile of conclusive evidence that even Merck could not deny. When death is called a side effect but is really one of the effects, it is hard to explain it away even to a benumbed and hypnotized mass-consuming population. People are told by “experts and authorities” that flu vaccines protect them, that childhood vaccines are necessary, fluoride in water is good for teeth and bones, give Tylenol for a fever, GMO foods are safe and better for the world, and on and on. Aspartame is causing an enormous amount of damage to humans and its effects are so wide ranging it is hard to tell the truth but nerve, brain, and liver damage seems certain. Are government monitored pharmaceutical and food manufacturers at all working for the good of the people who depend on them? Aspartame containing foods are proliferating to the point of being ubiquitous whilst evidence of their dangers is accruing just as fast. What is the truth and how close are we to it?
Early in the twentieth century, atomic scientists worked in secret laboratories, hidden from scrutiny and “safely” ensconced in protected environments. Enrico Fermi whilst working in a laboratory in the city of Chicago wrote in his private diary that maybe when he starts the nuclear chain reaction that he could not stop it and perhaps he would lose control completely and ignite the Earth’s atmosphere causing a conflagration of apocalyptic proportions. Did he stop? The same fear was written before the first air blast of a nuclear weapon. Since then, the scientific community has been asked to adopt a policy requiring a precautionary principle. Simply put, when making a decision err on the side of caution. Is it safe to feed genetically modified foods to humans? Most of the animals fed gmo grains never complained of allergies, headaches, muscle soreness, myalgia, brain fog or anything else for that matter. That is enough research for a few scientists on the payroll of big-agri-business. Let’s vote yes. When any research showing negative results concerning gmo foods ends up not in a retrial but in having the researcher losing their funding then the precautionary principle is not being applied. Experimenting on human subjects is the final phase of testing a substance after enormous due diligence is no guarantee of safety but of clarity. After assiduously applying mathematical models, in vitro experiments, and small animal studies perhaps there is good reason to advance to human test subjects. When scientists, who are paid to protect the public as scrutinizers of other scientists and their works, get fired for doing their jobs by politicians or worse by political appointees then we know the truth is not being served. Government and privately subsidized research is producing novel life forms with naturally impossible genetic make-up to be freely released into our ecosystems and food chains and supermarkets. Nature could not produce these organisms, seeds, animals or products because their very existence requires the breaking of boundaries between species and even kingdoms. It is an experiment upon all human beings and the entire life web of planet Earth to create and release genetically modified organisms into our ecosystems. Where is the precautionary principle? Wheat, corn, soy and rice feed the majority of human life on the planet, directly or indirectly. These are the most tampered with food as well. If you are not growing and buying organic foods then there is a very high chance you are eating gmo’s. Do you know the truth about gmo’s? Are you willing to gamble your life, our children and the future of all life on Earth or should we wait until the stakes are a little less drastic?
A little over a decade ago we could read articles that would purport that herbs do not work. Later these medical experts softened and said only herbs prepared by pharmaceutical companies that could guarantee certain material qualities and quantities really work. The history of herbal medicine, by their decree, was one of thousands of years of placebos or self-limiting diseases. Only medical doctors (who have never been trained in herbal medicine) could prescribe herbs to be dispensed by pharmacists (who insist that herbs are just weak drugs) and now the pharmacies have a large trade in OTC herb capsules. The history of Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue syndrome, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and the litany of disparaging monikers, (e.g. Yuppie fever) implying some kind of mental disability has a similar arc. At first, the medical community looked for a causal agent like Epstein-Barr virus to blame for the variety of symptom manifestations. The virus could not account for all the symptoms and many doctors disbelieved their patients. When the numbers of patients grew so large as to not be ignored, the medical community came back and used their old standby approach which was to use steroids and anti-inflammatories to suppress some of the main complaints or symptoms. Various members of the natural health community have had success with treating the syndrome. Recently, a group of practitioners gathered to create a protocol recognizing the body-mind connections of psychoneuroimmunology. Using movements, spinal manipulations and a variety of styles of hypnosis these practitioners can make remarkable changes possible for their patients in very short times. This new kind of talk therapy does not imply that the condition is only in ones mind but that the brain/mind/immune interface is a gateway to the interior processes of the patient. First the word… As each of the above little discussions points out that, the sickness is not just in our bodies. Our environment is sick. Our minds and reasoning powers are sick. Our society and institutions are corrupted and sick. We need a medicine that can address us on all these levels and reintegrate us into wholeness and health. Herbal medicine is the answer. There are herbal forms to heal the bodies and emotions and minds of all the people. There are rituals and spiritual exercises that help individuals reintegrate into society that uses herbs in ways like smudging or incense burning. Herb gathering and medicine making can help an individual awaken their feelings towards all living beings and begin the return to balance and harmony with life. A new day dawns for humanity when people can see through the deceptions and misrepresentations of the truth fed to us through the various media. The tall standing silent ones, the trees, are whispering right now the return of spring. If you become very still inside you can feel the tree sap gathering just below the surface of the soil moving up from deep below. If you listen to the susurrations on the wind, you can hear maple trees rustling and whispering the immanent arrival of syrup season. Ontario is deep in snow but there is life-force surging towards the surface bringing its greening power. Herbal teas, tinctures, flower waters, aroma-therapy essential oils, incense and gardens & wild flowers are the names of the forms we can find herbal remedies taking. As herbalists in the broadest sense, we are the living nexus. We carry the keys to unlock the hidden truths in a world out of balance when we bring people and herbs together. Bring in the new life promises of spring and distribute them in cups of tea.