Around the Web; Memorial Day Edition

Our prayers for the people of Joplin, Missouri and the victims of recent tornados.

Here are things that caught my eye this week:

[1] Interesting posts: Don’t miss Stephan Guyenet’s podcast with Chris Kresser, which I’ll comment on this week. Also, Stephan explains what “food reward” is.

Emily Deans discusses the influence of dirt on health; Stabby thinks he has a dirt deficiency.

Dennis Mangan notes that BCAA supplements may extend lifespan. At Robb Wolf’s blog, Amber Karnes reports an autistic child improving on Paleo. Matt Stone and Danny Roddy have been summarizing Ray Peat. Chris Highcock reports that sprinting up stairs may be the best exercise.

Mike the Mad Biologist recalls a lucky episode of serendipity in science. Craig Newmark thinks the Greeks have the most talent.

Don Matesz reports some lore from Chinese medicine:

[T]he Chinese medical view [holds] that sugar has yin effects, where yin stands for the overlapping sensory characteristics cool, calm/quiet, soft, and moist.  According to Chinese medicine, this makes sugar a medication for excessive yang conditions characterized by heat, agitation, tension, and dryness; but because it has relatively extreme characteristics, long term regular use of large amounts will create an excessively yin condition, i.e. excessive coolness, lassitude, weakness/impotence, and moisture (e.g. watery phlegm accumulation, excessive salivation), and a generally deficient condition.  Chinese dietary principles classify whole food starches as more desirable, more balanced foods–having a balance of yin and yang characteristics making them suitable for use as staple foods.

The yang condition sounds like that produced by low-carb ketogenic dieting (high body temperature, dry mucosal membranes) and the yin condition like that produced by high-carb dieting. The Chinese lore is consistent with our view that starches are better than sugars, and that eating some starch is desirable to avoid excessive ketosis which would promote fungal infections. Fungal infections are “hot” diseases in Chinese medicine.

This reminds me of an oldie but goodie, Chris Kresser’s explanation of Chinese medicine: qi is oxygen, meridians are vessels, and acupuncture points are neurovascular nodes.

Andrew Badenoch of argues that vegans are hotter. I refute him thus: Ms. Julianne Taylor.

Finally, John Durant offers a video of cheetah cubs playing:

[2] A song to read by:

[3] Why we don’t recommend high-dose niacin: A clinical trial of high-dose niacin for heart disease had to be stopped early this week, because it didn’t reduce heart attacks and increased strokes.

We have always counseled against supplementing niacin. Our reasoning is that niacin has both good and bad effects, but the primary good effect (raising HDL) can be achieved by dietary means via occasional ketogenic dieting without the ill effects (promotion of bacterial infections). See the book or How to Raise HDL, April 20, 2011, for more.

Thanks to Erik for mentioning the study. As I noted in my reply, strokes are strongly linked to bacterial infections of the vasculature, so it’s not a surprise that niacin would increase stroke risk. It’s also possible the statins administered with the niacin undermined its benefits.

[4] Gimme shelter:

[5] H. Pylori can cause Parkinson’s in mice: New results.

[6] Compelling scientific discovery of the week: If you have migraines and drink too much alcohol, caffeine can help you recover from a hangover.

[7] Nanny state chronicles: Denmark has banned Vegemite (Marmite) because it has too many vitamins. John J. Ray counters: “Australians have unusually long lifespans. Which is entirely due to Vegemite, of course!”

[8] I hate when that happens: Truck driver blows up like a balloon:

A New Zealand truck driver said he is “lucky to be alive” after an air hose became lodged in his buttocks and blew him up “like a balloon.”…

McCormack was rescued by coworkers and taken to an intensive care unit at a Whakatane hospital. He said it took nearly three days for his body to deflate to normal size.

Farting and burping is the therapy:

[9] Is that precipitation infectious?: Hail is full of bacteria. No word on whether they’re probiotic.

[10] They’re getting more human all the time: Scientists have discovered a bacterium that lives on coffee.

[11] Northern Lights: Photographer Stephane Vetter captures an aurora reflected off Jökulsárlón, Iceland’s largest glacial lake:

[12] Why I went to MIT: “At MIT, everyone is eccentric”.

[13] Shou-Ching’s photo art:

[14] Heroism and grief in the Joplin Tornado: This is a heartrending video, but love should be honored even – or especially – when it meets with misfortune:

Via Eric Falkenstein.

[15] Gaudeamus Igitur (“Therefore let us rejoice”): Via Danielle Ofri in the New York Times, a poem called “Gaudeamus Igitur,” by John Stone, a cardiologist from Atlanta. This poem was delivered as a commencement address to a class of Emory medical students, and gives a doctor’s view of life. One stanza:

For this is the end of examinations
For this is the beginning of testing
For Death will give the final examination
and everyone will pass.

[16] Science done the old-fashioned way: We’ve learned as much from personal experience with disease as from reading the journals – and personally-acquired knowledge is more likely to be novel and therefore scientifically significant. Brain researcher Jill Bolte Taylor got a research opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: She had a massive stroke, and watched as her brain functions — motion, speech, self-awareness — shut down one by one; and then in recovery she became inspired.

“How many brain scientists have been able to study the brain from the inside out? I’ve gotten as much out of this experience of losing my left mind as I have in my entire academic career.”

Here’s her story:

Leave a comment ?


  1. Hi Paul,

    Regarding Emily Deans post about the influence of dirt on health, there is a very, very interesting paper at Emerging Infectious Diseases (a CDC journal) by Dr. Gerald N. Callahan, associate professor of immunology, about eating dirt:

  2. Hi Mario,

    Great link, that is a fascinating paper.

    Thanks for your hypothyroidism series!

  3. Paul:
    I think the death sentence for niacin is premature. It has been used for quite a long time and has been shown to be effective. I believe the jury is still out; and will have to see the results from some larger studies that are currently under way.
    Note that i am not a user,but have considered it.

  4. Hi Steve,

    I agree that niacin delivers benefits if you don’t have bacterial infections. So it will often show up as delivering benefits in many individuals.

    I think it’s quite possible that it was the niacin-statin combination is much worse than niacin alone.

    But sooner or later everyone gets bacterial infections. Everyone with heart disease already has a number of chronic infections. The sicker the population, the more likely niacin is to hurt rather than help.

    This was a trial of heart disease patients, so everything was working against niacin.

    But if coconut oil delivers the same benefits, why not go with coconut oil?

  5. The problem with the Niacin news is the spin from the media and the NIH that it’s “back to the drawing board” on the theory that high HDL is beneficial.

  6. when a chinese skin specialist treating my psorisis said the cause was heat and fire toxins,so he was actually reffering to bacteria and hot blood via too much yang?

    by the way the Psoriaisis cleared 95% within a couple of months and stayed that way for over a year.

    How about a write up on psoriasis Paul :)?

  7. … an air hose became lodged in his buttocks and blew him up “like a balloon.”…

    This is one instance where I definitely don’t want to hear the “rest of the story.”

  8. Hi Matt,

    Well, they do need to re-think some of their ideas. I don’t think the baby will get lost with the bathwater, but we shall see.

    Hi Chris,

    I’m not that knowledgeable about Chinese medicine, but I do know that there are infections that produce heat and fire toxicity symptoms.

    I’m doing my best to learn about these conditions but I can’t do posts until I have confidence that I’m contributing something useful. I’m going to do rosacea and acne posts and the research for that may lead me into something useful for psoriasis. I do keep an eye out for information.

    At the moment mainly what I have to contribute are general principles about healthy dieting and antimicrobial strategies. I suspect there is an underlying infection in psoriasis and so these strategies should help. But I am sort of dependent on the scientists figuring out the pathogens to give detailed advice.

    I’ll do my best but no idea when a psoriasis post will roll around. It’ll be more likely to happen if our readers with psoriasis do some experiments and keep me informed.

    Hi erp,

    You have to admit we present some ailments and therapies you don’t find on other sites!

    I hope to corner the Google keywords “farting therapy.”

    Best, Paul

  9. lol, thanks Paul

  10. Paul, I, for one, appreciate your uncanny ability to ferret out stories that makes me laugh out loud.

  11. Hi Paul,

    re psoriasis.
    My father had it about 20 years ago on his shins. I remember seeing him scratch like mad. At the advice of an iridologist he did a vegetable and fruit juice fast for a month and after that he became a vegetarian, rarely eating eggs or dairy. It helped.
    I’ve read it could be vitamin D deficiency or wheat, I don’t know. The thing is he says it hasn’t come back since although he eats bread, has always used sunflower oil and likes his shop bought pastries. (he was always skinny)
    Who could make sense of it?

  12. Hi simona,

    Great story. Sometimes temporary elimination diets (eliminating toxins/allergens) can have a lasting effect. It is hard to make sense of these cases.

  13. Last week I had a client have psoriasis clear up eating paleo. There are a number of stories on Robb Wolf’s blog of different experiences.

    It seems the auto-immune paleo diet works best for most. Years ago a client had hers clear up on the Classic Zone diet (ie paleo zone, but included some dairy I think)

    (Thanks for the link. Didn’t expect that one!)

  14. Hi Paul,

    Greetings to you this Memorial Day.

    Again, not sure that this is the appropriate place for my question, but here goes:

    My elderly father is facing a number of challenges to his health. Since his wife’s (my Mom’s) passing 2 years ago he’s lost a lot of weight, has undergone chemo for prostate cancer, and is now on Oxygen 24/7 for well-advanced COPD.


    Dad’s spirits remain high, although he has his times of discouragement. The good man has lost a good bit of weight, and would like to healthfully put on a few pounds. He’s up for knee-replacement surgery, and has had a quadruple by-pass. Man, growing old (i.e. aging by the calendar) is one thing. Falling apart is yet another. I don’t believe the latter is inevitable!

    Any and all suggestions as to how to tweak Dad’s diet, supplements, etc., are much appreciated. I also understand that this might be outside your realm of knowledge/speculation.

    Best! KKC

  15. Hi KKC,

    Well, what diet is he eating now? Our general diet and supplement advice is found in our book; quick summaries of the diet ( and supplements ( are on the site.

    I would basically reiterate our book advice. I’d add in some of our optional supplements, mainly the B vitamins and N-acetylcysteine. NAC can strongly assist immune function and protect tissues from oxidative stress.

    I am certain he has a number of chronic infections. It would be best to fix his diet and nutrition, then treat some of the infections.

    Best, Paul

  16. Thanks Paul,

    Yes. Your recommendations are in line with those I’ve suggested for Dad.

    I’ve sent along two (2) copies of your book, (One might get lost, you know?) along with almost exhausting myself with discussion.

    As to the NAC, do you do recommend the time-release form?

    Were I a different person, I’d twist Dad’s arm to do what I know is better for him. I prefer to hold his hand and lead him along the way.

    Thanks, KKC

  17. Hi KKC,

    I hope he likes the book. And cooking!

    I do favor the time-release form of NAC myself.

    Just so he knows there’s some basis for this recommendation, here’s a free full-text review of NAC in COPD: Here is a random sampling of other papers on NAC helping COPD:,,,

    Best, Paul

  18. Paul,

    Thanks. I appreciate your time, as does Dad. We’re a wee bit exhausted just now.

    There’s just no magic-bullet-take-this/do-that-be-well in our bag of offerings.

    I’m going with Jarrow’s NAC. And Yes! Dad has taken to cooking in his dotage, (Mom was an unenthusiastic cook at best).

    We’ll “show willing,” whatever tomorrow brings.

    Thanks, Best to you,

  19. KCC, your father is lucky to have a child who’s such an advocate for his welfare and I wish you luck convincing him to give the PHD a try, but I’d like to give you a word of caution about knee replacement surgery.

    I’m a 76 year old woman who’s always kept in shape and am in general good health with none of your father’s pre-existing problems. I began the PHD plus supplements and also worked to strengthen both my legs six months before surgery losing 15 unwanted lbs in the process and yet rehab has been very painful. Although I had been warned that it would be so, I really wasn’t prepared for it – it was much worse than I had imagined. So much so that I actually took sleeping pills and those pain killers that are always in the news as being the drugs of choice among prescription drug addicts. They didn’t help the pain much, but made me lightheaded enough to be able to doze off.

    It’s been four months now and my knee still seizes up when I wake up in the morning and although I’m exercising, taking in vitamin D in the form of Florida sunshine and walking two miles per day, I’m still not pain free. I had hoped to be able to drive north to visit family next month, but it’s impossible for me to sit in a car for the 19 hours it would take to drive there even if we spaced it out to three or even four days, so instead we have to go through the ordeal of flying, renting a car …

    The medical people and physical therapists assure me that my range of motion, etc. is darn near phenomenal and I’m well ahead of most patients, even those many years younger, but that doesn’t change the facts on the ground – my knee still hurts.

    Good luck to you both. I hope both you and he will make the right decisions and that all will be well soon.

  20. Dear erp,

    Thank you for sharing you experience with your knee surgery, and for wishing Dad and ourselves well!

    My dear friend, in 2006 I slipped, fell, and cracked my knee-cap. I think that only another person who has been through the qgony of knee rehab can comprehend the recovery.

    I burst unto tears more than once while on the table. I have no words to suggest the pain.

    I wouldn’t subject Dad to that without careful consideration

    ; and without me beside him every step/scream of the way. ¥ou and he are the same calendar age, I’m some 25 yeas your junior.

    Best, KKC

  21. Thanks for the mention Paul!

  22. KKC – What a terrible experience. I hope you’ve recovered completely.

  23. Paul, I’m very much looking forward to your take on Stephan’s series!! But a request if I may … I hope you’ll consider adding to your queue for posts the down-stream implications of long-term excessive eating. I.e., it’s the brain causing the eating, but aside from the fat stores, my understanding is that it’s the liver and/or gut bearing the brunt of the damage.

    So while a low reward diet may work well wrt Stephan’s setpoint (tho, like Carbsane, I think it feels more like a question of overriding the setpoint rather than raising it … semantic quibble perhaps), there are presumably additional strategies needed once appetite calms down to help restore liver function.

    I did a quick pubmed search and didn’t find anything encouraging on supplementation (e.g., milk thistle), but perhaps the lion’s share of the healing can be done with diet. This might involve initially moderating carbs quite a bit and increasing eggs or other sources of choline, B6 etc to help the liver remove fat and restore insulin/leptin sensitivity and perhaps lots of food probiotic sources to restore the gut.

    What do you think? Make sense? Or am I missing something?

  24. Hi Beth,

    Those are great questions, and your ideas do make sense. Finding the answers to curing obesity is harder than finding the right questions (unfortunately!).

    Best, Paul

  25. Beth, one of the pluses of the PHD is that you really and truly never feel hungry and when you are having a meal, your body tells you when you’ve had enough and you can push the dish away.

    Good luck with your efforts.

  26. erp, thanks for the comment. I agree re this WOE and hunger. But after 6 mos, my fasting insulin was still highish (12). So I added in a weekly Body By Science workout to see if improving muscle insulin sensitivity will help, but am thinking that I’m also having to deal with the damage from years of inflammation/food toxins.

    It’s also conceivable that this won’t improve until I’m at or around my goal. We’ll see!

  27. thanks for the articles & links.

    i wonder that modern practice of hygiene can be harmful to our health.

    there’s a Chinese folk remedy for traveler’s diarrhea or other ailment in a strange town: carry w/ you a bag of dirt from your home town when you travel, then sprinkle a little in the food/drink.

    FYI: in Chinese medicine, most vegetables & fruits are considered “cooling.”


  28. @ erp,

    Thank you! And yes, I am a competitive race-walker now.

    Can’t keep a good woman on a healthful diet down. 🙂

    (Not for long, anyway.)

    I think that all of the primal, native, paleo etc., writers/bloggers are standing on a Mobius strip, each writing from his/her own view. Each moving along the strip at his/her own speed. Each rediscovering what the other has known all along. Some know their position, the Jaminets among the few.


  29. KCC, I hope you’re right. Some days I wonder. :-{

  30. I always appreciate your blog posts and the random information you find for your “around the web” posts. A while back you said you were going to make a post on rosacea, I’ve been eagerly awaiting it! I’ve been trying Body ecology diet for some facial flushing I have (not entirely sure if its rosacea) and would love to hear your approach.

    • Hi Leah,

      Here’s what my editorial calendar looks like: I’ll comment on Stephan’s obesity – food reward discussion; then go on vacation; then do an LDL series to finish the cholesterol series started earlier; then in July start “My Story” which will include rosacea, but maybe not until August.

  31. Paul, wow, just wow. Why do I think your “vacation” is a working one, either for you or Shou-Ching.

  32. You may think that because I ought to do that, in order to finish up other work that has been delayed, such as the Kindle edition.

    However, this one is a pure vacation. We are helping a niece move to Savannah, but stopping at beaches and forests along the way. There will be limited contact with the blog.

  33. Paul, only you guys would think helping someone move is a vacation.

  34. Paul,

    Just wondering if you have any quick suggestions for tailoring the PHD for fungal infections.

    I am thinking my dandruff and sleep issues are fungal related. With a higher carb ratio, (55% carbs), I have about 4-5 bowel movements a day. The first one is perfect and the others just okay, but no diarreah. This is still alarming to me and suggestive of gut issues. I have cut out all diary for about a month and my digestive health has suffered (I used to drink kefir daily from raw milk). My partner has been complaining about me having bad breath in the morning as well.. this is new. I have lowered my carb intake today back to around 100grams from potato, so we will see how this goes. Also up to two drops of Iosol daily, which does improve sleep and skin a bit.

    As I take more serious strides into sleep hygiene (blacked out room, blue light filter glasses 2 hours before bed, early dinners) I still seem to suffer from mild onset insomnia. Perhaps with time this will mend, but it is quite frustating. I had to stop melatonin supplementation because I have reason to believe it plays a role in my low testosterone. When I quit melatonin, morning erections increased, upon returning of supplemtation, they disappear, even if sleep is better.

    Anyway… gut issues and perhaps a fungal infection seems to be my issue. Simply including starch in the diet has not fixed it and wondering what other antifungal things I can do!

  35. Paul, for the first time the email notification worked. The comment above appeared in my inbox.

  36. Hi erp,

    Yes, I had to uninstall the old software and install a new model. Too bad, I kind of liked the old one. Couldn’t figure out why it stopped working.

    Hi Bill,

    Well, I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out how to attack fungal infections.

    One thing I can tell you is that sleep issues are caused by fungal die-off toxins, like cell wall components, not the fungi themselves. Using a detox aid like charcoal, bentonite clay, chlorella, or cholestyramine can help. I have used cholestyramine which is a prescription product. You don’t need the full dose but some can make a big difference to sleep.

    Difficulty forming erections may also be a die-off product effect. It may not be the melatonin – or melatonin might be supporting immunity and increasing die-off. You may find that if you take one of the detox aids the melatonin won’t affect your testosterone much.

    Re carbs, I’d say 400-600 calories per day is optimal.

    There are a variety of antifungal foods, such as garlic, turmeric, oregano, spinach.

    Taking probiotics is important. Eating fermented vegetables is even better.

    Acids can help: vinegar, fresh extra virgin olive oil.

    N-acetylcysteine and glutathione are helpful.

    Hope this helps.

    Best, Paul

  37. Will definitely look into those! In regards to the erections, I have them at other points during the day with no issues, it was just the absense of the morning ones that I noticed a correlation with melatonin usage. Morning erections are usualy a sign of good T production. As always, very much appreciate your timely and thorough response.

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