Category Archives: Crazy Government

NZ Man Left for Dead by Doctors, Cured by Vitamin C

Modern doctors are often deeply over-invested in the use of drugs, and amazingly ignorant of the power of the human immune system, when supported by a healthy diet and optimal nutrition, to defeat disease.

They sometimes exhaust their repertoire of drugs without ever considering using nutritional supplements to support the patient’s immune defense.

An extraordinary illustration comes from New Zealand. It began when Alan Smith, a New Zealand farmer, contracted swine flu:

He caught the Swine Flu (probably while on a fishing trip in Fiji), so badly that his lungs had “white out”, which is to say they were so full of fluid that they didn’t show up on an x-ray. The doctors also said he had got leukemia and he ended up being put on a life support machine.

The doctors told the family the machine should be turned off … [1]

The diagnosis of leukemia is suspicious. Both infections and leukemia lead to “leukocytosis” or a very high white blood cell count. In one case the white blood cells are multiplying to fight the infection, in the other a malignant population is multiplying. The difference is that in leukemia the population is monoclonal, i.e. all the new white blood cells are genetically identical, while in normal people with infections the white blood cells are created with genetic diversity. (Keywords for those who wish to investigate: T-cell antigen repertoire and B-cell immunoglobulin repertoire.)

As subsequent events showed, the leukemia “diagnosis” was mistaken. I wonder if it was made just for “family management” – in order to help persuade the family his case was hopeless and support the recommendation to end life support.

… but the family asked that he be given high dosages of Vitamin C. After a fight (one of many), one of the doctors agreed. Alan began getting better; his lungs showed pockets of air. Then he began to get worse and the family found out the doctors had stopped the Vit C.

Many more fights ensued, the patient getting better while having the Vit C, and getting worse when he was taken off. Alan’s wife describes one of the doctors sitting back in his chair, arms folded, rolling his eyes, looking at the ceiling, telling her that no way could the vitamin C be helping. The family hired a lawyer, forcing the doctors to continue the vit C treatment (albeit in slow dosage, until he got better enough to eat and his wife brought along sachets of large dosage herself for him to take).

Eventually Alan fully recovered, no trace of leukemia even. [1]

He should have been given high doses of vitamin D and iodine as well. Iodine supports leukocyte respiratory bursts of reactive oxygen species which destroy pathogens; vitamin C supports respiratory bursts by recycling glutathione and providing antioxidant protection for leukocytes against their own respiratory bursts, and also supports anti-viral immunity; vitamin D creates antimicrobial peptides that kill many pathogens.

Other possibly beneficial supplements in cases of elevated leukocyte counts due to infection: selenium, to support both glutathione and iodine/thyroid function; iron, for myeloperoxidase (respiratory burst enzyme) and catalase (antioxidant defense); N-acetyl cysteine (for glutathione production) and glutathione; zinc and copper (for the anti-oxidant zinc-copper superoxide dismutase).

Thank goodness the family had the sense to try vitamin C, and that that was enough for him to recover. It would have been a shame if he died for lack of vitamin D and iodine.

New Zealand was a pioneer of socialized medicine in the English-speaking world. Economists say that people respond to incentives; one wonders if the doctors were more motivated to tend to the interests of the bureaucrats who controlled their budgets, than to the health of the family and patient who weren’t paying them. Perhaps “free” medical care has unexpected costs.


[1] “Indictment of Our Medical Profession,” New Zealand Conservative,; hat tip to Jewel at

Statin Idiocy

You may have noticed the ludicrous proposal from a group of British doctors, published in the American Journal of Cardiology [1], that statins should be distributed with McDonald’s value meals to reverse the cholesterol-raising effects of cheeseburgers metabolic syndrome induced by sugar and omega-6 fat toxicity.

Various bloggers have discussed their proposal, and if you are interested here are some links:

We rarely discuss drugs, since we’re diet and nutrition focused, but briefly, statins should be avoided because they do a mix of benefits and harms, of which the benefits are minor and can be better achieved by other means, and the harms can be immense:

  • Coenzyme Q10 deficiencies impairing mitochondrial function and producing potentially life-threatening muscle weakness (myopathy).
  • Cholesterol deficiencies impairing cell movement, cell division, and wound healing and increasing risk of infectious disease and cancer.
  • A myriad of other effects, including liver damage, kidney damage, and cataracts.

It appears that the benefits of statins are achieved mainly through two mechanisms – an elevation of vitamin D synthesis and a mild anti-inflammatory effect. (Cholesterol-lowering drugs which lack these effects have proven to be highly poisonous.) Normalizing vitamin D levels through sunshine and supplements would eliminate the first benefit; eating a diet low in food toxins would eliminate the second benefit. So for people practicing healthy diets, there is likely to be no benefit from statins at all, and much harm.

It’s telling that clinical trials conducted since trial regulations were tightened a few years ago have failed to show any benefit from statins. [2] Earlier trials were biased in various ways, including in many cases a failure to report overall mortality or deaths from infectious disease and cancer, and a severe publication bias in which trials producing negative effects were suppressed.

Meanwhile simple, inexpensive steps like supplementation can have much bigger health benefits than statins. Normalizing vitamin D levels can cut mortality in half [3, 4] and supplementing vitamin K2 can reduce mortality by 26%. [5]

So, if we don’t normally discuss drugs, what prompted this post?  My eye was caught by Stephan’s observation that farm subsidy modifications could greatly improve public health:

Rather than giving people statins along with their Big Mac, why don’t we change the incentive structure that artificially favors the Big Mac, french fries and soft drink? If it weren’t for corn, soybean and wheat subsidies, fast food wouldn’t be so cheap. Neither would any other processed food. Fresh, whole food would be price competitive with industrial food, particularly if we applied the grain subsidies to more wholesome foods.

I’ve long advocated this change myself. It’s ironic that the US government managed to pick the most toxic foods – wheat, corn, and soybeans – for its agricultural subsidies. 

It’s often pointed out that U.S. longevity is worse than would be expected based on our GDP. Here’s a chart from – click for a legible version:

If you fit a curve and measure distance beneath the curve, among rich nations only Brunei, Qatar, and maybe Luxembourg and Liechtenstein perform worse than the US. Americans die years earlier than we ought.

The reason for this is probably mainly our agricultural subsidies and the high intake of toxic foods they have engendered. (Our high intake of health-impairing drugs like statins may also contribute.) As I commented on Stephan’s blog:

If we ate rice instead of wheat, butter instead of soybean oil, and drank tea instead of corn syrup, Americans might be the longest-lived people in the world.

Diet and nutrition are the keys to health, yet they are the ugly stepchildren of American medicine. Drugs remain the favored and spoiled son, producing little but beloved.


[1] Ferenczi EA et al. Can a Statin Neutralize the Cardiovascular Risk of Unhealthy Dietary Choices? Am J Cardiol. 2010 Aug 15;106(4):587-592.

[2] de Lorgeril M. Disappointing recent cholesterol-lowering drug trials: is it not time for a full reappraisal of the cholesterol theory? World Rev Nutr Diet. 2009;100:80-9.

[3] Dobnig H et al. Independent association of low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin d and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin d levels with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. Arch Intern Med. 2008 Jun 23;168(12):1340-9.

[4] Pilz S et al. Vitamin D and mortality in older men and women. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2009 Nov;71(5):666-72.

[5] Geleijnse JM et al. Dietary Intake of Menaquinone Is Associated with a Reduced Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: The Rotterdam Study. J Nutr. 2004 Nov;134(11):3100-5.

The FDA Is On The Side of the Microbes

This should be the golden era of antimicrobial medicine. Molecular biology has over the last two decades created new diagnostic tools like real-time PCR which can isolate and amplify minute quantities of bacterial DNA to identify individual species. Today’s researchers can design antimicrobial drugs that specifically target proteins, RNA, and DNA of individual pathogens.

Existing antibiotics obtained from fungi and plants often interfere with human biology, creating side effects that limit doses. Tomorrow’s antibiotics should defeat pathogens with minimal side effects, by acting only against molecules specific to bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa.

This blog believes that nearly all diseases have an infectious origin. Infections outrun the immune system due to dietary and nutritional inadequacies. Diet, nutrition, and new antimicrobials should enable nearly all diseases to be defeated.

We are on the cusp of enabling nearly everyone to live to age 100 in good health. All we need is a renewed focus on antimicrobial research, and better diets.

Yet nothing is happening.

Via frequent commenter erp comes an excellent story that explains why (Trine Tsouderos, “Arsenal of antibiotics not being restocked: Dispute over rules for approving new drugs stalls production even as concern rises over deadly resistant bacteria,” Chicago Tribune, August 6, 2010):

Drug companies are abandoning the antibacterial business, citing high development costs, low return on investment and, increasingly, a nearly decade-long stalemate with the Food and Drug Administration over how to bring new antibiotics to market.

Soon, doctors fear, we could be defenseless against bacteria that can resist all existing antibiotics, which would mean more victims like Simon, dead from a staph infection that drugs used to conquer easily.

Dr. Brad Spellberg, an expert on antibiotic resistance, called the situation “catastrophic.”

At the core of the problem is a regulatory impasse over whether drug companies seeking FDA approval for antibiotics should be required to run much more stringent clinical trials.

The FDA says yes, citing advances in the science of clinical trial design and a series of humiliations involving trials for drugs the agency had approved, including the antibiotic Ketek….

But the pharmaceutical industry and some infectious-disease doctors say the proposed rules will make it so difficult and expensive to gain approval for new antibiotics that the few remaining companies will abandon the field altogether….

At times the debate has been so heated that the acting chairman of an FDA committee opened a 2009 meeting by warning that he didn’t want to read the next day about police “having to arrest scientists for breaking shop windows and turning over cars.”…

For years, new antibiotics often were approved based on clinical trials that didn’t have to show the new drug was better than an old one. Instead it had to fall within an acceptable margin of efficacy, which meant it could test somewhat worse and still be considered a success.

Just how much worse is OK with the FDA lies at the heart of the debate. The FDA wants the margins for these “non-inferiority trials” to be scientifically justified, and that may result in margins much tighter than before.

Whatever legal considerations may lie behind the FDA’s position, from a medical point of view its planned rules are ridiculous. To be clinically valuable, new antibiotics don’t need to be better than existing ones, just different.  Against most diseases, combinations of antibiotics are the best therapy.  Striking at a bacterium by several independent mechanisms is highly effective at impairing its activity and helping the immune system defeat it.

The fact that bacteria evolve resistance makes the need for a steady stream of new antibiotics even more critical.

Adding to the problem is that it is not feasible to organize clinical trials large enough to evaluate efficacy:

But showing one antibiotic is superior to another is hard because many antibiotics work so well, Spellberg said….

Placebo trials, in which the drug is tested against a look-alike but useless pill or injection, are also unrealistic, according to some experts. It’s nearly impossible to persuade patients with a painful sinus infection to enroll in a study with a 50 percent chance of getting a sugar pill and not a drug, they said….

Some are suggesting that for community-acquired pneumonia, antibiotics trials might require as many as 10,000 patients at a cost of about $50,000 a patient, or $500 million.

The solution is simple. Antimicrobials should be evaluated for safety only. Doctors can work out efficacy quickly through clinical experience.

Dr. David Shlaes, who worked in pharmaceutical antibiotic development for decades and is now a consultant to the industry, said it is absurd to be, in effect, questioning if antibiotics work.

“This is like asking how do I know parachutes work?… Those of us in infectious disease, we are all scratching our heads wondering: What the hell they are talking about?” said Shlaes, whose book, “Antibiotics: The Perfect Storm,” will be published this fall. “It is like proving gravity all over again.”

Soon after reading this story I learned that our next door neighbor, a 62-year-old man in seemingly fine health, died over the weekend from an MRSA infection he contracted while in the hospital for a surgical procedure. The antibiotics that might have saved him were never developed, due to clinical trial requirements that are about to become even more onerous.

“Nobody can run those trials,” said Shlaes. “[FDA administrators] live in a different world. Their world is numbers and logic. It is not patients and life.”

Dr. Shlaes is exactly right. The bureaucrats are not concerned about patients and life. They are concerned about drugs embarrassing them, as Vioxx did.

Without effective antibiotics, the whole medical system falls apart, experts say.

Yes. But when it does, how many will realize that the FDA, and the politicians who wrote their governing legislation, are to blame?

Thanks But No Thanks

“Humanity Needs to Start Farming Bugs for Food, Says United Nations Policy Paper”:

The raising of livestock consumes two-thirds of the planet’s farmland, and is a major source of greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, tons of edible, sustainable protein swarms all around us, free for the taking. In a new policy paper being considered by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Belgian entomologist Arnold van Huis makes the sensible recommendation that the western world eat more insects.

Farming edible insects like mealworms and crickets would produce far less greenhouse gas — 10 times less methane and 100 times less nitrous oxide — than the large mammals we currently farm. Insects are metabolically much more efficient, which makes them far cheaper to feed and raise; and, since they’re so biologically different from humans, they are less subject to contagious disease scares like mad cow. They are high in protein and calcium, and, with over 1,000 edible species, offer plenty of delicious variety.

Protein is 15% of energy in a healthy diet. What about the other 85%?

True, a few mealworms might make an apple more nutritious. But modern diets are deficient in saturated and monounsaturated fat, not protein.

Is inexpensive protein so dear, or an unchanged climate so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of fatty foods and health? I know not what insects the UN may eat. But as for me, give me steak, or give me fasting!