My theme for this week is inherent bias – that voice within, that if left unchallenged, will serve only to defend our current belief system, and given that its Martin Luther King Day, there’s no better time than now to listen to an audio reading of a letter he wrote while being held in Birmingham jail. Many of the points raised in this letter are timeless and can help all of us to challenge our inherent bias.
The voice within, which will bring you into linearity with the progressing connection culture, is the voice of understanding.
This understanding arises when opinion is held off, for just a little while longer.
If holding off on judgement is not something you are interested in doing for moral advancement, then do it for professionalism.
A professional does not engage. I professional collects data and takes action that is most effective in accomplishing the means desired. The professional sees no advantage in venting the byproducts of emotional response, unless it’s seen fit.
While reading a New York Times article on why women often stay more quite at work, I was reminded about a construct which exists in all of us.
Inherent bias: It’s the reason more black officers are shot by other officers while undercover than white officers. It’s the reason women’s opinions and observation are often less heard and valued than men.
Oppression of others does not have to be overt.
One of the solutions is mindfulness. Without meditation and mindfulness we have a high risk of falling into reaction and of never fully turning the gaze of our awareness onto our own reality.
It takes a calm mind, which has the ability to sit through emotional fluctuations, to see truth in a situation.
In life, those who observe longest without falling into opinion acquire the most understanding.
The second we attain an opinion our judgement is immediately biased. Especially if we are sure that we have come to the correct conclusion.
Hold off just a little bit longer – just as a matter of professionalism. See what you might hear.
Inherent bias is the enemy. It clouds our vision. It takes our edge. Our emotions can become strings, which allow us to be played like an instrument by those who know the chords.
Seek truth or allow yourself to be the defender of someone else’s story.
Fluoridation of public water supplies is a topic which I notice arise quite often in my circle, which mostly includes groups and individuals that I would loosely describe as naturalists, or, depending on the individual or occasion, activists, liberals, non-conventionalist, hippies, and/or conspiracy theorists. In this mixed group of non-conventionally opinioned folk I have heard many arguments against the addition of fluoride to drinking water by public utilities. But, there is also the conflicting opinion which is held by the large group of regulatory agencies and supporting bodies that not only say it’s safe, but say it’s beneficial for cavity prevention. This is demonstrated by the fact that, as reported by the Center for Disease Control, 74.6% of the U.S. population was receiving fluoridated water from their public utility in 2012 (CDC statistics page). So, what supports these two conflicting viewpoints?
It’s quite possible that many people aren’t aware that fluoride is added by most public utilities, often by law, to public water supplies. The reason given is that certain levels of daily fluoride intake have been shown to be beneficial in preventing tooth decay and cavities, so in turn, most cities have chosen to put it into the water supply to aid in this cause.
So, here’s the debate. Fluoride is considered to be a toxic chemical, but, like all toxic chemicals, toxicity is determined by dose. So, let’s look at the doses. The CDC recommends fluoridation at a level of 0.7–1.2 mg/L, so let’s use the top end to be safe, 1.2 mg/L. A terminal dose of fluoride is estimated to be from 32 – 64 mg/kg of body weight, so, once again, to be safe, let’s use the lower end, 32 mg/kg of body weight. This would mean that a 50 lb child would have to drink at least 480 L (127 gal.) of fluoridated water, in one sitting, to die. So, obviously nobody is going to drink a terminal dose of “optimally” fluoridated water, so that’s not our concern here. The main concern of fluoridation opponents is the long-term, low-dose ingestion of fluoride over time.
Fluoride is a compound that naturally exists in many water supplies throughout the world, and, depending on the level, can cause major human health concerns. Sever cases can be found in African, eastern, and middle eastern countries, and is seen as a major water sanitation and health issue by the World health Organization (World Health Organization).
The pictures shown above are sever examples of long-term, high-dose exposure to fluoride, possibly coupled with nutrient intake issues. Some water supplies studied have fluoride content levels over 9 mg/L, over seven times the CDC’s recommended levels.
Bone development issues and tooth enamel dotting and discoloration are well known symptoms of chronic high dose fluoride intake, but these are rarely the points that I have encountered through discussion with fluoridation opponents. The main point that have been brought up to me are the potentially adverse neurological and cognitive effects which may be caused by fluoride.
There has been activism and controversy since the original introduction of fluoride into water supplies beginning in 1945 that fluoride can cause decreases in cognitive development and functioning. This concern was elevated when the Harvard School of Public Health performed a study in which they state that they, “found strong indications that fluoride may adversely affect cognitive development in children” (Harvard Study). However, a study was done a few years later, by University of Otago, New Zealand’s oldest university, in which they claimed to have far exceeded the scientific rigors of the Harvard study, and concluded that, “Our analysis showed no significant differences in IQ by fluoride exposure” (Otago study).
It is very much worth noting that the Harvard research involved reviewing former studies, mostly from China, where risks from fluoride are well established, so the availability of information on other possible contributing factors to IQ levels of test population was inherently limited. The Otago study on the other hand pulled from comprehensive data on a relatively controlled population of people within the city where the university is located. In the Otago study they were able to account for socioeconomic position, education of father, whether the subjects were breast fed, and any number of other possible contributing factors. The other major difference in the two studies were the levels of fluoride to which the subjects were exposed. The Harvard study focused on much higher dose exposure than the Otago study.
So, where are we at? Well, it seems that, at higher than recommended doses, according to Harvard study, there seems to be an inverse correlation between fluoride intake and IQ, though subject IQ also could have been effected by other socioeconomic issues and possible exposure of other toxins. It also seems that, from the Otago study, using more precise information, there seems to be no significant correlation between IQ and long-term, low-dose fluoride ingestion.
So now what? Well, there were also some other studies done which I found through the the Official Website of the European Union, here in section 3.4 of their informational page on fluoridation. I won’t go through all the studies individually, but the high points were two cited studies that surveyed across a range of long term fluoride exposure levels and were adjusted for relevant confounding variables. Both of these studies showed significant correlation between fluoride intake and IQ with high-dose intake.
From these studies, I see reasonable cause for concern about long-term ingestion of fluoride in moderate to high doses. For me, it is worth noting, that IQ was the only test measure used in these studies, which it may have some effect on, depending on dose. This leads me to wonder what effects it may have on other, untested, cognitive function (intuition, motor skills, sense of well-being, social sense, etc) or any other subtle ways in which we interact with our surroundings.
Let’s get to a conclusion here. So, will I drink the fluoridated water here in Orlando, FL? If I’m thirsty enough, yeah, sure. Will I keep a jug of non-fluoridated water with me so I don’t have to make a habit of it? Yes, I will likely continue to do that, but keep in mind, I drink herbal infusions daily, eat nutrient dense superfoods, spend a half hour a day meditating, grow my own food, and the list goes on. Is any of this stuff necessary? Nope. I’ve seen people survive on McDonald’s value meals. The body is a badass – it can make do. I mean, depending on what you choose to do with your life, a little lowered cognitive function might help you get along with your boss better. For me though, I have to be at peak cognitive performance to keep up with the rockstars, so it’s not worth the risk, and that crap tastes like chlorine anyway. Peace out!!!
It’s been a few weeks since the beginning of my dad’s holistic treatment with Doctor Mueller at Whole Family Healthcare. We don’t have much in the way of test results yet, but according to my dad the size of the tumor on his neck has significantly decreased.
My dad, Gary, has also confirmed that his cancer team at MD Anderson, although they are highly skeptical, is willing to monitor his condition while he tries an alternative approach. They will be administering follow-up tests in two months or so to see if the cancer is growing, shrinking, or staying the same.
So, basically in this post I’m going to talk about the exact supplements and practices Gary has been using to battle the stage 4 Squamous cell viral born carcinoma in his tonsils and neck lymph nodes.
The basic aims of the holistic treatment is to boost the body’s natural immune system, flush his liver of accumulated toxins, starve the cancer by limiting carcinogens and sugar, and introduce agents into the body that will combat the cancer directly.
To boost the immune system Gary has been taking:
Twice a week intravenous injections of Curcumin, an anti-inflammatory and natural immune system booster. Curcumin is an extract of Tumeric, one of the highly esteemed roots in the herbal community.
Beta Carotene supplements
Cruciferous vegetable extract (Cruciferous vegetables are vegetables from the family Brassicaceae. These include kale, cabbage, broccoli, cabbage, bak choy, collards, etc.)
Heavy intake of vegetable juices
To directly combat cancer cell multiplication Gary has been taking:
There is a lot to be considered when choosing between holistic and/or traditional treatment of cancer, and some of the largest considerations are who and what to trust, and whether or not one is willing or capable of mustering the personal conviction and discipline necessary to dedicate themselves to the regiment required for a holistic approach to fighting cancer.
The cancer my dad was diagnosed with has an 80% survival rate after five years, but when considering treatment options, the standard five year survival statistic is only a piece of the full picture. Other things to consider are the remission rates after five years, the ten year survival statistics, and the rates associated with life altering side effects of radiation treatment. Serious long-term consequences can be likely, depending on location of the cancer and intensity of the administered radiation. The holistic doctor, Dr. Jeffrey Meuller, MD, told us that serious radiation side effects for this area of the body are almost across the board, and that cancer doctors can tend to avoid talking about serious treatment side effects unless directly pressed by the patient. Confirmation of the prevalence of these side effects was also witnessed by my father when he met multiple patients in the waiting room, and all of them were dealing with serious repercussions from their upper neck and head radiation treatment, and most of them said that the effects came years after their final treatment. Their conditions ranged from permanent loss of voice, to permanent feeding tubes, to blindness. These cases are far from a comprehensive survey, but at the very least it was a call to consider future “quality of life” aspects when deciding on treatment options.
As far as holistic treatments, I feel that we have been very lucky in finding good sources of information, which have served to give us hope and assurance rather than causing us to be overwhelmed with having to sift through loads of information on the internet which may or may not be dependable.
Our information came from two main sources. First, I met a friend of a friend in Gainesville who had a father that is currently treating cancer patients in Canada using a medical marijuana salve concoction, and they are supposedly having good success with the treatment. This new friend gave me his father’s number, and when I contacted him, he was kind enough to give me the recipe for the salve.
In addition to this treatment, I also was able to contact a friend I have known for over five years who is an MD that switched to holistic treatment practices after years of practicing traditional medicine. Upon calling him I found out that he specializes in holistic cancer treatment and he is currently working with other doctors in developing an education curriculum to help educate other doctors on holistic cancer treatments. We immediately scheduled an appointment with Dr. Jeffrey Mueller, MD, at his office, Whole Family Healthcare, in Winter Park, Florida.
At the appointment we talked about the treatment plan Dr. Mueller offered and how it works in relation to, and/or in conjunction with conventional treatment. He also informed us that due to the lack of formal widespread use of his methods it was not possible to give statistics on expected treatment outcomes, but that the goal of the treatment was to offer an improved quality of life whether or not the cancer goes away, though the treatment is at least supposed to halt the spreading of the cancer, therefore eliminating the negative symptoms which would be expected if the cancer were to continue spreading.
Many of you may know that my cross-country trip was cut short a couple weeks ago with the news that my dad was diagnosed with cancer of his tonsils and the lymph nodes in his neck. What I want to do here is document his progress and talk about the tough decisions we are, and will be, making regarding holistic versus traditional treatment.
The final prognosis was stage 4a, poorly-differentiated squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx, which has spread from its initial location in the tonsils to the lymph nodes in his neck. Prognosis and treatment recommendations were given by the UF Health Cancer Center at Orlando Health, at MD Anderson Cancer Center. His particular type of cancer was given an 80% survival rate after 5 years.
Recommended treatment from the MD Anderson team consists of seven weeks of radiation five times/week in conjunction with three separated chemotherapy treatments in this period.
The largest downside of this treatment is the likelihood of significant, and life altering, side effects from intensive radiation. A few of the side effects include needing a temporary or permanent feeding tube, loss of teeth, hospital born infection, loss of hearing, loss of vision, damage to larynx and/or voice box, damage to salivatory glands and/or processes, damage to jawbone, and on and on and on. These potential serious side effects go on for nearly three pages and each carry their own relatively significant likelihood. The likelihood of these side effects and subsequent long term decline of quality of life are the main factors deterring my dad from choosing this conventional treatment. The decision to decline this treatment has not been completely made at this point, but he has decided to hold off on the treatment and simply have his condition monitored while working to fight the cancer’s progress using a holistic treatment approach. I will go into the details of his alternative treatment in subsequent posts.
This past weekend I was allowed the opportunity to spend two days at the beautiful homestead and organic bamboo farm of Shanti Pierce, a central Florida mother, active member of the community, and owner operator of Bamboo Leaf Tea company.
Walking through the front door of Shanti’s naturally lit and open spaced home, I was immediately welcomed by the creative character and simple design of the space. Following immediately was the warm smell of Chaga, Bamboo, and Chai tea cooking on the heavily structured, cast iron stove top. My first perception was the warmth and groundednss of the home – a generous pile of Chaga mushrooms, a bowl of freshly made kale chips, a plate of cocao, and some freshly sliced oranges sat on the steel framed, dark stone countertop. There was an honesty and a congruence that existed in the interplay between life, land, and belief here – home, farm, food, friends, and business were all confirmations of one another.
Please join me for my unique interview with Shanti on the value of bamboo.