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  Thursday, April 05, 2007

Even China!

Even China, that nirvana of socialism and the birthplace of those much-romanticized (by dewy-eyed, swooning western socialist wannabees) "Barefoot Doctors", is falling into the clutches of Big Medicine, Big Pharma, and Big Costs.

This article is interesting for both what it does and doesn't say. What it does say is that costs are becoming unmanageable, and it hints at why: "Over-prescription, prompted by different economic incentives between different stakeholders in the health system, is major problem in China". What if skirts around is defining just who those "stakeholders" are that are prompting "over-prescription".

I'm going to guess that one of the major players here is Big Pharma - what do you think?

The Chinese have proven over the last century that they are just as susceptible to propaganda as any other people and they are now proving to be just as susceptible to the propaganda of Big Pharma as anyone. "A pill for every ill!" is the rallying cry of Big Pharma - we have bought into it here, they are buying into it there, and it looks like the Chinese people are following the orders of Big Pharma perfectly for it sounds like no visit to a doctor is complete without "The Prize" - that all-important Proof of Care, that symbol of Medical Value, The Prescription.

Just as doctors do in America, the Chinese doctors are taking the easy way out and simply writing prescriptions rather than practicing medicine. As long as Big Pharma can convince Chinese doctors and patients (as they have here) that a drug is "Standard of Care" for virtually any and all complaints, those prescriptions, and the money that they represent, will continue to flow like the mighty Yangtze River...

And costs will continue to soar, as will  Big Pharma profits and the corruption and greed that follows that Big Money trail... and the Chinese will wonder why they are getting sicker and needing more doctor visits and more prescriptions for more drugs...

Nurse Mark

Care providers, patients to blame for high medical costs: analyst - Yahoo! News

Care providers, patients to blame for high medical costs: analyst

Medical service providers and patients themselves are both to blame for the escalating cost of medical care in China, global reinsurer Swiss Re said Friday.

"The current medical behaviours of patients as well as that of medical service providers are inconsistent with the goal of cost-effective healthcare," Swiss Re's chief economist Clarence Wong told a press briefing.

China health ministry statistics show that from 2001 to 2004 healthcare spending grew an average of 13 percent to 759 billion yuan (98 billion dollars), with households bearing 54 percent of cost.

Over-prescription, prompted by different economic incentives between different stakeholders in the health system, is major problem in China, Wong said.

He also highlighted the potential overlap between social health insurance and commercial insurance.

"Currently, local authorities tend to offer insurance products that can be much more efficiently provided by the commercial market."

Wong also expressed concerns about the effectiveness of China's rural medical co-op plans after the government announced this week it aimed to provide 80 percent of China's 800 million farmers with coverage.

He said the key issue will be to make sure that it is cost-effective.

8:27:38 AM    

  Friday, March 09, 2007

Seems to me that ergot has been used known for a very long time... just not well identified. It is derived from a fungus that grows on grain, especially rye, and has caused out breaks of ergotism - a form of poisoning - throughout history. One of the effects of ergot is to cause vasoconstriction - a narrowing of blood vessels - which if uncontrolled, as in the case of ergot poisoning can cause tissue damage and even gangrene, is thought to be the mechanism whereby it gives relief to migraines. As with so many things in natural medicine and in "conventional" medicine (and even in everyday life!), the difference between a drug and a poison is merely the dose...

FDA Tells 20 Firms to Stop Marketing Illegal Migraine Drugs
FDA has told 20 companies to stop marketing unapproved drug products containing ergotamine tartrate. The products are used to treat vascular headaches, including migraines. The agency is concerned that the drugs have not undergone FDA review; thus the safety, effectiveness and quality of the products are unknown. The crackdown is part of the Unapproved Drugs Initiative, an agency effort to get unapproved drugs off the market.

I'm guessing that the FDA is doing this "crackdown" not so much because of the dangers of ergotamine tartrate, but because the products containing this are marketed as being for relief of migraines - and that is a direct threat to the profit profiles of  the patented drug offerings of their masters, Big Pharma. You have all surely seen the TV and magazine ads for these drugs - we have been bombarded by them of late. The FDA is simply protecting its own interests...

Anytime a natural substance is found to compete, or threaten to compete with a patent drug you can be sure that the FDA will be there to defend the interests of the Big Pharmaceutical Companies!

Nurse Mark

10:43:57 AM    

  Thursday, February 01, 2007

Cleaning Up the Gene Pool, One Idiot at a Time

What do these sorry fools think they are doing? A swig or two of hand soap because it might contain alcohol is bad enough - but what of the soap part of the concoction? I'm betting ~that's~ going to clean out the ol' alimentary tract...

Seriously, this article points out some of the folly of modern marketing which has convinced us that we need to be scrubbing our hands with toxic chemicals in order to "sterilize" them. All of the "sanitizing" that most of us need can be accomplished very nicely with simple soap, running water, and a good, brisk scrubbing, but the ad people and the marketing people have sucessfully leveraged people's fears into a major industry, aimed at putting toxic chemicals into every bathroom.

Make no mistake folks - isopropyl alcohol is not fit to drink! Nor is antifreeze, paint thinner, wood alcohol, or any of the other toxins that we occasionally hear of some denzien of the bottom of the gene pool sampling, usually with tragic results.

"Better living through chemistry"? Not! We are surrounded already by enough toxins - let's try to keep the bathroom sink a toxin-free area. Get used to the fact that your hands are ~never~ going to be sterile - clean is just fine!

Nurse Mark
P.S. Have your checked out the new Health Beat Newsletter? Honest and outspoken holistic health and medicine review---- you'll love it!

11:57:06 AM    

  Saturday, January 27, 2007

You've heard of "Duelling Banjos"? Well here is "Duelling Research"

Could this be valid research? Or is this a spin story designed to bolster the falling sales (and profits) from what were once wildly profitable drugs that were promoted for virtually every woman of late child-bearing age and beyond. The promise that these drugs, which synthesized hormones from pregnant mare's urine, would save women from all manner of illnesses and unpleasantness was dashed recently when research revealed that in many cases they actually increased the risks of cancer, heart attack and stroke. Women abandoned the drugs in droves, and profits fell - an untenable situation for Big Pharma! Well, it looks like Big Pharma has found the research that will allow it to fight back: this newest study says, in effect, "well, maybe it was because the other study included so many old women - we'll skew the numbers so that younger women (who haven't had time to develop the problems that these drugs were causing the older women) are mostly what we look at. That way we can say that these drugs really are good for "younger" women." Is it just me, or do you smell a rat too?

Let the researchers "duell" on: there is relief for women experiencing the symptoms of menopause. Bio-identical hormone replacement, carefully tailored to each woman's unique needs, will do the job safely and effectively. There is a catch though - for doctors this involves a careful workup and regular monitoring of each woman, individually. The doctor cannot just say "Hot flashes, hmm? Here - take some of these and see me again in a month!" and shuffle the poor woman out of the office with the cry of "next!" For pharmacies, this involves custom-compounding the hormones to a unique prescription written by a skilled doctor - far tougher than just counting out ready-made pills from one bottle to another. For Big Pharma it means that the huge mass-production facilities for their pregnant mare's urine pills would remain idle. These are big problems for these Big Money players, and I'm betting that you have not seen the end of this.

Looking for some of this individualized care? You can find it with Dr. Myatt and other naturopathic doctors. Feel free to explore our information on menopause and natural hormone replacement at

And join me in watching with amusement as the researchers duell on...

Nurse Mark

Hormones safer for younger women, experts advise - Yahoo! News

By the way, have you signed up for the "New" HealthBeat newsletter? Delivered weekly, it will keep you "in the know." It's free but priceless. Go here now to sign up:

10:03:03 AM    

  Monday, January 22, 2007

A "Stinging" Rebuke to Western Medicine?

It seems that the "old ways" - Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM are under attack, even in China - where their system of socialized medicine is having trouble being all things to all people. As "Western Medicine" with it's high-tech, Big Science / Big Pharma / Big Money answers to every problem infiltrates the Chinese health care system it looks like it is pricing good health care out of the reach of many people, just as it has here in the Good Ol' U.S. of A. The propaganda machinery of Big Medicine and Big Pharma is as effective there as it has been here in convincing people that if a cure does not come from some cold, sterile, impersonal laboratory, delivered by white-coated scientists on an expensive platter of "government approval" it must be worthless, or ineffective, or even dangerous (at the very least dangerous to profits for Big Pharma...) and must be spurned - and of course  people must be "protected" from it. Those who bleat their warnings about the "dangers" of these "unscientific" and "unproven" traditional remedies trot out all the usual medical bogey-men as they sing their siren song of technology: "you might be allergic!", "your blood pressure might drop!", "you might have cold sweats!" - all the while forgetting that their revered chemical offerings of Big Pharma may do all those things (and worse!) as well... but at least they do it with government approval!

The Chinese government has been trying to fight a rear-guard action on behalf of their people, funding studies and attempting to promote the traditional ways, but it appears that the unholy trinity of Big Science / Big Pharma / Big Money may be an irresistible force, even in China. Interestingly, the same propaganda techniques are being used there as here - academics, scientists, legislators; all the very people who have access to and can afford to travel in the circles of power, prestige and influence that the Big Pharmacy Companies provide are the people who are calling for an end to the recognition of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Efforts to maintain a place for TCM in China's health care system are most likely doomed in the face of such high-powered and high-priced opposition, just as they appear to be here.

We are likely to see some interesting "discussion" over the next two years, as our presidential hopefuls in this country will all roll out their versions of some sort of "Universal health care plan". Hilary Clinton, darling of the Democrats and demon to the Republicans, has repeatedly stated her intention to create a national socialized medical system. President George Bush has just announced his version of government-supported health care with promises of tax breaks for purchasers of health insurance. Every other candidate who has tossed a hat into the ring has made sure that the term "Affordable Health Care" is used early and often in their promotional materials. But what will that mean?

Who will decide what is to be considered "Health Care"? Currently, Big Pharma, through their lapdogs the FDA, seems to be in control: if something doesn't meet their definition of "scientific" and "effective" (read: 'patentable' and 'profitable') then it is highly unlikely to be considered to be "Standard of Care" for your doctor. If your doctor does something, uses some technique or treatment that is not considered "Standard of Care" he or she can find themselves in very hot water indeed, even when the treatment works and the patient is happy. Not that your doctor is likely to ever even hear about alternative treatments other than by accident - the Drug Company "Reps" (salespeople) make sure that your doctor only ever hears about the latest, greatest (most expensive) drugs that form "Standard of Care"... So it's a pretty safe bet that over the next couple of years the arguments over how to provide "Affordable Health Care" will center around what drugs and high-tech diagnostics and surgeries will be paid for by which new bureauocracy - not whether improved nutrition or nutritional supplements or natural medicines or massage or acupuncture or other therapies will be allowed to be a part of America's medical tool kit.

Even more worrisome than the marginalizing of natural and alternative health care through their exclusion from government-sanctioned and funded programs is the fact that as they are excluded, and as people insist upon seeking them out and using them nevertheless, the unholy trinity of Big Science / Big Pharma / Big Money uses that marginalization as proof of their unworthiness and even "danger" and calls for the banning of these alternatives.

You may be certain that Bee Venom Therapy, delivered in the traditional fashion described in this article, will not make the "approved" list - but you can also be just as sure that as soon as the Big Drug Companies figure out how to synthesize it in the lab, and patent it, and provide a high-tech delivery system with a goodly profit margin it will become "Standard of Care", just as lowly fish oil for cardiac patients has recently become the latest expensive "Standard of Care" with prices for prescription bottles of the stuff running over $200 - ten times what it should cost!

Here's hoping that the American people get the "point" and don't get "stung" with an expensive bureaucratic nightmare of an "affordable health care system" that denies access to anything other than the offerings of Big Pharma and Big Medicine...

Nurse Mark


Ancient medicine all the buzz in modern China

Sun Jan 21, 11:25 PM ET

With doctors urging amputation to stop the gangrene spreading upwards from his toes, Liu Guorong was skeptical when a friend said bee venom might save his foot.

"I was doubting this place," the 58-year-old diabetes sufferer said in a raspy voice during a visit to the Xizhihe Traditional Medicine Hospital on the outskirts of Beijing.

"When I got here, I had no idea what I was doing and what the bee sting treatment was all about."

As Liu found out, it was painful.

Bees were placed on his foot and provoked to sting him in a bid to rejuvenate the blackened, rotting flesh by flooding it with a rush of protein-rich blood.

A folk remedy for treating arthritis, back pain and rheumatism for 3,000 years in China, practitioners say that such pinpointed stings can repair damaged cells, stave off bacteria and ease inflammation.

Doctors at Xizhihe hospital believe they can even cure liver ailments, diabetes and cancers.

They admit, however, that they do not really know how it works.

"Our knowledge has increased over the years," said Xu Xiaowang, Xizhihe hospital director.

"But there are still large areas that are unknown to us all... There are too many unanswered questions," Xu said.

Western-trained doctors dismiss the treatment as unscientific and dangerous.

"It's alternative medicine and has no basis in western medical science... I would doubt its efficacy," Professor Christopher Lam, a chemical pathologist at the Chinese University in Hong Kong said.

"People allergic to bee stings can develop hypersensitivity reactions like a sudden drop in blood pressure, swelling of the airways, cold sweats... it may be life threatening," Lam said.

Hazy science notwithstanding, at 20 yuan (about $2.50) a sting, the treatment offers a cheap alternative to mainstream medicine.

"Doctors at other hospitals were telling me that they needed to cut my foot off," Liu said. "I'd spent loads of money."

Liu has been to Xizhihe several times to get stung and is now on a course of orally-taken bee venom medication. He now expects to keep his foot.

"The flesh is growing back ... I'm feeling better," Liu said.


Bee venom is just one of an exhaustive catalog of ancient folk remedies involving bugs, herbs, animal parts and massage that make up traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

Incorporating elements of mysticism and based on a philosophy developed several thousand years ago, TCM is regarded as an alternative medicine in the West, but in China it remains a central plank of modern health care.

About 3,000 private clinics provided TCM treatments to more than 230 million people in 2005. Health officials say it generated 95 billion yuan that year -- more than a quarter of the medical industry's total income -- and revenues have grown an average 20 percent a year over the past decade.

The government, sensing an export-driven cash cow, plowed 740 million yuan into research and development last year in a bid to bolster TCM's scientific credibility and standing in Western markets where alternative remedies are increasingly welcomed.

And yet, domestically, TCM is in free-fall.

Once the only player in the market, economic reforms have ushered in foreign drugs and foreign-trained doctors, forcing a showdown between modern Western practices and ancient Eastern pragmatism.

Between 2000-2004, TCM's share of prescription drug income declined by nearly a quarter, state media reported.

Increasingly spurned by China's time-poor youth, TCM is also under siege from academics who deem it unscientific and of dubious medical benefit.

Zhang Gongyao, a scientist at Central South University in Changsha, capital of China's central Hunan province, created a media storm in October after he posted an essay on his personal blog urging the government to strike TCM from the official medical registry.


Western medicine, however, let alone basic health care, is a luxury many of the country's 1.3 billion people cannot afford.

Fees at state-run hospitals, robbed of funding after deregulation in the 1990s, have soared in recent years, while individual spending on health care nearly doubled from 1978 to 2002, according to health ministry statistics.

Beijing has pledged to spend more on basic health services, but expensive public health care ensures a steady stream of customers to small, private clinics like Xizhihe -- where relief may be as cheap as a few beestings.

Lu Jiumei, a middle-aged woman with rheumatism, made the three-hour journey to Xizhihe from her home-town in Hebei province to get bee venom therapy.

"I don't think this could be harmful to the body in terms of side effects. I have been treated a few times now," she said.

She grimaced as an angry bee deposited its salutary sting into her leg. But a few moments later, a smile broke out on her face.

"My pain is relieved a lot and it's going away," she said, patting a freshly swollen mound on her thigh.

1:41:01 PM    

  Monday, January 08, 2007

From the "It's about time" file...

Strengthened Safety Labeling Proposed for OTC Pain Relievers
FDA is proposing labeling changes for a variety of over-the-counter pain relievers that include safety information on the potential for stomach bleeding and liver damage, as well as when to contact a doctor. Some manufacturers have already voluntarily added the safety information to their products.

"It's about time..." that the FDA requires stronger warnings on these dangerous drugs. For too long the Big Pharmaceutical Companies have been allowed to promote the use of these potent chemical concoctions as if they were candy. Got a little ache or pain, pop a few Aspirin, or Advil, or Tylenol. Got a little tummy upset? Pop a few "antacids" or even "The Little Purple Pill." Got a headache? You guessed it: pop some more of those liver-toxic Tylenols... Got joint pain? Well! Try a few of our Vioxx pills! Oops,  sorry, I guess you can't get those any more - they killed too many people...

These are not minor or inconsequential drugs, though the Drug Companies like to walk a fine line between promoting them as being "Strong Pain Relief" and being safe and appropriate for frequent, liberal (even indiscriminate!) use - as in "don't feel quite right? Pop a couple of these and you'll surely feel better..."

Here's a better idea: stop using these toxic offerings. Try some natural alternatives.

Bromelain, a natural extract from the pineapple plant, is an outstanding, safe, effective antiinflammatory that will reduce swelling and inflammation and help to relieve the discomfort associated with those things. If taken with meals it will aid digestion, helping to make those antacids and purple pills unnecessary. It has been heavily studied since the 1950's - why is it not better known and used? Because the Big Drug Companies haven't figured out how to patent this natural substance and make huge, obscene profits from it! (How would one go about "patenting" a pineapple?!?)

For those with arthritic complaints needing some more potent help, our
Cox-2 Support is both effective and safe - it was formulated to support the body's ability to deal with the effects of inflammation, and to also naturally block the cyclo-oxygenase enzymes that are found in excessive amounts at the sites of inflammation, and to do this in a manner that does not carry with it the risks of heart attack, stoke, kidney failure and other deadly side effects of the once-popular (and profitable) Celebrex, Vioxx, and Bextra drugs carried.

Finally, here is the mandated label warning information for this article:

Warning: Consuming the information provided above may carry a risk of reduced side-effects, increased knowledge, improved health and well-being, and the potential for enhanced common-sense. Use at your own risk. These statements have not been evaluated by or blessed by the FDA, The Big Drug Companies, or Big Medicine and are not intended to treat or cure any disease or condition. These statements could possibly result in a loss of profits to the FDA, The Big Drug Companies, and to Big Medicine and must be used with this in mind. These statements contain no appreciable amounts of calories, carbohydrates, or cholesterol and are certified to be free of trans-fats.

Happy to provide a little levity and humor to your day,

Nurse Mark

9:31:01 AM    

  Friday, December 29, 2006

Study: Many kids too fat by preschool - Yahoo! News

The "Duh!" factor - hard at work!

There is no doubt that small kids are getting fatter, younger. Just look around yourself in any supermarket - you'll see fat kids, usually with fat parents, and usually with a shopping cart full of soda pops, gallons o' fruit juices, tubs o' ice creams, econo-bags o' sugar pops cereals, all manner of breads, tortillas, pizzas, 'tater-tots and other assorted carbohydrates. And that's just the day-to-day staples - then there are the "treats": pop-tarts for breakfast (or frozen waffles and sugar syrup), donuts for a morning snack, frozen mini-pizza for the after-school snack, and Ding-Dongs or Twinkies for evening snack with TV... these poor kids don't have a chance!

But that's just my own personal rant - here's the best, most astounding revelation from this whole article, given to us by a doctor, a pediatrician, and professor emeritus (that's edu-speak for really, really big hubba-hubba smart person): "one of the most common causes of overweight in children is overfeeding". Yikes doc, I'd have never guessed! Overfeeding causes obesity - what a concept!

Here's another concept: maybe it is about time we stopped slavishly following our much bally-hoo'd "Food Pyramid" which insists on a high carbohydrate, low fat diet heavy on breads grains and starches, and get back to something healthier, with some protein, and start supplementing our kids and adults with good optimal dose multivitamins to make up the nutritional deficiencies of our modern foods.

Oh, and then we might "just say no" to the demands of the little ones for all that sugary sweet junk, greasy fried potatoes, and other hi-carb treats the same way we would "just say no" if they demanded cocaine...

Just a thought...

Nurse Mark

9:45:33 AM    

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