Prof. Keith Scott-Mumby's Total Health Newsletter #60. Week ending Aug 8th, 2010
Please feel free to forward this to friends who might be interested in reading it.
- Where Did We Come From?
- Who Likes Artichokes?
- Cholesterol is GOOD
- A Bit Of Quick Hummingbird Healing!
- Calcium Supplementation Causes Heart Attack
- What's In A Word? Unusually long and informative this week!
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This Week's Quote:
"It's not always rainbows and butterflies; it's compromise that moves us along..."
--Maroon Five, pop group (song: She Will Be Loved)
1. Where Did We Come From?
Vivien likes to ask me to cover special topics and this is for her. As I type, she's still in the UK, off to see her Mum who is 80 years old this month.
I promised Viv I would write about consciousness and our origins. It relates to material in my book "To Fly Without Wings" and the new, expanded edition which will eventually be published.
Well, is consciousness a medical topic? Unconsciousness certainly is! So why not consciousness?
It's one of the hardest topics to speak to, in all creation. Like a knife that cannot cut itself, consciousness may not be able to explain itself. Self-awareness is something we all have in common. But if you think about it for just a few moments, you'll realize we don't even know that we have that in common. I'm self aware. But how do I know you're self aware?
I don't; and that, to philosophers, is called the "zombie problem". How do we truly determine if another individual is conscious and sentient in the sense we ourselves feel it? If you come up with a quick answer, you haven't understood the question properly!
Consciousness does not reveal itself in behavior: behavior is just activity, sometimes patterned, sometimes not. A flag blowing in the wind exhibits "behavior" in the ordinary sense. We communicate; but an unconscious automaton can communicate (like a telepone answering machine). We have self-regulated activity that looks determined. None of these signs indicate consciousness is present. Robots, for example, show self-regulated, determined movement and activity AND they can communicate. But robots are not conscous; not the ones we have at present, anyway.
Even tougher than the "zombie" problem of consciousness it what's called the "hard problem" of consciousness. Simply put, it's the question: What does consciousness mean or what is consciousness, exactly? In more detail, the problem might be phrased: why does awareness of sensory information exist at all?
Now me, true to my enquiring style, would rather ask a different question: not "What is conscousness?" but "What is conscious?" In other words: what is aware?
From my own perspective I'm not a zombie and I know I am aware and I am aware of being aware. I'm here! It's a bit deeper on down than Descartes' cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I am). I could be a computer and "think" but not know I was here.
But how did I get here? Don't just say God put me here because I'll just answer back: OK, where did God come from? The question I want answering is how did consciousness arise in me? What is awareness coupled with self awareness, exactly? It's just the same problem, in the same degree, as "How can a knife cut itself".
Almost always, boffins miss the point completely and answer this with some comment about perceptions. If it was just about perception, it would I suppose be simple. We perceive, therefore we are aware.
That's wrong. We can perceive without any awareness. A thermostat perceives (temperature) without knowing it's perceiving. A fish perceives other fish in the water*. A zombie perceives without knowing it's perceiving. Now do you see why philosophers use the zombie concept for thought experiments? A hypothetical zombie means a functioning entity that perceives but does not know it's there, doing the perceiving.
Then it's back to the hard question: what does it really mean, to be awake, to be aware, to be aware of being aware?
The psychologists are helpless at this. All they study is perceptions, not consciousness at all. Daniel Dennet's arrogantly titled book Consciousness Explained actually explains nothing at all. It doesn't even address my question of what is it that is aware? He just writes about perceptions, as if perceiving things makes you conscious! (if that was the case, an x-ray machine is conscious, because it perceives things! An MRI scan actually perceives a complex, moving 3-D world, just like we do. But it still isn't self-aware).
Next week I'm going to tackle a definition of consciousness, in the form of spirit, that is based in (or reflects) our everyday understanding of physics and reality. Wish me luck!
* If fish should be aware and speak to God, that would invalidate this sentence, but not the rest of the argument.
2. Who Likes Artichokes?
If you like artichokes, you are in luck. As I wrote in my new eBook (Love Your Liver), globe artichoke (Cynoma scolymus) is a really good liver support plant, right up there with milk thistle and schisandra! In fact, globe artichoke is a kind of thistle. Don't mix this up with the jerusalem artichoke, which is the tuber of a sunflower-type plant.
European doctors have been using artichokes to treat jaundice and other liver complaints since as far back as the eighteenth century. Artichokes protect the liver from damage and even help it regenerate.
It was not until the 1930s that German and French researchers began to study artichokes in their laboratories. Later, Italian researchers joined them to produce a substantial amount of research. It is reported to stimulate bile secretion, act as a diuretic, antidyspeptic, lipid-lowering, and antioxidant in human studies.
Cynarin, luteolin, cynardoside (luteolin-7-O-glycoside), scolymoside, and chlorogenic acid are believed to be artichoke's active constituents. The most studied component, cynarin, is concentrated in the leaves.
In one study, dozens of Polish workers who were exposed to the toxic chemical fumes of carbon disulfide were given an artichoke extract for two years, which protected them from damage, according to their blood work. The results of this study were presented in 1960 at the Symposium on Drugs Affecting Lipid Metabolism in Milan, Italy.
I found a study on PubMed that said the same thing: [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8524739].
In this toxic world, it's nice to know there are vegetables which specifically protect our beleaguered livers. You can find out other ways to help your liver help you by getting this eBook:
Love Your Liver
I don't have recipes for globe artichoke, unfortunately. All we do in our house is cook 'em in water and serve with butter and sea salt! Too bad they are so fiddly to eat.
Artichoke hearts are probably easier to serve. Check out this comprehensive artichoke salad from the BBC:
3. Cholesterol Is GOOD
We are all taught to fear cholesterol. Any cholesterol is bad, right?
Well, did you know cholesterol is a good free-radical scavenger (antioxidant)? Probably not. In fact cholesterol is an extremely abundant substance, widely distributed throughout the body of a healthy person. Doesn't that alone make you suspect the drug industry story? Why would Nature put all the stuff there if it was bad? Sorry: I'm not buying it.
Cholesterol has a purpose. It is GOOD for us. Cholesterol is the precursor to lots of good hormones; the steroid group, including testosterone, estrogen and cortisol. Too much cortisol is bad for us but no cortisol, you die.
Cholesterol is needed for bile secretion; that aids digestion and is also a very crucial detox pathway for heavy metals.
It's an important "lipid" molecule that shows up in cell walls and membranes.
Cholesterol is part of neuron cells in the brain, forming the insulating myelin sheath. Without it, our brains would not be able to transmit electrical signals. In fact brain cholesterol is not removed from the brain by metabolism, so the amount and condition of brain cholesterol is a good marker for free-radical damage.
Never mind the "good" and "bad" cholesterol. It's all good! It's just the proportions that matter. LDL isn't "bad", it's just we don't need too much: HDL isn't "good", it's just that more seems better and it's not healthy to have below a certain level.
Yet everyone is taught that LDL cholesterol is bad and we must lower it at all costs. That's not what science really shows, actually. With the release of ENHANCE in 2008, a study showing that reductions in LDL cholesterol did not translate into improvements in atherosclerosis as measured by carotid IMT, it's time we let go of the "bad" LDL theory. Dr Rodney Hayward (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), has stated categorically that the "current evidence supports ignoring LDL cholesterol altogether".
Of course the die-hards will go on mouthing the old myths for many years to come, attacking anyone who steps out of line.
What we do need to be concerned about is that oxidized cholesterol, especially the LDL faction, is quite toxic and pro-imflammatory. Only oxidized cholesterol is dangerous. You can have LOTS of cholesterol safely, if it is "pure". What we have to do is clean up our diet and lifestyle and get the protection of real anti-oxidants to stop from damaging cholesterol. Protect your cholesterol: it's precious!
A Bit Of Quick Hummingbird Healing!
Hey, I fix stuff!
A few days ago, at a friend's house in San Diego, I came across a tiny humming bird lying stunned and cold on the concrete at the poolside. I think it had flown into the glass wall that marks the property boundary and knocked itself out. Birds often die of the shock of sudden impact with glass.
Thinking of my wife Vivien, who adores hummingbirds, I swept it up into my hands and held it, feeding it my energies till it came round. It was unmoving and close to death at first but after about 5 minutes began to open its tiny eyes (no bigger than pin heads).
It was a Costa's hummingbird female, very tiny (under 4 inches in length).
After about 15 minutes she fluttered her wings. She seemed conscious enough to swallow and, after a drop of sugar water, she fluttered off. I just wish Viv had been there!
Yes, I can see I need a shave. I just grabbed the moment!
5. Calcium Supplementation Causes Heart Attack
Another “I told ‘em!” [for new subscribers, that's a term I use for things I was writing and teaching over 20 years ago!]
Getting it wrong all the way down, as usual, conventional doctors are teaching unsuspecting women they can strengthen their bones by taking calcium supplements. Well, after all, osteoporosis is caused by lack of calcium, isn’t it?
It’s a whole body nutritional disease and magnesium is the main deficiency. As I have written in my last 3 books and all over my websites, calcium is not the answer. If it was, answer me this:
Why is it that in China women never get osteoporosis, and they don’t include dairy products in their diet; yet American women, with the highest intake of dairy products in the world, also have the highest incidence of osteoporosis?
It doesn’t make sense, if calcium was the problem it should be the other way round.
Did you know that, in fact, more women die of fracture of the femur in the US than die of breast cancer?
Yet all you hear is “take calcium supplements”. “Take Fosamax,” and all the other deadly bisphosphonate junk.
Calcium is the last thing we need, as I keep saying. Calcium is aging! Calcium deposits mean decay!
Calcium deposits in your coronary arteries is the number one marker we have for risk of heart attack! Calcium deposits in the joints means arthritis! Calcium deposits in the brain mean senility. Hardening of the arteries is lethal and needs to be reversed.
Calcium won’t go into bones selectively; we get it everywhere. The whole thing is preposterously stupid—but it lives on in the mythology called orthodox medicine.
Now a new paper has backed up everything I’ve been saying for over two decades: calcium supplements are bad news.
An analysis of close to a dozen clinical trials involving about 12,000 patients found calcium supplementation to be associated with a 20% to 30% increase in heart attack risk (but not deaths or strokes). Duh!
The study appears today in the journal BMJ Online First [Bolland, M.J. BMJ Online First, July 30, 2010].
In an editorial published with the study, the researchers write that calcium supplements alone do not prevent fractures and may even slightly increase fracture risk. Duh!
6. What's In A Word?
Somebody mis-used the word illustrious a couple of days ago.
It actually means famous; well known and very distinguished; eminent. There is an older (obsolete) meaning, which I think is rather pretty: shining brightly.
It's from the Latin illustris, from illustrare, to give glory to, shine upon. You will readily see the connection with our word illustrate, which originally meant to shine upon or illuminate, in the way giving an example (or an illustration) will clarify things.
The British Navy has had five ships of that name. The first HMS Illustrious (1789) had two engagements against the French Navy in the Napoleonic Wars.
The second HMS Illustrious was launched at Rotherhithe in 1803. Though she did not serve in the historic Battle of Trafalgar her career was very successful.
The third HMS Illustrious (1896) was a Majestic-class pre-dreadnought, launched in 1896 and scrapped in 1920. She had 12" guns.
The fourth HMS Illustrious an aircraft carrier commissioned in 1940. In the same year she became the first carrier ever to strike against an enemy fleet (before Pearl Harbor), and was in service until 1954.
The fifth HMS Illustrious is an Invincible class aircraft carrier launched in 1981 and is on active service as of 2010. The Ship’s motto, “Vox Non Incerta”, comes from a quote in the Bible, specifically Corinthians I, Ch.14 v.8, which reads: "For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?" The motto then, means “No Uncertain Voice”, and suits Illustrious extremely well.
*HMS stands for His Majesty's Ship or Her Majesty's Ship for a queen.
So, that's all for this week!
Be well; find the sacred in all you do, otherwise don't do it!
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