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Taboo, refers to a cultural prohibition, usually based on fear, and more closely related to religion than science. The word comes to us by way of Tonga, where it was directly connected to the gods and their supernatural powers. Our advanced society has endowed certain foods and herbs with fear and treated them as taboos. Eggs, liver, butter, cream—these have been demonized by the cholesterol gods. False gods, such as margarine and hydrogenated oils, have been worshiped in their place. The health of Western Civilization has suffered as a result. The real health gods have not been happy and there have been deaths, many deaths, as a result of our foolish worship at the deceptive altar of epidemiology. Statistical observations, even when "significant" do not equate to physiological truths.

Tea is in the news today because of a research report that experimental cancer was reduced 40 per cent in rats given green tea to drink. What are the active ingredients? It is believed that tannins in the tea are responsible. The paradox here is that some tannin are also suspected of causing esophageal cancer in those who drink tea to excess over long periods of time.

Nutrition has been a controversial subject in the medical world throughout the 20th Century. The discovery of vitamins is as much a hallmark of progress in this century as the discovery of microbes, was to the 19th. It was difficult then for intelligent people to imagine that invisible specks of matter, germs, could cause illness. It has been even more difficult in our own time to appreciate nutrients, even smaller specks of matter that cause illness by their absence! Orthomolecular medicine addresses the challenge of finding optimal concentrations of nutrients for healing and for health. Whether by laboratory testing or systematic alterations of dietary intake, orthomolecular medicine is a search for your personal nutritional balance.

September 1998 marks the zenith and the decline of alternative medicine. I say zenith because it is the focus of the current New England Journal Of Medicine. But it marks the decline for the same reason. After years of increasing popularity, we are now witnessing the first major counter-attack against alternative medicine by the orthodox medical establishment. The New England Journal, September 17, 1998 features six articles with a common theme: alternative medicine is unscientific, unregulated, and dangerous. Herbal therapies in particular are singled out and the editors call for increased FDA regulation and revision of the 1994 DSHEA (Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act), which permits natural products companies to label and describe what their products actually do. In case you haven't noticed, products now carry suggestive names, such as "sleep," "brain," "immune," and etc. Up until 1994 this was illegal and products were seized by the FDA for making claims.

IODINE IS ESSENTIAL FOR LIFE

Iodine is a halogen, related to bromine, chlorine and fluorine, all of which are essential for human life to exist. (There is some question about the essentiality of fluorine despite the benefits for teeth). The requirement for iodine ranges from 100 to 200 mcg daily, with individual variation due to age, urinary clearance, sex and diet. There is no mechanism for conservation of iodine by the kidneys so it must be ingested regularly to prevent deficiency. Goiter is prevented by a daily intake of about 75 mcg and the RDA is set at 150 mcg. The US diet averages 300 mcg so deficiency is said to be uncommon.

Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. That seems to apply to foods as much as to other pleasures. By now most everyone seems to be convinced that too much fat is bad for cholesterol and heart attacks; and we've heard for years that excess sugar can cause a variety of problems, ranging from dental caries to diabetes and related diseases. Now we have convincing new evidence that too much protein can be even more devastating than fats and sugars!

In response to the recent opinions expressed in the editorial pages of the San Francisco Chronicle (Sunday, 8 July 2007), I would say that both authors left out some major issues that deserve additional comment. As a board-certified psychiatrist and participant in the Autism Research Institute Defeat Autism Now program, I have had sufficient experience to recognize the huge gaps in the discussion.

Perhaps you didn't know there is another war going on besides the one in the Middle East.  This one is a public health war, a war against fat and cholesterol that has been going on for more than 30 years.  As befits a major war, the American Heart Association has formed a Task Force on Cholesterol Issues.  Together with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute they recently distributed a report entitled "The Cholesterol Facts,"  The purpose of this report is to answer criticism from popular magazine writers and "a small group of physicians" who have questioned whether the 5 to 8 billion dollars expense attached to the National Cholesterol Education Program is a waste of time and money.  I tend to side with those who believe cholesterol can wait.

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