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Health Acti n S h a r i n g W e l l n ess O p t io n s wi t h C a n a d ia n s

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Out of Sight, Out of Mind— True Costs of Cheap Food Do any of us truly know how much we paid for our latest meal? The real costs of our cheap food are often externalized and remain mostly hidden. In his article, Jim Harding takes a deep look at how eating habits impact the world and how we can create positive change.


Dreaming of Permaculture: Our Journey to Costa Rica When HANS member and writer Alexis Costello and her family decided to uproot from Kelowna, B.C. to start a farm in Costa Rica, we wondered sadly if she’d ever write for us again! Thankfully, she has, and in this personal story, we get a glimpse of her daily efforts at a self-sustaining lifestyle.


Planning Now for Your Best Future

Celebrating South Indian Cuisine So rich with history and culture, each area of India is truly an adventure for the senses. Here, culinary artist Colin Medhurst shares his musings and recipes after a trip there with his mother re-awakened his passion for spices, curries and nutrient-dense foods.


When you listen to the voice in your heart and embrace the opportunity to find a permanent, more fulfilling resolution, you regain control of your life to become a happier, freer you! Learn how Deanna LoTerzo came to embrace her own future as a life coach.


Published quarterly by: Health Action Network Society Director of Operations: Michael Volker Executive Director: Lorna Hancock Managing Editor: Michelle Hancock Assistant Editor/Proofreader: Julie Cheng Layout & Design: Annette Spreeuw Contributors: Michael Bentley, Lynne Bowsher, Michael Butler, Sabrina Chen-See, Alexis Costello, Nicole Duelli, Denise Galbraith, Ron Gale, Jim Harding, Bernice Hayibor, Bill Jeffery, Ted Kuntz, Colin Medhurst, Ernie Murakami, Trish Lim-O’Donnell, Deanna LoTerzo, Ingrid Pincott, Denise Rochon, Brian Schaefer, Lucy Sharratt, Lyla May Yip, William Ware Submissions: Letters to the editor and requests for article references may be sent to HANS reserves the right to edit letters for space and clarity.

Trade Politics and Big Pharma Profits When we think of trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), we often overlook the impact they have on our health. But you won’t any longer after this critical look at the TPP by Michael Butler, national health campaigner of the Council of Canadians.


Also in this issue Welcome GM Fruits and Vegetables?.......................10 Garlic for a Good Cause...........................................................12 Corporate Vision of the Future of Food Promoted at the UN.....................................................14 Lessons from Cuba—A World Leader in Organic Farming...........................................................................16 Be the Fermentator!...................................................................... 24 Pleasure and the Metabolism Connection......... 28 Polyunsaturated Fats 101......................................................... 30 HANS Member News................................................................. 34 Left and Right—The Significance of Biological Handedness................................................................. 38 Cancer and Comics: Supporting Couples through Humour...................................................... 40 Using Integrative Medicine to Battle Cancer..................................................................................41 Know Thyself.......................................................................................... 44

Health Action Summer 2016

Understanding the San Bao— The Three Treasures.................................................................... 45 If I Don’t Love Myself … Who Will?......................... 46 Yin and Yang in Chiropractic.............................................. 48 European Kneipp Hydrotherapy.................................... 50 Your Resting Heart Rate—What Can It Tell You? ................................................................................................ 52 Are You Sure You Want to Take Those Proton Pump Inhibitors? ..................................... 53 First, Do No Harm......................................................................... 54 Can a Study of One Be as Convincing as a Study of 101?............................................................................... 56 Lyme Disease and Cannabidiol......................................... 58 International Vaccine Policy.................................................. 62 World Health Organization Weakens Conflict-of-Interest Safeguards........................................ 66

Health Action Network Society #3 - 1530 W. 7th Avenue Vancouver, B.C. V6J 1S3 T: (604) 435-0512 | F: 604-435-1561 | publication mail agreement #40050050 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: 330-123 Main St., Toronto, ON M5W 1A1 Health Action magazine is a free publication to its membership. The opinions expressed within are those of the writer and not necessarily those of HANS. Those with health concerns should contact their health-care provider. We acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia

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International Ideas, Local Significance

We are vulnerable to cross-border politics and we should be attuned to the greater forces at work with regards to our food and health-care policies.

by Lorna Hancock


love this magazine. In particular, I love the fact that every article represents the thoughts of people, many of whom are Health Action Network Society members, who carry wisdom and unique points of view on how to be well and want to share it. Naturally, we are not all the same—some prefer a “scientific” approach to health care, some don’t—but this magazine is a place where we encourage intellectual freedom, like a HANS-x. There are so many things to ponder when I read through the collection of articles in this issue, which is dedicated to international health. For starters, who would’ve



thought that there is a theory to explain why my left breast was the more dominant side when nursing my three children. Maybe it’s a coincidence or maybe Dr. Hamer of German New Medicine was onto something with his concept of biological handiness (page 38). Jim Harding’s article on page 6, as well as a few referencing international trade agreements, make it clear that we are vulnerable to crossborder politics and that we should be attuned to the greater forces at work with regards to our food and healthcare policies. While united consumers wield power against corporate control, the wheels of policy often turn slowly, and—in the meantime—we also have an obligation to support our local farmers, suppliers and practitioners. And let’s not stop there.

We’ve also included an article on what’s happening across the globe on vaccination policies. I know that immunizations are a hot topic for pretty much everyone, those both for and against. Whatever your choice is, my point is, shouldn’t we also have the right to be able to question any medical practice, including vaccines? Good science (if you value western science) should be able to withstand the rigours of regular questioning to ensure we’re still on track. So when the Tribeca Film Festival, at the behest of Robert De Niro, pull the documentary Vaxxed from its line-up, I was not impressed. I’ve subsequently appreciated De Niro’s defence of the film and his original intention to include it to promote dialogue. I would argue that we have an obligation to keep all parties accountable for the betterment of future generations.

Bottom line, make sure you read the article by Ted Kuntz on page 62. And I just want to point out that we are stoking major public fire by daring to question a hugely accepted medical practice. So if you’re a HANS member, thank you for supporting freedom of choice and medical questioning. We’ve also tried to include a variety of other articles with international angles, and last but least in this issue are our deliciously exotic but easy recipes by Colin Medhurst of Feedlife, a local, nutritional coachinglifestyle program. Bon appétit and, as always, happy reading.

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True Costs of Cheap Food— Out of Sight, Out of Mind Cheap food, like cheap energy, externalizes costs

sil fuels being heavily subsidized. Most of the real costs, the impacts on water quality, habitats, environmental health and catastrophic climate change, get externalized. With a simplistic model of “economy” prevailing, it is easy for the consumer and industry to get locked into a collusion of self-interest. We can’t see the forest for the trees. Thankfully we are starting to see through this sham, realizing that clean or green renewable energy is a practical, cost-effective alternative. But the slow shift has been hard won. There’s been a lot of green-washing; the nuclear industry has promoted itself as “low-carbon” by ignoring the large carbon footprint from energy-intensive uranium mining, refining, enriching, construction of nuclear plants and endless management of nuclear wastes. These costs and burdens get placed on future generations. And even with the externalizing of all these costs, the nuclear industry is still not as cost-effective in lowering carbon as is conservation or renewables. And what if we also honestly factored in health costs, such as from the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns? Natural gas has also jumped on the green bandwagon. And while it is true that it produces less carbon than other fossil fuels, it too externalizes great costs. Shale fracking not only wastes massive amounts of surface water, it contaminates aquifers and is now linked to earthquakes.

Externalizing food costs

by Jim Harding, PhD


ome major international health trends are discouraging. There is a 35 percent growth in diabetes in just 35 years and this is widespread in developing countries like China, India, Brazil and Polynesia. Prevention should be our priority, but understanding root causes is challenging and controversial. We have to ask the right questions and, since health has many social and environmental determinants, the


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questions can’t be narrowly about “sickness.” An obvious place to start is with food and diet. There is concern about the spread of toxins through the food industry and there is growing consumer demand for safer food, such as chemical-free fruit and vegetables and antibiotic-free meat and milk. And however slowly, there is some recognition that chemical agriculture is also environmentally dangerous; the impact of the neonic pesticides upon bees and pollina-

tion could threaten food security. There’s an enormous externalization of costs when the real costs of food production, say on our health and environment, is borne by society. This is so endemic that it is difficult to clearly see what a food system that truly promotes global health might look like.

The real costs of our cheap food are also externalized and remain mostly hidden. There is growing concern about the threat to food security from the extreme droughts coming with climate change. Yet we find

Cheap food like cheap energy may initially seem good, that is, convenient, but the real costs will come back to haunt us through ill health, extreme weather and ecological decay.

from an April 18, 2016, article in Tikkun that in drought-stricken California the “largest consumer of water is the meat and dairy industry.” We are slowly learning that the production of a barrel of oil involves the contamination of a much higher volume of water. We are starting to understand how combustion works in our gas-fueled vehicles, where 100 pounds of petrol will spew out about 350 pounds of carbon dioxide. And we don’t yet pay for these costs. But how many of us know that it takes 600 gallons of water to produce one gallon of milk. Some analysts, who take pasture irrigation for animal food into account, conclude it could be as high as 2,000 gallons. Or, when we eat cheap chicken, how many of us consider that a chicken slaughterhouse can use 300,000 gallons of water daily. The animal-meat industry globally is one of the major users of fresh water, and it’s now suspected of emitting as much or more greenhouse gases as from all of transportation. Hidden from us by the myth of “cheap food,” these costs remain out of sight and out of mind. When we look carefully at “cheap food” we also find it is part of the climate crisis. Global warming isn’t just going to create food and water insecurity; today’s food production, which externalizes so many

costs, is itself perpetuating climate change, which will not promote health now or in the future. Subsidies that support animal-food production have to end so that plant-based diets can become more widespread, just as subsidies to the fossil fuel and nuclear industry have to end so that renewable energy can expand quickly enough to also help avert catastrophic climate change.

Animals suffering Tracing the real costs of food and diet will take us to some unexpected places, including how we treat the animals we eat. Tikkun’s article estimates that “nine billion land animals are raised and killed for food every year” in the U.S. alone. This is an astonishing number of creatures to help keep the so-called cheap food industry going. The vast majority of these unfortunate creatures are kept in factory farms characterized by intensive containment, where the creatures are unable to engage in natural behaviour in natural settings. There is some reform occurring; however, abuse of pigs, cows and chickens continues to be exposed. There also are efforts to cover up these abuses and to threaten whistleblowers. continued on page


Learning from energy Can we learn by analogy? We know that cheap oil results from fosHealth Action |


Cheap Food continued from page



We shouldn’t hide from the suffering that results from a heavy animal diet. Changing our diet to one that is more plant-based would reduce the costs to these unfortunate animals and also some of the costs of our heavy meat diet to our healthcare system. This could be considered a win-win situation, but we will have to alter our values and perspective to finally see it this way. And it is not only the slaughtered animals that suffer. This is very dangerous work compared to other factory jobs. These are often low-income jobs filled with immigrant groups who face occupational hazards such as greater staph infections and asthma. These workplace or worker costs are not calculated into our cheap food. Slaughterhouse work can also lead to PTSD. We are all somewhat capable of compartmentalizing our sensitivity to the pain and suffering of the creatures killed in the industrial slaughterhouses. But we are not capable of blocking the awareness that this is happening, which can and will come back as some sort of trauma. There are also emotional costs to cheap food.

Holistic health All markets are deceptive from the stance of real costs and impacts. Cheap food like cheap energy may initially seem good, that is, convenient, but the real costs will come back to haunt us through ill health, extreme weather and ecological decay. Cheap food and cheap energy are good for corporations because they guarantee a huge, profitable market and corporations are happy


This statistic from the USDA shows how much water is needed to produce one pound of beef.

Subsidies that support animal-food production have to end so that plant-based diets can become more widespread.

promoted as being interwoven with environmental health. Cheap food like cheap energy is a dangerous myth that continues to spread with the global supermarket. If we want to change global trends around ill health we will need to ask new questions and look a little deeper. There is much to be gained on many fronts—personal, community and even emotional health, and overall sustainability, if we take up the challenge.

to have most of these costs ultimately paid for by others. And governments are also all too happy to keep encouraging economic growth that defers the real costs. Understanding health in its many dimensions can help to break this cycle. A sustainable society is one where the ways we meet our needs for food, water, energy or shelter do not undermine the biosphere. They do not undermine ecosystems and habitats that other creatures also depend upon. A sustainable society is one where human health is understood and

Jim Harding, PhD, is a retired professor of environmental and justice studies. He is also the author of the self-published book Taking Back Canada, a call for a revival of our progressive traditions which, according to the book, were so deeply buried during former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s rule. These traditions, Harding argues, will be needed to move Canada towards a just, peaceful and sustainable society. It’s $10 including mailing costs, to Crows Nest Publishing, P.O. Box 2566, Fort Qu’Appelle, SK, S0G 1S0.

Q: How do you know vitamin C and lysine work

to protect against heart attack and stroke?


High doses of vitamin C and lysine protect the cardiovascular system by promoting healthy veins and arteries which are less likely to accumulate plaque and less likely to rupture causing a stroke. Keeping your veins and arteries healthy is essential for protection against a heart attack or stroke. So how do we know high doses of vitamin C and lysine work? By looking at the retinal arteries (back part of the eye). This is the only place where arteries can be seen. Dr. Sydney Bush, the English researcher who took photos of the retina, then prescribed large doses of vitamin C and lysine, proved that weakened retinal arteries were gradually restored to normal. (To see coronary artery pictures go to Since the head is connected to the rest of the body, coronary arteries will receive the same benefits.

Q: Why such high doses of

vitamin C and lysine?


Only 10 mg of vitamin C is needed to guard against scurvy. Standard multi-vitamins have 75 mg of vitamin C. Prescribing these small amounts to prevent coronary attack is like trying to kill an elephant with a BB gun. The research of Dr. Linus Pauling shows that it requires several thousand milligrams of vitamin C and lysine, as found in Medi-C Plus, to support healthy collagen production. Collagen is the key to healthy coronary arteries. These arteries are under more pressure than any other artery in the body. After all, they’re situated in the heart’s muscle and the heart beats 100,000 times every 24 hours, or 37 million times a year, and 2.2 billion times if you live to 70 years of age. Without sufficient vitamin C and lysine this constant pounding causes minute cracks in collagen, resulting in blood clots or a weakened artery rupturing, in the case of a stroke.

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and diet will take us to some une d o o f x pe c t sts of ed o e r a t c t e t h w e w a l n o i m h a a l g e s r n w i e e d h e u t l a t. Tr acing s , i nc place

Food for Thought


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Welcome GM Fruits and Vegetables? by Lucy Sharratt


ntil now the story of genetically modified (GM, also called genetically engineered) foods has been about processed-food ingredients and animal feed. But this story could change this year to include GM fruits and vegetables. Over the past 20 years, aside from some short-lived experiments with tomatoes and potatoes, Canada has only grown four GM crops: corn, canola, soy and white sugar beet (for sugar processing). These end up as ingredients in packaged foods and as feed for animals raised for meat and to produce dairy. Across the world, corn, soy, canola and cotton make up 99 percent of the total planted GM crops and all of these are genetically modified for only two reasons: to be tolerant to certain herbicides (the GM plants will survive herbicides while the weeds die) and/or to be toxic to certain insects (if bugs try to eat the plant, they will die). After two decades, the list of GM crops and traits around the world had stagnated at these four crops and two traits. While this is still the dominant story, a GM apple and potato have been approved and planted, and could hit your grocery store this summer and fall, for the first time.

GM fruits and veg so far GM virus-resistant papaya has been grown in Hawaii for many years and a small amount of GM virus-resistant squash has also been grown in the United States—but these rarely enter the Canadian market. The only other GM whole food being grown and eaten is GM sweet corn. However, testing conducted by the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network has shown a significant fall in the amount of GM sweet corn in grocery stores over the past four years. We hear about new experiments with GM foods all the time but few of these ever make it to market, and if they do, there


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is growing GM Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apples, but they could start selling GM Gala and Fuji apple trees in the near future.

Russet.” Is this where the GM potato will end up in Canada this summer?

GM potato?

The story of GM could change to include GM fruits and vegetables or, like Monsanto’s past GM potatoes, consumer rejection could simply force them off the shelves. This harvest-time will be the testing time: GM potatoes and apples will be testmarketed in Canada, which means the companies don’t have enough product for a wide release and will be testing consumer attitudes. However, without labelling how can consumers decide to embrace or reject GM apples and potatoes? Here are some tips to avoid GM potatoes and apples: nB  uy organic apples and potatoes. Organic farmers do not use GM seeds (or chemical pesticides) so organics is a sure way to avoid GM fruits and vegetables (and reduce your exposure to pesticides).

In March, the Canadian government approved a genetically modified potato trademarked “White Russet” from the company Simplot. The potato is genetically engineered using a mix of genetic material from potatoes so that it doesn’t brown when peeled or sliced, and produces less acrylamide—a possible carcinogen—when fried. The GM potato has less asparagine, an amino acid that reacts with some sugars to oxidize into acrylamide at around 120 F (49 C), such as high-temperature frying. While the obvious market would be French fries, the company McCain (the largest manufacturer of French fries in the world) is telling customers that it will not use this GM potato. In the U.S., the potato is being sold in plastic bags marked “White

This harvest-time will be the testing time: GM potatoes and apples will be test-marketed in Canada. is no guarantee they will stick around. Monsanto did have a GM potato on the market for a short time but removed it in 2001 because of consumer rejection. The GM Flavr Savr tomato also briefly appeared in stores, only to quickly disappear. Without mandatory labelling of GM foods it is difficult for consumers to know what is happening in the produce section but GM fruits and vegetables have only ever been marginal in Canadian stores. This may still be true even with the new GM apple and GM potato because neither is currently being grown in huge numbers.

GM apple? The company called Okanagan Specialty Fruits—now owned by the biotechnology company Intrexon—is selling rootstock for GM apple trees in Canada and the

U.S. The GM apple does not brown when sliced—for 15 days or more—and was genetically engineered using modified apple DNA along with genetic material from a plant virus, and two different bacteria. The company says that the GM non-browning apples “have more eye appeal: no yucky browning” and are more convenient because consumers can slice them and come back to them days later. If that does not sound appealing to you, you are not alone. In a 2012 survey, 69 percent of Canadians said they didn’t want the GM apple approved and, in 2015, 38 percent of Canadians polled said they definitely would not eat it. But the apple won’t be clearly labelled as GM for consumers to choose, though the company says it will put the trademarked “Arctic Apple” logo on the little apple stickers. At the moment, the company

Avoiding GM fruits and vegetables

n You could avoid buying Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples this year. Over the years this advice could change if other varieties of GM non-browning apples are grown and sold. n Look for the corporate logo for Arctic Apple on the small apple sticker or the White Russet name on the bag of potatoes. n Write to the head office of your grocery store, ask them if they are selling the GM apples or potatoes and tell them you don’t want GM food in your produce aisle. n Shop at your local organic grocery store, talk to the produce manager and check the window for the HANS/CBAN “No GM Apple” decal. Many stores in B.C. and other provinces will have a little sign in their window to tell you they don’t carry the GM apple. Order the decal for your store by contacting continued on page


Health Canada Approves First GM Fish amidst Environmental and Transparency Concerns


he Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), Ecology Action Centre, Living Oceans Society and the Quebec network Vigilance OGM are expressing concerns over Health Canada’s May 2016 approval of the world’s first genetically modified (GM) food animal, a GM Atlantic salmon, for human consumption. “Canadians could now be faced with the world’s first GM food animal, approved with no public consultation and no labelling,” said Lucy Sharratt of CBAN.

Call for mandatory labelling Health Canada announced approval of the GM fish for human consumption in a conference call on May 19, 2016. The Atlantic salmon has been genetically modified, using genes from Chinook salmon and ocean pout, to grow faster. The

Canadian decision follows a U.S government safety approval in November 2015, though there is now a U.S. import ban on the GM fish until some form of labelling standard is established. “At the very least, the government should immediately establish mandatory labelling of all GM foods so consumers can choose,” said Thibault Rehn of Vigilance OGM. The latest consumer poll shows 88 percent of Canadians want mandatory labelling of all GM foods and 45 percent said they would definitely not eat the GM salmon.

Threat to wild salmon In November 2013, the federal minister of environment approved commercial production of the GM fish eggs and fish, triggering a court case brought forward

by environmental groups Ecology Action Centre and Living Oceans Society. The case is ongoing. “GM salmon production threatens the future of wild Atlantic salmon,” said Calinda Brown of the Ecology Action Centre. “Retailers can protect consumers and the environment by making sure this GM fish never makes it to grocery store shelves.” Major retailers in the U.S. have already pledged not to sell the GM salmon. The U.S. company AquaBounty (now majority owned by biotechnology company Intrexon) says it initially plans to produce GM salmon eggs at its facility in Prince Edward Island in Canada and ship the eggs to Panama for grow-out and processing. However, the company has approval to raise the GM salmon in Canada. Source: Media release, May 19, 2016, Biotechnology Action Network

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Garlic for a Good Cause Fundraiser for the Richmond Schoolyard Society by Alexis Costello


hen kids have an opportunity to learn about food and where it comes from, the whole community benefits. This is the thought behind the Richmond Schoolyard Society, founded in 2006. Their mission is to bring children into the “outdoor classroom” where they connect with the earth and their community. Children learn where their food comes from and what eating in season means in a really hands-on way, gaining an increased awareness of their natural environment and the community around them. Chef Ian Lai, an instructor at the Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver, began the program with a tiny plot of land and his daughter’s Grade 3 and 4 class. Now, the program has expanded to include nearly 1,500 students from nine elementary schools. Students work in a garden plot and are taught how to maintain and amend the soil, as well as some of the chemistry of gardening. “They are learning about respect and environmental stewardship,” says Lai. “They are doing their little part to save the earth.” As more and more research comes to light about the health benefits of being in nature, including better cognition and memory, programs like this might become more commonplace. One study showed that children who participated in gardening projects scored higher in science achievement than those who did not. Seeing a garden grow can spark questions about the world around them and this curiosity is good for a growing mind. Planting and tending to a garden can foster mindfulness and concepts of responsibility, not to mention cause and effect as plants either thrive under the child’s care or show signs of neglect. Parents of kids with attention deficit


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hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in a recent survey reported that their kids were calmer after spending time outside and children who spend time outdoors are regularly reported to have greater “attentional capacity.” Studies like this underline the fact that allowing kids time to be outside and work with plants can actually enhance the rest of their school experience. One of the ways the society raises funds to support this endeavour is through the Annual Garlic Festival, which has paired with Chefs to the Field to create an entertaining and delicious experience for the thousands of people who participate each year. The 2016 event takes place on Sunday, August 21 from 10 am to 3 pm at Terra Nova Rural Park in Richmond, B.C. Some

Planting and tending to a garden can foster mindfulness and concepts of responsibility. of this year’s features are farm tours, family-friendly cooking demonstrations, beer gardens and mini workshops on how to grow your own garlic, as well as the amazing Chefs to the Field competition. Admission to the event is by donation. Terra Nova Park is also the site of a new venture for the Schoolyard Society. Recently, the group partnered with Thompson Community Association and the City of Richmond to deliver the first non-profit Nature Preschool in the City. The program

is facilitated by early childhood educators and offers morning and afternoon programs for children aged three to five. The Richmond Schoolyard Society is always happy to connect with potential volunteers, either to work in the gardens or to assist with a fundraising event. They are a registered charity and will issue receipts for donations over the sum of $10. If you are interested in donating your time or money, email, call 778-858-7365 or visit www. Alexis Costello is an instructor and practitioner of specialized kinesiology who recently sold her business to run away to the jungle. She lives in Costa Rica with her family and their rapidly growing collection of weird pets. www.alexis

GM Fruits and Vegetables continued from page 11 Other tips to eliminate other GM fruits and vegetables in your grocery cart: n A sk about the sweet corn in your store. Buy organic sweet corn or ask your produce manager if the sweet corn being sold is GM. n Avoid papaya from Hawaii, which is likely GM. nA  void squash and zucchini grown in the U.S. But do we all need to be investigators to buy the food we want? A better option is a commitment from grocery stores to keep GM fruits and vegetables out of the produce section. Lucy Sharratt is the coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN). CBAN is a campaign coalition of 17 organizations that researches, monitors and raises awareness about issues relating to genetic engineering in food and farming. CBAN members include farmer associations, environmental and social justice organizations and regional coalitions of grassroots groups. CBAN is a project on Tides Canada’s shared platform. | 613-809-1103 Health Action |


Corporate Vision of the Future of

Food Promoted at the UN

by La Via Campesina, ETC and GRAIN

FAO to relaunch their false message that genetically engineered crops can feed the world and cool the planet, while the reality is that nothing has changed on the biotech front. GMOs don’t feed people, they are mostly planted in a handful of countries on industrial plantations for agrofuels and animal feed, they increase pesticide use, and they throw farmers off the land. Transnational biotech companies are trying to patent the planet’s bodiversity, which shows that their main interest is to make enormous profits, and not to guarantee food security or food sovereignty. The industrial food system that these companies promote is also one of the main drivers of climate change. Confronted with the rejection of GMOs by many consumers and producers, the industry is now inventing new and possibly dangerous breeding techniques to genetically modify plants, without calling them GMOs. In


ust when the biotech companies that make transgenic seeds are merging, the corporate vision of biotechnology is showing up at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). At the February 2016 opening of the three-day international symposium on agricultural biotechnologies convened by the FAO in Rome, more than 100 social movement and civil society organizations (CSOs) from four continents issued a statement denouncing both the substance and structure of the meeting, which appears to be another attempt by multinational agribusiness to redirect the policies of the UN agency toward support for genetically engineered crops and livestock.

Biased symposium The global peasant and family farm movement, La Via Campesina, invited CSOs to sign the letter when the symposium’s agenda became public. Two of the FAO keynote speakers are known proponents of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and the agenda and side events over the three days included speakers from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (a biotech trade group in the USA), Crop Life International (the global agrochemical trade association), DuPont (one of the world’s largest biotech seed companies) and CEVA (a major veterinary medicine corporation). FAO had only invited one speaker or panelist openly critical of GMOs. Worse, one of the two speakers at the opening session is a former assistant director general of FAO who has pushed for socalled terminator seeds (GMO seeds programmed to die at harvest time, forcing farmers to purchase new seeds every growing season), in opposition to FAO’s own public statements. The second keynoter’s speech was titled, “Toward


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ending the misplaced global debate on biotechnology,” suggesting that the FAO symposium should be the moment for shutting down biotech criticism. In convening the biased symposium, FAO is bowing to industry pressure that intensified following international meetings on agroecology hosted by FAO in 2014 and 2015. The agroecology meetings were a model of openness to all viewpoints, from peasants to industry. But the biotech industry apparently prefers now to have a meeting they can control. This is not the first time FAO has been drawn into this game. In 2010, FAO convened a biotechnology conference in Guadalajara,

Mexico, that blocked farmers from its organizing committee and then tried to prevent their attendance at the conference itself. “We are alarmed that FAO is once again fronting for the same corporations, just when these companies are talking about further mergers amongst themselves, which would concentrate the commercial seeds sector in even fewer hands,” the CSO statement denounced.

Profits over food security It is clear, according to the civil society statement, that industry wants to use the

The Number, Size and Distribution of Farms, Smallholder Farms and Family Farms Worldwide


umerous sources provide evidence of trends and patterns in average farm size and farmland distribution worldwide, but they often lack documentation, are in some cases out of date and do not provide comprehensive global and comparative regional estimates. However, we have used agricultural census data (provided at the country level in Web Appendix) to show that there are more than 570 million farms worldwide, most of which are small and family-operated.. Small farms (less than two hectares) operate about 12 percent and family farms about 75 percent of the world’s agricultural land. Average farm size decreased in most low- and lower-middleincome countries for which data are available from 1960 to 2000, whereas average farm sizes increased from 1960 to 2000 in some upper middle-income countries and in nearly all high-income countries for which we have information. Such estimates help inform agricultural development strategies, although the estimates are limited by the data available.

doing so, they are trying to avoid current GMO regulations and trick consumers and farmers.

Who really feeds the world The agroecology activities were much closer to the way that FAO should act, the statement points out, “as a centre for knowledge exchange, without a hidden agenda on behalf of a few.” Why does FAO now limit itself again to corporate biotechnology and deny the existence of peasant technologies? FAO should support the peasant technologies that offer the most innovative, open-source and effective pathway to ending hunger and malnutrition. It is time to stop pushing a narrow corporate agenda, says civil society. “The vast majority of the world’s farmers are peasants, and it is peasants who feed the

world. We need peasant-based technologies, not corporate biotechnologies.” “It is high time that FAO puts an end to biopiracy and to its support for genetically modified crops, which only serve to allow a handful of transnational companies to patent and to grab all the existing biodiversity,” said La Via Campesina leader Guy Kastler. “On the contrary, FAO should support farmers’ organizations and researchers engaged in collaborative plant breeding in the service of food sovereignty and peasant agroecology.” Media release: February 15, 2016, by La Via Campesina, ETC and GRAIN. GRAIN is a small international non-profit organzation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems. ETC is the Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration.

Radiant Health Saunas Continued efforts to enhance the collection and dissemination of up-to-date, comprehensive and more standardized agricultural census data, including at the farm and national level, are essential to having a more representative picture of the number of farms, small farms and family farms as well as changes in farm size and farmland distribution worldwide. Sarah K. Lowder, Jakob Skoet, Terri Raney. “The Number, Size, and Distributions of Farms, Smallholder Farms, and Family Farms Worldwide,” World Development, FAO, Rome, Feburary 2016. en/c/386784/

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A further problem they had was a lack of cash to buy fuel for transporting food to market. The scientists pioneered new biopesticides, bio-fertilizers, soil management methods and worm composting methods. Since transportation of goods was a problem they also embarked on a concerted effort to develop high-yield urban food-production methods, which resulted in a vast number of organopónicos (high-yield, raised-bed, organic, urban farms). The organopónicos shorten the distance between the farmer and the consumer, enabling the farmer to deliver the consumer fresh, ripe produce at a lower cost. Part and parcel of this emphasis on sustainable, organic agriculture has been

Since pharmaceutical medicine is expensive and in short supply due to the embargo, Cuban scientists have been very innovative in their use of plant-based compounds for medicine.

an emphasis on green medicine. Since pharmaceutical medicine is expensive and in short supply due to the embargo, Cuban scientists have been very innovative in their use of plant-based compounds for medicine. The organopónicos will often grow a mix of produce for the consumers alongside medicinal plants for the medical community. A trip to a pharmacy in Cuba will be a welcome eye opener for many Canadians as the shelves are often exclusively filled with botanical medicines. Brian Schaefer, PhD, has been a director of Health Action Network Society for many years. He likes to visit Cuba as often as possible.

Field students for students


Lessons from Cuba—A World Leader in Organic Farming by Brian Schaefer, PhD


uba—beautiful beaches, wonderful music, warm weather and friendly people, right? This is what most Canadians think of when Cuba comes to mind, but did you know that when you sit down to a meal in Cuba you are enjoying organically grown food produced locally through sustainable farming practices? Cuba is a world leader in organic, sustainable farming practices, and in 1999 this was acknowledged by the Swedish Parliament by granting Cuba the Right Livelihood Award for world leadership in organic and urban agriculture. But how


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did this come about? To answer this a bit of history is in order. In 1959 Fidel Castro achieved the full independence of Cuba that had been stolen from the Cuban people by the United States after the Cuban war of independence with Spain. Cuba was then forced into alignment with the Soviet Union due to a trade embargo by the United States. During this alignment agriculture in Cuba used chemical fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides and insecticides purchased from the Soviet Union to try and achieve higher yields. Much of the agricultural land was allocated for cash crops such as sugar cane that could be traded for other goods from within the Soviet bloc.

At the end of 1991, the Soviet Union was dismantled and the trade and support arrangement with Cuba was a casualty. Cuba found itself in a situation where it lost 70 percent of its food supplies along with its agricultural imports while still facing restricted trade due to the U.S. embargo. During the alignment with the Soviet Union, the Cuban government put a great emphasis on education. So much so that Cuba was home to 11 percent of the scientists in Latin America. The Cuban government utilized this human resource to figure out ways of addressing food scarcity without the use of expensive agrochemicals.

hat I look forward to is reports from Cuba on the impact of sustainable, organic agricultural practices on the health of the Cuban people. Cuba represents a unique opportunity to study before and after the introduction of organic food and organic, sustainable agricultural practices. There could be lessons here for all of us. For those interested in agricultural tours of Cuba please see These farmer-to-farmer tours are organized by Wendy Holm, a professional agrologist at the University of B.C. in the faculty of land and food systems. Holm also delivers a Cuba-based, three-credit course for university students titled International Field Studies in Sustainable Agriculture (Cuba). She is also project leader on CanadaCuba sustainable agriculture projects. wendy@wendyholm. com | | 604-947-2893

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Dreaming of Permaculture: Our Journey to Costa Rica by Alexis Costello


t started 12 years ago during a Saskatchewan winter. Having just finished my training in herbology and sick to death of the cold, I concluded that I wanted to study herbs in the rainforest. It sounded like a whim and people laughed it off, but I began to do some research and my husband and I created a five-year-plan to move back to British Columbia, pay off student loans, and embark on a six-month trip to see what I could learn about medicinal plants somewhere warm with gorgeous beaches. We chose Costa Rica for a few reasons. One, it has more protected rainforest than any other country. Two, it is more politically and economically stable than most other countries in Latin America, meaning that it is also safer and as we were travelling with our twin seven-year-olds, safety was a huge concern. Three, CR has several distinct microclimates ranging from near desert to cloud forest to hot, humid jungle. These microclimates are all ideal for growing different types of plants, so the herbs used for medicine varies greatly depending on the area. The trip went well. We wandered all over the country, speaking with indigenous people, visiting world-class botanical gardens, and spending time with shaman, brujas (witches) and curanderos (curers), as well as hippie expats


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Ezra and Hannah (14 years old) with Jorah (3 years old) in the middle.

dening in Canada where my mountain home with limited sun exposure meant an extremely short growing season. Here, with a little love and some babying, salad staples like lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers can be planted year round and the same plant will sometimes flower and fruit more than once. I am hoping that, with some good planning, this tiny piece of land will take care of us. In return, I am working to improve the soil and work in harmony with the jungle.

Living off the land

who had moved here with the idea of living off the land. The only issue was that, after spending about four months there, we didn’t want to leave. Though we missed our family and friends, it had begun to feel like home. When we returned to Canada we wrote up a new five-year-plan: to return to CR and attempt to live off the land.

A family relocated As I type this, I am sitting outside at my dining room table, looking out into the jungle, being serenaded by a howler monkey (which is similar to being serenaded by a freight train) and scratching

at the myriad of fire-ant bites I acquired while gardening earlier. Our property is only about one acre: some of that is primary rainforest, some hillside, a large amount of driveway and some inhospitable cliff. We are trying to purchase a nearby property that would give us some actual farming space, but, like oh-somany things in Costa Rica, it is not as easy as it seems. I decided that I wanted to get a jump on it, so we are trying to do what we can with the property here and then worry about a proper farm in the future. Our soil is packed red clay. Really pretty to look at, but a pain to dig up. We have taken some of the area around

the house which was set up to have a few pretty jasmine shrubs and created some beds by digging down and breaking up the earth, then mixing in compost-soil, ashes and granite chips (to help alkalize our super-acidic dirt). It seems our entire property sits atop a giant hill of fire ants whose stinging bites make you want to scratch your legs off. I am literally scarred for life. I have divided the huge circular driveway in half and declared one side garden space. We are researching small-space gardening and trying to figure out how many vegetable plants and fruit trees I actually need in order to feed my family. It’s so different from gar-

As part of this self-sustaining lifestyle, I’m working on a shoestring budget, which means recycling and repurposing old construction materials and McGyvering things together, rather than simply purchasing everything I need. For example, a makeshift greenhouse created out of an old plastic event tent and some insect netting. The point of a greenhouse here isn’t to keep the heat in but to provide shade in the dry season and break up the huge torrential rains in the wet season, so I have set up the event tent and cut out panels that I have sewn the netting into in a couple places. If this sounds tedious, that’s because it really, really is. We have brought in 1,500 pounds of dirt, which I have completely distributed already into some raised beds, planting trees (mandrinos, mangoes, bananas, avocados, manzana de agua and papaya), starting seeds in old egg cartons and filling a giant potato bin. Pineapples are relatively easy to grow from stems (though they take awhile to fruit and require patience) and actually

As part of this self-sustaining lifestyle, I’m working on a shoestring budget, which means recycling and repurposing old construction materials and MacGyvering things together, rather than simply purchasing everything I need.

like this weird clay dirt, so we have been planting the tops as we enjoy the fruit and hopefully will have a decent crop in a couple years. Throw in some yucca, sugar cane and herbs and you have an idea of what’s going on here. We are working hard, but it’s a different pace of life here. I want to spend these years with my kids (now two 14year-olds and a three-yearold) while they need me. I love the idea of them soaking up a new language and culture, learning how to feed themselves and create their own space while being responsible to this beautiful environment. My husband has been selfemployed for years and I used

to own a natural health centre, so we worked long hours and would catch up on accounting/orders/advertising/troubleshooting in the evenings, running full out just to stay in place. While I loved my business, co-workers and clients, it was time to change the dynamic. I have always enjoyed good health with my specialized kinesiology training and herbology background, but I feel really great here; all the issues I had that could be filed under the effects of stress have melted away. This life isn’t for everyone. At some point, every single day, I feel like this is simply too hard, too different. Like I would pay anything to have everything

around me be clean, dry and mould-free for a few minutes. But then, something amazing happens: there are monkeys playing in the trees, or I see new shoots and blossoms on my plants, or my little guy starts yelling something in Spanish. And I think this is perfect and worth the 10 years of planning, the ant bites, the chaos. As they say here, it’s “Pura Vida,” or “Pure Life!” Alexis Costello is an instructor and practitioner of specialized kinesiology who recently sold her business to run away to the jungle. She lives in Costa Rica with her family and their rapidly growing collection of weird pets. Health Action |


South Indian Chai Ingredients:

Ingredients: 3 cups 1 cup 3 tea bags 8 2 1


’m sitting in a restaurant telling my mother all about my amazing first trip to Cochin, South India—the sights, sounds and, particularly, the smells. Despite the poverty and the dirt on the streets, there is so much love, generosity and vibrancy that no one can describe this country, one just has to experience it. So rich with history and culture, each area of this vast continent is truly an adventure for the senses. That brings me to the food: incredible spices and dishes that make eating plantbased so enjoyable and easy. Taking an Ayurvedic cooking class in Cochin gave birth to the inspiration that I was discussing with my mom at lunch. I had this epiphany that making more nutrientdense meals would be a lot easier for people if they were comfortable with spices and curries. I have been fortunate to grow up with an Indian mother who has exposed me to the Ayurvedic kitchen and its culinary methods. I have always felt like the culture and food was part of who I was. But I also know that using spices with confidence


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takes time and experience. After being so inspired by my trip, Feed Life started to teach hands-on Indian cooking classes in January 2016 and they have been a real success. My mom and I share the authentic recipes of our family and the technique to making delicious and authentic Indian food that is plantbased and nutrient-dense. Which brings me to the spices and ingredients that I would like to share with you. Masala chai is a flavourful Indian tea that is full of antioxidants and aids the digestive process. The spices in the recipes aid in overall health maintenance and are more nutrient-dense than the regular coffee routine. The ginger helps to support immunity and aid digestion, making this the perfect morning drink. Dhal (lentil stew) is a staple at most meals for Indians. It represents a large part of the daily protein intake and bulks up the meal with fibre to satiate. The included dhal recipe has a South Indian flare to it with its masala from the Sambar region, although there are many techniques and ways to prepare dhal everywhere you travel. Bindi masala (okra curry) is a common

water almond or coconut milk orange pekoe tea cardamom pods cinnamon sticks bay leaf

1 1/2 tsp 1 tsp 1 tsp 1 1 pinch

ginger, freshly grated (avoid for Pitta types or use powdered instead) black peppercorns fennel seeds star anise nutmeg Maple syrup or coconut nectar to sweeten

dish you’d find on any spread in India. Okra can be found in most Asian grocers and is an amazing source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. When we make this dish in the class it is always one of the favourites. I think most people are surprised at the delicious spicy flavour of this dish as well as the enjoyable texture of okra. Spice is such a large part of the Indian kitchen, they even dress up their rice to make it taste full of flavour and depth. Rice pilaf is served as the starch at most meals and includes some powerful spices that lend not only nutritional benefits but also help create a dish unto itself. With the included recipes, you’ll be on your way to having a delicious Indian feast. If you’re ready to learn more about how to work with spice and other techniques, join us for a fun evening of stories, community and, of course, food. Colin Medhurst, HHC, RYT, is a holistic health coach, yoga teacher, cancer guide and herbalist in training. He co-founded Feed Life, a Vancouver plant-based lifestyle company educating people on how to increase energy and heal their bodies through food. Courses are online and in person.

Colin Medhurst

Method: Grind all dried spices with a mortar and pestle until whole seeds slightly crack (one or two twists). Bring the almond or coconut milk to a medium temperature in a saucepan. Add tea bags, ginger and spices; simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often. Serve with maple syrup or coconut nectar to sweeten.

A South Indian Feast by Colin Medhurst, HHC, RYT

Serves 4

Rice Pilaf

Serves 4 Ingredients: 2 cups 4 cups 2 1 tbsp 1 tbsp 4 6 1 6 1 1/2 bulb 1 1 1 cup 1 1/2 tsp

Method: Heat coconut oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Sauté onions and dry spices (cumin, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns, star anise). Add garlic and ginger and sauté. Add rice, stirring frequently. Mix in carrots and peas. Add water and salt. Cover and cook on medium-high. As water absorbs, reduce heat to low.

brown basmati rice, washed water small onions, diced coconut oil cumin seeds cardamon pods cloves cinnamon stick peppercorns star anise garlic small thumb of ginger carrot, diced peas salt

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South Indian Dhal

Serves 4 (sides)

Bhindi Masala

Serves 4 (sides)




1 cup dhal, washed 1 tbsp coconut oil 1 tsp cumin seeds 1 tsp mustard seeds 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds 1/4 tsp asafoetida 1 onion, chopped 1 sprig curry leaves 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 small thumb ginger, minced 1 tomato, diced 1 tsp turmeric powder 2 tbsp sambar masala powder 1 tsp sea salt 1 cup coconut milk


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1 cup water pinch red chili powder or 1–2 deseeded serrano chili peppers (depending on your preferred level of spice) 2 tbsp fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped, for garnish

Method: Heat coconut oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in fenugreek and sauté. Add garlic, ginger, onion, and serrano pepper or chili powder. Add okra slices and sauté until golden brown, around 4–6 minutes. Add garam masala, turmeric, tomato and salt, and sauté. Stir in water. Cook until okra is crisp-tender, around 3–4 minutes. Colin Medhurst

Colin Medhurst

1 tbsp coconut oil 1 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds 6 cloves garlic 1 tbsp ginger, chopped 1 small red onion, chopped 1 whole serrano pepper, or 1 1⁄2 tsp chili powder 2 cups okra, cut into 1⁄3" thick slices 2 tbsp garam masala 1 tsp turmeric powder 1 medium ripe tomato, chopped 1 tsp sea salt 1/3 cup water, room temperature 1 tsp sea salt 1 cup coconut milk

Method: Wash and parboil dhal and set aside. In a separate pot, heat coconut oil, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and asafoetida on medium heat and sauté for 30 seconds. Add onion, curry leaves, garlic and ginger; sauté until onions are translucent (about 2 minutes). Stir in tomatoes, turmeric, chili powder, sambar masala and salt. Cook for 2 minutes. Mix coconut milk and water, and stir into the pot. Add the cooked dhal and stir thoroughly. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and garnish with chopped coriander (cilantro). Serve with rice or roti bread. Health Action |


Be the Fermentator!

training the immune system, preventing growth of harmful pathogenic bacteria, regulating the health of the mucous membrane lining the gut, keeping our colon pH at a healthy 6.8 and producing regulatory hormones. Here’s an interesting tidbit from recent research: it appears that bacteria in the colon may produce chemical messengers, leptins, that give us a sense of satiety; a disrupted colon

by Denise Galbraith CHT, RHT


here’s been a lot of talk lately about the importance of eating fermented foods. You hear words like lacto-fermentation, microbiome, lactobacillus and bowel flora. But what does it all mean? More importantly, what does it mean to you? The term “microbiome” refers to all the microorganisms inhabiting the body and includes skin, mouth, vaginal and bowel colonies. This biomass can weigh between two and six pounds. We have a symbiotic relationship with it; it can’t live without us and we can’t live for long without it. It is now calculated that there are more than 10,000 microbial species in and on our bodies. Consider this, the cells that make up your body number around 10 trillion cells (10,000,000,000,000). The bacteria in your gut outnumber these by 10 to one! At least 60 percent of the fecal matter that makes up a healthy bowel movement should be composed of dead bacteria.

right conditions without any interference from us! Bacteria and other microorganisms in the air and on our food will start this process as the first step of decomposition. There’s no doubt that fermenting processes were discovered by accident and harnessed as a way to preserve foods. Any peoples you can name had, and many still have, these foods in their daily diets, from an Inuit fermented fish called igunaq to the soybean natto of Japan. Indeed, virtually every food with a complex or simple sugar content can be successfully fermented.

Ancient processes

What’s changed?

It can sound complicated and mysterious but I assure you that, scientific terms aside, what is going on is as ancient and natural as life itself. Consuming fermented foods was a daily part of our ancestors’ lives, created using the simplest of methods in the meanest conditions. In fact, fermentation will happen all by itself in the

With the technology of heat canning, preservatives and refrigeration, the need to ferment is gone. As a result, our modern diet is virtually devoid of these life forms. Is there a link between this evolutionarily recent, dramatic change and the current rise in autoimmune disorders and nervous conditions? I believe there is.


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ecosystem may not be producing these. There’s exciting research leading to new compelling evidence highlighting the importance of fostering these colonies, including inflammation regulation and obesity.

What to expect Well, because our physical conditions differ so broadly, the amount of fermented foods we consume will vary and other

Two Real-life Experiences with Fermented Power Consuming fermented foods was a daily part of our ancestors’ lives, created using the simplest of methods in the meanest conditions.

When you consider the fact that these living organisms are in direct communication with both our nervous and immune systems, you begin to understand how their wellbeing has a real impact on our well-being. In fact 90 percent of our immune tissue lines the intestines. As well, there is so much nervous tissue lining our gut that it has been dubbed our “second brain!” This has profound implications.

What to do? You can purchase a small selection of the more than 1,000 strains in capsule form, or you can easily create these nourishing, elegant, complex foods with little effort, simply and inexpensively! If you can

make a salad or a cup of tea, then you already possess all the cooking skills necessary to create these wonderful healthgiving, live foods for yourself and your family.

What do symbiotic bacteria do for us? We are just beginning to understand the importance of this symbiotic relationship, but what is known so far is that, apart from bulking up our stools, these bacteria also produce certain vitamins: K2, B6, B12, biotin and folic acid. They perform other useful functions, such as converting dietary fatty acids to their functional forms, breaking down undigested food, promoting nutrient absorption,



lthough I eat a vegetarian, fibre-rich diet, I have suffered from a sluggish bowel virtually all my life. As well, I suffer from recurring bouts of pustular psoriasis, including a four-inch circular patch on my shin that persisted for years. I started to include home fermented foods in my daily diet and right away noticed a distinct improvement in bowel function; it has taken a year but I now have regular, substantial, wellformed stools. However, the rash persisted. I gradually increased the variety of fermented foods in my diet, including homemade lacto-fermented vegetables, kombucha and yogurt. The rash is now completely gone and I am feeling more energetic and positive!


dietary changes we make are also important, it is difficult to predict a rate of progress. In general, you can expect improvement in a number of areas, including: n Bowel function. There may be extremes to begin with, that is, constipation or loose stools. This will sort itself out with patience, time and small adjustments as indicated. n Digestive function, such as bloating, nausea, heartburn and food sensitivities. nE  nergy and mood. n Your weight will attempt to normalize, that is, you may put on a few pounds if you are underweight or lose a few if you are storing more than needed. n Skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, eczema and hives. n Fungal infections like nail infections, athletes’ foot, can-

dida overgrowth of the vagina, bowel and mouth. n A llergic symptoms and sensitivities. Do I believe that these microorganisms are the answer to all our modern health concerns? No I don’t, but I am certain they’re a big piece of the puzzle. As virtually every bodily system can be affected by a disrupted microbiome, if your microbiome isn’t in good health then you can’t possibly be. Denise Galbraith, CHT, RHT, is a western medical herbalist who blends modern scientific knowledge with ancient wisdom to bring you the best of both worlds. She practises and teaches in Victoria, B.C. A registered clinical therapist, she is a director of the Canadian Herbalist’s Association of B.C. | | 250-889-2176


am an energetic person who enjoys hiking and rock climbing. Last year I started to feel fatigued and developed an uncomfortable, bloated feeling below my rib cage. My colon felt congested and movements became difficult. My physician ran the usual tests, including liver function, parasite, even colonoscopy and was unable to find anything definitive. I could only take my dog for short hikes and was missing work. Finally I explored probiotics. I began with water kefir, kombucha and a probiotic powder. Although I noticed improvements right away, it took a year and much experimentation with different combinations of bacteria, fibres and herbal treatments before I started to feel like my old self again. I passed several interesting things in my stool and am convinced that I had picked up a parasite. My outlook has improved dramatically; I am steadily recovering my energy and have started climbing again and going on longer hikes.

Experience Homeopathy as a distinct and unique system of medicine. For acute or chronic conditions visit our website to find a qualified practitioner near you. Health Action |


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Our Commitment Flora’s focus on research and development has resulted in production methods which are among the finest in the world. The staff at Flora are proud to have been honoured with numerous awards for their fine products over the past 48 years. The company remains familyowned and a leader in the field of natural health products. Flora is committed to its mandate of offering only premium quality products that positively impact people’s lives.

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A world famous iron supplement, Salus Floradix® effectively prevents iron deficiency and assists with the formation of red blood cells and their proper functions. It also supports tissue formation, proper growth and enhanced iron absorption and utilization through organically bound iron gluconate, vitamin C and B vitamins. Floradix® is non-constipating, safe for long-term, daily use and contains no dairy, lactose, alcohol, GMO, chemical preservatives, colouring or flavouring.

Udo’s Oil™ Omega 3+6+9 Blend is a fish-free blend of plant-sourced oils designed to supply the ideal 2:1 ratio of omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. It contains all the good fats you need, without any of the bad fats you should avoid. It’s pressed in a state-of-the-art, low heat, low light and oxygen-free environment to optimize freshness and provide maximum nutritional value. All of the ingredients in Udo’s Oil™ pass rigorous quality control testing and are certified organic whenever possible. It’s packed in amber glass bottles and refrigerated for storage to ensure optimal freshness.

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can promote imbalances and disorders in the body leading to many of today’s diseases. When we eat sweets we should receive the taste from natural foods such as fruits or high-quality, nutritious sweeteners including raw honey, maple syrup or stevia. We need to avoid poor-quality, highly processed sweets like candy bars and sugar, which also contain additives, food colouring and preservatives. Artificial sweeteners, some of which are now known to be neurotoxins, are bad for us because they convince the brain that it is real sugar. Because of this the body still releases insulin to help metabolize the artificial sugar and since there is no real sugar present, the excess insulin, with nothing to do, performs its other evolutionary task, which is to signal the body to store fat.

Fat facts

Pleasure and the Metabolism Connection by Lynne Bowsher


t is a scientific fact that we are genetically programmed to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Even old sacred texts describe how we consciously seek out pleasure while doing our best to avoid pain. In today’s world our relationship to food is essential in providing us this much-needed connection to pleasure. But much deeper than that, the way we experience pleasure with food is actually a mirror of how we experience pleasure in our life. Our relationship with pleasure has a direct correlation to our metabolism. According to Epicurus (341–270 BCE), a Greek scientist and philosopher who is acknowledged as an ancient authority on the pleasures of the palate, “It is impossible to live pleasurably without living wisely, well and justly, and it is impossible to


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live wisely, well and justly without living pleasurably.” He suggests that we balance healthy pleasures and moderate unhealthy pleasures to maintain balance in our health, our bodies and our daily lives.

Sweet stuff We are told to avoid sugar and yet we are actually wired for sweet. Yes, it is completely normal to desire sweets! The ancient science of Ayurveda recognizes that sweet is one of six tastes our body needs at every meal in order to find balance within our constitution. Ayurveda describes sweet as cooling and as the taste of, yes, pleasure! It makes us feel comforted and contented and is one of the most important healing tools for debilitating weakness. The taste of sweet is nourishing, strengthening and promotes

growth of all tissues, increases ojas (the end product of good digestion and metabolism that is believed to connect consciousness and matter) and prolongs life. We have taste buds on our tongues just waiting for the taste of sweet. In fact we have more sweet taste buds than those of salty, sour and bitter. The primary job of our sweet taste buds is to wait for and receive something sweet and then an electrochemical signal is sent to the brain for the sole purpose of turning us on to pleasure. So if we deprive ourselves of the taste of sweet we actually create disharmony in the body, and our brains, which are wired for sweet, will cry out even more for something sweet! From an evolutionary perspective, sweetness is a biological reward and gives us a reason to keep living. However, we also know that excess sweets

Another important yet misunderstood macronutrient that gives us pleasure is fat. Too many people are still under the misperception that fat in food equals fat on the body. Yet if we deny ourselves the pleasure of fat then we deny ourselves the full power of metabolism. Healthy fats are essential to life, they satisfy and fulfill us. If you deprive yourself of essential fat in order to lose weight, you will actually get the opposite result of weight gain. Even if you did lose a few pounds, you would likely suffer from symptoms of clinical fat deficiency, which include irritability, fatigue, dull and brittle hair, dry skin, digestive complaints, constipation, inability

to lose weight and mood disorders. Fat is so essential to life that if you were to remove all the fat from your body you would immediately die. Fat is an energy source for our heart and our brain. It is also a building block for many of the hormones and chemicals that keep us alive. It is a nutritional source for the central nervous system and it lines and protects every organ. Fat truly is a building block for the wall of every cell in your body, and even more importantly, fat comprises approximately 40 to 60 percent of our brain. We need to increase healthy fats in our diet while decreasing poor-quality fats. High-quality fats include olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, hempseed oil, and butter or ghee. Other food sources include avocados, olives, fresh fish, nuts and seeds, free-range eggs and some organic dairy products. Unhealthy fats include any food that contains hydrogenated oil, margarine and most commercial supermarket-bought cooking oils. Poor-quality fat would also be found in most fried food and massproduced food products including potato chips, crackers, cookies and baked goods.

in this way from our everyday stresses we actually need to eat more food to feel the same amount of pleasure as when we’re relaxed. This means that if you’re afraid of pleasure or anxious about gaining weight, you put yourself into a stressed state and increase your level of cortisol, which in turn numbs you to pleasure and causes weight gain!

Relaxation response

Lynne Bowsher is a certified eating psychology coach, mind-body nutrition coach and certified Iyengar yoga instructor in Lake Country, B.C. She owns A Place for Yoga and Health yoga studio and her coaching business is Nutrition for Your Soul – Nourishment for mind body and spirit. One-on-one coaching and group courses are offered in studio and online. Visit or call 250-878-1251 for a free 30-minute discovery session.

When we are turned on by food, we turn on our metabolism. Pleasure catalyzes and promotes a physiologic relaxation response. A relaxed, pleasured eater has natural control. A stressed eater produces more circulating cortisol, which is our stress hormone, and cortisol desensitizes us to pleasure. When we become desensitized

When we are turned on by food, we turn on our metabolism.

So pleasure truly is the essential ingredient to promote our health and wellbeing. Whenever you eat food that is truly healthy for you, the body recognizes that food as important biological information that helps to promote your full metabolic potential. So eat healthy foods in their natural, freshest state to maintain your optimum level of metabolism and notice when and where in your life you can increase your level of pleasure.

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Polyunsaturated Fats 101 by William Ware, PhD


n the context of a healthy diet, conventional wisdom has, for a couple of decades, been to decrease intake of saturated fats (SFAs) from such sources as dairy foods and fatty cuts of meat and replace it with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) from oils such as corn, soy and sunflower. Two U.S. organizations have recently taken positions concerning saturated fat. They are the American Heart Association in conjunction with the American College of Cardiology (AHA/ACC) and the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC). The AHA/ACC recommends limiting intake to 5–6 percent of calories whereas the DGAC suggest less than 10 percent. Prior to this, 7 percent was a popular number.

SFAs revisited Thus it was surprising, even shocking, to read a commentary in the April 2014 Mayo Clinic Proceedings that went into considerable detail concerning a contrary point of view. The six authors were from the U.S., Sweden, Scotland, Japan and Germany. The authors summarize the objections to this hypothesis as follows: nT  en randomized-controlled or cross-over trials found that a high intake of SFA, even up to 50 percent of total energy intake, had little effect or none at all on either LDL or total cholesterol. nT  wo meta-analyses of follow-up studies found no association between cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality and SFA intake. n I n 10 cohort studies of patients who had experienced a stroke, three found no difference in SFA consumption between patients and controls; in addition, for seven of the studies, patients had eaten significantly less as compared to controls. n In a meta-analysis of 16 long-term followup cohort studies, when the highest dairy consumption was compared to


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the lowest, the highest consumption was significantly protective for all-cause mortality, atherosclerotic heart disease, stroke and diabetes. n Studies conducted in 1998 found increasing the intake of SFAs changed the LDL particle size in a favourable direction as judged by the increased prevalence of large buoyant LDL particles. n Three studies of patients with heart attacks were compared with healthy controls as regards to the concentration of short-chain fats (considered bad) in their fat cells because this reflects recent dietary intake. No difference of levels was found.

No benefit found for PUFAs The advice that accompanies the current recommendations to limit saturated fat is to replace it with unsaturated fat, also a common recommendation for decades. In particular we are encouraged to eat vegetable oils including corn, soybean, canola, safflower and sunflower oil, although mention is frequently made of nuts and fish.

Nevertheless, we are encouraged to believe that our search for healthy fat can end in the vegetable oil section of the market. Most of the PUFAs consumed in the U.S. are derived from soybean oil at a rate of 18 billion pounds per year, making it a source of about 20 percent of our caloric intake. Soybean oil is used extensively in prepared foods. Today, almost all soybean oil is made from genetically modified plants that are so-called Roundup Ready, and thus the oil is potentially contaminated with traces of the active ingredient glyphosate, which has been found to be carcinogenic. The extent of contamination is a dark, deep secret since there are no regulations requiring that levels be determined or reported. Dietary guidelines regarding PUFAs frequently do not distinguish between the two classes, omega-3 and omega-6, and are thus meaningless with one, the omega3s, being in general considered health promoting and the other, the omega-6s, potentially harmful unless consumed in moderation and balanced by omega-3s. One of the classical and significant failures over many years of nutritional research

into fats has involved lumping either all fats or all PUFAs together in observational studies. In a systematic review, Ramsden et al (British Journal of Nutrition, December 2010) examined the effects of both omega-6 alone and mixed omega-6 and omega-3 interventions when used to replace saturated and trans fats. They found in randomized trials: n Mixed omega-3 and omega-6 in dietary intervention trials as replacement for saturated fat and trans fat yielded a 27 percent reduction in heart attacks and death. n W hen only omega-6 was used as the replacement there was a 13 percent increase in heart attacks. n Omega-6 alone, while reducing saturated fat and trans fat, resulted in an increase in risk of death. n For women only, substitution with omega-6 resulted in short-term harm and a non-significant indication for longterm harm. There was only one trial. The authors concluded that advice to

Judging by the guidelines, mainstream medicine appears to be in denial concerning the dangers of consuming large amounts of omega-6s.

maintain or increase omega-6 PUFAs should be reconsidered since there was no evidence of benefit and the possibility of harm. Many trials they examined were confounded by the presence of omega-3 PUFAs in the intervention but interpreted as omega-6 interventions.

Harmful omega-6 The American Heart Association in 2015 presented on an internet site a list of healthy cooking oils. Let’s look at the omega-6 to omega-3 ratios in the recommended oils.

Soy oil had the lowest omega-6:3 ratio of about 7 followed by olive oil at 10. Peanut was high in omega-6 with no omega-3. Sesame oil had a 6:3 ratio of 41:0.3, corn oil 54:1.2 and sunflower 65:0. The ratios depend on the sources and were not included in the AHA list, but even with variations, the picture presented does not change. Except for olive oil and soy oil, the AHA is recommending oils high in omega-6 PUFAs and there is one school of thought that considers this far from “healthy.” Judging by the guidelines, mainstream medicine appears to be in denial concerning the dangers of consuming large amounts of omega-6 PUFAs. Ignored is the fact that prior to the industrialization of food, omega-6 fats were a minor part of human diet and the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 intake ranged from 1:1 to 4:1. Current estimates give anywhere from 10:1 to 25:1. Also, meat and dairy products now have high levels of omega-6 PUFAs due to the continued on page


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Polyunsaturated Fats 101 continued from page 31 change in diet resulting from the dramatic decline of free-range poultry and grass-fed beef and pork and milk-producing animals. Obviously, there would be intense pressure from the involved industries if any attempt was made by governments to demonize omega-6 PUFAs. It has taken over a decade for trans fats to finally be viewed as a significant health hazard, but nevertheless we still have the curious definition of zero trans fats as being less than a gram per serving. The principal justification for favouring a low 6:3 ratio is that not only are omega-6 PUFAs inflammatory, but they also act as an antagonist for the beneficial effects of omega-3 PUFAs. Omega-6 acids are also thought to increase the risk of blood clot formation and convert LDL cholesterol into an oxidized form which, according to one theory, is what makes it active in atherosclerosis. In more general terms, excess omega-6 fats impact health by an adverse effect on cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, the metabolic syndrome and prediabetes, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease, macular degeneration, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, cancer, psychiatric disorders and autoimmune diseases in general.

Watch your omega-3s The conclusion is that vegetable oils and even some nut oils are poor sources of omega-3 acids and very significant sources of what one should neither want nor need in large amounts, the omega-6 acids. Diets low in omega-6 fats will still generally be at levels more than adequate. Among the best omega-3 sources, as most readers already know, are fish and shellfish, where the omega-3 PUFAs have been changed into more desirable forms such as EPA and DHA. But life is never simple. Large ocean fish such as tuna are contaminated with mercury. Significant amounts of shellfish, for example readyto-eat shrimp, are from Asia and are


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A diet modified to enhance omega-3 intake and minimize omega-6 intake might include grass-fed meat and omega-3 eggs, ideally from free-range chickens.

farmed in water suspected of being rather less than pure and probably in fact loaded with toxins. The same problem, no doubt to a lesser degree, exists with farmed fish in North America. Fresh wild fish is hard to come by in most places. Farmed fish are also fed unnatural food. Plant sources of the omega-3 acid contain alpha-linoleic acid, which is converted, albeit with variable efficiency, to EPA and DHA in the body. Thus there is an advantage in letting the fish do the job.

Increasing omega-3 intake Fish oils are readily available as supplements, and those derived from small fish generally have much lower levels of mercury. Some suppliers take great pains to eliminate mercury from fish oil supplements and some are described as pharmaceutical grade. A diet modified to enhance omega-3 intake and minimize omega-6 intake might include grass-fed meat and omega-3 eggs, ideally from free-range chickens. Frying would be done with coconut oil or ghee, ideally organic and the latter derived from grass-fed milk. Butter would also be both organic and from grass-fed cows. Salad dressing would be made with organic extra-virgin olive oil, hopefully from a source that does not secretly dilute it with cheap vegetable oils, a growing problem today. Flaxseed products are high in alphalinoleic acid, the metabolic precursor for the long-chain omega-3 fats in fish; nuts have poor 6:3 ratios but are still valuable nutrients. Green vegetables such as spinach, watercress, Brussels sprouts, bok

choy, lettuce and broccoli have a 6:3 ratio close to 1:1 and some have more omega-3 than omega-6. The challenge here has to do with finding organic sources. In fact, a major problem in adopting a healthy diet is finding enough organic foods and free-range or grass-fed sources of meat and dairy, not only if the intent is minimizing omega-6 intake but also simply to avoid eating too much poison. The genetically modified organism (GMO) industries are working with great skill, effort and success to prevent consumers from avoiding GMOcontaining foods or foods that contain dangerous chemical residues attributable to the cultivation of GMO crops. However, the rapidly growing popularity of organic and wild food will make this easier in the future. Labels such as grass-fed, free-range and organic are probably going to become huge marketing tools in the near future just as low-fat or fat-free has been for decades. Aside from the approaches outlined above, the most important action is to avoid as much as possible processed foods that come in cans or frozen or from bakeries. These can be an important omega-6 source as well as a source of hidden sugar and toxins. Prepare meals from scratch rather than microwaving prepared dishes. The “modern” diet has become rich in omega-6 fats, highly processed carbohydrates such as flour and sugar and high-fructose corn syrup to all of which are added dozens of chemicals, mostly synthetic to improve texture, flavour, colour and sweetness. Governments have worked closely with the food industry to make sure that the real dangers of these added chemicals are either not studied properly or simply suppressed in the interest of economic health. Tell people something is safe and even if they don’t believe it, it is frequently difficult to do much about the problem. Consider Flint, Michigan, and its lead problem. William Ware, PhD, is an emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont., whose retirement has been dedicated to evidence-based research in the preventive and complementary medicine field.

Teaching The Medicine Of The Future™ To achieve your own optimum wellness and make a real difference in the world, consider a new career as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition offers a holistic approach to natural nutrition and an education geared towards achieving optimal health and a lasting and rewarding career. Our Diploma Program offers a balance between whole and natural food nutrition, science, the body-mind-spirit connection, the environment, and includes hands-on cooking classes in a state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen.

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HANS Member News a non-profit organization that is helping communities to transition to organic practices. Heide was truly a generous and playful spirit. She cherished her friendships, and she had such a wonderful, genuine laugh. by Michael Hermary, Sonja Callaghan, Michael Kim and Jason Kim

We Have Moved— HANS Going off-Broadway For the first time in the history of Health Action Network Society (HANS)—the publisher of this non-profit magazine— we have moved out of the city of Burnaby. It is with bittersweet sentiment that we leave for the bright lights of Vancouver as we have always been a strong community partner in Burnaby, having won numerous community awards and receiving invaluable support from the community. The reason we have chosen to leave has to do with being closer to our numerous professional members concentrated in the Broadway health corridor. We now find ourselves sharing space with our good friends and fellow HANS member, Pure North, at the Seymour Medical Clinic at 1530 7th Avenue West—a mere 80 metres off Broadway. We are also directly adjacent to Balance Clinic, another member, and just down from Qi Integrated Health and Inspire Health. We are loving being close to our current professional members and the opportunities being here provides to attract new professional members. Thank you, Burnaby! You looked after us for 32 years.


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Book Release: Past Life Regression Kemila Zsange, RCCH, has recently released a new book: Past Life Regression: A Manual for Hypnotherapists to Conduct Effective Past Life Regression Sessions. It is a book for hypnosis practitioners as well as interested members of the general public. It is full of scripts and reveals detailed step-bystep methods. This book introduces many techniques and covers them in detail. Kemila also shares a lot of her case works in the book. The paperback is available online and in local book store Banyan Books & Sounds as well as Kindle versions on Find more information at In Fond Memory: Heide Hermary With deep sorrow, we regret to inform you of the passing of our much loved Heide Hermary. She slipped away peacefully on March 18, 2016, in Richmond, B.C. She

was a devoted wife and mother, and held a great love for every member of her family. She poured her profound interest and respect for nature into her teachings with Gaia College, and touched and inspired the hearts of many. Heide was an award-winning educator with a passion for sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm through teaching, writing and community participation. She was the author of two books, Working with Nature: Shifting Paradigms and The Essence of Organic Gardening: Seeing and Doing Things Differently, which represent the culmination of 10 years of learning, research and work to develop sustainable horticulture practices for everyone. Her many accomplishments include a master’s degree in sustainable agriculture, a diploma in horticulture (landscape design, installation and maintenance), a graduate diploma in sustainable agriculture and a SOUL organic land care professional. Heide was the co-founder of Gaia College, which delivers courses in various aspects of organic horticulture. She was also one of the co-founders of SOUL (the Society for Organic Urban Land Care),

Anti-aging Product Line Launch Montreal-based Biosentica Laboratories Inc. has launched a line of new anti-aging natural health products. Marketed under the trademark ÊTREXA, the products are synergetic multi-component compositions designed to support the health of skin, joints, and cardiovascular and immune systems. Along with other vital ingredients, ÊTREXA formulas contain hyaluronic acid and carnosine—vital natural compounds that gained popularity due to their tremendous health benefits. Meet the ÊTREXA line of products at www.ê New Location for Personal Nutrition Sharon Pendlington, RHN, is thrilled to announce that Personal Nutrition now has a second location! For your convenience, you can book your nutritional consultation with Sharon at either the MacDonald Medical Building on 16th Avenue in Kitsilano, or at her original location in Mount Pleasant. | 604-616-7854

Attention HANS Mem

b e rs

Making Naturopathy and Acupuncture More Affordable To fulfill their mission to make integrative health care more accessible and affordable, Empower Health Clinic now offers both naturopathic services and acupuncture at reduced rates. Naturopathic services are now offered through naturopathic doctor interns who are supervised by a licensed naturopathic doctor and do full integrated health assessments with past lab analysis for only $90. This is more than the equivalent to an initial naturopathic visit, which often costs between $150 and $250—and patients get two heads on your case with additional research time! Empower Health Clinic has also just brought on Kevin Scrimgeour to help expand the community acupuncture service

that they originally started two years ago, the first in East Vancouver. Community acupuncture is a more cost-effective way for people to access the number of acupuncture sessions needed to make a difference in their health. Kevin is a community acupuncture expert and offers the service on Mondays 4:30 to 6:30pm and on Fridays 11:00am to 1:00pm. He has over 20 years of experience as an acupuncturist and 15 years in community acupuncture. Each session is performed in a quiet and serene group setting, with calming music, reclining chairs, and they’re only $25 per session. Empower Health Clinic, #208 - 2555 Commercial Drive | 604336-2844

Coquitlam Family Chiropractic—Caught in the Act of holding our spring issue of Health Action magazine, that is. Thanks to this supportive crew for participating in our promotion of natural health and wellness options!

news to share? Email enews@ha e v a h u o Do y Health Action |


HANS Member News HANS’ Third Annual Natural Wellness Career & Jobs Fair in Vancouver


n May 7th, HANS hosted a full day of networking at UBC Robson Square for those interested in careers or jobs in everything from nutrition to chiropractic to naturopathic medicine. As this is our third year, we’re always encouraged by the attention that this event brings to the many diverse career options there are in the natural wellness industry. The feedback we’ve had is that this event is exactly what attendees were looking for. A hit for the Canadian wellness colleges and employers! HANS hopes to continue uniting these institutions, employers and career seekers for many years to come. Thanks to UBC Robson Square for hosting us, and to the many attendees that joined us on this beautiful sunny day in Vancouver. If you were lucky, you might’ve even stuck around for the Cinço de Mayo festivities happening just outside!

Neem: Nature’s Healing Gift to Humanity Book review by Lorna Hancock


love living in Vancouver, reputed to be one of the most beautiful places one could live in the world, but once in a while I marvel at what other countries have to boast about. It seems that India has a tree that is so special in so many ways that they have named it the national tree. We are talking about the neem tree, every part of which has immense value, justifying this high praise. The leaves are used as a pesticide and a fertilizer, and put in animal feed to fight against internal nematodes. The flowers are used in aromatherapy for a calming and restorative effect; the twigs can be used as toothbrushes (although that might be a hard sell to my granddaughters); the bark has properties that make it a sexual contraceptive for men and women; the roots are antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal and germicidal and can be


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used to control fleas and ticks on pets; the oil is a bio-pesticide; the remaining cake (after pressing out the oil) is also used as a pesticide, an additive to fertilizer and an antifungal. Given this, it’s an organic alternative to antibiotics in livestock. That in itself is huge considering the widespread problem the world now faces with antibiotic overuse. I didn’t know about the neem tree until I met master herbalist Klaus Ferlow. As the jacket of his new book, Neem: Nature’s Healing Gift to Humanity, states, “The endearing story of neem is told through the eyes of one of its most enthusiastic advocates.” Having known Klaus for several decades, I can now say with 100 percent certainty that he is indeed a global ambassador for this remarkable tree, which, in addition to all the above benefits, also provides shade and lower temperatures for those enjoying a nice rest underneath it.

Whoever would have thought that a painful skin condition on Ferlow’s scalp and elbows (psoriasis), coupled with a love of herbs, would not only heal him but would also lead to a lifelong passion to share the knowledge of this amazingly curative plant with others. This book is heartwarming to read. It’s a personal story filled with goodwill and very nice people, like the Kruegers who see the neem tree as a potential economic boost to the good people in Piura, Peru. I love stories of dedication like theirs, struggles and adversity leading to real and important solutions for suffering cultures. Ferlow has warmly referenced many

friends, colleagues and organizations—with pictures throughout—making it helpful if you are looking for resources and inspiration. What I also like is that Ferlow has listed his references at the bottom of each page, so that if you wonder where he got that idea from, it’s right there. Although retired and free to travel and share his neem tree findings with the world, Ferlow can often be found through I’m a convert, Klaus! Lorna Hancock is the executive director of HANS—Health Action Network Society. Health Action |


Left and Right—The Significance of Biological Handedness by Bernice Hayibor


9thAnnual Annual 9th 9th Annual

Cancer Prevention & Healing Cancer CancerPrevention Prevention&&Healing Healing

ne great tragedy of modern medicine is that Dr. Ryke Geerd Hamer’s findings about handedness have been ignored. The originator of German New Medicine (GNM), Dr. Hamer says that biological handedness is determined at the first cell division. A biologically right-handed woman will carry her small child on her left hip in order to leave her right hand available to do work. For left-handers, it is reversed. Our bodies were programmed, through evolution, to connect our non-dominant side with our children and our mother. The side of our dominant hand is connected with all others; they are referred to as “partners.” This is possibly most easily observed through lumps in the breast, sometimes diagnosed as cancer. Women nurture their

Our bodies were programmed, through evolution, to connect our non-dominant side with our children and our mother.

children first through their breasts, which have glands that produce milk and ducts that carry milk to the nipple. Dr. Hamer found that the different tissues of the breast respond to different distressing situations. A right-handed woman who is unexpectedly worried about her child will produce more breast gland cells in the left breast so she can produce more milk with which to nurture the child. If the same woman is unexpectedly separated from her


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child she will lose cells in the milk ducts of her left breast so they widen to let the milk that is no longer needed drain away. If she is reunited with her child or comes to terms with the separation, the area where cells were lost will refill and a lump may be noticed. With these same concerns, a lefthanded woman would develop the lumps in the right breast. If the worry or separation is about a partner, then the lump will be in the other breast. In GNM, we refer to the side of the dominant hand as the “partner” side and the side of the non-dominant hand as the “mother/child” side. The truth of Dr. Hamer’s discovery was reinforced for me when I met a 22-yearold right-handed woman with no children. Two years earlier a biopsy done on a lump in her left breast was fortunately found to be a benign cyst. We could not find a distress of separation or worry related to her mother and there was no other motherlike nurturing relationship.

After we chatted, though, she told me about being drugged and raped at a party in high school. She became pregnant and, in desperation, had an abortion. Finally what had happened in her body became clear. The lump in her left breast must have developed when she came to terms with being separated from the fetus. Thus the tragedy. Women who develop “breast cancer” in one breast will sometimes have both removed to prevent the cancer from “spreading” to the other breast. If the concept of biological handedness and how it relates to the programming of the human body is understood, the impossibility of that happening becomes clear. It is important to learn the science that is taught as GNM so the tragedy of unnecessary medical intervention can be avoided. Bernice Hayibor, MA (Ed), was inspired by the work of Dr. Hamer and the teaching of Caroline Markolin, PhD, to study and teach German New Medicine. 604-274-0166

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by Alexis Costello


t’s not a subject that many people would find funny, nor is it one that involves superpowers and spandex, yet, somehow Embroidered Cancer Comics works. This might be due to the shear brazen honesty of textile artist Sima Elizabeth Shefrin, who uses illustrated panels to underline the changes a diagnosis of aggressive prostate cancer made in her sex life with her partner. Looking at the panels is like having a secret window into a marriage, particularly the subjects that are hard to talk about.

Get couples talking On the day Shefrin’s partner Bob was diagnosed, they made the decision to get married. One of their vows was “not to lose our sense of humour,” so she playfully refers to the comic as a fulfillment of her wedding vows. She says that they immediately began making cancer jokes (as one does) and whenever something was particularly funny, they would say, “Oh that’s got to go in the book!” Of course, there wasn’t a book at the time, but soon it began to look like there could be. “Bob was doing a lot of reading … I wasn’t as good with


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the reading as he was. I was looking for something addressed to the partners. I didn’t find much and what I did find was awful.” People mostly wrote about the huge stress on the relationship, or how they had simply stopped talking or stopped being intimate. This wasn’t acceptable to her. Shefrin hopes that this book can support partners, but also those who have been diagnosed themselves, saying that she wants to address the humanity of the situation. “It really is just a human struggle. It becomes part of your daily routine like

buying groceries or washing dishes, it’s just something you live with.” This book could become a support to couples when difficult subjects need to come up. “It’s hard to talk about some things, but you can say, ‘I read this comic and they talk about blank,’ and then you can bring your own story into it.”

Need to laugh and cry The comic is a cathartic labour of love that Shefrin worked on for about three years. She started in the middle and then

worked in both directions, calling the entire process very organic. The reviews have been quite positive, especially in the comic circles in London where the book was published. She has been receiving testimonials from cancer patients who are finding help and humour with her work, some of which can be seen on her Facebook page. Each panel is handdrawn, blown up to the proper size and then stitched with black embroidery thread—even the dialogue. “It made me be very sparse, both in drawings and words,” she says, “which pushed me to have a very clear presentation, and I think there’s something really valuable in that … It’s really important that we get to laugh as well as cry about the challenging things in life.” To order the book in Canada, visit the Facebook page Embroidered Cancer Comic, or order through Amazon; cost is $14 CAD, plus $4 shipping and handling. Alexis Costello is an instructor and practitioner of specialized kinesiology who recently sold her business to run away to the jungle. She lives in Costa Rica with her family and their rapidly growing collection of weird pets.

Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray Using Integrative Medicine to Battle Cancer by Michael Volker


n July 6, 2014, the Ottawa Senators hockey club announced that their long-time general manager and executive vice-president Bryan Murray was battling cancer. As time went on, it was disclosed that he was suffering from stage 4 colon cancer and that it would be terminal. If you follow hockey, you probably know that Murray is not a young man and that he is an institution in the hockey world, having coached four teams and having been the general manager four different times as well. He is known for being a very straightforward and candid executive. He is always a great interview because he rarely hides behind clichés and is always honest about his feelings, especially in regards to how his club is playing. So it was no surprise when Murray went public and disclosed in relative detail for what many of us is a very private matter. Since the July 2014 announcement, Murray has been willing to talk about his cancer; he’s been sharing the importance of getting tested and he’s been refreshingly candid about his treatments—both conventional and complementary. In an interview with the Toronto Star earlier this spring, Murray attributes injection treatments of the herb mistletoe with offsetting the side-effects of conventional treatments. “I’ve been very fortunate,” he said. “I haven’t been nauseous very often. I don’t have a lot of the side-effects I know other people have. I talk to so many people now, some of them don’t have a good day over the two-week span. I’ve been able to cope with that part very well.” Murray was getting his mistletoe

Wikimedia Commons / Wiil C Photograpjy

Cancer and Comics: Supporting Couples through Humour

“It tends to give you a feeling that you’re doing everything you can do. It’s a good thing.” – Bryan Murray on the benefits of integrative medicine

treatments from the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre (OICC, He further states in the interview, “They’ve been a big help to me. They do all kinds of stuff—acupuncture, massage, yoga. Psychological stuff. It’s a frame of mind as well. It tends to give you a feeling that you’re doing everything you can do. It’s a good thing.” Murray has now become and active campaigner for the OICC. He is on the front page of their website and is helping them with a major fundraising initiative;

the centre is currently trying to raise five million dollars in part to provide access to the centre for those who cannot afford it. Complementary medicine is often understated and publically under-acknowledged by celebrities even as they are realizing its benefits in fighting the most challenging of diseases. For this reason and more, Bryan Murray’s courage and openness should be congratulated. Michael Volker is the director of operations of HANS. | 604-435-0512 Health Action |


Planning Now for Your Best Future How to lay the emotional foundations to a happy life by Deanna LoTerzo


ometimes, despite decades of forward planning and rigorous financial management, we can be confronted by momentous life events that totally alter our future life direction or retirement plans. Unpredictably, we find ourselves dealing with overwhelming emotional and physical health issues, separation or divorce, kids returning home and needing financial or emotional support, a failing business venture or other financial challenges. The prospect of a fun-filled retirement to enjoy travel to faraway places, spend more quality time with your spouse and grandchildren or check off another item on your bucket list suddenly seems remote. I found myself in that exact predicament mid-life when I was diagnosed with a lifethreatening disease. Being a realist and practical by nature, I had been planning well ahead for future retirement. I’d signed a contract as equity partner, which would see me comfortably through to retirement and beyond. I was set for life, or so I thought! Imagine the shock then of being diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. In an instant all expectations for my future were turned upside down! I was shocked, but in truth not overly surprised. At the time my work had become the focus of my life—the definition of who I was to both myself and the external world. I was pleased with my achievements and spent little time being concerned about the price I was paying. An offspring of hard-working Italian immigrant parents I was taught the value of contributing a hard and honest day’s work. Always competitive, I wore the badge of Type A personality proudly, living in constant stress, unaccepting of failure and being impatient with seemingly less competent people or slow progress—all


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The reality was that I felt inadequate, disconnected and often confused about who I was and what I needed to get through the day. I believed I was born devoid of the happiness gene.

the while seeking out even more challenge. Skipping meals and regular breaks also took a toll. While I coped through the use of acupuncture sessions and other natural therapies to keep me sane and functional, I didn’t take the time to reflect, to learn the lessons that were staring me in the face. I was always “too busy” (read: in denial). Regardless, I was considered successful and well-respected by my peers and employees alike. Employees were privy to my softer side, the one that encouraged them to come to me for support, promoted an open-door policy and took them to a new level of performance. As for me, the reality was that I felt inadequate, disconnected and often confused about who I was and what I needed to get through the day. I believed I was born devoid of the happiness gene. For decades I had lived with feelings of inexplicable sadness and isolation. My childhood experiences contributed in major part to these and other self-defeating concepts I was holding in cellular memory. I masked

them well, though in my mind, the experience of life was akin to “pushing water uphill with a fork.”

Finding the voice in your heart It became my mission to understand how and why I had succumbed to this disease while other family members had not. This search led to an awareness of the link between emotions, thoughts and illness. I discovered the significance of the interplay between emotion and the many self-destructive subconscious beliefs that determine our attitudes, drive our behaviours and subsequently define our life predicament. Armed with this knowledge I entered a prolonged period of emotional healing, realigned my subconscious beliefs to better support my life goals, and finally acknowledged that I was personally responsible for the choices that had led me to this crisis. Then, I took the decision to walk away from a substantial pension fund and a

secure financial future, started listening to what my heart truly wanted—not my head—and learned to trust my intuition to guide me forward. Extraordinary unplanned things have happened since then! To mention just a few, the seven months spent in Nepal, mostly in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in prayer and meditation, immigration to Canada, and time in Vancouver immersed in study of the sociology, psychology and history of the North American family dynamic. I am still passionate about learning the science of why and how things happen within our mind and emotions. My most notable achievement to date has been the development of a unique and innovative technique—integrative reprogramming (IRT)—which identifies and clears collective traumas and self-defeating beliefs instantly, without having to relive the trauma. As a life coach I use this protocol in private sessions with remarkable success and have helped many hundreds of others to rediscover the person they were born to be. And now, I am halfway through writing a book! I would not have engaged in any of these experiences had I not begun to listen to the voice in my heart and deal with the emotional and psychological issues at the root of my unhappiness. Now I am thriving, looking forward to whatever comes next!

A reality check North Americans are typically overly busy, preoccupied with work (or the lack of it), acquiring (even more) formal

qualifications, keeping physically fit (read: flat abs) and remaining “attractive”—while managing a happy family household or a fulfilling intimate relationship. Significant changes to environmental, political, economic and social conditions, particularly information overload through media and technology, consume our time and attention, adding to the complexity of our daily lives. It is no surprise that stress levels continue to rise, as does the overuse of prescribed antianxiety and antidepressant drugs. We often use the “busyness” and left-brain, analytical thinking as avoidance mechanisms. While you think they may provide some short-term relief, they never provide a complete solution. In fact, avoidance is a consequence of the emotion of fear that creates further distraction, anxiety and a sense of being disconnected. Instead, when you listen to the voice in your heart and embrace the opportunity to find a permanent, more fulfilling resolution, you regain control of your life to become a happier, freer you! In so doing you also reconnect to your true self and those around you—laying the foundation for a future of creativity, vitality, harmony and joy! As a certified life coach and spiritual healer with more than 20 years’ experience, Deanna LoTerzo helps people discover how to live a new reality. Based in the B.C. lower mainland she offers individual life coaching consultations via Skype, phone or personal visits. Email to schedule a complimentary 30-minute assessment. coaching@deannaloterzo. com |

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Understanding the San Bao— The Three Treasures by Lyla May Yip, Dr.TCM ody, mind and spirit is a phrase used by many complementary or alternative practitioners of health care. This phrase is similar to the san bao, or the Three Treasures in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), representing jing (nutritive essence), qi (vital energy) and shen (spirit, mind). In Taoist philosophy, jing refers to the physical body, qi or vital energy is the primordial life force activating both voluntary and involuntary functions of our body, shen or spirit relates to the mind, including awareness and knowledge, thoughts and feelings, willpower and commitment.

encourages us to get ahead in life by working hard, and to accomplish this we need to use our mind to become educated. Once we’re making a living, we look after our body (or jing), by eating well and exercising. This may well build up our body qi or energy, but if that qi is not flowing freely, imbalances develop resulting in health issues. There never seems to be enough time in a day to allow one’s body and mind to fully unwind, which would allow one’s qi or vital energy to flow freely. The free flow of qi allows nutrition to reach all parts of the body and also to remove metabolic waste products (detox the body), both of which are essential in restoring a healthy balance.

Unwind and let qi flow

Nurture our spirit

In North America, people tend to live in the fast lane. People study hard in order to obtain employment, where they work hard as well. In order to “relax,” they are busy exercising or playing sports. Family life can involve driving children to and from sports and activities. Holidays and vacations end up being stressful with travel, time and climate changes and culture shock. The North American or western lifestyle

The last of the three treasures is the most important of the san bao, namely the shen or spirit. The shen involves an awareness of our subconscious self, our emotions, thoughts and feelings. In simple terms, it is our attitude towards life, our relationships and our respect we have towards others and to ourself. Nurturing the shen is to become more aware of the negative attitudes and emotions


Know Thyself by Trish Lim-O’Donnell, CCP


ome 2,400 years ago, Socrates walked barefoot through his beloved streets of Athens teaching his philosophy of life. Blessedly, one of his teachings included this wise advice: know thyself. As a young woman growing up, I always understood the importance of knowing myself so I could successfully speak with those I love about what I needed, what hurt me or what was “me.” As a matter of course, I ended up helping others express themselves through my interaction with them. Being a natural leader who loves to bridge gaps between people, I excelled in this area. Now, as a relationship coach and spiritual guide, I have the privilege, purpose and joy of helping individuals get to know themselves in their everyday ego-personality as well as to cultivate a sense of their Divine Self—almost always operating at the same time—when they are awakened. The inner life is of the utmost importance to those who simultaneously seek enlightenment and detachment of our egopersonality. It becomes a double challenge for those of us who are ready to work at it


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“It is surely inconceivable that any living thing could be beautiful were there not a Life Absolute of a wonderful, an ineffable, beauty.” – Plotinus every day on a conscious level—that simply means you have your inner and outer life to contend with. The sweet comfort is that you get to practice with all the people you deal with in an authentic, decent way that you envisioned your earth to be. In other words, you act out your vision of what “heaven on earth” looks like to you with all others. This is your life, your game, your challenge, your possibility—no one else’s. Each time you interact, you will get a sense of where you are at in your wheel of becoming. There is no shortage of work to do here—to follow this magnificent, spiritual path. It is not for all; it really depends on your individual makeup and your hunger.

You can start by getting to know yourself, your thoughts, feelings, and your motives in doing things the way you do and the fears that drive your actions and way of being. You do this through daily journaling in order to cultivate an inner acceptance of your strengths and flaws. When you accept the unacceptable in yourself you begin to cultivate compassion and, therefore, space in your heart for others. Through writing, you get to look at what it is you give to your world that is of value and importance to you. You need to be at home in it so you can speak to it eloquently when the opportunity arises. This part fosters a steady self-esteem, which is necessary for our earthly life. Our journey on earth is a journey of love into the divine—the infinite—of which we are a part. To experience you in me and me in you takes great effort and perseverance. The God Essence is everywhere and in everything and calls us. Hear it! Trish Lim-O’Donnell, CCP, is a relationship coach and spiritual guide, writer, vocal coach, and E.Q. Music recording artist with 28 years of personal and professional life-coaching experience.

Taking stock

in our life and then trying to redirect these attitudes and emotions to become more positive. Self-reflection, meditation, professional counselling or even talking with friends or relatives may help you become aware that you harbour bad attitudes or emotions. In my practice I have come to realize harbouring excessive emotions can result in many health issues that may have started from childhood and then developed into bigger health problems in adulthood. Although the study of TCM does not include instructions in psychology or psychiatry, TCM has known, for thousands of years, the effect harbouring excessive emotions can have on the human body. Just as we exercise our physical body and mind, we need to exercise our spirit. One technique I teach my patients is called the emotional freedom technique. With a better understanding of our shen or spirit, we can all obtain a healthier life both physically and mentally. Lyla May Yip, Dr.TCM, was among the first graduates outside China as a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, in 2003 in Vancouver, B.C. She is also active in the practice and instruction of tai chi and qigong for health. Dr. Yip recently moved to Red Deer, Alberta, and is on the Member Services Committee with the College and Association of Acupuncturists of Alberta.

n, professional counselling or even t o i t a t i alking , med n e l p h y y a o u o m b i e s t c e o c v m i t e aware Self-refle or rela s d n e w i t h fr i our bad at titudes or emotions. b r a h ou that y Health Action |


If I Don’t Love Myself … Who Will? by Denise Rochon, ND, FCAH, CCH

Let yourself love


or this tale about love, I have named the principal character Little Sparrow. She is an ordinary woman, living in perfect imperfection, doing the best she can in everything that she does, just like you and I. The best that we can with who we are and what we know. She is applying herself to mindfulness, observing her thoughts carefully and watching them without judgement or attachment. She is learning to let go of the thoughts that don’t serve her, respond to the ones that do and listen carefully to any insights that can inspire her journey. She lives with intentions, but without expectations, so she says.

A possible dream Little Sparrow has been living alone for a long time. She is an old celibate, loving nature and everyone and everything. She told me that one day when she was feeling particularly lonely, she came to the realization that all the love she had been giving away in her life had never been lost. This love was who she was. From that moment on, she felt filled with more love than ever and never felt alone again. Yet, she dreamed of a companion for herself. But not anyone! She did not have a wish list because she trusted the universe to bring her exactly what and who she needed, not to mention, she did not want to limit herself. However, she had a strong intention and she was dreaming of someone with whom she could share her love and passion for life, someone kind and generous who could be her responsible partner in growth and in mindfulness, looking for the gift in everything, knowing that we are always exactly where we are supposed to be. Someone willing to meet her halfway in moments of difference or disagreement, someone who, like her, would be interested in nurturing the best in the other and not


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our upbringing, surroundings and society. We are “multidimensional beings,” she will tell you!

the weeds. In a garden, she explained, we don’t water or feed the weeds, only what we want to see grow. So for years, she patiently waited. And one day, Little Sparrow met someone called Tender Heart. He inspired her! She recognized in him the qualities that would make her dream possible. The spark was there for both of them, expressed in perfect synchronicity. The magical alchemy was a new experience that she welcomed with joy and gratitude. Knowing how each one of us is responsible for our own happiness, she wanted to be very present to be sure that what she was hearing, seeing and feeling was real, and not made up by what she wanted to experience.

Unconscious fear Upon wakening one morning, she received a strong insight that changed her love story. Connecting in spirit with this new person in her life, she felt loving, young, strong and beautiful again until, alas, the sheet slipped away from her shoulder. The dream stopped. The eyes stared at the wrinkled,

sagging skin. The years had gone by and she was no longer the beautiful youth whom she had been before. The mind took over the heart. This is the way the ego works when vulnerable. The “lower self” jumped in. It started questioning her feelings, her desire and her right to be loved. Who did she think that she was to deserve this love? Didn’t she see how old she was? This was an impossible dream! This time, like the snail in its shell, her body started contracting, and she revisited the familiar shame and grief of the past. The inner eyes were seeing these thoughts go by. With years of practising attentive mindfulness, observing thoughts and feelings, she knew that a part of her ego, what she affectionately calls “the little self,” was attempting to resist uncomfortable changes and possibly to deal with an unconscious fear of rejection. But Little Sparrow was not going to let fear take away her dream. She needed to reconnect with her heart and what she calls her “higher self.” For it is our soul who knows about our journey and purpose. It is not the personality with which we have learned to identify, thinking that this is who we are, but only the conditioning from

She connected to her vision, to this part of her that she had grown to trust, because it is a unique expression of the flow of life that inhabits each one of us and which wants to experience itself. With this awareness, she reconnected to her heart, to the “essential,” as she calls it, and with it came a profound enlightenment: “If you don’t love yourself … who will?’’ This simple insight affected her profoundly and touched her deeply, entering every cell and every atom of her body. At that moment, she knew that if she could not love herself unconditionally, neither could this potentially new companion, nor anyone else. She understood that we block the flow of love all the time. We unconsciously prevent it from happening! How can we want love and healing in

“Is there anything else than love? No. Everything is love. Love is the light Light comes from love. Without light, there is no life. Healing the world starts with each one of us, one self-love affair at a time! It is contagious and spreads like a vine!” – Little Sparrow

amazing responsibility toward loving oneself. That if we want to live in a world where love and peace is possible, we need to open up the channels for others to connect fully and feel safe. We are mirrors of each other. And simply by loving, honouring and allowing who we are, our own journey, processes, struggles, visions, dreams, with love and compassion, in every breath and every instant, we allow the flow of love and healing. Once Little Sparrow accepted the responsibility of opening her heart completely, nothing else existed on that day. Filled with gratitude, she surrendered completely. All she had to do from now on was to welcome love, cherish it, protect it, let it expand and spread around. The experience was no longer just about her personal journey.

the world if each one of us cannot love our own self? She began to understand how each of us, without being aware of it, carries this

Denise Rochon, ND, FCAH, CCH, is a naturopathic physician specializing in classical homeopathy and Bowen therapy in Halfmoon Bay, B.C. | 604-885-3150

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Yin and Yang in Chiropractic

by Sabrina Chen-See, DC


ccording to Eastern philosophy, there needs to be a harmony between opposites for a balanced life. We need darkness and light, sleep and wake, male and female, activity and rest, heat and cold. The opposing forces are called “yin” and “yang.” When we have too much of one factor and not enough of its opposite, we become unbalanced and it can lead to

problems or disease. The basis of acupuncture is to use needles to help regulate the flow of energy along meridians so they aren’t stagnant or rushing too fast.

Yang chiropractic Chiropractic philosophy is very similar. The goal of chiropractic adjustments is to remove interferences to nerve impulses/flow. One interpretation is that when bones are subluxated (misaligned), they

e A question of balanc

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shut off or reduce nerve flow. By realigning the joints with chiropractic care, normal flow is restored and function is also renewed. This is a yang view of chiropractic, to increase stimulation of nerves. Yang-style chiropractic tends to be great for acute musculoskeletal injuries, such as neck or back pain. Athletes love yang-style chiropractic to improve muscle strength, reflexes, agility, coordination and speed. Taking the pressure

off of pain nerves can lead to significant reduction of pain like sciatica.

Yin chiropractic Chiropractic has a yin side, too. Subluxations don’t always cut off nerve flow. They can also irritate nerves and make them hypersensitive. The nerve irritation can also arise from inflammation and soft tissue conditions, not just bony misalignments. Yin chiropractic,

ce of yin and yang, so does the hu n a l a b man ds a

body .

also called “tonal adjusting,” works on the soft tissue (mostly fascia) to release stress on the spine and thus reduce irritation to the nerves. Yin-style chiropractic is more beneficial for visceral (organbased), systemic (whole body) and emotion-based issues. These include chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, menstrual issues, depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, digestive problems, immune system hyperactivity (autoimmune problems like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, allergies) and insomnia. Tonal adjusting for yin chiropractic generally does not involve quick, stimulating movements to the spine. Instead, tonal adjustments mostly involve sustained pressure, massaging or gentle stretching of specific points on the fascia or the spine. Sometimes, patients can feel the effects of the adjustments immediately—a tingling, calming of nerves, reduction of pain, fatigue or increased energy. The adjustment may also have a delayed effect. In some cases, it takes many adjustments before the desired changes are noticeable.

Yin-yang balance If yin-style chiropractic sounds new or foreign to you, it’s because chiropractic has traditionally been viewed as a male or yang profession, practised by male chiropractors for adult male patients. Like western society itself, the feminine or yin has long been downplayed or dismissed as less significant than masculine values and ideals. What are male values?

The heavy imbalance of male to female values plays a large role in the rise of chronic illnesses in societies that need more nurturing of yin.

Strength, wealth, achievement, power, competition, Type A personality. What are female values? Nurturing, compassion, supporting others, cooperation, appreciation, peace. For true happiness, we need a balance of both male and female values in our lives. The male values provide motivation to get things done and the female values are necessary to enjoy the process and make it sustainable. The heavy imbalance of male to female values plays a large role in the rise of chronic illnesses in societies that need more nurturing of yin.

attention to your inner thoughts (mindfulness). Yin is also nurtured when you take the time to appreciate and connect with nature (hike, garden, take care of animals), people (nurture relationships, help others, enjoy time with friends or family) and spirituality. Foods are also classified as yin or yang. Just as the world needs a balance of yin and yang, so does the human body. In our office, we recognize when yin- or yang-style chiropractic is most appropriate. We then tailor our adjustments to each individual’s needs on a visit-by-

visit basis. Our goal is to help you strive for your dreams, feel more alive, enjoy life more and free you up to find and live your life’s purpose. With chiropractic, this is by freeing up the nerve flow in your body to ease you of physical, mental and emotional stresses. With stronger connections between your body, mind and spirit, yang achievements come easier and life is more satisfying, enjoyable and purposeful with the nurturing of yin. A board-certified atlas orthogonal chiropractor, Sabrina Chen-See, DC, has advanced training in head and neck traumas, concussions and brainstem-related issues. She is also certified in chiropractic pediatrics and the Webster technique to help pregnant women and children. | 604-566-9088.

Nurturing yin Is your life yang-dominant? Are you overstressed? Are you a leader? A business owner? Do you engage in competitive sports? Do you push yourself in the gym to lift heavier weights? Do you measure success by material wealth or going higher up the corporate ladder? Are you too busy for relaxing hobbies? Do you have trouble falling asleep because your mind can’t stop? If you’ve said “yes” to many of these questions, your life is probably yang-dominant. How can we nurture yin in our lives? When you turn inward, you’re nurturing yin, like meditation, tapping into your inner creativity (art, music, journaling, day dreaming, imagination), and paying

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European Kneipp Hydrotherapy Perfect home treatment for summertime by Nicole Duelli, Hp, CCH, RSHom (NA)


believe that small changes practised every day can impact health in a very positive way—keeping you healthier longer. What’s amazing about water therapy is that it’s free, you can do it in the comfort of your own bathroom and you can take as little or as much time as you need. Water can relax or stimulate you—and it is the perfect example of infinite ways to be healthier without it impacting your pocketbook.

Water as therapy Of course you’ve taken a hot bath or shower to wash away the ills of a stressful day—which means you’ve used water therapeutically. That’s because warm water relaxes tense muscles, relieves nervous energy and helps you get a better night’s sleep. But if you’d like more energy and better circulation, then you must try cold water, too—and if you’ve never tried it, it’s not as painful as it sounds! Just seconds of cold water is invigorating, enlivens cells and builds the immune system. If you’ve ever washed your face with cold water in the morning to wake up, then you know how wonderful it can be.

Spas in Europe In Europe and especially Germany, old traditional methods such as water therapy are used alongside conventional medical treatments in spas as a preventative and recovery from heart attacks, strokes and nervous system disorders. Medical insurance companies actually pay for these two- to four-week spa visits because they believe that long-term and preventative health actually costs less in the long run.

Water treatments at home Luckily, you don’t have to go all the way to Europe to benefit—anyone can incorporate


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water treatments into their daily routine. And summer is the best time to start cold-water treatments because high temperatures often cause circulation and energy to suffer. Cold water stimulates, invigorates and enlivens, and if you use this every day, it actually builds your internal resistance to infections, making you stronger and healthier.

Water stepping Are you suffering from sore, aching and swollen feet after a long hike or being on your feet all day? Or do you have cold feet, swollen legs, varicose veins? Use water stepping and you’ll marvel at the difference. You can begin by filling your bathtub ankle deep with cold water. Secure a bathmat in place, so there’s no danger of slipping. Now step into the cold water and walk on one spot, lifting your feet high up and out of the water. You won’t be able to do this for long because soon your feet will hurt from the cold water, but once you step out and dry off, you’ll find your feet warm quickly (even if they were initially cold) and your legs and whole body feel refreshed. Water stepping is an excellent way to venture into the world of cold-water treatments. Just remember that whenever you use cold water, be sure your body is warm when you start. Never apply cold water when you’re already feeling chilly. Next time you’re out on the beach in the hot sun, feeling sluggish and tired, try water stepping in the cool ocean or lake water. You’ll find this invigorating, too, and it has the same effect on circulation.

Hot / cold foot baths relieve headaches If the thought of freezing cold water doesn’t appeal, a gentler way to go is alternating hot and cold foot baths. It’s comforting and still stimulates circulation. Hot/cold foot baths also relieve headaches. If you’ve been over-thinking, feeling overwhelmed

and confused, try the hot/cold foot bath technique. By stimulating circulation in the lower part of the body, excess energy is drawn from the head. It’s relaxing and invigorating at the same time. In one basin, add comfortably hot water to ankle depth, in the other add cold. Start soaking in the hot water for five minutes; then switch to cold for 30 seconds (if you only have one container, you can improvise with running cold water). Repeat the procedure three times, but be sure to end with cold water because it is the cold water that stimulates circulation.

Cold-water rinse Another quick and easy way to incorporate water therapy in your daily routine is ending your bath or shower with a five- to 10-second cold rinse. Cold water can be shocking, so start slow (and check with your doctor if you have any heart problems)—once you turn the hot water off, just put your feet in. Next time or at your own pace, you can go a little further—to the knees, the thighs—and lastly, the whole body. You can do as little or as much as you like, but ending with cold water after every morning shower jump-starts your day, prevents circulatory problems and builds resistance to disease. You’ll find that you get sick less often and you’ll have more energy in the morning.

A little every day Water therapy is a simple method to give you energy, treat circulatory problems and combat everyday stress. A little every day can help keep you healthy and balanced— and best of all, it’s free! Nicole Duelli, Hp, CCH, RSHom (NA), is a classical homeopath. She has been in practice since 1995 and teaches workshops and blogs on all subjects homeopathic. www.vancouver

Your Resting Heart Rate— What Can It Tell You?

Are You Sure You Want to Take Those Proton Pump Inhibitors?

by Ron Gale

by Ingrid Pincott, ND


n the early 1980s, when I was training for the Hawaii Ironman, numerous marathons and ultra marathon events, I used heart rate (HR) monitoring to assist in reducing my risk of injury. It worked like a charm. My morning resting HR averaged 42. If I woke up with a resting HR of 50 or higher, that was my signal to take a day off or have an easy training day until the HR returned to normal. In those days it was not uncommon to train for two to three hours daily. Without HR monitoring, I would normally wait for a morning when getting out of bed to take a day off—a painstaking process at best. You hear little about the benefits of HR monitoring these days. With the number of training watches on the market, it should be a lot easier. Yet, when I mention the technique that I have used for so many years, very few people have ever heard of it, but think it’s worth looking into. Let’s jump ahead to 2016 and look at how I’m using HR monitoring these days. I no longer run ultra distances, but most mornings I go on a 30-minute fast-paced walk and slow jog. I use the principles of high intensity interval training—HIIT. I start off with a 10-minute fast walk as a warm-up, and then include two hill climbs to elevate my heart rate into my target zone. The


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heart rate I aim for and attempt to keep for several minutes is 128. This is achieved by the standard formula of 220 minus my age, times 85 percent. With heart disease in my family, I have decided to follow this program as I don’t have to spend hours in the gym to get the same results. My goal is to keep my HR in the 128-plus zone for several minutes each workout, and a greater period in my cardio zone of 105 to 127 beats. To be able to achieve this in a 30-minute period rather than the excessive amounts of time I trained in years past is not only time efficient, but, I believe, the results speak for themselves. A side light to this is what your HR can show you as the dynamics of your environment

shift from a fast pace to a slower, more relaxed setting. My wife Maggie and I recently moved to the base of Cheam Mountain, just west of Bridal Falls, B.C. We discovered that our move to this rather countrylike setting area from the more cosmopolitan White Rock area has resulted in a lower resting HR for both of us. During the 10 weeks prior to our move, my average daily HR was 65 and it has dropped to 60 in the 10 weeks since the move. My overnight pulse has been as low as 50, which is a noted improvement since the move. My wife has seen her HR come down an even greater percentage, as she continues to benefit from her 30-minute HIIT sessions as well. The only time our resting

HR takes an unexpected jump is when one of the resident bears and her cubs cross our path during our early morning exercise routines. The fact that our HR recovers very quickly after our bear encounters is a sign that our daily exercise regime is strengthening our cardio efficiency. Monitoring your heart rate is definitely one good way to guide you in your fitness goals, ensuring that your heart muscle gets the exercise it needs to do its job. Ron Gale is the president of Healthy Business Consulting Ltd. and was the past president of Health Action Network Society. He spent over 30 years with the Vancouver Police Department and at one point was their fitness coordinator.

roton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are in the 10 top most-prescribed drug in North America and is for the treatment of acid reflux or GERD. I see at least one patient every week who is taking PPIs and wanting to get off them. Bob, age 45, is a typical example. He has been taking PPIs for years and his GERD symptoms were not completely controlled. He also had developed a rash he could not get rid of through conventional treatment so he is ready to try and improve his health. Certainly if a person is in severe gastric pain due to hyper-secretion of stomach acid, these drugs are useful to treat the acute phase. The side-effects of long-term treatment include decreased blood flow to the stomach, bacterial overgrowth in the stomach, hyperplastic polyp formation in the stomach, increased bile reflux and increased food allergy because food is not digested properly. Hypersensitivity reactions that can occur include urticarial (itchy rash sometimes with swelling), contact dermatitis and drug rashes. One of the reasons an MD might recommend a PPI for life is due to Barrett’s esophagus, which increases the risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC). However, in recent research published by F. Hvid-Jensen (2014) the risk of developing EAC increased with PPI use due to the increased formation of polyps while taking the drug! Other complications of long-term PPI

use include increased gastrin secretion, contributing to the risk of colon cancer and esophageal adenocarcinoma; an increased risk in women of hip fracture and reduction in bone density; increased risk of developing community-acquired pneumonia, especially in the elderly; increased risk to developing C. difficile and increased risk of heart attack. I recommended to Bob to come off PPIs gradually over six months to avoid rebound excess stomach acid. Some patients I have seen come off a lot faster than that because they did many other changes at the same time. For example getting off wheat, eating a low-carb diet and eating food in proper combination helps a great deal to reduce GERD symptoms quickly. I put Bob on my candida program, which addressed a lot of these recommendations in one program. The “yeast” killers help to kill off harmful bacteria and taking a strong probiotic away from the yeast killers helps establish a healthy microbiome. This treatment program has helped many with chronic GERD, I told Bob.

I also have great success with a digestive aid containing licorice, marshmallow and slippery elm that is aimed to heal the stomach and help digest starches and fats without the use of protease, which can aggravate these cases in the early phases of treatment. One month later Bob was using much fewer PPIs—he was amazed. His skin was beginning to clear and he was much less itchy. He continued on the candida program for another two months and once he was off the PPIs I recommended a slightly stronger digestive enzyme. During this time I noticed on his bloodwork results that his liver and gallbladder were abnormal so I added a bile thinner and detoxifier to take for at least three months. At the six-month mark, Bob had lost 20 pounds due to the diet changes, his liver enzymes were back to normal and the only digestive aid he needed were the probiotics and the digestive enzyme. Often the symptoms of too much stomach acid are the same as too little stomach acid. The rest of his maintenance health program included B complex, omega-3 essential fatty acid, B12, vitamin D and a calcium-magnesium complex. PPIs deplete magnesium and B12 so we had some catching up to do because he had been on them for so many years. This article originally appeared March 25, 2016 in the Campbell River Mirror. Ingrid Pincott, ND, practised naturopathic medicine since 1985 and recently retired. | (250) 286-3655 Find a professional practitioner near you Health Action |


First, Do No Harm

defends doctors accused of malpractice) and the Healthcare Insurance Reciprocal of Canada (HIROC, Canada’s largest liability insurance provider for hospitals), the report found that about one-third of those cases resulted in catastrophic injuries or even death for the patients. In 64 percent of CMPA’s cases and 93 percent of HIROC’s cases, peer evaluators determined that physicians were a major factor in patient harm. Poor decision-making was the number-one physician factor. But poor decision-making and bad doctoring isn’t really tracked. According to recent data by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), stuff (like sponges or medical equipment) gets left behind in the patient’s body about 7.5 times out of 100,000 surgeries in Ontario. We can assume this is the same across provinces.

Medical error and under-reporting by Alexis Costello


odern medicine can do many amazing things and most of us know someone who has had a close call and been helped at a hospital. But what if there was also huge risk involved in being hospitalized? What if you knew that hundreds of thousands of people died every year as a result of medical error? Martin Makary is a surgical oncologist at Johns Hopkins University and author of a new book about medical transparency, and Michael Daniel is a patient-safety research fellow at Johns Hopkins. In an article published in the British Medical Journal, they call for better recording and accountability for deaths that result from medical error.

In reality, no one knows exactly how prevalent medical error is in Canada.

Figuring out exact numbers is tricky. Death certificates rely on the doctor or coroner assigning an International Classification of Disease (ICD) code to the cause of death. As a result, causes of death not associated with an ICD code, such as human and system factors, are not captured.


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In order to get an estimate of how many people are actually affected by this each year, Makary and Daniel extrapolate numbers from the few sources available (see BMJ 2016;353:i2139 for full details) and come to the shocking figure of approximately 251,000 deaths per year in the U.S., making it the third most common cause of death behind heart disease and cancer.

Medical errors in Canada Surely it is different here in Canada? Unfortunately not, according to Dr. Rob Robson, a physician who led the Winnipeg health authority’s groundbreaking patient safety program for seven years. In an interview with the National Post in 2015 he called

for more public accountability, saying, “You have to tell people that patients are getting hurt. As long as the public doesn’t realize that one in 13 people coming into the hospital will experience some kind of adverse event— and that’s the conservative estimate—then there isn’t any pressure to say, ‘Listen, fix these damn things.’ ” In reality, no one knows exactly how prevalent medical error is in Canada. The best approximation comes from a widely accepted 2004 study now known simply as BakerNorton. The researchers examined patient charts at a representative sampling of 20 acutecare hospitals. They found that 7.5 percent of adult patients—which would extrapolate to roughly 185,000 a year countrywide—suffered a

serious adverse event, almost 40 percent of which were preventable. Between 9,000 and 23,000 people die annually from preventable error, they concluded. The National Post article continues, “Add psychiatric and obstetric patients, and residents of nursing homes and chroniccare hospitals—none of whom were covered by the two studies—and the true number of preventable deaths is likely in the realm of 35,000 annually. That’s four every hour, says Dr. Robson.” A 10-year analysis of 2,974 malpractice complaints and settlements in Canada gives a unique glimpse into what may be going on in Canadian hospitals. Conducted by the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA, which

Errors under wraps Legislation in most provinces bars information on adverse events being released to malpractice plaintiffs or publicly divulged under freedom-ofinformation acts. Our healthcare culture still functions under a hierarchy, where many nurses and care aides feel intimidated by physicians and are unable to speak up if they notice something off. Fear of legal action and a fear of punishment also contribute to keeping things under wraps. Since the Makary article came out, headlines have been popping up everywhere on this subject. Many are simply sensationalizing the report. One written by David Gorski and published by Science-Based Medicine is openly critical of

the article, stating that this sensationalism is promoted by alternative health practitioners as a way of feeding public fears about the medical system and drumming up business. Gorski makes the point that “Estimates of medical errors depend very much on how medical errors are defined, and whether a given death can be attributed to a medical error depends very much on how it is determined whether a death was preventable and whether a given medical error led to that death.” It is very difficult to collect data on a subject that is so hard to define and measure properly, which may account for the huge variance in numbers that you see in various studies and analyses. Gorski argues that, with the information given for the case studies in the BMJ article, there is no real way of knowing whether these were medical errors or not. By looking at these extrapolated numbers, Gorski says that we are missing the true point of the original studies that these are based on, which was to encourage further investigation and a “culture of safety” in hospitals to improve the safety of patient care. Because there is no reporting or accountability, there is no way to learn from mistakes or devise new safety procedures that might prevent future incidents. Most researchers seem to agree that this is a multi-faceted issue—it’s not about doctors being incompetent, rather, it is the fact that medical care is complicated. To err is human. When there are multiple drugs that interact, for instance, or high-pressure scenarios, the risk of mishap increases.

If the U.S. would move away from a system requiring ICD codes for death certificates, it may allow for better reporting of the actual cause of death, which could lead to better health-care research and public awareness. In the end, it seems that all the authors involved really are calling for the same thing: better patient safety. As Gorski says, “Human systems

being what they are, the rate will never be reduced to zero. That shouldn’t stop us from trying to make that number as close to zero as we can.” Alexis Costello is an instructor and practitioner of specialized kinesiology who recently sold her business to run away to the jungles of Costa Rica. www.alexis


(604) 544-2902 Cell: (503) 701-5102 For more info: Email:

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Can a Study of One Be as Convincing as a Study of 101? by Michael Bentley, MSM


t was over lunch in August 2015 that Dr. James McCormack challenged me to consider an “N of 1” study. McCormack is a professor in the faculty of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of British Columbia who has received awards for his education and research, presented hundreds of seminars on drug therapy, published over 100 articles and served as an editor for two internationally recognized textbooks on rational drug therapy. McCormack had reviewed the research on a natural mineral ingredient but still had doubts despite three clinical trials (where the number of participants (N) were 100, 150 and 10), mechanism of action research and more. So McCormack proposed an N of 1 trial that he would supervise without compensation as a favour and out of curiosity. An N of 1 trial has a single patient who receives on a randomized basis either a placebo or treatment in various cycles over a defined time frame. This type of trial can help assess if a treatment is effective for an individual. McCormack bet a dinner that the participant in the trial would not notice a discernible difference. I offered to be the candidate—my first time in a clinical trial. A scoring system was agreed to and sets of placebo and treatment bottles simply marked A or B arranged, “blind” to both McCormack and I. McCormack randomized the A and B products and provided them to me marked simply from 1 to 8. Each contained a 14day supply of either placebo or treatment. On Sunday, October 4, I started on bottle one and finished bottle eight on Saturday, January 23, 2016. On a daily basis, I recorded my physical activity and my level of soreness on a scale from 1 to 7, with 1 representing no soreness to 7 representing very severe soreness (cannot


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be ignored and markedly limits daily activities and often requires rest). On Monday, January 25, I emailed McCormack my final activity and scoring log, along with my speculations on which bottles were placebo and treatment based on how I felt and as reflected in the scores. McCormack then learnt the identity of A and B (treatment or placebo) and called me shortly afterward. He said the odds of identifying placebo or treatment by chance approached zero, then advised that I had guessed exactly right for every bottle. Based on my impressions and scores, he concluded that for me it certainly looked like treatment was having a noticeable

effect and caused to him to wonder why the treatment didn’t score even better in the prior trials. In my opinion, it comes down to study design. In this case, most of the studies with the treatment product had protocols inconsistent with the manufacturer’s suggested guidelines both by the patient’s weight and by the timing of the dose. Other factors can be at play, too. Every person is different and diets and physiological factors differ widely. But here is a case where an N of 1 was more convincing to the professor than the larger trials that preceded it.  Michael Bentley, MSM, is president of SierraSil Health Inc. Health Action |


Lyme Disease and Cannabidiol The role of medical marijuana in relieving symptoms by Ernie Murakami, MD


yme disease is a complex, rarely understood disease that is systemic in nature. It can present itself with a myriad of symptoms (sometimes well over 100) that easily lead to misdiagnosis. Although the diagnosis of Lyme is a clinical diagnosis, some common symptoms are a bull’s-eye-shaped rash around a bite site, followed by flu-like symptoms, fever and general malaise. You can find a full list of symptoms on my website, www. Lyme is carried by various birds, rodents, deer and ticks. Mosquitos and other biting insects may also be vectors to this disease. It is passed among the animals and insects in this group when a tick latches onto an infected host, usually a deer mouse. The spirochetes (Borrelia burgdorferi)  in the infected blood of the mouse enter the blood of the tick and begin another life cycle, or continue their life cycle in the stomach of the tick. The tick then bites or latches onto a different host and infects the new host with Lyme disease. The disease was first discovered in 1970 with the characteristic bull’s-eye rash appearing on men from the Groton, Connecticut, submarine base, and the findings of studies reported by navy doctors in 1974. The disease then affected a group of families in the town of Old Lyme, Connecticut, where awareness of the disease became more prominent and it received its current common name of Lyme disease.

Lyme disease in Canada Although media attention has brought more awareness of Lyme disease in Canada, a huge body of professionals remain ignorant to the current statistics and facts surrounding this disease. In light of this, there is a misconception that Lyme simply


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severe symptoms of pain, arthritis, fatigue, depression (with suicidal ideation), mental fog with multi-organ failure, they resorted to smoking marijuana. I was deathly against the use of pot and smoking, but I gradually became more interested in its mental and physical benefits and I began directing patients to use cannabidiol (CBD) since there were no psychoactive effects. Until recently, low-dose tetrahydrocannabis (THC) combined with CBD was the only route available. Nabilone, a synthetic extract from marijuana, was used for my multiple sclerosis patients with some success for mental and physical symptoms, but this was a legal medication with a DIN number.

Antitumour, antibacterial benefits

There is a misconception that Lyme disease simply isn’t as bad as people think or that it doesn’t exist at all.

isn’t as bad as people think or that it doesn’t exist at all. I have treated and consulted with more than 3,000 people in Canada who have presented positive serology for Lyme and co-infections. These people come from every province and have recorded geographical bites obtained from every province as well. For anyone to claim that Lyme does not exist is a blatant denial of the problem and a red flag of how poorly educated we truly are.

Case for cannabidiol My special interest in Lyme disease and the research of cannabis-based treatments for this disease for chronic sufferers was influenced by several factors. In the past 20 years, since my first case of this disease, patients were telling me that when all the standard medications were not helping the

Playing hockey with my grandson and hitting my head on a beam in the basement led to a fracture and a 10-centimetre asymptomatic tumour, as revealed on X-ray. Having a brain tumour forced me to investigate possible treatments for a brain malignancy, which was considered a strong possibility in my case. I came across the use of cannabidiol dissolving a glioma tumour. I thought this was an impossibility until I saw MRI reports showing the absolute, gradual resolution of the tumour in four months. I was further amazed that Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a well-known neurosurgeon, reversed his opinion on the benefits of medicinal marijuana, which he had openly condemned in 2011. Other anecdotal cases of cannabidiol treating chronic infections resistant to standard antibiotics convinced me that there was an antibiotic effect with cannabidiol. Research initiated by our association in the first stage of testing cannabidiol on live spirochetes has now provided us a positive evidence-based study needed to continue with further testing. This second-stage study is being conducted at an American university.

What Is Cannabidiol? CBD biology and therapeutic rationale Cannabidol (CBD) is one of more than 80 active cannabinoid chemicals in the marijuana plant. Unlike the main psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not produce euphoria or intoxication. Cannabinoids have their effect mainly by interacting with specific receptors on cells in the brain and body: the CB1 receptor, found on neurons and glial cells in various parts of the brain, and the CB2 receptor, found mainly in the body’s immune system. The euphoric effects of THC are caused by its activation of CB1 receptors. CBD has a very low affinity for these receptors (100 fold less than THC) and when it binds it produces little to no effect. There is also growing evidence that CBD acts on other brain signaling systems, and that these actions may be important contributors to its therapeutic effects.

Preclinical and clinical evidence Rigorous clinical studies are still needed to evaluate the clinical potential of CBD for specific conditions. However, preclinical research (including both cell culture and animal models) has shown CBD to have a range of effects that may be therapeutically useful, including anti-seizure, an-

tioxidant, neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antitumour, anti-psychotic and anti-anxiety properties.

Safety of CBD Despite its molecular similarity to THC, CBD only interacts with cannabinoid receptors weakly at very high doses (100 times that of THC), and the alterations in thinking and perception caused by THC are not observed with CBD. The different pharmacological properties of CBD give it a different safety profile from THC. A review of 25 studies on the safety and efficacy of CBD did not identify significant side-effects across a wide range of dosages, including acute and chronic dose regimens, using various modes of administration. CBD is present in nabiximols, which is approved throughout most of Europe and in other countries. Because of this, there is extensive information available with regard to its metabolism, toxicology and safety. However, additional safety testing among specific patient populations may be warranted should an application be made to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Excerpted from a presentation on June 24, 2015 by Nora D. Volkow, Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse, to the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control

Ernie Murakami, MD, is a clinical associate professor emeritus of the University of British Columbia who holds a bachelor’s degree in bacteriology and immunology. Health Action |


TPP Politics and Big Pharma Profits The Trans Pacific Partnership is bad medicine, plain and simple

R&D at historic lows

by Michael Butler


hen we think of trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), we often overlook the impact they have on our health. These secret deals fundamentally impact and undermine our health policies. Now, you would be right in asking why trade lawyers, economists and businessmen are deciding policies in regards to health when they know little about the subject. The simple answer is that the biggest benefactor from the TPP is the pharmaceutical industry (“big pharma”) and our government is more than willing to do their bidding.

Increased drug costs In a recent meeting of the House of Commons committee on health, Health Canada finally admitted that “prescription drug costs will rise under pending free trade agreements...” This comes at a time when approximately one in five Canadians reported having difficulty filling their prescription due to costs. Prices for drugs are 26 percent higher than the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) media and Canadians have the second-highest costs only after the United States. The TPP will add more than $800 million to prescription costs and limit the possibility of creating a national pharmacare plan that could save


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of the many ways that the TPP will make drug monopolies more common, stronger and longer, and drug prices higher.

Canadians an additional $4 billion to $11 billion annually. With the TPP, the pharmaceutical industry’s greed has reached never-before-seen heights. The predatory changes to grant more patent rights to big pharma will mean more price gouging, higher drugs costs and less availability of the medications many Canadians need. In 2015, pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. spent 50 percent more on lobbying than the runner-up industry (insurance). While Canada’s lobby reports are more general than those in the U.S., international trade was the top lobbying topic for Canada in 2015. Scanning the reports, the pharmaceutical sector and their industry association

The predatory changes to grant more patent rights to big pharma will mean more price gouging, higher drugs costs and less availability of the medications many Canadians need.

comes up time after time on this topic. International trade was mentioned 1,476 times in Canadian lobby communications reports in 2015, which is 248 more times than the number-two topic. The top three topics—1. international trade, 2. industry and 3. health—all encompass the pharmaceutical sector depending on how they choose to report their communication. And even with the rules being

bent further to undermine the public interest through the TPP, the pharma lobby in the U.S. and Canada is still not happy with the gift they have been given at the expense of our health. On April 9, 2016, we saw the Obama Administration send a document to Congress defending the TPP against the pharmaceutical industry’s critique that they did not get enough from the deal. The memo includes a description

Despite record-breaking profits of recent years, big pharma continues to use the rhetoric that they need more entrenched patent rights so they can conduct research and development (R&D). Further, the TPP has provisions that will prohibit governments from requiring information about drug prices or R&D costs in connection with drug registration. Who wants a trade agreement to enforce a further lack of knowledge and willful ignorance of drug prices or R&D costs? Reports show  that nine of the 10 largest pharmaceutical companies in 2013 spent more on promoting their drugs than R&D. In Canada, the Patented Medical Prices Review Board (PMPRB) has recently  shown  that spending on pharmaceutical R&D in Canada has hit historic lows.  In their annual report released at the end of 2015, drug companies (specifically patentees) spent 4.4 percent of earnings on R&D, which is the lowest amount since the PMPRB started reporting in 1988. It is worth pointing out that this 4.4 percent marks the 12th consecutive year that Canadian pharmaceutical companies have

True north

not met the threshold of 10 percent of domestic sales they promised to put into R&D in 1987 in exchange for their periods of market exclusivity to be increased. Worse, it has been documented that more than 80 percent of new drugs do not provide any new benefits over existing products, despite being sold at higher prices. The industry’s clinical trials remain flawed and opaque with unfavourable results often not reported. A recent project  found  that of the five most prestigious medical journals, 58 out of 67 articles regarding clinical trials examined had “switched outcomes,” that is, big pharma had played with the numbers to get the results they wanted. Medical science has increasingly become financialized with big pharma ghost managing and ghost authoring medical journal articles to create a favourable marketing environment for their new drugs. This is the R&D industry the TPP wants to entrench.

Health policy under attack The TPP will also undoubtedly create a policy chill in regards to our government implementing better public health reforms and policy. Already under the North American Free Trade Agreement’s investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system, the drug company Eli Lilly has

90 p n a h t e r Mo


filed a lawsuit against Canada demanding $500 million in compensation for turning down patent extensions for two of their drugs (which would then allow other companies to make affordable versions of its medicines). This is intimidation, pure and simple, and it is going to get worse under the TPP. It perhaps comes as no surprise that the new Liberal government has vetoed a national pharmacare program, despite Canada being the only developed nation with universal medicare to not have a pharmacare component. A glance at who has been lobbying the government tells you all you need to know. At the same time a recent poll found that more than  90 percent of Canadians support the concept of pharmacare. Health economists have shown through  studies  that Canadawide savings from national pharmacare would add up to between $4 billion and $11 billion per year. Perhaps more importantly, a universal pharmacare program could be a tool to properly regulate the cost of drugs, ensure they are safely prescribed and improve people’s health outcomes. We have a historic opportunity with the negotiations for a new Health Accord to include pharmacare, but it will take political will above all else. Without a wholesale change in how we govern big pharma, half measures like a new formulary,

catastrophic coverage or bulk buying will simply be more of the old. Accepting the failures of our current pharmaceutical policy and signing trade deals that increase patent monopolies, give less transparency into R&D, infringe the democratic right to implement public health policy and increase drug prices is, at the end of the day, a political choice. While universal pharmacare cannot fix all of these problems, it might help get things on the right track. It is up to Canadians to shine a light on the institutional corruption spread by the pharmaceutical industry when our governments have been bought off. It is clear that the industry has the power to influence Canadian trade agreements and is rigging the political system, putting patents and profits before patients. Now more than ever we need good pharma, not big pharma. Michael Butler is national health campaigner for the Council of Canadians. He is a passionate advocate for quality public health care in Canada and is working coast to coast to protect, strengthen and expand Canada’s most cherished social program, medicare. His work covers a wide variety of topics but is grounded in the principle that need must come before ability to pay in our health system. |

adians suppor t the concept of pha n a C f r maca cent o


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with the recommended vaccine schedule. While many countries, including Canada, present as if vaccinations are mandatory, the reality is religious and philosophical exemptions exist to allow for voluntary and informed consent. In the United States 47 states allow for medical, religious and/or philosophical exemptions. Only Mississippi, West Virginia and California deny religious or philosophical exemptions, effectively eliminating informed consent to citizens living in those states. On the other extreme, Australia introduced a “No Jab, No Pay” policy in 2016 to impose vaccine compliance. This policy financially punishes families who choose to abstain from one or more vaccines. Families who do not fully

partake in all recommended vaccines are ineligible for government financial support including the Child Care Benefit, the Child Care Rebate and the Family Tax Benefit. Religious and conscientious exemptions are not permitted, effectively eliminating the medical right of informed consent in Australia. In Canada, in spite of the messages delivered by Health Canada, school authorities and the media, all vaccines are voluntary. While the Province of Ontario requires parents to provide a record of vaccinations received upon school entry, they cannot legally require vaccination as a requirement to attend school or a publicly funded daycare. In every other province one’s medical record, including vaccination record, is private and may

only be released with the consent of the individual or parent. Any effort to make vaccinations mandatory in Canada would contravene the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Mandatory vaccination would also violate the medical ethic of informed consent, the Nuremberg Code and the Universal Declaration of Bioethics and Human Rights, to which Canada is a signatory. “Any preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic medical intervention is only to be carried out with the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned, based on adequate information. The consent should, where appropriate, be expressed and continued on page


Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe

T International Vaccine Policy Mandatory vaccination would contravene our medical right to informed consent by Ted Kuntz


any assume that all countries of the world vaccinate their children and adults with the same number of vaccines, at the same ages and with the same frequency as occur in Canada. The fact is vaccine policy varies amongst the world’s nations. Some countries focus on educating their populace about the benefits and risks of vaccination, leaving the choice to individuals. Other countries offer financial incentives to vaccinate. And others have rigid vaccination schedules and impose financial and other consequences for those


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individuals and families who choose to abstain from one or more recommended vaccines.

Number and frequency With regards to the number of vaccines and the frequency, Canada has one of the most aggressive vaccine schedules in the world. Health Canada now recommends 39 doses of 14 vaccines by age two, and 49 doses of 14 vaccines by age six. The U.S. and Canadian schedules are almost identical with the exception of hepatitis A, which Canada does not recommend at this time, and BCG (tuberculosis), which

is used in Canada’s north. The number of recommended vaccines in Canada has more than doubled since 1980. By contrast, Japan started relaxing vaccination laws in 1987 and fully repealed mandatory vaccination in 1994. The Japanese stopped using the combination MMR vaccine in 1993. Japan has also stopped recommending the HPV vaccine in 2013 after serious side-effects were observed.

Mandatory versus voluntary The international community also varies on how they address non-compliance

he recently released documentary Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe may be the most important film of our generation. The documentary is important for two reasons. First, it is an in-depth exposé of the disclosures of Dr. William Thompson, a senior researcher with the U.S. Immunization Safety Division of the Centre for Disease Control (CDC). In 2014, Dr. Thompson took official whistleblower status to reveal that the CDC has been committing research fraud for more than 10 years in order to deny a causal link between vaccines and autism. Dr. Thompson claims the CDC has known a causal relationship exists between vaccines and autism and is actively engaged in a cover-up rather than in keeping our children safe. The catastrophe referred to in Vaxxed is the fact the rate of autism has skyrocketed from less than one in 10,000 children before 1980 to one in 45 children today. It is estimated that approximately 3.5 million children and adults live with autism in America, and the numbers are increasing at a dramatic rate. At the

same time that the CDC is covering up a vaccine-autism link, they are aggressively promoting their agenda to remove the right to informed consent and make vaccines mandatory for all children and adults. The second reason Vaxxed may be the most important documentary of our generation is what it reveals about mainstream media and a seeming de facto blackout in the media and a refusal to

report any concerns about vaccines. This was no more apparent than the well-orchestrated effort to prevent the screening of Vaxxed at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. Actor and Tribeca founder Robert De Niro personally wanted to introduce Vaxxed. Because of the subject matter of the film the media demanded the film be removed from the festival. These efforts occurred in spite of the fact media critics had never seen the film. De Niro eventually succumbed to the media pressure and Vaxxed was removed from the festival. On the Today Show, De Niro expressed his anger with the censorship and stated: “The movie is something that people should see” and “Let’s find out the truth.” He also declared that this matter is personal. He and his wife have a son with autism. Vaxxed exposes that we as a society can no longer depend upon our government leaders and institutions, including the media, to protect us and tell us the whole truth. To learn more about Vaxxed, visit

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International Vaccine Policy continued from page 63 may be withdrawn by the person concerned at any time and for any reason without disadvantage or prejudice.” –Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, Article 6 – Consent

Pressuring for mandatory vaccines In spite of these legal and moral protections there are increasing pressures to impose mandatory vaccination upon Canadians. In 2015 Maclean’s magazine ran a series of advertisements sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry with the caption, “Fighting to Make Vaccines Mandatory.” In December 2015 the Toronto Star published an editorial advocating for mandatory vaccinations entitled “Make It Harder to Opt Out of Immunization.” The Ontario Press Council was unwilling to take any action to safeguard our Charter Rights and Freedoms from these challenges. In 2015 the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) announced its intention to introduce a “mandatory vaccination” resolution at its annual meeting. Although the CMA stepped away from this resolution after much public pressure, it did pass a recommendation for mandatory “vaccine education sessions” for parents intending to exempt their children from one or more vaccines. The Ontario government has declared its intention to impose this education requirement on any parent seeking a vaccine exemption.

Canada has one of the most aggressive vaccine schedules in the world. Health Canada now recommends 39 doses of 14 vaccines by age two, and 49 doses of 14 vaccines by age six.

What is increasingly prevalent throughout the world is a well-organized and orchestrated effort to extinguish the medical right to informed consent for both children and adults with regards to vaccination. The World Health Organization is actively promoting its Healthy People 2020 initiative that includes a worldwide plan to increase vaccination rates by: n Eliminating vaccine exemptions for philosophical or religious reasons n Increasing public education campaigns about vaccines n Expanding vaccine delivery sites to pharmacies, workplaces and schools n Bolstering immunization registries and tracking n Requiring universal immunization of health-care personnel as an employment requirement

Vaccine injury compensation The United States introduced a Vaccine Injury Compensation Plan in 1986. To date the U.S. Vaccine Court has allocated more than $3.2 billion to individuals harmed by vaccines. All western countries have followed with a vaccine injury com-

pensation program with the exception of Canada and Russia. Canada and Russia are the only G8 nations without a national no-fault vaccine injury compensation program. At the Canadian Medical Association annual meeting in 2015 a resolution recommending a national compensation program for vaccine injuries was put forward but did not pass. The motion failed with 70 percent of our doctors voting against a national vaccine injury compensation plan. It’s time to take a stand. Our Charter rights and freedoms and our medical right to informed consent is under attack as pertains to vaccinations. If we value these rights and freedoms, we need to be prepared to protect them. Ted Kuntz is a parent of a vaccine-injured child. He has dedicated more than 30 years to researching the vaccine literature and is an advocate for preserving our right to informed consent. Kuntz sits on the board of directors of Vaccine Choice Canada (http://vaccinechoice He is also an author and a psychotherapist in private practice. Kuntz’s book, Peace Begins with Me, is a summary of his journey of making peace with his son’s disabilities.

allow for medical, religious and/or p s e t a t hiloso s 47 s phica e e d c u a d “ o N t r o t J a n a i b t , a S i N l o d a r e l P t t i a s n y U u ” e A policy e In th l i h , ns, w families who choose to abstain g n i h s exemptio i . lly pun a i c n a fin

Different policies


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World Health Organization Weakens Conflict-of-Interest Safeguards by Bill Jeffery, LLB

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n May 28, 2016, the final Saturday afternoon of the World Health Assembly meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, after a week of negotiations that excluded both non-governmental organizations and the media, the World Health Organization’s governing body revamped its rules for interacting with outside organizations. The final rules expressly permit “business interest groups” to participate in the governance of the world’s chief public health agency and replace the stated policy that WHO should not engage with organizations that are “primarily of a commercial or profit-making nature.” The new rules also welcome the involvement of the private sector in technical collaboration, but eschew them in standard development, a distinction that potentially exposes WHO to commercial influence if applied loosely by WHO staff. The new rules categorically preclude collaboration with the arms and tobacco industries, but are vague about the involvement of alcohol, food, pharmaceutical drug and medical technology industries. The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Drug Manufacturers and Associations, the International Diabetes Federation and the NCD Alliance, all heavily funded by pharmaceutical drug and/or medical technology companies, applauded the new policy. By contrast, earlier in the week, 60 public interest groups issued a joint statement raising concerns about the erosion of safeguards and ambiguities in the draft proposal. Spokespeople for those groups reiterated these concerns at the only time allotted to them—after the final decision had been made. Much of the potential effectiveness of the WHO’s new conflict-of-interest


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safeguards depends on discretion granted to the agency by its governing body. If staff are unwilling to keep private interests at bay in the coming two years, the May decision could mark the beginning of a sharp deterioration in the independence of the World Health Organization from the industries it purports to oversee. Like the WHO, Health Canada does not directly deliver health-care services (a provincial responsibility in Canada). But, unlike WHO, Government of Canada law- and policy-making negotiations are funded by mandatory taxes, not charitable contributions from governments and private foundations and, potentially, industry associations representing the food, drug and medical technology companies. Though Canadian institutional conflictof-interest rules are far from perfect, it is illegal for private companies to financially contribute to political parties, political candidates or individual bureaucrats and, of course, to join Parliament. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which will directly or indirectly contribute 13 to 20 percent of the entire WHO budget through at least 100 grants (according to 2014 U.S. Internal Revenue Service reports) is heavily invested in disease-relevant industries (according to U.S. Security and Exchange

Commission filings) including Coca-Cola, pharmaceutical retailer Walgreens, food retailer Walmart, McDonald’s Restaurants, a South American cable television consortium and other purveyors of food and screen time that evidence links to the rise of cancers, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and to pharmaceutical drugs, the sale of which rise with every diagnosed illness. It is unclear how the new policy will affect Gates’s contributions, its investment strategy or national governments’ efforts to adequately fund WHO work without so much private funding. The new policy, which does include promising new transparency measures, is to be fully implemented in the coming two years. A new director general is to be elected by this time next year. Hopefully, the WHO will demonstrate more transparency and inclusiveness to the perspectives of public interest groups in the coming two years than it did in this one. Source: Media release, May 28, 2016, by Bill Jeffery, LLB, Executive Director, Centre for Health Science and Law (CHSL), issued on the Framework of Engagement with Non-State Actors (FENSA). BillJeffery@HealthScience | Twitter: @BillJefferyCSPI

Our Strength iS in numberS The Health Action Network Society (HANS) is a non-profit society incorporated under the British Columbia Company Act on July 25, 1984 and the publisher of this magazine. The Society believes in the human body’s own healing power, a power derived from man’s dynamic integration with the natural order. This natural healing power (or vis medicatrix naturae, as Hippocrates described it) is mediated through the body’s immune response system in ways which modern science is only beginning to understand. These innate curative mechanisms, if not interrupted by physical or psychological stressors, are

capable of maintaining a high level of personal and social well-being. As Paracelsus has said, “Nature cures; the doctor nurses.” As the society’s name implies, it has been created to “network” – to put people (individuals, public and private organizations) in touch with one another in the constant effort to maintain and enhance health. But it also seeks to stimulate this journey towards individual and collective well-being by encouraging and supporting research into factors related to “health” and the self-care and preventative health care strategies conducive to high-level wellness.

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Health Action Magazine- Summer 2016  

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