If you read my previous column, or my essay contrasting allopathic and naturopathic approaches to healing (both located on this website), you will see references to “systemic thinking.” Basically, this means the realization that everything is connected to everything else. For example, naturopathy recognizes, in a way that allopathy typically does not, that the different systems in the body are part of a larger system (the organism), which in turn, are part of an even larger ecosystem. So you don’t just treat the symptom or even the diseased organ, you treat the whole person. You even try to improve their environment to the extent possible.
Similarly, aspects of our society that may seem entirely separate, like medicine, energy, education, economics, science, politics, the media, law, spirituality, etc., are in fact intimately connected. The way a society approaches each one of these issues will be reflected in the way it deals with each of the others to a large extent. If you want to see a superb example of systemic thinking, applied to every one of the topics mentioned above, read as much as you can of the Wade Frazier website (see Links), especially the long essay entitled The Medical Racket. Thoreau once stated that “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” Frazier is one of those striking at the root, and I’ll be referring to his mind-blowing site in the essay that follows and in future columns. See footnote1 for more details. The reason I’m bringing all this up, is that in my columns, I too will be employing systemic thinking as much as possible. At times, it may seem like I’m rambling or going off on tangents, but the point is, it’s really all connected. So… I was once walking with Dr. David and he referred to one of the local “Quickie Mart” stores as an inconvenience store, a name that struck me as particularly apt. There is very little that is convenient at these stores for someone concerned about health and the environment. Let’s pick a typical “convenience” store and mentally walk through it, applying systemic thinking as we go. What’s often right out in front of the store, before you even walk in? You got it—gas pumps. If you fill up your tank, you are feeding the colossal oil industry, the one that made Rockefeller rich and famous over a century ago. Doesn’t it seem strange that with all the amazing new technologies over the past century, there has been basically no change in how we fuel our vehicles? Actually there have been alternatives developed—and I mean truly radical alternatives beyond merely the hybrid car. The hybrid car is in the right direction, but still works within the fossil fuel paradigm. No, I mean truly radical ideas—free (or nearly free), non-polluting forms of energy and transportation. Check out The Energy Racket and related essays and links on the Wade Frazier website; Frazier was personally involved in a situation of a brilliant innovator trying to bring a radically novel super-efficient engine to the market only to see the technology suppressed and the inventor jailed. Another inventor was threatened and then bought off when he showed up with a carburetor that allegedly could get over 100 mpg. Here’s where systemic thinking comes in. It turns out that Rockefeller, Carnegie, and other corporate moguls were not only influential in preventing public transportation and the development of non-fossil fuel sources of energy, but they were also involved in fostering the dominance of allopathic medicine in America! A century or more ago, the allopathic system was not very efficient and was in competition with naturopathic, herbal, and homeopathic systems, which often worked considerably better. There is more money in hospitals, drugs and surgery, however, and guess what we mostly have available today? As with Frazier’s inventor friend, those who try to promote cheap, harmless, effective alternative treatments—especially for cancer—are also likely to have their research destroyed and their careers ruined.2 Frazier makes clear the systemic connections between the two rackets, the same power mongers—or at least people of the same ilk—being behind both. Many of the pharmaceuticals developed, in fact, were “useful” ways to recycle industrial waste, fluoride being a prime example. Frazier includes a nightmarish essay on the topic of fluoridation, explaining how a tooth destroying, mind-numbing toxin became fraudulently promoted as a way to “protect” teeth! So when you pump that gas, think systemically. Realize that you are ultimately going to be spewing toxins into the air; when you then get sick from these and other industrial pollutants, your doctor will most likely prescribe further toxic drugs to help restore you to health. (Right!) It’s not a coincidence. It’s all part of the same system, with the same corporate hucksters getting rich poisoning you and then “curing” you. Maybe next time you’ll consider seeing a naturopath, one of whose primary goals is to help you detoxify. Ok, matters are getting depressing and we haven’t even stepped inside the store yet! I once asked the owner of a convenience store what his “big sellers” were. His response was—no surprise here—alcohol (beer), cigarettes, and lottery tickets! And then he added that in the morning coffee was a hot item (pardon the pun). In other words, what paid his bills was the demand for harmful, even addictive substances (well, gambling, while psychologically addicting, may not be physiologically addictive; however, some people claim they get an endorphin “rush” while gambling, so this too may be something of a physiological addiction). Alcohol and tobacco of course are two of the easiest ways to reduce your life span by 10-20 years (more if you drive drunk or smoke in bed). Caffeine isn’t good for you either—it doesn’t give you energy, merely helps you squander what energy you have, so you get exhausted later and then need another cup. Coffee is also acidic, and remember what people typically put in coffee—sugar and cream. The only health promoting use of coffee is in enemas, believe it or not, and it has been used that way as an adjunct in some alternative treatments of cancer, e.g., Gerson therapy. So if some irate coffee lover tells you to stick it up your butt, just smile! Anyway, none of these “best sellers” are very convenient if you are following Dr. David’s regime. I could talk about lottery tickets being a subtle way of taxing the poor, but perhaps that’s getting too far afield (although nothing is really too far afield when thinking systemically). But really, gambling does relate to a deeper addiction: greed. One Native American spiritual teacher once half-jokingly stated that Americans left off a letter on the dollar bill. Where it says “In God We Trust,” it should actually read “In Gold We Trust.” Greed was seen as a form of insanity by most Native Americans, and some Northwestern tribes even had a “potlatch” ceremony wherein tribal members gave away and even destroyed their excess wealth. Wade Frazier has some extensive essays on European and American history pointing out that the search for gold was a major impetus behind the voyages of Columbus and other conquistador’s. Things don’t seem to have changed much. Greed, as we have already seen, not only underlies gambling, but also explains why we pay lots of money for toxic fossil fuels and pharmaceuticals, and why cheaper, cleaner, more efficient alternatives are not available. Speaking of Native Americans, I often muse that they achieved a sort of inadvertent revenge for the genocide and cultural destruction inflicted on them (from perhaps 80,000,000 inhabitants to a tiny fraction of that number today, with lots of poverty and deprivation still for the majority of the survivors). How? By offering us various harmful, addictive substances as part of a “cultural exchange.” Alcohol was an addictive drug that Europeans brought over here, and it is still a major problem for Native Americans. But tobacco, cocaine, sugar, and—on many reservations today—gambling, are all addictions that intentionally or not, we took over from them. Of course, Native Americans used tobacco sparingly, for ceremonial purposes. They chewed coca leaves and probably natural sugar cane. It took the ingenuity of Europe to refine the sugar, mass produce the tobacco, process the cocaine, and build the casinos—to the detriment of us all. Back to the store… Let’s see, suppose you are thirsty and you walk around to the coolers looking for something to drink. Basically there’s nothing you can drink on Dr. David’s plan aside from water. Forget the milk, iced tea, soda, beer, wine, juice, lemonade etc. (What about diet soda? It has no sugar! Let’s hold that for a later paragraph). If you can get fresh apple cider at some point during the year that would be OK. Orange juice is usually from concentrate, which kills the enzymes, but even if not from concentrate, is still rather acidic. Dr. David maintains that citrus fruits should be kept to a minimum, although lemons and limes are good cleansers and hence ok (but lemonade has lots of sugar!). Limes, as you might know were what allowed British sailors to avoid scurvy, earning them the nickname “limeys.” What you may not know is that in the 1500’s when Jacques Cartier was exploring Canada, the natives gave him a brew made from pine bark needles, which cured the scurvy of his men. The British medical establishment ignored this for several centuries leading to much unnecessary illness and death, until finally some British doctor got all the credit for sending limes along on naval voyages. As for diet soda, first of all, any soda has stuff in it you don’t want, aside from sugar: caffeine, phosphoric acid, and artificial coloring, for example. I’ve heard that certain cola drinks are good at taking rust off automobile chrome. True or not, better use it outside your body. It’s anything but the “real thing.” Sugar is awful, being deleterious to virtually every organ and system in the body, but Nutrasweet (aspartame) is worse. Dr. David told me that the FDA has had more complaints about aspartame than any other drug or additive, ever. Aspartame, when warm, decays into formaldehyde! It’s been implicated in Gulf War syndrome and lupus. Dr. David told me he has known several cases of women who drank a two liter bottle of diet cola every day and later developed cervical cancer (one friend of mine developed lupus, but stopped her soda addiction when I showed her an article I had on this). And, ironically, aspartame apparently does not even help you lose weight! Tim O’Shea, D.C., quotes one study in which weight gain (!) was a side effect of aspartame. In fact, do yourself a huge favor and visit Tim O’Shea’s website The Doctor Within for a must-read essay on sugar that also deals with aspartame, diabetes, and alcohol. Maybe it should be posted on the door of every inconvenience store… So why, you might be wondering, does the FDA allow aspartame? Interesting question. Why also did the FDA ban stevia for a while? Stevia is an herb that is about 50 times sweeter than sugar, but is actually good for you. It helps regulate blood sugar. Dr. David told me that in Japan stevia is used in cola drinks. Why was a harmless herb banned (I think it’s now available, but cannot be labeled as a sweetener per se) while a potentially toxic chemical sweetener was given the OK? Does the FDA truly represent the health of the American public or the “health” of the sweetener and agribusiness industries? Several of the cancer books cited in the footnotes2—and Wade Frazier, again—have great information on the fraudulent, even illegal activities of the FDA. In fact, Herbert Ley, Jr., former Commissioner of the FDA stated, “People think the FDA is protecting them—it isn’t. What the FDA is doing and what people think it’s doing are as different as night and day.” So better skip the aspartame. Well, water is ok, right? Except for this: why should you have to buy water? Aside from the cost of pumping it up, which is minimal, why isn’t it free? Mostly because tap water is so impure. It has chlorine and maybe fluoride and God knows what other chemicals in it. I never drink from the water fountains where I work, unless I’m dying of thirst. I bring water from home, but we are fortunate enough to have our own well and a good filtration system. I still wonder what’s in it, but I figure it’s probably as good as what comes in those plastic bottles. Speaking of which, I recently read that you shouldn’t reuse those bottles as water bottles because some carcinogenic chemical in the plastic will get into you. You need a hard plastic bottle. Apparently they don’t leach plasticizers into the water. Even buying water isn’t such a simple matter!3 OK, you’re hungry too, so what do you buy? Almost everything inconvenience stores sell is high in sugar, fat, salt, dairy,4 white flour, chemicals, preservatives, etc. Most of it is dead, processed, devitalized food. If there is any fresh fruit, well, it doesn’t usually look all that fresh and it’s doubtful if it’s organic. The only items worth buying might be sunflower seeds, trail mix, and nuts (if fresh and unsalted). Sometimes I wonder, though, how long these packages have been hanging there on the rack, since most customers are apparently not there to buy healthy stuff! Then there’s the ice cream freezer. In my less enlightened days I used to like Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. It had neat flavors, neat names, neat owners, and they seemed pretty fair in how they ran the company. But, the product itself is still essentially dairy, high in fat, sugar, and has additives like propylene glycol and other nasty toxins that they don’t usually list on the label. Much better for you is Rice Dream, which makes an occasional summer treat. Even better, if you must have dessert, try pineapple or papaya, which have digestive enzymes in it. Or wait an hour or two after eating and have any kind of fruit. Our “sweet tooth” is Nature’s way of getting us to eat fruits at their ripest, and our fruit eating in turn helps spread seeds, but this symbiosis has been perverted by modern day pancreas-zonking candies, cakes, doughnuts, etc, that are loaded with refined sugar (or high-fructose corn syrup, etc.). Sugar is the first item on Dr. David’s “Do Not Eat” list and yet the average American consumes almost 150 pounds of sugar per year! Which is one major reason why, as I noted in my introductory column, that most of us are full of crap! So whether it’s outside at the pump, or inside with food and drink, you are probably not going to find much that doesn’t pollute you one way or the other. Here’s an interesting quote that gets to the heart of things: “There are three things which build and maintain civilization throughout time: pure air, pure water, and pure food. And as an eternal truth I say unto you, that there are three things which bring the end of civilization, even the mightiest that have ever been and shall ever be, from the beginningless beginning to the endless end of all time: impure air, impure water, and impure food.” –Zenda Avesta, c. 3000 BC. That was 5000 years ago—you would think we would have learned this basic lesson by now! What would a true convenience store offer? (not that I’m naïve enough to expect such a store to gain widespread acceptance tomorrow). Well, it could offer fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. It could have a salad bar and a juice bar for smoothies, carrot juice and the like. There could be reasonably healthy snacks like dried fruit, unadulterated trail mix, not too junky health bars and such (but you’d better check the labels), maybe home-made soup in the cold months, and pure, free (or nearly free) water on tap or in non-plastic bottles. Even the miscellaneous items like laundry detergent could be the environmentally friendly kind you can get at health food stores. And, oh yeah, because we’d all be using cleaner, more efficient forms of energy in this fantasy, there would be no gas pumps outside (maybe there would be some kind of recharging unit; perhaps even that wouldn’t be necessary). Being able to purchase any item in the place without worrying if it’s good for you or not—now that’s a convenience store! ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
I had hoped to be able to tackle “stupid markets” here too, but space demands a separate essay. There are some promising movements afoot in some supermarkets, however, like organic produce, so they can actually be a bit more convenient than inconvenience stores, if you shop carefully. Next time!
1The Wade Frazier website is truly awesome. First, it’s about 1200 pages, the length of six 200 page books! Indeed, several of the longer essays, including “The Medical Racket” are the size of books. Second, regardless of whether Frazier writes about science, medicine, history, spirituality, politics, personal experiences, economics, or whatever, everything is tied together; in fact, the essay is densely cross-linked so that a passing reference to a particular topic can be followed up in depth on another of the site’s essays. That’s why I said above that it’s a superb example of systemic thinking. Frazier also includes numerous links to other websites and extensive footnotes. It would take years to follow up on the books and websites he cites as sources. Now, I don’t always agree 100% with everything he says. Here and there I find a point where I take issue or at least feel that his conclusions may be a bit extreme. Still, overwhelmingly, I resonate to what he says. Whether you ultimately agree with his views or not, you owe it to yourself to spend a few hours reading his basic introductory material, and “The Medical Racket,” and then anything else that catches your eye. If you don’t find much of his writing to be mind boggling and a serious challenge to many of your long held assumptions, you’d better check your pulse. 2This may seem like a strong, even incredible statement, but there is a mountain of documentation to back it up. It has happened not once or twice, but dozens of times. For some readers this will be old hat, but if this all sounds to hard to swallow, take a serious look at the following books, in addition to the Wade Frazier website: The Cancer Industry by Ralph Moss, who actually worked at Sloan-Kettering during the laetrile controversy; World With Out Cancer by G. Edward Griffin; The Healing of Cancer, The Cancer Cure that Worked, and The Cancer Conspiracy, all by Barry Lynes, and Options: The Alternative Cancer Therapy Book by Richard Walters. The Frazier website provides a huge historical overview of the two competing approaches to healing (“masculine”/heroic/allopathic vs. “feminine”/nurturing/ naturopathic). To steal a line from the Walters book, if you think this sort of medical racketeering could not happen in America, you’d be dead wrong! 3Dr. Tim O’Shea’s website thedoctorwithin.com has an excellent—and scary—essay on water. Did you know that some European swimmers won’t even go into a chlorinated pool? 4In case you are wondering why I keep harping on dairy products, a topic I’ll most likely return to in a later column, see the notmilk.com and milksucks.com websites (see Links).
Joel Funk, Ph.D.