Posted by: Chris Maloney | November 30, 2017

Seeing The Outback Vision Protocol Clearly.

Here’s the question: if something is amazingly successful, why does it need to saturate the airwaves with advertising?

That’s the problem with the Outback Vision Protocol, which was first sent to me by a patient. The extremely long infomercial-style presentation promised me that two marvelous supplements would cure very serious vision problems. My hearty presenter informed me that these supplements, with the addition of kangaroo meat, are what a keen-eyed group of soldiers use for superhuman vision. They cured his wife’s eye problems and they could cure mine.

Some of you already can see what’s coming. But if you’re one of the millions of people dealing with macular degeneration, you might keep reading and pull out your credit card. So let me save you the time. (Read more here).

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Posted by: Chris Maloney | November 28, 2017

Can Diet Alter the Course of NF1?

A new study, brought to my attention by a patient, shows wonderful news for both children and adults with NF1. We finally have evidence that this genetic disease can be seriously improved through dietary intervention. It also gives evidence that supplements added to a bad diet won’t help much.

The study followed NF1 patients for six months, on either the Mediterranean or Western diets. Neither diet impacted the rate of neurofibromas. Then the researchers added 1200 mg (three capsules worth) of turmeric to the diets. Adding turmeric to the western diet did nothing. But adding it to the Mediterranean diet caused a slowing in the buildup of neurofibromas. Some patients even saw reversing disease.

Read more here

Book on NF1 for parents.

Posted by: Chris Maloney | November 9, 2017

When Is It Fake News? Time Delays And Medical Breakthroughs.

I’m been tracking multiple newsfeeds, and adding Newsmax to my information diet has  made my life interesting. As a Conservative newsfeed, it doesn’t seem to give me that much of a different view politically. But it certainly sells me hard on medical news, which makes me wonder if being Conservative is a health risk.

A recent headline from Newsmax in October caught my eye, “CT Scans Tied to 24% Cancer Increase.” It’s certainly within the realm of possibility since increased exposure to X rays will increase your risk of cancer. But by a quarter? That’s a little bit of a stretch. So I went looking for the article.

Newsmax has a terrible habit of making it difficult to find the medical journal articles they are citing. There’s no direct link, and often only an oblique reference to the journal or the authors. I guess most Newsmax readers don’t care about the source as much as I do.

When I did find the article, it was published in 2013. So why is an article published in May of 2013 being promoted as new healthcare news in October of 2017? Is there a four year lag time for medical news on Newsmax? I don’t think so. I think the Newsmax medical author Dr. Brownstein may have finally gotten to his February article of this year which says that the additional CT risk of cancer for older patients is a whopping 0.05%. Unhappy with this result, he went back and decided to trumpet the 2013 result instead. It suits his personal message that CT scans are bad for you.

Now, both reports are correct. The more recent one in 2017 was on older people who smoked. Their additional risk of getting cancer from CT scans of their lungs is pretty low. The earlier study in 2013 was done on children in Australia. Having more CT scans done as a child when your cells are still rapidly dividing will raise your risk of cancer.

The take-home message on CT scans? Don’t irradiate your kids if you can help it, but smokers should get checked for cancer.

But I’m interested in the larger message. Is promoting the truth with a time lag the same as fabricating news? If someone was yelling “fresh apples!” and you bought them but the apples were four years old, I think a complaint is in order. It’s not enough that they were fresh once. Apples have a shelf-life of a few weeks.

In our instant world, what is the acceptable time lag for news? Is it a few hours, a few weeks, a few months, or a few years?

Or is news timeless? Can I write a blog post about handwashing being better for killing germs than those perfumed alcohol rinses every few years, and have it be news all over again? I wrote one of those back in 2013, so maybe our news cycle has done a full turnover since 2013 and I can start reposting my old blog posts as if they were all new again.

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Chris Maloney | October 7, 2017

Is There Such A Thing As A Bad Vegan?

We all know that there is such a thing as an annoying vegan. An annoying vegan is an evangelical vegan, one who considers your food choices to be at least a venial sin. The really annoying vegans claim that your consumption of ribs near them is disruptive of their ability to consume their arugula spout parfait with the proper zenlike yogic breaths.

But in a recent New York Times article, Jane Brody tries to make the case for an unhealthy veganism. She cites the reality that vegans now have a wide choice of vegan junk food, and creates a fictional vegan who abhors meat but consumes nothing but chips and soda. Such a creature may exist, but I’ve never met her.

The rest of Brody’s article feels like backsliding. First, she backslides to the reality that we all should be eating a plant-based diet. Then she’s citing several recent studies that found, shockingly, that a plant-based diet leads to less heart disease. So we don’t really have a sense of those bad vegans, just those bad meat eaters.

Brody also discusses the vegans’ need for full proteins at meals, a concept generated by Francis Moore Lappe’s first edition of Diet For A Small Planet and which has been debunked for decades. Lappe herself has worked hard to undo the myth she created. It turns out that the studies Lappe was using about complementary plant protein combining were based on the need to recreate the egg protein content at every meal. We now know that the body can actually store different parts of protein and you don’t need to constantly think about eating complementary plant protein sources three meals a day. The studies the Lappe had access to were in part based on using chickens as a model for what we humans need to eat every day. And yes, for a chicken the egg protein is ideal. Not so much for humans.

The other concern for vegans is getting enough B12, which is simply a matter of getting sublingual tablets. Yes, having no B12 in your body will do very bad things to you, including making you crazy. But you don’t need to be a vegan to get deficient. You can have low stomach acid (from heartburn medications) or an infection of your stomach that blocks the intrinsic factor you need to absorb the B12. Medical researchers note that B12 deficiency is extremely rare in vegans and is much more common in people with abdominal illnesses that block absorption. So the argument for vegans lacking nutrients lacks substance.

But the vegan/non-vegan split is an artificial one. Those of us who live in the food wars know that a locally grown, grass-fed cow has as much in common with something you pick up through a fast food window as Venus does to Mars. Technically, they’re both meat, but that’s where the comparison ends. The same would be true of a locally grown, farmer’s market salad and one that requires your sub-Saharan superfruit be flown to you from some dictatorship. There are good food choices and poor foods choices, and they have more to do with a larger, much more complex situation than with the dairy council’s ancient four food group teachings (they still fund nutritional education right up through medical school, and only a quarter of doctors get any required training in nutrition.)

If you’re eating antioxidant capsules brought to you by slave labor from another country, you’re missing the point. Just as you are when you’ve stared down the poor man with his ribs halfway across the restaurant. In a world where we just live and let live, compassion needs to replace condemnation.

A bad vegan is not unhealthy from a lack of nutrients but from a lack of common courtesy. In these trying times, we need to be as aware of our contempt footprint as much as our carbon footprint. So let’s all keep our self-righteousness in check out there.

Disclosure: Christopher Maloney, N.D., is a 95% vegan with an affection for occasional fish. He’s also gluten-free and sugar-free. Currently, he is working on a (very short) cookbook. For people with abdominal problems, he wrote a book: Tending Your Internal Garden.es-1-plate

Posted by: Chris Maloney | September 22, 2017

Pregnant Moms Dealing With Zika Fears

My article on Zika was just published this month by Naturopathic Doctor News and Review (NDNR). The article, entitled Zika: Original Antigenic Sin? is written for my medical colleagues and might be dense (a nice word for mind-numbingly boring) for someone expecting.

In the article, I talk about how Zika’s birth defects might be tied to other infections. Specifically previous infections by the dengue virus. The previous dengue infection attacks the Zika virus, surrounding it, but does not kill it. Instead, the immune system allows the now surrounded Zika virus to enter the brain and spinal cord. It’s this reaction, not just the virus itself, that allows Zika to do what it does to infants.

The take home for expecting moms is: previous dengue infection? Greater risk of birth defects. No previous dengue infection? Probably much lower risk of birth defects.

Oh, and I mention that Zika isn’t passed from person-to-person primarily via mosquitoes. It’s likely passed by unprotected sex. So for those of you patting yourself on the back because you don’t happen to live in Houston these days, remember that you don’t need a mosquito bite to get infected.

Want a lot more? I wrote a short book about it, called Zika Virus When You’re Expecting. If you’d like it in Spanish, the translated version is Todo lo que necesitas saber sobre el virus del Zika

Zika Virus When You're Expecting

Posted by: Chris Maloney | September 20, 2017

Got Back Pain? Alternatives To Surgery

If you’ve ever had back pain in the past, there was an answer instead of surgery. Pain killers. Drugs powerful enough to block your pain. The popularity of opiods as painkillers has more than doubled the number of prescriptions in the past two decades according to the New York Times. But now that we have an opiod abuse epidemic, doctors are being told to back off opiods and give NSAIDS or other pain medications. But all these drugs can seriously damage body organs if taken in high doses over a long period.

As painkillers have become less in vogue, the New York Times reports researchers are starting to endorse alternatives. But they throw the entire world of alternatives into the same pot. As if mindfulness meditation and chiropractic are the same thing and would work for the same people.

Over the last two decades I’ve worked with many people who have chronic back pain. Usually they see me after the pain specialist, the surgeon, and the chiropractor. Then they come away without pain after a few treatments and wonder how it happened.

I’ve put my research and results into a new book, which combines the mental therapies of Dr. Sarno with stretching techniques like the Mackenzie Method. I add in a map of the back, showing where emotions come into play and where you can expect to create habitual physical responses. No, back pain isn’t in your head, but it’s affected by how you process stress. It can also show up as an unconscious habitual tightening that you may not be aware is even happening. Curious? It’s all spelled out in my short, simple book. If none of it works, I’ve included ten cheap treatments to try before surgery.

bookcoverforprtinyWhere can you get this magnificent book? I’ve made it as easy as I can.

For the print-only folks, there’s an Amazon print book.

For the kindle crowd, there’s a kindle version.

And for those of you who are Amazon-free, I’ve published with smashwords (with a free preview). They will distribute to all other independent ebook retailers (ibooks, Barnes& Noble, etc.)

I know I’ve left someone out, so I will also email you a copy of the book (tell me your favorite format) if you send me payment ($10.95) via paypal or even snail mail. Email me for more information at docmaloneynd@gmail.com If you have friends truly off the grid, we can do the paper mail exchange (recycled, of course.

There, I’ve covered everyone.

Posted by: Chris Maloney | August 6, 2017

Can We Move Beyond Dieting?

When the New York Times magazine starts talking about a post-dieting era, it’s mostly wrong. A study published this year in Eating Behaviors shows that one in four girls and one in five boys was on a diet in the past month. In middle school. That’s right, during the peak growth period of young person’s life, many young people are depriving themselves of food.

But it is true that by the time we reach our fifties, after decades of failure, we’ve started to become jaded to the constant promises that this next diet will do the trick. So the sale of diet products has dropped, but only a bit. Don’t feel bad for the diet industry, which still averages about twenty billion dollars a year, most of that from women.

Is the failure of dieting just more fake news? Not really. The fake news would be if introduction-3someone said that any of the diets were superior. All of them work short term, about equally. But the weight loss is only tracked for a year, because all of the diet sellers know that over about two years the weight is regained. No, it’s not you. It’s pretty much everyone, except those highly paid spokespeople who’s job it is to convince you to buy their diet product.

Just want to have that fat suctioned away? Unfortunately, it comes back.  Women who had liposuction looked better for a few months, but returned to their previous state within three to twenty months. Even bariatric surgery, that last resort, shows mixed results for the truly obese. In the first year, it had a higher mortality than not doing the surgery. For other obese patients, short term surgery results are dramatic, but no one is tracking patients for longer than a few years to see if they keep the benefits.

The newest thing on the horizon, and look for this to be marketed hard as soon as they figure out how to package it, is going to be fecal transplants. If you haven’t heard about these, it’s exactly what it sounds like. You literally eat someone else’s poop. Maybe our dogs have known something we don’t know all this time. Why does this work? Because the bacteria in your gut largely determine how many calories you absorb. We figured this out when germ-free mice suddenly got fat after getting the gut bugs of obese mice. They didn’t eat more, they just gained weight while eating the same amount. Now we’ve moved into testing human twins’ gut bacteria on mice. Once again, the mice getting the fatter person’s bacteria got fatter.

So should we just give up on trying to change our diets at all? No, but we do need to reframe our expectations. The idea that our bodies will lose a significant amount of weight and keep it off doesn’t really mesh with the whole survive as a species idea. Here’s a TED talk that pretty much does in the idea of permanent long-term weight change.

But, while I find that inarguable, I will say that permanent, sustainable, and dramatic lifestyle change is possible. In the last two years, I’ve dropped five pounds. That’s well within the range of my internal set point of ten to fifteen pounds as detailed by the TED talk.

Big whoop, you say. Yep, that’s why diets fail, because my five-pound weight loss is the average for all diets over the period of a year. But let’s drill down into my weight loss to point out the failure of conventional wisdom about weight-loss and why we’re not fated to live out our lives determined by a set point.

In full disclosure, I was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2015 (I’m fine now, thanks, but your ongoing prayers are appreciated). At my diagnosis, I became a sugar-free, gluten-free vegan. (Yes, I’m writing a cook book -it’s very thin.) Surprisingly, this diet stuck when nothing I’ve done over the years has. Call it the “I don’t wanna die” diet, which is evidently what I needed to get serious.

So how come I’ve only lost five pounds? Well, see the rest of the article. Then take a moment to realize that, unless you’re going full Fruitarian, you won’t out-strict me in your weight loss efforts.

BUT…I lost two belt loops. That’s right, my belly is about two inches smaller. Did I forget to mention that I exercise six days a week? Yeah, my body is the same weight, but it’s not the same shape. I can do things easily now that I couldn’t before. I look better than I have in years. And my body continues to reshape itself, almost two years in.

What’s the change? Well, complete diet and lifestyle shift, which seems to be lifelong. That will work for weight loss, and explains every person you’ve ever seen who’s lost weight and kept it off. So the goal can’t be dieting, which involves an arbitrary end date where you supposedly won’t be dieting. It has to be change that you can maintain for the rest of your life. Finding that change, which is individualized, is the key to getting and staying healthier.

 

Posted by: Chris Maloney | July 18, 2017

Is Spin Class Killing You?

The New York Times reports on a hospitalization after a person’s first spin class, and notes that “at least 46 other cases of people developing the condition after a spin class were documented in the medical literature, 42 of them in people taking their first class.”

Pushing beyond our boundaries is a good thing, until we find ourselves exhausted or sore to the point of destroying our own torn muscles. That process of massive muscle breakdown, called rhabdomyolysis, is what caused hospitalization.

How do you know you’ve gone too far? You know if you’ve had experience with lower intensity work outs and spent a couple of days limping around. But if you’re just starting out, you may look around you and see the other experienced

But if you’re just starting out, you may look around you and see the other experienced cyclers working at twice your speed. Human competitive spirit can kick in and you can push yourself beyond sanity.

Of course, the experts are quick to add that they would never discourage exercise in any form. But when you’ve pushed beyond your boundaries, that’s not exercise. It’s like starting an exercise group with hundred pound barbells and telling them to lift it. They might do it, but only by injuring themselves. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

As we get busier lives, the push to intensify exercise feels seductive. Maximize performance, minimize time. Isn’t that the modern mantra? But we need to remember that just because our phones got upgraded last week our knees didn’t get improved any time recently. Pushing our bodies beyond what they can reasonably do is a recipe for injury, not a lifestyle choice. IMG_0754

Perhaps in the future we’ll have an outdoor saunter class for every spin class, more people walking than weight lifting. But until we find balance as a society, find your limits slowly and honor them.

Posted by: Chris Maloney | July 14, 2017

Jamestown Canyon Virus, Another Maine Horror Story?

The Jamestown Canyon Virus is now in Maine. And right in my county too, which makes me feel like I should close the windows and slather on something to keep the mosquitoes at bay. Definitely never go outside again. Shocked Senior Man in Dining Room with a Laptop Computer

When Stephen King writes about strange creatures prowling the woods of Maine, even he didn’t think he was telling the truth. He just got the size of the creatures wrong. Instead of demon-possessed dogs, we’ve got demon-possessed mosquitoes?

Barely a month ago we had an outbreak of Powassan virus, which sounds a lot like something you’d get from defiling a Native American burial ground. Now we’ve got something that combines the puritanical Jamestown with pioneer Daniel Boone’s canyons. Maybe our ancestors really are spinning over in their graves?

Jamestown Canyon virus was discovered, you guessed it, in Jamestown Canyon, Colorado, back in 1961. It’s part of a viral family that has about 170 members, all of them with strange sounding names. Maybe it’s time to stop calling viruses after where you find them. Other members of the Jamestown family include the Main Drain virus and the Mahogany Hammock virus (both real!). It’s hard to imagine doctors taking a case of Mahogany Hammock illness as seriously as they should.

 

None of the Jamestown family of viruses is well-known, mostly because they haven’t caused much illness in the U.S. Jamestown itself is one of the most dangerous ones and caused 31 cases in the thirteen years between 2000-2013. But if you look at the chart of those illnesses, it tells a different story. Almost all of the cases have been in the last few years, which means cases are increasing (or we’re just testing more for the illness). Of the 31 cases, only half were hospitalized with meningitis and there were no deaths.

What does Jamestown feel like? A case in Montana was described as: “fever, severe frontal headache, dizziness, left-sided numbness, and tingling.” Not something you’d ignore. That patient was initially diagnosed with West Nile virus because he had antibodies and only later diagnosed with Jamestown.

So should we all fear Jamestown Canyon virus? Maybe, but it’s likely that it’s a lot more widespread than the severe cases. In a study of Michigan residents, 27% of them had antibodies to Jamestown Canyon virus. The culprit appears to be the nearness of the person to white-tailed deer, who are the primary carriers of the virus with the mosquitoes as intermediaries. Can we have a show of hands of the number of Mainers who think we don’t all live in proximity to white-tailed deer? Yep. About one in four of you have likely already had Jamestown Canyon virus. And if you get symptoms of left sided numbness and tingling combined with a severe frontal headache, get to an ER in any case. Stroke, not a rare virus, is your primary concern.

Posted by: Chris Maloney | July 7, 2017

Another Reason To Love Your Dog: Walking Probiotics.

Gleason shots Nov 2011 030When I was writing my book on the microbiome, Tending Your Internal Garden (free ebook until 7/13/17), I was amazed that we tend to share more of our bacteria with our dogs than our children. It makes sense, since dogs tend to lick us more than our children (at least after the age of three). But a recent study reported by the New York Times now tells us that all that dog licking is good for us.

According to the NYT, dog licking and the bacteria they bring with them raised the number of 56 different bacterial species found in our homes. Dogs outperformed cats, who only brought in 24 different species.

Now, keep in mind that the average home has 125,000 bacterial species and 70,000 species of fungi. We’re giving off roughly 38 million bacteria ourselves every hour. So a few more species shouldn’t make that much difference.

But, as I point out in Tending Your Internal Garden, diversity is the key. More species compete with each other. They keep each other in check, much like a perpetual round of antibiotics. What you don’t want is one dominant species, either in your home or in your body. One species left unchecked will change into a tyrant, rapidly reproducing itself and impacting your immune system.

The real enemy is sterility, or the myth of sterility. Washed hands, operating rooms, even NASA space probes are not sterile. They are MOSTLY sterile. Which means that they harbor a few resistant bacteria who will take over that vast stretch of empty space if given the chance. (A concerned mother has asked me to add: You should still wash your hands, because it will decrease the number of bacteria right before you eat. But if you have washed your hands hours ago, your hands are no longer clean.)

Even if the bacteria don’t get you, your immune system might. We’re set up to be dirty, absolutely filthy. Your immune system, bless its little heart, is a bit like a biker gang running security at a heavy metal concert. Give it a few rowdies, and it’s happy. But if it’s a hippie love-in with no rowdies, the immune system is going to start wanting to crack some heads just for the heck of it. We experience these overreactions as allergies, since the immune system has gone after dust mite turds or flower pollen as a possible threat to our existence.

Enter our faithful hound, dragging eu de skunk, every flower pollen in the yard, and more than dust mite turds into our homes. All these little nuisances are just what we and our offspring need to lower our allergic responses. After 40,000 years, dogs are finally getting their due as man’s best friend.

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