Sandy Hook – Ban the Guns

Gun

Having lived in Asia for many years in countries where guns are not present in the community to the levels experienced in the USA, I have formulated a fairly strong opinion that the primary cause of the mass shooting problems in America is the prevalence of guns and therefore the solution is to ban those very guns.  Consequently I view the NRA as mainly a bunch of deluded old men or red-necks with an irrational paranoia who are incapable of logically addressing the argument of gun control, the solution of which is as already stated, to ban guns.

I guess I was wrong.

As someone who enjoys approaching subjects logically and hopefully rationally I follow a blog by Sam Harris.  Sam is someone who holds a lot of values common to me.

Following the incident at Sandy Hook Sam wrote a wonderful piece addressing the issue of gun control.  Due to the amount of interest it generated he then wrote a follow up.  I won’t repeat his wonderful writing here, but instead encourage you to visit his blog and read what he has written.  What he writes is very clear and to me is a voice of reason in the heated emotional debate that is gun control in the USA.  I consequently have changed my mind and agree with Sam.  Why?  Because what he writes is logical and reasonable.  If you, like me a few days ago, have strong views that guns must be eradicated in the USA, then I strongly encourage you to read Sam’s piece.

Finally, part of Sam’s blog discusses the issue of armed guards outside schools.  Many people will likely throw their hands in the air in disgust at such a suggestion.  I would ask you question why you have that reaction, and again, read Sam’s blog.  Part of me dreams of the idea of bringing home thousands of troops from overseas and employing them as these guards.

 

Posted in Psoriatic Arthritis | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Get Your Flu Shot

I saw a great little article from the national psoriasis foundation regarding taking extra care if one is on immunosuppressive medications such as remicade, enbrel etc.   It did remind me though of the nutjobs out there who believe that vaccines cause all sorts of crazy diseases and that they are a government conspiracy to somehow cull the population or dumb us down.  How do these people even function properly in this day with such great access to good information?  I guess I should look no further than those who believe in religions though.  There is another group of people who ignore the copious amount of evidence out there that the religious books are just plain made up.  I’ve lost count of the number of my friends who will spout out “vaccines cause autism”.  They are just plain lazy.  How long would it take to type “vaccine autism hoax” into a browser search box?  Lazy.

Anyway, here is a great little article regarding 4 flu-shot myths.

Anyone who reads my blog will know that if you want to lose weight then you need to cut out sugar, not fat.  I’ve posted many articles with evidence.  Why is it that scientists are so slow though to acknowledge this?  My guess is that the sugar lobby (looking at you soda companies) are pulling out all the stops much the same as tobacco tried to stop the flood of evidence that smoking was bad for health.  So I groaned when I read that scientists in New Zealand published a study showing that cutting down sugar will help you lose weight.  You don’t say (said in a sarcastic voice).  Maybe the Internet is a little slow in New Zealand.

So keep up taking care of yourself, avoiding sugar, and smiling all day long.  It really does help to keep you happy and well.  I’ve taken to purposely smiling as much as I can when I’m walking around and I’ve found it really makes a big difference to my outlook.  In order to help me keep the smile I find I think of some joke or funny thing I’ve heard of recently and recall it to myself, which makes me smile.  You can’t help but be happy when you smile all the time.  I really don’t care if people think I’m crazy.  I tell you though, I really notice all the dour looking people around!

Keep smiling!happy

Posted in Live Forever, Psoriasis, Remicade, Weight Loss | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Jesus Lovers Are Usually Insane

I was not surprised to see an article today regarding a study just completed and reported in the British Journal of Psychiatry showing that spiritual people are more likely than atheists to have mental illness, take drugs, and a host of other negative behaviors.

Yes, the blog title is probably a little sensationalist but I’m sure with my previous blogs I’ve scared all the ‘spiritual’ people away anyway.

Interestingly those who counted themselves as “religious” were better off than those counting themselves as “spiritual”.  It makes sense to me as in my experience those people who count themselves as “spiritual” almost spit out the phrase “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual” if you happen to ask if they are religious.  They will strive to point out to you that “it isn’t a religion, it is a way of life” as if that suddenly proves it isn’t a steaming pile of something foul.  Also in my experience those people who count themselves as religious are usually those who are brought up in the faith so see their church going more as a “tradition” rather than a spiritual encounter that has them waving their hands in the air and trying to cast “the devil” out of people like me.  People with strong traditions usually are more grounded (which is what the tradition provides – a repeated process as an anchor) and can use that for support in times of stress. Atheists have rock solid science to ground them, and interestingly atheists are shown to be more moral and law-abiding than Christians or religious people as they will respect the law whereas Christians will put their religion above the law!

People who would define themselves as spiritual usually have some kind of need for acceptance (an unhealthy one) or are from a difficult up-bringing, which drove them to the bright lights and promises of the happy clappy church that they belong to.

Sure you will find exceptions, but for those who have experience with these “spiritual” churches I’m sure you are nodding your head in agreement.

I’m thankful to see that belief in some fantasy god is slowly going down around the world.  With some luck hopefully within a generation or so it will totally be gone just as past belief that the world was flat disappeared as more people accepted logic.  I’m sure at that time there were some hold-out nutters though that would have sworn black and blue that the world was indeed flat.  As with current deceived spiritual nuts they probably used the same “prove that it isn’t flat then” argument mirrored today by the “prove god doesn’t exist then” crowd.  Proving a negative is not the most effective method of proving something though.

And if what I’m typing has made you livid because you are one of these spiritual freaks, then good.  Maybe it will make you angry enough to research some scientific truth.  Keeping you in the dark is the goal of the manipulator.  Don’t be afraid to “shine the light of truth” onto any stubborn spiritual beliefs you have.

 

Posted in Psoriatic Arthritis | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Evil Sugar Raises Its Ugly Head Again

I’ve blogged many times about how bad sugar is and the solid link between sugar intake and obesity (NOT fat and obesity!).  I read today on yahoo yet another anti-sugar study by scientists showing that it appears that sugar intake spurs the brain to crave more food!  You can read the article here.

I routinely aim to have less than 10 grams of sugar at each meal I eat and it has really paid dividends.  Without changing anything else I dropped several pounds and have kept it off.

If you are unsure about whether cutting out sugar will make a difference or not, or even don’t believe it.  Just try it for 2 weeks.  What is 2 weeks of limiting sugar and keeping everything else the same?  Sure it means that you’ll have to check some labels to see how many grams of sugar are in it, and not eating anything you are not sure about.  But come on, it is only two weeks.  Try it out!

evil_cupcake_in_colour_by_sugarXfrost

Posted in Low Carb Diet, Weight Loss | Tagged | Leave a comment

Government Approval to Subsidize TNF Inhibitors

Yesterday I read a great article about psoriasis patients in Hong Kong looking to get treatment subsidized by the government.

Previously I worked in Hong Kong for around 4 years, and they have a great health care system offering universal coverage (i.e. taxes go towards paying for healthcare treatment for all).  However like most universal healthcare systems, coverage is limited since funds are limited.  Therefore someone in government (typically a committee) will often meet and discuss the latest treatments out, or treatments pushed forward by some lobby group, and decide on whether to add it to the list of things subsidized by the government (of course I am greatly simplifying the process here!).

The committee will look at how much a treatment typically costs, the effectiveness, and the demographics of the patient group, i.e. how many people are suffering and would benefit from treatment; and also how the disease affects quality of life, i.e. the greater the degree of loss of quality of life then the more weight is given to approving subsidization.

However with psoriasis this brings a big issue.  What is that issue?  Well stating it frankly, the numbers of people suffering & debilitated by psoriasis is huge.  In large populations we are talking about millions of people.  The other key issue is that the cost of TNF inhibitor treatment for one person is very expensive.  I’ve blogged before (and you can find some typical costs in the menu) that TNF inhibitor treatment for one person for one year typically costs around US$25K (private treatment).

So how does this relate to the current situation in Hong Kong (and any other countries which governments subsidize TNF Inhibitor treatment)?  Well I believe the following:

  1. The rate of psoriasis is increasing in society due to more being triggered through diet, pollutants, stress etc.  We will not see any decrease in this (and other) auto-immune disease until there are major changes to these three items.
  2. TNF Inhibitors absolutely will improve the condition of psoriasis patients.  In my experience TNF inhibitors produce close to 100% remission for psoriasis sufferers and brings such an incredible rise in quality of life – it is nearly impossible for someone who hasn’t suffered with an obvious skin condition to understand how life changing this treatment is.
  3. Methotrexate is a terrible solution for psoriasis.  It takes so long to see any results (if any) and in my experience does not give any great result!  The patient still suffers from a lot of psoriasis and therefore continues to suffer a huge degrade in quality of life.  Added to this patients are NOT well informed that they will be required to undergo a liver biopsy!
  4. Governments have a limited healthcare budget and therefore have to choose what treatments get subsidized and which miss out.  This is further complicated by strong lobby groups and pharmaceutical companies who pressure the government to make a decision in THEIR interests and not that of society.

So imagine if you are on the committee who has to decide on how healthcare funds are allocated for treatments.  Psoriasis comes up and you look at the figures.  You see from overseas research that TNF inhibitors can effectively put psoriasis into remission and give the psoriasis patient back their life.  You see that the treatment costs will go forever and are at least US$15K per person per year (assuming the govt. can get a good discount as per the article).  You also see that the numbers of people affected by psoriasis are in the hundreds of thousands.  You look at the summary at the bottom and note that if TNF inhibitors are approved for all those that NEED them, then you will have to cut many other currently subsidized treatments in order to stay within budget.

The bottom line?  The committee takes the “safe way” out.  They don’t disapprove subsidizing the treatment (as this would give a backlash), instead they approve it but “raise the bar” for access.  They will put out propaganda stating that methotrexate works in the majority of cases (which is garbage when comparing the outcome of methotrexate treatment to that of biologics) so therefore the majority of psoriasis sufferers can be treated with that.  For the remainder, you will have many hoops to jump through before you can get approval for treatment.  This way the government can “save face” and declare that they are making this treatment “available for all” (a great campaign ad).

But wait!  The propaganda machine is already in action.  In the article dermatologist Yeung Chi-keung said this:

“Dermatologist Yeung Chi-keung said first-line treatments such as creams, exposure to ultraviolet light and oral drugs tend not to work for about 10 percent of patients, who will then require second-line drugs, which are injected.”

Which planet are talking about Dr. Yeung?  Or more accurately, who is putting money into your pocket to make such a claim?  Looks like a government plant to me.  Walks like a duck, talks like a duck….

First-line treatments such as creams and oral drugs are typically useless, and not only that, they have terrible side effects when compared to biologics!  Do no harm Dr. Yeung!  For quality of life and safety TNF inhibitors blow creams, oral drugs, and UV light out of the water.  Yes, we are aware of how the TNF inhibitors can lower immunity – however we are a smart patient group.  I notice you didn’t say anything about long term affects of steroid creams on skin, methotrexate toxicity on the liver, or skin cancer from UV light exposure.  And if you want to go on further about the immunity danger of biologics, how about comparing the death rate of psoriasis patients through infection caused by lower immunity vs. death rate by suicide of psoriasis patients driven to death from embarrassment and being ostracized from society?

Dr. Yeung is talking BS, however I believe he is indeed a government plant and is making a covert signal that they will ultimately approve the treatment for “10%” of psoriasis patients.  After the committee approves biologics and figures roll in showing only about 10% of psoriasis patients are being approved for treatment they can point back to Dr Yeung’s quote above as justification of denying up to 90% of applicants.

So overall brickbats and bouquets for Hong Kong.  Bouquets that you are approving (finally) a good treatment for psoriasis, but brickbats that you had to pull out this Dr. Yeung to make such an outlandish statement that creams, oral drugs & UV light  therapy are enough for 90% of patients.  Hogwash.

Posted in Briakinumab, Fingernail Pitting, methotrexate, Psoriasis, Psoriasis Treatment, Remicade, secukinumab AIN457, TNF Blocker | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Would You Like Butter With Your Coffee?

The other day I listened to Joe Rogan talking with David Asprey.  David is the author of the www.bulletproofexec.com website.  Now I had heard briefly of “bulletproof coffee” in the past, so was interested to hear what David had to say.

Now according to David’s website he describes himself as a “bio-hacker”, and explains he is:

“a Silicon Valley investor, computer security expert, and entrepreneur who spent 15 years and $250,000 to hack his own biology. He upgraded his brain by >20 IQ points, lowered his biological age, and lost 100 lbs without using calories or exercise”

Now from where I come from, anyone who is so grandstanding would be labeled with the “c” word, that sounds a lot like “blunt”.  So it is fair to say I was heavily skeptical when I first heard about Dave.  However with not much to do and several hours to spare, I lined up the podcast and listened in.

I quickly began to get interested in what David had to say.  He talked about a lot of things – which I don’t have the time to do justice to here – so encourage you to read more information on his website, or listen to / read the podcast here.

What I was particularly interested in was his talk about coffee.  Now I love my coffee and have espoused the health benefits of drinking coffee many times.  I take my coffee seriously and will buy ground up coffee beans which I use in my plunger.  No instant for me!  I take my coffee black with no sugar.

Now one thing I’ve noticed and been curious about is that some coffee will give me diarrhea and some won’t.  I always presumed that it was some flavor aspect of the coffee that was giving me the diarrhea, and so just avoided that particularly brand.  Interestingly, the coffee I buy from Starbucks will often give me diarrhea.

Well David made the startling claim on the podcast that there is a fungus / mold that grows on coffee and isn’t destroyed by boiling water.  This fungus produces mycotoxins which as the name implies, are toxic to us.  David stated that this toxin can affect among other things, our brain function.  Is this what could be causing my diarrhea?  I was intrigued.  David also stated that he added butter to his coffee each morning (mold-free coffee that is), and that the butter was very healthy as it gave a good supply of healthy fats setting himself up for top performance all day.

What?  Butter in coffee?  Is this guy insane?  No, he repeated that he takes butter in his coffee – but that it has to be non-salted butter from grass-fed cows.  He said that the fats in the butter makes the coffee taste creamy and wonderful.

Well, what did I have to lose?  The next day I tried the butter in my coffee and I must admit it was delicious.  I have been having butter in my coffee for just about 2 weeks now and do agree it tastes wonderful and sets me up for the day feeling wonderful.

I then started the next step of looking for some mold free coffee.  According to David, one should look for organic coffee grown on a single estate which are processed with clean cold water.   I considered buying some of his “bulletproof coffee” from his website, but balked at the cost knowing the amount of coffee I drink.  I did some research and found that pretty decent coffee is grown in Thailand up in the north, where it is cool and the climate is perfect for coffee!

So I looked online and found two estates that appear to meet the criteria for mold free coffee.  One of the estates produces a lot of coffee and didn’t have information on how they processed the coffee so I sent off an email and got a quick reply from one of the managers that 2 of their premium coffees were processed by cold water.  I also found that shops for both outlets were just around the corner from where I live!  How amazing is that!

So I bought some coffee on Tuesday evening.  I also bought a coffee grinder so I could grind the beans.  Note that on Monday and Tuesday I had diarrhea and had put it down to my remicade being due.  On Wednesday I tried the coffee.  Mmmmmmmm heaven.  Just ground coffee not only smells wonderful, it tasted soooooo good.  And guess what?  Yes I’m sure you guessed right, no diarrhea!  i was shocked.  Could it have been the toxins in the coffee (from the mold) that was causing the diarrhea all this time?  I was keen to try another day.  So today I had freshly ground “mold & toxin free” coffee and again, no diarrhea!

I am officially sold.

Now today I had my remicade infusion.  My doc also took my blood tests and while all my results were normal, my LDL did come back high at 156.  I immediately wondered if this could be due to the butter in my coffee.  I did a quick search and did read that many people suffer from raised LDL and Cholesterol when taking butter in coffee (and following a Paleo diet – which I am interested in trying) however also read that there is some controversy around the link between raised cholesterol and heart disease or metabolic syndrome.

So right now I’m undecided on what to do.  On one hand I feel amazing from the coffee and butter.  I really feel like my brain is performing better and I feel healthier.  On the other hand my years of science and medical knowledge are singing the mantra that high cholesterol is bad and I need to cut out fat from my diet.  What to do?

By the way, I weighed myself yesterday (as I knew they would ask for my weight to determine my remicade dose), and my weight was 90.6 kgs!  That is under 200 pounds!  Wow.  I can’t believe that the weight has just dropped off by stopping sugar.

 

 

Posted in BMI, bodybuilding, Diarrhea, Low Carb Diet | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Turkish Get Ups

I’ve been pretty busy the last week.  Lots of interesting things to write about but so little time!  One thing that has been on my list for a while is how much fun Turkish Get Ups are.  Now TGU’s are a kettlebell exercise that basically involves starting for a lying down position, standing up, and then lying down again while holding a kettlebell above your head.  It sounds easy, but like any good exercise is anything but.

I’m really enjoying working out with kettlebells.  I find there is a lot more variety than going to the gym and one can’t look past the convenience factor of working out at home.  I’ve found that I’ve lost weight / fat easily by cutting out sugar, and with the occasional kettlebells I’ve had a lot of positive comments from people lately regarding my appearance.  And this is even though I’ve only been working out about once per week recently!  Eating healthy with low sugar really works wonders.

I could poke some fun at her outfit, but I’m worried she will hunt me down and kick my butt….

Posted in bodybuilding, natural bodybuilding | Tagged , | Leave a comment

How Much Daily Sugar is OK for Children?

I was very surprised to see an article on the front page of the local newspaper yesterday regarding sugar intake.  Well done Thailand for exposing the dangers of excessive sugar intake.  The article noted:

Intense competition in the carbonated-drink market has raised concerns among health experts that excessive consumption of sugary beverages will result in increased incidence of obesity and lifestyle-related diseases, especially among children.

They have urged the government to increase the tax on sugary beverages and to introduce measures to limit their consumption in schools.

The reason I was surprised is two-fold, firstly that the Department of Health is not only focusing on the dangers of sugar but also managed to get an article on the front page of a local newspaper, and secondly I couldn’t believe that they managed this when the sugar cartels have so much power.  Sugar is huge business in Thailand with it being one of the main crops produced.  The sugar cartels are so rich and powerful (which means in a corrupt society they are above the law) that they have managed to get sugar added to just about every food group.  Want to buy some non-sweetened bread?  Impossible at local stores.  Want to buy some natural unsweetened fruit juice?  Impossible at local stores.  Unsweetened milk?  Again – very difficult.  About 10 years ago one of the cartels was placed under administration due to some shady business deals.  Price Waterhouse bought in a senior auditor from Australia to investigate.  The auditor obviously had no idea about the power behind these businesses, and after having uncovered something which would cause someone senior to lose face, ended up being murdered in a drive by shooting.  You don’t mess with these guys.

So well done Thailand, and The Nation newspaper!  Interestingly, the article says that the Department of Health recommends a maximum daily sugar intake of 32 grams (about 8 teaspoons of sugar).   However most cans of soda (e.g. Coke, Pepsi) contain up to 12 teaspoons of sugar!  Yes, just one can will put you over your daily limit!  How many people know that?  How many people order one of those large cokes at McDonalds, which holds more than a can?  We are inundated with too much sugar.

By the way, diet soda is much better than regular soda since naturally it doesn’t have sugar.  Some people (usually those justifying their need to drink regular soda) will cry out that diet soda is just as bad as regular soda, has as many calories, or has horrible chemical sweeteners that will harm you or even cause cancer!  That is garbage!  For more information read my post here where scientists researched that those drinking regular soda were much more unhealthy after a year than those drinking diet (non-sugar) soda.  Also, for more researched information on the dangers of sugar read my post here.

Personally I read the labels of anything I eat that may have sugar, and if it contains over 10 grams (2.5 teaspoons) then I won’t eat it.  That is, I try and keep my meals to no sugar, or less than 10 grams maximum.

I challenge you to have a quick look at the “sugar” column of the food you are eating and see how many grams there are.  Roughly 4 grams = 1 teaspoon.  You will be shocked at how much sugar is in so called “fat-free” foods, especially yogurt.  They try and make it seem healthy by claiming it is “fat-free” and instead making it super sweet by adding a ton of sugar.  Which is worse, fat or sugar?  Some people would have you believe it is fat, but really it is sugar.  You need to take some healthy fats every day – it is vital for life.  You can live without the sugar though.

 

Posted in Empty Carbs, Live Forever, Low Carb Diet, Weight Loss | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Neurontin for RLS

It works!  Well, it is working for me.  Finally I’ve found something that works for my RLS at night.

I tried the 1,200mg and woke one time with RLS, however after upping the dose to 1,500mg I have had no problems at all!  I’ve had several nights where I have slept solidly all the way through the night without waking once!  I haven’t slept so well since I was a teenager.

I was a little surprised, as my doctor was worried that 600mg would “knock me out”, but it didn’t at all.  Even with 1,500mg I sometimes wake a little drowsy, but that feeling is gone within 30 minutes.  The Neurontin does make me drowsy at night though, but I find that is great for helping me to fall asleep.  In the trial with Horizant, they gave the participants the medicine at 5pm and noted that doses ranged up to 1,800mg.  So my dose of 1,500mg is within that range.  I find however that the medication kicks in with some drowsiness about 2 hours after taking it, so one should therefore ideally take it about 2 hours before you plan to sleep.

I also found that it wasn’t too difficult to cut out the tramadol either.  You may recall that I quite quickly managed to get down to 50mg every 12-16 hours.  After a few days on the Neurontin I found that I was easily stretching out the time between tramadol doses (I didn’t clock watch but just took it when I noticed withdrawal symptoms) until it got to more than 36 hours.  So my advice for anyone wishing to end dependence on tramadol is to just take that route, i.e. just take tramadol when you feel the withdrawal symptoms coming on and hopefully your body will naturally start producing its own endorphins again.  I also think that perhaps my regular exercise with the kettlebells and jujitsu also helped my body to produce endorphins.  Getting a good night’s sleep also helps a lot.

So now I have about 2 years supply of tramadol!  Oh well, I am already a hoarder of medicines.

Posted in Restless Leg Syndrome | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Are Chronic Disease Patients Pill Hoarders?

Do you suffer from a chronic disease like arthritis?  Do you have a medicine cupboard full of pills?  I sure do.

I think that having suffered in pain so many times over the years, and suffered the embarrassment that is psoriasis, I keep all the meds my doctors have given me even if I didn’t finish a full course.  I have bags full of celebrex, steroid creams, anti-inflammatories, pain killers, immodium, buscopan, etc. etc.

I shudder to think of the suffering that would ensue if I woke in the middle of the night with an outbreak of pain or rash, and didn’t have any medication on hand to treat it.

And if the zombies attack then I want to make sure I’ll have enough meds for at least a couple of years right?

Are you a chronic disease sufferer with a cupboard full of pills?

Posted in Psoriatic Arthritis | Tagged , | Leave a comment