Biosis #44: Power, Root Canals & Homeopathics

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The August 2014 issue of Biosis, our quarterly newsletter, is now online. In this issue:

  • JoAnne’s Motivational Minute: You Have the Power

    Many years ago, I was introduced to my first computer – an Apple IIE. The local grammar school was providing a class for the teachers who would be getting this computer, and somehow, I managed to get myself into the class, as well.

    One of the concepts I remember first learning in that long ago computer class was GIGO: “garbage in, garbage out.” And it occurred to me even then that GIGO isn’t just an issue with computers. It’s also an issue with our brains.

  • Dr. Verigin’s Comment: Root Canals Are a Chronic Focus, Part 3: The Toxic Blow

    One of the most widely read books about the hazards of root canals is Dr. Joseph Issels’ Cancer: A Second Opinion. It was Issels who established the first European hospital for incurable cancer patients. He was also the first to integrate standard and alternative treatments into a comprehensive therapeutic concept.

    According to Issels, surveys at his clinic “found that, on admission, ninety-eight percent of the adult cancer patients had between two and ten dead teeth, each one a dangerous toxin producing ‘factory.'” The clear implication is that no dentist had carefully evaluated those people for dental foci – oral sources of infection that affect other parts of the body.

    Two especially dangerous kinds of toxic waste are generated by the dead material left inside the dentinal tubules after a “successful” root canal: thioethers and mercapatans. With structures closely related to the mustard gas used in World War I, these fat soluble toxins harm the mitochondria, the power plants of your cells. Critically, mitochondria are especially abundant in liver cells.

    The liver is one of your body’s main detoxifying organs.

  • From Our Blog: Homeopathics & Gum Disease

    If you’re having a problem with gum disease – and nearly all adults are – the first thing to do is to NOT do nothing. Periodontal problems don’t get better on their own. They get worse.

    Typically, the next step is amped up hygiene: more frequent dental visits for deep cleanings (scaling and root planing) and more thorough hygiene at home.

    Of course, there are other things you can do to support the benefits of treatment. Dietary improvements – cutting back on refined carbs and added sugars, for instance, or increasing intake of healthy fats and proteins – can give a major boost. So can reducing stress, dealing with bruxing (clenching and grinding) habits and using supplements and homeopathic remedies as recommended to support good gingival and bone health.

    That homeopathics can help is borne out by new research just published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.

Read Biosis #44 now.

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Risk & Perspective

Another year, another Shark Week, and another flurry of criticism about how such programming demonizes the animal and creates totally out-of-proportion fear. A nifty graphic that briefly made the rounds on Facebook last week shows just how out-of-proportion:

risk

For any number of reasons, people just aren’t very good at evaluating risks – something that’s also been apparent lately with respect to the African Ebola outbreak.

Earlier this week, local news reported that a “low-risk” individual who may have been exposed to Ebola was being seen in a Sacramento hospital. Naturally, they got quotes from other patients worried about exposure.

Suffice it to say that the odds of an Ebola outbreak here in the Central Valley or elsewhere in the US are remote. Yes, the virus is deadly. It’s also not airborne. It can only be transmitted through close contact and the exchange of blood, saliva or other bodily fluids. As one professor at Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health recently told the Post-Gazette, people need to “have some perspective on this.”

Even though this is the largest Ebola outbreak ever, there are other infectious diseases that cause millions of deaths per year — influenza, tuberculosis, dengue, malaria — but do not have the urban legend status of Ebola.

Which brings us to a paper we recently stumbled upon, which offers a new assessment of “adverse events” in hospital care. The study was published last fall in the Journal of Public Safety, and the difference between the author’s findings and previous Institute of Medicine estimates is stark, to say the least.

Based on 1984 data developed from reviews of medical records of patients treated in New York hospitals, the Institute of Medicine estimated that up to 98,000 Americans die each year from medical errors. The basis of this estimate is nearly 3 decades old; herein, an updated estimate is developed from modern studies published from 2008 to 2011.

* * *

Using a weighted average of the 4 studies, a lower limit of 210,000 deaths per year was associated with preventable harm in hospitals. Given limitations in the search capability of the Global Trigger Tool and the incompleteness of medical records on which the Tool depends, the true number of premature deaths associated with preventable harm to patients was estimated at more than 400,000 per year. Serious harm seems to be 10- to 20-fold more common than lethal harm.

Two hundred and ten thousand to over 400,000 deaths each year? That is something worth being concerned about.

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In the Rush to Dental Implants as a Solution…

“The dental profession’s rush to dental implants as a solution to dental needs of today’s trusting patients is overstated, overused, ill advised, and very often much abused.”

- Dr. Ron Carlson

Explore our archives to learn more about the issues with dental implants.

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Stat!: Dental Mercury & Informed Consent

Percent of Americans who don’t know that mercury is the main component of “silver” amalgam dental fillings: 57

Percent who are ever told by their dentists that “silver” fillings contain mostly mercury: 11

Percent of Americans who don’t think their dentists give them enough information on alternatives to amalgam to make informed decisions: 66

informed consent definition

Source: “Measurably Misleading,” a special report by Consumers for Dental Choice

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Clickbait, Anyone?

No doubt this was in response to epidemic of kale damage that dentists have been seeing:

headline

Among them, allegedly, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, apples, beans, nuts and granola (which isn’t usually all that “healthy” anyway, but this potential sugar bomb sports an incredible health halo).

Seriously, the tips that accompany the piece are fine. But they have nothing to do with the healthfulness of any given food – or the lack thereof. In fact, the food has little to do with it. It’s how you eat it – and how you take care of your teeth.

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Mouthguards Do More Than Just Protect Teeth

Post-snowboarding teeth that weren't protected with a mouthguard.

Teeth that weren’t protected with a mouthguard.

There are good reasons why you don’t want to go with an over-the-counter (OTC) mouthguard to protect teeth during contact sports. They tend not to fit as well, are less comfortable and are significantly less effective than custom-fit guards.

And protecting the teeth is only one of the things they do.

The point is pounded home by research published earlier this summer in General Dentistry. The study involved over 400 high school football players who were assigned either custom mouthguards or standard, OTC devices.

2804974448_99de6be57d_zThose who wore the OTC guards were more than twice as likely to suffer mild concussions than those wearing properly fitted guards.

Of course,

Many variables contribute to MTBI/concussion injuries, and mouthguards — whose primary function is protecting the teeth — cannot completely prevent them from occurring. Previous studies have theorized that mouthguards can reduce concussion risk, however, because they help absorb shock, stabilize the head and neck, and limit movement caused by a direct hit to the jaw.

Mouthguard thickness also has been shown to be a factor that contributes to the level of protection. The average thickness of the custom-made mouthguards in this study was 3.50 millimeters, while the average thickness of the OTC mouthguards was only 1.65 millimeters.

Lead author Jackson Winters, a pediatric dentist, summed up the issue quite well in the AGD’s press release on the study:

The benefits of protecting your child far outweigh the costs associated with a dental or medical injury, which is likelier to occur with a store-bought model.

Like any preventive measure, it’s an investment in health now to reduce the need for much greater, less manageable costs down the road.

Images by Courtenay & Nick Koch Weller, via Flickr

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Recommended Reading: Our Weird Faith in Pills

pill_nationThere’s a fascinating read in the latest Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine exploring our society’s beliefs about pharmaceutical drugs and how those beliefs can distract and detract from health and well-being. Though it sometimes gets a little “academic” – how could it not when you bring up the work of French phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty? – on the whole, it’s an accessible and thought-provoking piece, worth your time.

The gist of it:

Twenty-first century medical practice has many salient features: its use of high-tech diagnostics, for example, and of surgical interventions. Nonetheless, the genius and potency made accessible by modern medicine, as well as its more alienating qualities, are most iconically captured by the diminutive pill and the enormous industry is subtends. We say “take your medicine,” referring to a pill. Yet when we swallow it we also “take our medicine” in the broader sense, swallowing the modern paradigm of disease and treatment.

* * *

The cultural fantasy surrounding the pill as the solution for life’s ills can thus contribute in a wide variety of ways to social and physical ills. It also distracts us from more holistic approaches to disease causation, prevention, and treatment. The miniaturized pill implies a highly localized problem and solution confined to an individual body. The ideal “magic bullet” targets a single organ or biochemical process. But other than certain infections where the body is invaded by a single organism that can be eradicated, the true site of illness and healing are rarely “local” in this way – they unfold in the complex interactions of self and world. Focused on the pill, we may neglect social and spiritual issues and lifestyle changes involving diet, exercise, intoxicants, and work that ma be the source of man of our mood and physical disorders. In fact, pill reliance in our modern cultural fantasy can justify not attended to needed changes. Greene invokes “the image of the overfed, underexercised American consumer who takes a statin with his cheeseburger. The cure of the latter-day ailments of excess consumption lies, cleverly, no in limiting consumption but in consuming additional products.

Leder D, Krucoff MW. “Take your pill”: The role and fantasy of pills in modern medicine. J Alt Compl Med. 2014; 20(6): 421-27. doi: 10.1089/acm.2013.0447

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